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Advent & Christmas at RBC

From SALT: God becoming incarnate in a human being is too astounding, too dazzling, too impossible an event to merely celebrate on a single day. Poetry (and podcasts!) can help – and the Irish poet and theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama’s beloved podcast, “Poetry Unbound,” is an inspiring case in point: evocative, accessible poems illuminated with sensitivity and insight by Ó Tuama’s commentary. 

In our Advent and Christmas devotional and worship services, we let scripture and “Poetry Unbound” be our guides, together pointing us toward weekly practices that can help deepen and enrich our experience of the season – a perfect way to prepare for the hope, peace, joy, and love of Christmas day. Each week, we’ll hear a poem in worship that connects to our theme of the week–hope, peace, joy, love, Christ.

So grab a Bible and your favorite way of listening to the “Poetry Unbound” podcast (the poems and episode transcripts can also be read online). Week by week, poem by poem, we’ll wait and prepare and listen and sing, unbinding the season – and with God’s help, unbinding our hearts – along the way.

We also begin our new lectionary for Sunday worship: A Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church, Year W, by Dr. Wilda Gafney.

Dec. 12: Third Sunday of Advent: 11am Worship In-person+Livestream

  • Advent Unbound: Joy Rev. Elijah Zehyoue, co-director of the Alliance of Baptists, preaching
  • Judges 13:2-7, Psalm 115:9-15, 1 John 3:1-3, Luke 1:46-56
  • 3pm Christmas Music Program, RSVP to Gail Fewell to reserve your spot!

Dec. 19: Fourth Sunday of Advent: 11am Worship In-person+Livestream

  • Advent Unbound: Love Rev. Dr. Leah Grundset Davis, preaching
  • 1 Samuel 1:19-28, Canticle of Hannah: 1 Samuel 2:1-10, Titus 3:4-7, Matthew 1:18-25

Tuesday, Dec. 21, Longest Night Service 7pm, Zoom

  • Rev. Phil Carpenter will lead our time together in this special, quiet service as we leave space for grief and the love the God.

Dec. 24: Christmas Eve, God is with us: 4pm Zoom Service & 5:30pm In-person+livestream (RSVP to Gail Fewell for the in-person service to reserve your spot)

  • Isaiah 26:16-19, Psalm 68:4-13, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Luke 2:1-20

Dec. 26: First Sunday of Christmas, 11am Prerecorded Online Worship via Vimeo, Facebook, phone call-in to Zoom

Jan, 2: Epiphany observed, 11am Zoom Worship

  • Star Words Sunday
  • Isaiah 60:1-6, 11, Psalm 67, 2 Timothy 1:5-10, Matthew 2:1-12
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Fall 2021 at RBC: Imagine

A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5

The prophet Isaiah knew what feeling far away from home was like as he spoke to the people who were Exile. Isaiah will be one of our guides this fall as we might feel far from our ordinary lives. How will God comfort us and show up in our midst? Can we hold the sacred space to imagine again?

Our COVID Advisory Group has been hard at work to maintain the safety, health, and well-being for all people, especially our youngest children who have not yet been able to be vaccinated. Below you will find our plans for the fall. Each week looks a little different and will follow all safety protocols. For all worship gatherings (indoor and outdoor) we masks are required, including fellowships following worship. Small groups meetings outdoors will decide together about masking preferences.

RBC Preschoolers/K, Kids & Youth will meet outdoors on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month at 11am during the worship service. All adults who teach and volunteer with the children are fully vaccinated. All adults and children over age 2 will wear masks outdoors. On 3rd Sundays at 9:30am, Pastor Leah will host a special class with RBC Preschoolers/K and Kids for 30 minutes on zoom. We have some fun activities planned about learning the Lord’s Prayer including stickers and coloring pages. Parents, we will be sending detailed instructions this week.

Childcare: We will not have childcare available for the months of September and October. When we have outdoor Sunday services, they will take place on either a 1st, 3rd, or 5th Sunday to maximize outdoor options for families with young children. We recognize comfort levels are different for everyone and encourage you to make the best decision for your family.

