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Story and photos by Ann Carter

DNow work group

In Student Ministry at Richmond’s First Baptist Church, there are several annual events that anchor our year: Fall Retreat; Christmas Pageant; DiscipleNow Weekend, affectionately called DNow; and Mission Trips. I look forward to each of these events with great anticipation, but DNow has a special place in my heart because it is the one event that truly involves the whole congregation.

DNow large group
Home group

DNow is an intentional weekend for students in grades 6 through 12. The weekend is centered on a theme that incorporates all of the elements of faith formation: head, heart and hands. Youth take over the gym and Flamming Hall, and spend the weekend in worship, Bible study, service, play and community. It takes a whole host of amazing people to make this happen, and over the past 30 years that FBC has hosted DNow, the congregation has wholeheartedly supported the weekend activities.

First, there are the host homes. Each year about 15 FBC families open their homes to host small groups of our students, divided by grade and gender. Students pile into living rooms, family rooms, and bonus rooms, sleeping on air mattresses and in sleeping bags. Hosts prepare breakfast and dinner for students on Saturday—filling dining room and kitchen tables to capacity as students and families share a meal. It is beautiful to see the students embraced by adults who become like second parents, students doting on the children of the host home, and host home children blossoming under the students’ attention. The host parents model radical hospitality for the students who are staying with them, showing them what it looks like to open their homes and welcome others.

DNow leadersThen, there are the 30 small group leaders, college and graduate students, as well as young professionals who volunteer to be group leaders in a host home. Each host home has at least two young adult leaders who facilitate Bible Study times, coordinate the students’ activities and spend quality time with the students. One of my favorite things about our adult leaders is that most of them were FBC students not all that long ago. What a joy it is watching their faith practice evolve from student to leader. This is the point of DNow—and all student ministry for that matter—to provide opportunities to learn, to put faith into practice, and for lives to be formed in the image of Christ for the sake of others. During DNow weekend, these small group leaders are most definitely exhibiting the “for the sake of others” part of faith formation.

DNow groups in GymLast, but definitely not least, the DNow weekend wouldn’t happen without the creativity and hard work of the 15 members of the Student Ministry Team. This team is made up of parents and student ministry leaders who are the brains and the brawn behind the operation. They plan the activities, put up decorations, run the sound and lighting, coordinate and distribute food and recruit volunteers. Interestingly, four of our 15 members are former youth. I love that their youth experience was so consequential that they want to enable future generations of students to have the same meaningful experiences.

There are countless ways for all of our church family to be involved in DNow weekend. Last year 120 of you committed to pray for our students, their hosts and leaders during the weekend. Twelve drivers chauffeured students to mission sites, and from host homes to church and back again so host families could go about their regular Saturday family activities. Eleven Sunday school classes and 20 individuals donated money to provide scholarships for students who couldn’t afford to pay for the weekend, and to offset the cost of food and snacks for the host families. And, 800 of you worshiped with us on Sunday as our DNow weekend came to an end.

So, join us this year for our church-wide DNow weekend scheduled for February 15 through 17, 2019. You can host, lead, drive, pray, give or join us in worship as we go about the good work of faith formation. We can’t do it without you, and maybe your faith will be formed in new ways, too!

 

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Story by Emma Tilley. Photos by Paul Bickford.

Christmas PageantThe Youth Christmas Pageant is a long-standing tradition at Richmond’s First Baptist Church. Its history is tucked away in the hearts of generations of members and in old bulletins.

Tradition says the pageant started in 1947 but the oldest bulletins give evidence from even earlier. Bulletins from the 1930s describe youths and young adults putting on a Christmas pageant on the Sunday evening just before Christmas. The Baptist Young People’s Union met on Sunday nights and a Christmas play or pageant, caroling, and a Christmas party were part of their regular Advent season.

