Our annual Soup/Dessert Cook-Off is one of those activities that has become a tradition at Broadus each winter. It’s not that we assume men don’t cook and bake all through the year, but on this night, we put them in the spotlight and allow them to shine. Males of all ages are invited to prepare soup and/or dessert and bring it to church on Sunday evening. The rest of us are able to enjoy their culinary offerings. And for fun, we ask women to be judges and pick their favorites.
Every once in a while, someone will say that maybe we don’t need to include this event on our calendar anymore, but then there are others who say this is one of their favorite events of the whole year. It means something to them beyond the food. For them, the tradition is invested with memories and meaning that add to its importance.
That’s the way it is with traditions in a church. You have to ask questions of them. Do they still have meaning? Do they need to be freshened up? Is there a simpler way to do something that doesn’t require as much preparation? In this case, we decided to carry on and just downscale our preparations, at least for this year.
There’s a second part to the evening, and that’s the program. At times the Arts Committee has staged elaborate themed productions, and they are fabulous and greatly enjoyed. And at other times, the program is more about highlighting the talents of our Broadus family. Children have performed magic tricks, tap danced, and shared with us their beginning efforts on an instrument. Adults have shared their talents too: singing, reciting, playing, telling jokes, etc. In recent years, we’ve had a pop-up art show where our artists are highlighted. As individuals share their talents, we learn something more about them and what is important to them.
Ultimately that is the goal of any of our fellowship events…to better get to know and appreciate each other. Why is that important? Because we all want to know that we matter. We want to have a name and not be known by where we sit on Sunday morning or physical descriptors. And as we connect to each other, we find unity in our diversity. We say an emphatic “no” to the divisiveness of our day. So, yes, the Soup/Dessert Cook-Off is a tradition, but it’s one with a holy purpose.
You haven’t missed this year’s Cook-Off! There’s still time to sign up. Men, you’re invited to bring a soup or dessert, but that is never a requirement. All are invited to join us on Sunday, February 23 at 5:30 PM. Call the church office to let us know you’re coming.
PACEM (People and Congregations Engaged in Ministry) is a coalition of 80 congregations in the Charlottesville area that work together to provide shelter for members of our community experiencing homelessness during the late fall and winter months. Last year 250 adults stayed at least one night; an average of 43 men and 15 women stayed in the shelters each night. Broadus is one of those 80 congregations. For the first years of our involvement, we primarily helped with providing and serving meals at other churches that were hosting the sleep site, but that all changed four years ago. At the last minute, the church that was hosting the women the week before Christmas had to drop out, and we were asked if we could host them instead.
To be honest, we were a bit startled by the request. It was Advent, and we had so many activities planned already. We asked ourselves if we had room to do the job of hosting a large group of women for a week. That’s the question that determined our answer. “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” There was room in the Broadus inn, and we happily invited the women to eat and sleep in our beautifully decorated building and prayed that the welcome they found here would convey the message of Christmas in a tangible way. God loves us, each and every one of us. We are all His children, and He offers to each of us the gifts of hope, peace, joy and love.
That first year, we prepared for the number of guests we were expecting, and cots were set up in the classrooms across the hall from the sanctuary. But when they arrived that evening, there were more women than would fit in that space, so we set up the overflow cots in the sanctuary. Part of the Christmas transformation of the sanctuary is a series of quilted banners made over the years by talented artisans in our congregation. I don’t know that anyone paid particular attention to what the banners said when they set up the overflow cots, but the “Come to Bethlehem” one became part of the bedroom decor. A reminder to us that year, and every year since, that the true measure of our Christmas celebration is whether we have reflected God’s love not only in our words, but also our actions.
We don’t ask the question of whether we can host anymore. After that first year, it’s a given. The week before Christmas, we are privileged to be the inn that welcomes some women who, at least for now, don’t have homes. And those cots lined up along one of the walls of the sanctuary are a visual reminder that Jesus comes to us, not just at Christmas, but each and every day of the year asking if there is room in our hearts for Him.
If you grew up in church, you more than likely have memories of one or more Christmas pageants in which you participated. Perhaps you were one of many angels or shepherds or perhaps you had one of the main roles of Joseph or Mary.
