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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 “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new
Contact Worship x1451
To place a notice in the bulletin or newsletter
creation. The old has gone, the new
Contact Communications x1467 has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
With questions about your pledge or donation
Contact Finance x1479
anuary is always a season of new beginnings and fresh
With a change of address
Contact Membership x1471 J starts. The calendar rolls over to another year, and
while we wonder what happened to the last year, we start
To purchase a sermon tape or CD Bookstore
Contact x1438 formulating how we want our lives to be different. As you
To let us know when you or a loved one are think about those things, remember that the primary dif-
hospitalized - Contact Pastoral Care x1455 ference in you has already been accomplished through Je-
To join the Chancel Choir Music sus Christ. The old is gone. The new has come. And the
Contact x1273 “new”—the grace and love of God—is there every day—
For child care reservations - Early Childhood every moment.
Contact x2250 As our church prepares for 2009, I wanted to draw your
With questions regarding the budget attention to several things:
Administration - Contact x1459
1. This month, we begin our church-wide sermon series
To reach the Security Office
Contact 407-415-9793 and Bible study on The Economy of God. With all the
For Weekday School economic angst being felt right now, I hope you will take
Contact 407-996-5864 part in this study to bring God’s truth to bear on what is
To find out about Sunday school classes happening.
Contact Spiritual Formation x1463 2. We will ordain and install our newly elected elders
With questions about the FPCO website or this and deacons on January 11. Please be in prayer for these
wonderful Columns publication new leaders as they assume their duties.
Contact Communications x1467
3. Our annual Leadership Retreat will take place the last
To reserve meeting space
Contact Special Services x1469 weekend of the month with Don Cousins, co-founder of
Hospital Calls: Willow Creek Church in Chicago, as our speaker and fa-
The hospitals are no longer able to notify us cilitator. We will be studying the nature of spiritual lead-
of our members who are hospitalized. If you ership in the church. Leaders from Heart of Mercy Church
know of someone who is in the hospital, please will also be joining us.
notify the pastoral care office at 407.423.3441,
extension 1455. 4. A special committee has been appointed by the Session
Pastoral Emergencies: to study the overall space usage of the entire facility. With
For pastoral emergencies outside of the 8:30 so many ministries needing space and desiring growth,
a.m.- 5:00 p.m. church office hours, please this will be an important process and your prayers are
leave a voice mail message at the main church appreciated as they do their work. A report and recom-
number 407.423.3441, extension 400. The
mendations will be made to the Session in March.
message center will page the minister on call,
who will reply as soon as possible. 5. Great progress is being made on our desire to develop
Need Help?: a downtown Drop In Center for the homeless that would
Dependency assistance, cancer support group, incorporate and expand our Compassion Corner ministry.
grief support, divorce care, infertility group, Twelve other local churches have formed a partnership
please contact Pastoral Care x 1455
to raise money and develop space for a Christ-centered

2 |

ministry to the homeless that would provide a place to go during

the day as well as access to all the social service agencies needed.
I have met with Mayor Buddy Dyer as well as the Regional Com-
mission on Homelessness, presenting this plan and gaining their
full support. Please be in prayer for Case Thorp and our Mission
Department as they lead our community towards this goal.
6. Our HIV/AIDS Ministry Team continues to develop new initia-
tives that will begin the latter part of this month, including be-
coming a downtown location for HIV testing. In conjunction with
the County Health Department and Help and Hope, FPCO will
provide space and volunteers to work with their staff as they con-
duct HIV testing on Wednesday evenings. In addition, we begin
our HIV/AIDS Support Group this month. For more information,
please contact my office for meeting times and location.
7. The Session will be evaluating our financial position following an
analysis of our December giving to determine any necessary adjust-
ments. A 10% reduction in program monies has already been en-
acted. As you know, this is a very challenging financial season for all
of us, and making such decisions is always painful. Please pray for
God’s collective wisdom and provision.
8. I have asked Case Thorp and our Evangelism Committee to come
up with a new strategy for outreach, extending the ministry of our
church to those who have never heard the gospel. It is my sincere
prayer that all of us would be praying for someone that does not
know the Lord, and actively engaging others in inviting them to
share in our worship and ministries. Let’s work together in develop-
ing a “culture of invitation” at First Presbyterian.
So, as you can see, much is happening as we begin the year.
May all of us seek to live faithfully and obediently as His disciples
this year, and always. With joy and thanksgiving for each of you,
I remain
In His Grip,

David || 3 3
urry up, we’re gonna be late” I said.
“H “I still have to pack” said Melissa.
“What do you mean you still have to pack?
You said you were gonna be packed when I
got home” I said. “I was busy. I had to run er-
rands, do four loads of laundry, feed Bren-
nen, take him to my parents and arrange for
the dogs to be kept. That’s what I mean I still
have to pack,” snapped Melissa. “Well come
on! I just don’t want to be the ones who get a
room with double beds” I said jokingly.

Forty-five minutes later we were well outside the Central Florida we knew. Cow pastures and old
farms rolled by the car as if to plead a slower existence. We had completely calmed down and were ex-
cited over the plans for the next two days. Within the following few hours we reached a swift realization
of how profound this weekend would be for both of us…and no, we did not get stuck with double beds.
Melissa and I have what I would call a strong marriage. In the four short years we have been married,
we have grown consistently closer. We have recently been blessed with our first child, Brennen. Christ
had found His way to the center of both our lives at an early age, but we still endured shortcomings in
our Christ centered marriage. We both loved the idea
of doing the marriage retreat with First Pres but were
unsure of the expectations. We had joked about be-
ing locked in a room full of spouses who were at
“We found the tools and the each other’s throats, but either way we saw value in
ability to build a marriage completing an appraisal of our marriage, a gut check
if you will.
with the foundation built on From Friday night to Sunday morning the les-
a Christian faith together for sons taught and the challenges put upon Melissa
and me, broke down barriers of communication we
one purpose.” thought we didn’t have. In those two days we al-
lowed ourselves to surrender to what God was re-
vealing to us. We began to understand the depth of
the expectation God placed upon the marriage, the
transformation we accomplished when the vows were exchanged, and the promises made to both God
and our spouse in that agreement. It was the single best gift we have done for our marriage.
In that short weekend, in a place near where Ponce DeLeon thought he had discovered the fountain
of youth, Melissa and I found something even more precious, more everlasting; something that could per-
petuate our marriage forever. We found the tools and the ability to build a marriage with the foundation
built on a Christian faith together for one purpose.
Here is what other couples have commented:
“Corbin and I were truly blessed by the entire weekend. We commented on our way home how every-
thing was perfect! We couldn’t think of a single change. Each session was the right amount of time, the
content from David and Leigh, the music, the comedy, the assignments after each session were especially
continue on page 6
4 |
By Terrence Hart, Member | 5
helpful to immediately talk, and put into practice some not too far. David and Leigh’s leadership was power-
of the tools we were given. Corbin and I are already ful in its vulnerability. They lead from their weakness
working towards more time together and using some of and it is very winsome and safe. By letting us in on
the skills of communicating more effectively. I feel that their imperfect marriage and using themselves as an
something special happened this past weekend with example of the bad stuff, they created a safe place for
the 87 couples and would hate to see us not stay con- the rest of us to be honest.” – Scott Lee
nected in some way.” – Lee Ann Johnson “The marriage retreat was close to perfect. Debra
“My husband, John, and I both very much enjoyed and I were so blessed and excited with the weekend, it
the Marriage Retreat last weekend at Mission Inn. It has made a significant difference in how we approach
was a wealth of knowledge and education, and set a each day and our relationship.” – Tim Lemons
good foundation for us in our marriage (we’ve been “The marriage retreat was a wonderful experi-
married for 3 years).” – Christine McCully ence. Our marriage/life was touched in ways I cannot
“That was the best weekend David and I have spent explain. The power of the Lord was felt…what a bless-
together since we got married over 11 years ago. I don’t ing. I honestly don’t think I would change a thing.”
know how you put such a program together and espe- – Michelle Davis
cially for the price, but it was fantastic. I don’t know “My husband, Bill and I were indeed very blessed
how you could improve it unless you made it longer. In by attending the Marriage Matters retreat this past
all honesty, it was perfect.” - Jan Packwood weekend! I can truly say that the program exceeded
“This was perfect. We enjoyed meeting lots of both of our expectations.” – Katie Herlong
FPCO couples whom we didn’t know and enjoyed the “I think the marriage retreat was fantastic! The
alone time that was built in to the experience. All in all biggest thing that I learned was the importance of
it was an amazing experience that came at the perfect praying together with my spouse. That was the one
time for us. The schedule was perfect! The mix of free big thing Michael and I walked away with. Leigh and
time, fun time, and serious time was just right. Each David’s skits were so great and helped reiterate their
was important and the mix was right. The homework points.” – Marnie Waldrop
was powerful. I loved remembering the sweet times of
“I keep telling everyone how wonderful the week-
our courtship, talking about our challenges, and prac-
end was. The message, the skits, the accommodations,
ticing listening skills. The letter was a gift we gave to
the food, the bonding between me and my spouse…all
each other that I will treasure. The venue was great.
of it was perfect.” – AJ Broughton ■
I loved the room, meeting space, grounds, and loca-
tions. The distance was far enough to be away and yet

