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

In This Issue
Deadline & Subscriptions
Word from the Pastor: Made Worthy
Our 2019 Holiday Schedule
Order Poinsettias by Monday
Consider Using Your IRA for Tax-Free Charitable Donations to FPC
Chuck Thompson Memorial Scholarship Established
Remember Your Advent Devotional
Wednesday Fellowship Will Return Next Month
Our Children Sing at Blackbird Bakery Dec. 11
Please Sing with Us at Journey's End
Joy Gift Offering Dec. 15
Children's Christmas Play: One Night Only!
Come Caroling with Us Dec. 18
How to Share in the MLK Choir and Celebration
Warm Decorations for Our Christmas Trees
Temporary Housing Need
Student Fellowship Progressive Dinners Set
Annual Student Gingerbread House Competition
Register for Passion 2020
History of Our Sanctuary Windows
Music Notes
Pray for One Another
Church Calendar
Our Church Officers
December 8
2nd Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 2:1-5
Romans 13:11-14
The True Light of Christmas
Sam Weddington
O Thou, the Central Orb
Last Sunday's Attendance
9:00: 150; 11:00: 115
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

December 5, 2019
Word from the Pastor: Made Worthy

May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has [made you worthy] to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:11-14 NRSV [change mine]
I'm a list maker; it's the only way I stay sane. Every Monday when I come in to the office, I make a master list of the things I need to get done that week. I have a calendar on my phone to make sure I'm where I need to be when I'm supposed to be there. I even have a list on my phone.
Strangely, though, my lists keep me sane, but they also make me anxious. Did I get everything done? Where have I fallen short? Doh! I forgot that thing on my calendar, and now I feel like a fool. My lists are the illusion of control and productivity, and they are a necessary evil. Everyone needs reminders. They are also a way of telling myself the story that I'm getting things done, and getting things done means I am good; I'm worthy.
Then comes Christmas; crazy times in crazy town! So many things to get done, so many places to be. Expectations are high. You've got to make that appearance! Did you get juuuuust the right gift? Can I fit that into my busy schedule? Can I skip this event, thing, or expectation?
Beyond the social and commercial expectations of Christmas, there are religious convictions to consider. Have I remembered the reason for the season? Is Christ coming first in all my planning and my giving? Am I a bad Christian or a good one? Am I thankful enough, or am I just a spiritual philistine, in love with all the gifts and ignorant of the gift giver? Am I worthy of Christ?
Such thinking carries with it the assumption that there is a level of sufficiency we can bring ourselves to, so that we conform rightly within our own self-image, our families, our community, and ultimately to God. If anything, Christmas is the affirmation of the exact opposite. There is nothing we did, will do, or could have done to deserve such a gift. It is gratis, free. God with us, Emmanuel, is the good news that with the coming of God's only Son, the conditions are set for us sinners to receive redemption (Romans 5:8).
Did you catch Paul in Colossians 1:12? The Father, alone, has made us worthy to receive this gift. He has rescued us. He is the list maker. He is the doer. His is the only standard of sufficiency, and He alone fulfills the standard through the Son in the power of the Spirit.
The best we can do, as Calvin reminds us when considering our worthiness in the context of partaking of the Lord's table, is to remember that "the best and only worthiness which we can bring to God, is to offer him our own vileness, and, if I may so speak, unworthiness, that his mercy may make us worthy; to despond in ourselves, that we may be consoled in him; to humble ourselves, that we may be elevated by him; to accuse ourselves, that we may be justified by him" ( Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book IV, Ch. 17, s.42).
Maybe such confidence might inspire all of us to put our lists down, even if for a little while, this December.
In Christ,
Pastor Sam
Our 2019 Holiday Schedule
Sat., Dec. 7
6:00 p.m.
Middle School Progressive Dinner
Off Campus
Sun., Dec. 8
5:00 p.m.

