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Archive for June, 2017

Story by Alex Hamp. Photos by Paul Bickford, Alice Brette, Susan Brown and Janet Chase.

Carter Bearden, Pat Allen, Mary Hiteman, Alan Jones, Buddy Burgess, Steve Blanchard, Alex Hamp, Laura Harris. Numerous faces have come and gone through the Preschool, Deaf, Recreation, and Community Mission ministries at First Baptist Church, but one face—that of Robin Hendricks—has remained constant. During the past 28 years, Robin has faithfully served all these ministries as an administrative assistant. She will retire on June 30th, having joined the church staff in September of 1989.

Robin Hendricks retires
Robin was first hired to assist Carter Bearden in the Deaf Ministry and Pat Allen in Community Missions. Technology was not yet the office norm so most of her early tasks were done with paper and pen. Her duties included monthly reports, calendaring, copying—and any other tasks asked of her. Both the Deaf and Community Missions ministries changed hands in the 90s, moving to Buddy Burgess and Steve Blanchard respectively. Robin assisted them both as they navigated their new roles. Steve shared this about Robin, “When I first was hired as the Missions Minister in 1997, Robin was my part-time administrative assistant. She not only helped me get oriented to the ins and outs of First Baptist life as a new employee, but was always willing and able to help in any way she could. I really appreciated her help and to this day appreciate her as a friend to me and my family.” Eventually Buddy took on the additional position of Minister of Recreation from Alan Jones, so Robin helped in this ministry too.  Her work was critical in keeping track of registration forms as Upward Basketball, Indoor Soccer and Blood Drives became very popular in our community.

Robin Hendricks retiresOne of Robin’s biggest joys has been working with the First Baptist Preschool children and families. Since 1998, first under the leadership of Mary Hiteman, Robin has served as the administrative assistant for the preschool. She has been kept busy with various tasks which include recording tuition payments, calendaring, laminating, subbing in a room when needed, and even being a graphic artist, designing t-shirts and programs for school.

Robin’s role was critical when the preschool leadership was handed over to me in 2014. She helped me learn the behind-the-scenes tasks of the preschool, was able to anticipate when I was not sure what was coming next, and became a great sounding board. She has also been loved by our families. According to Preschool mother, Beth Fuchs, “Ms. Robin’s knowledge of the inner workings of First Baptist Preschool, her uncanny ability to remember the name and details of every single child and his/her family, and her genuine love of all the kids is so apparent and such a blessing to our school.”

Robin Hendricks retiresRobin has enjoyed her time here at First Baptist Church. She has watched the change of leadership of the Senior Pastors from Dr. Flamming to Dr. Somerville, as well as in all the ministries where she served. She says this has required that she be flexible and adaptable to the times and the style of her supervisors. She has enjoyed the relationships she has made with the people and families of First Baptist Church and First Baptist Preschool. Robin is looking forward to moving to Baltimore to be with her daughter’s family, but will find it bittersweet to give up her near-daily trek across the Huguenot Bridge to First Baptist Church.


Alex HampAlex Hamp was named Administrator of First Baptist Preschool in 2014. She has been educating and nurturing young children and their families for the past twenty-three years, first as a kindergarten teacher at William Fox Elementary School and now at FBC’s preschool. She and her husband live in Hanover County with their four children. In her spare time, Alex enjoys traveling, reading and watching her children play sports and perform with their show choirs.

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by Nancy Mairs

You may be aware of, or even participate in, one of the many communities here at First Baptist—Bible Study groups for all ages both on Sunday morning and Wednesday night; choir groups ranging from the very youngest to the senior adults known as the JoySingers; groups that meet specifically for prayer; or even the community of those who sit near you each week during the worship service and whom you have gotten to know as friends. The list is quite extensive. But did you know that there is a faithful part of our community that you most likely will never see? They are the Friends of First Baptist, or FOFB.

Friends of First Baptist
Since 1986, First Baptist has been a visible presence throughout the Richmond area, and beyond, through the weekly TV program at 11 a.m. Sundays on WRIC TV8. Through the years, thousands of viewers have tuned in each week, with a group of over 100 faithful viewers expressing a desire to have a deeper connection to First Baptist; many of them have come to view it as their church home. As a result Jim Somerville, senior pastor at First Baptist, initiated a way to reach out to these faithful viewers and take their involvement to a different level. He discussed this initiative with some church leaders and a new group was created—the Friends of First Baptist—so that those viewers who felt that First Baptist is their church home could have a deeper sense of being connected. In a video that aired at the end of the 11 a.m. televised service each Sunday for several months, Jim Somerville specifically addressed the Friends of First Baptist and welcomed any other viewers who hoped to learn more about First Baptist. This video continues to be aired periodically at the same time as a way to let our viewers know about the FOFB group.

Friends of First Baptist: A Faithful CommunityAs Jim puts it, “by forming the Friends of First Baptist group, we established a sense of community for those who join us through the weekly television broadcast. It helps give them an identity of belonging and feeling a connection on a more personal level.” Every week Jim receives cards and emails from television viewers saying they watch our televised worship service every Sunday, “and they want to feel a part of our church. If they decide to include their name and address, the deacons occasionally send notes to our new Friends, which helps to make them feel like First Baptist is their church. In 2016, the deacons and staff sent out over 150 cards and notes to our Friends.”

Some of the members of this community are dealing with illness or physical limitations, a few are incarcerated, and as one couple described themselves, some are just “ol’ geezers.” A few attend their “home” church before heading home in time to watch First Baptist on TV, and consider it to be their second home church. One of the Friends attended the Brownie troop, and later the Girl Scout troop, years ago at First Baptist, and still considers First Baptist to be her home church.

One poignant FOFB story came from a woman who cares for her sister’s developmentally disabled daughter and son. The mother of the children was overwhelmed by many unfortunate events in her life and was unable to care for her children. When the aunt became their guardian, she wanted to make sure that the two children were raised in the church. But once their home church closed and she became homebound, she discovered that First Baptist could become their home on Sundays. They watch the 11 a.m. service faithfully.

Another Friend, who just turned 103, was introduced to the television ministry through neighbors who were former missionaries. She has been involved in church her entire life and now is able to be a part of our church through the 11 a.m. service.

The common thread throughout the many varied stories is that people not only found the worship services to be a source of strength and inspiration; they also wanted to have a way to make their connection to First Baptist more permanent.  They wanted to feel like they belong to our community.  Friends of First Baptist is a wonderful way to give them the connection they long for, or as one person put it, “Thank you for inviting us to become Friends of First Baptist.”

If you would like to become a Friend of First Baptist just send us a card, letter  or email with your name, address and email address if you have one, and we’ll add you to our growing list of “Friends.”
Richmond’s First Baptist Church, attn: Friends of First Baptist, 2709 Monument Ave., Richmond, VA 23220

Watch Friends of First Baptist video

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