Christmas PageantThroughout most of its history, however, the pageant consisted of an adult choir concert with youths enacting the Christmas story. One of the pageant’s most dedicated volunteers, Ginny Saunders, became part of the pageant when she came to FBC in 1950. Having grown up involved in drama, she immediately found her area – costumes and makeup. She explained the importance of costuming: “For Mary the white goes on first, then the darker color second. And it is important nothing slips!” Costume fitting – hemming, pinning, adjusting seams – is also important, but she says, “Lipstick is crucial, wearing a costume that’s well done [is important] but you can’t see anyone if they’re not wearing makeup.” The first pageant she remembers being part of was “during the time Dr. Adams was pastor … [with his daughter] Betsy … playing Mary.”

Christmas PageantPhil Mitchell joined the FBC staff as Minister of Music in 2001 and began to include the youth choir as a major part of the pageant. In the early 2000s, drama was added to the Youth Christmas Pageant. Todd Ritter, Nancy LeSac and later Ann Carter wrote drama portions for the pageants. This year Bart Dalton, Minister to Students, is writing the pageant. Some of the scripts in the past have been based on favorite Christmas movies such as It’s a Wonderful Life (in 2008 and 2014) and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (in 2013). In the early 2010s Charles Tilley began to get the youths heavily involved in building sets for the pageant each year.

One of the many joys of watching the pageant is the family occasion it has become. Generations of those who have played Baby Jesus and other roles watch eagerly each year as the next group of youths presents the story of Christmas.

FUN FACTS:
•    In the late 80s Ann Carter, Ruth Szucs and Hope Cumbia participated as choir members. Today they all work with youths.
•    In 1996, the pageant was held outdoors.
•    In 1997, the One Accord 10th anniversary concert joined with the pageant.
•    Youth choirs, ensembles, and solos began to be part of the pageant in the late 90s.
•    Sarah Ann Brown in 2014 and her father Rob Brown in 1983 portrayed Baby Jesus. Sarah’s grandfather Kent Brown was Joseph in 1974.

Christmas Pageant

Author’s note: Our church holds almost a century’s worth of bulletins, photos, and other items from its past. These are stored in the history room at the back of the Chapel. Virginia Darnell, FBC’s historian, maintains these records. Read related story: What Does Virginia Darnell Know?


Emma TilleyEmma Tilley is a student at the College of William and Mary, with a major in Religious Studies and a minor in Art. She plans to attend seminary after graduation and work in a congregational setting. Emma grew up in the youth group at FBC and served as a 2015 summer intern in the youth and community ministries. She enjoys ceramics and kayaking. Read related story, The Summer of the Interns.

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Story by Jeannie Dortch.

When Lynn Turner, Senior Associate Pastor, learned that I was writing an article on interns who have served at FBC, she immediately urged, “Please do not leave out our short-term youth interns. For many, that was the launching pad for their futures, the place where they felt a call to full time ministry … Powerful stuff!”

Andy Berry is one of these. The son of longtime FBC members, Bill and Debbie, Andy first distinguished himself by playing baby Jesus in FBC’s 1992 Youth Pageant! During the summer of 2004 he remembers experiencing “a baptism by fire” when his supervising youth minister, Lynn Turner, was abroad. Left in charge, Andy planned everything from Bible studies to mission trips to house repair. “I learned by making mistakes and that helped me learn how to fix things. Stumbling and not having everything super polished was good.”

Andy Berry

Andy Berry

After several years serving youth and families in NC, he returned to Richmond’s Hope Church in 2010 to plan family events and work as a part-time children’s director. He has been Director of Hope Kids Children’s Ministry, Infant – Grade 5 since 2012. Recently, he conducted training for Candi Brown’s Children’s Ministry Sunday school teachers based on the model he uses at Hope. “The most exciting thing for me has been partnering with parents in the spiritual development of their kids. Lynn did a phenomenal job in this area. She taught me that to be successful in youth ministry I have to spend equal time with kids, parents and volunteers. Lynn was my youth pastor, then my boss, and now is my friend.”

Katie-BoykinHarbin

Katie Boykin Harbin

Katie Boykin Harbin, daughter of Debbie and Joe Boykin, was a summer intern for Lynn Turner in 2008. In May 2014, she graduated from BTSR with a dual degree: Master of Divinity and Master of Science in Patient Counseling. Katie wrote, “Through Lynn’s mentoring, I began to see possibilities for service that I had not guessed possible. I continued to work with FBC’s youth group until July 2012, when I left for Greenville, SC where I got my first job as a hospital chaplain at Greenville Memorial Hospital. My greatest passion is developing close relationships and sharing in others’ spiritual crises.

