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Ashes and Affirmation February is the month of Punxsutawney Phil and St. Valentine, the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln; it’s the month of the Super Bowl (and Souper Bowl) and Blanket Sunday. At this point in the year, the dark, cold days of winter have worn on my very last nerve and I am ready for the daylight to wax longer and the temps to grow warmer. The promise of springtime is so close I can taste it….but, alas, it is not to be enjoyed just yet. Most especially for us as followers of Jesus, this February is the month of Transfiguration and Ashes and Lent. Within 72-hours, we go from standing on a mountaintop with Jesus all aglow (Mark 9:2-9) to kneeling in repentance with ashes on our heads as Lent begins (Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21). From the mountaintop to the pit of sin in one fell swoop is enough to give a soul whiplash. Ironically (or is it a God thing?), Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday this year. On the day when we celebrate our love for the most beloved people in our lives, we have the opportunity to gather in worship to be marked with ashes, a symbol of our mortality as God declares an unconditional love for us. “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine…because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you…” (Isaiah 43:1, 4). I think this is how we are able to go from the peak to the pit so swiftly without crashing. We are upheld by the gracious and loving hand of God. Our safe haven is always in tact, even when the rest of the world seems to be falling in around us. The Lenten reminder is that, while our sin is the large part of the 40-day journey, God’s grace through Jesus Christ is how the story ends. For the last several years it has been my Ash Wednesday tradition to post the following poem on my Facebook page. Maybe you’ve read it on my page before and if so it’s worth another read. If you’re reading this for the first time, however, I pray it brings you as much conviction and hope as it does to me each and every year. And so, as we embark on this another Lenten journey in search of our Easter joy, I leave you with these words from J. Barrie Shepherd: Continued on pg. 6...

Faith Alive

Presbyterian Women News Circle Schedule for February Monday, February 12


Circle 1

10:00 a.m. in the Parlor

Circle 2

10:30 a.m. in the Living Room at Covenant Village

Louise Keir and Mary Layton

Circle 3

2:00 p.m. in the Card Room at Covenant Village

Moderator: Cookie Brenner

Circle 5

No meeting in February

Circle 6

6:30 p.m. in the Parlor

Tuesday, February 13 Circle 4

10:00 a.m. in the PAD

Karen Simmons, Angie Sellers, and VA Avery

Blanket Sunday will be February 18th We see all kinds of disasters every day on the news. Prayerfully consider a donation to Blanket Sunday to help families suffering disasters everywhere. All donations go to Church World Service to be used around the world to help families recover from disasters. CWS helps people in a time of crisis by giving them the resources they need for the long road to recovery. Blankets and other types of support are provided not only in the United States but also around the world anywhere disaster strikes. Blanket Sunday is just one of the many ministries that Presbyterian Women support. Each $10.00 donation provides a blanket for someone in need at home or abroad. Do you know a woman who has made a difference in the life of our church? Honorary Lifetime Membership in the Presbyter ian Women's or ganization is confer red upon an individual in recognition of her faithful service in some area of the Church's work. The person's selection is announced at the Birthday Luncheon in May. The 2018 nomination forms are available at the Reception Desk. Completed forms need to be returned to the Reception Desk by March 1. A list of previous recipients, can be found on page 5 of the 2017-2019 Presbyterian Women's Directory.


