Bells are ringing in the sanctuary once again! The Sacred Sounds Handbell Choir was excited to ring for the first time since pre-Covid days. The choir rang out Johannes Brahms’ “Symphonic Fanfare” as prelude, and “Goin’ Home” by Antonin Dvorak as a musical offering.
Pastors Emily Wilmarth and Curtis Fussell led the congregation with prayer, scripture reading, sermon and affirmation of faith.
Curtis offered the Prayer of Confession and Assurance of Pardon.
Pastor Emily and Catherine enjoyed a Children’s Moment together.
Pastor Curtis preached on “Faith for the Storms” based on a reading of Mark 4:35-41, which relates the account of Jesus’ calming of the storm on the Sea of Galilee.
It was a joy to throw open the doors of the church and welcome the congregation back to Sunday services, after being closed more than a year!
As we are still observing social distancing guidelines, ushers kept seating to a reduced capacity with overflow into Coleman Hall. Still, the atmosphere was that of a joyful reunion, full of cheer and thanksgiving.
We were blessed to have Margaret Tooke and Glenn Morris, bagpipers, offer special music on this special day, playing “HIghland Cathedral” and “Amazing Grace” at both the 9:00 and 11:00 services.
At the close of each service a time of “Passing the Peace on the Patio” was held on the verandah between Coleman Hall and the sanctuary, giving our church family an opportunity to greet and catch up with one another. We plan to continue this new tradition as we go forward, complete with coffee, lemonade and cookies.
It is truly a blessing to be together again!
We are beyond excited to throw open the doors and join together again in worship! We want to share some details of our plans for gathering in person.
We will start worshiping this Sunday, May 30th, at 9:00 and 11:00 AM. Both services will be identical. Our Adult Education class will take place at 10 AM in the Library. The nursery will be open for the 11 AM service.
We will not mandate masks, but in an effort to protect the most vulnerable among us, we encourage mask wearing. Our worship leadership, ushers, and greeters have all been vaccinated.
Seating will be socially distanced and congregants will be ushered to their pews. We have overflow seating in Coleman Hall.
We will not be singing or passing Christ’s peace via handshakes and hugs in worship. After worship, all are invited for a time of fellowship and coffee as we “Pass the Peace on the Patio” on the terrace and stairway outside the Ravenel Room.
As with so much over the past year, we know that our return to worship will be an evolving process. We welcome your questions and concerns as we seek to return safely and joyfully to church.
Rev. Emily Wilmarth,
First Presbyterian Church of Highlands, NC
Our service opened this Sunday with a November 11, 2018 recording of John Dare’s “Chapel Bells” by the Sacred Sounds Handbell Choir. Pastors Curtis and Emily together gave the Call to Worship, Assurance of Pardon and Passing of the Peace. Emily offered the Prayers of God‘s People and led the congregation in the Lord’s Prayer.
Pentecost, which literally means “fifty” is observed on the 50th day after Easter. It is the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles, sending “tongues of fire” and enabling the apostles to speak in various foreign languages. A highly significant event, Pentecost is seen historically as marking the inception of the Christian Church.
Pastor Curtis Fussell preached on a Scripture reading of Acts 2:1-4, which recounts this very important story. Curtis spoke of the Holy Spirit as the breath, or wind, of God — the “pneuma” which God imparts and instills within us. While we cannot see it, the Spirit is a powerful force profoundly influencing and permeating our lives at the deepest level. He went on to remind us that when we pray, even in those times that we cannot seem to pray, the Holy Spirit always prays with us and in us. It is because the Holy Spirit is poured out in us that we are able to speak as, act as, and be children of God.
This Sunday is significant in yet another way: it will hopefully be our last “virtual-only” worship service, as we move ahead with plans to re-open for in-person worship next Sunday, May 30. In keeping with these plans, this Sunday marks the culmination of Angie Jenkins’ weekly playing of the Benediction hymn, “God Be With You Til We Meet Again.” We are truly thankful to God who has indeed been with us and held us close all these months, and who is bringing us back together once again!
Angie’s Postlude, a gorgeous arrangement of Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy,” is especially appropriate as well, as we come to the end of more than a year of separation and isolation — truly a joyous occasion for celebration!
We are thankful again and always to Scott McDuff who has faithfully recorded, edited and uploaded our services to YouTube week after week. As we go forward, even after re-opening we will continue to record and post our services online for those who are unable to attend.