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Sunday, July 18: The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost


We were blessed this Sunday morning to have Cameron Nixon, bagpiper, with us to provide our Prelude, “Hyfrydol” by Rowland Prichard.

It was a joy to have our Chancel Choir back in the choir loft after an absence of over a year.

Pastor Curtis Fussell gave the Welcome, Opening LItany, Call to Confession and Assurance of God’s Grace.

Pastor Emily Wilmarth gave the Children’s Moment.

Emily unwrapped a gift box to demonstrate the greatest gift we can receive: God’s grace.

The Chancel Choir joyfully sang out “With a Voice of Singing” by Martin Shaw.

The Chancel Choir also sang a beautifully contemplative rendition of “Amazing Grace” in response to the sermon.

Organist Angie Jenkins accompanied the choir, and played Carol Tornquist’s “Hymn Medly” as the Offertory and “Voluntary on Engelberg” by Charles Stanford as Postlude.

Pastor Curtis preached on the gift of God’s grace for all, regardless of our deserving, based on a reading of Ephesians 2:1-10.
Curtis gave the Charge and Benediction, with an invitation to lunch!

Following the worship service we were treated to a congregational luncheon prepared by Marty Rosenfield and the Congregational Care committee.

Sunday, July 11: The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

The flowers in the sanctuary were presented to the glory of God by Betty Fisher in loving memory of the Crawford and Fisher families.
Betty Fisher lovingly grew and tended these beautiful flowers in her own garden.
Organist Angie Jenkins opened the service with the Prelude: “Reflection on Bunessan” arranged by Andrew Moore.
The sanctuary was nearly full to capacity this morning. We have been slowly working through the transitional period after the Covid interruption of services.
Pastor Emily Wilmarth welcomed all worshippers and gave the Opening Litany, Prayer of Confession and Assurance of God’s Grace.
Her sermon was based on Ephesians 1:1-14, and focused on the assurance that we were chosen by Christ before the creation of the world, to dwell in the love of God. This “chosen-ness” in no way is meant to exclude certain people, but rather is a promise that God’s grace is given for all.
Pastor Curtis offered the Prayers of God’s People, The Lord’s Prayer and the Offertory Prayer.
We were blessed to have baritone Steve Ozcomert with us to sing an arrangement of “Deep River” by Harry Burleigh.
Angie Jenkins accompanied Steve on piano.

Following Emily’s benediction, Angie closed the service with “Alleluia from Exsultate Jubilate” by Mozart as the Postlude.
All were invited to “Pass the Peace on the Patio” with coffee, lemonade and pastries after the worship service.

Sunday Worship Service, July 4, 2021: The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost


The flowers in the sanctuary were presented to the glory of God by Anne Paulk, Janice Topping, James Moore, and Gerald Moore in loving memory of their mother, Beverly Garner Moore Graves.

Our guest musician this Fourth of July was Larry Black, trumpeter.

Larry Black and Angie Jenkins opened the service with “Patriotic Medley” arranged by Don Phillips.

Pastor Curtis Fussell gave the Opening Litany, Prayer of Confession and Assurance of Pardon.

Pastor Emily Wilmarth invited any youngsters in the congregation to come forward for the Children’s Moment.

Pastor Emily unpacked a travel bag piece by piece, describing items one might take on a trip.

Items packed for the trip included such things as a stuffed duck for comfort, books to read, and of course, a waffle iron!

Emily then explained that, as Jesus sent his disciples out with no belongings, likewise no items are necessary for us to take along when we go out to spread the good news of God’s love.

Pastor Curtis preached on “God’s Sufficient Grace” based on a reading of 2 Corinthians 12:1-10, emphasizing that God is with us through any and all infirmities and burdens we might carry in our lives.

Pastor Emily offered the Prayers of God’s People.

Larry Black and Angie Jenkins played “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” as the Offertory.

Pastors Curtis and Emily offered the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

Curtis gave the Benediction.

Larry Black and Angie Jenkins closed the service with “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory.”

Sunday Worship Service, June 27, 2021


We were delighted to have guest musicians Andrea Pettigrew, violinist, and Patricia Black pianist, offer special music during the worship service on June 27.

As Prelude, Andrea Pettigrew and Patricia Black played Edward Elgar’s “Andantino.”

Pastor Curtis preached on “Hungering” based on a scripture reading of Mark 5:21-34, which gives the account of the woman who, seeking healing, reached out in a crowd to touch Jesus’ cloak.

Pastor Emily Wilmarth offered the Prayers of God’s People and The Lord’s Prayer.

Andrea Pettigrew and Patricia Black played “Adagio from Sonata No. 4 in D Major” by George Frederic Handel, as the Offertory.

Our Organist Angie Jenkins concluded the service with Handel’s “La Rejouissance” as Postlude.

The rain chased our “Passing of the Peace on the Patio” indoors after the worship service. Posing here are John and Sandy Barrow, Donna Philips and Bonny McGarity.

Sunday Worship Service, June 20, 2021

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.

Scenes from the Sunday Worship Service, June 13, 2021


What a blessing to have the sanctuary filling up with people again!

Pianist Jonathan Wilkes contributed beautifully to the service, playing “Morning” by Richard Strauss as Prelude and Claude Debussy’s “Claire de Lune” as a special Musical Offering.

Pastors Emily Wilmarth and Curtis Fussell welcomed the congregation and offered the opening litany, prayers of the people, scripture and sermon, based on the parable of the sower and seed found in Mark 4:26-34.

A pair of sisters with stuffed-animal friends observed from the balcony.
The Children’s Moment

A grain of salt: a tiny thing with a mighty impact

Pastor Emily offered the Prayer of Confession and Assurance of Pardon.

Pastor Curtis gave the Prayers of God’s People and the Lord’s Prayer.

“Passing the Peace on the Patio” after the service

First Presbyterian Reopens!

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!

From the Pastor:

Dear Church,

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

Sunday, May 23: The Day of Pentecost

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.