Bon Air United Methodist Church

Bon Air United Methodist Church is currently located in the Bon Air village in Richmond , Virginia . Bon Air village was once known as Brown’s Summit , a summer resort for residents of Richmond . Vacationers began to build summer homes, and eventually Bon Air became a year-round community. As Bon Air began to grow rapidly, so did the need for a church in the community. In 1891, the original property at Rockaway and McRae Roads was purchased. The existing saloon and pool parlor were converted to a parsonage, and the bowling alley became the church. The name was changed to Bon Air United Methodist Church . As the community continued to grow, Bon Air United Methodist began making plans to expand the church. The church purchased its present property on Buford Road in 1947. The congregation continued to expand, and during the 1950s ground was broken for the new sanctuary. The congregation needed another sanctuary in the 1980s due to rapid growth. Bon Air United Methodist again built a new sanctuary with a connecting walkway to the original building. The former sanctuary was converted to a chapel and a music suite.

The church also added an educational wing. The educational wing was named “ Bon View School for Young Children.” The school began as a private institution and became a part of the church in 1992. The Bon View School is a weekday preschool ministry for early childhood education. The half-day preschool program offers the student what the school describes as engaging learning opportunities in friendly, relaxed, and nurturing classroom environments.

Bon Air United Methodist Church is particularly active in the area of music. The church has established the Cherup Music, Carol Crusader Choir, and Epworth Choir groups for children from age four through twelfth grades. The music program seeks to teach Bon Air Methodist’s youngest members the latest in development and learning theories, maintaining a careful balance of movement, vocal, listening, and playing activities. The music ministry also offers many opportunities for adults. The Chancel Choir provides music leadership on Sunday mornings and other special services throughout the year. The Aldergate Choir is described as a casual, relaxed women’s choir that brings together old and new songs of faith. The Bon Air Men’s Chorus is a group is for the “shower singer” where music skills are not a requirement. The church also established instrumental music groups. The Wesley Ringers and Instrumental Ensemble perform in worship services throughout the year and participate in festivals held in the area. The Instrumental Ensemble provides a place for musicians to further develop and share their instrumental skills.

During the 1990s an Evangelism Ministry was inaugurated at Bon Air United Methodist Church . The Evangelism Ministry describes its mission as helping every member of the church to reach out to and receive people as they are so that individuals will grow spiritually and develop, nurture, and strengthen their faith. The Evangelism Ministry welcomes strangers, offers spiritual growth, encourages discipleship, and prepares others for sharing God’s love through Jesus Christ. Some components of the Evangelism Ministry include Lay Visitation Teams, which deliver information about Bon Air United Methodist Church and welcome visitors to the faith community; Let’s Get Acquainted , a class that is offered during the Sunday School hour to inform visitors and new members about Bon Air Methodist Church and the beliefs of the United Methodist Church in general; Bon Air Buddies , a group of congregation members who stand in support of new members as they take their membership vows; Bread Bakers, church members who employ their gifts of baking to welcome visitors by providing first-time visitors with a loaf of bread that symbolizes Christ, the Bread of Life; and Greeters , members who are available to offer hospitality and a welcoming atmosphere for all worshipers.

Bon Air United Methodist has also established the Congregational Care Ministry. This ministry seeks to care for and strengthen the physical, spiritual, and emotional health of the congregation. One of the Congregational Care ministries is the Stephen Ministry . Through this ministry members receive special training in providing one-to-one Christian care to people in the congregation and community who are experiencing divorce, loneliness, hospitalization, and many other life difficulties.

The church is involved in a variety of educational activities. Vacation Bible School is offered very June and involves a week of activities, which include music, crafts, recreation, and study based on the Biblical theme. Bon Air United Methodist Church also offers many opportunities for adults to be involved in Christian education. Sunday school classes meet each Sunday morning, and there are approximately ten classes to choose from. Bon Air also offers a Monthly Book Club, Companions in Christ, Disciple Bible Study, and various other short-term studies through out the year. Sunday school classes are available for children and youth. These classes provide youth the opportunity to apply Christian faith to everyday life situations. These classes include Kids in Mission , a monthly program offered to children in grades 3-5 that teaches children to reach out to others through missions; Youth Confirmation Class , a class for sixth graders that meets during Sunday School, teaches the students what it means to c laim the name of Christian to be a member of Bon Air United Methodist Church, and culminates in the opportunity to profess faith and become confirmed in the church; United Methodist Youth, a Sunday evening class that is open to all youth in grades seven through twelve 7-12 that is designed to offer experiences in fellowship, worship, study, service, and outreach. Nursery care is provided at Bon Air during Sunday morning service. The nursery is for infants and children up to five years of age. The nursery is staffed by trained, professional childcare workers and competent volunteers. Nursery care is also provided for other church-sponsored activities when needed.

The congregation currently consists of more than 2,000 members, ranging form newborns to elderly. Public worship services are held twice on Sunday mornings. Worship is casual in style and follows the pattern of traditional Christian worship. After the first morning worship service the congregation gathers in the commons area for a cup of coffee and fellowship before continuing to Sunday School. A typical service begins with an opening prayer followed by a song from the hymnal. The church’s choir may perform during the service with lighting of the altar candles. There is a reading of scripture and gospel lesson followed by offering of tithes and gifts. The service ends with a blessing. Bon Air United Methodist Church observes the sacraments of Holy Communion and Baptism. Holy Communion is held on the first Sunday of every month and on other special occasions. It is an open communion that does not require church membership. Baptism services are usually held on the third Sunday of each month and are available to persons of all ages. Bon Air United Methodist Church believes that baptism is a sign of regeneration or spiritual new birth.

Bon Air United Methodist Church engages in a variety of outreach activities. These include a relationship with Congregations Around Richmond Involved To Assure Shelter (CARITAS), an interfaith project that provides shelter and hospitality to homeless people in the community; a holiday feast for the homeless in the Bon Air community during the Christmas season; and a working relationship with Habitat for Humanity in building affordable homes.

Bon Air United Methodist Church
1645 Buford Road
Richmond , Virginia 23235
(804) 272-2042

Bon Air United Methodist Church members
Bon Air United Methodist Church website

Profile prepared by Christina Williams
December, 2007