Earlier this week our session held a called meeting in response to our local public health data indicating a return to Phase One of our church’s reopening plan. At this meeting, through prayerful discernment and with heavy hearts, the decision was made to suspend all in person worship, including Christmas Eve services, as the church remains in Phase One.

Throughout the last nine months our session elders have moved through uncharted territory in their leadership. We can all be grateful that they have done so in a manner that has been thoughtful and calm, with the physical and spiritual wellbeing of not just FPC members but the greater community in mind. We are so thankful for their witness.

Our pastors, staff, and volunteers are putting a great deal of effort into making sure our Virtual Christmas Eve service will include things we hold dear this time of year: music, candlelight, communion, and images of our beautiful sanctuary. We know none of this can take the place of being physically present with one another, but we trust that by the power of the Spirit we will all be led to encounter Christ in a new way this Christmas Eve.

Early next week we will share further details regarding a time of virtual fellowship on Christmas Eve for those who would appreciate the opportunity to see the faces of church family. We thank you all for your patience, grace, and encouragement throughout the last year and especially in this Advent season.

Grace and Peace, 
Kathy and Nick

Sunday, December 20

✵ 9:30am: Advent Sunday School Series: Peace, Justice, Joy, Salvation - This year's study will take us through significant passages in the book of Isaiah and explore the themes of God's Peace, Justice, Joy, and Salvation. No preparation is necessary, simply use the following link to join us at 9:30am Sunday mornings: https://tinyurl.com/y6ejzdqo

✵ 11:00am: Advent Virtual Worship - In celebration of the season, we will have special Advent and Christmas music in the service. Several members of our Music Ministry will be featured in the Bell Choir, and as instrumentalists and soloists. 

As we continue to worship at home we invite you to participate in the lighting of the Advent wreath. On this fourth Sunday of Advent, may the LOVE of Jesus Christ illuminate our homes and our hearts:
Sunday's Advent Wreath Reading and Prayer: Love - Psalm 130
“Love bade me welcome, but my soul drew back. ” - George Herbert

It’s hard to take in the enormity of
God’s love made flesh in Jesus Christ.
God became one of us, out of love for
all of us, then and now and forever.
When we light the candle of Love, we
stop in awe of God’s unending love.

Monday, December 21

✵ 5:00pm: Longest Night/Virtual Service of Remembrance and Grief - Though December is a month filled with joy and celebration, the holidays are also a time of grief as we remember our loved ones who made the season special but are no longer with us. This year, even more so, we mourn for our whole world as we lament the loss of life from the COVID-19 pandemic and the sacrifices we have made. In this virtual service of remembrance and grief, you are invited to participate in a time of prayer and reflection for the heartache that accompanies this season, and through it, find that none of us grieve alone.
You may wish to have a candle with you as you worship; we will light them in memory of our loved ones during the service. Attached you will find a bulletin for this service.

Tuesday, December 22

✵ 12:00pm: Office Hours Bible Study - Throughout the Advent Season, the Office Hours Bible Study will be offering a thematic series on the figure of Mary in the New Testament and beyond. Topics include Mary in early Christian thought, Mary in the Qu’ran and Islam, and Mary in Orthodox Christianity and in Christian Art. You can sign up for Office Hours at https://www.ctsnet.edu/advent - watch the lecture on Facebook or You Tube (search Office Hours Bible Study) and email Rev. Kathy Reed (kreed@fpcauburn.org) to receive the zoom link for the Tuesday discussion group.

Wednesday, December 23

✵ 12:00pm: Bible Art Journaling - Because this Christmas season will be different from years past, our focus will be on exploring God’s unwavering promise to us during the season of Advent. Advent is a season of waiting. While we wait for a vaccine, for a cure, to be able to see our families and friends, to be able to go to church, we will focus on how God’s promises in Isaiah helped his people wait until they were fulfilled in Luke. We wait for: Salvation – Luke: 1:26-38
 You do not need to be artistic or creative to participate. You can journal in your personal Bible, a notebook, a prayer journal, or on a sheet of paper. You can use any medium you like such as colored pencils, watercolor pencils, watercolor paints, even a pen or pencil. Contact Susan Fillippeli at fillise@att.net to be sent the Zoom Link and a brief introduction to Bible art journaling.