“Currently, I am a hospice chaplain for Spartanburg Regional Hospice Home. Members of FBC’s youth group and Lynn Turner were significant players in helping me cultivate skills which have allowed me to be present with others in their pain and suffering. Providing this kind of spiritual/emotional support is my number one responsibility and passion as a chaplain.”

Vignette from Lauren's area of service

Vignette from Lauren’s area of service

One of Lynn’s youth, Lauren, interned in 2009. She now works in North Africa and the Middle East. (For her security, neither her full name nor photograph can be used.) A Virginia Tech graduate with a degree in Human Development, Lauren spends her time overseas teaching and sharing God’s love with those from different cultures.

“My time at FBC showed me what it was like to be involved working with a community of believers. The time spent on FBC mission trips helped solidify my passion for cultures different from my own and for people to go and be Christ’s ambassadors.

“The greatest joy about my job now is building relationships with women and finding those who show interest in the gospel truth. Women here are some of the most hospitable, kind and caring I have ever met. Their example encourages me in my walk with the Lord to be a servant with a caring heart.

“The most difficult thing about my job has been trying to learn two new languages. My people group speaks two different languages. Languages do not come easily to me, but God has shown me grace in helping me retain more information than I thought possible!”

Proverbs 22:6 (KJV) reminds us, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” These youth interns are a few examples of the impact that FBC has had on its protégées. Thank God for their service here, there, and everywhere!

Author’s note: In writing this series, I was given names of more interns than I was able to interview. Those include Suzanne Burgess Acosta, Trey Bearden, Sean Gunter, Holly Jesensky, Abby Dickinson Moncrief, Cory Osborne (current), Aaron Prescott, Laura Norvelle Purtee, Stewart Smith, Maddie Surles, Sara Smith Williams, and Courtney Jones Willis. Please add your comments to praise these, those mentioned in the article, or any others you may know who have been influenced by their association with FBC.

Read related stories: Interns Part 1, Interns Part 2, Where Are They Now?, KOHx2 – Multiplication Made Easy, Working with Them, SKEINS Knits for South African Children, Ministering to the Zulu People in South Africa

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By Nancy Mairs. Photos by Paul Bickford.

DNow Hunger Games

Social media tracked DNow team competition in FBC’s Hunger Games.

Next time you’re walking down FBC’s hallway from the Sanctuary to the Dining Hall, just imagine you’re part of the Green Team, running to get on base before you’re captured by the Blue Team. That’s exactly what happened during the 2014 DiscipleNow weekend, an annual retreat for middle and high school youths that is better known as DNow.

Bart Dalton, FBC Youth Minister, explains: “Every year we work with the youth and adult leaders to plan out the best DNow. When we started planning the 2014 DNow weekend, one of the first events we talked about was the fun event that happens on Saturday. From the start, the youths wanted to host our very own Hunger Games.” In case you aren’t familiar with the Hunger Games, it’s a best-selling teen book series, later adapted to award-winning movies. The futuristic story centers on an annual event in which one boy and one girl, from ages 12 – 18, are selected from each of the twelve districts of the country to compete in a battle. In the Hunger Games, the contestants are sent to a forested area where they try to eliminate other participants until only one remains.

“The neat thing for our youths,” said Bart, “was that, first, we could do the fun event inside the church and we didn’t have to be concerned about the weather. But more than that, once a team member was captured, they got to join the team that had captured them until everyone was on the same team, just like the Body of Christ – which was the theme for the weekend. The youths got to have fun while seeing firsthand how the Body of Christ can come together.”

DNow worshipBut that wasn’t all the retreat was about. Prior to attending DNow, the youths were asked to complete a Spiritual Gifts Inventory to help identify their specific gifts and passions. Bart explained the reason for the homework assignment: “This year we wanted the focus of DNow to be different than previous years where the youths come to DNow, we have a great speaker, the music is great, they get closer to each other, and then they go home. We wanted to help the youths identify what they are good at, and start discovering how they can put their gifts and passions to work in the Body of Christ.” Taking it a step further, during the last session on Saturday, each adult youth leader met one-on-one with a DNow participant to help talk through what each had discovered about his or her gifts and passions, and how to use them in specific ways.

