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Posts Tagged ‘retirement’

Thirty years ago, Ralph Starling began his career at Richmond’s First Baptist Church as Minister of Single Adults. Over the years, he had several roles, but today he is most remembered as Associate Minister of Christian Invitation, and his work as the guidance and facilitation of the Divorce Recovery Ministry and his connecting with international students attending Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). The Ministry of Christian Invitation, which is rooted in the practice of Christian hospitality, is an expression of love we practice within the church and extend to the world around us.

Ralph Starling and leadership staffWe asked several people involved in the singles ministry, the Divorce Recovery ministry and the international student ministry to speak to the power of Christian invitation as shown by Ralph over the years.

Richard Ellis

My first visit to FBC was in the fall of 1994 and when I arrived, I was met by a greeter who introduced me to a gentleman who the greeter said could help me find a Sunday School class to attend. That gentleman was Ralph Starling. We talked all the way to the class and even after I had gone in and began getting settled, I noticed that Ralph had lingered to make sure I was comfortable. I had mentioned to him that I was new to Richmond and he checked in with me frequently to make sure I was okay. He also made sure to introduce me to others in the church so I felt more comfortable and welcome. Ralph made my transition to Richmond much easier and for that I am grateful. In large part because of Ralph, I never visited any other churches in Richmond.

Over the years Ralph “volunteered” or “drafted” me to participate in many activities and committees including driving Mission Teams to and from the airport, participating in leadership teams for Metro Richmond Singles, and leading a mission team to Nicaragua. Because of Ralph I have been introduced to many wonderful people and blessed with many rewarding experiences. My life has been so much richer because of him.

As Ralph’s role changed to one of Christian Invitation and I left the singles group for the married adults’ group, we have remained friends. My wife Bobbie has also become friends with Ralph. We still get together for lunch or a cup of coffee now and then. I still look forward to seeing Ralph each Sunday. Ralph once told me I have the gift of hospitality, but if ANYONE has the gift of hospitality, it is Ralph. He just has a way of making people feel comfortable in his presence. I will miss my friend when he retires.

Steve Booth

In 1990, only months after beginning his service as Minister of Single Adults, Ralph Starling began the Divorce Recovery Workshop (DRW). Over the years, more than 3,000 individuals have found support and encouragement to begin again. DRW has been affirmed by counselors and lawyers as a trusted resource for individuals navigating the devastating and life-changing turmoil of divorce. I know this from personal experience. In 2013, with the encouragement of my counselor, Richard, and the support of my friend and colleague, Ralph, I participated in DRW. It was a welcoming and safe place with a community of mentors and fellow strugglers to experience God’s grace and healing.

I believe that any system – church, ministry, organization or institution – has in its DNA the heart and character of its founder(s). In other words, the values, beliefs and actions of those who birth a ministry imprint and guide the ministry and promote its effectiveness. The guiding objectives of DRW – a ministry dedicated to accompanying wounded and broken individuals, providing a place of radical hospitality and communicating God’s healing love and forgiveness – are truths and reflections of the life and ministry of Ralph Starling.

Thank you, Ralph, for your courage and compassion. Thank you for coming alongside so many walking through dark and fearful times. Thank you, for birthing and shaping DRW into a safe haven for healing and rebirth to take place. Thank you, Ralph, for being a companion, guide and fellow struggler on the journey. Thanks be to God!

Brenda Gibson

Ralph Starling has been a mentor and friend since 2007. He is a man of high moral character, is inclusive and displays grace and love to all. Throughout the DRW ministry, he offers hope, love and community to the participants and volunteers. Recovery is a journey and each participant is encouraged to find healing along the way.

I have participated with Ralph in welcoming the international students at VCU. He believes in the importance of helping them find acceptance and friendship. He has taken these groups on trips and many activities. He is a man with a big heart. God bless Ralph.

Ralph Starling outings

Louis Watts, Linda Watts, Sandra Saunders

I met Ralph in 2010 when Linda and I were searching for a new church and began attending Richmond’s First Baptist Church. He was holding Small Group Bible Studies in his home specifically for “newcomers” to help them get connected. During those studies, Ralph often spoke passionately about his welcoming ministry with international students at VCU. He invited and encouraged us to “come and see” and to join him in this ministry.

