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

In This Issue
Deadline & Subscriptions
Word from the Pastor: Thankful People
Sanctuary Sound System Assessment Begins Sunday
Christmas Tree Decorations Wanted for Sunday
Pick Up Your Advent Devotional Booklet
Let's Order Poinsettias
Our 2019 Holiday Schedule
Joy Gift Offering Dec. 15
Singing on Our Way to Journey's End
Join the Choir for MLK Program
Women of the Church Gather Monday
We'll Decorate Gingerbread Houses Wednesday
Our Children Sing at Blackbird Bakery Dec. 11
Children Present Christmas Play Dec. 15
Come A-Caroling Dec. 18
Our Chrismon Tree
Warm Gifts in the Cold
Temporary Housing Need
Get the BigStuf Discount
Great Escape Super-Discount Deadline Is Sunday
Register for Passion 2020 by Sunday for Discount
Gifts to the Church
Music Notes
Pray for One Another
Church Calendar
Our Church Officers
December 1
1st Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 2:1-5
Matthew 24:36-51
Waiting, Watching, and Working
Dave Welch
Keep Your Lamps!
Last Sunday's Attendance
9:00: 173; 11:00: 112
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

November 28, 2019
Word from the Pastor: Thankful People

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 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 1:3-6 (NRSV)
It's Thanksgiving, and in typical fashion, I'm going to roll out the "what are you thankful for" question. Personally, I'm thankful for lots of things. I have a great family. I love what I do and the church I serve. My health is good. The Packers lost on my birthday last Sunday, and the Bears got a win. What else could someone ask for?
In all seriousness, I want to say that I'm thankful for the holy catholic church, the universal church that is Christ's body on earth. I'm thankful to God, as Paul was thankful, that we were chosen to be his holy and blameless people, destined for adoption because of the love of Christ bestowed upon us freely. I'm thankful that I get to be part of the people and the story of divine grace.
Of course, that story isn't always neat and without complication. In fact, it is downright messy. Yet, in the mess, we discover our high calling to be the people where, as theologian Stanley Hauerwas put it (riffing on Ephesians 2:13 that "in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ"), "God is forming a family out of strangers." In fact, here is the full text of that quote:
The most interesting, creative, political solutions we Christians have to offer our troubled society are not new laws, advice to Congress, or increased funding for social programs -although we may find ourselves supporting such national efforts. The most creative social strategy we have to offer is the church. Here we show the world a manner of life the world can never achieve through social coercion or governmental action. We serve the world by showing it something that it is not, namely, a place where God is forming a family out of strangers... So the gospel begins ... with the pledge that, if we offer ourselves to a truthful story and the community formed by listening to and enacting that story in the church, we will be transformed into people more significant than we could ever have been on our own. -from Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon, pp. 82-83.
This is who we are in Christ: a people unlike any other. The first truly transnational, transracial, multicultural, multilingual human society of men, women, and children who are called to be one despite our many differences. Our unity isn't an erasure of who God has made us to be, or where he has placed us in the world, particular societies, and cultures, but instead a transcendence of those differences through our shared identity as children of God being conformed to the image of the Son.
We were once strangers, and now we are friends. We were once hostile to one another, and through the work of the Spirit, the opportunity exists to live in peace. In a world of masters and slaves, powerful and weak, dominant and dominated, and winners and losers, we are one before a Lord who shows true power, and that power is shown in his love that took him to a cross.
If there is anything to be thankful for, and I do hope you have a long list, this, above all, needs to top our list. Not only does it need to top our list, it needs to inform our every act and thought. Living in this way, we become a thankful people who radiate joy in all circumstances. Thanks be to God!
In Christ,
Pastor Sam
Sanctuary Sound System Assessment Begins Sunday

