May 17– the Sixth Sunday of Easter

The Rev. Emily Wilmarth led the service with a moving sermon on Jesus’ commandment to “love one another.” The Rev. Dr. Curtis Fussell participated with the Prayer of Confession, Prayers of God’s People, and assurance of the forgiveness of sins. We incorporated music accompanied by photos from previous services, helping us to remember the joy of gathering for worship. We keep in our hearts the faith that empty pews will not forever be the fact of our church life, but that we will one day be able to return to our beloved sanctuary as a congregation.

This week’s music featured the 1831 Rowland Prichard composition, “Hyfrydol,” performed as the prelude by bagpiper Cameron Nixon and organist Angie Jenkins on May 27, 2018. The anthem was Jean Sibelius’ “Be Still My Soul,” arranged by Dan Bird and performed on March 19, 2018 by Andrew Parker, oboist, and Angie Jenkins. Dr. Michael Lancaster led the singing of hymns.

May 10 — The Fifth Sunday of Easter

Our Elder Scott McDuff continues to record the services for YouTube until we can meet again as a congregation. This Sunday we incorporated a trumpet and organ prelude by Larry Black and Angie Jenkins, taken from an earlier, pre-social-distancing service. Pastor Curtis Fussell preached on “A Matter of Trust” based on the Scripture passage from John 14:1-14, and Pastor Emily Wilmarth offered prayers and assurance of pardon. Michael Lancaster led at-home worshippers in the singing of hymns. The flowers this week were given by Hilda and Pat Patrick in loving memory of Elizabeth Parker McCloskey and Patrick Charles McCloskey.

May 3, 2020 — The Fourth Sunday of Easter

Parishioner Sandy Barrow brought flowers from her yard to brighten the sanctuary for the Sunday worship service.
Sandy Barrow with her bountiful bouquet
Sandy putting the finishing touches to her arrangement
During this time of stay-at-home mandates, our services continue to be recorded for parishioners to view on YouTube. First Presbyterian Church Elder Scott McDuff volunteers his services as cameraman.
The empty pews are a poignant testament to our observance of social
distancing during the pandemic.
Pat Mulherin runs the sound board for the audio CD of each service.
Dr. Michael Lancaster, Director of Worship/Music, opened the service with the Prelude on viola, along with Angie Jenkins, Director of
Music Ministry/Organist.
Rev. Emily Wilmarth led the service with prayer, sermon and
Scripture readings.
Michael Lancaster led at-home worshippers in the singing of hymns.
Rev. Dr. Curtis Fussell offered the Prayers of God’s People and assurance of pardon.
Pastor Curtis gave a rare guitar solo, singing “Seek Ye First
the Kingdom of God.”
The Table prepared for the Sacrament of Holy Communion
Pastors Emily and Curtis broke bread and poured wine, offering the
Sacrament of Communion to worshippers at home and encouraging all to partake in “virtual community.”
The service concluded with a benediction and singing of “God Be With Us Til We Meet Again.”


April 26, 2020 — The Third Sunday of Easter

Jill Wolfe has been bringing flowers from home to brighten up the
sanctuary for our online services.
Scott McDuff and Pat Mulherin work out details of recording the
Sunday services.
Pastors Emily Wilmarth, Curtis Fussell and Director of Worship and Music Dr. Michael Lancaster
Pastor Curtis Fussell gave the Scripture reading and sermon.
Dr. Michael Lancaster led the singing of hymns.
Pastor Emily Wilmarth offered prayer and assurance of pardon.

April 19, 2020 — The Second Sunday of Easter

The Rev. Emily Wilmarth led the worship service, with Rev. Dr. Curtis Fussell, Dr. Michael Lancaster, and Angie Jenkins participating. Until we can gather together again in our sanctuary, we continue offering online services as a way to share our worship experience.

Rev. Emily Wilmarth

Rev. Emily Wilmarth & Rev. Dr. Curtis Fussell
Dr. Michael Lancaster, Direcor of Worship and Music
Rev. Dr. Curtis Fussel
Angie Jenkins, Director of Music Ministry/Organist

Easter Sunday

Our Easter Sunday worship service, filmed for congregational viewing on YouTube, focused on meeting our risen Lord whenever and wherever we go out to serve. The Rev. Dr. Curtis Fussell and Rev. Emily Wilmarth
led the service with Scripture, prayer, sermon and the serving of Holy Communion. Michael Lancaster led the singing of hymns, accompanied by Angie Jenkins who also provided the Prelude, music during the
service of Communion, and Postlude on the pipe organ.

