Village Voice - November, 2005


Having just enjoyed another VBC Homecoming event set me to thinking. It was great to see and swap recent histories with such great former member-families as the Blantons, Campbells, Colburns, Martins, Myers and Pattersons, to say nothing of the memories evoked by Dave and Carlynn Thompson’s wonderful and nostalgic slide show.

Despite the warmth of these reunions, though, there was a twinge of regret that these terrific people are no longer with us on a permanent basis. Because of the transient nature of our community, our church sometimes seems like a “way-station” for folks on their way to somewhere else.  One of my favorite VBC people is rumored to have said, “It’s risky to get too close to anybody, because they’re sure to leave”, and I admit to similar sentiments.  And, because of the tremendous services many of these former members performed while with us, it sometimes seems that their loss will be impossible to fill.

However, after some thought, I found some positive aspects to all the people who have come and gone during the past 35-plus years. 

First, what they brought us when they came. Many came to us from other traditions and geographies, and as a result contributed fresh ideas and insights that were of immediate value as we grew and changed. We’ve also benefited from the growth and insights of literally dozens of “VBC Kids”, who came with their parents, are now responsible citizens with kids of their own, and engaged in grown-up Christian walks of their own.

Secondly, what they did during their stay.  With few exceptions, our former members devoted much time, resources and talents to our ongoing health and vitality. Many were Deacons, Commission Members, musicians, and filled other scarce but necessary roles, making us better in the process. 

Thirdly, what they took when they left.  I was privileged to speak with most of the returning members at the Homecoming dinner, and without exception they expressed gratitude over what VBC had meant to them. In most cases, it came down to our being a place that tried to live out our motto: “we reserve the right to accept everybody”.  I believe they would all say that they left here different than they arrived. Now, this means that the small stone that was dropped into the Bowie faith community in 1968 has created ripples of positive influence in many diverse places and changed lives that we may never hear about on this side of eternity.

Last, the confidence that new and faithful people will continue to join us in the future. The congregation that worships with us today is still strong, consisting of many newcomers who have found or are finding ways to serve keeping us strong, diverse, and growing positively. As long as we work to retain our goals to be inclusive, non-judgmental, and committed to the Great Commission, they will continue to do so, and VBC will thrive.

So, let’s celebrate both gifts: what those who moved on left for us, as well as the tremendous potential ahead for the ever-changing congregation that is Village Baptist Church.

                                                                                                --Maury Sweetin

The Great Commission 

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." 

- Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)

Return to Village Home Page