Ralph was already connecting with VCU international students through various activities. He regularly attended monthly Global Cafes hosted by the VCU Global Education Office. As he met students and understood some of their needs, he organized shopping trips to Walmart and Short Pump Town Center. Xiaomin Wu from China said the first time she met Ralph at a Global Café he said, “Hi. I’m Ralph. Here’s my phone number. Call me if you need anything!” She knew he was sincere.

To provide breaks from studies, Ralph organized weekend trips to Virginia Beach, Eagle Eyrie (the Baptist Conference Center in Lynchburg, VA) and Washington DC. Semester breaks and holidays were perfect opportunities to plan exciting adventures to New York City and San Francisco. Some students remember having the privilege of travelling to Ralph’s hometown in Georgia to visit his family. I remember when Ralph’s Mother passed away; Alena (Slovakia), Khaled (Egypt), Sanjay (Nepal) and Xiaomin (China) drove from Richmond to Georgia to attend her funeral. That is how much these students loved and cared about Ralph.

Ralph frequently included students in church activities such as One Sunday, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas services as well as Tuesday night volleyball. Over the last year, with the help of Tom and Zena Harvley-Felder, Sandra Saunders, Doug Duke and others, Ralph initiated English language classes at the church on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. These classes help build their proficiency in the English language which is key to their success.

international student groupsRalph was always disturbed by the statistic that 80% of international students studying in the US are never invited into an American home. To address this concern, he often hosted pot-luck dinners in his home and he encouraged church families to host events in their homes. Mark and Carrie Larson often hosted Thanksgiving dinners, Easter lunches and July 4th celebrations. Linda and I hosted Super Bowl parties as well as Indian, Chinese and Persian dinners prepared by students. Sandra Saunders was especially connected to Sri Lankan students and hosted dinners and birthday celebrations. Rob Reinstein and Jeff and Jeannie Dortch hosted summer cookouts at their farms. Attendance at these gatherings often ranged from 20-60 students providing them a chance to visit in American homes and to experience genuine hospitality and love.

Ralph is a big guy with a big heart who is passionate about this ministry to internationals. He has met thousands of international students over his years of ministry. Those who know him well generally describe Ralph as kind, generous, hospitable, always willing to listen, a true friend and always making those around him feel loved and valued. More specifically, some have said:

“Ralph has been a great help to VCU International students. He will be loved and missed by everyone.”

“It was important to me to have people like Ralph around me. A guy who was always there for us.”

“Ralph helps guide us in the right direction so we can learn and grow from it.”

“Ralph, you have given your life to a great cause. Even though you are retiring, your teaching lives on in us to make our lives better.”

“Ralph, the seeds of service, love, and caring you have sown will continue to bear fruit.”

“Ralph makes God look good in my eyes.”

“You hung out with my parents when they visited Richmond and made them feel comfortable despite the language barrier. That’s how you are with all those who know you.”

“Ralph is one of our best friends in Richmond. We are blessed to know him and have him as part of our Richmond family.”

retirement wishesFor those of us who have served alongside Ralph in this ministry to international students over the years, we thank you for inviting, encouraging and mentoring us in this ministry. It is everything you said it would be and more! The relationships we have developed with people from all over the world have blessed our lives and made us more loving and caring people. This ministry is transformational and radical—the things you have taught us best! Well done good and faithful servant!

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By Robert Thompson

Life is a constant state of beginnings and endings, alphas and omegas, firsts and lasts. After forty-one years of active ministry, Steve Booth is writing a new chapter in his life as he prepares to retire. Seventeen of those years have been with Richmond’s First Baptist Church as Minister of Christian Formation.

Steve and I have been friends for almost forty years. We met when we were pastors on the Northern Neck of Virginia. He was pastor of the Fairfields Baptist Church, and I was serving the Corrottoman Baptist Church. There is a lot of history, lots of stories (some to be told, others not). I trust him with everything. This interview was to be face-to-face. We started with good intentions, but COVID-19 had other plans. We have interviewed through email. Now, imagine the two of us are talking face-to-face:

Robert: Steve, tell us about some of your beginnings, your family and education.

