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Sunday, November 29: First Sunday of Advent

The poinsettias in the sanctuary today are given to the glory of God and in loving memory of Ruth Foster by her children, Dianne and Mac Isaacs, Susan Beem, and Judith Webb.

This Sunday’s Prelude was “Divinium Mysterium,” arranged by Arthur Koch and played by our organist, Angie Jenkins. The anthem, prerecorded from the November 26, 2017 worship service, was “In Christ An Inheritance Is Ours.” It was sung by the Chancel Choir, directed by Michael Lancaster, and accompanied by Linda Lancaster on flute, Kelly O‘Dell on oboe, and Angie Jenkins on organ.

John and Sandy Barrow performed the lighting of the first Advent Candle and gave our Welcome and Call to Worship, Prayer of Confession and Passing of the Peace. We are thankful for their meaningful contribution to the richness of our worship service.

Pastor Curtis read Jesus’ words from Mark 13:32-37 in which he urged believers to be awake and aware, watching for the coming of the kingdom of Heaven, a time unknown to any but God. Curtis‘ sermon was titled “Waiting for Christ,” relating the Scripture passage to our waiting in so many ways during this time of the pandemic and the season of Advent. Our waiting is an active rather than a passive state as we strive to live as the body of Christ, reflecting the hope and promise of God’s grace.

Pastor Emily offered the Prayers of God’s People and led the congregation in The Lord’s Prayer and the Offertory Prayer.

Angie Jenkins once again closed the service with the Benediction hymn, “God Be With You Til We Meet Again.” Her Postlude on the pipe organ was “Voluntary in F Major” by F.H. Himmel.

Advent Drive-In Vespers Services

Please join us for a weekly drive-in Advent Vespers service of prayer, music, scripture, and meditation on this season of preparation for Christ’s coming into the world. We will worship “together at a distance.”

WHO: You! And those in your “bubble” with whom you’d like to sit in the car for drive-in worship. Emily Wilmarth will lead us in liturgy and meditation. We will be led in music by Angie Jenkins on piano on November 29th and December 6, Jillionna Bailly on harp on December 13, and by the Sacred Sounds Bell Choir on December 20.

WHEN: 5:30 PM – Sundays during Advent

WHERE: Highlands Performing Arts Center (PAC) parking lot – enter from Laurel Street. Instructions for tuning in on your radio will be provided.

IF YOU CAN’T DRIVE IN, the service will be streamed live via Facebook. Join us at First Presbyterian Church of Highlands, NC at 5:30.

Sunday, November 22: Christ the King

This Sunday’s Prelude was a recording of “Thanksgiving Medley,” arranged by Bobby Jones and offered by the Sacred Sounds Handbell Choir on November 24, 2019.

Pastor Emily offered the Assurance of Pardon.

Cindy and Rick Trevathan gave our Welcome and Call to Worship, Prayer of Confession and Passing of the Peace from their home. We are so grateful for their beautiful contribution to the worship service.

Pastor Emily’s Scripture passage was Philippians 4:4-9, a passage in which Paul encourages the church at Philippi not to be anxious but to rejoice in the Lord and give thanks in all circumstances, trusting in the peace of Christ. Emily’s sermon, “Thanks Giving,” reflected this wisdom as it relates to our response to the difficult circumstances we face today: we give thanks not for the hardships themselves but for God’s grace and blessings that carry us through them.

Pastor Curtis offered the Prayers of God’s People and led the congregation in The Lord’s Prayer and the Offertory Prayer.

As has been our tradition throughout this time of separation due to the Covid pandemic, Angie Jenkins closed the service with the Benediction hymn, “God Be With You Til We Meet Again.” For the Postlude she played a beautiful arrangement by Thomas Chesterson of “Now Thank We All Our God” on the pipe organ.

Sunday, November 15: The Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

The delightful flowers brightening the sanctuary today were given to the glory of God in loving memory of Doris Hedges and Louise Dann by their children, Dick Grier and Gerri Tulley.

