First Presbyterian Church
Thursday Update
January 13, 2022

SUNDAY'S IN-PERSON EVENTS
Participants are encouraged to maintain
hand-washing protocols, wear masks, and
maintain social distance when possible.

Matthew 7:7 Sunday School - 10am - Parlor
Everyone is welcome to join us in the Parlor as our rotating teachers inform and inspire using the Word of God as our cornerstone to building our faith.

Lord's Day Worship - 11am - Sanctuary
We seek to welcome all into the worship of God with singing, prayer and reflections on God's word.
* Communion is regularly scheduled on the first Sunday of the month and special occasions (Palm Sunday, Easter, Christmas Eve, etc.)
A Note from Pastor Rob

When I was in seminary, I was told very specifically, "Do not make any major changes in your first year in a church." If you've heard that, you may be concerned given that I'm now a month into my second year here. Relax - the church has more influence on their own direction, much more than the pastor in the Presbyterian church. That said, there are still some changes coming--and hear the good news: there are changes that are not.  
 
I think it's time we admit - there may not be a time when Covid is not. That means we need to acknowledge where we are. We're grieving. We've "lost" a number of things, momentum towards growth, periodically we lose elements of worship, we lose the ability to host events as we would like... and as these pile on top of each other, they dig a hole that we don't think we can climb out of. Hear the good news - the church has always gone through cycles of growth and decline. Yet God, God's Word and the Spirit continue to survive. It may look different - can you imagine what the people who founded this church pre-Civil War might think if they walked into the "new" sanctuary, heard the words in the hymns and saw that there were women listed on the back of the bulletin as ordained leadership? Much less that we were so thankful for the work of the Rev. Dr. Wanda? Blasphemy, but now it's not even much of a thought. We will weather this storm, if we allow Jesus to keep us calm.
 
I had to give up some things this year. I've always heard/believed that the "problem" churches had was a refusal to embrace technology. In the past year, we started and stopped online-only Wednesday Worship, a current-events class, and Wednesday Night in-person fellowship because none of those were the right thing at the right time. The online-only devotionals received less attention than the Wednesday worship, which received less feedback than the Thursday Updates. So, we could curse the darkness...
 
Or, we could give thanks for the light. In watching other pages, we figured out that a simple scripture card would garner more attention and more response than a 15-minute video. More people being more responsive to the Word of God--if I kept score, I would put that in a win column. Here is another win: our worship services posted on Facebook Live are watched and rewatched more than those Wednesday offerings (which were shorter). Thanks be to God. The service, the music, the prayers, the people, the proclamation of the Word... are being seen outside the sanctuary. As a long-time pastor, again, another tick in the win column. The website - now linked to our social media - updates every day. Thanks to coordinating with the webmaster, we can now post things simultaneously to our Facebook page and website and soon Twitter and maybe Instagram. 
 
Yes, in the vernacular of the web-wide-world, we could use your likes and shares. Because here is the one immutable, unchanging fact about church life: It's just lipstick on a pig to most people.
 
Because what really matters is what happens when someone walks into the sanctuary and when they walk out. If no one makes a connection, they won't come back. 

I can put all sorts of scripture on the webpage but, if we don't live any of it, then we will not live as a congregation. 
 
Which is why, specifically, I've chosen this slide, posted on our Facebook page last week, and hopefully on our webpage by now, because it represents what you have not changed in my first year of being here (the thanks for things that haven't changed).
 
The willingness to answer the call to be Christ's heart, hand and voice in our community. One part sanctuary, one part caring for our members, one part serving in the world. If THE story of Christ is key, then the three-act play is written by the church willing to tell the story, live the faith, and share the blessings. Now, my hope and prayer is that never changes.
 
May God bless you and keep you - Rob
Our Prayer List

For our publicized prayer list, we add only those who are relatively "new" (within a few weeks) in the hope that people will maintain a longer list at home. This week, we would like you to add,

Whitney Moore (friend of Sherry Dixon and Monica Elliott)
Vincent Fortune
Genevieve Smith (Gail Rivera’s sister-in-law)
Family of Joyce Jenkins (Gail Rivera’s first cousin)
Steven Lonon (cousin to Wilma Elliott)
Patt Medders’ sister, Ileana

to your personal prayer list, as well as including those whom you have seen on the news and heard about from friends. If you would like to add a name to our list, please click on the link below.
In order to receive your tithes and offerings

We have many ways to give:
  • Before and after worship on Sundays, you may place your offering in the provided boxes in our sanctuary.
  • You may bring your offering by the office during the week during office hours.
  • You may drop your check into the mail slot located on the office door (the porch up the steps) if the office is not open.
  • You may mail your offering to the church at 79 Academy Street, Marion NC 28752.
  • You may also donate online ... and we will provide the link in future editions.

We collect the "nickel-a-meal" donations on the second Sunday of each month.