Remembering our “Saints”

As we approach Halloween, with its emphasis on dressing up and going “trick or treating,” did you know that the word “Halloween” is a shortening of the phrase “All Hallows’ Evening”?

This “hallowed” or “holy” evening precedes “All Hallows’ Day” or “All Saints Day,” a day in which Christians in many countries observe to remember the dead, including saints (“hallows”), martyrs and those who died in the faith.

As our way to remember the “saints” of UBC, on this Sunday in worship, we will briefly recognize by name those members who passed away this year.  But we also remember all our loved ones who are now with the Lord.  We give thanks to God for their lives and for their gifts in building up the church.

In other matters, the Baptist General Association of Virginia is having its annual meeting in Fredericksburg, November 12-13.  This year, the assembly will be voting on a new governing structure that shifts the policy-making authority from a 100-member body to a new 20-member Executive Board.  We will vote on our messengers on Wednesday, November 6.  If you would like to serve as a messenger, please let the church office know!

~ Blessings, Michael


A Word from Michael

Looking ahead to tomorrow, let me say welcome to Mark Biddle, Old Testament scholar at BTSR!  Mark will speak this Wednesday night as we resume our crucial conversations.  I look forward to seeing Mark and all of you.

* * * * * *

And looking back to last Wednesday, we received a thank you note from Bob and Sharon Hallissy, who expressed their appreciation for your warmth and interest when they spoke about their work with Wycliffe Bible Translators.  They continued,

“The love offering was a surprise and very much appreciated.  As we left on Thursday morning, our car was having trouble, making a strange noise.  Our son, David, said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if the love offering covered the cost of the car repair?!”  And guess what . . . it did, with money left over for gas in the car!  Our God is an Awesome God!” 

It is inspiring to hear stories of how God provides, and I am so glad that our congregation could help display  God’s faithfulness to the Hallissys.  Thanks to all of you who contributed to the love offering!

We as a congregation have another opportunity to reflect God’s faithfulness and provision through our contributions to the Alma Hunt State Missions offering, which will support the chaplain ministry of Julie Perry and other state Baptist missions and ministries.  Our goal for the State Missions offering is $4000.  As of yesterday, we’ve collected $2,857.  If you’ve made a contribution, thank you!  If you haven’t done so already, I invite you to consider your participation.

~Blessings, Michael


A “Pounding” of Generosity

A few weeks ago, when Mr. Bob was out of town, my wife Beth gave the children’s lesson in worship.  She reminded the kids of how one year ago, the good folks of UBC gave my family a pounding — a pound of peanut butter, two pounds of coffee, five pounds of sugar, etc.  She told the children how generous the church had been to think of us and to supply our needs.  We had bags full of Kleenex and paper towels and toilet paper and napkins, just to mention the paper goods!

In fact, you gave so generously that the only place where we could think to store the canned vegetables and soups and jellies and detergent was under the ping pong table in the kids’ game room.  All last fall and into the spring, someone in our family might ask, “Do we have any mayonnaise?”  And the answer would be, “I don’t know…  Go look under the ping-pong table.”

Another sign of your generosity to us was that even now, a year after the pounding, my family still has a few items left from those gifts.  In other words, for more than a year, we have had tangible reminders — in the form of napkins or salad dressing or green beans — of your love and care.  Thank you for these and many other ways that you have extended love and care to my family during this time.

As Beth reminded the kids, there are many across our state who are in need of our love and care.  We will not send them a pound of peanut butter or flour.  But through our state missions offering, we can send them a gift that will serve as a tangible reminder of the love and care of Christ as shown through Virginia Baptists.  Thanks for your ongoing generosity and ministry.

In Christ, Michael


Partners in Sharing the Gospel

CBFVA-Assembly-2013-BallewsLast Friday Anne Keith, Lu Overbeck, Jackie Lockwood and I attended the CBF of Virginia meeting at Poplar Baptist Church.  Once again we were reminded of how we can accomplish more together for God’s Kingdom than we can accomplish alone.

At the meeting, Larry and Sarah Ballew, self-funded CBF field personnel, gave a presentation about their ministry among the hospitality workers in Macau, China.  The Ballews have been in the States visiting churches on both the west and east coasts to raise financial support.  The Ballews will be here on October 6 to share with us during the Bible Study hour and in worship.

This Wednesday night, Julie Perry, Chaplain of the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, will give a presentation about her ministry among the inmates at the center.  Due to drastic budgetary cuts at the Chaplain Services of Virginia, all state prison chaplains have suffered pay cuts and reduction in work hours.  More than ever, Julie needs churches like ours working together to ensure that this important work continues.

As we welcome Julie Perry and the Ballews, I hope we can be an encouragement and a support to these partners in sharing the Gospel to people in the next county and around the world.

~ Blessings, Michael



Crucial Conversations, Part 2

Last Wednesday evening, we began our “crucial conversations” series, in which we talked about the importance of all conversation partners contributing to “the pool of meaning” so that everyone is more aware of what we wanted out of the conversation.

During the course of the session, participants articulated several themes.  First is the acknowledgement that we are a diverse congregation with a diverse range of opinions and convictions regarding many issues.  Second is that we want to gain a greater understanding of the issue of human sexuality and homosexuality.  Third is that we do not want this conversation to become divisive.

