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Our Life Together: From RBC Leadership Council & Staff

Dear RBC Beloveds,

The Leadership Council and staff continue to work alongside the congregation in determining the best, safest ways for us to move forward during this uncertain time. 

At this time, we will keep the building and playground closed through August 31. That means our worship and meetings will continue virtually through August 31. Our grounds will re-open June 11 following the guidelines in the left column.

There are several reasons why we chose this date as our next marker:

  • As of today, we are looking at statistics and articles that share gathering in person in buildings (especially churches) is still considered high risk; 
  • Maintaining this online presence through August 31 is a familiar summer schedule for RBC;
  • We want to hear from Fairfax County Public Schools and what their decisions are for the fall, as well as support schools and their programming (including our own PDO and APC) with people returning in good health;
  • By August, we’ll have a better read on the impact of the second wave of the virus as Virginia learns from Phase One. Annandale currently has the second highest rate of infection in Virginia. We want to care for our congregation and broader community;
  • We are not yet prepared to open our building given current CDC guidelines and safety issues. We are still working to develop the necessary plans and materials to allow us to reopen with the lowest risk possible;
  • We know that Holy Spirit is in our midst even as we are apart. We are benefitting from our creative online worship and meaningful online gatherings.

Moving forward, the Leadership Council will be forming a COVID-19 Taskforce to examine best practices and safety measures as we work to re-open our building. 

Our building is closed, but we as the Church are very much open, linked mysteriously by that pesky Holy Spirit who calls us together. If you have any questions, please contact G.J. Tarazi (chair of Leadership Council) or April Pavis-Shroeder (Vice-Chair of Leadership Council). 

Thank you for your faithfulness and commitment to RBC. We continue to share love, do justice, and build community in creative—and safe ways. 


RBC Leadership Council: G.J. Tarazi, Chair; April Pavis-Shroeder, Vice-Chair; Marshall Marks, Deacons; Carolyn Shields, Education; Dave Farmer, Missions; Brad Moffett, Admin; Cathy Baskin, Director of Outreach & Admin; Rev. Phil Carpenter, Minister of Music; Rev. Dr. Leah Grundset Davis, Pastor

Guidelines for Being on Church Grounds (outside only) Beginning June 11:

  • Maintain social distancing 8-10 feet apart between members of different households.
  • Groups no larger than 10 people total.
  • Do not enter building; facilities (including restrooms) are not available for use.
  • Do not go on the playground.
  • If you plan to be on the grounds at a specific date/time, please coordinate with Cathy Baskin. We are still having yard crew come, and maintenance work done on inside and outside of building.

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Acts at Home

The Book of Acts has a main character–Holy Spirit, and a lot of action. We’ll follow Holy Spirit and the earliest church as they tried to figure out what it meant to follow Jesus in difficult times. Their lives were disrupted and they had a church to create. You’re invited to read a chapter or so a day, following the guide below as we travel through Acts together. On Sundays, Pastor Leah will preach on a passage that took place in homes–a familiar place for most of us these days! We’ll discover some good news in unexpected places and Holy Spirit will be our guide.

Sunday, May 3: Acts at Home: Wonders and Signs, Acts 2:42-47

Sunday, May 10: Acts at Home: Visions, Acts 10:1-23a

Sunday, May 17: Acts at Home: A Knock at the Door, Acts 12:1-19

Sunday, May 24: Acts at Home: Hospitality, Acts 16

Pentecost Sunday, May 31: Acts at Home: Nimble Spirit, Acts 2:1-21

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Effective Immediately: All RBC Church Gatherings Canceled through June 10

April 1, 2020 Letter:

This Sunday, April 5 is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. The church calendar calls it Palm/Passion Sunday, which gives the option of combining all of Jesus’ last week into one day. I don’t know about you, but I need to stretch out those days because it’s too many ups and downs for me to grasp over the course of one morning in worship. 
And so it is with our lives during this pandemic. We need some stretching out of time– to breathe, to comprehend, and to put some words on the ups and downs of this experience. 
On Monday, Governor Northam declared a “stay at home” policy effective for the Commonwealth of Virginia through June 10. At RBC, we will follow that requirement and continue with our virtual gatherings through that time because it’s how we live as good neighbors. 
I am missing each of you and I know we are missing one another. This will be a challenge, but we will make it through together. We will have to go through all of it–just like Holy Week. It doesn’t help us to try to ignore the grief, the pain, or the resurrection. Feeling it all leads to the powerful raising  we await on Easter Sunday. This will be an Easter we will never forget! 
Peace to each one of you, ~Pastor Leah

March 20, 2020 letter:

Dear Ravensworth Beloveds,

In November, Lill Wachter gave me this plant and told me it’s called a prayer plant. She split this one off from the one in her home.

