Dear First Pres,

Maybe you've had the privilege of being the recipient of a great gift. Receiving it felt like an incredible blessing of love from another person. You were incredibly grateful. But then, you realized there was more. There was another gift, and you could hardly believe that there was more. That's what the generosity of God is like.

   In Christ we have the greatest gift of all, our salvation. As Paul writes of Jesus in Philippians 2, "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a a cross." All of that so that we could be forgiven of our sin and made eternally alive in Christ by simply putting our faith in Him. Hallelujah!
   But wait, there's more. God is so good! The Gospel is all about redeeming transformation here as it is in heaven. So, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, as we continue to put our faith in Jesus, God calls us into more than just being saved. God calls us into new life. God calls us into wholeness. God calls us into healing. God calls us into "the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13). What incredible generosity from God!
   I don't know about you, but I want to experience all the "more" I can in Christ. I don't just want to wait until heaven. I want to pursue His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. And I believe that's what you ultimately want (and need) as well.
   That's why we're having the All Church Symposium on Saturday, February 23 from 4-6pm called "A Church that Heals." The Lord has given FPC strength to survive many hurts and traumas over the years, all glory to God for that. But we don't just want to survive, we want to live into the redeeming transformation that is available to us in Christ. We want to be a church that knows how to truly lean in together with grace and truth in the midst of those most difficult seasons. We want to be a church that is ready to walk with folks in the midst of hurt and trauma in a way that leads us all to Jesus.
   So, whether you've been part of FPC all your life or you've only been here for the last few months, if you're interested in our church living into the "more" of Christ's redeeming transformation, please join me for "A Church that Heals," the all church Symposium 4-6pm Saturday, February 23.

Blessings,
Jeremy

Jeremy Vaccaro's picture
Jeremy Vaccaro
Senior Pastor

Dear First Pres,

Well, the Super Bowl may not have been all that super, but our Super Sunday sure was! "That was the best annual meeting ever." "What a wonderful meeting!" "I feel like I went to church twice today." These were the comments I heard from you about the Annual Meeting, and I absolutely agree. How wonderful to see a glimpse of what God is doing in and through First Presbyterian Church. I hope you were encouraged like I was. Congratulations to our Outstanding Service Award winners: Debby Rader, Sheree Dull, and Ron Dull. And thank you to all those who stood and shared in front of the congregation how the Lord is at work among us. It was truly a super day.
   Now ... it's time to get on with the mission that God has given us together in Christ for 2019.  One of the ways that you can engage in that mission is to join in one of the Education Hour classes. The Education Hour is designed to increase our connection with each other while equipping us to be disciple-makers together. There are several options for you to choose from (see below), so I'm confident you can find something that will benefit you. Plus, there's great stuff going on for our kids. So, I encourage you to make participating in our Education Hour a priority.
    Also, as I mentioned in Sunday's meeting. I want to invite you to mark your calendars for Saturday, February 23. We are holding a church symposium called "A Church that Heals." Our Session made a courageous step this last year in deciding to intentionally work at increasing our competency in healing together from the hurts and traumas of our congregation. "A Church that Heals" is a way for us to share with you what's been happening behind the scenes with that intentional work and invite you to be part of the vision of wholeness that we believe God has for this congregation. I hope you'll join us 4 - 6 pm Saturday, February 23.
   I'm so grateful to be part of this work with you. Beloved, God is at work among us. May 2019 be a year of increased engagement across the entire congregation matched with great fruitfulness by the Spirit of God.

Blessings,
Jeremy

Jeremy Vaccaro's picture
Jeremy Vaccaro
Senior Pastor

by Geraud Brumfield

   Campus Ministry is the opportunity to walk alongside college students when they need it the most. Sometimes you get to explain the Gospel to someone for the first time. Other times you sit with a student who is wrestling through the nuances of a passage of Scripture. In all of it, I am able to see students  inwho tells you, "I don't believe a book (re: the Bible) can tell a person how to live their life"? You don’t just explain the Gospel - you live it!

   Earlier this school year, Sean, a first-year student on Fresno Pacific's Men's basketball team from Edinburgh, Scotland, damaged his left knee for the third time during a scrimmage in pre-season. He would have to sit out the season that had yet to start. 

   Surgery was inevitable but he had to wait for all the right pieces to fall into place. One Thursday, he and Coach Haydock received the call that the surgery would take place the next day. The only dilemma was that the rest of the team (including the coach) would be on a bus traveling to San Diego to play their first game.

   Coach called me: "Would you be able to pick Sean up from the hospital after surgery tomorrow?" "Absolutely,” I replied. “There's no other place I’d rather be.”

