Posts Tagged ‘embracing history’

Story by Rebecca Ozmore.

Take a look around the sanctuary on a Sunday morning at FBC and you’ll find people representing different cultures and ages. Most of us believe our church truly has The Open Door (See Editor’s note.), that it is a diverse place to meet and worship. Most of us also recognize our current diversity across generations and cultures did not happen overnight.

callout-Embracing HistoryMina Tatum, an FBC member since the 1950s, has seen much of this move to diversity during the latter part of the 20th century. Deeply involved in FBC life into the 21st century, she has a broad perspective on our church’s history. I recently sat down to talk with Mina and was captivated by her description of her life and how it paralleled the life of the church.

Embracing HistoryBorn in Leesburg, Virginia, Mina grew up and eventually met her husband Charles there. After they were married, Charles’ engineering job with the Virginia Department of Transportation led them to Richmond in 1953. The Tatums joined FBC and quickly formed a family with other members. Mina remembers attending Mrs. Adams’ (wife of Dr. Theodore Adams) class for young mothers while Charles attended the Fellowship Bible Class. Still in existence today, the Fellowship Class was developed for veterans returning from World War II.

Mina remembers many families attending Wednesday night prayer services in those days. When the Tatums’ children were growing up, the church also held Sunday night services for middle and high school youth. Parents provided snack suppers before the services and hosted different speakers. While Wednesday night involvement has changed as school demands have increased, Sunday night youth activities remain an important part of FBC life.

Music was important to the Tatum family. All of them sang in church choirs and the children attended music camp at Eagle Eyrie (led by FBC-member Allen Brown, then on staff at the Virginia Baptist Board). In 1962, the small church staff was enhanced by the hiring of Ray Herbek as the first full-time Minister of Music.

There were historic moments too, such as two Nigerian students at Virginia Union University requesting membership in January 1965. While Mina herself didn’t feel conflicted by the decision to allow the students membership, she remembers it being quite a significant event in the life of the church. As church members discussed the vote, the irony that these young men had come to Christ through Baptist teaching didn’t go unnoticed.

Mina’s involvement at FBC has spanned decades and seen many changes. She has noticed slow but positive steps in diversifying the church’s membership. Noting that change is always difficult for some, Mina is proud that the church staff and congregation have embraced an ever-changing culture and neighborhood. As she pointed out, this is no small feat for a church of FBC’s size.

Through small groups, Mina has remained connected; she encourages others to participate in these settings so important in a large church. Most recently, she has been involved in the 2020 Vision process and looks forward to what is ahead for FBC. Mina knows the first-hand importance of embracing history and learning from it—an important lesson for us all to remember.

Editor’s note: The Open Door, the church’s history from 1780-2005, is available for checkout or purchase in the church library.

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