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To arrange a baptism Contact Worship x1451 To arrange a wedding Contact Weddings x1453 To arrange a funeral or memorial service Contact Pastoral Care x1455 To arrange a memorial donation Contact Finance x1479 To donate flowers for worship services Contact Worship x1451 To place a notice in the bulletin or newsletter Contact Communications x1467 With questions about your pledge or donation Contact Finance x1479 With a change of address Contact Membership x1471 To purchase a sermon tape or CD Bookstore Contact x1438 To let us know when you or a loved one are hospitalized - Contact Pastoral Care x1455 To join the Chancel Choir Contact x1273 For child care reservations - Early Childhood Contact x2250 With questions regarding the budget Administration - Contact x1459 To reach the Security Office Contact 407-415-9793 For Weekday School Contact 407-996-5864 To find out about Sunday school classes Contact Spiritual Formation x1463 With questions about the FPCO Web site or this Columns publication Contact Communications x1467 To reserve meeting space Contact Special Services x1469 Hospital Calls: The hospitals are no longer able to notify us of our members who are hospitalized. If you know of someone who is in the hospital, please notify the pastoral care office at 407.423.3441, extension 1455. Pastoral Emergencies: For pastoral emergencies outside of the 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. church office hours, please leave a voice mail message at the main church number 407.423.3441, extension 400. The message center will page the minister on call, who will reply as soon as possible. Need Help?: Dependency assistance, cancer support group, grief support, divorce care, infertility group, please contact Pastoral Care x 1455
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On The
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…” 1 Peter 3:15



o ahead. Take a chance. Step out. Get out of your “comfort zone.” That’s what I am going to ask you to do during this

coming Lenten season, and if you’ll step out just a bit, I think it could really make an impact. The first time I saw it, I was in Dallas visiting my parents. We were on spring break with the kids and it was about two weeks before Easter. As I drove the neighborhoods near my parent’s house, I kept seeing these simple white crosses in front of various houses. Some were in flower beds, some were placed in front of a hedge of bushes and others were simply propped on the porch next to the door. There was also one in my parent’s front flower bed. I finally asked my Dad, “What’s up with all the white crosses?” He said, “Oh, those are all members of our church. On Easter morning we flip the crosses around and it says, ‘He is Risen!’ It’s a witness, but it also helps us see where our members live in the area. It’s been really neat.” As it turns out, there is a nationwide “cross witness” during the Lenten/Easter season, and FPCO is going to be a part of it this year. The benefits are twofold: witness and community. Here’s how it will work: During the latter half of this month, we will distribute crosses at the church to anyone who would like to take part. You don’t have to be a member! (The crosses come with the necessary supports for putting them in the ground.) Once you get them home, choose an appropriate place and set it up with the blank side facing the street. Ash Wednesday is February 25th and the first Sunday in Lent is March 1, so please have it set by February 25. It won’t hurt to start early! If you have an apartment or condo, you may choose to put it on a balcony or porch. Then, on Easter Sunday, turn your cross around so that “He is Risen!” faces the street. Now, I know some of you are wondering, “Why would I do this? I’m not sure I want to be that “out there” about my faith.” I certainly understand those feelings, but I also want to push you a little bit on that. Peter reminds us in the text above that we always need to be ready – that part of our task as believers is to bear witness to the hope we carry in Christ. I don’t think there is a better – or easier – time of year to talk about our hope in Christ


than in the season of His cross. And you don’t even have to initiate a conversation! Here’s what I have found: When churches do this, people start seeing the crosses and someone will ask you about it. When they do, all you have to say is, “Oh, that’s a ministry of my church as we prepare for Easter.” If they ask more questions, great. Invite them to join you for worship. Tell them about what we’re doing. Give them a recent edition of the Columns so they can see what our church is about. Send them to our Web site ( Friends, people are searching. They’re hurting. They’re wandering. We believe Christ is the hope of the world, so why would we not do what we can to share that hope, even if it’s a bit outside our comfort zone? Pray about it and consider joining us in this. I know you will be blessed by doing it. Then, there is the “community” benefit. One of the challenges we face as a large downtown church is helping people feel they belong. We live all over town. We have four worship services, so its easy not to really know others or be known. However, if we all take part in this, we will begin to see other FPCO families that live in our neighborhoods. It becomes a great source of encouragement as you see other crosses far and wide. I would hope that perhaps one night, something might happen like this: You’re out taking a walk. You see a cross in someone’s yard and you think, “I should knock on the door and introduce myself” and then you do. Next thing you know, that person becomes a friend in your neighborhood. What a blessing that would be. So go ahead. Take a chance. Step out. Plant a cross in your front yard for six weeks and see what blessings and opportunities the Lord will give you. Join us in being a part of a larger witness to our community about First Presbyterian Church and our love for the Lord, Jesus Christ. May this coming Lenten season be a time of true growth for you and for our church, and I write With joy and expectant hope,

February 15 - March 15 9:30am – 10:45am 320-EMC Register online: For more information contact Amy Heck 407.423.3441 x147 4

Feel the Connection to God’s Love, Christ’s Church, Your Faith

Seminar for those who have recently joined FPCO, are considering church membership, or simply want to know more.

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irst Presbyterian Church of Orlando has long served the homeless in downtown Orlando with the Gospel message and outstretched hands of Christ. We share this desire to serve the homeless on behalf of Christ with others. The Christian community in downtown Orlando is uniting to address the critical issue of homeless members of our community and their specific needs by establishing a Drop In Center for the Homeless in downtown.
The Drop In Center for the Homeless vision is to create a place where the homeless can come during business hours to be in a welcoming environment out of the elements, have access social service agency resources, meet with counselors, social workers and Christian lay ministers so that provision may be offered to get one’s life back to holistic sustainability. While at the center, the homeless will have access to restrooms, a shower, computer and a phone. Case workers from regional social service agencies will have space to provide the holistic help to the homeless that is so desperately needed. Most importantly, the center will be a place where a homeless individual can come to have not only their physical, but also their spiritual and emotional needs met through the ministry of church members from local congregations. You can be part of making all of this happen by purchasing a ticket or sponsoring a table for upcoming Dancing with the Pastors Benefit. An exciting event modeled after TV’s “Dancing with the Stars” is scheduled for February 20, 2009. Pastors from five downtown churches will be lacing up their dancing shoes to compete in Orlando’s Dancing with the Pastors. See our very own Dr. Swanson compete against four other worthy competitors including Pastor William Andrews of the Heart of Mercy Church. The goal of this event is to raise significant funds that will go towards the renovation of the Wall Street property. You will not want to miss this exciting event! Make plans now to gather your friends and family for a night of fun, fellowship, dancing to the music of Michael Andrew and the Swingerhead, food, and, most importantly, fundraising to benefit the homeless in our community. Never will so much fun do so much good! See you there! n

“you can be a part of making all of this happen.”

