Information is changing rapidly regarding health concerns and recommendations surrounding COVID-19. We will continue to update this page with the latest information pertaining to our church events and activity cancellations. To stay abreast of the most current information, please read the latest update below and find an updated list of current events on our church calendar, here.


June 26, 2020 – Letter from Pastor Chip Miller

Since it has been about three months when we last gathered for worship in our sanctuary, it is a very good time to be reminded of the words of the Westminster Confession of Faith in chapter 21, par. 6,  on the subject of Worship: “Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is now, under the Gospel, either tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed: but God is to be worshipped everywhere, in spirit and truth; as, in private families daily, and in secret, each one by himself; so, more solemnly in public assemblies, which are not carelessly or willfully to be neglected, or forsaken, when God, by His Word of providence, calleth thereunto.”  I hope you are using every means available to help you to worship, as the Confession says, in families and by yourself and in public assemblies (if able).

It was a great joy to partake of the Lord’s Supper last Sunday morning during our worship service. This was our first opportunity to do so together since February. For those who are not be able to attend these gatherings, we miss you very much. Our plans are to continue to worship outdoors at 9 am through the four Sundays in July. Although many Macon churches have resumed indoor services, the health stipulations required are very limiting. We have decided to continue gathering for worship outdoors so we can sing, not have to make reservations, not have to wear masks, and be able to visit with one another afterwards while practicing social distancing. We plan to continue to livestream all the services. If we get rained out, we will livestream only. If you attend the service and are restricted to your car, you can receive the audio being transmitted short range on FM channel 107.9.   Remember to download and print the Guide for Worship found here. The latest one is usually posted on Saturday before the service.

Last Sunday, the nursery opened during the worship service with some specific health guidelines. Thank you to Lori Gillis and others who have worked so hard to help make this happen.

Our search committee for a new youth director continues to make progress. Bill Taylor is chairing that committee. Please pray for them and this very crucial search.

Please let us know if you have a prayer request. You can use the form on the website found here.

 

Chip Miller


June 13, 2020 – Letter from Pastor Chip Miller

Dear Family and Friends of FPC,

We are planning to gather for worship tomorrow at 9 am at FPC. Elliott Everitt will bring the sermon tomorrow. It has been a blessing to have Elliott and Carrie and their family back with us. The last few Sunday gatherings have been very encouraging to those who us who have been able to attend. There were about 300 attendees last week, including a number of folks who just happened by and joined us. As I wrote last week, we do plan to gather outside with social distancing each Sunday for June. Next Sunday, June 21, we plan to observe the Lord’s Supper. Session members are working out the details of how to distribute the prepackaged elements. If we get rained out on the 21st, we will move communion to the 28th.

Our Session and Diaconate have continued to meet for called and monthly meetings via Zoom over the past few months but this coming Monday we will meet in person in the sanctuary. We are treating it as a trial run for when we return to in-person worship there. Only the Mulberry St. entrance will be used; attendees will be ushered to seating in every other pew; masks will be required; attendees will be ushered out by pews at the conclusion. It doesn’t sound very appealing, does it? That is why we have chosen to worship outside for the time being. Our CV19 Task Force continues to monitor the situation in GA and in Bibb County and to make recommendations to our Session. The staff are working through various approaches to multiple smaller services when we return to indoors. Even after we re-open the sanctuary for worship, one of the venues might still be outdoors. Time will tell.

Please let us know how we can pray for you and or help in any way.

Gratefully,

Chip

 

 


June 6, 2020 – Letter from Pastor Chip Miller

Dear Family and Friends of FPC,

Thank you to so many deacons and others who have worked behind the scenes to bring together our Sunday Outdoor Worship Gatherings. More than 260 people attended last Sunday. We plan to gather for worship outside at the church at 9 am for all the Sundays in June. Hundreds of people have been viewing all or part of our online worship service each week, even more so with our outdoor services.  Please consider sharing the link with others or Liking it on social media for others who might desire to use it as well.

This coming Sunday’s service will also include the installation of Elliott Everitt as our Asst. Pastor of Mid-Adults. I wrote earlier of how Elliott is no stranger to our congregation. His wife, Carrie, graduated from Mercer and served on our youth ministry staff from 1999-2001. She went on to be an intern with Reformed University Fellowship at the Univ. of Mississippi. It was there Carrie met Elliott. He grew up in Jackson, MS, and at First Pres Church. Elliott and Carrie were married in 2005. They moved to Macon in 2013 for him to serve as the RUF campus minister at Mercer. They were part of our congregation during those years and Elliott preached, taught, and they both sang in many of our services. We grieved to see them move away three years ago when he was called to serve as RUF campus minister at Miss State Univ.  The Everitts have four children: Thomas (12), Harris (11), Graham Eloise (8), and Jerome (6). Elliott officially began his service on our staff on June 1.

Several of us from the church attended the prayer gathering last Sunday at noon at Rosa Parks park. A number of local clergy prayed for various needs in our land. This is definitely a time to pray and learn by listening to the stories of others.  I try to approach these present discussions with the mind of 1 Thess. 5:21 – “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.” (NASB)  We want to love this community where God has placed us and called us to serve. Loving the community begins with knowing the people who live here and the variety of needs represented throughout, especially the poor and ‘least of these.’  May God empower and enable us to be salt and light.