The coverings placed over the pulpit and baptismal font during the Passion Sunday service, were removed at the beginning of worship.
The pastors placed Easter Liles on the flower stands…
… and brought in bread and wine for the Sacrament of
Director of Worship and Music, Dr. Michael Lancaster
Director of Music Ministry/Organist Angie Jenkins
Pastor Curtis Fussell poured water at the font, offering assurance
of pardon.
Pastor Curtis brought the morning’s sermon.
The pastors offered the Prayer of Great Thanksgiving and Words of
Institution prior to serving Holy Communion, encouraging viewers to
participate in their own homes.
Michael Lancaster led he closing hymn.
The Charge and Benediction. Easter blessings to all!

Stations of the Cross

Early in the Christian movement, Jesus’ followers remembered Jesus’
execution and the places where various parts occurred, recounting the details. By the Middle Ages, pilgrimages to Jerusalem for Holy Week were like the Muslim Haj—a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage. When people couldn’t go to Jerusalem to walk the via Dolorosa with Christ, the ritual of the stations of the cross was born so that people could journey with Christ spiritually in their own parish devotion. Annually, the churches in Highlands gather to walk the stations in an ecumenical service of
scripture, singing, and prayer.

In light of our current situation, the clergy in town made the sad decision to cancel this year’s town-wide service. In lieu of this ecumenical service, pastors Curtis and Emily led worshippers virtually on an online journey through the stations on our own church campus, remembering the painful path that Jesus walked.

The First Station: Jesus on the Mount of Olives
The Second Station: Jesus, betrayed by Judas, is arrested
The Third Station: Jesus is Condemned by the Sanhedrin
The Fourth Station: Peter Denies Jesus
The Fifth Station: Jesus is judged by Pilate
The Sixth Station: Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns
The Seventh Station: Jesus takes up the cross
The Eighth Station: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross
The Ninth Station: Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
The Tenth Station: Jesus is crucified
The Eleventh Station: Jesus promises the kingdom to the good thief
The Twelfth Station: Jesus on the cross, his mother, and his disciple
The Thirteenth Station: Jesus dies on the cross
The Fourteenth Station: Jesus is placed in the tomb

Palm/Passion Sunday

We celebrate this first day of Holy Week by focusing on both the glory and the passion of Christ, represented at the outset by the palms and joyful songs signifying Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, then turning to the somber events of desolation and abandonment surrounding his suffering and death.  During the latter portion of the service devoted to Christ’s passion, we engage in the “stripping of the sanctuary,” a practice dating from the seventh century. In silence, all liturgical and decorative objects including the Bible, the paraments, candles, and pastors’ stoles, are removed, and the pulpit and font are covered in black cloth.  We hear the drama of the passion and death of our Lord in Scripture and music as well as seeing it physically in our sacred space of worship. The church remains bare, in silence and desolation, until the joyful dawn of Easter.

Since State and town mandates regarding the Coronavius pandemic
prohibit us from gathering for services, Scott McDuff and a small team of volunteers are recording our services for Youtube so that the congregation can participate in worship from their homes.
The Rev. Dr. Curtis Fussell and Rev. Emily Wilmarth led the service of
Scripture and song.
Our Director of Worship and Music, Dr. Michael Lancaster, sang the hymns and recited poetry relating to Christ’s passion during the service,
augmenting Pastors Curtis and Emily’s Scripture readings.
Pastors Emily and Curtis begin the Stripping of the Sanctuary.
“It is finished.”

Worship Service March 22

In this time of restrictions on gathering, we at First Presbyterian Church are trying something new in an effort to offer an online worship service to our family of faith.

We are sending out an email that will include both a link to a recorded worship service and the service bulletin. You are invited to watch and participate at home. Each week there will be scripture, song, preaching, and prayer. We encourage you to watch at 11 am on Sunday — we can all attend worship together virtually. 

In Christ’s peace,
Emily and Curtis

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.