Notice to Members

First Presbyterian Church of Highlands is closed and all church activities, including Sunday worship, are canceled until further notice.

To stay informed regarding online church events and live worship streaming, please check our Facebook Page: and our church website blog page . We will also email our members when possible.

If you need aid or help, please call the Pastoral Care lines:

404-558-9449 or 336-264-0856.

In this strange and difficult time, we can all hold each other in prayer. We don’t know what is coming our way, but the most important thing for our church and our community is to work together to stay healthy.

Message from the Pastors–COVID-19

Dear FPCH Family and Friends,

After much thought, prayer, and discernment, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to cancel adult education and worship this Sunday, March 15th. We make this decision with the health, wholeness, and care of all of God’s people in mind.

These are indeed strange times. As each day brings news of the growing outbreak, we will continue making decisions about future church gatherings. The Session will meet on Monday, March 16th, to discuss the church calendar to communicate to our congregation. Our office hours remain unchanged.

The Community Table meals on Tuesday evenings have been suspended for the next few weeks, with hopes of returning on April 21st. 

While we won’t meet in person, we are still the church of Jesus Christ! We can join together in prayer, we can call and check in on one another, and those who are able might be capable of providing care. If you are in need of care – a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy, a ride to the doctor, a problem in your home – please contact the church office (828-526-3175), Curtis (336-264-0856), or Emily (404-558-9449). If you are in good health and willing to support those who are ill or in need, let us know, too!

In Christ’s peace and love,

 Curtis and Emily

Sonshine School

Meet Angela Swain, below, and Michelle Flores, next photo — our
Sonshine After-School Program teachers. Angela, a 5th grade teacher at Highlands School and mother of two sons, has been with the Sonshine School for the past two years. She is a kind and giving soul, and the
children love her.

Michelle is a senior at Highlands High School and a superb student teacher. She gives of her time every afternoon to help the children with after school talks, homework and fun. The program includes time for homework, structured lessons, crafts, music with Angie Jenkins, and free play time. The youngsters are quick learners and engage in the activities with enthusiasm.

Angela Swain, Sonshine School teacher
Michelle Flores. student teacher
Angela with Sonshine School children
Angie Jenkins leads the Sonshine School children in songs as she plays the piano.
Angie Jenkins teaching the children beginning handbell technique
A brand-new handbell choir in Sonshine School
Sonshine School also provides a time for the children to talk about things that concern them.
Sonshine After-School free play in Coleman Hall
Sonshine After-School free play in Coleman Hall
Sonshine After-School free play in Coleman Hall

Ash Wednesday Service

Our annual Ash Wednesday service, marking the beginning of the
season of Lent, took place on February 26th, 2020. During the service worshippers came forward to receive the imposition of ashes to
symbolize our mortality and penitence. Participants were invited to write down on slips of paper any regrets or shortcomings they wished to
confess; these papers were burned on the church steps at the close of the service. A delightful lunch of Marty’s famous soup, salad and quiche followed in Coleman Hall.

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Lessons_Carols-14-1024x683.jpg

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is brass-quintet-5-1024x683.jpg

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.