6:00 p.m.
High School Progressive Dinner
King Lessons & Carols
Off Campus
Wed., Dec. 11
6:30 p.m.
8:45 p.m.
Children's Choir Sings
Open Rehearsal for Journey's End
Blackbird Bakery
Room 202
Fri., Dec. 13
7:30 p.m.
King Choir Christmas Concert
Sun., Dec. 15
Both services
5:30 p.m.
7:00 p.m.
Joy Gift Offering
Children's Christmas Play
Student Gingerbread Event
Fellowship Hall
Tue., Dec. 17
6:00 p.m.
Journey's End
Wed., Dec. 18
4:00 p.m.
Meet in Fellowship Hall
Sun., Dec. 22
11:00 a.m.
7:00 p.m.
Christmas Cantata
Night of Worship
Fellowship Hall
Mon., Dec. 23
7:00 p.m.
Student Fellowship Alumni Christmas Dinner
Off Campus
Christmas Eve
10:00 a.m.
7:00 p.m.
Christmas Cookie Ministry
Candlelight Communion
Fellowship Hall
Christmas Day
Church offices closed
No Programs
Thurs., Dec. 26
Church offices closed
Order Poinsettias by Monday

We are coming up on deadline for ordering poinsettias, in memory or honor of those dear to us, for our worship spaces in Advent. Whether you choose to order plants in the customary way or online, your orders must be placed no later than this Monday, December 9. Order forms are available in the church office on weekdays, in worship on Sunday, and until deadline on our website. You can bring or mail your paper order form and payment to the church office or place it in the offering plate during worship. If you choose to order online, go to our homepage, click on GIVE, enter the dollar amount of your purchase, click on the arrow for the Fund field, choose W&M: Poinsettia, and enter the names of the giver(s) and honoree(s) on the memo line. Each plant costs $15. Please pick up your plants after the Christmas Eve service.
Consider Using Your IRA for Tax-Free Charitable Donations to FPC

Throughout the year, many people express interest in supporting the church through special gifts for special needs beyond their tithe or pledge. With the end of the year upon us, it is a good time to consider such gifts.
For folks who have an IRA and are of a certain age, a Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) is required. The IRA, like most retirement plans, is subject to income tax upon distribution, a result of the tax deferral received for donations to the IRA over the years.
Here's the good news! IRA owners who are age 70 1/ 2 or older can use their RMDs, up to $100,000 per year, to make tax-advantaged gifts to qualified charities like First Presbyterian Church. Doing so excludes the RMD from gross income that otherwise would be subject to taxes, and FPC benefits immediately from your gift. (Keep in mind that you will not be able to "double dip" and also take a charitable deduction on the IRA gift!)
If you are interested in considering such a gift, be sure to talk to your tax advisor first for more details. Then simply direct your plan administrator to make the gift directly from your IRA to FPC. You can then talk to Pastor Sam about short- and long-term needs to ensure your gift is directed in a way that blesses the ministries of FPC and brings God the greatest glory. / John Vann & Jerry Poteat
Chuck Thompson Memorial Scholarship Established

In partnership with King University and the family of our beloved brother in Christ, Chuck Thompson, we are pleased to announce the establishment of the Chuck Thompson Memorial Scholarship at King University. This endowed scholarship will provide, in perpetuity, annual support for a student at King who demonstrates financial need and a vibrant Christian witness. We are excited about this opportunity as we celebrate the life and witness of a faithful member of our church family.
Awarding of the Chuck Thompson Memorial Scholarship will begin in 2020, and this week w e are opening opportunities to give to the scholarship fund. You can contribute by check to FPC Bristol by designating a donation for the "Chuck Thompson Memorial Scholarship" on the memo line. If you prefer, you can give online by going to our homepage at and clicking on GIVE. On the linked page, enter the amount of your gift, click on the arrow for the Fund field, and choose Chuck Thompson Memorial Scholarship at King Univ. On the memo line, you can enter other information, such as the full name of the donor or donors or the name of anyone you wish to honor through your donation, then complete the rest of the page. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the church office.
About Chuck
Chuck Thompson's deep and intimate relationship with God allowed him to be a generous vessel for the grace and love of Jesus Christ. He was not a man easily summed up, for what he sowed in his lifetime is still bearing fruit. The Chuck Thompson scholarship is only one example.
In addition to being a loving husband and nurturing father, Chuck was also a counselor, author, and professor. He received his master's degree in clinical psychology from Wheaton College in 1989 and moved to Bristol with his family the following year. He became the director of the King College Counseling Center and an associate professor of psychology. He retired from King in May after a 29-year career.
As a devoted disciple and sinner-saint, Chuck understood the importance of the journey, especially the journey to becoming who we were created to be. His desire for those he worked with was that we each become who we were created to be. Chuck wanted us to embrace the adventure along the way, especially as we find ourselves stretched and pulled. He taught that we should measure and value every experience in life, every skill gained, every trial and triumph for its contribution in transforming us and preparing us for our ultimate calling. The destination is to find ourselves embraced by the helping hand of our heavenly Father.
Remember Your Advent Devotional
As you journey through the season, remember to pick up your copy of our 2019 Advent devotional booklet. It was composed by FPC members, including our Friendship Class, and you can get your copy from the narthex, the Fellowship Hallway, or our homepage at Please take only one per family.
Wednesday Fellowship Will Return Next Month

