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Story and photos by Jeannie Dortch.

It is said that behind every successful man is a great woman, but behind Phil Mitchell, FBC’s Associate Pastor, Ministry of Music, sit two women volunteers who help his ministry run like a well-oiled antique pocket watch. At ages 84 and 85 respectively, Charlotte Brown and Jean Crowder mimic computer programmers but use pencils and legal pads rather than keyboards to input their data.

Unsung but in tune.They meet every Monday morning secreted away in the church’s music library behind the choir room where they are surrounded by more than 1,000 numbered file boxes filled with multiple copies of sheet music, some of which has been used since 1955.

Alton Howell, part-time music director in the 1950s, instituted the idea of keeping copies and a record of the names and dates of every piece of music sung or played at FBC. Ray Herbek, who served as FBC’s first full-time music minister, 1962-1989, refined the process and Charlotte, along with other choir members, started helping Ray in 1988. Since 1992, Jean has been Charlotte’s permanent helper.

Susan Marshall, FBC’s music secretary, orders the music, after which Charlotte and Jean process the acquisitions by sorting and stamping it for one of the church’s six choirs or for orchestral and instrumental pieces. According to Susan, “After they have catalogued the hard copies, they complete a data form with the title, publisher, composer/arranger, library number, voicing, scriptural or thematic emphasis, number of copies, and purchase and processing date. They bring that data form to me and I enter all that information into the computer.”

Unsung but in tune.Both the digital and hand-copied versions are used by the music staff. The computer program is on a shared network and allows staff to sort music by content fields. Searching by composer, by relationship to the lectionary passages of the week, or by music that highlights a certain time of year are examples of how the computer may be used to quickly locate a desired piece.

“Charlotte and Jean’s method is disciplined, methodical, clear and intuitive, and I use it often,” commented Phil. “Each anthem is listed numerically as well as alphabetically. When retrieving an anthem from a file, I can refer to a notation in each box indicating which, if any, anthems are missing. This enables me to track it to the choir member who last used it.”

Because computer hard drives can crash, Charlotte is adamant about the importance of having a written record of the church’s musical purchases. Phil admitted that having the library record greatly reduces the risk of loss and is a comfort. But with the digitized version of the music resources, he is able to check something he needs to know from his office or from his laptop after hours or when he is out of town.

There are always some things a computer cannot do. At the heart of the system organized and run by Charlotte and Jean is the personal touch. A computer cannot punch holes in the music, nor can it insert anthems alphabetically into choir members’ folders. Retrieving music each week and after special performances for refiling is also not a computer skill. The work these women do is invaluable, and without them, chaos would ensue, but they enjoy it tremendously.

“I like order and seeing things in their proper place,” said Charlotte. “I got this trait from my mother so, as a member of the choir, I enjoy helping in the way I was taught.”

Jean continued, “Anything I can do to help the church, Phil Mitchell, and the choir, is an obligation I gladly assume. Plus, since I was an auditor, I too like order so I am naturally good at this job.”

Choir member and Handbell Choir Director, Ruth Szucs, effused about Charlotte and Jean, “They are wonderful, loyal, helpful, organized, faithful, and responsible. Our music ministry fully relies on them. They even anticipate difficulties that may arise with our future schedules.”

And from Susan, “If I had to do what they do every week, I would not have time to do any of my other work. I feel that I am a complement to the work they do, but they are the ones who keep the music library organized and functioning.”

Sing Charlotte and Jean’s praises the next time you see them as theirs is a tune that should not remain unsung!

Author’s note: When Charlotte or Jean is indisposed, Allen Brown, Dot Canipe, and Pat Jones are willing substitutes.

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By Brenda Andrews. Photos by Susan Brown, Win Grant and Jess Ward.

Compassion Ministry

The Food Pantry provides food for those in need, primarily the homeless. Most of the food is brought by individuals or small groups and is left in the green grocery carts located in the Park Avenue hallway.

They’re tired, hungry, dirty, but now safe. Some are loud, others quiet. Their eyes dart around the room, searching corner to corner, not sure of what to expect. Some relax at tables, chatting, drinking coffee and eating pastries. They wait their turn for items from the Clothes Closet and Food Pantry, for a shower and new underwear.
When we and our homeless friends share smiles, we see God’s love in each other and are reminded of our membership in the same family – the FBC family and God’s larger family.

