Archive for October, 2011

Good News

By Sally Ann Smith. Photo by Scott Medina.

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10, NIV).

What a delight that Christ’s charge to serve one another is made possible by the gifts He has given each follower. The mission field isn’t necessarily a specific place but wherever believers are faithfully living out the Good News of His love. It is that Good News that refills dry cups with hope and joy, and spreading it can be as simple as passing it on to neighbors.

Shirley Westbury

Shirley Westbury

First Baptist member Shirley Westbury helps uplift her community through e-mailing and delivering positive writings that she collects from church to her neighbors at 5100 Monument Avenue. First Things First, Appointment With God, other devotionals, and her personal writings help light the world of those around her. “I have special little small bags I buy to put things on neighbors’ doors. People tell me how much they enjoy them. The FBC devotionals are especially appreciated by those I send them to,” Shirley recounts. Imagine the refreshment of going for the morning newspaper, often filled with dismal reports—and finding encouraging words and stories of what God’s love is doing instead. Or, opening up the morning’s e-mail and starting the day off with an uplifting devotional. The act is very simple, but the impact is powerful. “To share with others is a way to ‘reach out and touch someone’ – and words are powerful and comforting,” says Shirley.

Not only is the content of these messages and special deliveries inspiring, but the act of someone taking the time to notice and care brings encouragement. “It’s a kindness to share, a way to stay in touch, and a way to show the love you have in your own heart for those whose lives touch your own,” Shirley notes. And as love tends to multiply when given, Shirley has been blessed in return. “Most share back,” she says. “Folks share their poetry and writings with me also.”

As Shirley urges, “I think any time you share with your neighbors in the community, it opens their eyes to what is going on at FBC and who the people are there, and maybe convinces them that they would like to be a part of such a wonderful church also. And if they are a part of another church community or religion, it still is a way to share God’s love. As Ralph Starling says, ‘Love – that is what it is all about!’”

This brings a wonderful challenge to each FBC member. How can Christ’s Good News be shared where each one has been planted and with the tools and gifts each has been given?

Sally Ann SmithSally Ann teaches 8th grade English at St. Catherine’s School. She serves on the Ministry Consultation Committee for Hanna Zhu, contributes devotionals to Appointment with God, and is an active member of the young couples class with her husband, Clint. Sally Ann and Clint reside in the Near West End and are proud new parents to daughter, Bellamy.

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By Jeannie Dortch.

University Baptist Church, Charlottesville, VA

University Baptist Church. Photo from UBC website.

In 2010, Peter James Flamming, pastor of First Baptist Church from 1983-2006, was asked to speak at University Baptist Church in Charlottesville, Virginia. Never having been there before, Dr. Flamming was taken aback upon entering the sanctuary. He was inside a smaller version of the Richmond sanctuary, from the balcony to the stained glass portrait of Jesus’ baptism above the baptistery. He later learned that the same Virginia architects designed both buildings and that the Payne Spiers Studio of Paterson, New Jersey had been commissioned to make the same stained glass window to hang behind the pulpit. FBC was built in 1928 and UBC, in 1929. This unexpected surprise made Dr. Flamming feel right at home!

The Baptism of Jesus window

The Baptism of Jesus. Photo by David Powers.

But feeling at home in the FBC pulpit on Monument was destined to be only a dream for George White McDaniel, pastor of FBC from 1905-1927. Dr. McDaniel had invested much of his time and energy overseeing the plans for the new church building, but died just four months before the first worship service on December 10, 1928.

In Dr. McDaniel’s honor and memory, his family commissioned the Payne Spiers Studio to design and make The Baptism of Jesus, the Tiffany style stained glass window behind the pulpit. As a beautiful symbol, the window promised a new life – whether buried with Christ as was Dr. McDaniel or raised to serve Christ as FBC members would continue to do from their new location at Monument Avenue and The Boulevard. The Baptism of Jesus is the oldest and probably most familiar window of the twenty-five portraiture windows that hang in the church.

Editor’s note: Copies of the fully illustrated Memorial Windows written by Theodore F. Adams and The Open Door, the church’s history from 1780-2005, are available for checkout or purchase in the church library.

Jeannie Dortch

Jeannie Dortch joined FBC in 1974 after being lovingly mentored by the members of Buddy Hamilton’s Sunday school class. A grandmother of four, Jeannie has served as a deacon, taught in our children’s, youth, international, and adult Sunday school departments, but attends the Journey class presently. Recently retired from 16 years of teaching at Rudlin Torah Academy, Jeannie enjoys exercising, cooking, reading, tutoring New American students at Maybeury Elementary, and writing articles for FTF.

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By Nancy Mairs. Photos by Paul Bickford and Susan Brown.

The First Baptist family is a diverse group of individuals, joining together as one body of believers seeking their paths with Christ. The story of three different couples – Spencer and Caroline Budwell, Carl and Ann Evans, and Todd and Robin Ritter – highlights how this seeking also brings a deeper friendship with other believers. And sometimes even marriage.

The Budwells

The Budwells

Spencer and Caroline Budwell. Photo by Paul Bickford.

Spencer Budwell was involved with other singles in forming a new Sunday school class at First Baptist. So involved that it didn’t occur to him that through this involvement he would meet his future wife.

At the time, several of the young singles felt a growing need for a class that would provide them friendships with others who had been on their own for some time – with a goal not of meeting their life partners, but of sharing their experiences of seeking Christ.

