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

In This Issue
Deadline & Subscriptions
Word from the Pastor: The Tongue Is a Fire
Home Group Leader and Information Meeting
Sunday School and Nursery Update
Transformative Gifts
Join Our AV Team
Scammers on the Job
Substitute Teachers Needed
Give Remotely to Keep Us Together
Join Us on YouTube and Facebook
Study the Bible Online
Pray for the World
Mowing as a Mission
Organist's Footnotes
Pray for One Another
Church Calendar
Our Church Officers
September 6
14th Sunday after Pentecost
Psalm 15
Joel 2:12-13
Mark 7:1-23
Cardiac Arrest
Sam Weddington
Last Sunday's Attendance
In person: 9:00: 46; 11:00: 44
Livestream: 62
Playbacks: 164
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 3, 2020
Word from the Pastor: The Tongue Is a Fire
6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell... 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.
James 3:6, 13-18, NRSV
If I were to caption the past decade of our society, it would be James 3:6: "The tongue is a fire."
Of course, the brother of Jesus could not have anticipated our new digital realities, the complexities of Facebook, or the 24/7 news cycle. Information, news, and gossip in his own community were spread person to person by word of mouth or, in some cases, by letter from one group to another. The world has moved on, and our tongues have grown to new, powerful dimensions that extend into the digital realm.
I think we are watching what happens when the whole world goes up in flames because our tongues have grown so powerful. We use the tongues of all the social media platforms from which we can speak to do what? To believe the worst about one another? To shame others? To virtue-signal our way to righteousness? To question the authority of anyone who doesn't agree with us?
It's so easy to do this unintentionally. What we saw in that last post felt or seemed right, so we repost it. I get it, but we ought not to be naïve about the power of these tools. Anyone can go online and post whatever lie, half-truth, or libel they wish, and they can do it anonymously. If someone does it publicly, they can quickly spam-link three other articles they found in two minutes of research on Google to support their position. It's a never-ending cycle.
And don't be deceived: it's a cycle designed to generate revenue. Social media platforms like Facebook monetize all those posts and all that digital nastiness through what its former Vice-President for User Growth, Chamath Palihapitiya, dubbed the "dopamine-driven feedback loop." The basic insight is that we all crave attention and validation. Social media platforms can provide both, and through the mechanism that allows other users to "like" or validate our position, we can feel appreciated, supported, and understood. Social media companies mine these preferences to target us for advertising.
Unfortunately, this loop destroys constructive social discourse and, over time, prompts users to feel panic and fear. Examples abound. In 2017, a case study on this phenomenon pointed to a moral panic induced by WhatsApp in Jharkhand, India, that led to the lynching of several innocent men over the unfounded fear of child trafficking in the area. You can read about it on Wired here, on Semantic Scholar here, and on Wikipedia here.
My intention isn't to write a takedown of Facebook but to warn and encourage. First, the warning: let's be careful out there. Let's think about what we are reading or posting. Does it lift up? Does it believe all things about our neighbors? Is it motivated by hope or grace? If not, then maybe we ought to rethink our position.
Now the encouragement: as Christians, we are not called to live this way. We are called to be salt and light, and salt and light have little to do with conspiracy theories or assuming the worst about others. No, James makes it clear. The wisdom we have is "pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy" (v. 17). We work to make our communities and the world a better place through our love, not through our suspicion, anger, or rage.
I leave you with what it looks like when we douse the fire of our tongues: "And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace" (James 3:18). If we are known by our fruits, then let the tree of our life yield righteousness, grace, and peace.
In Christ,
Pastor Sam
Home Group Leader and Information Meeting
Please join with us to learn about hosting a Home Group! You can do so on Wednesday, September 9, either live at 6:00 p.m. during Bike Night (church parking lot) or by Zoom at 7:00 p.m. (link below). We will be sharing information about materials, registration, resources, and training opportunities as well as answering your questions. While this meeting will focus on those who plan on leading or facilitating a Home Group, it will be open to all who want more information. Home Groups will kick off the following week, on Monday, September 14. Meanwhile, for more information, please contact Dave, Katie, or Lilly.
To join the Home Groups Information and Team Training Zoom meeting, click here.
To call in (audio only), use one of these phone numbers:
+13017158592,,85729044135# US (Germantown)
+13126266799,,85729044135# US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 857 2904 4135
To register your Home Group, become a leader, or simply find more information, click here.
Sunday School and Nursery Update
At its meeting on Monday, August 24, the session voted to follow the Bristol Tennessee City School (BTCS) system schedule in regard to in-person instruction on the church campus. What this means is that when BTCS is on a hybrid schedule of limited in-person and virtual instruction, we will be as well. When BTCS is on a schedule of virtual instruction only, we will hold only virtual classes.
With this in mind, we will resume limited in-person children's Sunday School on September 13, pending any decisions from BTCS. Children will be expected to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines. We will also offer virtual lessons for those who elect to stay home.
In regard to our nursery, please stay posted. We are working with a group of volunteers to see whether we might resume limited nursery offerings. We ask for everyone's patience in this process. We are doing our best to balance responsible concern with the needs of the congregation.
In Christ,
Pastor Sam
Transformative Gifts
In the month of September, the Stewardship Committee is highlighting the transformative contributions of two of our longtime members who went to be with the Lord in 2019. Dot Copenhaver and Marynan Smith left gifts to the church in their wills, and God used those gifts to free our church from all our debt. Their generosity was overwhelming, and it continues to pay dividends in that we have not had to carry such a weighty financial burden during the hard economic circumstances the COVID19 pandemic has presented. God is good, and God uses all of our gifts to glorify his name and lift others up!
The Stewardship Committee prepared two videos to highlight these special contributions and tell Dot's and Marynan's story. You can watch the shorter video clip here. The longer video clip tells their story in greater detail during interviews with Sara Reuning and Jim White.
If you are interested in discussing ways you might follow their lead, or have questions about planned giving to the church, please contact our Church Business Administrator, Betsy Galliher. You can email her at or call her at the church office at (423) 764-7176.
Join Our AV Team
The pandemic has pushed us to up our tech game, and that means more opportunities to serve during worship. If you are interested in serving with our audiovisual team, we would love to hear from you! No experience is necessary. We will train you to control the cameras, modulate the sound, or run the videos and graphics. Just contact the church office to join the team.
Scammers on the Job
Scammers who want your personal information and money continue to ply their trade in Bristol and among our congregation. They send messages, by email, text, or websites such as Facebook, that appear to be from FPC staff asking you for a favor. They use deceptive email addresses such as fpcbristol@gmail (close but no cigar). You may receive a brief note from "Pastor Sam" or "Dave" asking you to handle an urgent matter discreetly by replying to the message. Do not reply. Other scams may tell you to buy a gift card for someone in need or a worthy-sounding cause and send the card codes to the phone number provided. These are scams. The staff of FPC will never ask you to do any of these things. Please do not respond or take any action beyond marking the emails as spam so that your email provider can send future communications from these people to your junk folder. You can learn more about scammers and gift cards here.
Substitute Teachers Needed
It has come to our attention that the Bristol Tennessee City School system is in dire need of substitute teachers. The requirement for this position is a high school diploma. In Christ, this might be a wonderful place for you to serve, if you feel called to do so. By stepping up in this way, we equip our teachers, administrators, parents, and students to succeed in very trying times, and we give public witness that, in Christ, we are a blessing. Click on the application here, or go directly to the BTCS website, then to Human Resources, and look at the job openings.
Give Remotely to Keep Us Together
During the COVID-19 crisis, we encourage you to give by way of our website or by text or mail. We must hold together, and your continued, faithful giving ensures that we will have the resources to continue our ministries. You can give online by going to our website and clicking on "Give" in the upper right corner. You can send your pledge, offering, or special gift by texting (all one word) fpcbristol to 73256. You can also mail your checks directly to the church. Our address is 701 Florida Avenue, Bristol, TN 37620. Thank you, as always, for your generosity.
Join Us on YouTube and Facebook
Remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch the livestream of our early worship service and other activities. Go to and type in "FPC Bristol." Click on the link and hit "subscribe." You will receive notifications of new videos. We also suggest that you connect to our various Facebook sites. Go to Facebook and type in "FPC Bristol," and several accounts will show up. Some are open to the public, while others are restricted. In either case, "like" the page, or ask to join a group if it is closed.
Study the Bible Online
We are continuing to offer two adult studies on our YouTube channel. The Sunday Bible study, Praying With the Psalms, looks at the Book of Psalms through the lens of prayer. All you need is a Bible and an open heart. We also post a short study every Wednesday. If you subscribe, you will be notified when new studies become available.
Pray for the World
As we weather the COVID-19 pandemic, we are asking you to spend more time in prayer for our church, our community, our nation, and the world. Pray for our leaders, first responders, frontline workers, and the vulnerable. We also ask that you pray for a swift end to this disease.
Mowing as a Mission
The greater church and the local pick up the pace in mission work as the new program year begins. The PCUSA looks to help meet the societal needs of our nation, and FPC Bristol reaches out to our community and city schools (see "Substitute Teachers Needed," above). Our mowers play their part, too. Roger Sikorski (Sept. 2-5) mows for us this week, given a break in the rain. His work will take us up to Labor Day, to which the PCUSA appends the mission note "A Social Creed for the 21st Century." You can read about the current effort and the history of this work on the PCUSA website. September 6 begins the Season of Peace, which continues until World Communion Sunday. Pat Flannagan (Sept. 9-12) grooms the grounds for Sunday, September 13.
Organist's Footnotes
Johann Pachelbel
Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) was a German composer, organist, and teacher who is considered among the most important composers of the middle Baroque era. His music enjoyed enormous popularity during his lifetime; he had many pupils and his music became a model for the composers of south and central Germany. Today, Pachelbel is best known for the Canon in D, as well as the Chaconne in F minor, the Toccata in E minor for organ, and the Hexachordum Apollinis, a set of keyboard variations.
