…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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Summer Schedule

Over the Memorial Day weekend, May 26, we began our summer schedule of one service at 10:00 a.m. Sunday School will not meet over the summer. The church office will close at 2:00 p.m. on Friday afternoons through July 26. Our office hours are: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Friday. If you need assistance on Friday afternoons, please refer to the Church Life App to contact Dr. Baer.

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Summer Choir

All interested singers are invited to join us in the choir room at 9:15 a.m. on Sundays to rehearse music for that morning’s service. Our Chancel Choir will be the foundation of this group. Singers may join us for any single Sunday or for as many as they wish, even for the whole summer. Adults, youth, and children are all welcome.

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Fall Schedule

On August 18 we will resume two worship services at 8:45 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Sunday School will resume on August 25 at 9:45 a.m. In August the church office hours return to 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you need assistance after hours, please refer to the Church Life App to contact Dr. Baer.

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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 180 Keese Ln, Fair Play, SC 29643.

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

July 18, 2019

The Congregational Care Committee has set up a Meal Train for the Kipps. If you would like to volunteer, please click here.

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Love Notes for John

Blank cards will be in your bulletin on Sundays for those wishing to write encouraging notes to John Kipp. Baskets to collect the cards are in the Narthex and in the Atrium. Please keep John and Sara in your prayers.

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Bookless Book Group, July 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 meeting will be: July 24 – Savannah Room, 1179 S. Lumpkin St.

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Senior Adult Sunday: Honor Your Father and Mother, Sunday, July 28

Please plan to be part of our annual celebration of our senior members on July 28. Our theme for this year’s event will be tied to Dr. Baer’s summer sermon series on The Ten Commandments.

The seniors of First Presbyterian Church bring so many gifts to our congregation. Their impact on our church is beyond measure. The 10:00 a.m. service will be followed by a reception in Fellowship Hall, and we invite everyone to attend and celebrate! Please contact the church office if you would like to participate as a host or help provide refreshments. We hope to see you there!

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Back-to-School Blessing, Sunday, August 11

We invite all students to bring their bookbags and backpacks Sunday, August 11, for a special blessing as we begin another school year. Please fill your bookbags with extra school supplies that will be donated to students in Athens and surrounding counties who need additional school materials.

Needed School Supplies: bookbags, notebook paper, pencils, new or gently used school uniforms, pencil sharpeners, erasers, pens, glue sticks, scissors, 3-ring binders, spiral notebooks (single or multi-subject), and folders with pockets and prongs.

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Ryan’s Reflections

Dear friends in Christ,

Amy, the boys, and I spent the first week of June in Fort Morgan, Alabama, with five other families, all of whom are engaged in ministry within the Presbyterian Church (USA). We met and became friends during our days at Columbia Seminary, and every year since 2009, we have brought our families together to spend a week playing, laughing, eating, and studying together.

This is more than just a “beach trip.” Ever year, we have intentional conversations with one another about issues related to our sense of call to ministry. We spend time sharing reflections and challenging one another in the way that only trusting friends can. We share resources and best practices with one another in hopes that our ministries might be strengthened together. For the past several years, we have used technology to engage in conversation with a leading scholar in ministry via Web conferencing.

We find it very important to include our families in these annual gatherings. Our group has grown from two children in 2009 to 14 children in 2019! A different family takes turns cooking dinner each night, and one night, we hire babysitters and all the adults go out to dinner!

Thank you for affording me the time and the resources to attend this annual event. Although it’s not like a “conference” in the traditional sense, I am so thankful that you have seen fit to include continuing education leave in my terms of call as your pastor, because this annual gathering sustains both me and my family’s health and endurance in ministry.

