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Posts Tagged ‘action’

By Alex Hamp

Betty Ann Dillon“Actions speak much louder than words” is a belief instilled in Betty Ann Dillon by her parents and grandmother. It does not take long for one to realize that Betty Ann is a lady always in action! At almost 91, she shows little intention of slowing down. For close to 77 years Betty Ann Dillon has been an integral member of Richmond’s First Baptist Church.

calloutThe daughter of a Baptist minister, Betty Ann moved to Richmond in 1943 when her father was appointed Director of Race Relations for the Virginia Council of Churches. It wasn’t long before the family joined FBC and Betty Ann began her involvement with the church. While in high school, Betty Ann was very involved with the Vesper Club, which provided activities similar to today’s Wednesday night youth group. It was here at First Baptist that Betty Ann met her first husband, William Doub. “Billy” had been on the Cradle Roll at FBC as an infant and was later baptized at the Church. She and Bill were married in the Chapel (now the Library) in June of 1949, the same year she received both a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Arts degree from Westhampton College at the University of Richmond. In her early adult years at First Baptist, Betty Ann was involved with the Forum, a group of mostly young people who met for snack supper and had a speaker on Sunday evenings before the evening service began. Betty Ann also taught Sunday School classes to the intermediate youth group, sang in the choir and worked in the library.

In a time when many women did not work outside the home, Betty Ann began building an impressive work resume. In 1949, with psychology and sociology degrees, she became the Senior Personnel Assistant at State-Planters Bank. She worked with managing, recruiting, and consulting for thirteen years at the bank. In 1963, Betty Ann was delighted to be pregnant with her first born, Sandy, and left the bank to find part-time work as a psychologist at the woman’s prison in Goochland and then went to work at Pinecrest Juvenile Detention Center for Boys. In 1966 she gave birth to a second daughter, Donna. She continued working part-time, while raising the girls.

Throughout most of the seventies and eighties Betty Ann worked at the Diagnostic Center for Juvenile Services in Bon Air and then for the State of Virginia; first in the Office of Employee Relations and then at the Virginia Employment Commission as the Director of Human Resources. Tragically, her husband Billy, suffered a massive heart attack and died in 1977, leaving Betty Ann to raise her two daughters, ages 11 and 14. It was at the Office of Employees Relations that she would meet Matt Dillon, whom she married in 1985. They went on to begin Dillon D & I, a personnel consulting business. The D stood for diligence and the I for integrity, two values Betty Ann exemplified throughout her work, spiritual and personal life. Betty Ann officially retired from working in 2000.

With her retirement and Matt’s passing in 2005, Betty Ann became an even more active and recognizable figure of FBC. She has faithfully served as a deacon, a member of the Budget and Finance Team, and has twice chaired the Personnel Team. She has volunteered in food services for over thirty years. The First Baptist Preschool, another important mission of the church, has always had a special place in Betty Ann’s heart. Her older daughter, Sandy, attended the weekday preschool in the sixties and Betty Ann has been on the preschool board for more years than she can count! In 2014 she became the chair of the board. Betty Ann has been a champion of the preschool and has shared much wisdom with the director, fellow board members, staff and families.

If you cannot find Betty Ann at First Baptist, you may find her at a number of other local places and organizations in the Richmond area. Especially dear to her are both the Shepherd Center and the University of Richmond. Betty Ann has served on numerous boards at the University and has been a trustee and leader in the alumni association there. She is also actively involved in the Shepherd Center, a service and education organization for older citizens of the Richmond area. There she has led groups and has been the President of the Board of Directors.

Steve Booth summarizes Betty Ann beautifully, “Betty Ann’s commitment and resilience as a congregational and community leader are without peer. I continue to marvel and be inspired by Betty Ann’s ability to turn every obstacle into an opportunity to celebrate God’s goodness. Whether leading a ministry team, serving as a small group facilitator or taking a principled stand, Betty Ann is an exemplary servant leader and a disciple worthy of emulation.”

Betty Ann has lived a full and busy life! She has experienced the sorrow of the passing of two husbands and both of her daughters. Despite all of this she shares, “God has looked after me for ninety years, and I do not think he is stopping now!”

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By Steve Blanchard

Poverty. Fear. Homelessness. Violence. Prejudice. Isolation. These things most of us never experience. We may dabble with them on some level but for the most part, most of us never experience these on a deep or daily level.

