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

In This Issue
Deadline & Subscriptions
Word from the Pastor: Again and Again
Special Sunday
Confirmands Share Faith Statements
Acolytes Break till Fall
But Wait! There's More!
Brazil Team Needs Mission Supplies before May 22
Vacation Bible School Begins July 14
Mowing toward Milestones
Gifts to the Church
Music Notes
Pray for One Another
Church Calendar
Our Church Officers
May 19
5th Sunday of Easter
Graduate Sunday
Hosea 6:1-6
John 13:31-35
The Command
Sam Weddington
In Christ There Is No East or West
O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go
O God, We Kneel before Your Throne
Last Sunday's Attendance
ONE Worship: 282
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

May 16, 2019
Word from the Pastor: Again and Again

Y'all ["you" in the NT is often plural, not just singular; we Southerners have had it right all along!] are to have renounced the former way of life, the old person, which is wasting away due to its deluded desires, in order to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new person, created in God's likeness in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24 [My translation]
For the past several weeks, we have been reviewing the concept of the new birth. The article this week bring us to the final point of discussion before we end the series next week on a charitable and proper understanding of the doctrine of election, known elsewhere as "predestination." However, I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, so let's proceed with this week's work.
So far, I hope, we have seen that the new birth is, through faith, a life changing, personal encounter with the risen Lord, Jesus Christ. This life-changing encounter isn't a work we accomplish but the free gift of God given by the Holy Spirit. This encounter both bestows and strengthens faith, uniting us with Christ through his presence in us. In Christ by the power of the Spirit, we are regenerated, made new, born again, and experience the "first" resurrection of our souls. All our loves are reoriented around our love of God in Christ Jesus. Because this gift comes through encounter with Christ, we both receive it and grow in its power by seeking him out through the witness of Scripture.
There are many ways to talk about this new birth. We can call it being "born again," regenerated, new birth, the baptism of the Spirit, reception of the "divine and supernatural light," and the "first" resurrection. Another way to describe it is conversion, and I think this is important for two reasons. For those raised in the church, while we remember by faith the promise made in our baptism, even we must experience the conversion of the heart that comes by personal encounter with the risen Lord through the power of the Spirit. Nevertheless, we can't reduce conversion, regeneration, or being "born again" to a single, one-time event. While encountering the risen Lord certainly reorients our hearts in a memorable and life-altering way, that encounter is but the beginning of a lifelong process of conversion. For this reason Scripture tells us: "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Due to Christ's never ceasing love for us, we "are being transformed into [his] image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:18). To put it as simply as I can, not only must we be "born again," we must be "born again, and again, and again, and again!" Not only must we be converted initially, we must be continually converted by the Spirit. This is true for the newest Christian to the most mature among us. It is for this reason we baptize, regardless of age, by affirmation of faith, understanding that whether before, during, or after, the promise of the Spirit alone brings us saving faith in the Lord Jesus. These things have been done in us so that, as Paul tells us in Ephesians, our minds might be renewed, and we come to put on the "new" person who is made in Christ's image.