These are days filled with uncertainty which can be very discouraging for the faint of heart. We need to rely on the words of Ps. 46:1 – “God is our help and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Your officers and church staff pray for you.  If we can do anything to help or assist, please do not hesitate to call any of us or the church office.  Every Monday members of our staff gather in person and via Zoom. Please, let us know how we can be praying for you, your family, and your loved ones during this time by using this link:   Submit a Prayer Request.

I hope to see you Sunday.

In Him,

Chip

 

As a reminder, below are our guidelines for the Outdoor Worship Service:

  • In case of imminent rain, we will cancel the outdoor gathering and strictly livestream/record the service. Our all-church texting will enable us to make that decision early Sunday morning and get the word out immediately if needed.
  • Please bring your own chair or blanket to sit on.
  • We will gather in front of the sanctuary on Mulberry St. which will be closed off by the City for our service. We can spread out on the church lawn, the sidewalks, the street, or in Lamar Park (the shaded median area of Mulberry).
  • No nursery or childcare will be available.
  • The service will last about 45 minutes.
  • Since we will not be handing out printed materials, the Worship Guide will be available for you to print beforehand or to download on your device. It will be posted here by Saturday.
  • If you prefer to remain in your car, you may park on the other side of Mulberry St. or in the lot on the corner by The Grand. You should be able to hear with your windows down or tune to FM 107.9 (available only within a few hundred yards of the church building).
  • The church building will be closed but the restrooms on the first floor at the First St. entrance will be available. Touch-free fixtures have been installed.
  • 2 security personnel will be on site as well as several deacons to help with logistics.
  • Has the City approved this? Yes. We have their blessing and a permit.
  • What about social distancing? We will be maintaining the recommended six feet of distance between individuals/family units. Please be mindful of this as you arrive and as you leave and spread out accordingly.  Please do not greet one another by shaking hands or hugging.  We will not pass an offering plate but there will be an offering box for tithes and offerings after the service.

It is of utmost importance that we follow social distancing requirements for the safety of everyone and for our corporate testimony and witness to the community. It feels very unnatural and weird, but let’s do our best. If you are the least bit hesitant or uncomfortable about attending, please stay home and join us online.  Gov. Kemp’s Executive Order (in effect until June 12) and CDC guidelines require those who are 65 and older along with any who have serious underlying medical conditions like asthma, diabetes or other chronic conditions to Shelter in Place.  Lastly, if you are not feeling well this Sunday with a cough or fever, please stay home as a way to love and serve others.

 

 


May 27, 2020 – Letter from Pastor Chip Miller

Dear Family and Friends of FPC,

As we anticipate returning to our sanctuary for worship sometime in June (TBD),  we plan to gather again for Worship on the Lawn this coming Sunday, May 31, at 9 am (less sun and more shade).  It was extremely encouraging to be with about 250 members, friends, and visitors who came together to sing, pray, affirm our faith, and to hear God’s Word read and preached. The enthusiasm was very high.  We were blessed to hear the sincere compliments and “farewell” to our church from Youth Pastor, Chris Bennett, before his family’s move to Texas this week. The deacons and all who worked to make it possible with online streaming, sound system, set-up and breakdown, musical accompaniment and leadership did an incredible job! The Memorial Day flower arrangements were stunning.

The details for this coming Sunday will be the same as last week:

  • In case of imminent rain, we will cancel the outdoor gathering and strictly livestream/record the service. Our all-church texting will enable us to make that decision early Sunday morning and get the word out immediately if needed.
  • Please bring your own chair or blanket to sit on.
  • We will gather in front of the sanctuary on Mulberry St. which will be closed off by the City for our service. We can spread out on the church lawn, the sidewalks, the street, or in Lamar Park (the shaded median area of Mulberry).
  • No nursery or childcare will be available.
  • The service will last about 45 minutes.
  • Since we will not be handing out printed materials, the Worship Guide will be available for you to print beforehand or to download on your device. It will be posted here by Saturday.
  • If you prefer to remain in your car, you may park on the other side of Mulberry St. or in the lot on the corner by The Grand. You should be able to hear with your windows down.
  • The church building will be closed but the restrooms on the first floor at the First St. entrance will be available. Touch-free fixtures have been installed.
  • 2 security personnel will be on site as well as several deacons to help with logistics.
  • Has the City approved this? Yes. We have their blessing and a permit.
  • What about social distancing? We will be maintaining the recommended six feet of distance between individuals/family units.  Please be mindful of this as you arrive and as you leave and spread out accordingly.  Please do not greet one another by shaking hands or hugging.  We will not pass an offering plate but there will be an offering box for tithes and offerings after the service.

It is of utmost importance that we follow social distancing requirements for the safety of everyone and for our corporate testimony and witness to the community. It feels very unnatural and weird, but let’s do our best. If you are the least bit hesitant or uncomfortable about attending, please stay home and join us online.  Gov. Kemp’s Executive Order (in effect until June 12) and CDC guidelines require those who are 65 and older along with any who have serious underlying medical conditions like asthma, diabetes or other chronic conditions to Shelter in Place.  Lastly, if you are not feeling well this Sunday with a cough or fever, please stay home as a way to love and serve others.

Since our CV19 Task Force is meeting and discussing data regularly, we are taking things week by week. We may or may not gather again outdoors after this Sunday. Please keep that in mind as you plan and/or invite others.

I hope to see you Sunday.

