Friday, August 30 2019
Several years ago, those of us who work with Broadus’ children on a regular basis through our Kingdom Kids program decided to do something different with Vacation Bible School. Rather than purchase a VBS curriculum from one of the large Christian publishing companies, we created our own homegrown version and called it Hearts and Hands. Its focus is on worship and art. Our goal was not necessarily to have the biggest VBS in town, but rather to stay connected to the children who come to Kingdom Kids during the school year. That meant it needed to be held in the evening when they weren’t in summer school, and it needed to begin with a meal so that we could start early enough to get them home at a reasonable hour. Hearts and Hands was a vision that made sense for us.
Do you have a child or know a child in Kindergarten through 5th grade who might like to be a part of Kingdom Kids? If so, call the church office at 434-977-7381 to find out more about registration.
Monday, August 19 2019
If you’ve never heard of Camp Young at Heart (CYAH), you’re not alone. Even though this program has been going on for fifteen years and information has been sent to churches of every denomination around Charlottesville, many people who register for the first time tell us they’d never heard of it before. For three days in August adults, primarily of retirement age, gather at Aldersgate United Methodist Church to worship, learn, and get to know each other. Classes are offered on a variety of topics, some biblical and others offering the chance to learn a new skill or expand understanding of a particular topic. Some years we’ve had attendance in the mid-60s and other years it’s gotten closer to 90. What is always the case is that 16-19 churches are represented and that they’re not all Baptist. Our theological differences aren’t important. All of us are God’s children and glad to be together, raising our voices in song, bowing our heads in prayer, and engaging our minds in learning.
Friday, August 16 2019
It stormed in Charlottesville on the evening of July 31st. I wondered, will anyone show up, for Up?
I arrived at the church a little after 6:00pm and walked into the sanctuary which was designed to adapt and become a fellowship space whenever necessary. Our people—children, youth, young adults, middle aged, and seniors—stretched into a line and chattered and caught up waiting their turn for pizza.
Members of the Christian Arts Committee served each guest who then found a seat at tables which had been set and decorated by the committee on theme for the night’s feature film.
Over the next half hour or so, tables swelled as more people arrived and more chairs were added so everyone would have a space to sit, eat, and connect.
Popcorn was popped and ready, and then more popcorn was popped and handed around as folks settled into their seats and the movie began.
That night was my first time to see this particular Disney Pixar flick. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of heart, or the way the friendship between recently widowed, grieving Mr. Fredricksen and young Russell, who craved the attention of an engaged adult, would resonate so deeply with the gathered crowd.
Young and old journeyed together as Russell and Mr. Fredricksen soared across the screen and picked up new friends and vanquished foes together: both physical and emotional.
As Mr. Fredricksen let go of his home and treasured possessions—proof of the adventure of life he and his beloved wife, Ellie shared—and set off to have a new adventure alongside his new friends, I thought about the church.
I thought about the space where we all sat laughing, tearing up, and eating together.
I thought about the years of love and memories saturating the chairs and the walls and the love and care taken each week as the sanctuary is prepared for worship and fellowship.
I thought about the people gathered, all part of the Broadus family, and how important this space is, but how what matters more is the way we are formed by our time there.
Church is more than a building. Church is a body of people. It is one of the few spaces where people—all people—can come and know that they are loved and valued. It is a place to build relationships that might not form in other corners of our busy, isolated lives. It is a place to celebrate and mourn with one another.
Mr. Fredricksen’s and Russell’s adventure wasn’t easy. They weathered betrayal and embraced forgiveness. They let go of some treasures in order to care for one another. They chose to sacrifice for Kevin and Doug—their animal companions—above their own needs and wants.
Isn’t that the church, too? At its best?
At Broadus we strive to be more than a building. We pray to be followers of Christ who consider our neighbors’ needs above our own and offer space for people to connect deeply and know that they are loved and belong.
We aren’t always perfect but watching Up together that night I caught a glimpse of the way God takes our imperfect offerings and knits them together into something beautiful.
Friday, August 09 2019
On Sunday, August 11that 6:30pm we will set up tables at Wilton Farm and distribute school supplies and sign up children for Kingdom Kids. For the past five years or so, we have been joined by teachers and staff from Stony Point Elementary School. This is a wonderful event, and one way you can be involved is to donate school supplies. These are the items that appear in most of the grade level lists: Glue sticks, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, 24 count Crayola crayons, colored pencils, Ticonderoga pencils, marble composition books, two pocket plastic folders, three prong folders, and highlighters. A bin is in the hallway at Broadus to receive your donations.
This partnership has been a yearly tradition for almost two decades. Below is a story from Back to School Night in 2017. It originally appeared in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Virginia’s Mission Box curriculum. If you are interested in accessing that full resource, please email email@example.com.
The sun was beginning to set over the mountains when I arrived at Wilton Farm apartment’s parking lot. Members of Broadus Memorial Baptist Church had set up tables in an “L” before I arrived, and they were now scurrying around organizing and setting out school supplies by grade level. Two teachers from Stony Point Elementary helped make sure supplies matched the lists for each age group. All the while, children meandered around, skipping between the tables and the nearby playground. Some older children climbed trees, and the younger ones slid down slides and pumped their legs to take swings high into the air. Parents wandered up bringing more children and doing the work of keeping them all corralled and out of the street. I offered to help, but mostly stood back and observed. This Back to School Night was running like clockwork, and I was invited to partake in a beautiful expression of God’s love that I had absolutely no hand in creating. This breezy and warm summer evening was the backdrop for a local school, church, and apartment community to come together once again and support our children.
The Broadus folks – most of whom also volunteer in our children’s ministry, Kingdom Kids, where they build relationships through sharing Bible stories, songs, and meals with these same children every Wednesday night of the school year – gathered and settled the families and many children and gave instructions. The kids were divided into their grades and the youngest, kindergarteners getting ready to go to school for the first time, were invited up first. I stood at the backpack table, the start of the assembly line. Their little eyes were wide as they picked out the color pack they wanted. I smiled as they wrapped their arms around a bag that, while scaled to a kindergartener’s size, still seemed to overwhelm their tiny five-year-old frames.
As the kindergarteners picked out their backpacks, I heard familiar joking voices just behind me. Two of our freshmen–twins–who live in Wilton Farm had arrived on the scene. I had only been at Broadus a little less than a year, but they had been a part of Broadus’ family through Kingdom Kids, other Back to School Nights, Sunday mornings, trips to UVA basketball games, and many meals and moments in between–for almost their whole lives. They were baptized into this community and they now offered hugs, high fives, and jokes to the Broadus folks that taught them on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. They are the cool, older kids that the younger ones look to. Their smiles were infectious and they brought an air of ease and joy to the evening. I looked to them and was reminded of the intricate, long work that God does among God’s people. I am thankful for every Broadus member, every Stony Point support staff and teacher, and every Wilton Farm resident and the community members that have been a part of this journey. This is God’s work in the world. Bringing communities together, sharing what we have, receiving the gifts from those we meet along the way and then turning around and offering this story of belonging to others.
There is just something about brand new school supplies. They have always filled me with anticipation, inviting me to dream about the words I will write, the words I will read, the drawings I will create. I saw a flicker of this on the faces of our youngest friends as they made their way around the table for the first time. There were little squeals of excitement as they realized that all of this was theirs to take home and, in just over a week, to school. Their parents and older siblings helped open their bags and the children began to fill them with treasures. Their first stop? Books.
A community member, who is passionate about spreading the love of reading, and who connects with the children periodically through book nights at Kingdom Kids, had gathered piles and piles of books and invited the children to explore the titles that were most appropriate for their age. They slid their treasures into their bright, new packs and continued on. Here, as they rounded the bend in the “L,” they came face to face with the two teachers, for some their very own teachers, who would welcome them to Stony Point Elementary for the first time in a few weeks. They got to say hello, and I suspected, felt a little less anxious about starting their school journey now knowing another smiling adult face that would help them feel safe, loved, and smart.
After introductions, smiles, and encouragement the children picked out their favorite color notebook, paper, pencils, markers, and crayons. They finished off their journey by stocking up on classroom supplies–clorox wipes, tissues, hand sanitizer–all things that would help make their classroom healthy for learning. In just a few short minutes our new kindergarteners were equipped, celebrated, and invited into the excitement of a new school year. They were ready to learn and grow.
This year’s kindergarteners may have made a short trip around a table, but this scene was at least fifteen years in the making. I, like our kindergarten friends, got the distinct privilege of walking up and enjoying decades of relationship building without doing much at all myself. What a grace. I was welcomed into the fold of what God has been doing in partnership with Broadus Memorial Baptist Church, Stony Point Elementary, and Wilton Farm Apartments since the early 2000’s. To learn more about this journey and the community of faith I am now a part of, I sat down with our Associate Pastor, Margarete Gillete, to hear more about how all of this began.