When we roofed and decorated our gingerbread houses yesterday, we put the lid on our Wednesday night programming for the year. We will resume our evenings of fellowship and worship in January. Until then, have an adventurous Advent and a happy holiday!
Our Children Sing at Blackbird Bakery Dec. 11
The children of FPC will sing at Blackbird Bakery at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 11. All participants must be at the bakery by 6:15, and they will be rewarded with a cookie afterwards! They will sing selections from our Christmas play as well as some familiar carols. For more information, contact Lilly Osborne at or 423-383-5476.
Please Sing with Us at Journey's End

Journey's End, Bristol's interpretation of the Latino tradition of Las Posadas (The Inns), will be held Tuesday, December 17, at 6:00 p.m. Singing carols and accompanied by instrumentalists, participants walk with Mary and Joseph as they search from inn to inn (represented by downtown businesses) for a place to spend the night.
Our Sanctuary Choir will participate and is encouraging the rest of us to join in for the occasion. Our group's contribution will be to sing carols in front of the Paramount Theater. We welcome you to our rehearsal Wednesday, December 11, at 8:45 p.m. in room 202 upstairs. But even if you can't rehearse with us, we hope you will come out and lend your voice. If you're interested, dress warmly and come to the Paramount at 6:00 p.m. on December 17.
Believe in Bristol first organized Journey's End in 1999, and FPC has participated nearly every year. The event will begin at the Downtown Center, 810 State Street, and last about an hour.
Joy Gift Offering Dec. 15

We will collect our annual Joy Gift offering at both services Sunday, December 15. The Joy Gift goes to providing assistance to current and retired church workers in time of need, and to Presbyterian-related schools and colleges developing future leaders for communities of color. Please be generous.
Children's Christmas Play: One Night Only!

Please join us in the sanctuary at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 15, for the children's Christmas play, The Innkeeper. The joy of Christ's birth shines in this Nativity story told from the perspective of a beleaguered Bethlehem innkeeper. It's warm, funny, and above all wonderfully human! Rehearsals are going great, and we will open way off Broadway before you know it. Put the date on your calendar now!
Come Caroling with Us Dec. 18

Some of us need an outlet for the excitement that comes bubbling up on the way to Christmas, and we just have to sing. We're going caroling Wednesday, December 18, and want you to come with us! We will gather in the Fellowship Hall at 4:00 p.m. and go from there to homes of church members and to nursing homes with joy in the songs of the season. Those who can continue the fellowship will share a meal at Chick-fil-A afterwards. For more information, contact Lilly Osborne at or 423-383-5476.
How to Share in the MLK Choir and Celebration
Bristol observes Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a varied program that features a mass choir composed of members of local churches. Our congregation has been invited to add our voices again this year. Both the celebration itself and singing in the mass choir make for a wonderful community experience. The celebration begins on MLK Day, January 19, and continues the following day with a march, more performances by the choir, and the King University Institute for Faith and Culture's MLK Day Lecture.
Father Gregory Boyle will give the lecture, "The Whole Language: The Power of Extravagant Tenderness," at 7:00 p.m. January 20 at Lee Street Baptist Church. Father Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries, which employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises and provides critical services to thousands of men and women seeking a better life. In 2014, the White House named Father Boyle a Champion of Change.
Those wishing to march on January 20 should note that the route is different this year. Participants will meet at the Paramount at 1:30 p.m. and begin the march at 2:00.
Meanwhile, choir rehearsals have begun. If you choose to add your voice, please save the dates below:
Choir Rehearsal Dates (all at Lee Street Baptist Church)
Mon., Dec. 9         6:00 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 6          6:00 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 13        6:00 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 17            6:00 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 18           3:00 p.m.
Choir Performance Dates
Sun., Jan. 19          4:00 p.m.        Lee Street Baptist Church
Mon., Jan. 20        2:30 p.m.        Train Station
Mon., Jan. 20        7:00 p.m.        Emory & Henry College
Warm Decorations for Our Christmas Trees

