November 2022

Dear Friends,

Thank you! Thank you for a truly amazing Rally Day and Fundraiser. Thank you for the great kickoff to Stewardship Season on Stewardship Sunday. Thank you for your participation getting photographed for a new directory. Thank you for continuing to give of your tithes and offerings for the work of the church. Thank you for all that you are doing to engage within the life of our church.

The church staff is working tirelessly toward the Christmas season with plans and preparations for another time of outstanding music, worship, and celebration. Volunteers from around the church are preparing decorations for our beautiful sanctuary. Others are continuing to gather in groups, both large and small, for worship, fellowship, and study. It’s a busy season, and I am so grateful for the teams around this church that work together for the sake of our mutual commitment to Christ.

It is my prayer that this season of Thanksgiving would fill your hearts and minds with gratitude for the many blessings in your lives. We are indeed a richly blessed community of faith. We have so much for which to be grateful. I hope that you are able to spend some time in quiet reflection, giving thanks for the multitude of gifts that God has given to each and every one of us.

Finally, I want to share with you that one of my favorite celebrations in the life of the church is All Saint’s Day. We celebrate this on October 30th, though it technically falls on November 1st. This year, there are many in all of our lives who have joined the church triumphant, specifically from this church, we celebrate Robert “Boot” Hardy, Amine Edwards, Anne Wilgus Podesta and Warren Gold. I give thanks for the saints who have run the race, kept the faith, and now rest from their labors. I hope that you have time in your moments of gratitude to give thanks for those who now rest in the loving arms of God Almighty.

 

God Bless each and every one of you.

 

With love and gratitude,

 

Matt

 

October 2022

Happy October!

                                               

     The summer humidity is beginning to wane. The autumn breezes rustle the leaves as they just begin changing hue. It’s the most wonderful time of year in my humble opinion.

 

     It’s also a magical time in the life of our church. We are riding a wave of excitement and enthusiasm after our successful Rally Day Festivities. Stewardship season kicks off this month, and we’ll be looking at being stewards of our energy, intelligence, imagination, and love. We have a new photo directory in the works, and you’ll be able to sign up for that as well. It is indeed a busy, exciting time in the life of our church.

 

     I’d like to celebrate the grand total of money raised from our Lucas Project Fundraiser. We were committed to $20,000, and we were able to raise a total of $21,034 (with a few items still for sale). You have committed time, talent, and treasure to make this a reality, and I could not be more thrilled. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the donors and bidders for your commitment to making this a reality for the Lucas family and South Rocky Mount. This investment in our city will pay dividends as new houses are refurbished and families become homeowners. What a huge success!

 

     Thank you all for your continued commitment to FPC, and I pray that the season of cooler weather and excitement fills your homes and hearts with joy.

 

With love and gratitude,

Matt

 

September 2022

Dear Friends,

 

Our Session met in August, and we talked about some of our hopes for the coming school year. Many of the responses revolved around the concept of fellowship and togetherness. We need one another. We need to see, break bread with, and worship alongside one another. We long for community and connection. To that end there are 3 events coming up in the next 2 months that will only work with your presence and participation.

 

First, we have our Rally Day worship and celebration on September 11th. Worship begins at 11am, and we’ll celebrate the Lord’s Supper along with a worship service focused on who we are, whose we are, and where we’re going in the coming year. That afternoon, we’ll gather in the Fellowship Hall and around the church from 5-7 to enjoy a casual cookout and a silent auction. The cookout, hosted by the hard working Deacons in the church, is a chance for us to reconnect after a long summer and share tales of our travels. The silent auction is an opportunity to bid on items and support the financial commitment that we made to the Lucas Project.

 

Second, immediately following worship on October 16th, we’ll have our Stewardship Lunch and presentation. This is a chance for you to hear about the church’s financial goals for 2023 along with opportunities and challenges facing the church of the future. Come enjoy a meal with your church family and hear how you can help support our mission and ministry in the coming year.

 

Third, it is time for a new church directory. Photography dates are October 27th, 28th, and 29th. We’ll have online sign-up available for you to reserve a time to come and get your picture taken for our updated directory. This is an important tool for our ministry together, so I hope you’ll be able to come out and help make this a reality.

 

Thank you for all the ways you serve our church, community, and world. I pray that you’ll be able to experience the fellowship of FPC in the coming months as we: welcome, worship, and serve together.

