…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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Senior Adult Ministry Christmas Tea, December 14, 2:00 p.m.

All senior adults are cordially invited to a festive tea party and time of fellowship. Please RSVP to the church office by December 7 at 706-543-4338 or email here.
We are happy to assist with any transportation needs.
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A Festival of Lessons & Carols, December 17, 8:45 & 11:00 a.m.

This special service will include Advent and Christmas carols and hymns sung by the Chancel Choir, the Celebration Singers, and the congregation. This promises to be a meaningful part of our preparation to celebrate again the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
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Christmas Joy Offering, December 17

Each year we celebrate the gift of Jesus Christ, our Savior. By giving to this offering, you honor this gift by providing assistance to current and retired church workers in their time of need and developing our future leaders at Presbyterian-related racial ethnic schools and colleges.
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Christmas Eve, December 24

A very special invitation to join us for our Christmas Eve services:

Christmas Eve, December 24
Morning Services: 8:45 & 11:00 a.m.
Sermon from Dr. Carol Strickland

Candlelight Christmas Eve Services
4:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Family service at 4:00 p.m.. planned with small children in mind

Communion servies, 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
Special music and a sermon from Dr.Bruce Lancaster
Nursery at 6:00 p.m. (Nursery will not be provided at 8:00 p.m.)

Please plan to join us on this most holy of nights as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

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Honduras Mission Trip, June 9-16, 2018

Please be in prayer for our team as they prepare for this intergenerational mission trip next summer to Honduras with HOI.
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FPC Women’s Retreat, April 20-22

Patterns & Rhythms: Receiving the Gift of Order in Chaos
Friday – Sunday, April 20-22, 2018
Early bird registration begins in January
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Bruce’s Blog

My Friends,

Anticipation: God gave us the ability to anticipate, to look forward to something, to expect, to wait for, to hope for.

Anticipation is synonymous with Advent.

Advent is the season in which we anticipate the birth of Jesus, looking forward, expecting, waiting, hoping.

“To anticipate,” says Stanley Ott, “is to have a reason to set your heart on the future.”

It’s easy to have a negative kind of anticipation. Maybe you’ve seen that book which lists all sorts of things for a “Worst Case Scenario.”

We let our minds settle on the fear and anxiety, apprehensive about the future. We feel empty, depleted, hopeless.

God created us to anticipate, to look forward, believing what God said, “I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)

God gives us the reason to have hope, to be filled with the power of God’s future. That is the “good news of great joy” that we celebrate at Christmas.

As we come to the end of 2017 and look to the beginning of 2018, what are you setting your heart on? Something that leaves you empty? Of course not!

We look to the positive future God promises:

  • The birth of Jesus
  • Blessings for your family
  • Comfort and joy
  • Strength for the living of these days

More than wishing you a simple “Merry Christmas,” I add a prayer of a “hope-filled” Advent as you set your heart on the future God has for you.

Thanks and blessings,
Bruce Lancaster, Interim Senior Pastor
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A Message from Carol: Christmas at the Movies

I heard someone say one time that if Jesus were alive today, he would make movies. After all, stories (specifically parables) are his signature form of communication. We all know how compelling a story can be and how it can communicate on many different levels. Stories engage our imagination. They convey insight and truth in surprising ways. They entertain. Christians are “People of the Book,” and I would argue that our Book (the Bible) is primarily a narrative. Stories are at the very core of our faith.

So, during Advent, First Presbyterian Church is going to the movies. Our Sunday sermons will highlight popular holiday films, seeing how these Christmas stories intertwine with “THE” Christmas story. We encourage you to watch these movies at home on cable or find them on Netflix or Amazon. You might even invite your Sunday School class or Presbyterian Women Circle over to watch them together. Pop some popcorn, pour some hot chocolate, sit back, and enjoy!

The movies are:
1st Sunday of Advent, December 3, “A Christmas Carol”
2nd Sunday of Advent, December 10, “Elf”
4th Sunday of Advent, December 24 morning, “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Christmas Eve, “Miracle on 34th Street”
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Music Notes

Each year around this time it’s the same. I went into a store just before Halloween and was shocked to see the few remaining Halloween decorations on sale, and just beyond them a very large display of Christmas decorations. Trees were lit, artificial snow was spread around, decorations of snowmen and candy canes were sparkling. It was October! I muttered a “humbug” under my breath and went on. Some of my church musician friends are strict about not singing any Christmas carols until Christmas Eve, and part of me agrees with them. I love the season and music, but it seems we are more anxious to get to Christmas every year.

