Past Ten Weeks
FPC Weekly eNews - March 24, 2023Posted Mar 24, 2023
This Sunday we will have a baptism and we will commission three new Stephen ministers in our 11:00am Sanctuary service. What great symbolism there is in that confluence of events! In baptism we are claimed by God as part of the family of faith, and we are called to live lives of faithful discipleship to God and neighbor, which is precisely what we are commissioning those Stephen Ministers to do! This week’s eNews is full of other opportunities to serve, engage, and grow as disciples. I know it’s long, but keep scrolling, and find at least one new place you can grow as a disciple.
FPC Weekly eNews - March 17, 2023Posted Mar 17, 2023
Well, it is hard to believe but this coming Wednesday – March 22 – will mark one full year since I began my call as senior pastor here at First Presbyterian. All I can say is that time flies when you are having fun! Truly, what a joy these past twelve months have been. You all have welcomed me and the entire Dyer Family with such love and graciousness – thank you.
One thing I came to understand first-hand early on is that First Presbyterian is a body of believers made up of a lot of faces and names. We are a big church. It will come as no surprise then to learn that the most practical tool for me throughout this first year has been our online Shelby directory. The Shelby directory is FPC’s protected digital database of photos, names, and basic contact information that is available to all members of the church.
So why am I sharing this tidbit with you? Two reasons. First, we want to make sure as many members as possible know about Shelby and how to access it. Not only is does it serve as a helpful online pictorial directory for all of us (not just pastors and staff), but it is also a one-stop-shop for updating your personal information, to make electronic contributions, access past giving statements, etc. Shelby is an easy way to stay in touch with the church and help the church stay in touch with you.
The second reason is because this Sunday we are launching what we have dubbed the Great Presbyterian Picture Push, which is your chance to help make sure that we have the most up-to-date photo and information for you and/or your family on Shelby. Beginning this weekend and continuing for the next few weeks, you will have an opportunity to have your photo taken and automatically uploaded to Shelby while at church. Our hope is that by providing an easy way to update and expand this valuable online resource we will be able to further strengthen our connections to one another – see below for all the details!
Continued Lenten blessings to you all. See you at church. Invite a friend.
FPC Weekly eNews - March 10, 2023Posted Mar 13, 2023
We often think about the liturgical season of Lent as being a time for “giving something up” – i.e., shedding some of those unnecessary things in our lives that may, at times, blur or hinder our ability to glimpse God’s hand at work. But this is also an excellent moment for us to seek out some new places where we can (re)engage our spiritual lives. As we move through this Lenten season, I hope you will take an opportunity to find those places where perhaps God is calling you to serve, learn, fellowship, connect, or worship.
I also want to highlight the incredible success of our 2023 Witness Season. Back at the beginning of February, we shared with you about the dire need for clean and safe water at our sister congregation in Santa Clara, Cuba. Through a partnership with Living Waters International we hoped to raise $30,000 to fund the purchase and installation of a water purification system to benefit not only the church but also the Santa Clara community as a whole. Well, once again, all of you – the saints of First Presbyterian – have gone above and beyond. To date, the total amount raised is nearly $40,000!
Thank you. The generosity and faith of our congregation truly never ceases to amaze me. Because of your giving we will not only be able to help provide safe and clean water to our brothers and sisters in Christ in Cuba, but we will be able to continue our support of this congregation and community. Your giving will impact countless lives for years to come – again, thank you.
FPC Weekly eNews - March 3, 2023Posted Mar 03, 2023
As we turn the page into March, I want to draw your attention to a seldom talked about but incredibly important ministry of the church: The 1843 Fund. First Presbyterian’s endowed funds are comprised of over thirty different individual funds, which are collectively called The 1843 Fund. The endowment's purpose is to provide members and friends of this congregation the opportunity to practice faithful stewardship of accumulated resources and to ensure the funding of ministries of our congregation and the larger church in perpetuity. An important benefit of making contributions to endowment funds is that the gift will outlive the life of the donor, an effective way of expressing gratitude for God's many blessings.
In order to raise awareness about the crucially important nature of The 1843 Fund, our Endowment Advancement Committee is hard at work planning a special dinner to share information about the church endowment on Tuesday, March 21 at 5:30PM. The committee is inviting all members of the church (and any interested friends are certainly welcome as well) to attend this complimentary dinner. This is not a “fund raising” dinner, and attendees should not feel pressured or obligated. Most of the information shared that evening will focus on simply encouraging all of us to consider participating in the endowment through elements of estate planning. By including the church in our estate plans, each of us can play an important role in helping to grow the kingdom of God in this place long after.
