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

In This Issue
Deadline & Subscriptions
Word from the Pastor: Steadfast Love
Connect to Us on YouTube and Facebook
Holy Week Worship Schedule
Communion while Apart
Sunday Addition to Our Online Bible Studies
No FPC Gatherings before April 24
Spring Comes to the Courtyard
Student Fellowship Now Online
Please Pray for All, Near and Far
Remote Giving Promotes Togetherness
If You Have or See a Need
You Can Call on Our Response Teams for Aid
We Are Making (and Providing a Few) Masks
You Can Still Share with Your Reading Buddy
Ride On, Mowers
Pray for One Another
Church Calendar
Our Church Officers
April 12
Livestream Only (10:00)
Psalm 118:5-9
Matthew 28:1-10
Do Not Be Afraid!
Sam Weddington
Last Sunday's Attendance
Livestream: 129 households
Total online views: 368
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 9, 2020
Word from the Pastor: Steadfast Love
Photo: Bill Whisnant
Church family,
I want to begin by thanking all of you. I'm not sure whether it was last week's article or something else, but many of you called, emailed, or texted to check in and see if I was okay. For those wondering, yes, I'm all right. Like you, I don't do well cooped up. You showed your care even more when you reached out after discovering that on Sunday I had to take my grandmother to the hospital, where she has remained these past few days. We are praying for a speedy recovery, so that she can get out of there quickly.
Thank you for your kindness and love.
In my writings and Bible study reflections, I tend not to pull punches, because I really want to take the Bible on its own terms, not look at it through the rose-colored glasses we sometimes interpose between ourselves and it. Because Scripture is the Word of God, it speaks truth to us wherever it finds us, and that means it speaks words of judgment, lament, pain, sorrow, and a whole complex array of emotions too long to list here.
At this time of international crisis I think we are invited, especially during Holy Week, to enter into the mourning of our nation and world. Unlike many, we have words to express our sorrow, divine words that start us on a journey leading to some place other than the dark valley. Take, for example, a word of sorrow from Lamentations (3:7-9), a book often read alongside that of the prophet Jeremiah, who wept when Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylon:
He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has put heavy chains on me; though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer; he has blocked my ways with hewn stones, he has made my paths crooked.
As tough as we have had it, I think the poet was inspired by the Holy Spirit to share these words to express what life is like during and after a siege. Babylon surrounded the city. Like us, the inhabitants had to remain within their city walls, and likely in their homes, as they spent day after day, week after week, and month after month waiting and watching for one of two outcomes: (1) The attackers run out of supplies, thanks to an ally cutting off their supply lines, or (2) the walls fall and the invading army ravages their city.
Yes, these are not happy images, especially for days like our own. Nevertheless, I share them with you because they are the Word of God, and that Word can speak to us today. In fact, I think that if you read on, there is a Word that brings comfort amidst our hardship. The poet writes a little later in the same chapter (3:21-24):
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."
I love that line, "but this I call to mind." No new development brings that "but" into the conversation. In fact, right up until verse 21, things seem hopeless. Where does this hope come from? The poet makes it clear: our hope is grounded in the unceasing, never-ending, restless, boundless, steadfast love of God. There isn't a moment when it is not operative. God's grace is always there, the poet writes, and thus those whose portion is found in the Lord can never lose hope.
I read this morning that hope has sprung anew in our nation. The caseload in some of the states has leveled off. I am truly grateful to God for that, as well as to all those who have labored to save lives. I hope the trend continues. I hope to see all of you in person sooner rather than later. I have hope because God's faithfulness is even greater than that. Abide in his steadfast love.
Stay strong, keep praying, and be a blessing,
In Christ,
Pastor Sam
Connect to Us on YouTube and Facebook
Although we must livestream worship and other activities for the time being, we need to stay connected. Remember to subscribe to our channel. Go to YouTube and type in "FPC Bristol." Click on the link and hit "subscribe." You will receive 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 to join a group if it is closed. Beyond this, keep an eye on your email for updates and our newsletter from Constant Contact.
Holy Week Worship Schedule
All our Holy Week services this year will be shared online. Tonight, April 9, we will premiere a special program for Maundy Thursday at 7:00. Please join us online, and prepare communion for yourself at home, so that we can share the Lord's table in spirit. At noon tomorrow, April 10, we will premiere a special program for Good Friday. Our Easter service will be livestreamed at 10:00 a.m. this Sunday, April 12.
