…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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PW Bible Study Overview Sunday, July 30, 11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

All women are invited to join Dr. Carol Strickland in Fellowship Hall for an overview of the Presbyterian Women Bible Study for 2017-18 on the book of Hebrews.Hebrews is significantly different from every other book in the Bible. It consists of thirteen chapters, all of which are packed with theology, metaphor, comparisons, and spirituality. Our
study will approach the book thematically, not sequentially. It will explore nine major themes, relate those themes to other parts of our faith tradition, and tie them together with the overarching motif of community. The community for which Hebrews was written interacts, in a sense, with all the communities of which we are a part. Our prayer is that the study of community in Hebrews will help us strengthen our own communities
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Montreat Youth Conference, July 23-29

Kim Ness will be leading the annual trip to Montreat for the Youth Conference. Please contact her for more information.
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Blessing of the Backpacks & Honoring Ms. Wendi Finch August 6, 10:00 a.m.

The 2017-2018 school year is right around the corner. We invite all of our children to bring their backpacks to be blessed in worship.
Also, Ms. Wendi Finch is retiring after almost ten years as our Nursery Coordinator. We will recognize her in worship, with a special reception to follow the service in Fellowship Hall.
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Fall Kickoff Brunch, Sunday, August 13, 9:45 a.m

Join us for brunch in Fellowship Hall as we resume two worship services and look forward to the beginning of our fall activities.
There will also be an IHNA Open House in The PIT from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.Come see how we welcome our guests.
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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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Bruce’s Blog

My Friends,

Two stories:

Diane Williams is a skydiver. On one of her jumps, she knocked into someone and fell unconscious – literally, she began to fall unconscious! Gregory Robertson saw it and stretched himself into a human arrow, going 200 miles per hour for nearly 3,500 feet until he caught up with her. He pulled Diane’s ripcord and both floated to the ground. His only comment was, “We are here to help each other.”

A father came into the den one day and saw his son arranging chairs in rows. “What are you doing?” asked the father. “I’m playing church,” the little boy said. “That’s great,” boomed the father. “Shhh,” said the boy, “everybody’s sleeping!”

First Presbyterian Church is not sleeping – we are here to help others in the name of Jesus.

Every day we seek to live our mission, “…to go forth sharing the love of Christ with Athens and the world.”

As you make your summer plans, do not forget that your financial support is needed throughout the summer. The church doesn’t take a ‘summer siesta!’

The Nominations and Elections Committee is receiving recommendations for Ruling Elders. We need men and women in these positions of leadership who will help us help others, who model the answer to the ordination question: “Will you… seek to serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love?”

I urge you to read Carol Strickland’s message about Stephen Ministy and I encourage you to prayerfully consider this ministry of those who ‘are here to help others in the name of Jesus.’

Summer at FPC is not a vacation time for the ongoing ministries and missions of this great church. We continue to provide for our congregation and community in many ways during the summer months, and we are grateful for your generous support!

Thanks and blessings,
Bruce Lancaster, Interim Senior Pastor
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Message from Carol: Stephen Ministry

First Presbyterian Church is preparing to launch Stephen Ministry, a one-to-one lay caregiving ministry used in thousands of churches. It’s named for Stephen, one of the first seven laypeople called by the church to assist the apostles in caring for others. You can read Stephen’s story in Acts 6 and 7. Stephen Ministry is truly “ministry,” that is, service to others, caring for others in Jesus’ name, doing the work that God has both called and gifted his children to do.

Recently Larry Gray and I attended a seven day Stephen MinistryLeader training in Orlando. Dawn Frisch will complete the same training later this month in Pittsburgh. This fall the three of us will begin training members of our congregation to serve as Stephen Ministers.

Do you feel a calling to care for others who are hurting? Are you able to be a compassionate listener? Are you willing to share Christ’s love with those going through a difficult time? To learn more about Stephen Ministry, speak to Larry, Dawn, or me; visit stephenministries.org; and watch for information about how to become involved.

Carol Strickland, Associate Pastor
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The Kipp Report: Book Review

Zacchaeus and Jesus

Eighth Shepherd, the eighth volume in the A.D. Chronicles, by Bodie and Brock Thoene, Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., © 2008, sets an engaging background on Zacchaeus’ encounter with Jesus. The fictionalized story, which is based on Luke 19:1-10, tells us about a rich, chief tax collector who had to climb a sycamore tree to see Jesus.