Christmas pageants have long been associated with church and children. St. Francis of Assisi is credited with staging the first nativity scene in Greccio in 1223. Later he said about this event, “I want to do something that will recall the memory of that Child who was born in Bethlehem, to see with bodily eyes the inconveniences of his infancy, how he lay in the manger, and how the ox and ass stood by." A Christmas pageant allows us to experience a story that we might know very well in a different way. We see a story unfold before us.
Broadus has a long history of Christmas pageants too, but ours have almost always been unrehearsed. The children learn about Jesus and his birth in Bethlehem, and then they have a chance to act out that story. We use the same script every year, but it never turns out exactly the same. The adults that are shepherding the children and moving the play along through the script have to be prepared for the unexpected, which is one of the messages of Christmas.
Mary wasn’t planning on delivering her child in a stable in Bethlehem. The shepherds who were in the fields with their sheep weren’t expecting to have their night interrupted by angels. The Wise Men who journeyed from the East didn’t know their exact destination. Life happens for us in unexpected, and sometimes unwelcome, ways, but we are children of a God who appears in the unexpected and even transforms it into something new and wonderful.
So, when a shepherd wanders around on the stage or baby Jesus doesn’t lie still in the manger, we don’t cringe because they’re off-script. We smile and laugh and understand that life doesn’t follow a script. And we understand too that life, like this unrehearsed pageant, doesn’t come with a dress rehearsal followed by the real thing.
As we journey through Advent, our hope and prayer for you is that you will find moments to pause and reflect on a story that may be so familiar to you that you forget to marvel at it. Christmas...God coming to us to live amongst us and show us the way. Then and now.
You’re invited to join us for our Christmas Family Night on Wednesday, December 11, 5:30 PM. You can call the church office, 977-7381, to make a reservation or just show up. Either way you’ll find a warm welcome. Hope to see you there!
When we talk about Broadus, we frequently refer to ourselves as a “church family.” What does that mean? We all have families into which we were born or adopted. Those families help us, in part, define and understand who we are. A church family is different because we choose to become part of it.
As a child or teen being brought to church with our parents, we may not have a choice, but eventually everyone has a choice whether to be part of a church family and, if so, which one to join. When they function well, our families, whichever one we’re talking about, become places of safety, places where we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we will find love, support, and encouragement as we navigate our way through life.
We have a Wednesday evening meals many weeks of the year, but a few of them are called Family Nights because we want to encourage our church family to make room in their schedules for these meals. Much as the Thanksgiving meals that we will celebrate next week do, they provide opportunities to celebrate that we belong together. They affirm our bonds to one another.
In recent years, the program for our Thanksgiving Family Nights has been the Senior Singers performing their musical. This group of musicians has been part of Broadus since we first existed as a church. The members have changed over the years, and they are fewer in number now than they were twenty years ago, but their twofold ministry has remained the same. They sing hymns in area care facilities, primarily memory care units, on the second Tuesday of each month, and they present a musical in area churches and independent living communities.
This ministry impacts our community in a variety of ways. Music is buried deep in our brains, and often a person who is for the most part non-verbal can still sing a hymn when they are unable to enter into a conversation. Whether they’re singing hymns or their musical, the Senior Singers are bearing witness to a faith that sustains them as they grow older. And they model to their audience one of the aspects of healthy aging: staying engaged.
You do not need to attend Broadus to join the Senior Singers. In fact, most of the group today is comprised of non-Broadus members. What you do need is a love of singing and a desire to share your voice to encourage, inspire, and entertain others. If you want more information on this group, please call our church office at 977-7381, and we’ll get you connected.
When I first began working with senior adults 20+ years ago, I did a lot of reading because thus far most my work in churches had been with children and youth. Somewhere I read or heard a description of the senior adult population as being composed of “go-gos,” “slow-gos,” and “no-gos.” That description caught my attention because it made sense.
Over the years, I’ve known 95 year old “go-gos” and 75 year old “slow gos.” Participation in senior adult programs is generally a factor of health rather than age. It was easy to plan trips for the “go-gos” that would accommodate the “slow-gos” and to visit the “no-gos,” but it was also important to me to create space where everyone could be together. That’s where the senior adult lunch has its origins.
