"But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love." Ephesians 4:15-16
The pastoral ministry at First Presbyterian Church is led by the minister, who is pastor, preacher, teacher, and guide in the name of Jesus Christ, Head of the Church. The minister strives to preach the true Word of God and to minister the Sacraments of the Lord's Supper and Baptism in the manner consistent with the teaching of Jesus Christ in Holy Scripture. Pastoral ministry at First Presbyterian looks to God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit in all acts of leadership of the people. The minister loves the people and challenges them to live into the calling of Christ to be the Body of Christ, with every person offering his or her unique gift to the work of the Body. The pastor prays for and with the people. The pastor seeks to lead the people in prayers for health and wholeness; to unify the people in their listening for God's call; and to establish with the people in God's name a climate of love, hospitality, generosity, inclusiveness, and service in and outside the congregation. The minister charges the people to love God and neighbor; and to receive God's love in gratitude so they may reflect that love in all they do in their life within and outside the church setting.
"You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise." Deuteronomy 11:18-19
Children are welcomed into First Presbyterian Church at any age. We invite them to worship services, to Sunday school, to special events, and to all those events in the life of the congregation that form us as a people. Accommodations are made for children of all ages, from nursery through the teen years. Children of all ages attend Sunday worship services, especially the 10:30 a.m. service in the sanctuary. Children take part as ushers and greeters. They serve as acolytes. They come forward to the font to observe baptisms. And they take part in special programs. Every child is loved and cherished.
In the 10:30 service, the youngest children may leave the sanctuary after the designated children's time with the pastor; they are escorted to the children's church class that is held in the education building nursery. Of course, young children also are welcomed to stay in the sanctuary if the family prefers. Children's worship bags are provided for young children who stay for the worship service. The bags contain faith-based activities for the children to enjoy in the pews.
The nursery workers are on staff Sundays from 8 a.m. until 12 noon in the education building.
Parents may take young children to the nursery to stay during the 8:15 a.m. service, during the 10:30 a.m. service, as well as during Sunday school time, 9:15 to 10 p.m.
However, children of all ages are welcomed at all worship services.
Also note that regular Sunday school classes are held for ages 3 to 5; 6 to 12; and 13 to 17 in classrooms in the education building during the Sunday school time.
Sunday Classes for Children: Nursery workers are happy to receive young children of any age for the worship and Sunday school hours. However, Sunday school teachers also are prepared each week to welcome children to their age-appropriate classes.
Ages 3 to 5: The pre-school Sunday school students have a wonderful time, singing Bible songs, hearing Bible stories, learning to say short Bible verses, and making their own art work to illustrate what the stories and songs mean to them.
Ages 6 to 12: This lively group enjoys reading from the Bible and learning Bible verses and becoming familiar with the Bible's most famous stories and characters. These older children "wonder" about stories and characters and begin the process of faith formation as they study the Bible stories of God's faithful people. This group begins to learn the creeds and prayers of the church. Many, by age 10, are learning to recite the Lord's Prayer and the Apostles' Creed, for example.
"How can young people keep their way pure: by guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; do not let me stray from your commandments. I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you." Psalm 119:9-11
The Youth Group delves deep into the Bible, studying lessons that stretch their minds and hearts and help them to grow spiritually and theologically. They form a fellowship with one another by enjoying times together away from the church, such as at retreats and Saturday get-togethers. This group is beginning to learn the importance of service as they learn to make commitments to God and the church. These commitments are often life changing. For their Sunday morning study, they gather in the church library with their leaders and teachers. In the fall of 2018, they are looking forward to freshening up the downstairs teen room by cleaning, painting, and adding some new furnishings so the space may be used for fall meetings on Sunday afternoons.
Youth of First Presbyterian Church look forward each summer to attendance at Montreat Conference Center Youth Worship Conference. Ten students plus two adult leaders attended in 2018. The summer conference has inspired many young hearts to new ways of knowing and serving Jesus Christ.
Youth enjoy their annual "Youth Sunday" activities, taking part as leaders in the Sunday worship services. They help to lead the younger children in the annual "Blessing of the Backpacks" during that service. And they enjoy serving as ushers and greeters for the worship services the year around. They are learning to serve; they are growing in love for God, for one another, and for their community.
"Praise the Lord! How good it is to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting." Psalm 147:1
Music is central to worship. Music of the organ, the piano, other musical instruments, the choir, the congregation, soloists -- all of these offerings to God are inspirational to the people of God. As the people gather, the music sets the tone for worship. The hand bells ring out in the signal that the hour of worship has begun. As God has called the people to give praise, the people praise in loud voices. The people of First Presbyterian love their worship music; they love to sing praises. As the occasion calls for less joyful and more solemn tones directed toward God our King, the people respond with hearts prepared to seek God's forgiveness for sins and God's gracious mercy in times of sadness and grief. Through music, we join our voices to the choirs of angels and all the saints of the church forevermore. Music is our timeless praise, our never-ending vocabulary of words to ask God for blessings and give thanks for those already bestowed upon us.
The voluntary choir of men and women at First Presbyterian Church is blessed by the addition of music students from Alcorn State University, located in nearby Lorman, Mississippi. These talented students, as paid church music scholars, bring their gifts of music and faith each week, practicing with the faithful volunteer choir and helping to enhance the volume and the quality of the choral offerings each week. The music director selects anthems for the choir and solos for those singers who enjoy solo work. Often other instrumentalists are invited to join the organist in accompanying the choir or soloists. On special Sundays, such as Easter, the music may include several musicians who play preludes, postludes, and accompaniment for choral presentations. First and foremost, however, the musicians and the choir lead the congregation to sing out -- inspiring the congregation to offer their own choral prayers and praise.
The Aeolian-Skinner Pipe Organ
The organ, orginally installed in 1873, was restored in 2004. A special feature is its new, computer-driven heart. Scroll down for more information about the organ, including audio-visual effects. For more info, click here.
The First Presbyterian Church handbell choir rehearses weekly and plays regularly for worship. The choir is set-up in the balcony where the glorious sounds of bells ring from the heavens. The handbell choir is a part of the Music Ministry. Contact the Church Office for more information.