Adult Sunday School

  • Genesis Class: 1st-3rd Sundays at 9:30am on Zoom, 4th Sunday fellowship at church at 10am. Contact Cathy and John Baskin
  • Moore Class: 9am via zoom, Contact Ken Nidiffer for link
  • Philippians Class: 6:45pm for fellowship on zoom, 7pm on zoom for class, contact G.J. Tarazi
  • Friendship Class: beginning Sept. 19 at 10am indoor in-person, Room 134, contact Margaret Diamond

Worship & Sunday School Schedule for September and October

Oct. 3, World Communion Sunday: 11am Outdoor in-person+zoom worship

Oct. 10: 11am Indoor in-person + Livestream worship 

  • 11am RBC Preschool, Kids & Youth Outdoor Sunday School

Oct. 17: 11am Indoor in-person + Livestream worship

  • 9:30am RBC Kids on Zoom with Pastor Leah

Oct. 24: 11am Indoor in-person + Livestream worship

  • 11am RBC Preschool, Kids & Youth Outdoor Sunday School

Oct. 31: 11am Outdoor in-person+Zoom Worship, Happy Halloween! 

THRIVE Book Discussion:

My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, by Resmaa Menakem, MSW, LICSW (use this link to Amazon to purchase the book!)

Beginning Sep. 28, 7pm, via RBC Zoom
From Amazon: In this groundbreaking book, therapist Resmaa Menakem examines the damage caused by racism in America from the perspective of trauma and body-centered psychology…

As we continue the work of becoming anti-racist, we will discuss this book during the fall. All are welcome to join. The attached flyer has a detailed schedule, including chapters to be read and a list of facilitators and the proposed session format. Please contact Cathy Baskin if you plan to participate in some or all of the weekly sessions, or if you need to have a book ordered, so that we can plan for break-out groups during the sessions.

Sept. 28 begins with a discussion of the preface and Ch. 1 of the book. In addition, we will discuss a podcast that will give us all a common understanding of how trauma affects the body. Please listen to the podcast before the session: This Conversation Will Change How You Think About Trauma

For the rest of the schedule, follow this link!

[Note: the podcast references specific kinds of trauma often experienced by children and adults. If trauma is part of your personal history, please be prepared for topics that might trigger difficult memories. If you prefer not to take part in the podcast discussion, let Cathy know and we can make arrangements for you to join the book discussion portion of the session.]

Fall 2021: Ethics Seminar & Special Offering

Food Justice: Ensuring Food Access for All

Mondays, Oct. 18 & 21, 7 – 8:15pm, via RBC Zoom

Join us in our annual Missions Ethics Seminar, as our guest presenters highlight food justice challenges as close as Fairfax County, and as far away (but close to our hearts) as Cuba. Featured presenters are Diane Charles, of the Fairfax Food Council; Betsy Clevenger, layperson and manager of the Heritage Food Distribution Center; and our friend Midiam Lobiana (via video) of the Christian Women’s Network in Cuba. Follow this link for more information and the Zoom information!

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May 16-July 11 Worship at RBC, Updates from COVID Advisory Group+Leadership Council

Dear RBC Congregation,

Like all of you, we have longed for the day when we could safely gather in person. As you know, our most recent deadline is to provide an update by May 15 for gatherings and building use. It will take all of us to move forward in hope, so we invite you to spend some time with the information below so we can gather safely. 

The COVID Advisory Group and the Leadership Council have continued to look at the vaccination and virus positivity numbers in our area as well as make building improvements. We are awaiting the completion of our new HVAC system, which is scheduled to occur the end of June. Once that is complete, we will be able to provide suggestions for next steps for the remainder of the summer and into the fall. 

We are excited to make recommendations to the congregation for some outdoor in-person worship services as well as outdoor in-person small group gatherings! 

Outdoor in-person worship services

We will host three outdoor in-person vespers worship services (May 23 at 7pm, June 6 at 6pm, June 27 at 6pm) and one Sunday morning outdoor in-person service on June 13 at 11am. All services will be 30 minutes.
For those gathering for outdoor in-person services:

  • Wear a mask
  • Maintain social distance
  • Bring your own chair/blanket 
  • We will have an accessible seating area on the front patio
  • Restrooms will not be available until the completion of the HVAC

All services that take place outdoor and in-person will also take place on zoom so everyone can worship together.

Over the next few weeks we will worship in a variety of ways, as we are in between what has been and whatever will be. You are invited to print the schedule at the bottom of the email and keep it handy. Please read all RBC communications. As we gather for outdoor in-person services, it is possible we will have weather issues. If that is the case, we will gather on zoom. 
Here’s what each kind of worship means:

  • Online Worship: Pre-recorded service available on YouTube, Facebook, RBC Website, call-in for audio
  • Zoom Worship: Join our RBC Zoom link 
  • Outdoor in-person: Gather on the front lawn of RBC, masked, socially distant.