This event will be held on february 20, 2009 at The Ballroom at Church Street from 6:30-11:00pm. Tickets are on sale now at

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FA M I ly Matters
The Palma family faces life’s hardships with faith.
By Kristin Davis


alking with the Palma family, all six of them, you can’t help but want to be the seventh member. They’re warm, inviting and filled with love for God, the church and one another. married for more than 30 years, Cherry and Paul are the parents of four boys, Jonathan, 29, 27-year-old twins Jeremy and Jason, and Josh, 24. Throughout the years, they’ve overcome many hardships, from near fatal illnesses in their immediate family to the loss of both Cherry and Paul’s fathers. But no matter what challenges life has brought, they’ve always faced them together, with an unwavering faith that God has a plan.

In New York City, Cherry and Paul first met in New York City while working the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. He was a resident with dreams of becoming a neonatologist; she was a head nurse in the neonatal ICU. “We would share a little bit of ourselves, of our lives, of what we were going through,” Paul says. Born in Jamaica, Cherry came from a much different background than Paul, a native New Yorker. But their differences were overpowered by their chemistry, as their conversations rarely skipped a beat. “It was surprising how much we seemed to have in common,” he says. “And then there was the whole exotic Jamaican thing that was attractive.” And the attraction was mutual. Cherry inches her chair closer to Paul in the interview room. She rests her hand on his shoulder and gives him a thoughtful look, “I respected him.” Their love for one another has been tested by demanding work schedules and distance, such as when Paul left New York to complete his fellowship at the Herman Hospital at the University of Texas. But even distance couldn’t push them apart; Cherry transferred to Herman a year later as the orientation neonatal nurse. Although she was passionate about working with newborns and their families, she soon felt a greater call to start one of her own. She left her job to raise their first son, and never looked back. Just 19 months later, Cherry gave birth to Jeremy and Jason. “I took my job [as a mom] very seri-

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ously,” she says. “Paul was at work at the hospital and my job was at home raising the boys. And when I say that, it’s not to diminish his role because he was above and beyond there [for us]. He wouldn’t come home and close the door. I think that’s a key issue in the boys having turned out as the young men that they are. Because of the father they have.” As their family began to grow, so did their desire to find a place where all their spiritual needs could be met. Cherry was raised in an Anglican church while Paul was raised Pentecostal, so they searched for a place that could support both of their beliefs. “We finally got settled in a Presbyterian church in Houston and found it to be a good balance for us,” Paul says. Jonathan, Jeremy and Jason were baptized there, and the lessons they learned in church were supported by the real-life examples their parents set. “It’s never like, only our mom would go to church or only our dad would go to church, it was always a family event,” Jeremy says. “It’s still a family event.” After finishing his fellowship, Paul searched for a job in a place where he and Cherry could settle down permanently and raise the boys. With its palm trees and sunny weather, Florida was their top pick. Paul landed a neonatologist position at what is now the Winnie Palmer Hospital. In his 25 years there, he’s seen many things that have reinforced his faith, such as the daily deliveries of 1½- to 2-pound babies. “I tell every family that God has a special interest your baby,” Paul says. “That’s perhaps most helpful when families lose their babies. The understanding that God is in control in each of our lives is very important to get across to families.”

This trust in God’s plan also got Paul and his family through the near loss of their own son, Josh, who was born after they moved to Orlando. He suffered from Meningitis at age 3. “He was deathly ill,” Cherry says. “Paul was on call and had called to check in and I just said to him, ‘You need to come home, something’s really wrong with Josh.’” By the time they got him to the hospital, he was unresponsive. The nurses rushed him into the Intensive Care Unit. “I prayed and I truly left it in God’s hands,” Cherry says. “I didn’t know if we









and encourage us.”
would have Josh in the morning.” At 4am the next day, Josh woke up and asked for a root beer. Cherry knew things were going to be just fine. It was always important to Cherry and Paul that their children knew that faith came first, family second. This belief has been deeply instilled in all four boys since they started attending FPCO as children. Although they lived in Maitland at the time, they all agreed that the message was worth the drive. “I remember being young and Dr. Edington, regardless of the message, [having] this uncanny ability continue on page 8 | 7

