First Pres Updates and Devotionals

First Pres Updates and Devotionals

April 4, 2020 Update


Joining many other churches around the nation and world, First Presbyterian Church of Greenville will be ringing its tower bell each day at 10:00am for approximately three minutes. The church hopes this simple daily gesture will bring a sense of peace and comfort to those who are living or working in downtown Greenville.

“We want to show the Greenville community that we are thinking about them, praying for them, and that we want them to know that with God, you are never alone,” said the Rev. Dr. Richard Gibbons, Senior Pastor at First Presbyterian. “Many of our neighbors are elderly and now have limited contact with family members or regular caretakers. We hope that the sound of the bell helps them feel a little less fearful or isolated.”

The church also aims to send a message of solidarity to healthcare workers, many of which are working long hours at hospitals in downtown Greenville. “We truly appreciate the sacrifices that doctors, nurses, and other health system employees are making during this trying time. Our prayers and love are with each of you,” said Gibbons.

First Presbyterian invites other churches in Greenville to join in and ring their bells at the same time.

March 23, 2020 Devotional

March 27, 2020 Devotional

March 23, 2020 Devotional

March 21, 2020 
A Message From Pastor Gibbons - How FPC Is Responding to the Coronavirus

Dear Church Family,

I do trust that you are well and are being prayerful and careful amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this week I contacted the congregation, and what I highlighted then has not changed.

The President has declared a National State of Emergency, and enacted a travel ban from multiple countries. European nations have closed their borders. The economy is struggling to respond to a volatile financial market. Schools, cinemas, restaurants, theaters, and churches are closed. Hospitals have canceled non-urgent medical procedures. Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited, and medical professionals are encouraging us to practice social distancing and wash our hands multiple times each day.

Here are some ways we are responding as a congregation.

As of Monday, March 23, the reception desk and front office will be open 9:00am–4:00pm Monday–Thursday, and 9:00am–3:00pm on Friday. A security officer will be present when people are in the building. Our Executive Pastor and Operations Director plan to be at church during office hours; a representative from Congregational Care and at least one pastor will also be on campus.

The Vineyard bookstore will be open Monday–Thursday, 9:00am–1:00pm.

A majority of our staff will be working from home for their safety and to ensure that effective ministry continues. Email will be regularly monitored by our staff. General emails can be sent to

Our Facilities team has been hard at work deep cleaning the church campus, including carpets and floors, daily sanitizing restrooms, door knobs, and handrails.

We are no longer visiting members in hospitals and rehab/nursing homes, per regulations from those facilities. Our pastors, elders, deacons, and Pastoral Visitation Ministers will continue to be in contact with these members by phone.

Mail will be checked regularly and essential Finance Office functions will continue.

Worship Service Streaming and Television Broadcast
We encourage you to worship at home by watching our streamed service each Sunday at 8:30am and 11:00am. Streaming options include:
• Click Here
• Roku Channel: Go to the Channel Store; search for First Presbyterian Church Greenville.
• Mobile App: Download the FPC Live app; click the Live Streaming icon.

Our 30-minute televised broadcast on WHNS-FOX Carolina (one week delayed) will continue at 10:30am each Sunday.You may following the order of service by downloading Sunday’s Worship Folder. Click HERE.

Children’s, Student, and Adult Ministries
Our Children’s Ministry and Student Ministry are connecting with families through email and social media to provide electronic and practical resources for use in their homes. Our adult leaders are currently planning how to connect with and meet the needs of Sunday Life Groups, Bible studies, and small groups.

Weekly Devotionals
I will be encouraging you each week through short devotionals. Watch for these in your email, on our website (, and on our Facebook page (

Helping Others in Need
We know that a significant number of our families and friends will need our help. If you are aware of someone who is elderly or housebound with no immediate family or friends and is unable to shop for groceries or pick up prescriptions, please offer to help if you can. Alternatively please contact Tammy Burkhalter, Congregational Care Director, at 672.0327 or, and leave the person’s contact details. We will seek to be in touch and help wherever we can.

If you are in need of prayer or pastoral care, please know that you may call the Pastor of the Day (POD). The POD is listed in the weekly GrapeVine newsletter and on the church website. You may also request prayer from the Prayer Team by calling 672.1838 or emailing If you want to volunteer to be part of our Prayer Team, please contact Tammy Burkhalter, or 672.0327.

