…sharing the love of Christ with Athens and the world!

Important Events and Messages

Events

Jubilee Partners Remodeling Project Tuesdays & Thursdays, 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Our team of volunteers has been hard at work renovating one of the family houses at Jubilee Partners, a Christian service community in nearby Comer that offers hospitality to refugees. We are remodeling the kitchen and living space and adding a bedroom to one of the houses. In mid-June, the footing was poured for the additional bedroom.

Your help is needed! Please join us as work continues throughout the summer. Please contact Richard Lane for more information.
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Prayers for Healing

Meets every Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. Members and friends gather in the sanctuary to pray for needs in the congregation and beyond.
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PTP Trip to CDC Museum, September 22

The Prime Time Presbyterians will visit the David J. Sencer CDC Museum at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. We will have a guided tour which will include a multimedia introduction and several stops in the permanent exhibit, “The Story of the CDC,” as well as a visit to the current exhibit on ebola. After our visit to the museum we will have lunch at Pho Bac, a Vietnamese restaurant nearby. It was recommended by Grace Lu and is known for its excellent noodle soup. We will meet at the Kohl’s parking lot on Epps Bridge Pkwy at 9:00 a.m. and take the church van to Atlanta. Since a visitor roster MUST be submitted to the CDC Museum at least one week prior to the tour, the RSVP deadline is Wednesday, September 13. Please email Judy Howell  or call her at 706 549-2888 to RSVP.
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World Communion Sunday, Peace & Global Witness Offering, October 1

We will celebrate World Communion Sunday and receive this special offering which enables the church to promote the peace of Christ by addressing systems of injustice across the world. Twenty-five percent of this offering goes to support a local peacemaking effort chosen annually by our Session. This year’s local portion will support the Athens Justice Coalition of Care.

We invite parents to join their children in the Children’s Ministry Suite during Sunday School, 9:45 – 10:40 a.m. to experience the Godly Play story, The Good Shepherd and World Communion. This will be a great opportunity to hear and see Godly Play in action, and it will also give you a chance to share a feast with your wonderful children. After Sunday School, we will celebrate World Communion Sunday together during the 11:00 a.m. worship service. Children ages Pre Kindergarten – 2nd Grade who regularly attend Children’s Church are invited to remain with their parents in the sanctuary to participate in this special worship service. We will not have Children’s Church that Sunday.
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Blessing of the Animals, Saturday, October 7, 10:00 a.m.

Join us for our first Blessing of the Animals in the upper parking deck. Dr. Carol Strickland will offer a blessing for our furry friends. All leashed or caged pets are welcome. Please bring your own pets and also invite your animal-loving neighbors and friends!
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Messages

Bruce’s Blog

My Friends,

On my desk I have the pre-season college football polls. I am going to file them away so that I can check them in January, after the college football season is completed and the final polls are released.

You see, this first poll is based on what people think might happen. The final poll, though, is based on games played, points scored, wins and losses.

I’ve read many articles and heard many discussions by pollsters telling me,“This is the top ten for the year. You can count on it!” But I’ve never seen an article or heard a reporter in January telling me, “I was wrong, and this is why.”

This is how we are about a lot of things, isn’t it? Whether it’s a football team or someone’s life or a friend’s marriage or a child’s difficulties or a family’s situation or our church or political issues or whatever it may be; like the professional prognosticators, we are more than willing to tell you what we think of “how it’s going to be.”

Then, when all is said and done, do we ever go back and check out our predictions? Do we reexamine what we said about somebody, reconsider the source of our so-called facts, review our assumptions for what they really were?

I would like to see us spend more time simply playing the game that follows the life of Christ by serving and healing, scoring some points of compassion and kindness, getting some wins of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Because we already know the outcome of the final poll, don’t we?

Enjoy the season!