What I'm after in this series is that the hard line traditionally drawn between our justification by grace through faith (we are God's own by God's free gift of the Son by faith) and our sanctification (we are refined and made more holy, sanctified, over time) are blurry, and reducing them to a simple timeline betrays the richness of God's grace towards us. In fact, they are really just two sides of the same coin, the same act of God's grace towards us. Think about it this way. The same Father who justifies us through the Spirit-given gift of faith in Christ is the same who has destined (predestined!) us to grow in grace by that same Spirit, conforming us to Christ's image (Romans 8:29-30).
Therefore, being "born again" is both our immersion into Christ and "vivification" by the Spirit (see Calvin, Institutes, Book III, Ch. III, s.5). This one-time, yet ongoing, experience of new birth is our "regeneration, whose sole end is to restore in us the image of God that had been disfigured and all but obliterated through Adam's transgression" ( Institutes, Book III, Ch. III, s.8). This goal of the restoration of the image of God in us is the point of the new birth. The goal is to become like Christ, to have our hearts turned towards him and filled with his presence.
This means, I think, two things for each of us. One, the experience of spiritual rebirth does serve as a marker in our lives wherein we depart who we once were and turn towards Christ. Calvin talks about this marker as "conversion," which is the coming together of repentance and faith ( Institutes, Book III, Ch. III, s.5). For some, this comes before baptism, for others, after or long after baptism. Call it a born-again moment, call it your initial conversion, call it whatever you like, but spiritual rebirth involves this turning towards Christ. This moment is marked by an encounter with Christ that brings an awareness of our sinfulness, the abundant mercy of God in Christ, and a sense of dying to who we once were so that we are vivified by the Spirit ( ibid.).
However, that moment of encounter with Christ began a journey towards him that will never be fully completed in this life. Thus, we were reborn into him in the first resurrection, and continually renewed in his presence as we make our way to the sure promise of the resurrection to come. We have been "born again," only to experience the grace and wonder of being born again, and again, and again! Our regeneration is ongoing, and it is all aimed at making us like him so that we may dwell with him before the Father in the power of the Spirit forever.
We have been justified so that we may be sanctified, and teasing this act of grace apart isn't always constructive. Rather, they should stand together as we look to find the marks that give us the consolation that we have been chosen by him and made his own. We will have more on this next week when we take up the doctrine of election.
In Christ,
Pastor Sam
Special Sunday
For several weeks, you have been answering our request for information about family members who are completing programs of study or training this spring. On Sunday we will recognize these graduates in worship. In articles in Windows throughout May, we have introduced the members of our Brazil mission team to you. We will pray for and commission them Sunday. Please join us at either service of worship to pray for and encourage our graduates and our mission team!
Confirmands Share Faith Statements
FPC Picture
In ONE Worship last Sunday the students listed below confirmed their faith, and we received them into membership in First Presbyterian Church. Since September 2017 we had watched them grow and take ownership of their faith as they progressed through a course of weekly classes that informed and challenged them. Please welcome our newest members warmly when you see them!
The faith statements they have shared with the congregation can be found here.
Anna Comer
Claire Hankins
Layne Richardson
Logan Tudor
Ethan Webb
Grayson Webb
Jeremiah Webb
Wade Witcher
Acolytes Break till Fall
We want to thank all our acolytes and their families for their contributions to our 11:00 traditional worship service! This Sunday, May 19, will be their last "on deck" of the season. Keep an eye out in August, when we invite new members to join our acolyte team, which will return to service in September. Most of all, pray for our young worshipers, asking that God would bless and keep them over the summer, and that they would grow in grace and faith.
But Wait! There's More!
This week we introduce three more members of the FPC Brazil mission team. All are juniors at Tennessee High School and active in sports.

