Supporter spotlight: Our partnerships show ‘faith freedom truly being for all’

Jul 20, 2021

The Revs. Robin and Marty Anderson co-pastor Commonwealth Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Robin first learned about BJC when she was in youth group and heard former BJC Executive Director James Dunn speak at her church. We asked the Andersons to talk about their unique relationship as co-pastors and their support for BJC in their personal lives and through the church.

What is it like to pastor a church as a couple?
Pastoring together allows both of us to play to our strengths, and we can share the more stressful and mundane aspects of ministry. By modeling shared leadership, we foster that within our congregation and can break away from hierarchies. One major benefit to pastoring together as opposed to serving separate congregations is that we get to build relationships with and invest in the same community of people. The hardest part of co-pastoring for us is that we still have to lead together even when we don’t agree on how to best do that.

What did you find challenging in pastoring during the pandemic?
Lutheran minister and author Nadia Bolz-Weber described the challenge of pastoring during the pandemic well when she said that pastors are spending twice as much time doing things they’re half as good at without the relational benefits that come from pastoring. Shifting from an in-person community to an online community was hard. Trying to offer pastoral care when everyone was isolated was incredibly challenging.

There were surprise blessings, too, though. New leadership has emerged in our church, and being forced out of our “box” prompted our lay leaders to think outside of the box. Their creativity is giving us new life and a fresh perspective.

How do you keep from bringing your work home each day?
Not bringing work home is a challenge for us, especially since one of us works from home most days. We try to give ourselves about 15 minutes when whoever has been at work first arrives home to report on what’s happened that day. Then we consciously shift to home life.

How do you talk about the importance of faith freedom with your congregation and share the need for it in your community?
It’s not uncommon for us to reference the importance of faith freedom for all in our preaching and teaching, and we’ve invited multiple BJC staff members to preach at our church. We have interfaith partnerships, and those help our congregation personalize the importance of faith freedom truly being for all. We also post BJC programs and essays on our church’s social media so our congregation stays informed about current events dealing with faith freedom.

Why did you decide to start giving to BJC?
We started giving to BJC simply because their work is important, and it benefits all people, not only those like us. We think one of the best ways pastors can help their congregation become more aware of faith freedom issues is by including BJC in their church budget.
BJC provides fantastic resources that are accessible to small churches as well as large ones. People pay more attention when you can say, “This is what our ministry partner is doing!”

 

Join the Andersons and Commonwealth Baptist Church in supporting BJC. You can make a donation at any time at BJConline.org/give. If your congregation would like to support BJC, contact Dan Hamil, director of strategic partnerships, at [email protected] for more information.

This story first appeared in the summer 2021 edition of Report from the Capital. You can read the entire magazine as a PDF or as a digital flip-through edition.