As part of the recognized need to update the sound system in the sanctuary, the Session has asked that qualitative and quantitative measurements be made so that we can assess our options. The first of these assessments will establish a baseline for comparisons. It will take place this Sunday, December 1, and further assessments will be made at two future 11:00 services (dates to be determined).
In this process, several strategically placed sound recording devices will capture the entire service, and the recordings will later be used for comparison and measurement. A survey enclosed in your bulletin will ask for your input at different points in the service. The survey will include a comment section that will ask whether you use the church's hearing assistance devices or your own hearing aids. You can also comment on any other information that you would like us to have about your experience with sound in the sanctuary. When you exit the sanctuary, you will simply leave the form on the pew where you were sitting. At the end of the service, we will ask all worshipers to remain for ten more minutes. We will provide directions at that point, and the assessment will conclude quickly.
If you have questions, contact any member of the Sound Assessment Committee. Al Thomas (Chair), Nancy Cook, Lee Galliher, Jerry Poteat, Bob Tate, Sam Weddington, and Dave Welch will be grateful for your help in this process.
Christmas Tree Decorations Wanted for Sunday

Our church Christmas trees will go up this Sunday, and we don't have enough of what we need to decorate them. Can you help? We need shatterproof ornaments or balls, ornament hooks, and white string lights. If you have some to spare, please bring them to the church when you come to worship this Sunday. Happy Thanksgiving! / Katie Connor Sword
Pick Up Your Advent Devotional Booklet
Advent, season of preparation for the coming of Christ, begins this Sunday, December 1! Our 2019 Advent devotional booklet will help you prepare. It was composed by FPC members, including our Friendship Class, and you can get your copy from the narthex, the Fellowship Hallway, or our homepage at Please take only one per family.
Let's Order Poinsettias

Advent begins this Sunday, December 1: let's order poinsettias for our worship spaces! This year you can order plants in memory or honor of others in the customary way or online. Order forms will be available in the church office on weekdays, in worship on the next two Sundays, and from now until deadline on our website. To order a plant, bring or mail your order form with payment to the church office or place it in the offering plate during worship. Or order online: go to our homepage at, click on GIVE, enter the amount, click on the arrow for the Fund field, choose W&M: Poinsettia, and enter the names of the giver and honoree in the memo line. Each plant costs $15. The deadline for orders is Monday, December 9. Please pick up your plants after the Christmas Eve service.
Our 2019 Holiday Schedule
Mon., Dec. 2
6:00 p.m.
Women's Gathering
Fellowship Hall
Wed., Dec. 4
6:15 p.m.
Gingerbread Houses
Fellowship Hall
Sun., Dec. 8
6:00 p.m.
6:00 p.m.
King Lessons & Carols
High School Progressive Dinner
Off Campus
Wed., Dec. 11
6:30 p.m.
8:45 p.m.
Children's Choir Sings
Open Rehearsal for Journey's End
Blackbird Bakery
Room 202
Fri., Dec. 13
7:30 p.m.
King Choir Christmas Concert
Sat., Dec. 14
5:00 p.m.
Middle School Progressive Dinner
Off Campus
Sun., Dec. 15
Both services
5:00 p.m.
6:00 p.m.
Joy Gift Offering
Student Gingerbread Event
Children's Christmas Play
Fellowship Hall
Tue., Dec. 17
6:00 p.m.
Journey's End
Wed., Dec. 18
4:00 p.m.
Meet in Fellowship Hall
Sun., Dec. 22
11:00 a.m.
7:00 p.m.
Christmas Cantata
Night of Worship
Fellowship Hall
Mon., Dec. 23
7:00 p.m.
Student Fellowship Alumni Christmas Dinner
Off Campus
Christmas Eve
10:00 a.m.
7:00 p.m.
Christmas Cookie Ministry
Candlelight Communion
Fellowship Hall
Christmas Day
Church offices closed
No Programs
Thurs., Dec. 26
Church offices closed
Joy Gift Offering Dec. 15

We will collect our annual Joy Gift offering at both services Sunday, December 15. The Joy Gift goes to providing assistance to current and retired church workers in time of need, and to Presbyterian-related schools and colleges developing future leaders for communities of color. Please be generous.
Singing on Our Way to Journey's End

Bristol's interpretation of the Latino tradition of Las Posadas (The Inns) will be held Tuesday, December 17, at 6:00 p.m. Our Sanctuary Choir will participate, and those of us who are not in the choir are encouraged to sing with those who are. Come to rehearsal Wednesday, December 11, at 8:45 p.m. in room 202 upstairs!
On December 17, singing traditional carols and accompanied by instrumentalists, we will walk with Mary and Joseph as they search by candlelight for an inn (represented by downtown businesses). Believe in Bristol first organized this event in 1999, and FPC has participated in it every year, with the exception of 2016. It will begin at the Downtown Center, 810 State Street, and last about an hour.
Join the Choir for MLK Program
Our congregation has been invited to be part of the mass choir that will sing for our community's annual Martin Luther King Jr. program. This choir is always made up of people from all the local churches. Both the celebration itself and participation in the choir make for a wonderful community experience. Please plan to add your voice, and save the dates below:
Choir Rehearsal Dates (all at Lee Street Baptist Church)
Mon., Dec. 2         6:00 p.m.
Mon., Dec. 9         6:00 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 6          6:00 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 13        6:00 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 17             6:00 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 18           3:00 p.m.
MLK Program Dates
Sun., Jan. 19          4:00 p.m.       
Mon., Jan. 20        TBD                 Train Station
Mon., Jan. 20        7:00 p.m.        Emory & Henry College
Women of the Church Gather Monday

Join the women of the church this Monday, December 2, for a night of connection, fun, and fellowship with speaker Jessica Stollings! This graduate of King Universityis the founder of ReGenerations, an organization that specializes in connecting generations. We will gather in the Fellowship Hall from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Coffee, tea, and desserts will be provided, and the nursery will be available.
We'll Decorate Gingerbread Houses Wednesday

Be sure to join us next Wednesday, December 4, for our annual gingerbread house-decorating evening. This event is, as always, for all ages, and will follow supper in the Fellowship Hall. If what with one thing and another, you're finding it difficult to tune in to the season, this night of harmonious fun will get you on its wavelength. Supper is at 5:30, and we'll start playing with food we won't eat around 6:15.
Our Children Sing at Blackbird Bakery Dec. 11

The children of FPC have been invited to sing at Blackbird Bakery on Wednesday, December 11, at 6:30 p.m. All children participating must be at the bakery by 6:15, and they will get a cookie afterwards! We will sing selections from our Christmas play as well as a few familiar carols. For more information, contact Lilly Osborne at or 423-383-5476.
Children Present Christmas Play Dec. 15

Please join us in the sanctuary at 5:30 p.m. on December 15 for the children's Christmas play, The Innkeeper. The joy of Christ's birth shines in this Nativity story told from the perspective of the innkeeper, who is having a hectic day. It's warm, funny, and above all wonderfully human!
Come A-Caroling Dec. 18

We will go caroling on Wednesday, December 18. We will gather in the Fellowship Hall at 4:00 p.m. and go with songs of the season to homes of church members and nursing homes. Those who want will go to Chick-fil-A afterwards. For more information, contact Lilly Osborne at or 423-383-5476.
Our Chrismon Tree

A 20-foot chrismon tree stands at the front of the sanctuary at Christmas. It is usually erected just after Thanksgiving, at the beginning of Advent.
Frances Spencer, a member of Ascension Lutheran Church in Danville, Virginia, created the chrismon tree in 1957 after studying church history and religious symbols. "Chrismon" is a combination of the words "Christ" and "monogram." In July 1973, a group of about 35 women of First Presbyterian Church, Bristol, began making decorations for a chrismon tree for our sanctuary. After six months of hard work and planning, the church held an inaugural tree-lighting ceremony that was attended by more than 400 members. Each of the 550 white lights on the tree represented a family in our church.
Over the years, our chrismons began to grow shabby, and in the 1990s a small group of women volunteered to make new ones. Virginia Rutherford remembers that Mrs. Spencer had copyrighted her chrismon designs by then, and the church had to purchase them in kits. Among the dozen women putting these kits together were Karen Boone, Dyan Buck, Barbara Daniel, Heidi Harkleroad, Virginia Rutherford, Dottie Stone, and Linda Welch.
Our chrismon tree skirt was made in 1995 by a group of women led by Jane Whitlow. If you look closely at the cross-stitched chrismons, you will find that some of them have been signed with the initials of the women who made them. These include Alice Cooley, Carole Gilfillin, Eloise Hagy, Heidi Harkleroad, Carol Herring, Carolyn King, Frances Rowell, Virginia Rutherford, Faye VanNostrand, and Jane Whitlow.
The tree skirt was put together by Margaret Wade, who sewed the cross-stitched squares on to wedge-shaped pieces of fabric. She then joined these sections together and outlined the seams with gold and white cord that she hand-stitched onto the finished skirt. / Bettie Hite, daughter of Jane Whitlow
Warm Gifts in the Cold

