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Posts Tagged ‘connect with family’

By Michael Lacy

Family Fall RetreatThe annual fall retreat is an important event in the Student Ministry at Richmond’s First Baptist Church. During fall retreat, middle and high school students get away from everyday life to focus on their relationship with each other and the Lord. For our FBC youth, fall retreat also serves as the beginning of the Student Ministry year when rising high schoolers are welcomed into the group. The senior class of the year serves as the leaders of the group and participates in a special ceremony where each new student is given a blessing similar to an ordination ceremony.

This year, given the COVID-19 pandemic, fall retreat was a little different for the 35 students and their families who traveled to the Watermarks Camp in Scottsville, VA. Instead of the students and leaders sleeping in cabins and sharing bathrooms, families were invited to participate with each having their own cabin, bus or tent, along with a bathroom to use for the weekend. All activities were held outside, and social distancing and masks were the norm. In addition, we gave families several meal options for the weekend. Watermarks provided individually wrapped meals or families could bring their own meals. Families also could choose to stay for one night or two, or just come for the scheduled day activities and then return home.

The scheduled activities included a large group time with parents and youth together; focused parent, youth and younger sibling time; and free time activities. Parents and youth played paint ball, climbed high ropes, worked together to break out of an escape room, swam in the lake, played corn hole, rode skateboards, played gaga ball and/or just sat and had fellowship. In my opinion, there is no better way to build community than sitting in a swing and talking, and we did a lot of that.

One of the most exciting events on this fall retreat was the baptism of two of our youth, Claire Rumuly and Lola Jenkins. Pastor Jim Somerville, with his wife Christy, made the trip to Watermarks on Saturday to perform the ceremony. It was an idyllic day with the sun reflecting off the ripples of the lake. A truly spiritual moment came as Pastor Jim lowered Claire and Lola into the waters of the James River, and then lifted them up into their new life in Christ.

After dinner together, many of us reminisced about our own baptism. We then separated into small groups once more, with parents gathered around one bonfire and students gathered around another in a nearby field. Immediately following devotion and conversation, the Watermarks staff brought out individually packaged s’mores to roast over the campfire. After s’mores and more conversation, parents and students loaded onto a camp bus to go explore a corn maze. Some decided to just remain by the fire to continue to fellowship or read.

Fall retreat has been an anticipated event by the students of the FBC youth program. This time not only did the students and leaders benefit from the experience, but also their families. We provided siblings the chance to play in a safe environment and be in community with others, and parents got the opportunity to fellowship with each other and get a much-needed break away from stressors back home. The weekend was topped off by a sermon from Andy Berry that spoke to the new and miraculous thing God has in store for us. He took it from our theme verse this year, Isaiah 43:18-19: “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing, now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” The weekend was fun and spirit filled. I would like to thank all those who participated and made this retreat one of the best I have ever attended.


Michael LacyMichael Donovan Lacy has served FBC as a Deacon and is currently the Student Ministry Assistant. He has lived in three different countries and loves experiencing different cultures and cuisines. Michael is married to Shawnae Lacy and they have two biological children Darius, 22 and Justin, 17. This year they finalized the adoption of Tia, 5 and Leo, 3.

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By Matthew Brown. Photos by Scott Medina.

First Friday PraiseA living room full of teenagers, laughing and singing, music blaring, and a host family out of the way. No, I’m not talking about a wild party or DiscipleNow weekend. I’m talking about my first praise experience.

I was in high school when a friend invited me to hang out at his house, listen to some music, and sing if I wanted to. Young Life, a non-denominational Christian group that works with high school students, led this praise time.

First Friday PraiseI learned through singing, and then praying, that God was real, that He loved me, and that He understood who I was, who I am, and who He wants me to be. I also learned that God made us to praise Him, that we need to praise Him. Praising God reminds us of who we are.

First Friday PraiseFirst Friday Praise, FBC’s praise service on the first Friday of the month, allows me to renew this kind of experience. In this setting I am able to connect with my family, with friends, and with God. I believe that God intended us all – young and old – to praise together; to connect with Him and to connect with each other. When we lay aside our fears, when we humble ourselves and praise Him, then we are open to see Him and ourselves more clearly.

First Friday Praise drawingWhen my wife and I began attending First Friday Praise, I texted a friend:
Me: “We are going to Church tonight”
Reply: “Y”
Me: “For First Friday Praise”
Reply: “Y”
That was a good question.

I asked my son to tell me what he thought about his experience with First Friday Praise. Jonathan, who is in second grade, drew a picture of his experience.

First Friday PraiseI asked my daughter Madison about First Friday Praise. She said, “I love it; it is great to sing songs and just be able to have fun at church.” This really means something to me. Madison is in 7th grade, almost a teenager. It can be difficult to connect with a teenager. I find myself looking for more and more opportunities that are more and more fleeting. But my daughter and I can go to First Friday Praise together and sing the same songs and praise God together.

Those are good answers.

The next First Friday Praise is Friday, March 2, in the Dining Hall. A potluck dinner at 6:00 p.m. is followed by the praise service at 6:45 p.m. Activities for children and fellowship time for all conclude the evening.


Matthew BrownMatthew met his wife Candi at First Baptist Church, where she is the Children’s Minister. They have three children, Madison (12), in Youth One, Adam (10), in 4th grade, and Jonathan (7), in 2nd grade. Matthew has taught 1st and 2nd grade Missions Force for four years, served as a deacon, volunteered with the Television Ministry since 2002, and attends New Beginnings Sunday school class. He works as a paralegal. In his free time Matthew enjoys cooking for his friends and family, photography, and playing with his growing children.

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