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

Important Events and Messages


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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IHNA Training Aug. 8-28

There are several opportunities to attend IHNA training. Anyone who is interested in volunteering is encouraged to attend one of these approximately one hour-long sessions at Union Christian Church, 1130 Union Church Rd. in Watkinsville.
Tuesday, August 8, 9:30 a.m.
Sunday, August 13, 2:00 p.m.
Tuesday, August 15, 7:00 p.m.
Monday, August 28, 6:00 p.m.
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IHNA Host Week, August 13-20

We’re always so happy to hear success stories about our former guests. Recently, two of the families we hosted in April moved into their own apartments! In May, one mother with two little girls and another mother with her sweet three-year-old were able to reestablish homes for their families. We were all blessed by these families while they were our guests. We thank God that this has happened with the help provided to them through the IHNA program and also because of their own hard work. Want to be part of such joy? Volunteer with us in August!

Our next Interfaith Hospitality Network of Athens host week will be August 13 – 20. Sign up in the Atrium will begin Sunday, July 2. You may check the online calendar or email Patty Whiten to volunteer. We are looking forward to this next opportunity to welcome our guests and provide them comfort and kindness. Without your strong commitment this would not be possible. We are eternally grateful for your continued support of this ministry and thank you in advance for providing such warm hospitality to our guests. To volunteer for any of these positions, contact  and have your name entered in the calendar.

Michelle Clendenen-Shaw and Patty Whiten, IHNA Co-Coordinators
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The Wayne F. Middendorf Memorial Concert Series presents Music for Organ & Brass, August 20

The Wayne F. Middendorf Memorial Concert Series will present Music for Organ and Brass on Sunday, August 20, at 4:00 p.m. in our sanctuary. John Coble will be joined by The Georgia Brass Quintet and The Bulldog Brass Quintet in a festive concert that will include music by Eugene Gigout, Jean Baptiste Loeillet, and Sigfrid Karg-Elert. Also, on Sunday, October 1 at 4:00 p.m., Dr. Marilyn Keiser will present a recital in our sanctuary. Dr. Keiser is Chancellor’s Professor Ermerita of Organ and Sacred Music at Indiana University.
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Sunday School Begins, August 20

Sunday School for all ages begins at 9:45 a.m. on Sunday, August 20. Details are available here:
Adult Sunday School
Youth Sunday School
Children’s Sunday School
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Youth Kickoff at The Hill, August 20

Please join us for our kickoff potluck pool party on Sunday, August 20 at 5:30 p.m. at The Hill.
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Confirmation Retreat, August 25-27

Confirmation is open to all 9th graders and older who have not yet been confirmed. This will be a yearlong class during the Sunday School hour. An informational meeting for both parents and youth will be held on Sunday, August 13, at 5:00 p.m. Also, save the date for our confirmation retreat August 25-27. Please email me here to “confirm” your participation!
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SAM Sunday, August 27

This will be our 5th year celebrating our Senior Adult Ministries with a special Sunday. We want to share the history of its origin and invite everyone to join us in honoring our senior adults.

The history of SAM Sunday:

The seed that started the planning process for Senior Adult Sunday, 2013, actually began during Youth Sunday of that year! The youth of our church and their inspirational worship service provided the impetus to begin preparation for a service that would recognize and honor older adults.  Permission was sought and given, dates were discussed and a dedicated committee began the planning process. During our worship service on September 15, 2013 we began with personal reflections from longtime members, the choir inspired us by including music especially chosen for that day, John Kipp preached: Too Soon Oldt, Too Late Schmart. Older adults were asked to be liturgists, ushers, and greeters and following worship all were invited to a lovely reception in Fellowship Hall.  Many hands helped make it a time to thank, recognize and honor those who set an example for us and continue to lead the way in promoting the health and growth of First Presbyterian Church.
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Choir Rehearsals Resume, Aug. 9-27

CHANCEL CHOIR Wednesday, August 9, 6:30 p.m. Adults
HANDBELL CHOIR Monday, August 14, 5:30 p.m. Youth & Adults
CHERUB CHOIR Sunday, August 27, 4:00 p.m. Age 4 – Grade 1
ANDREWS CHOIR Sunday, August 27, 4:00 p.m. Grade 2 – Grade 5
CELEBRATION SINGERS Sunday, August 27, 5:00 p.m. Grade 6 – Grade 12
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All Church Picnic, September 10, 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Everyone is invited! Enjoy time with your church family at Sandy Creek Park. Sign up here or in the Atrium on Sunday mornings. $7 per person, $20 max per family by September 8.
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Bruce’s Blog

My Friends,

“Bearing Fruit” – This is our theme for the coming year in ministry and mission at First Presbyterian Church. The scriptures are Matthew 7:17 “…every good tree bears good fruit…” and Galatians 5:22-23 – “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

The Church bears fruit when we serve eagerly! We express our devotion to Christ when we serve. More than the fact that Jesus commands us to serve, it is the key to real usefulness.

The key to greatness is found in bearing fruit in service. Is it not true that the people we admire and look up to the most, whose lives challenge us to reach higher, are those who are busy serving, busy bearing the fruit of the Spirt as they help other people?

The key to personal happiness is found in service. Service pulls you out of your preoccupation with self and focuses your time, interest, and talents on others who need you. It is in serving them that you really find your purpose, your place, and your happiness.

The key to community is found in service. The fruit of a loving, warmhearted, happy church is found in serving other people. Churches that are busy serving others never have time to be petty.

Please watch for the Ways to Serve form coming in the mail soon so that you can sign up to “bear fruit” in the life of our church.

