…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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Meet Jeremy, Thornwell Offering, November 19

Jeremy became the man of the house when he was 11. His father was absent and his mother was addicted to gambling. She spent all of her money on gambling while Jeremy kept his six younger brothers and sisters safe and fed. Jeremy spent so much time caring for his siblings that he didn’t have time for his school work. As a result, he could barely read in the sixth grade and was failing in school.

Eventually, Jeremy’s school intervened. Jeremy and his siblings came to live at Thornwell, where their basic needs were met, without Jeremy having to be the one to do it. Jeremy was finally able to focus on his school work. Thornwell’s Learning Center staff and Jeremy’s family teachers helped him catch up in reading. Within months, Jeremy was making straight A’s. He gained two grade levels through his hard work and the coaching of caring adults at Thornwell and completed The Lord of the Rings, a challenging book for any eighth grader.

On November 19 we will receive our special offering for Thornwell. Founded by Presbyterians in 1875 as an orphanage, Thornwell currently provides hope for hurting children in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida via:

• Safe and loving homes through family-style residential care and foster care families
• Hope for a brighter future through academic programs as well as community- based programs
• Wholeness and healing through the nurturing love of Jesus and professional counseling and therapy.

Thank you for giving generously.
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6th Annual Live Nativity, Thursday, November 30, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

The Weekday School, in partnership with the church, presents the true Christmas story in this special hands-on experience for the Athens community. We will have the Holy Family, the camel, and 20 other live animals, wise men, and shepherds. Of course baby Jesus will be the focus of the evening. Come enjoy live Christmas music in several different areas during the evening.The children will enjoy making Christmas ornaments in the Weekday School classrooms and refreshments in the Children’s Ministry Suite.

Please use this as an opportunity to invite neighbors, friends, colleagues, and community members to experience this special Christmas gift from our church and school to Athens! It’s also a great way to bring people into our church for the first time who may be looking for a church home.

We need your help! If you can be a wise man (or woman,) shepherd, holy family (families with a baby less than a year old), or help with set-up, clean-up, greeting, or advertising, please email me here TODAY!

Elaine Johnson, Director of Weekday School
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Annual Holiday Benevolence Market, Sunday, November 19, 5:30 p.m.

This year’s Holiday Benevolence Market will be held in conjunction with the 2nd Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Worship which will be on Sunday, November 19, in the Grand Hall of the UGA Tate Student Center at 4:30 p.m. (Please see next page). The Holiday Benevolence Market will immediately follow worship at 5:30 p.m. in the corridor outside the Grand Hall.

The Holiday Benevolence Market provides the opportunity to buy “symbolic gifts” from more than 30 local non-profit organizations. The organizations will have table-top displays providing information about their programs and goals, as well as information on the “gifts” they would like to receive. The Benevolence Market provides an alternative to traditional holiday gifts for relatives, friends, and teachers. Many gifts are in the category of $1-$3 making them ideal for children.

While we are hoping many members will attend the Interfaith Thanksgiving Worship and shop afterwards, shopping lists will also be available in the Atrium throughout November for those unable to attend in person.

Denise Horton, Chair, Mission & Outreach Commission
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Interfaith Thanksgiving Worship, Sunday, November 19, 4:30 p.m.

All are invited to join our Athens friends and neighbors in the Grand Hall of the Tate Center on the UGA campus for this worship experience for all faith groups (Christians, Jews, Muslims, et al.), followed by the Holiday Benevolence Market. Parking will be free.

More than 600 people attended last year’s inaugural Interfaith Thanksgiving Worship. The sponsor, Interfaith Clergy Partnership of Greater Athens, includes representatives of more than 50 congregations in the Athens area. In a time when there is so much division, let’s unite in Thanksgiving.
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Downtown Parade of Lights Hospitality, December 7, 5:00 p.m.