Wednesday Prayer Luncheon

Casserole Care Schedule


Circle 2

Circle 6


Circle 4

Circle A

More News From Presbyterian Women READY, SET, BAKE!!!! PW Bake Sale Fast Facts When do I drop off my homemade items? Friday, March 9, 4:00-6:00 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. How do I package my casseroles? The Bake Sale Committee has purchased pans for you!! Yes, they are free!! Pans are available for pick up at the Reception Desk. Casseroles should be wrapped in heavy-duty foil only (no casserole lids) and then placed in a 1-gallon Ziploc bag. Please use the plain zipper ones and not the ones that slide closed. Soup and stew containers are also available at the Reception Desk. If you plan to purchase your own containers, please contact Dianne Belton ( or 704.678.2258) or Kay Brown ( or 704.865.5890) for specific pan instructions. Uniform pan dimensions are critical for storage and pricing. When is the sale? Satur day, March 10th, 9:00-11:00 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall. Will you have more crock pot meals? Absolutely!! Come ear ly before they sell out. Women’s Sunday will be March 11th. We will be joined by Lisle Gwynn Gar r ity, a Pastor ist (pastor and artist) and the founder of A Sanctified Art. You can read more about her at and Please join us for a fascinating and colorful morning celebrating the Women of the Church and the Girl Scouts. Scholarship Given By Presbyterian Women of the Presbytery of Western NC Applications are available now at the Reception Desk for any high school senior and are due February 15. Eligible applicants must be a member of the church, be of sound Christian character, be in need of financial assistance, be a graduate of an accredited high school or prep school, and be qualified for admission to a four year accredited institution of higher learning. Students presently enrolled in a four year institution are also eligible. Two scholarships of $1,500 will be awarded at the Spring Gathering for the Presbyterian Women of North Carolina. Applications should be submitted to the Western NC Presbyterian Women Scholarship Committee.

Vanacore Installed Pictures from the January 27th meeting of the Presbytery of Western NC. Elders from FPC (left); Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore installed as vice-moderator of the presbytery. (Photos courtesy of Cookie Brenner.)

You Can Help. . .


MEALS ON WHEELS Meals on Wheels is in need of a volunteer to deliver meals on the second Friday of each month. The route of First Presbyterian should take no longer than an hour of time. Please contact: Betsy Summer: #704 865-6116; cell # 704 689-1830 or email JOIN THE PRESBYTERY TRIP TO MALAWI May 12 - May 28, 2018

We collect this offering the 2nd Sunday of each month. It goes to hunger relief projects within the presbytery and around the globe. Please give as you are able.

You Gave Through the Missions Ministry… 


$500 in response to a request for support for the teachers of Ashbrook High School. $500 in honor of Josie Miller to the charity of her choice.

Ticket Raffle The Missions Ministry has secured 4 coveted reserved seating tickets to the Boys and Girls Clubs’ Dancing for Future Stars 2018 to be held on Saturday evening, March 17 at the Gaston Country Club. The Missions Ministry has affectionately dubbed Rev. Lauren Vanacore as “Twinkle Toes” as she represents FPC at this year’s 9th annual fundraiser for the BGC. Support Lauren as she dances the night away to benefit the amazing children of Gaston County! Here’s how to play:  Beginning February 11, there will be a display outside Lauren’s office.  Make a contribution of any amount to the Boys and Girls Clubs and then enter your name in the box to win. 

Please put Lauren’s name on the memo line of checks, made payable to the Boys and Girls Clubs.


Cash contributions must have one’s name affixed to be entered into the raffle. Two names will be drawn and awarded two tickets each on Monday, March 5. All contributions entered into the raffle will go directly to the mission and ministry of the Boys and Girls Clubs and are tax deductible.  Winners will be contacted the evening of March 5.

 

90th Birthday Luncheon

...continued from pg. 1 ASH WEDNESDAY by J. Barrie Shepherd Why not Affirm yourself this Lent. Be kind and gentle to your you. Go walking, learn to breathe, read a book, Know bread, and wine and flesh, Love yourself Enough to give it As a gift of love to life, Or death. Share hope with one who mourns, Grief with one who laughs, And rediscover all the yous You left behind in getting to this place From which, with ashes on your head, you go In search of Easter. I hope to see you at the Ash Wednesday worship service at 6:30pm on February 14 in the Sanctuary (preceded by a light supper in the Fellowship beginning at 5:30) as together we go forward in confidence, marked with ashes and God’s love. Peace,

to Rachel and Aaron Mead, who welcomed a son, Van Mead, (7 lb., 20.25") on January 27, 2018. Aaron is our former Director of Youth Ministries

