June 17, 2016

Youth Mission 2016 farm5Today we got to be in God’s garden and see God’s miracle workers.

I saw God through the earth while digging the potatoes for those who need at a community food bank.  It was fresh and nourishing food for people eat.

Youth Mission 2016 farmingI saw God as I learned about Medshare through the kind world healers as we sorted and packaged medical equipment.  It was wonderful to know that this  medical equipment was saving people’s lives throughout the world with all the perfectly good equipment that was being thrown away in the United States.

God’s magic had been so many places throughout this week that I can’t count. God is the light through which us youth have seen and experienced through remarkable healing, love, and transformation.

– Addie

June 15, 2016

Youth Mission 2016 homeless centerToday we went to Urban Recipe* and Gateway**.  Both of these experiences moved me.

At Urban Recipe I saw Christ when everybody was working together to get food for them, their families and other families. There were no problems and everybody respected everyone else.

At Gateway, I saw Christ in a woman’s story. She had worked there for three years and she was homeless for four weeks when she ran away from her father after he called her names from the pulpit in church. This was one of the worst things to be in their church. I respected because she was trying to help people who might be in the same position as she was in her childhood.

Then it rained and we had to run back to the church.

After today I feel like I understand that there is a story behind every person that shaped who they are and where they live.

– Ross

* Urban Recipe’s food co-ops for low income families provide a unique alternative to many traditional food-centered ministries. Under our model, each family we serve becomes a member of a 50 family food co-op that meets every other week and is convened completely by the members themselves. Because of the consistency and sense of ownership the model offers, our co-ops not only provide food security for those in need, but are a place where relationships are formed, dignity is affirmed and community is strengthened.”

** The Gateway Center is designed to serve as the “gateway” to the community continuum of care that helps individuals move out of homelessness. GWC provides over 330 places for men who enter into programs geared to address the underlying reasons for their homelessness, such as unemployment, addictions, mental illness or domestic abuse.”

June 14, 2016

Atlanta mission trip 2016 1Day 2 of Middle School Mission Trip to Atlanta With eyes wide open: I saw God in Martin Luther King Jr’s life and everything he stood for.

Martin Luther King Jr wanted freedom and respect for ALL people.  I saw God in the people that we served breakfast to. God uses every person and loves every person the same.

April 15, 2016

Doubt … can easily be overcome through full attention to God’s voice. And it was on the peak of the mountain in Costa Rica that I realized that I have been blessed with an amazing family and godly friends and an almighty God who is willing to stand beside me and encourage me up the hardest part of my mountain. Ann Mariah Burton

Our youth lead worship on Sunday, April 17, at 9 and 11 am, and we will celebrate our 8th-grade confirmation class at the 11 am service. Join us for worship and stay afterward for food a food truck lunch and games on the lawn! All are invited to this special day as we  give thanks to God with our youth and for our youth.

April 14, 2016

When faced with adversity, many people call into question God’s motives.  Although I don’t know why bad things happen to good people, I do know one thing: God has a plan for all of us. George Valaoras


July 30, 2014

Our youth spent at week in Montreat at the “Rooted and Reaching” retreat. These are their observations from five days of worship, prayer, fellowship and discussion as they grew closer to one another and to God. 

Day 1: Hello First Pres Family. You’ll be happy to know that we had a wonderful first full day at the Montreat Youth Conference. We started off our day with a great breakfast provided by our awesome first pres parents! We moved on to the Keynote led by Jarrett McLaughlin, who did an excellent job starting to convey the theme of “Rooted and Reaching.” We explored this theme in depth today by focusing on the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13 1-8). We further discussed this in our small groups where we met people from all over. Everyone is looking forward to continuing to build relationships in their small groups.

We ended the day with a worship service led by Christopher Edmonston. He did an excellent job of laying the groundwork for the week by focusing on “our soil” and how we need good soil to put down our roots and begin growing. Overall it looks like we are setting up for a great week in Montreat and growing closer to God.