She said to remember that she was praying for me and that we do this work together. Two weeks ago, when I realized it would be my last day in my office for awhile I remembered to grab this plant and bring it home with me. It’s thriving here.

We’ve been making a new way at RBC these days. One that’s full of creativity and hope, even as we acknowledge our grief and our concerns. That’s what it means to be community.

The Leadership Council and Staff met on Monday via Zoom and determined it’s best for RBC to suspend all in-person gatherings through the month of April. The building also remains closed. As we follow the CDC guidelines and seek to remain healthy, this is just another way to be good neighbors.

Of course, we will still gather virtually: on phones, on Zoom, on facetime, in our prayers, and during our communion time in worship. We will journey through Holy Week and Easter together, in a different way. Resurrection happened in the quiet, in the dark, with just a few people present. It might be the closest we ever get to that first Easter morning. 

Prayers and community are sustaining us and will sustain us during this season. Hope is here and God is with us.

With deep gratitude for each of you,
Pastor Leah

March Letter:

Dear RBC Community, We are living in a season without a roadmap that we’ve named “Wilderness.”  The Leadership Council and Staff have been following the updates on the COVID-19 virus and the calls for social distancing, especially after the National Cathedral and the Episcopal Church in our area ceased activities for the next few weeks. 

At this time, the RBC Leadership Council and Staff unanimously agreed to suspend all activities at RBC for the remainder of the month of March, including worship:

  • For this Sunday and remaining Sundays in March, staff only will be present in the sanctuary and we will livestream our 11am service. 
  • For the rest of the month, access to the building will be limited to staff. If you need to pick up something from the building, please contact Gail Fewell to make a pick up appointment for Monday, March 16.
  • See the complete list of cancellations below.

 This was a difficult decision, but one that we believe is best for the overall health and well-being of Ravensworth and our wider community. It is also a decision for a season–not forever. Fellow Annandale clergy will be recommending similar decisions, as we think of how to best care for our congregations and our community. 

As a colleague shared with her church, “The temporary cessation of gatherings is intended to ‘flatten the curve,’ that is, create fewer opportunities for coronavirus to spread, thus allowing hospitals and medical centers to stay on top of the cases they have now without becoming overwhelmed. This also helps to prevent the spread to more vulnerable populations for whom the disease might be more traumatic.” 

We get to be the church right now in the midst of this season and we will be checking in with ACCA to learn what they need. We want to be good neighbors and support public health recommendations. Communication will be key during these few weeks. We’ll be sending email updates regularly, with links to worship, giving, online Bible study, and more.The staff will move to working virtually in the coming days.

PDO and APC are following best guidance as they determine how long to remain open. We want to remain healthy and connected as a church. Let’s stay in touch with each other via phone, text, email, virtual meetings, Zoom, skype, facetime, and any yet to be named creative form of communication!

Fortunately, we have experience at being and working differently and to great success. We are still figuring out what that means, such as how we can hold a business meeting to approve the budget, but we are blessed with creative and flexible members and staff. We will meet our commitments to each other and the community as a whole as best we can. Please be patient with us as we work through all the details and we promise to keep you updated.

During this season, we must keep being good neighbors–caring for one another, lifting each other up in our prayers, and for now, keeping our physical distance, all the while rejecting all forms of racism and prejudice. We have the opportunity to live out our calling in a new and completely unexpected way, but one which still connects to the heart of God.

May we continue in this season together, with open hearts to  Holy Spirit as we share love, do justice, and build community.

