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Archive for the ‘Bonus’ Category

By Susan Beach

When Allen Cumbia was named Director of Communication for Richmond’s First Baptist Church (FBC) in April 2016, he asked me what were the best and worst things about my job. He wanted to know how to help me. I remain surprised by that question, as I had not been asked it in any other job. And yes, it is a job, even though I am a volunteer.

FTF tells God's story

Susan Beach and Allen Cumbia

One of the best things about my job is the people. Years of working with and learning from David Powers, Allen Cumbia and Janet Chase remain among my most delightful blessings. And a treat beyond measure has been getting to know the writers and photographers who have contributed to First Things First (FTF), many of them over and over. They too are volunteers, yet they met deadlines, rearranged schedules and graciously accepted editing. FTF has always been the voice of many; that could not have been without their different perspectives and their gifts of time and talents. FBC is blessed by them all.

My best-of’s list also includes seeing God work. In July 2008, David Powers, then Associate Pastor, Ministry of Communication, invited me to join him in developing a print magazine, FTF. My response was not very professional—I cried. This was such a clear answer from God to my muddled prayer, “Let me write.” In these past nine and a half years I’ve understood my prayer more clearly. What I really wanted was an opportunity to help make God known through the stories of His people.

Stories are powerful. They help us know each other better and challenge us to grow. They tell about our history, our present and our future. They explain our faith journeys and our service. They speak to us in the First Baptist family and to those not yet in the First Baptist family. Stories share God.

FTF has been the platform for telling stories of FBC since 1995 when we moved from the back page of The Religious Herald (now Baptist News Global) to a weekly newsletter. Thirteen years later we began work on a magazine with the first issue appearing in January 2009. Those issues were printed on high-quality paper in full color; they felt good to hold.

They still feel good to hold whenever I look at the old issues. But they feel good to hold because they were expensive; printing and postage totaled a minimum of $2,100 per issue. Budget constraints made quarterly publication necessary in 2010 and finally pushed us to an online format in early 2011.

As with print, there are positives and negatives to this format. The chief negative is those without computer access lost their immediate connection with the stories of FBC. (Two to four stories are printed and mailed by Communication staff to about 65 of these people. Mailings are sent every six to seven weeks, and copies are also placed in Suite 280.)

The positives, of course, are numerous, beginning with nearly zero expenses for postage and paper. Flexibility in publication is important too as staff is able to work on and publish articles as schedules permit. Corrections can be quickly made, not a possibility on printed pieces. And this format connects with those who get most of their information online, an important feature in our current society.

But the most interesting potential is the opportunity for conversation the blog allows. A comment space follows every story. Readers can see others’ comments and respond, beginning a conversation wherever in the world they are.

Two hundred and fifty stories online help us develop connections with each other and become family. But there are always more stories to tell. With nearly 4,000 members there are nearly 4,000 stories to tell. Those numbers will give the next editors of FTF plenty to do. There will also be opportunities to improve FBC’s online magazine and to meet the needs of more people. To know each other better and to accept the challenges to grow that emerge from those relationships was the goal I set in 2008. It remains my prayer for FTF.

Nancy Mairs

Nancy Mairs

Sheila Dixon

Sheila Dixon

Note: Beginning in January 2018, Sheila Dixon will serve as Story Coordinator, working with writers and photographers to initiate and handle the flow of stories. Nancy Mairs, Editor, will be in charge of editing articles to best tell the story of God’s work in the world through Richmond’s First Baptist Church.

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Shooting “Shooting the Prodigal”

Photos by Paul Bickford.

Shooting the Prodigal is a movie about a church making a movie about the Prodigal Son. That’s not all that is atypical about this film. It’s a comedy that tells a biblical story. It was born in prayer, and prayers continue to sustain it. Some of the actors and staff had all the credentials; others were just getting started in the industry. And there were lots of volunteers – some even gave up vacations to be involved. Among all these people were every-Sunday Christians and those who first saw the inside of a church during filming in one. The following photos show how they melded to make this experience like no other film project.

