Archive for April, 2012

By Nancy Chewning. Photos provided by U-TURN.

Many of FBC’s busiest members are equally busy sharing God in the community. Recently we asked Nancy Chewning to tell us about one of her passions, U-TURN Sports Performance Academy. (U-TURN is located in the former Circuit City Building, Maywill at Thalbro Streets, 358-2775.)

A child might ask me, “Why train at U-TURN?”

That is the question… here is the answer:
No matter what your skill level, U-TURN has the training you need. Not only will our coaches help make you stronger, faster, more agile, and more able, they will share the gospel of Jesus Christ with you in a manner that will enrich your life and help take your game to the next level. In all sports, there must be a balance between brains and brawn, skill and talent, and heart and ability. At U-TURN, we not only provide sports skills, we also give you the balance between spirituality and realism that will help propel you in life, regardless of the path you choose.

You might ask me, “Why are you so involved at U-TURN?”

That is the question… here is the answer:
I love the Lord, I love children and I love sports. When all three are combined in an amazing building with 150,000 square feet of basketball, tennis and volleyball courts, football and soccer training fields, a huge weight training center, a cafe, a chapel, meeting rooms and offices for a crackerjack staff, I get really excited. We have children from all walks of life, inner city through private schools, eight through 18 years of age, from many diverse backgrounds and faiths, some of whom can pay and some of whom get scholarships. All the training sessions include a “stop and drop” where a gospel lesson is shared along with how that lesson pertains to the child’s life. Kids dig into their Bibles. It is a joy to watch these young people pray, run, laugh, and learn to love each other and the Lord!

U-Turn soccerYou ask me, “What do you do at U-TURN?”

That is the question… here is the answer:
I go to U-TURN every Wednesday and meet with two or three other women board members. We join to praise God and to pray, not only for the staff, volunteers and board, not only for the children who come in to train, but for their families, our city, anyone who might wander in to eat lunch or supper at the cafe (open to the public), and whatever else the Lord lays on our hearts.

That’s my passion, what’s yours?

Editor’s note: Look for our next story for a tie-in to U-Turn.

Nancy ChewningNancy Chewning is a board member of U-TURN Sports Performance Academy. At FBC, she is a deacon, a member of Mustard Seed Class, has sung in the choir since 1988, and served on the 2006 Senior Pastor Search Committee.

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By Joyce Clemmons.

Giving cheerfully from a generous heart is not like paying dues to your local club or organization. It is not about supporting the First Baptist budget. It is about letting God be first in our lives and committing our time, talent and treasure to His mission and the ministries that will bring His kingdom to earth. Generous gifts bring joy as hurts are healed, the lost are saved, and the hungry are fed.

GIVING CHEERFULLY, LIVING GENEROUSLY, the Generosity Team’s theme for 2012, describes acts of worship that honor God. As we share a portion of what our generous God has blessed us with, we reflect on how our gifts change lives.

Generosity treeThe Stewardship Education Committee recently changed its name to the “Generosity Team” to reflect that view of Christian stewardship. That change is best shown in a new graphic design that depicts what an exciting and all-encompassing word generosity is.

This new approach is the result of recommendations from a “Generosity Audit” conducted in the fall of 2011, by Allen Walworth, Executive Vice President of Generis. Allen spent a day with staff, church teams and leaders. He affirmed FBC for the many things we do extremely well. He also made recommendations designed to accelerate the generosity of the congregation. The Generosity Team presented these recommendations to the Deacons in March. After the Deacons process them, the recommendations will be presented to the church.

Thomas S. Monson says in An Attitude of Gratitude: “This is a wonderful time to be living here on earth. Our opportunities are limitless. While there are many things wrong in our world today, there are many things right, such as teachers who teach, ministers who minister, marriages that work, parents who sacrifice, and friends who help. . . . We can lift ourselves and others as well when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues.”

Generosity Team: Joyce Clemmons, team leader; Stephanie Whittington; Joy Townsend; Walter Morton; Steve Booth, staff liaison.

View the First Baptist Church Ministry Action Plan.

