A Word from Us…

Below you will find thoughts, updates, and articles from our staff.

Service of Remembrance – Wednesday Nov 30

Service of Remembrance

Wednesday, November 30

6:15 pm in Fellowship Hall

This will be a service to remember our departed loved ones, to support each other in our pain and loss during this holiday season, and
to support our  community during this time of unusual stress.

Candles will be lit to acknowledge  family and friends, our pain and loss, our worries and struggles, and God’s faithfulness in our lives.


A Bridge Across – November 15

A Bridge AcrossA Bridge Across-2i

According to the Associated Press, voters in the Commonwealth of Virginia last Tuesday cast 50% of their votes for Secretary Hillary Clinton, 45% for President-Elect Donald Trump, and the remaining 5% among the third-party candidates, Johnson, McMullin, and Stein.  If our congregation reflects the general voting public, and I think we do, then many of us voted for President-Elect Trump, many of us voted for Secretary Clinton, and a few of us voted for one of the other candidates.

Or, to put the election results in more partisan terms, among our fellow church members who voted last Tuesday, many won, many lost, and a few voted their views though they knew their candidates would not come close to winning.

All of us, though, make this location at 1223 West Main Street our common house of Christian fellowship and worship.  As our Lord chose to quote from Isaiah to defend his cleansing the Temple, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.  That included then and includes now a combustible  array of partisans of all stripes.  (Mark 11:17; Isa. 56:7)  Please remember this in the weeks ahead as we converse with one another about the Presidential election in and around the church building.

On this Sunday, November 20, I’ll offer my  post-election pastoral reflections in a sermon I’ll entitle, “The Partisan,” based on 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 20-24.  Since I haven’t actually prepared the sermon but sola fide trust it’s out there awaiting me, we’ll see whether that title holds firm …things tend to change in the course of sermon prep.

Whether I flop or fly in post-election sermonizing, let’s be intent on remembering God’s words of Scripture:  “… and be kind to one another, tenderhearted …” (Eph. 4:32); and Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Mark 12:32)

Uphold these Scriptures as worth remembering in these days:  I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives with all godliness and holiness.”  (1 Tim. 2:1-2).  And, this among several others of a similar note:  Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.  Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the king. (1 Peter 2:16-17).

I hope to see you this coming Sunday!

Your Senior Minister in the Interim,

         ~ Gary


Family Evening Worship – November 13

Evening Worship Service

Sunday, November 13

5:00 pm in the Sanctuary

Participatory, Fun, Open to All Ages


A Bridge Across – November 8

A Bridge Across A Bridge Across-2i

Stumbled across this shocking sight: a bear which fell victim to the cruel Bear Trap Tree, the only known predator of the black bear in the wilds of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Bear Trap Tree is stealthy and lethal, enticing its prey with a sweet-scented sap containing a neuro-muscular paralytic, disabling the bear as the tree first encases and then slowly digests its victim. Protruding remnants of earlier victims are seen along the length of the tree’s trunk.

On my mountain hikes, I often see some things that really are there but not really.  This photo of the lethal Bear Trap Tree depicts one of my “there but not really” sightings.

I took this photo in August while hiking in Shenandoah National Park.  The tree, poplar, I think—was growing on the embankment up from the trail.  I noticed it across the way as I sat resting.  The tree most definitely really was there.

Maybe it was the morning sunlight highlighting the burls grouped together near the base or the way the moss on the largest burl looked like a fuzzy tummy that suddenly brought to life what actually was not there:  a bear trapped inside the tree!  Once that image took root in my mind, it was all I could see.

Thus, the elaborate description I attached to the photo when I posted it on Facebook.  Friends knew it could not really be real, and yet . . .      Between the image now implanted in their minds, too, and the straightforward description I added, a few folks were not so sure whether I was pulling their leg or if there really is such a thing as the lethal Bear Trap Tree.  Fun!

Not all imagined things “there but not really” are delightful and amusing.  We go through events that really are there.  We know they’re real because we’re in the thick of them ourselves.  Our minds, though, conjure frightening images out of those events, and fear doggedly takes hold of us.  The frightening image now is all we can see, and fear now is all we can feel, regardless of what rational thought might otherwise assure us.

We are in a season of change at University Baptist Church, a season cast in God’s light which guides us, but which also means there will be shadows.  Where light and shadow interplay, imaginings can turn anxious.  Discerning what is “really there” and what is not there becomes difficult.  The light is God’s grace illuminating the way before us.  Seeing by the light of God dispels what shadows may try to fold themselves into fearful patterns that rob us of confidence.

Our Stewardship Theme this month, based on Ephesians 3:20-21, is “A Future Richer than Our Dreams, More Fruitful than Our Hopes, And More Beautiful than Our Imaginations”.  Our confidence through this season of change rests in God who really is here among us at UBC and who really is working out a good  future for us.  Be confident.  Be encouraged.  Be faithful in discerning and “imagining into” God’s future for the UBC family.

Your Senior Minister in the Interim,

          ~ Gary



Senior Minister Search Committee Update

The Senior Minister Search Committee has taken the baton from the Leadership Transition Team.  We thank them for their tireless work, excellence in their preparations for the Search Committee, and willingness to continue to be a resource to our committee.

The Search Committee meets regularly on the 2nd Sunday of each month and periodically at other times.  We obtained the services of the organization, Center for Healthy Churches, to assist us with the search process.  Center Director, Dr. Bill Wilson, is our primary contact.  Bill is a long-time fan of UBC and highly skilled and experienced in working with churches in this manner.

As the Committee began its work, the reality of what other churches similar to ours face in these challenging times started to feel daunting.  While UBC faces these same challenges, we realized the many ways UBC is not a stereotypical church.  The Search Committee quickly developed a ‘bullish’ prospectus to present to possible pastoral candidates.

We are a church with:  1) a rich history, 2) a solid foundation, and 3) almost unlimited potential.  We are located in one of the best places to live in the country and sit right in the middle of the University of Virginia.  We have incredibly strong lay leadership and a deep field of skill and passion within our membership.

When you reflect on University Baptist, it is clear that God is actively calling UBC to fulfill a unique ministry role, and the time is now for that ministry to happen.  We are sending a strong message to candidates that this a unique and exciting opportunity to be part of this church-wide calling and that we are not waiting for a new minister to seek out God’s plan for UBC, we are not looking for someone to walk this path for us but with us, and that we are willing to step out in faith wherever God directs and engage with great confidence and humility.

The right leader will help us continue to discern and stay true to God’s calling, nurture the required skills and strengths we need, and enable us together to achieve things that only can be accomplished through God.

God has great plans for UBC!  God will send the right person!  What an opportunity to be part of UBC at this time!

~   Brad Groff
, Chair
Senior Minister Search Committee


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