Archive for January, 2015

Story by Jim Somerville. Photo by Sean Lumsden-Cook.

For years I’ve been looking for a way to harmonize the good news of the coming Kingdom, so prevalent in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, with the good news of eternal life, so prevalent in John. I think I’ve found it, and if I could sum it up in a few words, I think I would say this:

Jesus came to give us the gift of LIFE – abundant, overflowing, and everlasting – and His vision of the Kingdom was about the place, the reality, where that kind of life could be lived.

book studyIn 2015 I’m hoping that we can learn how to live that sort of life here, at First Baptist, by thinking of our church as a kind of “laboratory” where we practice obeying the clear commands of Christ to see what can happen when we truly love one another, forgive one another, and bear one another’s burdens (just to name a few). Jesus seemed to believe that God’s Kingdom could come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Why not start here?

And then I want us to learn how to share that kind of life out there, in the city of Richmond and in all its surrounding suburbs. I think this may be the most natural way of bringing the KOH2RVA – simply by living the life of the Kingdom and sharing that life with others. And yet I don’t think it comes naturally; I think it takes study and practice.

GBL-shadowTo that end we’re going to spend the Season of Lent studying a book called The Good and Beautiful Life, by James Bryan Smith (based on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5-7). During the “Great Fifty Days” of the Easter Season, we’re going to practice living that life here at First Baptist. And from the Day of Pentecost forward, we’re going to focus on sharing that life with our city, our state, our nation, and our world.

So, get ready, First Baptist Church: the Good and Beautiful Life is coming, and I want every one of us to be part of it!

For more information, visit FBCRichmond.org/worship/jtc.
Watch a brief video about the lenten book study.

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By David Powers. Photos by Barbara Mait and David Powers.

When the film “SHOOTING THE PRODIGAL” begins production in June, Richmond’s First Baptist Church will play several major roles: birthplace of the concept, incubator of the film’s development, major financial supporter, location of the production company office, and “home church” to many of the film’s volunteers, cast and crew.

Shooting the ProdigalThe idea for the film began to take shape in 2010, when I served as the church’s Associate Pastor, Ministry of Communication. It grew out of the success of two major Christmas TV specials we produced in 1998 and 2003, and a desire to tell a great story with a positive influence in our increasingly secular culture. That idea was nurtured and encouraged by Jim Somerville, friends, staff colleagues, and the church’s Communication Team.

Over many months of thinking, praying and writing, FBC members Matthew Brown, Deborah Hocutt and I began to develop the concept and eventually a screenplay. But that script was far from what eventually emerged after Dr. Somerville’s brother, Gray, made a suggestion: “You should make a movie about a church making a movie about the parable of the prodigal son!” That sparked our imaginations. Deborah and I continued working and writing a new screenplay, which became the comedy we’ll begin shooting June 22.

Belltower Pictures board

Belltower Pictures board members

With the leadership of the FBC Communication Team, we set up an independent, non-profit production company, Belltower Pictures. Six of the company’s seven board members are FBC members (Paul Bickford, Kim Boys, Elizabeth Norton, Jerry Cardwell, Steve Martin, and myself). Our vision is to “entertain and inspire… telling great stories that reveal spiritual truth.” We hope this film will be the first of many.

The production of a motion picture is an expensive undertaking. So we turned our attention to fundraising. The FBC Endowment Fund was the first to commit funding. So far, there have been 28 financial backers, 15 of them are FBC members. We’ve raised enough money to begin production. We need more to pay for editing, marketing and distribution, so we’ll continue fundraising efforts as we move into production.

In addition to making a great film, we hope to accomplish two other goals: provide a way for folks from many different congregations to work together on a meaningful project; and provide a hands-on training experience for people who want to join the growing film industry workforce in Virginia.

So we’re reaching out to other churches to join us in all aspects of production.
We’re also offering volunteer and internship opportunities to high school and college students.

office space

Preparing office space

We’re setting up an office in the unused space on the third floor of the Pusey House. Now we’re recruiting volunteers, finding locations for the film, and assembling the cast and crew. And, of course, raising the rest of the money.

There is plenty of room for more FBC members to appear in the credits. Obviously, we need actors, extras and crew members. But we also need volunteers in a wide range of areas: office and administrative, website and social media, food service, security, transportation, props, wardrobe, hair and makeup. We need people who can work all or part of the 18 days of principal photography beginning June 22. And we need folks who can help during preproduction between now and then.