6 |
YEAR-END REVIEW By Stephanie Mixner, Worship Arts Ministry

whole congregation was ooh-ing and aww-ing during

the entire song. Celestial Choir and Seraphim Singers
joined forces and sang “I Will Give Thanks” and sound-
ed great. They looked like they were having fun, and one
boy even commented afterwards, “That was so easy!”
What an amazing experience for children to have the
opportunity to lead in worship, and enjoy it!!
The children also participated in the Rejoice Concert
on December 12 and 13. This was their first major event,
and they conquered with flying colors! Their costumes,
smiles, and voices added to the Christmas spirit of the
concert. The parents were a huge help in preparing them
for such an exciting time. Also during Christmas, some of
n Fall 2008, Children’s Music teamed up with Children’s the children assisted worship for the Christmas Eve fam-
I Ministry to create Sonday Times. This has proven to be
a wonderful partnership and continues to be just that! Our
ily service. The small ensembles, soloists, and actors did
a great job!
program meets on Sunday evenings from 4:30-6:30pm. We are looking forward to another fun-filled semester
Miss Stephanie’s group rehearses music for upcoming wor- in the spring. If your child is interested in Sonday Times,
ship and events, and Miss Carol’s group takes the children we will restart on Sunday, January 18 from 4:30-6:30pm.
for recreation time and then for Bible study. Both groups Registration is during the first and second weeks on the
work hard to make a fun but educational environment for first floor of Allen Yowell Hall. All children 3 years old
the children involved in the program. to 5th grade are welcome!! There is more playing, sing-
The children’s first feat was to lead in both tradi- ing, and learning ahead! We are working to educate your
tional worship services on October 26. During these ser- child about God, sing His praises, and lead our congrega-
vices, all three choirs, including the Cherub Choir (3-4 tion in worship to His glory.
yrs) sang “Jesus Loves Me/All Creatures of Our God and
King” as the morning hymn arranged by our very own
composer-in-residence, George Atwell. We were able to “As they exited the sanctuary,
include sign language while singing “Jesus Loves Me”
one girl said, “That was fun!” It
with the help of our Seraphim Singers assistant, Kel-
vin Hollerman. Celestial Choir (K-2nd grades) and Sera- was surely an uplifting worship
phim Singers (3rd-5th grades) sang of God’s good news
in the traditional spiritual, “Ain’-A That Good News.”
All the parents and congregants were beaming when
the children sang. As they exited the sanctuary, one girl
said, “That was fun!” It was surely an uplifting worship To register for the next SONday Times to be held
experience! from January 18-March 22 or for more information, con-
Their second feat was to lead in both traditional tact Stephanie Mixner at x1186 or or
worship services on November 23. The children were Carol Welker at x1490 or You may
yet again triumphant! The Cherub Choir sang the pre- also visit our website at ■
lude, “He’s Got the Whole World,” and, of course, the | 7
8 |
By Stephanie Mixner, Worship Arts Ministry

You and your family are invited to join the fun in our MusikGarten:
early childhood music program, MusikGarten. This pro- Spring 2009 Schedule
gram was founded in 1994, and has been successful in
growing knowledge and love of music in families all over Level A
the world. We introduced this program last semester, and (Birth-17 mos)*
it has proven to be a great fit for us here at First Presby- Tuesday 11:00 a.m.
terian Church of Orlando. We have an awesome team of Wednesday 11:00 a.m.
teachers prepared to inspire you and your child’s silli-
ness, and introduce to you their passion for music and
children. We hope you will join us this semester for a
Level B
(18-23 mos)*
fun season of singing, playing instruments, dancing, and
Tuesday 10:00 a.m.
listening! For more information, contact Stephanie Mix-
Wednesday 10:00 a.m.
ner at 407.423.3441 x1186 or Visit our
11:00 a.m.
website at

Level B2
(2-3 yrs)
Tuesday 10:00 a.m.
Wednesday 10:00 a.m.
11:00 a.m.
Wednesday 10:00 a.m.
Saturday 10:00 a.m.

Level c
We are happy to announce our (4-3 yrs)
Wednesday 4:30 p.m.
spring schedule of classes!
Online Registration: Jan 5 – Feb 9 Family Class
(siblings/mixed ages)
Fee: $60 (includes music pack with CD, music book,
Tuesday 11:00 a.m.
and instrument or prop) Wednesday 6:30 p.m.
Saturday 11:00 a.m.
Classes: Feb 3 (week of) – April 21 (week of)

No classes (Spring Break) March 30 – April 3

*Please note: These age ranges
Make-up classes: April 27 have been changed from last
semester. | 9
By Susie Appleby Kemper, Member

10 |
his experience is being shared
T now because God made an in-
tervention in my life. I have learned
through it that God is in control. He
often touches our hearts with His per-
fect timing through sermons relevant
to our lives. It is amazing how often
the sermons at FPCO have tied into
this story in my life just when I needed
them! To God be the glory…

On January 15, 1978, when I lived in a sorority house at Florida State University, Ted
Bundy entered our sorority house during the night, murdered two girls and brutally at-
tacked two others. A notorious serial killer during the 1970s, Bundy murdered at least
28 women around our country. We believe his intentions were to go through our en-
tire house that night, but God intervened as our
protector and scared him off. God does not cause
tragedies, but He gave man free will to make his
own choices, good or evil. I believe God was
“I started making a list of all the
there at work in the midst of this tragedy! ways I realized God had been
Throughout that night, three major events
there protecting us that night. It
happened. First, Bundy came into our house. He
had definitely chosen evil, but that’s when God was amazing!”
intervened! That night, for the first time ever, my
roommate’s mother got an unusual urge to pray
for me and did so, which I believe brought on the second event. I awakened in the night,
which in college was very unusual for me, and got up to go to the bathroom. When I
flushed the toilet, Bundy was close by and heard that someone was up. As I headed back
to bed, the third event happened. Another girl came home and slammed the back door
behind her. At that point, Bundy knew two of us were awake and decided to run. As
he headed out the door, she got a glimpse of him running out and knew something was
terribly wrong.
It was an extremely frightening time for all of us as the details unfolded. As the po-
lice and emergency vehicles arrived, my sorority sisters and I were sent to a room in the
house to wait. There, as we looked out the window and saw emergency vehicles with
their blue and red lights flashing, we prayed together and read our Bibles, searching for
comfort, understanding, protection, and just aching to feel God’s presence. Later, we
continue on page 12 | 11
were told by the police not to talk about the trag- never know what goes on up in heaven to change
edy because if they caught him, our testimonies our circumstances here on Earth. This really had
would be invalidated at a trial, if what we said an impact on my thoughts. I started making a list
had been influenced by others. So we didn’t talk of all the ways I realized God had been there pro-
about it much, but each of us felt very fearful. We tecting us that night. It was amazing!
left campus for about a week, but then returned to I felt that the timing of this Bible study was
our sorority house and our college life. They hired also “of God” because, during this time, I received
a security guard for us who had a big dog and a an invitation to the 100-year reunion of my soror-
guitar with which he would play and sing to us ity at Florida State University. Many of us had got-
ten together over the years, and had an even stron-
ger bond because of the tragedy we went through
together. But, because it was so painful for us, we
“I know God is sovereign…even were always hesitant to bring the subject back up.
We had never really talked about it.
in the midst of tragedies. He is in
I decided to e-mail my sorority sister Jackie,
control.” whose husband was now a minister, to ask her if
she had talked to people about how God had used
tragedies like ours for good and told her what I had
been feeling. It was as if God was bringing this up
at night. Our lives were still full of fear. We didn’t again in my mind. I explained to her how I had re-
see yet that God had been with us. alized God really was in control, about the prayers
Later, when I found out that my roommate’s for me that I felt had awakened me and helped
mother had prayed for me that night, it made me to scare him off, and how I had forgiven Bundy
feel strongly that God had a real purpose for my and felt so much better. It had been 30 years since
life. Even so, I continued to be fearful and felt then. A movie had been made about that tragedy,
anger and hatred toward Bundy for years. About a book was written about it, but never had anyone
10 years later, one of the ministers at this church, talked about how God was really there protecting
Ted Pierce, preached a sermon on forgiveness and so many of us. There may be many little incidents
I realized I had never forgiven Bundy. I met with that never got put together that could change the
Pierce between services that day and we prayed way some might look at that tragic night.
together. After forgiving Bundy, I felt a peace come The very next day I got a response from her
over me that I hadn’t known before. I no longer felt saying: “Susan, I am in awe and stunned over your
afraid and could mention Bundy’s name without letter. You are God’s Holy Spirit to my heart right
feeling hatred. Many years went by where I didn’t now. I have sung Psalm 121. I have written a book
think about that part of my life very often. that sits in my file drawer on exactly what you
In a recent Bible study, I was asked to memo- have stated and had been afraid to put the book
rize Psalm 121, which mentions several times that out there.” She too had been feeling like God was
God is our protector. The events of that night in resurrecting this and couldn’t wait to get together
1978 came flooding back to me. That Scripture in to talk more about God’s presence that night. We
Psalm stood out in my mind as being extremely were anxious to talk to our sisters at the reunion.
comforting during those hard times. The Sunday before the actual reunion, David
In our Bible study, Lori Needham said that we Swanson’s sermon was about God being at work

