…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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Men’s Fellowship, Car Tour, February 24, 10:00 a.m.

All men of the church (and kids!) are invited to join the Men’s Fellowship as they tour George Buggs’ antique car collection from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. next Saturday. Meet at the museum, 131 Newton Bridge Industrial Way.
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VBS 2018, Maker Fun Factory

Online Registration Begins March 5.  Mark your calendars for our Vacation Bible School Week, Tuesday, May 29 – Friday, June 1. Please also check the Children’s Ministry Update on the FPC website for a list of items we are collecting. Thank you!
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FPC Men’s Softball, Begins March 8

Softball season will be starting soon and the FPC Men’s Softball team needs you! Please contact Dan Trier. Games will be Thursday nights at 6:30, 7:30, or 8:30 p.m. and are played at Bishop Park on Sunset Dr.
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Finding Sabbath at Montreat, Wednesday, February 21, 6:30 p.m., Dinner at 5:45 p.m.

Montreat Conference Center is a ministry of the PC(USA) located outside of Asheville, NC. For over 100 years, they have provided a sacred space to encounter God through relationships, renewal, recreation, and rest. Everyone is invited to join us as Montreat President Richard DuBose comes to FPC Athens. You are also welcome to join us for dinner, which begins at 5:45 p.m. Please make dinner reservations by February 19 at noon.
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Women’s Bible Class 25 Year Reunion, February 25, 2:00 p.m.

All past and present members are invited to a reception from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. at the Athens Cotton Press, 149 Oneta St. Refreshments will be provided. If you have passed time with them for a few Sundays or many years, you are welcome to join the celebration. Class members especially hope to reconnect with their founding mothers.
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Lenten Service Project: Bucket Brigade Wednesday, February 28, 6:30 p.m.

On Wednesday evening, February 28, we’ll have a hands-on project in Fellowship Hall instead of an educational program following dinner. This activity will be fun and appropriate for all ages and a great way to serve our neighbors during Lent.

We’ll be assembling 20 “Welcome Home buckets” to donate to the Athens Area Homeless Shelter. These buckets will be distributed to the families that are transitioning from homelessness to a home, some of them our IHNA graduates. The bucket will have the following items: Clorox, Lysol wipes, Windex, Lysol Spray, dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent, Pledge, toilet bowl cleaner, antibacterial spray, bathroom cleaner, mop, broom and dustpan.

Each kit costs $60. We will be accepting donations of items from the list (until Wednesday, February 21) and monetary donations (until February 28, make checks to FPC and note “bucket”). While donations of any amount are appreciated, we are looking for sponsors of whole buckets ($60) or half buckets ($30) to help ensure that we can provide all of the supplies that families will need as they move to their new home. For more information, email me  or call at 706-263-0626.

Thank you for your consideration and collaboration. Christian Cordon, Mission & Outreach Waddel Fellow
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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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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

Registration is now open! You may pay by credit card on the FPC website or by check.
Early bird registration is January 1 – February 1: $130
After February 1: $165
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Bruce’s Blog

My Friends,

We are beginning our journey of Lent, and our theme is based on the fourth commandment: “Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy.” (Exodus 19:8; Deuteronomy 5:12)

Abraham Joshua Heschel, the great Jewish scholar, notes that the word qadosh/holy is first used in the book of Genesis at the end of the story of creation. This word that speaks of the majesty and mystery of the divine is not used about a place, like a sanctuary or a mountain or an altar.No, the first time that the word qadosh/holy is used is when it is applied to time, “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.” (Genesis 2:3) The Christian Sabbath is for us both a special day of the week and a special quality of time accessible daily.

So it is that we will look at Sabbath in terms of “Keeping the Sabbath Wholly.” Yes, the play on words is intentional, and we will use the sabbath verbs of Cease, Rest, Embrace, and Feast as our guide.

And I do not want us to forget this year’s theme of the Fruit of the Spirit. I suggest to you that ‘keeping the Sabbath wholly’ is the best way to cultivate and nurture “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, kindness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Thanks and blessings,
Bruce Lancaster, Interim Senior Pastor
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A Message from Carol: Epiphany

Bruce and I will focus on the biblical concept of Sabbath in our preaching during Lent this year. The cessation of work every seventh day commanded in the Ten Commandments was very formative for God’s people. It’s a weekly reminder that the world does not depend on what we do, but rather on who God and we are. In our 24/7 life, we seem too busy to stop and remember this. We don’t value time spent in resting and renewing, in prayer and worship, in simply enjoying God’s gifts, or even in getting enough sleep!

