First News

September 28, 2023



This year’s stewardship theme truly resonates with me. The steady reminder of all that we have to be grateful for as a church and as individuals keeps my heart and my eyes open to seeing God’s goodness and mercy. One of the things I keep coming back to is what a privilege and honor it is to serve as one of your pastors. I love this congregation, its people, and its awareness of and receptiveness to looking outward. First Greer is a genuinely compassionate and caring congregation and I often find myself wishing everyone could experience the warmth and love of this community of faith.


As with any blessing or gift from God, we have a responsibility to share it as freely and as widely as we possibly can. In fact, we are called to share it as freely and as widely as Jesus shared himself with and for us. Freely sharing God’s gracious love is at the center of Christian gratitude. We love one another because God loves us. We love one another, friend and stranger alike, because we are grateful for God’s steadfast love. Because we are grateful that God loves us so much that God created us and surrounds us with the beauty of creation. A magnificent creation that provides us with food, shelter, water, and relationships of love and care.


Another thing that I am deeply grateful for is the Fall season. It is the time of year when God shows off. A time when days grow shorter, cooler air blows in, and the trees get the message that it is time to let go. The leaves begin to change and even as the darkness grows, the beautiful display of vibrant, colorful leaves shines light onto our souls. Perhaps more than any other phenomenon of nature, the changing of the leaves from green to shades of orange, yellow, and red reminds us that even death holds great beauty. In the Fall, more so than any other season, life and death are held together as two parts of a whole. And this is the reason that while many of us love Fall, it can also be a time of mixed emotions. In the Fall, life and light, death and darkness are held together.


And this “holding together” is sacred space. For it is when we can hold life and death, darkness and light together as parts of the same grace-redeemed creation, that we can breathe in God’s Spirit, breathe out our deep-seeded fear, and say with confidence, “it is well with my soul.” Fall brings an awareness of the inseparable relationship between life and death and should also inspire in us an awareness of the inseparable relationship between ourselves and the rest of God’s good creation. Franciscan priest Richard Rohr writes that this kind of awareness is sometimes called “a second naivete…a return to simple consciousness,” where “darkness and light coexist, paradox is revealed, and we are finally at home in the only world that has ever existed.” “Here,” Rohr writes, “death is a part of life and failure is a part of victory. Opposites collide and unite, and everything belongs.”


Everything belongs! Wow! The miracle of Fall reminds us that everything belongs. The love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord reminds us that everything and everyone belongs to God and is God’s beloved. And for this I am grateful and secure in this hope, I dare to say, “it is well with my soul.” For indeed, “Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed Thy hand hath provided: great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”

Grace and peace,


A Moment for Stewardship -

Harriet Williams, Ruling Elder


I have recently found myself fascinated by social scientists’ studies about human behavior. Will shared with you in his Rally Day sermon that I sent him a study about gratitude and its correlation with better health and happiness.

So many of these studies, however, seem to be exercises in “Oh, we already knew that” -- from our common sense or from merely living on this planet. Some of the research questions that caught my eye recently fall into this category:

Does walking among tall trees help improve walkers’ moods?

Does listening to birdsong help relieve anxiety?

Does considering one’s daily blessings at bedtime aid in falling asleep?

Are humans innately selfish?

After reading just these headlines, I decided that all the answers were “Yes, of course.” I was wrong. And not for the first time! Participants in the first three studies showed that these answers are definitively "yes".

However, the last question, on human selfishness, I got dead wrong. This review summarizes dozens of different studies that examine human behavior when subjects are given money and told that they can use it however they like. Not one study showed that the majority of the participants kept it all to themselves.

Now that’s encouraging. But that’s money from an anonymous social scientist researcher. I want us to think instead about what we know about gifts that come from God.

As the writers of the hymn “We Give Thee but Thine Own” remind us, “All that we have is thine alone, a trust O Lord from thee.” I learned recently that William How, the lyricist, was known in 1858 as the children’s bishop as well as the poor man’s bishop for his work with the destitute in the London slums and with factory workers in west Yorkshire.

Lowell Mason, who arranged the music, first worked in Savannah at the Independent Presbyterian Church then moved to Boston, where he became America’s first public school music teacher. He set to music the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” but he made up for that by arranging some of our most beloved hymns.

These artists teamed up to remind us here at First Presbyterian Greer of deep spiritual truths, truths not dependent on academic studies of generosity. As we enter this autumn period of thanksgiving and stewardship, let us remember to be grateful for the trust that our God has established for us. And to give back, joyfully. 

All are invited to participate in the FPC Book Club. The next meeting is Tuesday, October 3rd at 3:00 p.m. at the church. Join us as we discuss Glassworks by Olivia Wolfgang-Smith. Please contact Jenny Munro with questions.     

Come join our Christmas Choir Kickoff on October 22nd! We'll gather for lunch at 12:00 p.m. and then rehearse from 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Please RSVP to Lisa Dillard.

Grace Notes Children’s Choir (K4-4th grade) is singing and ringing bells in 11:00 a.m. worship on November 12th. Rehearsals will take place at 10:00 a.m. on October 22nd, 29th, and November 5th.

At a congregational meeting held on September 3, 2023, the following new officers were elected for service as Elders and Deacons. They will be ordained and/or installed during worship on January 7, 2024.

Elders - Heather Gordon (Class of 2024); Lucy Smith (Class of 2024); Jessica Bruce, Jim Caldwell, Rick Danner, Val Hendrickson, Sallie Smith, and Bob Wiesner (Class of 2026).

Deacons - Diana Babineau, Marguerite DeMaria, Arnette Johnson, Doreen Magaha, Ginger Mauney, Kelly Thorfinnsson, and Ansley Wright (Class of 2026).

Children’s Faith Formation

Upcoming Events

F3 on October 8th 

Sunday Funday for K4 to 5th Grade on October 22nd

Fall Festival on October 29th

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

A Word from Ally

In the words of Anne of Green Gables, “I am so glad to live in a world where there are Octobers.” October is shaping up to be an exciting time as we will begin and end the month in celebration.

First, by joining churches around the globe in celebrating World Communion Sunday, a tradition that began in 1933 at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh in an effort to lift up our Christian unity. And finally, by celebrating the tradition that grounds our faith with Reformation Sunday. Both celebrations are poignant reminders that the concept of sharing, whether it is sharing stories, sharing our lives, or sharing a meal, is pivotal to our faith. When we share these things, grace is multiplied like manna from heaven or like loaves and fishes.

So, this month I am giving thanks: giving thanks for a world where there are Octobers and giving thanks for this gift of sharing life with you all.



Upcoming Youth Events!

FPC Greer Financial Snapshot

Year to Date Actual Income as of 8/31/23 = $507,687.00

Year to Date Budgeted Income as of 8/31/23 = $537,784.00

Variance = ($30,097.00)

Prayer Concerns

Jackie Atkins

Luanne Baker

Dick & B.J. Baldwin

Judy Brown

Sarah Cannon

Marguerite DeMaria

Hugh & Jo Earnest

Oochie Gibson

Barry & Diane Groce

Bonnie Holmes

Jack House

Terri Long

Abbie McWilliams

Dave & Cecile Orr

Patty White

We extend Christian sympathy to Diana Babineau whose mother-in-law, Lillianne, passed away on September 18th following a long battle with heart issues and dementia.

Thank you for your kind and thoughtful expressions of sympathy and support following the recent death of my mother-in-law. I am so grateful for my church family!


Diana Babineau

The next issue of First News is October 30th. If you have content for the newsletter, please email it to Lisa Johnson at by Friday, October 27th.

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