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

In This Issue
Deadline & Subscriptions
Word from the Pastor: COVID Curveballs
Change in Plans
Sharing Christ Needs Your Help
July Mission Focus on Back to School
You Can Help Make Masks
Scammers Stay Busy
Celebrate at Doe River Gorge Aug. 16
RSVP for Advent Devotional by Aug. 1
We're Ready to Help
Back to the Office Safely
Give Remotely to Keep Us Together
Study the Bible Online
Join Us on YouTube and Facebook
The World Needs Our Prayers
Mow On!
Gifts to the Church
Organist's Footnotes
Pray for One Another
Church Calendar
Our Church Officers
July 19
7th Sunday after Pentecost
2 Samuel 11:2-15
2 Samuel 12:15-18, 24-25
Despite Our Failures
Sam Weddington
Last Sunday's Attendance
In person: 9:00: 34; 11:00: 28
Livestream: 72
Playbacks: 169
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

July 16, 2020
Word from the Pastor: COVID Curveballs
For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, have not perished.
Malachi 3:6
Our region is in the midst of a major surge in COVID-19 cases. I don't state that to drive you into a panic, but the facts on the ground remain whether we want to acknowledge them or not. As a result, the church's plans have had to change a little. We will still follow the protocols outlined under our Phase II plan, but we have made a few revisions that you will find in "Change in Plans," below.
The headline here should probably be, "Church makes plan, God laughs." As with so many things in our lives, we just need to acknowledge that the ground beneath our feet is constantly shifting. As I mentioned in the sermon last week, everything about our lives is contingent.
Let me refine that just a bit: everything is contingent, but it is also a gift of God. At the heart of our faith is a realization that our lives are ordered by God, and that it is God who has sustained us this far. All of it. Our moments are all gift, no remainder.
The wonderful news about this belief is that the God who gifts us every moment of our existence is One who is utterly reliable, and who has purposed to sustain us despite ourselves. This is the message that Malachi delivers in chapter 3. Time and again, we have fallen short of fulfilling God's call upon our lives. While it is true that God will judge, the judgment is tempered with compassionate mercy. This is the part of God that never changes, and thus, we are told in Malachi 3:6, the reason we have not perished and become utterly destitute.
Our plans will change. We won't always get things right. We'll struggle to do our best. Honestly, even our best won't be enough. Nevertheless, the Lord to whom we belong never changes in his eternal decree to redeem, save, and nurture us. That means that no matter what might happen in the coming days, we have a future. God has secured for us a future to which we can have no inherent claim but that we can have good hope will come to pass through God's faithfulness shown in the Lord Jesus.
In Christ,
Pastor Sam
Change in Plans
The session has adopted the following changes to our current return plans in response to the drastic increase in COVID-19 cases in our region. To follow the cases as they are reported, please see the Epi Curves website of the Tennessee Department of Health. Please note that all our plans are tentative and subject to revision as data come in.
These measures take effect immediately, and will remain in place until we (Lord willing) arrive on the other side of this surge:
  1. In accordance with the Sullivan County mandate, those attending church functions are expected to wear a mask. This differs from our previous language of "strongly encouraging" mask usage. Please, follow the direction of the session, and wear your mask. If you do not have a mask, we have plenty on hand for you. Although churches are technically exempt from the state mandate, we feel that this measure helps us protect the health of our community. Those who preach and lead worship may remove masks during portions of worship where they are called upon to lead.
  2. Anyone attending church functions sponsored by FPC, including outdoor activities, must practice social distancing of at least six feet. Masks are strongly encouraged for outdoor activities, where possible.
  3. Seating in the fellowship hall and sanctuary will return to the wider spacing utilized in Phase I. We will also block off the first four rows in the sanctuary to allow greater distancing between congregants and worship leaders.
  4. Everyone is strongly encouraged to stay home from in-person worship or other FPC activities for 14 days if they have:
    • tested positive for COVID-19,
    • traveled outside the area,
    • had close contact with anyone from high risk areas, or
    • been around anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Sharing Christ Needs Your Help
Come downtown Saturday, August 1, and help us serve Bristol's poor with Sharing Christ Ministries. FPC folks have generously signed on to donate food, but we still need volunteers to help downtown from 4:30 to around 7:00 p.m. We'd love to welcome a new volunteer or someone who hasn't joined in in a while. If you'd like to help or simply want to know more, please contact Dottie Havlik at or 423-956-6747. Sharing Christ is located at the corner of State and Sixth streets.
