August, 2015

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Special Announcement
 Around First Central :: A Pastoral Letter from Cliff
Gratitude :: Sympathy :: Congratulations
August and September Calendar

Special Announcement

Sacred Arts Series presenting Curt Cloninger,

Sunday/Monday September 13-14 at First Central Presbyterian Church.

“If I had known in advance how incredible this guy is, I would have invited ten people to come with me!” That’s a common audience response after seeing one of Curt Cloninger’s performances.
Curt Cloninger is an actor, writer, storyteller and genuinely talented guy who has been performing his unique brand of solo theatre for over 25 years.
He’s performed in some unlikely places: in the Georgia Dome for 30,000 people, standing on top of a stool in the commons at U.C. Berkeley and in every imaginable theatre and church setting. His performances have an intimacy which pulls people into the stories. Wherever he performs, whether it’s a large conference, or a small theatre, people are deeply moved. Curt commonly hears from people who tell him that his stories are still impacting their lives, years after seeing a performance. Curt’s performances make people laugh, and cry and examine what they believe about life. And while they’re laughing, they’re also getting a refreshing and new perspective on God’s great story of love. Curt’s work is more than brilliant theatre – it’s theatre with a lasting impression.
As part of the First Central Presbyterian Church’s Sacred Arts Series we are pleased to bring this talented performer to our church.
Curt Cloninger will “preach” at both Sunday morning worship services on September 13.
Then in the evening of September 13 at 6:30 PM in Fellowship Hall he will perform “Godviews” which will be enjoyed by an audience of all ages. Guaranteed – everyone will enjoy and learn from what we will see.
Then on Monday evening, September 14 at 7 PM in the sanctuary, Curt Cloninger will perform his widely acclaimed show – “Witnesses.”
Curt received a B.A. in Theatre from Abilene Christian University, and received further acting training at Pacific Conservatory. He’s been married to his great wife Tish since 1984 and has two great kids (Kappel and Lily), one great Springer Spaniel and two aloof cats.

What others say:

“Watching Curt in action is something to behold. He has the power to hold an audience in the palm of his hand. Most wonderfully, he uses that power to lead them to Jesus, in very entertaining ways. A great talent for the Kingdom.” Phillip Yancey, best-selling author
“He’s thought-provoking and he’s entertaining. He’s a hundred people, all rolled into one, but each of them revealing the love of God in a fresh way. He’s one of the most talented people I know.” Tic Long, Executive Pastor


Around First Central

Camp Romania 2015 took place in May 2015 in Tulcea Romania, where the Danube River flows into the Black Sea. The twelve member team was composed of students from Presbyterian Churches in Abilene, Lubbock, Vernon, and Presbyterian Church in San Benito plus five sponsors.
The theme for VBS was “Sameness and Not so Different” since we were there during Pentecost. We might be different in how we speak and live but can understand each other through the Holy Spirit. We visited 12 county orphanages now called Centers and interacted with more than 250 children and youth of varied ages who have been abandoned, abused, or orphaned. Following scripture, lesson about the meaning of Pentecost, and discussion time, everyone enjoyed origami and water colors. Then we went out to play baseball, soccer & football. The visit ended with snacks with many photos & hugs. One center was accessible only by boat which required traveling down the Danube River into the Delta.
Our group spent time with Mission Co-worker Liz Searles and learned about the mission of NOROC. We also worked helping to move into NOROC’s new property.
During the banquet honoring the Grannies and staff of NOROC, our group sang “Hymn of Promise” in both Romanian and English with four playing guitars. An address was delivered in Romanian by Carolyn White, co-founder of NOROC and ended with certificates of appreciation with gifts from Presbyterian Women of First Central.
The team was able to learn about Romanian culture by visiting a small village where bread is still baked outdoors as it has been over many centuries, experiencing transportation in a horse-drawn cart, participating in a village Orthodox religious ceremony, visiting the famed Dracula’s castle, and touring the capital Bucharest.
With grateful hearts, each member of Camp Romania 2015, says thank you for each congregation and individual who sponsors NOROC with loving prayers.
Camp Romania 2015 includes Katie Brockovich, Emily Pierce, Cailyn Pacuraru, Autumn Truax, Echo Truax, Thomas Johansen, Ian Moffat, Brenda Church, Elvira Floris, Jacob Snowden, Fred White and Carolyn White.

