Volume LXX, No. 12 | March 22, 2020
Worship at First
Sunday, March 22

Morning Worship
10:00 a.m.
"When the Sky Falls, What Then?"
Dr. Derek W.H. Thomas

Evening Worship
6:00 p.m.
"Receiving and Believing"
Dr. Gabriel N. E. Fluhrer

We will be live-streaming our services on Sunday
at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. 
For those who do not have internet capabilities, the morning sermon is also broadcast on 1320 AM radio at 11:00 a.m.

Bulletins will be available by noon on Fridays.

Strange Times
A tiny strand of RNA, smaller than the human eye could possibly see, has brought almost the entire world to its knees. Our hearts go out to those in China, Iran, Italy, Spain and the number of countries seriously affected by this virus.

And we have closed our church doors. Who would have thought it possible? But, last Friday, we made the decision, in an abundance of caution and in compliance with increasing directives of the governing authorities (since made with even greater clarity), to close our church doors. In part, we did not want the community to turn around and blame the church for allowing the virus to spread in Columbia had we proceeded. We want to be good neighbors to our rattled community. It was the right thing to do.

Praise God for live-streaming capabilities! And thank you for the kind words you sent to Dr. Fluhrer and me. We plan to continue “doing church” this way for as long as it is necessary. Thank you, too, for the kind words expressed about the daily devotional. Please thank Josh Squires for his amazing technical expertise. Putting these together is a lot more work than you think! 

Some have asked whether we run the risk that folk will come to prefer live-streaming to actually being present. I really don’t think so. Many of you have already expressed how much you miss the church coming together for worship. I think the first Sunday back will be a celebration in more ways than one. But first, we need to get through this. Our church staff has been anticipating future needs that may arise — how can we reach out to the seniors? How we can help shut-ins receive groceries or prescription drugs? There are some even more delicate matters to think about. What will our funeral policy be during these days when we are not to gather in groups greater than ten? As answers to these and other questions become clear, we will be communicating with you by email or other means. The Session has formed a COVID-19 Ad Hoc Commission made up of eight people who can rapidly respond to issues as they arise. As well, the Session, in its desire to expeditiously address matters before our church, held its first ever conference call on Tuesday evening. Once again, amazing technology and expertise made this possible!

One very disappointing issue is upon us already: we will be postponing the 225 celebrations. We could not possibly do that right now. We will have the celebration at some point for sure. Perhaps, 225+1! Lanny Lambert valiantly chaired a very hard-working committee to put together a very exciting five days of celebrations. I think it will be possible to simply drop it down in exactly the same place next year. We will let you know.

If you have any needs, or learn of needs within your community, please reach out to us. Our deacons stand ready and willing to do whatever needs to be done.

Above all, stay safe. Be wise, and urgently pray that the world will be humbled, that sinners will be saved, and that we might be spared from the worst of this pestilence. And remember, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4).

Derek W.H. Thomas
Senior Minister

Giving by Mail

During this time that we are unable to gather together on Sundays in our Sanctuary, some are asking how to continue giving their tithes and offerings using church envelopes. Your offering envelope can be enclosed in a larger envelope and mailed to First Presbyterian Church, 1324 Marion Street, Columbia, SC 29201, and those will be processed on a regular basis. You can also give on the church website at firstprescolumbia.org/giving or through the church app.
Blood Drive Results 

We received a total of 55 life-saving blood donations during our blood drive on March 4. Our sincere thanks to our faithful donors who gave generously of their time to give blood, as well as the diligent Congregational Care Committee members who helped sign up donors prior to the drive.
A Note From Rev. Bryan Bult


Maybe it’s just us, but over the weekend our kids were unusually…active. Blame it on a fun amalgamation of daylight savings time, a full moon, Friday the 13th  (not that I’m superstitious), and school cancellations due to Coronavirus concerns. And it looks like quarantining will be the new normal over the next few weeks. Need something constructive to do as a family while preserving a semblance of sanity?
If so, and if you are healthy, please consider writing notes to our senior members. Under normal conditions, many are susceptible to loneliness and despair. But in these unusual times when we are strongly urging our most vulnerable members to stay in and not gather socially, they are especially prone to loneliness and anxiety. Some are in retirement centers where outside visits are not currently permitted, and the coming weeks will be a challenge to endure emotionally, if not physically. A timely note of encouragement, a drawing, or a prayer card from younger members may be like rays of sunshine breaking through ominous darkness. 
Obviously, if you’re not feeling well, don’t send anything to anyone. But if you are healthy, consider using the written word to build up some of the seniors you know. You’ll be equally blessed in the process.
“He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:10-11

Rev. Bryan Bult
Associate Minister to Seniors
Church Family
Congratulations to:
Devin and Chris Faulkner on the birth of their daughter, Abigail Laurelin Faulkner, on March 13.
Christian sympathy is extended to: 
 Ed Weaver on the death of his sister, Gina McGrory, on March 12.
Victoria Andes and Billy Giles on the death of their mother, Margit Giles, on March 13.
Items for Church Family?
Contact Lisa Eargle at leargle@firstprescolumbia.org.
People for Prayer
803-799-9062 | email | website | app