 

In Christ,

Chip

 


May 23, 2020 – Letter from Pastor Chip Miller

Dear FPC Members and Friends,

We are so grateful for the good weather forecast for the Worship on the Lawn tomorrow at 10 am in front of our sanctuary.  We do plan to begin on time and, as I wrote to you earlier, we should finish about 10:45. You might want to refer to my letter from last week (found below, on this webpage) for pertinent details.

Please download the Worship Guide here.  You may choose to print and bring it or just to have it on your device. Do not forget to bring a chair or blanket.  I look forward to seeing you all in the morning, but please follow the CDC Guidelines and do not feel pressured to attend.  The plan is to livestream the service and record it so you can join us from home if you prefer.

On another note, our officer nomination process will be over at the end of May. Please take the time to turn in nominations via the form you will find here.

We are all aware that Monday is Memorial Day. It is more than the start of summer. It is a chance to pause and remember the sacrifices — remember the gallantry and bravery — remember the fallen. A good reminder that so many of the freedoms we enjoy came at the ultimate price paid by others.

 

Your Brother in Christ,

Chip

 


May 21, 2020 – Letter from Pastor Chip Miller

Dear Family and Friends of FPC,

We are eagerly anticipating our upcoming gathering for Worship on the Lawn at FPC this coming Sunday, May 24, at 10 am.  Here are the details:

  • In case of imminent rain, we will cancel the outdoor gathering and strictly livestream/record the service. Our all-church texting will enable us to make that decision by 9 am on Sunday and get the word out immediately if needed.
  • Please bring your own chair or blanket to sit on.
  • We will gather in front of the sanctuary on Mulberry St. which will be closed off by the City for our service. We can spread out on the church lawn, the sidewalks, the street, or in Lamar Park (the shaded median area of Mulberry).
  • No nursery or childcare will be available.
  • The service will last about 45 minutes.
  • Since we will not be handing out printed materials, the Worship Guide will be available for you to print beforehand or to download on your device. It will be posted here on Saturday.
  • If you prefer to remain in your car, you may park on the other side of Mulberry St. or in the lot on the corner by The Grand. You should be able to hear with your windows down.
  • The church building will be closed but the restrooms on the first floor at the First St. entrance will be available. Touch-free fixtures have been installed.
  • 2 security personnel will be on site as well as several deacons to help with logistics.
  • Has the City approved this? Yes. We have their blessing and a permit.
  • What about social distancing? We will be maintaining the recommended six feet of distance between individuals/family units.  Please be mindful of this as you arrive and as you leave and spread out accordingly.  Please do not greet one another by shaking hands or hugging.  We will not pass an offering plate but there will be an offering box for tithes and offerings after the service.

I hope all of you who are able will attend. It will be encouraging to see each other, even if distanced. Our Presbyterian history dating back to Scotland in the 17th and 18th centuries included many outdoor worship gatherings which focused on observing communion around large tables which would be constructed for that purpose.  The present health warnings tell us outdoor gatherings are much safer than indoors, but we still need to follow social distancing requirements, especially if we want to have more such gatherings in the near future.

We want to encourage those who are the least bit hesitant or uncomfortable to stay home and join us online.  Gov. Kemp’s Executive Order (in effect until June 12) and CDC guidelines require those who are 65 and older along with any who have serious underlying medical conditions like asthma, diabetes or other chronic conditions to Shelter in Place.  Lastly, if you are not feeling well this Sunday with a cough or fever, please stay home as a way to love and serve others.

What can I do? First and foremost, please pray for a great time of worship and for God’s blessing on the weather. Second, download the Worship Guide. Third, please remember to bring your own chairs.

I hope to see you Sunday.

 

In Christ,

Chip

 


May 16, 2020 – Letter from Pastor Chip Miller

Dear FPC Family and Friends,

Tomorrow is traditionally the day we recognize and pray for the graduating high school seniors who are members of our church. Although we will not have the opportunity to do so in person, their names and photos will be displayed in the announcement time before tomorrow’s online service begins.

We are approaching the time to say “farewell” to Chris and Amy Bennett. Their final Sunday with us is May 24th. Chris has served faithfully as our Pastor to Students for the past three years. Amy has served on staff with Covenant Care Services as well as helping our church set up a ministry for families with special needs children. Their little girl, Janie, was born last September. They will be moving to Dallas TX where Chris will begin serving as Asst. Pastor for Young Adults at Providence Presbyterian Church. I hope you are able to express your appreciation to Chris and Amy before their planned moving date of May 30th.

As we say “farewell” to the Bennetts we say “hello again” to Elliott and Carrie Everitt and their four children.  Elliott will be joining our staff as Minister to Middle Age Adults. He served as the RUF campus minister at Mercer from 2013 – 17. Carrie served on our staff years ago when she was a student at Mercer and also on the staff with RUF through the years. We are delighted to have them back. They are in the process of setting up their house now and Elliott will begin serving on our staff June 1.

Two very important actions were taken by our Session last week. First, although we do not yet have a confirmed date to re-open our sanctuary, the Session has approved small group church gatherings to take place outdoors. We hope Sunday school classes, Bible study groups, fellowship groups will take advantage of this in addition to continuing to gather online.  Some of our Sunday school classes are reporting stronger attendance online than they had in person!   Second, the Session has approved having Worship on the Lawn at FPC next Sunday, May 24, at 10 am.  Mulberry Street will be blocked off for us by the City and we will gather in front of and beside the sanctuary.  Please bring your own chair or blanket to sit on. We will sing, read scripture, pray, give, affirm our faith, and hear God’s Word preached. The service will last about 45 minutes.  An online bulletin will be available later this week for you to print or download on your device. The official warnings about exposure to CV19 are considerably less when people are outdoors but it will be extremely important for social distancing to be observed. PLEASE do not feel any pressure to attend. The service that day will be livestreamed and recorded so you can continue to participate online from your home.  The Governor’s Declaration for Shelter at Home is still in place for the highly vulnerable among us until June 12th at the earliest.

