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Open House at Bel Air in Front Royal

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On Sunday, May 29th, the Virginia Piedmont Heritage Area (VPHA), based in Middleburg, Loudoun County, conducted an open house of the Bel Air property in Front Royal at the invitation of the LeHew family, the current owners of the property. Travis Shaw, VPHA Director of Education, introduced Bel Air owner Jeff LeHew, who welcomed the attending guests to his home. The featured speaker of the event was Dr. Elizabeth Baer, editor of the diary of Lucy Buck. Lucy and her family lived at Bel Air during the War Between the States, 1861-1865, and hosted General Robert E. Lee when he brought the Army of Northern Virginia through Warren County in late July 1863, following the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg, Pa.

Built in 1795 by Captain Thomas Buck, Bel Air was the ancestral home of Lucy’s parents, William and Elizabeth Buck. William was a merchant and a leading citizen of Front Royal. His great grandfather was one of the first settlers in that part of the Shenandoah Valley.

BelAir 1860

Bel Air is located a quarter mile east of town on a prominent elevation. The front of the house faces southward toward the town and the beautiful panorama of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Thomas Buck was a captain in the Virginia militia in the American War of Independence, 1775-1781. It is believed that he named Bel Air for Bel Air, Harford County, Maryland, located north of Baltimore. This Maryland community also was the home of the noted theatrical Booth family (which included the famed Shakespearean actor Edwin Booth and his actor/ brother, John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865), the home of Nancy Richardson, Capt. Buck’s wife.


Bel Air is considered one of the oldest brick houses in Front Royal and is one of the finest examples of the Classical Revival style. During the Open House, visitors toured the home’s beautiful first and second floors and looked through the windows at Lucy and her family’s views during their residence there. The highlights of Bel Air include the penciled signatures and comments on the walls and ceilings preserved in a room on the second floor. The first of these graffiti dates to August 30th, 1796, shortly after the house was completed. Another is the signatures of the entire Buck family, including daughter Lucy, dating from the early 1800s to the beginning of the 20th Century.

Bel Air has had just three owners since its construction in 1795. Capt. Buck and his descendants owned the property until the early 20th Century. Sydney Byrne Downing acquired the property and made a number of alterations to the house in 1905. In the early 1970s, Larry LeHew purchased Bel Air; it is currently owned by Larry’s son, Jeff, who recently completed the rehabilitation of the exterior stucco and porches. He and his family continue to preserve this beautiful home and property.

Lucy Rebecca Buck was born on September 25th, 1842, in Warren County, Virginia, the third of thirteen children of William and Elizabeth Buck. She learned the social graces at two local schools. On Christmas Day, 1861, eight months after the War Between the States began in April, Lucy was given a diary which she kept for the duration of the War, during which time troops were quartered in her home, and battles were literally waged in her front yard.

Lucy recorded first-hand accounts of the numerous troop visits and occupations of Bel Air. Her daily life was centered around the domestic routines of a large household and included reading, sewing, visiting, and tutoring her younger brothers. Numerous friends and relatives were received regularly at Bel Air during the War. Her diary, Shadows On My Heart, was edited and published in 1997 by Dr. Elizabeth Baer.

This extraordinary chronicle mirrors the experiences of many women torn between loyalty to the Confederate cause and dissatisfaction with the unrealistic ideology of white Southern womanhood. Two of Lucy’s brothers, Alvin and Irving, enlisted early in the Confederate army. When Lucy was given the diary that Christmas morning, she wrote:

I cannot but feel a little sad this morning for my thoughts continually revert to those dear absent brothers who were wont to share our Christmas cheer and gladden the hours of this festive season for us. When I think of the unexpected changes that have occurred in the last year, I feel as if I could not count upon ever having them with us again as of yore with any degree of certainty.

In powerful, unsentimental language, Lucy Buck’s diary reveals her anger and ambivalence about the challenges thrust upon her by the upheaval of herself, her family, and the world as she knew it. This document provides an extraordinary glimpse into the “shadows on my heart” of both Lucy Buck and the American South. Lucy’s diary gives a detailed look at civilian life in and around Front Royal during the War years. Her diary entries describe daily life at her home with an extended family that included parents, a grandmother, aunts, cousins, younger siblings, visitors, and enslaved servants.

As the war moved closer to Front Royal, Lucy and her family were exposed to menacing raids by Northern troops. Her diary writings indicate that she was challenged to maintain the everyday pattern of family life during that difficult period. In January 1862, Lucy detailed in her diary the occupation of Front Royal by the Union army under the command of Brigadier-General Nathan Kimball, a physician in Indiana before and after the War; he was the first to use Bel Air as a headquarters in the Spring of 1862. His troops were quartered in the meadows surrounding the house.

