…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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Honduras Mission Trip

Twenty-six FPC members have recently returned from a week of service and learning in Honduras. Thank you for your prayers, notes of encouragement, and support. They had a wonderful trip! Read about it on FPC’s Facebook page.

Team Reflections

Our team wrote notes of gratitude and reflection as their journey came to an end. You can read their notes on the bulletin board in the church office reception area.

Holy Joe Coffee

Jittery Joe’s house blend coffee is on sale in the church office during the week. All proceeds will benefit future mission trips.

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Choir Dedication Sunday, September 23

Please save the date for this annual celebration of our music ministry when we honor members of our choirs and they also publicly commit themselves to offering their time and talents by serving in one or more of our choirs.

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Blessing of the Animals, October 13, 10:00 a.m.

Join us for the Blessing of the Animals, held this year on the grounds of the Athens Community Council on Aging. It is located at 135 Hoyt St., just a few blocks from the church. Dr. Carol Strickland will offer a blessing for our furry and feathered friends. All pets are welcome. Invite your animal-loving neighbors and friends!
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Bookless Book Group, September 26

A group of women meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 11:30 a.m. to enjoy lunch and conversation. We meet at a variety of restaurants and invite anyone interested to join us. For more information please contact Lynn West. Our next meetings will be: September 12, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe, 227 Prince Ave. September 26, Hilltop Grille , 2310 W. Broad St.
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September 18, Project Safe Work Day

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 Shopping Center, 955 Hawthorne Ave.

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Brown Bag Bible Study, Wednesdays, September 19 – November 14

Brown Bag Supper: 6:00 p.m.
Everyone is invited! Bring your supper to the Moses Waddel Room, families are welcome to bring children.
Bible Study: 6:30 p.m.- 7:30 p.m.
We will have a Bible Study taught by Dr. Bruce Lancaster beginning at 6:30 p.m. and go for about an hour. Childcare will be provided.

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Fellowship@First: Picnic with UGA Redcoat Band September 28, 5:30 p.m.

Pack your picnic basket, blanket, frisbee, and chairs and join friends of all ages at the intramural practice fields to enjoy hearing and watching the UGA Redcoat Marching Band practice. FPC’s own Brett Bawcum is Associate Director of the band. Come early for parking, if desired.

Directions: From College Station Road, turn onto Lake Herrick Drive (between East Campus and Loop 10). Go .5 miles and turn left past the tennis courts. Look for the FPC tent in the field. Park here or at the Intramural Parking Deck you passed at .2 miles.
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Bruce’s Blog

My Friends,

One of the great privileges I have as a pastor is the opportunity to learn people’s life stories. As a preacher, I know that stories matter because people remember stories.

My family laughs when I get caught telling the same story for the second, third, or sixteenth time. But like I say, “If you’ve heard this story before, don’t stop me; I want to hear it again!”

We all have a story to tell about our lives. As Christians, we are all part of the story being told as God’s people. I appreciate what John Coble has said, “…though it may seem that we’re just repeating familiar stories (think of the Christmas story), it’s not mindless repetition. The old stories may not change, but we change.”

Especially for our own faith story, think about where God shows up in the telling and who else appears in the story. And the truth is that the story changes us. As we grow older, we hear stories from a different perspective of age and experience. Our own story affects how we listen to another’s story.

From the “Stories of the Faithful” heard on Senior Adult Sunday to the Godly Play stories told in our Children’s Ministry and for all ages in between, our lives are telling this old, but new, story in as many ways as there are people who make up the story of First Presbyterian Church.

“We Are a Storied People” is our theme as a church this year as we prepare for the 200th birthday of FPC in 2020, shape the story today, and begin living the next chapters for the future.

At various times during the year, we will hear from members “Sharing Stories of Faith” as part of our worship services to remind us how our stories matter and how they shape our faith because we are a people who “Love to Tell the Story.” (Yes, I want to hear it again!)

Thanks and blessings,
Bruce Lancaster, Interim Senior Pastor

A Message from Carol: That Terrible Word

“Suicide” is the terrible word none of us ever wants to hear on the other end of the phone. Nor would we ever want to feel so miserable that suicide seemed like the only solution. Yet suicide is a major health crisis and a leading cause of death in the U.S. It affects not just those who decide to take their own lives, but has a lasting impact on family, friends, and communities.

The key factors that lead to suicide are isolation and hopelessness. If the church is about anything, it is about community and hope. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are in a wonderful position to make a difference in the lives of those dealing with the effects of suicidal desperation.

September is “National Suicide Prevention Month.” Our church, together with Milledge Avenue Baptist Church, is bringing Michelle Snyder of the Soul Shop Movement to Athens. On Sunday afternoon, September 16, she will lead a two-hour workshop open to the general public. At this event she will address how we think and talk about suicide, suicide as a community health problem, and steps to reduce the risk of suicide. The event is free.

On Monday, September 17, Ms. Snyder will lead an all-day training designed for faith leaders (laity and clergy). She will cover how faith communities can respond to persons impacted by suicidal desperation, can develop soul-safe communities, and can change congregational culture. The $10 cost includes a box lunch.

Madeline Van Dyck, our Parish Nurse, Kim Ness, our Director of Youth Ministries, and I have all attended Soul Shop workshops elsewhere and can attest to their power. The two Athens events will be at Milledge Avenue Baptist Church and are underwritten by a grant from their Foundation.

Please plan to attend, spread the word, and register by September 13 here or by calling the church office at 706-543-4338.

