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Red-carpet events in Richmond

Science Museum of Virginia

The Science Museum of Virginia spreads out across four floors of Richmond’s resplendent old train depot, Broad Street Station. It only makes sense that this contemporary science center would be housed in this historic space. Richmond preserves its heritage as well as any city in America.

As delegates to the 2011 Going On Faith Conference arrived for the opening dinner and entertainment in this gracious old structure, they were greeted by a host of Visit Richmond office representatives, who became hallmarks of this meeting as a result of their hospitable presence throughout its three days.

Dinner tables were spread across the old station’s huge foyer, and delegates helped themselves to a buffet that included slow-smoked beef brisket, portabella Wellington, white cheddar mashed potatoes, Hanover tomatoes and mozzarella.

“We knew coming into Richmond that we had two winning evening events,” said conference chairman Charlie Presley. “We knew that Jack Berry and his team were on top of everything as far as planning went. The only unknown we faced was the weather we might encounter for our second event outdoors at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens because Richmond can be warm in the summer. As it turned out, we had an absolutely beautiful evening for both events. We cannot say enough about how the Richmond team performed and about the great weather we enjoyed.”

At the science museum, following dinner, delegates were treated to a dance and drums performance by the Elegba Folklore Society, Richmond’s esteemed African culture group. Attendees were mesmerized by the presentation, which replicated one you might see in an African village.

Afterward, delegates were turned loose to visit the various areas of interest within the science mseum. One of the busiest displays was the interactive weather and geological map station, where a docent explained two very timely events — the earthquake that shook Richmond that very afternoon, Sunday, August 23, and Hurricane Irene, which was headed toward Virginia’s coastal area just a few days later.

Another big hit was the Segway station, where dozens of delegates took turns learning how to drive these popular new devices through the halls of the museum.

“We really enjoyed that venue,” said Donna Sue Berry of Little Bitty Seed Ministry in Seymour, Tennessee, who attended with her husband, Robert. “The setting there was beautiful, and the food was delicious. After the program, we enjoyed touring the facility. We went upstairs to see the rats playing basketball and watch a few people take turns doing the Segway rides.”

An evening in the garden
The following afternoon, delegates took sightseeing tours around Richmond. The tours concluded at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond’s internationally known horticultural center. Wonderfully temperate weather graced this outdoor event, and after another superb seated dinner, delegates were able to stroll in small groups accompanied by volunteer guides throughout the grounds.

“That was one special event,” said Burdell Hensley of Blessed Byways Travel in Oskaloosa, Iowa. “Those gardens were absolutely beautiful. Having attended all the Going On Faith conferences so far, I can’t say I was surprised. Richmond put their best foot forward that evening and impressed a lot of church planners, I’ll tell you.”

After touring any number of smaller gardens within the complex and walking through its classical domed conservatory, delegates found their way across a gracefully lit footbridge into a tented area for desserts and coffee. There, the West End Assembly of God Church from Richmond entertained guests with spiritual music and interpretive dance offerings until the event’s close.