Union Major-General James Shields also stayed at Bel Air prior to the defeat of Union troops in the Battle of Front Royal on May 23rd, 1862. Other visitors to Bel Air included Confederate General James Longstreet and General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. General Jackson’s victory at Front Royal was one of the strings of Confederate successes in General Jackson’s famed Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862.

The most significant change in the family’s routine occurred in the middle of 1863; Lucy confided to her diary:

Ma told me that the servants (household slaves) had all left in the night and carried our three horses with them. Laura and I went to milk the cows while Ma, Grandma, and Nellie cleaned the house, got the breakfast, and dressed the children.

Lucy and her sisters suddenly had to deal with household chores for the first time, but servants from neighboring households came to help them through the ordeal. On July 22nd, 1863, a day after winning a victory over Federal troops attempting to destroy Lee’s army at Manassas Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains, just east of Front Royal, when the Army of Northern Virginia marched through Warren County on its retreat from the Battle of Gettysburg, Pa., Lucy’s father, William, met General Robert E. Lee and his staff at the pontoon bridges over the Shenandoah River. He invited them to Bel Air for some refreshment, and General Lee accepted the invitation. Lucy wrote in her diary that day how the officers arrived to…stretch their cramped limbs and drink fresh buttermilk. I shall never forget the grand old chief as he stood on the porch surrounded by his officers, a tall, commanding figure clad in dusty travel-stained gray but with a courtly dignified bearing.

Lucy and her sister Laura played and sang Southern songs at General Lee’s request while he stood by the piano. After the enjoyable respite, the Southern troops continued their line of march south through Rappahannock County and eventually into Orange County, where the army spent the Winter of 1863-1864.

In spite of the hotly contested actions going on literally in their front yard and the loss of their slaves, Lucy and her family emerged from the War virtually unscathed. From her diary, we learn the titles of all the popular novels Lucy read during the period and all the parlor games the young people played for an evening’s entertainment. Sometimes the “guests” in the family parlor wore Union blue instead of Confederate gray – and on those occasions, Lucy stayed in her room and sulked.

Lucy Buck, a fervent supporter of the Confederacy, was grieved by the final defeat of the Southern armies in 1865. Lucy was 76 years of age when she passed on August 20th, 1918; she is buried at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Front Royal.

View of BelAir today. Below is a south view overlooking Happy Creek from the front porch.

At the Bel Air Open House on May 29th, the visitors were welcomed by Ian McDougall, Public Programs Co-ordinator for the Virginia Piedmont Heritage Area (VPHA); and by Travis Shaw, VPHA Director of Education. Travis introduced the featured speaker for the Open House: the editor of Lucy’s diary, Dr. Elizabeth Baer. During the Open House, Dr. Baer read a number of excerpts from Lucy’s diary; her readings provided an excellent backdrop for the visit to the property.

Dr. Baer is Research Professor in English at Gustavus Adolphus College; Gustavus Adolphus College is a private liberal arts college in St. Peter, Minnesota. It was founded in 1862 by Swedish Americans led by Eric Norelius; the school is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Gustavus College gets its name from Gustavus Adolphus, the King of Sweden, from 1611 to 1632.

Dr. Baer currently works in the Senior Historian’s Office at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C. From 2016-2017, she served as the Ida E. King Visiting Distinguished Scholar in Holocaust Studies at Stockton University in New Jersey. She is the author of The Blessed Abyss: Inmate № 6582 in Ravensbruck Concentration Camp for Women (Wayne State University Press, 2000); Experience and Expression: Women, the Nazis, and the Holocaust (2003); The Golem Redux: From Prague to Post-Holocaust Fiction (2012); and The Genocidal Gaze: From German Southwest Africa to the Third Reich (2017).

Would you like to tour BelAir? The Warren Heritage Society is hosting another tour on September 24, 2022. Click here for more information and tickets. 

Enjoy this photo gallery of BelAir.

