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

Important Events and Messages


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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VBS 2018, Maker Fun Factory

Online Registration now open!  Mark your calendars for our Vacation Bible School Week, Tuesday, May 29 – Friday, June 1. Please also check here for a list of items we are collecting. Thank you!
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Maundy Thursday, March 29, 5:30 p.m.

Maundy Thursday memorializes Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. It was a Passover meal that they celebrated together in a borrowed upstairs room in Jerusalem. During the meal, Jesus revealed that one of them would betray him. As they shared the bread and wine, Jesus announced his death (his body broken like bread and his blood poured like wine) and the new covenant it initiated.

On Maundy Thursday we will recall the events of Jesus’ last supper. We will share a meal in Fellowship Hall and remain around the dinner tables for worship. The service will include a short drama (readers’ theatre style) titled “Is It I?” performed by twelve of our members and directed by Cheryl Gazlay. We will ask all children and youth there to help distribute bread and juice to the tables for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

Please make a reservation for dinner on Sundays on the Fellowship Pad, online, or by contacting the church office by Monday, March 26 (donations accepted). A Nursery will be provided.
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Good Friday Tenebrae Service, March 30, 7:00 p.m.

We will host this year’s Good Friday Presbyterian Community Service, which will be a Tenebrae Service led by area clergy and choirs. Meaning “darkness” or “shadows,” the service of Tenebrae was first practiced in medieval times by the monastic community. It later became an important part of worship during Holy Week for everyday people. Please join us as we welcome our Presbyterian brothers and sisters from the Athens area.
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Easter Egg Hunt & Picnic, March 31, 12:00 p.m.

Join us for our annual Easter Egg Hunt at The Hill, 1800 Crescent Lane. Don’t forget to bring your Easter basket, picnic basket with lunch, and blanket for your family. Please RSVP to Natalie Bishop.
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One Great Hour of Sharing, April 1

A gift to OGHS on Easter enables the church to share God’s love with our neighbors in need around the world by providing relief to those affected by natural disasters, food to the hungry, and empowerment to the poor and oppressed.

Your gift of $25 can buy a pair of chickens, $40 a piglet, $178 a pair of goats, or $450 a cow for an economic development and food security project. $30 can buy a bag of seeds to start a small nursery of quickly-growing, drought-tolerant Moringa trees. $50 can provide a refugee family with a food basket full of essential supplies. Thank you for giving generously!
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Food Sunday, April 1

Sunday, April 1 we will be collecting non-perishable food items for the Athens-Area Emergency Food Bank. This month they are requesting:

  •  Hamburger Helper
  •  pork & beans
  •  bagged dry beans

Thank you for donating 365 items in March!
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Isaac Toney to Preach, April 15

We will welcome Isaac Toney back as our guest preacher on Sunday, April 15. Isaac is a Master of Divinity student at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta and has been accepted as an Inquirer by the Northeast Georgia Presbytery. He graduated in May 2016 from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, where he studied History and Religion with a focus in Christian ethics. Isaac grew up and was confirmed in our church and is the son of Chuck and Laura Toney.

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Honduras Mission Trip, June 9-16, 2018

This summer our church is going to Honduras on an intergenerational mission trip. I signed up because I have gone on mission trips with the youth for the past three summers, and I have been looking forward to the opportunity to serve in Honduras with my peers. I am super excited to go on this mission trip not only with our youth group but I am excited to have a chance to get closer with many interesting adults in our church. I think it will be a really special experience.

Over the next few months, we have a number of ways that you can support us and help send us to Honduras:

1) Become a shareholder! Shares are $25 and for this amount you can become the owner of a tax deductible share that will help us pay for flights and supplies to make this trip a great one!
2) Join us on March 7 for a fun-filled Bingo Night! On this Wednesday night you can buy cards and participate in a great game of Bingo!
3) Buy a can of Jittery Joe’s Honduran coffee. A percentage of the proceeds will go directly to support our trip! Watch for details.
4) The members of our trip are going to prepare homemade lasagnas available for order that can be picked up on April 8 for a delicious meal ready to be popped in the oven.
5) Most importantly, please keep us in your prayers because this is going to be a life-changing trip, and we need as much support as we can get. Please pray, pray, pray!

Celeste Covington, 10th Grade

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FPC Women’s Retreat, April 20-22

Treat yourself to a soul-nourishing weekend away. We will return to Camp Fellowship where this year’s speaker, Linda Morningstar, will lead us in, “Patterns & Rhythms: Receiving the Gift of Order in Chaos.” Cost $165. Scholarships available. Registration is now open!

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Bruce’s Blog

My Friends,

Our Pictorial Directory should be delivered this month!

This is a very valuable book. As I’ve said, it will be valuable to your new Minister for getting to know you. But even more, it is valuable because in these pages you will find the treasure of First Presbyterian Church: the people of FPC!

You worship and work together, share and support one another in times of need, care and comfort each other, laugh and enjoy each other’s company.

You serve together in mission, giving of your time, energy, imagination, and gifts. You reach out in compassion, providing ministries of hope and healing.