Steve: I was born in Brookhaven, Mississippi, the son of seminary trained ministers. I was one of three children, with a sister, Beth, and a brother, Mark. After high school, I attended Campbell University in Buie’s Creek, North Carolina, graduating in 1976. As I began my studies at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, I thought I would move into the hospital chaplaincy program. But as I sought clarification of my call, the pastoral residency program drew me, and I moved forward with my call to congregational ministry. The Highland Baptist Church in Louisville licensed and ordained me in June 1979.

Robert: We are interested in the influences upon your life and your areas of service. Share some of those ministry opportunities.

As a young adult discerning my call to ministry, I found reassurance in the writings of Thomas Merton. He was a powerful influence. Merton’s writings assured me that calling was not about picking the right door but trusting God’s acceptance of my desire to seek his will with all my heart.

This freed me to try on a number of different ministry hats. My vocational ministry journey has included serving as a youth minister, pastoral resident, pastor, associate pastor, Christian educator, denominational consultant and pastoral supervisor. Much of my ministry has been in Christian education, and I have had the privilege of serving the Huguenot Road Church, the Ardmore Church in Winston Salem, North Carolina, the Richmond Baptist Association, the Bon Air Church and FBC.

Walking through each open door, trusting God’s leadership for each step, embracing a variety of ministry callings has provided not only much joy, but also an expansive view of congregational contexts and the unique challenges that ministers face and navigate daily.

Booth photos

Robert: Share with us some of the highlights of your ministry.

Steve: I have been immeasurably blessed to serve eight different congregations and one local association. Each of the ministry contexts stretched and grew me as a minister. I left each with a deep gratitude for the people I served and the grace and love I experienced.

My first position following ordination was as a pastoral resident at Orange Baptist Church. The experience was profoundly helpful and formative in my early ministry years. As an aside, one of my greatest joys has been to pay forward that experience by helping begin, shape and guide FBC’s pastoral residency program. The five residents that I have been privileged to work with—Lindsey McClintock, Hanna Zhu, Nick Deere, Brett Holmes and Patrick Jackson—have served FBC with distinction and commitment. I’m grateful to call them colleagues and friends.

In 1990 I was invited to be part of the Baptist General Association of Virginia’s Young Leader Program under the direction of Dr. Bob Dale. It was during this course of study that I was introduced to Bowen Family Systems Theory. The Theory has been a profoundly helpful compass for navigating my personal and professional life. I’m convinced that “systems thinking” has been the single most helpful resource in helping me survive and thrive as a congregational minister.

Serving on the adjunct faculty at three theological seminaries in the disciplines of supervised ministry and Christian Education Formation has provided me an opportunity to guide, support and encourage young ministers as they prepare for ministry.

One-on-one conversations utilizing my gifts in pastoral supervision, spiritual direction, discipleship coaching, pastoral counseling, and coaching have been sacred and treasured gifts and opportunities.

Serving with some of the most gifted ministers and support staff on the planet (particularly at FBC) has been a gift. They are colleagues but, more importantly, my friends.

One final highlight, although emerging out of the darkest time in my life, was the unconditional love and support I received from FBC during a personal life crisis. Through the ministry of our Divorce Recovery ministry and the support of ministerial colleagues and loving fellow church members, I began a season of healing. A few years later, a new era in my personal life began when I met and fell in love with Martha, or Marti. I am forever indebted to FBC for loving me through those dark days and allowing me to continue as one of their pastoral ministers.

Robert: What have you learned over these past forty years?

Steve: That is an interesting question. I suppose my first lesson is to realize that my life has been a constant state of letting go of my need to control and letting God be in control.

Related to allowing God to be in control is learning to trust God’s will for my life. Again, Thomas Merton speaks to me through his book, Thoughts in Solitude,

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.”

Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned is letting God love me and in turn help me love others in appropriate ways and words.

Robert: What brings you joy?

Steve: There are so many joys in my life but let me share eight:

  1. Accompanying young ministers as a mentor and coach in their early days of ministry
  2. Facilitating Bible study and small group experiences. Creating spaces for people to reflect on their spiritual journey
  3. Helping couples prepare for marriage
  4. Serving with ministry colleagues (leaders and support staff) who are also very good friends
  5. Being a part of the Shalom-Darnell Bible study class
  6. Enjoying time with my Northern Neck minister-brothers and their wives
  7. Marti and our six children and 12 grandchildren
  8. And Marti! Marti! Marti!