2nd Floor Hallway

2nd Floor Sitting Room 3

Blanche Buck – 08-30-1796 & AndrewRice – 08-30-1897

Buck Family Bible dating to the 1700s

Buck Family 1700s-1901

Buck Family Grafitti 04-16-1861

Buck Family Grafitti 1800s

Climbing Stairs To Second Floor

Dining Room

Dining Room Painting of Gen. Lee At BelAir

First Floor entry into the kitchen

First Floor Room with Stained Glass windows

First Floor Gathering Room Beyond Kitchen

First Floor Parlor

First Floor Parlor Furnishings

Front 2nd Floor Window View Looking South

Front 2nd Floor Window View Blue Ridge

Gen. James Shields

Gen. Thomas Jackson

Gen. James Longstreet

Gen. Nathan Kimball

Gen. Robert E. Lee

Gen. Lee & Staff BelAir – 07-22-1863

Looking Down Stairway From 2nd Floor

Lucy & Nellie Buck

Lucy Buck’s Diary

Painting of BelAir Front View with Happy Creek

Painting of Gen. Jackson & Staff on Chester St. in Front Royal, May 1862.

Painting of Gen. Jackson and Staff in Front Royal, May 1862.

Painting Magnolias & Southern Belles 1862

Photograph BelAir 1860s

Photograph BelAir 1862

Second Floor Room Top of Stairs

Second Floor Window View Looking North

Signatures in attic

Stained Glass Details in Gathering Room

Stairway To 2nd Floor

Stair Way To Second Floor

Stairway Window

Travis Shaw Introducing Jeff LeHew

Travis ShawV PHA Welcome Guests To BelAir

Up To Third Floor

Wartime Artifacts Found At BelAir

Wartime Artifacts Found At BelAir

 

 

 

 

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Community Events

This week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of October 7th

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Are you looking for the full movie-going experience without having to wait in the long lines that often accompany that experience? Then look no further because Royal Cinemas movie theatre is the answer. Get the whole gang together and enjoy a movie! Reserved seating in all auditoriums.

Here is a list of this week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of Friday, October 7:

• Friday: 6:50 & 9:20
• Saturday: 2:55, 5:30 & 8:00
• Sunday: 4:10 & 6:45
• Mon-Wed: 7:10
Rated PG  |  1 Hour 46 Minutes

• Friday: 6:45 & 9:30
• Saturday: 2:45, 5:20 & 7:55
• Sunday: 4:05 & 6:40
• Mon-Wed: 7:05
• Thurs: 6:10 & 8:50
Rated R  |  1 Hour 55 Minutes


• Friday: 6:40 & 9:15
• Saturday: 2:45, 5:20 & 8:00
• Sunday: 4:00 & 6:45
• Mon-Wed: 7:00
• Thurs: 6:05 & 8:45
Rated R  |  2 Hours 10 Minutes


Ticket prices are as follows:

  • Adult: $10
  • Child (under 12): $7
  • Military: $8
  • Student (college): $8
  • Senior: $8
  • Matinees, All Seating: $7

Film Club Showing Friday, October 18:
“The Terror” @ 7:30


Special Double-Feature of “Halloween” and “Halloween Ends” on Thursday 13th starting at 6:00 pm

COMING SOON:

  • “Halloween Ends”
  • “Black Adam”
  • “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
  • “The Fablemans”
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Community Events

Samuels Public Library announces 44th Holiday Writing Contest

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It’s that time of year again! Samuels Public Library is holding their 44th Holiday Writing Contest from October 3, 2022, through November 5, 2022, for children in grades K-12.  There will be a reception for winners and their families in December.  Entry forms and guidelines are available at the library.

Attention writers and artists! Submit your short story, poem or an illustration by November 5, 2022.

  • Winners receive their work in a professionally published keepsake book
  • First place winners will receive a certificate to the Royal Oak Bookstore
  • A celebratory reception is held for all winners and their families

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Community Events

Considerations for choosing wildlife ambassadors

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Have you ever wondered how Blue Ridge Wildlife Center (BRWC) decides which patients to keep as educational wildlife ambassadors?

BRWC is home to 25 non-releasable wildlife ambassadors, many former patients whose injuries have prevented them from surviving in the wild. Jennifer Burghoffer, BRWC’s Education Manager, will be speaking about the rigorous process we go through to make sure that the wild animals on our Education Team are the best animals for the job!

Join us on Thursday, October 6th and meet many of our wildlife ambassadors in-person!

  • BRWC Member – 50% Off Discount
    • Use discount code MEM22BRWC at checkout
  • REGISTER HERE

Space is limited and tickets may go fast—please sign up soon to reserve your seat!



This program is part of Blue Ridge Wildlife Center’s Fall Lecture Series.

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Subaru Loves Pets Month at the Winchester Area SPCA

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October kicks off #subarulovespets month at the Winchester Area SPCA to help find loving homes for pets in need. This month, WASPCA will benefit from a $100 donation from CMA’s Subaru of Winchester for every pet adopted. Learn more at subaru.com/pets.

