Posts Tagged ‘residency’

Story by Nick Deere. Photo by Dean Hawthorne.

calloutI joined the staff at Richmond’s First Baptist Church as a pastoral resident in August 2014. Being fresh out of seminary, this is my first position at a church beyond an internship. In many ways it is the beginning of my ministry journey. In fact I have had a lot of new beginnings here: I have come to a new city where I have been making new friends. I also have been learning new things about ministry, from preaching to teaching, sending emails to learning how to work a staff calendar – all important skills.

Nick DeereA friend who had just started a job as an aerospace engineer commented to me that it took him six months before he felt like he was actually helping. He explained that even with his high level of education he still had a lot to learn. He had all the tools, but applying them to the actual everyday work of his job took time. Much like engineering, or a whole host of other professions, pastoral work takes time to learn. My time in seminary gave me a good set of tools and knowledge, but when it comes to actually doing pastoral work, some practical experience helps greatly, which is what so excited me about FBC’s pastoral residency program.

Often ministers in my position have to learn on the job with little outside help. The pastoral residency program allows me to be a minster on staff and at the same time provides me a helpful level of supervision to learn about my new role.

The important part about my learning process is that I am not only being taught by the staff but also by the congregation here at First Baptist. This congregation has already been so welcoming – thank you so much for that. I also want to thank you in advance for your patience. In reality all ministers make mistakes, but I will probably make more than my fair share.

When I was growing up and playing sports, my dad used to tell me that if I would be attentive, I could learn more from a loss than a win. I am sure some of the reason for this advice was due to my lack of athletic abilities, but I think there is truth in that statement outside the world of sports. The residency program is structured to be a place that allows for mistakes and sets up a path to learn and grow from them. I hope my time here will have a good deal of successes too, but I am thankful for the grace you have shown in allowing me a place to develop into ministry.

At this point in my journey, I am not sure where my road of ministry will lead. I am discerning the exact shape my call will take. This time of discernment can be confusing, but so far it has been a great time of learning new things about myself, my faith, and the church. I am really excited to be at First Baptist Richmond. I appreciate all your prayers on my behalf, and also, I enjoy conversations and meeting new people. So please, if you haven’t yet, come up to me in FBC’s halls and let me thank you in person for welcoming me into this church.

Read related Baptist News Global story about trending pastoral residencies.

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Story by Hanna Zhu. Photos by Susan Brown.

On a Sunday in September 2008 I visited Richmond’s First Baptist Church (FBC) with a fellow seminarian (from Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond) who kindly took me to church. I had just moved from Beijing and was without a car. What a blessing that this would not only be the church that I now call home, but also the place that offered me an internship and a post-graduate residency.

Callout-zhuBLOGFrom July 2012 to June 2014 FBC provided a space for me to learn about ministry in a congregational setting. It was not classroom learning anymore. It was now real life happenings. From paying hospital visits and leading retreats, to spearheading a task force and preaching a Sunday sermon, every opportunity led to a deeper understanding of who I am, who Christ is, and what doing church is all about.

Hanna ZhuAnd I learned that I love doing church. I love doing church because the people at FBC taught me that doing church is first of all being the church. Doing church can be mechanical, but being the church has to be organic. You can’t be church if you are not breathing together, laughing together, mourning together, and rejoicing over joys of doing ministry together. The church is a body, as Paul illustrates in 1 Corinthians 12. Not just an ordinary body, but the body of Christ. People at FBC gave me a glimpse of the vitality of that body.

Hanna ZhuWhen I look back on my experiences as an intern and a resident at FBC, my heart is full of gratitude. There are no other words that can describe it. What a blessing FBC has been to me. So many people have touched my life and made it better.

With gratitude to my supervisor Steve Booth, Jim Somerville, other ministers and staff, and many, many precious congregants and lay leaders. You have offered tremendous hospitality by welcoming me – a stranger from a foreign land – to make my home among you. And better yet, you have blessed my calling as a woman minister and selflessly invested in me. Thank you.

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