Please join us for free upcoming concerts at noon in our Sanctuary presented by the Staunton Music Festival on Tuesday, August 14, Thursday, August 16, Friday, August 17, and Saturday, August 18. There will also be a ticketed concert on Saturday, August 18 at 3 pm. We hope to see you there! 

Interested in having your wedding at First Presbyterian Church?  Please see our updated guidelines here.

Sunday Worship
Adult Sunday School  10:00-10:45 am (now meeting in church parlor)
Youth Sunday School  10:00-10:45 am
Elementary Sunday School  10:00-10:45
Church Nursery: 10:30 am-12:30 pm
Chancel Choir Rehearsal: 10:30 am 
Morning Worship: 11:00 am
Youth Group 12-2 pm (alternates with Youth Sunday School, please call to check times)
Bible Study: Wednesdays at 10:00 am in the Library 
Chancel Choir Rehearsal: 7:30 pm 
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August 2018

Pastor's Letter
Dear Brothers and Sisters In Christ,

Is it true?  Our teachers are talking about going back to school – surely it can’t be that time already!!

But it is.  Mary, Sarah, and Denise are heading back to “shape young minds.”  Our kids are “moving up” to the next level.  David III and James are heading off to college.  Can this be?  Yes it can.  In all the bitter- sweetness of kids going off to college – there is a truth that 
reaches out to us as well.  There is either more, or you are done.

We’ve got a couple of MDs and PhDs in our midst.  If they’re still practicing, they’re not allowed to be done!  There’s always something new to learn.  Nancy Engle, PhD, just finished a course in Community Parish Nursing.  She has the wisdom to keep gaining knowledge.  Dr. Madre Bell, who many of us would attest to being the wisest, most biblically knowledgeable brother among us, is still in Bible Study every Wednesday morning. And even after years in the pulpit, Pastors are required to take study leave.

I just came back from a continuing education event at Princeton reflecting on Karl Barth’s theology.  As my time there came to a close, I picked up a few books.  One of them, “A Unique Time of God: Karl Barth’s WWI Sermons,” speaks to this great thinker starting over again with his theology – and pushing deeper to witness to the God who is.  Recognizing the need for a church theology that stood apart from liberal theology and church nationalism, he pushed back beyond historical-critical work to the work of the Reformers, and even back to the “theological ABCs – reading and interpreting the words of the old and new scriptures” – “And behold,” said Barth, “They began to speak to me.”

If we are living, there is not a time we, God’s people, are done with learning about and worshipping the God who is.  This August, our Worship continues in the deep and dialectic engagement with scripture we have been using this summer.  Rob Bell, in “What Is the Bible?” says this is the most ancient tradition of interaction with the Word in community.

“On the Sabbath Day you’d go to the synagogue in your village…the scroll would be opened, and someone would read that day’s portion, which was mapped out years in advance…and then there would have been commentary and discussion about what it means and how you live it.  And everybody joined in.  It was assumed you had an opinion.  And it was assumed that you had questions.  Of course you had questions – questions were a sign of life, a sign this mattered to you, a sign that you were engaged with the text.”

Are you engaged with the text in community?  The season of summer has provided us with time for a fresh way of engaging the Word, some practice at interacting with the Word in community, and some introduction to an ability to articulate our witness.  That’s what we’re here for.  That’s what we were made for.  To be a witness in this “unique time of God” to the God who is.

    I encourage you to spend the last five weeks of summer with us in this practice before we return to our traditional worship format on September 9. Engage these texts: “Honor the Lord’s Day, and keep it Holy.”(Ex. 20:8).  “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 3:18).   

    See you in church!

    Pastor Karen

Quotes from: 

“A Unique Time of God: Karl Barth’s WWI Sermons,” translated and edited by William Klempa, Westminster /John Knox Press, 2016, pp. 14-15.

“What Is the Bible? How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything”, by Rob Bell, Harper Collins, 2017; pp.152-153.