First Presbyterian Church, Tullahoma TN 37388
February 2021 Volume L, Issue 1
Church Office: 204 E. Grundy St.
Phone: 931 455-9328
Sunday school – 9:15 a.m.
Worship at 10:30 a.m.
Preschool Office: 931 455-1515
Pastor: Stephen Yates
CE/Youth Director: Christy Sherrer
Secretary: Martha Bradley
Organist: David Hiebert
Parish Associate for Pastoral Care: Michael Bradley
Learning Place Preschool Director: Bethany Sterling
Sunday School at 9:15 AM
The Christian Living Class. A study of different book and authors on Bibical Theology
Fun activities and Bible stories to help young childeren learn about God, Jesus and christianity.
The Bible Study Class addresses various books of the Bivle and how they apply to everyday life.
One Great Hour of Sharing Offering is a Lenten tradition at FPC
All around the world we see people whose homes and even loved ones have been washed away by hurricanes and floods, people trapped in systems of injustice and oppression, and people who will go to bed tonight hungry or without a roof over their heads.
One Great Hour of Sharing is the single, largest way that Presbyterians join together to share God’s love with our neighbors-in-need nearby and around the world. Each gift helps to improve the lives of people in challenging situations through three impactful programs:
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
Support to the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) enables us to help families affected by disasters, to help meet immediate and long-term recovery needs of disaster survivors, and to provide a witness of caring around the world.
Presbyterian Hunger Program
The Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) works with congregations and partners around the globe to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes. The PHP connects Presbyterians to impoverished communities, in the US and overseas, seeking to understand the root causes of hunger and to inspire collaboration with those most affected in order to address systemic obstacles.
Self Development of People
Self-Development of People (SDoP) is a ministry that affirms God’s concern for humankind. We are Presbyterians and ecumenical partners working for the empowerment of economically poor, oppressed, and disadvantaged people, seeking to change the structures that perpetuate poverty, oppression and injustice. SDoP Core Strategies are promoting justice, building solidarity, advancing human dignity, and advocating for economic equity.
Here at FPC, Tullahoma, we receive this special offering during Lent
You may simply write a check to FPC and designate it to OGHS any time during Lent. If you are attending worship in person, just place the check in the offering plate as you enter the sanctuary. You may mail the check to FPC, P. O. Box 847, Tullahoma, TN 37388. If you are worshipping with us online, you may give at the website www.fpctullahoma.org
Thank you for your heartfelt gifts to OGHS, an offering that responds directly to the needs God has called us to fulfill.
The Lenten Journey 2021 at FPC
While our Lenten time may look a little different this year, we want to continue the tradition of connection and supporting each other during this Holy Season. Here at FPC we hope you will join us remotely or in person and walk as pilgrims on the way to the cross together.
For Lent this year, with help from the Christian Education and Worship Committees, we prepared “Lent in a Bag” for individual and family use. Each bag contains six small symbols and readings for weekly devotions, along with a “prayer square” and information about the One Great Hour of Sharing.
“Lent in a Bag’ were delivered during the week of February 14 for the most part. However, because of weather conditions, some were delayed. If you did not receive yours and wish to have one, please let us know in the church office, and we will get one to you.
On Sundays and Wednesdays throughout Lent all Christian Education programming and studies will be focusing on Lent.
Dear Church Family,
For some time now, new windows, as well as a few storm doors, have been on the to-do list for the Phoenix Apartments; many of the windows and doors are in rough shape. As one might imagine, replacements are no small expense. That said, I am thrilled to report we have received an anonymous donation of $20,000 to go toward such needed maintenance and upkeep.
Currently, the estimated cost to replace all the windows and needed storm doors is just over $25,500. We are waiting on one more estimate for comparison. At its last meeting, the Session went ahead and approved having the new windows and storm doors installed using whatever happens to be the low bid. Reserves will be used to cover whatever money is needed over the $20,000 that has been so kindly donated.
Knowing many people value the ministry the apartments provide, there may be some who wish to make a donation to help cover the expenses that will be over the provided $20,000. Such donations, of course, would lower the amount of money we would then need to take from reserves. If writing a check, just put in the memo line “Phoenix Apartments - Windows.” If giving online, choose the “Other” option when the time comes, and write the same thing in the box.
I am grateful for all who have taken the time over the last several years to help turn the apartments into a ministry of our church. We have also been fortunate to have Lynda Welty (from Lewis and Orr) as our property manager for the last several years. She understands the apartments are a mission for us and has worked faithfully with us to that end.
While being property owners isn’t always easy, we have been slowly renovating units as they become unoccupied. Out of the 8 total units, 5 have been improved in various ways. We can, I think, say we are working to provide respectable and decent housing for people on fixed incomes. And, of course, many of the residents have become more than just tenants; they are also now friends. Even better, some current and former tenants are also now members, or worship with us regularly.
While we should always explore fresh and new ways to do ministry, we can, I think, feel good about the ministry we are currently providing at the Phoenix Apartments.
Minute with Mike
Michael Bradley, Parish Associate for Pastoral Care
What Can You Say About March?
It's March. Spring is on the way, but it is not here yet. The worst of winter is past, but we still have Dogwood winter, Locust winter, Blackberry winter, and who knows what else still to deal with. Inoculations for the virus are being given, but the majority of people still don't have them, so we keep our masks and stay away from crowds. (I haven't eaten in a restaurant in so long I will need to review Emily Post so my table manners will not embarrass Martha.) It is windy and my neighbor never did rake his leaves, so they come to reside in my yard. And, it is Lent.
We have been told for so long that we are supposed to be gloomy and uncomfortable during Lent that we have come to believe that it must be this way. All the Lenten music sounds like a dirge, and all that talk about self-denial and repentance begins to feel like a rock in your shoe---it can be tolerated if necessary, but getting rid of it sure will be good.
The best thing I can think of about March is that it contains St. Patrick's Day. What a welcome change from all that left-over winter weather, virus talk, and giving up stuff that goes with Lent. Bring on the corned beef, the shamrocks, and the green beer. Let a little silliness and fun in your life.
Good old Patrick! Born sometime in the Fifth Century in what is today England, son of a deacon and grandson of a priest (celibacy was not a requirement of priests in those days), he had a pretty rough boyhood. He either ran away to Ireland and was sold as a slave, or he was captured by raiders and taken there to be sold. At any rate, he was a slave for several years before escaping and making his way back to his home. He had not been back home long before he had a vision which led him to return to Ireland as a missionary, preaching the gospel.
Patrick was a very persuasive preacher and his ministry attracted followers so that the life of Ireland was transformed, becoming a stronghold of early Christianity. Patrick also became enshrined in legend. He is supposed to have made the shamrock a symbol both of Ireland and of Christianity by using the three-lobed leaves to illustrate the nature of the Trinity. Unfortunately, this story did not begin to be told until 1726, twelve hundred or so years after Patrick's death. He also is said to have driven all the snakes out of Ireland, not that there is any record of there ever having been any snakes there. Patrick did leave us one very positive and inspiring thing, a morning prayer:
I arise today through the strength of heaven; light of the sun, splendor of fire, speed of lightning, swiftness of the wind, depth of the sea, stability of the earth, firmness of the rock.
I arise today through God's strength to pilot me; God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak for me, God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me, God's hosts to save me afar and anear, alone or in a multitude.
Christ shield me today against wounding. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me.
I arise today through the mighty strength of the Lord of creation. If we can begin each day with that attitude, we will find many good things to say about March.
Offering From The Office By Martha Bradley
Becoming Presbyterian was a choice I made after being a member of various Baptist churches for the first thirty years of my life.
I grew up in First Baptist Church in Anderson, South Carolina, and my being there played a significant part in my faith development. I attended Sunday school, worship, Vacation Bible School, Girls Auxiliary, Training Union (Sunday evening Christian Education), church camps, and Ridgecrest Baptist Assembly (kinda like Montreat, except for Baptists!) I can credit the pastors, teachers, and leaders there for the solid biblical foundation I received in that church over the years, and I’m very grateful for that.
