October, 2016

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Cliff's Notes :: Around First Central
Gratitude :: Sympathy :: New Members
October and November Calendar

Cliff's Notes
What do you have that you did not receive?
Nothing. Nothing at all.

Dear Church Family,

It is time once again in our local church to focus attention on the subject of financial stewardship. We have no deep pockets on which to fall back on. Each year the quantity and quality of the ministries we can offer are in direct proportion to the generosity and faithfulness of our members.

Why should you choose to give your hard-earned money to our church? There are a lot of possible answers to such a question, but there are a couple of reasons that stand out.

The first is rooted in a sense of gratitude for all the blessings that you and I have received. In large proportion we have received much – therefore, we are moved to do the same and generously give as has been given to us.

Back many years ago Albert Schweitzer shocked all his contemporaries by resigning from his prestigious academic position and announcing he was going to study medicine and then go to Africa as a missionary doctor. When asked to explain why he should do such a thing he answered quietly: “It is unthinkable that having received so much from my culture, I should not attempt to give back something in grateful measure.” He resolved to do something to give back.

The apostle Paul once asked: “what do you have you did not receive?” When that is answered honestly: “Nothing. Nothing at all” – then that is a start and realizing our privilege to give as we have been given.

Another reason for giving is because you believe in what we do here at First Central. You give because you want to be a part of the good that we do. Let me tell you that when people cease to believe in a church or sense that it is unimportant – then support for that effort begins to diminish. This is why it is important to keep telling the story of all that is happening through our ministries and missions.

I am writing this on Monday morning reflecting on what a mother of a 5-year-old in our Logos program said to me last night. She said her son started sitting in front of the clock at 3:15 pm waiting with anticipation for when Logos started at 4:30 pm! By the way he talked Mom into taking him early - and he was the first to walk through the doors!

Garrett Briggs and Lynn Beal have recently put a new face on missions as they returned from investigating the possibility of a mission project in East Africa with the Masai. We are working on what to do next now that we see the need. How exciting is that?

What can you tell me about FCPC’s ministry that you think deserves an A plus? Put pencil and paper to this question and give me your answer.

Together with you in Christ’s ministry,

Around First Central
Kenya Mission Trip
There we were... two guys from Abilene, Texas... now in Heathrow airport, in London and on our second travel day. Late that night we would arrive in Nairobi, Kenya, and mark the beginning of a whirlwind three days of seeing the people, places, and conditions of the Masai natives of Africa. We would witness, and take part in, a sample of the uniqueness of the Masai culture: one that has changed little over hundreds of years.
Raising cattle has long been the driving force of Masai tribes; cattle are the measure of a man's worth. This has led to a semi-nomadic lifestyle: when water is no longer available where you are, move to another place. Thus, the tribes migrate across a broad swath of Kenya and Tanzania. But modern times have restricted old ways. Farming, or making and selling crafts might, in this day, be alternatives, but water issues become impediments there, too.
The patriarchial structure of the Masai culture plays a big role as well. It is a proud culture that, in the process of preserving traditions and customs, maintains a practice of keeping women under-educated and illiterate. Without the opportunities that school can provide, children are unable to be inspired and broadened by reading and learning.
The work of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA), with men such as Rev. Robert Ngugi and Rev. Charles Maina, is instrumental in this regard. An example is the Mother Esther Boarding School and Rescue Center. On our visit there, the children, in colorful uniforms, proudly welcomed us with songs, to which we responded in the endearing "touch" tradition. The visit included a tour of the facility, discussion of needs of the group, and many Masai expressions of welcome and gratitude extended to the guests, and for God's providence. Before departing, we also became aware of the "early marriage" issues of Masai tradition. More about that another day.
Next we visited the Namelock community. Their water point is a pond (in west Texas we would call it a stock tank), a supply source for people (non-potable uses), domestic livestock, and wild animals. The present water level remains from April rains; it will run dry before significant rain comes again. A member of the tribe has donated land for a bore-hole (well) when funding is located. Community adults and children gathered to tell of plans for a boys school and to present beaded wrist bands to their guests.
Our second day was at the distant village of Oloolainyamok at the end of a dusty, teeth-rattling road. The tribe was gathered en mass beneath a tall acacia tree awaiting our arrival. A dry lake was the backdrop. A townmeeting of sorts took place during which the Masai men spoke of the need for a well to replace the dry lake water source. The women agreed, with compelling reasons: they are the ones who, daily, walk 25 miles round trip to bring water home. In doing this, they are robbed of the chance to partake of education opportunities or to make crafts to sell. As for the Gospel message, the women are eager to receive it, and the men are slowly beginning to pay attention as well. A high point of this visit for the guys from Abilene was being "adopted" into a Masai tribe!
Kenya is world famous for its exotic wildlife. Seeing the baby elephant rescue center was a special treat for our last day! But even more special are the opportunities for FCPC as a church, and as individuals, to explore the potential we have to be in mission to a people that is--at the same time--very different, and just like us. We are children of the same God of love and grace!

