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

Important Events and Messages


Prayers for Healing

Prayers for Healing now meets on Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary.

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Accounting Assistant Position

In response to God’s grace, the mission of First Presbyterian Church of Athens is to create a community where people experience the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, rejoice in worship, and go forth sharing the love of Christ with Athens and the world!

We are a congregation of 1,000 members located in the heart of downtown Athens.  We are seeking a Part-Time Accounting Assistant to provide accounting and bookkeeping assistance to the Church Administrator and to support the work of the Church Administrator and the Senior Pastor.

Responsibilities include:

  • Preparing payrolls and related payroll tax accounting for the Church staff and the First Presbyterian Church Weekday School
  • Recording contributions into the ACS database and general ledger
  • Maintaining contribution records
  • Reconciling monthly bank statements
  • Recording vendor payables and preparing checks
  • Maintaining all accounting files


  • A college degree with a concentration in accounting is preferred
  • Demonstrated computer and clerical skills with experience in MS Word, Excel, and database software (ACS experience is preferred)
  • Ability to work in a team atmosphere
  • Ability to work amid frequent interruptions

This part-time non-exempt position offers a flexible work schedule, paid holidays, and the opportunity to do work that makes a difference. 

To apply, send your resume and cover letter to Roger Burbage. 

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Angel Tree

Will you be someone’s angel this year? There will be a special Salvation Army Angel Tree in Fellowship Hall November 8 – December 8. Please consider purchasing Christmas gifts for one or more of the 150 Salvation Army “angels” (infant –12-year-old child) selected by our church. Detailed instructions are available when you select your “angel.” All gifts are due December 12.

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Casa de Amistad Baskets

Please help provide low-income Latino and Hispanic families with food for a special Christmas meal. Last year First Pres members provided traditional Christmas food for over 100 families. You may write a check to FPC for $40.00 marked, “Casa Baskets” by December 2 and the shopping will be done for you!

Or fill a box, a laundry basket, a large bucket, or an other reusable container with the items listed on the church website. Baskets are due to the church by December 8. Gracias!

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Holiday Meals on Wheels Drivers Needed

Every Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day volunteers from First Presbyterian Church deliver nutritional meals to homebound seniors. By assisting on these days, we allow year-long volunteers to take a break during the holiday season. FPC also pays for the meals on these three days. The cost is generally around $1,000. Volunteers meet at the Council on Aging at 135 Hoyt St. at 10:00 a.m. The routes take 30 minutes to an hour to complete.

If you are interested in delivering meals, or in making a donation to help pay for the meals on these 3 dates, please contact Sally Vandiver at sally.vandiver@gmail.com or contact the church office at 706-543-4338. Since this is a popular family event, please be sure to sign up early as the slots fill quickly.

Donations can be made by writing a check to First Presbyterian with “Meals on Wheels Holiday Donation” noted on the bottom.

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Chair Yoga, Wednesdays 4:30 p.m.

Chair Yoga meets on Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. in Room 310. The cost per class is $10. Come, enjoy gentle stretching.

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Parade Of Lights Hospitality, December 5, 4:30 p.m.

We will provide hospitality in the Atrium for the Downtown Athens Parade of Lights. We will offer refreshments to participants and attendees, and our restrooms will be open to the public. Please contact our Waddel Fellow, Emmaline Michael to help.

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Christmas Pageant and Dinner, December 8, 5:00 p.m.

Everyone is invited to embrace the true meaning of Christmas as told by our children. The pageant will begin at 5:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary and will be followed by dinner in Fellowship Hall. Donations will be gratefully accepted; reservations for dinner are requested on the fellowship pad, via website, or by calling the church office.

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8th Annual Live Nativity, Tuesday, December 10, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

: All are invited to this hands-on experience of the birth of our Savior. Bring your friends and neighbors to enjoy our congregation members and Weekday School families as the Holy Family and wisemen, shepherds, as well as a camel and 20 other live animals! There will be live Christmas music (handbells, guitar, and more), the ESP Joyristas Hot Chocolate, and a Christmas ornament to make in the WDS classrooms. There is “Room in the Inn” for you! Come, let us adore him!

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A Festival Of Lessons and Carols, Dec 15, 8:45 & 11:00 a.m.