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Read related stories: Shooting the Prodigal and FBC plays multiple roles in upcoming movie
www.facebook.com/ShootingTheProdigal
www.shootingtheprodigal.com

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Reported by Jeanne Hechler. Photos by Susan Brown.

For more than 20 years, First Baptist Church has delivered backpacks to Oregon Hill Baptist Center (OHBC) for the children they serve. According to Rev. Jennifer Turner, Director, OHBC, FBC provides almost all the backpacks for their back-to-school event.

Youth from the OHBC youth program volunteer to help set up the backpack store with the donated supplies. Families who participate in the OHBC ministry programs are eligible to “purchase” school supplies at the store for their children, paying $2 per child. The money collected goes to help fund the OHBC family programs throughout the year. Volunteers help parents select backpacks and school supplies for each child, using the City of Richmond required-school-supplies list for each grade. Approximately 100 students are helped each year.

Jennifer makes sure nothing is wasted. Any extra backpacks and materials are donated to other Baptist centers that don’t have enough to serve their clients, are used by OHBC for other programs throughout the year, or are given to St. Andrews School, a private, tuition-free school for Oregon Hill children. Some of the more sturdy backpacks may be given to the homeless who attend OHBC programs.

FBC members donated one hundred and fifteen filled backpacks and 15 large bags of additional school supplies, helping students in the city of Richmond make a good start to the 2015 school year.

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Story and photos by Jeannie Dortch.

The silence in me will love the divine silence.—Eckhart Tolle

My husband and I live far from the city in a community mostly inhabited by trees. Our nearest people neighbors are not visible, and, most of the time, silence is the loudest noise we hear. It is a peaceful existence in a place where we moved after our children were grown.

Walking regularly on our property brings me great joy and has offered me special moments to notice how similar and dissimilar we are to the trees that surround us. They are full of differences and idiosyncrasies too, but reside in close proximity with less enmity than we humans usually experience among ourselves. Lessons in getting along abound.

A community of peace speaks out.

A lonely leader

I have noticed that trees grow in harmony with their neighbors, no matter the species. Short, tall, fat, thin, bushy or gnarled, they touch rather than shove, bowing to accommodate when necessary. The only dominance, that of height and size, comes naturally. Pride is not an issue. Some are able to bend in adverse circumstances while others rely on their roots to keep them secure in turmoil.

People fret over the grass being greener in other places. This is not a concern in the community of trees. They flourish right where they are, scattering their seeds and letting nature do the rest. The woods are a mixture of young and old, lovers, loners, and leaders, those from big families or small, in and out of fashion, as well as in or out of others’ business. Whatever traits I see in them, however, they all seem to reveal God’s glory and display the work of His hands (Psalm 19:1).

How easily trees adapt to their surroundings, accommodating space in the most efficient way. Just this simple observation reminds me to be less selfish and shortsighted with others.

Help us learn from nature, O Lord, from the natural community you have placed around us. Busy lives steal our ability or desire to contemplate the messages you send us through trees. How can the world say, “Where is God?” when you live and demonstrate your love and justice in every plant and creature on earth, including ourselves.

When the sun reveals its majesty at daybreak, it fills me and the woods with promises of new growth, a grace free for the taking. I absorb God’s love, the trees take in His light, but all of us receive our sustenance from the same source.

Mornings spent in the woods affirm the timeless lessons in the Bible. The circle of life is mimicked from season to season in each tree’s growth rings. None of us escapes death. But God has filled the Earth with nature to whisper the wisdom of living amicably along the journey. Like a lover who carves his beloved’s initials within an etched tree heart, God has inscribed all our names on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16), a reminder that everyone and everything is His.

Below are more inhabitants of the author’s community.

A community of peace speaks out.

Fear of letting go

A community of peace speaks out.

Popping buttons

A community of peace speaks out.

A nose for news

A community of peace speaks out.

Fashion conscious

A community of peace speaks out.

The bone yard

A community of peace speaks out.

Lovers

A community of peace speaks out.

