One of the things I love about fall is that it is a yearly reminder of the beauty and necessity of transition. Not only a time of rich colors and crisp air but of a quiet and purposeful changing of the guard. A season to appreciate what has been and what is becoming. Even as trees lose their leaves and plants die away, it is with a peaceful surrender, a promise of rest, and an understanding that all will be revived in time.
This week we held a celebration for Kacey Bunting, our remarkable Evangelism Coordinator, who has welcomed so many and loved so well as a member of our church and our staff. We are excited for her new adventures and we are grateful for the immense shoes we are left to fill, because they reveal the tremendous impact she has made for the Kingdom during her time at FPC. We are also overjoyed this week to welcome Joanne Whitaker and Dr. Jim Kosnik as our permanent Music Director and Organist, respectively. Both have been exceptional in filling these roles over the past several months and it is an overwhelming blessing to have their talent and energy to lead our Music Ministry.
As we move forward, somewhere between the last 18 months and a post-pandemic world, we will continue to experience loss, change, and growth in our church and in our lives. It my prayer that we will take each step in peace and gratitude for the journey, and find many new ways to live a faith as bold as the colors that fill an autumn sky.
Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to serve you as your pastor. It is one of the greatest gifts of my life.
Our Fall Masterclass Series got off to a great start! We have had 45 connections for our first two classes! On Sept. 29Jim presented The Problem with God’s Existence. On Oct. 6, Rebecca Topping showed us how to make our porch fall fabulous with a lesson on container gardening. You won’t want to miss this Wednesday’s class: Ask a Vet, Part II with FPC member Tracy Eure, DVM. All classes are on Zoom, Wednesdays @ 7 p.m. Links on the FPC website.
Join us at FPC on Oct. 22-23 for Movement Day. This program unites leaders from churches, non-profits, the marketplace and government to work together in solving the spiritual, physical, and social needs of Norfolk, VA. You can find more information and register here.
On Sunday, Oct. 24, we will have a Confirmation Informational Luncheon after church for families with high school students. Confirmation invites these students to grow in their faith through an exciting season of fellowship, service, and classes taught by Jim Wood. More information coming soon.
This year’s Trunk or Treat (aka Annual Fall Festival) will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 27 @ 6 p.m. in the FPC parking lot! We need folks to sign up to decorate their trunks and hand out candy. We are trying to fill 30 spots in the parking lot. Sign up on the website and get creative! Kids, come dressed in your best not-so-scary costume for trick-or-treating, games, a petting farm, and more!
Our annual Thanksgiving Basket Drive will kick off at the end of October. We will be shopping to provide Thanksgiving meals for families atJacox Elementary, Park Place School, and others. Each shopping list will come with a devotional that your family can use at home and at the store as you serve our neighbors by purchasing items for a Thanksgiving basket.
Mark your calendars, ladies! The Women’s Retreat is scheduled for February 25-27, 2022 and Dana Cavallaro will be our speaker! A weekend in the OBX with other FPC women will bring joy overflowing!
SUNDAY WORSHIP & EVANGELISM
8:00 a.m. worship attendance: 45 in-person; 40 online connections; 9 on Facebook Live
9:00 a.m. worship attendance: 136 in person; 70 online connections; 10 on Facebook Live
10:00 a.m. community hour attendance: 100 adults
11:00 a.m. worship attendance: 105 in person; 31 online connections; 7 on Facebook Live
4 first-time guests
154 prayer requests
8:00 a.m. worship attendance: 40 in-person; 40 online connections; 10 on Facebook Live
9:00 a.m. worship attendance: 151 in person; 73 online connections; 13 on Facebook Live
10:00 a.m. community hour attendance: 79 adults
11:00 a.m. worship attendance: 104 in person; 48 online connections; 9 on Facebook Live
3 first-time guests
144 prayer requests
This past Sunday we started our Faith Matters Sunday school class in First Hall. Each week will focus on a theological topic taught by one of our pastors. This past week, Joel taught on Interpreting Scripture 101.
We had three new members join in September: Lisa Dunker, Jing Wang, Ana Akin.
We are averaging about 35-40 kids each week attending either junior church and Sunday school class!
Joel’s weekly high: Sunday mornings at FPC are amazing! It is such a joy to see so many engaging in the community hour and also to continue to connect with our FPC family worshipping online! The presence of the spirit was especially palpable as we celebrated the Lord’s Table and Shan Liu’s Baptism in contemporary worship!
CHURCH ADMINISTRATION & FINANCE
Week of September 26 giving: total $19,803.33. $5,593.33 was from checks and $14,310.00 was online.
Week of October 3 giving: total $65,287.05. $50,547.05* was from checks and $14,740.00 was online.
* There were a few checks this week that paid pledge for entire year.
We had several interviews for our Administrator position this week. Hoping that these will lead to us filling the position before long!
REFUGEE RELIEF OUTREACH
Jim sent out a letter to more than 700 FPC members, attendees, and friends to give more information on the refugee housing program we are seeking to support at Massanetta Springs.
For every $30,000 given, Massanetta can provide housing, food, medical services, language training and much more for ten refugees for at least three months while they await a permanent home. You can donate now by going here and choosing ‘Refugee’ under the drop down fund menu. Right now we are at $25,540. Let’s keep it up to help as many people as we can!
Our Outreach Team With Open Arms is also working with Commonwealth Catholic Charities to assist refugees. If you are interested in learning more about this program, please contact Megan Padden at email@example.com or visit www.cccofva.org for more information.
FAMILY & CHILDREN’S MINISTRY
Sign up to decorate your trunk and bring the kids to our Trunk or Treat on Oct. 27! We’ll have food, candy, a balloon artist, a petting farm, and more!