Led by the Chancel Choir & Celebration Singers, with music by John Bertalot, Donald Pearson, John Rutter, Mark Schweizer, Richard Shephard.

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Holiday Benevolence Market, December 15, 9:45 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

This year’s Holiday Benevolence Market will be back in our Fellowship Hall. Come visit the nearly 30 non-profit agencies that will have booths set up so you can learn more about the great work being done in our community and beyond. For 24 years, the Holiday Benevolence Market has provided a way to give symbolic gifts to friends and families while helping non-profit agencies continue their work. For those who want to shop early, “shopping lists” will be available in the Narthex and church office beginning December 1 and a table will be set up in the Atrium on Sunday, December 8. Denise Horton, Mission & Outreach Commission.

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Service of the Longest Night, December 15, 7:00 p.m.

Join us at 7 p.m. in the Sanctuary for a service of worship called Service of the Longest Night. The service takes its name from the fact that in the Northern Hemisphere in December, there are more hours of darkness than light, and this service acknowledges that many in our community do not find this to be “the most wonderful time of the year.” We will pray with and for those in our community who may be hurting and grieving, while remembering that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

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Christmas Joy Offering, December 22

God has given us the perfect gift in Jesus: Emmanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Let us share our gifts and be with those who have need. This special offering assists church workers and encourages students of color. Please be generous on December 22.

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Advent + Christmas @ FPC

Here is a list of our Advent and Christmas services, activities, and giving opportunities as we prepare for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Casa de Amistad Baskets
Christmas Pageant & Dinner
Live Nativity
A Festival of Lessons & Carols
Holiday Benevolence Market
Service of the Longest Night
Holiday Meals on Wheels
Christmas Joy Offering
– Family Christmas Eve Service, Dec. 24, 4:00 p.m.
– Candlelight Services, Dec. 24, 6:00 and 8:00 p.m.

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Ryan’s Reflections

Dear friends in Christ,

One of the best things that Amy and I have done in the past decade began with an investment of a little more than $100 and a few hours of time in a course called Financial Peace University (FPU).

About eight years ago, from the outside looking in, Amy and I were in great shape. We had good jobs, late model cars, a beautiful home, and adorable newborn twins. But between seminary student loans, car payments, financed furniture, and a small stack of credit cards, we were thousands of dollars in debt and just barely treading water.

We were sick and tired of being sick and tired about money, and God began to move in our lives. A friend encouraged us to sign up for a course at our church called Financial Peace University, and in a few short weeks, we discovered a roadmap for getting out of debt, building an emergency fund, and taking control of our financial future. But what’s more, Amy and I came together as a team to manage God’s money in God’s ways.

Amy and I want to share the blessing of FPU with our new community here in Athens. For the first nine Sundays of 2020, beginning January 5 from 1 to 2:30 p.m., Amy and I will be hosting a section of Financial Peace University in the Moses Waddel Room here at First Presbyterian Church.

Whether you’re just starting out in life, or whether you’ve been around the block a time or two, we believe there’s something for everyone to learn in Financial Peace University. This course changed the trajectory of our lives and the lives of our children for the better, and we’re praying that you will join us on this journey.

To learn more and to register, visit here.

Peace be with you and yours,

Ryan, Senior Pastor

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A Message from Carol: Beating The Blues

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or is it? Holiday time can be more blue than merry, especially if you are grieving the loss of someone dear. Here are some tips that might help:

• DON’T over eat, over drink, over spend, or expect too much. These just pile on the stress.

• DO exercise, get enough sleep, enjoy as much sunshine as you can, and keep it simple. Good advice for anytime. Pace, prioritize, say “no” to keep it simple.

• PLAN time together (in person or by phone/Skype) with loving and supportive family and friends. Isolation can be lonely.

• BE OPEN to new traditions. Ditch rituals that no longer work and try something different.

• HONOR your feelings. You don’t have to pretend to be happy.

• HELP SOMEONE ELSE. It’s hard to feel down if you are doing something for another.

• COUNT your blessings. Gratitude can give you perspective.

• REDISCOVER the reasons for the seasons of Advent and Christmas. Nurture your faith with spiritual practices like prayer, worship, Bible reading, hymnody.

One final note: there is a difference between the holiday blues, which typically go away when the holiday season ends, and more severe depression, which lasts longer and interferes with activities of daily living. If the holiday season passes and you’re still feeling depressed or anxious, it’s best to consult with a medical professional.