to keep the attention of a 5-, 6- or 7- yearold. Dr. Edington was so much a part of my Christian upbringing,” Jeremy says. “When Dr. Swanson came, I [knew] he was going to be fantastic for our church. He has that same kind of presence about him that Dr. Edington did.” The Palmas knew that God had led them to FPCO when their pastor in Houston, John Tolson, moved to Orlando and became a pastor there. “He certainly was the catalyst for our becoming members at FPCO,” Cherry says. “His lessons and teachings, along with those of his late wife Ruth Anne, have been invaluable to us. He was always there to guide, challenge, support, and encourage us.” The family never missed a Sunday church service together, even between shuffling the boys from basketball practice to baseball games and track meets. Paul always set the example that church was a priority, no matter what else they had going on. “I remember those days when dad would just work Saturday night and bring your church clothes to work and meet the rest of the family at church,” Jonathan says. “After sleeping for two hours,” Jason adds. The boys got involved in Fun in the Son summer camps, youth group meetings and choir practice. “It formed a lot of our individual relationships with God,” Jonathan says. Josh agrees, adding that their parents taught them that God should be a part of their everyday life, not just their Sunday church service. “Not only were they very involved in our church life, but outside of the church, they were sure to impress upon us that your faith is a part of your social and professional life so that it’s a very realistic faith,” Josh says. “Our parents’ example and their actions have spoken to me more than anything they might have said directly.” The boys’ grandparents have also given them spiritual guidance. “[Our] grandparents went to church every Sunday and really established this foundation for us,” Jeremy says. “And they stressed it when we were younger. They wanted you to understand what they believed in.” Jonathan remembers having long conversations with Cherry’s father, Big Daddy, about what it meant to be a Christian. “In college, I wrote a paper for religion class and he reviewed it and we probably talked for like an hour about this paper and this reading I had done,” he says. “I think a lot of people have this perception that Christianity is just some sort of blind faith, nonintellectual thing and you haven’t thought stuff out, that’s one thing I took away from Big Daddy.” As a pastor, Paul’s father, Grandpa Palma, also helped guide the boys in the right direction. “He had this presence and was just a Godly man,” Jeremy says. Although both grandfathers passed away when the boys were young adults, their words continue to echo through the lives of their children and grandchildren. “It’s invaluable; it’s the best gift,” Jason says. “We’re extremely fortunate to have parents that care about us as much as they do. All the big questions, if they don’t have answers, they’ll direct us to some literature. It’s the best asset you could ever have.” All four boys have found success in their chosen career fields, and they continue to search for ways to share their faith with others in every aspect of their lives. Following in his father’s footsteps, Jonathan recently completed his pediatric residency in California. Jeremy continues to build his resume as an insurance defense attorney, while his twin brother moved back to Orlando from Washington, D.C., last spring to join a small corporate investing firm. And Josh manages his own career as a professional wakeboarder. “We’re not in a ministry type profession, but you can lead by example and hope they can see your faith come out in your actions,” Jeremy says. Paul and Cherry say they can’t take all the credit for their children’s accomplishments. “That’s part of the reason the church here has played a very important role,” Paul says. “We were able to both teach them and expose them to the principles of our faith, to a relationship with Christ and the importance in your faith having an impact in your daily life, daily decisions and your future. It was a challenge for us. As parents, you want to do things right.” Paul looks around the table at his boys, then at his wife and smiles. “I’m sure we made mistakes as we went along, but [looking at] the guys, we did OK.” n

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Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…
-The apostle Paul to the church at Ephesus


C E L E B r AT E


This Lenten season, First Presbyterian Church of Orlando will join in the Easter Cross Witness as a community of believers who have a passionate desire to uplift the name of Jesus Christ and spread the Word in Orlando. In your yard or apartment window, a cross is placed blank side out during Lent and is turned on Resurrection Sunday to declare, “He is Risen…And It is Finished! The two short declarative phrases on this simple cross changed everything. Both phrases, consisting of three simple words, altered the course of world history; Both statements are true. The weight of the reality behind these two phrases is staggering. The fact that Jesus has risen from the dead after finishing His mission of offering His life as a perfect sacrifice is why we celebrate Easter. The Easter Cross Witness was created to testify to the truth contained in these statements. It was created for those who believe in the truthfulness of these statements and who desire, during the Easter season, to publicly testify to their faith. This Easter Cross is not yard art. It is not an Easter decoration. It was created to be a witness and a celebration. As you place the cross in your yard or window of you apartment, ask the sovereign Lord to use this simple cross for His glory, and rejoice… He is Risen!

Church members will display the plain side of the cross in their yard or homes beginning Ash Wednesday, February, 25 and throughout the Lenten season. On Easter Sunday, flip the cross to display the side reading “He is Risen” and “It is finished” to share our Christian message for all to see.

3 Prayers:
1. As we plant the crosses in our yards or apartment windows, may we joyfully once again acknowledge that we belong to the Risen Christ. Ask Him to use this simple cross to re-energize our own hearts so that we may have renewed joy to share with others about the wonders of what has been finished.

2. Pray that this silent, visual witness will lead to appropriate opportunities for a verbal witness. As we have opportunity to share the hope that is within us, pray that we will possess a winsome boldness and speak the truth in love.

3. When the visible witness is over, ask the Lord to grant
us much grace and renewed vigor to go about the noble task of loving our neighbors as Christ loves us. This is the best witness and acid test, and they are watching. May we take to heart the wisdom of Saint Francis of Assisi who stated that he was compelled to preach the gospel at all times, in all places, with all his might even if it meant resorting to words. People must see the gospel in action before they can hear the good news. All words + no love in action will = futility. n

Pick up your free cross: (after services under the Angel Wing) Sunday, feb 15 Sunday, feb 22 Ash Wednesday, feb 25 | 9

Bring a friend to Christ?

By rev. Case Thorp, Associate Pastor for Mission and Evangelism

Are You

o, you’ve made a friend, and your being a friend, how do you bring a friend to Christ? Ultimately our reformed theology assures us that we do not bring anyone to confession of faith in Christ. It is the wooing of the Holy Spirit and God’s movement in someone’s life that enables them to confess faith in Jesus Christ. We are, however, used by God at various times and in various ways to help someone discern the Spirit’s call and explain the faith by our words and/or our deeds such that they gain a more complete understanding of God in Jesus Christ.

