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

In This Issue
Deadline & Subscriptions
Word from the Pastor: Take Heart!
We Are Thankful for Our Interim Early Worship Directors
Communion in June Set for Pentecost
Pastor Sam, Brazil Mission Team Leave Sunday
Meet the Rest of the Brazil Team
It's a Pounding!
Congratulations to Our Newest Graduates
Middle School Mania Next Friday
Middle School FISH June 3
High School Dinner & Devos June 5
Vacation Bible School Begins July 14
Mowers on the Wing
Alliance Stamp Ministry Counts on You
Gifts to the Church
Music Notes
Pray for One Another
Summer Newsletter Schedule Begins Next Week
Church Calendar
Our Church Officers
May 26
6th Sunday of Easter
Acts 16:9-15
John 14:23-29
Dave Welch
Jesus Shall Reign Where'er the Sun
Come Down, O Love Divine
O Love, How Broad, How Deep, How High
Last Sunday's Attendance
9:00: 148; 11:00: 116
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 23, 2019
Word from the Pastor: Take Heart!

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6
He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
Ephesians 1:5-6
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Romans 8:29-30
In this last installment of my series on the new birth, I want to end on the classic doctrine known as "predestination," though I think it is better for us to speak of it by its proper name, the doctrine of election. However, let's quickly review where we've been.
At its heart, the new birth is the free gift of God by the Spirit whereby we believe upon Christ through personal encounter with him. In receiving his Spirit, we are vivified and united with him as our souls are transformed and resurrected. When we are united with Christ in the new birth, the Spirit begins a process of restoring us in conformity with the image of Christ (Calvin, Institutes, Book III, Ch. 3, ss.6,8). The place where we can surely go to find Christ in the power of the Spirit is Scripture. The point that I've beaten to death is the centrality of the Holy Spirit who accomplishes this work of new birth in us: "The Holy Spirit is the bond by which Christ effectually unites us to himself" (Calvin, Institutes, Book III, Ch. 1, s.1).
God's free gift of grace that drew us to Christ by the witness of Scripture in the power of the Spirit (new birth) is the same gift that promises to make us more like Christ as we grow in glory. This one act of grace can be seen in various ways, or drawn into several distinctions (justification, regeneration, sanctification, etc.). Nevertheless, it is one act, located in Jesus Christ alone, given by the Father and made effective by the Spirit: God's act alone, by God's initiative alone. It is for this reason the writer of Hebrews can proclaim that Jesus is both the author and the finisher of our faith (12:2).
With this in mind, I ask you to consider the three passages I highlighted in this article. Paul tells us in each of these passages that the God who set His heart upon us before we had life (God foreknew us) is the same who began this reconciling work, and is the same who will complete us in Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ, and before we ever drew our first breath, God chose us to be conformed to the image of His Son, calling us to Christ by the Spirit, and uniting us with him in the promise of future glory. In our encounter with the risen Lord present in the new birth by which the Spirit unites us to Christ, we have the sure promise that God will see us through. For this reason Paul can write in Romans 8:38 that nothing can separate us from this redeeming love in Jesus Christ.
That last paragraph, in a nutshell, is the doctrine of election, or predestination: one act of reconciling grace by God the Father through the Son by the Spirit. It is God who loved us and destined us, God who initiated the work by the Spirit, and God who completed the work in Christ's sacrifice and resurrection, as attested by Scripture (past tense). It is God who reveals this choice for us by the testimony of the Spirit who brings us in encounter with Christ through Scripture (present tense). It is God who will complete this electing work through the ongoing work of the Spirit to make us like Christ, as promised in Scripture (future tense). This one act is eternally present, never ceasing, and sufficiently attested to by Scripture unto salvation.
I hope you can see that the doctrine of predestination isn't some archaic or scary doctrine that eliminates human dignity and agency from the equation, as if God is capricious. No. We understand God is at work in Christ out of overflowing love, electing to put us at the center of the picture for Christ's sake. Not only that, this same God's promises truly mean something, and so we can rely upon them with all our heart as God repairs our hearts and wills so that we can love God as we were made to love God. At its deepest core, the doctrine of election is a doctrine of comfort for the believer, a point Calvin himself makes in his letters as well as in his Institutes (Book III, Ch. XXI, s.3).
However, given that it is God who chooses and enacts this work within us, there are many who object because, they argue, we are robbed of choosing God for ourselves. Moreover, critics maintain that if this doctrine is right, then we have no incentive to obey God by following Christ since we're either "in" or we're not. Why be good, if God has already chosen one way or another?
In response, I would only ask you to consider: (1) how effective are our choices apart from the grace of God and (2) how can we come face-to-face with this sort of overwhelming love and not be shaken at our core, and continue in our old way of life? From my understanding of fallen human nature (see Romans 1:21-23 and 3:10-18), our best thinking is in the dark, so to speak. Our choices are motivated by hearts that are out of control and in love with all the wrong things. In that light, how can we rightly choose anything, given our blindness to the reality of God? Paul is clear as he quotes Psalm 14:3: "All have turned away, all have become corrupt." Can we really bring our heart in line by our own power? Moreover, once we realize that we don't have that power, then how should we respond when we encounter God's love? Should we just keep on as we were? Honestly, I do not believe we can authentically encounter the risen Lord and not be changed. When we encounter him, what we are in love with changes. We are now in love with God in Christ by the Spirit because of God's love for us, not with the old things. We are new creatures!
And here we arrive, full circle, back at new birth. If God has set God's heart on you, then rest assured that God has, is, and will complete that work of new creation in you. My point has never been to pressure someone into a conversion or scare you into questioning whether you are in or out. No. Rather, I have simply stated what Jesus stated in John 3:3. If you are a new creature; if you have had that sort of heart reorienting encounter, then take heart! "The one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).
However, I would fail in my task as a teacher of the Gospel if I didn't bring this to your attention. If you are unsure of whether you have experienced Christ in this way, then my advice, taken from the very words of Jesus himself, is to seek him out (Matthew 7:7). The Lord I know and serve has made a promise that if you seek him, then you will eventually find out that he sought you first.
In Christ,
Pastor Sam
We Are Thankful for Our Interim Early Worship Directors

