Archive for June, 2016

Story by Jeannie Dortch. Photographs by Dean Hawthorne.

I have always been drawn to the stained glass windows in our sanctuary.  Everything about them intrigues me, from the decorative and colorful Doric Greek designs that surround them to the stories behind their creation and the scriptures chosen to accompany each one. Dr. Theodore F. Adams spearheaded the window project in the late 1940s, his vision inspired by Psalm 90:17, “Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of thy hands.”

Establish the work of our hands.
For close to seventy years, the stained glass windows on the east and west of our sanctuary have illuminated the story of Christ’s life and of His modern church. The upper windows follow Jesus from the prophecies of His birth to His ascension while the lower panels correlate with the windows above them to reflect how present-day worshipers live out Christ’s example.

Efforts are underway to refurbish these 26 windows. Since their installation, there has never been any regularly scheduled maintenance. The Premises Team has determined the windows have thermal and structural deterioration that needs to be addressed. With the restoration of the sanctuary complete, the need to protect the stained glass windows for generations to come has become paramount.

Given the significance of these windows to our Church, an opportunity has arisen to help offset the expense of this preservation. If the window repairs are funded through the capital expense budget, the project will have to be completed over two to three years. But, if the congregation underwrites the preservation, it can be finished sooner, will cost less, and the capital budget can be used for many other identified capital needs.

A committee has been commissioned by the deacons to encourage the congregation to sponsor the restoration of a window by an individual, family, Sunday school class, or other group. The restoration may be in memory or honor of a loved one, special person or group. The price to refurbish each of the 26 windows is $7,500, a goodly sum to be sure, but contributions of smaller amounts are encouraged and will be gratefully received.

A plaque commemorating and recognizing the donor and honoree of each restored window will be placed beside the original giver’s designation under each window. For those who contribute smaller amounts towards the restoration, a congregational designation will appear on the plaque next to the original. When the windows are rededicated, all donor names will appear in that day’s bulletin.

window detail

Window within a window: This detail cleverly depicts the artisans who crafted The Work of Our Hands window for our sanctuary.

Author’s notes: Detailed information and a submission form are in flyers on the church kiosks. Requests for a particular window will be handled on a first come, first served basis. Checks payable to FBC with “Window Preservation” on the memo line can be put in the offering plate or mailed to FBC, 2709 Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA 23220. To make other payment arrangements or ask questions, contact Becky Wills in the Finance Office, 804-355-8637, ext. 152.

Photographs and brief descriptions of all the sanctuary windows are in the Memorial Windows booklet written by Dr. Adams and available in the church library. Additional information for some of the windows is found in First Things First.

Windows Restoration Committee: Nancy Chewning, Virginia Darnell, Jeannie Dortch, Paul Kreckman, Richard Szucs and Charles Tilley.

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Story and photos by Becky Payne.

“Hausmusik” is not exactly an everyday word in our language, but translated from the German it simply means “music in the home.” Years ago Bernice Rodgerson began inviting friends and neighbors to her home for music programs, which were mostly classical piano solos and duets, played by Bernice and a friend or her teacher. After the music, there was always a time of fellowship and refreshment.

HausmusikWhen Bernice and her husband moved to Lakewood Manor, she continued her practice of Hausmusik programs in the Simms Center. It was at this time she began inviting her grandchildren who played guitar, piano and violin to join her. She accompanied them at the piano, but she continued her piano solos and duets with her teacher.

This might not sound unusual until you discover that Bernice began presenting these programs when she was nearly 80. Today, at 92, she continues to present her yearly Hausmusik program at Lakewood.

Bernice’s love for music began when she was a child. Her family had a piano but could not afford music lessons. A neighbor took interest in her, taught her the names of the notes on the keyboard, how to place her hands on the notes, and a few music basics. Encouraged, and with a little bit of knowledge, she took a hymnal and taught herself to play.

HausmusikHer first formal piano lesson didn’t occur until she was a junior in high school. In spite of her somewhat late start Bernice entered college, majored in music, and graduated from Georgetown College in Kentucky prepared to teach.

It was at Georgetown that Bernice met her husband Phil. After “Dr. Phil” graduated from Louisville Seminary they moved to Richmond for him to become the founding pastor of Bon Air Baptist Church. In addition to her roles as pastor’s wife and mother to their children, Bernice taught school and piano lessons.


Bernice still lives at Lakewood and is actively involved in the life of that community, as well as the life of First Baptist Church where she is now a member. At Lakewood she plays piano for Sunday morning worship in Healthcare one Sunday each month and participates in a weekly Bible study. Though she isn’t often in attendance at Richmond’s First Baptist Church, she watches the webcast each week, continues to participate in Women on Mission, and is part of the Congregational Care Team where she keeps in touch with four of our home-bound members by sending cards and making regular phone calls and occasional visits.

HausmusikAnd, of course, she still plays the piano. It is her goal to practice two hours daily (except Sunday) so that she will be prepared for her piano lessons with her long-time teacher, Mrs. Anne James. Bernice has studied with Anne for more than 30 years, and still looks forward to every lesson. They are currently working on the music they will present in the next Lakewood Hausmusik program this fall.

When asked why she continues to study piano Bernice replied, “To play well is still a goal! It’s something I have to do! There is always something new I want to learn. Studying and practicing puts structure in my days and brings me great joy.”

And, to those of us who know and love Bernice, she brings great joy with her friendship and her music.

Becky PayneBecky Payne, recently retired after 25 years as Organist/Music Associate at Richmond’s First Baptist Church, now serves part-time in Congregational Care. Becky, a native Mississippian and graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, came to Richmond after serving churches in Alabama, Kentucky and Mississippi.  She continues to volunteer in the music ministry and to teach a Bible Study at Lakewood Manor.  In her semi-retirement she is enjoying traveling, reading and more time with friends.

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