12 |
in the midst of our tragedies and wanting us to was trying to find out more about how God was
testify to His goodness. We have a choice in life present during the tragedy. That’s when she told
to be resentful about circumstances or to “Dance me something that gave me chills all over and has
in God’s joy.” increased my faith amazingly. She said, “I don’t
On April 4, 2008, 10 of us arrived a day early usually tell people this because they think I am
to the reunion in Tallahassee to enjoy breakfast crazy, but that night when I came into the house,
at Jackie’s house. We finally got to sit down and as I started to walk into the foyer, I felt a hand on
talk about our perspectives of what happened 30 my shoulder that held me back. There was no hu-
years before on that tragic night. It had been like man there. It made me hesitate in the foyer just
a puzzle in my mind over the years, with bits and long enough to keep me from meeting Bundy face
pieces of what had really happened. I was amazed to face on the stairs carrying a club. I got a good
as many of the gaps in my memories were filled in look at his face as he ran out the door.” She was an
as we shared. But, after planning to go back and art major and was able to sit down with the police
find out more about how God had been present sketch artist later that same night and draw his
there, I ended up with laryngitis that weekend. I picture. Her artistic eye was what helped tremen-
was so disappointed that I couldn’t add more to dously later when she had to pick him out in the
the discussion. Why would God let me get laryn- line-up and in the trial. I insisted that she come
gitis then? At least I could whisper kind of loud- back to our hotel room afterward and tell Jackie
ly to talk some, but fortunately Jackie knew the and the others in our room about that experience.
thoughts I wanted to share from our e-mails back I knew that hand on her shoulder was an angel
and forth. of God! If I hadn’t gotten laryngitis, I wonder if I
That night, a larger group of our sisters had a would have had the chance to bring that up with
party to celebrate our sorority’s 100-year reunion. her one on one, and if she would have ever gotten
A big circle of us from 1978 were standing around up the courage to tell the whole group. I know
talking and the subject of Bundy came up. As they God is sovereign…even in the midst of tragedies.
were talking, I couldn’t whisper over the party He is in control.
group, but I realized Nita was standing there. She The next Sunday, back in church, David Swan-
was the girl who had actually come home late son preached about how so often things are going
that night, slammed the door and seen Bundy run on right in front of us, but we let circumstances
down the stairs and out the door. Her whole life cloud our vision and don’t notice. He said that
changed that night, because the police made her when the disciples really looked and listened,
leave Tallahassee for her safety. Then the trial fi- they were able to witness to thousands that Jesus
nally came and went on for a long time. She had is alive! There is so much darkness inhabiting our
to testify against him as our key witness. After the culture today, but we are God’s witnesses to the
trial she had transferred to another college. We world! Now that I had looked back and listened,
had never even gotten to see her again because I felt a strong need to share this story with others.
she lived across the country. Although we don’t always understand why things
I was concerned about her as the group was happen, in God’s perfect timing we may under-
talking about this subject, not knowing how she stand better as we see Him use it somehow for
had handled the situation over the years, so I good in His master plan. ■
pulled her aside and asked her in my whisper
voice if she was all right. Then I told her how I | 13


By Carol Hafer, Director of Mission

For many months a team of

faithful leaders have searched for a
new location for First Presbyterian’s ministry to the home-
serve. Finally, a space was needed that can feel warm,
welcoming and hospitable. While many homeless services
can feel clinical or corporate, the new site at 425 North
less, Compassion Corner. The team came close with two Magnolia Avenue is being prepared such that the homeless
other sites, but the negotiations fell through. Thanks be to can feel welcomed and reconnect with their Christian
God, however, an ideal space was made available! The family.
Session approved in November the request of the Compas-
sion Corner Transition Taskforce to reopen the ministry this
January in a new, but temporary site, located at Trinity Evan- TWO WAYS TO CELEBRATE THE REOPENING!
gelical Lutheran Church. Compassion Corner
A substantially larger vision and ministry for the Com- Open House Coming in
passion Corner is seen one day in the form of a Drop In late January!
Center for the Homeless (see information below). Yet, the On January 29 from 4-6pm, all
mission leadership felt the need to meet the immediate are invited to the Compassion
needs of the homeless as best we can. Trinity Evangelical Corner Open House at the Trinity
Lutheran Church has offered a small office space on North Lutheran Facility at 425 North
Magnolia Avenue where the Compassion Corner can Magnolia Avenue, for light refreshments and tea to see the
continue its daily operations for the next ten months to a facility and learn more about the ministry.
year while the Drop In Center comes in to being.
By having the Compassion Corner Ministry in opera- Bring Your Heart to Church
tion, we will be able to continue to minister to our homeless During the Sundays in
neighbors during this very difficult time. Additionally, we January, First Presbyte-
will have a ministry model to show potential financial rian Church will be
supporters, partner churches, and volunteers how the minis- collecting socks, hotel-
try works by honoring the imago Dei (image of God) in all sized toiletries, and
God’s children, especially the homeless. Finally, we will be blankets to celebrate
able to capitalize on the excitement and interest generated the reopening of the Compassion Corner Ministry. Please bring
from IDignity events by offering a place for individuals from your items to worship on Sundays and deposit them in the
many different churches to come and serve the homeless. white bins located in the EMC Lobby and Angel Wing area.
This new space met the criteria hoped for by the Transi-
tion Taskforce. A space was desired that was on church The Compassion Corner Transition Taskforce consists
property, east of I-4, and within close proximity of the down- of the following: Rev. Case Thorp, Carol Hafer, Dawn Neff,
town churches. Close proximity allows for immediate refer- Jack Walston, Buz Ausley, Tim Lemons, Chris King, and
rals for the homeless requests all downtown churches Sarah Holcomb. For more information, email Carol at
receive on a daily basis. Most importantly, close proximity
will allow church members to walk to the site in order to
wards a
center for the


