Archive for October, 2014

Story by Jess Ward.

Getting a budget process started is a little bit like running a marathon. It requires patience, confidence, and the promise of a nearby bed to collapse into.

Tom Visotsky, the church’s new, full-time Finance Business Manager (whose office plaque would be more honest if it read Marathon Runner, Finance Wiz, World Traveler, ENFP) says that the best way to learn about an organization is to do a budget. This starts with meeting with the church staff and hearing about the needs of their ministries.

Tom Visotsky

Tom Visotsky

This is not Tom’s first time in the ring with a church budget. In 2008, Tom was on the vestry at his church, Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, in Midlothian. Remember 2008? That was the beginning of the market crash, when both money and jobs were being lost at an alarming rate. Cue recession. “Everyone wanted to run and hide,” says Tom. “There are no guidebooks as to how to run a stewardship campaign during a recession.” So how do you keep a stewardship committee calm during a recession? “By applying general principles of problem solving and taking logical steps,” he says. It sounds too easy to be true. But Tom saw that the need for the church’s help was going to be greater than ever before. “And the people responded.” The committee asked for a 10% increase and they got a 7% increase.

Those logical steps allow you the confidence to do, as Tom puts it, “the detail work.” Details like considering everything that has to go in next year’s budget, which is a unique process for a church. In the world of budgets, things usually happen like this: the organization or company looks at the data, writes the budget, and everyone just has to live with it. First Baptist starts with the team talking to the ministers about what they need, proposing a budget and then marrying it to the stewardship campaign. You can almost hear the cha-ching, cha-ching noises as your brain begins to do the math. But as Tom emphasizes, “It’s a lot more than just money.”

Me: “Does it ever get overwhelming?”

Tom: “No. There are just many issues to balance.”

Me: “So expenses plus stewardship equals budget?”

Tom: “No, not really. There are a lot of moving parts. You need to analyze historic trends in giving and talk with the staff to get their input about goals and missions.”

Tom is not as easily fazed as some of his fellow co-working “P’s,” as the staff would call them. (The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator “P” stands for “perceiving,” which means the person is more of a visionary and less of a detail-oriented person.) This guy has run ten marathons, four of them in Boston, and yes, he was less than three blocks away from the infamous Boston Marathon bombings. “It was pretty freaky. Surreal is really the word.” (He ran this past year as well and said the experience of running past massive, encouraging crowds was “really, really special.”)

This whole finance thing is Tom’s wheelhouse. He started a business from scratch, ran it for 25 years, and then merged it with a public company. He’s also served as the president (now referred to as the chairman) of the Virginia Society of CPA’s, which has about 10,000 members. Public speaking, authoring published articles and world travel are not a problem with this guy.

As for FBC, Tom is working on the big picture (aka the race course) by working on providing accurate information to the people who make decisions about the budget, and by that he means not just offering them numbers – but the data they need to better manage the church.

Because it’s a lot more than just money.

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Story by Jeannie Dortch.

The net of influence cast by Richmond’s First Baptist Church is wider than most could imagine. Lynn Turner, Senior Associate Pastor/Ministry of Community, remarked: “Over the years, FBC has become ‘an equipping church’ for interns who started their ministries here.” FBC’s involvement with students from the United States and abroad has made just as much of an impact beyond our borders as have our BTSR interns. Read Interns on the Move Part 1.

Candi Brown, FBC’s Minister to Children, explained the recent expansion of FBC’s social work ministries’ internship program: “In 2010 Steve Blanchard, Associate Pastor, Compassion, and I began talking about the need for more case management help with our refugees. We looked to the VCU Social Work Department for help. We have supervised seven VCU interns on the bachelor’s and master’s levels since then.”

Nicole Zingaro

Nicole Zingaro

In 2012, Nicole Zingaro fulfilled a Master of Social Work requirement by serving 14 hours per week for one year in Journey Point, FBC’s refugee resettlement program. Now she manages other interns from VCU as FBC’s Social Worker, a position she has held since graduation. Steve noted that Nicole “is good with clients. She exudes a calm and approachable manner, making the refugees, especially the women, identify and bond with her.”

Hannah McMahan

Hannah McMahan

Interns also come from schools outside Richmond. Hannah McMahan, a graduate of Wake Forest University Divinity School, wrote, “In the summer of 2009, I was supervised by Steve Booth, Associate Pastor, Formation, for one year. The church was going through the transition to the missional church model, and I came as the Interim Youth Minister during the search for a permanent youth minister.” Now, Hannah works in Washington, DC as the National Coordinator of New Baptist Covenant (NBC). As Hannah explains, “I have always been inspired by NBC’s dream of healing the racial, theological and generational divides in the Baptist family. In my current position, I work alongside various Baptist communions to facilitate cross-cultural ministry partnerships between Baptist churches on the local level.”

Alena Glembova

Alena Glembova

“Alena Glembova is part of the fruit of FBC’s first mission trip to Ruzemberok, Slovakia in 2000, to run an English camp,” commented Ralph Starling, Associate Pastor, Invitation. “So successful was the camp in which Alena was a student that FBC members returned for the next ten years. After that long, the campers and local residents had become family to us. I wasn’t surprised when Alena called in 2012 to see if she could spend the summer in Richmond giving back by helping me work with the international students at VCU as well as with the refugees.”