What a summer!
We are mere weeks away from the beginning of school. Whatever your last summer plans may be there is one final FCPC summer hurrah that you won’t want to miss!
The can opener is superior to the cannonball.
But the preacher’s seat makes the biggest splash of all!
FCPC’s BIG SPLASH tradition is something special every year. There is no better way to enjoy time as a church family outside of the sanctuary than to laugh at the games and gimmicks that happen every year at the BIG SPLASH! The person making a particularly big splash this year is Kristen Bridwell. This coming Sunday will be her first Sunday with us, and the Big Splash is the perfect time to meet and greet our new Director of Youth Ministries.
As is now tradition, the splashing will begin at Buffalo Gap Camp Sunday, August 16th from 4-7pm. Join the fun, food, and fellowship that kicks off the coming school year. We want to guarantee that you are getting at least one more tan, juicy piece of watermelon, and bit of frivolous fun before it’s time to send everyone back to class.
Hot dogs will be fresh off the grill at 5pm. Watermelon will be cool and juicy. All you need to bring is salad, veggies, or chips. And like every FCPC event, a special measure of grace is afforded to anyone who brings ice cream. A swimsuit and a towel is probably a good idea if you plan to be in the pool. For those who enjoy dryer forms of fun, bring dominoes, cards, or be ready for good conversations.
As we prepare to jump into the Fall, be sure to make a Big Splash first. We’ll save you a seat and see you there!

LOGOS “Sunday Night Live” BEGINS SOON!
Beginning Sunday night, September 13 from 4:30 to 7 pm is an exciting, stimulating experience for children from Pre-K through the 5th grade.
Sunday Night Live will be a weekly intergenerational experience for children that will create an intentional arena where all ages, together, can learn about and practice the art of Christian relationships. In these cross-generational gatherings, everyone will eat together, play together, study together, and pray together.
The scriptural basis for this program comes from Act 2:24…"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayers."
This passage beautifully describes the four components of Sunday Night Live. 

  • Bible Study which will be a time for digging into the scriptures as our model for Christ-centered living.
  • Family Time where there will be a shared meal as everyone gathers together in “table families” of various ages to eat together each week for the entire program year. Kitchen teams will prepare dinners that will be served family style—with table settings and serving dishes- as we practice the art of serving one another.
  • Worship Skills where the children will rehearse choir, drama, bells, or other arts and then present what they have learned  regularly in our worship service.
  • Recreation where everyone will have loads of fun in a cooperative atmosphere, often drawing on the hobbies and interests of adults in the congregation who might be willing to share their passions on a one-time basis or longer.

The Fall semester is as follows:
Sunday evenings from 4:30 pm to 7pm. Here's the schedule:
      4:30 – 5:00 p.m. - Recreation
      5:00 – 5:40 p.m. - Bible Study
      5:40 – 6:30 p.m. - Family Time
      6:30 – 7:00 p.m. - Worship Skills 
Beginning Sunday, September 6 and concluding on November 15.
Tuition cost which includes 10 dinners, craft supplies and a t-shirt is $20 per child. Scholarships are available upon request.
You can register by completing a registration form and a Leader/Volunteer/Ministry covenant. These are available at the church office.
This marvelous Christian Education experience is open to members of First Central Presbyterian and the community. Something this good needs to be shared.
“I cannot contain my excitement at the prospect of a vital LOGOS program in our church. I hope that many will find this to be a Christian Education program that makes a difference in young lives.”

Cliff Stewart, Senior Pastor

A Pastoral Letter from Cliff to First Central

Dear Friends,

Two days before I left on vacation and study leave, the Supreme Court of the United States made their ruling about same-sex marriage. And, of course, this came on the heels of our Presbyterian denomination’s change in the book of order in reference to marriage.

I have had people approach me for my opinion and/or to clarify our denomination’s stance. Many of us do not know how to understand and interpret church decisions. I’m not sure I always understand. There are important nuances to this multifaceted legislation that I hope to make clear in this letter.

Here is my try at interpreting what the Presbyterian Church has said.

Our church is a member of Palo Duro Presbytery which is approximately 50 churches in the vicinity of West Texas. Some months ago our Presbytery voted on this amendment and voted in the negative. However, the proposed change in the Book of Order was passed by the majority of Presbyteries across the nation.

The actual language of the approved amendment reads, in part:

Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the wellbeing of the entire human family.

Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives. The sacrificial love that unites the couple sustains them as faithful and responsible members of the church and the wider community.

In civil law, marriage is a contract that recognizes the rights and obligations of the married couple in society. In the Reformed tradition, marriage is also a covenant in which God has an active part, and which the community of faith publicly witnesses and acknowledges.

According to this ruling, a Presbyterian minister may now choose to officiate a same gender wedding, and may decline. Likewise, local Sessions may choose to offer their sanctuaries for same gender weddings, and may decline. No minister and no Session may be compelled to officiate or to permit its building to be used for same gender marriages.

There is a variety of feelings and convictions within our own church about the issue of same-sex marriage. In our large congregation we have committed Christ-filled folk on both sides of the matter.