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Many years ago a friend asked me what it meant to be ‘saved.’ A girl he badly wanted to date had a Baptist background and without mincing words she told him she would never date someone who was not ‘saved’. Sure, his motivation for finding Jesus rested in a brunette dental student, but the motivation was there, none the less. I shared what she meant and why it mattered to her so much. He listened, read the books I gave him, but hungered for more. Promise Keepers was having a huge men’s rally at the Georgia Dome and I invited him to join me with a group from my church. I fasted for the three days of the conference asking that God would move in his life and he would confess faith in Jesus Christ. It was so awkward when we broke for meals and I mysteriously disappeared from our group. I spent those meal times in prayer asking that God move in his life. At the end of the three days I gave him a Bible with his name embossed on the front. Never once did I get confirmation that my friend accepted Christ over that weekend. However, over a year later while traveling through his new city of choice, Washington, D.C., he casually referenced his commitment to Christ and the role I had played. I was dumbfounded. He never got the girl (She actually dated me for a while!! Ha!), but he got Jesus. My friend is now the state chairman for one of the two major political parties, a position of great influence. I give thanks to God that God has someone in that role of political authority advocating for kingdom values. It is rare, however, to experience the full cycle of someone coming to faith. As Scripture alludes, we may be the sower of seeds, we may reap the harvest, but there are numerous miniconversions in someone’s life before the main conversion. You may be the one who sows a seed for a friend; you may be the one who nurtures and strengthens the budding stalk; you may have the joy of harvesting a new soul that confesses faith in Jesus Christ. Bill Cain, our former evangelism pastor, was fond of quoting the statistic that people often have nine or more encounters with Christian testimony before confessing faith in Jesus. Consider, for instance, the numbers of people along the way that showed you Jesus as you came in to a saving understanding of Him. The challenge for us remains this: allow your faith to exude everything you are and do. First, pepper your language with phrases like, “Before I was saved…” or “Because of Jesus…” or “My faith teaches me to…” Those around you will take notice. And yes, if you say that with authenticity and base

it in your experience, rarely will you have reason for embarrassment. And if so, isn’t it worth having your heart revealed for such a Savior? Second, perform random acts of compassion and mercy. Take your neighbor a plate of cookies or mow their lawn without first asking. Leave your waiter a larger tip than normal with the phrase, “To God be the glory.” On top of random acts, purposefully build your day around acts of compassion and mercy as you listen a little more intently to that person in the office that drives everyone nuts, or as you parent your child in a manner that is befitting the Lord. Be known as a compassionate person and others will see Jesus in your actions. Finally, do not take the true, but poor excuse by saying, “Others will see my actions and one day ask, ‘What is your motivation and why do you do the things you do?’” Perhaps I am a bit jaded, but that perspective has been used as an excuse for far too long to keep from looking too evangelical. Friends, we are evangelicals. All Christians that carry the DNA of the gospel are change agents with an evangelical orientation. Don’t be afraid to call the question of faith with someone with

The challenge for us remains this: allow your faith to exude everything you are and do.

whom you’ve gained a great trust and who will allow you to speak into their lives. Ask the questions: “Is God at work in your life through this?” “If you knew Jesus, do you think things would be different?” “How could faith in Jesus help with this situation?” Then, be ready to offer the saving message of the Gospel, share your testimony, and walk with someone as they confess faith in Jesus Christ. Wow, what a moment that is. Curious about offering the Gospel and telling your testimony? Stay tuned for more next month… n | 11

By Punkin Durio, Member
Syria and Lebanon have played an incomparable role in the history of mankind. Many of the greatest human achievements had their beginnings in this ancient land. In this area of the world, man discovered the secrets of agriculture and metallurgy and invented the first alphabet. In Damascus, Syria, the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city, many civilizations have left their mark over the centuries: Aramaic, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Arab. Paul traveled the Road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9) and his life was changed in a twinkling. Our lives continue to be changed today because of what happened on that dusty road more than 2000 years ago. Lebanon is the home of the Cedars of Lebanon (2 Chronicles 2:1-16) which built Solomon’s Temple and it is reflected on their national flag. Much history has taken place in these two Middle East countries and it continues today in our news. The dramatic increase in violence, lawlessness and religious persecution in Iraq has resulted in massive displacement of Iraqis. Estimates for the number of Iraqis who have fled into continuous employment at below standard pay rates. As the numbers grow, the material assistance to Iraqis has begun to diminish over recent weeks. Many have access only to diapers and sanitary towels. Many cannot send their children to school because they cannot afford supplies and clothes. In November, while in Syria and Lebanon, I was able to visit some of the centers that are helping the refugees. Through a nonprofit organization, Heart for Lebanon, I visited clinics, food distribution warehouses, day care centers and private homes. My heart was broken. Professionals who make a great living back in Iraq and have great respect and a refined culture are living in 6x6 spaces with no bathroom or kitchen and are being charged $150 a month rent. Many had no food and no work. One day, my friend Cathy and I visited two young women in their rooms. I saw little in the way of material things. The rooms were sparsely furnished with single beds. I saw no kitchens or bathrooms. They said their husbands were out looking for work. We were able to share Christ with the women and the first woman, with tears streaming down her face, accepted Jesus as her Savior. The second said she was already a believer. Another day, we were called to visit another young woman. She was visibly depressed, scared, ashamed and embarrassed. She never stopped crying from the moment we had arrived. She told us her husband was looking for work that day, but we later found out he had abandoned her after only one month of marriage and escape from Iraq. She claimed to be a believer and I asked to pray with her. In my prayer I asked Jesus to send friends around her that would be like family since she was alone in Lebanon. I prayed for comfort and blessings for her. OUR GOD IS SO WONDERFUL AND FAITHFUL! Within seconds after I finished praying, there was a knock on the door and there stood the two young believers we had witnessed to the previous day in another neighborhood. God had answered my prayer. I asked them to please watch out for Maggie and to be her family. They agreed. When we left there were tears of joy for God’s answered prayer. n Punkin Durio is a member of First Presbyterian Church. She decided to join after having been so blessed by repeated hospital visits by our staff, deacons and elders. Formerly with Campus Crusade’s Jesus Film Project, Punkin is now an associate with Missionary Ventures based here in Orlando and leads short term mission trips abroad on a monthly basis. Pray for her as she returns March 28 to April 5, 2009, to Iraq to continue serving in Christ’s name. She can be contacted a

Syria and Lebanon since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 vary. Some believe as many as 4 million have left their homes. Present conditions for Iraqis in Syria are poor. The Iraqis are classified as illegal migrants. Lebanon has provided Iraqis recognition as refugees since 2007, however less than 10% register with UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The registration guarantees only partial protection and many feel there is no point in registering at all. In addition they fear they may be detained or deported by police on their way to the UNHCR office because of their illegal status. It is extremely difficult for them to find work without legal status and if they do, most are day-workers without guaranteed rights or

