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

Important Events and Messages

Events

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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VBS 2018, Maker Fun Factory

We are looking forward to a wonderful week together! Please be sure to register online for Vacation Bible School by Friday, May 4. Please also check here for a list of items we are collecting. Thank you!

To volunteer, please contact Natalie Bishop.
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Honduras Mission Trip, June 9-16, 2018

Twenty-seven FPC members are going to Honduras for a week of service and learning in June. Please check back here for the latest updates on the trip.

Holy Joe Coffee

Jittery Joe’s house blend coffee will be on sale in the Atrium starting Sunday, April 15, $15 each. It is also on sale in the church office during the week. All proceeds benefit the Honduras Mission Trip.

Become a Shareholder

For only $25/share, you can be come a shareholder in our mission trip. You will receive regular updates and be invited to a shareholders dinner when we return to hear all about the week. Contact Jordan Osborne for more information.

Prayer Cards

You are invited to write a note of encouragement or prayer for our 27 missionaries. Cards are available on the bulletin board in the reception area and will be distributed during the trip!

Lasagna Thank You

We sold 125 pans of lasagna, raising $1,250! Thank you to everyone who enjoyed our delicious lasagna.

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FPC Women’s Retreat, April 20-22

Treat yourself to a soul-nourishing weekend away. We will return to Camp Fellowship where this year’s speaker, Linda Morningstar, will lead us in, “Patterns & Rhythms: Receiving the Gift of Order in Chaos.” Cost $165. Scholarships available. Registration is now open!

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Men’s Fellowship, April 27, 7:00 p.m.

Head out to the ballpark with the Men’s Fellowship for UGA vs. Tennessee. Kids invited. RSVP to Dan Trier.
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Twilight Water Stations, April 28, 7:45 – 9:30 a.m.

FPC will again host a water station at the Twilight 5K race. Please contact Christian Cordon to help.

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Youth Sunday, April 29, 8:45 & 11:00 a.m.

Our youth are hard at work preparing for Youth Sunday. We look forward to supporting them as they lead us in worship with the theme of peace.
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Scottish Reformation Sunday, May 6, 8:45 & 11:00 a.m.

Our annual celebration of our Scottish heritage at both worship services, along with recognition of local and state dignitaries at 11:00 a.m.
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Men’s Fellowship Golf Outing, May 10, 4:00 p.m.

All FPC men are invited to join the Men’s Fellowship for golf and dinner at Jennings Mill Country Club. For details and to RSVP, please contact Dan Trier.
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Wayne F. Middendorf Concert, Sunday, April 29, 4:00 p.m.

Director of Music John Coble and Geneva Stonecipher, our former Music Intern, will be the featured organists in the next presentation of our concert series.
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IHNA Host Week May 6 – 13

Our Interfaith Hospitality Network of Athens outreach ministry is strong, thanks to a dedicated coordinating team and committed volunteers. We thank God for the opportunity to serve those in great need and, in serving, we’re immeasurably blessed as you can see in the snapshots (below) from our February host week. We hosted three precious moms and nine very active children including six who were ages two and under!! We’re so grateful to our youth Sunday School classes (special shout out to Jordan!) for making many beautiful Valentine cards to present to our guests upon their arrival. It was easy to tell that much time, thought, and love went into each one. The personal messages were touching and a great example of how important our youth are in our church’s ministries.

We had sickness that affected both guests and volunteers and were especially thankful for many who worked hard, stepped up to fill last minute vacancies, and treated our guests as family throughout the week. In addition, we had the joy of celebrating a young guest’s birthday with a cookie cake party and the gift of a book.

Our next host week begins May 6 and ends on Mother’s Day, May 13. Please go to the online calendar to choose a time to serve and email Patty Whiten or sign up in the Atrium on Sunday. We hope to convince the talented Sunday School artists to create a few special Mother’s Day cards for that week!!

Michelle Clendenen-Shaw and Patty Whiten, IHNA Co-Coordinators

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Messages

Bruce’s Blog

My Friends,

Words are powerful.

Words can damage: words from teachers, parents, friends,
from the not-so-friendly; words that hurt, knock you down,
kick you while you’re down.

Words can be miracles: words that help, words that heal,
words that come at unexpected times and
carry unexpected blessings; words that lift you up and put
a smile on your face; the right word at the right time that makes life good!

What I want to think about are some
four-letter words (no, not those four-letter words; even though
they get a lot of use and some say it makes them feel good
to use them; they’re junk words in the e-mail of life: delete them!)

The four-letter words I want to give you have to do with LIFE,
and you could add another 4-letter word to that for the GOOD LIFE.

First of all, it’s a matter of being FREE…
FREE to MAKE your LIFE a HARD LIFE or a SOFT LIFE,
FAKE or REAL, NICE or MEAN; to TAKE or GIVE;
to HAVE, to WANT; to HATE or FEAR;
FREE to STOP or STAY or WAIT.

Of course, we all have TIME…
TIME to say, “I WILL, I WILL LIVE
to WISH, to DARE, to RISK, to GROW,
to PLAN, to PRAY, to READ, to PLAY,
to WORK, to REST, to TALK, to SING,
to HEAR, to CARE, to HOPE, to HELP,
to MAKE a HOME.

