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

In This Issue
Deadline & Subscriptions
Word from the Pastor: Change and Peace
Study Apostles' Creed on Sunday Mornings
Handbell Choir Performs Sunday
Acolytes Are Back
Tread Lightly, It's Banana Split Night
Join Us for Wednesday Night Fellowship and Bible Study
Wednesday Morning Bible Study Resumes
Brazil Team Gives Us the Scoop Next Week
Sept. 25 Is Ethiopia Night at FPC
Acclaimed Violinist Maurice Sklar Here Sept. 22
Teddy Grahams for Fairmount Students
Six Weeks to Trunk or Treat
Onward and Upward with Our Mowers
Gifts to the Church
Music Notes
Pray for One Another
Church Calendar
Our Church Officers
September 15
14th Sunday after Pentecost
Psalm 33:4-9
Revelation 4:6-11
Creator of Heaven and Earth
Sam Weddington
Emerald Stream
Last Sunday's Attendance
9:00: 168; 11:00: 118
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

September 12 , 2019
Word from the Pastor: Change and Peace

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:1-3 (NRSV)
Over the past thirteen months, our church has been through a whirlwind of change, and much of it, I would argue, is very good. Our attendance is up. Engagement is up. Our children's and student ministries are going gangbusters. We have been good stewards of the gifts God has given us, and we have dealt with nearly one-third of our outstanding debt. We have also managed to adopt the practice of tithing from every gift given to our church. Our engagement in international ministry is going well, and we are renewing our local mission emphasis in places like Fairmount.
In short, I could not imagine a first year of ministry going any better.
Of course, there has also been a lot of change, and not everyone is happy with it. Worshiping at 9:00 rather than 8:30 has resulted in increased attendance, but our worship format has changed. We are constantly challenged to find more space, more time to worship God. Can't we sing some more? We continue to wrestle with audio and technical issues, and we know we need some upgrades so that things work well. When will the sound be fixed? Or isn't it fixed ... enough?
To that end, some of you may have heard that we are getting ready to do a whole slew of things that will affect the sanctuary and the Fellowship Hall. Of course, we are not getting ready to do all these things just yet, because we are still trying to get all the facts on the table about layout, pricing, and so forth. In short, we are still investigating. The job is even bigger than the sanctuary; there is work to be done in the Fellowship Hall as well. All of this takes time. Moreover, there is that all-important step of communicating to the congregation what the possibilities are. That step is coming, but it will not come a single day before we have all the information.
Some who love the sanctuary the way it is, or love the way we "used to" worship, object. Some are ready to part ways (or have already) because what we are doing doesn't fit their vision of what FPC ought to be. I hear the anxiety, I do, and I think I understand the reaction. We love our church, we love our worship, and we love what we have grown comfortable with. From this perspective, even the possibility of change looks like an existential threat.
All I would ask is that we take the time to listen to those who are having a hard time with the way things are. Quite a few folks have told me in my short time here that they don't feel they can attend the 11:00 service, because they cannot understand what is going on. There are acoustic dead spots in the sanctuary (try it for yourself; sit in the middle of the room). Others find the worship experience physically painful; their hearing aids are set off with a head-splitting ring every time the organ is played. Regarding 9:00 worship, many find the time better for them and their families, and so we must continue to struggle to find ways to make all our desire to worship to fit into the hour. (You can come at 8:50 for our rolling start, complete with music.) In short, others who love, or might come to love, our community feel alienated by how things are and have been.
This brings me to my final point. If we're not getting ready to do all of this tomorrow but are going to get all the information we can, how ought we to manage our anxieties and differences? Well, we should probably listen to Scripture. According to Paul, there is only one thing we are required to be as Christ's followers: a unified body. We are a spiritual family by the indwelling presence of the Spirit. We are to lead a life worthy of our calling in Christ, and as Paul instructs us, we are to do so exhibiting virtues like humility, gentleness, patience, and mutual forbearance. If every note of music were to fade from our lips on Sunday morning, all preaching fall silent, and every program we have ever conceived be brought to a halt, the only thing we must do is gather, be the body, and in prayer and investigation of the Word of God seek the presence of Christ in our midst. Jesus Christ alone is the bedrock of our truth. Lest we forget it, he alone is "Alpha and Omega, beginning and end" (Revelation 21:6).
Thankfully, I do not believe God requires us to abandon these aspects of worship and community life we enjoy together. We will continue to sing. We might, Lord willing, find even better and greater ways to do so. We will continue to hear the Word of God and hear it proclaimed. We will continue fellowship with one another and grow in community. I love that we are FPC Bristol.
However, we do all this well and rightly when we do it in a spirit of peace. Change is hard, and it is only possible when the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ dwells in us richly (Colossians 3:15). This is my prayer for all us.
The peace of Christ be with you all,
Pastor Sam
Study Apostles' Creed on Sunday Mornings