We will provide hospitality again this year at the front of the church for the Downtown Athens Parade of Lights. We will have cookies, hot chocolate, and coffee for the participants as they gather and for families and friends attending the parade. Our restrooms will also be available for the public. To help, please contact Christian Cordon
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Christmas Pageant and Dinner, December 10, 5:00 p.m.

Our children will lead us in this special tradition for the whole church family, followed by dinner in Fellowship Hall. Parents, please bring your children to the Children’s Ministry Suite by 4:30 p.m. so they have plenty of time to get into costume. There will also be a rehearsal at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 9 in the Sanctuary.

Please make your reservation for the Christmas dinner online, with the church office, or on the Fellowship Pad by Monday December 4 at 12:00 p.m. $8 for adults, $5 children and students, $20 max per family.
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Messiah Sing-Along, December 11, 7:00 p.m.

Everyone is invited to join local congregations and sing along or just enjoy this Christmas music favorite. There will be no rehearsals or pressure, only fun. Oconee Presbyterian Church, 2601 Hog Mountain Rd., Watkinsville.
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Senior Adult Ministry Christmas Tea, December 14, 2:00 p.m.

All senior adults are cordially invited to a festive tea party and time of fellowship. Please RSVP to the church office by December 7 at 706-543-4338 or email here.
We are happy to assist with any transportation needs.
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A Festival of Lessons & Carols, December 17, 8:45 & 11:00 a.m.

This special service will include Advent and Christmas carols and hymns sung by the Chancel Choir, the Celebration Singers, and the congregation. This promises to be a meaningful part of our preparation to celebrate again the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
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Christmas Joy Offering, December 17

Each year we celebrate the gift of Jesus Christ, our Savior. By giving to this offering, you honor this gift by providing assistance to current and retired church workers in their time of need and developing our future leaders at Presbyterian-related racial ethnic schools and colleges.
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Christmas Eve, December 24

Morning Services:
Christmas Eve morning we will have our regular services at 8:45 and 11:00 a.m. with special Christmas music.

Evening Services:
We will have our traditional Christmas Eve services with the family service at 4:00 p.m. and candlelight communion services at 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. Please plan to join us on this most holy of nights as we celebrate the birth of our savior.

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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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Bruce’s Blog

My Friends,

A few weeks ago, I said in my sermon that “Without apology, I ask you to give to the mission and ministries of First Presbyterian Church….All that is done here is for God, and it is provided for by a generous and joyous response of God’s people – a choice that reveals the character of the members of this church.”

So as we prepare to receive our commitments on Sunday, November 5 toward our proposed ministry and mission budget of $1,449,783 in 2018, I share these thoughts with you….

We give, not because God needs our money, but because giving helps us grow as Christians. I recently heard the Reverend Karl Travis, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Ft. Worth, Texas, say about giving:

1. The spiritual practice of generosity begins with a promise, a promise to share. It is a promise to ourselves and God.
2. Generosity isn’t measured first by the amount but rather by the proportion of the giver’s abundance.
3. Disciplines are self-confirming. Only by engaging them can we learn of their value. This is true of prayer, of Bible study, of worship, and certainly of generosity. We must keep at it.

A story to help illustrate the truth that giving is a joyful spiritual discipline: A church member told his pastor, “I don’t pledge.” His pastor asked, “Do you have a mortgage?” “Yes,” the member replied. “Do you make car payments?” the pastor continued. “Yes,” the man said. “It seems to me you make a lot of pledges,” the pastor concluded. “Is God worthy of one?”

A pledge is your ‘promissory prayer’ that can transform your giving into a spiritual discipline.

The amount we give to God comes after we remember to thank God – after we add up the amount of our commitment and the amount of our joy to give 100% of ourselves – that’s the spiritual math that will give you an amount.

It is because of the generosity of God that this church has done all the great things it has accomplished, is doing great things now, and will be doing great things in the future.

You’ve heard it said, “Give until it hurts.” I say, “Give until it feels good!”

