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

In This Issue
Deadline & Subscriptions
Word from the Pastor: Experiencing New Birth
ONE Worship and Confirmation Sunday
Five Cents a Meal Offering Sunday
Mother's Day Music at FPC
We Need Grad Information by Tomorrow
Spiritual Gifts
Student Ministries Volunteer Spotlight
Getting to Know Our Brazil Mission Team
Brazil Team Collects Mission Supplies
Vacation Bible School Begins July 14
May Days
Gifts to the Church
Music Notes
Pray for One Another
Church Calendar
Our Church Officers
May 12
4th Sunday of Easter
Isaiah 42:5-9
John 21:20-25
God's Books
Sam Weddington
Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
The Lord's My Shepherd, I'll Not Want
Love Is Come Again
Last Sunday's Attendance
9:00: 134 ; 11:00: 100
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 9, 2019
Word from the Pastor: Experiencing New Birth
All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for instruction, for being persuaded,
for correction, and for being guided in righteousness so that the child of God may
be complete, having been fully equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 [My translation]
For several weeks I have been writing and preaching that our faith in the resurrection, shown in our baptism, is the foundation upon which we can be "born again," or experience the "first resurrection" of our souls through direct and personal encounter with the resurrected Lord. Just as Jesus breathed his Spirit into the disciples (John 20:22) after their own baptism, experience of the empty tomb, and confession of faith, our faith prepares us for the fullness of Christ's presence in us in this spiritual rebirth, or being "born again." In short, we must be born anew in the Spirit, sealed by Christ's presence in us, to become what God would have us to be: clothed in Christ and conformed to his image.
The obvious question for most of us is, How do we experience this new birth? Well, first off, the new birth isn't a work or something we can achieve on our way to some sort of "higher" knowledge of God. It is a gift freely given by Christ in the power of his Spirit, and bestowed upon his own in faith. Here, we get down to brass tacks. If it is freely given by Christ through faith, then it must come through encounter with him alone. Solo Christo; by Christ alone.
If this is the case, then there is one surefire way to meet him, and that is by reading, breathing in, and immersing oneself in the Word of God, Scripture, which is the word we must hear and trust alone concerning the Word, Jesus Christ (see John 1:1). This is exactly what we hear Paul telling us about Scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Scripture is God-breathed. It is inspired by the Holy Spirit who breathed meaning and truth into the writers of Scriptures. The same Holy Spirit who breathed life into those pages breathes life into us as we read and understand who Christ is (seeing him on every page) by the Spirit's inspiration.
Breathed into by God the Spirit through this witness without parallel, we are instructed, persuaded, corrected, and guided in every good way so that we can be complete. In short, as we read Scripture, the Spirit opens us and fills us with Christ's presence, building us in faith and making us complete in him. There is no other way to get there; no shortcut. We must read, study, and be engrossed by Scripture, and in that encounter, we come face-to-face with the living Lord who breathes his life into us.
If we understand this rightly, we can certainly look to our baptism as the sure promise that God (in God's time) will make us complete in faith by the power of the Spirit and bring us through this "new birth." Nevertheless, a simple dunking or sprinkling will never suffice. I affirm, as it is stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith, that while baptism is of central importance, "grace and salvation are not so inseparably [tied] to it as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated" (Chapter XXVIII, s.5). In other words, baptism is a sure promise but is made sure through faith as God's gift to the believer. Faith is required, and faith comes only through an indwelling/sealing of the Spirit in the new birth. If you desire to receive that gift of saving faith, we belong to One who freely bestows it to those who seek him; knock and it shall be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).
Of course, some would argue that baptism equals the new birth/gift of the Spirit. They point to theologians like Luther, who, they claim, taught that new birth equals baptism, and that all other talk of being born again, or experiencing the first resurrection, is an unnecessary complication (see Nadia Bolz-Weber's Shameless). For example, Luther writes that those who are tempted or doubt should remember their baptisms, and that the Christian ought "to be nourished and strengthened until death by the continual remembrance of this promise made to us in baptism" ( Babylonian Captivity of the Church). They also point to Luther's maxim that "the only way to drive away the Devil is through faith in Christ, by saying: 'I have been baptized, I am a Christian'" ( Luther: Man between God and the Devil).
I agree with Luther, and I especially agree that "unless faith is present or is conferred in baptism, baptism will profit us nothing" ( Babylonian Captivity of the Church). Baptism requires faith, faith comes by the Spirit, and the indwelling of the Spirit is the free gift of God. This makes perfect sense in Luther's case. Though baptized, he spent years, in despair of God's salvation. However, the promises of God were sure in his baptism, but only in God's time and as that baptism was made effective in the gift of faith. Luther himself recounts how this happened for him. Through his devoted reading and study of Scripture, the time came when the gift of faith and rebirth was given, and he finally understood Paul's words in Romans 1:17 that "the righteous shall live by faith." When the Spirit moved upon him to receive the utter truth of this declaration, he writes, "I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates" ( Preface to the Complete Edition of Luther's Latin Writings).