It's getting cold, so our mission emphasis in December is on helping our neighbors bundle up. We invite each member of our church family to decorate the Christmas trees in the sanctuary and Fellowship Hall with gifts of warmth: gloves, hats, and scarves. Bring your gifts to the church when you come to worship in December, and place them on the branches or the tree skirts. At the end of the month, we will box up all the items we've collected and, through Bristol Faith in Action and Fairmount Elementary School, share them with our neighbors who could use some warmth.
Temporary Housing Need 
A member of our community needs temporary housing from mid-December through mid-February. For more information, please contact Pastor Sam or Dave Welch.
Get the BigStuf Discount

FPC high school students are going to the beach in June! We will leave from the church on June 19 for Panama City Beach and return June 27. We're going to BigStuf Camp for a week of worship, engaging speakers, mission opportunities, and tons of beach time with hundreds of high school students from around the country! We will stay in a beachfront hotel at the convention center.
Spots are limited, so invite your friends and register
now on the Student Ministries webpage.
  • Early Bird Price: $450; pay the $100 deposit by January 12
  • After January 12: $500 plus $100 deposit
The price for this amazing week includes:
  • Transportation & travel lodging
  • Beach lodging
  • Meals (excluding travel meals)
  • Camp
  • Mission days
  • T-shirt
Great Escape Super-Discount Deadline Is Sunday
Join the FPC Middle School Ministry for Christmas at the Great Escape! We'll leave from the church Sunday, June 7, and join middle school students from all over the country at Lee University in Cleveland, TN. We'll have a wild 'n' crazy week of incredible music, captivating speakers, engaging entertainment, and the messiest games you can imagine. One day will be devoted to an off-campus adventure! We will return to Bristol around noon on Friday, June 12.
Register through our Student Ministries webpage by this Sunday, December 1, and pay the super-early bird price of $415 and a $100 deposit. Register by January 26 and pay the early bird price of $450 and a $100 deposit. After February 3 the price rises to $475. The total balance is due May 1. Scholarships are available upon request.
 The price for this amazing week includes:
  • Transportation to & from camp
  • Camp programming
  • 5 nights of lodging
  • 13 meals
  • T-shirt
  • Whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River
Register for Passion 2020 by Sunday for Discount