Caroline Budwell, a lifelong Baptist, was attending another church in the area, but was looking for a deeper fellowship with others at her same stage of life. She decided to visit First Baptist, and attended the new Sunday school class where she found what she had been seeking. In the class, she and Spencer became friends, but it wasn’t until they both participated in a mission trip that their friendship began to deepen.

Through activities with the mission team and the Sunday school class the Budwells found their friendship was blossoming into a romance that later led to marriage and the arrival of their two daughters.

The Evanses

Carl and Ann Evans met through their involvement in a Sunday school class that was started by participants in the Divorce Recovery Workshop (DRW).

The Evans

Carl and Ann Evans. Photo by Susan Brown.

Carl was the first to attend FBC, learning about the DRW from an old friend at a high school reunion. “The friend encouraged me to go to First Baptist and check out Divorce Recovery,” Carl remembers. It was some time after this that Ann visited DRW through the urging of some of her friends. After attending her first meeting she knew she would come back. “I walked into the meeting feeling all alone and could see immediately that there were 150 to 200 people in there that were o.k. I knew I would be o.k. too!” remembers Ann.

Both Ann and Carl had attended other churches in the area. But as they became involved in the DRW, particularly in the small groups formed as part of the program, they found FBC was starting to feel like home.

When they joined the Sunday school class, neither had any intent or thought of meeting someone special and getting remarried. Through the closeness of the class and particularly their participation in many of the activities outside of the class, the Evanses developed a special closeness which led to marriage.

Now their “community is expanding and growing,” they explain. They volunteer with the DRW, are part of Fellowship Friends, help with Grace Fellowship, go on mission trips, and through Carl’s love of motorcycles, are part of First Riders.

The Ritters

The Ritters

Todd and Robin Ritter. Photo by Susan Brown.

Todd Ritter’s theatre job led to his moving to a new town each year for the first several years after college. When he settled in Richmond, he remembers his mom kept urging him “to go to a big church so I could meet a nice girl!”

Todd emphatically told his mom that he was not planning on going to church just to meet a girl, but did decide to visit First Baptist since it was the church nearest his home. Some months later he visited again and decided to attend one of the Sunday school classes. Todd found a friendly, close-knit group of folks seeking a relationship with Jesus. He began attending regularly.

Robin had grown up in another Richmond church, but decided to visit FBC on her sister’s recommendation. Robin visited the same Singles Sunday school class as Todd and also liked the closeness of the group.

It wasn’t long before both Todd and Robin were joining with many of their friends from the class in other activities – but still with no thoughts of pursuing any type of romantic relationship. It wasn’t until they attended a weekend retreat that they realized they had much in common and that they were starting to have deeper feelings for each other, feelings which eventually led to marriage. Todd laughs today at the thought of how his mom was right after all!

The common thread among all three couples is that they came to First Baptist to find Christian fellowship. Through their involvement in small groups, such as Sunday school classes, they found a group of friends to share with their love of Christ. As Ann Evans puts it, “it really was through the small group fellowship that I found a ‘family’ here at First Baptist.”

Nancy MairsNancy Mairs joined Richmond’s First Baptist Church more than 20 years ago and is a member of the Disciples class. She works in the Regulatory Affairs group at Dominion Virginia Power, and enjoys hiking, canoeing, traveling, and spending time with her husband, Jim, and son, Jack.

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By Susan Beach.

Here’s a good recipe that everyone can prepare:


Cost of fast food meal
1 Missions Offering envelope

Place first ingredient in envelope; write Disaster & Hunger (BWA or SBC);
drop it in the offering plate. Fills two or three tummies a day.

The opposite is also true – don’t follow the recipe and there are no full tummies.

It’s a simple fact that 925,000,000 people are hungry every day – in this city, this country and around the world. (Click here for more hunger statistics….) That number can be overwhelming, even immobilizing. How can anyone deal with it?

One way is to bring items (see list at end of story) to the grocery cart in the church’s main hallway. FBC’s Ministry of Christian Compassion disperses food to more than 200 families every week.

special missions offering envelope

Use a Missions Offering envelope to designate your World Hunger gift.

But that only feeds the hungry in Richmond. When Jesus said to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Samaria and the ends of the earth, He didn’t give the option to pick one. He sent us to all three.

So, how to do that? Baptists are fortunate to have organizations for just that purpose, feeding the hungry throughout the U.S. and the world. Special emphasis is given on World Hunger Sunday, October 9, 2011, but funds are accepted any time through the year. Gold Missions Offering envelopes provide two ways to give to Disaster and Hunger relief efforts: through the Baptist World Alliance (BWAid) and through the Southern Baptist Convention (Global Response). Missions offering envelopes are available in the bi-monthly envelope packet or at the kiosks. Baptists are also fortunate to know their money is well used: Both organizations spend every penny donated directly on food for those in need; none goes to administrative costs.

FBC Food Pantry Needs
Spaghetti sauce in cans
Soups, Chunky Soups (pop top if available)
Baked Beans, Black Beans, Navy Beans, Pork and Beans (pop top if available)
Microwaveable Rice
Canned fruits (pop top if available)
Peas (pop top if available)
Corn (pop top if available)
Green Beans (pop top if available)
Peanut Butter
Tuna fish (pop top if available)
Breakfast Bars
Mac and cheese
Canned pastas (pop top if available)
Potted meat (pop top if available)
Vienna sausages (pop top if available)
Apple sauce (small plastic containers)
Pop Tarts
Saltine Crackers

Susan BeachSusan Beach volunteers as editor of First Things First. A graduate of Virginia Tech, Susan and her husband, David, have been members of First Baptist Church since 1981. She is a Deacon, a member of the Endowment Fund Board and a member of the Prayer Ministry Team.

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