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.
Bookless Book Group, April 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: April 24, South Kitchen + Bar
Piedmont College Singers, April 28, 4:00 p.m.
Please join us in the Sanctuary for the next performance in the Wayne F. Middendorf Memorial Concert Series. We will welcome the Piedmont College Singers to Athens from Demorest, Georgia. They are conducted by Dr. C. Wallace Hinson.
Books for Keeps Book Drive, April 28 – June 9
2019 marks 10 years that BFK has been giving away books to Athens-area students. This year, 95,000 books will be distributed to 8,000 students at 18 elementary schools in Georgia, surpassing half-a-million books given away!
FPC has become a large supporter of Books for Keeps with our annual book drive. You can help make sure no child in our community goes a summer without great books to read. Please bring your used books to the bins in the Atrium or church office. Books of all kinds will be accepted, then sold by Books for Keeps with proceeds used to buy new children’s books. Learn more here. Thank you!
Honduras Summer 2020, Informational Meeting, April 28, 12:00 p.m.
Plans are underway for an intergenerational mission trip to Honduras the summer of 2020 to help celebrate our bicentennial year. Open to adults and rising 9th-12th graders. Come to Fellowship Hall to learn more; contact Kim Ness for info.
Food Sunday, May 5
On Sunday, May 5 we will collect items for the Athens-Area Emergency Food Bank. This month they request:
- Canned salmon
- Ramen noodles
- Hamburger helper
Thank you for donating 400 items in April!
Scottish Reformation Sunday, May 5, 8:45 & 11:00 am
Our annual celebration of our Scottish heritage at both worship services, along with recognition of local and state dignitaries at 11:00 a.m. All are welcome to join the processional and recessional. If you need to borrow a kilt, please call Smith Wilson, 706-338-4646.
Project Safe Work Day, May 7, 10:00 am
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 contact Kitty Donnan. The Project Safe Thrift Store is located in the Bell’s Shopping Center, 955 Hawthorne Ave.
Blessing of the 5th Graders, May 12, 9:45 am, Children’s Ministry Suite
Fifth graders and their parents are invited to meet Mrs. Natalie in the Children’s Ministry Suite at 9:45 a.m. to receive a special gift and to spend a few minutes together reflecting on their Children’s Ministry experience. Then plan to head downstairs to The PIT to join Mrs. Kim for a tour and short introduction to our Youth Ministry program. For questions please contact Natalie Bishop or Kim Ness.
Receptions with Ryan, through May 23
Dear friends in Christ,
Our Receptions with Ryan are going well! These 90-minute gatherings in homes are a wonderful way for me to get to know you in a more relaxed setting. If you haven’t signed up yet, more new dates have been added: April 30, May 16, and May 23. You can learn more and register here or call the church office.
Peace be with you,
Sign up for a reception here!
Women’s Weekend Retreat at Montreat Women’s Connection Conference, August 9 – August 11
Keynote speaker will be Valarie Kaur with special guest artist Amy Grant. Register for the Women’s Connection Conference on the Montreat website. FPC has reserved use of the Georgia Lodge at Montreat. Cost for two nights at the Georgia Lodge is $60. Conference cost is $236 until June 28. Please register here to stay with FPC friends at the Georgia Lodge.
Dear friends in Christ,
My cousin is a Certified Public Accountant who specializes in tax preparation, and April is always a very busy season. He puts in many extra hours in and out of the office to ensure that each of his clients is served ahead of the tax filing deadline.
Here at First Presbyterian Church, April is a busy season, too. Your church staff and volunteers are putting in many extra hours in and out of the office planning, preparing, and rehearsing to ensure that the people of God are served faithfully and well. First Presbyterian Church is served by an incredibly gifted, loyal, and loving staff, and I am honored to serve Christ alongside them.
As we enter the final stretch of Lent in preparation for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, I’m hoping you’ll do three things:
1. Pray for your church staff and volunteers, that they may serve the people in this busy season with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.
2. Make every effort to be present. This is the greatest story ever told, and your presence is truly a gift to all of us.
3. When church staff members and volunteers serve you well, take a moment to send an e-mail or jot a hand-written note. These simple acts of acknowledgement and affirmation are worth their weight in gold.
On a personal note, thank you again for the wonderful welcome you have extended to Amy, Nathan, Daniel, Joshua, and me. We are so delighted to be a part of this amazing congregation!
Peace be with you,
Ryan, Senior Pastor
A Message from Carol: An Invitation for Women
I write this in the wake of yet another hate crime, the horrific massacre at the mosques in New Zealand. I join you if you feel at a loss about how we can stem the growing tide of hated and intolerance in our society.
While attending a conference won’t solve the world’s problems, it may help sensitize you to the issues and perhaps inspire a path forward. We are getting up a group to attend the annual Women’s Connections Conference at Montreat, August 9-11. The theme this year – always timely but needed now more than ever – is “The Greatest of These Is Love.” The keynote speaker will be Valarie Kaur, a seasoned civil rights activist, award-winning filmmaker, lawyer, faith leader, and founder of the Revolutionary Love Project, which champions love as a public ethic and wellspring for social change. I have heard Valarie speak before. She is delightful, engaging, and powerful. She is a Sikh with degrees from Stanford, Harvard, and Yale. If she had given an altar call, I may have come forward and become a Sikh! Amy Grant will lead the music for the closing worship.
Register at Montreat.org for the conference only (commuter rate). The cost before June 28 is $237. FPC has reserved use of the Georgia Lodge. Cost for two nights is $60. Register for this here. Meals will be extra.
In addition to challenge and inspiration, we hope this retreat will be a valuable time for relaxation and to connect with women both from our congregation and across our denomination. Please let me know if you have questions, are interested in going, or need scholarship aid. Contact me here or call 706-543-4338. I hope you’ll come!
Carol Strickland, Associate Pastor
Carols are not just for Christmas. One of my favorite anthems for Easter is the carol This Joyful Eastertide. I have to resist the temptation to have the choir sing it every year. This year, among other pieces of music our choirs will be singing, is an arrangement of the carol Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day. It is one of many carols that trace the whole life of Christ. The original version has eleven stanzas covering the birth of Christ, his baptism, time fasting in the desert being tempted by the devil, and Christ’s facing those who opposed him “because they loved darkness rather than light.” Our Easter anthem picks up with stanza seven, when Christ is betrayed by Judas, tried by Pilate, condemned by the people while Barrabas is released, hung on the cross, and finally rising on the third day, “Up to my true love and the dance.” The refrain after each stanza is, “Sing O my love, O my love, my love, my love. This have I done for my true love.”
What does all this dancing and talk of “my true love” have to do with Easter? That’s not in the Bible! It’s a poetic telling of the story that, frankly, is difficult to understand even when read from scriptures. There are biblical descriptions of Christ as the bridegroom and the church as his bride. In the Song of Songs, imagery of the “lover” and the “beloved” have been interpreted as Christ and the Church. In 1 John 4:19 we read, “We love because he first loved us.” God is love. On Easter, and on every other day, love wins.
Soli Deo Gloria (To God alone be the Glory),
John Coble, Director of Music and Organist
Mardi Gras Mission Gala Update
Thank you to all our supporters! We raised $14,106 for the 2020 Honduras Mission trip!
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: