April, 2017
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Cliff's Notes :: Around First Central
Congratulations and Celebrations :: New Members
April and May Calendar

Cliff's Notes
Dear friends,

Holy Week is approaching. It is easy to do what most people tend to do this time of year:  rush to the Resurrection—rush to Easter.  When Palm Sunday rolls around, our excitement sometimes tempts us to rush past the holy days ahead of us in order to get to the Easter egg hunts and chocolate bunnies.

We are part of a culture that takes a lot of time, energy, and determination to (so to speak) get on with it…rushing to the end of you name it.  We want our food…fast.  We want to be at the top of the waiting list…now.  We want to know the ending…before the story even begins.  Did you know that the new trend in TV watching is called “binge-watching”?  This means pulling an all-nighter by viewing an entire season of a TV show!

Today, I’m thankful for being part of a congregation that seeks to approach this important week in a counter-cultural way:  taking it slow.  Each day this week is a significant moment in our journey to the Cross.  Even though we live in a Good Friday world, we often try to skip past the pain and suffering that happened on the week leading to Jesus’ death. 

Let me invite you to take a minute, wherever you are…to pause.  Put your focus on Christ.  Be still and know the divine “I love you” is working in and around your life, whether you know it or not.  One of my professors in seminary liked to remind us that, “our inability to reach God will not stop God from reaching us.”  Trust that promise this week, and try not to rush ahead to Easter Sunday. 

George Macdonald once prayed a prayer that I want to offer to you for encouragement on our holy journey next week:  “Lord, teach us to understand that your Son died to save us not from suffering, but from ourselves, not from injustice, far less from justice, but from being unjust.  He died that we might live—but live as he lives, by dying as he died who died to himself.”

May this continue to be a Holy Week for you as we journey together to the Cross…day by day.

Keep on keeping on,

Around First Central
A Word from Jacob Snowden, DCE

For the serious lover of movies, you probably have a different understanding of an Easter Egg hunt than what we do at First Central on Easter morning. In film, Easter eggs are quirky or snarky little things to find that don’t quite belong in a film. For instance, you could find R2-D2 in the hieroglyphs of Raiders of the Lost Ark. After Marty McFly crashes his DeLorean time machine into a tree in Back to the Future, the Twin Pines Mall becomes the Lone Pine Mall.

Twice in Matthew 25 people ask of Jesus, “Lord, when was it that we saw you?” Like an Easter Egg easily passed over in a film, both the righteous and unrighteous, according to Matthew 25, fail to find the hiddenness of Jesus in their encounters with the least of the hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, and imprisoned. The people of Matthew 25 are like the oblivious moviegoers who have jokes staring them in the face, yet they go unnoticed. They are the children who run through the yard, but tall blades of grass or a little underbrush keep the Easter surprises unnoticed.

Lent is a season of preparation. During Lent people prepare themselves for the surprises that come on Easter morning. By sacrificing something, people train themselves to recall the story of Jesus not only in his passion but also in his life and ministry. By focusing on Jesus, people can become more attuned to the small, often unnoticed ways that God has chosen to move and act in the world.

Notice the small things; the things that go unnoticed by others. And in finding what is often neglected, by grace, we might discover treasure in Earthen vessels (or plastic eggs) that can bring a joy and some measure of peace.

First Central’s annual Easter Egg hunt will happen Easter Sunday morning shortly after breakfast—around about 10am. Candy donations are welcome by Palm Sunday. We have several other ways the children can be involved in worship around Easter time. On Palm Sunday, our children will process with palm crosses in both services, and on Easter Sunday, our children famously flower the cross the stands in the sanctuary. Older members are invited to bring flowers on Easter morning. Also, First Central’s Confirmation classes begin the Sunday after Easter, April 23rd. Confirmation classes are for those in the 6th grade older who are considering confirmation; classes begin at 4:00 pm.

Small signs of grace are all around. Keep your eyes peeled. Happy Easter.
Jacob Snowden
Director of Christian Education

Youth and Emerging Adults News
By Kristen Harris-Bridwell
Director of Youth and Emerging Adult Ministries

On Sunday at 2:32 PM, an exhausted yet happy group of Youth and Youth Leaders arrived in the parking lot of FCPC from a weekend retreat at Mo Ranch. The Youth make this pilgrimage to Hunt, Texas every year in the spring for a weekend of games, food, and laughter. It’s a fun trip, it’s a fast trip, it’s an exhausting trip, it’s a memorable trip. The Youth absolutely LOVE this retreat!

