A Word from Us…

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

Welcomes & Farewells

Last Thursday I attended the open house at Albemarle High School and met some of Thea and Wesley’s teachers, as they welcomed new students in their classes.  The next day, I was called to UVA Hospital to pray with a church member after she decided to forego treatment for her pneumonia.  Her daughter was in the room, and we talked about how her mom was ready to  die and how precious this time was for her and her siblings to prepare for this earthly farewell.  And just this morning, we learned of her passing.

Welcomes and farewells are a part of life, and here at UBC, we have some welcomes and farewells to recognize.  This past Sunday we celebrated the baptism of Carter Groff as he was welcomed into the Christian faith and into the membership of University Baptist Church.

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This week, we welcome Sarah Wilson as she joins us on staff as our Youth Coordinator.




We also welcome back UVA students as they move in this weekend.

We say farewell to Erin Brown in her capacity as our Youth Coordinator, as she finishes her service at the end of this month.  Thankfully, Erin will remain as an active member of UBC.

Finally, this Sunday will be Randi McFarland’s last day with us as a Ministry Intern.  Randi will be moving on to serve as a Chaplaincy Resident at Central Lynchburg General Hospital.  We wish Randi the best as she begins her new ministry.

May God, who is Alpha and Omega, be with us during all these welcomes and farewells.

~ Blessings, Michael



“We love because God first loved us.”

A woman named Mary Ann Bird tells her story:

I grew up knowing that I was different, and I hated it. I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started school my classmates made it clear to me how I must look to others:  a little gift with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and garbled speech.  When my schoolmates would ask, “What happened to your lip?” I’d tell them I’d fallen and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different. I was convinced that no one outside my family could love me.

There was, however, a teacher in the second grade whom we all adored — Mrs. Leonard by name. She was short, round, happy, a sparkling lady. Annually, we would have a hearing test. I was virtually deaf in one ear; but when I had taken the test in past years, I discovered that if I did not press my hand as tightly upon my ears as I was instructed to do, I could pass the test. Mrs. Leonard gave the test to everyone in class, and finally it was my turn.

 I knew from past years that as we stood against the door and covered one ear, the teacher sitting at her desk would whisper something and we could have to repeat it back…things like “The sky is blue,” or “Do you have new shoes?” I waited there for those words which God must have put into her mouth, those seven words which changed my life. Mrs. Leonard said in her whisper, “I wish you were my little girl.”

1 John 4:19 says: “We love because God first loved us.” In the midst of life’s challenges, isn’t it good to be reminded that we have a God who loves us, who tells us, “You are my child, my beloved. With you I am well pleased.”?

May you hear God’s words of love and feel God’s embrace this week!

~ Blessings, Michael


God’s Gifts in Unexpected Places

Mission-trip2015In my sermon this past Sunday, I told of a time from my childhood when I was shocked and a little disgusted at finding a bag of overripe, bruised peaches in our kitchen. Yet later that night, when we had some of those peaches for dessert, they were the juiciest, sweetest peaches I’ve ever had.

How many times do we reject God’s gifts just because, like those overripe peaches, those gifts are not presented to us in ways that are perfectly wrapped to our liking? Every day, we are confronted with people and situations that are different from what we expected or hoped for. In life, we have to reach beyond what is different and unfamiliar or initially uncomfortable to experience the rich fullness – even the sweetness – of what God offers.

Inside this newsletter, you’ll see pictures from our inter-generational mission trip last week in DC. On Sunday, youth and adults who went on the trip offered an inspiring glimpse into their week, with their mornings filled with projects to help poverty-focused nonprofits. In the afternoons, the group led a VBS for about 100 underprivileged children. Throughout the week, these UBC members worked in very unfamiliar circumstances with very different people; yet by the end of the week, they found common ground and tremendous blessing. Our mission team truly offered an example of what it means to accept God’s blessings, even when those blessings are disguised in challenge, hard work, and discomfort.