July Mission Focus on Back to School
Believe it or not, schools will be opening and students will return this fall. With this in mind, the Evangelism & Outreach Committee has designated Fairmount Elementary School as our monthlong mission focus. Every Sunday in July we will collect supplies that teachers and students can use as they start the new school year. (See the list above.) You can drop off your donations at either worship service, or bring them to the church Monday through Thursday. If you have questions, please contact Dave Welch.
You Can Help Make Masks
We continue to make masks for members of our congregation and various organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. We need volunteers for the following tasks:
  • Donating 100% cotton sheets (any color)
  • Pre-washing and ironing donated sheets and other fabric
  • Cutting sheets and other fabric into rectangles according to pattern
  • Sewing the masks together (instructions and materials supplied)
If you can help with any of these steps, please contact the church office (423-764-7176) or Peggy Hill (423-956-0209 or If you need a mask, call the church office.
Scammers Stay Busy
Scammers continue to target our congregation with messages, by email, text, or websites such as Facebook, that appear to be from FPC staff. You might get a brief note purporting to come from Pastor Sam that asks you to handle a matter for him discreetly but to reply to the message so as not to interrupt his prayer session. Never mind that the message came in at 3:01 a.m. Other messages may tell you to buy a gift card for someone in need or some worthy-sounding cause and send the card codes to the phone number provided. These are scams. PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND or take any action. The staff of FPC will NEVER ask you to do such things.
Celebrate at Doe River Gorge Aug. 16!
Our entire church family is invited to our annual celebration at Doe River Gorge in Hampton, TN, on Sunday, August 16, from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. The afternoon will be full of lake fun and outdoor lounging. At 4:00 we will have a baptismal service by the lake then move to the dining pavilion for dinner together. You may pack a picnic dinner or pre-purchase a dinner voucher from Doe River Gorge. We hope to have our whole church together for this glorious day of celebration!
Please register for the event at On this site you can also register for dinner at Doe River Gorge. The cost of the meal is $9 for persons 8 years of age and over, and $5 for those 7 and under.
RSVP for Advent Devotional by Aug. 1
If you would like to contribute 300 words to our 2020 Advent Devotional, we would love to hear from you! Let us know, or ask for more information, by emailing Han Ong at or Candy Phelps at by August 1. If you choose to participate, Han will need your contribution by October 1.
We're Ready to Help
You are not alone! 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 response teams are prepared to deliver essential supplies and make general wellness calls. We also have medical personnel on call. If you see a need, please let us know. If you want to help us in the work, just email Dave Welch or Pastor Sam.
Back to the Office Safely
FPC Picture
As part of our plan to get church functions back to normal, staff are returning to work in the church building on a limited basis. When you need to contact a member of staff, please do so by phone, email, or mail, if you can. We want to limit contact with others for everyone's safety. A later phase of our plan allows for more regular contact within the building, so please stay tuned for future announcements.
Give Remotely to Keep Us Together
During the COVID-19 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.
Study the Bible Online
We are continuing to offer two adult studies on our YouTube channel. The Sunday Bible study, Praying With the Psalms, looks at the Book of Psalms through the lens of prayer. All you need is a Bible and an open heart. We also post a short study every Wednesday. If you subscribe, you will be notified when new studies become available.
Join Us on YouTube and Facebook
Remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch the livestream of our early worship service and other activities. Go to and type in "FPC Bristol." Click on the link and hit "subscribe." You will receive notifications of new videos. 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.
The World Needs Our Prayers
As we weather the COVID-19 pandemic, we are asking you to spend more time in prayer for our church, our community, our 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.
Mow On!
Under the blazing dome of the mid-July heaven, we find the hearty members of our mowing crew sculling coolly across the church lawn, as the Tiger Cat flows from one end to the other. Pat Flannagan (July 15-18) and Bruce Gannaway (July 22-25) row us toward the final Sundays of the month.
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 Diane Harrison's donation of handmade masks in memory of her mother, LaVerne Dunn Frazier.
