Matthew 25 Initiative Update

At its regular stated meeting on Sunday, June 19, the session of First Presbyterian Church voted to enlist our church as a part of the denomination’s Matthew 25 initiative. This commitment gives focus to current mission efforts which already align with Matthew 25’s goals of building congregational vitality, ending structural racism, and eradicating systemic poverty. Stay tuned for more information about what this means for our church. If you’d like to learn more about this denominational program, start HERE.

Matthew 25 Initiative Update2022-06-21T13:08:01-05:00

Pastoral Call – A Letter to the Congregation – June 12, 2022


June 12, 2022


Dear Friends in Christ,


We’ve spent the past year reading the Gospel of Luke together, and I’m struck by the ending. Jesus ascends into heaven. But then, as Luke begins the Acts of the Apostles, he tells the same story—the Ascension. Why does he repeat the story? I don’t know. Maybe Luke knows it’s hard to say goodbye to people you love; it takes a couple of tries to get it right.

This is a hard letter to write because it is the beginning of a goodbye. I am writing to let you know that I have accepted a call to become Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Shreveport, Louisiana. My last Sunday in the pulpit here in Dalton will be July 24.

Let me first say that it has been a joy and a privilege to be your pastor these past eight years. When I showed up for work in July of 2014, I walked into a completely renovated Martin House that was next door to a cement foundation and some steel beams. Since that time we finished a building; but, more important than that, we have grown as a church. We have welcomed new faces and said goodbye to beloved ones. We have studied together, served together, and worshipped together, testifying that God is at work in this place and in each one of your lives.

While our family is excited about our next chapter, we are saddened to leave a place that has meant so much to us. You welcomed Katie and me with a baby in tow, and have made this community our home with so much love and support. You brought us food and help and prayers as we welcomed two new babies and have helped nurture them in their baptisms. You were always eager to share kind words, patient in teaching a young pastor, open and encouraging, and always forgiving.

I have already shared my intention to leave with the session and the Presbytery. Consequently both groups will be at work soon to facilitate a transition—locating an interim pastor, reflecting on congregational identity during a transitional period, and ultimately calling a new pastor. There is already someone out there who God is calling to be with you in this special place.

If you have any questions or concerns about what this process looks like, you are welcome to talk to me or a member of session. Know, too, that representatives from Cherokee Presbytery will be present throughout this transitional period. The Rev. Wilson Kennedy, General Presbyter for Cherokee Presbytery will be preaching in Dalton on July 17, and will be happy to speak with any of you about the transitional process. And while I will be unable to care for you as your pastor beyond July, I look forward to being with you in ministry in the coming weeks and celebrating how far we have come together—and celebrating what’s next.


We’ll have a couple of tries to say goodbye. For now, let me just say how much I love you all.






Pastoral Call – A Letter to the Congregation – June 12, 20222022-06-15T12:05:48-05:00

Christmas in July – Kid City Block Party

Save the date: Tuesday, July 26th 5:00-7:00

For: Christmas in July Block Party for Kid City and Summer Pre-K participants and families

Christmas in July is a project to support and encourage families who participate in summer learning opportunities at Dalton Public School’s Kid City and Summer Pre-K transition programs. Families have the opportunity to earn free book bags, school shoes, back-to-school outfits, and even bicycles! This project will impact approximately 200 families.

This block party will include inflatables, games, free haircuts, Chick-fil-a meals, books, and prizes. The event is sponsored by First Presbyterian Church, First Methodist Church, First Baptist Church, Crosspointe Church, Rock Bridge Community Church, and Books for Change USA.

Our Mission team has provided funds for gift cards to Academy Sports for back-to-school shoes for each child. There are other ways that you can help as well. We will need volunteers on the day of the event. Look for a link coming soon to sign up for a time slot. Also, we will need cases of water. These can be brought to the church any time before the event.

Thanks so much for being the church!

If you have questions, contact Alice Ensley.

Christmas in July – Kid City Block Party2022-06-07T12:11:10-05:00

Matthew 25 Initiative

Following its May stated meeting, the session has begun exploring what it means for First Presbyterian Church to join the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Matthew 25 initiative. The project focuses congregational work and mission on congregational vitality, eradicating systemic poverty, and dismantling structural racism. Both the Missions Team and Session will be in conversation about how FPC’s priorities can align with this mission. If you have questions about what this initiative might mean for our church, learn about Matthew 25 through the resources provided in the link below. We would love your feedback, too! Talk to an elder, visit a missions team meeting, or pray for our church as we continue to discern where God is leading us next.


From the PC(USA)

Matthew 25:31–46 calls all of us to actively engage in the world around us, so our faith comes alive and we wake up to new possibilities. Convicted by this passage, both the 222nd and 223rd General Assemblies (2016 and 2018) exhorted the PC(USA) to act boldly and compassionately to serve people who are hungry, oppressed, imprisoned or poor.

By accepting the Matthew 25 invitation, you can help our denomination become a more relevant presence in the world. We recognize Christ’s urgent call to be a church of action, where God’s love, justice and mercy shine forth and are contagious. And we rejoice how our re-energized faith can unite all Presbyterians for a common and holy purpose: our common identity to do mission.

For more information, click HERE.

Matthew 25 Initiative2022-06-01T10:04:44-05:00

Midweek Meditation – May 11, 2022

“I Believe”

The Apostles’ Creed was not the only creed to come into existence in the period of the early church, However, it is one of the oldest and simplest creeds of the church stemming from the statement, “Jesus is Lord”.  All Christian traditions recognize its authority and its importance as a standard of doctrine. To study the Apostles’ Creed is to investigate a central element of our common Christian heritage. It is an affirmation of the basic beliefs that unite Christians throughout the world and across the centuries beginning with the words “I believe”.

The Christian creeds had their origins as a profession or confession of faith made by converts at their baptism. Since then, they have served other purposes—for example, as a test of orthodoxy for Christian leaders or as an act of praise in Christian worship. In our day and age the creeds serve three main purposes.

First, a creed provides a brief summary of the Christian faith. You do not become a Christian by reciting a creed; rather, the creed provides a useful summary of the main points of your faith. Certain Christian teachings are not dealt with in the creed. For example, in the Apostles’ Creed there is no section that states “I believe in Scripture”. The importance of the Bible is assumed throughout. Most of the creed consists of direct quotations from Scripture.

Second, a creed allows us to recognize and avoid inadequate or incomplete versions of Christianity. By providing a balanced and biblical approach to the Christian faith, tried and tested by believers down through the centuries, the creed allows us to recognize deficient versions of the gospel.

Third, a creed emphasizes that to believe is to belong. To become a Christian is to enter a community of faith whose existence stretches back to the upper room in which Jesus met with his disciples. By putting your faith in Jesus Christ, you have become a member of his body, the church, which uses this creed to express its faith.

Many people have found their faith strengthened and clarified by being forced to think through areas of the gospel that you might otherwise overlook. See the creed as an invitation to explore and discover areas of the gospel that otherwise you might miss or overlook.

Want to know more? You are invited to join us on Sunday mornings beginning May 15 at 9:15 a.m. in Hollis Hall as together we explore The Apostles Creed.

 – Jean Strain, Director of Christian Education

Midweek Meditation – May 11, 20222022-05-11T10:54:38-05:00
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