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.
Receptions with Ryan, through May 21
Dear friends in Christ,
Amy, the boys, and I cannot thank you enough for the wonderful welcome you have already provided for our family! I’ve very much enjoyed the brief opportunities I’ve had to visit with so many of you on Sunday mornings, and I’m eager to get to know you better in a more relaxed adult setting. To that end, some wonderful FPC families have offered their homes for what I’m calling “Receptions with Ryan.” I hope you’ll sign up for one of these 90-minute opportunities for fellowship and conversation as I continue to learn your stories.
Peace be with you,
Sign up for a reception here!
Wednesday Lenten Suppers & Study, through April 10
Study: 6:30-7:30 p.m, “What’s the Deal with Presbyterians?” led by Dr. Ryan Baer
March 13 – How did we get here?
We’ll look at Christianity from the perspective of a big “family tree,” and see how we’re connected to other Christian traditions through our roots in Jesus.
March 20 – Do Presbyterians really believe in predestination?
What do we mean when we talk about “election”?
March 27 – Presbyterians: doing church decently and in order for 500 years.
What do we mean when we talk about “covenant”?
April 3 – Why isn’t the Presbyterian pastor’s picture on a freeway billboard?
What do we mean when we talk about “stewardship”?
April 10 – Do Presbyterians really believe in “total depravity?”
What do we mean when we talk about “justice”?
New Member Class, March 24, 31 & April 7
If you are interested in learning more about Presbyterianism and discipleship at FPC, we invite you to attend our New Member class.
Sunday, March 24, 3:00-6:00 p.m.
Informational class led by Dr. Ryan Baer, Moses Waddel Room
Child care is available (with reservation)
Sunday, March 31, 4:00 p.m.
New Member Tea, the Session will receive those wishing to join
Sunday, April 7, 8:45 & 11:00 a.m.
Worship Service, new members introduced to the congregation
Please contact Lucy Bell Johnson in the church office by March 20.
Installation Service of Dr. Ryan Baer, April 7, 4:00 p.m.
The Northeast Georgia Presbytery invites you to the Installation Service of Dr. Ryan J. Baer on Sunday, April 7 at 4:00 p.m. in the First Presbyterian Church Sanctuary. Reception to follow.
IHNA Host Week, April 14-21
Thank you to all who volunteered to make our February host week a success. Our next host week will be April 14 – 21. If you are interested in volunteering for that week, please sign up on the calendar in the Atrium beginning March 3 or contact us for more information.
Remaining 2019 Host Weeks:
April 14 – 21
August 18 – 25
October 28 – November 3
Susan Boatwright and Frank Sherrill, IHNA Co-Coordinators
Women’s One-Day Retreat in Athens, April 13, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Treat yourself to a soul-nourishing day away with other women at Brita and Bill Barry’s beautiful garden, led by the Rev. Amy Baer. Amy is a graduate of Columbia Seminary and former hospice chaplain and Director of Volunteers & Congregational Development for an ecumenical aid ministry. We welcome Amy and her family to our church. Her topic will be, “Discovering Our Testimony.” We will talk about how to connect our individual stories to the gospel story.
Cost is $25. You may bring a $25 check to church made payable to FPC and note that the check is for the Spring Women’s Retreat or pay online. We will provide box lunches, with vegetarian and gluten-free options available, and drinks. Scholarships for child care are available.Should the weather turn bad, we will meet at church.
Registration deadline is March 31. Please register 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. Registration deadline is March 31. Please register here to stay with FPC friends at the Georgia Lodge.
Dear friends in Christ,
Amy, Nathan, Daniel, Joshua, and I can’t begin to thank you enough for the amazing welcome that you have extended to us! Your cards, gifts, food, smiles, and offers of help have been such a blessing as we have settled into life among you here in Athens!
While preparing for this transition into my role as your Senior Pastor, I’ve been thinking about some goals for my first year among you. These are not earth-shattering or innovative, but with the Session’s endorsement, these are the major things I’ll be working on as I move into this new season of ministry.
Goal 1: Listen to and learn from the community. The Apostle Paul was a great student of culture. When he visited another Athens (Acts 17), he spent a great deal of time just walking through the city, making observations, listening to conversations, and getting to know the people. In my first year among you, I want to do the same. You’ll be hearing more about how I hope to do this in a somewhat structured way in coming days, but a year from now, I hope to know this community as a resident and participant, rather than as a visitor or a newcomer.