Please let me and the staff know of any needs or prayer requests you may have with the online form found here.

 

In Him,

Chip Miller

 


May 9, 2020 – Letter from Pastor Chip Miller

Dear FPC Family and Friends,

Tomorrow will be the 9th Sunday since we last gathered in person for worship. As you know, for Georgia, the Governor’s Public Health State of Emergency is set to expire on May 13.  Since churches are now allowed to gather with restrictions, our Session will be making a decision soon about when we will gather again in our church building. There is much to be considered in trying to arrive at a decision which is safe, feasible, pastoral, and wise. Please pray for them.  Also, please take the survey which was sent out yesterday. We need your input by this coming Monday! The survey can easily be completed in less than 2 minutes. You can take it here.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. On behalf of us all, thank you to all the mothers who do so much for our families. You also serve in many ministries of our church and nurture our children along with so many others. You have a capacity to influence, nurture, care and train in ways which amaze us. Your influence will bear fruit for generations. As I mention in my sermon for tomorrow, I am here because of the prayers of a Godly mother.

I have been asked by many how our church is doing financially. We have been amazed at the Lord’s abundant provision during this time. Year to date, total giving for the church is the same as it was a year ago. We even exceeded April 2019 in tithes and offerings by almost $100,000. Thank you for your continued giving. This enables us to fulfill our church mission as well as providing for so many benevolence ministries which rely on our support.

May is the month when we nominate church officers. This is vitally important. You can access a nomination form here.

Many of us have been blessed beyond measure by the ministry of Ravi Zacharias. He has been a stellar example of 1 Peter 3:15 – “…always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence….” The news which came from his daughter yesterday about his battle with cancer was very sad. You can read it here. That sad news was only compounded by the death of Darrin Patrick. Darrin was a husband, father, preacher, church-planter, author. He served as chaplain for the St. Louis Cardinals while he pastored The Journey in St. Louis. Barbara and I last saw and talked with Darrin when he was one of the speakers at the Desiring God Pastors Conference in Minneapolis. This statement by Seacoast Church tells about Darrin and his sudden death while target shooting with a friend. I hope you will join me in praying for both of these families.

Every Monday members of our staff gather via Zoom and in person. Please, let us know how we can be praying for you, your family, and your loved ones during this time by using this link:   Submit a Prayer Request.

Last of all, hundreds of people have been viewing all or part of our online worship service each week. Please consider sharing the link with others or Liking it on social media for others who might desire to use it as well.

 

Your Brother in Christ,

Chip

 


May 2, 2020 – Letter from Pastor Chip Miller

Dear FPC Family and Friends,

Many of us in our congregation are grieving the death of Jerry Thigpen this past Thursday morning while in a hospital in Newnan. As well as being a husband, father, and grandfather, Jerry was a master cabinet builder. It is difficult to walk through our church building and not see his craftsmanship. Among many other church items, he constructed the pulpit where the sermons are preached each week in our sanctuary. His company produced the large table in the conference room where I teach the Inquirers class and so many meetings are held. Jerry served many years as both deacon and elder in our church. I lost count of how many times he assisted in preparing communion…esp. for the Christmas Eve services. Jerry was very healthy and strong which made it all the more shocking to us when a brain tumor was discovered in early February.  A series of treatments yielded both progress and digression. Although there was concerted prayer for his healing, within the past couple of weeks things spiraled downward and he succumbed to pneumonia (not from COVID19). Please continue to pray for wife, Lynda, daughter, Shelley and her husband, Pate, their 12-year-old son, Chase, and Jerry’s mom, Lucy. There will be a graveside service at 2 pm this Monday with plans to have a memorial service/visitation at the church when we are able to gather fully again.

I had the high privilege of performing the wedding service for Will Valentine and Amber Pearce earlier today at Amerson River Park. Reformed Seminary did not offer any “virtual ministry” courses while I was there, but I am glad it’s available to us during this present distress. The couple was grateful for the 80 family members and friends who joined via Facebook Live.

Tomorrow will be our eighth Sunday without being able to gather for worship in person. As I wrote last week, our Session has wisely decided we will not gather on Sundays at least through May 17.  Chuck Duggan and our diaconate are trying to prepare our buildings and interior traffic flow to be ready for when we are able to gather again. I am so thankful for their hard work and attention to details. It is very obvious we will be having multiple smaller services when we do begin to gather.

The Online Guide for Worship will be available on our website at 7 am tomorrow (Sunday, May 3). We hope you will use it as an aid for your own personal/family devotions. The sermon is the second in a four-part series on “Encouragement.”

Please let me or any of the church staff or officers know if we can help you with anything.

In Him,

Chip Miller

 


April 25, 2020 – Letter from Pastor Chip Miller

Dear FPC Family and Friends,

Tomorrow will be the seventh Sunday since we were last able to gather in person for worship. Perhaps you, like I, find this continuing pattern very hard to believe. When this stay-at-home order went into place, I assumed we would be back together within 3-4 weeks.  But we are not finished yet. Based on our COVID 19 Task Force recommendation a few days ago, the Session has decided for us NOT to gather at the church for services and meetings before May 17 at the earliest.  Although Governor Kemp has given the o.k. for churches to gather while observing very strict guidelines, we understand the number of cases of the COVID 19 virus in Bibb County will not peak until mid-May.  Our local situation still warrants much vigilance and prayer.