The Thoene novel develops the character of Zacchaeus, a sort of Midas character who was perhaps the most hated person in Jericho because he had defrauded so many of its citizens. He is a lonely outcast from the synagogue next door that had been built by his grandfather. He talks with Jesus from the very tree branch where he had attached a rope in his despair.

The narrative builds to a climax with Jesus sitting at table in Zacchaeus’ home:

“Zachai (Zacchaeus), master of the great House of Zachai, was on Yeshua’s (Jesus’) left. Beside him sat Shimona (Zachai’s bride-to-be). Beside her, engaged in lively conversation, were Miryam and Martha and their brother El’azar (Lazarus). Bartimaeus, dressed in new clothes, was next to El’azar, describing every sight and tax collector who had to climb a sycamore tree to see Jesus. telling everyone what it was like to see. El’azar, in turn, shared what heaven had been like. He exclaimed that what he had seen and heard was beautiful beyond imagination. He had left with some reluctance as the voice of Yeshua called him back to this world.”

“Around the great table a bouquet of faces bloomed like hastily picked flowers, mismatched and vibrant….Suddenly, as I looked at all the faces gathered ‘round, I understood that Yeshua meant for all of us, His holy people, to be united in love for all time. Slaves who had been children of slaves mingled with the wealthy followers of Yeshua. Former beggars, former lepers, and all manner sinners sat side by side with civic rulers and leaders in business. Those once lame danced beneath the spreading branches of the sukomore (fig) tree while the mute sang. Zadok’s dog smiled and wagged around the perimeter of the celebration.”

It’s a wonderful picture of the possibility of heaven. I recommend this book.

John Kipp, Parish Associate
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Youth Ministry News

We started our summer off right this year – in SERVICE to others. Nineteen middle schoolers joined us for a local mission “trip” during the first week of June, focused on the call in Matthew 25. After volunteering as tour guides with Vacation Bible School in the morning, youth served at agencies all across Athens. The following weekend eleven high schoolers and nine adults from our congregation loaded up vans for another local mission trip – in Atlanta! Working with the DOOR program, we spent the weekend seeing the face of God in the city. On Sunday we worshiped at Pulse Church. Pastor Billy talked about the gift of prophecy, challenging us to “work our worth” and “speak truth to power.” May the spirit of prophecy flow through each of you as you offer encouragement to others when you see God at work in them.

Kim Ness, Director of Youth Ministries
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Project Safe Volunteer Work Day

Ten First Presbyterian Church volunteers made an impact serving others on June 12 at the Project Safe Thrift Store, sorting clothes and other items for sale to benefit victims of domestic violence. Thank you to all our faithful volunteers!

You can learn more about volunteering and ways to help at project-safe.org. Mark your calendar for the next FPC work day on Monday, September 11 at 10:00 a.m.
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Pentecost Offering Update

Thank you for your generous donations of $1,434 for the Pentecost Offering. Sixty percent of the funds received will support denomination-wide ministries for Young Adult Volunteers, Ministries for Youth, and Children-At-Risk. Forty percent will stay here in our community. Since 2015, we have directed this portion to Barrow Elementary School for scholarships for its after-school program.
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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.

I hope you are well and perhaps enjoying some travel this summer. If so, I wish you safe journeys. When you are in town, we look forward to seeing you. To help you hear the worship service, we have individual devices in the Narthex; just ask an usher to give you one to use. To further assist, Jack Palmer adjusts the sound level of the pulpit microphone to the person speaking – ministers, lay readers, etc. Not an easy task! Come, listen for the word of God in sermon and in song.

Were you here on May 21 for Scottish Reformation Sunday, when we celebrated our Presbyterian heritage? As always, it was a joyous occasion; with Lee Epting as the beadle, we worshiped together with drum and bagpipe music, presentation of the flags, and recognition of dignitaries, asking God’s blessings on all who serve. Following the worship service, Lee hosted with a veritable banquet in Fellowship Hall, complete with beautiful flower arrangements. He has served as beadle and hosted the reception for many years – even serving haggis for authenticity. Please thank these members for their service.

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

Ella Stewart, Chair, Fellowship & Evangelism Commission
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Pictorial Directory

We are producing a new Pictorial Directory. Everyone photographed will have the opportunity to purchase portraits and will receive a copy of the completed directory. You may sign up in the Atrium on Sunday mornings. You may also sign up online 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

Summer Worship Schedule
Worship at 10:00 a.m.
Sunday School
Does not meet in the summer.

Children’s Sunday School
Youth Sunday School
Adult Sunday School

Contact Us