When I went off to college at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, I joined Shades Mountain Baptist Church and even attended regularly while in college. Then came marriage and moving to New Orleans for Mike to attend seminary, and I taught English at Chalmette High school. We became members of Elysian Fields Baptist Church while there. After Mike’s completing his seminary degree, we headed to Nashville and Vanderbilt University, where Mike earned his Ph.D. in church history. Woodmont Baptist Church was our church there.
While at Vanderbilt Mike was asked to preach two Sundays at LaVergne Presbyterian Church. That was the beginning of our becoming Presbyterians. Mike was examined and received into the Presbytery of Middle Tennessee, and I became a member of LaVergne Presbyterian Church. Mike was the pastor at LaVergne for six years, even though we were at that point living in Tullahoma. As our children reached the age of participating in classes and activities here in Tullahoma, I moved my church membership to First Presbyterian Church, Tullahoma.
There were a number of factors involved in my decision to become Presbyterian. When asked by folks why I am Presbyterian, I can give several answers.
To begin with, in the 60s and 70s, I found the Presbyterian Church to be involved with the pressing issues of segregation and, even then, sexuality in a way that was deliberately and diligently seeking ways to move forward – not ignoring or denying that problems existed in those areas. I have always felt the church should step out in faith and speak to current issues.
I celebrate the fact that we as Presbyterians are ecumenical, that we recognize that we are one part of the “holy, catholic church,” one part of the whole body of Christ. We know that we do not have all the answers nor do we think everyone should embrace our theological viewpoint, though it’s nice when they do. We are willing to say, “This is the way we see it. Tell me what you think.” Presbyterians are willing to work with fellow Christians, as well as those of other faith traditions.
I like the way our church is governed. The local church is governed by the Session made of up of Ruling Elders and Teaching Elder(s), who are elected by the congregation. In the case of the Teaching Elder, it is done with the oversight of Presbytery. Ideally, the Session is a diverse group of women and men of differing ages and experiences. This governing body is representative in nature, meaning that church members elect leaders from among themselves to make decisions for the church community. The Session basically oversee the daily running of the church. The buck does not stop with the pastor! The pastor is the moderator and a voting member of Session, but the decisions are in the hands of the whole body.
Another aspect of our church government that I like is that Elders are commissioners, not delegates. Commissioners are independent decision makers. They certainly should be attentive to the views of the people they represent, but after discussing the issues, listening to other viewpoints, and praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit (whether in a Session meeting, a Presbytery meeting, or at General Assembly), the commissioner is free to vote his/her conscience.
There are a number of statements in one of our modern confessions, A Brief Statement of Faith, that makes me proud to be a Presbyterian:
“In sovereign love God created the world good and makes everyone equally in God’s image, male and female, of every race and people, to live as one community.”
“The Spirit justifies us by grace through faith, sets us free to accept ourselves and to love God and neighbor, and binds us together with all believers in the one body of Christ, the Church.”
“The same Spirit . . . calls women and men to all ministries of the Church.”
“The Spirit gives us courage . . . to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace.”
“With believers in every time and place, we rejoice that nothing in life or in death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I’ve been happy with the choice I made over 50 years ago to be a Presbyterian. It is the place where I seem to find questions and answers which make sense to me. So, in the words of a former Moderator of the General Assembly, Marj Carpenter, “I am humbly proud to be a Presbyterian.”
Why are you a Presbyterian?
Around and About FPC
Celebrating Easter with Flowers
It’s time to prepare for Easter! We will again decorate the church with live, beautiful lilies to celebrate the Resurrection. As you have probably noticed, we have been using “not so real” flowers in the sanctuary during the pandemic. I like to think of them as being symbolic of the times. Life in the Covid time is not the “real” life we long for. The real lilies will be a welcome sight on Easter morning!
To order lilies for decorating the church you can use the form included in this newsletter (page 8) or call the church office. The cost is $18.50 each, and orders need to be in by March 28. The lilies are a good way to honor someone special or purchase in memory of ______, plus they will make the sanctuary beautiful on Easter morning!
–Mary Jane Christopher
Let’s help Good Sam
Our next Mission Sunday is March 14. Items needed by Good Sam are canned fruits, canned vegetables, dry spaghetti, pasta sauce, soup, soda crackers, cereal, peanut butter, canned tuna, and canned chicken. As you grocery shop, pick up some items for Good Sam, and bring them with you to the worship service on March 14.
If you are not attending worship in person, you may drop off food donations at the Good Sam Food Pantry (Monday – Friday from 9:00 to Noon) or at the Good Samaritan Thrift Store (available Tuesday – Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.)
There is an additional way that you can contribute to the Good Samaritan Food Pantry. You will see a Good Samaritan food box in the narthex to receive the special request food item for the month. The “special request food item” will change month to month. For March the special request item is canned soup – chicken noodle or tomato. Anytime that you come to the church building during the month, you can drop the special request item in the Good Sam box .
FPC Egg Hunt
Saturday, April 3, 2021 (Time and place TBD)
We have decided that this year we should be able to hold our Annual Easter Egg Hunt safely, outdoors. We could use your help. We are asking anyone who is able, to send us a bag (plastic grocery sack) of stuffed plastic eggs. Any number is appreciated! You may drop them off at the church office anytime before noon between March 21 - April 1. (Call Christy if you need to come after noon.)
Thank you in advance for your support!
Daylight Saving Time begins March 14
Be sure to “spring forward” your clock one hour before going to bed on Saturday night, March 13, so you will arrive at Sunday school and the worship service on time on March 14.
Session is organized for its work through standing committees. Every active elder serves on at least one Session committee. If you have ideas, suggestions, or questions about the work of specific committees of the church or if you are interested in serving on one of the committees, please talk to one of these Elders. The list below shows on which committee each Elder is serving.
Finance and Personnel
Jessica Smith, Martha Bradley
Family Activities and Outreach
Nan Hall, Ashley King,
Mary Etta Ward
J. Ray Joellenbeck, Kristi Fruechtl
Congregational Care Committee
The committee reports the following for the month of January: 37 calls, 15 cards, 13 transports, 2 care packages. If you are aware of a situation that needs attention, please let Elaine Huffines, chair of the committee, know about it.
Consider Online Giving To Support The Ministry Of FPC
The First Presbyterian Church of Tullahoma has an “Online Giving” page on our website.
Please go to our Home Page https://www.fpctullahoma.org/
On the banner across the top click on “Online Giving”; this will take you directly to our Online Giving page.
On the Online Giving page you will find step by step instructions on how to use the Online Giving form. At the bottom of the page click on the blue box “Give Now.”
When you click on “Give Now,” an Online Donation form will appear.
There are the five options for your giving donation.
Your Sunday Giving/Pledge
4 cents/Meal Offering
Learning Place Scholarships
Presbyterian Youth Offering
Other (The “Other” box is for you to give a donation as you specify in the text box. As an example you may want to give to any of our Church Missions.)
Enter the amount you want to give; you also have an option to pay the transaction fee of 2.75% of the amount of your donation (3.5% for American Express). Then select the frequency you want to give. If you chose a recurring donation, you will be required to set up your own secure online account. For those who use a mobile device, there is an App in both the IOS and Android stores. Search for GivePlus app and download to your mobile device. Enter the zip code 37388 and select FPC. You now have the ability to give directly from your smart phone or tablet.
If you have any questions, please contact Dan Peres 931 222 9268.
Session Committee Reports
Mission Committee – J. Ray Joellenbeck, Kristi Fruechtl
“No Preaching, No Praying, No Singing, Just Eating” Free Meal Program
The Mission Committee continues to provide delivered meals to folks at Autumn Manor (low-income senior citizens apartment), Oakland Court (next to Autumn Manor), Dossett Apartments, and East Gate Apartments. We started our delivered meal service on June 24. We planned on delivering the meals to our regulars, but we wound up delivering to many new folks we met during our deliveries. We met the new folks while they were outside their homes – the delivery process has turned into an outreach. We performed our seventh delivered meal service on January 24 serving 50 meals of beef stew, bread, and cake for dessert.
The schedule and menus for our next few meals are as follows:
March 28 – pinto beans with ham, cornbread, and dessert
April 25 – hamburger helper, green beans, and dessert
May 23 – pinto beans with ham, cornbread, and dessert
We’re always looking for volunteers to help us show hospitality and reach out to our community to meet a need. If you would like to help, see Ray J. or Kristi Fruechtl, who are coordinating the meals.
Annual Great Bread Auction cancelled AGAIN
Our annual 2021 Great Bread Auction was another victim of Covid-19. Last year the committee cancelled our annual Great Bread Auction due to the pandemic, and again this year the committee decided to cancel it due to concerns of being able to keep social distancing and also because many of our folks are still participating only virtually.
Proceeds from the Great Bread Auction all go to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering. To provide an opportunity to donate to the OGHS, a fish bank and special envelope were included in the “Lent in a Bag” distributed to our church family. An informational pamphlet on the OGHS special offering was also included. Please consider giving generously to OGHS. The funds will support the OGHS Programs: the Presbyterian Hunger Program, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and the Self-Development of People.
Introducing or Re-introducing a Local Mission we support
The Mission Committee would like to introduce or re-introduce our congregation to the various local mission groups we’ve supported over the years. This support may come in the form of financial assistance and/or hands-on mission events. We plan to provide information about one local mission group each month. This month our focus is on 5 Loaves 4 Kids, a local non-profit organization formed in 2007, created in response to a very real issue in our community. Many of our school children go hungry each weekend as families struggle to stretch their food dollars to provide food for them.
With help from the schools’ principals, teachers, and cafeteria coordinators, over 190 critical need children have been identified who could greatly benefit from our support. These are children whose only meals for the day may be the ones they receive at school. This program makes it possible for each of these children to take home individually packaged, single-serving food for the weekend. The packages of food consist of items such as applesauce, crackers, fruit cups, beanie weenies, beef stew, cereal, raisins, and juice boxes.
Finance and Personnel Committee – Ken Diehl
The Committee presented the 2021 budget and it was approved by Session. It is a balanced budget, and unlike several years prior, we are adding funds back into Church Missions.
However, we now know of additional giving and support of approximately $10K and are presenting a revised budget for 2021, as reported at the Congregational Meeting. Session approved these funds to be used to bring the mission line item back to a 2015 level of support.
We have a generous donor willing to give $20,000 to replace the windows and storm doors on the Phoenix Apartments. Based on the current quotation, this is approximately $5,600 short. The Session agreed to fund the balance from reserve funds and approved the project.
Our Children’s Minister, Lou Miley, left us this past year to return to Mississippi. The committee has been working to find a replacement. We have a willing and responsible replacement in Katie Prasser for this position. Katie is slated to begin March 1, 2021.
In March we will look at the 2019-2020 Horizon Bible Study Love Carved in Stone: A Fresh Look at the Ten Commandments. Lesson six is “Words of Love: Hold Your Marriage Sacred.” The purpose of this lesson is to understand God’s desire for deep and faithful relationships in the human family and how behavior that has no boundaries can devastate people and communities. Scripture: Exodus 20:14, Genesis 2:18-25 and John 8:1-11.
Jane Modrall and Bonnie Watts are hostesses.
All women are invited to join us in the Fellowship Hall, Wednesday, March 1l, at 10:00 a.m.
Prayer around the world
Travel writer Rick Steves, who’s a Christian, believes travel can help us see God. He writes of gaining new insights into prayer from a so-called “whirling dervish” (a sort of Muslim monk) in Turkey. Before demonstrating how he prays, the man explained to Steves:
“When we pray, we keep one foot in our community, anchored in our home. The other foot steps around and around, acknowledging the beautiful variety of God’s creation … touching all corners of this great world. I raise one hand up to acknowledge the love of God, and the other hand goes down like the spout of a teapot. As I spin around, my hand above receives the love from our Creator, and my hand below showers it onto all of his creation.”
Most of us probably won’t add whirling to our prayer practices! And we likely already pray for people near and far. But what if we pictured ourselves both anchored at home and stepping out among God’s whole creation? What if we imagined God’s love pouring into us, then out of us onto all the world? How might such an approach to prayer influence how we live?
That’s the point!
If prayer stands as the place where God and human beings meet, then I must learn about prayer. Most of my struggles in the Christian life circle around the same two themes: why God doesn't act the way we want God to, and why I don't act the way God wants me to. Prayer is the precise point where those themes converge.
When God Giggles
Before dinner, our family was preparing to pray, which we do by holding hands. Upon discovering that one child hadn’t washed his hands, my husband struck a contorted pose to avoid physical contact. The mealtime blessing quickly dissolved into laughter as we each peeked at him.
Afterward, as we passed around the food, I asked, “What do you imagine God thought about us laughing during prayer?” One child quickly replied, “I think he was laughing right along with us.”
Yes! Although prayer is reverent, God invites us to converse with words, emotions — and even giggles!
God In My Hands
When I was ready to give up on the Church, it was the sacraments that pulled me back.
When my faith had become little more than an abstraction, a set of propositions to be affirmed or denied, the tangible, tactile nature of the sacraments invited me to touch, smell, taste, hear, and see God in the stuff of everyday life again. They got God out of my head and into my hands. They reminded me that Christianity isn’t meant to simply be believed; it’s meant to be lived, shared, eaten, spoken, and enacted in the presence of other people. They reminded me that, try as I may, I can’t be a Christian on my own.
—Rachel Held Evans
Paying it back — and forward
During the pandemic, acts of kindness seemed especially meaningful. Last spring, as Covid-19 hit Native American communities particularly hard, an interesting transatlantic outreach occurred. Donations from Ireland began appearing in a relief fund for Navajo and Hopi families, leading administrators to suspect the account had been hacked. Then they realized a cross-generational payback was underway.
In 1847, Choctaw Tribe members sent $170 overseas to Ireland to help with Potato Famine relief. That generosity was never forgotten, and by May 2020, people in Ireland had contributed more than $4 million toward pandemic assistance for relatives of people who’d helped their ancestors. Many donors included an Irish proverb meaning “In each other’s shadows the people live.”
The concept of paying it forward dates back to a 1784 letter by Benjamin Franklin. It also echoes Jesus’ Golden Rule: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). How might you live out this practice today?
For most of us, the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.
John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted
On the “Three Sides” podcast (ELCA, Sept. 6, 2018), Wendy Davidson, a leader at the Kellogg Company, shares how her Christianity informs her work. Because her adult faith emerged from several denominational influences, she considers variety to be a strength, not only spiritually but throughout life.
Davidson encourages her co-workers to bring their unique personalities and ideas to the table to create a metaphorical salad. “It doesn’t mean that the salad now becomes one homogenous blob; it is still distinctly the flavors of the salad ingredients,” she says. “But they’ve all found a way to come together to make something that much more flavorful than they could have been all on their own.”
Viewing church and our communities this way could be transformative. What if we welcome different people, invite ideas and resist melding everything into one giant blob? Then we can savor each “ingredient” and the resulting gourmet dish. Delicious!
Setting Captives Free
Though St. Patrick’s Day has become a secular “holiday,” March 17 commemorates the life of a Christian missionary. St. Patrick grew up in a Christian home in Britain but wasn’t very devout until he experienced crisis. As a teen, he was captured and sold into slavery in Ireland, escaping after six years. “The Lord opened my unbelieving eyes” in Ireland, Patrick later said. God led him back there, and he converted tribe after tribe to Christianity.
In Confessio 61, St. Patrick writes, “I testify in truth and in great joy of heart before God and his holy angels that I never had any other reason for returning to that nation … except the Gospel and God’s promises.
The next issue of the Newsletter will be the April 2021 issue. The deadline for submitting information and articles is noon on Tuesday, March 16.