Please continue to be in prayer for these families who joined us earlier this month:
Rev. Dr. Tom Bryson, Ashley, Michael, and Henry Bryson
Southminster Presbyterian Church, Vestavia Hills, Alabama

Rev. Davis Bailey, Rev. Julie Bailey, Miriam and Elizabeth Bailey
Buford Presbyterian Church, Buford, Georgia, and
Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia

Rev. Dr. Daren Hofmann, Sarah, James, and Amelia Hofmann
Whitelick Presbyterian Church, Avon, Indiana

Rev. Morgan Hay, Robert, Stockton, and Anderson Hay
First Presbyterian Church, Peachtree City, Georgia

Rev. Nick Reed, Rev. Kathy Wolf Reed, Hannah, Charlie, and Caroline Reed
First Presbyterian Church, Auburn, Alabama

May God bless you and keep you,
Ryan, Senior Pastor

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A Message from Carol: Grand Connections

Suzanne Smith lived next door to us in Abbeville, South Carolina. She was a member of our church and a widow the age of my mother. She welcomed our family’s frequent visits in her home and graciously regaled us with stories about growing up in Korea where her father, a Presbyterian Elder, was company doctor for an American mining company and functioned as pastor for the expat community there. Her grandchildren, whom she seldom saw, lived in Kansas, so she “adopted” our children. Though living on a meager fixed income, she always gave candy and little gifts to them on birthdays and holidays. Anna loved to play with her dog, and when he got older, Xan cut her grass. Occasionally she joined us for supper. She was such a gift to us, and I think we, to her. Sadly, she died last month.

We live in a mobile society, which means that families are often separated. Grandparents and grandchildren can live far from one another. But to be human, we need connections. To quote a line from a colleague’s sermon from years ago, “Life is all about relationships. Everything else is a footnote.”

Our Congregational Care Commission would like to help facilitate cross-generational relationships. We’re calling it “Grand Connections.” If you would like to be paired with a person or family of another generation, please let me or Lucy Bell Johnson know. Jesus’ command to his disciples on his last night with them was, “love one another.”

Carol Strickland, Associate Pastor

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Music Notes

“Sumer is icumen in,” so says the13th-century song, or “Summer has arrived” in modern English.

Summer has arrived, school is out, our schedules get a little easier; we can travel and relax in various destinations. Some like the mountains, some like the beach, some of us like a bit of both. It’s a good time for us to rest and recharge our batteries. For some, summer is a time to go to camps or conferences. One of the great opportunities for those of us involved in church music is the Montreat Worship & Music Conference. At the end of June, a group of children, youth, and adults from our church, and churches across the country, will make our pilgrimage to what I like to call the “Hogwarts for church musicians.” In the beautiful North Carolina mountains, we will gather to worship, sing, play instruments, dance, perform drama, create art, not to mention hike, canoe, fish, rock hop, or just sit in rocking chairs enjoying some ice cream. One of my favorite memories is of our group, young and old, gathered around a big table like a family at mealtime.

It’s a great week that sends us home feeling refreshed, excited, and enlightened.

I’m sure we’ll have great stories to tell and things to share after our mountaintop experience, and you’ll probably see, hear, and sing some of what we learned. I hope you benefit from what we learn, and I hope some of you will consider joining us one year. You will be glad you did.

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

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Weekday School Supports Budding Entrepreneur: WDS 2012 Graduate Miss Chiara Bono!

First Presbyterian Weekday School recently had Pre-K graduation, followed by a luncheon in Fellowship Hall for our families. We were so pleased to have former Weekday School graduate Miss Chiara Bono, who turns 12 years-old this July, make our graduation cake! We have celebrated the special occasion with a “WDS Logo Cake” for 6-8 years now. When I found out that our former student has a growing cake-baking business, I asked if she would like to take on this task. What a WONDERFUL job she did! It was enjoyed by all in attendance. There was not a piece left! Thanks, Chiara, pastry chef EXTRAORDINAIRE!!!

Elaine Johnson, Director of Weekday School

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In August, the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Athens (IHNA) becomes Family Promise of Athens, in keeping with most other affiliates who have adopted the national organization name. This name brings brand recognition, resources, and is more encompassing of IHNA’s work assisting families with the promise of housing. The goal of IHNA will not change, only the name.

Upcoming Family Promise host weeks at FPC:
August 18-25, sign-up calendar in the Atrium
October 27 – November 3

If you are interested in volunteering or learning more about Family Promise (formerly known as IHNA), please contact Susan Boatwright or Frank Sherrill.