No matter how much time and thought is put into planning this weekend in an attempt to combat every foreseeable problem, something always breaks down. Someone always gets upset, someone always gets hurt (whether hurt feelings or hurt elbows), and someone always gets a sunburn (several someones!). That’s the nature of spending time with other people. Even with the common goals of fun, learning, and relaxation, tensions arise and hearts are bruised.

This year’s retreat preacher, Sarah Greenfield of FBC Abilene, spoke of courage: the courage to begin, to endure, to see others, and to have hope. It was an apt theme for a weekend like the retreat. Being one who attempts to walk in The Way of Jesus the Christ is not easy. It takes courage to begin the journey – to try something new. It takes courage to endure through the stresses and the hardships of life while maintaining some sort of greater purpose. It takes courage to see other people, to really SEE them, and to enter into relationships with those on the margins. It takes courage to have hope in this world filled with uncertainty, sorrow, and evil. In general, it takes courage to live life. It takes even more courage to choose to live the Christian life of margin seeking and counter-culture speaking. If your living out of your faith doesn’t take courage, I dare say, you are doing it wrong.

We repeatedly teach our Youth that what we do at church is practice what the Kin-dom of Heaven looks like. We practice kindness, gentleness, and patience. We practice loving our neighbor AND our enemy. We practice forgiveness and turning the other cheek. The Austin Youth Room is our sacred workshop and the annual spring retreat is a heightened extension of our workshop - a pressure cooker of drama and excitement. As in years past, the Youth Group returns to FCPC exhausted yet refreshed, ready for some alone time yet feeling more connected to one another than ever before.

With the lessons of practicing faith in courageous ways fresh in mind, the Youth will spend the month of April preparing for Youth Sunday on April 30th. Youth members will lead every portion of the service, including the sermon! Please pray that our Youth will have courage as they prepare for the service and as they lead us all in worship. Also, make sure to be in attendance on the 30th at either the 8:30 am or the 11:00 am worship service. It promises to be a fun one!

Peace be the journey,
Kristen

Holy Week Luncheons 2017—Red Letter Jesus

In 1899, a magazine editor named Louis Klopsch thought, ‘What if there was a Bible with the words spoken by Jesus printed in red ink?’ Since that eureka moment, generations of Christians have benefitted from the words of Jesus in typographical relief. His words in red print begs a question: Who is this Jesus? Will we let his words change our lives?

Continuing our tradition we will enjoy this ecumenical series during the noon hour of Holy Week.  This is a tradition that has been held yearly for over 35 years.  It reflects the good spirit that exists between churches in our city. Please see the FCPC Home Page for more information about this year's luncheons.

Maundy Thursday Service

Join us on Maundy Thursday, April 13, for our traditional Maundy Thursday service. This is a unique contemplative service that is a favorite for many of our members. The service begins at 7 p.m. and Communion will be served.

Easter Breakfast

Be sure and join us on Easter Sunday, April 16, for our traditional FCPC Easter Breakfast, served between 9 and 10:30 a.m. in Faith Hall. The Deacons provide this delicious breakfast with all the fixings for just $3 per person. Please sign up at the information desk if you can so we know how many to expect!

Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Sunday at 9:45 the hunting commences! Bring your kids, grandkids, and friends to FCPC’s annual Easter Egg Hunt. There will be some light refreshments and plenty of treats hidden around FCPC’s playground for the grabbing. If you would like to donate candy to make the egg hunt even sweeter, please bring it to the church by Palm Sunday, April 9.

Flowering of the Cross

The Flowering of the Cross will take place on Easter Sunday at both services. Members are asked to bring fresh flowers on Easter morning and place them in the baskets in the foyer and on the parlor table. Have your child meet in the parlor prior to either service if they would like to participate. We hope you will join us in this FCPC tradition!

Easter Lilies

Memorial and Honorary Easter Lily forms are available at the church office. Easter Lilies will decorate our sanctuary on Easter Sunday and then be distributed to our homebound members. These lilies are a beautiful way to honor or provide a memorial for loved ones. Please return all forms by Wednesday, April 12.

