Religion News: November 2023

Diocese of Richmond Bishop Barry Knestout celebrated the first mass at Our Lady of the Rosary’s new home, the former Bank of America building in downtown Crozet, on Oct. 7, the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary, which commemorates the Christian victory over an Ottoman fleet at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Flanking him (l-r) are Tom Herlihy, current pastor Msgr. Tim Keeney, Julie Bowns, Frank Cerrone, mission-founding pastor Fr. Joseph Mary Lukyamuzi of Holy Comforter Catholic Church in Charlottesville, and Mike Marshall.

Catholics Celebrate in their New Church

The former Bank of America building in downtown Crozet has been transformed into an open, welcoming space, thanks to the quick work of the building crew and church volunteers from Our Lady of the Rosary. Bishop Barry C. Knestout said the first mass in the sanctuary October 7, the feast day of the Our Lady of the Rosary.

There was plenty of room for the hundreds of people attending, but safety rules stipulate that fewer than 50 people can gather inside until an additional exit door is installed, so much of the congregation remained outside the church. Frank Cerrone, chairman of the building committee, said a door will be added on the first floor in the next month or so.

The church is celebrating with additional masses to accommodate the congregation. The schedule right now is Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 8 and 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., and all have been at capacity. The schedule may change when full occupancy is permitted, Cerrone said.

The Corley family, from left, Charleson, Shon and Chuck. Submitted photo.

Piedmont Baptist Church Welcomes New Pastor 

In a joyful service early last month, the people of Piedmont Baptist Church welcomed Reverend  Chuck Corley, Jr. as their pastor. The congregation and guests also extended warm greetings to Rev. Corley’s wife, Shon, and their son, Charleson. The choir from St. James Baptist Church in Waynesboro provided a musical expression of the joy felt by the congregation of the historic church. Many guest ministers joined in the celebration, and shared in their praise of Rev. Corley as well as their happiness that the people of Piedmont had found such a fitting leader.

The new pastor has a wide range of credentials as well as interests. His undergraduate degrees are in international business and pre-law, and he has a master’s degree in business administration and human resources management. He’s presently pursuing a Christian studies degree. In his years with the U.S. Army he served in several campaigns and rose to the rank of Major. He’s now the business manager for Labor Finders in Charlottesville.

The clergy in attendance lay hands on Rev. Chuck Corley and offer prayers at his installation as pastor of Piedmont Baptist Church. Submitted photo.

Rev. Corley has been an ordained minister since 2010, and has served in many roles, including worship leader, associate pastor, and Bible study teacher. Before being called to Piedmont for his first role as pastor, he served as associate pastor at Beverly Manor Baptist Church with Dr. George Gohanna, who preached a powerful sermon at the installation ceremony.

Dr. Gohanna was instrumental in his move to Piedmont, Rev. Corley said. “I thought it would be a while before I was ready to pastor a church, but he knew they were searching for someone and encouraged me to meet them.” From the very first time he preached in the sanctuary, he felt at home. “It’s a loving congregation, unpretentious and devoted.” 

The people of Piedmont had the same warm feelings about him, and there was no hesitation in calling him to lead their church. “We just loved him right away,” said James Jackson, president of Piedmont’s usher board, who was on the search committee. In his sermon at the installation, Rev. Corley pledged the trust and loyalty of his family: “We belong to you,” he said. “You belong to us, and we all belong to God.”

Rev. Corley is certain that the mutual bond will endure through good times and bad. He’s already been with church members through some difficult times, visiting the sick and providing counseling to those who ask. “It’s easy to show love when everything is going great,” he said. “But I want everyone to see the love we have when we’re walking through the fire together.” 

Festive and Fun “No Rehearsal” Christmas Pageant at Hope Presbyterian

Everyone is welcome to enjoy the no-stress Christmas Pageant at Hope Presbyterian Church, and to stay for the cookie reception afterwards. The program, scheduled for December 10 and to be performed by church children, has been a low-key highlight of the Christmas season for the last 10 years or so. The event is structured so that the learning curve is very low: Children arrive, are assigned a part, given a costume, and they’re ready to go. Because of the way it’s organized, some of the older church youth serve as narrators, while the younger ones assemble as wise men, or angels, or the holy family, or shepherds. “It’s one less thing for people to worry about,” said Kate Van Yperen, the church administrator. She said the spontaneous nature of the pageant keeps it fun, while still serving as a reminder of the holy nature of the season. 

Piedmont Deacon Carolyn Paige presents Rev. Corley with The Holy Bible. Submitted photo.
A fun and festive “no rehearsal” Christmas pageant tells the Nativity story at Hope Presbyterian Church. Submitted photo.

The pageant, which has enjoyed an enthusiastic turnout through the years, begins at 10 a.m. at Crozet Elementary School. Potential young actors are asked to arrive by 9:45, and everyone’s invited. “Your child doesn’t even have to be a church member,” Van Yperen said. Afterwards, there’s a short sermon, some Christmas carols, and a reception with homemade cookies which, like the costumes, are provided by the church.

Small Blessings

The Crozet Cares Closet once again increased the number of community members served. On October 7, more than 44 households were helped by the personal items and cleaning supplies available at Scott House, on the grounds of Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Donations are always needed to replenish the stock each month, and those interested can find out what supplies are particularly needed and confirm the dates at the Crozet Cares Closet’s Facebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor. Although the demand for some items varies from month to month, the closet team always welcomes donations of any of the essential products they distribute monthly. The closet next opens Nov. 4 for its monthly distribution. Those with items to contribute may bring them to Crozet Baptist Church or Denise Ramey’s real estate office at Clover Lawn at any time, or to the Scott House Monday, Nov. 27, between 9 and 11 a.m. 

The closet is a project by Crozet’s Interfaith Outreach Council, a consortium of area churches designed to identify the unmet needs of the community and to collaborate to fill them. Individual churches also have ongoing projects designed to help neighbors who are struggling. Crozet United Methodist Church opens its doors for shopping at Grace Grocery every Monday at 3:30. The Rockfish Gap Food Pantry provides food to those who need it from Albemarle and Nelson counties. It’s at the Scott House on the first Saturday of each month from 9 to 11 a.m., at the same time the Crozet Cares Closet is open. 

Over in Waynesboro, the River City Bread Basket opened last month. It’s a non-profit collaboration between Waynesboro businesses, churches, individual donors and the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, which also supports most of the area’s efforts to combat hunger. Like Grace Grocery, the store is set up to allow patrons to choose their own food according to their needs. It’s at 505 N. Winchester Street, in an area of Waynesboro that has no grocery store with fresh food. The pantry is open on Thursdays from 4:30 to 7 p.m., Fridays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the first and third Saturdays of the month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This month, Crozet Baptist Church is adding the last few items to the boxes they compile every year for the “Share the Blessing” project. The generosity of the congregation, with the help of Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church and hundreds of donors, enables families identified by school social workers to have a full Thanksgiving dinner. Donate to this long-time community effort, or bring food items to the collection point at the church on St. George Avenue by Nov. 5. 


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