Compassionately yours,
Carol Strickland, Associate Pastor

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Music Notes

The month of September brings one of my favorite Sundays of the year, Choir Dedication Sunday, which falls this year on September 23. It is a day when we recognize and celebrate the ministry of music in our church and all who participate in our choirs, and when members of those choirs dedicate themselves to another year of service. The job of a choir is to lead the congregation in what they sing and to sing for them what they cannot sing. The first part is the most important. Too often we think church choirs exist just to sing anthems and other special works of music. But the most important music we sing in church is congregational music: hymns and other service music.

The second part is to sing for the congregation what they can’t sing. That doesn’t mean choir members are better than anyone else, they are simply members of the congregation who have felt a call to do more. Choirs gather each week to rehearse hymns, anthems, and other music. Choirs make a musical offering to God as representatives of the congregation. Anthems are not a performance and the congregation is not an audience. We are all performers in the act of worship. God is the audience.

Unless you have sung in a choir or played in a bell choir, it’s hard to appreciate the time and energy that are required. Choir members spend hours practicing. A piece of music that takes three minutes to perform may have taken weeks to learn. Some choir members take their music home for additional practice. Choir members get up extra-early on Sundays, give up sitting with family in church, and do even more on holidays like Christmas and Easter. It’s a sacrifice that’s hard to understand unless you’ve done it. So, as we celebrate the leadership of our choirs in September, let us also thank them for their dedication and hard work.

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

Our congregation sent 25 missionaries (8 youth, 3 college, 14 adults) on a weeklong trip to Honduras in June. They worked alongside men and women in a remote village to build latrines, mud walls, pour concrete floors, and construct pilas (outdoor sinks). They also led Vacation Bible School for 30 children. See the “Gratitude Wall” on the bulletin board in the church office with the missionaries’ remarks, among them: “I am grateful for the opportunity to share God’s love in a tangible way with the people of Tasajeras who returned the blessing many times over,” “This has been a life-changing experience,” and “I’m thankful for the many times God revealed himself on this trip.”

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FPC Welcomes Two Waddel Fellows

FPC is fortunate to have two Waddel Fellows this year. These college students are participating in a program of vocational discernment through the Presbyterian Student Center at UGA in conjunction with the Lilly Foundation and the Forum for Theological Education. By serving parttime (3 hours/week) in local congregations or non-profits, networking, being mentored, and a retreat at Columbia Theologial Seminary, the students will explore calls to Christian ministry and leadership.

Kathryn Kent is a freshman at the University of Georgia and is from Atlanta. Her home church is Shallowford Presbyterian Church, where she was active in the youth group, served on the Session as a Youth Elder, and on an Associate Pastor Nominating Committee. She also accompanied her youth group on mission trips to New Mexico, West Virginia, Ohio, and Tennessee. Kathryn is looking forward to working with Kim Ness in our Youth Ministry. Kathryn shares, “To me, church is a welcoming community of people that are there to support and guide each other. Just like they support me, I want to be there to support them. Together, we hope to spread God’s love and try to make the world a more welcoming place.”

Annabel McSpadden is working on a Masters of Counseling Psychology degree from UGA. Her undergraduate degree is from The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia where she was active in student health and church activities. Since arriving in Athens she has been attending Oconee Presybterian Church. She will work with John Kipp as our Congregational Care Waddel Fellow. Annabel says, “I hope that the guidance and instruction of my host church can inform my future as a mental health counselor. I think that participating in this fellowship while working toward my masters in counseling psychology will be an enriching pair.”
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A Story of Faith and Young Children

There are MANY stories of faith that have been woven into the fabric of our church over the last two hundred years. One such began over five decades ago and has been a shining beacon of light to young families of Athens, Georgia through the years.

In 1966, First Presbyterian Church had a new education building that was built on the Dougherty Street side of the church. Dr. Bill Adams, the Senior Pastor, and the Session wanted to see the building used for early childhood enrichment during the week. The church stepped out in faith and established a new long-term mission of the church: First Presbyterian Weekday School. The school began with one classroom of five-year-olds and one classroom of four-year-olds. Three-year-old classes soon followed. Over time, classes for two-year-olds, toddlers, and an infant room (beginning at 3 months of age) were added. Scholarships for families in need have always been generously included in the church budget and the congregation has faithfully given to those needs.

Beginning with our first Director, Nancy Patterson, a key factor in the school’s success has always been the OUTSTANDING quality of our leadership, teachers, and assistant teachers. We appreciate their heart for children and immense dedication to the mission of our school. We also have a wonderful church staff that values the mission arm of the church that we call the Weekday School.

When the church underwent addition and renovation in 2008 the Weekday School was not forgotten! Our facility, previously shared with the children’s Sunday School, was expanded to have the main hall exclusively dedicated to the Weekday School program. What a blessing our new space has been to the children of the community!

In turn, one of the many blessings to our church, for this continued faithful journey with the school, has been the young families who have felt warmth as they spent time in our building and have become a part of our larger church family!

Here we are at the beginning of our 52nd school year! What an exciting time to know our students will be greeted by such wonderful teachers and welcomed into a loving, Christian environment where laughter, fun, and development take place! All because of the faith of a few, and of many, so long ago…and TODAY!

Ann Jones, Former Weekday School Director
Elaine Johnson, Current Weekday School Director
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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 pictures from our church, including many from Holy Week.

His latest albums include:

Dr E. L. Hill’s Bible
Fall Kick Off Brunch & Back-to-School Blessing
Senior Adult Sunday
Vacation Bible School

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

Fall Kick Off Brunch
Vacation Bible School
Palm Sunday

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Worship With Us

Worship Times

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

Sunday School
Sunday School for all ages: 9:45 a.m.

Children’s Sunday School
Youth Sunday School
Adult Sunday School

Contact Us