We encourage each of you to also be on the lookout for those who are hurting and frightened at the prospects of the future and offer your love and support.

Unfortunately, one of the effects of canceling Sunday services is financial. If you would consider mailing your weekly offering or dropping it off at the church office, we would be most grateful. You can also give online at During this crisis we will continue to pay staff salaries and utility bills, and to prayerfully meet our ministry priorities. We are determining the best use of our facilities to minimize costs.

In times of uncertainty, a number of us default to a heightened concern about our present and future financial situation. As with all things, these concerns have been addressed in Scripture. God understands that we divert our attention and energy in this way.

If you are anxious about your financial situation and would like to discuss it, our Stewardship Director, Andy Douglas, would be glad to help. Together you can pray for a release of this anxiety and for God’s guidance as you prepare and develop a personal plan. Prayerfully constructing a plan and adhering to it may help reduce the uncertainty and fear of the unknown.

Andy can be reached at 672.1753 or on Mondays through Thursdays during church office hours. Rest assured that all conversations will be kept in strictest confidence.

This Sunday we are continuing to explore the Gospel of John, studying John 15:1-11, as Jesus leaves the Upper Room and journeys to the Garden of Gethsemane. Please read over this passage as you prepare for Sunday morning. If you would print a copy of the Order of Worship, please click HERE.

Finally, please be assured of our continued prayers for you and your family, and know that if we can help, please do not hesitate to be in touch. Let’s continue to seek ways to serve and influence the heart of our city. Amidst these challenges, we can be sure of this:
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46:1-3

Meanwhile I trust you have a good weekend, and I look forward to welcoming you to our streaming worship broadcast on Sunday morning.

Yours in Him,
Richard Gibbons sig sm.jpg

March 16, 2020
Update from First Pres

In light of new advice from the Centers of Disease Control, Governor McMaster’s closing of all schools and the President’s Press Conference there will be no events or meetings taking place at First Presbyterian Church until the 1st of April.

The advice we are receiving is changing rapidly and we will seek to keep you up to date when we can.

Amidst this crises it is more important than ever to remember that a significant number of our families and friends will need our help. If you are aware of someone who is perhaps elderly or housebound and are unable to shop for groceries or pick up prescriptions please offer to help if you can.

On Sunday mornings we will worship via live streaming at 8:30am and 11:00am. If you are unfamiliar with live streaming please visit our website homepage and click the Watch Live icon to learn how to connect. Each week we also broadcast a 30-minute service on Fox Carolina at 10:30am. Please join us. 

Unfortunately, one of the effects of cancelling Sunday services is financial. If you would consider mailing your weekly offering our dropping it off at the church office we would be most grateful. You can also give online at During this crisis we will seek to continue to pay staff salaries, utility bills, and prayerfully meet our ministry priorities.

Finally, many of us are feeling anxious, concerned, and fearful. Yet this is not the first time our country has faced a crisis. As a nation we now have choices. It would appear that movie theaters, malls, churches, schools, concerts, and restaurants should be avoided. We have a natural concern that family members or friends will become ill. We are clearly no longer as safe as we once were. But we still have choices. We can submit and surrender to fear and anxiety or we can stand for the core values that define us as a nation. Those core values have been on display over the last few weeks.

They have been on display when individuals selflessly and at times sacrificially stepped forward to attend to those in need. When doctors and medical staff, turned up to treat those who have been infected--they did so with little thought for themselves. When teachers interacted with  children never quite knowing whether they would be infected or not. Those are the values that define who we are. Values embedded within our national character. Values which we believe are self-evident.

There is so much more which defines us as a nation than the coronavirus. We are a people conceived in liberty and shaped by adversity, for “In God we trust.” When you are tempted to surrender to anxiety or fear please remember that you can be certain of the promises contained in Psalm 91, “Those who dwell in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:1-2).

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In response to the Covid-19 illness, both the Downtown and Shannon Forest campuses will be closed beginning Monday, March 16.
Distance Learning programs are in effect for K2-12th Grade.

March 15, 2020
Dear First Presbyterian Academy Families,

In light of recent news regarding the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), I wanted to follow up our previous correspondence with additional information.  Our leadership team has been busy planning for every scenario that might occur during this period of the outbreak in our area and in our state. 

After careful reading and learning from the experts at the CDC and SCDHEC, several decisions have been made concerning the next two weeks.  At this time, school will be closed for the next two weeks.  Closer to the end of this period of time, we will be sending out additional information about next steps. 

