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Bridge Pastors – Jones & Neelly



The Session of First Presbyterian Church approved the FPC Staff Team’s recommendation to employ The Rev. Dr. Walter Jones and The Rev. Dr. Dick Neelly as co-ministers to fill the ministry gap until an Interim Pastor can be identified and called.

Jones will fill the pulpit or arrange for guest preachers and preside over the day-to-day operations of the church. Neelly with handle visitation and congregational needs. Both will essentially work for free.  Jones has asked that money designated for his salary be given to the church’s new Matthew 25 initiative.  Neelly has asked that he receive no remuneration.

Session members expressed gratitude to both retired Presbyterian USA ministers for their willingness to provide their expertise and guidance in the coming months until an interim pastor is named.

Working closely with our church are new Cherokee Presbytery General Presbyter Wilson Kennedy and Presbytery Ministry Transitions Team liaison Gale Sandlin, who met with the Session last Sunday, July 17th.  Both emphasized that the Presbytery will continue to work closely alongside our church until a new minister is called and in place, a process that, on average, takes a year to 18 months.

The Staff Team will serve as the Search Committee for an interim minister.  A duly-elected by the congregation Search Committee will seek a permanent minister. In accordance with the Book of Order, a timeline for creating and launching the work of this second committee has not yet been established, but Session members expressed the desire to move along as quickly as feasible to begin the search process.

Bridge Pastors – Jones & Neelly2022-07-27T09:39:34-05:00

Thank You – A Letter from Rev. Will Scott

Dear Friends in Christ,

It’s hard to sum everything up in a couple of words, but, for now, “thank you” will have to do. Our family are so grateful for your kindness and support these past weeks as we have prepared to say goodbye (not to mention your many kindnesses to us these past eight years). We will never forget the ways that you have welcomed us into your church and into your lives. We have grown as a family and as people thanks to your care, your help, and the many examples of faithfulness you have lived out as disciples of Jesus.

We always look forward to Sunday, but it’s hard to look forward to this one. We’re just grateful to have had these past years with you all, and one more week to celebrate the presence of God with us in Jesus Christ.

I’ll say more Sunday, but in this particular “goodbye” there are just a couple of things I need to mention. Beginning next week, I will no longer be your pastor—which means that I will not be able to visit you in the hospital, or conduct a wedding or a funeral, or lend any advice about the church’s future. Any future contact I have with the church will only be at the express invitation of the moderator or the clerk of session. This boundary is necessary for us to be able to separate appropriately so that your interim pastor and your next pastor will have ample space to get to know you without my presence intruding. So while I will always care for you and follow your church’s story with interest and prayer, I will not be able to do so as your pastor—just your friend.

For now, just know that I love this church and each of you. I pray that God will continue to move powerfully in all of your lives, “that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”






Thank You – A Letter from Rev. Will Scott2022-07-20T10:42:59-05:00

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
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