For many years, it was a monthly program.Then for a few years the number of attendees had dwindled so we took a hiatus. Now new life has been breathed into the lunch, and we’re gathering multiple times a year. The purpose now is the same that it has always been: getting to know each other better and becoming a group that can provide support and encouragement to each other as we all move through the aging process.
Because you can only eat so long, lunch is followed by a program. Sometimes it’s informative, like our August program on grief provided by Hospice of the Piedmont, and sometimes we play games designed to challenge and entertain. We finish up within 1 ½ hours so that our Senior Singers can go to rehearsal at 1:30 PM.
Our next Senior Adult Lunch, which is always open to anyone who can attend, not just senior adults, will be Tuesday, November 19. Liz Andrasi Deere will be sharing with us about her participation in a pilgrimage along an ancient pilgrim route, the Via Francigena, this past summer.
Join us in the sanctuary at 12:00 PM. The cost for lunch is $3.00. You can sign up in the narthex or call the church office to let us know you’re coming, but don’t let not having made a reservation keep you from coming. We always plan on food for extras!
Costumed children, cars with trunks open, hot dogs and cookies, music, and Halloween crafts. It’s almost time for Trunk or Treat!
For about ten years, we’ve invited our neighbors to join us in our lower parking lot on the Sunday before Halloween. There’s always plenty of candy, but it’s not just about letting kids fill up their bags with goodies. It’s about providing a safe place for children and their families. It’s a time for families to enjoy watching their children have fun. It’s a time for us to get to know our neighbors and our neighbors to get to know us. It’s a time for us to talk to the families of our Kingdom Kids for more than a few minutes at pick up and drop off. It’s a time for us to make clear that being a church is about more than getting together on Sunday morning for worship.
Church is about living life together. It’s as we get to know each other as neighbors that we build up the trust that is needed to allow us to call each other friends. It’s friends who you go to when you need a hand or a word of encouragement. It’s a friend who you want to share your joys and sorrows with.
Right now, there seems to be so much division between people. Differences have not become something to celebrate, but rather something to divide us. Trunk or Treat is one of the many ways that we at Broadus want to build community and send the message that “All are welcome.”
It’s happening again this year on Sunday, October 27, 3:00-4:30 PM, and you’re invited to be part of the fun. We’ll serve hot dogs, chips, cookies, and drinks at 4:00 PM. If the weather isn’t good enough to be outside, then we’ll move everything indoors.
So, rain or shine, Trunk or Treat will happen and we hope to see you there!
So why do the Deacons or the Arts Committee or individuals plan special activities? Do we really need more things on our calendar? Isn’t it enough to go to church on Sunday and Wednesday and not have to feel guilty about not going back for the extras? You may have asked those or similar questions as you have read the Beacon or seen a Facebook event post. You can be assured that your presence is not required at the extras, but there is purpose behind them. They’re not just activities put together by people who don’t have anything better to do. They’re activities designed to give us opportunities to gather, enjoy a time of fun or food or learning (or all of the above), and, in so doing, further build our connections to each other as a church family.
Sunday evening the Arts Committee planned the “Farewell to Summer Patio Concert.” Dressed in Hawaiian shirts and leis, we ate pizza, salad, drinks, and dessert and enjoyed conversation around the table. It gave us opportunities to catch up on each other’s lives, to ask about upcoming events (two members of our church family are going to Morocco, and part of the trip will include sleeping in a tent in the Sahara Desert), and to exchange greetings with people who we didn’t see in the morning. There is value in getting to know each other better and in broadening the circle of church family members as we get to know their names. It is too easy to sit in our same seat each Sunday beside people who are also sitting in their same seat each Sunday and never really expand our circle much beyond that. These “extra-curricular” activities change things up a bit, and that is worthwhile.