Grateful for each one of you, Pastor Leah

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Rev. Dr. Leah Grundset Davis Now Full Time Pastor

Leah Grundset Davis is the first woman called as Pastor of Ravensworth in its 60 years of ministry. She served in a half-time shared pastoral position alongside Ravensworth’s long-time pastor Rev. Dr. Steve Hyde since September 2017, and she her family have been members since 2014. Hyde retired on October 31, 2019, and Davis began her tenure as full-time Pastor on November 1, 2019.
“We look forward with excitement and hope as we mark a new beginning with Pastor Leah’s care, accomplishments, and leadership. We know that Ravensworth and Leah, as church and pastor, will continue to follow God’s call together.” ~ Brian Hall, Chair of Ravensworth’s Leadership Council
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Ravensworth Baptist Church Calls Rev. Dr. Leah Grundset Davis as Pastor

August 25, 2019


Ravensworth Baptist Church Calls Rev. Dr. Leah Grundset Davis as Pastor

ANNANDALE, V.A. Ravensworth Baptist Church voted to call Rev. Dr. Leah Grundset Davis as the church’s full-time Pastor, effective November 1, 2019.

“I am thrilled to continue our covenant as pastor and congregation in a full-time setting. I’m looking forward to the ways God will continue to call us to share love, do justice, and build community,” said Davis after the special called business meeting on August 25.

Davis is the first woman called as Pastor of Ravensworth in its 60 years of ministry. She has served in a half-time shared pastoral position alongside Ravensworth’s long-time pastor Rev. Dr. Steve Hyde since September 2017 and she and her family have been members since 2014. Hyde will retire on October 31, 2019.

Chair of Ravensworth’s Leadership Council, Brian Hall said, “We look forward with excitement and hope as we mark a new beginning with Pastor Leah’s care, accomplishments, and leadership. We know that Ravensworth and Leah, as church and pastor, will continue to follow God’s call together.”

In additional to her pastoral role, Davis is an adjunct faculty member at the John Leland Center for Theological Studies in Arlington, Va., where she teaches preaching and biblical studies in the Diploma Program. She previously served at the Alliance of Baptists as communications specialist (2013-2017), and at Calvary Baptist Church, Washington, D.C., as Associate Pastor (2008-2013). She graduated in May 2017 with a Doctor of Ministry degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, focused on Baptist women preaching the Magnificat, which was published as Believe the Women in 2019. Her seminary studies were conducted at Baylor’s Truett Seminary where she received a Master of Divinity degree in 2007. She graduated from Baylor University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Religion.

Leah resides in Bristow, Va., with her husband John and two daughters, ages six and four.

About Ravensworth Baptist Church

We are a progressive Baptist congregation that constantly seeks to be responsive to the movement of the Spirit to establish justice, peace, and the reign of God “on earth, as it is in heaven.” We are a welcoming and affirming congregation. Our church vision is to share love, do justice, and build community. You are welcome here!


Brian Hall, chair of Leadership Council & Ravensworth Baptist Church Office: rbc@ravensworthbaptist.org, (703) 941-4113

Sara Sadler, director of communications, sara@ravensworthbaptist.org

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Christmas in August!

Saturday, August 24, 5:00 P.M at RBC Come and join this kick-off party for any and all who might be interested in singing in our Christmas program this year.  The “Christmas in August” party is set for Saturday, August 24 at 5 pm in the church fellowship room, where we will gather for a time of food, fellowship, and previewing our Christmas music. Please plan to attend, bringing your favorite Christmas dish to share as


part of our potluck dinner. Drinks and a main dish will be provided. You are encouraged to bring your favorite side dishes, vegetables, breads, salads, and desserts.   To make it a fun evening, wear something Christmas-y, whether it is a necklace, earrings, a tie, scarf, or your favorite/ugliest, oh-so-itchy Christmas sweater! And, please bring your spouse, significant other and anyone else who might be interested in singing with us this year.   As is our custom, we will have several rehearsals on Saturdays and/or Sundays to make it possible for our community singers to join us.  I’ll have the full rehearsal calendar to share with you at our party on August 24.  The Christmas program is scheduled for Sunday, December 15 at 3 pm.  I can hardly wait to see you and begin planning for Christmas music this season! Please RSVP to let Phil know if you can come on the 24th, or if you may be able to join us for the December 15 program.