Sick or well

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By Brenda Andrews. Photos by Susan Brown, Win Grant and Jess Ward.

Compassion Ministry

The Food Pantry provides food for those in need, primarily the homeless. Most of the food is brought by individuals or small groups and is left in the green grocery carts located in the Park Avenue hallway.

They’re tired, hungry, dirty, but now safe. Some are loud, others quiet. Their eyes dart around the room, searching corner to corner, not sure of what to expect. Some relax at tables, chatting, drinking coffee and eating pastries. They wait their turn for items from the Clothes Closet and Food Pantry, for a shower and new underwear.
When we and our homeless friends share smiles, we see God’s love in each other and are reminded of our membership in the same family – the FBC family and God’s larger family.

Compassion Ministry

Sometimes connections are made. A man recognized another client as the father he had believed dead for nearly 50 years.

Compassion Ministry

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Shower facilities are open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Compassion Ministry

A Compassion Ministry open house featured groceries, backpacks and sleeping bags, which are available to clients.

Compassion Ministry

Recently a woman came to the Clothes Closet in need of a pair of size 10 shoes. When none were found, one volunteer offered the size 10 shoes she was wearing.

Compassion Ministry

Compassion Ministry

Compassion Ministry

In July 2014, 40 women arrived by bus each evening for a meal, a shower, and a place to sleep. We also provided fellowship, game times, health information, and worship opportunities.

Compassion Ministry

Volunteers provided books, games, art projects and tutoring to at-risk children in Essex Village’s summer camp program.

Compassion Ministry

Mrs. Claus offered musical entertainment at a community Christmas celebration.

For information on participating in the Ministry of Christian Compassion, visit our website.

*KOH2RVA: Bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia


Brenda AndrewsBrenda Lee Andrews serves as Community Missions Associate, ministering to the homeless for 12 years, after a 30-year career as a draftsman for Bell Atlantic Telephone. She has been a member of First Baptist Church since 1995. Her passion is the homeless and providing them with their needs. Her biggest joy in life is her son, Benjamin, and granddog, Iris.

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Story by Susan Beach. Photos by Susan Brown and Mary Palmer.

When you say “Christmas,” members of Richmond’s First Baptist Church think of many things – hoping no one will drop a wreath during Hanging of the Green, humming along at the choir concerts, making gingerbread houses and eating the remnants, wondering who will be Baby Jesus in the Youth Christmas Pageant. We have much to enjoy and many opportunities to celebrate.

But wait; there is more – a lot more that we enjoy and celebrate outside FBC.

  • Women on Mission serve a holiday breakfast to the homeless at Oregon Hill Baptist Center and provide toys and clothes for the Christmas Store at South Richmond Baptist Center.
  • One Accord presents a concert at Bruton Parish in Williamsburg.
  • Staff wrap and deliver gifts to the teachers and students of Glen Lea Elementary and Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal schools.
  • A gift from former member Ralph Anderson provides a special Christmas breakfast to the homeless.
  • The church family gives holiday parties for international students, for residents of Essex Village, and for members of Grace Fellowship.
  • Members of women’s mission groups prepare Christmas food bags for the homeless in South Richmond.

And there’s still more. There’s all you do! Use the Comment box below to share what you do or what you’ve seen others do to take Christmas outside the doors of FBC and bring the celebration to Richmond.

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Photos by Paul Bickford, Susan Brown, Janet Chase, Win Grant and Jess Ward.

Worship is what we’re here for. In worship we acknowledge Who’s in charge and who isn’t, what’s important and what can wait. We give thanks and we praise and we intercede. We sing of God’s glory and blessings. We read the stories of God’s saving presence. We tie up the loose ends of last week and prepare for the next. In worship we seek our truest selves. Worship is the center of our lives, whether in a cathedral or a country church, under a tree – or in a gymnasium.

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While we’re worshipping in the Gym, here’s what’s been happening in the Sanctuary.

sanctuary restoration
sanctuary restoration
sanctuary restoration
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