Clergy Corner

Sid Batts

By Senior Pastor Sid Batts

As I greeted worshipers one Sunday in September, I discovered we had “guests” from Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina who were in the Triad to escape Hurricane Irma. Most had family who were First Presbyterian members.

Worship, being in the presence of God and among God’s people, seemed poignant and fitting. I often say that worship is the center of who we are, not only as First Presbyterians, but as Christians. It centers and focuses us on God and the Good News of the Gospel. From worship, we gain perspective, deeper faith and spiritual energy to move us into the world as the hands and feet of Christ.

Sometimes the hands and feet are our financial gifts and our heartfelt prayers. Christ’s hands and feet are evident as we address hunger in Greensboro. For the CROP Walk, (Oct. 15), we’ll use our feet (and pocketbooks) to make a visible statement while having fun walking through the streets of our city.

Another hunger initiative before us is the challenge of collecting food for Greensboro Urban Ministry. We’ve set a high bar: to bring in 10,000 pounds of food before the end of the year! We can do this! Using the list of needed foods, we’ll be intentional while grocery shopping and then by bringing cans to church. This is a tangible way for us to show compassion and love our neighbors.

Important notes for October:

We are having our first Blessing of the Animals service on the afternoon of Oct. 8. This family friendly gathering on the front steps of the sanctuary reaches into a long time Christian tradition that All Creatures of our God and King are under the Creator’s care. In my mind, pets are family. We’ll have a way to express that.

This year is the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. We will celebrate in our traditional way (bagpipes!) on Sunday, Oct. 22, because ....

A significant and important worship service will be a joint worship service with Saint James Presbyterian Church on Sunday, Oct. 29, at 10:30 am in our Sanctuary. As you might know, in 1824 our church was formed with twelve charter members which included four slave members. Following the Civil War, the African-American members of our congregation formed St. James Presbyterian. This year they are celebrating their 150th anniversary. We will acknowledge our shared past and celebrate our hopeful future on that day.



P.S.: I will be speaking about 500 years of Reformation at the Presbyterian Women’s luncheon on Monday, Oc. 9. Lunch is $8. Reserve your seat by Oct. 4: 336-478-4799 or

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

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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.