The Young Adults ministry recognizes and celebrates the vital role of young adults in the growth and future of the church. Whether you're navigating your 20s or settling into your 30s, single or married, with or without children, this group meets you where you are. This is the place to build lasting relationships with a caring support system. In addition to Sunday School, First Pres offers several mission and fellowship opportunities for adults ages 22-39(ish) throughout the year.

Young Adult Weekly Update (July 21, 2021)

As a member of the Young Adult Committee, I am reaching out this week while Leslie is away on vacation.

As we turn the corner on summer, I hope you'll make plans to join FPC Young Adults on August 20 at the Spartanburg Criterium, where we have reserved a tent to enjoy this most fun downtown event together.

And we hope you will make plans to join in on Sunday mornings starting in September, as Dr. Lewis Galloway will lead the Young Adult and Faith Driven Sunday school class (new name coming soon!) this fall in a study, Encountering Jesus through the Gospel of Mark. Mark was the first gospel to be written. Through the stories of Jesus in Mark, the study will allow us to explore the stories of our own lives and how we meet Jesus in our own experiences, relationships, and challenges.


Emily Neely


Last week I taught youth Sunday school class. Knee-deep in summertime and taking a cue from my friend, fellow church member Christi Brown (who swears there is a scripture lesson in every Jimmy Buffett song), I felt it an opportune occasion to school my tenth-grader and his friends in some music history and, at the same time, discuss living traditions of faith.

John 1:1 tells us "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Words have power, sometimes holy power, and I believe that “the word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12), as Leslie wrote about last week. Along with scripture study and prayer, I find music an important way to access this living word, passed on through music faith traditions, from person to person and generation to generation. Reflecting on God’s Word helps me to better understand scripture and to think through God’s will in my life. Absorbing God’s Word when I listen to music helps me to internalize it, carry it with me day to day, and to recognize the voices around me that I should trust.

God’s Living Word connects us to other Christians—in the here and now, and also beyond. Every Sunday when we pray the Apostles’ Creed together, we state, “I believe in the holy catholic Church.” We remember that we each participate in the Church universal, connected to other Christians of all times and places as the body of Christ.


Dear heavenly Father, we thank you for your Word, and for faith traditions that share your Word with us. We thank you that we, as individuals and together as a church body, may participate in your Church universal.


Click the title to watch each musical performance.

I Will Wait” by Mumford and Sons (2012)

Mumford and Sons may not overtly identify themselves as a Christian band, but their music often relies on Christian references and biblical language. In “I Will Wait,” I hear echoes of Jesus’ parable about the prodigal son. You may hear something different. Mumford and Sons also draws inspiration from American singer-songwriters like Paul Simon. See their cover of Simon’s song, “The Boxer” (2012).

“Loves Me Like a Rock” by Paul Simon with the Dixie Hummingbirds as backup (1973)

Paul Simon’s music reflects all sorts of influences—classical, traditional folk musics and Jewish and Christian traditions (See, for example, his “American Tune” (1973), which uses the melody of the hymn “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.”) Simon was also inspired by the African-American gospel groups he listened to on the radio in the 1940s. In “Loves me Like a Rock” he compares a mother’s love for her son to God’s love (the Rock of Ages), and features the vocals of the Dixie Hummingbirds, a gospel group led by Ira Tucker, who was born in Spartanburg in 1925. Check out 20th Century Masters’: The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Dixie Hummingbirds (2002) to explore more of the Hummingbirds’ music.

“Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me,” Hymn 438 in our Presbyterian hymnbook, Glory to God (Aretha Franklin or Norton Hall Band)

This hymn, written by Augustus M. Toplady in 1776, is found in our hymnal, Glory to God, that we use each week in worship. It was also included in William Walker’s Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (1835), one of the most popular collections of sacred songs published in nineteenth-century America and an important vehicle by which individuals and congregations learned many of the hymns we still sing today. Southern Harmony was the first songbook to publish “Amazing Grace” in its current arrangement of music and text. “Singing Billy” Walker, born in 1809, lived and worked in Spartanburg. For more on Southern Harmony and the shape note music tradition, see: or Peter Cooper’s Hub City Music Makers (Hub City Press, 1997).