Adult Ministries 4+4+4 ADDS UP TO WINNING WEDNESDAYS! 4 WEDNESDAYS * 4 GREAT MEALS * 4 THOUGHTFUL PROGRAMS February 14 & 28 and March 14 & 28 Our first date is February 14, Ash Wednesday. The meals during Lent will be purposefully simple. Feb. 14 will feature Santa Fe chili, salad, cornbread, and dessert prepared by Ibby Page and her team. Meal Time: 5:30-6:15 p.m. Reservations are recommended but not required. If you have difficulty arriving at the church during mealtime just let us know and we will pack a plate for you. Program: Ash Wednesday Worship, 6:30 p.m. Other upcoming team events: Feb. 28 will feature speaker Kent Tilley speaking on the topic of “Reconciliation and the Epidemic of Loneliness” with a meal by Jim Cookson and his team. Barbara Yarbrough will head up the meal team on March 14 and the Henderlite Class will serve the meal on March 28. More details on speakers will be coming soon. Faith & Fiction Sunday, March 4, 5:00 p.m. at Covenant Village. This month’s book is Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. RoadRunners Trip Please join the Roadrunners as they travel to Allison Creek Presbyterian Church, York, SC on Thursday, March 1, for an evening of Bluegrass music. The church has been offering this Bluegrass concert every first and third Thursday since 2003. Admission is free and hot dogs, hamburgers and homemade desserts are sold prior to the concert. The concert begins at 7pm, with food available at 6:30. The bus will leave at 5:30 pm from the church parking lot. Call the Receptionist desk for reservations by Monday, February 26. ADULT MINISTRIES

Come to the Valentine's Dinner Sunday, February 11 at 5:30 p.m. Enjoy a great meal, a live game show-The Newlywed Game-and a good time together. Tickets are $7.50 each or $15 per couple. Free childcare is available (infants and toddlers in the nursery, older children at the PAD). Let Jill Kimbirl know how many children are coming and their ages so we can be prepared; Call the Reception Desk or go to our church website ( to register.

Welcome, New Members!!! Craig Watson, son of Tom Watson and gr andson of Kitty and Cr aig Watson, grew up in First Presbyterian Church. His son, Thomas Craig Watson, IV, lives in Florida. Craig is married to Julia and is employed by Watson Insurance Co. John and Sharon McGerrigle are presently tr ansfer r ing member ship from First Presbyterian Church, Dallas, NC. John has long standing familial memories of his grandparents, Clara and James McGerrigle who were active members of this church, so it feels very much like a homecoming. John was a professional soldier who received his criminal justice degree in the US Army, but has since retired and works for GKN Industries. He met his wife Sharon overseas while she was working as an international nurse. She is a native of Great Britain and continues to provide healthcare, with Dr. Watts.

Pam Joles was r aised in Louisville, KY and received her BA in Education from the University of Kentucky and Masters in Education from the University of Louisville. She taught eighth grade English and Social Studies for 9 years in Louisville. Pam is married to Bill Joles and their 40th wedding anniversary is Feb. 11th. They have one daughter, Pamela Beth Joles, who lives in Columbia, SC. After moving to several states in their 30’s they settled in Gastonia and opened the International Minute Press. They currently own two locations, Gastonia and North Lake, Charlotte, NC.

ADULT MINISTRIES Ron Nesheim was r aised on a far m in Nor th Dakota in the 1930s and gr aduated from the University of North Dakota with a BS in Chemical Engineering. He was employed by two companies-DuPont and Lithium Corporation-in several locations for 45 years. “My first wife, Lois, and I had five children, one perishing with Lois in a garage fire on her 30th birthday. My 2nd wife, Shirley, and I had one child. Shirley died from a brain tumor in 1996. In 1998 I married Kay, who just joined First Presbyterian Church. In 2000 I had heart bypass surgery that left me in a coma, after which I had to learn to talk, write, and walk again. I thank God for His boundless love and healing power.”

