Virginia Seminary Receives ATF Results for Investigation of Chapel Fire


Media Contacts: Susan Shillinglaw
(703) 461-1764/(571)723-1932
The Rev. J. Barney Hawkins IV
(703) 461-1754/(703) 577-6268

Alexandria, VA On October 22, 2010 at approximately 3:40 p.m., a fire broke out and quickly consumed the chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary.  Because the fire occurred in a house of worship, the National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), along with ATF special agents from Falls Church Virginia and Washington D.C., worked with the Alexandria Fire Department to investigate the cause.

“We have now received the results of the investigation from the Alexandria Fire Marshall’s Office and the ATF,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., dean and president of Virginia Seminary. “No lives were lost in this accidental fire and for this we are eternally grateful.”


As worship remains central to the life and mission of Virginia Seminary, plans are currently in the works for a temporary worship space and consideration will soon be given to a permanent building.  Several local organizations, including Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill, Episcopal High School, the First Baptist Church of Alexandria, and the Beth El Hebrew Congregation, have offered the Seminary use of their buildings as temporary worship space.


Concluded Markham, “We grieve the loss of a building that has witnessed many holy moments and which has meant so much to so many people worldwide, but we trust that however strange things look at this particular moment, love will triumph.  God will triumph.  We will triumph.  And soon a worship space at this Seminary will emerge anew.”


Questions about the Seminary chapel fire should be directed to Susan Shillinglaw, director of communications, at (703) 461-1764 or sshillinglaw@vts.edu or to the Rev. J. Barney Hawkins IV, Ph.D., vice president of Institutional Advancement, at (703) 461-1754 or bhawkins@vts.edu.


More information about the investigative report can be found at www.atf.gov and www.alexandriava.gov.


 Founded in 1823, Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church. The school prepares men and women, representing more than 40 different dioceses and nine different countries, for service in the Church, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas. 

(Photo courtesy of B. Cayce Ramey)