August 2019

This is a check list of the process in finding a new pastor.  We will provide this as a way to keep you  informed about where we are and what needs to be done next.


July 2017  Bridge interim is hired and search for an interim begins.

November 2017 Interim minister is hired and begins work.

March 2018 Mission Study Review Committee is appointed and begins their work. 

July 2018  Mission Study report approved by Session.

September 2018  Updated Mission Study is approved by Presbytery.

September 2018  Pastor Nominating Committee is elected by congregation.

November 2018    Ministry Information Form is circulated and search begins.

July 2019    Candidate is found, and approved by Presbytery COM.

July 21, 2019    Congregation votes on candidate.  

_____September 1, 2019    The Rev. Matthew K. Baker will begin employment as Head Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Rocky Mount


Dear All,

On behalf of my family, I would like to thank you for the thoughts, prayers, cards, and gifts given during my recovery. You continue to be a generous and caring congregation. If you offer the same kind of support to your next minister, I believe that it will be a blessed relationship for many years. Thank you again for allowing me to serve you as your interim minister.

Yours In Christ,

Rev. Dr. Scott V. Solether





July 2019

Preparing for New Leadership


As your PNC (Pastor Nominating Committee) draws closer to finding and presenting a candidate for your consideration, it is important to begin preparing for new leadership. There always seems to be some anxiety when an unknown is pending. If your committee truly reflects the makeup of the congregation, their reaction to the new pastor will be the same as the congregation. In other words, if the committee likes the candidate the congregation probably will as well. Trust the PNC.

Here are some words of advice to both the congregation and staff. First, be open to new ideas and new directions of leadership. Though comparisons will be made, do not expect the person to be like any other minister you have had, either positively or negatively. They will have their own style of ministry. Be open to that. Do not allow the “ghosts of pastors past” to influence how you evaluate the new minister.

Second, be careful of expectations for the pastor’s family. Remember, you are calling the minister not the family. Be inviting, but let the minister’s spouse and children decide how active they will be in the church and what roles they will play. Often, unreal expectations are placed on minister’s families that are unhealthy.

Third, realize your role in ministry in this church and step up. Even if you are not able or willing to be an elder or deacon there is something you can contribute. The first is your regular attendance to all church functions as much as possible. This is your church, support it. Don’t rely on the minister to do everything. God calls each of us to contribute to the ministry.

Remember that the success of a new call is a two way street. The minister has their responsibility and the congregation has theirs. I hope that you will support your new minister and commit yourself to the ministry of the church.




June 2019

A Thank You


Many of you have heard that I am facing a life challenge in the near future. On July 16, I will be having kidney transplant surgery. This is not an end of ministry event. In fact, if all goes well, it will allow me to continue in full time ministry as long as I desire. At our last

meeting, the session granted vacation time for my recovery from July 15 – August 15 and Preston has agreed to cover pastoral needs

during my time off. My contract with the church was renewed until November and I hope to be fully back at work until a new minister is installed. I want to thank the session and this church for your gracious understanding and prayers. I feel blessed to serve you during this time of transition for both of us.



May 2019

Fifty Days of Easter

No, Easter is not over yet. We often think of Easter as one day in the Christian Calendar, but actually it is a season that lasts 50 days. Beginning with the Easter Vigil on the Saturday before Easter and lasting until Pentecost, “Eastertide” is the longest season of the Christian year. Pentecost means 50 days and was originally a harvest festival in the Jewish calendar and was celebrated 50 days after Passover. Celebrating Easter for fifty days is not

duplicating Easter Sunday fifty times over, either. Rather, it’s taking time to reflect upon and delight in the truth of Easter and its implications for our lives. The basic truth of Easter is simple. In the classic litany of the church, it’s this: Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! On Easter Sunday, we celebrate this good news, rediscovering for ourselves what the earliest followers of Jesus realized on that first Easter Sunday. Yet the implications of the

resurrection are more than we can adequately ponder on one day. It takes a season to think about all the things this great event has brought to us. But even that is not enough. Every Sunday can be thought of as an Easter Sunday and we could spend our lives thinking about the meaning of the resurrection.


So, happy Eastertide. Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!




April 2019

Fifth Sunday Event

On Sunday, March 31st, we will meet in the fellowship hall starting at 10:00 AM for breakfast. We will have worship around the tables and enter into a discussion that concludes at noon.  The following Scripture will be presented and these questions will be discussed. Be thinking about how you might answer and where we might go from here. Keep your church in your prayers.


Acts 2:41-47

  1. How did you come to attend this church?

Who invited you; who brought you?


Matt. 16:13-20

  1. Who does the community say that we are?

Who do we say that we are?


Matt. 28:18-20

  1. How are we a welcoming church?

How are we an inviting church?





