Archive for December, 2012

Church Office Schedule

There has been a change to the church office schedule this week.

The Church Office will be open today – Wednesday, December 26th – but will be closed on Friday, December 28th.

If you need to make any year-end contributions, you may do so today until 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 until 5:00 p.m.

The office will be open on regular schedule on Thursday, December 27th.

Thank you!  Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

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My Christmas present to you…

Christmas is just a couple of days away, but let’s be honest: the pain of Newtown, CT continues to weigh heavy on us.  We are still searching for answers that will never be found; still searching for closure to a wound that’s going to take a very long time to heal.  Last week I shared with you how our church responded to the shooting.  My hunch is that we’ll continue to deal with this in the days and weeks and months to come – a difficult journey, but one we’re committed to making as the people of God.

Screen Shot 2012-12-22 at 10.49.40 PMSo in light of that, I have a Christmas present for you.  This past week, the former vice-moderator of the Presbyterian Church USA, Landon Whitsitt, created a free ebook, A Good Word: Sermons, Prayers and Liturgies In Response to Newtown. This 250-page book contains dozens of worship resources reflecting on the Newtown shooting (including the pastoral prayer I shared in worship on Dec. 16th).  Many of the contributors are pastor friends of mine; and I am amazed at the diversity and depth of this collection. While it doesn’t offer “answers,” it does take its readers on an amazing spiritual journey through the darkness and into the light.

It may seem strange, giving you a gift on such a heavy topic mere hours before Christmas.  But that’s the thing.  To give you something that will only get you through the good times – well, like the decade-old fruitcake that gets rewrapped and passed around the family every year, that’s a pretty blah gift.  My hope is that this book will help you see the ways that God’s grace and love shine just as brightly – if not even brighter – through the bad times.  As I say in my prayer, this in and of itself is great cause for joy.

To get the book, just click on the picture or the text link above.  You can either read it in your web browser or download it and read it on your computer using Adobe Acrobat Reader, or on your iPad, Kindle or Nook.

So – my Christmas present to you.  Hope you enjoy the read.  And I hope to see you at one or both of our wonderful Christmas Eve services tomorrow!

Merry Christmas, and may God’s light continue to shine in and through you!

Your pastor and friend,

steve signature8

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The Children’s Christmas Eve Pageant will be held on Monday, December 24th at 3:00 NOT at 4:00 as previously announced. Please make the change on your calendar, because you really don’t want to miss this wonderful part of the Advent/Christmas Season.

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Christmas Caroling

Just a reminder we will be Christmas Caroling tomorrow. Meet in the Fellowship Hall at 5:30 to begin our evening of caroling. After we’ve finished singing we’ll head over to Lauren and Blanton Youell’s for s’mores and hot chocolate. It’s going to be great, we hope you can join us.

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As a church, we are called to minister to the needs of our community. As part of our answer to this call and with your generosity and prayers, beginning in February 2013, the first Saturday of every month will be Sandwich Saturday at First Pres. On those Saturdays, church members will gather together to make bagged lunches to distribute to anyone who would like to pick one up. Much like Friends Feeding Friends, our goal is to offer these simple meals as a blessing to all who want them.

Inside each little brown bag will be: a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, an apple, a bag of chips, and a bottle of water. And also packed into into each bag will be our love and prayers. Together as a church family, we can work toward solving the problem of hunger in our community.

Please consider helping us as we begin this journey together. We will be taking up a special collection during our Christmas Eve service to help jump-start this initiative. We invite you to prayerfully consider joining with us to plant the seeds for this new ministry!



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In response to the events that took place in Newtown CT this past Friday morning, our church gathered in our sanctuary and worshiped God.

We lit the third Advent candle of “Joy” – because it is still there, even when it’s hard to always feel it.

We sang the standard Christmas hymns: “Hark The Herald Angels Sing,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “The First Nowell” – because what is most familiar to us is often what is most comforting.