Worship and Music Ministry Notes 1. Worship & Music has been reorganized to include one-year terms of representatives from each of the church’s three worship services: Dottie LaFar (traditional), Caroline Letts & Betty Burrell (Thrive), and Greg Cherry (Fourth Sunday). Below is printed the Worship & Music Committee membership. We covet your comments and suggestions regarding worship at First Presbyterian. Our responsibility is not delivering sermons, but it is providing a worshipful and inspiring environment for each service. All members of Worship & Music are available to you. Cookie Brenner,Chair—2018


One Year Representative

Esther Nelson, Co-chair— 2019

Senior Minister—John Frye

Traditional Service—Dottie LaFar

Les Dix, Secretary—2020

Director of Music—Bethany Jennings Thrive Service—Caroline Letts

Mary Ann Aycock—2018

Organist—David Jennings

Brian Schroeder—2018

Thrive Musician—Matt Smith

Fourth Sunday Service—Greg Cherry

Wayne Finley—2018 Warren Quarles—2019 Becky Voorhees—2019 Mandy Coffey—2019

2. The Time & Talent Survey responses identify 29 congregates interested in being part of our welcoming and greeting service to our three church services. Expect a call or letter. We need you!!! 3. The acolyte program has been suspended. 4. The traditional service will include a Time with Children only on the 2nd and 4th Sundays. Children’s Church is offered every Sunday of the month except the first. 5. A. Communion is offered by intinction the first Sunday of every month at Thrive. B. Communion will be offered by intinction at the summer Fourth Sunday services. C. Communion will be offered 6 times by intinction and 6 times by communion stewards at the traditional service this year. ADULT MINISTRIES 6. Worship & Music is dedicated to help guide meaningful services in which our congregation may worship and grow spiritually as we gather here in different venues of worship to praise our Lord. Cookie Brenner, Chair


Elders Class of 2018

Class of 2020

Cookie Brenner Jim Brown Tyler Bullock Susanne Current Lisa Dent Ralph Dickson Tim Efird Buck Glenn Judy Planer Billy Simmons

Ellen Cinq-Mars Les Dix Hub Hickson Robbie Lineberger David Ratchford Janet Spencer Marsh Spencer

Class of 2019

Carol Brittain Kathy Gallman Vann Matthews Esther Nelson Richard Rankin Anna Renfro Roger Rizk Pat Schultz Sylvia Seawell

Class of 2018 Rissie Bryant Josie Conner Jami Faris Jennifer Gibson Barbara Hite Allison Howe Dorcas Moss Chrissie Pierce Warren Quarles Trey Robinson

ADULT MINISTRIES Class of 2019 Greg Cherry Lee DuBois Frances Henry Sally Hilton Rick Hovis Brian Levy Brian Schroeder Angie Sellers Beverly Stewart Nan Thomas

Class of 2020 Jeff Beaty Mary Lauren Keeny Lillian Osei-Boateng Ernest Sumner II Judy Thiele Tom Wallace Cindy Wilson

Thank YOU, Josie!     Thank you for everything! As  many  of  you  have  heard,  I  am  entering  into  my  final  me  here at FPC Gastonia. My last day will be this coming Sunday,  February 11th. It is so bi ersweet for my  me here to come to  an  end,  but  this  was  certainly  a  decision  not  made  quickly  or  without thought. Instead this was a choice made carefully and  with a heavy heart. For quite some  me now I have felt God calling me to move towards something new. It’s a tug  I am sure many of you may have felt at some point in your life, and a tug like that from God is a  tough one to ignore! So a er some  me and considera on, I finally decided to listen. Just as I  have always been a stubborn child in general, I can o en be a stubborn child of God when it  comes to walking in obedience. It is because of each of you that this decision has been such a difficult one, so I wanted to take  a moment to thank you all for the many blessings that this church has given me. There are so  many good memories made here at First Presbyterian Church of Gastonia that will not soon be  forgo en. There are so many faces I will miss seeing and so many kind friends to thank. So I  want  to  offer  my  most  hear elt  gra tude  to  all  of  you  for  being  my  family,  my  friends,  and  such a consistently welcoming group of individuals. It  is  my  prayer  that  just  as  God  has  called  me  away,  He  is  calling  the  next  Youth  Director  towards this wonderful church to serve and advance this youth program even further. One of  my favorite verses in general and during this season is Proverbs 19:21, which reads “Many are  the plans in a person’s heart but it’s the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” My journey towards this  church family started long before I came to FPC in 2015. God was weaving my story carefully  and  knew  I’d  end  up  in  this  community,  this  church  and  this  role  eventually  and  I  have  no  doubt he is doing the exact same for the individual who will take my place. God is good all the  ADULT MINISTRIES me and all the  me God is good.   Thank you for absolutely everything.     ‐Josie

January Worship Attendance Join Music Ministries Share your talents! Sing or ring with the FPC choir or handbells! Rehearsals are: Sanctuary Ringers, Wednesdays, 5:35 - 6:35 p.m.; Sanctuary Choir, Wednesdays, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. See a choir member or director Bethany Jennings to learn more.

