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

In This Issue
Newsletter Deadline & Subscriptions
Word from the Pastor: Control
Taste and Talent This Sunday
Security Reminder: Door Schedule Changes March 10
Ash Wednesday Worship and Upcoming Adult Programs
Membership Opportunity Coming Up March 10
Lenten Devotional Booklets Available
Sounding the Note: Official Church Organist on Staff
Student Ministries Volunteer Spotlight
Parents' Night Out Tomorrow
It Takes a Team
On the Fickleness of Stars
Pretzels for Fairmount School
Gifts to the Church
Music Notes
Pray for One Another
Church Calendar
Our Church Officers
March 3
Transfiguration of the Lord
Isaiah 52:13-53:3
Luke 9:28-36
Odd Man Out
Sam Weddington
O Wondrous Sight, O Vision Fair
Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts
Bring Us, O Lord God
Last Sunday's Attendance
8:30: 103; 11:00: 106
Women's Retreat: 36
Newsletter 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

February 28, 2019
Word from the Pastor: Control
He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. --Colossians 1:17
As I detailed last week, I often pride myself on being prepared and having a plan. I also pride myself on doing what I say I'm going to do. When preparations aren't enough, and you fall short, what is your typical Type A personality to do? As I was challenged last week, I again find myself challenged this week. Being challenged like this raises the question of whether our image and evaluations of ourselves are what God really asks and expects of us. Is God hung up on us having it together, as we normally account for such things? Does God take pride in how well we have things planned out? How effective we are or seem to be?
In the midst of God's challenge this week, I ran across this wonderful little quote from the theologian John Howard Yoder, taken from Stanley Hauerwas's Gifford Lectures, With the Grain of the Universe:
"People who bear crosses are working with the grain of the universe. One does not come to that belief by reducing social process to mechanical or statistical models, nor by winning some of one's battles for the control of one's own corner of the fallen world. One comes to it by sharing the life of those who sing about the Resurrection of the slain Lamb."
Let me put the quote another way. Being a Christ follower isn't necessarily defined by our ideological predispositions on the pressing social, political, or economic issues of our day. Being a faithful disciple isn't correlated to whether we are Employee of the Month material, nor is it tied to how relevant we make our message or to the methodology we employ in our endeavors. Following Jesus is never about control. No, being a Christian is defined by cruciform, or cross-shaped, lives. Faithfulness to Christ is a life lived with other redeemed sinners who fall short, just like us, who nevertheless sing God's praises amidst adversity, convinced that there is nothing that can ever separate us from Christ's love, which shatters the powers of sin and death (Romans 8:38-39).
In short, Christian life must be defined by whether or not Christ occupies center stage in our thinking and actions, as Paul shares with us in Colossians 1:17. Christ's redeeming love that sets us free from our inherent inadequacy --that love alone!- -is the center, ought to be the center, of how we evaluate our lives, inspiring dreams of who we want to be. Not effectiveness, not expediency, not proficiency, but standing in a constant and unrelenting posture of giving ourselves away is the litmus test of belonging to him. When we learn to release control over our present situation to the One who truly has the power to redeem, we act "with the grain of the universe" because we are in tune with true power as God has defined it in a Son who surrendered himself so that we might have life.
I find these conclusions both consoling and, yes, challenging. Putting down the typical measuring sticks of how I view the success of my life is scary because, at the heart of it, we all like to wear the mantle of a righteousness of our own making. Christ's call to pick up our crosses and follow him (Luke 9:23) is not the call to whip ourselves or others into submission, but instead, the call to die to what we once called life so that we can experience the real thing (Romans 6:11).
In Christ,
Pastor Sam
Taste and Talent This Sunday
Our chili cook-off and talent show is upon us! Bring your best chili to the Fellowship Hall by 5:00 p.m. this Sunday, March 3. Three lucky cooks will have the chance to try to make Pastor Sam sweat. Talk about entertainment! But wait, there's more! Members of our talented congregation will entertain us from the stage. The party will wrap around 7:00.
Security Reminder: Door Schedule Changes March 10
We want to remind everyone that when our new worship schedule takes effect Sunday, March 10, the change will affect our schedule for opening and closing our doors as part of our new security measures. Beginning on the morning of March 10, the doors will lock and unlock at the following times:
8:30:       Doors unlock as the church gathers
9:10:       Doors lock 10 minutes after the start of worship
9:55:       Doors unlock a few minutes before worship ends
10:10:     Sunday School starts
11:10:     Doors lock 10 minutes after the start of worship
12:00:     Doors unlock a few minutes before worship ends
If you, your class, or your team need to enter the building at special times during the locked phase, we ask that you make provision to enter at those times. If you need help with this, please let Pastor Sam and Larry Connolly know, and they will see what can be done to accommodate you.
Ash Wednesday Worship and Upcoming Adult Programs
Please join us for worship Wednesday, March 6, at 6:20 p.m. in the sanctuary as we observe Ash Wednesday with the imposition of ashes. Before the service, come to the Fellowship Hall at 5:30 to enjoy a fellowship dinner of fried chicken. The nursery will be open for both the meal and the service.
