KOH2RVA: Day 358

Wednesday Night VolunteersToday is Labor Day, and I want to salute some of the most faithful laborers I know: the Wednesday night supper volunteers at First Baptist Church. These are the people who serve our plates, re-fill our glasses, take our trays, and generally wait on us as if we were royalty while we enjoy good food and good conversation around the tables.

Beanie Brooks hosted an appreciation dinner for them last Wednesday night,* before the fall season got underway, and I asked for the privilege of expressing my appreciation. I mentioned that passage in Acts 6—one of the first disputes in the early church—where some of the Greeks began to complain that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. The Twelve gathered the church together and said, “It wouldn’t be right for us to neglect the ministry of the Word in order to wait on tables. Therefore, choose seven men from among yourselves who are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them” (Acts 6:1-3).

I often refer to that passage when I’m ordaining deacons. I talk about how the church chose seven men and presented them to the Apostles, who prayed and laid hands on them. It really is the first “ordination” in the New Testament. But I also usually point out what these seven men were ordained to do—wait on tables.

So, even though we don’t ordain our Wednesday night volunteers, I hope we will gain an appreciation for what important work it is to wait on tables: to make sure that everyone has what they need, to see to it that no one is neglected.

Our Wednesday night volunteers do that beautifully, from the table where I buy my ticket, to the place where Bob Vance takes it up, to the serving line where smiling volunteers fill my plate, to the moment Allen or Charlotte Brown offers to fill my coffee cup, to the help I get when I put my tray on the rack for the dishwashers. In and around all of that is Beanie Brooks, moving from table to table, talking to people, patting on them, asking them if they need anything. I always feel cared for on Wednesday nights.

No wonder they ordained the people who waited on tables in the Book of Acts: it’s a ministry. And on this Labor Day I am especially grateful for this particular labor.

Thank you, Wednesday night volunteers!

*Steve Booth took the picture, and if you click on it once and then click on it again you may actually be able to see some of the faces and identify some of the people who take such good care of us on Wednesday nights.  Remember, Wednesday night suppers begins again this Wednesday, September 4.  Carl Johnson, President of the Baptist General Association of Virginia, will be speaking to us afterward.  Supper begins at 5:00; cost is $6.00.  Everyone is welcome.

KOH2RVA: Day 334

Julie Adams-BuchananMy guest blogger today is Julie Adams-Buchanan, whose roots at First Baptist go down at least as deep as her grandfather, Dr. Theodore F. Adams, beloved pastor of the church from 1936 to 1968.  Julie works at the Shepherd’s Center of Richmond, which I didn’t know much about until I sat down at Julie’s table at a Wednesday night supper a few months ago and started asking questions.  She tells the story below, and I hope you will take time to read it.  The Shepherd’s Center may fill a need in your life, or in the life of someone you love.


Several months ago I was having Wednesday night dinner with Jim and he asked what I did for a living. I told him about my work at The Shepherd’s Center of Richmond and he responded with, “So, you bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond on a daily basis?” And I answered, “Well, yes I do!”

I have truly found a calling at The Shepherd’s Center, a non-profit organization for older people in Richmond. It is both an educational and service organization. I coordinate the services offered to those 60 and older, with the primary service being transportation to doctor appointments and grocery stores. All of these rides are provided at no charge by volunteers or as I like to call them, Angels on Earth! I am so fortunate to work with these individuals.

I never knew how much of an issue transportation for the elderly was until I began working at the Center. The ability to drive is equivalent to independence. Losing independence is a leading fear as people age. For various reasons, older people lose this independence. Our volunteers help empower these individuals by giving them the control and freedom to secure their own transportation without feeling like a burden to family and friends.

But it’s more than just rides. For many of our clients, a trip to the doctor is the only time they get out of their homes and interact with others. We become friends with them and some consider us family. We are their touchstone, their friendly ear, their sound board. Sometimes they just need a kind word; to know that someone cares about what they have to say. They call when they have questions and may need direction or encouragement. As one of our clients often says, “I don’t know what I would do without the shepherd.” It makes our hearts happy to hear this.

Countless times I have stayed on the phone with a client who just really needed to talk. I feel blessed to be there for them. And I hear so many stories from our volunteers about how good they felt after being able to help someone in such a simple way – giving a ride with kindness and generosity.

So, if you haven’t stepped off that mission bus yet, there’s still time. The Shepherd’s Center is one way to bring the KOH2RVA! Think about how much a few hours of your time would help someone who is in need? Won’t you give the “gift of you?”

Website: http://www.TSCOR.org
Phone: 804-355-7282

KOH2RVA: Day 333

dress up shoesI got this email from Steve Blanchard a few days ago and wanted to share it with (all seven of) my readers.  It’s a short one, but a good one:

I heard a story today from a volunteer that really impressed upon me the Kingdom. This past week, in our clothes closet, a lady came in need of a pair of size 10 shoes. Our volunteers began trying to find a pair to no avail. The volunteer who had escorted her to the clothes closet overheard and said, “You need a size 10?  I wear a size 10,” and proceeded to remove her shoes and offer them to the lady in need. Fortunately, a few moments later, the clothes closet volunteers found a pair of size 10 shoes that fit perfectly so our volunteer was able to keep her shoes, but what an act of selfless love to offer the shoes off her feet to one in need. On top of that, she did not want her name mentioned so that no credit would go to her. The Kingdom at work behind the scenes!

Steve Blanchard
Minister of Christian Compassion
Richmond’s First Baptist Church


KOH2RVA: Day 315

blanchard-2010-headshotIf a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a noise?  If the pastor goes on vacation, and doesn’t blog about bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia, for two weeks, does it still happen?

Apparently so.

I can’t tell you how good it was to come home from vacation and find this message (below) from Steve Blanchard.  Steve is our Minister of Christian Compassion at First Baptist Church.  He’s been one of the driving forces behind our year-long, every-member mission trip.  And when I read this message I was gratified to learn that even while I was on vacation someone was still driving: the mission was moving forward.

July 16, 2013

Been a busy week thus far with KOH2RVA and it’s only Tuesday. Just a brief report on two events if you are interested. Monday was our first movie afternoon this summer at Essex. We had 5 helpers who jumped in, Don and Margaret Price, Ellen Lipford, Millie Barnes, and Candi Brown. On a day where the AC did not work and then the DVD/TV did not work for the first 20 minutes, we still had a great day with approximately 27 kids attending. I say approximately because the crowd flowed in and out at times and it was hard to keep count. All the kids asked if we could come back…every day!

Tuesday morning was another day of TAGG (Talented And Greatly Gifted…I think that is right). It is a day camp at Essex from 9-1 where kids are tutored in a variety of areas. This morning, we took 11 kids to the VA Museum of Fine Arts where they experienced the wonders of the art world. They loved it! Several FBC members accompanied the group; Josie Carver, Pam Franklin, Lee Byerly, Hanna Zhu and Betty Ann Dillon. Afterwards, we took the kids to Sweet Frog in Carytown for their first ever trip to the frozen yogurt store where each kid piled their bowl to overflowing. I guarantee there are stomach aches along with the smiles tonight. Anne Brasfield, another volunteer, treated the whole group!

While all this is going on during the day, CARITAS for women continues in the evening. A fantastic group of volunteers has hosted the group of 36 since Saturday night. While I have not been there, I have heard wonderful things.  I expected no less.

And, of course, other great volunteers continue to serve the homeless community in our ongoing ministries of food pantry, clothes closet, and shower ministry on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday

Blessings to all who have worked hard this week to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia, whether it has been noted above or not. Keep up the good work!

Steve Blanchard
Minister of Christian Compassion
Richmond’s First Baptist Church

A report like this one makes me so grateful, and makes me believe that this year-long, every-member mission trip has a momentum all its own.  We may find, when we get to the end of the year, that it can’t be stopped.

And that would be OK.


KOH2RVA: Day 249

mustache-kidLast night was our children’s end-of-the-year program at First Baptist Church, which is always a treat. Those kids who have spent the school year in Wednesday night music and mission activities get to show off what they’ve learned and last night we got to see:

They’ve learned a lot.

I didn’t take good notes and I forgot to take a picture, but here are some of the things that stood out:

The Kid with the Big Voice, who stood on the steps with the Angel Choir and sang the parts of the song he knew with enthusiasm. It was funny. The choir would be singing along in those tiny voices children have and then, suddenly, they would reach the chorus and here would come TKWTBV (the kid with the big voice), booming out the first line of the chorus like an opera star. The look on his face was priceless. He loves to sing, and it shows. I’ve got to get to know that kid.

The Prayer Walkers. These precious little girls told us about prayer walking in the neighborhood (which is exactly what it sounds like: you walk around the neighborhood praying for people and things). Several of the girls told us that they had prayed for “the lost cat.” Apparently they had seen a poster asking if anyone had seen a lost cat. The poster had a picture of the cat on it and the girls just melted. “Poor Mittens!” Isn’t it a comfort to know that somebody is out there praying for lost cats?

The Fake Mustaches. I think it was the Mission Force group that was telling us about the things they had done in the community during the year, and one of those things was singing Christmas carols at the nursing homes. So half the boys put on fake mustaches, as if they were the elderly residents of the nursing home, and the other half sang carols to them. When they finished singing the “elderly residents” came and hugged the boys and patted on them and tousled their hair just as they had at the nursing homes. The acting was Oscar-worthy.

The Fund Raisers. A few of the Girls in Action (GA’s) stood up to tell us about the fund-raising they’d been doing for mission projects around the world. Morella Harris told us about “Pure Water, Pure Love,” and I think she said at one point that it costs $500 to dig a well or put in a pump (or something) in an African village and that she and the other girls had raised enough money to do that six times over: $3,000. I gasped. She said they’d earned most of their money by selling lemonade, cutting grass, and—surprisingly—by selling water.

What impressed me about last night’s event was how many of the presentations were focused on mission, and how much of that mission was an effort to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia. Kids catch on so quickly, and often they end up teaching us what can be done if we throw ourselves into it with enthusiasm and prayer and fund raising and fake mustaches.

I want to thank Ruth Szucs and Candi Brown, the staff members most responsible for directing our children’s music and mission programs, but I also want to thank the dozens of volunteers who come on Wednesday night week after week to work with children. What we got last night was just a taste of the fruit of their labors.

And it was delicious.