Let’s Do it Again

Red Hill School Supplies

I had the best moment on Monday. I went to Red Hill Elementary School’s office and said, “I’m from Mooreland Baptist Church and we collected school supplies for you”. The secretary and the preschool teacher were excited. Really? That’s awesome! Thank you so much!

Before I left they said thank you again. It really helps. I felt like Santa Claus. It was awesome. These extra school supplies are so helpful because Red Hill has an extra forty students this year because Yancey Elementary School has been closed. Every little bit helps with the big transition.

Donating school supplies is a small thing, but it meets a very specific need. Public School teachers aren’t paid enough. Public Schools don’t have big budgets for extra school supplies and teachers sometimes pay for extra school supplies out of pocket. There are families in our community that need a little extra help with school supplies. Our donation helped meet a specific need in our community. It makes a difference.

We want our community to know that we care. We want our community to know that we are listening to their needs and trying to respond. We want our community to know that we care about them, because God cares about them. We want to love our neighbors. And that means knowing what the needs are and responding the best way we can.

How else can we support our community? How can Mooreland Baptist Church make things better for North Garden? These are good questions to ponder and think about as we begin our new church year. The last thing we need is another program, another Bible Study or another something for us. We need to look beyond ourselves and listen. Where is God leading us to serve in our community?



Jillian’s Thoughts

It seems to me that we have forgotten to see each other as human. We saw this over the weekend here in Charlottesville, a town that I have come to know and love for the past six years. We have forgotten to see each other as human and neighbors.

I don’t say this from a place of high moral standing. I may be a member of the clergy, but this weekend I cannot sit on the high moral standing of the clergy. It’s because I am too angry, too exhausted, and too upset. My town has been invaded by white supremacists twice this summer. Twice. They invaded my town. They stood beside the very library where I take my sweet daughter every two weeks to check out Clifford books. These demonstrations happened near the place where I get my hair cut by Packmo, every eight weeks. These demonstrations happened near the Children’s Museum where I take my daughter. There’s my favorite yarn store very close by.

I say all these things as a white woman with a lot of privilege. I’m only complaining about the library I couldn’t go to, and the hair cut place. They aren’t protesting and getting in my face. I’m not a problem in their view. But my minority neighbors are, and they suffer more than I do when these things happen.

I wish I could say that I condemn all the violence on both sides. I cannot say that with my whole heart. I’m too angry. I’m too cranky. I can only see the counter-protestors as human. Our town has been invaded twice by white supremacists. It has been a lot to bear. The urge to grab your pitchfork and protect your town is very strong. It’s understandable. I’ve felt it too. I also feel the need to remind folks that not everyone is a Christian and believes in non-violence. We cannot hold other people to a standard they may or may not believe in.

As for the white supremacists, I abhor what they stand for and what they have done. I am more than happy to point fingers at them. But even for all their vile words, deeds and torches in hand-they are still just human. They are still people after all. And I am trying to remind myself of that. I am trying to tell myself that these people believe evil things and do evil things, but they weren’t created that way. They weren’t born to hate. Someone taught them that. They learned it. And I do believe with all my heart that there is goodness in them. I pray that they will return to that goodness and let go of their hate.

It’s easy to point fingers and say what a mess, especially when it isn’t your town. It’s easy to stay above the mess and make proclamations about non violence. But I feel like that’s the above the ground approach. I’m here on the ground and all I see are humans giving into their brokenness. I see humans spewing hatred that someone taught them. I see humans grabbing their proverbial pitchforks and protecting their town. I also see clergy trying to bring peace to a chaotic day. I also see faithful Christians praying, singing and walking together. The church showed up last week and on Saturday, like we were supposed to.

There are a lot of things that need to be talked about as a result of Saturday. We need to talk about race and and how awkward it is to talk about race. We need to talk about where we’ve been-slavery, Jim Crow and recent events. We need to talk about different faith traditions, especially the Muslim tradition, so we can better understand each other.

There’s a lot to talk about, but we first need to see each other as human. And that might mean we need to be more understanding and more forgiving. And after the events over the weekend, the forgiving part is going to be the hardest.





Growing Season


I love this time of year. August is a time of new possibilities, planning, and seeing where God will lead. It’s also a time of year to wrap up the summer, or in church calendar terms-growing season. Officially, the church calendar calls this time of year Ordinary Time. Or another official term would be the Sundays after Pentecost. These are boring terms in my opinion. It’s growing season. Let’s call it that.