Start the new year right with FPC Bristol at Passion 2020! We'll join thousands of 18 -to-25-year-olds at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta from December 31 through January 2. Passion is filled with incredible worship, dynamic speakers, and sweet time with your church family. The cost is $150 if you register by this Sunday, December 1, and pay a $50 deposit. After Sunday, the cost rises to $200. To register, visit For more information, contact Katie Arnold at
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 gifts in memory of:
Nancy King: to the Memorial Fund from Jane Nickels
Chuck Thompson: to the Brazil Mission Fund from Gerald Guffey
Music Notes
AndrĂ©  Thomas
Sunday's music: Our anthem this week is "Keep Your Lamps!," a spiritual arranged by André Thomas, an American composer and conductor, the Director of Choral Activities at Florida State University, and the artistic director of the Tallahassee Community Chorus. He is known for his scholarly work in the field of the African American spiritual. Thomas holds graduate degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Illinois, and studied with Jester Hairston at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas. About this piece, he wrote:
As with many of the slave songs, this song's impetus came from hearing a sermon based upon the parable found in the book of Matthew, Chapter 25, verses 1-23. In this passage, Jesus tells the story of the wise and foolish virgins. They had been told that the bridegroom would be coming, thus they got their lamps and trimmed them, and set them burning and went to an appointed place. However, the bridegroom did not arrive at the appointed time and the foolish only brought enough oil for one night. They then returned to get more oil and of course the bridegroom came while they were away. Jesus then says to his disciples, "You know not the day nor the hour of my return. Be ready!" As a response to this, one can only imagine the song stirring from the soul of the slave listener. Jesus was indeed a deliverer and a hope for the slave. One can only speculate that this song was sung often, when there was a possibility of deliverance.
"Keep Your Lamps!" has become popular during the season of Advent because it speaks to our hope and readiness for the coming of Christ.
Organist's footnotes: John Hebden Schaffner (1945 -1995) was a self-taught pianist and organist who composed and published a number of keyboard works with Concordia, Augsburg Fortress, World Library Publications, Belwin-Mills/Alfred, and Wayne Leupold Editions. Schaffner wrote in a style that harkens back to older forms, sounding simultaneously old yet new. "Hymn Prelude on Veni Emmanuel" is from the collection 5 Christmas Carols in a Baroque Style.
Marilyn Biery
Marilyn Biery (b. 1959) is Music Director/Organist at Fort Street Presbyterian Church in Detroit. She has received awards and honors too numerous to list here, and her compositions are widely published, along with those of her husband, James Biery. Her "Fantasy" setting of "Veni Emmanuel" is straight-forward, toccata-like, and usually paired with her "Praeludium" setting of the same tune.
Seasonal bells: Come join the Sanctuary Handbell Choir and make music ring out in Advent! We practice from 6:15 to 7:15 on Wednesday evenings in room 212 upstairs, and play for the late worship service about once a month. Contact Bob Greene at or 276-696-9091 to join us.
Pray for One Another

In Our Prayers
Please also include in your prayers members of our community who wish to remain anonymous.
Ackley family
Becky Busler
Christians in Nigeria/ECWA
Dorothy Dollar
Ethiopian brothers & sisters
Bobby Fleu
Garrett Foster
DeeDee Galliher
Diane Glymph
Ron Grubbs
Lou Hebb
Kylie Mitchell Hightower's family
Jackson family
Marty Keys & family
Nancy Lilly
Dot Mattison
Lisa May
Roger McCracken
Bob Millard
Alice Moore
Music Ministries of FPC
Donald Page
Stan Parker
Larry Roberts (Greg's brother)
Peggy Rutherford
Virginia Rutherford
Joan Sams
Katlin Smith
Ashley Thomasson
John & Karen Vann
Herb Van Nostrand's family
Nancy Ward
Bill Woods
To the Church Triumphant
Herbert Norman Van Nostrand III
November 21, 2019
Birthday Prayer Fellowship
Dec. 1          Deidre Pendley
Dec. 5          Linda Poteat
Dec. 6          Daniel Osborne
Church Calendar
Sunday, December 1
9:00 a.m.       Worship, Fellowship Hall
10:10 a.m.     Sunday School
10:15 p.m.     Sanctuary Choir, Room 202
11:00 a.m.     Worship, Sanctuary
12:00 p.m.     Advent Decorating, Sanctuary
Monday, December 2
6:00 p.m.       Women's Fellowship with Jessica Stollings, Fellowship Hall
Tuesday, December 3
10:00 a.m.     Staff Meeting, Room 117
10:00 a.m.     Morning Prayer Group, Conf. Room
6:30 p.m.       Board of Deacons, Rooms 117 & 123
7:00 p.m.       Boy Scout Troop 3, Scout Wing
Wednesday, December 4
9:30 a.m.       Women's Bible Study, Room 117
5:15 p.m.       Baby & Toddler Care, Rooms 34 - 37
5:30 p.m.       Fellowship Dinner, Fellowship Hall
6:15 p.m.       Gingerbread Houses!
6:15 p.m.       Handbell Practice, Room 212
7:15 p.m.       Sanctuary Choir, Room 202
Thursday, December 5
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