Since we will continue to record our services and use a Family Guide for Worship for at least a few more weeks, you will notice some changes beginning tomorrow. We are excited to try a new format which will combine all elements from our guide for worship into a single video. You will now simply be able to hit PLAY and participate with our entire online event.  All songs, readings, and passages will be viewable on screen. We believe this format will be more accessible for all and also easier to share with others. We have tried to incorporate the many suggestions several of you have passed on to us. The service will be available at 9:00 am tomorrow morning.

Our officers and staff and lay leaders are all trying to stay in touch with the entire congregation. If you know of any needs where help is needed, please do not hesitate to contact me or the church office.

Blessings in Christ,

Chip Miller

 


April 16, 2020 – Letter from Pastor Chip Miller

Dear Members and Friends of FPC,

Thank you so much to all who have used our Guides for Family Worship on our website over these past several Sundays. We are working hard each week to make improvements. From what we can tell, far more people watched our service last Sunday than normally attend in person on Easter Sunday. This was true nationally for Christian churches in the U.S. and in other countries.  In other words, more people on the planet heard the good news last Sunday than on any other Sunday in history. Is that not amazing?

Now more than ever, people are feeling the need to be connected. We have numerous groups gathering via videoconferencing for Bible study, fellowship, and ministry team meetings. If you are interested in joining a group, please click here.  Also, remember if you have a prayer request, you can let us know by clicking here.

Our CV19 church task force met yesterday and is continuing to monitor the situation in Macon and Middle Georgia as it relates directly to our church ministry. The number of cases in Middle GA is increasing and it is projected to peak between April 24-26. If that proves true, then the situation in Middle GA will get worse before it gets better. Considering all the data from multiple sources, it is most likely our earliest possible date to gather again for corporate worship is May 31.

We are trying to consider all possible scenarios for when we gather again in the church building. Plans are being carried out to make the restrooms completely “touch free.” We may have to limit greatly the number of people allowed into a worship service so as to maintain social distance, therefore, we are calculating how many services may be needed with fewer attendees in each service.  In a nutshell, everything which includes touch and handling is being analyzed: church bulletins, offering plates, communion elements, pew Bibles, etc. If you feel confused by all of this, you are not alone.

InterVarsity Press has a resource online called “Together at Home: Staying Hopeful in Community During the Coronavirus.” It is a wealth of comprehensive information packed covering a vast number of subjects (Building Community, Commit to Reading Your Bible Like Never Before, Get Creative with your Kids, Invest in Your Mental Health… to name a few topics) and numerous links to podcasts, webinars and other articles and resources. You can access it at https://www.ivpress.com/pages/content/together-at-home

If you have any needs, let us know. If you know of someone else in our congregation who might have a financial need please contact me or one of our deacons who can communicate that need to those who administer our Deacons Fund which exists to help our church members who have particular needs.

With Grace and Love,

Chip Miller

 

 


April 9, 2020 – Letter from Pastor Chip Miller

Dear Family and Friends of FPC,

Tomorrow is Good Friday. It is also the day our denomination and others are asking us to give focused time to prayer and fasting. By Faith Online published this announcement and helpful guide by the PCA with particular prayer requests for us to use:   https://byfaithonline.com/a-call-for-prayer-fasting-good-friday/      

I hope you will join me and Barbara in participating. When it comes to the topic of fasting, there are many questions.   People fast today for a variety of reasons including weight loss and better health. But the purpose of Christian fasting is different. We are to fast in order to devote more time and effort and attention to prayer and His Word. Need help in knowing how to start?  I can think of no better starting place than this brief and clear article by David Mathis: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/fasting-for-beginners

We are posting a Guide for Worship for our Good Friday service which should be up no later than noon tomorrow on www.fpcmacon.org   It is a brief service closely resembling what we normally do in the sanctuary that day.  A Guide for Worship for Easter Sunday will post by Saturday evening. 

Besides missing all of you in the sanctuary when I am preaching for these online services, I have also greatly missed… the flowers!  The room looks bare without them, especially at Easter. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who work so hard each weekend to craft such beautiful flower arrangements for the glory of God. I have forever gained new and deeper appreciation for what you do.

I hope you have a blessed Easter. I cannot recall ever being absent from church on an Easter Sunday until now. Although we celebrate Christ’s resurrection every Sunday, we all probably have some sort of very meaningful traditions on this day. For our family, Easter has been a day of worship, special music from the choir and orchestra, extended family and friends together for a big lunch, coconut cake, egg hunts for the children in the backyard, family photos, and more coconut cake. But this year will be different. And that can be a good thing with the right mindset. This Easter, let us not grieve the loss of our traditions, but draw near to God and to one another. May the Lord enable us in fresh ways to celebrate Christ in our lives and to find joy in our place in the Body of Christ on earth. 

