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Posts Tagged ‘RVA’

By Jeannie Dortch. Photo by Janet Chase.

Most people think of the kingdom of heaven as something above us, but many are beginning to believe that the kingdom of heaven can be all around us as well. Jim Somerville is one of those who has been putting this theory to the test since he launched KOH2RVA (Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia), a year-long, every member mission trip to Richmond in September 2012. Since then, Jim has been driving a metaphorical bus full of passengers encouraging them not to get too comfortable in their seats.

“Look out the window for something that doesn’t look like heaven,” he says as he steers us in one direction or the other. “If everyone looks through his or her own eyes to see what is least like heaven, we will all see something different. The next step is to get off the bus, roll up your sleeves, and begin to work.” With that encouragement, the FBC family has been traveling to every corner of Richmond learning, volunteering, and making a difference.

As the head cheerleader for the mission, Jim has expanded his blog (http://jimsomerville.wordpress.com/) to include a KOH2RVA story nearly every day. He links the stories on Facebook and Twitter. He tells of people’s experiences, reports results, and presents new ideas. “It’s just a matter of sharing your gifts, no matter how small,” he says.

Jim Somerville

Senior Pastor, Dr. James G. Somerville

The success of KOH2RVA has been overwhelming, and being the bus driver is a demanding job. This is why Jim is inviting other bloggers to weigh in on his day off.

In a bus with seemingly unlimited seating, others have caught the spirit of KOH2RVA and want to travel along too. Jim will be asking non-profit organizations and interested church leaders all over the city to contribute to a new KOH2RVA blog next year.

As more congregations become engaged with this mission, Jim hopes to build a strong coalition of people working together for a common cause that is bigger than any one church. The message is as old as Jesus, who prayed that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, but as a license plate, it seems to be going viral! At a meeting of large Baptist churches around the country recently, Jim was asked if the concept of KOH2RVA was copyrighted or could any of those present borrow it to use with their congregations? Of course they could.

“Are you bringing the kingdom a little closer to Richmond, Virginia?” Jim asks again and again. With such a clear sense of purpose, it won’t be long before all citizens of Richmond, Virginia and beyond will be speaking with one voice – that of bringing the kingdom of heaven to every corner where there are God’s people. And that’s everywhere!

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By Nancy Mairs.

Lynn Turner

It all started at the 2012 spring staff retreat when the discussion turned to bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia (KOH2RVA). Lynn Turner, First Baptist’s Senior Associate Pastor, wondered what it would be like if everyone at FBC went on a mission trip – not to a distant location, but here, to Richmond.

Jim Somerville

Jim Somerville

Jim Somerville, FBC’s Senior Pastor, explains the initiative that has grown from that conversation: “In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus teaches His disciples to pray that God’s Kingdom would come, and God’s will would be done, on earth as it is in heaven. It is my conviction that Jesus wanted His disciples not only to pray for that, but to work for that.” [More details at KOH2RVA.org]. And maybe the idea of working for the Kingdom of Heaven to come on earth means to Richmond, Virginia too.

Steve Blanchard

Steve Blanchard

Steve Blanchard, Associate Pastor, explains, “After all, when Jesus walked on earth, He saw the same people we see, saw the same sort of needs we do, but He paid attention. He saw beyond the external and took an interest in people. Are the folks in the Richmond Metro area really that much different than the folks Jesus came in contact with? Maybe in the past, the church has focused too much on converting folks to the faith, but what Christ really meant was for us to learn to approach people as He did – loving them right where they are.”

calloutMaybe bringing heaven to earth is nothing more than looking at our everyday lives to see how we can show Jesus to those in the world who do not know Him. In Richmond we come in contact with the sick, the lonely, the hurting, and with those who are lost in the pursuit of their own ambitions. And, maybe what Jesus meant for us to learn from the Lord’s Prayer is that we need to love those around us, just as He did. Isn’t that really what a mission trip is all about? Learning from Jesus how to show and tell people what the world would be like if God were completely in charge. And, learning that will lead us to go out and do the work of the Kingdom of Heaven, in the mission field where God has put us – Richmond, Virginia.

What will the church-wide mission trip look like? The staff at First Baptist has provided a few tools to help us prepare. These tools are available on the website: KOH2RVA.org.

Lynn shares a prayer of discernment to use in seeking the connection between the kind of work we love to do and the work the world needs.

Steve Booth

Three video discussions address some of the issues of making our faith practical. Jim and Lynn provide the context for the year-long, every-member mission trip. Steve Booth, Associate Pastor, helps us connect our daily life with the life of faith. Steve Blanchard explains how to practice compassion in a Christ-like way.

A list of current Richmond-based mission “trips” offers opportunities for children, adults and families.

The year-long mission trip begins with the One Sunday celebration on September 9, 2012. Imagine a bus with a KOH2RVA license plate pulling up to the corner of Monument and The Boulevard that day. Jump on the bus, find a seat, and begin an adventure that will make the license plate a reality, bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia!


Nancy Mairs Nancy Mairs joined Richmond’s First Baptist Church more than 20 years ago and is a member of the Disciples class. She works in the Regulatory Affairs group at Dominion Virginia Power, and enjoys hiking, canoeing, traveling, and spending time with her husband, Jim, and son, Jack.

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