You may register for the dinner by clicking here. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to Lynise Clarke, Church Financial Officer (email@example.com). I hope to see you on March 21!
Blessings to you all. Join us at church this Sunday. Invite a friend.
FPC Weekly eNews - February 24, 2023Posted Feb 24, 2023
This Sunday is Witness Season Sunday! Throughout the month of February, you've heard us talk about our project to raise money for a water purification system for our partner congregation in Santa Clara, Cuba. I wanted to explain a little more about what your money would be going towards and how it would make this goal a reality.
We will be working directly with Living Waters for the World (LWW), and you will hear more from one of their staff members this Sunday (both in a combined Sunday school at 10am in Fogartie Hall and during the worship services). The funds we raise will go toward sending at least three members of our church to Clean Water U training (through LWW), where they will be equipped to move forward with this project. The water team will them partner with Santa Clara for at least three years, where we come alongside the people in Cuba to plan and implement the water project locally. This would take place over the course of four years total.
I am excited about this project because not only does it meet a dire need in Santa Clara, but it also builds upon and strengthens the long-standing relationships that we have had with this congregation for years. I hope you will consider giving to Witness Season this year and help us meet our goal of raising $30,000!
FPC Weekly eNews - February 17, 2023Posted Feb 17, 2023
Next Wednesday, February 22 is Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, which is the 40-day season of prayer and preparation that will lead us once again to Holy Week and Easter. I invite you to come by the Chapel anytime between 8:00am and 1:00pm that day for a moment of prayer and imposition of ashes with one of the pastors. You are also invited to join your church family for Ash Wednesday Worship in the Sanctuary that evening at 6:30pm.
We are also now officially in the midst of Witness Season, which is an annual effort of FPC to raise awareness and funds in support of a local or international mission partner. This year, we are seeking to support the purchase and installation of a water purification system for our partner congregation in Santa Clara, Cuba and the community they serve. We are working with Living Waters for the World to make this project a reality. I encourage you to watch the brief informative video below that was shared in last Sunday’s worship and to visit the Witness Season website to learn more about how you can support these important efforts.
Lastly, I want to thank you all for praying for the Dominican Republic Mission Team last week. Your prayers were felt! It was truly an enriching and formative experience for all of those who participated. For me personally, it was an incredible opportunity to see firsthand the impact that First Presbyterian’s decades-long partnership and relationship with our Dominican brothers and sisters in Christ continues to have in San Juan. Our congregation’s commitment to sharing the love of Jesus Christ through giving of time, talent, and treasure over so many years has – and continues – to improve both the physical and spiritual health of countless people in that region. Be sure to mark your calendars to join us for a full report about the trip, which will be our Wednesdays @ First program on March 1.
Blessings to you all. Join us at church this Sunday. Invite a friend.
FPC Weekly eNews - February 10, 2023Posted Feb 10, 2023
We give thanks for the great work our Dominican Republic Mission Team has been doing, and we pray for a safe and uneventful trip home for all of them tomorrow. We look forward to hearing their experiences and the status of the new hospital to which we contributed a few Witness Seasons ago. Be sure to check out the monitors around the campus for pictures from this year’s trip.
Speaking of Witness Season, don’t forget that our 2023 Witness Season is in full swing as we raise money to install a water filtration system at our partner church in Cuba. Watch for more information during our worship services this Sunday, and mark your calendars for Witness Season Sunday, on February 26, when a representative from Living Waters for the World (a ministry of the Presbyterian Synod of the Living Waters) will be with us during the Sunday School hour to share more about this project.
Don’t forget that this Sunday there is a blood drive at the church. So eat a good breakfast, drink your fluids, and roll up your sleeve to give the gift of life. Aside from the intrinsic benefits of giving blood, there are also some great incentives to sweeten the deal!
FPC Weekly eNews - February 3, 2023Posted Feb 03, 2023
Last Sunday, we gathered in the Sanctuary during the Sunday school hour for our Annual Congregational Meeting. This is an important opportunity each year for the church to hear reports about the good ministry happening in our midst – past, present, and future – and to handle those matters requiring congregational approval. More importantly though, it provides us with a snapshot of the remarkable ways God is on the move here at FPC!
Here are a few highlights from the 2023 annual meeting:
- FPC is a growing congregation. Not only do we have new visitors and friends coming into through our doors every week, but we also received over 55 new members in the past year and celebrated over 20 baptisms. Additionally, our average Sunday worship attendance is as high as it has been in over five years.
