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.
Weekday School Registration, begins January 15
Please call our director, Elaine Johnson, at 706-206-8180 to schedule a tour. Our
Weekday School is celebrating 52 years of serving Athens children, ages infant
through five years.
Project Safe Work Day, January 21, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Please join our team from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. sorting clothes and other items for sale
to benefit victims of domestic violence. To volunteer or for questions please contact Kitty Donnan. The Project Safe Thrift Store is located in the Bell’s Shopping Center, 955 Hawthorne Ave.
MLK Day of Service, January 21, 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 21, “A Day On, Not A Day Off.” The Kick-Off Celebration will be 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. at Cedar Shoals High School gymnasium, and volunteers will work from 9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at one of more than twenty sites in our community.
This is a terrific opportunity to help out at a variety of social service agencies. To see the complete list of participating organizations and details, visit their website. You may register there to help organizers plan. You can also sign up with the individual agencies or the day of the event at Cedar Shoals 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, Mission & Outreach Commission
Bookless Book Group, January 23, 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 meeting will be:
January 23 – Bone Island Grill House, 2055 Oconee Connector
PTP Tour of Russian Art at GMOA, January 23, 2:00 p.m.
The Primetime Presbyterians will go to the Georgia Museum of Art to tour the rare Belosselsky-Belozersky Collection. We will meet in the FPC parking lot at 1:15 p.m. Please email Judy Burch or call her at 912-602-0766 by January 21 if you would like to ride the van. If you would like to meet us at the museum, you may park in their garage. There is a charge for parking.
Annual Congregational Meeting & Lunch & Bruce’s Last Sunday, January 27, 12:00 p.m.
We are so grateful to Dr. Bruce Lancaster and his wife, Cathi, for all they have meant to FPC during this interim time. Please thank them at our Annual Congregational Meeting & Lunch, which falls on their last Sunday with us. We will receive the Annual Report, Treasurer’s Report, 2019 Budget, and four FPC members will be elected to the Nominations and Elections Committee. There is no charge for lunch, but reservations are requested online or in the church office by January 22.
Youth Sunday, February 3, 8:45 & 11:00 a.m.
Our youth are already hard at work preparing for Youth Sunday. We look forward to supporting them as they lead us in worship with the theme, “Welcome to the Table.”
Fellowship@First: Pizza Night, February 6, 5:45 p.m.
Red Cross Blood Drive, February 10, 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
IHNA Host Week, February 10-17
We are looking forward to another year of service to families in need through the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Athens. The sign-up sheet for our next host week in February is in the Atrium; please sign up to be an evening or overnight host, cook a meal, or help with the laundry that accumulates throughout the week. In the past, we have had many wonderful volunteers. We also hope to gain many new volunteers in 2019!
You may sign up in the Atrium or e-mail us with your requested slot. Please also let us know if you would like to be added to the IHNA contact list. We will contact you prior to host weeks and update you on training and volunteer opportunities (you will need to participate in a brief training prior to volunteering for the first time).
Thank you for your service to this wonderful program.
Susan Boatwright and Frank Sherrill, IHNA Co-Coordinators
Core Godly Play Training, February 28 – March 2
FPC will be hosting our second Core Godly Play Training:
Thursday, February 28, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Friday, March 1, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 2, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Please contact Natalie Bishop to learn more or if you are interested in training as a Godly Play Storyteller. More details and registration information is available here. Please be sure to contact Natalie before you register for this training.
Mardi Gras Mission Gala, March 3
Can you donate an item, service, or experience for the silent auction at our Mardi Gras Mission Gala next March? Maybe a treasure in your attic, an hour of professional services, cooking for a dinner party, or a weekend at your vacation home? Donation forms are online and in the church office. Deadline is January 24.
The Pastor Nominating Committee will be making a recommendation for the Senior Pastor for First Presbyterian Church at the Called Congregational Meeting on January 6.
They will present the candidate’s name, terms of call, and share their thoughts on why this person is the one whom they believe God has called to serve with you.
As I said in my very first sermon here, “Success is not measured by how quickly a minister is called; success is measured by how the time is well spent in calling the minister God has chosen.”