Thanks and blessings,
Bruce Lancaster, Interim Senior Pastor
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Message from Carol: Suicide: Let’s Talk

Until Bruce preached last month on the Philippian jailer, one of the “little known disciples,” I don’t think I’d ever heard the word “suicide” uttered from any pulpit. Yet suicidal desperation is an unfortunate reality in our world. Research shows that one in every three persons has experienced the suicide of someone close enough that it has impacted their lives. One in four has experienced suicidal thinking at some point in their lives but likely never talked about it. One in six high schoolers has seriously considered suicide in the past year.

The church is well positioned to be a safe place to talk about this issue that is so often clouded in feelings of isolation and shame. And we need to! We can offer hope and the power of a supportive community. On September 17, my sermon will address the spiritual issue of suicidal desperation. On September 27, our Wed@First program will also increase our awareness of this critical subject and how we can respond with gentleness.

Join us for these critical conversations. If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

Carol Strickland, Associate Pastor
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Music Notes

With the academic year starting, there has been a lot of talk about teachers, which makes me think about the great teachers I have had in my life. When we study with a great teacher, we learn not only about our particular subject but also about life. I believe that’s when a teacher becomes a mentor. The best of these show us how to keep learning throughout our lives, how to learn for ourselves and become our own teachers, how to learn from our mistakes, and how to share what we have learned with others. From great teachers, I have learned that there is more than one way to interpret a piece of music (that’s also a life lesson).

My first two organ teachers had very different approaches to playing the instrument and interpreting pieces of music, which often left me struggling and confused. Once I was explaining this struggle to my third organ teacher, stating the possibilities, advantages, and disadvantages. My frustration was mounting but I noticed my teacher was simply listening and smiling. Finally, I stopped and she said, “you want me to tell you what to do, don’t you?” She laughed, patted me on the shoulder and said, “I’m not going to!” Her point was that I needed to do the hard work and come to my own conclusion about what was “right.” That was another good lesson in life.

That teacher was Dr. Marilyn Keiser, perhaps the greatest mentor I have had. She continues to mentor many of her former students across the country. Dr. Keiser is Chancellor’s Professor Emerita at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. Although she is officially retired, she continues to be active and inspire current students at the university and at Trinity Episcopal Church in Bloomington, Indiana, where she serves as organist and choirmaster.

On Sunday, October 1 at 4:00 p.m., here at First Presbyterian Church, Dr. Keiser will perform one of, if not the, best organ recitals you will ever hear. I am looking forward not only to having her play in our church, but also to spending time with her and continuing to learn from this inspiring woman.

One thing she teaches is that we should never stop learning. She used to leave her church music classes with a quote found in a choir room in Pittsburgh, “May you always be young and glad, and even if it is Sunday, may you be wrong, because when men and women are always right, they are no longer young.” Another inspiring quote she uses is from English organist George Cunningham, “Our work as musicians must be for us a call and a challenge: a call to more eager study and a search for the beauty and truth of music, and a challenge to carry everywhere its message of joy, of order, and of peace. That is our reasonable service.” Dr. Keiser knows the beauty and truth of music, and I look forward to having her here to share the joy, order and peace of music with us.

Soli Deo Gloria (To God alone be the Glory),
John Coble, Director of Music and Organist
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Now Recruiting Stephen Ministers

Stephen Ministry is an exciting program new to our congregation which will offer one-to-one Christian care to people who are experiencing difficulties in their lives.  Examples include the loss of a loved one, divorce or separation, unemployment, a terminal illness, or many other situations where care and support can make a tremendous difference. 

A Stephen Minister is . . . 

  • A child of God who walks beside someone who is hurting 
  • A congregation member who is carefully selected to serve in this role because of his or her caregiving gifts 
  • A layperson with fifty hours of training in providing high-quality, distinctively Christian care 
  • A caring Christian friend who listens, cares, prays, supports, and encourages—and who maintains confidentiality 
  • Someone who meets faithfully each week with his or her Care Receiver for as long as there’s a need 

We are recruiting our first class of Stephen Ministers now!    

