…sharing the love of Christ with Athens and the world!

Important Events and Messages

Events

Sundays at First Presbyterian Church

Sunday, February 2: The Whole Truth, Dr. Ryan Baer Preaching, Communion Sunday Food Sunday
Sunday, February 9: Youth Sunday, Red Cross Blood Drive
Sunday, February 16: Campus Ministry Sunday, Rev. Will Norman Preaching
Sunday, February 23: Who Do You Say That I Am?, Dr. Ryan Baer Preaching
Wednesday, February 26: Ash Wednesday, Dr. Ryan Baer Preaching

Worship Schedule: 8:45 & 1:00 a.m.
Sunday School for All Ages: 9:45 a.m.
Children’s Church: Children 4 years old through Grade 2 may leave with Natalie Bishop, Director of Children’s Ministries, during the 11:00 a.m. service for Children’s Church held in the Children’s Chapel, which is across from the Church Library on the 2nd floor of the Tinsley-Stern Building.

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Prayers for Healing

Prayers for Healing meets on Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary.

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Chair Yoga, Wednesdays 4:30 p.m.

Chair Yoga meets on Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m. in Room 310. Come, enjoy gentle stretching.

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2020-2021 Weekday School Registration, Begins January 13

Our Weekday School Registration for Fall 2020 begins on January 13, with community registration the following week. Anyone wishing to schedule a tour should email our Director, Elaine Johnson, at elaine@firstpresathens.org. Registration forms are found in the WDS lobby or online at firstpresathens.org. Our Weekday School serves ages 3 months through 5 years. Note: In previous years, classes have been full with waitlist on the first day of registration. Early is definitely best! Questions? Please contact Elaine at (706) 206-8180.

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Wednesday@First: Dinner and Conversation, February 5 – April 1

12:30 – 1:00 p.m. Prayers for Healing, Sanctuary
2:00 – 4:30 p.m. Bridge, Room 302
4:30 – 5:15 p.m. Chair Yoga, Room 310
4:30 – 5:30 p.m. Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice, Room 308
5:00 – 5:40 p.m. St. Andrews Choir, Room 202
5:00 – 5:40 p.m. Ukulele Class, Children’s Ministry Suite
5:45 – 6:30 p.m. Dinner, Fellowship Hall
*6:30 – 7:30 p.m. The Book of Psalms led by Dr. Ryan Baer, Moses Waddel Room
*6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Chancel Choir, Room 202
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Red Cross Blood Drive Update

Thank you all who volunteered for our Blood Drive. We have collected 27 units of blood towards our FPC Bicentennial goal of 31 units of blood, one for each founding member and former FPC Minister. If you were not able to attend the blood drive but would like to donate, please go to the Red Cross Donor Center (3533 Atlanta Highway, Athens). When donating, let the receptionist know you are donating on behalf of FPC and our drive will receive credit for your donation.

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Bookless Book Group, Feb 12 & 26, 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. For more information please contact Polly Erickson. Our next meetings will be:

February 12 – Savannah Room, 1197 South Lumpkin St.
February 26 – Homemade, 1072 Baxter St.

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The Wayne F. Middendorf Memorial Concert Series presents “Through the Church the Song Goes On”

Thank you for joining us for a musical celebration of the bicentennial of First Presbyterian Church of Athens, Georgia. You can find pictures of the event here.

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FirstThings for Newcomers

Sunday, February 23, 3:00-6:00 p.m.
FirstThings is an opportunity to learn about First Presbyterian Church, to meet the staff and other newcomers, and for us to have some conversations about what it means to live out our discipleship as members of Christ’s church. Please confirm your attendance by Wednesday, February 19 by emailing Lucy Bell Johnson or calling the church office. This event will be located in the Moses Waddel Room (3rd floor).

Sunday, March 1, 4:00-5:00 p.m.
After attending FirstThings for Newcomers, you’re invited to the New Member Tea to meet the Session and be received into membership. The New Member Tea is informal and will be hosted by Sandy and Jim Boyles, 1021 Maple Court, Athens, 30606. Children are welcome!

