Last Sunday night we celebrated the Advent Season with our annual Christmas Choral Concert. As a member of the Chancel Choir, I had the good fortune to participate in that glorious celebration of Bach’s Magnificat and Cantata 147. Thank you Bob Gallagher and to all my friends and associates who participated, attended, and support our music program and ministry. It was thrilling to be part of an expression of hope and faith in the coming of Jesus Christ. It was a special night.
The music program is in large part the reason why I joined River Road Church, although it was not the initial cause for my association with the church. I grew up in a small community in Piedmont Virginia. As luck would have it, the pastor of our church, First Baptist Altavista, was Jim Slatton. As a child, I participated in all the usual church activities from youth choir to vacation bible school. It was a good life.
Years later I met and subsequently married my wife, Nancy, who grew up in the Forrest Hill neighborhood of Richmond. We lived a distance from Richmond. When we came back for visits we usually came to River Road Church to hear Jim Slatton preach. His sermons invariably were thought provoking and informative. They brought back memories of a good and happy childhood. As I consider it today, the lessons and sermons we hear every week become the fundamental building blocks of our faith and outreach. We continue to teach, learn, and pass it on. I believe that is the path for us.
Approximately twenty years ago we moved from Charlottesville to Richmond when Nancy’s mother had a serious medical event. I never really considered any other congregation. Jim Slatton was still preaching and that was enough. My one concern was River Road’s size. I had always been in a small congregation and that is certainly not the case with respect to RRCB. My pathway was the Chancel Choir.
Carl Freeman was then the leader of our “merry group.” The music program was inspirational, serious, and at times a challenge to learn and sing. As members of the church, we all know how important the music program is to the life of our church. I have come to appreciate how the music is a way of giving back to our church, community, and ultimately to God. The choir was also my gateway to other areas of the church and meeting more members.
We all have something to give and that is my fundamental point. Our lives are finite. Our faith and understanding provide the pathway for the next journey. Along the way I try to give back in the best way I can. So far, I hope I am not missing too many notes. My mantra is to give what I can in a loving and cheerful way. River Road Church provides me a welcoming home base for that journey. I am thankful for that.
Our church has been blessed with many fine people, pastors, their wives, and families. That tradition continues today. Thank you to all those caring church members who continue to give “their best” to serve our church family. I urge you to continue that journey.
Written by Jerry Carr