Small Groups Meeting Outdoors in-person at RBC

Want to schedule an outdoor small group meeting at RBC? Here’s what to know:

  • 10 people max
  • As schedule allows, outside PDO hours (Tues.-Fri., 8:30am-2pm)
  • If all are vaccinated, masks not required. Please keep a mask with you, as you may encounter those from outside your group.
  • No restrooms available at this time
  • BYO chair, etc.
  • Group leader must coordinate and reserve time on schedule with Cathy Baskin

We imagine we’ll learn some new things as we gather in these ways so we invite your patience, thoughtful reflection, and your enthusiasm. 

Moving forward in hope!

COVID Advisory Group & Leadership Council

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RBC Selected for THRIVE Racial Justice Project & Atonement Study

Alliance of Baptists’ Churches that THRIVE for Racial Justice Project 

In late 2020, Ravensworth Baptist Church was invited to apply to the new project through the Alliance of Baptists called “Churches that THRIVE for Racial Justice.” Leadership Council and staff agreed that this was an opportunity that would support the ongoing work of racial justice to which RBC is committed. We submitted our application in late 2020.
Exciting news: RBC was chosen as one of the 25 congregations to participate! 
The Alliance of Baptists released this announcementlate yesterday from co-director Rev. Paula Clayton Dempsey saying, “Followers of Jesus are called to constantly examine the way things are in our churches, communities, nation and world, as compared to God’s dream and vision for the way the world should be. Examining the way things are, and working to nurture the way things should be— through the lens of race—is at the heart of the Churches that THRIVE for Racial Justice five-year project of the Alliance of Baptists. In this project the Alliance, led by the 25 congregations who make up the learning cohort, will engage in a collective examination of identities, structures, ministries, worship, staffing, and commitments, in order to give birth to the kind of Alliance and local church God dreams.” 
As we have more information from the Alliance, we will share. We are thrilled that Rev. Caitlyn Gudmundsen has agreed to be our RBC coordinator for the first year of the program. Today, we are giving thanks for the Alliance of Baptists and this opportunity to pursue more work around justice and God’s dreams for our world. Learn more about the grant description from the original Alliance press release.

RBC to Participate in a Study on Baptist Churches & Atonement with Rev. Dr. Tim Moore

Last month, Pastor Leah was approached by her colleague Rev. Dr. Tim Moore, writer in residence at Sardis Baptist Church, Charlotte, N.C. to see if RBC would be interested in participating in his research around how Baptist churches like ours practice and live out the concept of atonement in our worship, communion and baptism, and in our hymnody. 
Specifically, Tim is interested in pursuing conversations around traditional views of atonement (penal substitutionary atonement: Jesus died on the cross for my sins because God was angry) and what churches like RBC are living out in practice. Pastor Leah shared this project proposal with Leadership Council, Education Commission, and staff. All were enthusiastic about RBC’s participation. He plans to compile his research into a book after interviewing congregations and share the findings at the Alliance of Baptists’ Annual Gathering in 2022. All interviews and findings will be shared in a general way, without specific names. 
Tim wrote, “The academy may be the place where great minds deconstruct old beliefs and propose new concepts, but congregations revise Christian practices, and transform the faith. I am curious as to how this critique is reforming centuries-old practices of congregational worship and impacting congregational ministry.”
Later this month, you will be invited to take a congregational survey on your views on atonement and our practices at RBC. He’ll also host a few focus groups via zoom, so let Pastor Leah know if you’d like to participate in a focus group. 
With these two special projects intersecting, we have the opportunity to reflect intentionally around traditional views of atonement and those implications on racial justice. Together, these reflections and action will help RBC and the Alliance of Baptists participate in God’s justice at work in the world. What an exciting time to be sharing love, doing justice, and building community at Ravensworth Baptist Church! 
If you have any questions about either of these opportunities, contact Pastor Leah or RBC Leadership Chair April Pavis-Shroeder. 

Rev. Dr. Tim Moore
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Rev. Dr. Theresa S. Thames preaching Transfiguration Sunday, Feb. 14

We welcome guest preacher Rev. Dr. Theresa S. Thames Transfiguration Sunday Feb. 14! Rev. Dr. Thames was last with us proclaimer at Pastor Leah’s installation service in February 2020.

She is the Associate Dean of Religious Life and the Chapel at Princeton University. As an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, she served as a pastor in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area for nine years. Theresa is a graduate of Howard University, received her Master of Divinity from Duke University Divinity School, and a Doctorate of Ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary in Leadership Excellence exploring how best to equip young clergywomen of color to thrive in ministry. Theresa is also the founder of Soul Joy Yoga LLC, an in-person and online gathering that inspires womxn and folx of color to discover their deepest truths and cultivate joy. Theresa is a wife, transformation coach, challenging preacher, certified yoga teacher, dog mama, and devoted friend. She is a lover of life who prioritizes self-care and believes that radical joy is resistance.

