Return to Richmond

Posted on October 28, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

It has been more than a year since we have had an occasion to return to Richmond, VA where we lived for 17 years prior to retirement. We are no longer leading sessions at new missionary orientation for the International Mission Board, so we have missed periodic interaction with staff and former colleagues.

Richmond-BobbyeWomensLunchAn invitation to speak at a mission conference at Immanuel Baptist Church provided the opportunity to spend a few days connecting with friends and neighbors. We were not members at Immanuel, but being two blocks from our previous residence on Monument Avenue we occasionally attended programs there. Bobbye is pictured in her blue burka at a women’s luncheon sharing the challenge of reaching Muslims. Between us we spoke five times over the weekend.

Richmond-Jerry&PortraitWe enjoyed roaming the offices and corridors at the IMB, interrupting work and surprising staff as well as meeting new ones “who knew not Joseph.” We got a lot of loving and reminiscing as everyone had favorite stories and memories from the era I served a president. Bobbye took the photo by my presidential portrait in the executive dining room to remind me of my younger and slimmer days!

It was special to have lunch with Fonceil and David Blake. Fonceil was my administrative assistant and continues to serve in that role with the current president, Tom Elliff. Her gracious demeanor and organizational competencies contributed significantly to my survival in leading 400 staff, staying connected with 5,000 missionaries, traveling 70% of the time and juggling the demands of board meetings and a Southern Baptist constituency.

Richmond-BlakesOne of the highlights of our socialization was a leisure breakfast with Mark and Loree Becton. Our former pastor at Grove Avenue Baptist Church, he reminded me of what a delinquent attender I had been but had no complaint as long as I sent my wife and my tithe. Bobbye was blessed to have team taught a ladies Sunday School class, and I was blessed to have Mark as an accountability partner over the years.

Richmond-MHBCTeamConvenient to our itinerary, our current church down home in Mississippi was scheduled to come to Richmond for training to engage an unreached people group in Central Asia in partnership with the IMB. Bobbye and I were able to stay over for the training along with our pastor, Greg Belser, minister of missions, Tim Rowan, and Reva Daniel. Being at the training center allowed us to connect with new missionaries in training, journeymen candidates there for a screening conference, and several acquaintances from around the world in for training in risk management in their various regions.

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