And the greatest of all the four-letter words: LOVE.

You are FREE to spend your TIME with LOVE.

Thanks and blessings,
Bruce Lancaster, Interim Senior Pastor
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A Message from Carol: April Fools!

Easter this year falls on April 1, April Fools’ Day, something that hasn’t happened since 1956 and won’t again until 2029. The coincidence made me remember reading about a custom in the early Greek Orthodox tradition. The day after Easter, people would gather in the sanctuary to tell stories, jokes, and anecdotes. The rationale was that this was the most fitting way to celebrate the big joke God had pulled on Satan in the resurrection, an April Fools’ prank, if you will. Easter Monday is still a public holiday in over a hundred countries (Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant alike) with special festivities. It was a state holiday in my North Carolina childhood, although it was not begun out of any Christian piety but so that workers in Raleigh could take the day off to see rival colleges play baseball.

Back in the fourth century, the theologians Gregory of Nyssa and St. Augustine set forth the idea of the cross and resurrection as God’s means of deceiving the devil, employing the analogies of fishhook and mousetrap. While the idea of a manipulating God, who uses Jesus as bait, and an easily fooled devil, don’t square well with me, I do like the idea of Easter as a time of laughter, celebration, and triumph. In some sense Easter is a divine joke. Death, which has reigned, is swallowed up. As Paul writes, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (I Corinthians 15:55). God gets the last word and the last laugh.

As Ecclesiastes says, there is a time to laugh. And Easter is certainly that time. We need not fear the enemy death that is defeated. We need not deny that we are dying, for now we are no longer threatened by it. We don’t have to cower before illness or pain because the worst thing that can happen to us is that we die, and so what! In Eugene O’Neill’s play Lazarus Laughed, the resurrected biblical character of Lazarus says at one point, “Laugh! Laugh with me at death! Death is dead! Fear is no more! There is only life! There is only laughter!”

May you have a joyous, laugh-filled Easter!
Carol Strickland, Associate Pastor

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Music Notes

Doxology and lament are opposites. Doxology means praise, and lament is defined as a passionate expression of grief or sorrow. As much as we might like to experience only good things, life brings difficulty and sadness. I probably wrote about this in the fall, just after I attended a conference that focused on the balance of doxology and lament in sacred music. We have to have both. Denying or ignoring the sadness in life won’t make it go away. In fact, instead of resisting, we’re probably better off to embrace all that life brings.

In music we have major keys and minor keys (sometimes described as happy and sad). I know of a famous church where musicians were not allowed to play or sing anything in a minor key. Only major keys were allowed. I don’t think I would last long in a situation like that. For music (or any other art for that matter) to be fully rich, it must have contrasts that express a range of human emotions. Loud and soft, fast and slow, happy and sad, dissonant and consonant. Without contrast, music becomes very bland, like a world without color. We won’t appreciate the consonance if we don’t go through some dissonance.

Holy Week at the end of Lent is a good example. As horrible as the whole story of the crucifixion is, the hymns we sing during Holy Week are some of the most beautiful. Think of the spiritual “Were You There,” and the Lutheran chorales “Ah, Holy Jesus” and “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.” We will certainly have a time of praise on Easter, but before we do, we have to embrace the Passion of Christ.

What language shall I borrow to thank thee, dearest friend,
for this thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to thee.
from O Sacred Head, Now Wounded, attr. Bernard of Clairvaux, trans. James Waddell Alexander

Soli Deo Gloria(To God alone be the Glory),
John Coble, Director of Music and Organist
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FPC Members Travel to Haiti

First Presbyterian Church entered into a partnership with the families of Northeast Haiti many years ago – our families working alongside their families. Our financial resources have been channeled through Athens-based Bethlehem Ministry. This organization and others worked with Episcopal Priest Pere Jean M. Bruno, and members of our community visited the people of his community, Terrier Rouge. They helped plan, design, build, and support a fully staffed clinic, a school which now has 1,200 students, and an economic development engine, all of which seek to lift citizens out of poverty and create opportunities.

Our church’s affection for our friends in Haiti has never been stronger; those who travel there are blessed to witness this friendship’s strength and the improvement in the lives and conditions there.

Just ask Lee Epting, Chris Gazley, Bob Glasscock, Dan Horton, and Smith Wilson. They recently went to help finish a shade structure for the overflowing plant nursery, which can now grow 60,000 plants per year. The Haitian technical staff provides these plants to farmers, along with materials and expertise, not only to reclaim their land, but also to provide income crops.

A job well done, First Presbyterians! When you ask our travelers if our outreach funds are well spent in Haiti, they will tell you what they saw and felt. And they will tell you about the friends they met, and they will tell you that Haiti is a beautiful country filled with beautiful people.
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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 pictures from our church, including many from Holy Week.

His latest albums include:
Palm Sunday
Maundy Thursday
Good Friday
Easter Egg Hunt
Easter flowers and brunch

We are also happy that Dave Beck has joined our team of church photographers! Please visit his photo gallery where you can find his new FPC album with his Palm Sunday pictures.

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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

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