A Note from Jacob Snowden, DCE
I always struggle to know what to say when it comes to stewardship time. So let me quote someone far smarter than me. When Albert Einstein was once asked what the greatest force in the universe was, he allegedly quipped “compounding interest.” Perhaps you have also heard this surprising investment question before: would you rather be paid $1000 every hour of every day for thirty days or, starting with a penny, double your daily value every day for thirty days (1₡, 2₡, 4₡, 8₡, etc.)? On day eight of our investment experiment, if you were taking $1,000/hr, you would have banked $192,000. If you started with a penny, you would have $1.28. On day fifteen, $1,000/hr would have banked you $360,000. If you started with a penny, you would make $163.84. These are the things we might expect. On day thirty, if you made $1,000/hr you would have made a very respectable $720,000 total. But if you started with just a penny, you would walk away with $5,368,708. Starting with a penny, you would have come out $4,648,708 ahead of a person who makes $1,000 per hour.
Small things make a difference. Stewardship makes a difference. You make a difference. And children make a difference. If you have children in Sunday School, you will soon notice that they are being given pledge cards like everyone else. Well, almost like everyone else. Children’s pledge cards do not ask for an amount of projected giving. Instead they simply ask children to pledge to bring something when they come. They can bring a dollar, a dime, a smile, a joke—they can pledge to bring absolutely anything. All we hope is that you help your student to think about pledging something of themselves for the glory of God and the support of the church. When children, or anyone for that matter, learn to give something regularly, hopefully we are fostering a habit of sharing and caring with others. I still remember my mother giving me a $1 allowance in dimes because one dime “belonged” in the offering plate. In middle school I gave $1 of a $10 allowance. And when I received my first paycheck from an employer at 16, I hardly hesitated to continue to give.
Speaking of giving, Trunk N Treat is October 30th beginning at 5pm and ending when we run out of candy. Begin thinking about costumes or even a design for your trunk. We also have already begun taking candy donations in the foyer. One sure way to give in a way that puts a smile on someone’s face is to bring candy.
There are limitless ways to give of yourself. Some of your giving might be financial and it might be to the church, but stewardship extends far beyond finances. As we think about how you might make a difference this year, consider how you might make a difference by giving your skills, interests, time, intelligence, and joy. If you are sickened by TV ministers who only ask for money, be confident that our church asks for more than mere money. Because we know that you can make a difference.

Youth Ministry News
Sunday, September the 11th was a BIG day for the entire church and for the youth group. First, the Youth joined the rest of the congregation in the gym during the Church School Hour for breakfast and a short program. Our new 6th graders were “officially” welcomed (we had a special secret initiation event a few weeks earlier) into the group by giving each of them a new journal. All Youth members have a journal that is kept in the youth room to be used during lessons and worship services. Now the 6th graders are fully prepared to take part in this new tradition!
That evening at 5:30 PM, we held our annual Youth Parent Meeting. We discussed the entire Youth calendar for the 2016-2017 school year and summer, learned more about youth programing, and distributed initial sign-up lists. If you are a Youth parent and you missed this meeting, send an email to kbridwell@fcpc.net and we will make sure you receive all the information shared at the meeting.
On the 5th of October, the Senior-High Youth and a few of our Youth Group graduates led the weekly Wednesday night adult programing, Supper Studies, where they gave a report about their summer mission trip to New York City. Many great memories were shared, pictures and videos were displayed, and laughs were had! The Youth also announced the location of next year’s mission trip… New Orleans, Louisiana!
The two BIG Youth events in October are the Lock-In and Trunk N’ Treat. The Lock-In will begin on Friday, October 21st at 9 PM and will run until 6:30 AM the next morning. We will play classic Lock-In games like Sardines and Sniper, eat snacks, watch movies, and try to stay up ALL NIGHT! We will end the evening with a home cooked breakfast. We will also do a small service project for the church by setting up the gym for the Consecration Sunday Luncheon.
Every year, the Youth help during the Trunk N’ Treat event by painting faces and serving popcorn in the Youth popcorn machine. Come dressed in your best costume at 5:00 PM on October 30th ready to have some fun serving the Abilene community!
We’ve got a new style of drink in the Mug Stop! In honor of the notoriously balmy weather in Louisiana, the Mug Stop now sells Starbucks-style Frappuccinos. If you come buy a tasty cold drink (or any drink of your choice), your money will go directly towards Senior-High Mission Trip scholarships. If you don’t drink coffee or tea, you can still support the mission trip by leaving a tip in the Mug Stop tip jar.
Do you want to keep up with what the Youth Group has going on? Follow us on Instagram @fcpcyouth for pictures and videos. Download the GroupMe app and email Kristen at kbridwell@fcpc.net to receive text messages about events. If you want to receive calendar reminders, send Kristen your email address and she will send you the subscription list.