Stop by the adoption center at 111 Featherbed Lane in Winchester, VA, Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 5pm, and weekends by appointment to find the love of your life!

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Laurel Ridge hosted College Night at Fauquier Campus

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Hundreds of high school students came to Laurel Ridge Community College’s Fauquier Campus Tuesday night for the return of College Night following a two-year hiatus brought on by the pandemic.

Students from high schools in Fauquier County, Rappahannock County and beyond were able to meet with representatives from more than 75 colleges and universities from around Virginia and the nation – including Laurel Ridge, of course – to learn about their programs, admission requirements, financial aid, scholarships and more.

“This is an exciting time in the lives of high schoolers, a time when they are figuring out what their next chapter will look like,” said Dr. Caroline Wood, associate vice president for student services and academic support at Laurel Ridge. “We are excited to be a key resource in their planning, and pride ourselves on being the college of choice for so many who are a part of this event.”

College Night is sponsored by the Virginia Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, and Laurel Ridge has been a part of it for more than a decade.


Colleges and programs represented included Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing, Bridgewater College, Coastal Carolina University, Concord University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Florida Institute of Technology, George Mason University, Hollins University, Illinois Wesleyan University, Johnson & Wales University, Mount St. Mary’s University, Ohio University, Regent University, Roanoke College, Seton University, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, University of Kentucky, University of Virginia, Virginia State University and Virginia Tech.

“It was great to have this event back on campus,” said Laurel Ridge student life and engagement coordinator Chris Lambert. “Our four-year partners are always eager and excited to register for this event. Not only were we able to invite potential future students back to our campus, but we were also able to show off our new STEM and health professions building, Hazel Hall.”

College Night is part of a six to eight-week college transfer tour. It was on the Middletown Campus Wednesday afternoon and in the Apple Blossom Mall Wednesday evening.

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This week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of September 30th

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Are you looking for the full movie-going experience without having to wait in the long lines that often accompany that experience? Then look no further because Royal Cinemas movie theatre is the answer. Get the whole gang together and enjoy a movie! Reserved seating in all auditoriums.

Here is a list of this week’s showtimes at Royal Cinemas as of Friday, September 30:

• Friday: 7:00 & 9:35
• Saturday: 3:00, 5:40 & 8:20
• Sunday: 4:10 & 7:25
• Mon-Thurs: 7:05
Rated PG-13  |  2 Hours 6 Minutes

• Friday: 7:05 & 9:45
• Saturday: 3:10, 5:40 & 8:10
• Sunday: 4:25 & 7:20
• Mon-Thurs: 7:20
Rated R  |  1 Hour 55 Minutes


• Friday: 6:55 & 9:40
• Saturday: 3:05, 5:45 & 8:25
• Sunday: 4:15 & 7:15
• Mon-Thurs: 7:10
Rated R  |  2 Hours 10 Minutes


Ticket prices are as follows:

  • Adult: $10
  • Child (under 12): $7
  • Military: $8
  • Student (college): $8
  • Senior: $8
  • Matinees, All Seating: $7

Film Club Showing Tuesday, October 4:
“D.O.A.” @ 7:30

COMING SOON:

  • “Lyle, Lyle Crocodile”
  • “Halloween Ends”
  • “Black Adam”
  • “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
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Thank You to our Local Business Participants:

@AHIER

Aders Insurance Agency, Inc (State Farm)

Aire Serv Heating and Air Conditioning

Apple Dumpling Learning Center

Apple House

Auto Care Clinic

Beaver Tree Services

Blake and Co. Hair Spa

Blue Ridge Arts Council

Blue Ridge Education

BNI Shenandoah Valley

C&C's Ice Cream Shop

Christine Binnix - McEnearney Associates

Code Ninjas Front Royal

Cool Techs Heating and Air

Down Home Comfort Bakery

Downtown Market

Dusty's Country Store

Edward Jones-Bret Hrbek

Explore Art & Clay

Family Preservation Services

First Baptist Church

Front Royal Women's Resource Center

Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce

G&M Auto Sales Inc

Garcia & Gavino Family Bakery

Gourmet Delights Gifts & Framing

Green to Ground Electrical

Groups Recover Together

House of Hope

I Want Candy

I'm Just Me Movement

Jen Avery, REALTOR & Jenspiration, LLC

Key Move Properties, LLC

KW Solutions

Legal Services Plans of Northern Shenendoah

Main Street Travel

Makeover Marketing Systems

Marlow Automotive Group

Mary Carnahan Graphic Design

Merchants on Main Street

Mountain Trails

National Media Services

No Doubt Accounting

Northwestern Community Services Board

Ole Timers Antiques

Penny Lane Hair Co.