And what have the results been? “I’ve been getting phone calls from parents and youths wanting to know more. One of the youths who attended DNow has identified as her passion helping to stop human trafficking. She has been baking cookies at home and then selling them in her cafeteria at school to raise money for CEASE, a group that provides resources and support for those battling this awful situation,” stated Bart. And as he views it, “This is just the start of our youths getting out of their comfort zones to live life now as part of the Body of Christ.”

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By Ann Carter. Photos by Ann Carter and Len Morrow.

I’ve had a whirlwind mission-trip season.

Youth 1 gardeningAs part of a six-week gardening class this spring with Len Morrow (see below) Youth 1 planted potatoes in a roof top garden at the former Adams Camera Store. That building is being refurbished through ReEstablish Richmond to assist refugees who have been brought to Richmond by federal programs. The youths also worked with Len to prepare gardens around FBC for planting with summer annuals.

arkansas-cardgame250pxAt the end of June, I took 16 Youth One kids and five adults to Passport Camp, an annual week-long event that focuses on discipleship and hands-on mission time. In July I led a group of 10 children and youths and 15 adults to Helena, Arkansas. This has also been an annual mission trip, where we partner with, serve and love that community.

manila-youth250pxAnd 12 of us finished up the season in July with another bit of heaven in Singapore at the Baptist Youth World Conference, followed by a mission trip to Manila, Philippines—two more weeks of bringing heaven to earth—and experiencing heaven on earth!

These times were heaven on earth for me. I know saying that seems like a stretch. Really? Digging in dirt on a roof top? A week with middle schoolers at camp? Sleeping on the floor of a church with 24 of your closest friends and showering in a trailer? Yes!!!!!

Youth 1 on missionBut let me explain!

There is something really beautiful about traveling together, living together in close quarters, working together, learning together, worshiping together, playing together, laughing together, eating together, resting together, and growing together. Emphasis on together!

At the end of each experience our love for God and our love for each other has multiplied and deepened and strengthened so that we came home longing for more time together.

Youth 1 on missionActually, what we are longing for is heaven. Because I think that is what heaven will be like: people who love God and love each other, living, worshiping, eating, fellowshipping, playing and laughing, resting and working – together.

Look for more information on Len Morrow.
Find out about ReEstablish Richmond or email Patrick Bradford.
Editor’s note: Ann Carter serves on the FBC staff as Youth Associate.

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By Truman S. Smith. Photos by Skyler Cumbia.

Bible study presents challenges for each generation. Those who have grown up with the Bible may hear timeless words as dated or even outdated. Familiar verses are so familiar a switch flips to more entertaining thoughts.

Recently Bart Dalton, Minister to Students, along with the Youth Ministry Team, began a new study approach proposed by Renee and Bryan Smith, teachers of ninth graders. Youth classes are typically grouped by school grades. A student may be with the same classmates until graduation. What if each young person had periodic opportunities to choose a specific Bible study topic regardless of grade? What if each one heard the Bible in a new way?

“What if” has now happened. Four leaders and topics were chosen. Renee said, “From the beginning our priority has been to engage in serious Bible study and the topics to be very application oriented.” Teachers were selected from the congregation. They may have been known by name, but most not regularly involved with youth. Each brought unique gifts and experience. Students chose topics without knowing who the teacher would be.

Senior Pastor Jim Somerville was one of the teachers. He said, “I had a good time talking to the youth about the Bible and Islam. They were wide awake (even at that time of the morning), thoughtful and inquisitive. One of the questions they asked was whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God. I said yes, since there is only one God, but while Muslims view God through the lens of Muhammad, we view Him through the lens of Jesus, and there’s a huge difference. I think this is partly what Jesus means when He says in John 14, ‘No one comes to the Father but by Me.’ It’s almost as if He is saying, ‘You can get to know God in a lot of different ways, but if you want to know Him as a loving, heavenly Father then I’m the Way.’”