To support our students and families, distance learning will be available either through Google Classroom (4th -12th Grades) or virtual learning packets (K5 - 3rd Grades).  Details concerning the process of accessing the information will be sent at the beginning of the week.  The completion of these assignments is mandatory for credit.  Preschool students will receive a learning packet as well.  This instructional period will count towards completion of the academic year and graduation requirements for our High School students. 

Extracurricular activities (Sports, Drama, Music, etc.) are being postponed to a later date.  As soon as the dates can be confirmed, information will be sent to those participating.  Also, students in the Upper School can retrieve any materials from school during regular operating hours tomorrow, Monday, March 16.

Please know that we are in prayer for all members of the school family.  We covet your prayers as we continue to serve the Lord.  All members of our team continue to trust the Lord for the protection of our school and families.  Like Nehemiah in scripture, we want to be diligent to do our part.

In Christ,

Tom Roe
Head of School 

Update as of Sunday, March 15, 11:30am:

Church activities at First Presbyterian are being held this week as usual. Should individual groups or organizations, however, wish to cancel in light of the coronavirus they should feel free to do so.

As a church we are asking those demonstrating symptoms of ill health to remain at home and those with underlying health issues to also remain at home.

We are wiping down and cleaning all public areas on a regular basis. We are providing hand sanitizer and wipes in all public places and are following the advice provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with Greenville County Council and Greenville City Departments of Public Health.

As you are aware, the spread of the coronavirus disease has dominated the news headlines over the last few weeks. In order to keep you up to date with how we are responding as a church, I am including below the advice we are receiving from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On their website is a dedicated page for Faith-based Organizations, and out of an abundance of caution, we are following their advice.

Because as a church we are in regular contact with vulnerable people in our society, we are proactively seeking to protect them and our congregation from the possibility of infection. We believe that this common-sense approach is prudent and necessary at this time.

Medical Advice
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tell us there is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases includes:
• Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Staying home when you are sick.
• Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash.
• Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• Following CDC's recommendations for using a face mask.
a. People who are well should not wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
b. Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of face masks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of others in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility).
• Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
• Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60 percent alcohol) if soap and water are not readily available.

Church Response
As a church we are taking the following actions:
• Providing a point person to liaise with healthcare professionals and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
• Updating staff and congregation with advice from CDC.
• Sanitizing and cleaning all public areas daily, some areas multiple times daily.
• Providing alcohol-based hand sanitizer in public areas, including the reception area, Memorial Hall, Fellowship Hall, Parlor, Choir Room, offices, and Loggia.
• Appointing the Interview Room adjacent to the main reception area as an isolation room for caring for individuals who show signs of illness while we contact the individual's family and doctor, or until the individual can be taken home or to a medical facility.
• Communicating with the congregation updates relevant to Faith-based Organizations that we receive from healthcare professionals.
• Minimizing and preventing contamination when preparing and serving communion.

Personal Care
If you or a family member suspects you have been in contact with someone who has the virus, please take the appropriate action and quarantine yourself while contacting your doctor. The most obvious symptoms of the coronavirus are fever, persistent coughing, and shortness of breath. If you are displaying these symptoms, please take the sensible precaution of remaining at home and contacting your doctor.

Worship Broadcast
If you choose to self-quarantine and wish to participate in Sunday morning worship, please watch our live stream Sundays at 8:30am and 11:00am. Our live stream may be viewed by
• Computer: Click Here
• Roku: if you have a Roku channel, find our channel by searching for First Presbyterian Church Greenville.
• Mobile App: download our mobile app FPC Live and click Live Streaming.
You may also watch a 30-minute television broadcast of our 11:00am worship service (one week delayed) on Fox Carolina each Sunday at 10:30am.

Members of our pastoral staff and congregants who visit our elderly or members in need will telephone ahead of a visit to ensure visitation is appropriate. This will apply to all hospitals, care facilities, and homes.

As a church we deeply appreciate your prayerful concern as we navigate these healthcare issues. If you are aware of people in need during this time, please do not hesitate to be in touch. We will seek to be of assistance wherever we can.

Thank you for being willing to adopt this common-sense approach to minimizing possible healthcare issues. It is also worth remembering that those who "dwell in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust'" (Psalm 91:1-2).

Yours in Him.
Richard Gibbons sig sm.jpg