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.

 


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.