-This is H-Money, Studawg, and the Glontzinator signing out. (Harrison Ferone, Stuart Ayer and Alex Glontz)


Day 2: Our morning started similar to Monday. Today’s scripture was a story of Ruth and her loyalty and love for Naomi. Small groups were fun! For dinner, Christopher Edmonston and his son, Gabriel, joined us. It was great to reconnect with him and his family. At worship Christopher did an amazing job on connecting scriptures, thoughts and personal stories to tackle the question of who our people are. We are hoping to have a good free afternoon in Asheville and a great rest of the week. Signing off – G-daddy and La Luc (George Valaoras and Lucinda Bond)

Day 3: Keynote with Jarrett this morning reminded us that God is always with us. No matter what, God will always love us. Worship with Christopher explored the question whether or not we can be forgiven, redeemed, saved and renewed. YES!!! Good news, YES we can! Christopher further explained how God still appears in the worst of our days. God never abandons us. Worship closed with hand washing and showing us that our cleansed hands can be used to serve others and model the service that Jesus did with his disciples when he washed their feet. Thanks be to God for this day! – Signing off JPro and Dave the wave (Jackson Proctor and Davy Rayner)


Day 4: Today, Jarrett shared a powerful message in keynote about Gods ability to reshape us through pruning. Over the course of this week in Montreat we have witnessed ourselves
coming closer together forming a family of god. As a group we hiked Lookout Mountain continuing to bond as a group and experiencing God’s beauty. Christopher wowed us again with another amazing sermon. He helped us understand how it is good to let go, always remembering that he never abandons his garden of people.

– Signing off – A mili, A2, E- train (Amelia Keesler, Alex Ayer and Emily Orrell)

Montreat candles

Day 5: Throughout our week at Montreat, we have explored the theme of rooted and reaching in regards to our connection to God. Through this theme we have experienced a growth in our faith as we discovered what it meant to surround ourselves with people we believed would help us become better versions of ourselves. We examined our roots and our basic connections to God in hopes of pruning our rough edges. Together we have made new friendships in our small groups that helped nourish our faith. We also had the pleasure of forming unbreakable bonds with our back home group. We are blessed to have such a wonderful program at First Presbyterian of Charlotte. Today we focused on two questions to take home with us: how can we reach and what is our story. Both services focused on this internal reflection and offered us advice on what to think about once we left Montreat. Finally, after the last worship, we had a candle light ceremony around Lake Susan to wrap up everything we had done this week. In our back home group we reflected upon our wonderful week here at Montreat and what we hope to take from it. We cannot wait to come back next year!
– Signing off – Adrienne, Vamanos and Wood (AJ Sellers, Abigail Justis and Woodson Dudley)

June 27, 2014

1) In our bible study at Mercy Church we rewrote Psalm 23. We meshed as a community of believers our understanding of scripture into this.
The Holy Spirit is our shepherd as we walk through the system. We will gather together as often as possible to eat together and enjoy one another’s company as church so all will feel included. We will practice being good, healthy community inside the church so we can better be good, healthy community outside the church. We will also sing together to praise God and become more unified as a community.

2) Psalm 23. This is the version we read in our bible study
The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. He lets me rest in grassy meadows. He leads me to the restful waters; He keeps me alive. He guides me in proper paths for the sake of his good name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger because you are with me. Your rod and your staff — they protect me. You set a table for me right in front of my enemies. You bathe my head in oil; my cup is so full it spills over! yes, goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the LORD’s house as long as I live.

3) the Homeless Psalm was written by Lynda Baker. Linda was an active part of the Mercy Church community. Linda passed away about a year ago but wrote this before she passed.
The system is my shepherd, I lack everything that I need. The system makes me lie down on the concrete. The system tells me that I am not good enough for its water. The system slowly destroys my soul. Yea, though I daily walk through the system’s wastelands, the system still tries to destroy me. Their constant hounding and no sleep do not comfort me. The system doesn’t do anything for me, my cup is surely dry. Surely hatred and intolerance shall follow me all the days of my life in the system. And I shall dwell in the house of lack forever.

June 23, 2014

This is the first installment of our summer youth mission trip series. The middle and high school youth will spend time this year in with our mission partners at VIM in Mexico and with DOOR in Atlanta. Please keep an eye on the blog for updates on their travels, their work, and the ways they see God’s hand and love in our world.

On our first day in Atlanta, I was already very moved. As soon as we turned the corner toward the church we saw lines of struggling homeless people laying outside. I was confused at first but soon learned the church lets them sleep there every night. They kept each of their spaces so clean and it was almost as if they had their own room. We began distributing sandwiches and came across a kind homeless couple. They sang us three songs, all about having trust in God. I believe God was truly shining through them that they had close to nothing and they knew God would provide. – Kate

June 11, 2014

In this week’s Gospel lesson, Jesus tells his followers that they must “become like children” in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. In a world that values advancement, education and progress, these words are hard for us to hear. We love children, but we don’t necessarily want to be children again.

As we begin our summer sermon series, “Questions of Faith,” we will look at some questions asked by children of our congregation and consider what it might mean if we were to look at our own faith through the eyes of a child.

