The Spire (Newsletter)

December Spire 2018

The Spire

Newsletter of First Presbyterian Church of Garner


Dear Friends!

I am excited and honored to share this season of Advent with you, our first together in the ministry we share at First Presbyterian of Garner.

So much of the texts we associate with Advent feature travel, transitions, folks “on the move.”  To wit:

*Mary traveling to see her cousin Elizabeth—and baby John leaping in the womb upon Mary’s arrival…

*Joseph and Mary taking the long donkey ride to Bethlehem in order to be registered…

*The Shepherds running with joy into town to find the baby and then rushing back out to tell what they had seen…

And that’s just in Luke’s gospel!

Likewise, we move a lot during this season. Traveling to see family or preparing for their arrival; going to and from store after store to set the feast or get the gift that is “just right;” going from one party to the next hosted by friends, the office, and even church!  Safe to say we put quite a few miles on our bodies, souls, and minds.

Our church alone can keep you hopping this month. Special services like Hanging of the Greens and Christmas Eve; mission opportunities like the Angel Tree, continued gatherings of bible studies, and Circles—not to mention our weekly worship—provide ample opportunity to get your steps in!

The good news of course is that we never travel alone on those journeys. And though we can often feel pulled to and fro along the way, this season has mysterious and miraculous ways of also forcing us to be still, of making us breathe deep, of drawing us ever close to the mystery of God’s love that comes so far to be with us and stays with us always.

So, my fellow travelers, my prayer for all of us as we begin this season together is that we can find the right balance between go, go, go, and still, still, still as we journey together.

In other words…

*May our coming and going always be focused on the love of God that also moves  among us..

*May our trips to find the right gifts never be solo adventures…

*May our pathways lead to service of others over self…

*And may all our wandering and seeking lead us in due course to that sacred space where light outshines darkness and we all are found in God’s love.


The Lord Bless and Keep You Always,



Worship News

December 2 (First Sunday of Advent, Holy Communion)

Text:  Jeremiah 33:14-16, Luke 21:25-36

Sermon Title: Wait For It: With Hope

Waiting is difficult for many but an inevitable part of life for all of us. Come explore how waiting for Christ offers bold resistance to the frenetic pace of this season.


82 Come Thou Long  Expected Jesus

105 People Look East

Lighting the Advent Candles : The Snapp Family

Children decorate the “Jesse Tree”

*Hanging of the Greens! @ 6:00pm! Join us early at 5:30pm for a time of interactive prayer and   creative reflection on the Ground Floor and then join us for a service of preparation for the coming Christ Child in the Sanctuary at 6:00pm. Following the service there will be finger foods and more time for fellowship in the Fellowship Hall.

December 9 (Second Sunday of Advent)

Texts: Malachi 3:1-4, Luke 3:1-6

Sermon title: Wait For It: Preparing the Way

Even as we wait, there is still much to do! John the Baptist offers lessons and reminders for how we might best  unwrap and use the gift of time before Christ comes.


106 Prepare the Way O Zion

96 On Jordan’s Banks the Baptist Cry

121 O Little Town of Bethlehem

Lighting the Advent Candles: The Blue Family

Children assemble the :crèche” (AKA the “nativity” scene)

December 16: (Third Sunday of Advent)

Join us for the word proclaimed in music as the choir presents the Christmas Cantata!

May all who gather sing for joy at salvation     drawing near!

Lighting the Advent Candles: The Holmes Family

Children are welcome to stay in the Sanctuary for the Cantata!

December 23

Texts: Luke 1:39-55

Sermon Tittle: Wait For It: Act Now

Mary sings her song loud and clear! And while Christ’s birth is still a little ways off, we are called to add our verses to God’s song of love here and now.


119 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

100 My Soul Cries Out With a Joyful Shout

145 What Child is This?

Lighting the Advent Candles: The Schmidt Family

Children will celebrate Jesus’ birthday during Children’s Church!

December 24: (Christmas Eve and Candlelight) begins @ 5pm

Texts:  Isaiah 9: 2-7 Luke 2:1-20

Sermon Tittle: Wait For It: Finally Here

Our wait is over. Christ is here! Now the real work of love begins.


