Clergy Corner

Sid Batts

By Senior Pastor Sid Batts

I heard my first Christmas song today. It was Gene Autry’s, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” It’s mid-November. Though we in the church prepare for Christmas with our Advent services, the culture already has a jump on us.

At First Prez, we will prepare for Christmas with a focus on “incarnation.” It’s not a word we hear much in all the frenzy of December, but for Christians it is one of our most important words. It literally means “a person who embodies in the flesh a deity,” which sounds like something from Greek mythology. But for you and me, it’s what Christmas is all about. In other words, God became human in Jesus. It’s still a startling pronouncement, both wondrous and full of mystery.

Through our Advent and Christmas services, we will ponder and celebrate this wondrous mystery. If it’s true (and we believe it is), it says something profound about God and God’s character.

* * *

Our fall season has been deep and wide. The October joint service with Saint James Presbyterian was not only historic, but also a milestone for our church and for Greensboro. In a national climate that seems to have taken a step backward in race relations, our two churches proclaimed that we have a different agenda: that in Christ there is no East and West and that we are all one in Christ Jesus.

We look forward to being intentional about our journey with Saint James and pray for God’s Spirit to lead us in the way forward. If you have ideas about how we can take these next steps, we welcome your input. Go to our web page and you will find a link that will receive your ideas.

We are also coming off a strong stewardship season. Now more than ever we see how the purposes of the church are critically needed for our world. We are reminded that our ministry is solely dependent on the generous giving and participation of our members.

If you have not made a decision about your giving, now is the time to consider. We are planning budgets, and therefore our priorities, for 2018. We can’t do this without your generous and sacrificial commitments.




Dear Friends,

It was a terrific sabbatical! It gave me time to read, think, grill, cook, eat, work on my golf game, travel, worship in other churches, ponder, pray, visit with some old friends, exercise, attend several conferences, and spend time with my family.

I am grateful to this congregation and our Session for seeing the worth of clergy sabbaticals. In essence, sabbaticals are about renewal. Thank you for this privilege.

 And, I am grateful to my colleagues. Our staff did not miss a beat.

I have returned to a renovation that is moving ahead full throttle. Big John was lifted out of the ground with thanks and celebration. And, as I write this, the sanctuary is full of scaffolding from floor to ceiling.

Some highlights from my sabbatical:

5 days of worship and prayer with the monks and students of St Tikon’s Orthodox Monastery and Seminary, part of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

2 church/clergy conferences: one on church staff management & development; the other a self and church assessment,  with an eye toward the future

My travels took me to San Francisco, the Monterey Peninsula, Napa Valley, Lake Tahoe, Topsail Beach and Siler City.

I took a couple of golf lessons, played nearly 20 rounds played, including Pebble Beach and Spyglass on the Monterey Peninsula.

I visited with a former secretary from years ago, an early mentor, an old coach, and two good friends from previous days

I spend time and had fun with our immediate family (Meredith, Roland, Rory, Emily and Hector, Mama Lucy) and with extended family.

I enjoyed going to the grocery store in the middle of the day and grilling out for dinner.

I enjoyed a long reading list! (see?)


It is good to be back. Though I enjoyed the experience of worshipping in other churches, I missed “my community” on Sunday mornings.

We have a lot to do (and be) in the name of Christ. Let’s get busy.






P.S. Send me an email, note or voicemail to: “If I could ask God one question…”  What’s yours? I’m starting a sermon series in September with your questions.




Sabbatical Reading List


The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhig


Falling Upward: A Spiritually for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr


Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey Into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander


The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor


Spiritual Disciple Handbook: Practices that Transform Us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun


A Testament of Devotion by Thomas R. Kelly


Pop Goes the Culture: Should the Church Engage Pop Culture by Tim Stevens


Power Questions: Build Relationship, Win New Business and Influence Others by Andrew Sobel & Jerold Panas


The Church of Facebook: How the Hyperconnected Are Redefining Community by Jesse Rice


Follow You Follow Me: Why Social Networking is Essential to Ministry by John Voelz

About Clergy Corner

Clergy Corner also appears in our printed newsletter, FPC News.

Just a Thought

Senior Pastor Sid Batts' morning radio messages, Just a Thought, are available via e-mail subscription, and at our archives. Subscribe here.