Recognize that the Presbyterian Church is not telling you or me or our local church what interpretation we should personally embrace. Part of what it means to be Presbyterian is that we are all at liberty to hold our own positions. And we are never to automatically “100% agree” with what our denomination might or might not be saying. We are free to disagree.

As Paul reminds us: “For now we see in a mirror I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” And so may I urge us that our greater pursuit is to act with humility, and compassion regarding this matter.

My personal strong feeling about this matter is that this is a secondary issue in relationship to what we are about in our local church. There are a lot more important things for us to grapple with as we try to be a faithful disciple of Jesus. I pray that our church family will agree to have different opinions while recognizing our shared relationship of faith.

I would appreciate your feedback and would welcome discussing the matter on a personal basis or perhaps in your Sunday school class.

Together in Christ’s ministry,


Dear Session,
Your gift will change lives! I wish you could be here to see children who come to camp for the first time; it is a life changing experience. They encounter Christ and learn their part in “the story”. Many of these children could not be here were it not for your gift.
Grace and peace, Dick Powell
President & CEO, Mo-Ranch

Dear Members,
On behalf of NOROC, thank you for your generous gift and your prayers. This gift will be used in direct support of NOROC mission in Tulcea, Romania as it ministers to the physical, psychological, emotional, social, and spiritual needs of the institutionalized abandoned and orphaned children.

In His service, Fred

Thank you for your gift. Your donation demonstrates your commitment to our mission of providing children facing adversity with strong and enduring one-to-one relationships. Our donors are essential to every young person who we mentor and to every milestone that our agency reaches. Thank you for believing in us, for supporting our mission and for providing a solid foundation from which all of our success stories grow. More importantly, thank you for recognizing the value of Texas children and the important role that mentoring plays in their successful futures.
Rob Roby, President and CEO
Big Brothers Big Sisters

Because of your generosity, students at Menaul School continue to benefit from abundant opportunities to learn, grow, and excel. Because of your donation, it is clear that you understand the importance of encouraging our students and see the value in the character development that is at the core of a Menaul School education. On behalf of our Board, staff, and students, thank you for your gift. You are making a difference in the lives of individual students and your gift helps to provide outstanding academic and athletic programs, scholarships, tools for our teachers, a rich community environment, and much more. Thank you for your generous support!
Blessings! Lindsey R. Gilbert, Jr.
President and Head of School, Menaul School

Dear FCPC,
Thank you for your generous donation for our annual Down syndrome Buddy Walk. Your donation will help us to promote acceptance and awareness within our community.
The Upside Down Club and Jon & Susan Pate

Thank you for your ongoing support of Cancer Services Network and extend our sincere appreciation to your congregation for embracing our mission. Thanks to the continued support from donors like your congregation, we are abile to continue providing services to underserved cancer patients and their families during one of the most difficult times in their lives. Thank you for continuing to bless us so we can bless those in need during their battle with cancer.
Sincerely, Nancy Tyler
Executive Director, Cancer Services Network

We are truly humbled by your faithful generosity and gracious financial gifts to the Presbyterian Medical Care Mission. Your gift to provide medical and dental care to uninsured adults in our area allows us to demonstrate a servant’s heart to many in our community. On behalf of the Mission’s patients, volunteers, staff and Board of Directors, thank you. We are blessed by your kindness.
With warmest regards,
Debra Burchett, CPA, Executive Director

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Thank you for your kind gift to Presbyterian’s Children’s Homes and Services! The work of our organization is possible only through faithful support of the community. Your gift allows us to continue to fulfill our mission of providing Christ-centered care and support to children and families in need. We offer deep gratitude on behalf of the children and send you warmest wishes for a peaceful summer season.
Blessings to you, Molly H. Jensen
Director of Development

Dear Friends,
Thank you for your recent donations to Noah Project. Please know that your gift is most significant in the overall stability of the organization, and will help to insure that our quality services can continue.
Paul Kenley, Development Director

We wanted to thank you for yoru donation. Your generous gift to Teethsavers will help us to fulfill our mission to care for children in developing countries through dental care and education. Your support of Teethsavers is greatly appreciated.
Thank you,
JR Cochran, Executive Director

My name is Bonnie Gibson. I am a current resident at New Beginnings/Big Country. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for caring about us. It’s people like you all with your donations and support that make it possible for us to be here. Most of us are coming here right out of prison and are feeling pretty hopeless and afraid we won’t be able to start over because we won’t be accepted by society. New Beginnings tells us otherwise! From the moment of arrival there is a wonderful sense of acceptance and hope.
Thank you so much for helping to make it possible for us to have a better life in Christ.
Sincerely, Bonnie Gibson

