I am leaving to the Emerald City of Greenville, NC on Saturday. Get it? GREENville = Emerald City? Yes, I am headed down to prepare my heart, soul, and mind for my official calling as Chaplain. EEEK! This moment has been long coming. Long coming. I wanted to take a minute between packing and storms to write a thank you note to the good people of FBC, Richmond.
I often ask why did it take so long? As I have spent some wonderful time with good folks at First Baptist, Richmond, I’ve come to realize that it took time for me to heal and find my home in church again. I thank First Baptist for that.
I’ve been with First Baptist for two years, going on seven. Whenever I came home from Boston for the holidays, I attended First Baptist. When I served in the church, I would watch FBC services later in the week to have an opportunity to worship in a way that I couldn’t on Sunday mornings. The most important part of my inner work though, came during the last two years.
My friends, my brothers and sisters at FBC, gave me permission to be whoever I needed to be and wherever I needed to be. They gave me the time to step slowly and cautiously into the church before deciding to officially join. I needed to feel comfort and acceptance. I needed the space to go from feeling animosity for the church, to feeling hope again. First Baptist gave me that space and time.
However, FBC didn’t leave me hanging either. They found ways to reach to me when I didn’t know they were doing it. They found ways to let me minister using my passion and gifts. Thanks to the wonderful and influential staff, I was able to share my photography, work with the youth, help out at Essex Village, give advice on educational programming, and share a passion for helping in teen suicide and bullying. I was able to be a chaplain for some of you and find my spirit and voice. I was able to speak in a Prayer for Healing Service, take part in a prayer retreat and have a blanket of prayer placed over me, through anointment, communion, and healing prayer. Then I was blessed with conversations, relationships, friendships and hugs with those who walked with me every step of the way, wiping away my tears and laughing at my corny jokes. Now, if I can just get Jim to give me an opportunity to preach. 🙂 You all have been a gift and a blessing.
Dear First Baptist, Richmond, thank you for giving me the space to just be. Thank you for allowing me to be in the moment with you, with God, and with whomever I was on that particular day. Because of your acceptance and support, I am able to leave with much of my healing complete and feeling hopeful that church has a welcomed place in my heart again. Thank you for bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond and to this very soul.
I may be in Greenville, but you will always be home to me.