Author Archives: fpchighlands

Christmas 2019


Longest Night Service

The ecumenical Blue Christmas worship service was held in our sanctuary on Saturday, December 21st, offering a time and space for grieving our losses, acknowledging our pain, and taking comfort in God’s abiding love and care for us. The service was one of prayer, litany, scripture and hymns, in an atmosphere of quiet meditation.

Christmas Eve Service

Candlelight, harp and pipe organ music, and the singing of Christmas carols filled the sanctuary on December 24, the night of our annual Christmas Eve service. Worshippers filled every seat, including the chairs on the chancel, and overflowed into Coleman Hall where the service was shown live.

Jillionna Bailey Plemmons opened the service with a 30-minute prelude of harp music. Director of Music Ministry/Organist Angie Jenkins accompanied the hymns and concluded the service with “And the Glory of the Lord” from The Messiah as the postlude.
Members John and Sandy Barrows read scripture and lit the Christ Candle, the final candle of Advent.
Isabelle Burkhart, violinist, accompanied the singing of carols.
Pastor Curtis called the youngsters in the congregation to the front to
participate in the Children’s Moment.
Curtis led the children in a short impromptu enactment of the Christmas story, complete with a baby Jesus doll, robes for Mary and Joseph, and a variety of animal ears and horns for the stable menagerie.
Stell Huie gave a stirring solo rendition of “O Holy Night,” accompanied by Angie Jenkins.
Co-pastors Emily and Curtis offered the Sacrament of Holy Communion to all congregants.
All were invited to partake of the Eucharist, served by intinction, and
accompanied by the singing of Christmas carols.
After Communion was served, the church lights were dimmed and worshippers lit candles throughout the sanctuary while singing “Silent Night.”
A congregant reached out to Pastor Emily to re-light her candle which had blown out as she walked down the aisle.
As the church lights were brought back up, worshippers sang “Joy to the World” and went out into the night, surely with hopeful hearts and the
assurance that the Light of the World will never be extinguished.

Past Events in the Life of the Church

Advent Lessons and Carols

This Advent service is based on a composition by E. W. Benson, Anglican Bishop of Truro, England in 1880, for a Christmas Eve service at that time. In 1918 it was adapted for the chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, by its Dean, Eric Milner-White, who also wrote The Bidding Prayer. The current service at First Presbyterian incorporates out Chancel Choir, a guest harpist, flutist and oboist, and congregational members who read scripture verses foretelling the coming of the Lord. It is a beautiful, heart-felt service of scripture, prayer, the lighting of candles, and music.

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Co-Paster Emily Wilmarth

Gary Kaplan and Celia McCullough read scripture and light the secondt Advent candle during “Lessons and Carols”

Rev. Dr. Curtis Fussell, Co-Pastor, and Katherine
Sherrie Cathcart reads scripture as part of “Lessons and Carols”
Wayne Coleman reads scripture as part of “Lessons and Carols”
Chad Lucas reads scripture as part of “Lessons and Carols”
Delaine Nelson reads scripture as part of “Lessons and Carols”
Gerri Tulley reads scripture as part of “Lessons and Carols”
Worship and Music Director Dr. Michael Lancaster and Chancel Choir
Erin Hansen on harp, Carleton Alexander on oboe, Linda Lancaster on flute
The Chancel Choir with guest musicians and Angie Jenkins on pipe organ

Smoky Mountain Brass Quintet Concert

Always popular and loads of fun, especially at Christmas time, the Smoky Mountain Brass Quintet was once again a crowd-pleaser at First Presbyterian on December 7th.

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Zsolt Szabo on trombone, David Ginn on trumpet
Michael Schallock on tuba
Travis Bennett on French horn, Brad Ulrich on trumpet

Empty Bowls Luncheon

The ninth annual Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Food Pantry

“Empty Bowls” is an annual fundraiser for the Highlands Food Pantry, co-sponsored by the Bascom. Area potters and wood turners contributed handmade bowls for purchase, which entitled participants to enjoy a luncheon of hot soups prepared by local chefs. The bowls are a reminder of the many in our world who go without food on a regular basis.

Harpist — Kela Walton

November 2 — Kela Walton, harpist, accompanied the Chancel Choir and played the Prelude and Offertory for the worship service on November 2nd. Kela is based in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and performs with many regional symphonies as well as giving private harp lessons and writing for harp journals.

Bluegrass — Charles Wood and Friends

October 20 — Charles Wood and Friends, a much-loved regional bluegrass band, had the congregation tapping its toes and singing along during the Sunday morning worship service.


Amernet String Quartet

Saturday, October 12 — As part of the Highlands-Cashiers Chamber Music Festival, the Amernet String Quartet from Miami, Florida, offered a spectacular Saturday afternoon concert in the sanctuary.

The Rabun Gap-Nacoochee Singers

September 29 — Our sanctuary was filled to overflowing with the glorious music of Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School’s Gap Singers, directed by Allegra Boggess.