During his lifetime, Pachelbel was best known as an organ composer. He wrote more than 200 pieces for the instrument, both liturgical and secular, and explored most of the genres that existed at the time.
Much of his liturgical organ music is relatively simple and written for manuals only: no pedal is required. This is partly due to Lutheran religious practice: congregants sang the chorales. The quality of the organs Pachelbel used also played a role: south German instruments were not, as a rule, as complex and as versatile as those in the north.
About 20 of his toccatas survive. They are characterized by consistent use of pedal point; for the most part, they consist of relatively fast passagework in both hands over sustained pedal notes. Pachelbel's contributions to the genre are not sectional, unless rhapsodic introductory passages in a few pieces (most notably the Toccata in E minor, which you will hear as Sunday's postlude) are counted as separate sections. Furthermore, no other Baroque composer used pedal point with such consistency in toccatas.
Many of Pachelbel's toccatas explore a single melodic motif, and later works are written in a simple style in which two voices interact over sustained pedal notes. That interaction, already much simpler than the virtuosic passages in earlier works, sometimes resorts to consecutive thirds, sixths, or tenths. You will hear this in the Toccata and Pastorale (Sunday's prelude.)
Pachelbel composed six fantasias. The E-flat Major Fantasia (played during communion) is a variation on the Italian toccata di durezze e ligature genre. In the 17th century, durezza meant "dissonance." So a toccata di durezze e ligature was a toccata with dissonances and tied notes; in a way, a composition study in appoggiaturas. This is a gentle, free-flowing piece featuring intricate passages in both hands with many accidentals.
You can see last Sunday's 11:00 service here.
Pray for One Another

In Our Prayers
Please also include in your prayers members of our community who wish to remain anonymous.
Joe Bell
Sujean Bradley
Bud Branscomb
Bristol Tennessee School System
Jane Brooks
Becky Busler
Christians in Nigeria/ECWA
Community, nation & world
Thomas Covington
Ethiopian brothers & sisters
First responders & medical & infrastructure personnel
DeeDee Galliher
Goddards (missionaries in Paraguay)
Rose Marie & Jim Goodrum
Martha & John Graham
Gene Grindstaff
Steve Gross
Ron Grubbs
Conor Haaser & squadron
Lou Hebb
Nate & Angela & newborn Higgins
John Holler
Family of Lisa Holmes
Marty Keys & family
Josh & Morgan King & family
Danae Kreiss
Lyn Leach
Richard Lee
Nancy Lilly
Dot Mattison
Teagan McBride
Kathleen McGlothlin
Bob Millard
Megan Mitten
Alice Moore
Brianna Necessary
Martha North
Cheyenne Poteat
Maria Poteat
Rosa Poteat
Laura Rodriguez
Harold Rutherford
Brittany Salter
Susan Solomon
Strickland family
Bill Wade
Maria Wagner
Patsy Ward
Karen White
Dave Whitesides
Birthday Prayer Fellowship
Sept. 6        TJ Abel, Margaret Wade
Sept. 7        Mary Ellis Rice, Patsy Ward
Sept. 8        Bobby Dabbs
Sept. 9        Scottie Bales, Lea Powers, Charles Taylor, Rachel Worley
Sept. 10      Mike Adams, Laura Jessee, Paul Rice
Sept. 11      Sally Jordan
Sept. 12      Becky Busler, Cindy Kreiss, Al Thomas
Church Calendar
Sunday, September 6
9:00 a.m.       Worship, Fellowship Hall & Livestream
                          Online Sunday School (following 9:00 service)
10:10 a.m.     Adult Bible Study
11:00 a.m.     Worship, Sanctuary
6:00 p.m.       Student Fellowship
Monday, September 7
Church offices closed for Labor Day
Tuesday, September 8
10:00 a.m.     Staff Meeting, Fellowship Hall
6:00 p.m.       Venture Crew 3, Room 165
Thursday, September 10
7:00 a.m.       Men's Bible Study, Fellowship Hall
8:30 a.m.       Meals on Wheels, Fellowship Hall
12:00 p.m.     Noon Bible Study, Room 117
4:30 p.m.       Human Resources Comm., Room 123
Our Church Officers
Church Officers
Class of 2020
Class of 2021
Class of 2022
Nancy Allerton
Ann Abel
Anna L. Booher
Rebecca Beck
Randy Cook
Bruce Gannaway
David Hyde
John Graham
Will Hankins
Jordan Pennington
Katie McInnis
Dottie Havlik
Jerry Poteat
John Vann
Laura Ong
Blake Bassett
Fred Harkleroad
Mike Cleland
Rhonda Comer
Matt Kingsley
Geneva King
Ron Fox
Lisa McClain
George Linke
Brenda Lawson
Drew Rice
Charlie Taylor
Barbara Thompson
Joyce Samuel
Peggy Hill
Jack Butterworth
Nancy Cook