BTP-logo-black-CMYKWant to join the party? Email me at dpowers@Belltowerpictures.com. Or visit the website to see a fun promotional video, get more details and sign up for regular email updates: http://www.Belltowerpictures.com.

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Story by Jeannie Dortch.

When Lynn Turner, Senior Associate Pastor, learned that I was writing an article on interns who have served at FBC, she immediately urged, “Please do not leave out our short-term youth interns. For many, that was the launching pad for their futures, the place where they felt a call to full time ministry … Powerful stuff!”

Andy Berry is one of these. The son of longtime FBC members, Bill and Debbie, Andy first distinguished himself by playing baby Jesus in FBC’s 1992 Youth Pageant! During the summer of 2004 he remembers experiencing “a baptism by fire” when his supervising youth minister, Lynn Turner, was abroad. Left in charge, Andy planned everything from Bible studies to mission trips to house repair. “I learned by making mistakes and that helped me learn how to fix things. Stumbling and not having everything super polished was good.”

Andy Berry

Andy Berry

After several years serving youth and families in NC, he returned to Richmond’s Hope Church in 2010 to plan family events and work as a part-time children’s director. He has been Director of Hope Kids Children’s Ministry, Infant – Grade 5 since 2012. Recently, he conducted training for Candi Brown’s Children’s Ministry Sunday school teachers based on the model he uses at Hope. “The most exciting thing for me has been partnering with parents in the spiritual development of their kids. Lynn did a phenomenal job in this area. She taught me that to be successful in youth ministry I have to spend equal time with kids, parents and volunteers. Lynn was my youth pastor, then my boss, and now is my friend.”


Katie Boykin Harbin

Katie Boykin Harbin, daughter of Debbie and Joe Boykin, was a summer intern for Lynn Turner in 2008. In May 2014, she graduated from BTSR with a dual degree: Master of Divinity and Master of Science in Patient Counseling. Katie wrote, “Through Lynn’s mentoring, I began to see possibilities for service that I had not guessed possible. I continued to work with FBC’s youth group until July 2012, when I left for Greenville, SC where I got my first job as a hospital chaplain at Greenville Memorial Hospital. My greatest passion is developing close relationships and sharing in others’ spiritual crises.

“Currently, I am a hospice chaplain for Spartanburg Regional Hospice Home. Members of FBC’s youth group and Lynn Turner were significant players in helping me cultivate skills which have allowed me to be present with others in their pain and suffering. Providing this kind of spiritual/emotional support is my number one responsibility and passion as a chaplain.”

Vignette from Lauren's area of service

Vignette from Lauren’s area of service

One of Lynn’s youth, Lauren, interned in 2009. She now works in North Africa and the Middle East. (For her security, neither her full name nor photograph can be used.) A Virginia Tech graduate with a degree in Human Development, Lauren spends her time overseas teaching and sharing God’s love with those from different cultures.

“My time at FBC showed me what it was like to be involved working with a community of believers. The time spent on FBC mission trips helped solidify my passion for cultures different from my own and for people to go and be Christ’s ambassadors.

“The greatest joy about my job now is building relationships with women and finding those who show interest in the gospel truth. Women here are some of the most hospitable, kind and caring I have ever met. Their example encourages me in my walk with the Lord to be a servant with a caring heart.

“The most difficult thing about my job has been trying to learn two new languages. My people group speaks two different languages. Languages do not come easily to me, but God has shown me grace in helping me retain more information than I thought possible!”

Proverbs 22:6 (KJV) reminds us, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” These youth interns are a few examples of the impact that FBC has had on its protégées. Thank God for their service here, there, and everywhere!

Author’s note: In writing this series, I was given names of more interns than I was able to interview. Those include Suzanne Burgess Acosta, Trey Bearden, Sean Gunter, Holly Jesensky, Abby Dickinson Moncrief, Cory Osborne (current), Aaron Prescott, Laura Norvelle Purtee, Stewart Smith, Maddie Surles, Sara Smith Williams, and Courtney Jones Willis. Please add your comments to praise these, those mentioned in the article, or any others you may know who have been influenced by their association with FBC.

Read related stories: Interns Part 1, Interns Part 2, Where Are They Now?, KOHx2 – Multiplication Made Easy, Working with Them, SKEINS Knits for South African Children, Ministering to the Zulu People in South Africa

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