The Christian community in
downtown Orlando is uniting to
address the critical issue of home-
lessness by establishing a Downtown
Drop-in Center designed to serve the
homeless members of our community and their specific
needs. While at the center, the homeless will have access to
compete in Orlando’s Dancing with the Pastors. See our very
own Dr. Swanson compete against four other worthy competi-
tors including Pastor William Andrews. The goal of this event
is to raise significant funds that will go towards the renova-
tion of a property in downtown Orlando for the Homeless
Drop-in Center. You will not want to miss this exciting event!
Make plans now to gather your friends and family for a night
restrooms, a shower and a phone. Case workers from regional of fun, fellowship, dancing to the music of Michael Andrew
social service agencies will have space to provide the holistic and Swingerhead, food, and, most importantly, fundraising to
help to the homeless that is so desperately needed. Most benefit the homeless in our community. For more information
importantly, the center will be a place where a homeless on tickets, table sponsorships, and donation and volunteer
individual can come to have not only their physical, but also opportunities, go to
their spiritual and emotional needs met through the ministry
of church members from local congregations. February 20, 2009
As a part of our fundraising efforts for this worthy case, The Ballroom at
an exciting event modeled after TV’s “Dancing with the Stars” Church Street
is scheduled for February 20, 2009. Pastors from five down- 6:30 – 11:00pm
town churches will be lacing up their dancing shoes to Tickets on sale now:


Affectionately Known as Compassion Corner on Steroids!
By Rev. Case Thorp, Associate Pastor of Mission & Evangelism

The homeless problem continues to grow in Orlando. Stuart, and members of our church to see the Compassion
To respond to the many complex issues around homeless- Corner on steroids. This phrase has taken on new meaning
ness, last year the City of Orlando and other regional as a property on Wall Street owned and sitting behind the
governments launched the Regional Commission on St. George Orthodox Church has been identified to hold
Homelessness to develop a coordinated region-wide such a ministry.
response. Their 10 Years To End Homelessness report
What is a Drop In Center?
A Drop In Center is a space where people in need of
lessness/default.htm) suggests a variety of means to curb the
assistance can come during business hours to find commu-
growing issue of homelessness. One proposal in the report
nity, resources, and rest. The Drop In Center model is
includes a series of Drop In Centers strategically placed
utilized all over the county for various demographic
around the region that can help provide a holistic and acces-
groups such as youth, homeless, AIDS/HIV carriers and
sible avenue for the homeless to regain sustainability. First
their families, homeless veterans, mentally ill, and others.
Presbyterian Church hopes to lead the Christian community
There are a variety of models that are funded privately or
towards such a vision, seeing it become a reality.
publically. Most often public funds through local, state,
When the Compassion Corner was closed on FPCO’s
and federal programs operate a Drop In Center for various
campus in 2008, many feared the worst in that our church
demographics (the mentally ill, youth, homeless). Our
had lost its heart for the homeless. God, however, had
initiative will be a private venture developed and
already begun to work as a vision began to coalesce in the
supported by the Christian community. While there may
hearts of some city leadership, namely Christian Service
be ways to utilize grants and public monies for certain
Center Executive Director and City Councilman Robert
programs, the Wall Street Drop In Center will be an expres- and added a new roof. It has remained empty every since.
sion of Christ’s ministry guided and supported primarily by Numerous condo developers have approached Father
the downtown churches. For this project we must consider Hamati with large checks, but he has remained firmed in
the capital costs of renovating the building owned by St. his commitment to Christ’s work and community develop-
George Antiochian Orthodox Church as well as the ment through his two buildings.
on-going operational costs. The property at 137 Wall Street is ideal for each vision
Mutually Shared Interests UÊÌʈÃÊ >ÃÌʜvʇ{Ê
St. George Orthodox Church has long held a vision to
UÊÌʈÃʘœÌʈ˜Ê̅iÊ*>À>“œÕÀÊiÀˆÌ>}iÊ ˆÃÌÀˆVÌÊ܅iÀiÊ>
create a Multi-Cultural Ethnic Center in their building (137
moratorium on social services currently is enforced
Wall Street) located directly behind their Sanctuary build-
ing. Their congregation is an immigrant community for the
seeking to provide immediate assistance in the name of
most part, with many second generation Americans that first
landed in New York or Chicago before settling here. As Arab
UÊÌʈÃʜvvʜvÊ>ŽiÊ œ>Ê܅iÀiʓ>˜Þʅœ“iiÃÃÊ}>̅iÀÊ>˜`Ê
Christians seeking to live faithfully in a post-911 American
has been a constant source of anxiety to area neighbors
context, Father John Hamatie and his leadership see educa-
and city leadership
tion and dialogue as tools for living together and making
Orlando a stronger community. They need the assistance to
churches enabling their lay leadership easy and safe access
renovate the building such that it is usable. They have long
for service opportunities
desired to create space where various people groups can
come together for fellowship and dialogue. The envision
freedom to provide services as it pertains to zoning issues
children, youth, and other members of the community
coming to learn about the many different people groups now
their ministry operations
living in Orlando through interactive displays, exhibits, and
demonstrations such as a cultural food festival.
tial infrastructure already established
The Downtown Churches and greater Christian
Over the last few months Dr. Swanson and I have met
community has long used First Presbyterian Church’s Com-
with leaders of over twelve churches that wish to be part of
passion Corner as a mini-Drop In Center to meet the needs
the vision. Dr. Swanson has met with the mayor, leaders of
of the homeless in the name of Christ. However, for seven
the downtown business development district, and presented
years the limited space, funds, and coalition of participa-
to the Regional Commission on Homelessness. The Spirit is
tion meant that only 50-75 homeless could be serviced in
at work and the excitement is strong for the vision to be
any one day. Our vision is to create a place where the
fulfilled. Your prayers and support are requested as we go
homeless can come during business hours to be in a
forth with this vision in hopes that it blesses the homeless in
welcoming environment out of the elements, for access to
a tremendous way while uniting the Christian community in
social service agency resources, to meet with counselors,
God’s mission to the world.
social workers and Christian lay ministers so that provision
may be offered to get one’s life back to holistic sustainabil-
ity, to gather as a Christian community to seek, share, and
serve to the glory of God. TASTE OF COMPASSION
137 Wall Street is a 16,000 square foot building Mark your calendars for April 21, 2009 to attend the sixth
(approximately) behind the St. George sanctuary building. annual Taste of Compassion. It will be a night of superb
It faces Wall Street looking at the loading bay of the Orlando dining with Orlando’s top chefs preparing a scrumptious
Public Library. To the west sits the AT&T switch building
feast combined with street performers, a jazz band, and
that seems to contain few staff and much equipment. 137
all of the entertainment of a downtown street party. In
Wall Street has been an apartment building and office
addition there will be both a live and silent auction
building through the years. The church purchased the
building about 10 years ago hoping to find the resources to
featuring several large items including overnight stays at
expand its ministry. This did not happen before Hurricane popular resorts, restaurant gift certificates, and more.
Charlie ripped off the roof and flooded the facility. Insur- This event raises funds for the annual operating budget
ance stripped the facility of sheet-rock, treated for mold, for the Compassion Corner ministry.

Jesus to His people: “Love each other as I have
loved you.” (John 15:12)
By Kristin Davis