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Outreach Spotlight: The Food Bank of Northeast Georgia

The Food Bank of Northeast Georgia (FBNEGA) had its beginning 27 years ago in the garage of FPC member Nancy Denson. She and a few other community leaders created what became a regional hunger relief network. Today, the Food Bank serves a 14-county area and distributes almost a million pounds of food a month to our neighbors in need.

Food Banks operate in a network known as Feeding America and serve as purchasing, warehousing, logistics, and distribution centers for smaller non-profit partner agencies. These organizations operate in communities throughout the service area to get food directly to people in need. (The Athens Emergency Food Bank, which FPC supports with monthly food drives, is one of our partner agencies.) There are some 225 partner agencies in the FBNEGA service area, which includes Athens-Clarke County in the south up to Rabun County in the Northeast. The Mountain branch facility is located in Clayton, Georgia, in order to make distribution more efficient.

The Mountain Branch also is home to a Teaching Kitchen; a Commercial Kitchen which can be rented by area food product entrepreneurs; and an Individual Quick Freeze line, which allows us to freeze fresh produce for storage and distribution.

At both locations, agencies “shop” for food in what is essentially a mini-grocery store. In addition, the Food Bank operates its own programming designed to get food to the people most vulnerable to hunger in our communities.

While canned and shelf-stable foods will always be important to the mission of the Food Bank, we make every effort to provide fresh produce, dairy, and meats as well to improve the nutritional quality of the food we provide.

FPC has been a generous supporter of FBNEGA, including grants from Mission & Outreach Commission and the youth this year. We are deeply grateful for that support.

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Untold Stories

For over three years, the Bicentennial 2020 Committee has been collecting information about FPC’s history to better understand our founding and how we came to be the largest church in our presbytery. We are grateful to everyone who has taken the time to bring the past alive by sharing memories of their time as members. If you have not shared your story, it’s not too late. Please contact Judy Scanlon or Diane Adams as soon as possible.

Judy Scanlon, Bicentennial 2020 Committee
Diane Adams, Chair, Bicentennial 2020 Committee

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Invitation to Help Families Fostering Children

Children sometimes need a temporary family to care for them until they might be safely reunited with their families. Last year there were nearly 14,000 children living with foster families in Georgia. Families from First Presbyterian Church have responded by providing safe and loving homes for some of these vulnerable young members of our community. In turn, volunteers from our church have been helping to support these families through the organization Chosen for Life Ministries.

Chosen for Life Ministries organizes care teams for foster families. Members of these teams provide support in various roles: bringing busy foster families meals, helping with childcare and transportation, and praying for and providing moral support to these families.

Members of FPC are currently volunteering with two care teams. Can you help? If you would like to volunteer, only a couple of hours per month is all it takes. We have various opportunities available. More information is available here. Please contact Jeremy Praissman for additional information on current teams and needs. Thank you!

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Food 2 Kids

Thank you to the Presbyterian Women for donating 171 pounds of food from September through May to the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia.

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Book Drive Update

Over three car loads of books were donated in support of Books for Keeps’ mission to help children in our community keep reading all summer long. Thanks so much!

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Mother’s Day Offering Update

Thank you for generously giving $1,644 to the Caring Hands Fund for Presbyterian Homes of Georgia. You have made a difference in the lives of older residents who have outlived their financial resources.

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Pentecost Offering Update

Your gifts of $724 will help the church develop and support its youth and also address the needs of at-risk children. Sixty percent will go to support our denomination’s Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) program, national youth ministries, and child advocacy. Forty percent will stay locally to provide scholarships for the Barrow Elementary After-School program. Thank you!

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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:

Isaac Toney, Guest Preacher, June 30
Vacation Bible School: May 28May 29May 31
High School Graduate Recognition Sunday
Easter Sunday 
Easter Egg Hunt
Maundy Thursday
Palm Sunday

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Worship With Us

Worship Times

Sunday Worship: 10:00 a.m.

Sunday School
Does not meet in the summer

Children’s Sunday School
Youth Sunday School
Adult Sunday School

Contact Us