Compassion Ministry

Sometimes connections are made. A man recognized another client as the father he had believed dead for nearly 50 years.

Compassion Ministry

showers-500px

Shower facilities are open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Compassion Ministry

A Compassion Ministry open house featured groceries, backpacks and sleeping bags, which are available to clients.

Compassion Ministry

Recently a woman came to the Clothes Closet in need of a pair of size 10 shoes. When none were found, one volunteer offered the size 10 shoes she was wearing.

Compassion Ministry

Compassion Ministry

Compassion Ministry

In July 2014, 40 women arrived by bus each evening for a meal, a shower, and a place to sleep. We also provided fellowship, game times, health information, and worship opportunities.

Compassion Ministry

Volunteers provided books, games, art projects and tutoring to at-risk children in Essex Village’s summer camp program.

Compassion Ministry

Mrs. Claus offered musical entertainment at a community Christmas celebration.

For information on participating in the Ministry of Christian Compassion, visit our website.

*KOH2RVA: Bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia


Brenda AndrewsBrenda Lee Andrews serves as Community Missions Associate, ministering to the homeless for 12 years, after a 30-year career as a draftsman for Bell Atlantic Telephone. She has been a member of First Baptist Church since 1995. Her passion is the homeless and providing them with their needs. Her biggest joy in life is her son, Benjamin, and granddog, Iris.

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By David Powers. Photos by Barbara Mait and David Powers.

When the film “SHOOTING THE PRODIGAL” begins production in June, Richmond’s First Baptist Church will play several major roles: birthplace of the concept, incubator of the film’s development, major financial supporter, location of the production company office, and “home church” to many of the film’s volunteers, cast and crew.

Shooting the ProdigalThe idea for the film began to take shape in 2010, when I served as the church’s Associate Pastor, Ministry of Communication. It grew out of the success of two major Christmas TV specials we produced in 1998 and 2003, and a desire to tell a great story with a positive influence in our increasingly secular culture. That idea was nurtured and encouraged by Jim Somerville, friends, staff colleagues, and the church’s Communication Team.

Over many months of thinking, praying and writing, FBC members Matthew Brown, Deborah Hocutt and I began to develop the concept and eventually a screenplay. But that script was far from what eventually emerged after Dr. Somerville’s brother, Gray, made a suggestion: “You should make a movie about a church making a movie about the parable of the prodigal son!” That sparked our imaginations. Deborah and I continued working and writing a new screenplay, which became the comedy we’ll begin shooting June 22.

Belltower Pictures board

Belltower Pictures board members

With the leadership of the FBC Communication Team, we set up an independent, non-profit production company, Belltower Pictures. Six of the company’s seven board members are FBC members (Paul Bickford, Kim Boys, Elizabeth Norton, Jerry Cardwell, Steve Martin, and myself). Our vision is to “entertain and inspire… telling great stories that reveal spiritual truth.” We hope this film will be the first of many.

The production of a motion picture is an expensive undertaking. So we turned our attention to fundraising. The FBC Endowment Fund was the first to commit funding. So far, there have been 28 financial backers, 15 of them are FBC members. We’ve raised enough money to begin production. We need more to pay for editing, marketing and distribution, so we’ll continue fundraising efforts as we move into production.

In addition to making a great film, we hope to accomplish two other goals: provide a way for folks from many different congregations to work together on a meaningful project; and provide a hands-on training experience for people who want to join the growing film industry workforce in Virginia.

So we’re reaching out to other churches to join us in all aspects of production.
We’re also offering volunteer and internship opportunities to high school and college students.

office space

Preparing office space

We’re setting up an office in the unused space on the third floor of the Pusey House. Now we’re recruiting volunteers, finding locations for the film, and assembling the cast and crew. And, of course, raising the rest of the money.

There is plenty of room for more FBC members to appear in the credits. Obviously, we need actors, extras and crew members. But we also need volunteers in a wide range of areas: office and administrative, website and social media, food service, security, transportation, props, wardrobe, hair and makeup. We need people who can work all or part of the 18 days of principal photography beginning June 22. And we need folks who can help during preproduction between now and then.