We call this time of year Ordinary Time, the Sundays after Pentecost, or growing season, because there aren’t any sacred holidays to prepare for. Easter is over. Pentecost is over. Christmas is a long way off. This is the time of year that we can let our faith blossom. It’s a time of year to take what we’ve learned and do something with it. It’s also a time of year to look at other stories of the Bible.

This summer we looked at Creation. We had a sermon series called: Celebrating and Honoring God’s Creation. We looked at stories that aren’t associated with holidays. We learned about creation, stewardship, gratitude, and the promise that earth is still under construction. It was fun and a different way to look at some familiar stories.

Summer is also a time of Sabbath and travel. We get away from home, have fun with our families and come back ready to begin again. Sometimes our faith grows more when we are resting because thoughts, ideas and stories have time to marinate. We have time to ruminate on them and try to figure out what they mean to us.

Summer is also a time of hard work. It’s a time to cut hay. It’s a time to weed the garden. It’s a time to pick, freeze and can our garden’s bounty. It’s a time to bear the heat and get it all done.

As a church we are finishing up the summer. Soon we will be coming back from vacations and settling in for the fall. We are putting together a budget. We are signing up for teacher positions and committees. We’ll be nominating deacons. The church will begin a new church year with a new budget and new officers. The church will begin it’s work anew.

But before we all get into it, let’s remember how we’ve grown this summer. What have you grown in your life? Some of you are actually growing produce and raising cattle. This year I’ve been growing weeds-people sized weeds. What else have you been growing-love for your neighbor? Have you been growing in your prayer life? Have you grown because you’ve taken a vacation or a good long Sabbath? And what will you do with the things you have grown?




Created for a Purpose

VBS 2017

Singing songs, tie dying t-shirts, playing kickball and learning about the Bible all happen during Vacation Bible School every year. The kids always want to dance on the stage to the music. (Who can blame them?) They always want to play kickball. (A solid choice.) Lil and Brooke always have a tie dye night (It wouldn’t be VBS without it.) And we have a great time.

This year our theme was Maker Fun Factory: Created for a Purpose. Every night we began with worship and then rotated through stations: crafts, games, Bible Study and a video station that had good discussion. We also shared dinner together before worship.

Every year during VBS Mooreland comes together. Some of it is behind the scenes. John Page mowed the lawn. Leighton, Lil and Brooke spruced up our playground. Georgia pulled weeds, especially the poison ivy. Margie, Jimmy, Lil, Dietra and Brooke all helped put the stage decorations up. Some of the work happens during the week. Megan and Tony took pictures for our daily slide show that retold our Bible Story. Georgia and Debbie led our Bible Study station complete with a tent, pretend torches, and an empty tomb. Dietra, Susi, Margie and Ann all helped with dinner. Kim Ferguson led games with kids who all wanted to play kickball every night. Melinda led our video discussion group where they looked up the Bible verse and discussed a video about kids their age learning new things about God. Lil, Brooke and Sheila led crafts with their many helpers. And I’m missing people-especially all the youth who helped with games and running the computer during worship. Everyone did such a great job.

VBS is a week when Mooreland really knows how to come together and be a church. Not that we don’t do this other times of the year, but there’s something special about VBS week. I think it’s the kind of event and also the scale. It’s a big production and we always rise to the occasion.

And as we walk through the rest of the summer, let us rest from our labors and also get ready for the busy church season-the fall. There will be plenty of other things to come together for.


Answering God’s Call: Sheila Ballou

Ladies Crochet Group 2
Sheila-crocheting away in the black shirt. She’s been leading our Ladies Craft Group.

Sheila is one of our newest members of our church. She started visiting with us about two years ago. She was looking for a place to call her church home and she felt comfortable among us. Since then she has made fast friends with us and become part of our church family. She has begun our Ladies Craft Group that meets once a month after worship. She has helped with crafts at Vacation Bible School. We baptized her last year. Sheila has become one of us.

As I have been getting to know Sheila, she has shared with me her sense of calling. She feels called to the ministry. She feels led to begin her seminary journey. So, this August she will begin studies at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. We rejoice with her and we are praying for her.

