Facets of Community Episode 8: Volunteering

Each year the FBCR congregation sets aside a few weeks for reflection. We reflect collectively on who we are as a church, and we reflect individually on how we relate to the church at large. From now through Sunday, November 7, 2021 I want to invite our faith community to consider broadly what it means to live in community together. Toward that end, we will highlight nine different facets of community, nine ways by which our community takes shape.

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Ok, here’s what I need for you to do…

Click here to open up an email to me. Now write, “Dear Pastor Brent, I listened to episode 8 of our stewardship reflection podcast series and I have decided…”

And that’s it, just leave that there for now.

We’re going to talk today about the fact that as a church we do a lot of things. There are lots of components and activities and tasks that have to be done and decisions to be made, and that’s ok that there is a lot to be done because there are a lot of us to share the workload. That’s one of the facets we’re thinking about in this series – things need doing for us to be who we want to be in the world.

I am reminded of a story by one of my favorite preachers, Fred Craddock, that I know I’ve shared with you before. No one – NO ONE – can tell a story like Fred Craddock can tell a story, but as I recall Fred tells the story of serving a small church early in his ministry who had a tradition of doing baptism in the river not far from where the church was. The tradition was that some of the members of the church would arrive early and set a campfire. Later he would arrive and those who were to be baptized would arrive and they would all pull on their baptismal robes. Others would arrive and set out a potluck dinner and get everything set just right and in time they would make their way down to the river. They would welcome folks into their faith community through the ancient rite of baptism. When they were done Fred and those who’d been baptized would make their way up to a make-shift tent that had been set up so they could change into dry clothes. While they did that the rest of the community would move over to the fire, maybe sing a couple of hymns together and make conversation. Once those baptized had rejoined the group they would finish the evening with this tradition. Going around the circle each person would offer, “My name is ______ and I’m the one you call if you ever need ______.” My name is Sheila and if you ever need your kids watched I’m the one you call. My name is Frank and if your car isn’t running right I’m the one you call.

Fred reminds us in the end of that story that there’s a word for that tradition in which each and every one offer themselves one to another in service. It’s called, “Church.”

The truth of the matter is, whether it be something needed interpersonally or something the organization of the church needs, we all need to rely on each other for a wide variety of things. That’s called church. In fact I want to let you know about a few things that we need organizationally and interpersonally at First Baptist.

  • Here at FBC Rochester we’re in need of Sunday School teachers for our children.
  • We’re also in need of folks to help lead discussion on Wednesday evenings and in our other adult education times.
  • We have a pretty good library with volumes for enjoyment or for education and that library needs people to organize it.
  • We also have a Missions Committee who oversee service projects from time to time and those projects need volunteers and leaders.
  • We have a number of partners in mission, organizations doing good work in our community and around the world and we need to stay in touch with those organizations. It helps to have a few people who can help us stay in touch with organizational leaders and report back to us on what is happening.
  • In worship on Sundays we need smiling faces to greet people as they come in.
  • We need readers to help lead in worship through the reading of scripture and other elements of the service.
  • We even need people who might be interested in trying their hand at writing liturgy.
  • We also need some administrative things like people to plan events or people who might not want to plan, but wouldn’t mind helping out with events from time to time.
  • Sometimes we need coverage on the church phones for a while.
  • We need IT help sometimes.
  • We’re looking for people who would be willing to make phone calls and check in on various people in the congregation just to make sure all is well and stay connected and let others know if anything is amiss with them.
  • We need people to coordinate various caring actions when congregants are in need such as provision of meals.
  • We also need people who are willing to do those caring actions like providing meals.
  • Sometimes we learn that someone needs a lift to church due to car issues or  health concerns, so we need a list of people who might be willing to pick someone up on the way to church sometimes.
  • We also have a tech team at church now. We need people who can run Zoom or the sound board or just generally help with tech things. You don’t even need to know how to do those things! We’ll train you.
  • Our beautiful campus requires upkeep sometimes too. We have a service who does most of the ongoing things, but at certain times of the year we need gardeners to tend our flower beds or people to do other kinds of general yard work.
  • The pandemic has given us reason to be more stringent about disinfecting the building. We have a wand that ionizes disinfectant and when our staff can’t get to that we sometimes need volunteers to cover. The amazing part is that using the disinfecting wand is an oddly reflective/meditative thing to do.
  • Of course there is also the routine of setting up tables and chairs and equipment for events.

Did I say this is not an exhaustive list? It might seem exhausting, but it isn’t exhaustive. There are other ways to serve at FBCR such as in leadership on the Church Council or on a Committee or with the Trustees. I’ve named a lot of things here and there are many other things we need help with from time to time. Many hands make light work, and in fact, they make joyful work as well. It is indeed a great joy to go about the work of the church when we do it together. That’s why we need you.

So let me bring you back to that email.

“Dear Pastor Brent, I listened to episode 8 of our stewardship reflection podcast series and I have decided…that I should let you know that I would like to be considered to help out with…”

You can fill out the blank with something I just mentioned or something I didn’t mention. If you have a skill, interest, or ability that you think might benefit this faith community even if we’re not sure how it fits just yet.

So finish up that email and click “Send.” Depending on what you’ve said in that email we may be right in touch with you or we may simply add your name to a list of those who are willing for when certain needs arise. Either way we will be in touch.

Won’t you consider how you can participate in the FBCR community by helping out with any of the many joyful things we do that make us who we want to be in the world?

See you Sunday!

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