Sunday, March 8, 8:45 or 11:00 a.m.
New members will be introduced to the congregation during the morning worship services, and receptions will be held after both services to welcome the newest members of FPC.

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Ash Wednesday, February 26

Worship, 12:00 & 6:30 p.m., Sanctuary

Join us for a traditional service including communion and imposition of ashes. Following the 12:00 p.m. Ash Wednesday service we will remain for a time praying for those who need healing. Childcare will be provided for infants – 4 years old during the Ash Wednesday 6:00 p.m. service.

Dinner, 5:30 p.m., Fellowship Hall

$8/adult, $5/child (12 and under), $20 max per family. Please make reservations for dinner on the Fellowship Pad, online, or by contacting the church office by Monday, February 24 at 12:00 p.m.

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Montreat Women’s Connection Conference, Aug 14-16

Those of us who attended the Women’s Connection Conference at Montreat last year found it so stimulating and rewarding that we are planning to do it again.

The dates are August 14-16, Friday through Sunday. Again this year we have reserved the Georgia Lodge for any of our members who would like to go to the conference. The cost this year for lodging and meal arrangements have yet to be determined. We will do our best to keep them as reasonable as possible. Last year we shared the Georgia Lodge with another congregation. We would like to have enough people sign up to use the entire lodge ourselves this year. In order that we might know whether that is feasible, we would like to get a preliminary count of those of you who plan to come this year.

The keynoter is Jen Hatmaker. More information about the Women’s Connection Conference can be found here!

Please email Carol McKay if you would like to attend. Registration form is available here.

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Messages

Ryan’s Reflections

Dear friends in Christ,

Last month, we gathered on the steps of the church and rang the bell 200 times, signaling the beginning of our bicentennial year. We were blessed with a cool, clear winter day, full of smiles, joy, and laughter as we celebrated God’s goodness and generosity and the faithfulness of the saints who have preceded us in this ministry.

In my mind, I can see us gathering on the steps for another grand celebration again in the near future in which we burn the church’s mortgage. Thanks to the faithful generosity of this congregation’s members and friends, in a little more than a year, we have reduced the outstanding balance on the renovation debt by more than $1.7 million.

The note is currently financed at 3.6% interest, which means that these principal reduction payments have saved over $60,000 in interest charges. Instead of going to the bank, that’s $60,000 more that can be invested in the ministry and mission of First Presbyterian Church, where we are creating a community where people encounter the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, rejoice in worship, and go forth sharing the love of Christ with Athens and the world.

Thanks to the outstanding work of our Debt Elimination Committee, the church has pledges in hand that, when they are fulfilled, will bring the remaining mortgage balance below $2 million. If you are among the more than 170 households who have made a commitment to our effort to eliminate the debt, thank you, thank you, thank you! You have helped us get ever closer to our goal of being a debt-free congregation. If you have not yet made a commitment, there is still time, and every gift makes a difference.

Thank you for the ways in which you continue to invest in this ministry. We have much to celebrate during this bicentennial year, but I am convinced that thanks to the goodness of God and your faithful generosity, the best is yet to come! Thank you for all you do for the mission and ministry of Christ in the world, and even more, thank God for you.

Peace be with you and yours,

Ryan, Senior Pastor

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A Message from Carol: We Care

According to the Gospel of John, Jesus commanded his disciples at the Last Supper to love one another. In the church we endeavor to do this. We love through informal, spontaneous ways. And we love through organized, planned ways. While the church isn’t perfect, and sometimes we fail to show love when it’s needed, at First Pres we really do make a concerted effort to embody Christ’s love, especially through the work of our Congregational Care Commission. Here’s a list of the organized ways the commission oversees our caring ministries:

1) Provides a meal (or reception) in the event of birth, death, or crisis, through six response teams.

2) Prays for members via an email prayer chain and a weekly “Prayers for Healing” time in the sanctuary.

3) Loans medical assistance items stored in our basement through Dot’s Closet.

4) Coordinates transportation to church activities through Rideshare@First.

5) Delivers bouquets made from the Sunday floral arrangements to homebound members via our flower delivery team.

6) Sends cards to members who are homebound, deserving thanks, celebrating a birth, or are new members to the church, courtesy of the correspondence team.

7) Calls on members who are hospitalized, living in senior care facilities, or homebound and follows up with members after illness or loss through our lay callers.

8) Supports Stephen Ministers who care in a confidential, one-on-one relationship with members or others you know facing difficult circumstances.

Thanks to all these volunteer year-round Valentines. Please let me know if you would like to join them.

Love, Carol

Carol Strickland, Associate Pastor

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Music Notes

On Sunday, February 16, as part of our bicentennial celebration, we will present a musical program. It will be a concert of sorts, but there will also be some psalm and hymn singing, since that is at the heart of church music in the Reformed tradition. Ron Bogue will lead us on this historical journey.

Through the Church the Song Goes On, presented by the Wayne F. Middendorf Memorial Concert Series, will be a historical and musical celebration of our church led by the Chancel Choir and some special guests. Music will include psalms and hymns from our Presbyterian heritage, music by Athens born composer Hall Johnson, and anthems, organ works, and hymns commissioned or written specifically for First Presbyterian Church.

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

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Thousands Donated to 2019 Benevolence Market!

The 25th anniversary of the Holiday Benevolence Market was an amazing success with the donation of $23,298 to the 26 participating non-profit organizations. Thank you to everyone who helped with this year’s market and those who saw the benefits of this “ecumenical giving tradition” that began in 1994.

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Family Promise Of Athens (Formerly IHNA)

Thank you to all of the volunteers who helped with the November host week for Family Promise and those who have served throughout the year. Your help to the 11 families hosted in 2019 was invaluable. Your efforts allowed them the opportunity to get on their feet and most are now living in their own apartment, working, and doing well. THANK YOU! Our 2020 host week kicks off on March 22. If you are interested in volunteering, please email boatwrightsusan@gmail.com or frankwsherrill@gmail.com.

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Stephen Ministry

For some people, Valentine’s Day is a painful reminder of a broken relationship, the death of a loved one, a recent relocation, a chronic illness, or another life challenge. If you are going through a difficult time, one of FPC’s Stephen Ministers can bring Jesus’ love (God’s ultimate Valentine) back into your life. Stephen Ministers provide confidential, one-to-one Christian care. He or she will meet with you privately on a weekly basis to listen, to support and encourage you, to pray with and for you, and to walk with you for the duration of your struggle.

To find out more about Stephen Ministry at First Presbyterian and how you or someone you know could be matched with a Stephen Minister, talk with one of FPC’s Stephen Leaders. Our Stephen Ministry team works with church members and non members. FPC Stephen Ministers are ready to care for you!

Contact a Stephen Leader for more information:

Bob Frisch: rpfrisch@aol.com, 914-262-1078

Dawn Frisch: dawnmfrisch@aol.com, 914-255-3447

Lisa Oelke: lisakoelke@gmail.com, 706-540-4251

Carol Strickland: cstrickland@firstpresathens.org, 706-765-7671

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Puerto Rico Mission Trip Update

Last month Rob and Susan Haire travelled to Puerto Rico. They arrived the same morning as the 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit the southern part of the island and flew out later that week just after another earthquake struck. During their visit they were able
to spend a day with Ashley Wright, Founder of Taino Volunteers, in the region where we will be serving this summer (May 31 – June 6). Rob shared, “the people of Puerto Rico want and need our help – physically, but as importantly – emotionally and spiritually. They feel like they are “on their own.” Our presence will be such a shot in the arm for them! They are welcoming and look forward to our visit!”

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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:

The Wayne F. Middendorf Memorial Concert Series presents “Through the Church the Song Goes On”, February 16
Youth Sunday, February 9
Stephen Ministers’ Commissioning and Reception, February 2
Annual Congregational Meeting and Lunch, January 26
Ordination of New Elders, January 12
Bicentennial Celebration Ringing of the Bell, January 12
Festival of Lessons & Carols and Holiday Benevolence Market, December 15
Live Nativity, December 10
Christmas Pageant & Dinner, December 8

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Worship With Us

Worship Times

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

Sunday School
Sunday School Begins August 25, 9:45 – 10:40 a.m.

Children’s Sunday School
Youth Sunday School
Adult Sunday School

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