By rev. Donna McClellan, Associate Pastor of Prayer and Spiritual Formation
This is a question that I have considered often ever since an elder at a church I formerly served said to me very adamantly “Let’s face it, people do not change.” The first thought that came to my mind when she said that was “Then why am I a pastor?” I was caught off guard at the time but my response today would be something like “maybe people do not change on their own but God can and does change people every day when we are willing to cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.” This, to me, is one of the reasons I love the term “spiritual formation”. It is not just about Biblical knowledge, it is not just about mission/action…it is about allowing God to change our hearts, that our lives will then be changed and we will be moved to action directed by Him. Since the department in which I serve is called Prayer and Spiritual Formation, I am often asked questions regarding what spiritual formation is not a term Presbyterians are typically familiar with, so here is my attempt to at least offer a basic definition of what we mean by Christian spiritual formation…there is a plethora of material written about spirituality and spiritual formation that is spiritual but certainly not Christian. Hungryhearts (a newsletter from the office of spiritual formation in the PCUSA} gives the following basic description “… an activity of the Holy Spirit which molds our lives into the likeness of Jesus Christ. This likeness is one of deep intimacy with God and genuine compassion for all creation. We cooperate with the work of the Spirit through practices that make us more open and responsive to the Spirit’s touch …” In a recent article in Christianity Today called “Spiritual Formation Agenda,” Richard Foster begins with this observation: “Our world today cries out for a theology of spiritual growth that has been proven to work in the midst of the harsh realities of daily life. Sadly, many have simply given up on the possibility of growth in character formation.” He continues; “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but where, oh where, are those who think of changing themselves?” He goes on to say: “We are, each and every one of us a tangled mass of motives; hope and fear, faith and doubt, simplicity and duplicity, honesty and falsity, openness and guile. God is the only one who can separate the true from the false, the only grace; and otherwise would be impossible. But it is not therefore passive. Grace is opposed to earning, not to effort. In fact, nothing inspires and enhances effort like the experience of Grace.” Grace is opposed to earning, not to effort.” Christian Spiritual Formation is also closely linked to community. As Greg Ogden explains, in Discipleship Essentials, “Transformation occurs when we grapple with the truth of God’s Word in the context of transparent relationships. It is a biblical axiom that the Holy Spirit will have free sway in our lives to the extent that we open ourselves up to one another…we cannot grow in Christ alone. We are people of community.” This year will afford us many opportunities to look more carefully at Spiritual Formation and spiritual direction. We will do so as we worship together and we will do so as we open ourselves to the “scrutiny” of the Holy Spirit alone and together that we might be changed from the inside out. We invite you to engage with us in the discipline of prayer on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 – 7:30pm as we gather to pray and encounter Christ together. Watch for more opportunities in these regards or contact me at the church I would love to have a conversation with you! n | 13

one who can purify the motives of the heart. But God does not come uninvited. If certain chambers of our heart have never experienced God’s healing touch, perhaps it is because we have not welcomed the divine scrutiny.” (p 29, 30,31) Spiritual formation and, closely associated with it, spiritual direction have to do with engaging in disciplines such as study, solitude, worship, prayer, meditation, simplicity, and celebration, ( to name a few) for the purpose of becoming more like Christ. These disciplines are not meant to be an end in themselves. As Dallas Willard cautions in The Human Body and Spiritual Growth; “this process of ‘Conformation to Christ,’ as we might more appropriately call it, is constantly supported by

God is the only one who can separate the true from the false, the only one who can purify the motives of the heart.

Is it really that big a deal?
By Dr. rebecca Bedell, Minister of Worship and Culture


Well, in a word yes. God considers it a very big deal. One of the first Bible verses that I ever memorized, after John 3:16, was Hebrews 10:25 which states:

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”I
I really love this verse – it has been very instructional to my heart. Let’s unpack it together:
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“Let us not give up meeting together…
First, this shows me that we are all tempted to let other things get in the way of coming to worship. We’re too tired, the kids are cranky, we got home late…we all face it, but the key phrase is “let us not” – implying that the “giving up” is a choice. We choose to come to worship or we choose to let our circumstances keep us away. The Bible also tells us that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Do we treasure our time of worship with our fellow believers? If we treasure our time in worship, our hearts are sure to be blessed. Secondly, it speaks of “meeting together.” We live in an isolated age where you can catch a sermon on TV or via the web and while that is great and we are all thankful for technology, the sermon alone is not worship. Worship is coming before the Lord, giving Him the offering of your time, seeking Him in His temple, bringing an offering of praise to Him, and meeting Him along with other believers. It is participatory, it is relational and it is important to our spiritual formation.

…as some are in the habit of doing…
Ouch. Most of us don’t really know what to do with this phrase. Sometimes this has been us and sometimes it has been people that we know. A “habit” infers a regular behavior or set of behaviors. Experts tell us that” habit” only forms after 30 days – so that’s four continuous worship opportunities missed. Unfortunately good habits are hard to form and bad habits are hard to break. The great thing is that coming to worship not only draws you closer to God, but puts you into the larger community of God’s people. You are not alone!

…but let us encourage one another…
It is always encouraging to know that we are not alone in our lives. There is energy when people gather. We need to encourage one another to come to worship. When we get to worship we need to lift each other up. We need to focus on encouragement. A kind word or one of encouragement does us all good.

