I needed to be at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond trustee retreat, but I also needed to be at the quarterly meeting of the First Baptist Endowment Board. I did the best I could. I spent most of the day at the trustee retreat but slipped out in the middle of the afternoon for the Endowment Board meeting.
Let me tell you why:
The First Baptist Endowment Board manages an investment portfolio of some $20 million dollars, but unlike some boards this one is committed to using money for ministry. I learned recently that in the last 20 years the Endowment has given away more than $22 million dollars. Now, before you pick up the phone to make a request for your favorite charity please understand that most of these are long-term commitments. For example, the Endowment underwrites 65% of the church’s television ministry and has for 25 years. When that ministry needs new equipment the Endowment typically writes the check. And when the elevator at First Baptist broke down recently we went to the Endowment, asking for money, and the Endowment helped us out.
But the Endowment’s generosity goes far beyond the walls of First Baptist Church.
When I think about KOH2RVA—our year-long, every-member mission trip—I think about the way the Endowment supports ministries right here in our city that regularly bring heaven to earth. I’ve published the full list below, but some of the ones I’m most familiar with are ACTS (which works to keep people from becoming homeless), CARITAS (which provides temporary shelter for the homeless in area churches), the Central Virginia Foodbank, Crossover Health Services, the Daily Planet (currently collecting donations of hats and gloves), Richmond Friends of the Homeless, and others that labor to help the poorest of the poor.
But that’s not all.
The Endowment also supports organizations that defend religious liberty, minister to immigrant populations, strengthen marriages, champion theological education, promote justice, provide for children and youth, care for the aging, and foster spiritual growth. I often say, “There must be a thousand ways to bring heaven to earth,” and the Endowment Board seems determined to find out.
Take a look at this list:
- African Community Christian Church
- Baptist Center for Ethics
- Baptist Joint Committee
- Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond
- Baptist World Alliance
- Boy Scouts (Heart of Virginia Council)
- Camp Alkulana
- Center for Congregational Ministry
- Central Virginia Foodbank
- Chaplain Services of the Churches of Virginia
- Children’s Hospital
- Cross Over Health Services
- Daily Planet
- Eagle Eyrie Baptist Conference Center
- Ebenezer Community Church – Brooklyn Center MN
- Embrace Richmond
- Fellowship of Christian Athletes
- First Things First
- Good Samaritan Ministries
- Rosie Grier Youth Pavilion
- The Healing Place
- Home Again
- John Leland Center for Theological Studies
- Piankatank Camp and Conference Center
- Religious Herald
- The Resource Center
- Richmond Baptist Association
- Richmond Friends of the Homeless
- Richmond Hill Retreat Center
- Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity
- United Way
- Virginia Baptist Historical Society
- Virginia Baptist Homes
- Virginia Baptist Mission Board
- Virginia Commonwealth University – Medical Center Chapel
- Virginia Home
- Virginia Home for Boys and Girls
- Virginia Union University – School of Theology
If you’d like to participate, there is a way. The 1780 Society is a group of First Baptist members and friends who have made gifts, bequests, or other donations to the Endowment Fund. Some have taken out life insurance policies and named the Endowment as the beneficiary. Others have simply written it into their wills. These people trust the Endowment Board to keep on bringing heaven to earth even after they’re gone, and if you’d like to be one of them you can call Billy Burford at (804) 355-8637, ext. 152, and tell him you’d like to join the 1780 Society. He won’t ask you how much you plan to give or how you plan to give it. He’ll just add your name to the list.