All adults are invited to study the Apostles' Creed in tandem with Pastor Sam's new sermon series. This short-term class uses video and discussion to explore what an ancient statement can say to us now about the Good News of Jesus Christ. We met for the first time last Sunday and will continue to meet in the chapel at 10:10 throughout the sermon series. For more information, please see Pastor Sam or Dave Welch.
Handbell Choir Performs Sunday
The Sanctuary Handbell Choir makes its debut appearance of the semester for what has shaped up to be Handbell Sunday for the traditional service. They will perform a challenging exercise related to the change ringing of belfry bells, and they will premiere an arrangement by Robert (our own Bob) Greene of the beloved "All Things Bright and Beautiful." Who could bear to miss either?
The handbell choir is looking for new regular members as well as substitutes. Just three more ringers would greatly expand the options for new repertoire. The ringers 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. If you join now, you'll have four weeks to practice swinging your bell! Please contact Bob Greene at or 276-696-9091 to talk about joining this fun-loving group.
Acolytes Are Back
Our acolyte team for this year has assembled! We give thanks to them for their contributions to our worship, and to their parents for their support. Our acolytes, from left to right, are Campbell Kent, Joan Weddington, Sammy Weddington, Noah Ong, Logan Tudor, and Lance Tudor. Helen Grace Gannaway and Beckham Schiesz were unavailable for pictures.
Tread Lightly, It's Banana Split Night
Watch your step! Sunday is Banana Split Night at Student Fellowship! We will start an hour later this week, at 7:00 p.m. Eat dinner before you come, but save room for dessert! It's going to be ginormous.
Join Us for Wednesday Night Fellowship and Bible Study
Join us Wednesday evenings for our fellowship supper at 5:30 and stay for programs for youth, children, and adults. With the exception of special presentations, we will worship by praying, singing, and studying God's Word together in the chapel. Next week our Bible study at 6:15 will continue our exploration of 2 Corinthians.
Wednesday Morning Bible Study Resumes
The women's Wednesday Bible Study resumed regular meetings this week. We began with an introduction to the fall study book, Desiring God by John Piper, and we will study Chapter 1 on September 18. New folks are always welcome to join us. We meet at 9:30 a.m. in Room 117 for about an hour and a half to study, discuss, and pray. If you'd like to join, and need a copy of the book, please contact Dottie Havlik at 423-956-6747 or
Brazil Team Gives Us the Scoop Next Week
Our mission team in Brazil last June.
We will hear a report on our Brazil mission work next Wednesday, September 18, from 6:15 to 6:55 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. The 2019 summer mission team members will tell us what's happening in Felipe CamarĂ£o today and offer their impressions of working and worshiping with our Brazilian partners. We will hear a variety of perspectives from both high school and adult team members. The adult members of the Summer 2020 team, Katie Arnold, John Graham, Karen Vann, John Vann, Linda Welch, and Pastor Sam, will be on hand. Pastor Sam will take a few minutes to reflect on what this mission partnership means for our two churches together, and we will close in prayer specifically focusing on our partnership.
Please plan now to be there. So many in our congregation have participated in this mission relationship over the years by praying, traveling to Brazil, hosting visitors, providing scholarships, and contributing in other very meaningful ways to support the effort. You won't want to miss this latest update! / John Vann
Sept. 25 Is Ethiopia Night at FPC
In Ethiopia last April.