BTP-logo-black-CMYKWant to join the party? Email me at dpowers@Belltowerpictures.com. Or visit the website to see a fun promotional video, get more details and sign up for regular email updates: http://www.Belltowerpictures.com.

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By Billy Davis. Photos by Sharon McCauley.

puppets_RIR-McCauley

Puppet team at RIR

We have all heard the old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed – try and try and try again!” This certainly was true for those of us on the Richmond Baptist Association (RBA) team who started a ministry among the thousands of raceway fans coming to Richmond International Raceway (RIR) for the two big spring and fall NASCAR weekends.

We first focused on a Sunday morning worship service. Seeking approval to begin such an outreach effort, we received a “Yes,” but when the NASCAR Daytona executives changed the RIR venue from Sunday to Saturday night, our ministry was no longer needed.

Opportunities did not close to us, however. Motor Racing Outreach of Charlotte, NC, which provided worship, counseling and a children’s ministry for NASCAR drivers and crew member families on Saturdays, invited the RBA team to join them in their work at the Richmond track.

racetrack team SMcCauley

Ministry volunteers at RIR

Early in 2000, Dover and Middle District Associations joined RBA’s team in a broad-based ministry effort at RIR. Then the RIR was purchased by the International Speedway Corporation (ISC). The new ISC president and many of his staff are Christians who knew the value of a raceway ministry. These two changes began a significant time in the development of the ministry now known as Central Virginia Raceway Ministries (CVRM).

CVRM provides chaplains for each race weekend at RIR. These chaplains minister to families in many situations, including when injuries and deaths occur. Our volunteers, both lay persons and clergy, work in four-hour shifts. In addition to counseling, they distribute between two and four thousand pieces of Christian literature, Bibles, driver picture cards, and hospitality packets each weekend. The Virginia Baptist Disaster Relief Unit joins us in handing out cookies, lemonade and cups of water to fans. The Puppet Ministry from FBC has entertained children with their message of God’s love.

Raceway weekends bring to Richmond enough fans to make up a city as large as the fifth or sixth largest in our state. They come with all the needs of any city this size. One fan, a recent Christian, asked if he could hang out with us each day. He said, “I’m a former alcoholic. If I go back to be with the guys and gals I’ve come with, I could fall off the wagon.”

We believe there is a need for the ministry among the 100,000 plus fans coming to RIR for each race weekend. As Dean Kurtz, Executive Officer for Guest Services, ISC Daytona, said, “Everything under the sun is found at a race track and the steeple ought to be also!!”


ICON-billy-davisBilly Davis served as the RBA Consultant for church programs, strategic planning, partnership missions, and deacon, youth and senior adult ministries. Since retiring, he has followed his great passion for Raceway Ministries at RIR where he has served as a chaplain and volunteer coordinator since 2000. Billy and his wife, Linda, have two children, Barry and Susan, and three grandchildren.

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By Lee Byerly. Photos by Susan Brown.

It’s been said, “You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”

Summer Camp at Essex VillageI received an awakening while volunteering for summer camp at Essex Village Apartments (see related story). I have lived! How? I was awakened to the reality of young children, each unique and precious, each needing a smiling face from someone who genuinely cares. I could be that face and didn’t need anything in return.

Every day of camp about 12 children knew the smiling faces and love of FBC volunteers who gave their time, talent and treasure. Several of these children are from Pakistan, Kenya and Somalia and are trying to assimilate into a new culture and way of life, while still retaining their sense of identity. This they did with great joy and anticipation every day.

Mornings were filled with one-on-one tutoring, listening to students read, working out math problems, and playing various games. Higher level thinking skills soared as Checkers became the game of choice among students who wanted to play the adults. After lunch Josie Carver led creative art projects.

In addition to art and core subjects, Steve Blanchard (FBC’s Associate Pastor with the Ministry of Compassion) helped organize field trips. We took the students to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Three Lakes Park and Nature Center, and on a historical tour of Richmond. Steve was an excellent tour guide! Each student took notes of the travels and compiled them into a short personal essay that was shared with the class.

