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Archive for September, 2020

By Steve Blanchard and Justin Pierson

Justin and Tori

Richmond’s First Baptist Church has a new Pastoral Resident who is a familiar face. He has been a part of our fellowship for about four years. Justin Pierson, our new Pastoral Resident, began working at FBC in the Ministry of Christian Compassion several years ago, and he and his wife, Tori, have been involved in so many ways in the life of our church.

What you may not know is the journey that brought Justin to his decision to go into the ministry.

Justin grew up in Roanoke, Virginia and began considering a vocation in the ministry as early as high school. He continued to explore his calling to the ministry while at Virginia Tech where he was involved in the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, leading music for worship services and participating in Bible studies. He volunteered with youth ministry events for churches throughout Virginia and in the summers worked for various churches and Christian camps.

As Justin explains, “After graduation, I was almost certain that I would pursue ministry, but I wasn’t sure of the next steps. Although my psychology degree was useful for ministry, I knew that I needed more education if I wanted to properly serve, but I wasn’t sure if seminary was the next step. I wanted a break from school and wanted to understand how ministry is done in other parts of the world. So, I traveled to Vienna, Austria to live and serve for six months. I interned with a Baptist congregation there ministering to young people and Farsi-speaking refugees. It was amazing how different that experience was from my former church experiences in the U.S.”

on mission in Bosnia“This experience solidified my calling to ministry, but also sparked my interest in faith, culture and justice. I saw how this congregation sacrificed to serve refugees whom society had forgotten and tried to exclude. I saw how their congregation was growing, attracting young people, discussing complex theology and its modern-day application, and living into its calling regardless of its cultural unpopularity or financial risk.”

Justin playing guitarIt was after this experience that Justin knew he was called to the ministry and, after leaving Europe, he enrolled at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond (BTSR) and started working part-time as an assistant in the Ministry of Christian Compassion at FBC. It was through his work in the Ministry of Christian Compassion that Justin discovered that the heart of FBC was similar to what he had seen in the congregation in Vienna. He saw people willing to serve those in need, and a congregation willing to adapt to the needs of those who are served. And he saw a staff eager to help young people and form the next generation of leaders. As Justin explains it, “I found people willing to do the unpopular thing in order to live into the calling they believed in.”

After graduating from BTSR, Justin entered Union Presbyterian Seminary where he recently completed his Master of Theology. Throughout seminary, Justin continued to work part-time with the Christian Compassion Ministry.

Justin in worship

Throughout his years of serving in the Compassion Ministry, Justin found that FBC was a place in which he was interested in furthering his ministry experience and a place that would welcome his ideas and interests. Justin added, “I value the staff at FBC and wanted to continue to be a part of the ministries here.”

After working with Justin in the Compassion Ministry, Steve Blanchard, FBC’s Associate Pastor for Compassion, has found that, “Justin is a willing and dedicated worker, open-minded, passionate and talented in a variety of ministry areas. His faith has really taken shape as his own and his desire to continue to explore, ask questions, seek justice, learn and grow are just a few reasons why I believe he is an excellent choice for our residency program.”

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FBC Endowment Fund Inc.

By Jim Norvelle

In December 1910, the Pastor at Richmond’s First Baptist Church, Dr. George W. McDaniel, announced in his annual message to the congregation that two elderly members “of moderate means” had made a generous donation to create an endowment fund.

During the 110 years since then, bequests, gifts, and wise and careful management of those gifts have enabled the First Baptist Church Endowment Fund Inc. to fulfill its purpose—to support the missions and ministries of the church.

The Endowment Fund supports eight ministries of the church, along with the church’s capital needs such as infrastructure and equipment:

FBC Community Ministry — The fund provides 50 percent of the annual operating budget for the church’s Community Ministry. This includes The Farms at Charlotte Acres, Food Pantry, Clothes Closet, Shower Ministry and Grace Fellowship, among others.

The Farms at Charlotte Acres
The Farms at Charlotte Acres

Television and Communication Ministry — In 1991, an anonymous donor contributed a very significant sum for support of the television ministry and other programs. Today the fund provides 80 percent of the operating budget of this ministry.

Music Ministry — The fund supports major capital needs such as renovation of the Sanctuary organ, purchase of other instruments, and choir concert tours and mission trips.

Education and Scholarship — Over the years, church members and Bible classes have donated funds for the church’s Scholarship Team to distribute to college undergraduate and seminary students. While investing and administering those dollars, the fund also contributes to the First Baptist Preschool, the John Leland Center for Theological Studies, Bluefield College, the Virginia Union University School of Theology and others.

New Churches — The fund supports new churches in the greater Richmond area, Virginia and beyond.

Missions — First Baptist Church has been a missions-focused church throughout its history, and offers national and international mission opportunities to its youth and adult members throughout the year. The fund provides up to 50 percent of the cost to church members going on first time mission trips and some supplies. It supports annual summer youth mission trips and has provided up to 50 percent of the cost for youth to attend Baptist World Alliance Youth Conferences, which occur every five years. The fund also supports the River City Faith Network, the Baptist General Association of Virginia and its entities and the Baptist World Alliance.

families on mission
Students on mission

Recreation Ministry — The fund supports the church’s activities and programs such as basketball leagues, volleyball, pickleball and summer camps for children.

Richmond Community Ministry Missions — The fund provides support for more than a dozen local ministries (particularly for those providing food and shelter), the Boy Scouts, the Virginia Home, and the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls.

The Endowment Fund also provided the resources for the 2020 Vision Project, such as The Farms at Charlotte Acres.

A board of managers, all members of the church, determines the fund’s investment policy and how to distribute its resources. The board members are: Susan Beach, Kim Boys (treasurer), Virginia Darnell (secretary), Charlotte Evans, Linn Kreckman, Mark Larson, Michael Lipford (vice president), James “Jim” Markham, Burton “Mac” Marshall, Jim Norvelle (president), Julia Scott, Clint Smith, Lee Stephenson and Charles Tilley. Carl Johnson is president emeritus. Our pastor, Dr. Jim Somerville, serves as consultant to the board.

Two other church members serve for one year as visiting board members to increase the awareness of the Endowment Fund among the church. This year’s visiting board members are Leslie Beale and Ralph Brickey.

FBC seeks your contributions to the Endowment Fund and its planned giving ministry in the form of gifts, bequests, investment securities or property. For more information, please contact Jim Norvelle, president, or Kim Boys, treasurer, FBC Endowment Fund Inc., in care of the church finance office.

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