Date 1/7/18 1/14/18 1/21/18 1/28/18

Thrive 102 94 70

Walton Funeral Elkins Funeral Zeigler Funeral

Traditional 159 143 186 265

165 300 150

Gastonia Parish Nurse Ministry Upcoming Events: See the Parish Nurse Ministry Program Book for details Worship and Music Notes Feb 25—Save A Heart Sunday- encouraging members to wear red, and be aware of materials that will be available March 9—Light a Path event at the Schiele Museum Nature Trail, 7:00-8:00 p.m. March 23—NC MedAssist, Friday, March 23, 9 a.m.—2 p.m. at FUMC

First Press

Our scouts from Troop 11 are selling pine needles. Bales arrive on March 17. Order by going online (, or contacting a scout. The troop also has a trailer for sale (6’x10’ enclosed cargo trailer; asking $1,000). Contact Bob Rouse at 704-309-2822.


February 2018






Thrive Sunday School Traditional Worship 11:00 am Five Cents A Meal 05:30 pm. Valentine’s Dinner

10:00 am 06:30 pm

09:00 am 10:00 am 11:00 am

Calendar of Events TUESDAY 13

Circle #1 Circle #6

07:30 am 09:30 am 10:00 am 05:00 pm 06:00 pm


PET Meeting Staff Meeting Circle #4 Personnel Ministry Mtg. Building and Grounds Ministry Mtg.

All Day 07:00 am

10:00 am 05:30 pm 05:30 pm 05:35 pm 06:30 pm 07:00 pm



Blanket Sunday 10:00 am Thrive Sunday School Traditional Worship 05:30 pm. Mid High Youth All Day 09:00 am 10:00 am 11:00 am

20 PW Crock Pot Assembly

09:30 am 04:30 pm 05:30 pm

06:00 pm 06:15 pm 07:00 pm 07:15 pm

21 Staff Meeting Communication Ministry Mtg. Membership Development Ministry Christian Education Worship and Music Thrive Rehearsal Young Women’s Gathering

07:00 am

10:00 am 10:30 am 11:00 am

12:00 pm 05:30 pm 05:30 pm 05:35 pm 07:00 pm


ASH 07:30 am WEDNESDAY Men’s 08:30 am Fellowship 10:00 am Breakfast Sewing Ministry 4+4+4 Wednesday First Kidz Hand Bells Ash Wednesday Service Sanctuary Choir






Finance Ministry Mtg. Yoga Backpack Program

22 Men’s 07:00 am Fellowship Breakfast 08:30 am Sewing Ministry 10:00 am Roadrunner Ministry Mtg. Backpack Delivery & Storage Lenten Lunch First Kidz Wee Sing Handbells Sanctuary Choir


Bibles and Biscuits Yoga Backpack Program





09:00 am 10:00 am 11:00 am

09:00 am

Thrive Sunday School Traditional Worship 05:30 pm Senior High 06:00 am. Session Mtg.

10:00 am


Bible Moderators Presbyterian Women’s Counsel Mtg.

11:30 am 05:30 pm

07:00 pm


Staff Meeting Missions Ministry Meeting Thrive Rehearsal

07:00 am

10:00 am 05:30 pm 05:30 pm 05:30 pm 05:35 pm 07:00 pm


Men’s 08:30 am Fellowship 10:00 am Breakfast Sewing Ministry 05:30 pm 4+4+4 Wednesday First Kidz Wee Sing Handbells Sanctuary Choir


Yoga Backpack Program Roadrunner Trip


February 7 2018 all pages and calendar  
February 7 2018 all pages and calendar