Beverly Carroll appreciated the opportunity to teach in the youth department because her “passion is that young people will fall in love with God’s word, recognizing that it is not boring and that it still applies to their lives today.” Beverly’s topic was “Bad Girls of the Bible”; she used biblical characters to communicate that “we’re all ‘bad girls.’ Our assessment of which sin is ‘bad’ is usually determined by the world’s judgment, not God’s. Nothing we have done puts us out of reach for God’s love and power to not only forgive us, but redeem our past and give us hope and power in our future.”

Bart Dalton reviewed how the Bible came to be with the completion of the canon. He examined the Gospel of Thomas as one example of many documents that did not make the cut. Bart stated, “When we know more about the Bible’s practical origins, it helps us answer questions about God’s word and gives us an opportunity to grow in our faith.”

Carl Johnson discussed “Money, Missionaries and a Big Mac.” With Carl’s experience as treasurer of the International Mission Board, he is qualified to look at money biblically and with a world view. His example of a Big Mac reflected the cost of living where many missionaries serve. Carl said, “I was pleasantly surprised at the interest of the students and the number of questions they had.”

What next? There was enough enthusiasm from students and teachers to repeat the topics six weeks later. Students’ comments included, “I liked the variety.” and “I liked a choice of topics.” Another responded, “Very insightful. I didn’t know the work that went into supporting missionaries.” One said, “It was the best study I have ever had,” then added “I still like my regular teacher.”

The regular teachers were enthusiastic also. Though it gave them a break from teaching, they chose a topic and attended as well. Another round with new teachers and topics is being planned. Students and teachers (both regular and adjunct) find hearing the Bible in a new way a rich opportunity.


Truman and his family joined FBC in 1987. His work in Family Ministry (now Member Care) to missionaries at the International Mission Board has uniquely gifted him as a teacher in the Acts Class, a member of the First Family Team, and with his wife, Gwen, as a support couple for the Young Couples class. He and Gwen have three children and four grandchildren.

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By Allie Osborne. Photos and video by Allen Cumbia.

A week of summer vacation doing manual labor doesn’t sound very appealing, but to First Baptist’s Youth Two it means everything.

Nashville, Tennessee, experienced a disastrous flood in May 2010. With downtown Nashville under ten feet of water, many homes and businesses were destroyed. A year later, most of Nashville is back in working order. But some small, yet very important things still needed the attention of willing volunteers.

What Matters

About 80 students and leaders dig up rocks to make way for a community garden.

What Matters

Youths clean up community garden.

About 80 students and leaders spent the week digging up rocks – very tedious work, but in the long run, beneficial to many. Clearing these rocks made way for a garden where fresh vegetables can be grown for people in need. Smaller groups helped with Vacation Bible School, unloaded furniture, pealed paint, and cleaned up a community garden.

What Matters

A group of youths help with Vacation Bible School.

There was the usual whining and complaining about the hot temperature, the grueling work, and the unexpected thunderstorms that popped up nearly every afternoon. But what really makes the group great is their persistence. No matter how hot it got, no matter how hard it rained, and no matter how much sleep-deprived bodies just wanted to crawl back into bed, their persistence never failed.

What Matters

Youths pack up materials and prepare to head home.

Packing up the job site on Friday afternoon and seeing all that has been accomplished in just a week is what makes mission trip possible. It’s why FBC’s Youth Two look forward to this week all year. Teenagers like to have a good time with friends, but they also really make a difference. And that’s what matters.


Allie is a member of the Youth Two group.

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Story and photos by Ann Carter.

Until the Tears Roll

Youths volunteer at a Habitat for Humanity worksite outside of Charlotte, NC.

When you ask people to define what heaven on earth would be like for them, I doubt that many would include spending a week with middle schoolers. But I beg to differ. I just spent a week with 27 middle schoolers, and it was indeed heavenly. Don’t believe me? Well, read on.

This was Youth 1’s 7th year participating in Passport Camp at Wingate University outside of Charlotte, NC. During the week I watched kids and adult leaders experience heaven in many ways.