133 O Come All Ye Faithful

122 Silent Night

134 Joy to the World

Lighting the Advent Candles: Rev Acton

Children of all ages are welcome to stay in the Sanctuary; nursery will be provided

December 30: Christmas Hymn Sing!

Come to hear again the Christmas story as t comes to us in Luke’s gospel and to shout out the sacred songs you want to sing!


December Flowers

The flowers for December are our lovely poinsettias given by various members of the congregation in honor of or in memory of their loved ones (details will be found in the bulletins each week)


Advent Activities

Joy Gift Offering

Each year during the Advent and Christmas   season, we turn our eyes to Bethlehem and     celebrate the wondrous gift of Jesus Christ, our Savior. By giving to the Christmas Joy Offering, you honor this gift by providing assistance to current and retired church workers in their time of need and developing our future leaders at Presbyterian-related racial ethnic schools and colleges. This year, the offering will be collected during the Hanging of the Greens service  taking place the evening of Sunday, December 2, 2018. Envelopes will be      available in the narthex for those who would like to make a donation to the offering before that time.

Christmas Cantata

The choir will present “Christmas Presence,” a cantata by Pepper Choplin, on Sunday morning, December 16.

What does it mean to simply be present? What does it feel like to truly meditate and focus on a single subject and to allow yourself to be moved and inspired?

Around Christmastime, just being present can seem like an impossible task. However, the very thing that brings us together at Christmas demands that we are present to reflect and moved by Christ’ birth.

In Christmas Presence, the concept of being present weaves throughout the music and      narration presents a challenge to experience Christmas in God’s presence and the presence of those around us.  Wait, listen, and be moved by God’s presence this Christmas season. Hopefully, we will be led, through worship, to be the Christmas presence; to share with the world the hope, peace, love, and joy of God’s presence.


Mission Statement for First Presbyterian Church of Garner

Responding to God’s call, we challenge each other to grow in discipleship while embodying the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

We value:

  • Inspiring worship in Word and music
  • Inquiring study for adults, youth and children
  • Inclusive hospitality
  • Community outreach
  • Stewardship


Congregational Care

Prayer Concerns

Members: Carson and Rosemary Carmichael, Jeanne Johnson, Joan Young, Georgia Morrison,  Dr. Andy Cook, Barbara O’Hare, Adam Miller, Pat Yelvington, Mary Jo Atkinson, Edith Conyers,  Carol Miles,      Martha Harris, Elaine Watkins, Clint Ousley, John Watkins, Olive Safrit, Cornelia Plyler,   Bobbie Holland, Ann & Harold Bagwell, Bill Lee, Sheree Penny, Sandy Lee, Tammy Oelke


Members’ Families: Thelma Pleasant (Rose’s mother), Martha Little, Martha Morgan (Emily Lee’s sister), Michael Regester (Losada’s grandson), Annette Hill (Lorrie Icenhour’s sister), Ann Gould (Gould family), Karen Safrit (Olive Safrit), Amanda Miller (Ruby Miller-Ousley), Tonya Boykin,   Susan (Georgia Morrison’s daughter), Donna Smith (Sandy Lee), Jerry & Brenda Cook (Kevin   Wallace), Jacquie Glover (Rosemary Carmichael), Debbie Carmichael (Rosemary Carmichael), Walter Worden (Nancy Waldrop’s brother), Cheryl Weber (Jeanne Conner’s  sister), Schuyler   Tolbert (Nancy    Waldrop), Rick Slack (Debra Wallace’s brother), Giana Gomez (Helen Losada), Janice Poole (Diane Page), Jim Cole (Trish Holmes)


Members’ Friends: Dennis and Janie Eldridge and family, Marjorie Cassada, John Beckley, David Myhre, Joann Overby, Nicole Watson, Fran Tocci (Sandy Lee), Dr. Sherri Edwards (Sandy Lee), Shawn Collier (Debra McHenry), Jeanne Kujawski Schmitz (Sandy Lee), Vanessa Tart (Donna Gould), Mike Brannon (Donna Gould), Chris Woodall (Peggy Wilkins), Jeff Cadwallader (Losada), Maddox Cottle (3 month old friend of Sandra Hodge), Don Niemann (Donna Gould)