   I have never had surgery. However, when I get the slightest cold I still call my mom. I can only imagine what it feels like to be 19, over 5000 miles away from family, and the people you trust the most are all on a bus doing the exact thing you wish you were doing. So on that Friday, I sat in the lobby of the hospital waiting for Sean. I gave him a get well soon gift, dropped off and picked up his prescription, listened to his stories as he came in and out of anesthesia, picked up Panda Express (his choice), then went to pick up chicken noodle soup - just in case the Panda didn't sit well - and became his crutch into his room.

   I didn't do this for a pat on the back or some recognition from others. I did this because God brought a young man into my life that still hasn't tasted the Kingdom of God. In ministry - honestly, in life as Christians - we get to show the world what it means to follow Jesus. 

   Fast forward to December 22nd, the school year is over Christmas is right around the corner. I knew that Sean's family was visiting the States and they would be visiting San Francisco. So I didn’t even mention our Christmas Eve services. Honestly , I thought he would want to be in San Francisco over Fresno. I was wrong! I received a text message asking if he could bring his family to our Christmas Eve service. I was blown away and immediately shared the news with those around me. Not only did he come to the service with his family, but he also came with another teammate.

   Afterward, we had great conversation about the service while processing all the moving parts. Then I thought, I should not lose another opportunity for an invitation. After getting all the possible roadblocks handled, I invited Sean and 4 of his teammates to join me at Jubilee 2019. He said yes! Can you believe it? I am still shocked! Now, he and 3 of his teammates will be joining as we travel to Pittsburgh, PA for Jubilee. 

   Join me in praying, not only for Sean but the other 11 students who are signed up currently. God has something in store each student and I am here for it! Here's the list of students going to Jubilee:  Alex Ferguson | Allison Betts | Austin Jackson | Bri Koda-Alejandrez | Emilio Aldana IV | Emily Bernal | Izzy Gordon | Jeremy Ray | JR Hancock | Michaela Kimball | Richard Corona | Sean Nealon-Lino

 

Geraud Brumfield

Dear First Pres,

When some people hear the phrase "Annual Meeting" they think, "boring" or "worst idea ever" or "not for me." But those thoughts couldn't be further from the truth. And, I hope you'll join me for our 2019 FPC Annual Meeting on Sunday at 9:30am so you can see for yourself.
    Here are a few glimpses into our agenda that I hope will whet your appetite to be there.

Outstanding Service Award. We have so many wonderful servants in the life of our congregation. I can't wait for you to celebrate with us this year's recipients of the Outstanding Service Award.
Acknowledging Oscar Rodriguez. After 10 years on our staff, Oscar is transitioning into full-time ministry with Martin Park Ministries. We want to thank him for his work on staff and pray him into this new season.
New Officers and Nominating Committee. The only vote we'll be taking is for the call of our new Ruling Elders, Deacons, and Nominating Committee members. Praise God for these servants! (view list here)
Testimony. I know you're going to be blessed as several voices share how God has been at work in and through them.
Looking to 2019. The Annual Meeting is a great time to learn about some of the exciting opportunities of 2019 and beyond.

This is going to be fun. It truly is a Super Sunday.

Blessings,
Jeremy

Jeremy Vaccaro's picture
Jeremy Vaccaro
Senior Pastor

Dear First Pres,

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Acts 2:42 
   The 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting are challenging this time around. I find myself confessing a lot and wrestling with God about the heaviness on my heart. The tendency to find security and comfort in things of this world is evident in the vices I use to filter out or avoid feeling the hurt or confusion of the world. Being face-to-face with these harsh realities has brought me to a place of deeper relationship and dependence on God, even though the process has proven painful. So where is the hope and shalom (wholeness) of God's kingdom reflected?
   It's reflected through the engagement of God's diverse people in learning, fellowshipping, eating, and praying. When we engage together in this type of communal activity, God's shalom and kingdom are made known to the world around us. In the times when my heart is burdened and I am struggling to see God, there always seems to be a Jr. High student who reminds me of God's goodness, love and joy. We can do that for one another as we intentionally seek to live in relationship with each other - pursuing and valuing each other's stories, perspectives and gifts. 
    Engaging in prayer together is so powerful. We are not participating in the 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting alone or just with FPC, but with the larger context of God's people all over the city. We are seeking together God's shalom and transformation on behalf of our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces and where we play. Praying together reminds us that our God is bigger than we can imagine and at the same time nearer to us than we know. When we devote ourselves to live and breath God's word, to spending intentional time together, to inviting each other to our Father's infinite table and to praying with and for one another we cannot help but be changed by God's Spirit. May we continue to lean into Jesus' abundant life together. 

May Our Light Shine, 
Meagan

Meagan Bergem's picture
Meagan Bergem
Director of Junior High Ministries