We give thanks to God for the leadership of Katie McInnis and Lilly Osborne in early worship over the past seven months. God gave them the grace and gifts to help our community at exactly the right time, and without them, we would have lacked the warmth and grace we have all felt during their tenure. We also thank their families for sharing them with us. We give thanks to them for all they have given us, and we know that God will continue to use them to bless our community.
Lilly and Katie will work with our newly hired Director of Contemporary Worship, Anthony Childress, through the end of May. We will give a small reception for Lilly and Katie after early worship this Sunday, May 26. Please take this opportunity to thank them in person for service above and beyond!
Communion in June Set for Pentecost
Recognizing Pentecost as the gift of the birth of the church, Communion Sunday for June will be on the second Sunday of the month, June 9, instead of on the first. If you have any questions, please contact Dave Welch at
Pastor Sam, Brazil Mission Team Leave Sunday
Pastor Sam and our Brazil mission team leave Sunday afternoon for Felipe Camarão. They will return June 3. Please pray for them on their journey, asking God for safe travels and success, as we strengthen our relationship with our brothers and sisters there.
Meet the Rest of the Brazil Team
Today we introduce the rest of our Brazil mission team, in time for you to pray that they receive traveling mercies! All five are juniors at Tennessee High School and active in sports.

Alie Bassett plays volleyball, swims, and runs track. She loves adventure and seeking out new opportunities. She was recently crowned Queen of Hearts. Alie is happiest when she is surrounded by her people, and she can't wait to make more friendships in Brazil.

Hope Godsey plays tennis for THS. She is hilarious and does incredible impersonations. She loves being surrounded by friends and chasing adventures. Hope serves up delicious food at the Wheelhouse at Lakeview Dock and enjoys free time with her cat.

Reece Proffitt plays basketball, football, and baseball. In his free time he trains for whatever sports season it is. Reece is excited to go to Brazil and experience a life that is so different from his own, while serving alongside the people of Brazil.

Lance Tudor plays football and baseball. He is a leader in Boy Scout Troop 3 at FPC and will be earning his Eagle Scout rank this summer. Lance is excited to serve the people in Felipe Camarão and eager to see what the Lord has to teach him through this experience.

Nolan Wishon plays basketball and football. He loves hanging out with the guys, working out, and singalongs with his bros. Nolan is sure to bring laughter to any setting.
It's a Pounding!
We're lucky enough to have two fine additions to our church staff, Anthony Childress and Chris Bingham, starting their ministries here soon. We want to give them a good start when they arrive, so we're having an old-fashioned, bring-something-for-a-friend pounding to stock their fridges and pantries. So please, bring a pound of this and a pound of that for Anthony and Chris and their families! Drop nonperishables such as canned goods and staples in the labeled boxes in the Fellowship Hallway. Label items that require refrigeration and take them to the little kitchen. Gift cards to local stores could work, too. It's all good! Questions or ideas? Call Beth Flannagan at 423-764-7875 or Becca Tate at 423-573-2141 or 404-790-1223. Let's do this!