There is a world out there like this – not necessarily a world across the ocean but maybe one just down the street from where you live, or one you pass every day.

Imagine a World UnknownImagine a city where 30% of its citizens live below the poverty line; between 800 and 1700 of its citizens are homeless, many of them children; thousands of its citizens have no jobs; many cannot speak the local language because they have fled violence and famine in their home countries; slavery still thrives. Imagine Richmond, Virginia.

What is the responsibility of our church? What does God command us Christians to do in the face of such overwhelming complexities?

Do we pretend the problems don’t exist? Do we hand off the responsibility to the government or other entities? Do we lock our doors and pray it all goes away? There is only one answer to these questions. No.

God is clear throughout Scripture that our call is to confront the evils of this world. We know we’re not alone in doing so, for God also promises to go before us and to give us the courage, strength and tools to fight the battle. He calls us to love our neighbor, to embrace the poor, to show mercy, love and grace to those we meet. He calls us to care.

Each of us has our share of problems – busy schedules, finances, relationships, fears, etc., but do we not serve a God who is greater than all that? Compassion is not something we have the luxury of choosing to embrace. As Christians, we are commanded to do so. Not with an air of superiority or duty, but with a motive of love – love of God and of our fellow human beings.

We all encounter those around us who are struggling. We most likely are struggling ourselves. But imagine we all move outside ourselves and truly have compassion for everyone we encounter, whether indirectly or face-to-face. Imagine we become open enough to feel something akin to love; imagine we then choose to act.

Maybe we won’t know what to do; maybe we won’t know what to say. But we can place our fears and responses in God’s hands and then simply act. Maybe we offer a cup of cold water, or speak out against an injustice, or simply offer a listening presence or shoulder to cry on, but at least we don’t stand by and do nothing. Imagine we don’t avoid knowing the world around us.

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Anna, a social work student serving wtih CHSVA, coordinated the suitcase drive with Candi Brown, FBC’s Minister to Children. Candi previously worked for CHSVA. Photo by Janet Chase.

The Children’s Home Society of Virginia (CHSVA) works with local social service agencies that provide services for children in foster care. As these children are moved from one facility to another, they often have only trash bags to “pack” their belongings in. FBC’s suitcase drive collected more than 32 suitcases and duffel bags so the kids in our area will have something permanent to use as they transition.

If you are interested in participating in this effort, look in the Sunday Morning News and the Wednesday Night News for information on a drive next fall.

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(L-R) Becky Payne and Doris Pittman were among 30 FBC staff members who helped prepare gifts in December.

A Mixteca family enjoying their gifts.

Thirty members of the FBC staff spent a morning in December stuffing Christmas stockings, wrapping gifts, writing cards, and assembling gift baskets for some 300 homeless, disadvantaged and disenfranchised members of the Richmond community.

The gifts went to a number of places:

  • Twenty-two Mixteca immigrant families, with 78 children in south Richmond
  • Seven families, with 10 children at Fresh Start for Single Women
  • 105 community missions clients who participated in the homeless breakfast December 20
  • 80 Grace Fellowship participants
  • Nine children at the Rosy Grier Youth Pavilion
  • and five other families.

The effort was coordinated by the Ministry of Christian Compassion. Gifts and items for the baskets were donated by church members and Weekday Preschool parents and children. Other items were purchased with money given to Community Missions.

Mary Willis, daughter of FBC member LaVora Sprinkle, is the church’s “connection” with the Mixteca community. She has been working for several years with a few dozen families in the Mixteca community who live in a trailer park in south Richmond. She teaches English and helps the families with the basic necessities of living.

The Mixteca are indigenous to the southern, Pacific coastal region of Mexico. Mary grew up speaking Spanish, the daughter of Southern Baptist missionaries. But even she often has a challenge communicating with some of the families. They have their own language. Many of them speak a tribal dialect within the Mixteca language.

In addition to the Christmas gifts, FBC has helped Mary with providing English classes, making repairs to some of the homes, and providing other assistance to the Mixteca families.

(l to r) Lindsey McClintock, Ralph Starling, Jim Somerville, Mary Willis, and Steve Blanchard delivered gifts to the Mixteca families a few days before Christmas.

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