THE BANNER
December 23, 2020
From the
First Presbyterian Church Staff!
Devotional for Christmas
I am grateful for and to each and all of you. This past year and especially the past two months with you have been full of unanticipated challenges and new friendships. Christian faith is all about unexpected ways of God’s calling and strengthening people—a birth unnoticed by most of the Empire, a brief life of preaching and teaching and healing and causing holy hell for some, a mock trial and horrific death, and then, as a hymn sung often at baptisms puts it, “I’ll be there as I have always been with just one more surprise!” (I Was There To Hear Your Borning Cry, J. Ylivsaker).
This year again I think especially of a sermon by William Temple, an Anglican minister who was Archbishop of Canterbury during World War II and the blitz of London by the Nazi bombers:
        Let us at all costs avoid the temptation to make our Christmas worship a withdrawal from the stress and sorrow of life into a realm of unreal beauty. It was into the real world that Christ came, into the city where there was no room for Him, and into a country where Herod, the murderer of innocents, was king.
      He comes to us, not to shield us from the harshness of the world, but to give us the courage and strength to bear it; not to snatch us away by some miracle from the conflict of life, but to give us peace—His peace—in our hearts, by which we may be calmly steadfast while the conflict rages, and be able to bring to the world the healing that is peace.
                                                In the promises of the incarnate Word,
                                                         Rush  
Patience and Hope and Re-opening in 2021
As stated in Romans 5:3-5,  
 "we also rejoice in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance brings about character; and character, hope; and hope does not disappoint... " 
And we are indeed in a time of tribulation.  We are just not able to safely gather in person for worship in our sanctuary. On behalf of the church leadership, the Reopening Committee, the Worship and Music Committee, and the Session will continue to review the covid data trends weekly, and while we all certainly hope for the time of in-person worship to come soon, right now we ask and pray for your continued patience, since we just cannot gather safely yet. According to the current trends, the surge may not peak for 6 more weeks, even with the promise of the vaccine.  
Please search your soul for the deep patience that we all need during this time, and know that we hope for a time of being together, but that will likely not occur until Easter at the earliest. Please know that as soon as it seems safe for all to gather, there is a detailed plan for reopening already in place, and we will be ready at that time!! Continue to be inspired by our wonderful recorded worship services online for the time being. We will keep you posted as new information becomes available. 
Blessings to you until we can meet again.
Holiday Staff/Office Information
The office hours for the holiday season are as follows:
Thursday, December 24 - office closes at Noon
Monday, December 28 - office closed
Thursday, December 31 - office closes at Noon
Monday, January 4 - office closed
Rev Keel will be on vacation from 12/25 -1/1. If you have an emergency in her absence and need pastoral care, Rev Otey can be reached at: r.otey@firstpresconcord.org or 704-707-6282.
Services Update- Worship Available earlier on Sunday Morning
Our pastoral staff continues to preach and teach through various means of technology. Please join us for all of our worship opportunities on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/firstpresconcordnc/),
Worship is posted at 8:30 a.m.
Current Needs for Cooperative Christian Ministries
Merry Christmas to all our faithful food donation partners!

We continue to be very blessed by some outstanding food drives in recent weeks! Thank you so much to all those who have brought in food. We also are sending out a LOT of food! In November at the Crisis Center drive-through Food Pantry, we served a record 919 households, representing about 3,422 individuals, in 19 days we were open! That is an average of 48 households a day, and one of those days we had a tropical storm and Country Club Drive was closed below us. The need definitely is increasing in our community, so we sure appreciate all of our supporting partners.

Please be aware that our food pantry will be closed on December 21-25 and January 1. However, the warehouse will be open and receiving donations from 9 a.m. to Noon, December 21-23.

Our current big needs are:
             Cereal
             Canned carrots, peas, potatoes and mixed veggies
             Soup
             Canned fruit
             Baked Beans (Pork & Beans)
             Other canned beans except for Pinto (black, kidney, chili, etc.)
             Any dried beans
             Pasta Sauce
             Peanut Butter

As always, we especially seek low sodium items, no-added-sugar items, and whole grain items.