Robert: Would you do it over again?

Steve: Absolutely! A few bumps I might negotiate differently, but no regrets! Thanks be to God!

Robert: Steve, thank you for sharing some of your life with us. You are loved for who you are and for the gifts God has given you to share. We will miss you. God bless you.

 


Editor’s note: A retirement reception to recognize our love for Steve and his contributions to the ministry at FBC will be held at a later date when we can gather safely.

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Story by Alex Hamp. Photos by Paul Bickford, Alice Brette, Susan Brown and Janet Chase.

Carter Bearden, Pat Allen, Mary Hiteman, Alan Jones, Buddy Burgess, Steve Blanchard, Alex Hamp, Laura Harris. Numerous faces have come and gone through the Preschool, Deaf, Recreation, and Community Mission ministries at First Baptist Church, but one face—that of Robin Hendricks—has remained constant. During the past 28 years, Robin has faithfully served all these ministries as an administrative assistant. She will retire on June 30th, having joined the church staff in September of 1989.

Robin Hendricks retires
Robin was first hired to assist Carter Bearden in the Deaf Ministry and Pat Allen in Community Missions. Technology was not yet the office norm so most of her early tasks were done with paper and pen. Her duties included monthly reports, calendaring, copying—and any other tasks asked of her. Both the Deaf and Community Missions ministries changed hands in the 90s, moving to Buddy Burgess and Steve Blanchard respectively. Robin assisted them both as they navigated their new roles. Steve shared this about Robin, “When I first was hired as the Missions Minister in 1997, Robin was my part-time administrative assistant. She not only helped me get oriented to the ins and outs of First Baptist life as a new employee, but was always willing and able to help in any way she could. I really appreciated her help and to this day appreciate her as a friend to me and my family.” Eventually Buddy took on the additional position of Minister of Recreation from Alan Jones, so Robin helped in this ministry too.  Her work was critical in keeping track of registration forms as Upward Basketball, Indoor Soccer and Blood Drives became very popular in our community.

Robin Hendricks retiresOne of Robin’s biggest joys has been working with the First Baptist Preschool children and families. Since 1998, first under the leadership of Mary Hiteman, Robin has served as the administrative assistant for the preschool. She has been kept busy with various tasks which include recording tuition payments, calendaring, laminating, subbing in a room when needed, and even being a graphic artist, designing t-shirts and programs for school.

Robin’s role was critical when the preschool leadership was handed over to me in 2014. She helped me learn the behind-the-scenes tasks of the preschool, was able to anticipate when I was not sure what was coming next, and became a great sounding board. She has also been loved by our families. According to Preschool mother, Beth Fuchs, “Ms. Robin’s knowledge of the inner workings of First Baptist Preschool, her uncanny ability to remember the name and details of every single child and his/her family, and her genuine love of all the kids is so apparent and such a blessing to our school.”

Robin Hendricks retiresRobin has enjoyed her time here at First Baptist Church. She has watched the change of leadership of the Senior Pastors from Dr. Flamming to Dr. Somerville, as well as in all the ministries where she served. She says this has required that she be flexible and adaptable to the times and the style of her supervisors. She has enjoyed the relationships she has made with the people and families of First Baptist Church and First Baptist Preschool. Robin is looking forward to moving to Baltimore to be with her daughter’s family, but will find it bittersweet to give up her near-daily trek across the Huguenot Bridge to First Baptist Church.


Alex HampAlex Hamp was named Administrator of First Baptist Preschool in 2014. She has been educating and nurturing young children and their families for the past twenty-three years, first as a kindergarten teacher at William Fox Elementary School and now at FBC’s preschool. She and her husband live in Hanover County with their four children. In her spare time, Alex enjoys traveling, reading and watching her children play sports and perform with their show choirs.

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Story by Beth Bayless.

For many of us, an image of our life may be a path that goes to unexpected places as God nudges us in directions we had not planned. I believe this aptly describes Buddy Burgess’ road to ministry.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesIn August, Buddy was preparing to retire as pastor of FBC’s Deaf Mission. I asked him “When you first started out, did you have any indication this is where you would end up?”

