RICHMOND — Last month the ministerial and support staffs at Huguenot Road Baptist Church were not in the office for three days — and it wasn’t spring break. On March 30-April 1 they could be found at a sister church engaging in missions together and transforming the buildings of the former Boulevard Baptist Church for use as a new outreach ministry.
“Make a Difference” is the theme at Huguenot Road this year and the staff considered it important to lead by example. So for two and a half days they became a mission team helping another church live out their call by making a difference in their community. It isn’t often that staff members have the opportunity to work alongside each other on a missions project such as this and these days proved to be a rewarding experience for all involved.
Boulevard Baptist Church in Richmond made the decision last October to disband and the Richmond Baptist Association worked with the Boulevard congregation to pass its facilities on to First Baptist Church in Richmond for use in their community missions program.
First Baptist has a ministry known as Grace Fellowship, serving the homeless population in the Richmond area. It provides Christian fellowship, Bible study, prayer and a hot meal to those in need. It also provides other services and necessities such as access to the clothes closet, sleeping bags and blankets, toiletries and information on services in the area.
As Grace Fellowship expanded in size, it took considerable space in First Baptist’s buildings. With the Boulevard Church property only a few blocks away, First Baptist was be able move this vital ministry to a new site and the dream of former Boulevard Church member that their building continue to be used for Christian ministry was fulfilled.
Steve Blanchard, the missions minister at First Baptist, coordinated the project for Huguenot Road and much was accomplished during their days there. Both the interior and exterior of the buildings received a major facelift. The team was able to clean and paint sections of the educational building and sanctuary and also landscape a significant portion of the grounds. Preparation work was completed on a number of exterior windows which are now ready to be painted.
“We feel we have made a major difference in the ongoing ministry to the homeless community,” says Bert Browning, senior pastor at Huguenot Road. He commended the congregation on allowing the time and freedom for its staff to serve together in this way.
Barbara Francis is on the staff of the Religious Herald.