Pending the approval of their recommendation, my last day in the office will be Friday, January 25, and my last Sunday with you will be January 27.
Cathi and I want to thank you for your friendship during our time with First Presbyterian Church.
We appreciate your kind words and generous spirit that made us feel at home, especially as Athens will be home when I do retire. We will be forever grateful.
It has been a privilege and honor to be part of this gifted and dedicated staff at FPC. I valued their leadership and support as we worked together during this time of transition.
I am grateful for the work of the Pastor Nominating Committee, and I am excited for you as you begin this new path on your journey of faith with a new minister.
We will keep you all in our prayers, and you will always have a special place in our hearts.
With love and blessings,
Bruce Lancaster, Interim Senior Pastor
A Message from Carol: Call
I’ve been thinking a lot about “call” lately. Our congregation is excited over extending a call to a new pastor. Soon we will be ordaining and installing new Session members who have answered the call to serve this congregation. But calls aren’t just for ministers and Ruling Elders. At
my mother’s inurnment service in December, the organist played her favorite hymn, “Jesus Calls Us.” While it refers to Jesus calling his first disciples by the Galilean lake, its real emphasis is on Jesus calling each of us. “Day by day his sweet voice soundeth saying, ‘Christian, follow me!’”
To answer a call, first you have to hear it. You have to be paying attention. Mindfulness is a buzz word these days. In our days filled with a zillion distractions, it’s not easy to be mindful, to notice and listen with curiosity, openness, and purpose. God speaks to us in all sorts of ways. Are we paying attention to needs around us? To the activities that give us energy? To signs of grace in earthly places?
And after hearing the call, you have to give God an answer. A new member who was asked to host a table at the Christmas Tea later confessed, “When I was invited, I said ‘yes’ but have no idea what made that word come out of my mouth.” In my experience, the “yes” is usually accompanied by a flock of butterflies that feel more like F-7s taking flight in my stomach. And it always stretches me in ways I didn’t anticipate, but obviously needed. As 2019 begins, to what ministry is God calling you?
Carol Strickland, Associate Pastor
Just as each year I urge people to resist the temptation to rush through the season of Advent to get to Christmas, I also encourage people not to be so quick to toss aside the season of Christmas. The true season of Christmas lasts for twelve days, beginning with December 25. So, Christmas really lasts though January 5. Then on January 6 we begin the season of Epiphany, a continuation of the celebration of God being with us. But regardless of when you celebrate, this poem by Howard Thurman reminds us that the true meaning of Christmas should last all year.
Christmas Joy, by Howard Thurman
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.
Soli Deo Gloria (To God alone be the Glory),
John Coble, Director of Music and Organist
Commitment Sunday Update: Stories of Generosity
Thank you to all who have made a financial commitment for 2019. We depend on the generosity of everyone to support our ministries and missions. If you have not yet made your commitment, please do so the Session can plan the 2019 budget. You may turn in your pledge in the offering plate, in the church office, or online.
Bringing Christmas Cheer
Every year, our FPC family gives to others in our community. This year our members bought gifts for 105 children through the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. Eighteen members packed 106 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.
Our Christmas Joy Offering was collected after press time, so will be reported in February. Half of the money will be given locally to Casa de Amistad, which addresses the needs of the underserved Hispanic/Latinx community through direct service, education, advocacy, and community involvement in order to create a just and harmonious, multicultural community. The other fifty percent will go to the Athens Nurses Clinic, which provides health care at no cost to uninsured indigent patients in Athens and northeast Georgia.
Approximately $5,000 has been given so far to local nonprofit agencies through the Holiday Benevolence Market.
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, Mission & Outreach Commission
New Waddel Fellow
We are pleased to welcome Leighton Parker this month as our new Waddel Fellow for Mission & Outreach. Leighton was born and raised in LaGrange where she has attended First Presbyterian Church of LaGrange all her life. She is a junior at UGA after transferring from the Univeristy of North Georgia last year. Her major is Advertising with a minor in Religion and certificate in Public Affairs. Music and nature have always been passions of hers, and she’s also a big fan of coffee!
Our Church Family
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: