November 21, 2018

On Sunday, November 18, the Session at First Presbyterian Church voted unanimously to approve a recommendation from the Worship and Music Committee to pause the noon Wednesday Worship service. The recommendation was in response to declining attendance over the last few years and the departure of two pastors in late summer.

The change goes into effect immediately and continues until the pastoral staff shortage is filled and leadership is available to explore alternative mid-week worship opportunities.

The church will offer a midweek Advent service at 11 a.m on Thursday, December 6. All are invited to attend this hour-long service with Communion.

“We’re grateful for those who have been part of this mid-week worship opportunity for so many years,” said the Reverend Pen Peery. “We look forward to a time for prayerful discernment on creative ways to expand FPC ministry beyond the sanctuary and the church gate.”

February 5, 2018

This year during the Lenten season, our worship will be focused on the promises God makes to us in preparation for the ultimate promise that we find in a tomb that is empty and a world that is changed. Plan your Lenten season around these opportunities for worship.

Sunday, March 25, Palm Sunday: The Reverend Katelyn Cooke preaching

Thursday March 29, Maundy Thursday: Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper and Service of Tenebrae. Sanctuary, 7:30 p.m.

June 7, 2017

The Holy Spirit stirred things up for me a few weeks ago.

I was in one of the stretches in my faith where I was craving the concrete.

So much of the time, faith and ministry and discipleship exist in the realm of feelings and ideas and theories. But without the concrete, my faith tends to become brittle. My spiritual bones begin to feel dry.

Faith—whether it is our personal faith or the faith we express as a group of believers that God gathers to form a church—is always a journey with peaks and valleys. Sometimes God pulls me out of the valley through prayer. Other times, it is by placing messengers (the Bible calls messengers “angels”) in my path. Three weeks ago in worship the Holy Spirit pulled me up from the valley by connecting faith to my senses.

It was during a baptism.

“Will the congregation please stand: Do you, the people of the church, promise to tell this new disciple the good news of the gospel, to help him know all that Christ commands, and, by your fellowship, strengthen his family ties with the household of God?”

It wasn’t our congregation’s resounding “We do!” that did it.

It was the noise the preceded the question.

“Will the congregation please stand…”

When hundreds of people stand up in an historic sanctuary with squeaky floorboards it causes a commotion. The commotion of that rising from the pews is holy.

That rising to glimpse the face of the baby about to receive the promises of grace.

That rising to utter promises to parents that we will walk with them as they raise their child in the faith.

That rising to stand together—as different as we may be—to embody a commitment to be Christ’s family, in a concrete way.

This is what the church—and faith—sound like.

It was a sound that quenched the dry places of my soul.

I don’t know if you are at a peak or a valley in your journey of faith. But wherever you might be, I would encourage you to make attending worship with your church family a priority. God does speak: sometimes in anthems, sometimes in prayers, sometimes in sermons. And sometimes, even, in floorboards that announce the good news of our salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.

– The Reverend Pen Peery

May 15, 2017

On Wednesday, May 31, the Wednesday Worship season will conclude in Wood Fellowship Hall with a meditative service that offers the opportunity to walk labyrinth and focus on scripture and sacred music. The service will be at noon, followed by lunch in Wood Fellowship Hall Overflow.

The labyrinth will also be available for contemplative walking and quiet meditation beginning at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 30. It will be in place until 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31.

Want to learn more about the labyrinth as an aid to prayer before you experience it? This article from Trinity Presbyterian Church in Atlanta will tell you more, as will this information from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dayton, Ohio.

September 2, 2016

Erika croppedOcean waves are intimidating. Growing up close enough to the Pacific to hear the waves crashing at night, I find the beach is a safe and familiar place. I also developed a healthy fear of the ocean.  Tsunamis, tidal waves, storms at sea filled my nightmares as a child. I will not see movies like The Perfect Storm or Titanic.  Sorry, George and Leo, your beauty is not enough to overcome my fears of giant waves and sinking ships.

But fears are worth confronting. And the sea has long been a symbol in the Judeo Christian faith for God’s mighty hand guiding a chaotic world. So a few years ago I had the word “aWake” tattooed on my wrist as a reminder of this. A “wake” is the joyous bump that comes after a wave.  Picture swimming in the ocean or a lake and the lovely little lift you get when a boat passes nearby. That is a “wake,” but you have to get in the water to enjoy it; in fact you have to get close enough to the larger waves to even feel that lift.

The psalmist sings of this wake in Psalm 57:

“Awake, my soul! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn. I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens; your faithfulness extends to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens. Let your glory be over all the earth.”

When we draw ourselves near to God’s presence, even when it seems frightening or risky, we ride that wake. We receive a lift to our souls. To be awake as a Christian is to stay aware of the risks and dangers of the world but not be intimidated by them. Every week we are called into community worship carrying the burdens of the week and the hopefulness of our faith with us. I have heard people say that often times an hour on Sunday is not enough to sustain us and so FPC offers a second time of worship, every Wednesday at noon. It serves as another “bump”, another opportunity to lift our souls to God and be lifted up in spirit. We read scripture together, we sing songs and we pray for one another and the world.

Wednesday Worship kicks off September 7 and the new series is called Awake my soul. For seven weeks we’ll use a combination of scripture and top 40 songs to lift our spirits and open ourselves to God’s voice. Check out the playlist for the series, Awake my soul, on Spotify. And join us at noon on Wednesday to find out what we might learn from Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah.

– Erika Funk