 

With love and gratitude,

Matt

August 2022

Jesus surrounded himself with good friends. Peter, James, John, and the other disciples ministered to Jesus as Jesus ministered to the world. While they were far from perfect friends, the disciples were there with Jesus up to his betrayal, and they followed his teachings even after the ascension. I can’t imagine what a blessing they were to Jesus and his ministry.

 

I am so grateful for my friends, near and far. There are people who pray for me, minister to me, bless me, and check-in on me. There are people who genuinely care what’s going on in my life. I can reach out to these folks any time of day, and one of them will respond quickly and with love.

 

Part of the pastoral calling is to be a friend among our colleagues in ministry. Yes, this refers to other pastors and leaders in the church; it also refers to those who do ministry alongside us—YOU! You are colleagues in ministry and friends on this endeavor of faith. You are people to whom I can turn in times of trial and struggle. You are the people who rejoice with me when it is time to rejoice.

 

If I can be a friend to you, please don’t hesitate to call, text, or email me. If you’re needing someone to rejoice with you at some good news—I’m here. If you need someone to sit in the silence with you at the crossroads of life’s darker moments—I’m here.

 

We all need a friend sometimes, and I would love to be someone in your corner.

 

With love and gratitude,

 

Matt

 

July 2022

Dear Friends,

I want to highlight and celebrate 3 things going on around the church in the next couple months.

First, on July 16th from 11am to noon, we are invited to tour the Lucas Project. This is the house that several of our members worked to help with demolition, refurbishment, and restoration. We took out cabinets, did landscaping, and primed walls for painting. It was a wonderful time of service, and now we get to see the final product after other churches donated time, talent, and effort to the home. I hope to see you at 536 Powell Dr. for a cup of coffee and a tour of the newly refurbished home.

Second, I want to make sure that you have Sunday, September 11th marked in your calendar.  We’ll be gathering here at the church for our Rally Day celebration.  There will be food, fun, and fellowship as we gather together after being separated all summer.  Come share your travel stories and catch-up with your church family.  During that event, we’ll also hold the fundraiser for the Lucas Project (see the back page for details).  I can’t wait to see everyone here on the 11th!

Finally, I want to commend the hard work that the church staff is doing during this summer lull. From policy and procedure manuals, to planning for the upcoming year, from hosting VBS, to making plans for the Christmas season, from training and growing, to scheduling events for every age group—this church staff is amazing, and I am grateful to call them friends and colleagues. The staff is not sitting back during the summer lull, waiting for the pace to pick back up. Everyone is working hard to make sure we are ready to return to full force at the end of August, while meeting the needs of the day. If you see a member of the staff around the town, tell them thanks for all their hard work.

My friends, that’s the news from around here. I’m eager to celebrate all of this and more in the days, weeks, and months to come.

With love and gratitude,

Matt

 

June 2022

Dear Friends,

 

Things are ramping up for an exciting summer around FPC. We are scheduling trips for the kiddos to a trampoline park and the splash pad. The youth have Gatekeepers and Montreat, in addition to other gatherings. We’ve got some ideas for gathering the college students home on break and other young adults. We’re also planning outings and meals for our older members. There are lunches, dinners, ice cream socials, and more in the works for the summer months, and I couldn’t be more excited.

 

I want to commend the hard work of our Session, Diaconate, staff, and volunteers. Everyone is working diligently to build up our church, create an atmosphere of welcome and hospitality, and provide opportunities for us to connect, worship, and engage. Thank you, all, for your hard work on behalf of the church!

 

I hope you have a chance to join us in worship and other celebrations over the course of the summer. It’s going to be a wonderful time of hard work, fellowship, and fun! If you are traveling this summer, we pray for safe travels and fun memories.

Again, thank you for all you are doing for our church, community, and world.

 

With love and gratitude,

Matt

 

May 2022

     It should be no surprise that my family does things a little differently. We don’t make a big to-do about Valentine’s Day and some of the other Hallmark Holidays. Instead, we celebrate half birthdays, birthdays of favorite celebrities (the late-great Betty White), and Star Wars Day. Yes, on May the 4th (May the fourth “force” be with you) we watch a Star Wars movie, or make Darth Vader waffles, or decorate with some Star Wars decorations. It’s a little different, but we love it.

   Jesus loved a party too. His first miracle at the wedding in Cana was at a giant wedding celebration where he filled cleansing vats with water and turned the water into wine.  According to the headwaiter, it was the finest of all the wine. Jesus dined with sinners and outcasts. He feasted with tax collectors and disciples. Jesus loved a good celebration.

