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For Members, the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta Feels Like Home

By S. Mathur

The First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta was founded in 1848 and has a congregation of around 2,000 members. What sets it apart from other churches of similar denomination, says Executive Pastor Rev. Rebekah LeMon, is that "First Presbyterian combines a long tradition with vision for who the church is being called to be in the future. We are both an old church and a church of today, looking into the future. We embrace our location in the heart of Atlanta and take seriously our call to be good neighbors to all."

Through a variety of service, arts and educational programs, the Church is deeply involved with the local community. Rev. LeMon explains that "We are a church that loves and serves: we welcome and walk alongside the homeless and vulnerable in Atlanta, build relationships with refugees coming to our city, and participate regularly with local mission partners."

The regular Sunday service begins with Communion at 8:30 a.m. and worship in the sanctuary at 10:45 a.m. Time after the service is reserved for sharing and fellowship. Sunday school for children of all ages is offered from from 9:30-10:30 a.m. Professional caregiving services are provided for young children. First time visitors to the Church can expect a warm welcome, says Rev. LeMon, whether they choose to join immediately or to remain as visitors for a long time.

Art and music are an important part of the the mission of First Presbyterian Church. There are a number of groups for those interested in music and the arts. The volunteer Chancel Choir and St. Cecilia Consort have a repertoire that extends from early music to Gospels and Spirituals, and are well known in the region. The choir leads the worship service on every Sunday, and is joined by the orchestra on special occasions like Christmas and Easter. They also perform special concerts. There is a Children's Choir and a Carillon Bell Choir. A free series of Musica Sacra Concerts from September to May hosts performances by renowned soloists and ensembles in the sanctuary, which is famed for its stained glass windows.

The School of Fine Arts offers classes for children and adults in the visual arts, tumbling, ballet and more. The Arts Council sponsors lectures, gallery tours and other events throughout the year. Church members have the opportunity to join service projects in local communities as well as at locations worldwide.

For church members, First Presbyterian Church feels like home. Rev. LeMon says that this can be a complex relationship: "That can mean different things to different people. Maybe home is where you are known and loved. Maybe home is where you feel safe enough to explore challenging questions, biblical texts, and issues in today's world. Maybe home is where you learn. Maybe home is something less tangible, a place where you feel the love and fellowship of the Holy Spirit. First Presbyterian is all of those things and more."

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