First News

November 1, 2023

God’s Will For Us


In Martin Luther’s great hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, there is the defiant verse: “And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.” As we have watched the devastation in Israel and Gaza and absorbed yet another mass shooting, this time in Maine, there is an acute sense that the world is indeed filled with devils that are actively threatening to undo us. And by “devils” I am not referring to any individual, group, or nation, but rather, to the pervasiveness of senseless violence in the world and our too easy acceptance of it. Already, between Gaza and Israel, thousands of children have been killed.

Christians cannot simply shrug this off as the collateral damage of war. Nor can we differentiate between the value of Palestinian and Israeli lives. All of these once breathing people, these once playful children, are God’s beloved children.


While certainly different, the mass shooting in Maine also points to a too easy acceptance of violence and death. Our culture accepts that the lives lost in these shootings are the collateral damage of our freedom. Sadly, there is a national ritual in the wake of these shootings and after the “service” is over the benediction is: “Go from here knowing that there is nothing we can do!” Again, acceptance of pervasive, senseless violence is the “devil-filled” solution. And this is one reason we include a corporate confession of sin in our worship service each Sunday.


Unfortunately, the political and cultural landscape of this nation has rendered meaningful discussion about important issues all but impossible. The “other side” is presented as evil and any support or agreement with anything they propose is to succumb to this evil. And so, when it comes to the problem of gun violence, it is an either-or question. Do you want to take the guns away or not? And, as it concerns the current crisis in the Middle East, either you support Israel or not. A desire for peace and compassion for those living in Gaza is seen as a betrayal of support for Israel.


In a society with such pervasive and paralyzing divisiveness, I believe the church has a crucial role to play. The church needs to be a place where people of differing views can come together around the common principles of Christ’s love, grace, compassion, and justice. If, in our life together, we are simply modeling what we experience in the world, particularly as seen in the media we consume, then, quite simply, we are not being faithful Christians. Following the way of Jesus requires that we keep our hearts and minds open and see all people as children of God. For when we do, they cease to be hated “others” and instead become beloved siblings and friends.


Indeed, the world seems to be “devil-filled” and I know I am not the only one who feels as though it “threatens to undo us.” But we are called to trust, to hope, and to follow the way of Jesus. And we cannot truly do so with closed hearts and minds. God needs our hearts to be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit, for, as Luther so eloquently wrote, “God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.” 

In the peace of Christ,


Veterans Day is November 11. During worship on November 12, we will recognize with great appreciation the service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families. If you have not previously provided us your name, please contact Lisa Johnson to be added to the list of those who have served our country.

Our annual Fall Festival was a great success and lots of fun was had by all. 

Click here to see pictures from the event. 

Advent is just around the corner! We have come across several resources that are great for celebrating the Advent season at home.


Click here to access information and look for our Advent Resource table near the office, at Door A, to see samples or to order items for your personal use. 

Advent Bible Study begins November 29th at 5:00 p.m.

We will explore together

Holy Disruption: Discovering Advent in the Gospel of Mark

by Tracy S. Daub. 

Books can be ordered on Amazon or purchased in the church office for $10.00.

Where’s the baby? The Gospel of Mark doesn’t have a nativity story—so where’s the Advent message? It’s in every aspect of Jesus’ life, to his death and beyond.

The Incarnation—God come to earth in human form to be baptized, teach, heal, eat, and die—is what we celebrate at Christmas, and Mark shows us just how radical and celebration-worthy it is!

Holy Disruption presents a fresh understanding of the holiness of Christmas grounded, not in a conventional cozy Christmas message, but through Mark's disquieting gospel which invites its readers to experience God's disruptive but transformative love for us and our world.

Daily Devotionals for the Advent season will be emailed from the church office beginning December 3rd.

In Apocalyptic Advent, Presbyterian Outlook editor Teri McDowell Ott explores the connection between Advent and Christ's second coming.

We often treat Christmas as an end, but it is a new hope, she writes. We celebrate Jesus’ first coming with an eye toward his second coming and the way God is actively at work redeeming and renewing our world.

What word does Jesus have for us in a world full of anxiety, uncertainty and conflict?

The Hunger Walk in support of Daily Bread Ministries begins at

2:00 p.m. at Memorial Methodist Church on Sunday, November 19th.

Daily Bread Ministries (Greer Soup Kitchen) needs:

  • Sugar
  • Corn Starch 
  • Black Pepper
  • 16oz Cups
  • Alfredo sauce
  • Ziti Noodles
  • Elbow Noodles
  • Napkins
  • Cheese
  • Canned Vegetables of Any Kind
  • Soups - Cream of Chicken and Cream of Mushroom

Starting November 26th, there will be an Angel Tree set up in the Fellowship Hall that will highlight the needs of Greer Relief’s Christmas Morning Shoppe as well as Thornwell. Look for more details to come about the specific needs of each organization. Please bring your donations to the church by December 10th. 

Grace Notes Children’s Choir (K4-4th grade) is singing and ringing bells in 11:00 a.m. worship on November 12. Rehearsals are November 5 and 12 at 10:00 am.

All 3rd-12th grade girls are invited to sing in the Young Ladies' Ensemble for Christmas. Rehearsals are November 5, 19 and December 3 from 9:45-10 am in the choir room. We will sing for Joygfit on December 10.