Starting March 13 and continuing through April, we will focus on Christianity's startling claim that Jesus rose from the dead. We will use N.T. Wright's video series Resurrection to focus our reflections on the historical, political, and theological issues raised by this singular event. Please join us for an incredible meal followed by wonderful small group learning all through Lent.
Membership Opportunity Coming Up March 10
The Session will meet next Sunday, March 10, with individuals and families interested in joining the fellowship at FPC. The meeting will take place in the chapel at 10:10 a.m. If you are interested, or would like more information, contact Dave Welch at A New Members Sunday School class, for those who have recently joined the church or who desire to learn more about FPC, will begin Sunday, April 28, and meet for six to eight weeks.
Lenten Devotional Booklets Available
The 2019 Lenten devotional booklets from Presbyterians Today are available in the narthex and the Fellowship Hallway. The theme is Awakening to God's Beauty. PT states: "[T]hrough magnificent photography and a spiritual discipline called visio divina (praying with art), we open our eyes with new awareness and gratitude for the beauty of creation. The devotional offers a dazzling smorgasbord of soul-stirring original photographs, each with a short, guided meditation to lift our hearts and fortify us for the rest of our Lenten journey." One booklet per family, please.
Sounding the Note: Official Church Organist on Staff
It's Bob!
It is with great joy that we announce that the church has hired Robert J. Greene Jr. as our permanent organist. It's official: he's on staff! If the name sounds familiar to you, it's because it belongs to the very Bob Greene who has presided at that organ up in the choir loft for some time now. You probably are aware of his performances on harpsichord and piano and his leadership of the Sanctuary Handbell Choir, but you may not know about his adventurous career and musical creations.
Bob earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, where he majored in Piano Performance and Technology in Music and Related Arts. He received the Master of Arts degree in Theology/Pastoral Music from Colgate Rochester Divinity School and Eastman School of Music. As a missionary for the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, Bob taught music to indigenous people in the Huasteca region of Mexico. As a church musician, he has served congregations as organist and music director in Florida, New York, Tennessee, and Virginia. Bob has composed and arranged numerous works throughout his career, including art songs, congregational hymns, choral anthems, handbell pieces, church musicals, solo organ pieces, chamber music, electronic music, contemporary Christian music, and a major cantata, The Seven Last Words, based on the passion of Christ. He has received awards and commissions for his instrumental and choral compositions, and he is published by MorningStar Music and St. James Music Press.
We are so appreciative of the gifts Bob brings to our church and worship, and we give thanks to God that he will long serve us in this role in which he already excels.
Student Ministries Volunteer Spotlight
This week, the Student Ministries spotlight is on volunteer Andrew Beck, who joined the team this year as a teacher for the high school coffee house. Our Sunday School hour coffee house in the Youth Wing invites teens into the Word and allows room for discussion and questions. Andrew answered the call when Pastor Sam shared the great need for men to lead within Student Ministries. Andrew's ministry to students extends beyond these walls to the way he champions young people at Science Hill both in the classroom and on the football field. Andrew, thank you for your commitment to love and serve students within our church family and beyond! / Katie Arnold
Parents' Night Out Tomorrow
The Children's Ministries will hold a Parents' Night Out from 6:00 to 8:30 tomorrow, Friday, March 1, in the Education Wing. This event is for newborns through sixth graders. Please let Lilly Osborne know the number and ages of the children you will bring so that she can provide dinner and materials for all of them. To sign up, email Lilly at, call or text her at 423-383-5476, or use the Children's Ministries Facebook page.
It Takes a Team
FPC is fortunate to have a number of team players among our congregants. Right now, we need to fill out the six teams in our bereavement ministry. These teams work in rotation to provide a meal (on request) when a church family has a death. Each volunteer provides one dish when it is his or her team's turn. Often, we simply deliver the meal to the family's home. When it is served elsewhere, we also set up and clean up, so we occasionally need people who can do that. If you can serve in this ministry in any capacity, please call or text Nancy Butterworth at 423-341-3734. Thank you!
On the Fickleness of Stars
From our vantage point high atop the past, we can see the near future, where the sun first warms the ground then looks away and whistles as clouds dump snow on it; calls the daffodils into bloom only to wipe the sunshine from their trusting faces. Why do we stay in such an erratic relationship? Why do we continue to associate with this fickle star? What in the world is the matter with us? Seeking a solution, we did a cost/benefit analysis and concluded that, what with space being a cold vacuum and all, we will not fare well if we farewell. Thus, we must report that we're still going to need people to mow the church lawn.
Please sign up. You can do so without leaving orbit. Our mowing team welcomes everyone, from teens to elders. Joining is as simple as contacting Team Captain Randy Cook right here on earth at or 423-956-1541. If you've never used a Scag mower before, you can learn on ours in one easy lesson from Randy.
Pretzels for Fairmount School
We are collecting pretzels as winter snacks for the children of Fairmount Elementary School. We need small pretzels or pretzel sticks, which teachers can easily arrange into individual servings. Please bring your donated pretzels to the Little Red House in the Fellowship Hallway to perk up Fairmount students when their energy begins to wane. Thank you!
