Archive for August, 2012

By Nancy Mairs.

Lynn Turner

It all started at the 2012 spring staff retreat when the discussion turned to bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia (KOH2RVA). Lynn Turner, First Baptist’s Senior Associate Pastor, wondered what it would be like if everyone at FBC went on a mission trip – not to a distant location, but here, to Richmond.

Jim Somerville

Jim Somerville

Jim Somerville, FBC’s Senior Pastor, explains the initiative that has grown from that conversation: “In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus teaches His disciples to pray that God’s Kingdom would come, and God’s will would be done, on earth as it is in heaven. It is my conviction that Jesus wanted His disciples not only to pray for that, but to work for that.” [More details at KOH2RVA.org]. And maybe the idea of working for the Kingdom of Heaven to come on earth means to Richmond, Virginia too.

Steve Blanchard

Steve Blanchard

Steve Blanchard, Associate Pastor, explains, “After all, when Jesus walked on earth, He saw the same people we see, saw the same sort of needs we do, but He paid attention. He saw beyond the external and took an interest in people. Are the folks in the Richmond Metro area really that much different than the folks Jesus came in contact with? Maybe in the past, the church has focused too much on converting folks to the faith, but what Christ really meant was for us to learn to approach people as He did – loving them right where they are.”

calloutMaybe bringing heaven to earth is nothing more than looking at our everyday lives to see how we can show Jesus to those in the world who do not know Him. In Richmond we come in contact with the sick, the lonely, the hurting, and with those who are lost in the pursuit of their own ambitions. And, maybe what Jesus meant for us to learn from the Lord’s Prayer is that we need to love those around us, just as He did. Isn’t that really what a mission trip is all about? Learning from Jesus how to show and tell people what the world would be like if God were completely in charge. And, learning that will lead us to go out and do the work of the Kingdom of Heaven, in the mission field where God has put us – Richmond, Virginia.

What will the church-wide mission trip look like? The staff at First Baptist has provided a few tools to help us prepare. These tools are available on the website: KOH2RVA.org.

Lynn shares a prayer of discernment to use in seeking the connection between the kind of work we love to do and the work the world needs.

Steve Booth

Three video discussions address some of the issues of making our faith practical. Jim and Lynn provide the context for the year-long, every-member mission trip. Steve Booth, Associate Pastor, helps us connect our daily life with the life of faith. Steve Blanchard explains how to practice compassion in a Christ-like way.

A list of current Richmond-based mission “trips” offers opportunities for children, adults and families.

The year-long mission trip begins with the One Sunday celebration on September 9, 2012. Imagine a bus with a KOH2RVA license plate pulling up to the corner of Monument and The Boulevard that day. Jump on the bus, find a seat, and begin an adventure that will make the license plate a reality, bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia!

Nancy Mairs Nancy 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 Shawnee Hansen. Photos by Chris Hillman.

Have you ever wondered what a small group study is all about?

calloutOn Monday evenings Ralph Starling, Minister of Christian Invitation, opens his home to visitors and both new and long-time members for Bible study.

small groupRalph explains, “I believe we are here to practice hospitality everywhere: in Sunday school, the marketplace, anywhere in the community we may find ourselves. A simple way to do this is to welcome people attending our church, new members or guests, and make sure they have the opportunity to make friends and build connections. When people develop relationships, they hang around. This is energizing for a church. I like to use my home for people.”

small groupAnd people have been responding to this invitation.

Lewis and Linda Watts had been visiting First Baptist for a year and a half. “We wanted to connect and meet people and were happy to hear that a small group was forming. It has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and we ended up officially transferring our membership. We have made some wonderful friends and really look forward to our Monday nights together.”

Chris and Resa Hillman drive from Saluda to attend the group. As new members, it has given them the opportunity to engage with other newcomers and visitors. Resa explains: “It’s a meaningful way to start our week. Chris and I feel like part of the First Baptist family now.”

small groupIn addition to the social benefits of meeting other new members, small groups also provide a setting to study the Bible more deeply. Past small groups used the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) to examine “The Way of Forgiveness” and “The Way of Blessedness,” intensive studies which look at everyday problems and how to handle them in a Christ-like manner.