Please note there are no choir or bell rehearsals on November 22 due to the Thanksgiving holiday. 

At its September meeting, the Session approved the purchase and installation of a new Cornel Zimmer hybrid organ with both pipes and digital components. As we move forward with this long-needed project, we give thanks for the one-hundred-year lifespan of our 1922 Estey organ. We anticipate the new organ will be installed by this summer. More information will be shared in the new year about a capital campaign to help cover the cost of the organ and to allow every member to be a part of the music ministry of this church for the next 100 years!

Thank you to Organ Ad Hoc Committee members Susan Burch, Sarah Cannon, Fred Hyslop, Missy Nicholson, Steven Peters, and Judy Pearson for their service. Representing the staff were Lisa Dillard, Pam Turnage, and Reverend Will Shelburne.

Children’s Faith Formation

Upcoming Events

F3 on November 12th following the Stewardship Luncheon

GROW on November 14th at Noon

Sign up for Winter Camp at Camp Fellowship, scholarships are available for all children who would like to attend this fun one night camp experience December 1-2.

Please reach out to Maggie Wentzky with questions on any of these events.

A Word from Ally

Reformation Sunday, as I am sure it does for many of us, always gets me thinking about the “why” behind our shared practices. Everything we do on Sunday morning, from the call to worship, to the confession of sin, and all the way to the closing charge and benediction bears significance, a fact I have known and claimed for some time.

Yet, if I am being honest, I have had a tumultuous relationship with the “confession of sin” in my own life. In fact, I don’t believe that I am the only one who feels this way, as more and more congregations around the country move away from this practice for fear of leading people to wallow in despair and self pity. Confessing our sin, owning our humanness, is hard. But it is so important.

In an article titled “Confessing Church: Why do we keep doing these prayers of confession,” Rev. Dr. Martha Moore-Keish explains that, in confession, we tell the truth of our fallen nature, but this is only one truth. In confession, we also tell the truth of grace freely given. She explains that God’s grace precedes and follows our confession of sin, therefore, in this practice we are not wallowing, rather we are opening ourselves up to reflect on and fully receive this grace.

Sunday worship gives us space to practice faithful living. When we confess our sin, we practice telling our story, a story that includes the life-giving gift of grace that is freely given. Thanks be to God!



Upcoming Youth Events!

November 10-12: Mid High Presbytery Retreat

November 12: Senior High Fellowship Event at the Guerrero Home

November 19: Friendsgiving

December 3 - Confirmation Orientation

January 5-7: Senior High Presbytery Retreat

February 23-25: Mid and Senior High Ski Trip

FPC Greer Financial Snapshot

YTD Actual Income as of 9/30/23 = $585,556.00

YTD Budgeted Income as of 9/30/23 = $578,581.00

Variance = ($6,975.00)

Prayer Concerns

Louise Ables

Jackie Atkins

Luanne Baker

Dick & B.J. Baldwin

Judy Brown

Sarah Cannon

Hugh & Jo Earnest

Oochie Gibson

Barry & Diane Groce

Bonnie Holmes

Terri Long

Dave & Cecile Orr

We extend Christian sympathy to Susan Lynn at the death of her sister, Brenda, on October 26th in Albany, GA.

Dear FPC Family - I cannot thank you enough for the cards, texts, emails and prayers since I began this cancer journey. God has blessed me with a wonderful church family and your love is abundant in my life. I also want to thank you for the continued prayers for my dad and mom as they continue to navigate their lives with dad’s leukemia. God is Good, All the time. Even in the hard times.


Terri Long

My Dear Church Family -

Thank you all so much for your thoughts and prayers, cards, flowers, food and visits. Your support and care has helped more than you can know. In helping me, you in turn helped Ansley because she was sick during the first week after my surgery. God’s love has been showing up for me in so many ways, thanks to you all. I am healing well and plan to be among you in person soon.

Much love, Betsy Porter

To My Church Family ,

I would like to thank everyone for the tremendous outpouring of cards and phone calls before and after my surgery and throughout my recovery. Every card was so cherished and each one came at exactly the right time. I also want to thank the Resounding Joy handbell choir and the choir itself for the very thoughtful gifts they sent my way. Again, they came at exactly the right time. I know God was present at all times and Greer Pres. proved it to my entire family. It’s a miracle that I am up and walking because the surgeon said I should be in a wheelchair. Thank you to all who kept the faith and sent prayers up for me each day. I still have a ways to go before the nerve heals completely but it is so much better.

With Christian peace and love, Bonnie Holmes

Dear FPC Greer Family,

Thank you so much to everyone for your support during my father’s recent illness. Your prayers and love were very much felt and appreciated by all of us!

With Love, Maggie Wentzky

Throughout Stewardship we have shared photos, videos and other media to highlight all the ways that First Presbyterian Church Lives Gratefully and Gives Faithfully.  Make sure you browse through these posts on Facebook or Instagram or even on our church website

A recent post, a video of Travis Olmert performing his original song Old Mt. Tabor can be found here: 

The next issue of First News is November 28th. If you have content for the newsletter, please email it to Lisa Johnson at by Wednesday, November 22nd.

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