Please join us in the Fellowship Hall Wednesday, September 25, from 6:15 to 6:55 p.m., for a special presentation from our Ethiopia mission team: Peggy Hill, Grace Kim, Geneva King, Han Ong, Laura Ong, and Pastor Sam. Pastor Sam is preparing an introductory video, and PeggyandGracewill share insights from their work in Ethiopia. Team members will share the personal impact the previous trip had on them, as they speak of the richness of the connection and the importance of this work to our church.
We will gain a clearer understanding of the cultural context and hear more about the historic relationship between our church and Berhane Yesus Elementary School, BESS High School, Gidada Theological College, Bethel Tulama church and elementary school, and the Western Wollega Bethel Synod of Dembi Dollo.
The team will tell us what to expect from the trip coming up in November. We will learn how this trip for the 100th anniversary celebration of Presbyterian mission in Dembi Dollo can deepen our relationship. As Pastor Sam said after last year's visit, "You sent us to Ethiopia; God sent us to church."
Acclaimed Violinist Maurice Sklar Here Sept. 22
Internationally acclaimed concert violinist Maurice Sklar will perform in our sanctuary Sunday, September 22, at 4:00 p.m. This concert is hosted by For Zion's Sake Ministries. For more information, contact Chris Bingham at 423-764-7176 or
Teddy Grahams for Fairmount Students
We are collecting boxes of Teddy Grahams for the students of Fairmount Elementary. About 80% of the children get help with lunch, but their families can't buy snacks for them. That's where we come in. Please bring your donations to the Little Red House in the Fellowship Hallway to give our young friends at Fairmount a little boost when they need it. Thank you!
Six Weeks to Trunk or Treat
This year's Fairmount Neighborhood Trunk or Treat will take place at Fairmount Elementary School on Thursday, October 24, at 5:00 p.m. You have six luxurious weeks in which to prepare the car trunk and costume of your dreams. But you can start donating candy now!
Onward and Upward with Our Mowers
Photo: Robert V. Ruggiero
It is time for Roger Sikorski (September 11 -14) to steer the straggling days of summer toward the door, where Larry Connolly (September 18 -21) will show them out, for we must prepare to welcome our old friend autumn. We have so much to talk over since our last visit (ideas - and technology! - old and new, Brazil, Ethiopia, holiday plans), and much to do (taking a new class, supporting our missions, Trunk or Treating, preparing for Advent). Occasionally, even now, the air is fresh and crisp with the wind from a new direction. Onward!
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:
Patsy Frizzell: to the Capital Campaign Fund from Bob Millard
Mac McElroy: to the Capital Campaign Fund from Bob Millard
Louise Rutherford: to the Capital Campaign Fund from Bob Millard
Barbara Thomas: to the Minister's Discretionary Fund from an anonymous donor
Chuck Thompson: to the Brazil Mission Fund from Ann Abel, from Joyce Samuel, from an anonymous donor; to the Capital Campaign Fund from Bob Millard; to the Minister's Discretionary Fund from John & Alice Graham; to the Student Ministries Fund from Linda Darnell, from Martin & Vonda Kent, from Ernie & Karen Pennington, from Mac & Debbie Ramsey
Music Notes
Seth Houston
Sunday's music: This week the choir anthem is "Emerald Stream" by the celebrated choral composer and musicologist Seth Houston, Director of Choral Activities at the University of California Irvine. Houston grew up immersed in the Early American shape-note tradition of New England; the tune of "Emerald Stream" came to him on his 17th birthday while he was on a month-long canoe trip with his father. It was inspired by the rhythm of the canoe paddle. The piece is similar to a shape-note or fuging tune, and the text is reminiscent of the hymn-writing style of Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley, though with a more contemporary message of environmental stewardship. "Emerald Stream" is performed frequently throughout America and Europe and was featured on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion. These are the lyrics:
Come, now, and gather in the glade
Where the Em'rald Stream and the Evening Shade,
And meditate on the works He's made,
Great God, our sov'reign Lord.
Join us, now, the meadow is green
And the waters pure and the woods serene
And the flowing air is fresh and clean
Where God his blessings pour'd.
See the wind come down,
Hear it whistle as it blows,
It brings us sun and it brings us snows,
A blessing from above.
And the sun comes up,
And the sun goes down,
And the stars and the moon go 'round and 'round,
In witness to His love.
Hear, now, ye sons of men,
For danger lurks in this great garden;
The Lord will visit once again
To see what we have done.
As God is the shepherd and we are the sheep,
We our mother Earth must keep,
Maintain the air, protect the deep;
At Judgment Day He'll come.
See the Lord come down,
Hear Him whistle as he goes,
He bears a thunderbolt and a rose,
Remember all his pow'r.
See the Lord come down, face shining bright,
His holy feet are soiled
But his robe is white;
You will regret that hour.
So, now, my people beware,
You're in charge of the seas and the earth and the air,
You'd better take extr'ordinary care
Of the Earth, our only home.
All glory be to God on high,
Shout praises loudly to the sky,
Listen to the Earth and hear her cry,
And in Heaven forever roam.
Organist's footnotes: "Cross and Stretch" is not a composed piece but an exercise to sharpen the wits of handbell ringers. Nevertheless, it is fun to watch all the bells move from one end of the table to the other then back again, reassembling (we hope!) in the same order in which they began. This kind of exercise is related to the complex practice of change ringing, which evolved out of the belfries of England (and other countries), in which much larger bells are rung in ever-changing patterns.
Cecil Frances Alexander
Cecil Frances "Fanny" Alexander (1818 -1895) wrote many hymns for children in Victorian England, including a set of hymns based on each tenet of the Apostles' Creed. "All Things Bright and Beautiful" originally had seven stanzas that expanded on "Maker of heaven and earth." The first stanza became the refrain when the text was later set to a popular tune from the age of King Charles II. I have arranged this beloved hymn for our handbell choir, and you hear it premiered today.
"Carillon" is from the collection of organ pieces composed by Louis Vierne (1870 -1937), organist at Notre Dame Cathedral for 37 years. These pieces were intended to be played on both the grand orgue and a European reed organ called the harmonium that was popular at the turn of the 20th century. I chose this piece because of its title, which relates to our "handbell Sunday."
Pray for One Another