It began, as things often do, with a relationship. There was a Broadus member who lived in a neighborhood near the church and whose daughter attended Stony Point. This naturally provided a connection point and pulled the school onto Broadus’ radar as a space to be a good neighbor. Margarete reached out to Stony Point’s Family Support Worker, Pat, and began to build a relationship. Things like this take time, Margarete notes. It took time to build up trust and to prove, simply by showing up again and again, that we were in this for the long haul. Margarete remains the contact person, and advocate, for this continued partnership. Even as pastors changed, she communicated the history of the work with Stony Point and the families in Wilton Farm and encouraged continued support and relationship building. Back to School Night is just one piece of the ongoing partnership between Broadus, Stony Point, and the children and families who are part of Wilton Farm. As trust grew between Stony Point and Broadus, Pat began to contact Margarete with more ways to support families. The number one goal in any of these support opportunities? Protect and celebrate the dignity of families being served. Whether it is providing a holiday meal, toys at Christmas, or gift cards for groceries, it is so important to “not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matthew 6:3). We serve families and strive to be good neighbors by listening to needs, and then meeting those needs in a way that celebrates the image of God in each person.
The image of God, or Imago Dei, we are all created in it; every Broadus member, every person at Wilton Farm, and every Stony Point teacher and support staff. We celebrate this unity by entering into the work God is doing in our neighborhoods. For Broadus Memorial Baptist Church, this looks like a commitment to Wilton Farm and Stony Point that spans decades. We celebrate, with our continued love, that God opened the doors for this partnership all those years ago.
Friday, August 02 2019
On Saturday July 13th, sixteen of us traveled to Quantico, Virginia to visit the National Museum of the Marine Corps. We have been taking trips together at Broadus for twenty years or so. Obviously, some of the individuals who have traveled with us in the past are no longer doing so today. Many of them are no longer living, others have experienced a decline in their ability to move around easily, and others have moved away. So, the group of travelers reconfigures, and a new grouping develops.
Out of these trips together, community emerges. We get to know each other in a different setting. We have time to share stories as we sit next to each other on the bus. We share an experience that then becomes part of our history together.
When I think about the trips we’ve taken over the years, one that stands out is a visit to the White House years ago. We submitted a list in the summer of all the people who were possibly interested in going so they could be vetted by the Secret Service. We didn’t know if our group would be given a time slot and were delighted to find out in November that we’d been approved. We expected to see the White House Christmas tree and decorations, and we did, but for some of our group, an unexpected detour through the White House kitchen to access an elevator was the highlight of the tour.
Being a part of Broadus is about worshipping and serving together, but it’s also importantly about community and building connections between each other so that when rough times inevitably come into each of our lives, we have a support system that will walk with us through the storm. We share the joys and the sorrows of life together.
Building community takes time. It takes getting out of the chairs in our sanctuary and getting to know each other on a different level. It takes building trust as we share our joys and hurts, our questions and our thoughts and find them thoughtfully and carefully received. It takes working together to spread mulch and pull weeds, wash baseboards and vacuum out stink bugs.
Building community is an investment in becoming a band of followers who will go with each other as we follow Jesus wherever He takes us.
At Broadus Memorial Baptist Church we believe we are called to love God and love our neighbors. The stories you read on this blog offer a witness to the ways we respond to God's love and seek to share that love with others.
Scripture describes the church as a body, made up of many parts. Just as your tiniest toe isn't aware of the intricate work your heart or brain do, it can sometimes happen that people in the church body only see what is happening immediately around them. Our hope is that reading these stories will help forge connection and inspire greater love and understanding for one another.
At Broadus we are a community defined by warm-hearted fellowship and thoughtful inquiry. We hope you see evidence of that in the stories we share here. We hope you know, or come to know, that you are a part of God's grand story and that you are welcome to join us, on a Sunday, a Wednesday, or any gathering in between.
The life of faith is a journey, and we are not meant to walk it alone. Our stories connect us and we are excited to share some of ours with you.
If you have a story you'd like to share or would like to connect in some other way you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (434) 977-7381.
Please visit our YouTube channel to find all of the latest videos of sermons, Bible studies, and ways to stay connected while we are not gathering in person.
Broadus Memorial Baptist Church Charlottesville