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Coming to Christ in 1970 at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland, Jack Lash soon became involved in the church’s youth ministry. He worked as a volunteer on the church youth staff during his four years of college (1972-1976), after which he was hired by the church to work with the youth full-time for 3 years, ministering to youth of all ages.
In 1979 Jack, Mary Ann and little Timmy (9mo.) left Fourth and Jack enrolled as a first year seminary student in Boston, Massachusetts. That fall some very close friends from Fourth had begun to migrate from suburban Maryland, our home area, to Manassas, Virginia, and had gotten involved with a group of Christians that were working to start a new PCA church there. They all knew the organizing pastor of that church, Phil Douglass, from Fourth. Desiring to keep up these relationships, and needing to fulfill a "field education" requirement for the seminary, Jack wrote to Phil Douglass, asking if he might do a summer internship that next summer. Receiving the go-ahead, they arrived in June, 1980, one month after the church had been received into the PCA. Jack’s plans to learn evangelism that summer were soon set aside when it became obvious to the session that the church had a far greater need (and Jack a far greater gift) in the area of teaching Bible and Bible doctrine. The Lashes fell in love with the folks at GPC that summer, and hoped from that point on that the Lord would call them back there. They also joined the church that summer, and Gainesville PCA began to generously support them in seminary.
After another 14 straight months of seminary, Jack wrote again to Phil to ask about coming back to GPC at the end of seminary (September 1982) for another internship (once more, required by the seminary). Several weeks later the Lashes received a small box from GPC in the mail, empty except for some yellow strips of ribbon. After puzzling over this for several days, it finally dawned on Jack to count the ribbons. Sure enough, the box contained 100 yellow ribbons, which, according to the song ("Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree") communicates the message, "Of course we want you to come back!" This touching expression of love warmed their hearts greatly (that kind of behavior is not typical of presbyterian elders) and they responded to their "message" by sending them a stack of drawings of army tanks. After a few days they figured it out: "Many t(h)anks!" When Jack finished his last class the Lashes packed up and moved to Manassas in August 1982. That December, the congregation called Jack as an Associate Pastor, and after Presbytery examinations he was ordained on March 20, 1983. The ordination service occurred in the morning at the Gainesville Elementary School on Rt. 55 (we had already started construction of our new building), with a reception following at the fellowship hall of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Haymarket put on by the ladies in the church.
When Phil left at the end of 1985, Jack took over and was elected by the congregation to be head pastor in the fall of 1986. He has served the congregation as pastor since that time.
In May of 2010 the church celebrated its 30th anniversary. Jack’s desire is to participate in the fiftieth anniversary of Gainesville Presbyterian Church (if the Lord tarries). He prays his next move will be to heaven. But whatever the Lord does, Jack will look back to these years at GPC with great thankfulness to God.