Sheila did her career as a software engineer for the navy. And she was good at her job. When she retired from Sperry Marine in Charlottesville, she began to help her daughter and son-in-law raise their two boys. She teaches them math and about her faith. Since retirement she has sensed a need to answer the call to ministry.

Sheila’s faith journey began years ago. She had attended different churches since about 1993, but it was in 2010 that she felt God’s call on her life. She was attending Covenant Church in Richmond and felt that God wanted her to do something for him. She has since joined us at Mooreland and has been growing in her faith in Henry C’s Sunday School Class and her personal devotions.

Sheila feels called to ordination and missions. We are excited to support her in this seminary journey and discovery of what God has in store.



Honoring and Celebrating God’s Creation


Summer is upon us. We’ve just had Memorial Day weekend with its festivities and remembrances. And for the months of June and July, things on the church calendar clear up a bit. Easter is over and the school year is almost done. Summer brings a slower pace and more traveling.

At Mooreland we will put this slower pace of life to good use. We’re going to have fun with things. We’re going to honor and celebrate God’s creation. North Garden is a beautiful place at the foothills of the mountains. The night stars shine brilliantly on a clear night. Farmers make their living in our community. Gardeners are already reaping a harvest from their backyards. Creation is part of every community. God’s creation plays a big part in our community.

For the months of June and July I will preach a sermon series entitled: Honoring and Celebrating God’s Creation. We will focus on different things. We will remember that creation is good. We will talk about how God speaks to us through creation. We will talk about bearing fruit. We will end our study in the book of Revelation where all of creation is restored. We will also sing songs about God’s creation. We will pray special prayers over all the farms and gardens. The children will learn about God’s creation in the children’s sermons.

We will also celebrate and honor God’s creation through a mission project this summer. As a community of farmers, we will help out farmers in other countries. We will buy livestock for needy farmers. We will do this with the help of Heifer International. Heifer International focuses on systemic change in impoverished areas. Instead of giving someone a cup of milk, we will give them livestock. We can buy a sheep for 120 dollars. We can also buy a pig for 120 dollars. Rabbits are 60 dollars and honeybees are 30 dollars. A cow is 500 dollars. How many animals can we buy? Let’s find out!

There’s also a plan in the works to do an outdoor worship service on a Sunday afternoon. We don’t always get to worship together in God’s creation. We will also bless and pray over all the farms in our community. We will pray over their fields. We will pray over their livestock. We will pray for their pets, because they have jobs to do too. We are planning to do this in the fall.

I am excited for all that this summer will bring. How will you celebrate and honor God’s creation?


Discipleship in Community

Last week was Supper Church and we had a ball. We had an egg roll. We had an egg fight. (With hard boiled eggs.) We painted wooden eggs to take home with us. We were celebrating the resurrection during the official 50 days of Easter. We also ate tacos and do what we do best-visit.

One of the things I love about Mooreland is the relationships among the people. After church it takes a while to leave because everyone has to catch up with each other. Whenever we have a business meeting, we stay around afterwards to chat. The same is true for Supper Church. After we’ve eaten, we all like to sit around and catch up. It’s like a family reunion.

Jesus was this way with his disciples. He liked to visit. In fact the reason why he would go to Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ house was to hang out and visit. Jesus loved the twelve disciples like his own family. For three years they were his family as he traveled all over the countryside. It was in the context of this close relationship that he taught them all kinds of things.

When the disciples heard Jesus tell a parable-it was like a good friend telling them the story. When Jesus performed a miracle or healing, it was like their own brother was performing the act. When Jesus was arrested, killed and dead-it was like losing a family member. When they saw the risen Jesus, it was another family reunion. These men were close. They were family.

That’s how it is here at Mooreland. We are family. Some of us are related to each other, and some of us aren’t. But it doesn’t matter. We all claim each other. We also do a good job of inviting others to join in. We aren’t that exclusive. We’re welcoming.

As a church family, how can we challenge each other in the faith? After all, we are close. We talk about families, our relationships, our jobs and our failures. How can we encourage each other in the faith? How can we challenge each other to pray, to grow our relationship with Christ? How can we challenge each other to serve the community? How can we use our relationships as a community to help push each other in the faith?

We are close. Let’s use that to deepen our love for the Lord and love for our community.

Egg Fight