Goal 2: Deepen my preaching. As a pastor, nothing I do in a given week touches more people than the Sunday morning preaching moment. As a wise colleague recently reminded me, we preachers have a standing appointment every Sunday morning with several hundred people, and we need time to prepare! Although there’s no such thing as a typical week in ministry, Thursdays will ordinarily be my day for sermon preparation, and late Friday afternoons will be delivery practice. If you happen to be around the church on those days and see my office door closed for long periods of time, know that I’m hard at work preparing for our Sunday morning appointment!
Goal 3: Deepen my relationship with my family. The late preacher and scholar Eugene Peterson said, “If succeeding as a pastor means failing as a parent, you’ve already failed as a pastor.” Just as God has called me to the office of Minister of Word and Sacrament, God has also called me to be a husband to Amy and a father to our sons. All five of us are so excited to be a part of this amazing congregation!
Goal 4: Initiate or redevelop a planned giving program. Early on in my previous call, the church received a large bequest from the estate of a faithful saint of that congregation. A year from now, I hope to have planted the seeds for a wills and bequests program that will bear fruit for our church for many years to come.
May God bless you and keep you,
Ryan, Senior Pastor
A Message from Carol: Going! Going! Gone!
Mardi Gras is traditionally a time of celebration before the more solemn season of Lent. At FPC, we’ll have a fun event on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. Please see the details of our Mardi Gras Mission Gala below. Our pleasure will have a purpose: supporting our next Honduras Mission Trip.
Exciting items which will be auctioned live include time at three vacation homes (Montreat, NC; Lake Wales, FL; and Jekyll Island, GA), an aerial tour of Athens in a Cessna 182, reserved Sunday parking place at FPC for a year, UGA football tickets, a garden tea & croquet party for ten, a custom painting of your house/boat/favorite Athens landmark by me, and a mini-concert by Ryan Baer, Lewis Hudgins, and the P & C Band (Pips)!
Here are some of the wonderful donations for our silent auction: four rounds of golf at Athens Country Club; gift cards (Hilltop Grille, JWR Jewelers, Classic Center, Outback Steakhouse, Olive Garden); classical guitar serenade for your event or beloved; a basket of children’s art supplies including $75 gift card good toward our Weekday School summer programs; a ring custom made for you; other hand-made jewelry; ceramics by our resident member potters; a Sally Coenen oil painting, Annie Dodd watercolor, Lamar Dodd lithograph, Jack Davis poster; yardwork and babysitting services; Thai dinner party for four; custom floral arrangement; yummy cakes; furniture; housewares, and lots more!
A big thank you to all our donors! Please plan to support our fun-raiser, Sunday, March 3. To quote Bruce, “Laissez les bon temps rouler!”
Carol Strickland, Associate Pastor
In the book of Ecclesiastes we read, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Or is there? We usually assume that old things, historical and scholarly things, have been thoroughly studied by historians and scholars and there is nothing more to be learned or added. There is a new edition of the organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach being produced by an American publisher. I am reading about and studying (and somewhat reluctantly buying) volumes as they are released. But even the editor, when he was asked to be involved in this series said, “What? Another complete edition of the Bach organ works? You’ve got to be kidding!”
I’ve read that one of the great things about the music of Bach is that one can spend a lifetime studying and performing Bach’s music and always be discovering new things. But Bach died in 1750. There have been many editions of his music. Scholars have studied it for hundreds of years. What more could there be to say? Believe it or not, much. New sources have been discovered, even in Bach’s own handwriting, that were previously unknown or misunderstood, meaning someone had them, but didn’t know what they were. We have assumed music published in Bach’s lifetime was done so with his approval, but now we know that is not the case. An original print of one collection has been discovered to have 109 corrections made in Bach’s handwriting.
While something like this is exciting to a music nerd like me, it brings to my mind a greater question. If we haven’t figured out the music of a composer who died in 1750, we certainly can’t claim to have a total understanding of the Bible in its many translations (and languages), nor can we begin to understand our mysterious God. As musicians spend a lifetime enjoying the discoveries of great composers and their music, may we all enjoy a lifetime and more of discovering the great works of God.
Soli Deo Gloria (To God alone be the Glory),
John Coble, Director of Music and Organist
Sunday School Class News
Ron Bogue will present two classes on the history of FPC, March 3 and March 10, in the Moses Waddel Room to those who have been unable to join the Primetime Presbyterians for his popular series.
Now is a great time to join this class, which meets in Room 309, as they begin a new study on 1 Corinthians led by Richard Stone.
Blood Drive Update
Thank you to everyone who participated in our blood drive on February 10. We collected 26 units of blood and appreciate the donors and volunteers who made our event such a big success. You can start now saving up for next year!
Joe Neighbors, Mission & Outreach Commission
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: