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

In This Issue
Deadline & Subscriptions
Word from the Pastor: Hard Words, Soft Hearts
Name That Grad!
Open Windows This Summer
Family Bike Night
Annual Celebration Party Aug. 16
Holston to Hold June Day Camp
Heads Up for Pious Scammers
Devote 300 Words to Our Advent Devotional
Back to the Office Safely
Give Remotely to Keep Us Together
Stay with Us on YouTube and Facebook
Study the Bible Online
The World Needs Our Prayers
We're Standing Ready to Help
We Still Need Masks
Rank and File
Gifts to the Church
Organist's Footnotes
Pray for One Another
Church Calendar
Our Church Officers
June 14
2nd Sunday after Pentecost
Psalm 29
Isaiah 6:1-8
Dave Welch
Last Sunday's Attendance
In person: 9:00: 22; 11:00: 18
Livestreams: 72
Total views: 222
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

June 11, 2020
Word from the Pastor: Hard Words, Soft Hearts
A crucial part of the legacy of the Reverend Billy Graham was that he would often say hard things that people didn't like. For example, in 1973, he spoke in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the height of racial tension and apartheid, and declared before 60,000 people, "Apartheid is sin." In 1967, as protests, much turmoil, and even riots broke out in the streets of America, Rev. Graham spoke on his The Hour of Decision radio program and condemned the injustice of racism. In 1953, at a crusade in Chattanooga, he told the organizers that he refused to participate if they insisted on segregating the congregation. He personally tore down the ropes dividing the room into a section for whites and a section for blacks. He also took to the local newspaper and wrote a column declaring that the Bible did not teach racial superiority.
For his efforts, hard words, and hard actions, he won the support of some but the condemnation of many others. There is an entire library of recently released FBI files documenting death threats sent to him. They called him a "n--- lover" and many other horrible things, as they threatened to take the life of him, his wife, and his family. Other, more moderate Christians implored him to sidestep the issue and not talk about race at all, especially at the height of tensions in the 1960s. According to William Martin, emeritus professor of religion and public policy at Rice University, in his book A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story, it is clear that at critical times, Rev. Graham took bold stands and said hard things because the Gospel demanded them. Like all human beings, he fell short at times. On the whole, the witness of history is that Billy Graham believed that all shared equally in the image of God, and any church that was comfortable with anything less than full equality was failing to witness to the power of the Gospel.
I think that this legacy was due in part to Rev. Graham's and Dr. King's understanding of their job, spelled out clearly in prophets like Jeremiah. I share Jeremiah 23:16-22:
Thus says the Lord of hosts: Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you; they are deluding you. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They keep saying to those who despise the word of the Lord, "It shall be well with you"; and to all who stubbornly follow their own stubborn hearts, they say, "No calamity shall come upon you." For who has stood in the council of the Lord so as to see and to hear his word? Who has given heed to his word so as to proclaim it? Look, the storm of the Lord! Wrath has gone forth, a whirling tempest; it will burst upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his mind. In the latter days you will understand it clearly. I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.
What does Jeremiah mean here? Context is important. Jeremiah was prophesying the calamity to come upon the people at the hands of the Babylonians if they kept on their present course, making foreign alliances and wrapping themselves up in other countries' political intrigue. Jeremiah said something really unpopular: stop bucking against Babylon, or you will be destroyed. All the other "court" prophets were telling Zedekiah what the king wanted to hear: we can rely on Egypt to counter the strength of Babylon, and we can rule on our own power, free from the yoke of both. The court prophets, in short, were prophets of fluff, sunshine, and rainbows, telling the king and the people what they wanted to hear, all the while using the name of God to justify their claims. Jeremiah was the prophet of bad news, or at least many thought so, because he was calling the people to repent and go another way.
Jeremiah was right. The king and the people kept on a course that led to the Babylonian exile, one of the darkest chapters in Israel's history. Sometimes, no, most of the time, God tells us what we don't want to hear. God's commands, especially at really hard junctures in history, seem like words written by a pen of iron upon our stone hearts (Jeremiah 17:1). But these iron words are given in order to lead us to repentance and, ultimately, to restoration, life, and flourishing.
Let me just be frank: the past two Sundays have been hard, and there are some of you who haven't liked what you have heard. Facing hard words about the need to repent as a church for our contribution of silence over decades while our African-American brothers and sisters have suffered is difficult to hear. Maybe you feel I am being unfair. Maybe your gut reaction is to yell back, "All Lives Matter," rather than tackle head on the reality of what we have seen and heard over the past couple of weeks. Maybe you are upset with me because you feel I've been focusing on this rather than on your definition of the Gospel.
I understand, but I can't be a court prophet. I just can't. I know I can't, because what I've seen and heard over the past couple of weeks has cut me to the heart, and if I don't say something as the pastor of this church, then that leaves only the rocks to cry out (Luke 19:40). If the rocks are all that is left to cry out, then trust me, we're in even deeper trouble than you might imagine.
No, I say these things not to wound but to show and call us all to a season of repentance and reflection, so that we might become the church Jesus wants us to be. Hard words eventually make for soft hearts. Hard words that create soft hearts result in a church where we give visible witness to the glory to come, where all will be one, and all will be well. In fact, I will go so far as to say that any church that hasn't been publicly wrestling with questions of race and faith over the past few weeks has failed a critical demand of the Gospel. You see, the Gospel is the good news that God loved us enough in Jesus Christ to redeem us, God's enemies, and make us one people from every nationality and tongue. To allow our brothers and sisters to suffer in silence is to betray the very ones Christ died to redeem and, thus, to betray Christ.
So, I love you, even if you have hated my hard words. I give them so that we might repent, go the other way, and in the love of Jesus Christ, be new creation.
In Christ,
Pastor Sam
Name That Grad!
Every year we look forward to honoring the achievements of the new graduates in our church family. As we prepare for Graduate Sunday, July 26, we need to know who in our church family is in line to be celebrated! Please call the church office (423-764-7176) if you or a member of your family will be graduating from high school, college, or any other educational or training program this spring. We need the following information by June 21: graduate's name, current (not future) school or program, degree or certification earned, and field. Thank you for your help!
Open Windows This Summer
We want to keep you up-to-date on our status during the pandemic and our preparations for our eventual reunion. Therefore, whether storms pelt us or heatwaves melt us, you will be able to open Windows every week all summer long. The exception to this new rule is the week of June 28, for its Thursday, July 2, falls within the editor's mandated Mental Health Week. You'll thank us later.
Family Bike Night
We're blocking off the church parking lot for Family Bike Night on Wednesday, June 24, at 6:00 p.m. Bring your bikes, scooters, tricycles, skateboards, skates, and family, and roll around the parking lot together! You will also want to bring camp chairs, drinks, and snacks for your family. Parents must stay on hand to be in charge of proper distancing measures.
Annual Celebration Party Aug. 16
Our entire church family is invited to our annual Celebration Party 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!
Holston to Hold June Day Camp

Although Holston Camp has canceled overnight camp for the month of June, day camp is open. Unless the pandemic becomes worse in our area or state guidelines change, overnight camps will be offered in July. You can learn more or register for camp here.
These guidelines are in place this summer:
  • Smaller groups
  • Mandatory masks
  • Social distancing
  • Daily health monitoring
Heads Up for Pious Scammers
Inventive internet and smartphone scammers continue to target our congregation. Posing as FPC staff, they contact us by email, text, or websites such as Facebook. Some of us have received messages that looked like Pastor Sam's FPC email and asked us to "please reply to this email" to handle a task for him "discreetly." Another scam tells you to buy a gift card for a person or family in need, or for a worthy-sounding ministry. You are instructed to send the gift 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.
Devote 300 Words to Our Advent Devotional
We want you to help build our 2020 Advent Devotional by submitting devotions of no more than 300 words! Your contribution will enhance our time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you want to share a devotion or have questions, please email Han Ong at or Candy Phelps at by August 1. If you choose to participate, please submit your devotion to Han by October 1.
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.
Stay with 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.
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.
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.
We're Standing 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.
We Still Need Masks
We continue to ask those of you who can sew to make masks for respiratory patients and members of our congregation during the COVID-19 crisis.   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. You can reach her at 423-956-0209 or . If you need a mask, call the church office. We have a limited number made by members of our church.
Rank and File
Gratefully out of the sun, in the vale of humility between Trinity Sunday and Father's Day, Randy Cook (June 10-13) mows this week to prepare for the second Sunday after Pentecost, which, like the second son of a duke, is so close to grace and yet so far. Roger Sikorski (June 17-20) will serve up the Father's Day Special of shredded greens on wry.
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:
Jim Mayden: to the Minister's Discretionary Fund from Roger & Donna Sikorski
Mac McElroy: to the King University Thompson Scholarship Fund from John & Alice Graham
Betty Ottenfeld (Karen Vann's mother): to the Brazil Mission Fund from Roger & Donna Sikorski
Peggy Truman (Linda Welch's mother): to the Minister's Discretionary Fund from Roger & Donna Sikorski
In honor of:
Peggy Hill: to the Church Operating Budget from an anonymous donor
Organist's Footnotes
James Woodman
For Sunday's organ music I have chosen to play All Creatures of Our God and King: Five Meditations for Organ on "Lasst uns erfreuen" by James Woodman. The hymn "All Creatures of Our God and King," written by William H. Draper (1855 -1933), is a paraphrase of the well-known "Canticle of brother sun" by St. Francis of Assisi (1182 -1226). Draper's poem was composed in the same meter as the hymn tune lasst uns erfreuen, and was published paired with that melody in 1919. Since that time, the hymn has enjoyed enormous ecumenical popularity. Today Draper's text is to be found in a variety of altered and adapted forms. (You can read a composite version of his text in our opening hymn.) For the movement titles for the organ work, the composer has chosen to use language that follows the original of St. Francis more closely than it does any version of the Draper poem.
All Creatures of Our God and King was commissioned by James Gowen Hood for the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, in honor of the dedication of the N.P. Mander organ and in memory of Lulu Archer Hood. The concert organist and recording artist Peter Sykes gave the first performance at the dedication of the new organ on May 12, 2000.
Woodman was born in Portland, Maine, in 1957, and educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, Princeton University, and New England Conservatory. He was appointed the first Composer-in-Residence at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston, and currently serves as Monastery Organist for the Society of St. John the Evangelist, Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is frequently sought as a composer of organ and choral works, and his recent commissions have included work for Sykes, Harvard University's Memorial Church, the tricentennial of Green's Farms Congregational Church in Westport, Connecticut, and the 2014 National Convention of the American Guild of Organists.
Please Pray for Osborne Family
I'm asking all of you to be in prayer for the Osborne family. Hospice has told Lilly that her remaining time with her mother is short. Please pray for Lilly, Ginny, Annie, Charlotte, Daniel, and Michael as they prepare themselves. We give thanks to God for the life and witness of Virginia, Lilly's mother. / Pastor Sam
Pray for One Another

In Our Prayers
Please also include in your prayers members of our community who wish to remain anonymous.
Arnold family adoption, final June 19
Joe Bell
Bock family
Sujean Bradley
Brandi & family
Bristol Tennessee School System
Jane Brooks
Craig Buchanan
Becky Busler
Calleigh Cairns
Christians in Nigeria/ECWA
Community, nation & world
Ethiopian brothers & sisters
First responders & medical & infrastructure personnel
Francis Forino
Garrett Foster
DeeDee Galliher
Roxanna Garcia & family
Diane Glymph
Goddards (missionaries in Paraguay)
Rose Marie & Jim Goodrum
Gene Grindstaff
Gerald Grubbs
Ron Grubbs
Heidi Harkleroad
Lou Hebb
Nate & Angela & newborn Higgins
John Holler
Marty Keys & family
Josh & Morgan King & family
Nancy Lilly
Virginia Long
Dot Mattison
Kathleen McGlothlin
Bob Millard
Mott Mitchell
Alice Moore
Brianna Necessary
New Jersey & New York
Margaret Noble
Martha North
Ed Richards
Peggy Rutherford
Virginia Rutherford
Hazel Salama
Brittany Salter
Josh & Ta'meka Stigers
Student athletes returning to practice
John & Karen Vann
Bill Wade
Birthday Prayer Fellowship
June 15     David Moore
June 16     Katie McInnis
June 17     Julia Abel, Laura Bassett, Emily Hyder, Bill Whisnant
June 19     Kevin Buck, Noelle McInnis, Parker Sword
June 20     Stuart Parker
Church Calendar
Sunday, June 14
9:00 a.m.        Worship, Fellowship Hall & Livestreamed
                          Online Sunday School (following 9:00 service)
11:00 a.m.     Worship, Sanctuary
Tuesday, June 16
10:00 a.m.     Staff Meeting, Fellowship Hall
6:00 p.m.       Finance Comm., Zoom
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