Strong Words from Pastor John H. Stanley
Pastor John H. Stanley encourages us to spend the next month studying the book of Proverbs along with him. Just one chapter a day will allow you to read the entire book! Today John shares several instances in Proverbs where we read that our words can be powerful. He explains that God has given us the ability to use our words to build people up or to tear them down. Let us use our words to encourage and strengthen those around us!

Are you participating in the 30-day Proverbs challenge? We would love to hear from you!  Please contact John Stanley at to share your experience.
Caring Cupboard from Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore
Today Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore introduces us to the new Caring Cupboard which has been installed outside the chapel entrance by Kathryn Culp, a student at Stuart Cramer High School, as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award.  This cupboard will help to provide non-perishable food and toiletry items for our neighbors in need.  We encourage you to keep an eye on the cupboard and replace items as they begin to run low!
Until We Meet Again from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
Happy Monday!  Today Dr. Cynthia M. Benz shares some information regarding our upcoming outdoor worship service.  We invite you to join us outside the Fellowship Hall on Sunday, August 9, at 8:30 a.m., where will worship together.  Please dress casually, wear a mask, and bring a lawn chair!  God be with you till we meet again, (hopefully, this Sunday!)
Faith and Wisdom: Sunday School Lesson 8/2/2020
Spurgeon Mackie presents today's Sunday School lesson, "Faith and Wisdom," which studies James 1:1-11. In this lesson, Spurgeon introduces the book of James and presents a few options as to who the author may have been. More importantly, Spurgeon addresses James' straightforward approach and the running theme that God is the giver of all that is good, including wisdom.
A Life Free of Fear from Pastor John H. Stanley
Happy Wednesday! Today Pastor John H. Stanley discusses the wisdom found in the book of Proverbs.  Did you know? The word "wisdom" appears more in Proverbs than any other book in the Bible.  John explains that there is much we can glean from this book when it comes to defeating fear and finding peace in our lives.  John closes by challenging us to read one chapter from Proverbs each day of August to see how 1-2 minutes of scripture can make an impact on our lives.
God Will Still Be Faithful from Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore
In today's video update, we hear from Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore after a few weeks of vacation and sabbath time.  Lauren greets us from the sanctuary - a place, Lauren tells us,  that she goes when things start to feel like they are pressing in. It is here that Lauren is reminded to look for the light of Christ in the midst of changing times.
All Shall Be Well from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
In today's video update, Dr. Cynthia M. Benz shares several important updates regarding upcoming events and also informs the congregation that she will soon be ending her service as Interim Senior Minister at First Presbyterian Church.
Wisdom to Follow: Sunday School Lesson 7/26/20
Charlie Grissom presents today's Sunday School lesson, "Wisdom to Follow," which studies John 14:1-14. In this lesson, Charlie discusses how we follow Christ and use the wisdom of Christ in our decision making. Charlie explains that in this passage Jesus prepares his disciples for the time when he will depart from them. He then discusses how Jesus instructed his disciples to believe in him as they do in God, as well as the phrase, "If in my name you ask for anything, I will do it."
Information Specialist Update with Trip Stewart
In this week's staff update, we hear from our Information Specialist, Trip Stewart.  Trip grants us insight into what all her job entails now and during "normal times." Trip also shares how grateful she is to have the opportunity to connect with and serve the congregation through her various roles.
Thanksgiving Every Day from Pastor John H. Stanley
In today's video update, Pastor John H. Stanley talks about how we have so much to be thankful for.  Unfortunately, he remarks, sometimes we are not always thankful for the same things.  What brings one person joy may cause another person stress or anxiety.  John encourages us to find our own personal things to be grateful for and to live in a spirit of thanksgiving every day.
A Message from ARP Manor with Dorris Warren-Adams
Today we have a special message from Dorris Warren-Adams, Resident Services Coordinator at ARP Manor Apartments in south Gastonia. Dorris expresses her gratitude for the donation of cloth face masks created by members of our congregation through the Parish Nurse Ministry and shares her excitement for our congregation-wide collection of toiletry items in celebration of Christmas in July. With our help, Dorris explains, ARP Manor is able to connect seniors with the necessary resources to help maintain their independence as they age.
God Loves a Cheerful Giver from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
In today's video update, Dr. Cynthia M. Benz discusses the Mission Ministry's Christmas in July project. So far, we have collected 125 out of our goal of 225 toiletry bags.  Each bag should contain body wash (preferably Dove), shampoo (preferably Dove), unscented lotion, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hairbrush, and deodorant. Cindy encourages us to donate and support this worthy cause.