g into church on Sunday morning, you recog-
W nize several people iin the pews before you. Some
look wearied, eager for an uplifting word, while
others smile bright
brightly as they trade stories from
the past weekend
weekend. One of the faces you recog-
nize belongs to a an 18-year-old girl, who held
your hand as you
yo told your Bible study group
last year that yyou were diagnosed with can-
cer. Another iis a father, beaming proudly
at his newborn
newb daughter pressed close
to his ch
chest. You remember visiting
them at the hospital when she
was only three days old. All
of them were once strang-
ers, but have now become
such a big part of your life
that you can’t imagine it
without them.
What would it
be like to belong to a
church like this, whose
congregation’s love
for each other extends
far beyond the church
walls, into their neigh-
borhoods, homes and
hearts? That’s a question
First Pres staff members Kent Sterchi and Reagan Per- and will be multi-generational. Groups will be organized
kins hope to answer with the launch of LIFE Com- by zip code so that every member will live near one an-
munities, a new ministry that encourages people to other. We will study the Bible, but the structure of the
live and walk the Christian life together. As director gatherings will be flexible, so that members can talk about
and assistant to LIFE, Kent and Reagan are working the issues going on in their own lives.
Every LIFE community will not be the same, as the needs
with First Presbyterian to develop the ministry that
of each group will be unique. But every LIFE Community
they define not as a program, but as a movement. They
will be built around the same seven values and goals. The
recently took some time to talk to us about LIFE Com-
first is spiritual formation, with the Scripture as our cen-
munities, and invite our congregation to join them on tral focus. The second is evangelism, encouraging groups
the journey. to have an empty chair and inviting others to join. The
third is allowing your group to grow and multiply to cre-
First Pres: Who developed the idea of a LIFE Community ate new groups. The fourth and fifth is to care for one an-
and what is the vision behind it? other and participate in volunteering as a group by giving
Kent: God developed the idea of LIFE Communities (which back to the church and fulfilling its needs. The sixth is
stands for Living in Christ, Inviting to Christ, Fellowship to engage in Christ’s mission by praying and caring for
in Christ, and Engaged with Christ to extend his King- a missionary or a mission organization that is involved
dom. It is a theme throughout the Scriptures. It’s rooted in advancing the Kingdom of God. Lastly, we want each
in who He is in the trinity. When He called a people, Is- LIFE Community to extend compassion to others in our
rael, He built them in community to witness to the world community by caring for the “widow” and the “orphan.”
that He is real and alive. In Acts, we read about the early
church, where people cared for each other, loved one an- FP: Why is it a crucial ministry for FPCO to have?
other in Christ, and shared His message in word and in Kent: It’s come out of a personal longing as much as any-
deed. It’s not a new idea; it’s reclaiming what’s been lost thing else. The evangelical Christian world has become,
by our busy lives and packed schedules. over time, more focused on developing programs rather
The development of LIFE Communities at First Pres than developing the individual as a disciple of Christ.
started in November 2006 with a small task force. About We’ve grown to be so knowledge-based that it has become
nine of us went to Willow Creek, a community church in more about gaining knowledge and moving on to the next
Chicago, Ill., to participate in an advanced small group study than caring for the people that are hurting and feel-
training. The training made all of us realize that we didn’t ing unloved. James said, “Do not merely listen to the word,
want to be a church that just has small groups, but one and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).
that is made up entirely of small groups. What would that The idea behind meeting in neighborhoods is allowing
look like? people to slow down and begin to live as missionaries to
We came back and met with Dr. Swanson and the staff to the city of Orlando.
share the dream that we would be a church where everyone
FP: What role do you and Reagan play in developing the
had a group of people that cared about them. We realized a
idea of a LIFE Community and launching the concept at
pastor can’t do it alone; we needed to develop a ministry to
First Pres?
empower the congregation to love and to serve.
Kent: We’ll brainstorm ideas, develop a plan to make it
FP: What does a LIFE Community do and how is it different happen and prayerfully grow, guard and guide LIFE Com-
from a small group? munities at First Pres. We can come up with ideas, but
Kent: The church has identified three areas of ministry we need people to make it happen. The task force I men-
that we want to focus on: Prayer, worship and commu- tioned earlier made the recommendation to hire a point
nity. This new focus on community has led to the devel- person on staff, someone who wakes up every morning
opment of the LIFE Community initiative. excited about this ministry. I was hired for the position in
A LIFE Community is a group of people that love, encour- September 2008.
age, pray, care for and bear one another’s burdens, among Reagan: Kent is focused on the vision and I’m focused
other things. Small groups are formed around a curricu- on how we’re going to get there. I feel passionate about
lum that begins and ends, whereas a LIFE Community is showing people that community is possible and biblical.
continuous and ongoing. The idea is that, someday, every- Community survives beyond the church’s four walls. We
one at First Pres will belong to a LIFE Community. sit in the middle of a city and sometimes tune out the
things around us. It’s about getting outside of the con-
FP: Practically speaking, how many people are in each structs we’ve made.
LIFE Community group, how often do they meet and what
do they study? FP: Who are the leaders within a LIFE Community?
Kent: Ideally, each group will have eight to 12 people in it Reagan: Kent and I put together a LIFE team of people
from all walks of life who share our passion for commu- will help each individual to grow spiritually, to be devel-
nity. We met on Nov. 30, 2008, to begin the process of get- oped as a disciple and be engaged in the abundant life and
ting from where we are now to the launch of the ministry mission that Christ has invited us all to be a part of.
churchwide in January 2010. Living together as the family of God in LIFE Communities
Each LIFE Community will be lead by a shepherd. We use will enable us to be faithful to Christ’s command to love
the word “shepherd” instead of leader because they’re re- one another (John 15:12).
ally nurturing people to discover their own gifts. In a LIFE
Community, each person will be empowered to grow to- FP: What will people learn about themselves and the
gether, to serve each other and to expand God’s Kingdom. FPCO church by getting involved?
Kent: The shepherd will also have an apprentice. An ap- Kent: LIFE Communities will be a place to fall more in love
prentice is someone in the group that could shepherd an- with Jesus and one another. Many people have come to
other group as the ministry grows. It will be an ongoing think that you have to be a part of the church staff to min-
training process. There will be a regular time for all shep- ister to others. By inviting people into community, all will
herds and apprentices to get together to be trained and discover the fact that God can use them.
equipped in their role as spiritual leaders. Reagan: People’s lives will be changed. They’ll be in-
Reagan: Jesus was the ultimate shepherd. He knew his 12 volved in each other’s lives 24/7, celebrating and strug-
disciples and how to bring out the best in them, but also gling together. It’s about slowing your life down and look-
how to send them out to fulfill that great commission as ing around at who is near you and living life with those
well. He taught them, and then released them out into people. The Christian life, to be fully experienced, must
the world.

FP: How are shepherds chosen and what qualities must

they have?
“A pastor can’t do it alone;
Kent: Shepherds must have past group leadership experi- you have to empower the
ence and the gift of shepherding, teaching, mercy or en-
couragement. Initially, we have identified a group of ap- congregation.”
proximately 180 people who have recently participated as
leaders of the “Awaken” or “Purpose Driven Life” groups
–Kent Sterchi
that First Pres offered in past years. We hope to challenge
and train these leaders, as well as other similarly gifted be lived in deep relationships, not through programs! For
members, to shepherd LIFE communities in the future. many, this is a much needed paradigm shift.
We believe shepherds of LIFE Communities need to have
a vital, ongoing relationship with Christ. They must be FP: What will this ministry teach people about God?
self-fed, faithful, available, teachable and willing to em- Kent: Hopefully, a lot of things. But one of the main dis-
brace this lifelong journey. coveries we hope people encounter is that God has invit-
ed us into a partnership with Him to bring heaven to earth
FP: What are the plans for making the dream of LIFE Com- and He chooses to use ordinary people to accomplish His
munities a reality for our church? purpose and plan.
Kent: We’ve got a lot to do before we’re ready to launch We hope it will spark a growing hunger and thirst for
LIFE Communities churchwide. The vitality of a LIFE knowing and loving Him more through His word. God is
Community will rise and fall on the development, train- revealed through His word.
ing and releasing of passionate shepherd leaders. Ad-
ditionally, we believe that we need to be inspired about FP: Where do you need help most and what kind of help
community life through the preaching of God’s Word. In do you need?
the fall of 2009, Dr. Swanson will preach a series about Kent: We need prayer. We need people willing to jour-
biblical community that will inspire and challenge us to ney with us as shepherds.
embrace and live as God’s family in LIFE communities. Reagan: We need people passionate about being a part of
The year 2009 will be a time for the LIFE team to prepare LIFE Community and about living life with each other.
and train leaders to inspire the congregation to carry out Kent: Knowing this is quite a paradigm shift for many,
this dream. Our hope is that each member of our family we need people to walk by faith in believing that God has
will be given the opportunity to be shepherd led in a LIFE called us to deeper levels of community and to be willing
Community in the early months of 2010. to trust Him in using us in greater ways in the neighbor-
hoods of the city of Orlando. ■
FP: Why should someone join a LIFE Community?
Kent: Every human heart longs to know others and be
known, to love others and be loved. Living in community