Training will be held on Tuesday evenings beginning in mid-October. A two-year commitment to the program is requested.  Applications are due by September 24 and are available: 

Is God calling you to this life-changing ministry?  Please pray about it and respond!

To learn more click here and visit www.stephenministries.org 

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Flower Committee brings Nature into God’s House

The beautiful flowers enjoyed in the sanctuary every Sunday are lovingly arranged by members of our congregation. The Flower Committee invites you to be part of our ministry.

Members sign up for the month(s) they wish to volunteer and also for the weekends they are available. We work in pairs and arrange flowers on Friday or Saturday for approximately two hours.

Cutting greenery and flowers from gardens, preparing flowers, and creating the arrangements are all part of our ministry. Everyone is welcome! We look forward to hearing from you.

Call Diane Adams 706-255-9200,
Suzanne King 706-548-6120, or
Sydney Jackson 706-549-6768
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Dot’sCloset@First

Dot Handley approached me with an exciting challenge: if she donated a deluxe walker every month for a year, could I find homes for them?

This offer was spurred by a chance encounter Dot had with a gentleman whose walker was a liability to him. She immediately gave him her own and would not take no for an answer. In honor of Mrs. Handley’s spirit of generosity, we are starting “Dot’sCloset@First.”

The way it works is, those of you with items now in your attic or basement no longer in use would loan them to fellow church members. From your home to theirs, and back. That’s where I come in as the inventory tracker, arranging the transfer and recovery of your belongings. If this project interests you, please contact me here or at 706-714-7600.

Please click here for the current inventory of items that can be borrowed.

Madeline Van Dyck, Congregational Care Commission
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Rideshare@First

There are members of our congregation who can no longer drive to worship or keep important appointments. The Congregational Care Commission (CCC) wants to initiate a new ministry to meet this need.

In order to get this ministry started, the CCC would like your help in identifying those who have transportations issues. We also need your help in providing rides.

Please give this new ministry your careful thought and prayer. To participate, contact me here or at 706-548-4458.

Judy Scanlon, Congregational Care Commission
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Behind the Scenes

We have a wonderful staff that is supported by many volunteers contributing their time to enhance our worship and fellowship experience. What kinds of things do they do? Many of these things are almost invisible to most of us because they are “behind the scenes.” But the visible fruits of their labor are needed, useful, and enjoyed by all of us. They do not do these things as part of a church committee or commission, but as individuals who have seen a need and give. Please check out more “Behind the Scenes” in up-coming Columns issues to “meet” them and learn more about what they do.

Have you or a family member ever been away in the military service or perhaps house bound or in the hospital? If so, you or they may have received a caring note of fellowship from Kay Spencer or Shirley Evans. They write notes on a regular basis on Wednesday afternoons to let you know you are thought about and prayed for when you’ve not been able to attend services at church. They have been writing these notes for several years as a personal mission. When you see them, tell them “thank you.”

Do you know who maintains the church library? Beth Collins and Kay Spencer continue to provide relevant spiritual and topical readings for children, youth and adults. They have created a cozy and comfortable atmosphere where you can browse the book offerings or find a quiet place to read. They purchase books, shelve them, and check them in and out. You will find biblical reference books, commentaries, magazines and “light reading” books. Please thank them.

If you have suggestions for other volunteers who keep things working “Behind the Scenes” please let me know here or 706-543-2071.

Ella Stewart, Chair, Fellowship & Evangelism Commission
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Our Church Family

We are blessed to have wonderful photographers in our church! Rick Simpson is always on hand to take beautiful photographs of church services, volunteer programs, and other activities. Please be sure to visit his photo gallery where you can find an album with many pictures from our church.
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Worship With Us

Worship Times

8:45 and 11:00 a.m.

Sunday School
For all ages meets at 9:45 a.m.

Children’s Sunday School
Youth Sunday School
Adult Sunday School

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