Thursday, December 24- Christmas Eve

5:00pm: Virtual Worship
Worship and Prayer in Phase 1

The latest information from the Alabama Department of Public Health places Lee County in the “Very High Risk” category for COVID-19. Our church’s COVID Task Force has determined that we have returned to Phase 1 of our Reopening Plan (see chart for details). In an abundance of caution, Session has voted to suspend outdoor worship and access to the chapel for prayer while we are in Phase 1.
Opportunities to Worship 

It is our hope to worship together via our church’s YouTube Channel.  To view the service you can go directly to our church’s YouTube Channel via your computer, smartphone, or Smart TV app (https://tinyurl.com/t7dl8vh) or you can access the worship service through our website or Facebook page. Knowing we are at the mercy of technology, we appreciate your patience and grace if all does not go according to plan. Attached you will find a bulletin for this Sunday’s service.

Sunday Worship now on 99.9FM
We wanted to let everyone know that we found out that the radio station for our Sunday worship service has moved to station 99.9 FM. If you all know of anyone who listens to our worship service on the radio please reach out to them and let them know of this change.
Pledge Giving for 2020

In 2020 we have not had as many opportunities to routinely put our offering in the offering plate, so as the end of the year approaches you may still be working towards giving to the church and fulfilling your 2020 pledge. Please feel free to drop off your 2020 giving/offering in the church's secure mail box or reach out to Kathy Rushing if you would like to find another way to make sure the church receives your offering gift.

In order to have time to process the church's 2020 financials, we are asking if everyone could send or drop off their 2020 financial gifts by Monday, December 28. Please contact Kathy Rushing if you would like confirm the remaining amount of your 2020 financial pledge or have any questions about giving to the church. 
CE News

Children Pre-K through 5th grade

Sunday, December 20, will be the final Zoom Sunday school class taught by our Sunday school teachers for 2020 - hope to see you there!
Pre-K through 1st grade will be from 9:45 – 10 am; 2nd through 5th grade will be from 10:15 – 10:30 am
Virtual Worship Leadership Sign Up for 2021

Although Christmas is not yet here, it is already time to start preparing for our virtual worship services in 2021. This service opportunity involves preparing a recorded video of yourself the week prior to the Sunday you sign up for and then uploading it to a dropbox link. The pastors will provide you with a "script" and technical assistance as needed. 


Dec. 21- Rusty Cooper, Merilyn Hozer, Myla Ragan
Dec. 22 - Richard Guether, Charles Maynard
Dec. 23 - Gail Dillard
Dec. 24 - Lynda Tremaine
Dec. 26 - Lizzy Lovell, Hal Smith

Dec. 21 - Jeff and Jennifer Stewart
On behalf of the Mission Committee

Thank you so much to all who attended and donated to our Christmas Mission Dinner event this year. Our total giving for the Mission Gathering is $2862.30, which is more than $300 over what we collected in 2019. Our cup overflows with gratitude for the generous gifts that will go to benefit the Lee County Salvation Army and DHR. 

We are also happy to share that during these weeks leading up to Christmas, our church was able to provide meals on two different days to frontline workers at East Alabama Medical Center. As we continue to pray for all medical personnel who work tirelessly for the health and wellbeing of our community, we are grateful to have this opportunity to offer a gesture of thanksgiving.
Prayer Concerns & Celebrations

For the time period in which our church family is worshiping virtually, our pastors have decided that prayer concerns will be shared via weekly email. These individuals will most certainly be prayed for during our Sunday worship service, but their names and specific concerns will not be shared via broadcast.

• Prayers for David Burkhart as he recovers from emergency eye surgery. David had emergency surgery on his eye (same surgery as earlier this year but different eye). He is recovering well at home. Prayers of healing for David as he has to limit his movement for the next week or so until his eye heals more.
• As Covid-19 cases increase significantly prayers for those in our church community and in our local community dealing with health issues related to Covid-19. We also continue to pray for all the health care workers as they tend to everyone’s well being. We rejoice that this week a vaccine has begun to be distributed.
• Continued prayers of healing and wholeness for many in our church family who are dealing with significant health and wellness issues but do not wish to be mentioned by name at the moment.
• Prayers for many in our church who are making the decision to stay close to home this Christmas and not visit family. Prayers for comfort as they grieve not being able to spend holidays with loved ones.

• Earlier this week marked the Rev. Caroline Barnett’s first year of ministry at FPC Auburn. We are so grateful for the ways she shares her gifts and pastoral presence at FPC Auburn, especially over these last 9 months.
First Presbyterian Church |info@fpcauburn.org | (334)887-5571 | www.fpcauburn.org