Notes from Pastor Jon

Thankful on the Way

…with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16)
Last Sunday was a great day! The congregation welcomed Susanne and me with wide open arms and smiles. It felt like we had reached the end of a long journey that had begun more than a year ago. But even as one chapter ends and a new chapter begins, it is both thrilling and humbling to think about what God has planned for us over the coming months and beyond.
Sunday was about being thankful on the way. So, in that spirit, I want to say thank you.
I want to thank everyone who wore a name tag and said, “You’ve got a lot of names to learn.” I promise to work on names over the next several days. Thank you for your warm welcome.
I want to thank Ann Kiefer for including me in the children’s moment so I could begin to get to know the children of the church. The Hebrew friendship bracelet from the children is a sweet gift. During the lunch someone complimented me on my ability to sit down on the lower step of the chancel with the children and still be able to get up again. I have a good feeling that some of the children would have helped me up if I had needed it.
I want to thank Regina and JoAnn for their amazing arrangement of God of our Fathers on piano and pipe organ. Were you singing along in your head while they were playing? I was. It’s a great hymn of the church. The words were written in 1876 and was initially sung to a different tune. In 1892, a new tune was written for the hymn and that’s the familiar one we sing today. It first appeared in the hymnbook of the Episcopal Church.
I want to thank Ryan Harman. He was the liturgist on Sunday, and when I was not quite in sync with everything that was happening (I accidently left out part of the service), I could see he had his side covered. In the future, I might need to work out some hand signals so that I can stay on track with Regina and the liturgist from across the chancel.
I want to thank the fellowship team for organizing the lunch after the service. The tablecloths and the flowers were beautiful. The blue and gold colors reminded me of the Navy. And the food was wonderful. What a feast! And thank you to the team that cleaned up after the meal, too.
In my sermon, I mentioned that gratitude can lead to a happier life. Maybe part of that happier life is an awareness that we depend on one another, and all of us depend on God. Thank you for reminding me of that on my first Sunday with all of you.
Peace in Christ, 

New Pastor Elected!

At our congregational meeting on Sunday, June 26, Rev. Jon E. Martin was elected by unanimous vote, 99-0, to serve as the next pastor of First Presbyterian Church.
Originally from northern California, Rev. Martin comes to us by way of Abingdon, Virginia. He and his wife Susanne, who is also a Presbyterian minister, have two grown children, Katherine, a college graduate who is working as a video game artist in Los Angeles, and Jonah, who will be a sophomore at UNC-Charlotte. They also have a golden retriever.
In 2019, Rev. Martin was commissioned in the United States Navy Reserve and presently serves as the Chaplain to a Marine Reserve Battalion based in Pasadena, California. He started his working life as an aerospace engineer just out of college, but has been a pastor for twenty-four years.
Rev. Martin has worked with every age group in the church and has been very actively involved in the ministry and life of the church as he has served. He has both led and stepped back to allow others to lead. In his profile, he notes, “Young adults are spiritual, and I want to understand how they value faith and service. God has a place for them in the church, and I want to discover how the church can be a place for them to thrive. I appreciate that they have much to teach me, as they take a greater leadership role in the leadership of the church.”
We are looking forward to learning, working, and ministering alongside our new pastor! His first Sunday with us will be August 21st. If you were not able to be present for the congregational meeting and wish to know more about Rev. Martin, you may pick up a copy of his profile at the church office, or you may contact the office (336-248-2140 or to have one mailed to you.

A Hope-Holding Time

Dear Friends,

This is my final letter to you, and it is filled with Thanksgiving.  Thank you for a wonderful Sunday together. The opportunity to ordain and install new officers was a joy for me. I give thanks for the Session leadership over these past 20 months. Your elders truly love God and care about this church and its people.  I know that the new class will only enrich the ministry that God has already begun in you.

Thank you for the send-off at the end of the service. I love the church ornament.  Chris and I have a nice collection of this style ornament from the places we’ve been. It will fit right in on our tree and bring wonderful memories of my time with you. The lattice pottery plate is beautiful and will be another good reminder of the fellowship we have shared.

I also give thanks for a talented and supportive staff, Jeanna, Alma, Shelley, Ann, Regina, and Jane.  It has been a joy working with each of them. I know your new pastor will find them a blessing, too.  Be kind to them this summer as they work through yet another pastoral transition. Remind them how much you value them, and look for ways to show your appreciation. Offer your assistance and support. That goes a long way for church staff.
Above all, I give thanks to God who brought us together for this season in life.  As you anticipate the arrival of your new pastor, I hope you will continue to pray for this person and the transition they are making to answer God’s call and move to Lexington. So many details to take care of with the sale of a home, looking for a new one, and saying goodbyes to a beloved congregation where that pastor has been serving. This is definitely a Hope-Holding time, full of possibilities!  I will be praying for this church and your ministry as we all move forward in faith. 
Grace and peace,

Pastor Nancy
Rev. Dr. Nancy Jo Dederer

Changing and Growing

Dear friends,
By now you may have received a mailing from me letting you know I have accepted a new call as an installed pastor to Circleville Presbyterian Church, in Circleville, Ohio. One of the hardest parts of Transitional Ministry for me is the short-term comings and goings to and from churches. It seems we just get to know each other and build relationships and then suddenly they come to an end.  One of the best parts of Transitional Ministry is I get to meet so many more people and hear the stories of their walk with God!  I cherish the times we have shared together.  You have enriched my life and faith.
The church I will be serving is one that I’ve held close to my heart ever since I served as their Director of Christian Education for three years back in 1985-1988. I never, ever expected I would return as their pastor.  God has a funny way of keeping us connected.  On the evening that the PNC extended the call, they invited my husband Chris to Zoom with us.  Chris said to them, “You know, Nancy isn’t the same person she was 30-plus years ago.”  The committee chairperson replied, “Well, we should hope not!”  Then another member of the PNC quipped back, “The church isn’t the same, either!”
It was a good sign to know that we welcome the growth on both sides.  I rejoice in the ways I have developed as a person, as a pastor over the years, and I am glad to know that the Circleville congregation has been learning and growing, too! I look forward to discovering those changes and transformations as I begin there in July.  It makes me wonder about FPC, Lexington.  How would you describe your growth over the years?  It’s not really a “numbers” question, but a “discipleship” kind of question.  My hope is that you all will consider how God and the years of ministry (nearly 200!) together have shaped both your congregation and you as individuals who are beloved children of God.  That could be a wonderful conversation-starter for when you meet your new pastor!
My last Sunday with you is June 12th, and my last day in the office is June 16th.  Please hold me in your prayers, as I will hold you, as we move through this next season of transition.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Nancy
Rev. Dr. Nancy Jo Dederer
Pastor Nancy’s last Sunday with us will be June 12. Following the worship service, we will have time on the front lawn for the church family to say their good-byes and give their well-wishes to Pastor Nancy. Please plan to join us.