First Presbyterian Church  |  701 Florida Avenue  |  Bristol, TN 37620  |  423-764-7176  |

In This Issue
Deadline & Subscriptions
Word from the Pastor: Neck Deep
FPC Gatherings Canceled until April 24
Holy Week Worship Schedule
Communion Together while Apart
Please Pray
Scammers Are Back
How to Stay Connected
Study Online with Us Tuesdays and Thursdays
Zoom in on Student Fellowship
Distance Reading with Fairmount Buddies
Giving and Receiving Help
Our Response Teams Are Ready
If You Can Sew, You Can Help
Mowers Curb Natural Ambition
Give Remotely to Keep Us Together
Gifts to the Church
Pray for One Another
Church Calendar
Our Church Officers
April 5
Passion Sunday
Livestream Only (10:00)
Isaiah 50:4-9
Matthew 27:11-26
Sam Weddington
Last Sunday's Attendance
Livestream: 121 families
Total online views: 490
Click here to livestream our contemporary service. You can also access past sermons and ministry videos on our YouTube account, "FPC Bristol."
Deadline & Subscriptions
Deadline for contributions is the Monday of the week of publication. To subscribe to our free e-newsletter, send an email with your name and preferred email address to


on First Presbyterian Church

April 2, 2020
Word from the Pastor: Neck Deep
Church family,
In search of something to share this week with you all, I came back to that article I referenced in the sermon this past Sunday, "In Italy, I've Rediscovered the Power of Three Types of Prayer." You can find it here. A major takeaway from that article is that the Psalms are a powerful prayer book in times of distress, lament, and sadness, and entering into those texts in the spirit in which they are written helps us navigate our own sense of feeling lost amidst our present confusion.
With that in mind, I am praying Psalm 69:1 today. It reads: "Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck." I encourage you to read the rest of it, of course. For me, however, it was this first line that struck me. It struck me because I feel as though the waters have come up to my neck.
I may be alone in this, but I don't think so. I don't know how to swim these strange waters. Using the imagery of the psalm, it feels like a moment from years ago. We were in Eilat, Israel, on the Red Sea, and despite the wariness of the group, I couldn't resist the beautiful blue waters all around me that day. I was happy and full of joy, so I quickly threw my shirt off, slipped off my shoes, and jumped in off the end of the short pier that was maybe 25 or 30 feet out.
Things were great for a while. But about ten minutes in, and as others in the group gathered on the pier to look at me, point, and smile, I suddenly felt a quick pain in my leg. It wasn't quite a cramp, but that point right before your leg cramps. I jerked my leg straight to keep it from tightening up, and it suddenly dawned on me that I was in over my head. The sea was relatively calm, but it was deep, and there was a current that could have quickly pulled me out. I began to rely on my arms to keep me afloat, but as I waited for my leg to settle down, fatigue began to settle in. My head went under a couple of times. I began to panic, but I knew I needed to remain calm.
By God's grace, I was able to swim back to the pier, but I will never forget that moment. There are times in our lives when the waves threaten to push us down. For many of us, the waves of concern, family pressures, and general anxiety are enough to pull us under. Just like David, we cry out to God the only thing we know to cry, "Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck."
As you read through the psalm, you see the ups and downs of this mighty wrestling match with God. Amidst our suffering, there are no easy outs or quick fixes. Yet, despite the pain and the complaints, David comes back to praise and trust time and again. I think this is what we are called to do these days.
In the end, we can place our trust in the steadfast mercy and love of God, just as David did. Though it is hard to see, God has every intention of making good on the promises. The most interesting of those promises that speaks to our situation, I think, comes in verses 35 -36. David writes, "For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah; and his servants shall live there and possess it; the children of his servants shall inherit it, and those who love his name shall live in it."
There is a day coming when we will pick up the pieces and rebuild, by God's help. Not only that -who knows? -in that rebuilding, we might find that room has been made for our society to stand on a firmer foundation. No matter the result, God has promised us a place to belong. In Christ, nothing can rob us of this consolation.
Stay strong, keep praying, and be a blessing,
In Christ,
Pastor Sam
FPC Gatherings Canceled until April 24
In response to President Donald Trump's guidelines to extend social distancing until April 30, and to Governor Bill Lee's Executive Order to do so until April 24, the session has decided to cancel all in-person meetings, gatherings, and worship until Friday, April 24. All scheduled meetings will take place by conferencing, and a single worship service will be livestreamed at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays. The service will be followed by prerecorded online programs for Marthina Chapel, the Friendship Class, adults, children, and students. You can join us for the livestream on our YouTube site (details in "How to Stay Connected" below), by the link provided on our Facebook page, or by the link in our e-newsletter.