From the meal we moved to the main event, which was singing favorite hymns/songs accompanied on guitar by two of our resident musicians, Lee Perry and Marshall Thompson. We told the Arts Committee ahead of time what our favorites were so Lee and Marshall were able to practice, and we were able to have songbooks with the words. What makes a particular piece of music a favorite? Sometimes it’s because of its association with a special person or special time in our lives. Sometimes it’s because of the lyrics. Sometimes it’s just because; it just brings up something good for us. With the words in hand, we were able to sing these favorites together. The focus was not on what was “my” favorite, but what were “our” favorites. That too served a useful purpose because it pushed us beyond ourselves. And we had an added bonus that a neighbor saw the sign at our entrance and joined us because she felt like singing! It was a fun evening, and we appreciate the efforts of the Arts Committee. We’re Broadus whether we’re gathered for worship or to sing old favorites and have dinner together.
Recently one of my friends came to Broadus for the first time. As he and his family got out of their car he looked around and said, “it’s nice here, it feels peaceful.”
And that is exactly what Bonnie Greenwood is hoping and praying for as she makes her way to the church, usually three times a week, to care for the gardens. She is quick to say that she doesn’t do it alone, a whole team of Broadus people pour their sweat and time into making the grounds a welcoming place.
Bonnie Greenwood in front of one of the Broadus gardens
Bonnie heard once that 17% of people who end up going to a church regularly do so because they like the way it looks, they find it pleasing. So, she thought she would take charge and care for those 17%.
Fifteen years ago, her faithful gardening service at the church may have begun for the sake of others, but for Bonnie it became a way that she connects with God. “I just got down on my knees when I was weeding one day and I just was sort of talking away, and I thought, you know, this is a good prayer time,” she says.
Bonnie is a self-proclaimed talker and she likes the “good-salvation-army-stand-on-the-street-corner-with-a-tambourine-move-it-along-hymns” like, When We All Get to Heaven and Standing on the Promises of God. Her father taught her hymns like these and she likes to challenge herself while she plants and weeds to see if she can sing all five verses the way they used to on long car rides across Ontario, Canada.
But when I asked Bonnie how she experiences God out in the garden, she explained, “I think it’s just in the quiet and because there’s no television in the background, there’s nothing to keep you from doing some listening…one of my big things is I don’t spend much time letting God get a word in edgewise.” She goes on to say “it’s just soothing. I enjoy weeding. I like looking and thinking ‘isn’t that neat and isn’t that clean?’ and the flowers stand out so, and I enjoy it and just find that it’s relaxing.”
In the quiet of the garden there is a lot of time to think. Strawberries come to mind for Bonnie.
When she was a child her mother had a strawberry patch. I grew strawberries once as a child, too, but Bonnie saw and understood something in the strawberry patch that I did not.
She explained to me how each strawberry plant becomes a mother as it sends out runners whose ends can be stuck into the ground. Eventually, the mother plant gets exhausted and dies, but by that point hopefully those runners have turned into new plants and in time will send out their own runners. And so, the cycle of new life, death, and new life can continue. “That’s what a Christian life ought to be. We ought to be a strawberry plant and put out a runner,” Bonnie says.
Suddenly, a strawberry plant will never again be just a strawberry plant; Bonnie has transformed it into a parable.
Jesus taught in parables, too. It was how he connected with his hearers and conveyed deep truths about life with God that are too big and mysterious for humans to grasp otherwise. All throughout the gospels he tosses out these story seeds and slowly but surely a picture grows of the Kingdom of God. His hearers become runners and eventually, they share and send out more runners to tell the good news that has taken root in their lives.
When you come up the long tree-lined driveway to Broadus Memorial Baptist Church I think you will find it peaceful. It really is beautiful thanks to the gifts of time, care, and expertise Bonnie and others devote to tending the grounds week in and week out.
As you look around and notice the fruits of these gifts, I hope you will consider the strawberry plant.
I hope you will think about the prayers that have been poured out by people on their knees pulling weeds and lugging jugs of water to quench the thirsty plants.
I hope you will stop for a moment as you get out of your car and listen for the echoes of hymns hummed and belted over the past fifteen years (all five verses of them).
I hope you will know that you are welcome in this place, that it has been prepared for you.
And finally, I hope you will take a moment to pause wherever you may find yourself today and listen; perhaps you will hear God reaching out to you in love through something small and ordinary like a strawberry plant, too.