They honed their talents and then used them to lead 300 students in worship.

They prayed for each other.

They worked side by side at three Habitat for Humanity worksites, never once having to be asked to focus, get back to work, or stop slacking in the shade.

They learned to trust and communicate with each other through games and then helped the rest of the camp to trust each other by teaching and leading those games.

They were motivated to be careful in how they use the earth’s resources and were excited about doing that.

Until the Tears Roll

This was Youth 1’s 7th year participating in Passport Camp at Wingate University outside of Charlotte, NC.

Girls and guys, 6th graders and 7th graders, new kids and kids who were friends since birth, working, playing, learning, and travelling together in unity – not perfect unity, but in loving acceptance of each other.

They took their talents to a weekday program in a housing project, performing skits, teaching games and engaging kids who have little hope in their lives.

They explored how they are uniquely created and gifted by God and were challenged to use those gifts to serve God.

They dealt with another youth group with love and grace even while being treated unfairly and unkindly – and ended up being friends with them by the end of the week.

They worshiped side by side every night.

The adult leaders (who gave up a week of their vacation to participate) encouraged and directed the kids like loving parents.

Until the Tears Roll

Youth 1 teens having a good time!

A youth intern who attended Passport Camp as a 7th grader chaperoned and led like a seasoned youth minister.

They competed against each other in recreation, danced together at a party, enjoyed being together in the beauty of God’s creation, played volleyball together against high school teams, and supported each other in the talent show.

And they laughed. They laughed a lot. Perhaps nothing is closer to heaven than laughing until tears roll down your cheeks!


Ann CarterAnn Whitfield Carter is sometimes known as the crazy person who loves middle schoolers. In 2002, she became the temporary Youth Associate for Middle School. Nine years later, she hopes it is permanent! Ann joined First Baptist in 1992 and met her husband, David, in the church choir. They have been singing together ever since. Their three children, Ellie (15), Claire (12) and Mary Wise (6), are active in First Baptist’s children and youth ministries. When Ann is not working, she is managing her kid’s busy lives, singing with the Richmond Symphony Chorus, or drinking coffee to fuel her for whatever is next on her calendar.

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Reported by Gwen Tilley.

The congregation of First Baptist Church gives a firm “We will” at every baby dedication. It is a promise of support and encouragement for the children and parents. The intent is to see them through the next 18 or so years.

We watch them grow, give to their mission trip fundraisers, pray for their experiences at retreats and DiscipleNow weekends. On the first Sunday in June we honor graduating seniors. Then we wait for the Christmas Eve services to catch a glimpse of all those youths who have moved to their next stages.

But a glimpse once a year doesn’t tell much of the story. Where are they now? What are they doing? Some have moved far away. Some remain active at FBC; some keep looser ties. Some have found their ways to fulltime Christian service. Hear some of their stories.

Jim-Ed-WillsJim Ed Wills

I’m getting a Masters in Film Production at Florida State University. FBC has given me a solid foundation of faith which guides me in my quest to become a professional film maker by choosing the types of stories that glorify God. Stories bring people together, they provide a common emotional experience that can be shared by multiple people at one time. Christianity thrives on stories, and I believe that I’ve been given a gift to use stories to glorify God in today’s media. I’m still connected to FBC through family and friends.

elizabeth-wells-nortonElizabeth Wells Norton

As a youth I experienced the love and encouragement at FBC to grow in my faith so that there was no question that Jesus would always be number one for the rest of my life. I love being a youth leader (at FBC) because it is awesome seeing these youths come to know Christ and encourage them to pursue Him above all else. I hope to inspire someone the way I was.

Jeff-UkropJeff Ukrop

While I became more involved as an adult than as a youth, I am blessed to have been influenced by the “great cloud of witnesses” that shared time and talent on the third floor every Sunday morning. The consistency of faith presented by these special folks was obvious 25 years ago and flows through my life today. (Jeff is currently Executive Director of First Things First of Greater Richmond, an organization devoted to strengthening families.)

Holly-JesenskyHolly Jesensky

Being a part of youth group at FBC was one of the biggest blessings during high school. It has been a family to me, led me to get plugged into a Christian Fellowship group at the University of Virginia, and allowed me to grow closer to Christ.

