Crozet Village Church, a mission of Lebanon Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Greenwood, has begun holding Sunday services at 10 a.m. in the YMCA building at Crozet Park under the care of pastor Bud Brainerd.
“Our first service was the first Sunday in April, the first Sunday after Easter this year,” said Brainerd, who is doing the preaching. “We’re averaging 35 people; about half are coming from Lebanon and the rest are newcomers. Some are new residents to the area and some are simply attracted to the church.
”We consider ourselves ‘reform’ in our theology, which means we have a very high view of the authority of Scripture, of the sovereign authority of God, and we have a high view of the responsibility of all people to serve the community,” he said. “Worship is key and we like people to be involved in one area of ministry. We want people involved in the community.”
Brainerd earned a B.A. in religion, was a pro golfer for a couple of years, and then earned a master’s and a doctorate of divinity from Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. His dissertation was on church-staff relations, he said.
“My background is half business and half ministry,” he said. He’s started six companies and was CEO of his last two, which were technology firms. “I have a different skill set and understanding than many ministers.”
He started out as a pastor for United Methodist churches in southern Illinois and moved to the Presbyterian church under the influence of a professor at his seminary. Next he served in two churches in east Tennessee. He was at First Presbyterian Church in Nashville, a congregation of about 3,400, for four years. Next he was at Memorial Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, Alabama. That church planted a new one in Montgomery and Brainerd served in it for five and half years, from 1996 to 2001, building its average attendance from 35 to 150 people. In 2001, admittedly a little burnt out, he retired from ministry and went into business. He stayed in the business world until 2010.
“One morning I woke up and I wanted to get back full-time in ministry,” he said.
“Our purpose with Crozet Village Church is build the church—the people—and secondarily to build a facility. Our slogan is OSAT: one step at a time. That’s the only way anybody ever does anything, including following Jesus. The other thing we are focused on is being the church where ‘the cautious, the curious and the called and commissioned’ followers of Jesus Christ can meet.
“There is a real high concentration of people here who were in the church and made to feel hurt by it. They want to come back, but they don’t want to feel hurt again. The curious are on a quest and they have amorphous spirituality, a little of this and a little of that. We want those people to come. The last group, the ‘called and commissioned’—when God calls people into a relationship with Him, they are also called to do good works.”
Brainerd said the new church tried to live up to that goal recently by setting up a baby comfort station during the Crozet Arts and Crafts Fair in May, and they are also getting involved with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Brainerd has joined the Western Albemarle Ministers Association, a group of local ministers that tries to coordinate church outreach efforts.