   Weddings are kicking off all around; summer festivities and holidays are being planned. It is a joyous time in the life of so many of us. I pray that you are all able to take some time to celebrate this season. I hope that some event official or unofficial opportunity captures your attention and brings you delight. Be like Jesus and find time to celebrate.

 

        With love and gratitude,

         Matt

 

April 2022

Dear Friends,

Let me tell you a little bit more about the Lucas Project.

The Lucas family is going through Peacemaker’s holistic financial training program and are currently living in a rental home. They are about to become first-time homeowners after a period of homelessness and move into a house that was donated to Peacemakers. Our church, along with other local churches, has partnered with Peacemakers to help fix up this home to be the absolute best it can be for the new homeowners.

Over the course of two weekends in March we landscaped the front yard, trimmed trees, removed cacti and other bushes, demolished a kitchen, removed old carpet, and prepared the house to be renovated and renewed. The Lucas family will be purchasing an amazing home from Peacemakers, and the fingerprints of First Presbyterian Church are all over that new home.

One other aspect of this project is a financial commitment to Peacemakers, the Lucas Project, and South Rocky Mount. Session has pledged $20,000 to the Lucas Project to help renovate this home and make it a bright spot in our community. When the Lucas’ purchase their home, that money will be reinvested into more homes and refurbishments in South Rocky Mount, which we hope to be able to help refurbish and renew with sweat equity and more weekend work days.

This one time financial commitment is a down payment for a cleaner, safer, and more lovely South Rocky Mount with homeownership, financial stewardship, and changed lives.

If you were a part of one of our work days, share how much fun you had with our church family and neighbors. If you are able, please begin to think about how you might be able to help us meet our $20,000 pledge to Peacemakers and South Rocky Mount. There will be more information about how to do this coming out in the next few weeks.

Finally, I offer my thanks to everyone who helped to make this happen, whether it was providing snacks, lending your labor, or investing your money in this project. This great ministry of First Presbyterian Church is truly making a difference in our community.

With love and gratitude,

Matt

 

March 2022

“What can we (FPC staff, session, and/or diaconate) do to better engage YOU in the life of the church?”

 

This question is at the heart of so many of our conversations as governing bodies and servants of this wonderful church. This question gets to the root of how we will be a church in the coming months and years. This is the question that all churches are asking 2 years into a brutal pandemic, which has changed the way we traditionally did ministry.

 

“What can we (FPC staff, session, and/or diaconate) do to better engage YOU in the life of the church?”

 

I invite you to answer this question with hope, honesty, and humility. Give me a phone call at the church or on my cell. Send an email, text, or letter to Hannah or myself. Stop by and tell us what you think. We’ll try to open every avenue possible, because we want to hear from you about how to help you engage in the life of the church.

If you are looking for a new way to engage, we have an exciting project this month. We’ve partnered with Peacemakers and other downtown churches to help refurbish a house in south Rocky Mount. FPC will be responsible for demolition, priming, and

cleaning. This is an exciting way for us to give back to our community, bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and work for the betterment of our city. More information will be available at the Shrove Tuesday meal and in communications going out to the church.

 

Christ is indeed at work in our world, and we are blessed to be a part of all that God is doing. I look forward to hearing how to help you engage with our church and our church’s mission.

 

With love and gratitude,

Matt

 

February 2022

 

Dear Friends,

 

I wish JOY for you.

When we opened the doors on Saturday, January 22nd, our girls and dog ran outside like it was Christmas morning. The girls plopped into the snow and started making snow angels. The dog ran to a clear area and made his own snow angels, rolling around and covering himself in snow. We had snowball fights, snowmen, and other fun activities. For a little while, there was joy unlike normal happiness.

We all have moments of happiness. We all experience times of frivolity. Joy can be harder to come by. Joy is when the weight of the world is lifted for a little while and you are fully present in the moment. There is nothing else, except the experience in front of you. There is only the look of children playing in the snow, the sight of a loved one not seen in awhile, the sound of pure laughter and delight. These moments of joy are blessings for this life, and I wish you many moments just like this.

In these pages are reflections of joy from the past month and opportunities to spread joy to others in the coming months. Perhaps your blood donation will be the source of joy for someone in need of a transfusion. Perhaps your gift was the one that lit up a child’s eyes with the Peacemaker’s Christmas event. Perhaps, your presence in worship was a source of joy for someone eager to see you and your family. You can be that source of joy for others, and I pray that you are able to find a way to do so.

So, in these cold, dark days of winter… I wish you moments of pure joy for you and yours.

 

With love, gratitude, and joy,

 

Matt