You are a treasure, not hidden, but one which God has placed here to enrich the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Thanks and blessings,
Bruce Lancaster, Interim Senior Pastor
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A Message from Carol: Because Life Happens

Life can deal some very difficult hands – chronic illness, divorce, infertility, job loss, financial setback, death of a loved one, to name just a few. Knowing that you are not alone can make all the difference in playing those hands. That’s where Stephen Ministry comes in.

Our congregation is ready to launch Stephen Ministry, a program where trained members of our congregation meet one-on-one with someone who is going through a rough time, getting together every week for as long as the person needs. Eighteen FPC members have completed fifty hours of training and are ready to be commissioned on Sunday, March 4 as our first class of “Stephen Ministers.” The “Stephen Leaders,” (Dawn Frisch, Larry Gray, and I) cannot say enough good things about the dedication, insight, compassion, experience, and overall quality of this group. They are: Susan Boatwright, Bob Frisch, Martha Harris, Diane Hartzell, Julie Knowlton, Grace Lu, Drew Marshall, Jane McGown, Karen Middendorf, Lisa Oelke, Jack Palmer, Bert Prestegard, Harry Shuford, Rosemary Stancil, Ella Stewart, Susan Thackray, Chuck Toney, and Laura Toney.

Perhaps you (or someone you know) could benefit from having someone who will meet you privately and confidentially to listen, care, encourage, support, and reflect Christ’s presence in your life. I know that often it’s hard to admit that we don’t have it all together. But, we are, after all, human. And God cares for us through other humans. Our new Stephen Ministers are ready to help those who are hurting. I give thanks to God for their willingness to serve and pray that those who need their care will accept it as a gift from God. If you would like to learn more about Stephen Ministry for yourself of someone else (inside or outside the congregation), please speak to Dawn, Larry, Bruce, or me.

Carol Strickland, Associate Pastor

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Music Notes

Doxology and lament are opposites. Doxology means praise, and lament is defined as a passionate expression of grief or sorrow. As much as we might like to experience only good things, life brings difficulty and sadness. I probably wrote about this in the fall, just after I attended a conference that focused on the balance of doxology and lament in sacred music. We have to have both. Denying or ignoring the sadness in life won’t make it go away. In fact, instead of resisting, we’re probably better off to embrace all that life brings.

In music we have major keys and minor keys (sometimes described as happy and sad). I know of a famous church where musicians were not allowed to play or sing anything in a minor key. Only major keys were allowed. I don’t think I would last long in a situation like that. For music (or any other art for that matter) to be fully rich, it must have contrasts that express a range of human emotions. Loud and soft, fast and slow, happy and sad, dissonant and consonant. Without contrast, music becomes very bland, like a world without color. We won’t appreciate the consonance if we don’t go through some dissonance.

Holy Week at the end of Lent is a good example. As horrible as the whole story of the crucifixion is, the hymns we sing during Holy Week are some of the most beautiful. Think of the spiritual “Were You There,” and the Lutheran chorales “Ah, Holy Jesus” and “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.” We will certainly have a time of praise on Easter, but before we do, we have to embrace the Passion of Christ.

What language shall I borrow to thank thee, dearest friend,
for this thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to thee.
from O Sacred Head, Now Wounded, attr. Bernard of Clairvaux, trans. James Waddell Alexander

Soli Deo Gloria(To God alone be the Glory),
John Coble, Director of Music and Organist
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Jubilee Partners Open House

Work is complete on the house our team renovated at Jubilee Partners, a Christian Service community that offers hospitality to refugees. An Open House was held on Thursday, February 15 before a family moved in the next day. Thanks to our team of dedicated volunteers for all their hard work! See Rick Simpson’s pictures from the Open House.
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Bicentennial 2020 Committee

In 2020, FPC will celebrate 200 years as a congregation! The Bicentennial 2020 Committee is gathering and recording our history and planning ways to recognize and celebrate this milestone. Chairman Diane Adams invites everyone to participate.

We would like to document memories from members who have been part of our church for many years. Rick Simpson will video conversations with anyone who is willing to reminisce about church life and events. Other committee members will conduct interviews, and all members are invited to submit written memories, reports, or other summations.

We also invite members to submit photos, both old and recent, for possible use. They will be copied and returned to the owners. Pictures and writings, labeled with your name, may be left with Jennifer in the church office. Materials will be compiled and edited for use during our celebration.

For questions and to schedule an interview, please contact Judy Scanlon.

Judy Scanlon, Bicentennial 2020 Committee Member
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Newsletter Delivery

If you would prefer receiving an email copy of the Columns newsletter rather than a paper copy, please contact Lucy Bell. Sending Columns by email helps us save on printing and postage expenses.

Do you receive our weekly announcement emails? Please sign up (on the right-hand column below the messages) or contact Nan Powell.
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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.

His latest albums include:
Live Nativity
Christmas Pageant
Casa de Amistad Baskets
Senior Adult Ministry Christmas Tea
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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

Contact Us