November 6, 2012

Our Confirmation class has the opportunity to engage worship in a new way!  They attend worship and are given the opportunity to ask questions of the Minister that preached the sermon for a particular Sunday.  Here are a few of their questions and responses from the Minister that proclaimed the Word.  We will continue to put these out there for the congregation to see as we all seek to wrestle with God’s call for us.

Confirmation Worship Questions

Rev. Peery, From 9/30/12

Scripture:  Mark 9:38-41

How can we encourage those who are different from us to serve in Christ’s name?

Great question!

I think the key to your question is found in the word “encourage.”  Sometimes I have seen Christians (of every kind) make the mistake in believing that they can “make” someone who is different than them serve in Christ’s name (or believe in Christ).  I don’t think it is our job as disciples of Jesus to “make” people do something or believe something.

What we can do is be clear about what it is that we believe.  Then we can be clear about what motivates us to do those things that Christ wants us to do: share love with others, forgive, feed the hungry, offer welcome to those who don’t have many friends.   We don’t practice those acts of compassion just because we want to be nice people.  We do those things because we are grateful for the life we have in Jesus Christ who lived, died, and was raised for us and for the whole world!

There is an old song I used to sing at Camp Grier called “They will know we are Christians by our Love.”  I think being the best Christian we know how to be is the way we can encourage others to follow in Christ’s path.

Rev.  Peery, from 10/14/12

Scripture:  Mark 10:17-31

Are we really supposed to give up everything to follow God?  I like my stuff.

I like my stuff, too!

There are lots of things that Jesus says that are…quite simply…HARD.  Jesus sets the example for how to live the ideal life that God had in mind when God created us.

And no one BUT Jesus has ever been able to lead that kind of life.  The rest of us – always – fall short of the ideal.  So the question is, do we just give up?  Do we not even try?  Or – instead – do we do the best we can to be faithful and depend on God’s grace to pick us up when we’re not?

One of the questions I always try to keep in my mind about “my stuff” (money, car, iPhone, 1982 UNC National Championship coke bottle) is this: which do I love more?  God?  Or my stuff?

And one of the ways we practice making sure that we have our priorities in order is by giving our “stuff” away.  The fancy church word for that is “stewardship.”  That’s why we pass the offering plate.  Not just to take up money to pay for running the church, but to create a spiritual discipline of giving back to God some of the stuff that – by the way – came from God to begin with!!

Rev. Peery, from 10/28/12

Scripture:  Mark 10:46-52; Job 38, 42: selected verses

Why did God ever take a bet, even if he knew the outcome?

Why didn’t Job stop loving God after everything that happened?  Why would God make a bet on the happiness of a man’s life?

Both of these are great, and difficult to answer, questions.

I’ll start answering them by talking about the library.

When you go to the library (whether in person or online), the first thing you do is to look at what section you are in.  If you want to study history, you don’t check out a cookbook.  If you want to read a novel, you don’t browse the encyclopedias.

Now imagine that the Bible is a library.

There are 66 books in the Bible.

Many of those books are in different sections.

The gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) talk about Jesus’ life.  These are in the non-fiction section.

The Psalms capture a whole range of feelings about what it means to follow God that are summed up in just a few short verses.  Psalm is in the poetry section.

The book of Revelation reads like a sci-fi adventure.  It is in the fantasy section.

The book of Job starts out with God making a bet with Satan and then ruining a man’s life for no reason other than to prove himself.  Do I think that is the way God does things?  I certainly hope not!!  But what if you don’t read the book of Job as if it were history?  What if God and Satan didn’t ACTUALLY sit down and ruin Job’s life?  What if Job is a story that is written to try to make an important point?

Does that make it less true than the other books in the Bible library that are non-fiction?  I don’t think so.  What the Bible reveals to us is God’s truth: about who God is, who Jesus is, and who we are.  The Bible is not a history book.  It is the Bible.  It’s bigger than history!  It is the revelation of God’s word!

The character of Job is a remarkable person.  He sticks with God even in spite of his sufferings.  He loves God through the difficult times.  He just keeps waiting for things to make sense.  And when they don’t – he finally flies off the handle and expresses his anger at God (read chapter 30 to see what I mean…).  It makes for a good story.  It sets up “the point” of the book: that the only one who is able to make sense of the world is the one who created the world.  That would be…not Job, or his friends, or us…but God and God alone.

Sounds kind of heavy, huh?  Like God is distant and cold and removed from all of us.

Maybe…but don’t forget that the way we know God is through Jesus…who came to the earth, lived among us, loved us, died for us, and was raised for us.

So while we may not ever know all there is to know about why things happen the way they do in our lives or our world, we do know what God thinks about us: because we see how much love has when we look at Jesus.

Can I get an AMEN???