…and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Our world needs the saving power of Jesus Christ. We need the saving and renewing power of Christ in our lives. The day of Jesus’ return is approaching. Hopefully, with every passing week and year we will grow deeper in our relationship with Christ and in our relationships with others. As you read in the Palma’s story, one of the first places that people experience that connection is in worship. The season of Lent is a beautiful parallel of awaiting the coming day. We prepare for Christmas during Advent. We prepare for Easter during Lent. We prepare for the second coming of Christ every day of our lives. Come to worship. Make it the best “habit” in your life. Invite your friends and family. Encourage those around you. It is good to come into the house of the Lord. We’ll see you there. n

Sundays, 8:30 and 11am, Traditional Worship Sundays, 8:30 and 11am, Genesis (non-Traditional) Worship Wednesdays, 6:30pm, Prayer Ministry Meeting

Coming Soon – monday night Genesis! | 15

Decide Not To Give Up!
By Alice Fortunato, Director of recreation Ministry
As resolutions go, some of the most popular are to start a fitness program, get in shape or lose weight. Starting something new isn’t the hard part…making it stick is. Maybe by approaching fitness from the different angles, like spiritually, mentally and physically, it won’t be as difficult. So to jump right in…and cover your bases:

4. Wards off osteoporosis, heart disease and helps manage diseases like diabetes. 5. SlOWS DOWn ThE AGInG PrOCESS. Or at least what we can do about it!
Sitting around can be equated with aging so fight it with all your heart, soul, mind and body. Starting around age 30, people lose around 7 pounds of muscle and replace it with twice as much fat. Aerobic capacity drops each year by a few percent. By age 65 it drops 65%! According to Dr. Golding who has been conducting a study over more than two decades, a moderate 45-minute a day program Monday – Friday makes the aging curve lower than even he thought! He says, “I think probably 90 percent is disuse, 10 percent is aging.” When asked if you could do less and still benefit he says, “That is the million dollar question; I’d like to say the minimum is three times a week. But even people who come once or twice a week are making significant changes.” This is great news and we just need to take the advice we would so freely give to someone else, just do it! If you are looking for a place to start, Fitness@First is located in the Clayton Life Center on the second floor. Prices are the same as last year, and we have fitness trainers, Kris and Simon Morgan, Thomas Sapp, Stephanie Brady and Dawn Byrum, to help you set up a program tailor-made for you. A free orientation about how to use the equipment is available to everyone. We have 15 group fitness classes a week to pick from and EVERYONE is welcome! n

1. Ask for help, make an appointment with God. Start each day with prayer. 2. Start moving! Do something fun; take a walk for the fun of it! Go skating, turn the music up and dance, get down on the floor and stretch a little, play hide and seek with the nearest mammal. Don’t hold back; laugh if you feel like it! 3. read a book, just for fun! Pick an inspirational person and read their autobiography or biography. 4. See if a buddy wants to meet for walking, running or working out.
We are taking care of God’s gift to us, our health. When we don’t have it, there isn’t much we can do. Come to think of it, why do we take it [health] for granted? Some great reasons for staying in good health:

1. Better immune system – less sick days. 2. Increased oxygen capacity – not worn out doing everyday tasks. 3. Fights depression – feeling better about everything.
16 |



Try this Healthy recipe for the New year:
Take 3-4 boneless chicken breasts and pound until relatively even in thickness. Place in glass pan - use 4 or 5 fresh limes and squeeze juice over chicken. Add ¼ cup of olive oil and add enough white wine to just cover chicken. Sprinkle a small amount of white pepper over chicken. Place in refrigerator for an hour or so. While chicken is marinating, prepare salsa. Finely chop or dice 4 or 5 plum tomatoes, 1 small bunch of finely chopped cilantro, 1-2 finely chopped shallots (or spring onions) – mix in a bit of salt and pepper, and lightly pack ingredients into bottom of bowl, take red wine vinegar and pour in until just reaches top of ingredients, so as not to make soupy but salsa-y. Place in refrigerator. Take chicken and grill. Serve chicken with a blob of salsa on top and a skirt of greens on bottom.

We have Family Fitness, Wellness and Group Exercise classes to meet all ages and physical needs from Physabilities to Kickboxing…look for nEW EvEnTS like Social Dance Classes, Family Cycling, Summer volleyball Clinics, Box lunch Seminars… not to mention AM and noontime Basketball, Upward Basketball and all our ongoing group fitness classes. Don’t miss out on the opportunity of such a fine facility at your fingertips!

NEW fITNESS CENTEr mEmBErS GET 25% Off A mEmBErSHIP Bring this coupon in to the recreation ministry Center: fITNESS CENTEr mEmBErS GET ONE mONTH frEE ADDED TO THEIr mEmBErSHIP!!


fITNESS@fIrST CLASS SCHEDULE JAN. 2, 2009 - mArCH 1, 2009
TImE 12:10-12:45pm 12:10-12:45pm 5:30-6:15pm 5:30-6:15pm 6:15-7:00pm Community Classes Free Orientations Akijitsu Martial Arts Classess are offered to learn how to use our fitness equipment Call for class info Ask the desk for more information Personal Trainers are available to target your fitness needs mONDAy Indoor cycle Stephanie Zumba Giselle Zumba Jeralee TUES yogalates Alice h.I.T. Boot Camp Saje/Erlene Indoor Cycle Erlene Zumba Frank