Julie Pierce, who attends with her husband, Warren, says “I really look forward to coming together in a small group and discussing the topic and studying together the biblical perspective. It’s fascinating hearing everyone’s opinions on each lesson. We have a lot more time than in a Sunday school setting for intensive study.”

Small group members include people with diverse backgrounds, representing all areas of Richmond and beyond: stay-at-home parents, students, doctors, business people, the retired, and those beginning their careers. They find the relaxed atmosphere, casual attire, and refreshments conducive to beginning new friendships.

small groupSmall groups start at various times throughout the year and usually last eight to ten weeks. The next one, “The Way of Prayer,” September 10 through November 5, will journey into the heart of prayer. Contact Ralph Starling at 804-358-5458, ext 134 to join.

Shawnee Hansen Shawnee Weitzel Hansen is founder and President of Richmond Friends of the Homeless, a non-profit which has been providing nourishing meals and services to the disadvantaged in our community for twenty six years. She enjoys bringing the inner city children she works with to First Baptist to experience the love of Christ, often for the first time. Shawnee was recently named the YWCA Woman of the Year in Human Relations and Living the Faith.

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Story and photos provided by Wendy Starkey.

Have you ever thought about your legacy, what sort of impact you will have on those in your life? How will you be remembered?

author and daughterNow that I have two young daughters, I’ve started to think of my legacy. Of course, the Lord willing, I want to leave them whatever worldly wealth I possess. But I also want to leave them intangible gifts – lessons learned, fun family memories, words of encouragement. And looking to the eternal, what type of Christian legacy will I leave imprinted on them?

calloutI have started to look at the Bible as a legacy. God, through Abraham, Moses, Ruth, David, and many more, has left a legacy for me. While I cannot add to the Bible, I can continue its legacy. It is a foundation I can build on by sharing how God has worked in my life.

To do that I have begun collecting ideas for intentionally creating my legacy.

A friend told me about a woman who lost her husband. To deal with her grief, she wrote about their life together. She included many examples of how God worked in their lives to redirect their paths, confirm their decisions, and make Himself known to them. I’m sure this was very therapeutic for her, but I believe it also increased her faith and has the potential to increase the faith of her family and friends. Part of my legacy will be found in the stories I tell and write about God being core to my family’s life together.

Starkey familyMany people have favorite Bible verses. Sharing these references and their personal significance is a wonderful legacy to leave and a way to fulfill God’s command in Deuteronomy 4:9, “Teach them to your children” (NIV). Recently, my daughter Mahaley and I were at the Goochland YMCA. The pool there has a wonderful slide, but for a six-year-old it can be a bit intimidating. I had the opportunity to whisper in her ear, “The Bible says, ‘For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength’ (Philippians 4:13, New Living Translation) and everything in the Bible is true.” Mahaley smiled and climbed the ladder to go down the slide without fear. When I share with my children God’s words that are important to me, I leave them a legacy useful in their everyday lives.

Another way to strengthen this legacy is taking the opportunity to share what Esther Burroughs calls “God stop” moments. A woman whose brother and son both died from a spinal disorder had another son. When he was born, he had a birthmark in the middle of his back over his spinal cord. While most people would only see a birthmark, this woman saw a sign from God saying “I remember your brother and son; I remember your pain.” If I were a member of her family, I would want to hear such a beautiful story of faith. And I want to tell my children every time God stops me in my tracks with a new understanding of how He is active in my life.

Many people dismiss the Bible as too old to have an impact on 21st century life. But continuing its story by sharing my story makes it current. By sharing my faith story I am bringing our family closer to God. That’s the legacy I want to leave.

Editor’s Note: Wendy has shared so powerfully about leaving a legacy for her children. Her story challenges us all to be intentional about leaving our legacy.

Do you have other ideas for ways to leave a legacy? Have you already started this process? If so, what have you done? Has someone left a legacy for you? Would you share it with us?

Please share your ideas, experiences or goals in the “Leave a reply” box below.

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