Joyce ClemmonsSince Joyce joined First Baptist in 1984, she has taught the Acts Class, chaired the Personnel, Budget, Finance, Stewardship, and Nominating Committees, and served on the Flower Delivery Team. Currently Joyce is a deacon, member of Adult Bible Study and Teaching Team, leads the Generosity and Pulpit Supply Teams, represents FBC on the Executive Team of the Richmond Baptist Association, and is a student at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. Joyce’s 30-year career with Wyeth Pharmaceuticals as International Sales Manager for Military Sales encouraged her love of travel, which she continues in her retirement. She and her husband, Edward, are looking forward to a three week trip to Ireland this summer.

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By Jeannie Dortch.

“Do you still love me even though I’m not a Christian?”

Chinese proverbThat was the blunt question a Chinese university student asked FBC Associate Pastor Steve Blanchard during a mission trip to China in October. The encounter between the two took place in Nanjing, where the team of six retired teachers from Virginia, Louisiana, and Texas, and two ministers from Richmond’s First Baptist Church went to work with Virginia Baptist Ambassador Lynn Yarborough.

Students in Nanjing, China

Fourth grade students at Red Mountain Primary School in Nanjing, China.
Photo by Sue Meador.

Lynn invited the team to work with an Amity Foundation project to introduce the Chinese to the outside world through foreign churches. Our goal was not so much to teach English, as to be a loving presence of Christ.

Part of our assignment was to teach in migrant schools – poorly funded elementary schools for children whose parents are not permanent citizens of Nanjing. We became very close to the teacher education students who translated for us. They made it possible for us to implement our lesson plans by translating directions and information specific to each activity in which we engaged the children. Their classrooms held an average of 60 children with desks and nothing but chalkboards on the walls. Despite their lack of resources, these children were focused, well-behaved, and extremely appreciative of our long trip to work with them – so appreciative they even wanted our autographs!

Team with university students

Students at Jiangsu Institute of Education in Nanjing, China, with team members Jeannie Dortch (center) and Sue Meador (right). Photo by Lynn Yarborough.

In the afternoons, we joined our translators and other university students in conversational English using photos of our lives in America to generate questions. These students were not Christians, but our sharing inevitably led to questions, and answers, about our faith.

Steve Blanchard recalls a conversation with one of the students. “He asked, ‘Are you from a Christian church?’” The question surprised Steve because we had not said anything about our church affiliation. He replied, “Yes, I am.” The student followed up, “So, you love God?” “Yes,” Steve affirmed. The student pressed further: “I am Buddhist. So do you still love me even though I am not Christian?” “Of course I do!” Steve answered. A huge smile came across the student’s face. He jumped up and gave Steve a big hug. That exchange sparked an hour-long discussion with the Chinese students. Steve recalls, “We talked about how important it is to love people not because of where they come from or what they look like. We love people because God created all of us.”

Amity Foundation welcomes FBC.

Amity Foundation welcomes FBC team. Standing from left: Steve Blanchard, Sherry Goff, Gwen Garrett, Pat Pierson, and Carol Hall; Seated from left: Sue Meador, Jeannie Dortch and Candi Brown. Photo by Lynn Yarborough.

A few of the students had been assigned an essay about the one word that had changed the world. “Science, cooperation and Apple” were words that they had chosen, but they wanted to know what we would pick.

My choice was “love”; another of our team said “Jesus.” When my translator asked my motivation for being a good teacher, I had an opportunity to make the connection between those two words. In one way or another, we made that same connection with drivers, tour guides, translators, students, and even among ourselves, touching the lives of over 1,200 children and young adults in just four days.

Candi Brown, FBC’s Minister to Children and mission team member, commented on our interactions with students: “The culture of China does not welcome open evangelism, but we agreed to enter each situation with a spirit of love and let the Holy Spirit do His work. We were amazed at how many opportunities arose in which we were given opportunities to answer questions about our faith.”

For more information about the Amity Foundation, go to http://www.amityfoundation.org.

Jeannie DortchJeannie 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 is presently a member of the WebClass. 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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