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Nacoochee Presbyterian Church: A Thriving Community of Faith Since 1870

By S. Mathur

As an inclusive Christian community, the Nacoochee Presbyterian Church (NPC) takes its beliefs from what Jesus said: "Whoever comes to me I will not cast out." Pastor Reverend Robert W. Prim explains "Our defining phrase as a denomination is "reformed and always reforming." At NPC we take this phrase to heart. We welcome all people to leadership in the church no matter gender, race, sexual orientation, age, ... We are a welcoming, inclusive congregation!"

The Mission of the NPC "...in communion with God and the Holy Spirit, is to show in word and deed the life and love of Jesus Christ. We celebrate the diversity of God's creation as we seek to be an inclusive Christian family devoted to worship, prayer, justice, peace, nurture, fellowship, and stewardship of all God's gifts."

NPC was founded in 1870 by settlers in the Nacoochee valley. The original congregation included the families of recently emancipated slaves as well as the setters. This inclusiveness has been a feature of the Church ever since. Members can participate in outreach programs, concerts, clubs and other weekly activities. There are youth programs, Sunday school, Choir and Nacoochee Bells, fifth Sunday potlucks, and other events throughout the year.

The NPC also connects to the local community in "The Valley", with its landscape of rolling pastures bounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. Residents enjoy food markets, restaurants, museums, galleries, shops, plus music and dance events throughout the year. NPC belongs to the Presbyterian denomination but shares some elements of faith with the Catholic Church, says the Reverend.

"NPC is a part of the Protestant stream of the Christian Church. We hold many similar beliefs with the Roman Catholic Church. The Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed are part of our "Book of Confessions." One major difference is that "We have, however, ordained women to every office of the church and have done so for the last 60 years."

For young people, NPC has a Christian Education program which meets every month during school year. Summer Bible School and mission trips take youth on a work trip to the inner-city of Charlotte. Members of the congregation are also actively involved in peace and justice and environmental issues locally and worldwide. The commitment environment leads the NPC to practice measures like recycling and using recycled products, capturing rainwater, and using energy efficient light bulbs and air conditioning.

NPC members are also involved in death penalty issues, gay and lesbian rights, immigration, fair trade, and informing our membership about issues related to peacemaking in the world. As the Reverend Prim says, "NPC is a vital and thriving community of faith!" It is also going through a period of growth and the Church recently purchased 17 adjacent acres to the north. The Reverend Prim says that there is a "Vision Task Force working to develop plans for how we can conserve the property for the wider community and make use of the property to make our building and parking more handicap accessible and welcoming for our growing membership."

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