Hymn Festival

A “Hymn Festival” is happening during the 11 am worship service on Sunday, April 23.  We are pulling out all the stops.  A full brass ensemble will accompany the choir and congregation in celebrating the hymnody of the church.

We really want you to come to the 11 am service.  We will have a small 8:30 am service but this is one Sunday we encourage you to make every effort to come at 11am if possible. Special commendation if you attend both services as they will be entirely different.

So mark your calendar now for the BIG Hymn Festival on Sunday, April 23, 11 am, the Sunday after Easter.

Spring Into B.O.B.S. Funding Campaign!

A local donor has generously offered to do a percentage matching of all contributions received between March 1 and April 30, so your dollars will go further if you donate now.

Note: B.O.B.S. averages 60-90 guests per day, 5 days a week, providing breakfast and a sack lunch if desired. We treat all that Christ sends to our door with grace and dignity in His Name.
Donations can be made through FCPC with the notation "for B.O.B.S." or sent directly to B.O.B.S. at P.O. Box 5911, Abilene, TX 79608.

For more information, contact Margaret Beasley at 692-4149.

FCPC Meditation & Community Garden Happenings

Check out the progress being made in the meditation and community garden…

  • 32-ft of new flower bed along Beech St. side of garden.
  • New stone bench assembled by volunteers from Dyess AFB
  • Master Gardeners are planning to create a 60-ft. flower bed along the N. 4th St.

If you have extra plants at your house, bring them to the garden any Tuesday between 1-3 p.m. or Thursday between 3-5 p.m.

Interested in watering trees, planting, or knocking down tall grass? Drop by the garden any Tuesday or Thursday afternoon and lend a hand! The garden is overseen by Presbyterian Women and all are invited to get involved.

Food Pantry Reception

You are invited to a reception at the Food Pantry on May 9 at 10:30 am. We are honoring Frances Buzard who has “retired” as the “CEO” of the Food Pantry and is dearly missed. In honor of her service we are renaming the pantry as the “Frances Buzard Presbyterian Food Pantry.” Would you come for this brief reception which will be held on-site across the street where the food pantry is in session every Tuesday afternoon? Francis now resides in Midland and is making a special trip back just for this occasion. Come celebrate.

Jesus: His Life, His Times, His Land

Cliff and Evie Stewart are hosting a ten-day trip to the Holy Land beginning February 13, 2018.
If you would like information we will send you a brochure. There are advantages to signing up early. This is a trip of a lifetime. info@fcpc.net is the place to ask for information. Brochures are available at the church office. If you are interested in hearing more we will have a 4 pm “information meeting” at the church on Sunday April 9 in the Minter Room.
Gratitude
Dear FCPC,
I’m writing to thank you for the generosity of your church through WorldVision’s 30 Hour Famine. I am so incredibly thankful for your partnership! Together, we are in the margins, serving the most vulnerable by providing food to those suffering from extreme hunger. Please know that you’re making a life-changing difference.
In Christ,
Dan Berggren, National Director, 30 Hour Famine

Sympathy
We extend our sympathies to Don Paige and Mary Ann Paige on the death of their son, Kenny Paige, and to the Roeder families on the death of Joe Roeder.

Congratulations and Celebrations
We would like to celebrate the birth of Leah Carolyne Epstein, born March 8th. Proud family is Courtney, Evan, Porter and Eli Epstein.

We would also like to congratulate Andrianjaka Rasoanaivo and Hasina Randriasandratriniony on their marriage February 15, and Symphorien Jean Angha and Nadine Maombi on their marriage March 18.

Congratulations to FCPC member Charlie Hukill, professor of theatre at McMurry University, who has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Stephen F. Austin (SFA) State University School of Theatre Distinguished Alumni Award. Hukill graduated from SFA in 1977 with a BFA in Theatre. During the afternoon of May 6, he will be in Nacogdoches to conduct a workshop for theatre students and that evening will be the honored guest at the Awards Convocation.

New Members
We are pleased to warmly welcome Courtney, Evan, Porter and Eli Epstein to the FCPC family!