December Birthdays

1st       Adam Miller

1st       Dustin Stowell

4th      Joseph Slaughter

4th      Dave Holmes

7th      John Creel

11th    Joan Young

16th    Stephanie Taylor-Morgan

20th    Stephen Mendoza

24th    Karen Lovering

25th    Marsha Whittington

28th    Philip Penny

30th    Will Brothers

30th    Daniel McInnis


December Anniversaries

16th    Thomas and Carol Oriel

17th    Harry and Donna Gould

19th    William and Emily Lee

28th    John and Elaine Watkins


Christian Education

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

The Wednesday Night Bible Study continues its Advent study of The Redemption of Scrooge by Matt Rawle. Is redemption possible for Ebenezer Scrooge? Pastor and author Matt Rawle believes so as he discovers the teachings of Jesus in the words of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. Rawle dives deep into the dark, sad, greedy world of Scrooge and discovers a man in dire need of a second chance. Join us for fellowship and lively discussion each Wednesday night beginning at 7:30 in the New Beginnings Classroom. For more       information, please contact Karen Lovering.


Thursday Morning Bible Study

The Thursday morning bible study meets in the library at 10am on Thursdays. They are doing an Advent study of biblical characters associated with the season. Everyone is welcome!


Ida-Joy Bible Study

The Ida-Joy Bible study members will meet on Tuesday, December 11th at 10:00 in the library.  The lessons will continue in the book Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur. These are   in-depth studies of the twelve disciples. We welcome anyone who is interested to attend our study group meetings.


Adult Sunday School

Ogburn Sunday School

If you are not currently attending Sunday School, please consider joining the Ogburn class each Sunday morning.  We are currently using the Adult Bible Studies series from Cokesbury. Our Winter session begins with lessons on God’s demands for our complete and undivided love as shown in passages from Deuteronomy and Psalms. They proceed with our response to God’s love in the advent of Christ and the Epistles’ interpretations of the nature and extent of our responses to God’s love in Christ. They conclude with passages from three of the Psalms expressing glorification of God.  Join us each Sunday at 9:45am for wonderful discussion and fellowship.


New Beginnings Sunday School Class

Ecclesiastes: Not a Fly in the Ointment

Beginning November 11th, the New Beginnings Sunday School group began to undertake a study of the Book of Ecclesiastes. That book has been described as deeply pessimistic, but also as positive and life-affirming; as confused, but also as insightful. Is the book, as some would have it, “a fly in the ointment” of Old Testament literature? This study aims to disabuse folks of that notion. While Ecclesiastes makes some very dire observations, it follows each set of those observations with uplifting analyses and useful advice. The writer goads the reader into examining  assumptions about the nature of life and of our understanding of God. His view is that our world is filled with limitations, but we must learn to enjoy God’s gifts because God has created us to do just that. Come study this book with us in the New Beginnings classroom. We’ll even see where the phrase “a fly in the ointment” comes from.

Presbyterian Women

The Friendship Circle’s next meeting is December 2 after church, at the home of Debbie McHenry.   (1020 Turner Farms Road, Garner, NC  27529)  A deli tray will be provided and circle members will bring sides for a pot luck lunch. The lesson is “Family”, #4 from the No Homework Bible Study by Christine Tate. Martha Long will lead the lesson. There will be a gift exchange, with the gift price limit of $15.00. If any woman is not a member of a circle, please come visit and share our time of fellowship. If you need a ride to this meeting, contact Martha Long at 919-744-0751.

GRAZIE, GRAZIE, GRAZIE!!!!  That’s Italian for THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!  Your support of the Italian luncheon and silent auction will enable the Friendship Circle to provide nearly $1,000.00 to help the homeless students at Garner Senior High School. 