Jacob Snowden Attends “Farminary”!
The seeds of something new in religious education are beginning to take root in the Garden State. The “Farminary” is a budding 21-acre farm connected with Princeton Theological Seminary. Why might a seminary venture out to buy a farm? One person is uniquely and eloquently prepared to answer that question.
Nate Sully, the Farminary director, preaches atop a five-gallon bucket pulpit, clad in a neck-tie and galoshes. Nate draws attention to a compost pile set just aside from a garden patch sprouting with peppers, okra, and cherub tomatoes. “This is the stuff from which sermons should be cultivated,” Nate begins. “The stench and look of death cover the pile, but if you were to roll away the top layer, you would see new life teeming throughout the mound. Mill worms, centipedes, and microorganisms are busy turning death into new life; this is surely God’s handiwork, amen?”
The members of Nate’s sunlit sanctuary are forty Farminary visitors who have just arrived for Princeton’s second annual Just Food Conference. Gathered from Boston, Georgia, North Carolina, and First Central Presbyterian Church in Abilene, the congregation lets out a quiet but contented “Amen.” Nate continues describing the work and goals of Princeton’s new educational endeavor. “We are not trying to turn out as much produce here as possible. Our goal is still cultivating ministers. We just happen to think that the characteristics that produce a good farmer also happen to produce good ministers—patience, attention, disappointment, creativity, and hard work.”
How Princeton came to hold a farm is, in Nate’s words, “enough to make a Mennonite cry ‘Providence!’” Seeking to diversify its holdings, Princeton bought the land, formerly used as a sod farm. When the land was purchased in 2010, students were persistently asking about sustainability, local and organic food in the refectory, ecology, and fair labor practices. Enter Nate and his bosses to pitch their idea. By providence or perseverance, their pitch seemed to answer the several questions that students had been asking. The seed of the Farminary was sown.
The Just Food conference is not a bring your own spade event. In most ways it is standard, professional conference. Most time was spent in the conference rooms of Princeton Seminary’s library. Discussion and note taking outweighed planting and pruning by a long shot. However, food played just as large a role in the discussion as faith. The benefits of church gardens, the consequences of food deserts, and the connection to a globalized economy, where workers and food products come from around the world, were all hot topics.
What did I take away from my time at the conference? What one eats is complex. In a single bite of a hamburger you may be eating lettuce harvested by undocumented, underpaid migrant workers. You might be eating climate change as massive machines harvest grain for the bun. You might eat cutting edge science in a genetically modified tomato. You might eat new small business ventures in an artisan pickle. You might eat deforestation from cheap Brazilian beef. These things are why we must ask grace for our food. And with grace, these food complexities can be transformed into hospitality, health, and a recognition of what is holy and good. To ask for a blessing for one’s food is a serious business!

Don’t Miss Out!
Dinner for 7 is returning on October 15th. This is a great opportunity to get to know other FCPC family members. One person provides the main course and opens up their home for 5-6 others who will bring the sides and desserts. Breaking bread has always been one of the best ways to get to know others and that is what this is all about — food and fellowship! If you would like to participate, there are sign-up sheets for hosts and guests at the Information Desk in the foyer area. The last day to sign up is this Sunday, October 9! Hosts and their guests will be notified by Monday, October 10th. Childcare will be available at the church if needed.

Wednesday Night Programs

Wednesday nights at FCPC are always interesting and informative. We are on a roll this fall with stimulating speakers ...coupled with the opportunity to break bread with friends.
Wednesday, October 12 at 6:30 PM will be Glenn Dromgoole, presenting his newest book, hot off the press entitled “West Texas Stories”. Glenn has authored over 30 books. He is the former editor of the Abilene Reporter-News, the founder of the West Texas Book Festival and in 2013 he was named Abilene’s outstanding Citizen of the Year. When he writes something – it’s worth reading. Make this a priority.
Wednesday, October 19 at 6:30 PM will be Mark Beasley, department head and professor of history at Hardin Simmons University. Mark will speak about nasty elections in US history. He said that he will not dare say anything about our present day presidential election! But hearing about previous elections will help put the contentiousness and argumentativeness of today in some kind of historical (or hysterical) perspective.
As is our custom we gather for dinner at 5:45 PM in beautiful Fellowship Hall. A catered dinner is available for $6.50. Reservations are due by Tuesday noon. Call the church office at 677-3501. Many folks also bring their own sandwich which is perfectly acceptable. There will be a place at the table set for you. Beverage is provided and sometimes if we are in a good mood – will throw in a dessert!
The actual program begins at 6:30 PM after we began with a prayer and welcome. Usually we end well before 7:30 PM. There’s plenty of time to get to choir practice at 7:30 PM in the sanctuary!