Wisdom That Astounds and Offends: Sunday School Lesson 7/19/20
Mary Layton presents today's Sunday School lesson, "Wisdom That Astounds and Offends," which studies Mark 6:1-6 and 7:1-23. In this lesson, Mary discusses Jesus' return to Nazareth and the less than warm welcome he received there. This passage includes the familiar line, "prophets are not without honor except in their own hometown." We are reminded that there may be times when we encounter people who are not receptive to what we have to say. And in those instances, we must shake it off and move on to those who are ready to listen.
Pastoral Counseling Update with Russ Keeney
In this week's staff update, we hear from Russ Keeney.  Russ is a licensed professional counselor with CareNet Counseling whose office is here at First Presbyterian Church. In this video, Russ explains how even though we may have more time on our hands, many of us are struggling to find peace in our lives. Russ encourages us to seek refuge with God and to find God's peace.
We Always Have Hope from Pastor John H. Stanley
Today Pastor John H. Stanley talks to us about hope.  John explains that there are times when things seem so certain that we cannot hope for them to change. However, we as Christians are called to find hope in all situations.  John shares a passage from Psalm 26 saying, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in time of trouble."  May we be reminded that we always have hope if we put our faith in God.
Rejoice! Again I Say, Rejoice! from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
Happy Monday!  In today's video, Dr. Cynthia M. Benz expresses her gratitude for all of the notes, cards, and messages she has received since her diagnosis.  However, Cindy explains that she is most grateful for your prayers.  In that same spirit, Cindy reminds us of Paul's words to the Philippians, "Rejoice!  Again I say, rejoice!" Let us give thanks and rejoice for all God has given us.
The Boy Jesus: Sunday School Lesson 7/12/20
Beth Silvers presents today's Sunday School Lesson, "The Boy Jesus," which studies Luke 2:39-52 and Ecclesiastes 3:1-15. In this lesson, Beth introduces us to the wisdom of Jesus as first seen during his childhood. Jesus, having traveled to Jerusalem with his family, is found in the temple astonishing the rabbis. Here, Beth explains, we see the wisdom of God acted out in the incarnate; the wisdom of God which turns our world upside down.
Communications Update with Celeste Crowe
In this week's staff update, we hear from our Director of Communications, Celeste Crowe. In this video, Celeste shares the details of what she has been doing to keep our congregation connected and informed during these unusual times. Celeste also gives us a tour of a new filming studio at the church that will be used to produce future video updates.
Worrying Divides the Mind from Pastor John H. Stanley
In today's video update, Pastor John Stanley discusses the ill effects that worrying can have on our mind, body, and soul. In Matthew, John explains, we are told not to worry, for tomorrow will have enough worries of its own.  Let us work together to avoid worrying about the things we cannot change, and find time for joy instead.
Studying God's Word Together from Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore
Today Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore greets us from the Seeker's Sunday School classroom, which, she admits, is much more quiet on Sunday mornings. At First Presbyterian Church, education is something that is very important to us, and we take such joy in studying God's word together, even if that looks a little different right now. Lauren assures us that plans are being made to continue our education in new ways this fall.
A Psalm of Lament from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
Today Dr. Cynthia M. Benz shares how she takes time each morning to write something that she is thankful for. As Psalm 22 is shared, she reflects on how every Psalm of Lament ends with a message of hope and thanksgiving.
Wisdom's Vindication: Sunday School Lesson 7/5/20
Roger Risk presents today's Sunday School Lesson, "Wisdom's Vindication," which studies Matthew 11:7-19. In this passage, which Roger remarks is a great Gospel account of the wisdom of God, we are introduced to John the Baptist. It is explained that John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for Christ and that a new kingdom, one not based in violence, is coming. Roger explains that in order to navigate these unprecedented times, we must listen to God's word and trust in his wisdom.
Be Strong and Very Courageous from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
Today Dr. Cynthia M. Benz speaks to us from Joshua 1:7 which gives us a wonderful reminder to be strong and very courageous.  She also gives us wishes for a safe holiday weekend.
For Such a Time as This from Pastor John Stanley
Today Pastor John H. Stanley shares the story of a friend of his working as a nurse in New York City during the Pandemic. This leads John to ponder the book of Esther and the phrase, "perhaps you have been called for such a time as this."