Buddy smiled and told me the story of being led by God to this place and this time. During much of the journey he did not see God’s specific plans until he arrived at his destination. But it was apparent that he trusted God along the way.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesBuddy grew up on a farm near Spartanburg, SC. As a teen, one of his proudest moments was when his football team won its conference championship. Buddy had no plans for further education, and after graduation, began working in a cotton mill.

When he became involved in Pony League baseball (for boys 13 to 15 years old), he realized he wanted to be a coach. After two years at the mill, he enrolled in Spartanburg Junior College, a Methodist school. A required religion class made two lasting impressions on him. First, he used the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, which was much clearer than the King James Version he was used to. Second, the class required service in the community.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesDuring his years at Spartanburg, a chance encounter led Buddy to the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind, where he was hired as an assistant to do hearing tests in the audiology department and provide training.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesBy the time Buddy completed Spartanburg, he realized he needed a bachelor’s degree. He was accepted at Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College) in Wilson, NC. At ACC, Buddy majored in physical education. Later he changed his major to education of the deaf and finally settled on religion and philosophy as God’s plans for his life became clearer.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesBuddy, who worked his way through college, jokes that he completed four years of college in only nine years. He often had two or three part-time jobs – working in a warehouse and as a teletype operator, audiologist assistant, and physical therapy assistant. At times he had to drop out for a quarter to earn enough money to continue. But even there God was working. A member of his home church offered both spiritual support and financial help with food and lodging. Then someone in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes provided a grant-in-aid for him. It was enough for Buddy to complete college.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesDuring his years at ACC, Buddy realized God was nudging him toward the ministry. After graduation, he decided to work for a year before entering seminary. He became a full-time physical therapy assistant at the local hospital, where he met and soon married Ann Boswell.

During his last year at Southeastern Theological Seminary, the Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board) of the Southern Baptist Convention encouraged Buddy to consider a job as a minister to the deaf. This was not in Buddy’s plan but after he and Ann prayed for direction, he completed the application. Following graduation, Buddy was called as the first minister for the deaf at First Baptist Church, Memphis, TN.

Buddy Burgess - A Life Responding to God's NudgesLooking back, Buddy sees many instances where God nudged his choices of part-time jobs, schools and the people he met. Now as he looks forward to the next part of his walk with God, Buddy anticipates more time with his grandchildren, opportunities to travel including a 50th reunion with his high school football team, and a possible mission trip to Korea to lead a sports camp. He also anticipates more nudges and direction adjustments.

Watch a video about Buddy Burgess produced by Sean Cook and Allen Cumbia.

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Story by Allen Brown. Photos by Allen Cumbia, Win Grant and Allison Maxwell.

Easy to Follow His CallOn February 12, 2015 Becky Payne completed 25 years of extraordinary ministry as a member of the staff at Richmond’s First Baptist Church. During that time she has served as organist, soloist, children’s choir coordinator, accompanist for choirs, ensembles and soloists, advisor for senior adults, handbell choir director and ringer, and organizer and director of the JoySingers and the Youth Girls’ Ensemble. Becky has taken additional responsibility for many mission trips and choir tours and for a long-running Bible class for FBC members who live at Lakewood Manor.

In a recent interview Becky shared about her ministry at FBC.

Leaving First Baptist Church, Jackson, Mississippi, a place where you served happily and successfully for 11 years, was a major step for you, personally and professionally.

Yes, but for me the call of God was to “go.” I saw it not as a “leaving” but a “going.” Believing fully in God’s faithfulness, I found it easy to follow His call.

What are some memories of those early years at First Baptist?

becky-friends_350pxThe surprise of renovation. I had left a church which had just finished a major renovation, then learned that we were to do the same here. The renovation process causes big adjustments for an organist and accompanist. Also, I remember that it took time to balance staff responsibilities, each finding our niche and then finding ways to support each other.

Then there was the surprise of process, finding that the pace of most everything was much slower, especially in church life. In my previous church, things happened quickly and, other than scheduling, without needing the approval of deacons or committees.