By Kristin J. Tremba , OneByOne

o you have family members and Ten years ago, I asked these questions about my

D friends who identify themselves as

homosexual or who struggle with same-
own struggle with same-sex attraction. At the time, I
debated whether I was going to “come out” and live
with a woman, and I was in turmoil over this decision
because I was a Christian. I loved Jesus Christ, and I
sex attraction? As a Christian who loves studied the Bible. I grew up in a Christian family, the
your friend or family member, do you find daughter and granddaughter of Presbyterian ministers.
However, even though I knew that the Scriptures for-
it difficult to know how to respond? Per-
bade homosexuality in the Old and New Testaments
haps you are gay-identified or you strug- without exception, I still thought that if God loved me
he would let me have love even if it was unconven-
gle with same-sex attraction? Do you find
tional. Perhaps God had evolved? If two people love
it difficult being a Christian and trusting each other, then what is the problem, I thought?
your sexuality to God in this area? Do But I was not content to just wonder. I needed to
know. So one day I got on my knees and I prayed this
you wonder if you are living according to prayer: “Lord, you know I love you, but I don’t know
God’s will for your life and if the Bible re- what to do about this area of my life and this relation-
ship with this woman. More than anything, though,
ally says homosexual behavior is a sin? Lord, I want your will to be done in my life. No mat-

18 |
T ter what, let your will be done in my life.” I
stood up and went about my business, not mak-
ing any decision to end or continue the rela-
tionship. A week later, I received a phone call
from the woman who professed to love me and
planned to move in with me, saying that she
wasn’t coming. I never saw her again. I knew
God had answered my prayer and had ended
this relationship, but instead of being grateful
to him, I was angry. I rationalized that follow-
ing Christ meant that I would be alone and un-
my fear turned to trust, and then finally trust
turned into joy because God came through. His
word is true; God provided for me. Was it easy?
No. Was it quick? No. Did God allow Satan to
provide opportunities for me to turn back and
lose hope? Yes. But God never gave up on me.
He always protected, always trusted, always

“My dear Kristin, I did not come to

loved. I mistakenly believed that serving God
deprive you of love but to give it
meant living a joyless existence of deprivation
and suffering. How wrong I was. to you – in my way. Trust me to
It was during this time of anger and confu-
provide for you and follow me.”
sion that God revealed an amazing truth to me
about what it means to follow Jesus. One day
I was driving my car, oblivious to the fact that
the stop light had turned red. I ran the light and hoped and persevered. His love never failed.
a truck ploughed into my car, totaling it. I was The Psalmist’s prayer is true of my life: “I
fine physically, but, emotionally, I was in criti- waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me
cal condition. In God’s mercy, He had me crash and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy
in front of an apartment where I had opened up pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on
and prayed with Christians about my same-sex a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He
attraction. The girls with whom I had prayed put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise
came out of the house and into the street. One to our God. Many will see and fear and put
girl put her arms around me and held me as a their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who
cried. I had remembered that the first time I felt makes the Lord his trust, who does not look
sexual feelings for another woman was when to the proud, to those who turn aside to false
I was comforting her as she cried in my arms. gods. Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders
In light of this memory, I pulled my arm away you have done. The things you planned for us
from hers so as not to give her the wrong im- no one can recount to you; were I to speak and
pression; after all, she knew about my “issue”. tell of them, they would be too many to de-
However, as I pulled my arm away, she took clare” (Psalm 40:105). Following Jesus meant
my arm and pulled it back around her. In that that I trusted Him to provide for me at all costs
gesture, God spoke to my heart and said to me, – no matter how long it took and no matter
“My dear Kristin, I did not come to deprive you how confusing and difficult my circumstanc-
of love but to give it to you – in my way. Trust es. During this time, God revealed Himself to
me to provide for you and follow me.” Initial- me deeply and personally as I trusted Him. He
ly, my anger turned to fear, and then gradually became my Father and friend. He loved me as

continue on page 20 | 19
a good husband loves His wife, as a good father loves His daughter. He
began to change my mindset and to heal my heart. He taught me why He
set boundaries for us, not to keep us from joy but to give it to us. I came
to realize that my same-sex attraction stemmed from a deep need to have
emotional intimacy with the same sex, a healthy intimacy that had been
short-circuited as a child and adolescent. I learned that only God, our
perfect parent, can fully meet our emotional needs. When I went to others
to meet all my emotional needs – to a woman in a sexual relationship or
to a man in a sexual relationship outside of marriage, I was making peo-
ple my idol – I worshiped them above God – and trusted them to give me
what I thought God had deprived me from having. These relationships
always ended in disappointment because only God can fully provide;
people fall short.

“These relationships always ended in

disappointment because only God can
fully provide; people fall short.”

Today I’m married to a loving and devoted Christian man, and though
I have only been married a very short time, I am learning that even in mar-
riage, I still need to go to God first to meet my core needs for love, security,
and identity before I go to my husband for these things. Only God is worthy
of our worship because only God can fully meet the deepest needs of our
hearts. C.S. Lewis was right when he said that we are like children, content
to play with mud pies in a slum because we have never seen or experienced
a day at the ocean. Had I believed the world, well-meaning but misguided
Christians, and a Church that is increasingly advocating gay marriage and
celebrating homosexuality, I would never have experienced the joy of living
in obedience to God’s commands and the blessings that have come from it.
So what do you tell your gay friends or family members? Tell them my
story. Tell them about Jesus. Love them enough to tell them the truth about
their sin, as Jesus did to the woman caught in adultery, not to condemn them
but so that they may be freed to live the abundant life that God has intended
for them to live. If we don’t tell them, who will?
Kristin is a member of FPCO and the Executive Director for OneByOne,
a national Presbyterian Renewal Ministry, housed at FPCO on the second
floor of the Edington Ministry Center. To contact her, call the church at
407.423.3441 x1489 or email her at kjohnson@ ■

20 |
By Donna Grzesik, Member

As the children began entering the room, I said sev-

eral silent prayers to God to please be with me as I taught
the children and for Him to show me how to share the
information with the children so that they were excited
and interested in learning more about Him. Wow did
those prayers get answered. I can now say that teaching
IMOG was one of the most rewarding things that I have
done in the seven years that I have been volunteering in
Children’s Ministry. The children who were in the class
were so ready to receive the information that I had for
them. They amazed me every week with their questions
and their eagerness to learn more about their God. They
lease know how much our son loved IMOG ! He es- memorized scripture, learned two books of the Bible and
“P pecially enjoyed learning more about the history
and foundation of our Presbyterian Church, and he loved
had written homework assignments they had to complete
every week to reinforce what we were learning.
Rebecca’s Sunday time with them! It was a sweet experi- The seven weeks that we spent down in that basement
ence to rewrite the Lord’s Prayer with him and talk about classroom showed me the ways in which God works in
what Jesus was showing us about talking to God. Michael the lives of young children. I believe I learned from them
enjoyed talking in depth about what it meant to give Jesus as much as they learned from me. We invited families
his life and just what “faith” is all about...he said, “Mom to join us during our last class to watch our “Jeopardy”
I already have asked Jesus into my heart so I know He’s game where the children showcased all that they have
there!” As parents, there could be no greater joy or assur- learned. I think that I can honestly say that the parents
ance than to know your child understands and chooses to and families were impressed with the children and the
follow Jesus with His life, even at the tender age of eight! knowledge that they had. One family member, who hap-
How precious our children are...and even more sweet is pens to be a member of the Session, stated that it would
the experience of watching their little lives grow in the be interesting to use the meditation time at the beginning
knowledge of Jesus. So, thank you for providing such an of the Session meetings to see how many of the questions
amazing opportunity for our children and their families... that group of church leaders could answer. I believe that
what blessings God truly poured out through this minis- is a testament to how early we must begin to shape our
try!” - Beth Pattillo, Mother of Michael, IMOG Student children into people who truly know their God and strive
When Carol asked me this summer to teach IMOG I to be more like Him.
was a bit nervous. IMOG is a class on faith basics that We in Children’s Ministry can now proudly say that
teaches children to more closely walk in the image of God. there are nine eager young children in our midst who are
Although I was a teacher in a former life (before children) truly walking in the image of God. Spencer, Katie, Trip,
I felt uneasy about teaching this particular class. I don’t Olivia, Alexis, Rebecca, Maddie, Michael and Zoanna; I
consider myself a Bible scholar and I wasn’t sure that I am so proud of you. You are fine young ladies and gentle-
could pass along all of the information that the children men and it was my honor to walk with you on your jour-
needed in a consistent and cohesive manner. Needless to ney during the seven weeks of our class. Congratulations
say I did not get much sleep the night before IMOG began on a job well done and I can’t wait until next year when
and then I arrived at church about an hour early to pre- I will have the opportunity once again to share this class
pare on that first Sunday morning. with another group of children. ■ | 21
C O N F I R M A T I O N 2 0 0 9
By Lou Anne King, Member