Demo Days from Lauren Sease Vanacore

In today's video update, Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore reflects on Demo Days.  During a time when things are changing so fast, and everything is different, Lauren reminds us to be thankful for past, present, and future days.
Freedom for All from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
As we approach Independence Day, Dr. Cynthia M. Benz remarks how the subject of freedom has frequently been on her mind saying, "no one is free unless we are all free." Cindy explains that she has been taking steps to educate herself on racial injustice, and she charges us to do the same. Today, Cindy talks specifically about microaggressions - small things that we often don't realize are actually offensive. We hope that you will take a moment to continue learning with us and be reminded that we are all God's children.
Under the Fig Tree: Sunday School Lesson 6/28/20
Sarah Sumner presents today's Sunday School Lesson, "Under the Fig Tree," which studies John 1:43-50. In this lesson, Sarah discusses Jesus calling Phillip and Nathaniel as disciples.  At first, Nathaniel is skeptical, but he has a change of heart when Jesus tells him, "I saw you under the fig tree." We are not privy to what Nathaniel was doing under the fig tree. It could have been something virtuous, or perhaps something painful. But we do know that through this interaction Nathaniel felt seen and loved by Christ; something that we are also promised.
Music Ministry Update with Bethany Jennings
In this week's staff update, our Director of Music Ministry, Bethany Jennings, shares her gratitude for the faithful members of our Sanctuary Ringers and Sanctuary Choir.  Bethany explains that for many of us it is when we are making music, especially with other people, that we feel closest to God.  Bethany closes by sharing Psalm 100:1-2 and encouraging us to be intentional and participatory as we make a joyful noise unto the Lord!
Being a Good Finder from Pastor John H. Stanley
Today Pastor John H. Stanley tells us how we can become "good finders" in our world.  A good finder, John explains, looks for and is thankful for the little things around us. We can be good finders when we go for a walk and notice the birds singing, or when we take time to read scripture, or even when we are thankful for a cool glass of water. This week, let us be more thankful for those things we often take for granted.
Your Body is a Temple from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
Happy Monday!  In today's video update, Dr. Cynthia M. Benz discusses how God has called us to work on his behalf.  And in order to do this work, we need to be healthy and strong.  If we don't take care of ourselves, Cindy explains, then we won't be able to help others to the best of our ability.  Today we are reminded that our body is a temple and that we have work to do!
Wealth and Wisdom: Sunday School Lesson 6/21/20
Davidson Hobson presents today's Sunday School Lesson, "Wealth and Wisdom," which studies Proverbs 8. In this lesson, Davidson asks us to ponder what wealth is and what wisdom is within the context of the bible. Davidson encourages us to call on the holy spirit, when asking these questions, to help us interpret what meaning they hold for us personally. In what ways are you wealthy? and how might you use that wealth to glorify God?
Juneteenth from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
Do you know what Juneteenth means? In today's video, Dr. Cynthia M. Benz encourages us to learn about this holiday and what makes it important. On June 19, 1865, Union army general Gordon Granger arrived in Texas proclaiming that all slaves were now free following the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier. Today we celebrate the end of slavery and the importance of Black lives!
Presbyterian Weekday School Update with Becky Rowland and Amy Lowrimore
In this week's staff update, Becky Rowland, Director of Presbyterian Weekday School, along with Amy Lowrimore share what they are doing to prepare for school in the fall. Becky and Amy also give us a tour of the new playground equipment, showing off their favorite pieces and sharing their excitement for school to begin.
Let's Be the Sunshine from Pastor John H. Stanley
In today's video, Pastor John H. Stanley reflects that lately, he has been thinking of the song, "Rainy Days Always Get Me Down."  There is so much going on in our world that can start to get us down if we let it.  John explains that often we can become dependent on something happening in order to feel happy.  Instead, John implores us to find joy from within our hearts and be the sunshine in our world.
God Has a Purpose For You from Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore
Happy Tuesday friends!  Today Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore discusses FOMO, or the fear of missing out. Lauren explains that lately, she has been experiencing this anxiety that she is supposed to be somewhere else, or that she is missing something.  With all that has changed in our world, it is easy to feel like we are missing out on scheduled activities or to get caught up in future plans.  However, Lauren reassures us that God has a purpose for us and that Christ is using us right where we are.