Christ is Risen…

Chip Miller

 


April 4, 2020 – Letter from Pastor Chip Miller

Dear Members and Friends of FPC,

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, the day we normally observe in remembrance of when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey before His later arrest and crucifixion. Palm Sunday begins what Christians have traditionally called “Holy Week” leading up to Easter Sunday. Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem was an intentional act fulfilling the prophecy made centuries earlier by the prophet Zechariah: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”  Several years ago I had the privilege of teaching a class entitled “Introduction to the Christian Faith.” It was a course at FPDS for the international students. I asked them one day what they thought about such prophecies as Zechariah’s which were fulfilled in Jesus. One of the students said he thought the prophecies were written after the life of Jesus in order to make it look as if He had fulfilled them. I responded that others have voiced that same idea but it is not a sound argument when we realize the Greek version of the Old Testament scriptures (called the Septuagint) was written down two centuries before Jesus was born. Such prophecies as Zechariah’s were well-known before Jesus fulfilled them.  I hope you will join me and Barbara as we worship together tomorrow. Our faith in Christ is reasonable and trustworthy. He is the King who reigns and who saves – on that first Palm Sunday as well as now.

The Guideline for Worship for tomorrow will be posted on the church website later this evening. I hope you will use it. It has been encouraging to hear from people using it more than once during the week. I have also appreciated a number of people living in Macon and other places who are not members of our church who have let me know how much they are appreciating it. Here is the direct link to the church website: https://www.fpcmacon.org/guide-for-worship/

Our Session met this past week via video conference. We want to encourage everyone in FPC who is able to participate in the PCA Day of Prayer and Fasting planned for Good Friday, April 10.  This is being planned with three denominations: the PCA, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and the Anglican By Faith Online announced “The goal is for all 550,000 members of these three denominations to have the opportunity to participate. Other denominations are aware of the planning for this event and have asked to be invited.” Please follow this link for the information and additional resources:  https://byfaithonline.com/a-call-for-a-day-of-prayer-and-fasting-good-friday-april-10-2020/   Also, we will record and post a brief Good Friday service by noon that day.

The Session also heard from our Coronavirus Task Force which is trying to stay abreast of news as it pertains to our church. Based on its recommendation, the Session decided to continue not having any gatherings at the church through April.  We will keep watching and praying toward the time when we can gather again for worship in person.

Please let me know if there is anything I or any of the staff and officers of the church can do for you.  I want to leave you with a photo I took yesterday in the sanctuary when we recorded the sermon. In case you wondered, it is a strange experience. Hats off to Chuck and Brooks and Tom for being such receptive hearers.

Blessings,

Chip Miller

 


March 28, 2020 – Letter from Pastor Chip Miller

Dear Church Family,

Some of you have called me or Barbara just to ask how our family is doing during this strange time of confinement and social distancing. Please accept our deepest thanks for being a church which cares about its pastors. We are experiencing some of the same emotions as everyone else: fear of uncertainty, low levels of discouragement from being locked inside, concern for our extended family and grandchildren, and taking added measures of caution since we are both in our 60’s and son, Stephen, is high risk. One family member already lost his job this week due to the economy. Please know we are all going through this together.

On a very positive note, I hear encouraging reports almost every day of how the Lord is at work in and through members of our congregation during this time. Members are connecting on the phone or web. Families are spending much time together and there is also ministry in the community. One of our members, Dr. Amber Lawson Moore, is a local dentist whose idea for making protective masks has garnered media attention as reported in this video earlier this week. Others in our church with 3D printers are joining her and Mercer Engineering in making this a reality. Click here to view the full article on 13WMAZ.

We will be posting another Guide for Family Worship this evening. Michael and I and others are working very hard on this with a goal to help individuals and families grow in our devotional lives during this time. There is a very good article from Ligonier Ministries about Family Worship here: www.ligonier.org/blog/family-worship-101/

Thanks again to so many ministries in our church aggressively using social media during this time for Bible study, fellowship, teaching, and prayer. I am working on a brief online devotional to begin later this week. PLEASE let me or any of the church staff or officers know if we can do anything for you or if you know of needs within our congregation which are going unmet. We are trying to keep close contact with our membership.

Psalm 33:20-22 ESV “Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”

With God’s Mercy and Grace,

Chip Miller

 


March 24, 2020 – Letter from Pastor Chip Miller

Dear Church Family,

As we walk together through this third week of “social distancing” I want you to know the church leaders and staff are using every means available for us all to stay connected and aware of needs. The ministries of our Women, Grad and Career, Youth, and Children are using a variety of social media platforms for prayer, Bible study, teaching, and fellowship. It is not an equal substitute for in-person fellowship, but let’s use it as best we are able for the present situation.

We are also putting together another Guide for Family Worship for this coming Sunday and plan to continue to do so until we are given a green light to return to worshiping together in our building. Thanks for your various comments and suggestions. I hope it will encourage you to know you are part of a group between 400-500 people who used the Guide this past Sunday (a conservative number since the Guide itself was opened more than 1100 times). We want us to be more participative than passive in worship and believe this is the best way to do so.

If you or someone you know has a prayer need, please go to www.fpcmacon.org/prayer or call me (478.361.3335) or John Kinser (478.954.4344) or Justin Leslein (478.737.8066) or Chris Bennett (904.703.5571) or Mary Anne Shipley (478.719.7306) or any of the church officers or staff. The church staff had a lengthy video conference yesterday and prayed for you then. We will continue to pray for you daily. Also, if you know of a member of our church who is NOT able to connect with our church emails or website due to having no access to a smartphone, computer or other device, please call the church office at 478-746-3223 and we will do the best we can to help.

