Pastoral Post 6.29.2016

This seems to be a time of change for our church staff. It was with great joy that we shared the news on Sunday of the birth of Ava Leigh Wood Taylor to Scott and Lauren. Scott was out last Sunday and will take a bit more time to be with family before returning to his musical duties. Congratulations, Scott and Lauren on the birth of this beautiful new life!

Tonight (Wednesday) we celebrate the ministries of Hardy Tippett as Minister of Congregational Care and Wilson Strickhausen as Associate Pastor. Hardy has served First Church for 10 years and Wilson for 8. It’s astonishing to think of how many pastoral visits they have made, how many Sunday mornings that have led worship, how much joy they have brought to the church family. Hardy and Wilson, we appreciate you so much and are glad that you will still be members of the First Church family! We should also say Thanks to Hardy’s wife Sarah and Wilson’s wife Anita for sharing their husbands with us!

Susan Giles begins as Associate Pastor this week. This is a part-time position, and she is also appointed part-time as Dean of the Chapel at Lake Junaluska. For the next few weeks, she will preside at the 8:30 service, then rush to the Lake to lead the 10:45 service in Stuart Auditorium, where a number of our members worship in the summer. She’ll be present for the 11:00 service beginning August 14. In the meantime, she will primarily be making pastoral visits and learning to coordinate the 100 volunteers of the Congregational Care team.

In case you missed it in last week’s First Words, Jason Bugg left his position on our office staff for another job. His was a friendly voice on the phone and welcoming presence in the office. We congratulate him and wish him well in his new challenge. Alex Medford will be filling some of his responsibilities for the time being as we study future staffing needs.

Change. It is life. It is inevitable. Let us pray for all these and others who are in transition.


It is with sadness that I ponder the latest terrorist attack. The numbers I just saw indicate there are 41 dead and 239 injured in Instanbul from this morning’s attack, and I fear those numbers will increase. It will be truly tragic if we ever submit to passion fatigue and take these acts of brutality in stride.

Sunday we’ll sing “America the Beautiful,” my favorite patriotic hymn, because it not only thanks God for “amber waves of grain” and “purple mountain majesties,” but it realizes our need for God to “shed his grace on thee,” and prays to God to “mend thine every flaw.” We are not perfect, as a nation. Only God is perfect. In this election year, let us pray that we will elect leaders who will lead our nation in being what has always made it great and to be a force for peace and justice in the world.

See you Sunday,


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