Clergy Corner

Sid Batts

By Senior Pastor Sid Batts

We could say, “Happy New Year” as we approach September!

Culture, school, work and church “re-set” for a New Year after summer has enabled us to dial the pace back. There is something reassuring about re-setting, re-focusing and getting back on schedule.

On the church’s liturgical calendar, the season between Pentecost and Advent is called “Ordinary Time.” Perhaps that expresses best the feeling of getting back into the ordinary rhythms of life. However, “ordinary” would not be how I’d describe the upcoming Fall at First Presbyterian. As you read the pages of this newsletter, you’ll discover the extraordinary ways God is calling us to be the church, grow in faith, and serve in the world.

Though our FPC Fall is marked with activities, events, ministry opportunities and places for our commitments, it is the “people” who make First Presbyterian the vibrant place it is. Inside we hear the stories of “14 under 40,” featuring some of our young adult members who are making a difference in the world via FPC. I am quite sure that 14 could have been 114. I am always encouraged in my journey by seeing how the faith of others (particularly Millennials) is being used to express God’s kingdom in a messy, complicated world.

I am also jazzed over some of the upcoming events, ministries and new beginnings:

  • Fall Kick-off Sunday
  • a Blessing of the Animals service
  • new Bible studies led by our elders
  • a joint service with the St. James Presbyterian congregation on October 29
  • youth ministry under new youth director Kevin Murray
  • another opportunity to have our “passport” stamped this stewardship season
  • the challenge of confronting racism as people of faith after the events of Charlottesville
  • the challenge to collect at least 10,000 pounds of food for Greensboro Urban Ministry
  • a new group for veterans
  • the new feel and look of Rejoice!
  • a new class of elders
  • Music Ministry’s concert series
  • Presbyterian Women’s new year
  • Wednesday night’s new plans
  • engaging in spiritual practices...

...and 40 things I have not mentioned!

It’s no ordinary time.



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.