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EMBRACING A GOD-SIZED DREAM: LAURA JONES I’ve moved 20+ times in the past 25 years, so being settled here now gives me a sense of immense relief. All that successive putting down roots and pulling them up again has left me emotionally exhausted. Shredded. Fragmented. One of the most comforting things to me about Tabernacle is the acceptance I feel here. I am welcome just as I am, fragments and all. I’m not expected to have it all together or to fit a certain mold. Even our children are allowed to be themselves and to be present, not sequestered away in a separate part of the building but welcome in the mix, like a real family. Tabernacle feels authentic to me. I love the honesty, the focus on each person as someone of incomparable worth – the whole person with all their good, bad and broken bits. Every place I’ve lived, God has brought me the most amazing, heart-level friendships with local women. Through these beautiful friends, I’ve been challenged to see things from different cultural viewpoints. I’ve realized that some of my beliefs about God reflected my own culture rather than scripture, and as a result I’ve learned that God is even bigger than I had given Him credit for being. One of my favorite things about Tabernacle is the desire to see God in bigger ways and the willingness to live with the tension and mystery of not having Him completely figured out. I cherish the diversity at Tabernacle, and as the church family continues to reach out and expand, I hope that people from even more ethnic, color and language backgrounds will find their home among us. I would especially love to see genuine friendships develop across the cultures. Logistics make this more of a challenge in the U.S. than it is overseas. I’m still finding my feet here, struggling to find the time and energy needed to make meaningful connections, but I’ve experienced firsthand what a lifeline it can be so I’m motivated to work toward it. I look

forward to getting to know people beyond the surface of “how-are-you?-fine” and discovering together how our unique experiences and perspectives will contribute to our collective understanding and expression of God’s amazing love for the world.

My prayer for Tabernacle: May Tabernacle continue to be a place of welcome, hope and healing for broken people, and may Jesus continue to be the center of everything we do, the source of all we are. May we lean together into the mystery of life, unafraid to wrestle with hard questions and okay with not having all the answers. May we find practical ways to truly connect with one another, developing soul-friendships across cultures. May Tabernacle become more and more a full reflection of God’s kingdom, a blended family of people from every culture and every background.




Although we still had snow this week, summer and Sterling’s sabbatical are right around the corner! Last summer, Tabernacle was awarded a Lily Foundation grant that provides for a three-month sabbatical for Sterling and a time of renewal for the church. The theme for the sabbatical is “Coming Home for the Very First Time.” During the summer, Sterling will “come home” to his family for some much needed rest and rejuvenation. He will also “come home” to the Holy Land and to Burma – trips that will enrich and inform his ministry for years to come.

May 4: Vision Sunday. Please join us after Church Services on Sunday, May 4 to enjoy lunch and hear an update from our Vision Campaign Team. We’ll share information about how we plan to move forward with the Vision you helped us mold over the past eight years, and Vision Commitment Packets will be distributed. This is a very special occasion and every member of the Tabernacle family is urged to attend and fully participate—invite friends and neighbors if you like! Our children will enjoy a party, and nursery services will also be available. You want to be sure to attend this event! May 18: Celebration Sunday. Please make plans to join us during worship as the church family comes together to celebrate our 127th Anniversary. We will look back to remember what God has done and then commit ourselves to the vision cast before us. We will bring Vision Commitment Cards and submit them to the Lord as an act of worship. We will celebrate what God is doing and will do among us as we move forward. To God be the Glory!

EMBRACING A GOD-SIZED VISION: BYA WANN Even though sometimes we do not know exactly what God’s will is for us individually and as a group, we do know from our lived experiences as refugees that God is with us and showers us with uncountable blessings. We came from northern Burma as refugees. We also belong to Lisu tribe. Lisu people are believed to have originated from the area of Mongolia, and by 400 BC, they were believed to have dispersed from that area One of the greatest blessings we have received from God is the Tabernacle Baptist Church. Regardless of differences in culture and language. Tabernacle has embraced us as one of its own in Christ Jesus in the spirit of brotherhood. Individuals and families at Tabernacle have extended their warm welcome which helps us experience God’s love and presence in the community. Moreover, they are teaching us English at our homes, giving us bakery training every week, providing us with transportation to attend church services and also a great space to worship in our own language. These are only just a few, but everything about Tabernacle tells God’s love and how much he cares for us.

While Sterling is gone, we at TBC will be having fun interpreting the sabbatical theme in worship each week and engage in enjoyable, meaningful theme-related renewal activities. Decide which of the activities and dates below look interesting to you, and make plans to join us as we “come home” together. “Come Home” with us for three church-wide Fellowship Opportunities: June 8th Church-wide picnic –good food and fun activities for all ages July 9th Ice Cream social plus agespecific book discussions (children, youth, adult) August 20th Movie night – The Wizard of Oz: popcorn plus conversation about “coming home” “Come Home” with us for three Creative Arts Opportunities: after worship on June 15th after worship on July 13th after worship on Aug. 3rd Join us as local artist and minister Suzanne Stovall Vinson leads us in creating unique and versatile themed stoles and banners for worship. We will also make some new Chrismons for our Christmas tree. Get to know new and longtime church members during these intergenerational creative arts sessions! “Come Home” with us as we attend some home team sports events: Baseball with The Richmond Flying Squirrels Soccer with the Richmond Kickers. We will buy a block of tickets for church members to use. Stay tuned for dates and details. Finally, as we move toward summer, please pray for the Severns Family and for TBC as we celebrate and prepare for this special season of our life as a church!

