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

Important Events and Messages

Events

Jubilee Partners Remodeling Project Tuesdays & Thursdays, 8:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Can you paint or are you willing to learn? Painters are needed-but they won’t be required to work on the roof!

Our team has been working all summer renovating one of the family houses at Jubilee Partners, a Christian service community in nearby Comer that offers hospitality to refugees.

The exterior siding is ready for painting. While painting volunteers are working outside, the building volunteers will put up sheetrock inside, which will be ready for painting once the exterior painting is complete.

Please contact Richard Lane for for questions and to get directions to the house at the Jubilee Partners property.
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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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Reformation Sunday, October 29

We will celebrate Reformation Sunday highlighting the 500th anniversary of the year Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, launching the Protestant Reformation.
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AthHalf Pre-Race Service, October 22, 6:30 a.m.

We will host a brief worship service in Fellowship Hall before the AthHalf race. The service is informal and open to anyone who would like quiet reflection and inspiration for the half marathon ahead. It will include scripture, prayer, music, and a message from the Rev. Craig Topple. The dress for the service is “athletic casual.”

There will be no 8:45 a.m. worship service that Sunday.
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Trick or Treat for UNICEF, October 29

Children ages Pre-K – grade 5 are invited to wear church-friendly costumes to church. Adults, please bring your spare change. We will trick or treat during Sunday School and fill the children’s UNICEF coin collection boxes. This year you may even have a few Martin Luthers, Katherine Luthers, and John Calvins visit your Sunday School classrooms!
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Honduras Mission Trip, June 9-16, 2018

We are thrilled to offer an intergenerational international mission trip next summer to Honduras with HOI. This trip is open to adults and youth in high school who are active in the youth program. An informational meeting was held on September 17. If you are interested in joining us for this trip but were unable to attend the meeting, please contact Kim Ness. The deadline to sign up is October 15.
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Messages

Bruce’s Blog

My Friends,

There is a scene in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance” in which the hero, Frederick, asks for the assistance of the police to capture the pirates. The police gather in the town square and the women begin to sing, “Go ye heroes to glory!” The police sing back, “We go, we go, we go!” They keep singing and singing, standing in the town square, but they never leave! They just sing about going!

The Corinthian Christians were acting this way. They had promised to give to Paul’s collection for the Jerusalem church, but a year had passed and nothing had been given. Paul wants them to act on their promise, “Let your enthusiastic idea at the start be equaled by your realistic action now!” (II Corinthians 8:11, The Living Bible)

It’s true, isn’t it? Some people have enthusiastic ideas, but just run in place and nothing happens. Some people act on what they promise, and the world is made a better place.

As we come to the end of 2017, thank you for how you have acted on your promises and what you’ve done in this time of transition. I now ask you to consider your promises as we build forward on the grand history of this great church, preparing for a new pastor and supporting the ministries and missions of FPC.

We can plan our ministries only by what you promise and how you act on those promises.

Our model for practicing what we promise should be the example Christ set for you and me. Jesus trusted God for all that would happen as he acted on his promises. Was it easy? No! Was it faithful? Yes! And as you live your promise, so we grow as a community of faith.

Thanks and blessings,
Bruce Lancaster, Interim Senior Pastor
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Message from Carol: 500th Anniversary

October 31 marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Before there was Facebook, there was the church door. This is where on All Hallows’ Eve (the day before All Hallows’ or All Saints’ Day) in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517 Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses. This document was Luther’s reasoned disagreement with practices and theology of the Church, especially the sale of indulgences. Buying indulgences was supposed to release certain dead people from so many years of purgatory by transferring to them extra credits of the saints. While this was a marvelous fundraising strategy for St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the purchase of much exquisite art work, it was rotten theology, and Luther said so.

As a Protestant, I have always been proud of my religious tradition, and especially of the Presbyterian or Reformed branch of it. I will celebrate with special fervor this 500th anniversary of the church’s reformation, but with my spirits somewhat dampened. You see, recently I reread the relevant chapters in The Church of Our Fathers, the classic book penned by Luther scholar Roland Bainton (who was still riding his bicycle in his eighties around New Haven when I was there) and used for years in the “Covenant Life Curriculum” of the Presbyterian Church. I was reminded how violent and bloody the Reformation was. The reformers paid a high price for sticking to their interpretation of scripture. They were excommunicated, persecuted, and even killed. Some fought back. Only the Anabaptists were pacifists.

While Luther was hiding, after his refusal to recant his beliefs, some of his followers who were students in Wittenberg rioted and pelted the priests with stones. This sort of violence spread. In Basel the common folk took matters into their own hands and smashed all the religious images and statues in all the churches and public places. In other parts of Switzerland, Catholics and Protestants began to kill and burn each other. Even within Protestantism there was hatred, fear, and mistreatment. The Anabaptists, who did not baptize babies, refused to take oaths, and believed in church and state separation, were driven out of Reformed churches and even drowned.

