Archive for July, 2016

Story by Nick Deere. Photos by Allen Cumbia and Allison Maxwell. Video by Sean Cook.

Goodbyes are never a fun part of life, and saying goodbye to a church full of people I care so much about is especially tough. As I approach the last month of my residency, I feel like I am nearing the end of a good book that I don’t want to finish.

calloutI moved to Richmond two years ago – less than a week after I graduated from seminary. The church and even the city were very much a mystery to me, but gradually I began getting the hang of how the church worked. And even though it took me three months to figure out that there was a third floor, I learned my way around.

Quickly this church became a home to me. The staff took every opportunity to teach and mentor me. And the people of this church have treated me like family. Over my time here I have shared meals, attended Christmas parties, received gifts, and joined in many great conversations. This congregation has shown me more love than I ever could have asked for and for that I am deeply thankful.

Goodbyes are never fun.This church has also  been a place that has nurtured me in my ministry. I was given the opportunity to serve and learn. I got to go to Eagle Eyrie with the Lambs class, speak at the Youth Bonfire, preach in church, take part in hospital visits and so many other parts of ministry.

FBC has not only taken me in as a member, but also let me be a minister, and for that I will always be grateful. The ability to be a minister but still be in a position to learn is the great strength of the residency program. It provides a launching point. I can see it in just how much I have grown over the past two years. While I still have a lot to learn, I will leave much more experienced and confident than when I came. In fact, one of the few things that helps me be able to leave First is knowing that I am making way for someone else to experience this great program.

Goodbyes are never fun.When I was ordained in May, I had a moment of looking out over the sanctuary at all the faces of people who had prayed and cared for me. This service blew me away and will always hold a special place in my heart. But that moment does not stand alone; it came at the end of almost two years of prayer, encouragement and trust. My gratitude for this time is so great that all I can do is say thank you. Thank you for letting me serve this church, and thank you for all you have done. I will carry the memories, lessons and friendships I have found at First Baptist long into my ministry.

Watch related video, “Nick Deere.”
“Read related story, “Taught by the staff and congregation.

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Proud to Be

Story by Steve Blanchard. Photos provided by Steve Blanchard and Ann Carter.

As I sat in the DiscipleNow Sunday school program a couple of weeks ago, I realized once again just how proud I am to be part of Richmond’s First Baptist Church. I looked around at the youth, their parents, youth leaders, and others and I saw in their faces something that I hope is in every church – joy.
It reminded me of how great this church is and what a privilege it is to be a part of it. Now, I am not speaking as a staff member; this is not an attempt to pull in new members or secure a raise for myself. This is simply an expression of the way I feel in my heart.

Proud to BeIt just so happens that the day all this joy came bubbling up was Valentine’s Day as well. I was struck again that this church is a place of love. I am not naïve; I realize that, like any church, we are not perfect, but day in and day out I am confirmed in my belief that this church is the right place to be. I see God’s presence flowing through it in so many ways – in its members, its staff, its worship, its compassion, and so many other ways.

rolandVisitors here, in most cases, tell us that we are a warm and friendly church. Our staff sticks around for long periods of time because we feel supported and cared for. I have had other ministers tell me they wish they could work here. Again, I know we have our flaws but I truly believe we are headed in the right direction.

I thank God for a church that cares, loves, worships, and lives for God and others. I also thank you, Richmond’s First Baptist Church, for being what a church is meant to be, a place of community. My prayer is that we never stop striving for God’s perfect will, that we never cease finding new ways of being Jesus’ idea of the Body of Christ, and that we continue loving God with all our hearts, minds and souls, and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Proud to Be

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