Thanks and blessings,
Bruce Lancaster, Interim Senior Pastor
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A Message from Carol: Christmas at the Movies

I heard someone say one time that if Jesus were alive today, he would make movies. After all, stories (specifically parables) are his signature form of communication. We all know how compelling a story can be and how it can communicate on many different levels. Stories engage our imagination. They convey insight and truth in surprising ways. They entertain. Christians are “People of the Book,” and I would argue that our Book (the Bible) is primarily a narrative. Stories are at the very core of our faith.

So, during Advent, First Presbyterian Church is going to the movies. Our Sunday sermons will highlight popular holiday films, seeing how these Christmas stories intertwine with “THE” Christmas story. We encourage you to watch these movies at home on cable or find them on Netflix or Amazon. You might even invite your Sunday School class or Presbyterian Women Circle over to watch them together. Pop some popcorn, pour some hot chocolate, sit back, and enjoy!

The movies are:
1st Sunday of Advent, December 3, “A Christmas Carol”
2nd Sunday of Advent, December 10, “Elf”
4th Sunday of Advent, December 24 morning, “It’s a Wonderful Life”
Christmas Eve, “Miracle on 34th Street”
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Music Notes

“The Road to the Isles” found in Celtic Daily Prayer To the singing of the harvest-song goes the life of a year, or of all the years – the summer that is gone, the winter that is coming; the ones who have sown but are not here to reap; the ones who will sow when the reapers that are have been forgotten; the Good Being who makes the sun shine and the corn ripen. There may be the breath of a sigh in that song, but there is also in it a whole storm of rapture.

Gladness must come to its own some time; for the sorrows, there are all the times. To the harvest-field go we, then, for life as it ought to be. The sickle is fate, the hand that holds it is ours, for once we will be the conqueror. Cut we down a sorrow here and a pain there, bind them, and make them our slaves. – Kenneth McLeod

Soli Deo Gloria (To God alone be the Glory),
John Coble, Director of Music and Organist
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Interfaith Hospitality Network of Athens

Since we are in the season of Thanksgiving, your IHNA coordinating team would like to express our thanks for many generous and thoughtful acts throughout the entire year that benefited our First Presbyterian Church IHNA program. From the dropping off of a pack of diapers to the donation of towels or sheets to volunteering time or food to financial contributions, our outreach is a compilation of many gifts from so many in our congregation and beyond.

We are especially grateful for the recent donation of approximately 500 childrens books by Sue and Larry Gray. Wow! These beautiful books are from their personal library that they’ve established over many years. We feel so blessed that they chose our IHNA ministry for this gift. Sue’s desire was to have the books go to children who don’t have ready access to their own books and it’s our intention to carry out that desire. If you see Sue or Larry around, say thanks. We say thanks a million for your generosity and that of all the others who have made our ministry possible this year.

Michelle Clendenen-Shaw, Co-Coordinator Patty Whiten, Co-Coordinator David Alper, CCI, Nan and Charles Cantrell, Rob Haire, Grace Lu, Jean Martin-Williams, Pat Wilson, 2017 IHNA Coordinating Team
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Peace & Global Witness Offering Update

First Presbyterian Church gave $963 to this offering on October 1. The Athens Justice Coalition of Care recieved 25%. Your gifts make an important difference.
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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.

You may know Carl Bergmann as a co-leader of the Inquirers Sunday School Class, but he can also be found “behind the scenes” or should I say in The PIT? During every host week for Interfaith Hospitality Network of Athens, he helps set up for the arrival of our guests on Sunday and also helps takes down everything upon their departure the next Sunday. He is a ball of fire, a bundle of energy, a tireless worker, and a large presence for those who serve with him. During our April host week, he was mentoring a couple of Serve UGA students who’d volunteered to help us. Carl immediately connected with them, showed them how they could help, and answered the many questions they had about how IHNA worked in the Athens area and specifically within our congregation. He gets the job done well and with no fanfare! Thank him for his dedication and dependability.

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

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