God is Doing a New Thing from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
In today's video, Dr. Cynthia M. Benz contemplates how we are called to respond in the midst of chaos and heartbreak.  Cindy explains that while so much in our world right now can be troubling, God can be found in the midst of these problems. God is indeed at work and is about to do a new thing! As Christians, she explains, we are then called to move the needle on racial injustice and, further, we must ask ourselves how we will participate in God's work.
My Cup Brims with Blessing from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
Happy Friday!  Today Dr. Cynthia M. Benz encourages us to stay safe and healthy as we carry on the mission of Jesus Christ. In order to do this, Cindy stresses the importance of self-care, saying that you cannot pour from an empty cup. Cindy closes by reading the Message translation of Psalm 23.
Children's Music Ministry Update with Isaiah Cornelius
In this week's staff update our Children's Music Director, Isaiah Cornelius, shares some of his plans for our Children's Music Ministry in the wake of COVID-19.  Isaiah explains that he is finding ways to ensure that everyone can stay healthy and safe while continuing to make music and praise God.
God Grant Me Serenity from Pastor John H. Stanley
In today's video update, Pastor John Stanley discusses how we deal with our own personal issues when so much is going on in the world around us.  Many of us feel caught up in the "storm," as John describes it, with no place to turn. However, John encourages us to return to the Serenity Prayer as we learn to deal with things that are beyond our control.
Respecting Others and Ourselves As Well from Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore
Today Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore discusses how things are slowly returning to some semblance of normal. But she, like many of us, is adjusting to a "new normal" as the world continues to change.  Lauren also shares an excerpt from The Declaration of Faith of 1977, encouraging us to love and respect everyone and ourselves as well.
Words of Encouragement from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
In today's video update, Cindy shares her gratitude for the expressions of sympathy she and Steve have received upon the death of his stepfather.  Cindy explains that these words of encouragement really do make a difference, and urges us to reach out to someone and let them know that they are in our thoughts and prayers.
Listen to God's Wisdom: Adult Sunday School Lesson 6/7/20
Charlie Grissom presents today's Sunday School Lesson, "Listen to God's Wisdom," which focuses on passages from Proverbs 1. In this lesson, Charlie discusses how people in the bible are just like us today, they were people who did both good and bad. Charlie explains that Solomon, the author of Proverbs, was just such a person. The book of Proverbs acts as a manual for living, helping us to attain wisdom and discipline. Yet, Solomon didn't always follow his own advice. Through this lesson, we are reminded not to look inward for wisdom, but to look to God for what we must do and how we must act.
Open My Eyes That I May See from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
In today's video, Dr. Cynthia M. Benz urges us to continue to stay diligent and safe during these difficult times. If you have not already, Cindy again encourages us to participate in the 21-day Race Equity Challenge at Cindy remarks that by participating, she has been challenged and her eyes have been opened, and for that she is grateful.  She closes by sharing Micah 6:8 which tells us to, "do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God."
Music Ministry Update with David Jennings
In this week's staff update, we hear from our Organist, David Jennings. David shares that he was so excited to be back in the sanctuary this past week as we celebrated Pentecost, and is looking forward to the day when we can all join together in person again.  To this end, David explains that he and Bethany Jennings are working to find safe and effective ways to use music to glorify God when we all return.
The Tongue is a Strong Muscle from Pastor John H. Stanley
In today's update, Pastor John Stanley reminds us how strong our words and tongues can be. John reflects that probably many of us have experienced moments where we wish we could take words back. Unfortunately, he remarks, a word spoken in anger can never be retrieved. John encourages us to use our tongues to speak words of encouragement. Because while our tongues may be small, our words can be powerful.
Building Bridges from Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore
During these trying times, Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore shares that she was heartened by a story of protestors and police working to bridge gaps in Pittsburgh, PA. She hopes that you are encouraged by those working for change and peace in our world.  Lauren closes by reading St. Francis of Assisi's prayer for peace.
We Are All Children of God from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
In this video update, Dr. Cynthia M. Benz shares in the pain of our country as we mourn the loss of Mr. George Floyd. In the face of racism and inequality, we as Christians are called to help effect change in our community. To aid in this change, Cindy encourages us to participate in Myers Park Presbyterian's "Better When We're Back Together" 21-day race equity challenge. For more information, please visit
Return to Love and Justice: Sunday School Lesson 5/31/20
Craig Whitley presents today's Sunday School Lesson, "Return to Love and Justice," which studies Hosea 11 and 12. In this lesson, we learn that God's main purpose is not to punish, but to restore his people.  Hosea explains this concept by comparing the relationship between God and Israel to his own star-crossed marriage. Even when we are unfaithful, God still loves his people.  Hosea promises that we too may be redeemed and restored through God's steadfast love.
