As we say goodbye to one year and welcome in a new one, there is always a mix of emotions. We have certainly had some ups and downs, but as Rev. Brian Lays noted in his sermon last Sunday, one thing we know for sure is that we have Christ in common as we move together into 2020. It was difficult saying goodbye to our beloved Children’s Ministries director, Cindy Coulter, who made such a positive impact on so many of our children. It was also hard saying goodbye to our Recess Respite Program but are thankful for all the people who were helped by it over the last two years. Thanks again to staff members Pat Flowers and Henry Scott and the many IPC volunteers who made it such a success.
Looking back on 2019, there was so much to celebrate! Both STAIR and the Summer Learning Program students saw tremendous academic gains. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin even came to the STAIR graduation at IPC in the spring to help celebrate their success. We received more donations through the Harvest for Hunger Food Drive for the IPC Food Pantry than last year. We also raised more money this year for STAIR, First Light and the Children’s Fresh Air Farm through the 70th Annual Holiday House Tour. Did I mention that CFAF director Catherine Goudreau is planning to expand the Summer Learning Program for a second year in the row due to the program’s success and the students’ desires to continue returning? In Christian Education, a new group called Bridges was formed for people in their 20s, 30s and 40s to provide education and fellowship opportunities for these adults and their families. The Presbyterian Women at IPC have formed two new Circles and have executed incredibly well-attended events, including the Presbyterian Women’s Luncheon that sold out. These ladies have a PW Retreat planned for Jan. 24- 25 here at IPC. The PW Spring Gathering of all the women from our presbytery and the Presbytery of South Alabama will also take place here at IPC in March.
2020 is here, and we’re continuing to build on those successes. A new Christian Education term begins this Sunday with new classes, like “The Musical Poetry of Faith” with Dr. Alison Chapman on Sundays. Wednesday night classes and dinner return this upcoming Wednesday as well with a new class called “Love, Family and Friendship in Great Expectations” with retired Altamont professor Jim Palmer. Rehearsals for “100% Chance of Rain,” the spring children’s musical about Noah, also begin. Of course, all of your favorite classes are also returning. New groups are also forming for Dinners for Eight and Grace Groups. The sign up is already live for the PW Retreat featuring Rev. Mary Bea Sullivan and a special dinner, art and wine event at The Clubhouse on Highland. We’ll celebrate Dr. Jeff McLelland’s 20 years at IPC with an organ recital January 26. The Religious Arts Festival featuring the music and art of Scotland begins one month (and a day) from today. Village Presbyterian Church Senior Pastor Rev. Tom Are, Jr. will also join us from Prairie Village, KS as our Focus on Faith speaker and guest preacher February 23. Author of the Grace Groups book, Charter of Christian Freedom (on Galatians) Gordon Lindsey, will give a kickoff lecture on his book for all the groups on February 24, so make sure you save that date. Those are just a few of the events that are planned for the first two months of 2020!
I look forward to sharing ministry with you as we enter this new year. My sermon series on Paul’s letter to the Philippians, which will go through April, begins this Sunday with a sermon entitled, “Thankful for your Partnership.”
See you Sunday!