Pastor’s BLOG

Summer is Nearly Upon Us!

Dear Friends,
Summer is nearly upon us. That time of cookouts, swimming pools, and lightning bugs! I enjoy the change-up of schedule that summer often brings. This year is somewhat different. Instead of things slowing down, they are starting to open up!
After more than a year of COVID-19 limitations, we are now able to gather more safely and even, praise the Lord, begin to sing in the last part worship! We rejoice in the miracle that is taking place with the various vaccinations that allow us to be together. If you are a teenager or adult and have not yet received a vaccination, I encourage you to make an appointment for one. Just like wearing masks, the COVID-19 vaccination is a way to love your neighbor. As of June 13th, 35% of Davidson County has had at least one dose of vaccination and North Carolina is almost at 46%, but we can do better. Talk to others about it and let’s do our part to improve our county statistics and health! We can be part of this unfolding miracle.
Peace to you,
Pastor Nancy

Rev. Dr. Nancy Jo Dederer,
Transitional Pastor

Caught in the Acts!

Dear Friends,
Grace and peace to you! Thank you to all who joined the Mission Study Team for lunch and conversation on May 23rd. We are grateful for your participation as the team continues to discern God’s direction for FPC.
In June we will begin a worship series on the Acts of the Apostles. Acts is written by Luke. Where in Luke’s Gospel we read of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, in Acts, we learn how the Church came to life and continues the work that Christ began. In Acts, God sends Gospel into motion. The Risen Christ accompanies the church. Gifted by the Spirit, apostles preach, teach, heal, baptize, and witness God’s expanding inclusivity and grace.
While at first, the church is painted as a nearly perfect group of people, we soon come across their humanity, foibles and all. Acts helps us imagine that early community of believers. It includes harmony and dissonance, unity and division, sharing and withholding, wilderness roads and riverside chats, jailbreaks and shipwreck, and even someone falling asleep during a sermon! All the while, the word of God moves into the world. The Apostles’ response might be, “The Spirit led us to it. In Jesus’ name we’ll do it. God will see us through it. So be it, Amen!”
I first read Acts as an older teenager and couldn’t put the book down. It read like a novel. I encourage you to open it up and take a look this summer! You will get to know the Church a little bit better!

See you in worship!
In Christ,
Pastor Nancy

Rev. Dr. Nancy Jo Dederer,
Transitional Pastor

A Season of Waiting

Dear Friends,
This past Sunday, the scripture was Acts 1:1-11, the story of Jesus’ Ascension and a commissioning of the disciples-turned-apostles. Before Jesus sent them out as witnesses to the ends of the earth, he told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit.
Waiting. It’s such a chore. The apostles probably didn’t even know what Jesus really meant, even though he’d talked to them about the Spirit before. Waiting is rarely easy. We usually know what we want and want to go for it. As children, we couldn’t wait until Christmas morning—but we did! And what an exciting gift we found under the tree or in the stocking. When was the last time you waited with such anticipation?
As adults, we often interpret waiting as a waste of time, as not getting anywhere. We murmur under our breath that all “this time” will be for naught.
When Jesus told his disciples to wait for the gift, it’s not as if they sat and did nothing for another 10 days. They added to their circle of leadership. They gathered as believers and prayed. When the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost, they were ready to move out and proclaim God’s word to the ends of the earth, to exhibit the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, as our sixth Great End of the Church calls us to do.
First Presbyterian Church is waiting for a new pastor. And the Mission Study Team has heard your laments about the length of time it is taking. The Presbyterian Process is a lengthy one. It is not unusual for a transitional pastor to serve a church in transition for 18-24 months before the church calls a new pastor. Even though Pastor Lee left a year ago, I have only been here for 7 ½ months. The Mission Study Team is working hard. They have met 16 times in 19 weeks and have completed assignments in between meetings. Their purpose is to do an in-depth study of the congregation, its mission and ministry, discern where God is leading, create a new mission statement and write a report. When you think of the size of FPC and the variety of ministries and mission work you have been involved in, you may begin to understand the breadth of their responsibility.
The past couple weeks they’ve been discussing the church survey results and how those fit in with all the other information they’ve been gathering, including the feedback elders received from their weekly calls earlier in the year, the current programs, the financial health, and well-being of our membership. It is a ton of information to work through, and they are doing it with energy and faithfulness, with an eye to FPC’s future.
The Mission Study Team hopes you will join them for lunch and discussion outdoors at the church on Sunday, May 23rd, at 12:30. We will use this time to present some of the themes that are rising from your feedback. There will be large and small group conversation. (More on this elsewhere in The Action.)
The Mission Study Team’s goal is to complete their report by early to mid-summer. The report then goes to Session for approval and then on to the Commission on Ministry (COM) of Salem Presbytery for final approval. I happen to serve on that committee, so I will make sure it gets before them!