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What I’m reading this summer, by Leah Grundset Davis

We hope to hear from some of you about what you are reading this summer! Pastor Leah Grundset Davis begins this week:

What I’m reading:

The Universal Christ, by Richard Rohr I heard some rumors that we might have a few book discussions at RBC over the summer (more info coming soon) so I thought I should start reading. This is one of those books that is liberating and focuses on the expansiveness of God’s love.

Maybe I Can Love My Neighbor Too, by Jennifer Grant This book is a hit at my house! We often think that loving our neighbor is difficult, but Grant reminds us of just how simple love can be. She also wrote RBC favorite, Maybe God is Like That Too.

Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy and the Rise of Jim Crow, by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. I’ve been working through this book for awhile. History, narrative, and a call for justice meet. Anything by Dr. Gates is excellently written and this is no exception. As I continue to understand my own white privilege, it’s important to understand the history that many of us were never taught.

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Acts of… by Leah Grundset Davis

We’ve been hanging out in the Acts of the Apostles during the season of Easter to look at the power of Holy Spirit and witness of those earliest disciples. The stories of Beautiful, Ananias, and Paul have challenged us thus far with calling us to acts of beauty and courage. 

Where are you seeing beauty and courage in our world right now? Several of us spent the weekend after Easter at the Alliance of Baptists’ Annual Gathering. The theme, “What is Liberty without Liberation?” guided the weekend.

I invite you to watch Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis’ sermon from the Friday worship service. (Her sermon begins at the one hour mark). Her call to a Love Revolution is in itself an act of beauty and courage. 

I’d love to hear from you about the ways you are seeing acts of beauty and courage in the world. Email me and let me know! 

Grateful for each of you,


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Moving Forward in Hope, by Leah Grundset Davis

Even though we talked about moving forward in hope, I want to look back for a moment. What a weekend of celebration, memory sharing, and hope we shared on our 60th Anniversary Weekend, March 16-17!  

We heard music from “Two Brothers, One Pick,” also known as Jesse and Will Baskin. We shared memories around the fireplace, with Don Moore framing our time with his memories of this place. We worshipped with incredible guest musicians, Tia Wortham and Barbara Wilkinson. We heard from former pastor Mahan Siler and former pastoral intern Alicia Davis Porterfield. As I tried to sum up how I felt on Sunday afternoon, I could only think of one word: grateful. 

Our celebration pointed us toward God’s promises of hope and presence, even in the midst of the season of Lent and chaos in the world. Our belief in the goodness of this community of faith was evident, even as we stretch ourselves to consider the places where we feel called and our rough edges. We will jump into the river of God’s justice-love…together. 

Special thanks to the 60th anniversary committee and everyone who pitched in time, food, set-up, and tear down. You are so appreciated.

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Books, Goals, and Just Mercy, by Leah Grundset Davis

At the Thursday Breakfast Club in January we shared  how we felt about New Years’ Resolutions. We all had different opinions (surprise!). I shared about how I’ve set a goal to read 52 books this year. (Biblical commentaries don’t count).

Most recently, I finished up Shameless: A Sexual Reformation, by Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber and am currently reading The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation, by Jodie Patterson. Patterson writes about how she had to expand her understanding of community to meet the needs of her transgender son. It’s a beautiful story and reflection of how we live and love in community. 

In keeping with the theme of books, our Lenten worship and faith formation series will be called Just Mercy, named after Bryan Stevenson’s masterwork by the same title, on justice and redemption. His words will challenge us: “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” 

I’d like to invite all of us to read Bryan Stevenson’s book between now and April 7 when we’ll come together after worship to discuss what we learned. The stories are powerful testimonies of the legal justice system in the United States and how it is built to work against communities of color.

There’s so much to unpack and I’m grateful to have the conversation alongside all of you as we seek mercy for ourselves and one another.

PS- Podcast Recommendation: The Word is Resistance podcast focuses on the lectionary and is produced by Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ).This past week’s episode, “Catching Our People” connected the interpretation of the idea of Jesus’ statement “You will become fishers of people” to ideas of colonialism and forced conversion. As we pursue conversations around the intersections of justice, I’d encourage all my podcast listening friends to listen to the voices interrupting the silence.