Riley McCracken plays volleyball for THS. When she's not at school or volleyball, she can be found bingeing Grey's Anatomy or chowing down on Jersey Mike's.

Ethan Moore wrestles and plays football for THS. His favorite things are Jesus and football, and in his free time he does whatever he can to enjoy the great outdoors!

Kloey Tester plays volleyball and runs track for THS. In her free time she loves to hike and has a secret obsession with Glee. Shhh! Don't tell! / Katie Arnold
Brazil Team Needs Mission Supplies before May 22
Until they pack to go next Wednesday, May 22, the Brazil mission team is seeking donations of supplies to take to Bethel School in Felipe CamarĂ£o. A list of the items needed is available at the church and from Katie Arnold at You can join the team in their mission by placing your donated Items in the Brazil box in the Fellowship Hallway.
Vacation Bible School Begins July 14
Take a safari this summer with FPC's Vacation Bible School! On the evenings of Sunday through Wednesday, July 14-17, kids can Roar! on an African adventure, right here on Florida Avenue. Students will learn that God loves them forever, while they sing, play, perform fun science experiments, and more. Sign up with Lilly Osborne (, and ask her if she needs any help!
Mowing toward Milestones

May has passed the halfway point, with her eye on the milestones ahead. May 19 is just such a marker. On Sunday we recognize our spring graduates and commission our Brazil mission team. JB Madison (May 15 -18) is making sure that the way is clear. On Sunday, May 26, we celebrate the invaluable early worship leadership of Lilly Osborne and Katie McInnis, who stepped in while we searched for a permanent director of the contemporary service. The mission team takes off for Brazil that afternoon, and the next thing you know, we celebrate Memorial Day. It's enough to make your head spin. Instead, Bruce Gannaway (May 22 -25) will keep his as he spins the Tiger Cat around the lawn.
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 separate gifts to the Minister's Discretionary Fund from the Blue Stocking Club, Linda Darnell, Barbara Duncan, and Billie Peterson, all presented in memory of Louise Rutherford.
Music Notes
Sunday's 11:00 music participants: Bob Greene, Sanctuary Choir.
Roy Hopp
Sunday's 11:00 music: Our anthem, "O God, We Kneel before Your Throne," was composed by Roy Hopp (b. 1951), Director of Music at Woodlawn Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, MI, and Adjunct Professor of Choral Music at Calvin Theological Seminary, where he directs the choir. Hopp is the composer of more than 35 hymn tunes and more than 100 anthems that are often based on hymns: "I began writing hymn tunes the same year that I began directing my first church choir. I was looking for hymns that would serve as choral closings for a service, and I grew frustrated. Although I found some excellent evening hymns, they were set to some very disappointing tunes. So I brashly decided to do something about it." Our text for the anthem is based on Ephesians 3:14-21.
Emma Lou Diemer
Organist's footnotes: Christ's commandment to his disciples in the Gospel of John, Chapter 13, is "that you love one another, just as I have loved you." The hymn, "O Perfect Love," was written "one Sunday evening in a quarter of an hour, with hardly a pause" by Dorothy Frances Gurney for her sister's wedding in 1883. The hymn is essentially a prayer asking God for the same selfless love of Christ between a wife and her husband. Emma Lou Diemer (b. 1927) has taken Sir Joseph Barnby's familiar 1889 hymn tune and given it more modern (2014) harmonies for Sunday's prelude.
The tune ROYAL OAK is a folksong dating at least to the 17th century. Martin F. Shaw combined it with the text by Cecil Frances Alexander, "All Things Bright and Beautiful," which speaks of our love for God's beautiful creation. Anne Roberts (b. 1953) gives us an appropriately cute setting for Sunday's offertory.
On Sunday we will sing the hymn, "In Christ There Is No East or West," which was arranged by Henry Thacker Burleigh (1866 -1949). It speaks of "one great fellowship of love throughout the whole wide earth." Composer Dale Wood (1934 -2003) took this traditional spiritual melody (that Burleigh named McKEE after the rector of St. George's Episcopal Church, New York, where Burleigh sang for 52 years) and gave it a suitably noble and triumphant setting for the day's postlude.
Pray for One Another

In Our Prayers
Please also include in your prayers members of our community who wish to remain anonymous.
Alie Bassett
Principal Genechu Beyene (Ethiopia)
Rebecca Campbell
Christians in Nigeria/ECWA
Mark Comer
Nicole Crockett
Ethiopian brothers & sisters
Ben Frizzell & family
Family of Dr. John Gaines
Dianne Glymph (Mary Ellis Rice's mother)
Elizabeth Graham
Martha Graham
Erika Greene's family
Ron Grubbs
Greg Hand
Kevin Harkness
Kristi Johnson
Marty Keys & family
Nancy King
Bob Kitchen
Dot Mattison
Bob Millard
Pastor Sam's mother
Pendley family
Karen Pennington
Sharon Potter
Don Preston
Larry Roberts (Greg's brother)
Gary Robertz
Virginia Rutherford
Margaret Senn
Rita Sheffey & mother
Sikorski family
Marynan Smith
Brittany Starnes family
Stigers family
Hugh Testerman
Ashley Thomasson
Chuck Thompson
Joseph Trasito
Marti Truman
Van VanNostrand
Bill Wade
We rejoice with Tom and Leigh King in the blessing of a grandson, Samuel Patrick Kreuser, born May 13 to their daughter, Katie Kreuser. Congratulations and felicitations!
Birthday Prayer Fellowship
May 19       Shannan Miller
May 20       Jane Crewey, Jim Ratliff
May 21       Sara Stocstill
May 22       Karen Boone, Myers Mumpower, William Mumpower, Branch Sword
May 23       Kristen Allerton, Phil Bailey
May 24       Davan Johnson, Linda Welch
Church Calendar
Sunday, May 19
9:00 a.m.       Worship, Fellowship Hall
10:10 a.m.     Sunday School
11:00 a.m.     Worship, Sanctuary
Tuesday, May 21
10:00 a.m.     Staff Meeting, Room 117
10:00 a.m.     Morning Prayer Group, Conference Room
7:00 p.m.       Boy Scout Troop 3, Scout Wing
Wednesday, May 22
7:15 p.m.       Worship Team, Fellowship Hall
Thursday, May 23
7:00 a.m.       Men's Bible Study, Parlor
12:00 p.m.     Noon Bible Study, Room 117
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