Laura-NorvelleLaura Norvelle Purtee

I am living in Nashville, Tennessee, and working at Baptist Global Response, an NGO (non-governmental organization) that does disaster relief and community development around the world. I am also a photographer.

FBC was the biggest part of my life in Richmond. It kept me grounded in faith, led me to a deeper relationship with Christ. I made my life-long and closest relationships in the youth group. I felt my call to missions there; I overcame self esteem issues with the help of mentors and friends. After my sophomore year at the University of Tennessee I came back and served as the youth intern for a summer. I learned more about leading and being a mentor. I made amazing connections with girls who I still keep up with. God used FBC to radically change me and the path of my life for the better. He continually reminds me of where I came from and my foundation in Him that was revealed at FBC!

Kristen-TaylorKristen Taylor

I don’t have a single great memory from growing up that does not include the FBC youth department in some way. The experiences, people and mentoring I received there were instrumental in shaping the woman I am today, and I was so blessed to have had a ministry like that in my life. (Kristen graduated from the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond – BTSR – in May.)

Trey-BeardenTrey Bearden

The Youth Ministry at FBC taught me that at the core of who we are as Christians, we are to love. Simply to love God and love people! Looking back, I always viewed church as the building that sat at the corner of Monument Ave. and the Boulevard, but in actuality the church is its people and because of people like Lynn, Nelson, Robyn, Glen, Todd, Martha S., Martha B., Bob, Nancie, Rick, Roy, Martha -and the list goes on, I am the man that I am today. (Trey serves as minister to youth and young adults at Richmond’s Walnut Grove Baptist Church.) I have been blessed beyond measure and am forever grateful for my time at FBC.

Katie-BoykinKatie Boykin

Being a part of FBC’s youth group was a vital element that had a definite shape on my future calling. I honestly thought that I wanted to be a physician, but it was not until I returned to FBC as a youth intern that I felt an ever deeper and clearer calling into pastoral care (Katie is pursuing a double masters in divinity at BTSR and pastoral counseling at Virginia Commonwealth University). Middle and high school years can, at times, seem unbearable and make it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Like my youth leaders, I want to assure others that they have at least one person who is committed to their well-being. Plus, it helps that they are absolutely hilarious to work with and continue to impact my life day in and day out.

Saying “We will” is a small commitment compared with the reward of being part of these lives. Perhaps another “We will” of support and encouragement is in order for their next 18 or so years.

 

Gwen TilleyGwen Tilley’s youth as an MK (Missionary’s Kid) directed her service at FBC: she teaches Acteens for Youth One and Two on Wednesday nights. “It is exciting to teach so many spiritually open youth about missions. I am thankful for the strong relationship between the WMU and the missions classes at FBC. They provide the necessary missions training, encouragement and supplies for our leaders, children and youth to grow.” Gwen and her husband, Charles, have three daughters active in FBC’s Youth Ministry.

 


Where are today’s youths?

Story and photos by Ann Carter (Youth Associate, Ministry of Formation).

“Where are they now?” gives us a look at the adults our youths have become. Looking at them makes it hard not to look at those who are with us now. What are our youths doing today?

FBC Youth participate in a bake sale to help raise money for the Peter Paul Development Center.

Being teenagers, they’re doing many things. One is supporting the Peter Paul Development Center (PPDC) in Richmond’s East End. On May 21st, Youth One helped set up for a yard sale, hosted a bake sale, and worked in the community garden and classrooms at the PPDC. The yard sale provides an opportunity for people in the community who do not have access to thrift shops and secondhand stores. The bake sale, stocked with goodies made by Youth One and their friends and families, raised $145 for the Center.

The community garden of the Peter Paul Development Center gets tended to by FBC Youths.

The PPDC neighborhood in Church Hill reminded many of their experiences during the Helena, Arkansas, mission trips. They noticed that what is done at the PPDC is very much like the work being done in Helena, and discussed what can be done in their own city to help those who live in poverty.

Today’s youths, like yesterday’s, are serving, growing and building the foundations for their futures.

 

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