We heard about a new “Saturday sandwich ministry” that our church will start up in the new year, helping to feed the hungry in our town – because this is the perfect time to try to bring healing and wholeness to your own community.

We listened to the sounds of our chancel choir’s cantata as they told the story of Jesus’ birth – because the light has shone in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out (to listen to our cantata, click HERE).

We prayed a Prayer of the People that centered on the shootings and how this is the perfect time to proclaim, “Come, Immanuel, Come” (to read the text of Steve’s prayer, click HERE).

And we concluded worship with an uplifting musical benediction of “Go Tell It On The Mountain,” sung by our choir – reminding us that there still is good news in this world of ours, and that we are called to share it.

Our church’s response to Friday’s events in Connecticut was to worship together, grieve together, and latch on to hope together.  In a sense, it’s what we do every Sunday.  We’re especially glad we got to do it today.

Your pastor and friend,


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Weekly Grapevine – December 9, 2012


Head Usher: Mike Branch

Side Usher: Garrett Bush

Nursery: Erica Carlisle

Spark Teachers: Kelley Carlisle, Sandy & Alex Bowers


 Sunday, December 9            

10:00 am – Coffee Time

11:00 am –Worship

12:00 pm – Congregational Meeting

5:30 pm – Beacon Christmas Dinner & Angel Tree Shopping

Tuesday, December 11        

3:30 pm – Tuesday Tales w/ Shasta

Wednesday, December 12   

5:30 pm – Advent Dinner

6:15 pm – Candy Houses

7:00 pm – Choir Rehearsal

Thursday, December 13      

8:00 am – Bob Chilton Bible Study

5:00 pm – Friends Feeding Friends



December 2, 2012 Contributions:

Pledged:           $        3,355.66

Non-Pledged:   $           645.00

Weekly Total:   $        4,000.66

Total Monthly Receipts       

$  4,000.66

 Monthly Budget Need:


 Amount we still need for December:                      


 Annual Pledge to Date Deficit:                                



 Contributions for 2012: All contributions must be received or postmarked, whether pledge or non-pledge, by Monday, December 31st , 2012.  If you contribute by eGive, you should have received an email stating how year-end contributions are handled.  Please refer to that email (or call the church office if you need assistance) as to when your gift will be recorded.

   ***We will have a Congregational meeting immediately following worship today to hear a report from the Nominating Committee regarding the new slate of elders for 2012.***



Prayers: Jay and Alex Whitaker; Nicole Bondurant & family.  See Prayer & Praise board for additional information.


 Beacons: Will meet this evening at 5:00 p.m. in the Lighthouse for their Christmas dinner at Chili’s.  Bring money for dinner and $20 towards your Angel Tree gift.

 Tuesday Tales w/Shasta: This is a special Advent time for our Preschool-5th grade children.  We will meet in the Fellowship Hall at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 11th.  Sign up on the board in the foyer to attend.

 Advent Meal & Candy Houses:  Sign up in the upstairs foyer if you plan to attend the dinner on Wednesday, December 12th – or to bring anything for the candy houses.  Dinner – 5:30; Candy Houses – 6:15.

 Choir Rehearsal: Wednesday, December 12th at 7:00 p.m.  Note time change.

 Bob Chilton Memorial Bible Study: Thursday, December 13th, at 8:00 a.m. at Pages bookstore.

 Pictorial Directory: Submitted pictures will be accepted through December 31st. There is a fee of $10 to submit a photo.  Please make sure it is a snapshot & not a professional photo.


Friends Feeding Friends: Thursday, December 13th,5:00 p.m.; The following people have signed up to assist: The High School Beacons & Steven Lowe.  Desserts by: Margaret McGuire, Mary Kilby & GS Troop 40423.



 Birthdays: 12/9: Catherine Beal, Joe Lamp’l; 12/11: Jane Surratt; 12/12: Mike Beal, Ken Gitt; 12/13: Ann Yokeley; 12/15: Cathy Cloukey

 Anniversaries: 12/10: Fred and Karen Barnett; 12/12: David and Lisa Petri

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