I know there is a commercial reason for this, but is there more to it than that? Our country is divided over political issues. Terrible acts of violence seem to be committed more often with one group attacking another, terrorism continues, and perhaps most troubling of all are the mass shootings for which we struggle to find an explanation. No wonder we find ourselves yearning for something good, for a sign of hope in our troubled world. The Festival of Lessons and Carols at King’s College was started in 1918 by a former chaplain who had served in the First World War. People were dealing with a great sense of grief over the thousands who died, and many felt their faith shaken. That former chaplain, Eric Milner-White, wrote of Lessons and Carols, “the main theme is the development of the loving purposes of God, from the Creation to the Incarnation.”

We will hold our annual Festival of Lessons and Carols on December 17 at 8:45 and 11:00 a.m. This special service will include Advent and Christmas carols and hymns sung by the Chancel Choir, the Celebration Singers, and the congregation, including music by Harold Darke, John Ferguson, David Willcocks, and Ralph Vaughan Williams. This promises to be a meaningful part of our preparation to celebrate again the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

May all of our Advent and Christmas services, through word and music, remind us of God’s love and bring us a sense of hope. In the words of the Sussex Carol, “All out of darkness we have light, which made the angels sing this night: ‘Glory to God and peace to men, now and for evermore. Amen.’”

Soli Deo Gloria (To God alone be the Glory),
John Coble, Director of Music and Organist
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Holiday Meals on Wheels Drivers Needed

Can you deliver hot meals to homebound seniors in Athens on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day? Each year, FPC volunteers deliver meals, allowing yearlong volunteers to take a holiday break. If you are interested in delivering meals, please contact Sally Vandiver. Donations for the meals can be made by writing a check to First Presbyterian with “Meals on Wheels Holiday Donation” noted on the bottom.
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International Craft Fair Update

A big thank you to everyone who participated in the International Craft Fair. We raised $3,138.74 for our missions and mission partners!

Honduras Mission Trip: $1,291.74
$400.00 from “shareholder” contributions
$450.00 from the sale of crafts contributed by church members
$441.74 from the 10% FPC received of the Ten Thousand Villages sales

In addition, the Jatropha Project will have $1,415.00 for goats, trees, and tools to provide work for Haitians. We are also supporting the handiwork of other mission partners through:
$60.00 to Jubilee Partners
$119.00 to Casa de la Cultura (an offshoot of Casa de Amistad)
$153.00 to Bethlehem Ministry

Mary Burton, Mission & Outreach Commission
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Commitment Sunday Update: Bearing Fruit

The early responses to Commitment Sunday were very good. Thank you to everyone who has already pledged.

There are still a number of members from whom we hope to hear. It will help our church leaders plan the 2018 budget if we can receive pledge cards prior to year-end. You may turn in your pledge in the offering plate on Sunday, in the church office, or you may pledge online. Additional pledge cards are available in the Narthex or in the church office. Thank you for prayerfully considering your commitment.
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Food 2 Kids

Thank you to the Presbyterian Women for donating 15 pounds of food in September and 37 cans of food in October to the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia.
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Behind the Scenes

We are wrapping up our “Behind the Scenes” articles this month. It takes everyone working together to make things run smoothly and I appreciate the efforts of all our members to make FPC such a wonderful church family. I have enjoyed “spotlighting” some of you. While I’m sure I have missed others, I’m glad we could bring some focus to our volunteers.

With the Christmas holidays upon us, we especially look forward to the beautiful choral music in our worship services. This means there is additional music, and when you consider the number of singers, that’s a lot of sheet music to organize! Enter Carol Bachman, Orlean Castronis, Ann Dunn, and Jeanne Nadenicek! Throughout the year, you can find one of them in the choir room every Wednesday organizing the folders for all the choir members in time for rehearsals. This means lining up the music pieces in the correct sequence and placing them in each individual choir member’s folder. Please let these volunteers know how much you appreciate what their “behind the scenes” contribution means to your worship experience throughout the year.

How many hats can one person wear? I don’t know, but Kitty Donnan wears at least five that I know of! Do you remember the stewardship home gatherings soon after Bruce came? Kitty was the coordinator of all of those. She helps us remember to bring our food for the Food Bank on the first Sunday of the month. (I wonder who reminds her to remind us!) Kitty organizes a team from our church on a regular basis who volunteers at Project Safe. Books for Keeps is another way that Kitty encourages our members to contribute to the Athens community. She collects new or gently used books to be used by children during the summer bridging the gap between spring and fall school terms. She also orchestrates the Casa Basket collections each Christmas to provide meals for low-income Hispanic families. If you are interested in participating in any of these opportunities, I’m sure Kitty will let you borrow a hat!

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.

His latest albums include:
Live Nativity
Christmas Pageant
Casa de Amistad Baskets
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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