Skip and Leslie Randolph gave our Welcome and Call to Worship, Prayer of Confession and Passing of the Peace. We are very grateful for their offering of this liturgy and participation in the service.

The Gustav Holst composition “O God Beyond All Praising” was our Prelude this week, arranged by Anna Laura Page and performed by Larry Black on trumpet and Angie Jenkins on pipe organ.

Pastor Curtis read the Scripture passage recounting the parable of the three servants entrusted with talents, in Matthew 25:14-30. His sermon, “Trusting God,” related this parable to our lives today with the encouragement to make good and responsible use of the gifts and “talents” we are given, with trustful confidence in God’s grace rather than in fear of recrimination or punishment.

Pastor Emily led the congregation in the Prayers of God’s People and the Offertory Prayer.

Angie Jenkins closed the service once again with “God Be With You Til We Meet Again” as the Benediction hymn, and G.F. Handel’s “Allegro Moderato” arranged by Diane Bish, as Postlude.

Sunday, November 11: The Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost

Many thanks to Pat Mulherin who filled in for Scott McDuff this week as our videographer.

The Welcome and Call to Worship were given by Scott McDuff and Katelin Chambers. The Prayer of Confession was offered by Scott and Kelly McDuff, and the Passing of the Peace by Scott, Kelly and Katelin. We so appreciate their offering of this liturgy and participation in the service.

Harpist Jillionna Plemmons played the Prelude, “Hymn Medley” arranged by Jill Wade, which had been performed live on July 29, 2018.

The Chancel Choir, conducted by Michael Lancaster and accompanied by percussionist Mario Gaetano, sang the African-American Spiritual “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning” arranged by Andre Thomas.

Chancel Choir intern Owen Varnadoe provided a recording of his solo of John Wyeth’s “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” arranged by Rob Gardner. We are so grateful for this beautiful addition to our service.

Pastor Emily read Matthew 25:1-13 as the Scripture passage. Her sermon, “While We Wait” dealt with times in our lives that we face the difficult task of waiting, and the ways in which we may live lives of faithful preparation for the coming reign of Christ in the world.

Pastor Curtis offered the Prayers of God’s People and led the congregation in the Lord’s Prayer.

Angie Jenkins closed the service once again with the beautiful Benediction hymn, “God Be With You Til We Meet Again,” and as Postlude, V. Engel’s “Andante,” arranged by Carlo Rossini.

Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust Visits Sonshine School

The Sonshine School was treated to a visit from two members of the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust on October 22nd. Sarah Pursel, Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust Education Coordinator, and Logan Kallam, Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust Stewardship and Outreach Americorps Member, presented a talk on wild canids of our area. The children were attentive and enthusiastic learners. After the talk they were given time indoors to express their creativity in making their own wolf masks. We extend a heart-felt thank-you to the Land Trust for this rewarding educational event.

Sunday, November 1st: the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost: All Saints’ Day

This Sunday fell on All Saints’ Day, a day of commemoration for all the saints who have passed on from this life. The church also takes this day to remember and honor our own loved ones who are no longer with us. It is a time to remember that we are the “Communion of Saints” — the people of God.

The morning’s Prelude, an arrangement of “Simple Gifts” by Susan Geschke, was rung by the Sacred Sounds Handbell Choir and recorded on May 26, 2019. The Anthem was “You Will I Love,” sung by the Chancel Choir, directed by Michael Lancaster and accompanied on organ by Angie Jenkins. It was taken from the October 29, 2019 worship service.

Pat and Hilda Patrick participated in the worship service by offering the Welcome and Call to Worship, the Prayer of Confession, and Passing of the Peace. Thank you for this contribution to the service, Pat and Hilda.

Pastor Curtis preached on a reading from I Thessalonians 2:9-13. The passage relates the Apostle Paul‘s words of encouragement to the people of the church at Thessalonica to live lives worthy of God. Curtis’ sermon, titled “Encouragement,” emphasized that we are able to face the difficulties and dark clouds of these days because we live in the hope of Christ and have the power of the Holy Spirit with us.