Prayer Shawl Ministry continues to share God’s love by knitting and crocheting prayer shawls. If you would like to participate with this ministry and assist in making shawls or making monetary contributions, contact Lynne Jackson (919-889-1227) or Martha Long (919-744-0751).

The Lillie Circle will be collecting additional non-perishable food items for Garner Area Ministries during the month of December since there has been a greater demand for these items and GAM supplies are low. Personal care items are always needed as well. The donation box is in the hall outside the Faith Formation classroom. As always, these donations are not in lieu of others for Garner Area Ministries but in addition to those donations. Please consider donating especially in this time of great need. If you have questions, please contact June Christian at 919-271-7709. Thank you for your     participation in this very   worthwhile project.

Are you looking for a holiday gift?  Copies of the church cookbook, Feast of Goodness, are still available. If you are interested in purchasing one, contact June Christian, Karen Lovering or any other Lillie Circle member. The cost is $12.00. Copies of the book will also be available during the sale of poinsettias in the Ogburn classroom after the church service on November 11th, 18th, and 25th.

The Lillie Circle will hold their next meeting on Monday, December 10 at 7:00 PM at the home of Karen Lovering. We will be continuing to plan our activities and projects for the year. Also, this will be our Christmas social and gift exchange. Women of the church who are not a member of a circle are welcome to attend. The books for our Bible study entitled Praying with Power are still available for those who have not purchased one. We will be reading the Nativity story in lieu of having a lesson from the Bible study book. For further information, contact June Christian.

Quilt Bee will be taking a break until the new year. Stay tuned for updates on when it will start back up.


The Finance and Stewardship Committee would like to thank everyone that that brought food and assisted with the set-up and clean-up of the Stewardship Luncheon.

If you did not turn in your Pledge card and Time & Talent card on Dedication Sunday, there is still time. Just drop them in the offering plate or in the church office. When entering the amount on the pledge card, please include ALL that you expect to pledge or donate over the coming year. This will assist the Finance and Stewardship Committee in developing a   realistic and responsible budget.

Prayer is the Key: The prayer group meeting on Thursday mornings at 9am welcomes new members. It is an opportunity to learn how to pray, to strengthen your relationship to God and to see God at work in a personal way.

The Social Committee sponsors a Game Day every Wednesday at 10am. Please come and enjoy the morning playing your favorite games. Feel free to bring games or come and have fun learning new ones. We look forward to seeing you there!

The Alzheimer’s Support Group will meet Thursday, December 13th at 6:30 in the Faith Formation Classroom. If you are interested in learning more about Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias, please feel free to come join the group. For questions contact Donna Gould at 919 302-3651.

There is a need for additional Children’s Sunday School Teachers to assist and/or     substitute. If interested, please contact Roxann Porter (919-639-9264) or Melissa Miley (919-771-0487).

Holiday Trip to Southern Seasons: Ken Summerville has volunteered to drive a bunch of folks to Southern Seasons in Bear Creek. If we have enough people, Rose will take her van. The plan is to leave from the church at 9:30am, Wednesday December 5. The Wednesday morning breakfast group would love for you to join us at 8 at Angie’s that morning or any Wednesday morning. For more information please contact Kathy Blue at


Mission Ministry Team Announcements



It is hard to believe the end of 2018 is almost here!  Please mark your calendars for our “5th Saturday” commitment to H.O.P.E., Saturday, December 29.  Let’s provide a meal to remember and helping hands to serve…giving “hope” to the homeless.  FPCoG has been a special blessing to this ministry in 2018 and they are depending on us December 29!


        (Location: Garner United Methodist Church, 201 Methodist Dr., Garner  – Near Papa John’s on Vandora Springs Ave.)


FOOD – WE Provide:  The sides, bread and dessert to go with the entrée that is provided by GUMC (each side enough to serve 50 – 75) — at least three (3) sides and assorted desserts

RESPONSIBLE FOR – Coordinate the warming / preparation of the food, set up the serving line, organize the beverage table, serve the food / beverages and clean the kitchen and other   areas before leaving.  Someone is needed in the kitchen by 10:15 am to begin preparations.  Serving begins between 11:30 am – 12:00 noon, depending on when the last person has taken their shower.