Right now, we have plenty of the following:
              Canned chicken and tuna
              Canned green beans and corn
             Canned Pinto Beans
              Spaghetti noodles
              Macaroni & Cheese
Thank you for the continued support from our church partners. Our Crisis Center at 246 Country Club Drive NE in Concord serves as the warehouse for most of the food. We will gladly accept all donations at that site from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Bethel Baptist Helping Hands Food Pantry, located at 1209 1/4 Opal Street in Kannapolis, will gladly accept donations from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday and Thursday. The food pantry located at Westford UMC on Highway 49 and the Kannapolis Food Pantry at West Point Baptist Church can accept donations on Saturday morning from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The Feeding Our Souls Food Pantry at Bethel UMC in Midland, North Kannapolis Baptist Church Food Pantry and the New Life Baptist Food Pantry will accept donations by calling the church in advance.
Christian Education
Be sure to check out our Virtual Sunday School Classroom with our new Growing in God's Love curriculum. For Pre-K through 5th grade children, this includes a monthly supply kit to take home and use with the virtual classroom each week.
The kits are available in the lobby area of the Fellowship House. Be sure to grab your kit to be ready to go for the lesson this Sunday. You can access the virtual classroom by clicking here or by going to the First Presbyterian Church website! The content will change weekly as we hear a new story each Sunday.
This Sunday we continue our unit, "The Birth of Jesus", which will walk us through the Advent and Christmas season.
Also, please help us as make our kits. Fill out this short questionnaire to help us best prepare for you and be good stewards of our resources! https://forms.gle/gVDJVUxn5X7vfw488
First Youth Fellowship
If you are a family that has a Youth in grades 6th through 12th, be sure to sign up to receive the First Youth Fellowship newsletter. That is the best way to see all the ways youth can get connected and deepen their faith through service, community, and fun! Sign-up here to receive the Youth Newsletter for detailed information about all youth happenings. **If you didn't receive the Youth Newsletter last week, please be sure to check your spam or junk folder.
All youth families, please fill out the following short questionnaire to help Rachel best prepare and anticipate the needs for our various youth gatherings. Questionnaire found here: https://forms.gle/Z63UdUmwV43xojgG6
Holiday Safety Tips in this time of Covid-19
Gatherings with those outside your immediate family should be avoided this holiday season. But if you do plan to get-together, NCDHHS has more detailed winter holiday guidance to keep you and others safe from COVID-19.

2020 Contributions and Stock Transfer
Please remember that year-end contributions must be received in the church office by noon on December 31st. For stock transfers, please notify Suzanne Russell so that the proceeds can be applied to the correct account in a timely manner. Thank you!
Sign-up Links
Sign up here to receive the Youth Newsletter for detailed information
about all events related to youth who are in 6th-12 grade.
Calendar
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Rev. Rush Otey preaching
Sunday, December 27, 2020
Rev. Rush Otey preaching
Thursday, December 24
Office Closes at Noon
5:00 p.m Christmas Eve Service Online
Friday, December 25
Merry Christmas
Sunday, December 27
11:00 a.m. Worship
Church Report
Birthdays
December 25 - Sally Cochran, Walker Hedgecock, Harriett Phillips
December 26 - Marc Niblock
December 27 - Britt Leatherman, Ava Stafford
December 29 - Patty Patten
**To enjoy a sung happy birthday, click here!**
Staff
Rush Otey
Temporary Supply Pastor 

Associate Pastor 
for Care and Mission

Associate Pastor
for Christian Formation



Director of Music and Organist

Choirmaster

Suzanne Russell
Church Administrator

Financial Secretary

Heath Ritchie
Maintenance Superintendent

Director of First Kids

Wedding Director
Contact Info
First Presbyterian Church
(704) 788-2100
suzanne.russell@firstpresconcord.org 

70 Union Street North
Concord NC 28025 

Mailing Address: 
PO Box 789 Concord NC 28026-0789

Church Office Hours: 
Monday - Thursday, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Closed Friday
The Commons Prayer Room Hours:
Closed

Memorial Garden:
(704) 786-8009
36 Spring Street SW
Concord NC 28025
 
Garden Hours: 
Tuesday - Saturday, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Sunday, 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Closed Monday