Our mission in December is to help our neighbors stay warm. We invite each member of our church family to bedeck the Christmas trees in the sanctuary and Fellowship Hall with gifts of warmth: gloves, hats, and scarves. Bring your gifts to the church when you come to worship in December, and place them on the branches or the tree skirts. At the end of the month, we will box up all the items we've collected and, through Bristol Faith in Action and Fairmount Elementary School, share them with our neighbors who could use some warmth.
Speaking of Warmth: Temporary Housing Need 
A member of our community needs temporary housing from mid-December through mid-February. For more information, please contact Pastor Sam or Dave Welch.
Student Fellowship Progressive Dinners Set

'Tis the season for Student Fellowship Christmas parties! We will have progressive dinners for each age group. Each will meet at the church, then go on to a different home for each course of the meal. Students should bring a $10 gift for the gift exchange and six stocking stuffers for volunteers' stockings. Grab your friends, pull on your tacky sweater, and let's party! For more information, contact Katie Arnold at

Annual Student Gingerbread House Competition

Middle and high school students are invited to the Fellowship Hall at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 15, for FPC's annual Student Gingerbread House Competition. Get your design ideas together, grab your friends, and come for fun, prizes, and sweet fellowship! For more information, contact Katie Arnold at
Register for Passion 2020

Start the new year right with FPC Bristol at Passion 2020! We'll join thousands of 18 -to-25-year-olds at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta from December 31 through January 2. Passion is filled with incredible worship, dynamic speakers, and sweet time with your church family. The cost is $200 with a $50 deposit. Register here. For more information, contact Katie Arnold at
History of Our Sanctuary Windows
Detail of our Max Ingrand rose window.

Here we present another look at the tangible history of our church, courtesy of Beth Flannagan and Bill Wade.
"Oh Lord, I love the beauty of thy house,
The place where thy glory dwells." (Psalm 26:8)
"I was glad when they said to me, let us go
to the house of the Lord." (Psalm 122:1)
"O God, we reenact the story of thy true love
within thy temple." (Psalm 48:9)
These texts express the love and joy our members feel for the "house" that is our church home. Our sanctuary is a place of beauty where God's people assemble to worship Him, and from which we depart to serve Him.
"The story of thy true love," exclaimed the Psalmist, "we reenact." Each worship service, in Word and Sacrament, is a reenactment of the history of God with His people. The stained glass windows are a visual and artistic reenactment of that same story of God's true love with its fulfillment in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
When our present church was built in 1963, the windows on the sides of the sanctuary were of plain glass, and the intention was that they would be replaced in time by stained glass. The rose and chancel windows were ordered from Max Ingrand, the French Art Deco and stained glass master. Ingrand integrated his love of medieval art with a decidedly modern style, implementing radiant color to create an iconography that spoke equally to the universal and the contemporary. He was appointed an Officer of the Legion of Honour, having designed stained glass windows for a number of French cathedrals after World War II. He also designed windows for the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and a cathedral and several churches in Quebec.
The first worship service in our Florida Avenue building took place on May 3, 1964. Following an additional capital campaign for payment of the balance of unpaid construction costs, the church was dedicated on September 26, 1965. The long-term construction debt was paid off in 1973, following a campaign whose slogan was "Debt Free in '73." A mortgage-burning celebration was held on November 18, 1973. In 1980, the plain glass windows in the sanctuary were replaced with stained glass; they were dedicated on April 20, 1980.
The light that shines through these windows, illuminating the story retold by the scenes and symbols, is a witness to Him who said, "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12) and of the "cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1) who surround us, urging us on in our pilgrimage of faith.
Music Notes
Charles Wood
Sunday's music: Our anthem this week is "O Thou, the Central Orb" by Irish composer Charles Wood (1866 -1926). Wood studied music at the Royal College of Music with C.V. Stanford and C.H.H. Parry, continuing his studies at Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he began teaching harmony and counterpoint. By 1894 Wood had become the Director of Music and organist at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and was instrumental in the rebirth of their music program. After the death of Stanford in 1924, Wood assumed the role of Professor of Music in the University of Cambridge. Wood is known chiefly for his contributions to Anglican choral music. His Communion Service in Phrygian Mode and settings of the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis are popular, as are his anthems with organ. The text of this anthem was written by Rev. Henry Ramsden Bramley (1833 -1917) and speaks of Christ's coming, using the metaphor of light purifying darkness and sin.
Organist's footnotes: All of Sunday's organ music is based upon the hymns for the day. All the settings are by contemporary American composers. "Psalm 42," one of the most popular Genevan Psalter tunes, is attributed to Claude Goudimel (1514 -1572). Alfred V. Fedak (b. 1953) has created four contrasting miniatures, each charming and inventive. We have time to hear all four of them as our prelude. Fedak is a well-known organist, composer, and Minister of Music and Arts at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Capitol Hill in Albany, New York.
Emma Lou Diemer
Emma Lou Diemer (b. 1927) is Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her setting of "Psalm 42" (offertory) is quiet and restrained. It alternates between solo flute and string registrations, and changes meter literally every measure, from 5/4 to 4/4 then 3/4 and finally 6/4 time.
Everyone loves a parade, and Aaron David Miller's (b. 1972) "March" setting of "Winchester New" (postlude), with its use of Festival Trumpet and Full with Reeds registration, should get your heart beating faster. Miller is the Director of Music and organist at House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Seasonal bells: Come join the Sanctuary Handbell Choir and make music ring out in Advent! We practice from 6:15 to 7:15 on Wednesday evenings in room 212 upstairs, and play for the late worship service about once a month. Contact Bob Greene at or 276-696-9091 to join us.
Pray for One Another