Other vivid memories include the illness and subsequent death of our senior pastor’s son. The love and support shown to their family by FBC people told me so much about my new church home. (Dr. James Flamming was pastor from 1983 to 2006. His son Dave died in 1991, a year after Becky’s arrival.)

In your many roles since you arrived, what have been the most meaningful personal and spiritual parts of your ministry?
Worship and relationships. When I am using music to help people feel the presence of God, it is fulfilling. When the people sing “Worthy of Worship” or “Amazing Grace,” for instance, these become holy moments for the church family. But it is not about me—God is using my hands and feet and talents to glorify Him—to point people toward Him.

Personal relationships have been so important, especially walking through difficult times with someone. One of my spiritual gifts is discernment. I can feel the pain and share in the difficult but special process of walking with them.

Tell us some warm memories or “aha” moments.
becky-directing_350pxThere are at least three music moments that are special. One is our congregational singing of “The Lord’s Prayer” after communion. Another is when we sing “Silent Night” on Christmas Eve. Those two moments make me fully aware of what it means to be a part of the body of Christ and the power we share in that relationship.

The third is when the Youth Girls’ Ensemble sang “Blessings.” The phrase “what if the trials of this life are blessings in disguise…” When I selected music for the Ensemble, I looked for text more than melody. As they practiced, they sang the words over and over. For this piece they internalized a great truth: If we let Him, God uses what happens in our lives for good. I was glad to be part of their learning this lesson.

One memorable personal event occurred after I had been here about 10 years. I was driving home from a conference and realized for the first time that I felt I was coming home. This was my place and still is.

How do you feel about your work with seniors?
When I was new to Richmond, I met the Wendy Bunch (a small group of couples who met on Sunday nights after church, first at Wendy’s, then in homes) – the Seldens, the Dixons, the Shearons, the Harringtons, the Lucys, the Elmores, and others. They embraced me with such love and care that I knew I was in the right place.

As my work with seniors grew and became a significant part of my ministry, I found my life enriched on every level. We have studied together, laughed and played together, prayed together, grieved and celebrated together. Our senior adults are the heart of this church. I love them.

You’ve gone on several mission trips. How have they changed you?
beckywithchild_350pxI was a Sunbeam and a GA (Baptist missions organizations for children), and I had a missions-minded mother, so of course I’ve always had a desire to see God’s world and His people. But nothing could have prepared me for what I experienced in Germany and Indonesia.

In Essen, Germany, I learned what it felt like to be considered part of a cult (how many Germans view Baptists). That sense of separation was overcome as I watched a young girl weeping when she sang “Fairest Lord Jesus” in German while some of us sang in English. I realized anew that God is everywhere and that we serve the same God. And I have lasting friendships with members of our host church there.

The two trips to Indonesia were medical missions. It was a life-changing experience to be among people who had lived through a tsunami, who had never seen a doctor or white people. Many of them walked for hours to wait all day, hoping to be treated. Yet there were always more than we could possibly see each day.

Despite that disappointment, blessings abounded. Indonesia is a place where I should have been afraid, but I wasn’t. I witnessed a miracle as our group prayed for a girl who was obviously demon-possessed, and we saw her healed. Also, relationships among team members were deepened. We became more accessible and more important to each other as we recognized a new meaning in being brothers and sisters in Christ.

You are truly ministering to us through your exceptional instrumental and vocal skills. Tell us your feelings about this.
My calling is to teach others about the love of God through Christ Jesus. Music is the means, not the end. My abilities are God’s gift to me and He has been generous. I believe the greatest ability is availability—to be willing to use what God has given me to point others toward Him.

Editor’s note:
Becky’s last day as FBC’s organist will be June 28. She will retire on June 30, 2015.
View a video about Becky produced by Sean Cook and Allen Cumbia.


Allen BrownAllen Brown was Minister of Music in Baptist churches in North Carolina and Virginia, before becoming Director, Department of Church Music, at the Virginia Baptist General Board, from 1962 until his retirement in 1993. He has served the Music Ministry of Richmond’s First Baptist in many ways, including as a member of the search team that brought Becky Payne to FBC. He has been on Partnership Mission trips to Brazil, Germany, Slovakia and India. Allen and his wife, Charlotte, have two sons, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

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