Practice Resurrection from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
Today Cindy reminds us how important it is to focus on what makes you happy! Whether it is calling a loved one or going for a walk outdoors, it really does help to make your day better.  In this video, Cindy also reads an excerpt from "The Mad Farmer Poems" by Wendell Berry.  Cindy makes special note of the line "practice resurrection." As we celebrate Pentecost this Sunday, it is important that we continue to remember Christ's resurrection as we move beyond the Easter season.
Thrive Worship Update with Matt Smith
In this week's staff update, we hear from Matt Smith, Thrive Worship Leader.  Matt expresses his thanks for everyone who has helped make our virtual Thrive service possible. Additionally, Matt encourages the congregation to participate in our church-wide music video by recording yourself singing along with the Thrive band's recording of How Great Thou Art.  Learn More at
The Myths of Grief from Pastor John H. Stanley
In this video, Pastor John H. Stanley discusses some of the common misconceptions we have about grief and mourning.  John remarks that having celebrated Memorial Day earlier this week, many of us are remembering and grieving loved ones we have lost. Grief, John explains, is not a weakness or a lack of faith.  Grief instead shows how deeply we have loved.
We are One in Christ from Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore
In today's video update, Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore expresses her awe of God's creation, and how we are all synchronized to work together as one. Lauren explains that much like sea turtles whose eggs all hatch at the same time, we are all working our way toward the same destination at the same time.  And while we may move at different paces, in the body of Christ we have the patience to support each other, especially during the challenging seasons of our lives.
Memorial Day Prayer from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
As we celebrate Memorial Day, Cindy calls us to take a moment to pause and reflect on those who have given their lives to protect our country and freedom. Join us we give thanks for our many blessings and pray for God's peace.
Repent of Injustice: Adult Sunday School Lesson
Lynne and Claude Hathcock present today's Sunday School Lesson, "Repent of Injustice," which focuses on Jeremiah 22:1-10. In this lesson, we continue discussing the story of Jeremiah - a prophet who often felt like it was he and God against the rest of the world.  Throughout the book of Jeremiah, God calls the kings of Judah to show justice and mercy to those who the world ignores. Eventually, God presents his people with an ultimatum: repent of injustice or face destruction. But with that ultimatum, there is hope: repentance brings God's mercy and situation is irredeemable.
From the Reception Desk with Donna Kerns
In this week's staff update, Donna Kerns checks in to update us on how she is doing and what it is like working from home.  Donna comments that things have been challenging, but it has been exciting what she has been able to learn thanks to our modern technology.
Staying Connected with Each Other from Pastor John H. Stanley
Today John Stanley reflects on taking time to talk to God. Many of us are finding ourselves with a little extra time that we can use to pray or to stay connected with our loved ones. John says that God intends for us to stay connected with each other, so take a moment to reach out to someone and share God's love!
Lean Not On Your Own Understanding from Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore
In today's video update, Lauren encourages us to trust in God and to lean not on our own understanding by reading Proverbs 3:5. Lauren says that while things are difficult right now, and we are all having to adjust, God is teaching us valuable lessons.  They may seem hard, but they are lessons nonetheless.  Lauren reassures us that God has not abandoned us, and is always at work in our lives!
Fill Me with Your Holy Spirit from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
On this beautiful Monday morning, Cindy reminds us to check our inbox and the church website for updates and announcements regarding worship. Cindy also shares The Breath Prayer by Sheridan Voysey, praying that you will be filled with the Holy Spirit and with God's peace.
Practice Justice: Adult Sunday School Lesson 5/17/20
Mary Layton presents today's Sunday School Lesson, "Practice Justice," which focuses on a passage from Jeremiah 21:8-14. In her lesson, Mary explains that Jeremiah is often known as "the weeping prophet." Jeremiah was sent by God to five different kings, warning of God's judgement. Eventually, Jeremiah delivered the news that God's people would be sent into exile at the hands of the Babylonians. This lesson leads us to ask, "What is the importance of being in covenant with God?"