After the session, several of you came to me and offered helpful feedback.  As a result of your feedback, this Wednesday night, we will briefly revisit last week’s session, and then I will articulate what I hope to accomplish as a result of this conversation on sexuality and homosexuality.  Finally, I will lay out a more concrete road map of how this conversation will take shape in the coming weeks.  Three professors from BTSR will be coming to share their expertise on this topic. It promises to be an educational and enlightening series.  I look forward to seeing you this Wednesday night and being a part of the journey.

 ~Blessings, Michael

 PS – You can see our complete Wednesday Night schedule for the fall on this page.

Crucial Conversations

In the past several months, I’ve heard from several of you expressing your desire to have a dialogue on the issue of sexuality and homosexuality.

In preparation for such a dialogue, I will be leading a short series on “Crucial Conversations” during the next several Wednesday nights.

What is a crucial conversation?  By definition, crucial conversations are about tough issues in which opinions vary, the stakes are high, and emotions run strong.

In these sessions, I hope we will gain greater insight into the nature of such conversations and to learn skills to engage in such conversations in helpful ways.

I look forward to this series and hope that you’ll be able to join us.


Youth Mission Trip Report

On June 16 nine members of our youth group along with Larry Johnson and Laura Morris traveled to Raleigh, N.C. with YouthWorks for five days to be the hands and feet of Christ.  On Wednesday, September 4, the participants in this mission trip will share pictures and stories about what they accomplished for Christ and highlight the work and fellowship that took place on this trip.

As you hear humorous tales and possibly some of Mr. Johnson’s slight exaggerations, I want you to know that it was your generosity that made this trip possible for our youth.  Through the donations you made at the Children’s Musical and the funds that you placed in the baskets after a Sunday service, you made it possible for our youth to participate in a life-changing event.  That’s a big deal.  The cost of participation and travel is a large part of the youth budget and it took a substantial showing of altruism to ensure that this vital ministry opportunity be available to anyone who desires to serve.

Please know that your continuing support of UBC’s Youth Ministry has been inspiring and that your kind words, prayers, and financial support have been an ENORMOUS blessing to both the youth and myself.

Gratefully, Phil


“Back to School” at UBC

It’s hard to believe that the summer is over and the school year has begun.  Signs of the new school year are evident throughout Charlottesville — yellow school buses, UVA students walking on grounds and at the Corner, more traffic, and long lines in restaurants and grocery stores!  My children started classes last week, and they are back into the routine of doing homework every school night and taking tests at the end of the week.  It’s good to see them back in school and learning new things.  Education is so very important to the welfare of our children and their future.

Likewise, religious education is so very important for the growth and maturity of followers of Jesus Christ.  After all, the word “disciple” means being a learner and a pupil.

Therefore, I invite you to get involved in our Sunday morning Bible study classes.  A full list of our classes can be found here.

On Sunday, September 8, we will recognize all our Sunday morning Bible study teachers in worship.  We will also give out Bibles to our new First Graders.

In addition to Sunday morning classes, our graded children’s choirs and our Wednesday night programming will resume next week.

I hope you’ll take advantage of the educational and fellowship opportunities offered by the church starting in September.  I’ll see you in class!


Invite Someone to Lunch!

The next several weeks are an exciting time here at UBC as we welcome newcomers to our community and to our church.  Starting this Sunday, I want to encourage our members to take a guest or two (or another church member that you don’t know very well) out to lunch after worship.  Sharing a meal together is a wonderful way get to know another person, and our church is blessed to be surrounded by so many good restaurants.

In order to encourage you to take someone out to lunch in the coming weeks, you’ll find in your worship bulletin a 10% off coupon for lunch at Basil, Boylan Heights and El JaripeoLemon Grass is offering a free (non-alcoholic) drink to each patron.  This coupon is only good for Sunday lunch, August 25 through September 29, 2013.  Take time in the coming Sundays to share a meal with someone you don’t know, especially our UVA students and guests, and have fun doing so!

Let us also remember to repay our neighboring restaurants’ kindness and generosity by treating the servers with equal kindness and generosity.  See you around “The Corner”!



“Adopt-a-Student” Ministry

Now that we are in August, in a couple of weeks, university students will be back in town.  Since we are University Baptist Church, I am eager for us to find ways to connect with and minister alongside students, both at UVA and PVCC.  With that in mind, I’m working with the staff to restart an “Adopt-a-Student” ministry which seeks to provide a “home away from home” for students — especially first-years and freshmen.

In my experience, college students are hungry for community — with their peers but also with others.  This year, I hope we can welcome the students who attend UBC by quickly finding them a family who will love them, who can periodically invite them over to their homes for meals and/or to play with their children, who will take them out to lunch after church, offer a quiet place to hang out away from noisy roommates, and provide assistance in case of an emergency or advice in a variety of topics, including finding a good car mechanic or overcoming heart-break.

Therefore, I’m looking to recruit families and couples who like being around college-age students, and who will let those students direct how much interaction they would like to have with their adoptive families.  The benefit you receive is that you will positively influence these young lives and create friendships that will last far beyond the college years.  You will most likely earn the undying appreciation from these students’ parents!

If you are interested in serving as adoptive parents, please let me know.  In the coming Sundays we will promote this ministry among our students, and we will schedule a “Student Sunday Luncheon” in September where we will match students with their “parents.”  Let’s do what we can to welcome students this fall!


                                             ~ Michael


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