- Our ministries of care and compassion are robust. Under the leadership of our Diaconate there are meals being delivered, neighbors in need being served, and the sick and homebound being visited and prayed for every day.
- Fellowship, mission, and learning are thriving. Wednesdays @ First are filling Fogartie every week. Sunday school and Bible studies are happening six days of the week. And, over the past year, new mission partnerships have been born and existing ones strengthened. This includes renewed energy for the Faith Initiative to End Child Poverty and a return to Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
- The church is in as good financial shape as ever. For the second consecutive year, we ended 2022 with an operating budget surplus of nearly $175,000. Stewardship is also strong with 432 pledges (up from 389 in 2022) supporting an expanded operating budget for 2023 of $3,170,000. All of these numbers translate into our congregation’s ability to have an even greater impact in the lives of our members and community in the year to come.
- Finally, we continue to be blessed with an incredibly gifted and loving staff team. We are especially excited to have welcomed a number of new staff members in 2022 including Rev. John Daniel DeBevoise (Associate Pastor for Youth and Campus Ministry) and Kara Clark (Director of Children’s Ministry).
As part of the meeting, we also approved the slate of nominees to serve as the 2023 Congregational Nominating Committee as well as a 4% cost of living adjustment for the pastor’s terms of call. This 4% salary increase also applies to all FPC staff members as part of this year’s operating budget. You can find information about all of these items and more by clicking here to read the Annual Report.
Finally, please remember to be in prayer for the team of twenty-five folks who will be serving alongside our mission partners in the Dominican Republic next week. The group will be providing vital medical care and construction support while on the ground. You can find the names of those participating on this year’s mission team below.
Blessings to you all. Join us at church this Sunday. Invite a friend.
FPC Weekly eNews - January 27, 2023Posted Jan 27, 2023
This season brings a great deal of excitement in our church family. The beginning of 2023 highlights great mission and ministry locally and abroad. I know our team of members preparing to make the journey to the Dominican Republic is excited for the ways God will be at work among them in a couple of weeks. We have five youth going on the trip this year! Please pray for these youth and the other members. We will have a liturgy of dedication for their missional work this Sunday during the 11:00am Traditional Worship Service.
Youth ministry at FPC is back and in full swing. Last weekend we had our confirmation retreat to Asbury Hills Camp in Cleveland, SC. This retreat was a time spent away growing together as a community and beginning the process of coming to understand and own one’s faith for themselves. We have twenty-eight ninth graders who are going through the confirmation process. Twenty-eight! I am grateful for the faithful efforts of Rev. Craig Foster, Rev. Leslie Lang, and Carrie Coleman. These individuals have and will continue to play a pivotal role in confirmation for our youth. Again, I ask that you continue to pray for all our 9th graders in confirmation. A special thank you is deserving to Josh Jones (elder), Rev. Eliza DeBevoise, and Jackie Bielevicz for serving as volunteer chaperones on our retreat. This year our confirmands have each selected a mentor who will journey alongside them in their questioning, discernment, and learning. Gratitude abounds for the call from God that has been placed on these mentors.
February is going to be a wonderful time in the lives of our youth. In two weeks, a group of forty-ish youth and adults will be taking a ski trip to West Virginia. A week later on Sunday, February 19th, the youth will be leading our morning worship services for Youth Sunday. Please come and support these incredible middle and high schoolers as they have been putting in intentional time to make these services meaningful. Pray for our two preachers – Abby Edwards (8th Grade) and Sallie Barre (12th Grade). Every day I am reawakened to the truth that our youth have a great amount to teach us. One of the beautiful things about the church is that we exist as an intergenerational body of Christ. When we lean into the unique perspective of each person, the creative lens they view the world through, we get to witness a piece of who God is in the world. What a blessed and beloved community this is! I look forward to the continued kingdom work of God alongside each of you this season and beyond.
FPC Weekly eNews - January 20, 2023Posted Jan 20, 2023
There is a lot happening in the life and faith of First Presbyterian. This congregation’s heart for worship, mission, fellowship, and learning continues to amaze and inspire me! Truly, each week brings with it new opportunities for growing closer to God and nurturing our call to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ for the world around us. As always, I encourage you to take a moment to peruse this week’s eNews. You will find below a whole host of opportunities to get engaged both inside and outside the walls of the church.
Blessings to you all. See you Sunday. Invite a friend.