There was a time in our history that we had three nurseries full of babies and preschoolers. There was a time when we took twenty plus youth to summer conferences. There’s no way of knowing exactly what the future holds, but that’s not where we are right now. Does that mean children and youth have no place at Broadus? Absolutely not. Our ministry to children focuses on Kingdom Kids, a mid-week program that we’ve offered for about fifteen years. It’s a program for children in grades K-5th, but occasionally we’ve slipped a four-year old in there with their older sibling. Kingdom Kids includes children whose families regularly attend Broadus, but also children who live in Wilton Farm, a neighborhood just a half-mile away. They are our neighbors, and we look for ways throughout the year to welcome them into our church family.
Wednesday evenings, Mr. Mike and Ms. Nancy take the bus to Wilton Farm to pick up children who are eager to come to Broadus. They’re happy to come not just because of the meal that is being prepared for them by Mr. Dan and his kitchen crew, but because they are going to be welcomed by people who are truly happy to see them. After dinner, they have a time of learning and worshipping together. They’re on a four-year curriculum rotation: Journey with Jesus – the life of Jesus, Rock-Solid Followers – the early church and Paul, Fruits of the Spirit, and Parable Quest – the parables of Jesus. They hear stories, sing, complete activities, and do crafts that relate to the topic of the night. From the beginning the goal has been to help these children understand that God loves them and that He wants them to love Him, love their neighbors, and love themselves. We want them to understand what that looks like so we make sure that the children treat each other and their leaders respectfully.
A number of years ago, the then principal of Stony Point Elementary School emailed me to ask at what time we were having our children’s Christmas pageant. She wanted to come because she had been in the cafeteria that day and overheard some of her students talking about being wise men and shepherds and angels. When she asked about it, they told her all about what they were doing at Kingdom Kids that night. What happens here on Wednesday evenings goes home and goes to school with our children. It doesn’t matter if we have twenty kids in our program or five, what we’re doing matters in their lives. That’s why we’re here. To make a difference for Christ.
Kingdom Kids might be the centerpiece of our children’s program, but we see “our” kids at lots of other times. Movie nights, Trunk or Treat, Children’s Easter Celebration, special outings, Hearts and Hands (our Vacation Bible School alternative), and Back-to-School Night. Over the years, we’ve developed relationships with their families and are able to welcome them to activities as well. Some of the families have joined us in worship on Sunday too, but that was never the goal of this ministry. It’s not about getting people to “join” the church. It’s about being the presence of Christ to our neighbors and about helping to usher in His kingdom on earth. When our Kingdom Kids sing their songs for us (frequently accompanied by lots of motion), when they tell us what they’ve learned in the year, when they pack shoeboxes for children who are in need, and make Valentine’s for our homebound members, we know that we are doing exactly what God wants us to do in this time and in this place. We’re taking care of the children He has placed in our care.
This article, written by Pastor Nick Deere, originally appeared in our weekly newsletter, The Beacon on July 17th. If you are interested in receiving a copy of The Beacon each week and staying up to date on all of the things happening around Broadus, please contact the church office, or click here to view the latest issue.
As you might have seen, the trees lining the drive to the church
are in a bad state. They have fallen victim to the emerald ash borer,
an invasive beetle that has been spreading in our region. Soon the
trees will have to come down. In talking with those at our church
who know much more about trees than I do, I learned of another
problem that has made this situation worse: monoculture planting,
the practice of planting all the same type of tree. Arborists now
recommend planting a variety of trees so that if a blight or beetle
comes along you don’t lose them all. Having a variety of trees creates
a more resilient group.
In its history, the church universal has moved away from
monoculture. The early church quickly expanded out beyond it roots
into the Roman world. Soon the early church moved into areas like
Ethiopia and India. The good news of Jesus extended across various
cultures, and these cultures have a lot to teach each other; from the
Celtic Christianity of Ireland, to the faithful witness of the Chinese
church today, and many more.
At times in the life of the church there have been people who have
wanted to seek monoculture instead. At its worst, this impulse leads
to sins like racism, xenophobia, and fear of others. This is something
Paul warns the early church about often.
One of the great benefits of being in a city like ours and a church
like ours is that we get a glimpse of the diversity of the church
universal. May we continue to celebrate and live into this truth by
cultivating practices of listening to and seeing every person as created
in the image of God, not only in the church but in all areas of life.