The intern at City Gate wrote to Erin Brown: “I just wanted to thank you again for an amazing week. I am just so thankful for you and your group. I’m sure I’m not supposed to have had a favorite group, but yours was absolutely it! This summer was challenging (and wonderful) in many ways, and your group made last week the BEST week of the entire summer! I regularly told my family and roommates how grateful I was!

As part of their testimony on Sunday, Erin Brown thanked UBC for its support of the trip – financial support, logistical support, and prayer support.

Similarly, inside this newsletter, you’ll find a thank-you from missionary Paula Settle, explaining how our support has made a difference in the lives of young people breaking the cycle of poverty in Nada, Kentucky.

Finally, during her ordination service on Sunday afternoon, Randi McFarland expressed her appreciation for the mission-mindedness of UBC.

I share Randi’s sense of thanksgiving to be part of such a congregation.

~Blessings, Michael


Mission Trip to DC Happening Next Week.

city-gate-banner1 175x147Next week, July 26-31, a group of 22 UBC youth and adults will be serving in Washington, D.C. with a program called Urban Hands (part of City-Gate, a ministry organization in downtown D.C. founded by Calvary Baptist Church).

During our week in D.C., we will engage in a variety of mission projects including leading programs at a children’s center and working with a number of organizations that reach the homeless community in DC (landscaping, cleaning, serving meals, other projects). Since much of the work is interactive, Urban Hands also provides an educational component designed to help group members better understand the daily challenges faced by those living in poverty, allowing us to more effectively minister to those whom we serve.

Pray for our youth and leaders during the week, that they may have the strength to work, the courage to reach out and connect, and the humility to learn from those whom we serve.



Vacation Bible School — Experiencing God’s Word

VBS2015-groupWhat an amazing week we had last week at Mt. Everest, this year’s theme for Vacation Bible School!  About 65 children joined us for the week as we learned how God’s mighty power helps us overcome big challenges!  We were fortunate to enjoy time with not only children who call UBC home, but also their friends and cousins, children from First Baptist Main St., children from the neighborhood around UBC, and children whose parents work at the UVA hospital.

It was a busy week, full of songs and skits, games and crafts, Bible stories and snacks, and most importantly, meaningful conversations with the children!  Each day children had the chance to share ‘God sightings’, ways they have seen God at work in their lives.  These God sightings are recorded on colorful flags hanging in Fellowship Hall.

We talked about the recent earthquake in Nepal, location of Mt. Everest.  The kids had the chance to bring in spare change (over $150 by the end of the week), which we will donate to the relief work in Nepal through CBF’s Nepal Response Fund.

We have heard nothing but overwhelmingly positive comments from children and parents alike.  The kids had an amazing week, and it’s all thanks to our incredible VBS volunteers!!  A huge, HUGE Thank You to everyone who helped out with Vacation Bible School last week!!!  You guys are all completely, utterly amazing!  The kids had a fantastic week, and it’s because you gave so much of your time and energy into teaching them, playing with them, and loving them.

You.  Are.  Awesome!



A Note from Erin


For the past year, it has been my privilege to work with the amazing group of teenagers at our church.  Through the many devotions, activities, and trips the year has entailed, I have loved getting to know the youth, getting to work with them, and getting to learn from them!    I have been amazed at their energy and enthusiasm, their maturity and intellect, and their devotion to serving God and their community.  It has been an incredible experience to witness the amazing ways God is working in and through their lives, and to get a peek at the incredible people they are becoming.  I want to express to all of you how grateful I am for the opportunity to work with such a great group of youth.

This fall, I will not be continuing in the role of Youth Ministry Coordinator.  I will miss working closely with the youth, but I also need to focus on spending time with my young family.

Michael, the Personnel Committee, and the Youth Council are aware of my resignation, and are working to fill the position, ideally by the beginning of September.

Although I will no longer be on the staff at UBC, I look forward to continuing my participation in the life of the church, as I worship, play, and serve alongside all of you!

— Erin



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