n Matthew 16:13-17, we find Jesus Christ quizzing his educate our children in the areas of church doctrine, the-
I disciples, asking them what people were saying about
Him. They answered based upon the current word on the
ology, history and tradition found in the Presbyterian or
reformed tradition. All lessons are taught in accordance
street. Then Jesus responded; “But what about you?” He with Reformed theology and on the content as found in
asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter responded to the Sav- the Westminster Standards and The Study Catechism
ior: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus of the PC-USA which was approved by the 210th Gen-
blessed Peter for his statement of faith, “as this was not eral Assembly. The lessons are visually enhanced with
revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.” multi-media presentations and followed up with on-
In the life of every Christian, the moment comes line communication. This program is not only designed
when we answer that question as well. We step out to be educational, but fun for all participants.
alone in the spotlight to look Christ in the face and
give him the answer, not based upon what other peo-
ple tell us, but what God has revealed to us. That is
the defining goal of the Confirmation Program at First “We step out alone in the spotlight
Presbyterian Church of Orlando. Our next program to look Christ in the face and give
begins in January.
him the answer, not based upon
WHAT IS CONFIRMATION? what other people tell us, but what
To become a member of First Presbyterian Church of
Orlando our Book of Order requires a public profession God has revealed to us.”
of faith in Jesus as Lord and Baptism as visible signs
of entrance into the active membership of the church.
At this church, we believe that church membership is HOW DO I KNOW IF MY CHILD IS READY
to be taken seriously and therefore a child must be ad- FOR CONFIRMATION?
equately prepared to take that step. Our Confirmation You will find that Confirmation programs may vary
program is a twelve week journey designed to prepare from church to church, sometimes in length (some pro-
a young person to publicly profess their faith in Jesus grams span an entire year!) and in ages of children al-
and become a member of this church. When a child lowed in the program. Because children come to believe
successfully completes the Confirmation program he or in Jesus Christ at different ages, we believe that allow-
she will be invited into church membership. The 12 ing them to go through Confirmation close to the time
lessons of the Confirmation curriculum are designed to of that decision is more meaningful than following a

22 |
prescribed age. Therefore Confirmation is available not The requirements for completion of the 2009 pro-
only to Middle School children, but younger children gram including attendance requirements are detailed
in Elementary School who are deemed to be spiritu- in the enrollment forms required for registration.
ally mature as well as older students who are ready at
a later age. Again, the Book of Order affirms that the REGISTRATION
age at which our children come into church member- Registration for the 2009 Confirmation class is now
ship is “…not precisely fixed, but left to the prudence open. You may pick up an information packet in both
of the session to judge after careful examination, the the Student Ministry and Children’s ministry offices.
readiness of those who apply for active membership.” The enrollment form is also available on-line. There will
When family and church are obedient to God’s plan, be a $25 materials fee to cover the cost of printing and
we trust that God in His faithfulness and timing will teaching materials. If this presents a problem for you for
draw the child to Himself in Jesus Christ. As a parent, any reason, please let us know. Also, a mandatory par-
your observations about your child’s spiritual maturity ent’s meeting will take place January 18 at 6:30pm in
are the key to determining your child’s readiness for the Warehouse Theatre. Questions? Please call Browning
this program. We would advise consulting a pastor, Wood or Carol Welker at 407.423.3441. ■
minister or close friend who may be able to help you
make the determination. The program is offered every
year, therefore if you have serious doubts about your CONFIRMATION CALENDAR
child’s readiness, we would advise you to wait for the
next time the program is offered. This is a challenging Sundays 9:40-10:50 am Jan. 25-Mar. 22 Lessons 1-9
curriculum and requires a serious commitment to the Sundays Mar. 29 & Apr. 12 No Class:
program. The requirements for attendance and par- Easter &
Spring Break
ticipation are intentionally designed to challenge your
Sundays 9:40-10:50 am Apr. 5-26 Lessons 10-11
child so that the experience will be meaningful and
Tuesday 5:00 pm Apr. 28 Session Dinner & Exam
hopefully a memorable hallmark in their lives.
Sunday 8:00 am May 3rd Confirmation Service
in Sanctuary
ABOUT CONFIRMATION 2009 Preceded by Reception
New this year to Confirmation is that we are offer-
ing one program to both the Student and Children’s
ministry. All Confirmands will attend a one-hour ses-
sion which will consist of a classroom lesson followed
by an age appropriate group breakout session for dis-
cussion. This year, our Confirmation instructors will
be Lou Anne King and Amy Heck. Lou Anne holds
a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and
another in Graphic Design. She is currently work-
ing on a Master of Arts degree in Theological stud-
ies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Oviedo.
Amy Heck has earned a Bachelors degree in So-
ciology and recently completed a Master of Arts
degree in Christian Thought at Reformed Theolog-
ical Seminary. Children will also be shepherded
by members of the FPCO Congregation including
Elders and Deacons. Active involvement and sup-
port will also come from Carol Welker, Director of
Children’s Ministry and Browning Wood, Director of
Student Ministry, Susie Dunlap and Rachael Aldrich.
Rhonda Simmons will serve as class coordinator. | 23
returned from vacation to find some Jehovah’s Wit-
Rev. Case Thorp,
Mission and Evangelism Ministry I ness’ literature in my tall stack of unopened mail. At
first glance I am a shocked by their claims concerning
the last judgment, the beast of Revelation as seen in
today’s world leaders, and the ways technology is the
work of the devil. Besides the bad theology, the deliv-
ery method is just so…cold. It is so easy to throw it away
as I did. Yet, those JWs keep trying when they knock on
my door just before dinner time. Perhaps you have had
a visit by these very persistent people who seemingly
care deeply about their faith, your damnation, and the
way to escape the doom of it all? The door to door cam-
paigning and random literature in my mail box must
work, I surmise, because they keep doing it again and
again. Surely the JWs would not keep employing meth-
ods that have no return? There must be some people
out there who respond to strangers at the door and bad
theological literature in the mailbox?

24 |
Now hear me, I, too, stand with the doctrines From 1994 to 2004, our denomination lost
of our faith that contain elements of damnation 12% of membership matching the trend among all
and doom apart from Jesus Christ. It also contains other mainline denominations in the United States
amazing grace, deep relational love, and life call- such as the Disciples of Christ (-21%), Lutheran-
ing that provides purpose and meaning. The dif- ELCA (-4%), United Church of Christ (-15%), and
ference, I think, is in the United Methodist
the delivery. For far (-5%). George Barna,
too long, Presbyteri- “See, Presbyterians are quite statistician and author
ans have measured of Revolution (Carol
up to the stereotype
evangelical; we just do not Stream, IL: Tyndale
that we are the ‘fro- display it for the entire world House, 2005), reports
zen chosen’. Many to see and replicate.” the sad state of af-
of us chuckle at the fairs among American
‘frozen’ part and take Christians and their
smug pleasure in our participation in church
social graces that keep the S/spirit under control. life. Barna’s research shows, “The typical churched
The result? A denomination in decline and a Gos- believer will die without leading a single person
pel being held captive by the culture, a concept to a lifesaving knowledge of and relationship with
developed more fully by Princeton Seminary aca- Jesus Christ.” This is a tragedy and a sad comment
demic dean Darrell Guder. If we allow our middle on our purported method for doing and being the
class sensibilities lead to a polite avoidance of all church.
things to do with politics and religion, we capti- See, Presbyterians are quite evangelical; we
vate the Gospel because our social mores prevent just do not display it for the entire world to see
us from being the contagious members of a Jesus and replicate. Our method of evangelism is intrin-
movement. sically linked to our ecclesiological conviction that
The median age of Presbyterian Church USA discipleship without relationship is like a digital
churches is much higher than the general popu- camera without a memory card; it may click, but
lation. Presbyterian Research Services indicates there isn’t much ‘there’ there. The method I’ve fol-
the following: lowed is to make a friend, be a friend, and bring a
Prior to 2005, the median age of mem- friend to Christ. This mantra is nothing new and
bers had not changed significantly in more perhaps adopted by many reading this article. Yet,
than 15 years; it was 54 years in 1987 and if I am not careful, if we become lazy together fur-
55 years in 2002. But it increased to 58 years ther reinforcing our collective entropy, we may get
in 2005. (It was 47 years in 1973.) Among to a point where we have enough friends, we are
elders, the median age has shown a similar friends to those we already like, and we rarely end
progression, rising from 49 years in 1973 to up bringing a friend to Christ.
55 in both 1990 and 2002 before increasing When saw-dust is ignited, it flares up into a
to 58 years in 2005. Among ministers, me- flame that no solid piece of matter could emulate.
dian age has gradually risen, from 46 years The surface area of a solid log is only so big and
in 1973 to 52 years at present for pastors,
can only burn so quickly, but saw-dust has expo-
and from 50 years in 1979 to 55 years cur-
nential surface area on which the flames can burn.
rently for specialized clergy.
continue on page 26 | 25
List five people for whom you will
pray regularly that they may come
“Be intentional about making
to Christ: new friends if you have plenty,
or rather be intentional about
identifying the non-Christian
2) friends you may already know.”