Do Not Worry About Tomorrow from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
Happy Friday! Today Dr. Cynthia M. Benz continues to encourage us not to worry as she reads Matthew 6:25-34. Cindy reminds us to be intentional with our thought, and to not become consumed with worry. We must hold in tension the hope we have in Jesus Christ, she says, with the reality of our current circumstance, remembering that God is still good!
Raise You Up on Eagles' Wings from Pastor John H. Stanley
This morning John shares a favorite painting from his home of an eagle. Why is this painting so important? John explains that the eagle reminds us to wait and to hope when all we can do is wonder "when will everything be back to normal?" John tells us that the eagle knows when a storm is coming, yet it doesn't try to escape or complain about the storm.  Instead, the eagle uses the storm to lift itself higher and to rise above its current situation.
Here I Raise My Ebenezer from Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore
Happy Tuesday!  Today Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore shares how singing hymns has become an important part of her spiritual practice while we are staying at home.  Lauren tells us that one of her favorite hymns to sing is Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, and takes particular note of the line, "Here I raise my Ebenezer." She explains that Ebenezer literally means "stone of hope." We hope that you can identify the "stone of hope" in your life today.
He Strengthens the Powerless from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
In this update, Dr. Cynthia M. Benz talks to us about Mother's Day, congregational updates, and, most importantly, shares a word of scripture.  Cindy tells us that Isaiah 40:27-29 is one of her favorite passages from the book of Isaiah, as it provides comfort for those who are feeling weak and powerless.  We hope this passage brings you some comfort today!
Peace and Justice Reign: Sunday School Lesson 5/10/20
Pat Glenn presents today's Sunday School Lesson, "Peace and Justice Reign," which focuses on passages from Zechariah, particularly Zechariah 8:1-8, and 11-17. Pat explains that Zechariah is known as the prophet of hope and encouragement, writing during a time when the Hebrew people were facing great stress and anxiety.  We hope that this lesson will encourage you today.
The Little Things That Bring Joy from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
On this lovely Friday, Dr. Cynthia M. Benz continues our theme of gratitude by talking about the little things that bring us joy.  Cindy tell us that we cannot wait for things to be good in order to be grateful, even if that means looking for one small thing to be thankful for.  Cindy says that she is thankful for the opportunity to take walks outside where she can focus on the little things that bring her joy. How are you staying in an attitude of gratitude?
Parish Nurse Update from Lisa Marisiddaiah
Lisa Marisiddaiah provides an update from our Parish Nurse Ministry. This ministry has been staying particularly busy during the COVID-19 crisis as volunteers sew face masks, create pocket prayer squares, and donate blood.  We hope that these resources allow you to stay well both spiritually and  physically during this time. In this video, Lisa also shares information on our upcoming webinar, "Navigating the Path to Emotional Wellness."
Attitude of Gratitude from Pastor John H. Stanley
Today Pastor John Stanley asks, "how do we develop an attitude of gratitude?" During these trying times, it can be hard to find things we are grateful for.  However, John explains that life becomes better when we make it a habit to express our gratitude and thankfulness.  Whether it is something big or small, what can you be grateful for today?
Feed My Sheep from Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore
This afternoon, Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore provides an update on our Crisis Assistance Ministry food drive and encourages us to donate to this important ministry.  Lauren also tells us of the passage from John 21 where Jesus tells Peter to, "feed my sheep." She goes on to explain how this food drive gives us the opportunity to feed Christ's sheep by offering both spiritual and physical nourishment.
Think on These Things from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
On this beautiful Monday, Cindy talks about the importance of community and just how much we need each other!  She explains that even while we are physically distancing, we can still find ways to ease each other's anxiety and share our burdens.  Cindy shares that in Philippians 4:8, Paul tells us to think on whatever is pure, honest, and lovely, anything worthy of praise, and the peace of God will be with you. Just think on these things.
Called to God's Work for Justice: Sunday School Lesson 5/3/20
Dr. Bob Blake presents today's Sunday School Lesson, "Called to God's Work for Justice," which focuses on passages from Zephaniah, specifically Zephaniah 3:9-20. Bob remarks that Zephaniah is typically referred to as the least known book of the Bible, as the last of the pre-exilic prophets. However, Bob tells us that this book offers hope, reassurance, and the promise of restoration for God's people.