Let me encourage you to continue giving to the ministry of the church as you are able. This is especially vital for the other ministries, benevolences, and missionaries who count on our church financial support. You may give online at fpcmacon.org/give; by texting the keyword fpcmacon to 73256; or by mailing a check to the church or dropping it in the mailbox in front of the administration building. Our church offices (478.746.3223) will be open during the week.

One last item for now: I realize your inbox is probably being inundated right now with all sorts of online learning opportunities. I took a 12 week course with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries a few years ago upon which I continually draw strength and insight. I noticed a new session begins April 2nd. It features world-class lecturers and vibrant discussions with global classmates. If you want answers to your own faith questions, take a look at www.rzim.org/page/academy-core-module.

Psalm 33:20-22 ESV “Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”

With God’s Mercy and Grace,

Chip Miller

 


March 21, 2020 – Letter from Pastor Chip Miller

Dear Members of FPC,

Tomorrow, we will have a Guide for Worship on our website rather than a livestream at a particular time. Several of us have worked extremely hard on this and hope you will use it in your family worship on Sunday (even if you are a family of one right now).  Michael and I have chosen scripture readings, affirmation of faith, congregational hymns, offertory, and a sermon with the hope you will lead your family through the entire guide at one time. Whether you are alone or with others, read and sing and pray aloud as you are able. It should take about 45-50 minutes.   Barbara and I plan to link the computer to our big screen and crank up the hymns with surround sound.  You can find the Guide on our website, here.

We grieve with you in not being all together in worship on Sunday mornings. It may be confusing but our own Westminster Larger Catechism can help us right now. Q. 135 of the Larger Catechism asks: What are the duties required in the sixth commandment? Answer: The duties required in the sixth commandment are careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others…and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away of the life of any…and protecting and defending the innocent.  Q. 136 – What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment? Answer: The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are…the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of the preservation of life…and whatsoever tends to the destruction of the life of any.

Social distancing in this time appears to be the best course of action to preserve the lives of many, especially the vulnerable among us. In this situation, Romans 13 and the call to submit to the governing authorities should be rightly considered as we think about the CDC’s official advice and the difficult decisions made by our government officials.  This is not the time for civil resistance or disobedience. We are not being persecuted for our faith.  Further, if schools, businesses, restaurants, etc., are all heeding the restrictions on social gatherings, if the virus continue to spread at an alarming rate while Christians resist these medically informed recommendations, we can only assume that will prove damaging to the witness of the church. We will be seen as those who do not truly care about the preservation of life of our neighbors.

Is this time disruptive of our regular patterns of worship?  Of course, it is. But let us not waste this time which can be a great opportunity to grow in our devotional lives, to minister in word and deed to the extent we are able, and to be more intentional and dedicated to prayer. In the next couple of days, I will let you know of some congregational wide online resources we will be offering for fellowship and encouragement. Please call me or any of the pastors if you need anything.

In Christ,

Chip

 


March 17, 2020 – Letter from Pastor Chip Miller

Dear Members and Friends of First Pres Church,

It seems like a very long time ago since we were gathered together worshiping the Lord and hearing Dony St. Germain preach at the close of our Missions conference. Dony preached about Jonah and obeying the Lord. Now, most of us are faced with trusting and obeying the Lord in the most unusual of circumstances which none of us could have foreseen at the time we heard Dony.

I hope you will use this time of pause in our culture and certain degree of social isolation to worship the Lord daily in your heart and with your family. Strengthen your heart in His Word. Meditate on His Word day and night. Pray without ceasing. Keep watch over one another…especially the vulnerable and weak. Prov 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with your whole heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

The members of our congregation are experiencing the full range of emotions. Some are healthy and feel invincible and are irritated with the present social distancing. Others may be fearful for their elderly parents or at-risk family members. Perhaps you have symptoms of what appears to be the cold or flu and you wonder if it could be COVID 19? Others may be questioning the political maneuvering behind all of this. The stock market may have huge bearing on your income and you may be in utter fear and dismay at the financial markets’ daily roller coaster. You may own or work in a business which is being pushed to extinction and your job is in jeopardy although just two weeks ago, everything was fine.

So what are we to do at such a time? For sure, let us stand on God’s promises. Isa. 26: 3 “The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in Thee.” Isa. 43:1-2 “But now, this says the Lord, your creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.”

We want to keep you as informed as possible about all the decisions that are made regarding our church life here at FPC. While the situation is rapidly changing and the information is updating constantly, we are continually listening to the Georgia Dept. of Health and the CDC and other public institutions as they advise on how best to limit the spread of the virus. We are seeking to love the people of Macon by making effective decisions in a timely manner.

We have a task force composed of Chuck Duggan, Dr. Ves Berry, Dr. Kim Thompson, Jared Wozny (Ch. of the Diaconate), Mary Anne Shipley (Dir. of Women’s Ministry), Kent McCormick (Deacon) and Jay Evans (Bus. Administrator of FPC). They are conferring and making recommendations to our Session. The idea is to keep us heading toward the following objectives as a local congregation:

1. Prevent and Reduce transmission of the COVID-19 virus among members of the congregation and the public;

2. express love by protecting members at a greater health risk because of age and diverse health conditions;

3. maintain effective ministry during this time; and

4. communicate the Gospel.

As the Session has considered their recommendations and our objectives, several decisions have been made:

● All church-sponsored activities and events are cancelled from now until March 30th. Morning worship will be streamed for the next two Sundays, March 22nd and 29th. More details to come regarding April before Sunday the 29th.