Communion 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.
Sunday Addition to Our Online Bible Studies
We are making a new adult Bible study available on our YouTube channel following worship every Sunday. The new Sunday Bible study will be an informal look at the Book of Psalms through the lens of prayer. Praying With the Psalms is intended to provide a focused opportunity to engage scriptures through our most basic and universal desire, prayer. We will discuss individual psalm themes or ideas as a vehicle then to pray. No preparation is needed, other than to have a Bible and an open heart. We will start with Psalm 1 this Sunday, April 12 (Easter), following our livestreamed worship. We will also continue to post a short study every Tuesday and Thursday. If you subscribe, you will be notified when new studies become available. / Dave Welch
No FPC Gatherings before April 24
In keeping with federal and state guidelines, we have canceled all in-person meetings, gatherings, and worship until Friday, April 24. All scheduled meetings will take place by remote 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, by the link provided on our Facebook page, or by the link in our e-newsletter.
Spring Comes to the Courtyard
Bill Whisnant worked hard in the church courtyard the other day and took some pictures so that we can all see how lovely it is this time of year. Don't miss the photo in Pastor Sam's "Word," which heads this newsletter. Enjoy!

Student Fellowship Now Online
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
Please Pray for All, Near and Far
As we weather the COVID-19 pandemic, 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.
Remote Giving Promotes Togetherness
During the present crisis, we encourage you to give by way of our website or by 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 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.
If You Have or See a Need
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, on whom you can call if you feel the need. You are not alone!
You Can Call on Our Response Teams for Aid
We are pleased and grateful to announce that we now have eight response teams and three medical response teams. They stand ready to aid us safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. 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 them in an effective and mighty way. If you are interested in joining us in the work, just email Dave Welch or Pastor Sam.
We Are Making (and Providing a Few) Masks
Because the need for protective masks is growing, we are reaching out to those of you who can sew. Ballad Health has invited us 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. An FPC response team member will come to your home to pick up your finished masks for delivery. The contact person for this project is Peggy Hill, 423-956-0209 or
Members of our community who need a mask to help them when they go out in public should call the church office to let us know. We have a limited number created by members of our church who are responding to Ballad Health's request.
Please note: If you wear such a mask, you must still maintain six feet of distance from those outside your household when you go out to perform an essential task, such as buying food or medicine. This mask does not provide a shield from infection by others, but it may limit their exposure to your infected respiratory droplets. You can be infected without showing symptoms, so please take care.
You Can Still Share with Your Reading Buddy
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
Ride On, Mowers
FPC Picture
Although we won't walk through the grass or beside the church lawn this Holy Week, and most of us won't even see it, still JB Madison, on mowing duty April 8-11, will faithfully cut it for us. Fred Harkleroad (April 15 -19) will perform the same service during Easter week. If you have reason to pass that way while they're on the job, give them a cheering wave from a distance!
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
Brandi & family
Bristol Tennessee School System
Craig Buchanan
Becky Busler
Calleigh Cairns
Jennifer Chang & family
Christians in Nigeria/ECWA
Community, nation (especially New Jersey & New York) & world (especially Italy)
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
Pete Holler
Marty Keys & family
Josh & Morgan King & family
Danae Kreiss
Nancy Lilly
Drew Long
Dot Mattison
Katie McInnis
Military companies returning from Afghanistan
Bob Millard
Alice Moore
Brianna Necessary
Kayla Patterson
Peggy Rutherford
Virginia Rutherford
Brittany Salter
Joyce Samuel
John Scott
Solange & family
Betsy Turnbull
John & Karen Vann
Bill Wade
Dave & Linda Welch
Vicky Wood
Birthday Prayer Fellowship
April 13         George McClellan, Spencer Pruner
April 14         Wes Buckles, Wade Witcher
April 15         Rett Miller
April 16         Adam Abel, Dorothy Dollar, Joel Kreiss, Rush Powers
April 18         Patrick Havlik, Julianna Sharrett
Church Calendar
Sunday, April 12
10:00 a.m.     Easter Worship, Livestreamed
Followed by Prerecorded Online Sunday School
Tuesday, April 14
10:00 a.m.     Staff Meeting, UberConference
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