Organist's Footnotes
We have not heard handbells in our sanctuary since before we heard of COVID-19. This Sunday they will ring our anthem, "Peace Prelude," a beautiful gem by Annette Sims, a composer for whom I regret I have no biographical information. However, both composers of Sunday's organ music are well known for their music for handbells and a host of other genres.
Michael Helman
Michael Helman (b. 1956) is Director of Music and Organist at Faith Presbyterian Church in Cape Coral, Florida, where he directs the Faith Choir, a graded handbell program for children through adults, and coordinates the church's concert series. Prior to moving to Florida in 2006, Helman was Director of Music and Organist for 15 years at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Wilmington, Delaware. An active composer of handbell, organ, and choral music with numerous pieces in print, he has won nine composition contests and is in demand as a handbell festival director and clinician all over the US. Helman is a past Dean of the Delaware Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, has served on the Board of Area III of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers (I got to know him personally when we served together on that board), and is now Southwest Florida District Chair. He has begun two community handbell ensembles: the Wilmington Handbell Ensemble and the Southwest Florida Handbell Ensemble.
Douglas Wagner
Douglas E. Wagner (b. 1952), a native of Chicago, is an internationally recognized composer and arranger who has served several denominations as a church musician. With 30 years as a secondary school music educator and administrator behind him, he now devotes himself to writing, editing, and allied activities. He is an ASCAP award-winning composer and an editor for a major publishing company. He has published 2,400 titles since 1973, including original works and arrangements for church and school choirs, concert band, orchestra, handbell ensemble, organ, piano, instrumental solo, and voice. Well over 14 million copies of his music have been sold. Performances of Wagner's music have been noted in concert settings and on television and radio broadcasts in the US, as well as on concert programs and broadcasts in 26 foreign countries. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife, Sandy, a professional artist and music engraver, to whom he dedicated his "Fanfare and Processional." I'll eat my hat if he didn't compose it for their wedding!
Pray for One Another

In Our Prayers
Please also include in your prayers members of our community who wish to remain anonymous.
Regina Ambagis
Cathy Arnold's family
João Batista family
Joe Bell
Booher family
Sujean Bradley
Brandi & family
Bristol Tennessee School System
Jane Brooks
Becky Busler
Calleigh Cairns
Christians in Nigeria/ECWA
Community, nation & world
Ethiopian brothers & sisters
First responders & medical & infrastructure personnel
Francis Forino
DeeDee Galliher
Goddards (missionaries in Paraguay)
Rose Marie & Jim Goodrum
Martha & John Graham
Gene Grindstaff
Ron Grubbs
Connor Haaser & squadron
Marjorie Harr
Lou Hebb
Nate & Angela & newborn Higgins
John Holler
Marty Keys & family
Josh & Morgan King & family
Richard Lee
Nancy Lilly
Gabby Lumpkin
Dot Mattison
Kathleen McGlothlin
Bob Millard
Mott Mitchell
Alice Moore
Brianna Necessary
Doug Nelson's family
Martha North
Caleb Revill
Mary Ellis & Paul Rice family
Harold Rutherford & family
Brittany Salter
Josh & Ta'meka Stigers
Joe Strickland's family
Student athletes returning to practice
Tom & Kitty Vann
Bill Wade
Maria Wagner
Karen White
Birthday Prayer Fellowship
July 20       Bryan Boyd, Allyson Dowdell
July 21       Brad Arnold, Lilly Hankins, Ginny Osborne
July 22       Rebecca Beck
July 23       Mark Comer, Liz Graham, Porter Hillery, Denny Samuel
July 24       Nancy DeFriece, Leigh King
July 25       Gracie Brooks
Church Calendar
Sunday, July 19
9:00 a.m.       Worship, Fellowship Hall & Livestream
                         Online Sunday School (following 9:00 service)
10:10 a.m.     Adult Sunday School, TBA
11:00 a.m.     Worship, Sanctuary
4:00 p.m.       Evangelism & Outreach Comm., Fellowship Hall
Tuesday, July 21
10:00 a.m.     Staff Meeting, Fellowship Hall
6:00 p.m.       Finance Comm., Zoom
Wednesday, July 22
7:00 p.m.       Middle School Grads Pool Party, Williams Home
Thursday, July 23
7:00 a.m.        Men's Bible Study, Fellowship Hall
12:00 p.m.     Noon Bible Study, Fellowship Hall
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