Other outings included lunches at McDonald’s and Sweet Frog where the children found good opportunities for decision making. Those who completed their summer reading were also treated to Chick-fil-A.

That reading can continue with many wonderful books provided by First Baptist for the children and adults of Essex Village. These books and two new book shelves were presented on the last day of camp.

Many exciting moments, many small victories, such a short amount of time. That kind of success happens when there is a combined effort – children, parents, volunteers, all under the direction of Mrs. Ernestine Dockery-Roy and her husband from Seeds of Promise Outreach Ministries, Inc.

Summer Camp at Essex VillageSummer Camp at Essex VillageSummer Camp at Essex VillageSummer Camp at Essex VillageSummer Camp at Essex VillageSummer Camp at Essex VillageSummer Camp at Essex VillageSummer Camp at Essex VillageSummer Camp at Essex VillageSummer Camp at Essex VillageSummer Camp at Essex Village


Lee ByerlyLee Byerly and his wife, Lisa, are members of the Travelers Adult Bible Fellowship. Lee teaches tennis. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with their daughter, Rachel, fishing, camping, snowboarding, and following college sports.

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By Sally Ann Smith. Photos by Paul Bickford.

Callout-tv-crewAs worship fills the sanctuary each Sunday, there is a discreet and dedicated team of volunteers capturing the joy and message of Sunday morning and delivering it to the living rooms, hospital beds, hotel rooms, and prison cells of those who cannot physically attend First Baptist.

Since November of 1986, FBC’s TV Crew Ministry has extended God’s love beyond the church walls. As David Powers, Associate Pastor of Communication, notes, the response has been overwhelming: “Every week we hear from someone who says, in effect, ‘Thank you for being a lifeline for me – providing a way to worship right where I am.’ Heaven comes a little closer to earth every Sunday morning at 11 am as those folks gather in front of their TV or computer to worship with us.”

media team

Camera operator’s view of WebClass

The FBC TV Crew is a team of about thirty who are devoted to this ministry’s success. Generally, each volunteer works about half the weeks of a two-month schedule, but there are many who are geared up and excited to serve almost every week.

MediaTeam4Amy Kane was drawn to this ministry because, “It is a ministry of faith, and it allows me to serve without my ‘self’ getting in the way.” Amy reiterates that often it is the team’s prayer to remain “transparent” as they do their work during the worship service. “I think this does happen, because when I meet new people at church, they sometimes say that I look familiar, but they can’t place me.”

While the team works hard to stay invisible as they perform their jobs, they are responsible for making our Church’s message and mission the most visible.

MediaTeam5In recent years, the ministry has extended ways to broadcast the Sunday service beyond just television. Now, the service is also streamed over the Internet and shared via podcasts, allowing members and seekers to access and participate in FBC’s service from literally any part of the world.

Janet Chase, who has served on the crew for over a decade, notes, “I regularly hear kudos from family who ‘attend’ FBC on TV when they can’t get to their own church. My in-laws even tune in online when they are weathered-out of their local services in far Southwest Virginia.”

MediaTeamWhile away on vacation, members like John and Shirley Seibert still start Sunday with their church family on their iPad.

In October 2011, the Ministry launched a WebClass Bible study. It is streamed live from a studio on the second floor of the FBC building Sunday mornings at 10:00. Shelia Dixon, who manages the questions and comments that come via email during the WebClass, shares that what she loves most about this ministry is getting to know the hearts of the people our church wouldn’t be able to connect with otherwise: a teen with cerebral palsy, a physically ailing woman in Tulsa, and many local seekers. They are “very inquisitive with tons of questions,” she says, and because of our Church’s use of technology and willing volunteers like Shelia and her husband, Charlie, these people can interact and continue a spiritual dialogue within the class from their homes.

MediaTeam2Many long-distance attendees never have the opportunity to come inside FBC’s real walls. But for others this technology provides a future member’s first introduction to First Baptist – a safe, loving and worshipful setting in their homes transitions into their home church.