WED Indoor Cycle Angela Chisel & Sculpt Stephanie Zumba Frank

THUrS Zumba Giselle hard Core Saje/Erlene Core Thomas

frIDAy Indoor Cycle Stephanie yoga Saje



By Olivia Barrow, 7th Grade Student
The most fun and life changing experience that I have had was our church Disciple Now retreat. I knew this was going to be a blast; staying the weekend at Isabel’s house with all my friends in a good Christian environment. When I got my letter from my counselors, they seemed awesome. When I arrived at Isabel’s house, Caitlin, one of my counselors, came to help me with my bags. She was very kind and pretty, had a bit of an accent. When I entered the house all my friends were running around already having fun. I knew I was going to have the time of my life. Later that night it was time for our Bible study. We all sat around Caitlin and Jenny as they began to tell us about themselves. They both went to Clemson and had very good testimonies. During the Bible study we would answer some questions that were pretty tough. All of us discovered that night; we aren’t as close to Christ as we would want to be. The next day we were supposed to go someplace fun and exciting, so we chose Downtown Disney! We also had the opportunity to celebrate Katherine and Elizabeth’s birthday. When we were driving to Disney there was non-stop talking all around. It would be even crazier when we got there. We all just spent the day walking around eating ice cream and getting airbrush tattoos. The funniest part was when Caitlin tried on a Minnie costume for children. Toward the end we all headed for the giant gift shop and met up with Julianne and Browning. When we got back to the house we were then getting ready for our worship time in the Warehouse. Mr. and Mrs. McLean drove us to First Pres and we headed for worship. It took a while before we could come in, and they were giving away t-shirts. When they opened the doors our group was lucky to get close to first row. As they started the music I couldn’t hear anything but the band and the Lord beginning to speak within me. When it was time for Browning to give the devotion we all sat down. He talked about three men and how they were the only ones who did not bow down to the king. They did that because that wasn’t their king, God was. Some people were crying as others had their heads bowed. When it was time to sing again we began with a prayer and we all knelt down and put our hands on each other’s shoulders. At that time I didn’t care what people thought I just focused on God and He spoke within me. That was one of the times I asked God to be in my life forever. When we went back to the house my parents drove us home and we ended the night with another Bible study. We went so in depth that night that I felt a change in me. I was looking forward to the next morning because we would go to church and see our parents. I would tell them about my life changing experience and our amazing worship time. We all walked in the doors to church and began to have some more time with God. When we all were about to leave we said our good-byes to Caitlin and Jenny. When I walked to my car I was a different person, one who would start a new relationship with God that would last FOREVER! n

When I entered the house all my friends were running around already having fun. I knew I was going to have the time of my life.

18 |

By Scarlett Stewart, Member
Soon after I moved back from Nairobi, Kenya, God told me (really He told others who then convinced me) that we should bring some of the women I worked with at Amani ya Juu to the United States for a Fashion Tour. Amani ya Juu means “Higher Peace” in Swahili and is a sewing and reconciliation project committed to fair trade and holistic development of marginalized women who come from various countries of Africa. During my year at Amani we launched a clothing line which provided more work and new skills for several of the women. Amani announced the new clothing line in October 2007 through a fashion show called Sankofa. Through brilliant costumes, choreography, lighting and music the women used the runway as their stage to depict their courageous journeys from their war-torn homes to their new life of wholeness and reconciliation at Amani. The Nairobi Sankofa show was well received and our American supporters were very eager for us to bring it stateside. After months of dealing with the US Visa and Passport processes, 10 of the women were approved to come to America for a threeweek tour. Because my name and phone number was on their documents, a US Immigration Officer would call to ask me questions about each woman: why she was coming and what was my relation to her and the organization? God certainly was present and moving in each conversation because I never felt good with my explanation to an Immigration Officer about a fashion tour being produced by African refugee women. (I think it still sounds odd and I have been a part of it since the beginning!) Honestly, nothing about getting them here was simple and there were many times I questioned God about whether this was a wise decision. But every time I wanted to give up I would picture the faces of the women who graciously welcomed me in to their lives and was quickly reminded that this was a small feat for my mountain moving God. The women arrived in early October and Orlando was the first stop of the four-city tour. I remain grateful that FPCO graciously donated the Lee Fellowship Hall for the Sankofa event. Nearly 350 people attended the Orlando show and 2,500 people saw the show throughout the four cities. The response to the show and to the Amani organization was incredible and I believe we will continue to see more fruits of the labor in years to come. Seeing America through their eyes was a blessing I will recount for the rest of my life. There were so many “firsts” for them that I was so fortunate to witness: first time on an airplane, first time getting free water in a “magic fountain” (water fountain), first time at McDonalds and using fountain soda machines, first time to see the ocean and touch the beach sands (and they live in a coastal country!). Seeing their reactions to the way many Americans live was eye-opening, often humorous and mostly humbling. Some of their questions that still stir in me today include: “Does everyone in Orlando have more than one room with sofas? Why does that dog have on a shirt and goggles (sunglasses)? If I lived in America, do you think I could survive?” Throughout the tour I knew these women were having a grand effect on the people they encountered. However, it was

not until after they returned to Kenya that I began hearing stories from the countless volunteers and receiving letters from various individuals who were touched by their visit, that I realized how much these women truly ministered to these cities. I finally saw that this was much more than a fashion tour gaining exposure for the Amani organization; it was their mission trip to America. Hosting my African sisters in my home town and at my home church is something I never imagined could happen. The women were so well received by the Orlando and FPCO community and continue to send me notes of thanksgiving and appreciation. I have included some letters from volunteers who made the Sankofa Tour possible as well as those who were impacted during their visit. Also, there is a note of thanks by Mary Maina, the Amani Director in Kenya who led the ladies throughout the tour. To learn more about the Amani ya Juu project or to watch the Sankofa show online please visit Also, you can support the Amani women by purchasing some of their beautifully handcrafted products through the online store. Many thanks to the FPCO Mission Ministry, staff and volunteers for making Sankofa a tremendous success in Orlando. You made lofty dreams come true. continue on page 20 to read the letters from volunteers | 19


First Presbyterian Church of Orlando

13-week Support Program
ursdays; February 12 - May 7 Kids Group at 6:30pm in 312-CLC Adult Group at 6:45pm in 106-CLC Congregational Care 407.423.3441 x 1159