Once the Mission Study Report is approved, the COM will grant the church permission to form a Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) to begin the work of calling a new pastor. Don’t be alarmed to hear that their work takes time, as well. The church, using the Mission Study Report, will write a Ministry Information Form (MIF). After Session and COM approval, the PNC will begin to receive Personal Information Forms (PIFs) from interested pastors. The PNC will conduct interviews and eventually select a candidate to bring to the congregation for approval.
Why is the process so long? It is to give time for the church to discern where God is calling them so they have an idea of the kind of pastor they need to fulfill their mission. God also uses this time so that just the right pastor will be ready for you!
In the meantime we wait. . . . We expand and equip our leadership, we consider how God is working in our midst, and we discover where our church’s strengths and passion intersect with the community’s need. And we pray, deepening our prayers for the person God is preparing, even as we pray for the church and world.
We wait and watch together. We continue to participate with worship, study, and mission. And we anticipate the gift of the Holy Spirit who will match just the right pastor with this wonderful congregation. Keep the faith!
Grace and peace,
Pastor Nancy

Rev. Dr. Nancy Jo Dederer,
Transitional Pastor

Messages and Messengers

Dear Friends,
We are still in the season of Easter, so I greet you with an Alleluia! Christ is risen indeed!
Jesus always seems to be breaking into disciples’ conversations during the Easter season scriptures. He seems to know just when to appear and encourage his followers along their walk of faith. On the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24), in the locked room of a house (John 20), Jesus offers peace and sends them out into the world in his name. How have you experienced Jesus this past month? How have you shared the Easter story?
As we step into May, each Sunday will prepare us for our own faith journey. On May 2nd, we will return to the theme of the PC(USA) Great Ends of the Church. Do you remember those from winter?
1. The proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind;
2. The shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God;
3. The maintenance of divine worship;
4. The preservation of the truth;
There are just two Great Ends left. We will pick up the 5th Great End, The Promotion of Social Righteousness, on May 2nd. On May 9th we will focus on #6: The Exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the World. May 9th will also be Confirmation Sunday, so the topic seems especially appropriate. We hope you will join us for outdoor worship on the 9th, as our youth make a commitment to follow Jesus and share God’s love. May 16th is Youth Sunday, and we plan for that service to be outdoors, as well. Worshiping outdoors makes it possible for everyone to attend these extra-special services. In the case of inclement weather, however, worship will be held indoors with limited capacity, so go ahead and make a reservation to be on the safe side.
Looking ahead to May 23rd, we will celebrate Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus’ disciples as tongues of fire and emboldened them to proclaim the gospel to the people gathered. This is often known as the Birthday of the Christian Church. We finish the month with Trinity Sunday, on May 30th, when we remember the mystery of our Three-in-One God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three of our members will help in the worship leadership this day by sharing a part of their faith story. The 30th is also Memorial Day Weekend.
As you can see, the month is filled with messages and messengers to strengthen our faith and help us deepen our commitment to Christ. I hope this will be your experience.
Deep peace of Christ to you,
Pastor Nancy

Rev. Dr. Nancy Jo Dederer,
Transitional Pastor