Holy Week Worship Schedule
Holy Week begins this Sunday, April 5. We will livestream the Passion (Palm) Sunday service at 10:00 a.m. We will premiere a special program for Maundy Thursday on April 9 at 7:00 p.m. Please join us online, and prepare communion for yourself at home, so that we can share the Lord's table in spirit. We will premiere a special program for Good Friday on April 10 at noon. Easter services will be livestreamed on Sunday, April 12, at 10:00 a.m.
Communion Together while Apart
We are apart in person, but we are still the one body of Christ. Nothing we do in worship communicates this more effectively than our sharing of the Lord's table. Therefore, for as long as we continue to livestream our worship, we will also observe communion. So, every Sunday until we can meet in person again, we ask that you prepare the bread and the cup at your home, and participate with us as we share Christ at the table. All you need is a piece of bread, a cracker, or the like and juice, water, or whatever you have at hand. We will give you instructions during worship.
Please Pray
In the coming weeks, we are asking you to spend more time in prayer for our church, our community, the nation, and the world. Pray for our leaders, first responders, frontline workers, and the vulnerable. We also ask that you pray for a swift end to this disease.
Scammers Are Back
The internet and smartphone scammers who targeted us in January are at it again. Posing as FPC staff, they say that they are in a meeting or otherwise unable to attend to an important issue. They will then ask you to buy a gift card (for Walmart, Target, Food City, etc.) to be given to a person or family in need, some worthy-sounding ministry, or another credible recipient. They will instruct you to send the card information to an attached phone number. The message may come to you as a text or through Facebook or a similar method. It is a scam. PLEASE DO NOT respond or take any action. The staff of FPC will never ask you to do anything like this! Learn more about scammers and gift cards here.
How to Stay Connected
Although we need to livestream worship and other activities for the time being, we also need to stay connected. Remember to subscribe to our account. Go to YouTube and type in "FPC Bristol." Click on the link and hit "subscribe." You will get notifications when there is a new video. We also suggest that you connect to our various Facebook sites. Go to Facebook and type in "FPC Bristol," and several accounts will show up. Some are open to the public, while others are restricted. In either case, "like" the page, or ask for admittance to a group if it is closed. Beyond this, keep an eye on your email for Constant Contact updates and our newsletter.
Study Online with Us Tuesdays and Thursdays
We cannot gather at the church for a while, and in-house groups may have suspended meetings, but we can still study the Bible together! We invite you to join us online. Every Tuesday and Thursday, we will post a short study, so that you can hear a word of comfort from God's Word and pray with us as we pray for our community, the nation, and the world. We encourage you to subscribe to our YouTube and Facebook sites, so that you will know when a new Bible study drops.
Zoom in on Student Fellowship
Students! We may not be together physically, but we are still gathering via Zoom! Student Fellowship is a time for games, worship, a message, and breakout discussions. Middle School Gathering and High School Devos study and discuss the Bible in small groups.
  • The ID for Student Fellowship on Sundays at 7:00 p.m. is 435-749-455.
  • The ID for Middle School Gathering on Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. is 196-217-088.
  • The ID for High School Devos on Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. is 638-854-949.
We need each other in this journey, so please join us on Zoom as we do life together from afar! / Katie Arnold
Distance Reading with Fairmount Buddies
Many of you are Reading Buddies at Fairmount Elementary School and have expressed a desire to stay connected with your buddy while maintaining a safe distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fairmount has informed us that you can continue your involvement by recording yourself reading your favorite children's book and then sending the video to Kelli Campbell. She will post recordings on the school website and invite the children to check them out. Her email address is
Giving and Receiving Help
If you have a need, please call the church and let us know! We want to be a blessing to you and make sure that you have what you need. Our responders are prepared to bring essential supplies and make general wellness calls. And if you see a need, please let us know. We have medical personnel on call, for the time being, whom you can call on if you feel the need. You are not alone!
Our Response Teams Are Ready
We are pleased and grateful to announce that more FPC folks have volunteered, and we now have eight response teams and three medical response teams. We appreciate their heart to serve, while praying that we won't have to call upon them too often in the coming days. Please pray that God would use these response teams in an effective and mighty way. If you are interested in joining us in the work, just email Dave Welch or Pastor Sam.
If You Can Sew, You Can Help
We have a worthy project for sewers sheltering at home! Ballad Health has invited the public to help our community during the COVID-19 crisis by making masks for respiratory patients, so that medical-grade masks can be conserved for medical professionals. You will find the sewing pattern and instructions here. Our FPC response teams will pick up and deliver your finished products to one of the designated drop-off points.If you need more information, contact Peggy Hill at 423-956-0209 or
Please note: If you choose to make and wear such a mask yourself, you still must maintain six feet of physical distance from those outside your household when you go out to perform an essential task, such as buying food or medicine. To the best of our current knowledge, such a mask does not provide a shield from infection by others, but it may limit their exposure to your infected respiratory droplets. It is possible to be infected without showing symptoms, so please take care.