In Our Prayers
Please also include in your prayers members of our community who wish to remain anonymous.
Sujean Bradley
Blair Brook's family
Meggie Brooks
Becky Busler
Christians in Nigeria/ECWA
Helen Davidson
Dorothy Dollar
Ethiopian brothers & sisters
Bobby Fleu
Garrett Foster
DeeDee Galliher
Diane Glymph
Ron Grubbs
Mary Gyger's family
Sarah Haas
Lou Hebb
Kylie Mitchell Hightower's family
Marty Keys & family
Dot Mattison
Lisa May
Roger McCracken
Bob Millard
Alice Moore
Music Ministries of FPC
Donald Page
Stan Parker
Larry Roberts (Greg's brother)
Peggy Rutherford
Virginia Rutherford
Joan Sams
Katlin Smith
Ashley Thomasson
Phil Tupa
John & Karen Vann
Herb Van Nostrand's family
Bill Wade
Nancy Ward
Nancy Whitesides
Bill Woods
Birthday Prayer Fellowship
Dec. 8         J.B. Madison
Dec. 10       Linda Darnell
Dec. 11       Tina Witcher
Dec. 13       Todd Booher
Dec. 14       Vonda Kent, Jim Mayden, Wendy Olson
Church Calendar
Sunday, December 8
9:00 a.m.       Worship, Fellowship Hall
10:10 a.m.     Sunday School
10:15 a.m.     Sanctuary Choir, Room 202
11:00 a.m.     Worship, Sanctuary
3:30 p.m.       Christmas Play Rehearsal, Sanctuary
5:00 p.m.       High School Progressive Dinner, Off Campus
Tuesday, December 10
10:00 a.m.     Staff Meeting, Room 117
10:00 a.m.     Morning Prayer Group, Conf. Room
6:00 p.m.       Venture Crew 3, Room 165
7:00 p.m.       Boy Scout Troop 3, Scout Wing
Wednesday, December 11
9:30 a.m.       Women's Bible Study, Room 117
4:00 p.m.       Finance Comm., Room 117
6:15 p.m.       Handbell Practice, Room 212
6:30 p.m.       Children's Choir, Blackbird Bakery
7:15 p.m.       Sanctuary Choir, Room 202
8:45 p.m.       Open Rehearsal for Journey's End, Room 202
Thursday, December 12
7:00 a.m.       Men's Bible Study, Parlor
8:30 a.m.       Meals on Wheels, Fellowship Hall
12:00 p.m.     Noon Bible Study, Room 117
4:30 p.m.       Human Resources Comm., Room 117
7:00 p.m.       Scout Order of the Arrow, Scout Hall
Saturday, December 14
10:30 a.m.     Christmas Play Rehearsal, Sanctuary
Our Church Officers
Church Officers
Class of 2019
Class of 2020
Class of 2021
Anna Booher
Nancy Allerton
Ann Abel
Lee Galliher
Rebecca Beck
Randy Cook
Pete Holler
David Hyde
John Graham
Han Ong
Jordan Pennington
Katie McInnis
Pete Stigers
Jerry Poteat
John Vann
Sujean Bradley
Blake Bassett
Fred Harkleroad
George Linke
Rhonda Comer
Matt Kingsley
Greg Roberts
Ron Fox
Lisa McClain
Nate Sproles
Brenda Lawson
Drew Rice
Bill Whisnant
Barbara Thompson
Joyce Samuel
Nancy Cook
Peggy Hill
Jack Butterworth