Clergy Corner

Sid Batts

Today I read the first Clergy Corner I wrote in January of 2001. I said this: “Our task shall be to discover what kind of church God wants us to be … and then moving boldly in faith toward that vision.”

It has been a great blessing and adventure to be a part of this chapter of First Presbyterian’s history. I still take pause that I am only the 11th senior pastor in 194 years. The math speaks volumes: Long pastorates are a sign of a healthy congregation.

These 18 years have offered their challenges (of course), but what I have always loved about First Prez is that when we have a problem, we roll up our sleeves, seek God’s guidance, gather collective wisdom and get to work. No minister could ask for anything more.

As I reflect on our ministry, there are many things I celebrate. However, the common thread in those accomplishments can be boiled down to this: I have always been inspired when I have worked alongside you and together we knew we were about something bigger than ourselves. Whatever we have accomplished together, it has been that spirit that has made our work meaningful.

I have often said that the Gospel is about relationships and that everything else is a footnote. It has been the relationships (congregational and staff) that have grounded me, given me hope and joy. Even preaching, which has required my focus and energy, is really about the relationships: our relationship with God, the relationships we have with one another, and the relationship that you and I have as pastor and parishioner. Every time I am a preacher at another church, I have the certain feeling that my sermons are a bit flat. I’ve discovered why: it’s because I don’t have a relationship with the listeners.

I have said it before … I’ll say it again: You have a great future before you!

Cathy and I have grateful hearts for our time together.

The peace of Christ be with you.


Senior Pastor Sid Batts

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.