March 2019

“And now for something different.” (From Monty Python’s Flying Circus)  The Session recently voted to initiate a Fifth Sunday Worship experience on Sunday, March 31st. What is it? It is an opportunity to experience worship in a different way. The plans for that Sunday are still in the works, but it will look something like this: We will meet in the fellowship hall at 10:00 AM on that Sunday; it will begin with fellowship for all including brunch; worship will take place at the tables; we will sing, pray, hear God’s word and discuss what we can do and be to become an Inviting Church as well as a Welcoming Church. You are invited to come in casual dress for the day and bring your ideas on reaching out. The message will be presented in the form of feedback based on Scripture in which you will be encouraged to discuss the right questions about transformation.


An example of the wrong question is this: “How do we do things like the Baptists and the charismatic churches who are growing?” But rather: “How do we as a Presbyterian congregation become more open and inclusive in our worship, mission, and church life that others might be drawn into our worshiping community?” “That, detective, is the right question.” (From the movie, I Robot)


We hope to plan future Fifth Sunday Worship services during the year. These may or may not be in the sanctuary. They may follow closely with our regular service or be a little different. “Don’t Panic!” (From The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) This is not an attempt to get rid of or replace the traditional service of this church with a “contemporary” one. I hope you come with an open mind, excitement about your church, and a desire for sharing the good news of God’s gracious love to a hurting world. You should be expecting a call in the near future from an Elder or Deacon personally inviting you to attend!




February 2019

Charity Lodge


I would like to continue introducing the staff of First Presbyterian Church. Charity Lodge is our housekeeper and nursery attendant. Unless you have children in the nursery or show up at the church early in the morning during the week, you might not have run into Charity. She does her work long before most of us arrive at church. If you do have contact with her, you will be met by a very cheerful greeting and a smiling face. Charity is always quick to help and   thorough in her work. It is very evident that she cares about people and takes her job seriously. Charity is the longest serving member of our staff and will celebrate 35 years with us soon. Or, better yet, WE are thankful for her many years of faithful service to this church and to the families that she has so lovingly cared for. If you do run into Charity some early morning or on Sunday near the nursery, thank her for being a part of First Presbyterian Church and for her faithfulness to us.



January 2019

Staff of First Presbyterian Church

The staff of First Presbyterian Church, Rocky Mount would like to wish you a blessed Christmas and Holiday season and thank you for allowing us to serve you in 2018. We look forward to supporting the ministry of this church in the new year to come. I have been impressed with the care and professionalism these employees have shown in carrying out their responsibilities. They are all assets to the ministry of this church. Over the next few months, I would like to introduce you to the staff that some of you may have had little contact with. First on the list is Mary Hilliard.

Mary is our Nursery Assistant and in charge of keeping our youngest children safe during Sunday School and the worship service. Mary was first hired in 2007 and is dedicated to serving our church families through this ministry of caring. If you see Mary, be sure to tell her how much we appreciate her service and kindness with the children of this church.





December 2018

Chart of Progress in the Pastoral Search


This is a check list of the process in finding a new pastor.  We will provide this as a way to keep you informed about where we are and what needs to be done next.

 July 2017  Bridge interim is hired and search for an interim begins.

 November 2017 Interim minister is hired and begins work.

March 2018 Mission Study Review Committee is appointed and begins their work.

 July 2018  Mission Study report approved by Session.

September 2018  Updated Mission Study is approved by Presbytery.

 September 2018  Pastor Nominating Committee is elected by congregation.

 November 2018   Ministry Information Form is circulated and search begins.

 __________    Candidate is found, and approved by Presbytery.

 __________    Congregation votes on candidate.           




November 2018


All Saints


According to Lives of the Saints ed. Rev. Hugo Hoever, S.O.Cist., PhD, every day of the year except Christmas, and some days during Holy Week, celebrate at least one Catholic saint. The Orthodox church and Coptic church have a different list of saints to honor. Some protestant denominations also recognize and honor saints. The practice of honoring martyrs and those prominent Christians who had passed away was an early occurrence. Each church and area had their own celebrations of local saints in early Christianity. It wasn’t until later that the church began canonizing saints and assigning days of celebration. Soon, however, there were more saints to celebrate than days in the year. So, “All Saints Day” was designated to celebrate all those Saints that didn’t have a day to celebrate.

All “Hollows Eve” became a Celtic celebration in which the dead Saints were thought to have one evening to walk the earth again. You can take it from there to understand our present celebration of Halloween.

Our protestant understanding is that all those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are saints whether living or dead. But I think it is important to ask the question: “Who are the heroes of the faith?” Who were the Christian influences in your life? This is what it truly means to be a saint whether canonized or not. So, happy November 1 to all you saints of the Lord!