Thank you so much for all you did during Jazmine’s hospital stay. We are thankful!
The Lara Family
We extend our sympathies to the friends and family of Tommy Thornley and to the family of William Galusha.

New Members
We warmly welcome Festis Mbakwa to the FCPC family!

October and November Calendar
(Click Here to Download)
October November

Each Sunday

  • 8:30 am / 11 am: Worship Services
  • 9:45 am: Church School
  • 4:30 pm: Logos
  • 5 pm: Women's Bible Study
  • 5 pm: Mid-High Youth
  • 6 pm: Senior High Youth

Each Monday

  • 7 am: Men's Morning Study
  • 10 am: Phoebe's Friends

Each Tuesday

  • 9-11 am: Garden Ministry Work Time
  • 1-4 pm: Food Pantry Open

Each Wednesday

  • 10 am: Knitting & Crochet Group
  • 5:45 pm: Wednesday Night Dinner
  • 6:30 pm: Wednesday Night Program
  • 6:30 pm: Handbell Choir Practice
  • 7 pm: All Youth Gathering
  • 7:30 pm: Sanctuary Choir Practice

Each Thursday

  • 5:30 am: BOBS (Breakfast on Beech Street)
  • 9-11 am: Garden Ministry Work Time
  • 5:30 pm: Guitar Group
  • 7:30 pm: Young Adults, No Children (YANC)

October 10

  • 5 pm: Property Committee Meeting

October 11

  • 6:15 pm: Deacons Meeting

October 12

  • 4:30 pm: Worship Committee Meeting

October 14

  • 6 pm: Parents Night Out (PNO)

October 15

  • Dinner for 7

October 16

  • 1:30 pm: Worship at Wesley Court

October 17

  • 5:30 pm: Stephen Ministry Meeting
  • 5:45 pm: PW Coordinating Team Meeting

October 18

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

October 20

  • 6:30 pm: Ultreya Fellowship

October 21

  • All Youth Lock-In

October 23

  • Consecration Sunday
  • 12 pm: Consecration Luncheon
  • 2 pm: Crop Walk

October 24

  • 6:30 pm: Martha Circle

October 25

  • 7 pm: Session Meeting

October 28

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

October 30

  • Trunk-n-Treat

*As November 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 (Until 13th)
  • 5 pm: Mid-High Youth (Except 13th and 27th)
  • 6 pm: Senior High Youth (Except 13th and 27th)

Each Monday

  • 7 am: Men's Morning Study
  • 10 am: Phoebe's Friends

Each Tuesday

  • 9-11 am: Garden Ministry Work Time
  • 1-4 pm: Food Pantry Open

Each Wednesday

  • 10 am: Knitting & Crochet Group
  • 5:45 pm: Wednesday Night Dinner (Until 16th)
  • 6:30 pm: Wednesday Night Program (Until 16th)
  • 6:30 pm: Handbell Choir Practice
  • 7 pm: All Youth Gathering
  • 7:30 pm: Sanctuary Choir Practice

Each Thursday (Except Thanksgiving Day)

  • 5:30 am: BOBS (Breakfast on Beech Street)
  • 9-11 am: Garden Ministry Work Time
  • 5:30 pm: Guitar Group
  • 7:30 pm: Young Adults, No Children (YANC)

November 1

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

November 6

  • 2 pm: Thank Offering Tea

November 7

  • 5:15 pm: M&E Committee Meeting
  • 5:30 pm: Stephen Ministry Final Exam & Party

November 8

  • 6:15 pm: Deacons Meeting

November 11

  • 6 pm: Parents Night Out (PNO)

November 13

  • 2 pm: Clothing Drive
  • Youth Progressive Dinner
November 14
  • 5 pm: Property Committee Meeting

November 21

  • 5:45 pm: PW Coordinating Team Meeting

November 22

  • 10 am: Hanging of the Greens
  • 7 pm: Session Meeting

November 24

  • Thanksgiving Day - Church Office Closed

November 25

  •  Church Office Closed

November 27

  • First Sunday of Advent
  • Advent Fair & Cake Auction

November 28

  • 6:30 pm: Martha Circle