Love, Carol

Carol Strickland, Associate Pastor

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Music Notes

During the First World War, Eric Milner-White was senior chaplain to the 7th Infantry Division, known as “the Immortal Seventh.” They were far from immortal, as they had taken part in most of major battles on the Western Front and lost around 68,000 men. In 1918, Milner-White became Dean of King’s College in Cambridge. In those dark times after the war, people were dealing with tremendous grief, and their faith had been shaken or lost entirely. Milner-White decided to start a new tradition, a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, which has been held every year starting in 1918. In it, he wished to communicate “the loving purposes of God, from the Creation to the Incarnation.” We will join churches and communities around the world carrying on this great tradition as we prepare to celebrate again the coming of our Emmanuel, God with us.

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

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Updates on John Kipp

July 12, 2019

Dear friends in Christ,

I write to bring you important news regarding The Rev. Dr. John Kipp, who has faithfully served First Presbyterian Church in a variety of capacities for sixteen years. The information that follows is shared with the full permission of the Kipps.

As you may know, during worship on Sunday, May 19, John became ill and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Initially, doctors suspected a minor stroke or seizure, but tests were inconclusive, and John was sent home with orders to rest and report for additional testing.

In recent days, John has been diagnosed with glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer. At present, he is in no pain and in good spirits, and John and Sara are in prayer and conversation about what course of action they will pursue. John is neither afraid nor despairing. Sara reports that after receiving the diagnosis, John shook the doctor’s hand and said, “Thank you, my friend.”

In the meantime, John has discerned the voice of the Spirit calling him to bring his years of pastoral ministry with First Presbyterian Church to a close. While John’s formal role as Parish Associate will be dissolved by action of the Session, by no means does it end the Kipps’ relationship with First Presbyterian Church; John and Sara plan to participate in the life of the congregation as they are able.  Cards and letters of appreciation and encouragement would be most welcomed. You can write to the Kipps at 1110 Jeremy Dr., Watkinsville, GA 30677.

While there is no “replacing” a pastor like John, the leadership of First Presbyterian Church is hard at work developing plans to ensure that the ministry that he stewarded so faithfully for so long will continue. Please continue to pray for the Kipps, for John’s medical team, and for the members, friends, and leaders of First Presbyterian Church who have been so richly blessed by his ministry among us.

May the peace of Christ be with you,

Ryan J. Baer, Senior Pastor

A Message from Carol: A Heavenly Visit with the Kipps

On September 12, about thirty First Presbyterians wearing red shirts were welcomed by John and Sara Kipp into their home for a musical pastoral visit. The group, led by our Director of Music John Coble, was comprised of members of The Mellows plus others from our Sunday morning choir and one off-key interloper (me). Beginning with old-time gospel hymns like “The Church in the Wildwood,” then Tin Pan Alley tunes like “Hello! Ma Baby,” followed by patriotic songs like “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” and ending with “Auld Lang Syne,” we encircled John and Sarah with a wreath of melody and friendship. What might have been a concert was actually a sing-along. John and Sara are regulars with The Mellows. For years, they have donned their red polo shirts every Thursday and stood alongside others serenading folks at senior centers in and around Athens. So, they knew the songs. John, who has become a man of few words since the onset of his brain cancer, sang every syllable of every song.

That evening my husband Jack remarked to me, “That was certainly a cloud of witnesses today.” (see Hebrews 12:1.) How true! We were there on behalf of the whole church testifying together in song to our faith, hope, and love. We were the communion of saints, saints marching in (as we sang so heartily) to heaven.

The heavenly streets of gold and gates of pearl described in Revelation don’t do much for me. But there’s lots of singing in the afterlife, according to that vision. And I’m willing to bet that at least some of the singers will be robed in red shirts.

Carol Strickland, Associate Pastor

October 30, 2019

The Congregational Care Commission has a Meal Train scheduled through December 14. If you would like to volunteer, please click here.

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Love Notes for the Kipps

Blank cards are in your bulletin for those wishing to write encouraging notes to John and Sara Kipp, which will be delivered to them. Baskets to collect the cards are in the Narthex and in the Atrium. If you would like to mail a card, please send it to: 180 Keese Ln, Fair Play, SC 29643. Please keep the Kipps in your prayers.