TV Crew members: Bill Bandy, Chuck Batteau, Kevin Beale, Paul Bickford, Matthew Brown, Keith Carroll, Janet and Mark Chase, Susie Coomer, Elise and Skyler Cumbia, Charlie and Sheila Dixon, Win Grant, Rick Henshaw, Bill Hodge, Amy Kane, James Kyle, Bob Linkous, Jim Mairs, Scott Medina, Mark and Trevor Norton, Benjamin Oliver, Jack and John Pettigrew, Dwight Ross, David Storey, Brenda Street, John and Richard Ward, Ollie Wells, Stephen West, Tom Wright.

To get involved in this powerful and vital ministry, contact David Powers at 358-5458, ext. 117. A current need is for volunteers to serve as stage managers, camera operators, and crew members for the WebClass. As with most of God’s work, the only experience needed is a willing heart; the team will provide plenty of training.


Sally Ann Smith Sally Ann teaches 8th grade English at St. Catherine’s School. She serves on the Ministry Consultation Committee for Hanna Zhu, contributes devotionals to Appointment with God, and is an active member of the young couples class with her husband, Clint. Sally Ann and Clint reside in the Near West End and are proud parents of their daughter, Bellamy, who will be two in February, and are excitedly expecting a son at the end of January.

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Story and photos by Susan Brown.

Economic difficulties often spark creativity.

When First Baptist’s budget had less room for maintenance costs, Bonnie Wilmoth, Facilities Director, and Billy Burford, Church Administrator, started First Helpers. These volunteers pick jobs that match their skill sets from a list on the Maintenance Request Board. Some are able to help each week; others on a less regular basis. Bonnie comments that “their work has been a real blessing to the Church.”

calloutIn addition to routine maintenance chores, a group of First Helpers has taken on a massive project to upgrade lighting throughout the church building. In early fall 2011, Bonnie noticed that the fluorescent lighting tubes she usually purchased were being replaced by brighter, more efficient ones. In addition, the new fluorescent tubes would require new ballasts (the devices which regulate the electrical current in the tube).

Bonnie and Billy asked David Warner to lead a group of volunteers to update

First Helpers

David Jackson, Jeff Dortch
and Joe Evans

FBC’s 1,000 or so ceiling fixtures. With his background in electronic technology and previous experience with major electrical renovations at Richmond Baptist Association’s Camp Alkulana, he was well prepared to recruit, train, schedule, and ensure the safety of volunteers. A deadline of twelve months was set to convert all the fixtures.

First Helpers

team leader David Warner

Early on, David enlisted Jeff Dortch and Joe Evans, experienced First Helpers volunteers. Because Jeff has his own contracting business and can keep his own schedule, he frequently checks the Maintenance Request Board list and makes repairs during the week. Since Joe retired in 2010, he has enjoyed helping with various jobs that match his skills. He comments, “I really like the camaraderie of working with church members and getting to know them better.” Other volunteers had worked together on a previous electrical project for the Richmond Baptist Association.

The FBC Lighting Project Team usually works as a group on Saturdays when everyone who can shows up for two to three hours to get a sizable chunk of work done. There are also individual efforts on weekdays when a volunteer has the time and the inclination to work on his or her own.

Some helpers needed training. Millie Barnes approached her duties with cautious willingness and made certain she reviewed procedures until she was confident about what she was doing. Millie, wearing her at-the-ready tool belt, stated: “I have even bought a new tool or two to make the wire stripping easier and to make each conversion go more quickly.”

As a result of the team’s efforts, the work is well ahead of schedule with plans to complete this huge project in July 2012.

FBC Lighting Project Team: Millie Barnes, David Beach, Wayne Davis, Jeff Dortch, Gary Eck, Joe Evans, David Jackson, Ron Jackson, Bob Robinson, and David Warner, team leader.


Susan Brown

Susan Brown and husband Frank were invited to FBC by son Matthew, father of Madison, Adam and Jonathan and husband of Candi, FBC Minister to Children. Since then Susan has found a wonderful community and a place in For Ladies Only, Women On Mission, Upward Basketball, the Baptism Committee, the Weekday Early Education Board, FBC Budget Team, and the Buddy Hamilton Sunday School Class. She enjoys serving others as Jesus leads, time spent with family and sharing photos with others.

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By Betty Jane Hagan. Photos by Paul Bickford.