In Our Prayers
Please also include in your prayers members of our community who wish to remain anonymous.

Wayne Ausmus
Beth & Brian
Karen Boone
Durward Buck
Christians in Nigeria/ECWA
Mark Comer
Randy Cook
Ethiopian brothers & sisters
DeeDee Galliher
Diane Glymph
Ron Grubbs
Vivian Hill
Hurricane Dorian victims
Kristi Johnson
Marty Keys & family
Nancy King
Harriett Massengill
Dot Mattison
Roger McCracken
Christine Mitten & family
Alice Moore
Pendley family
Don Preston
Larry Roberts (Greg's brother)
Virginia Rutherford
Stigers family
Patty Thomas
Ashley Thomasson
Barb Thompson & family
Karen White
Jim White
Ann & Bill Woods
Birthday Prayer Fellowship
Sept. 15      Jon McClain
Sept. 17      Nelson Lundberg, John Scott
Sept. 18      Keith Foster, Peggy Peters
Sept. 21      Anna Booher, Karen Haaser, David Worley
Church Calendar
Sunday, September 15
9:00 a.m.       Worship, Fellowship Hall
10:10 a.m.     Sunday School
10:30 a.m.     Sanctuary Choir, Room 202
11:00 a.m.     Worship, Sanctuary
4:00 p.m.       Evangelism & Outreach Comm., Room 117
7:00 p.m.       Student Fellowship, Fellowship Hall
Tuesday, September 17
10:00 a.m.     Staff Meeting, Room 117
10:00 a.m.     Morning Prayer Group, Conf. Room
6:30 p.m.       MEF, Room 124
7:00 p.m.       Boy Scout Troop 3, Scout Wing
Wednesday, September 18
9:30 a.m.       Women's Wednesday Bible Study, Room 117
5:15 p.m.       Baby & Toddler Care, Rooms 34 - 37
5:30 p.m.       Fellowship Dinner, Fellowship Hall
6:00 p.m.       Wednesday Night Kids
6:00 p.m.       Middle School Gathering
6:00 p.m.       High School Small Groups
6:15 p.m.       Brazil Team Presentation, Fellowship Hall
6:15 p.m.       Handbell Choir, Room 212
7:15 p.m.       Worship Team, Fellowship Hall
7:15 p.m.       Sanctuary Choir, Room 202
Thursday, September 19
7:00 a.m.       Men's Bible Study, Parlor
12:00 p.m.     Noon Bible Study, Room 117
Friday, September 20
10:00 p.m.     Fifth Quarter, Off Campus
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