Blessed to be a Blessing from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
Happy Friday! As we begin our weekend, Cindy encourages us to prepare for worship on Sunday. This week's bulletin is now available to download or print, and you can go ahead and arrange your sacred worship space. This Sunday we will celebrate the sacrament of Communion from our homes, so Cindy reminds us to prepare our common elements prior to beginning the service. Lastly, share your prayer concerns with us by calling the church office or emailing one of our pastoral staff!
Faith Formation Update with Susannah Bryant
In today's video, Susannah Bryant provides a Faith Formation update and shares what she has been doing to keep our children and youth engaged while we worship from home.  Susannah tells us that she is grateful for technology that allows us to see familiar faces and learn about God's word. Keep an eye out for a few other familiar faces near the end of the video!
To Lie Down in Green Pastures from Pastor John H. Stanley
In this video, Pastor John Stanley reflects on how we as a people are always moving so quickly. Whether it is the speedy oil change, or the fast food drive thru, we want things done now, and we often want God to move at just that same pace. But today we find ourselves living in a much different world, and longing for things that feel familiar. John explains, using Psalm 23, that God might just be moving us to be still, to pray, and to lie down in green pastures.
The Armor of God from Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore
In this video, Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore thanks members of our Sewing Ministry for their work making face masks for people in our community.  Lauren says that the mask she received is her "armor" in the event that she has to go out, protecting both her and those around her.  In Ephesians 6, Paul tells us to put on the armor of God, the belt of truth, and the shield of faith. What is your armor today? Lauren tells us that whatever it is, it will make a difference.
Do What Brings You Comfort from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
In today's video update, Cindy acknowledges that many of us are becoming frustrated with the current state of our world. We are feeling pressure to come out of this time of physical distancing having made big improvements to our life, such as a new skill or hobby.  Cindy reminds us that it is okay to simply do the things that bring us comfort during these strange times, and allow God to restore our souls.
The Lord Loves Justice: Sunday School Lesson 4/26/2020
Ellen Cinq-Mars presents today's Sunday School Lesson, "The Lord Loves Justice," which focuses on passages from Isaiah 61:8-11 and Isaiah 62:2-4. Throughout this lesson, we are reminded of the promise made by God that Jerusalem will be a place of justice and righteousness.  However, God upholds this promise through a covenant relationship, one that Ellen compares to a marriage. She explains that Christ vows to meet us with justice, grace, and love, and, in return, we should do the same.
God is in Control from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
In today's update, Cindy discusses how many of us are experiencing feelings of grief as we remain under the Stay at Home order, and under the stress the coronavirus is causing. Cindy lets us know that it is okay for us to experience that grief. We are grieving the loss of community and fellowship with those we love and with our church. However, Cindy urges us to turn from those feelings, to feelings of gratitude. Gratitude that we have the ability and technology to stay connected during these trying times, and that God is always in control.
I Am With You Always from Pastor John H. Stanley
Pastor John Stanley reflects on Matthew 28, where before his ascension, Christ tells his disciples, "I am with you always."  Christ is indeed with us during these trying times, we just may not be able to see his plan yet. Truly, "unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see."
Rejoice in the Lord Always from Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore
Lauren checks in today as we are in our fifth week of self-isolation. She notes that the general atmosphere in our world seems to be one of disappointment, as plans and events are cancelled and postponed. However, Lauren encourages us to talk to God about our disappointments, so that we might begin to look forward to the things God is doing in our midst.
Running the Race with Perseverance from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
Happy Monday! Today, Cindy shares scripture from Hebrews 12:1-3, pointing out that while we might be weary, we need not lose heart. We can fix our eyes on Jesus to finish this race. Cindy also takes a moment to remind us of the importance of true sabbath and rest which will allow you to not only restore your body, but restore your soul.
Injustice will be Punished: Sunday School Lesson 4/19/2020
Craig Whitley presents today's Sunday school lesson, "Injustice will be Punished," which focuses on the book of Esther.  While Craig remarks that this book of the Bible is an unusual one, as it does not mention God or Israel at all, there are some great lessons to learn from this story.  Most importantly, Craig notes how God has a plan for his people and uses us to help make it happen.

Thrown into the Lion's Den from Pastor John H. Stanley
While we are staying at home and practicing physical distancing, it is easy to become stressed as everything is out of the ordinary.  John explains how this feeling reminds him of being thrown in the lion's den, a difficult place for us all. However, John explains that during times of stress there is no better place to turn than the Bible, where from Psalm 16:1 he reads, "protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge."