FBC’s main hall could literally be lined with the people who have served in its library for adults. They have maintained shelves of books, magazines, videos, audio tapes, CDs, DVDs, newspapers, art, and historical reminders of who we are. Their hospitality has kept the lights on and the doors wide open.

Who makes our library work?

David Jackson

For the most recent decade, David Jackson has led the Library Team. He has become a weekly staple for many of our church members, including children who have had to spell a new word each week in exchange for a piece of candy. Although we recognize David as the recent prime mover in getting library things done, his contributions have been backed by his equally committed co-workers: Rob Blackmore, Cheryl Cummins, Barbara and Gary Eck, Frances Francis, Norman Hedrick, Robin Hendricks, Pennie Hudson, Cathy Medina, Flo Satterwhite, Brenda Seago, Jerry Spivey, Rebecca Spivey, Lu Treadwell, Judy Watkins, Charlotte Whitlock, and Lila Williams, as well as his mentors Alma Snowa and Betty and Wilbur Todd. As David moves on to his next role at FBC, Barbara Watson is transitioning into the position of team leader. With gratitude we recognize the Library Team for their generous and professional service. We also honor those who initiated the library service, who oversaw its many renovations, and who have kept it a welcoming and educational environment for the FBC community.

If you are interested in serving on this team, contact Barbara Watson or Steve Booth, 804-358-5458, x167, staff liaison.

Editor’s note: See “A Moving Window,” posted on this site on 1-19-12, for historical notes on the current library location.


Betty Jane HaganBetty Jane Hagan grew up in the mountains of Virginia. She is the mother of three adult daughters. Betty Jane began attending FBC in 2006, joined in 2008, is a member of the Journey Sunday school class, and volunteers as a nursery worker.

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By Theresa Norton. Photos by Win Grant.

Journey class

Members of the Journey Sunday morning Bible study (Jeff Dortch, Jane Powell, Sandra Morton, and Betty Ann Dillon) assemble the compilation of news and stories from FBC's website.

Most of us didn’t feel any impact when the Ministry of Communication decided to move from print to online publication of First Things First. However, staff and volunteers within that ministry area know there are those in our church family who aren’t able to utilize the internet, email or social media. In response, Charles Luger gathered a group to discuss how we could keep these folks informed and connected to our church family. What resulted is a news packet (Mailpak) mailed to roughly 100 who are not typically able to attend church in person. The Mailpak includes a compilation of news similar to Wednesday Night News and Sunday Morning News, as well as highlights of articles and updates that appear on www.fbcrichmond.org.

According to Charles, the end result is a win/win. “Eliminating the printed publication was one change that allowed the Ministry of Communication to make needed budget cuts without compromising the effectiveness of our ministry since we now have something that is mailed more frequently, at a lower cost.”

Much like our overall church family, Mailpak recipients’ households are spread across a large geographic area. Most live alone, whether in their own homes or in retirement communities. Mailpak recipient Ethel Kyle said she appreciates the updates and sees the importance since over the years she has been one to call on and write fellow members in “ordinary time” and in times of need. Ethel described the broader need of staying connected to her church so well, as she shared what may seem insignificant to those of us at church regularly: having a friend bring her a church bulletin so she can use it as she watches the service on television the following week or receiving minutes from Deacons’ meetings or flowers from the sanctuary.

Minister of Community Lynn Turner affirms Ethel’s sentiment that the Mailpak is a good additional step in the community process. “As we consider how to bring together and maintain the family of First Baptist, it is important that those who are no longer able to attend our church on a regular basis feel they are still informed of what is going on in the life of the church and that they remain a vital part of our congregation. This new ministry of sending out information is so helpful. It complements the personal visits made by staff and congregational care volunteers, and serves an important purpose in the process of keeping these members connected.”

Betty Jane Hagan and Jeannie Dortch

Betty Jane Hagan and Jeannie Dortch gather the completed MailPacks for Monday's mailing to nearly 100 of FBC's family.

