Posted on by Ann Rowan

My name is Leah Smith. I an Elder currently serving on the Session as a spiritual leader of First Presbyterian Church. Before I begin, I’d like to ask our Session members to stand. This group represents the current leadership of the church approved by vote of the congregation plus our ministers. We continue to ask for your prayers in support of our efforts. As a Session, we’ve been working on several important initiatives to take our beloved 180-year-old church into the future. The journey is exciting, but long. Today I will take a few minutes to present an update of five critical issues we’re undertaking with the guidance of our transitional pastor, Greg Cruice, and the word of God, such as Proverbs 3 Verses 5-6. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 

In the past, the Session has operated predominately as a board of directors, and it has managed the business of the church. With Greg’s direction, we’re transitioning to become spiritual leaders, to guide the congregation in Christ’s teachings, to be disciples and make disciples, recognizing Jesus Christ as the vine and we are the branches designed to spread His word and His love. To help prepare ourselves to be spiritual leaders, The Session is currently completing a daily Bible study to learn and live the teachings of God, and to assist us in becoming true spiritual leaders. For you. For us. And for the community. 

Second, we recently asked for your participation in the Hearing, Healing and Unity sessions. We thank you for your time, comments, and candor. The comments seemed to be consistent across most the sessions. Most felt the Session did what had to be done in a very difficult situation. A few expressed a desire to put the past behind us and move forward to a brighter future. A couple of people expressed a need for more outreach to current members so that everyone will feel connected to the church, especially during COVID. Several of our young adults would like a stronger voice in decisions and have their ideas heard. Please know that all comments have been noted and we will make an effort to incorporate those suggestions into positive future actions. Those that participated in the sessions should have had an opportunity to view a copy of the comments. If you did not, please contact Ann in the church office. 

Third, we’re reorganizing our current committee structure. All of our committees - worship, congregational care, mission/outreach, finance, property, communications and discipleship - will be restructured and those groups will become teams. Why are we doing this? One of the major reasons we’re restructuring is to better utilize the skills available in the congregation and to include those who wish to be involved in the life of our church. We have many talented, passionate people currently in our congregation who would like opportunities to serve our Lord. You will hear more about our new teams as the summer progresses. 

Fourth, in an analysis of our finances, we felt our mission and outreach funding was less than it should be. As a Session, we voted to be good stewards of our church funds and give 10% of our income to our mission and outreach team. This increase will put a bigger emphasis on missions and automatically expand our outreach. We ask you to prayerfully consider your resources to help us spread the vine of Jesus Christ. 

Lastly, we have received questions about the status of our new pastor search. As we have said from the beginning, there are many things to accomplish before FPC will be ready to begin the search for a permanent pastor. The steps I just mentioned are just a few we are currently undertaking to prepare FPC to receive a new pastor. This is something we cannot rush into, so please be patient as we work through the process. What is that process you ask? It begins with a great deal of prayer for guidance. Then, we need to discern the direction, vision, and calling that God has for FPC. After that has been revealed, we can then begin to look for a shepherd to fit our needs. We are certain that person is out there, and that God is preparing their hearts for us as we continue to prepare ourselves for them. 

So - What can you do right now? 1. Support and cover your session and FPC with prayer and be patient, 2. Consider getting involved in the life of the church, 3. Prayerfully continue to support FPC with your tithes. As I close, take comfort in Philippians 4 Verses 6-7: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication and with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Thank you.

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