While we are not enslaved by the strict rules about Sabbath our Puritan forebears were, the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction that we are enslaved by our work and busyness. So, are there some creative ways this Lent you can try to restore needed balance to your life? Here are some suggestions to get you thinking:

• Refrain from commercial transactions on Sundays
• Regularly unplug from email, texts, social media for a certain number of hours
• Plan a weekly sit-down meal and evening to enjoy with your family or friends
• Put a big X on your calendar once a week and set it aside for rest, reading, doing something you enjoy; no work or chores
• Spend a little “Sabbath time” each day, say 10 minutes in the morning, reading a daily devotion and praying (Do you receive FPC emails? Watch your inbox for devotions by FPC members. Contact the church office or visit the church website and look in the lower right-hand corner to sign up.)
• Slow down. Let go of perfection. Don’t say “yes” to everything. You can’t do it all, and trying makes you crazy.

And dare I add, come to church weekly! It’s a great way to de-stress (once you get here; with little kids it can be chaotic getting out the door) and to reconnect with God and others. Lent begins on February 14 and ends on Easter, April 1. You can try anything for six weeks, can’t you? See if “keeping the Sabbath” restores a sense of wholeness and peace in your life.

Carol Strickland, Associate Pastor

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Music Notes

“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” – Albert Einstein

This academic year has been interesting for me. In the fall I began teaching organ students at the University of Georgia. I had in mind preparing potential students for future church positions. I didn’t expect students currently holding church jobs and needing practical job skills now. Pianists being pushed onto the organ bench are asking how to play the pedals better, how to play hymns better, what stops to pull, what to play during communion, etc.

In the fall, I attended a conference at Indiana University and also had my former teacher here for a recital. I recalled my school days and the helpful lessons I learned and am still learning. I was also reminded that after all this time, though I learned a lot from each teacher and school, I can’t follow the path of and imitate just one teacher. In the end, I have to make my own decisions, become my own musician, my own person. There are no simple answers, and there is usually not one right answer. We gather information and gain our own experience. Then we become the unique individual God created us to be.

Last semester, I had one student in particular who wanted me to tell her exactly how to do certain things. I would say, “Well, you could do this or this, or maybe you could do it like this.” In frustration she said, “Dr. Coble, I want you to tell me, how would YOU do it?” I explained that I could only show her the possibilities. She had to decide what was right for herself. Sometimes I want an easy answer. I want someone else to do the hard work for me. Life’s not like that. We learn all we can from every thing, every place, every person we can, but in the end, we have to decide what’s right for us on our journey in life. I believe God is that same kind of teacher. God allows us to make choices, even bad ones, but God loves us for the unique creatures we are.

“I’m not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you.” – George Bernard Shaw

Soli Deo Gloria(To God alone be the Glory),
John Coble, Director of Music and Organist
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Hat’s Off to Darryl

Darryl Magrino has volunteered his chef services to our church for seventeen years. He has served us delicious suppers on Wednesday nights, scrumptious feasts at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and festive brunches on Easter, all without compensation.

Beginning when he and his family joined the church, Darryl stepped in and went to work in the kitchen. He made it look effortless. But anyone who has ever fed their family, much less a whole church, knows that cooking is hard work. Darryl has served with cheerfulness and grace. He has enabled our congregation to enjoy countless tasty, healthy, and beautiful meals.

Breaking bread is a vital part of Christian community, and Darryl has helped that happen by baking bread in a lovely way at First Presbyterian. For many years he even baked our Communion bread! However, he has decided that it’s time to hang up his FPC chef’s hat. So, please give Darryl your heartfelt thanks for a job “well done!”
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2018 IHNA Host Weeks

Happy 2018 from your IHNA coordinators! We’re looking forward to four host weeks throughout the year and would like to share those dates with all of you. Check your calendars and prepare to join us as we serve!

Our February sign up board is already in the Atrium so check it out and see what might work for you. The 2018 training dates are:

Sunday, February 11, 2:00 p.m., St. Gregory the Great Episcopal, 3195 S Barnett Shoals Rd.
Sunday, February 25, 12:30 p.m., Ashford Memorial Methodist Church, 1 N. Main St., Watkinsville

As always, we’re so grateful for the generosity of time and resources that overflows during our host weeks.

Michelle Clendenen-Shaw and Patty Whiten, IHNA Co-Coordinators
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Hurricane Relief Offering Update

Last fall, First Presbyterian Church collected funds for victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Along with the 25% portion of the Christmas Eve offering that was designated for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance hurricane relief, FPC sent a total of $4,606.31 to PDA. Thank you for giving so generously!

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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