April and May Calendar
(Click Here to Download)
April May

Each Sunday

  • 8:30 am / 11 am: Worship Services
  • 9:45 am: Church School
  • 5-6:30 pm:  Mid-High Youth (Except 16th)
  • 6-7:30 pm: Senior High Youth (Except 16th)

Each Monday

  • 7 am: Men's Morning Study (Except 17th)
  • 10 am: Phoebe's Friends (Except 17th)

Each Tuesday

  • 1-3 pm: Garden Ministry Work Time
  • 1-4 pm: Food Pantry Open
  • 7:30 pm: Emerging Adults (Except 11th)

Each Wednesday

  • 10 am: Knitting & Crochet Group
  • 5:45 pm: Wednesday Night Dinner & Program (5th & 19th only)
  • 6:30 pm: Handbell Choir Practice
  • 6:30 pm: All Youth Gathering (Except 12th)
  • 7:30 pm: Sanctuary Choir Practice

Each Thursday

  • 5:30 am: BOBS (Breakfast on Beech Street)
  • 3-5 pm: Garden Ministry Work Time
  • 5:30 pm: Guitar Group
  • 7:30 pm: Young Adults, No Children (YANC) (Except 13th)

April 9

  • 2 pm: Presbyterian Women: Painting With A Twist
  • Palm Sunday

April 10

  • 11:30 am: Holy Week Lunch @ Highland Church of Christ
  • 5 pm: Property Committee

April 11

  • 11:30 am: Holy Week Lunch @ First Baptist Church
  • 6:15 pm: Deacons Meeting

April 12

  •  11:30 am: Holy Week Lunch @ St. Paul UMC
  • 4:30 pm: Worship Committee

April 13

  • 11:30 am: Holy Week Lunch @ First Christian Church
  • 7 pm: Maundy Thursday Worship Service

April 14

  • 11:30 am: Holy Week Lunch @ FCPC
  • 6 pm: Parents Night Out (PNO)

April 16

  • Easter Sunday
  • 9 am: Easter Breakfast
  • 9:45 am: Easter Egg Hunt
  • 1:30 pm: Worship at Wesley Court

April 17

  • Church Office Closed

April 18

  • 12 pm: Finance Committee
  • 5:30 pm: LCMC Meeting

April 23

  • 11 am: Hymn Fest Worship Service
  • 4 pm: Confirmation Class

April 24


  • 6:30 pm: Martha Circle

April 25

  • 7 pm: Session Meeting

April 28

  • 6 pm: Parents Night Out (PNO)

*As May approaches, be sure to watch the Pew Sheet and future calendars for updated dates and times for all our church activities! 

Each Sunday

  • 8:30 am / 11 am: Worship Services
  • 9:45 am: Church School
  • 4 pm: Confirmation Class
  • 5-6:30 pm: Mid-High Youth
  • 6-7:30 pm: Senior High Youth

Each Monday

  • 7 am: Men's Morning Study (Except 29th)
  • 10 am: Phoebe's Friends (1st and 8th only)

Each Tuesday

  • 1-3 pm: Garden Ministry Work Time
  • 1-4 pm: Food Pantry Open
  • 7:30 pm: Emerging Adults

Each Wednesday

  • 10 am: Knitting & Crochet Group
  • 6:30 pm: Handbell Choir Practice
  • 6:30 pm: All Youth Gathering
  • 7:30 pm: Sanctuary Choir Practice

Each Thursday

  • 5:30 am: BOBS (Breakfast on Beech Street)
  • 3-5 pm: Garden Ministry Work Time
  • 5:30 pm: Guitar Group
  • 7:30 pm: Young Adults, No Children (YANC)

May 1

  • 5:15 pm: M&E Committee
  • 5:15 pm: Stephen Ministry

May 2

  • 10 am: Wesley Court Bible Study
  • 5:30 pm: CE Committee Meeting

May 4

  • National Day of Prayer

May 8

  • 5 pm: Property Committee Meeting

May 9

  • 6:15 pm: Deacons Meeting

May 10

  • 4:30 pm: Worship Committee Meeting

May 12

  • 6 pm: Parents Night Out (PNO)

May 14

  • Mother's Day

May 15

  • 5:15 pm: Stephen Ministry
  • 5:45 pm: PW Coordinating Team Meeting

May 16

  • 12 pm: Finance Committee

May 21

  • 1:30 pm: Worship at Wesley Court
  • Senior Sunday

May 22

  • 6:30 pm: Martha Circle

May 26

  • 6 pm: Parents Night Out (PNO)

May 27

  • AISD Graduation

May 28

  • Communion Served

May 29

  • Memorial Day - Church Office Closed