Rebekah and Anthony Childress

Hannah, Chris, and Lola Bingham

Congratulations to Our Newest Graduates
In worship last Sunday we recognized our graduates of spring 2019. We congratulate them!
Jacob Elder is graduating from Athens Drive High School in Raleigh, NC. He is the grandson of Sam and Selma Jennings.
Briggs Evans graduated from East Tennessee State University. He is the son of Jeannie and Matt Williams.
Emily Ford will graduate from Tennessee High School on May 24. She is the granddaughter of Debbie Pfeifer.
Kameron Harkleroad will graduate from Tennessee High School on May 24 and attend the University of Tennessee in the fall. She is the granddaughter of Fred and Heidi Harkleroad.
Andrew David Keys graduated magna cum laude from Northeast State. He will continue at the University of Tennessee in the fall in the Interior Architecture School. He is the grandson of Al and Loretta Thomas.
Danae Kreiss is graduating from Asbury University. She is the daughter of Dan and Cindy Kreiss.
Alison McCabe will graduate from Harvard on May 30 with a master's degree. She is the granddaughter of Harold and Virginia Rutherford.
Daniel Osborne will graduate from Sullivan Central High School. He is the son of Lilly Osborne and Ray Osborne.
Dillion Pendley will graduate from Tennessee High School on May 24. He will attend the Naval Academy. He is the son of Deidre Pendley and Greer Pendley.
Madison Ratliff will graduate from Tennessee High School on May 24 and attend Middle Tennessee State University in the fall. She is the daughter of John and Sherry Ratliff.
Noah King Reeves graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is the grandson of Julie King and the late Richard King.
Nathan Rowell will graduate from the University of North Carolina. He is the grandson of Frances Rowell.
Chandler Smith will graduate from Tennessee High School on May 24. He is the grandson of Debbie Pfeifer.
Meredith Webb will graduate from Tennessee High School on May 24 and attend Maryville College in the fall. She is the daughter of Amy Webb.
Stephen Welch graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He will work at Pine Cove-Chimney Point Camp this summer and join the youth ministry staff at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in the fall. He is the son of Dave and Linda Welch.
Middle School Mania Next Friday
Seventh and eighth graders are invited to the church for Middle School Mania from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. next Friday, May 31. It's going to be crazy, so come prepared! Questions? Ask Katie Arnold,
Middle School FISH June 3
Seventh and eighth graders will FISH for the first time this summer Monday, June 3, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. FISH stands for Fellowship in Someone's Home, and we are now looking for hosts in whose homes we can share a short lesson or devotion and have a lot of fun. We'll announce the location of our first meeting when we've found it!
We need folks to provide a meeting place, snacks, drinks, and an activity to give our kids an opportunity for fellowship. Activities in previous years included swimming, volleyball, Minute to Win It, The Amazing Race, and bonfires. For more information or to volunteer, email Katie Arnold at
High School Dinner & Devos June 5
Summer Dinner & Devos kicks off Wednesday, June 5! FPC high school students are invited to bring a friend and share a meal, a devotion, and fellowship from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Katie Arnold's home. Make this the harmony over your summer drumbeat! For more information, contact Katie at
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!
Mowers on the Wing