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Rev. Dr. Ridgeway Addison preaching, January 31

Ridgeway Addison is a theological educator and learning designer with particular interest in the fields of spirituality and ethics. He is a research specialist on the American minister, educator, and public theologian Howard Thurman (1899-1981).
Ridgeway works as a learning designer for 2U, a global educational technology company that partners with top tier universities and colleges to offer online and hybrid degree programs. Prior to joining 2U in 2019, Ridgeway served in a variety of faculty and chaplaincy roles at Georgetown University where he continues to teach clinical bioethics as an adjunct professor.
He is an ordained Baptist minister associated with the Alliance of Baptists and Baptist Peace
Fellowship of North America and, most importantly, a proud member of Ravensworth Baptist Church.
Alongside his current work, Dr. Addison serves on the Board of Trustees for the Washington
Theological Consortium. A classically trained musician (piano, voice, guitar) and composer, he regularly incorporates music and other arts into his teaching, speaking, and writing.
Ridgeway is married to the Reverend Sarah Scherschligt, pastor and head of staff at Peace
Lutheran Church, Alexandria, VA. They have two young daughters, Magdalene (5) and Lydia

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This Puzzling Call

A Puzzling Call: Abundant Life at RBC Our season of stewardship at RBC is upon us as we ponder what it means to follow God, to love our enemies, and live together in a way so that everyone flourishes. Your incredible stewardship team has come up with the theme of A Puzzling Call and a three-week study of the book of Jonah. What is puzzling about our call? How do we share love, do justice, and build community right now? We’ll discuss our call and have some fun along the way.

  • Worship each week: studying the book of Jonah and hearing from our church members about our life together. Watch this fun video to learn more about Jonah! 
  • Church Puzzle Exchange: Coming soon on the front porch. Drop a puzzle, grab a puzzle, share!
  • Online Puzzling: each week we’ll share a new puzzle to put together online.
  • Cafe Ravensworth: Trivia Night: Join RBC for a fun night of trivia, games, and maybe even some special performances! Date TBA.
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Update from Leadership Council, Dec. 16, 2020

Dear RBC Beloveds,

This Advent, we have committed to the theme of Those Who Dream. In the midst of a global pandemic, we have been ones who dream of…hope for those who live under occupation in Palestine, peace for those who are sick and struggling because of COVID-19, joy for those who are missing beloveds, and love for this world. 

“In the midst of turmoil and tumult, it takes courage to dream. In a world of worry and grief, it takes strength to believe in a better day. In the face of injustice, it takes resilience to fight for healing and wholeness,” said the creators from A Sanctified Art.

We affirm that it does take courage to dream, especially during difficult seasons, and that dreaming brings us life and vision. Ravensworth Baptist Church has been faithfully dreaming since we closed the building in March to keep our congregation and community healthy and safe. We’ve continued to dream as we’ve collected thousands of pounds of food for ACCA, moved forward with antiracism work, and worshipped in new ways with windshield wipers whipping and Zoom-ed in voices singing.

Our COVID Advisory team met faithfully over these last months, suggesting health and safety improvements for our building and monitoring numbers and the latest data on the virus. Hooray for touchless faucets, toilet seat covers, and HEPA filters! We are also investigating necessary updates to our HVAC to best filter and clean our air. The RBC Leadership Council received the COVID Advisory team’s recommendation that our building remain closed through at least May 15, 2021. Leadership Council affirmed that recommendation, committing to constantly evaluate the current numbers and metrics. Even though everyone agreed it was the right decision to make, everyone also agreed that it was a hard one because we miss being together.
The good news is that we now know how to worship in even more creative ways and we will continue to do so, especially once warmer weather returns. We are hopeful that the vaccine will be widely distributed in early 2021. We are dreaming of what has been and what is to come as we continue to share love, do justice, and build community.

Advent hope, peace, joy, and love to you,
G.J. Tarazi, Chair of Leadership Council

Rev. Dr. Leah Grundset Davis, Pastor

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A Prayer for Reformation Sunday, by Rev. Ken Sehested

Beloved, Who beckons us with the aroma of baking bread, Whose breast offers milk and sweet honey, Who showers manna in the wilderness, with fresh water from sheer rock, and instruction from the mountain.

We give thanks for our baptismal trek through the sea, on the road from slavery to freedom.