Converse with the homeless if able…share in fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ

LAUNDRY – Wash the towels and items from the shower area and return to GUMC during the week (typically 4 to 6 tub containers of laundry)


The “H.O.P.E. Chest” is located at the top landing of the stairwell near the Church Library for your donations of used jeans and other clothing items (tee shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, shoes / boots, bras, new underwear and socks, etc.) anything you believe the homeless could use or wear.


Again, THANK YOU FPCoG for your generous support of H.O.P.E. and for being a continued blessing right here in Garner!


Any questions, please contact:   Julie Tedder        919-622-2120

Sandy Lee            919-522-3416

Lynne Jackson   919-889-1227


Mark your calendars for FPCoG serving H.O.P.E. in 2019:


March 30       I       June 29       I       August 31       I      November 30



H.O.P.E. is – Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement




Able to Serve

HUGS  & HIGH-FIVES ALL AROUND. Big smiles along with hugs and high-fives were passed around the room as Able to Serve was presented with a wish list of items provided by the generosity of The First   Presbyterian Church of Garner on November 5th. Able to Serve is a faith-based non-profit that believes adults with developmental disabilities want to matter and be a valuable part of their community. Their programs include individualized and group educational instruction, social experiences, and community service projects along with field trips into the community. On their website, Able to Serve says “we encourage our participants to aim high at: trying new things, becoming the best they can be, accepting responsibility, working as a team, helping those in need, and putting  others ahead of self.” A day at Able to Serve begins with a devotional provided by in-house staff or by a local pastor and is followed by a brief CNN daily news report on the TV before activities begin. Outings may include a trip to shop for items for Backpack Buddies, they may go for ice cream or to a summer movie, they may take a trip to the NC State Dairy Farm and they will spend time in their facility on Aversboro Road learning and listening, and forming friendships with one another. Our church , through your donations, contributed to the fellowship and team work activities by gifting: 4 Candyland games, 2 Checkers sets, 3 Uno games, 3 Skip Bo games,  1 set replacement Bingo balls, 2 packs craft sticks, 1 Elefun game, 1 ream card stock, 2 packs treat sticks, 2 packs clothes pins and lots of colored tissue paper. Participants express their appreciation as Amber Mitchell, Program Coordinator , makes the   presentation.


Angel Tree

We will be doing the Angel Tree again this year. The tree will be up the first Sunday in November. The party will be December 8th so please have your gifts at the church by the first week in December. We will be putting the gifts around the tree in the Fellowship Hall. Please make sure the tag you take off the Angel Tree is on your gift so we will know who the gift is for. If you have any   questions please contact Lynne Jackson (919-889-1227 or email


History and Purpose of the 2 Cents a Meal Project

A number of years ago, Mrs. Catherine Lewis, a member of the Ida-Joy circle, suggested that the circle sponsor the 2-Cents a Meal program. Catherine was our choir director for many years as well as a choir member and a bell ringer. She was very active in the Ida-Joy circle. It was suggested that the church members set aside 2 cents for every meal they eat during the month and then the “penny money” is given during the worship service on a specific Sunday. The Ida-Joy Bible Study group then discusses the various needs and decides which           organization will receive the money. Since the money collected is based on food consumed, we try to select an organization which provides food for the hungry. Over the years, the money has been given to a number of organizations. Donations have been made to the Salvation Army Food Distribution Center, Garner Area Ministries, Backpack Buddies, Presbyterian Disaster Agency, Family Promise, Meals on Wheels of Wake County, Hope Ministry at UMC, the Pastor Discretionary Fund and the Interfaith Food Shuttle. Jesus gave us several examples of feeding the needy. As followers of Christ, when we give we are sharing our faith, and  giving hope and love to the less fortunate


Food Donations Needed: We thank you for the generous amounts of food and hygiene supplies you have donated throughout the year, but especially at this time of the year. We appreciate that so many of you have been remembering to bring items on the first Sunday of each month.