Dear Cliff and First Central,
Thanks so much for encouraging my ministry with Intervaristy through your generous giving. I’m almost done with another amazing summer missions program. We had our biggest team ever—13 students and my first ever intern (a former program intern herself). The students are learning and growing a lot. I’m so blessed to be able to continue to serve in this way—8 years in, I still love it! Thank you for contributing towards student transformation through missions. Looking forward to being there soon! My parents loved their visit.
Blessings, Kate Perkins Denson

Thank you for your donations in June. We appreciate your help with this ministry especially after the fire. You have been a blessing to us.
New Beginnings-Big Country

Dear FCPC Family,
Thank you so very much for the scholarship for the 2015-2016 school year! Can you believe that I am already a senior in seminary? It seemed just like yesterday I was a student at McMurry trying to discern what God was calling me to do. Thanks to the support of FCPC I am able to pursue my call.
I am currently doing Clinical Pastoral Education at Covenant Hospital in Lubbock. Katy and I hope to make it down to Abilene one Sunday for worship.
May God bless you!
In Christ, Seth Saathoff


We extend our sympathy to Ellen Brandenberger and family on the loss of her father, to Ken McComas and family on the loss of his mother, to Davis Maberry and family on the loss of Dr. Mark Maberry, and to Bart and Brian Fehr and family on the loss of their parents Steve & Vicki Fehr.

Congratulations to Josh and Annie Stewart on the birth of Shepard David and Sippi Weiss Stewart on July 18. Proud grandparents at FCPC are Cliff and Evie Stewart. We also congratulate Kim and Cisco Villajuana on the birth of their baby girl, Olivia Villajuana, born August 3.
We would also like to celebrate the baptism of Calvin Stimpson, son of Andrew & Kristin Stimpson. Calvin was baptized July 19.

August and September Calendar
(Click Here to Download)

Each Sunday

  • 8:30 am / 11 am: Worship Services
  • 9:45 am: Church School
  • 6 pm: Mid-High and Senior High Youth

Each Tuesday

  • 1-4 pm: Food Pantry Open

Each Wednesday

  • 10 am: Knitting & Crochet Group

Each Thursday

  • 5:30 am: BOBS (Breakfast on Beech Street)

August 13

  • 7 pm: YANC (Young Adults, No Children)

August 14

  • 6 pm: PNO (Parents Night Out)

August 16

  • 1:30 pm: Worship at Wesley Court
  • 4 pm: The Big Splash!

August 17

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

August 18

  • 9:45 am: Mary Circle
  • 5:30 pm: LCMC Meeting

August 19

  • 12 pm: Finance Committee Meeting
  • 7:30 pm: Sanctuary Choir

August 20

  • 7:30 pm: YANC (Young Adults, No Children)

August 24

  • 6:30 pm: Martha Circle

August 25

  • 7 pm: Session Meeting

August 26

  • 7:30 pm: Sanctuary Choir

August 27

  • 7:30 pm: YANC (Young Adults, No Children)

August 28

  • 5:30 pm: Parents Night Out

August 30

  • 12 pm: Celebration Luncheon

August 31

  • 10 am: Phoebe's Friends Gathering

*As September 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
  • 4:30 pm: LOGOS (Begins Sept. 13)
  • Youth Activities (Time TBA)

Each Monday

  • 10 am: Phoebe's Friends (Begins Sept. 14)
  • 6:30 pm: Esther Bible Study (Begins Sept. 14)

Each Tuesday

  • 9:30 am: Esther Bible Study (Begins Sept. 15)
  • 1-4 pm: Food Pantry Open

Each Wednesday

  • 10 am: Knitting & Crochet Group
  • 5:45 pm: Wednesday Night Programs (Begins Sept. 9)
  • 7:30 pm: Sanctuary Choir
  • Youth Activities (Time TBA)

Each Thursday

  • 5:30 am: BOBS (Breakfast on Beech Street)
  • 7:30 pm: YANC (Young Adults, No Children)

September 1

  • 5:15 pm: CE Committee Meeting

September 7

  • Labor Day - Church Office Closed

September 8

  • 6:15 pm: Deacons Meeting

September 9

  • 4:30 pm: Worship Committee Meeting

September 11

  • 6 pm: Parents Night Out

September 13

  • 8:30 am/11 am: Curt Cloninger Performance in Worship
  • 6:30 pm: Curt Cloninger - "Godviews"

September 14

  • 5 pm: Property Committee Meeting
  • 7 pm: Curt Cloninger - "Witnesses"

September 15

  • 10 am: Mary Circle
  • 5:30 pm: LCMC Meeting

September 16

  • 12 pm: Finance Committee Meeting

September 20

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

September 21

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

September 22

  • 7 pm: Session Meeting

September 24

  • 6:30 pm: Ultreya

September 25

  • 5:30 pm: PNO (Parents Night Out)
  • 6:30 pm: CANO (Christian Adults Night Out)