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:
Dot Copenhaver: to the Memorial Fund from Dot Mattison
Tom Daniel: to the Capital Campaign from Vivian Calcote
Fred & LaVerne Frazier: to the Capital Campaign from Tony & Cora Lee Raccioppo
Pat Hunigan: to the Capital Campaign from Vivian Calcote
Carolyn King: to the Capital Campaign from Tony & Cora Lee Raccioppo
Gifts in honor of:
Sam Weddington: to the Music Fund from George Huber & Frances Emerson
Dave Welch: to the Music Fund from George Huber & Frances Emerson
Music Notes
Sunday's Early Worship
You can hear the songs we'll sing in the 8:30 service here.
Sunday's Late Worship
Participants: Pat Flannagan, Bob Greene, Sanctuary Choir.
Music: Sunday's anthem, "Bring Us, O Lord God," was composed by Gerald Near (b. 1942), one of the most important American composers of sacred music in the 21st century. Educated at the American Conservatory of Music, the University of Michigan, and the University of Minnesota, he received some early training in composition under Leo Sowerby. Near has led the music at churches in Minneapolis, Dallas, Denver, and Santa Fe. Our anthem is a modern setting of a text by John Donne (1672-1631), an English metaphysical poet whose works fell out of favor during the English Restoration before being rediscovered in the early 20th century. I am struck by his phrase "to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music ... one equal eternity."
Organist's footnotes: On Sunday, I will play the complete Suite for Organ by Gerald Near (b. 1942). I will play the second movement, "Sarabande on Land of Rest," during communion. Suite for Organ was Near's first commissioned work, premiered by Marilyn Mason as part of the Detroit A.G.O. Regional Convention on June 23, 1965, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. After working as a choirmaster at Calvary Church in Rochester, Minnesota, Near was Music Director and Organist at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Dallas and Composer in Residence at the Cathedral of St. John in Denver. Eventually, he became choirmaster and cantor at Holy Faith Episcopal Church in Santa Fe. Near has composed predominantly church music, including masses, motets, and chorales as well as organ works.
Handbell Choir wants you: Come swing with the Sanctuary Handbell Choir! We want you to swing a bell every once in a while on a Sunday morning and most Wednesday evenings at 6:15, when we practice in room 212. (We will not practice Ash Wednesday.) Come join a group of people who enjoy learning and making music together. Just email Bob Greene at or ring him at 423-341-0378.
Pray for One Another

In Our Prayers
Please also include in your prayers members of our community who wish to remain anonymous.
Mendy Bechtold
Becky Busler
FPC Search Committees
Ben & Patsy Frizzell
DeeDee & Sarah Galliher
Dianne Glymph (Mary Ellis Rice's mother)
Ron Grubbs
Will Hankins
Eva Dot Hawk
Jonya Kennedy
Nancy King
Dot Mattison
Bob Millard
Beth Neal
Nick Niosi
Osborne family
Eric Page (Laura Linke's uncle)
Pastor Sam's mother
Pendley family
Don Preston
Tony Raccioppo
Anne Raven
Virginia Rutherford
Sikorski family
Jeremy Spencer
Stigers family
Chuck Thompson
Jeremy Weaver
John Wizorek (Annette Tudor's father)
To the Church Triumphant
Francis Stead "Frank" Taft Jr.
February 21, 2019
Our love and sympathy are with Sue Barr in the death of her brother-in-law, Harold Barr, February 21 in Blountville; and with George Linke in the death of his uncle, George Francis Mychal Linke, February 25.
Birthday Prayer Fellowship
March 3        Steve Longnecker, Darlene Pollard
March 4        Weston Foster, Brandi McGill, Brandi Smith
March 6        Nate Sproles
March 7        Abby Welch
March 8        Tony Adams, Dawn Eubanks
March 9        Abi Davis, Katie Davis
Church Calendar
Sunday, March 3
8:30 a.m.        Worship, Fellowship Hall
9:45 a.m.        Sunday School
11:00 a.m.     Worship, Sanctuary
5:00 p.m.       Chili Cook-Off & Talent Show, Fellowship Hall
Monday, March 4
6:30 p.m.       Board of Deacons, Rooms 117 & 123
Tuesday, March 5
10:00 a.m.     Staff Meeting, Room 117
10:00 a.m.     Morning Prayer Group, Conf. Room
7:00 p.m.       Boy Scout Troop 3, Scout Wing
Wednesday, March 6
9:30 a.m.        Women's Bible Study, Room 117
5:15 p.m.       Baby & Toddler Care, Rooms 34 - 37
5:30 p.m.       Fellowship Dinner, Fellowship Hall
6:20 p.m.       Ash Wednesday Worship, Sanctuary
7:15 p.m.       Sanctuary Choir, Room 202
7:15 p.m.       Worship Team, Fellowship Hall
Thursday, March 7
7:00 a.m.        Men's Bible Study, Parlor
12:00 p.m.     Noon Bible Study, Room 117
Saturday, March 9
10:00 a.m.     Officer Training, Room 123
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