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Archive for December, 2014

Story by Susan Beach. Photos by Susan Brown and Mary Palmer.

When you say “Christmas,” members of Richmond’s First Baptist Church think of many things – hoping no one will drop a wreath during Hanging of the Green, humming along at the choir concerts, making gingerbread houses and eating the remnants, wondering who will be Baby Jesus in the Youth Christmas Pageant. We have much to enjoy and many opportunities to celebrate.

But wait; there is more – a lot more that we enjoy and celebrate outside FBC.

  • Women on Mission serve a holiday breakfast to the homeless at Oregon Hill Baptist Center and provide toys and clothes for the Christmas Store at South Richmond Baptist Center.
  • One Accord presents a concert at Bruton Parish in Williamsburg.
  • Staff wrap and deliver gifts to the teachers and students of Glen Lea Elementary and Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal schools.
  • A gift from former member Ralph Anderson provides a special Christmas breakfast to the homeless.
  • The church family gives holiday parties for international students, for residents of Essex Village, and for members of Grace Fellowship.
  • Members of women’s mission groups prepare Christmas food bags for the homeless in South Richmond.

And there’s still more. There’s all you do! Use the Comment box below to share what you do or what you’ve seen others do to take Christmas outside the doors of FBC and bring the celebration to Richmond.

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FBC’s Legacies

Story by Rebecca Ozmore.  Photos by Win Grant

Due to an unfortunate “happening,” Richmond’s FBC has lost all of its buildings and belongings. As a leadership community, you have been given the critical challenge of facilitating the congregation through a discernment process that you will develop. The process is to be a spiritual journey and the hope is that the congregation will hear God’s voice and His will to continue to be His Church during this time of crisis.

SFBC's Legaciesuch was the hypothetical task assigned to the members of the first Legacy of Leadership course at Richmond’s First Baptist Church. Seventeen church members, including me, responded to the invitation to participate in the intense five-session course, over a period of 11 weeks. We “Legacies,” our name coined by the facilitators, learned about personal and spiritual discernment by completing inventories on our personalities and spiritual gifts, hearing presentations from other church leaders, and reading materials such as Pursuing God’s Will Together by Ruth Haley Barton and Seeds for the Future by Robert Dale.

FBC's LegaciesIn addition, we learned about many of the ministries already in place at FBC, how the church is organized, with which groups it is associated, and what incorporates sound leadership practices. Three groups of legacies worked and reflected together. Each was charged with completing a service project within the church or Richmond community. Projects included cleaning the grounds at the Anna Julia Cooper School, assisting with RVA United , and bowling with FBC’s Lambs’ Class (a Sunday morning Bible study group for special needs adults).

FBC's LegaciesAt the course’s conclusion, each of us presented a brief personal plan for ministry. Mine is to serve on the Side-By-Side committee, a small team that feels called to support our staff through hospitality. However, this was second to a call much closer to my heart – servant leadership for the two young boys I am raising at home. That might sound obvious to many parents, but I shared with the Legacy group the challenging road I have traveled as a mother and how God spoke very clearly to me about being a mom through the Legacy experience.

Many of us wrestled a bit before seeing God’s plan for us. Most of us were able to see the first steps He would have us take, if not much of the big picture. Some planned to help with projects involving the church structure, others to start initiatives that serve and support groups within FBC and the Richmond community.

FBC's LegaciesSteve Booth, Mark Larson and Melissa Brooks, course facilitators, served on a team that developed the course material. Mentors were identified within the congregation to work with each participant over the first few months after the course, as we commissioned Legacies found our way into various leadership roles. “Part of our mission for this course is calling out and empowering leaders in the church – not just equipping leaders with the knowledge from the actual work. So, to me, this means keeping people motivated, connected, intentional, and listening for ways that God is calling them forth in the church,” said Melissa. Mark added that more than 50 members of the church were involved in the development of the course, helping to build a support network for all involved and keeping a lay-led focus.

FBC's LegaciesIf this sounds like a lot to take in, it was! But as I immersed myself in the course and the relationships I was developing, I clearly felt God in the driver’s seat. As a mother of two very active young boys, finding time for meditation and reflection often falls to a select few moments of the day (or week). I had been asking God to meet me where I was in the hectic schedule of my life. A few months into this prayer, I had the opportunity to participate in this leadership course. I found myself completely surrounded and supported by my peers and the church staff leading the course. My doubts as to what God could possibly have me do gave way quickly to the vision of opened doors through which paths to Him existed. I felt Him leading me on my path as a mother, as a spouse, as a congregant, and as His servant.

As Steve describes, “The Legacy of Leadership course is our most recent intentional effort to develop emerging leaders at First Baptist. Our hope is to repeat the course annually. We are blessed to have an abundance of gifted and committed leaders…but we must be intentional in calling out and training additional servant leaders for the future.”

I felt extremely honored to be invited to take part in the course, and I know the other Legacies felt the same. We formed lasting connections to each other and to others in our congregation. The course gave me the opportunity to reflect on how God wants to use me for His service and potentially lead others down the path He has for our church.

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12, NIV).

FBC's Legacies

Editor’s note: For more information, contact Lisa Tuck.

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