Even still, though the restraints on our hands have fallen, those on our hearts remain. We are anxious about our 401(k)s and find ourselves longing for Pharaoh’s shiny baubles and Amazon’s free delivery. Even as our ancient kin were skeptical about Moses’ mandate, so too are we about the one from Jesus.

Disquiet haunts our dreams. Confidence in Your Dream fades. Sometimes, like Nicodemus—fear of losing a seat in the halls of power, of forfeiting “Gold” status or “Rewards” benefits—we slink through darkened streets for a clandestine encounter with Your incarnate Presence.

Thank you for keeping a light on, a door ajar, a gentle embrace, a welcoming table.

We live in a season, on a land, among a people, with much scalding. Our seas are burning. Our forests are burning. Our streets are burning. Pandemic’s fever surrounds.

We are confronted with the awful truth that many who have worn crosses are prominent among those who burn them.

Grant to us a reforming repentance that overshadows grief, that prompts not regret but joyful refrain. Rend and amend our hearts with the aborning power from above—beyond the reach of every marketeer—by the Spirit Who neither shames nor tames but unleashes courage and prowess and perseverance.

Beloved, send Your angels to remind us that we are a delight to the Most High.

And thereby make us audacious, for the living of these days.

Ken Sehested is the editor/author of the online journal, prayer&politiks. He served as the founding director of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America

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Good Neighbors Proclaiming Together

Good Neighbors Proclaiming Together

On four Sundays over the several months, Pastor Sarah Scherschligt from Peace Lutheran, Pastor Casey Wait from John Calvin Presbyterian, Pastor Leah Grundset Davis from Ravensworth Baptist Church, and Pastor Alexis Vaughan Kassim from Little River United Church of Christ will be sharing the virtual pulpit and preaching at all four churches! For these four Sundays, we will hear greetings from each church and a sermon from the pastor of that church.

What a special way for us to continue our community work by hearing from each congregation and pastor. As you know, our churches partner for our Good Neighbor Homework Club with ACCA.

Each church will worship in the way they are currently worshipping and the sermon and greetings will be included. Pastor Sarah will preach on Oct. 11, Pastor Casey on Nov. 15, Pastor Leah on Jan. 10, 2021 and Pastor Alexis in Feb. 7, 2021.


Rev. Sarah Scherschligt: Peace Lutheran Church

Pastor Sarah sees her primary responsibility as helping people know God’s love and follow Christ in their daily lives. Pastor Sarah was ordained in 2007 and was called to Peace in 2012.  Prior to becoming a pastor, she served in the Peace Corps in Malawi and worked for the Center for Global Education at Augsburg College in both Minneapolis and Namibia. She is married to RBC member Ridgeway Addison and they have two young daughters, Magdalene and Lydia. We love the Scherschligt-Addison family! To learn more about Pastor Sarah and Peace Lutheran Church, click here

Rev. Casey Wait: John Calvin Presbyterian Church

Rev. Casey Wait is a native of New Rochelle, New York. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Religion from Colgate University, A Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Master Certification in Biblical Storytelling through the Academy for Biblical Storytelling. Casey served at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, VA from 2006-2017. As Associate Pastor, she was responsible for setting the vision for the education/formation ministries of the church for all ages, as well as providing leadership and supervision for the Christian Formation staff. Casey was originally called to the church as the founding organizer of their active young adults group. She has previously served as Interim Associate Pastor at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia and as a hospital chaplain in New Jersey and Massachusetts. Lean more about Pastor Casey and John Calvin Presbyterian Church.

Rev. Dr. Leah Grundset Davis: Ravensworth Baptist Church

Pastor Leah began as full-time solo pastor of Ravensworth Baptist Church in November 2019. She previously served as pastor alongside Rev. Dr. Steve Hyde in a shared pastoral ministry model beginning September 1, 2017. Leah loves all things church– the liturgical year, preaching, building community, church history, and thinking about new ways to live out our callings to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. Leah previously served as communications specialist at the Alliance of Baptists and Associate Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, Washington, D.C. Learn more about Pastor Leah and Ravensworth.

Rev. Alexis Vaughan Kassim: Little River United Church of Christ

Rev. Alexis Vaughan Kassim came to Little River United Church of Christ in 2017 to be our associate pastor. She is primarily responsible for Christian education, social outreach, and pastoral care. Rev. Kassim grew up in Fairfax County and is glad to be serving in the area. She attended Duke University as an undergraduate, and received her Master of Divinity from the University of Chicago Divinity School. Rev. Kassim was ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination, meaning that she has the freedom and authority to serve in the UCC. In her free time, Alexis enjoys watching tennis and Duke basketball. Lean more about Pastor Alexis and Little River UCC.