Pastors Emily and Curtis offered the Sacrament of Holy Communion, inviting the congregation to join in taking the bread and cup of salvation in their homes.Angie closed the service with the Benediction hymn, “God Be With You Til We Meet Again” and the Postlude, “Trumpet Tune” by John Stanley, on the pipe organ.

Sunday, October 25: the Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost

We are delighted this week to welcome back Pastor Emily Wilmarth, who has been on maternity leave since the birth of baby Elliot!

Our Prelude this Sunday was “Waltz in A minor” by Frederic Chopin, performed on September 23, 2018 by Ziang “Leo” Lu, pianist with the Gap Singers of Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School.

The Gap Singers, conducted by Allegra Boggess, also provided the beautiful Anthem, “On Eagles’ Wings.”

The Welcome, Call to Worship, Prayer of Confession, and Passing of the Peace were all given by the Rev. John Martin. We so appreciate his offering of this liturgy.

Pastor Emily‘s Scripture reading was the passage on “the greatest commandment” from Matthew 23:34-40. Her sermon, “More Than Enough” dealt with the sometimes difficult act of loving our neighbors, which becomes our path to loving God.

Angie Jenkins closed the service with her lovely organ rendition of the Benediction hymn, “God Be With You Til We Meet Again,” and as Postlude, G.F. Handel’s “Allegro,” arranged by Diane Bish.

Sunday, October 18: the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

We were delighted and grateful to have a Musical Offering by Wesley Walker, baritone, accompanied by Andrew Brooks Norman, pianist. Their offering was Keith Getty’s “In Christ Alone,” with text by Stuart Townend.

This Sunday’s Prelude, recorded during the March 3, 2019 worship service, was “Be Thou My Vision,” a Traditional Irish Melody arranged by Rebecca Bonam. It was performed by Linda Lancaster, flutist, and Angie Jenkins, pianist. The Anthem, from June 16, 2019, was “How Great Thou Art,” arranged by Eric Nelson. It was sung by the Chancel Choir, directed by Michael Lancaster and accompanied by Angie on pipe organ.

Paul and Linda Schowalter offered the Welcome and Call to Worship, the Prayer of Confession, and Passing of the Peace. We are very thankful for your participation in the worship service in this very meaningful way, Paul and Linda.

Pastor Curtis’ sermon was titled “People With Influence” and based on the opening of Paul’s letter in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-8, which upholds the people of the church in Thessalonica for their stature as a model to all believers, exhibiting through their lives the power and conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Angie Jenkins closed the service with the Benediction hymn, “God Be With You Til We Meet Again,” and the beautiful Postlude, “Voluntary in B flat‚” by R.G. Thompson.

Sunday, October 11: the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

The flowers in the sanctuary today were presented to the glory of God by Kent and Judy Mergler in loving memory of Tim Mergler.

The music this Sunday, recorded during the October 20, 2019 worship service, was offered by Charles Wood and Friends (Wood, Lee Ladensack, Jim Yoder, and Cameron Owens). The group is a beloved and acclaimed regional bluegrass band, and provided the Prelude, Anthem, Offertory, Postlude and all congregational hymns. Our gratitude goes out to Ray McPhail for underwriting the music.

Pastor Emily and baby Elliot offered the Welcome and Call to Worship, the Prayer of Confession, and Passing of the Peace. It was a delight to see their faces… and Eliot only insisted on one do-over!

Pastor Curtis’ sermon, titled “Rejoice, Pray, Give Thanks,” centered on a reading from Philippians 4:4-9, in which the apostle Paul gave the injunction to the Church at Philippi to “Rejoice in the Lord always…. In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

A virtual Congregational Meeting via Zoom took place at noon to approve the nominations for the Elder Class of 2023. The following people were placed in nomination and approved for the Elder Class of 2023: Scott McDuff to serve another term as Elder for Property, Cindy Trevathan to serve as Co-Elder for Congregational Care, Carol Hughes to serve as Co-Elder for Mission, Paul Schowalter as Elder for Adult Education.