Likewise, I do not for a moment think that special-
ized evangelism programs and Evangelism Commit-
tee budget monies can compare with our more than
4700 members being the front-line of evangelism by
being the face of Jesus who cares for a friend, car-
Who will you invite to worship
ries the burdens of others, and shares their testimony
this Sunday? Or maybe there is
someone you know that would be in a way that proves the freeing message of the Gos-

best invited first to a small group, pel. Thinking that it’s the church’s responsibility to
local mission opportunity, or do the evangelism is like burning that sole log. But
church function. Who might they when all our members are engaged as the frontline
be and what is the best venue for of evangelism, we have 4700+ areas of surface. Or,
them? rather, we have that many faces, hands, testimonies
and hearts impacting those around them.”
Be intentional about making new friends if you
have plenty, or rather be intentional about identify-
ing the non-Christian friends you may already know.
Pray for them on a daily basis and pray for an op-
portunity both to serve them unselfishly and for an
opportunity to share your testimony about what
Christ has done for you. These can be casual, nor-
mal means of interaction, but we must be willing to
If asked today about why you are a share, open up, call the question by honestly shar-
Christian, what would you say? ing our faith. Rarely do staged moments work, and
entrapping someone so you can share the Gospel can
only distance friends. However, living life with co-
workers, neighbors, and newly made friends at the
coffee shop can be transforming given that we are
willing to push beyond our social graces and share
the impact of Christ on our lives. ■

26 |
Preview The Economy of God Study Series, Jan. 4 Henry Mancini. The cost is $29 per person (group rate)
On Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 9:45am, all adult Sunday for very good seats; center stage on the auditorium floor!
school classes will come together in the Sanctuary to Get your reservations in early!! Seats will go quickly!
hear a message from guest speaker, Howard Dayton, co- Call Bonnie Rhea for reservations at 407.855.8122.
founder of Crown Financial Ministries. In preparation
Congratulations to:
for The Economy of God, Mr. Dayton will share an inspi-
Maureen McGuire and William Arwood, on the birth of
rational message of how the Crown Ministry study can
their son, William Patrick Arwood, born October 30, 2008.
impact your life in ways beyond financial stewardship.
The proud grandparents are Rebecca and David Mitchell.
All adult Sunday School Classrooms will not be set for
use that morning. Join us in the Sanctuary. JJ and Rob Mackle, on the birth of their son, Hayden
Robert Mackle, born July 3, 2008.
The Economy of God Orientation & Dessert, Jan. 11 Kristie and Corey Yarger, on the birth of their daugh-
All individuals and small groups participating in the ter, Keirson Ansley Yarger, born October 26, 2008. The
winter study, The Economy of God, are invited to a study proud grandparents are Kaye and Peyton Keaton.
orientation and dessert on Sunday, January 11, 2009, at
6:30pm in the Lee Fellowship Hall. A preview of the Sympathy to:
study and materials will be highlighted. If you have not Punky and John Tolson, on the death of his mother,
yet registered to participate in the Winter church-wide Cleta Hughes, on October 21, 2008.
Bible study, The Economy of God or to attend the ori- Betty Sue and Sevier Sabin, on the death of their son,
entation and dessert, please register at Tripp Sabin, on October 25, 2008.
register. For more information, contact Lori Needham at Jill and Bill Cain, on the death of his mother, Mary Cain,
407.423.3441 x1463. on October 28, 2008. Mrs. Cain was the grandmother of
Suzanne Cain and Stephen Cain.
Sunday School Chili Cook-Off, Jan. 18
Plan to attend a Chili Cook Off on Sunday afternoon, Jan- Mary and Wayne Windham, on the death of her father,
uary 18, from 2-4pm under the Angel Wing. This event Elwood S. “Duke” Windham, on October 29, 2008.
is sponsored by the Adult Education Sunday Morning Grandchildren are Lindsey and Lauren Windham.
Classes. They will compete for the best chili prepared David and Beth Wigle, on the death of his father, Bruce
with the pastoral staff judging. Come sample the chili Wigle II, on November 2, 2008.
offerings and enjoy beverages, cornbread and brownies Linda and Burt Thorpe, on the death of her sister, Gail
provided by Lackmann Culinary Services. Bates, on November 4, 2008.
The Heart to the City Foundation Luncheon, Jan. 12 Donna Whelchel and Craig and Gwen Dorris, on the
The Heart of the City Foundation is proudly hosting a death of their mother, Wilma Dorris, on November 5,
luncheon at the Citrus Club featuring guest speaker Dr. 2008.
Paul Schervish on January 12 at 12pm. Dr. Schervish will The family and friends of Phyllis Turner, who died
be presenting “The Ministry of Biographical Conversa- November 6, 2008.
tions”, and the discussion will be tailored specifically Linda and Mike Bailey, on the death of his father,
to financial advisors and estate planning attorneys. Dr. Al Bailey, on November 6, 2008. Mr. Bailey was the
Paul Schervish is the professor of Sociology and Director grandfather of Julianne Hendrickson & David Bailey.
of the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston Col- Sara and Allen Holcomb, on the death of his brother,
lege. For three consecutive years, he has been included Edgar Holcomb, Jr, on November 7, 2008.
in the Nonprofit Times’ “Power and Influence Top 50”, a Tracy Goodson, on the death of her mother, Minnie
list which acknowledges big influencers in the nonprofit Goodson, on November 10, 2008.
world. He has published in the areas of philanthropy,
Debbie and Micky Blackton, on the death of his brother,
the sociology of money, the sociology of wealth, labor
Chuck Blackton, on November 14, 2008.
markets, unemployment, biographical narrative, and the
Julie and John Rutledge, on the death of his mother, Mary
sociology of religion. To attend this event, contact Amy
Lou Rutledge, on November 16, 2008. Mrs. Rutledge was
Bishop at 407.423.3441 x1484 or
the grandmother of Beth Ann and Thomas Rutledge.
Young at Heart Meeting, Jan. 24 The family and friends of Peggy Moran, who died
The Young at Heart January meeting will be held at the November 19, 2008.
Bob Carr Auditorium on January 24, 2009! Bus trans-
Bridgette and Chad Cahill, on the death of her father,
portation will be provided at 12:30pm for a backstage
Jonathan Barres, on November 21, 2008.
tour at 1pm and a private concert conversation. The
Joyce Layton, on the death of her husband, Gene Layton,
show is with the Orlando Philharmonic and you will
on November 21, 2008.
hear the music of Rosemary Clooney, Bobby Darin and | 27
Guided by Faith. Educated for Life.

You are Invited to

The Christ School’s Open House on
Tuesday, January 13, 2009, 7:00 p.m.

Join us Tuesday evening in the Reformation Chapel for a welcome

presentation followed by campus tour and classroom visitation.



RSVP: 407-849-1665 |

106 E. Church Street, Orlando, FL 32801

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Traditional Services: Sundays, 8:30 &

11 a.m. in the Sanctuary
Genesis Services: Sunday, 8:30 &
11 a.m. in Lee Fellowship Hall