Imagine that! Luther himself shares with us that the very moment by which faith came to him and equipped him to overturn an entire church order came as a free gift, as an encounter with the risen Lord in the power of the Spirit, and the language he uses is "born again." I say it again: you must be born again!
In closing, my purpose here isn't to have us question the efficacy of our baptisms, as if they didn't "take" the first time. No. Instead, my purpose is simply to show that faith is a gift given freely. Maybe that faith was shaky or half-formed when you took your turn at the baptismal font. Maybe in faith another claimed God's promises for you when you were a babe. It doesn't matter. It is by God's work, God's power, God's Spirit that faith is always conveyed, and in faith we can look towards our baptisms as God's sure promise. However, don't forget the faith part, and "faith comes from hearing, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). Hear Christ. Experience Christ. Be born anew by his gift. Receive his Spirit. Seek him where he is found. Hear and read and immerse yourself in the Gospel, and I believe that we are and shall be "born again."
In Christ,
Pastor Sam
ONE Worship and Confirmation Sunday
At 11:00 this Sunday we will welcome the newest members of FPC into our congregation. Please join us in the sanctuary for ONE Worship, as we confirm the students who have been working toward this day since September 2017:
Anna Comer
Claire Hankins
Layne Richardson
Logan Tudor
Ethan Webb
Grayson Webb
Jeremiah Webb
Wade Witcher
Five Cents a Meal Offering Sunday
We will collect our quarterly Five Cents a Meal offering this Sunday, May 12, at both services. The suggested offering is $13.65 per person, or about a nickel for each meal you eat in a three-month period. Your contribution will provide hunger relief through both local and global ministries. Last year our Five Cents a Meal offerings enabled FPC to help feed the hungry in Bristol through Haven of Rest and Bristol Emergency Food Pantry, and in Ethiopia and Brazil through our missions in those countries. Please be generous!
Mother's Day Music at FPC
Erika Greene
Take Mom to a leisurely lunch on Mother's Day, then bring her to our sanctuary to enjoy a 3:00 concert! This Sunday, our own Bob Greene will give a recital of some of the organ music his mother loved most. Favorites for Mom will include nine settings of Erika Greene's favorite hymn, Georg Neumark's "Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten" ("If Thou but Suffer God to Guide Thee"); a longer setting, by Michael Praetorius, of Martin Luther's "Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott" ("A Mighty Fortress Is Our God"); the famous Widor "Toccata"; Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings; and On a Bass by Sir John Stainer. The recital is free, no donations are requested, and our sanctuary is handicapped accessible. This will be a beautiful way to spend an hour on Mother's Day!
We Need Grad Information by Tomorrow
Help us celebrate the accomplishments of our church family! We will publish news of upcoming graduations in mid-May and celebrate them in worship May 19. We ask for your graduate's name; school or program being completed; degree, certificate, or rank achieved; and future plans, if applicable. Please email this information by tomorrow, Friday, May 10, to or call the church office at 423-764-7176.
Spiritual Gifts
A couple of weeks ago, the Stewardship Committee asked each member of FPC to complete a Spiritual Gifts Inventory form. This activity was offered with two major expectations. First, filling out the form would give members a way to identify their spiritual gifts as described in Romans 12: 6-8:
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Often we see the talents and skills in the lives of others while taking for granted the gifts we have received. By filling out the form and counting up the answers, we can see the special abilities with which we have been entrusted. It helps us see what we have to offer in service to others.
Second, the form leads us to consider various areas of the church where we might offer our services based on our spiritual gifts. Everyone has something to offer in service to others. How can we serve? To what ministry is God calling us? In what ways can we be good stewards of the spiritual gifts entrusted to us?
Spiritual Gifts Inventory forms are available at the church. The form can also be accessed on the website under Outreach > Stewardship. If you have completed your form and turned it in, we thank you. If not, we ask that you do so this week.
Think of it this way. Taking part in this activity can help you answer the questions, "Who do I say that I am?" and "Am I who I say I am?" / Jerry Poteat
Student Ministries Volunteer Spotlight
This week our Student Ministries spotlight is on volunteer Erin Reardon. On Wednesday evenings she leads Middle School Gathering, a small group in which students build relationships and do life together through bible study, discussion, and play. Erin brings incredible passion and understanding of middle schoolers to this ministry, along with great vision and enthusiasm. She is a gift, and we are so thankful for her love and commitment to sharing truth with students! Thank you, Erin, for loving them so BIG!
Katie Arnold asks anyone who feels called to serve in Student Ministries to contact her at She would love to have you on the team!
Getting to Know Our Brazil Mission Team
This week we introduce our readers to three more members of the FPC Brazil mission team, two teens and an adult leader.

