Pastor’s BLOG

News & Notes

Dear Friends,
I have been with you nearly a year, now, and I have to say how marvelous it is to welcome people to all the in-person worship, learning, and fellowship activities your church offers. We have had a great startup to the Fall. It was wonderful to begin Crossroads Contemporary Service at 9:00 on September 19th. Worshipers seemed so happy to be back in this service. The 11:00 service had good participation as well, and we are glad to have our choir back to lead us in song. Sunday school is also moving right along. It’s not too late to join a class at 10:00!
Earlier this month I wrote about some staff departures that occurred at the end of August. This week, I am so happy to tell you that Session approved the hiring of two new interim staff members! The first one, Ann Kiefer, is no stranger to us. Ann is a member here and most recently served on the Mission Study Team. Having read through all those survey results and helping to analyze the mountains of information the team researched and received from the congregation, Ann is well aware of the strength of our Christian Education ministry for children and youth. She is excited and energized to build upon our strengths and encourage deeper study in Sunday school, and more participation of children and youth in worship. We are so happy she has offered to serve as Interim Director of Christian Education in this important time. Do note that Ann has a full-time job during the day, so she will not have “office hours” at the church. If you need to connect with her, please use her email or phone, which are found in the church directory.
Our second new staff member, Stan Grady, will begin as Interim Organist on October 1st. Stan is an experienced church musician and teacher. He worked at Forest Hills Presbyterian Church for many years until he retired. We are so grateful he is willing to come out of retirement and commit to weekly worship here with us as we begin our search for a new organist. Please take time to welcome him this coming month.

The Nominating Committee is also underway to nominate a Pastor Nominating Committee. This is a great sign that we are moving forward through this transition. Be in prayer as they discern whom the Spirit might be calling for this important task.
Finally, just a note about how you can reach me now that fall is underway. I am usually in Lexington on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. I ordinarily work on my sermon from home on Fridays. Wednesday continues to be my day off. Since I have a number of evening meetings, I usually arrive to the office late morning or first thing in the afternoon and then work until meetings are done at night. Even though I am not always in the church office, I often use morning time to return emails and messages as well as do some reading and sermon preparation. With my 80-mile round-trip commute, it doesn’t make sense to go home and come back for evening meetings.
This is very flexible though, as my schedule is constantly changing and adapting to attend to whatever comes up throughout the week. If you would like a visit or wish to meet with me, it is best to schedule it since more things are happening in person now and may take me out of the office. You can contact me at 708-642-2742 for talk/text, and my email is If earlier morning is a better time for you, I can certainly make that happen! I enjoy hearing your stories and learning about this congregation so don’t hesitate to connect.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Nancy

Rev. Dr. Nancy Jo Dederer,
Transitional Pastor

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