This Sunday morning we lift up  Lilly Osborne and Katie McInnis, who faithfully led our early worship service for seven months while we searched for a permanent director. In the afternoon the mission team takes off for Brazil, then Monday is Memorial Day, and we're winging our way toward June. Underscoring these events with a crisp green line, Bruce Gannaway mows the lawn May 22 -25. David Moore takes over May 29 -June 1 for a safe landing on the following Sunday.
Alliance Stamp Ministry Counts on You
The stamps you place in the collection bin in the Fellowship Hallway help support the preparation, publication, and distribution of a Spanish-language Sunday School curriculum through the Alliance Stamp Ministry. More than 50 lesson series provided by this ministry are now being used by 40 denominations in Latin America, Spain, and the US. In 2018 the Alliance Stamp Ministry collected $46,000 for this Sunday School project. Thank you for your canceled stamps! Please continue to bring them in, remembering to leave at least a quarter-inch border around each one.
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:
Patsy Frizzell: to the Children's Ministry from Peggy & Eddie Hill
Louise Rutherford: to the Minister's Discretionary Fund from Frances Rowell
Music Notes
Sunday's music participants: Bob Greene, Sanctuary Choir.
Sunday's music: Our anthem, "O Love, How Broad, How Deep, How High," was composed by our own Bob Greene (b. 1957). With degrees from Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and Colgate Rochester Divinity School, Bob has served churches in New York, Florida, Virginia, and Tennessee. His musical compositions include art songs, congregational hymns, choral anthems for adults and children, handbell compositions, 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. The text of his hymn-anthem is attributed to Thomas à Kempis.
Mark Sedio
Organist's footnotes: I have once again matched the organ music with the day's hymns. The final hymn of the service, "Come Down, O Love Divine," is set on DOWN AMPNEY, composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1906 for The English Hymnal, which he edited. It is named for the village where he was born, in the county of Gloucestershire, England. Max Sinzheimer begins his Partita on "Down Ampney" (prelude) with a chantlike section, then continues with the melody in the pedals. A full-voiced half-stanza concludes the work. The offertory is also based on DOWN AMPNEY. Mark Sedio (b.1954) weaves the melody, a few notes at time, in and out of a jazzy accompaniment, which he marks "unhurried, with sultry elegance." Finally, Diane Bish works her usual magic on the postlude, "Jesus Shall Reign" (DUKE STREET), based on the opening hymn of the service. Bish keeps the 16th notes flowing from start to finish. Quiet at first with the melody played by the feet, it then crescendos to full organ with the melody soaring high above.
Pray for One Another

In Our Prayers
Please also include in your prayers members of our community who wish to remain anonymous.
Brazil Team
Rebecca Campbell
Christians in Nigeria/ECWA
Ethiopian brothers & sisters
DeeDee & Sarah Galliher
Elizabeth Graham
Martha Graham
Bob Greene
Ron Grubbs
Kevin Harkness
Kristi Johnson
Marty Keys & family
Nancy King
Bob Kitchen
Dot Mattison
Mac McElroy
Bob Millard
Nairn family
Pastor Sam's mother
Pendley family
Sharon Potter
Don Preston
Larry Roberts (Greg's brother)
Gary Robertz
Virginia Rutherford
Sikorski family
Marynan Smith
Brittany Starnes family
Stigers family
Story family
Hugh Testerman
Ashley Thomasson
Chuck Thompson
Van VanNostrand
Bill Wade
Our love and sympathy are with Brandon Story in the death of his mother, Kathy Jeanette Story, May 16 in Bristol.
Birthday Prayer Fellowship
May 26       Rebecca Coté, Sherry Ratliff, Brittany Rutherford, Ford Sikorski,
                      Lenita Thibault
May 27       Jerry Poteat
May 28       Sylvia Kingsley, David Tudor
May 29       Trevor Dowdell, Sandra Grubbs
May 31       Ernie Pennington
June 1         Emily Estes, Madyson Kent, Sandi Nelson, Annette Tudor
Summer Newsletter Schedule Begins Next Week
Our pastoral and program staff take their ministries on the road when school ends: to our partner church and school in Brazil, to Great Escape, and to service programs for teens, before they return to administer summer programs on campus. Somewhere in all that bustle, they need to take time off to recharge for the coming program year. Our summer newsletter schedule contributes its mite to make all that possible by relieving staff of their share of preparation every other week. Our summer schedule of bi-weekly Windows will begin next week on May 30. Subsequent bi-weekly newsletters will be published June 13, June 27, and July 11. Weekly publication will resume July 25, in good time to announce news of fall program events. We pray that all enjoy a refreshing summer!
Church Calendar
Sunday, May 26
9:00 a.m.       Worship, Fellowship Hall
10:10 a.m.     Sunday School
11:00 a.m.     Worship, Sanctuary
Monday, May 27
Church office closed for Memorial Day
Tuesday, May 28
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, May 29
5:30 p.m.       Fun Family Fellowship, TBD
6:00 p.m.       Worship Team, Fellowship Hall
6:15 p.m.       Handbell Practice, Room 212
Thursday, May 30
7:00 a.m.       Men's Bible Study, Parlor
12:00 p.m.     Noon Bible Study, Room 117
Friday, May 31
8:00 p.m.       Middle School Mania, Church
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