A beacon is a guiding or signaling device. I think this fits the role of a deacon in numerous ways. My sweet husband, Ralph, came up with this to describe the many texts and emails I receive and send out to our church’s 57 deacons. It can also describe what deacons try to do as shepherds of our respective Care Groups and as leaders at River Road Church, Baptist.

I’m not certain when an article concerning our role was last seen in the Explorer, so I requested space to highlight that role and some of our activities. As a former member of the Nominating Committee, I am aware that this question comes up often when filling Deacon positions. What does a Deacon do?

Deacons serve three-year terms, and if asked, they can add a second three-year term. In a perfect world, 1/3 of the deacon totals are added each year in January. Each deacon is assigned a Care Group of no more than 15 families. At present, we each have fewer than this number. Our role is to serve as a support and connection with our families by providing assistance if needed and by making contact throughout our term. A deacon typically keeps the same Care Group their whole term or terms to allow for continuity in getting to know one another. In this way, we help our ministers and our church family.

Other important responsibilities include serving Communion, taking up Offering each week, and serving as Greeters each Sunday in the Narthex and downstairs as needed. These are significant duties that we take very seriously. We are often the first face visitors see when attending our church service.

Hospitality before the service is key, as is the reception (sometimes called “the coffee”) after the service, which is hosted by five deacons each week from January through June. Have you enjoyed the coffees? We certainly hope so. It’s a time to have Christian fellowship with one another in our often-busy lives.

Deacons have lead roles in Special Services including Summer Chapel, Maundy Thursday, Ash Wednesday, Christmas Eve, and Baptisms. We also help with Youth Sunday, the Celebration Sunday Picnic in September, and the Flower Ministry for Care Groups.

We meet once a month for nine months. This year we have had short presentations called “take aways” on topics that help us be more knowledgeable as to how we can better serve our Congregation. They have included the following:

  • Safety Awareness – Henrico Police Department
  • Hospital, Surgery, and Home Visits – Dr. Bert Browning
  • Why Youth Retreats Matter – Rev. Marnie Fisher-Ingram
  • Member Engagement Committee – Emily Phillips and Bill Rusher

The hope is to leave each meeting with some new and helpful information in carrying out our responsibilities.

A spotlight moment is held at each meeting in recognition of Deacon leadership or a special kindness. Would you like your deacon spotlighted? How have they made a difference for you or your family? I love to see their shock and smiles. It’s never expected but uplifts us all. As Chair, I have found over and over that I can depend on our officers, Sara Heisler, Karen Collier, Karen Cothran, and your deacon to help me and each other no matter what the challenge. An amazing group!

The Fellowship Fund is administered by the Board of Deacons with much help from Susan Young and our Treasurer, Karen Cothran. We have been blessed with more donations lately which translates to more people being helped each month. Please consider a donation each month by using the blue envelopes in the pew racks. Any amount is a blessing. This fund is available to members in need as well.

This past month 57 checks were written to help our community! Thank you for your support and care for those in need.

Deacons support our Ministers, our Congregation, our church, and our God. Being a Deacon is not an easy job. Much is expected, but the rewards are great! Our church needs committed members to fill these positions. Do you feel the call?

Written by Ray Nelson

River Road Church Fellowship Fund

The Fellowship Fund of River Road Church is a special collection to care for individuals in need in our community. The fund is sustained by the ongoing gifts of our church fellowship outside of the annual budget.

The fund is quietly administered by the Board of Deacons, with the support of the church staff, after a screening and approval process.

As of May 10, 2018, the Fellowship Fund assisted almost 200 individuals and families struggling against poverty, illness and injury, job loss, and homelessness, with requests totaling nearly $30,000. We have been able to help an exceptional number of individuals and families this year due to a large family donation (from 2017 to February 2018). This ongoing need in our community needs our ongoing support.

Please consider making a generous gift to the Fellowship Fund. Your gifts throughout the year are important in making this community ministry possible. Designated blue envelopes are always in the pew racks, or you may give online.

Originally published in the 2018 Summer Quarterly Explorer

Celebration Sunday, September 9, 2018

Have you signed up for the Celebration Sunday potluck picnic on September 9? The picnic will include the deacons providing fried chicken and the rest of us providing sides and desserts. Then we will hear from our church family about their summer experiences and adventures.

Click here for more information and to sign up!