…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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Bookless Book Group, January 24, 11:30 a.m.

A group of women meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month to enjoy lunch and conversation. We meet at a variety of restaurants and invite anyone interested to join us. Our next meetings will be January 10 at Heirloom Cafe and Fresh Market, 815 N. Chase St. and January 24 at South Kitchen + Bar, 247 E. Washington St.
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Voices of Truth concert, Sunday, January 14, 4:00 p.m.

In celebration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., The Athens Voices of Truth choir will perform in our sanctuary. Under the direction of James R. Smith, they will present a concert of gospel music, traditional hymns, spirituals, and beautiful anthems.

This unique choir has offered musical education and performance to the Athens community for over 36 years. The Voices of Truth have performed across the southeast, including singing for the opening festivities welcoming the Olympic Torch to Athens in 1996. In 2001, they sang at the Mormon Tabernacle as part of the Intermountain Choral Festival. Mr. Smith says, “Our first priority is to know the Lord. If you know something about Him, you know what you’re singing about.”
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MLK Day of Service, January 15, 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m

As a celebration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and commitment to service, Athens-Clarke County is committed to making Monday, January 15, “A Day On, Not A Day Off.” The Kick-Off Celebration will be 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. at Clarke Central High School gymnasium, and volunteers will work from 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at one of more than a dozen sites in our community.

This is a terrific opportunity to help out at a variety of social service agencies. See the complete list of participating organizations and details. You may register there to help organizers plan. You can also sign up with the individual agencies or the day of the event at Clarke Central High School.

For many years, FPC members have helped at the Project Safe Thrift Store, so please join fellow members there if you would like. However you sign up, please list your First Presbyterian Church affiliation. We know our members are active throughout Athens. Let others know it, too!

Denise Horton, Chair, Mission & Outreach Commission
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Men’s Basketball begins January 15

FPC Men’s Basketball, Begins January 15, If you’re interested in joining the FPC Men’s Basketball team, please contact Dan Trier. Games will be Monday nights at 6:30, 7:15, or 8:15 and are played at Tuckston United Methodist Church on Lexington Rd.)
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Wed@First starts January 17

Wed@First provides an opportunity to experience Christian fellowship and growth in a relaxed atmosphere. It features a delicious dinner, childrens’ choirs, and classes for adults on a variety of topics beginning as early as 3:00 p.m. and ending at 7:30 p.m. Dinner opens at 5:45 p.m. Please make dinner reservations on the Fellowship Pad on Sunday mornings, online at firstpresathens.org, or by contacting the church office by Mondays at 12:00 p.m. ($8 for adults, $5 children/students, $20 max per family). Our after-dinner program, from 6:30-7:30 p.m., will begin with a study led by Dr. Bruce Lancaster, “How the Bible Came to Be.”.
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PTP Trip to UGA Veterinary Teaching Hospital, January 23, 9:30 a.m.

The Prime Time Presbyterians will tour the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine’s Teaching Hospital on College Station Road on Tuesday, January 23. We will meet together for an information session prior to the one-hour walking tour, then be divided into smaller groups for the tour of the facility.

Due to limited visitor parking on the Hospital campus, we will meet at the Eastside Kroger Shopping Center parking lot on College Station Road at 9:30 a.m. and carpool. After the tour we will enjoy lunch at Fatz Restaurant on Lexington Road.

The RSVP deadline is Thursday, January 18. Please RSVP to Judy Howell or call 706-549-2888.
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Annual Congregational Meeting and Lunch, January 28, 12:00 p.m.

Everyone is invited! At this meeting the Annual Report will be received, a report from the Treasurer will be given, and four FPC members will be elected to the Nominations and Elections Committee.

Honduras Fundraiser:
Lunch will be provided by the youth as a fundraiser to help defray expenses of the mission trip to Honduras in July
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IHNA Host Week, February 4-11

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!

Sign-up in the Atrium on Sunday for our first Interfaith Hospitality Network of Athens host week of the year. You may also check the online calendar or email Patty Whiten to volunteer. Thank you for helping provide warmth of shelter and hospitality to our guests.

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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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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Messages

Bruce’s Blog

My Friends,

We’ll make our resolutions about procrastinating and organizing and dieting and exercising. But how many days into the new year will it be before we break those resolutions about procrastinating and organizing and dieting and exercising?

More than a New Year’s resolution, what we really seek is a life that is steady and focused and shaped by God’s will. Isn’t that why we come to worship, why we pray, why we share in fellowship groups and mission activities? We seek a time and place to hear God’s word and offer our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ.

So much of how we live is scrambling, fumbling, rummaging around the day-to-day journeys we make. We forget what quietness and contemplation are, even forgetting who God is and how God was revealed in the man from Galilee, Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus knew what it was like to be pressed in by life – but he knew the steadiness that kept him from ever abandoning his commitment to God, no matter the pressure. More than making a resolution, we pray we could be like him.

Each day, let’s pray for more faith with less cockiness, more hope with less arrogance, more love with less boastfulness, more serenity with less apprehension, more honesty with less denial.