The Mailpak also gives our members a chance to serve one another. Volunteers of all ages, including childrens’ Sunday morning Bible study groups and youth and adult small groups, assemble and prepare the Mailpaks for mailing. Ongoing support of this effort is needed. Volunteers pick up the materials in the TV control room on 2nd Sunday mornings. They collate, stuff and label these items and return them for mailing on Monday. Full details and instructions can be found at http://teamlogistics.net/mailpak.htm. If you know someone who would benefit from receiving the Mailpak, please contact Charles Luger at charlesluger@gmail.com or 804-360-897.

For Ethel, and others no longer able to attend FBC, the Mailpak is a touch point that reminds her she has a church home and family whether or not she gets to the church building.


Theresa NortonTheresa and her husband, Mark, have two sons, Trevor and Ryan. She has an M.S. in Gerontology from VCU and was a Senior Living Consultant at Covenant Woods and The Hermitage. Currently she is a stay-at-home mom, doing part-time gerontological research. Theresa serves FBC as a Deacon, is in the Disciples Sunday school class, and works with the women’s ministry. Her mission involvement focuses on poverty-related issues through Together for Hope Business as Mission and WMU’s Mary & Elizabeth Project for the Pregnancy Resource Center.

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By Becky Kyle.

Vacation Bible School has changed since I attended in my childhood.

I remember going to VBS every summer and learning about God and the people in the Bible. I remember the daily processional with the salute to the American flag, the Christian flag and the Bible. I remember being in one classroom all morning with one set of teachers, having in-depth Bible study enhanced by activities, crafts and week-long projects. Music, snack, and recreation were breaks from the classroom.

VBS still happens every summer, but much has changed since my memories were formed.

Vacation Bible School morning assembly in the Sanctuary of First Baptist. Photo by Susan Brown.

The most exciting change is the addition of missions as a component of VBS. FBC offers children participation in mission projects that reach people in our own community, throughout the U.S., and around the world. The children have packed gift bags for the leaders of the Boys & Girls Club of Richmond, for FBC’s Community Missions clients and Grace Fellowship participants, for families at the Ronald McDonald House, for local fire fighters, and for FBC’s neighbors and homebound members. VBS children have sent their pennies to relief work for children in Israel and the Caribbean. Last year they prepared blankets and coloring books to fill backpacks for children in Africa.

FBC and Mount Moriah Baptist Church partner to help transport children to Vacation Bible School. Photo by Anthony M. Nesossis.

VBS has become an outreach ministry in Richmond. We partner with Mount Moriah Baptist Church to offer VBS to children in their congregation. We provide transportation; they provide volunteers. We also provide transportation for children from several community centers and from the New American community. As a result, a growing percentage of participants are from families who are not members of FBC.

First Baptist’s Children’s Ministry leaders carefully study and review about ten VBS curricula each year. Through prayer and discussion, they select the one best fitted to our children. Most of these curricula have a secular, fun-oriented theme with children rotating to different classrooms for each activity (i.e. Bible study, music, crafts, games, recreation, snack, missions).

“Finding Hope: A Field Trip of Faith” is this year’s curriculum. The theme is based on Together For Hope, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s 20 year commitment to the 20 poorest counties in the United States. Each day VBS begins with worship followed by a Bible study that is the foundation for the day’s activities. Children then take a “field trip” to one of the 20 areas to learn through activities how God’s love is shared with the people who live there. One trip is to Helena, Arkansas, where former FBC members Ben and Leonora Newell serve. FBC partners with them through family mission trips each summer.

Children participate in arts and crafts during VBS 2010. Photo by Susan Brown.

VBS is one of FBC’s best opportunities to share God’s love with children and to help them discover God’s hope in the Bible. It teaches them of God’s love for all people and how to reach out in that love to others. That’s a VBS basic that is exactly as I remember it.

 

 

Editor’s note: Some volunteers are still needed- childcare givers with babies and toddlers, a preschool and an elementary teacher, and van drivers. Contact: Candi Brown, Brown@FBCRichmond.org, 358-5458 x150.

 


Becky KyleBecky Kyle has been attending FBC since she was a college student and joined FBC in 1984. Since then, she has served in many FBC ministries, taught children in Sunday school for the last 13 years, and volunteered with VBS most of the last 14 years. She works part-time for Fleet Auto Tag & Title Service. James and Becky have two children, Sarah and Aaron, who are active in the youth ministry.

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