Mowers Curb Natural Ambition
Grass neither knows nor cares that we're all keeping a low profile for a while. Its urge is to reach for the heights. Some of us who are feeling housebound have leapt at every opportunity to get outside and kick that ambition to the curb. The fortunate few, the members of the FPC mowing team, can venture farther afield and mow the church lawn. Randy Cook is the lucky fellow who gets to roam around the big field on Florida Avenue April 1 -4. JB Madison gets his chance April 8-11. Have fun, and thanks!
Give Remotely to Keep Us Together
During this present crisis, we encourage you to consider shifting your giving to our website or to text or mail. We must hold together, and your continued, faithful giving ensures that we will have the resources to continue our ministries. You can give online by going to our  website and clicking on "Give" in the upper right-hand corner. You can send your pledge, offering, or special gift by texting (all one word) fpcbristol to 73256. You can also mail your checks directly to the church. Our address is 701 Florida Avenue, Bristol, TN 37620. Thank you, as always, for your generosity.
Gifts to the Church
Memorials and honoraria are published in the newsletter only after the family has been personally notified by our business office. Today we gratefully acknowledge the following gifts in memory of:
Vivian Hill: to the Christian Hands Ministry from the Donald Hill Family, from Stan Martin, from Dot Mattison, from Carl & Reveley Gray McGrady, from Ernie & Karen Pennington, from Peggy Peters, from Michael & Rebecca Raccioppo, from Drew & Meg Rice; to the Minister's Discretionary Fund from Tom & Leigh King
Betty Ottenfeld (Karen Vann's mother): to the Brazil Mission Fund from Ernie & Karen Pennington;to the Capital Campaign Fund from Julie King; to the Memorial Fund from Ann Abel, from Dot Mattison; to the Minister's Discretionary Fund from Linda Darnell
Joan Sams (Scott Sams's mother): to the Memorial Fund from Dot Mattison
Pray for One Another

In Our Prayers
Please also include in your prayers members of our community who wish to remain anonymous.
Joe Bell
Tilly Betz's family
Sujean Bradley
Bristol Tennessee School System
Craig Buchanan
Becky Busler
Calleigh Cairns
Jennifer Chang & family
Christians in Nigeria/ECWA
Rhonda, Mark & Anna Comer
Community & world (especially Italy) in light of COVID-19 pandemic
Cookeville tornado victims
Raymond Dickenson
Dorothy Dollar
Ethiopian brothers & sisters
Trinka Felty
First responders & medical & infrastructure personnel
Garrett Foster
DeeDee Galliher
Diane Glymph
The Goddards (missionaries in Paraguay)
Rose Marie & Jim Goodrum
Ron Grubbs
Sarah Haas
Lou Hebb
Eddie & Peggy Hill & family
Pete Holler
Marty Keys & family
Josh & Morgan King & family
Nancy Lilly
George Linke
Drew Long
Michael Long
Dot Mattison
Kelly Mayden & family
Katie McInnis
Military companies returning from Afghanistan
Bob Millard
Alice Moore
Brianna Necessary
Evan Patrick
Kayla Patterson
Meg Rice & mother
Peggy Rutherford
Virginia Rutherford
Brittany Salter
Scott Sams & family
Joyce Samuel
John Scott
Solange & family
John & Karen Vann
Bill Wade
Dave & Linda Welch
Vicky Wood
Birthday Prayer Fellowship
April 5           Landon Brooks, Larry Sharrett
April 6           Rett Stocstill
April 7           Anne Southerland
April 8           Ginny Sword
April 9           Alie Bassett
April 11         Libby Crutchfield, Virginia McRee
Church Calendar
Sunday, April 5
10:00 a.m.     Passion Sunday Worship, Livestreamed
Followed by Prerecorded Online Sunday School
Tuesday, April 7
10:00 a.m.     Staff Meeting, Room 117
Thursday, April 9
7:00 p.m.       Maundy Thursday Worship, Online Premiere
Friday, April 10
12:00 p.m.     Good Friday Worship, Online Premiere
Our Church Officers
Church Officers
Class of 2020
Class of 2021
Class of 2022
Nancy Allerton
Ann Abel
Anna L. Booher
Rebecca Beck
Randy Cook
Bruce Gannaway
David Hyde
John Graham
Will Hankins
Jordan Pennington
Katie McInnis
Dottie Havlik
Jerry Poteat
John Vann
Laura Ong
Blake Bassett
Fred Harkleroad
Mike Cleland
Rhonda Comer
Matt Kingsley
Geneva King
Ron Fox
Lisa McClain
George Linke
Brenda Lawson
Drew Rice
Charlie Taylor
Barbara Thompson
Joyce Samuel
Peggy Hill
Jack Butterworth
Nancy Cook