John Graham is a professor of physical therapy at Emory & Henry College and a veteran of many FPC Brazil mission teams. He loves dark chocolate, Guarana (Brazilian soda), and English breakfast tea .

Cole McBrayer is a junior at THS, where he plays football, basketball, track, and volleyball. He is a student leader with Young Life and leads beautifully at FPC.

Lauren Turner is a junior at THS, where she cheers and plays tennis. She also enjoys watching baseball. Two of her favorite things are her dog, Bentley, and her cat, Bruster. / Katie Arnold
Brazil Team Collects Mission Supplies
May is mission month! All month long, the Brazil mission team is seeking donations from the congregation of supplies to take to Bethel School in Felipe Camarão. A list of needed items is available at the church and from Katie Arnold at If you are moved to help, 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!
May Days
May 12 is Confirmation Sunday at FPC, and among the many in our congregation who are preparing to welcome our confirmands into the fold we observe Pat Flannagan (May 8 -11). There he is, out there on our Skag mower, demonstrating contrapuntal technique as he weaves through the elements. The big day will shortly be followed by Graduation Sunday, May 19, for which JB Madison (May 15 -18) will handle "the art of tones from its roots up." (Profuse apologies to Herr Bach.)
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 honor of Vivian Hill's birthday: to the Christian Hands Ministry Fund from Don & Peggy Hill
In memory of Louise Rutherford: to the Minister's Discretionary Fund from Ann Abel; from Dee Eldreth; from Nadine Hirst, Nancy Krause, D.J. Peoples, Carolyn Winford; from Peggy Peters; from Dotty Royston
Music Notes
Sunday's participants: Pat Flannagan, Bob Greene, Sanctuary Choir, Mary Ellis Rice (soloist).
Alan Smith
Sunday's music: Our anthem, "Love Is Come Again," was composed by Alan Smith (1962 -2017), who was born in London and studied as Organ Scholar at Kings College, London, from 1981 to 1984. He was named Head of Music at Hazelwick School, Crawley, in 1990, and Director of Music at St. Andrew's Church in Burgess Hill, West Sussex, in 1998, holding both posts until his death. Alan first came to prominence as a composer in 1990 when he won the RSCM's annual composing competition. The text of our anthem is from the poet J.M.C. Crum (1872 -1958), an Anglican theologian, priest, and canon of Canterbury. It vindicates the Easter story (both tragedy and victory), naming Jesus as Love.

Don Wyrtzen
Organist's footnotes: Sunday's prelude, "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah," is an arrangement based on the day's opening hymn. Don Wyrtzen, better known for his contemporary piano arrangements, has taken this hardy Welsh hymn tune ( CWM RHONDDA) and created an uncharacteristically peaceful setting for organ.
Sunday's offertory, "John (the beloved disciple)," is the fifth movement from my work, The Apostles: Twelve Sketches for Organ. Its melody is actually borrowed from another work of mine, a setting of the hymn, "A Lonely Tear," written by John Thornburg. John, an ordained United Methodist minister, now works on the national level for his denomination. I had the privilege of meeting him at a hymn writers workshop in Boston.
I recently composed (2019) "Trumpet Tune in D Major" (postlude) for my musical friends David and Laura Champouillon, of Johnson City. I intentionally wrote it in the style of David N. Johnson, hence the subtitle "Hommage à David N. Johnson." Johnson taught at St. Olaf College, Syracuse University, and Arizona State University. He composed dozens of trumpet tunes. The best-known of these is his "Trumpet Tune in D" (1962), which was played for the wedding of Richard Nixon's daughter, Tricia, in 1971, and which can now be heard as the opening and closing theme for the weekly radio show, With Heart and Voice, with host Peter DuBois.
Pray for One Another

In Our Prayers
Please also include in your prayers members of our community who wish to remain anonymous.
Principal Genechu Beyene (Ethiopia)
Rebecca Campbell
Christians in Nigeria/ECWA
Nicole Crockett
Ethiopian brothers & sisters
Ben Frizzell & family
DeeDee & Sarah Galliher
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
Stigers family
Hugh Testerman
Ashley Thomasson
Chuck Thompson
Joseph Trasito
Van VanNostrand
Bill Wade
Birthday Prayer Fellowship
May 12       Brenda Lawson, Matt Peltier
May 14       Blake Bassett, James Phipps, Andrew Smith
May 15       DeeDee Galliher, Bruce Gannaway
May 16       Dewey Pendley, Hugh Rice
May 17       Don Pridemore, Matthew Reardon
Church Calendar
Sunday, May 12
10:10 a.m.     Sunday School
11:00 a.m.     ONE Worship & Confirmation, Sanctuary
3:00 p.m.       Mother's Day Recital, Sanctuary
4:30 p.m.       Finance Comm., Room 117
Monday, May 13
7:00 p.m.       Building & Grounds Comm., Room 117
7:00 p.m.       Worship Comm., Room 123
Tuesday, May 14
10:00 a.m.     Staff Meeting, Room 117
10:00 a.m.     Morning Prayer Group, Conference Room
6:00 p.m.       Venture Crew 3, Room 165
7:00 p.m.       Boy Scout Troop 3, Scout Wing
Wednesday, May 15
6:15 p.m.       Handbell Practice, Room 212
7:15 p.m.       Sanctuary Choir, Room 202
7:15 p.m.       Worship Team, Fellowship Hall
Thursday, May 16
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