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Godspeed Laura McHugh!

We give thanks this month for the good and faithful ministry of Laura McHugh, who retires after ten years of service to First Presbyterian Church as our Accountant. Laura plans to spend more time with her husband, her sons, and their families, one of which is expecting a new addition in 2020! Not only has Laura’s accounting work been impeccable, but she has served the church with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love, and she will be sorely missed. Laura’s last day in the office is December 5, but if you’d like to send expressions of gratitude for her service, you may mail them to her at 1220 Nona Dr., Athens, 30606.

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Family Promise Of Athens (Formerly IHNA)

Thank you to all of the volunteers who helped with the November host week for Family Promise and those who have served throughout the year. Your help to the 11 families hosted in 2019 was invaluable. Your efforts allowed them the opportunity to get on their feet and most are now living in their own apartment, working, and doing well. THANK YOU! Our 2020 host week kicks off on March 22. If you are interested in volunteering, please email boatwrightsusan@gmail.com or frankwsherrill@gmail.com.

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FPC Welcomes New Parish Associate

Dear friends in Christ,

When I arrived at First Presbyterian Church last February, Dr. John Kipp shared with me that he would gladly serve as Parish Associate for Pastoral Care for one more year, but that at the age of 82, he would soon be ready to take a step back from parish ministry.

I thanked him profusely and told him that we would be glad to have him for as long as he was willing to serve. At the same time, I asked him to begin praying that God would reveal a candidate who might follow him in the ministry he had stewarded so faithfully, and I began to do the same.

Much to our regret, in recent months our transition plan was suddenly accelerated when John was diagnosed with cancer. On Monday, August 12, with thanksgiving for his 16 years of faithful service to First Presbyterian Church of Athens, the Session accepted John’s request to be released from his role as Parish Associate for Pastoral Care.

While we continue to give thanks for John’s service among us and as we continue to lift the Kipps in prayer, we also give thanks to God for leading us to the candidate who will continue to steward our ministries of pastoral care and visitation.

On Monday, August 12, the Session approved a part time covenant with the Reverend Margaret Davis to begin serving First Presbyterian Church as Parish Associate for Pastoral Care effective August 19. While most of her time will be spent visiting in senior care facilities, hospitals, and the homes of our homebound members and friends, Margaret will support the Congregational Care Commission and our lay callers and Stephen Ministers.

Margaret is no stranger to First Presbyterian Church; for several years, she and her husband Ben and their young son Robby have actively participated in the life of the congregation, and Margaret has supplied our pulpit on two Sundays within the past twelve months.

A North Carolina native, Margaret is a graduate of Duke University and Columbia Theological Seminary. Over the past 15 years, she has served congregations in Concord, N.C., Huntsville, Ala., Atlanta, Decatur, and Watkinsville. Dr. Tara Bulger, Senior Pastor of FPC Huntsville, reports that pastoral care was a key piece of Margaret’s ministry portfolio during her time as Associate Pastor there, and to this day, the people of Huntsville still talk about her gifts for ministry with fondness.

Please join me in praying and giving thanks for the ministries of John Kipp, Margaret Davis, and for the members, friends, and leaders of First Presbyterian Church of Athens.

Yours in Christ,

Ryan Baer
Senior Pastor

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Our Church Family – Photo Gallery

We are blessed to have wonderful photographers in our church! We miss Rick Simpson, who has moved away, but who took beautiful photographs of church services, volunteer programs, and other FPC activities for many years. You can visit his photo gallery to find an album with pictures from our church.

We are also happy that Dave Beck has joined our team of church photographers! Please visit his photo gallery where you can find his FPC album. Here are some of his recent pictures:

Christmas Pageant & Dinner, December 8
Atrium Refreshments, November 17
Thanksgiving Food Bag Sunday, December 8
Blessing of the Animals, September 28
Fellowship@First: Picnic with UGA Redcoat Band, September 20
Fall Kickoff Brunch, August 18
Senior Adult Sunday, July 28
Isaac Toney, Guest Preacher, June 30
Vacation Bible School: May 28May 29May 31

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Worship With Us

Worship Times

Sunday Worship: 8:45 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

Sunday School
Sunday School Begins August 25, 9:45 – 10:40 a.m.

Children’s Sunday School
Youth Sunday School
Adult Sunday School

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