neWs & nOTices
register Now for musikGarten! Online registration for spring classes will close February 9. Our classes are open to children from birth to 5 years and are designed for the parent and child to enjoy music class together! Classes begin February 3! For more information, contact Stephanie Mixner at 407.423.3441 x1186 or smixner@ The spring schedule can be found at childrensmusic. prayer that FPCO members will take this opportunity to share with others the hope that is within us, and as a tangible way to express our faith during Lent. The Easter Cross Witness binds the body of Christ together as churches of many denominations gather together under the cross in unity. Pick up your cross after worship services under the Angel Wing on Sunday, February 15 & 22 and on Ash Wednesday, February 25. Sympathy to: The family and friends of Virginia Milligan, who died November 19, 2008. The friends and family of Dorothy Englert, who died December 5, 2008. Adrienne Evans on the death of her grandfather, Marion Cunningham, on December 5, 2008. Lilian and Jonathas Moreira on the death of her mother, Odette Lima, on November 30, 2008. Mrs. Lima was the grandmother of Marianna, Lucas and Amanda Mello. The friends and family of Hilda Alexander who died December 12, 2008. The friends and family of Linda Dauphin, who died December 15, 2008 Bettie and Bucky Allen on the death of her sister, Lallie Burke, on December 21, 2008. The family and friends of Don McAllister, who died December 22, 2008. Dave and Dianne MacIntire on the death of his father, Col. H.A. MacIntire on December 25, 2008. June and Jim Wieland on the death of her brother, Paul Roepnack, who died December 27, 2008. Anne Banta on the death of her brother-in-law, Lee Woods, on December 28, 2008. Suzanne and John Bigalke on the death of her father, Grant Staton, who died December 30, 2008. Mr. Staton was the grandfather of Sara and Brady Bigalke. Mo Hoffman on the death of his wife, Nancy Hoffman, on January 2, 2009 Scott & Bonnie Tew on the death of his mother, Nan Martinez, on January 4, 2009. Mrs. Martinez was the grandmother of Roger and John Tew. December ’08 Giving Snapshot
General Operating December Gifts Year-to-date Gifts Line of Credit Contributions $ 1,190,213 $ 3,500,351 $150,000 $4,954,649 Budgeted Surplus/ (Deficit) $ 1,209,661 $ (19,448) $ 3,879,523 $(379,172)

Divorce Care Sessions Will Begin february 12 Divorce Care for Adults and DC4K (Divorce Care for Kids) will begin our winter/spring sessions on February 12, 2009 in CLC 106 for Adults and CLC 312 for kids from 6:30-8:00pm. We will meet for 13 Sessions and you can join in at any time. For questions or to let us know if you are coming - Please call Sharon Brandenburg at 407.423.3441 x1159 or e-mail her at register Now for first Connections Classes Registration is now open for the February/March First Connections Class. First Connections is a five week class designed to help you learn and experience life at FPCO. Make some friends, learn some basics about faith in a non-threatening atmosphere, and be exposed to the life changing ministries of FPCO. Sundays from 9:30-10:45am in Room 320 A & B on the third floor of the Edington Ministry Center. For more information please contact Amy Heck at 407.423.3441 x1474 or Purpose, mission, and relationships are foundational to FPCO and are the building blocks of First Connections. For those of you who are exploring membership or simply want to know more about FPCO—come and take a look. father-Daughter Dance to Be Held on february 28 We invite dads to take their middle school daughters out to dinner and come to church for the Student Ministry sponsored Father-Daughter dance on Saturday, February 28. There will be food, dancing, DJ and pictures. The dance will be held in the Warehouse, from 8-10pm. So, for $25 per couple, come and take advantage of this great opportunity for dads to spend some quality time with their daughters! Dress is Semi-Formal. Please RSVP online at Deadline to RSVP is Tuesday, February 24. After School Outreach ministry volunteer Opportunity The After School Outreach Ministry will be taking students to visit the Orange & Seminole County jails on Wednesday, February 25th. Proper identification for adult chaperones must be submitted to the jails by February 11th. Please contact Jenny Arrison for more info @ 407-423-3441 or Share your faith With the Easter Cross Witness First Presbyterian Church of Orlando will take part in the Easter Cross Witness which was created to give Christians an opportunity during the Easter Season to witness to the Risen Christ. In your yard or apartment window, a cross is placed blank side out during Lent and is turned on Resurrection Sunday to declare, “He is Risen…And It is Finished! It is our

Immeasurably More Outstanding Balance IM December Gifts $ 263,664 IM Year-to-date Gifts $ 1,222,167 (net of 10% tithe to Missions)

Contact finance office for a full revenue & expense summary. | 23

Tebow rant January 09
The Miami Conference on Christology, meeting January 1-8 at the Orange Bowl Hotel, issued its findings this morning in a 1,456 page treatise. Theological scholars from all over the world, including the Darrell K. Royal Chair of Theology and Athletics at Harvard University, declared, without equivocation, that contrary to recent claims, Tim Tebow is NOT, in fact, Jesus. While the report has been met with outrage in some circles, theological faculty at Yale, Fuller, Gordon-Conwell, Oxford, and Cambridge issued statements supporting the conferences findings. Pope Benedict followed by issuing an encyclical entitled, “Postmodernism and Tim Tebow: The Christological Conundrum.” Roman Catholics, especially those at the University of Notre Dame, hailed the Pope for his strong and clear leadership in strongly defining where Tim Tebow fits in the pantheon of saints (just below Mother Theresa) and whether current Catholics can pray to Tebow (“only in dire circumstances.”) The Pope denied rumors that following last night’s game, Tebow had turned the Gatorade into wine and fed the crowd of 70,000 with only four hot dog buns and two hamburger patties, with 74 garbage bags of buns left over. Representatives from Benny Hinn Ministries immediately tried to take credit for providing the food. Scholars were still undecided on the significance of Urban Meyer’s post game comments when he said, “As Charlie Strong and I walked away from Tebow’s house after our first recruiting visit, he said to me, ‘Urban, were not our hearts burning as we sat along side him on the couch?” n Representatives from the PCUSA, United Methodist Church, Southern Baptist Convention, Episcopal USA, and Worldwide Lutheranism planned to make a statement today in support of the Miami Conference findings, denying, yet again, that Tim Tebow is Jesus. - AP Wire Services

first Presbyterian Church of Orlando
106 E. Church St., Orlando, fL 32801
The First Presbyterian Columns (USPS 604-040) is published once per month, except for twice in March, by the First Presbyterian Church. Circulation: 4750. (3750 by US Mail, 1000 by on campus distribution). Periodicals postage paid at Orlando, Florida. POSTMASTEr: Send address changes to COlUMnS, 106 E. Church St. Orlando, Fl 32801-3390. ©2008 First Presbyterian Church of Orlando COlUMnS.


106 East Church Street Orlando, Florida 32801 407.423.3441 | Traditional Services: Sundays, 8:30 & 11 a.m. in the Sanctuary Genesis Services: Sunday, 8:30 & 11 a.m. in lee Fellowship hall

POSTmASTEr: Time Sensitive material Please Deliver by January 29, 2008