Pastor’s BLOG

Gifts and Service

Dear Friends,
 
What an incredible kickoff Sunday on the 13th! It was good to see our church family gathered in celebration and praise. There was so much joy and energy. Thank you to the Christian Education Ministry Team and all the volunteers for a great breakfast and fellowship time. Thanks to the Gathering Band and choir for their musical leadership, too. I look forward to the start up of Sunday school classes and our two-service schedule on the 19th.
 
As you return, you may notice a few staff changes. First of all, Karen Carrickhoff, our wonderful Interim Director of Christian Education and Formation, has stepped down in her official role. This has been planned since winter, and we are grateful for the many extra months she gave us after completing her initial 6-month commitment. Karen will be a Sunday school teacher this fall, so she isn’t going far. A search team is working to call a new educator to our church.
 
We have appreciated JoAnn Hill and Celia Stalvey as our pianist and organist, respectively, for the month of September. They are helping us out following the departure of Matthew Cates. The Worship Ministry Team is working on finding an interim organist so they can begin the search for a new permanent person.
 
Finally, many of you know that Jack Harman resigned as our Director of Contemporary Music at the end of August. We are so grateful for his ministry, especially with the Crossroads contemporary service from its very beginning. He has sung the faith and led the Gathering Band and this congregation in worship for a number of years, and we wish him God’s blessing in his next venture. Shelley Jennings, our Director of Music, has graciously agreed to step in to provide leadership for the Gathering Band and the early service. We are still in good hands!
 
While it may seem like a lot of change, the Session is working hard behind the scenes to provide for the spiritual life and growth of our congregation. We know that there may be a few holes as we move forward, and so we need you to step in to help. The Stewardship Ministry Team will be sending you a Time & Talent Commitment form early next week. This is an opportunity for you to say, Here I am. Call me! Please look it over, prayerfully consider how God may use you this year, fill it out, and bring it back to the church by October 3rd.
 
Our newly approved Vision Statement is
First Presbyterian Church
is the body of Christ
connected by our Spirit-given gifts,
serving with God’s love,
and transforming the
Lexington Community
by meeting physical and spiritual needs.
 
Let this year be one where we each acknowledge our Spirit-given gifts, encourage those gifts in others, and commit to using them in service to God through the mission and ministry of First Presbyterian Church.
 
Grace and peace,
Pastor Nancy

Rev. Dr. Nancy Jo Dederer,
Transitional Pastor
 


Mission Study Report: Finished!

Dear Friends-in-Christ,
 
I’ve been summoned for Jury Duty on August 23rd. I am writing this the week prior, so I have no idea whether I will be called to actually serve. Jury Duty, like voting, is one of those privileges and responsibilities that comes with citizenship. It’s not always convenient, and I certainly don’t look forward to sitting in a room all day waiting to see if my number is called; however, I am glad to serve in this way.
 
It has made me think of the responsibilities we have in the church. Because we are part of the family of God, also known as the Body of Christ, we worship the Triune God and seek to serve Jesus Christ by reaching out to others with God’s love. We also are called to listen for God’s voice and to pay attention to the Holy Spirit’s movement as we move forward. This is also called discernment.
The Mission Study Team and Session have been discerning God’s calling for First Presbyterian Church at this new time in our church’s life. It is challenging work as each person has to set aside personal preferences and opinions to listen to everyone else around the table and then continue to pray for God’s guidance in making decisions.
 
Session has met the past two Sundays to hear from the Mission Study Team and receive the Mission Study Report. There have been lively discussions, suggested tweaks, and passionate feelings shared. We have agreed that First Pres is caught in a “perfect storm” of pandemic and pastoral & staff transitions. Either one of these can throw us off course, and all of it together has perhaps made for a more difficult year than it might have been if we only had one change to deal with at a time. There is concern about morale of the church. Yet, you continue in faithful ministry. You reach out in mission. You continue to look for ways to connect personally with one another—even when you can’t be together in person. You study scripture, worship, and pray. God’s work carries on as each member offers their best in service. To this we say Hallelujah!
 