According to Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan American fact gathering organization, in 2017 27% of Americans described themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” That was up from 19% when they asked that same question in 2012. Their research showed that this increase was true in every age category and every level of education and was evenly split between men and women. Churches across the country are grappling with what that means for them and their future.
At Broadus it’s been no different. We look at decreased attendance and giving and wonder about where we’re going. Members voice, sometimes in Church Council or deacon’s meetings, but more often in whispered conversations, “where will Broadus be in 10 years?” Given what we see going on around us, that’s a legitimate question. And for those of us who love this particular faith community, it’s a scary question.
We decided that it was important as a congregation to try to understand what it means when individuals defines themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” What are they saying about themselves, but more importantly what are they saying about the church as a whole? What do we need to hear and how do we as Broadus need to respond? Where is God’s voice in this conversation and what do we hear Him saying? To help guide our conversations, we suggested that our three adult classes study Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening by Diana Butler Bass. Books were purchased for anyone who wanted to read along, and each week discussion guides were prepared to help readers process and apply what Bass wrote. Group discussions followed each of the three sections allowing participants to hear what individuals in the other classes were saying. We had a plan that we believed to be Spirit directed, but we knew that there was no way to determine the outcome.
On August 25th we finished up our study with a group discussion. For some participants, it was frustrating that Bass did not provide more concrete answers about how to address the place of the church and Christianity in 2019 America. But that was never her purpose. Her purpose was to get us to ask questions of ourselves as she described trends that she observed and set them in the context of church history.
Our last group discussion centered on what we should focus on next. To try to answer the question, “What were the topics discussed, or questions raised, that you would like to further explore?” There were plenty of answers that we’ll have to sort through in the coming weeks. There is an interest in learning more about spiritual practices, things like fixed hour prayer, hospitality, meditation, community…practices that have long been associated with spirituality. There is an interest in considering how Broadus currently defines church membership and exploring changes to that as we seek to live out the truth of the gospel: ”For God so loved the world…” There is an interest in gaining a greater understanding of other world religions and our relationship to them.
Clearly Bass accomplished her purpose. We read, discussed, agreed, disagreed, and allowed the process to help us focus on Broadus and ask God “what’s next?” It will take time, but we will get to each of these topics because God’s Spirit is so clearly moving in our midst. The challenge, as it always is, will be to listen and discern and follow. It’s an exciting time to be part of the Broadus faith community!
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.
When we look at Acts and read the various letters that Paul wrote to those first churches in what are now the countries of Greece and Turkey, we hear him plead over and over again for unity. In Ephesians 4:3-6, we read, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” At Camp Young at Heart, we put that lofty goal into place and celebrate our oneness as children of God. In a time when division and rancor seem to be running rampant, it is good to be part of something where that is not present.
Another aspect of CYAH worth celebrating is that it offers participants a chance to learn something new. Every year one of the classes that returns by popular request is Virginia Thompson’s art class. Some years it’s oil painting, other years it’s watercolor or printmaking, but always art. What surprises me every year when I talk to the participants, and admire their artwork, is that for at least one person this is the first time that they’ve ever taken an art class. Many of them have said it was something they always wanted to try, but, for a variety of reasons, they had never done so. Often that reason was a fear of failure, and they had allowed their fear to stop them from pursuing a dream. It is exciting to see someone liberated from fear.
At Broadus, we take seriously our charge to be part of ushering in God’s “kingdom on Earth as it is in heaven.” That means finding unity in the midst of differences, being a faith community where all are welcome, acknowledging that none of us have a lock on the truth and that we’re all in the process of becoming, and always having as our goal to be the presence of Christ in our world. Our support of Camp Young at Heart is just one aspect of putting that charge into action.
If CYAH sounds like something you would like to be part of, you haven’t missed it for 2019! It will be held next week, August 26-28, 9:00 AM-2:00 PM at Aldersgate United Methodist Church. The cost is $25.00 for individuals and $40.00 for couples. You can call the Broadus church office at 434-977-7381 to register.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
Traveling together creates memories that bind us in new, and sometimes, unexpected ways.
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 email@example.com or call (434) 977-7381.
Please visit our new 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.