This is the Day the Lord has Made: Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore
As the psalmist tells us in Psalm 118:24, "This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!" In this video, Lauren discusses how easy it has become for our days to blend together.  Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are all "just days" now. However, Lauren encourages us to use our days to celebrate Eastertide and to find the little, or big, things that bring us joy.  What has brought you joy today?
Fear Not! I Am With You from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
God repeatedly tells us, "Fear not! I am with you." In this video, Cindy remarks on how God is able to work miracles and arrange things to bring us peace and comfort at a time when it is much needed. She explains that God is at work now, so fear not! He is helping us find peace.
Resurrection of Hope: Sunday School Lesson 4/12/2020
Geoffrey Planer presents this week's Sunday school lesson, "Resurrection of Hope." In this lesson, Geof discusses Paul's account of the resurrection as told in 1 Corinthians 15. Geof explains that as Christians, we are Easter people and long to hear the Easter story.  Paul's account is just one story of the resurrection in the New Testament, but gives us hope for our own resurrection through Jesus Christ. Which account of the Easter story is your favorite?
Easter Sunrise Message from Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
In this Easter sunrise message, Cindy tells us that the tomb is empty. Jesus is not there, but has instead gone out into the world. On this beautiful Easter morning, let us together proclaim, "He is risen! Jesus Christ is risen indeed!"
Maundy Thursday Service: April 9, 2020
Our worship service is ready to begin! Tonight, we remember Jesus' last supper with his disciples and the washing of their feet. We will also begin to move toward the cross, and the ultimate sacrifice made by Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.

In the video below, our worship leaders have prepared a service which includes all regular worship elements such as hymns, scripture readings, a homily, and special music. We will also celebrate the sacrament of communion and invite you to partake using common elements from your home.

Join us as we virtually worship God together.
The Lord's Just Servant: Sunday School Lesson 4/5/2020
David Ratchford presents, "The Lord's Just Servant," a lesson on Isaiah 42:1-9. This passage, known as the Servant's Song, announces the coming of the Servant of the Lord, and, as David explains, the Servant-Messiah.  David contrasts this scripture with the beginning of Holy Week, and shares some insight into Isaiah as a person and as a book of scripture.
The Hands, Heart, and Feet of Jesus: Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
How can we show people the hands, heart, and feet of Jesus? Well, one way is to serve those in need in our community. In this video, Cindy shares information about our Meals on Wheels toiletry drive, and demonstrates how to prepare a bag for drop off at the PAD.
Getting Bitter or Getting Better: Pastor John Stanley
Pastor John Stanley shares words of encouragement as he discusses Dr. James Moore's book, "You Can Get Bitter, Or You Can Get Better."  With our world changing so rapidly, John tells us we have a choice: to stay bitter, or to embrace change and get better. John explains, "We can be of good cheer because Christ has overcome the world."
Be Still and Know that I am God: Dr. Cynthia M. Benz
Today, Dr. Cynthia M. Benz shares Psalm 46 where we are told not to fear and to, "be still and know that I am God." We pray that you will hold these words in your heart today, and every day. Cindy also encourages us to keep praying and to share what pieces of scripture are bringing us comfort.
Listening for God in the Wilderness: Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore
Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore reflects on wilderness as our Lenten theme, and shares insight on how we can listen for God in the wilderness. She explains that God is still "orienting" us and shares her prayers for what God can show us during this wilderness time.
March 29, 2020: Leading Justly Sunday School Lesson
What does it mean to be in covenant with God? And what is reverence, especially to God? These questions, and others, are addressed in this week's Sunday School lesson entitled, "Leading Justly." Mary Layton discusses these themes in this video.
March 25, 2020: An Update From Dr. Cynthia M. Benz

Cindy reassures us that God has never abandoned us and that God's grace is sufficient! She also encourages us to stay hopeful! Let us know one thing that brings you hope today.
March 23, 2020: An Update From Dr. Cynthia M. Benz

Cindy encourages us to set aside time for prayer, wash our hands frequently, and find joy in these unusual times.
March 20, 2020: A Message From Dr. Cynthia M. Benz

Dr. Cynthia M. Benz shares important news from the session and the pastoral staff.
March 17, 2020: An Update From Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore and Pastor John Stanley

Rev. Lauren Sease Vanacore and Pastor John Stanley share some insight into "the best of times, and the of worst of times." Watch for advice on how to faithfully confront these challenging times and COVID-19.