We have wrapped up our September Sunday school theme of Choose Your Own Adventure. The Sunday school classes read through various Psalms and Proverbs and learned how to make wise choices. October the theme will be Big & Small. The Sunday school classes will be going through the book of Job. Through the book of Job we will learn that even though we are small, God listens to our big feelings, God sees the big picture, God cares about every small problem, and we can also be a big help in small ways.
We are still in need of Sunday school teachers! If you are interested, or know anyone who is interested, in assisting the Pre-K/KG class or 1st-2nd grade class once a month, please let Noel know!
Joyce has added drumming arrangements to the kids’ music selections! She also continues working with the orffs and on songs like Never Let Go and One Thing Remains.
Noel’s weekly high: I have gotten a lot of positive feedback from multiple church families saying how grateful they are for this new Sunday School model. From my Pre-K/KG parents specifically, I have had many parents communicate their kids are excited to come to Sunday School and they have been genuinely interested in learning God’s Word. This has meant a lot to me personally to get to see these kids learn and grow in God’s Word and in relationship with each other!
Joyce’s weekly high: Babies’ drum circle! (see attached photo)
YOUTH & YOUNG ADULT MINISTRIES
Our move to Sunday night Youth Group has gone well! We had 12 youth last week.
Over 25 youth and brave chaperones went to Busch Gardens on Saturday, Oct. 2. The group had a blast. Coming up, youth will be having a pumpkin carving event on Sunday, Oct. 10!
Confirmation is coming up! We will have an informational luncheon for parents and students on Sunday, Oct. 24 after church. Registration information is coming soon. Mark your calendar and come find out more about this great opportunity for our high school students!
Our Sermon podcast reach continues to grow! Weekly downloads have risen 80% in the last month and has been listened to as far aways as the Philippines!Check it out here: Apple Podcasts || Spotify
We’ve kicked off the fall 2021 Masterclass season with two great presentations from Jim Wood and Rebecca Topping. As always we are archiving these classes on YouTube and they are available on the FPC website as we continue to build out our Digital discipleship platform. Valena has assembled an awesome line up of sessions throughout the fall…be sure to tune in Wednesdays at 7pm!
Rebecca continues to update the website and make new and informative pages. We are also promoting our Fall event lineup on the website, social media and via emails – lots to do – so check it out!
PASTORAL CARE & LIFE EVENTS
We celebrated the baptism of Susan Liu on Sunday, Oct. 3, which was World Communion Sunday. Susan came to Christ through FPC member Jim and Nancy Yuan, who have hosted a Bible study for international students for many years. Kurnia Foe, director of the Global Student Friendship House at ODU, also came to support Susan. Kurnia works with international students at the university to help them find community and adjust to life in the U.S.
On Saturday, Sept. 25, Valena officiated the wedding of FPC member Laura Boone and Bennet Bynum.
Last week was a short week at the office for Valena. She travelled on to Missouri to bring Abigail home for a short visit. The family had a wonderful time being together and celebrating Abigail’s 16th birthday!
Valena enjoyed preaching at Great Bridge Presbyterian Church on September 26. It was a privilege to step in and serve the Presbytery this way. She was happy to be back at FPC this week and is excited about the new groups that are forming and the expanding possibilities for grown during our community hour on Sunday mornings. More people are coming and connecting in our classes and groups. What a blessing.
Valena has also been preparing for Sunday and writing the Devotionals for each week. The weekly devotional is a true blessing to write and my prayer is that people are diving deep, deep into the Word of God. My eyes and heart are turning to writing our sermon series for November and then Advent/Christmas. Yay!
Valena has sent 31 emails and 3 letters to follow up on prayer requests. She also sent several letters to people who have lost loved ones recently. She and Rachel also sent a military care package to FPC member Thad Tasso, who is currently on deployment.
Jim has sent 13 letters and numerous emails to follow up on prayer requests and check in with members and attendees. He is also meeting with two couples for premarital counseling for weddings in November!
Valena’s weekly high : Working with the Sunday team as we continue to build community with kindness and love on Sunday mornings.
We are overjoyed to announce that we have a new Music Director and a new Organist! Joanne Whitaker and Dr. Jim Kosnik, who have been filing in in these positions, respectively, over the past couple months have signed on to step into the roles permanently! We are THRILLED to have their expertise and love of music at the helm of our music ministry.
Michael Phillips, our Facilities Manager, has been serving as our Sunday sexton recently. He is keen to learn all parts of the facilities work so he can help train and guide our team!
Soccer Shots has been a success and Stretch & Grow starts next week for All Day Children.
We are still looking for assistant teachers and subs for the preschool staff. If you know anyone who is interested, please have them contact Scarlett or Hunter.
Scarlett’s weekly high: Getting the thanks-a-latte cup* from Rachel and all the birthday love AND going to the Saints vs Giants game on Sunday—our first NFL game [while on vacation last week].
* The thanks-a-latte mug is given from one staff member to another at our weekly FPC staff meetings. Whoever has the mug chooses someone who has been especially helpful over the past week.
URBAN RENEWAL CENTER
On October 15, the temporary shelter, The Center, that we have been operating in partnership with the City will close and guests will be moved to a new location with hotel accommodations. The URC will assist with the transition and continue to serve our homeless neighbors through employment assistance, providing volunteers, and more.
The URC team had an editorial meeting to begin planning the next publication of The Hill magazine.
TREE OF LIVES
The Tree of Lives welcomes our new Social Media Coordinator, Jackie Greisen, to the team! Jackie will work to increase our followers and donations across all our social media platforms.