WE’VE LISTENED, AND HERE’S WHAT WE HEARD, PART 2 In February, many of the members of our congregation gathered in homes to enjoy dinner and a discussion about their vision of the future of Tabernacle. This is part two of a series of articles about what you said, focusing on the second question of three. That question was, “How do you see us as we move forward?” Your responses helped us gain current insight into your thoughts about the future of our spiritual mission, as well as possible changes to the physical layout of our buildings. We sincerely appreciate everyone’s honest exchange about the wonderful potential that we have ahead! Most of the answers to the question about what you think is at the heart of our future growth seemed to fit several categories: spiritual mission, nature of the congregation, diversity, and building changes. Our spiritual mission is obviously at the core of your focus, including comments such as: Maintain our core services of the food pantry and clothes closet. Keep the Fan Feast and our Thanksgiving baskets going. Agreed we are moving in the right direction – want us to continue investing in children and youth and walking beside brothers and sisters that have resettled in Richmond as refugees. Keep the sponsorship of seminary students and their housing Consider Gap group—between youth/young adults and the seniors—how we continue to grow by engaging folks of all ages; consider more programs for our teenagers. Reach out to the immediate community - be more assertive about engaging the neighborhood and environs and VCU; consider “Coffeehouse” evangelism with music and fellowship. As mentioned before, your outlook for our future is a positive one! There is such a comfort level with the welcoming nature of our church, as well as the cultural diversity of our congregation. As one member said, “The Burmese are not “our ministry” anymore; they are ‘us’.” Additional comments about what we might do to build on our current sense of congregation as we go forward include: Translate sermons into Burmese and other foreign languages; include multilingual graphics in our classes and sermons. Continue making children integral to church life and worship. Seek & promote ways to foster deeper personal relationships. Bring new people in by invitation of the members, as we do today—our congregation is relationshipbased. Consider the place of our Childcare Center in life of the church—ways to purposefully reach out to these folks and be inclusive with activities.

When it comes tohow we think about facility changes as a part of our future, we are ready for just that—change. Many of you are interested in more details about those plans. The blueprints and how we prioritize the modifications we make are topics that we will delve into in the months ahead. Our focus today is to be sure that the kinds of changes we envision are ones that support our spiritual mission, both current and future. Over the past eight years we have thought through how we could best use our existing space and modify that space to provide flexible use as we grow in our spiritual mission. We measured rooms and hallways to help us begin the process of estimating possible construction costs. Now we are on the verge of making it happen! Your suggestions for how we approach finalizing building-related changes include: Find ways to maximize the use of the Grove Avenue entrance while making the Meadow Street entrance more appealing. We need to address having a more secure entrance or our Childcare Center and universal access to our church facilities for persons with special needs. It is good to provide housing for seminary students and visiting mission teams. Make sure we ensure flexibility within our facilities to implement new and existing church programs and activities. See if we can address parking as we grow. Our next article will cover the responses you gave to the final question we asked at our Discover Dinners—“How does the community see the church?” Again, we are grateful for your input and interest as our future unfolds! Everyone is integral to our success.

METRO BAPTIST/RAUSCHENBUSH METRO MINISTRIES CLUE CAMP IS COMING!! Tabernacle will partner with two of our former interns, Eric Hasha, from University Baptist in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Bryon Lepere, from First Baptist in Buena Vista, Virginia to lead Clue Camp July 27-August 2. This will involve traveling to New York City to lead camp for 50 elementary age children for the week. If you are interested in joining this team, please speak with Judy Fiske for more information, There will be several other opportunities to partner with Metro Baptist. Speak with Judy if you are interested.




Received Year to Date:

$ 127,015.11

Expenses in March:



Expenses Year to Date:

$ 125,178.18






Budgeted for March:



Budgeted Year to Date:

$ 129,447.99


Receipts include: tithes/offerings, Endowment Fund contributions, facilities use donations, and some designated gifts (IMO/IHO, etc.)

IN OUR PRAYERS Recent Additions Lay Htoo as she leaves this week for Burma and Thailand Employment for loved ones seeking jobs Marshall Powell’s cousin-in-law’s father, Joe Bolos, struggling with cancer Loretta Hancock, recovering from surgery We celebrate with Rebecca Suter, our social work intern, as she moves into an internship with The Gray Haven Project. Coppage family as they move through important immigration process Priscilla Kinchen’s cousin, Jasmine Knight, and aunt, Diane Woodward Jerry Spillers’ great aunt, Dot Creery We celebrate with Dr. Art Wright in the successful defense of his dissertation at Union Presbyterian Seminary We thank God for the ministry of Khan Naw and Julie Gaines over this last school year. Jack White Bya Wann’s prayer for Tabernacle: pray that Tabernacle will continue to be a light and salt in the world; pray for Lisu Grace Church, present and future; pray for spiritual growth and unity of the church and Lisu families; pray for every household family of Lisu (in Richmond and USA); pray for the leadership of TBC and Lisu Grace Church

Continued Care

Michael Booth, Val Andrist, Chris Hines, Nell Broach, Baby Caybrie, Dick Spain, Khan Naw, Brenda Gradwell, Karen Coppage, Bobby Goin, Roger Printz 1925 Grove Avenue | Richmond, VA 23220 | 804.355.0134

Tab newsletter 4 22 14  
Tab newsletter 4 22 14  

This edition of The TAB, our bi-monthly newsletter, features testimonies by Laura Jones and Bya Wann, Sabbatical information and various ann...