One of the most important parts of a new mission study is creating new Vision and Mission statements. A vision statement focuses on what you feel God wants your church to look like. The mission statement is about what you do to live into that vision. Think of the vision statement as “being,” and the mission statement as “doing.” The Mission Study Team was inspired by scripture found in Romans 12:4-8. At the meeting on Sunday, the Session approved the following:
 
Romans 12:4-8
4 For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7 ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8 the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
 
Vision Statement
First Presbyterian Church is the body of Christ connected by our Spirit-given gifts, serving with God’s love, and transforming the Lexington Community by meeting physical and spiritual needs.
 
Mission Statement
United in Christ, grounded in God’s word, First Presbyterian Church offers worship, learning, and outreach experiences for all ages so that we grow in our discipleship, care for community and commitment to serve.



This week the Mission Study Report will be sent on to the Transitions in Ministry Task Force of Salem Presbytery’s Commission on Ministry for approval. We look forward to sharing other parts of the Mission Study over the coming weeks. If you would like to read the report, let Jeanna know, and she will email you a pdf digital copy. We will have several printed copies available in the Lobby, as well, for your perusal. We ask that you leave them at the church so others may read them, too.


Congratulations! This is a huge milestone in the transitional process. Soon you will be granted permission to elect a Pastor Nominating Committee and begin the specific work of calling a new pastor. Please keep the Session in prayer as they lead this congregation.
 
Grace and peace,
Pastor Nancy

Rev. Dr. Nancy Jo Dederer,
Transitional Pastor


Mission Study and Next Steps

Dear Friends,
 
I am excited to report that the Mission Study Report is completed and now in the hands of the Session for review. The Mission Study Team, composed of Beverly Black (chair), Bill Bryan, Carol Fortune, David Hiller, Ann Kiefer, and Emily Orman, has worked hard over the past seven months. They have learned much about this congregation, your history, your future hopes. Imagine taking 200 years of mission and ministry, the comments and opinions of 309 members, plus information about the local community and then mixing it all together! They have listened for the Holy Spirit’s voice in discerning God’s direction for this congregation in moving forward. No small feat! They have worked so well together, and I marvel at their dedication and drive in completing this huge task.
 
The Session will discuss the Mission Study Report at their regularly scheduled meeting on August 15. If it is approved, the report will then be sent to the Transitions in Ministry Task Force of Salem Presbytery’s Commission on Ministry for their approval. This happens to be a presbytery team I co-moderate, so I know the process well! That task force meets late August.
 
I look forward to sharing the report with the congregation once it is approved. I think you will find it a faithful representation of your church. It also offers some challenges for you to address as you step into the next season of congregational life and ministry and prepare for a new pastor.
 
In the meantime, I hope you will find a way to offer your personal thanks to the Mission Study Team members for their time, efforts, and commitment to this transitional process between pastors.
I am grateful to serve alongside you!
 
In Christ,
Pastor Nancy

Rev. Dr. Nancy Jo Dederer,
Transitional Pastor


Expanding Leadership

Dear Friends,
 
I hope you are enjoying the worship series on the Book of Acts this summer. This past Sunday we learned about the need for expanding leadership to carry out the church’s ministry. I am grateful for the 9 new elders-elect who have heard the call to serve on Session for the next two years. Of course, a reason they could say “yes” was knowing that you, the congregation, are willing to serve alongside them, sharing your Spirit-given gifts. Those who are ordained and installed promise to pray for and serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love. They will be holding you in their hearts as they lead this congregation in the way of Christ. Please uphold Session in your prayers this coming year, as well.
 
One of their first acts as a Session in the next month or two will be to approve the Mission Study Report. This important report will set a direction for this congregation. As it unfolds, we hope you will begin to discern what part you might play in the body of Christ at work in Lexington. We look forward to growing together as disciples of Jesus.
 
Grace and peace,
Pastor Nancy

Rev. Dr. Nancy Jo Dederer,
Transitional Pastor