Philip Vaught Real Estate Management

Phoenix Project

Reaching Out Now

Rotary Club of Warren County

Royal Blends Nutrition

Royal Cinemas

Royal Examiner

Royal Family Bowling Center

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Oak Computers

Royal Oak Bookshop

Royal Spice

Ruby Yoga

Salvation Army

Samuels Public Library

SaVida Health

Skyline Insurance

St. Luke Community Clinic

Studio Verde

The Institute for Association & Nonprofit Research

The Studio-A Place for Learning

The Valley Today - The River 95.3

The Vine and Leaf

Valley Chorale

Vetbuilder.com

Warren Charge (Bennett's Chapel, Limeton, Asbury)

Warren Coalition

Warren County Democratic Committee

Warren County Department of Social Services

Warrior Psychotherapy Services, PLLC

WCPS Work-Based Learning

What Matters & Beth Medved Waller, Inc Real Estate

White Picket Fence

Woodward House on Manor Grade

King Cartoons

Front Royal
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Feels like: 50°F
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Humidity: 73%
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UV index: 0
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Upcoming Events

Oct
5
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Oct 5 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Oct
8
Sat
11:00 am Fall Farm Days: Life on the Farm @ Sky Meadows State Park
Fall Farm Days: Life on the Farm @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 8 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Fall Farm Days: Life on the Farm @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Come back to the family farm at Sky Meadows. Explore the park’s sustainable farming practices, visit the barred plymouth rock hens, learn about our cattle operation in partnership with the Department of Corrections’[...]
11:00 am The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 8 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work in the Historic Area. Members of the Blacksmith Guild of the Potomac have set up shop and are ready to show[...]
Oct
9
Sun
10:30 am Bethel Life Revival 2022 @ Bethel Assembly of God
Bethel Life Revival 2022 @ Bethel Assembly of God
Oct 9 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Bethel Life Revival 2022 @ Bethel Assembly of God
Please join us on October 9th at 10:30am and October 10th-12th at 6:30pm nightly for a special series of services with Johan Bruwer. Johan is from Bloemfontein, South Africa, and will deliver a very inspiring[...]
11:00 am Fall Farm Days: Life on the Farm @ Sky Meadows State Park
Fall Farm Days: Life on the Farm @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 9 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Fall Farm Days: Life on the Farm @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Come back to the family farm at Sky Meadows. Explore the park’s sustainable farming practices, visit the barred plymouth rock hens, learn about our cattle operation in partnership with the Department of Corrections’[...]
11:00 am The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 9 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
The Farmer’s Forge @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. The forge is fired up and the blacksmiths are hard at work in the Historic Area. Members of the Blacksmith Guild of the Potomac have set up shop and are ready to show[...]
Oct
10
Mon
11:00 am Fall Farm Days: Life on the Farm @ Sky Meadows State Park
Fall Farm Days: Life on the Farm @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 10 @ 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
Fall Farm Days: Life on the Farm @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area. Come back to the family farm at Sky Meadows. Explore the park’s sustainable farming practices, visit the barred plymouth rock hens, learn about our cattle operation in partnership with the Department of Corrections’[...]
6:30 pm Bethel Life Revival 2022 @ Bethel Assembly of God
Bethel Life Revival 2022 @ Bethel Assembly of God
Oct 10 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Bethel Life Revival 2022 @ Bethel Assembly of God
Please join us on October 9th at 10:30am and October 10th-12th at 6:30pm nightly for a special series of services with Johan Bruwer. Johan is from Bloemfontein, South Africa, and will deliver a very inspiring[...]
Oct
11
Tue
6:30 pm Bethel Life Revival 2022 @ Bethel Assembly of God
Bethel Life Revival 2022 @ Bethel Assembly of God
Oct 11 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Bethel Life Revival 2022 @ Bethel Assembly of God
Please join us on October 9th at 10:30am and October 10th-12th at 6:30pm nightly for a special series of services with Johan Bruwer. Johan is from Bloemfontein, South Africa, and will deliver a very inspiring[...]
Oct
12
Wed
6:30 pm Bethel Life Revival 2022 @ Bethel Assembly of God
Bethel Life Revival 2022 @ Bethel Assembly of God
Oct 12 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Bethel Life Revival 2022 @ Bethel Assembly of God
Please join us on October 9th at 10:30am and October 10th-12th at 6:30pm nightly for a special series of services with Johan Bruwer. Johan is from Bloemfontein, South Africa, and will deliver a very inspiring[...]