“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord.…They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots…its leaves shall stay green.…in the year of drought…and it does not cease to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

Thanks and blessings,

Bruce Lancaster, Interim Senior Pastor

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Message from Carol: Burden Bearing

On July 9, I preached on the text, “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) Life happens, as they say, so we all have burdens to carry. Sometimes we need help shouldering the load. That’s where Stephen Ministry comes in.

On August 20, we’ll commission our first three Stephen Leaders (Dawn Frisch, Larry Gray, and myself) who will get our new Stephen Ministry program off the ground. Maybe you have some questions about Stephen Ministry. Great! Larry has provided these answers:

Why the name Stephen? In the Book of Acts, chapter 6, Stephen was chosen to provide caring ministry to those in need. Since the time of the apostles, caring ministry has been considered a hallmark of the Christian faith community.

How many congregations have Stephen Ministry? More than 12,000 congregations, from more than 160 denominations, in all 50 states and 25 other countries, have Stephen Ministry, many going strong for more than 30 years.

What are Stephen Ministers? Stephen Ministers are laypeople trained in the congregation by their Stephen Leaders to provide one-to-one Christian-centered care to hurting people. These are people with a compassionate heart who’ve been equipped with the skills to listen, encourage, and offer support when someone is in need. A Stephen Minister typically has one care receiver at a time and meets with that person once a week.

In what types of situations are Stephen Ministers used? Stephen Minsters provide high-quality, one-to-one Christian care to individuals facing a variety of crises or life challenges – people who are experiencing grief, divorce, cancer, financial difficulties, chronic illness, job loss, disabilities, loneliness, a spiritual crisis, etc.

Will people commit to training and serving as Stephen Ministers? Yes! More than 600,000 have done so since 1975. Laypeople are eager to use their God-given gifts in meaningful ministry to others. Prayerfully consider becoming a Stephen Minister!

Carol Strickland, Associate Pastor
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Music Notes

The month of August is fast approaching as I write this. While I hate to see the summer come to an end, I am excited about the many opportunities coming up soon in our church. Our choirs will resume their regular rehearsal schedule for the 2017-18 season in August. This is the perfect time to join a choir. Chancel Choir rehearsals will resume on Wednesday, August 9, at 6:30 p.m. Handbell Choir rehearsals will resume on Monday, August 14, at 5:30 p.m. (The Handbell Choir, which requires a specific number of members, currently has openings for two ringers. Prior experience ringing bells is not necessary but music reading ability is.) Celebration Singers (grades 6-12), St. Andrews Choir (grades 2-5) and Cherub Choir (age 4-grade 1) will begin Sunday rehearsals on August 27. Cherub and St. Andrews Choirs will also have Wednesday evening rehearsals when Wednesday night dinners are held, beginning September 13. We’re looking forward to another great year with all of our choirs. For more information or to join a choir, please contact me here or 706-543-4338.

Also, the Wayne F. Middendorf Memorial Concert Series will present Music for Organ and Brass on Sunday, August 20, at 4:00 p.m. in our sanctuary. I will be joined by The Georgia Brass Quintet and The Bulldog Brass Quintet in a festive concert that will include music by Eugene Gigout, Jean Baptiste Loeillet, and Sigfrid Karg-Elert. On Sunday, October 1 at 4:00 p.m., Dr. Marilyn Keiser will present
a recital in our sanctuary. Dr. Keiser is Chancellor’s Professor Ermerita of Organ and Sacred Music at Indiana University.

This will be a wonderful year of music in and out of worship at First Presbyterian Church. We hope you will join 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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Bethel Reading for Success

Stop by our Children’s Ministry Suite any fourth Tuesday evening, and you will find the place teeming with children, their family members, and a host of community volunteers.The children are our neighbors from Bethel Homes. They have been gathering at our church once a month since February for dinner and a program aimed to pique their interest in reading. Coordinated by a committee of leaders from schools, the library, and non-profit agencies, the program’s goal is “encouraging and empowering Bethel residents to control their lives through learning.”

Programs have included “Civil Rights and Black History” with a visit by Willie Craddick, a 15 year old local author; Athletes Read, Too” with a visit by retired NFL player and Clark Central High School graduate, Dunta Robinson; and “Poetry” with three guest poets.

If you would like to be an on-site FPC host one evening, please contact Mission & Outreach Commission Chair Denise Horton or Carol Strickland
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International Craft Fair, November 3&5

You are invited to share your talents by contributing items to be sold at the International Craft Fair, November 3 & 5. Examples might include knitting, sewing, pottery, jewelry, ornaments, baked goods, or services (music, lessons, babysitting, etc.). The money raised by the fair supports a variety of our church’s missions. Contact me for more information: 706-543-9619 or 706-340-2814 (texts).

Mary Burton, Mission & Outreach 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.

Glad you’re reading the church newsletter! After the staff receives all the information and prints it, there are still things to do before it is ready to be mailed to members of our congregation. They have to be folded and have sticky closure seals added to the sides so they won’t be torn in the mail.

Not done, yet! They still have to be addressed, individually, with address labels (we’re glad the labels are self-adhesive ones!), counted, and sorted by zip code. Who does this each month? Orlean Castronis and Pat and Faye Marshall. Help with the seals also comes from Tanna Nicholson and Elaine Thacker.

In addition to their help with the newsletter, they make sure the bulletins are folded for our worship services each week and placed in the choir room, narthex, and passed out to staff members. Please thank them for their unfailing service.

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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Pictorial Directory

There are additional portrait session times available for our new Pictorial Directory. Please sign up online, in the Atrium, or by contacting the church office. This will be a valuable tool for our new Senior Pastor, and we encourage everyone to participate.
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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

Contact Us