● We discourage all group gatherings until further notice in accordance with official recommendations.

● We ask that our members and ministry friends consider alternative ways of giving tithes and offerings via our website or by mail (682 Mulberry St., Macon 31201).

● We have committed ourselves to explore as many unique ministry ideas and opportunities as we can during this time. Most of this will be virtual using various social media platforms. Please check the church website regularly for updates www.fpcmacon.org.

● The church office will remain open with a reduced staff during normal weekday hours until further notice.

A Final Word

Remember that throughout the centuries, God’s people have looked for ways to preach and proclaim the Gospel, to show mercy and extend themselves in love through good works in all manner of difficult times. Two of my favorite Bible verses are Galatians 6:9-10 – “And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”

Now is just such a time the Apostle Paul had in mind. It is a unique opportunity to do good. Because God never changes, our hope does not fail and we can move forward dependent upon our God who is faithful.

Please continue to pray for God to protect and to bless doctors, nurses, health workers, our elected officials, and institutional leaders. Let’s pray that God would use us to help spread the Word of the Gospel during this time. Our elders and deacons are actively reaching out to all of our members this week to offer help and prayer.

Please do not hesitate to call on them or me or any of the other pastors and staff at any time.

Sincerely in Christ,
Chip Miller

 


March 14, 2020 – Update from Pastor Chip Miller

Dear Members of FPC,

Yesterday afternoon, for the first time ever, the state of Georgia declared a public health emergency which went into effect this morning.

Following President Trump’s national emergency declaration Friday, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued the following statement:

“Based on President Trump’s emergency declaration, I will declare a public health emergency for the State of Georgia tomorrow morning. This declaration will greatly assist health and emergency management officials across Georgia by deploying all available resources for the mitigation and treatment of COVID-19. In accordance with state law, I will call for a special session of the General Assembly to convene at the State Capitol at 8 AM on Monday, March 16, 2020 to ratify this action through a joint resolution.

“At this time, it is appropriate for faith-based organizations and similar entities to consider cancellation of public events and services. Contact your local public health office or consult official sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Georgia Department of Public Health, for helpful guidance on decision-making. Elderly citizens and those with chronic, underlying health conditions face a serious threat to their health, and we must do everything in our power to reduce risk associated with this virus. Continue to support one another, be mindful of potential exposure, use best practices to prevent infection, and pray for your fellow Americans in the weeks ahead.”

In light of this announcement, First Presbyterian Church will be closed on Sunday, March 15, and all in-person gatherings will be canceled. The Session reached this decision this morning. Note, however, we do plan to live-stream an abbreviated service at 10 am. Please check the church website www.fpcmacon.org for the link.

The leadership of the church is keeping a close watch on all items related to this unprecedented health event. We will update you with information on other church events by early next week at the latest.

In Christ,

Pastor Chip

 


March 13, 2020 – Update from Chuck Duggan

Dear FPC Church Family

In recent days, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its threat to public health around the globe has been a hot topic. It is a rapidly changing situation that we are monitoring closely so that we are in compliance with recommendations and requests from officials at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other health professionals. Our response to this circumstance needs to be both practical and biblical. Let us love one another and our neighbors well by taking personal and collective action to prevent the spread of the disease.

 

What We Are Doing

  • Our staff and deacons have been and continue to be diligent in planning appropriate actions to protect against the Coronavirus.
  • First Presbyterian Church facilities have been or will be thoroughly cleaned, including the school and nursery areas with special attention to high touch areas. We will also be doing extra cleaning over the weekend, to include the nursing mother’s room.
  • Bathrooms are also thoroughly cleaned and are well stocked with soap, and drying towels for hand-washing.
  • We will have hand sanitizer at all church entrances
  • We are reviewing our practices for Sunday morning worship and considering alternatives that would allow us to continue with meaningful parts of our service as much as possible. If your health is marginalized in any way, please consider staying away from large group gatherings for the present time.
  • We would urge all members over the age of 70 (those of highest risk) to stay home.
  • If you’re showing any signs of respiratory illness, please stay home
  • Both Worship Services will be Live Streamed. Our streaming is accessed on the church web site at www.fpcmacon.org. Scroll down the home page to “Live Stream our Worship” (as pictured below) or click this link: Livestream our Worship Service

 

What You Can Do

Stay informed

There are a number of agencies that have accurate and up-to-date information about the virus that will help you stay informed about the situation and appropriate actions for you to take to support the effort to contain COVID-19.

Practice good hygiene

CDC Guidelines:

  • Stop handshaking – use other non-contact methods of greeting.
  • Wash your hands at least 20 seconds and do so regularly.
  • Avoid touching your face and cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails regularly

 

In closing, please know that the staff, elders and deacons of First Presbyterian Church desire to glorify God and to Worship Him, equipping his saints to serve the church and community in the best way possible to love God, love others and serve people while assuring the best health and well-being of all.

If you or anyone in our congregation begins to have health issues, please contact your congregational pastor or the church office at 478-746-3223. If there are particular needs such as food or medicines, please alert us so that we may come to your assistance. Although we may not be able to minister to everybody, please alert us that we might minister to as many as possible in Christ’s name.

To quote the late James Boice, “To all who are weary and seek rest; to all who mourn and long for comfort; to all who struggle and desire victory; to all who sin and need a Savior; and to whoever will come…,” First Presbyterian Church opens wide her doors and offers welcome in the name of Jesus Christ.