It’s grievous how the followers of the Prince of Peace have at times swerved so far off track. It seems our old bugaboo sin is ever near. That’s why our motto, “The church reformed and always reforming” is so important, not to mention the command to love your neighbor

Carol Strickland, Associate Pastor
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Music Notes

October 15 will be Choir Dedication Sunday, when we celebrate the music ministry of our church and honor members of our choirs. It is also when choir members publicly commit themselves to offering their time and talents. Singing in a choir is rewarding and usually fun, but it is also hard work and requires commitment.

I believe in going beyond simply teaching choirs the pieces they will sing. I believe in teaching music and exploring the music, understanding who wrote it and why, and why it was chosen to be sung in our worship. The Royal School of Church Music has a motto: “I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” That reminds me of a Chinese proverb: “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

In our rehearsals, I constantly ask questions: “How many beats does that note get?” “Why do you think the composer wants us to sing that part softly?” I ask questions so choir members (of all ages) will have to look at the music and think. I want them to be part of the process. My hope is that encouraging people to search for answers will not just apply to music, but it will form a life-long habit, so that we can sing and do everything else in our lives with spirit and understanding.

This fall we have some changes in our Music Ministry. Melanie Powers has retired after nine and a half years as our Children and Youth Music Assistant and forty-one years total directing children’s choirs. She has served our children and youth with joy and we appreciate her dedication. We plan to more formally show her our thanks at a later time.

We are pleased to welcome Charlotte Chromiak as our new Children’s Music Assistant. Charlotte is an Athens native and serves as director for the Cherub Choir. Charlotte has taught elementary music in Oconee County for nine years, having previously taught in Clarke County, and has also taught preschool, dance, and piano. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Georgia and a Masters Degree in Orff-Schulwerk from the University of Memphis.

She has directed the children’s choirs at Central Presbyterian Church in Athens and has served as a substitute organist and pianist in area churches. Charlotte joined First Presbyterian Church in 2015. She and her husband, Zack, live in Athens with their children, John and Greta.

Soli Deo Gloria (To God alone be the Glory),
John Coble, Director of Music and Organist
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Dot’sCloset@First

Thank you for your wonderful response to our new program to loan and borrow walkers, wheelchairs, etc. We now have an inventory of items that can be borrowed on the church website here. For more information, please contact me here or at 706-714-7600.

Madeline Van Dyck, Congregational Care Commission
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Rideshare@First

A big “thank you” to those who have volunteered to provide a ride for a church member to get to church or to an important appointment. We still need more drivers to make this program a success so please contact me here or at 706-548-4458 to volunteer.

Please also let me know if you need a ride or you know someone who has transportation issues.

Judy Scanlon, Congregational Care Commission
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Presbyterian Student Center

Sunday evenings provide a special opportunity to meet UGA students and provide dinner. We feed approximately 25-30 students at 7:00 p.m. This is a wonderful time for fellowship and an opportunity for the students to learn more about our church. PSC provides the dinnerware, drinks, etc. and even the set-up and clean-up. We provide a meal and fellowship. To help, please contact Sydney Jackson.
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Bicentennial 2020 Committee

A committee has been working for 2 1/2 years collecting our church’s history. They have had work days in the church vault where historic items are stored, trips to Hargrett Library at UGA, and any other sources of information they could find.

This fall they are expanding to various sub-committees to plan an exciting year 2020 of learning and looking to our future.

They are interviewing members to collect their memories. They also hope to have children and youth activities, plan a legacy outreach project, special music, and are contemplating other ideas.

You are invited to come find out how you might wish to participate. You may email Diane Adams here or call her at 706-255-9200. They are also planning another work day in the church vault. Please contact Richard Lane here for information on that schedule.
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Expect a phone call

Last year, we invited you to one of 24 home-meetings to visit with Dr. Lancaster as we prepared for Commitment Sunday. This year, our mission is to call all of our members before Commitment Sunday, November 5. We’re excited about all that’s going on at FPC this year!

We just want to say, “Hi”, “Thank You”, and “We sure have a great church, don’t we?” Consider everything from powerful mission to the wonderful fellowship and congregational care, our energetic children and youth, the inspiring music, the stimulating adult education. And, yes, the preaching isn’t too bad either!

First Presbyterian Church of Athens is a great place to enjoy, grow, and share our faith; we should all be thrilled to share the good news!

Your Stewardship Committee
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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’ve heard of Dot’s Closet recently, but I’d like to tell you a little more about its namesake, Dot Handley. For those of us who have been FPC members for a number of years, we remember how she has been a “child magnet.” Dot is also an active volunteer collecting and counting the Change for Children and collecting the Sunday School offering each Sunday. She acknowledges all gifts to the church made in memory or honor of someone and hand addresses envelopes and completes cards acknowledging the gift to the donor and to the family of the deceased or honored member.

On Monday mornings, you can find Jim McDonald, Carol Robinson, and Dot at the church counting the Sunday offering. Dot has been doing this for over ten years and Jim and Carol for over two years. They open envelopes, sort and count cash, and any information from envelopes is noted on the memo of the check. Everything is double-checked. This is an important and detailed task that assists in keeping good records for our church. Please thank them for their dedication of time and longevity of volunteering.

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.
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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

Directions
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