Alena returned for her third consecutive summer in 2014. Ralph enthused, “She is a very open person with strong relational skills, along with the ability to speak four languages. The VCU students love her.” Alena is currently working on her master’s degree in business management in Slovakia.

Brittany Phipps

Brittany Phipps

Brittany Phipps is finishing her degree in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management with concentration in Program Management and a minor in Psychology at NC State University. But in the summers of 2012 and 2013, she helped FBC’s children and youth in conjunction with the recreation ministry.

“It was on a mission trip to China where I met Buddy Burgess, FBC’s Recreation Minister, and was led to interning for him. After my first summer at FBC, I went back to NC State and immediately changed my major to something that would include recreation. Had it not been for Buddy’s ‘coaching,’ I would never have made that decision. After graduation, I plan to intern in College Ministry in Raleigh, followed by serving as a church program director or perhaps spending more time on the mission field. I am open to different possibilities!”

Carmen Miller

Carmen Miller

FBC’s media ministry is our newest area of service. In 2010, as a student at North Greenville University in South Carolina, Carmen Miller came to FBC as a summer intern to fulfill a requirement for her major in Mass Communications with a concentration in Broadcast Media. “Carmen’s zest for life, service, and travel was exhibited through the energy she poured into her internship at FBC,” said Janet Chase, FBC’s Media Designer.

Carmen emailed, “I was very impressed with FBC’s organization and their professional way of approaching communication to a mass audience. My training was very helpful. With the responsibilities I was given, my confidence increased as a designer. I graduated in 2011, but live in Nashville now where I am a supervisor at the Nashville Downtown Hostel.

FBC’s association with these outstanding young people has produced a living testament to our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ who faithfully serve in the Richmond area and throughout the world. “Amen to that!” say those affiliated with FBC who have been privileged to work with these dedicated interns who are here, there, and everywhere!

Author’s note: In writing this article, I was given names of more interns than I was able to include in this article. Among the names not mentioned above are Katie Barnette, Candace Beam, Shannon Edwards, Jennifer Kopak, and Victoria Proctor. Please add your comments to praise those mentioned or highlight any other interns you may know who have been influenced by their association with FBC.

Editor’s note: This article is dedicated to Len Morrow who encouraged Jeannie to write about FBC’s interns.

See related stories: FBC Equips Emerging Leaders and Who is this man?

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Story by Stephanie Kim. Photo by Susan Brown.

When my daughter was in 8th grade, each student created a parenting handbook as a language arts project. Each parent contributed by writing a letter to her or his child, giving advice to the future parent. This is what I wrote to my daughter.

Dear Maria,
I have been given this amazing opportunity to share with you my dreams for you as a parent someday. I certainly hope that you will patiently wait for that special boy God is preparing to be your husband. With your marriage promise to each other and with both of you wholeheartedly committed to God, I pray that He will bless you with the tremendous joy of children.

Children help us parents learn so many things and shape us into better individuals. They teach unconditional love and demonstrate a faith that adults seem to have lost. They change our perspective. They are the source of our greatest joys and deepest sorrows. You will learn enduring patience, overflowing generosity, and sacrificial love. You will develop a much greater understanding of the Heavenly Father’s love for you after you have your own children. And you will learn to forgive again and again.

If you are blessed with children, I hope you will remember that these children you love with all your heart are loved even more by Someone else.In fact, your children actually belong to God, Who has entrusted to you these you call your own only for a time to care for and nurture. It’s an awesome responsibility and a tremendous honor…and way too tough to handle on your own! You will quickly learn that you must lean on God for help because you will face countless difficult challenges as they grow older. I hope that you will seek God’s wisdom and will in every decision and challenge you face.

Many mothers worry about making mistakes. Whatever bumps in the road come along, your love for them will overcome all your shortcomings. Pray for your children daily—maybe even constantly. There are many dangers and evil things in this world that can consume you with worry for your children. Instead place your trust in God and know that He has His children in the palm of His hand.

School will teach them what they need for college and career. You teach them what is most important to live—to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love others. Show them how to be grateful for the big things and little things, when there is plenty and when there is little, in good times and bad. Gratitude is the key to happiness.

It’s easy, especially in the early years of parenting, to become overwhelmed with life and circumstances and careers and things to do. I hope that you will not rush those years and hurry to and from everything: They will pass quickly without your help. You’ve heard it before—life is not an emergency. Don’t worry about the dirty dishes, the laundry to be done, the toys spread everywhere. Do them when there is time, but not at the cost of dancing with your kids, riding bikes together, messing up the driveway with chalk, and splashing in the rain.

And when things don’t turn out exactly the way you planned—for you or for your children—trust that God has it under control.

I love you more than you know, and God loves you even more than that. I know you will be a marvelously magnificent mom!


A Mother's Letter

Stephanie often participates in worship services as flutist.

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