When we do that, by the power of the Spirit we can become more of who God wants us to be, and by God’s grace, we can be focused and steadied and shaped by God’s will.

And what a happy new year that will be!

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

Epiphany always falls on January 6. In Western Church tradition, Epiphany celebrates the visit of the Magi. At our house, it’s the deadline for undecorating our Christmas tree, for Epiphany comes at the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Only Matthew, in his second chapter, tells the story of the Magi, or wise men. Perhaps Zoroastrian priests, they were foreigners and, most importantly, Gentiles, i.e. “others.” But this may not come as a surprise to his readers as already in chapter one he has hinted that God’s purposes in Jesus extend beyond the Jews. In Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, he includes five women (!) all of whom, except Mary, are Gentiles or have Gentile connections.

The Gentile Magi observe cosmic signs heralding the birth of a king. This king, however, is in stark contrast to Herod, and the current king is threatened. Herod’s fear shows just how fragile his position is. Herods know that their positions require constant vigilance because any change may make their insecure positions more insecure. Herods rule by employing fear to secure their power. They are also crafty.

Calling the chief priests and scribes, who know their Bible, Herod ascertains that the Messiah will not come from Jerusalem, but from Bethlehem (see Micah 5:2). Bethlehem has never been a seat of power, but then this king’s power will be that of a good shepherd who rules not by force but by love. Herod calls the Magi in secret and tells them to find the royal child that he, too, may come and worship him.

The Magi do find Jesus and are overwhelmed with joy. Warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they go to their own country another way. It seems that God did not intend for them to stay in Israel, but to go home, becoming a witness to others.

Meanwhile, Herod executes a plan of genocide in hopes of eliminating any threat to his throne. We don’t include this “detail” in our Christmas celebrations, but the slaughter of the innocents emphasizes that the king which the Magi came to pay homage to was born into the “real world,” a place where children continue to be sacrificed to protect the power of tyrants. The alternative that Jesus represents is a world ruled by the love that moves the sun and stars, the love that calms the wind and sea, the love that even raises the dead. From the beginning, Gentiles, as well as Jews, have responded to that love.

Carol Strickland, Associate Pastor

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Music Notes

Christmas Joy

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky has withdrawn,
When the kings see their prophesy rightly fulfilled,
When the princes and shepherds have gone;

Then the true work of Christmas begins.

To find the lost,
To heal the broken hearts,
To feed the hungry,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among all brothers,
To make music in the heart.

– Howard Thurman

Soli Deo Gloria (To God alone be the Glory),
John Coble, Director of Music and Organist
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Commitment Sunday Update: Bearing Fruit

The response to Commitment Sunday has been good. Thank you to everyone who has already pledged.

There are still a number of members from whom we hope to hear. It will help our church leaders plan the 2018 budget if we can receive pledge cards prior to year-end. You may turn in your pledge in the offering plate on Sunday, in the church office, or you may pledge online. Additional pledge cards are available in the Narthex or in the church office. Thank you for prayerfully considering your commitment.
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Food 2 Kids

Thank you to the Presbyterian Women for donating 20 pounds of food in November to the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia.
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Bicentennial 2020

Plans are moving forward for the year-long celebration of the 200-year history of our church in 2020. Will you join a sub-committee and help us? We hope to have an activity or event each month of that year, including several children’s programs and an event on the UGA campus in the fall. Did you know FPC first met on campus in 1820 and stayed there until we moved to our present building in 1855?

We can learn from our 200-year history and set a road map for the future. We will announce our next meeting in January. Please let me know how you would like to be involved.

Diane Adams, Chair, Bicentennial 2020 Committee, 706-255-9200
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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. We will publish the 2018 training dates once they’re set.

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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Bringing Christmas Cheer

Every year, our FPC family gives to others in our community. This year was no exception. Our members bought gifts for 125 children through the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.

Ten members worked together to pack 99 boxes with corn flour, dried chili peppers, jalapeno peppers, rice, beans, and other items that were distributed to Latino families through a partnership with Casa de Amistad and Catedral de Fe, the home church of our Mission & Outreach Waddel Fellow, Christian Cordon.

Our Christmas Joy Offering totaled $1,071. Half of that money is used for emergency assistance to current and retired Presbyterian employees while the other half is used to aid students attending Presbyterian-related racial ethnic schools and colleges.

We provided hospitality and warmth for participants in this year’s Christmas parade. And our members once again volunteered to pay for and deliver Meals on Wheels on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day to those who would otherwise not receive a hot meal.

Thank you for all you do to demonstrate our mission to create a community where we seek the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, rejoice in worship, and go forth sharing the love of Christ with Athens and the world.

– Denise Horton, Chair, Mission & Outreach Commission
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Thornwell Offering Update

First Presbyterian Church gave $2,168.50 to Thornwell Homes through our special offering in November. This will help provide safe and loving residential and foster homes, as well as academic programs and professional counseling for children in need in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Thank you!
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We Get Letters!

Hi. Just wanted to give First Pres a heartfelt thanks for opening your doors for the parade participants last night. It was a lifesaver! Thanks for the kindness.

Sincerely,
Amy Bramblett
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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

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