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Dear Church Family,               

What a bright, chilly Monday! Of course, it's supposed to be this way in east Tennessee in the middle of January. ("Middle" of a month that feels like it just started about three minutes ago!) I trust you are warm and safe and blessed.
 
We were saddened this morning when we received word at the church office about the loss of Stan Hickerson. (You may remember that we've had him on our prayer list for a short time as Derrick Gillett had kept us posted from the time of his recent diagnosis.)
 
Mr. Hickerson, of course, is Derrick's step-father (a Michigan resident) and we thank Larry Doran for keeping us posted on this while we think of Derrick and Darlene's whole family at this time of loss.
 
I have heard that you were blessed by Chaplain/Pastor Michaela on Sabbath. That doesn't surprise me in any way and I'm grateful for her faithful use of her giftings.
 
I can share with you that though I was absent from here I was also being richly blessed.

I took advantage of the time to attend a six-part Bible enrichment seminar on issues "under the Text" from the language and archeology and culture. It was a rich experience and I'm thankful that I was given the privilege. The material was wonderful and the worship was fulfilling.
 
Now we tackle "normal" life. ("Normal" except for the silence down campus as our KAS kids are commemorating the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Tomorrow that will change as school will be back in full swing.)
 
One "out-of-normal" element this week is Pastor Andrew is again gone to fulfill responsibilities for his graduate program. He's crashing through this very quickly and it's our blessing that we can have him mostly here even as he is fulfilling these responsibilities. (Prayers for his safety in travels!)
 
We had a large contingent at "Mommy & Me" this morning. The bright, happy kidlets were able to make a "birthday cake" out of foam and shaving cream and... I'm not sure what all, but they really had fun doing it. (They also each made their own "medical supply" bag.)
 
We are so thankful for the creative people who dedicate themselves to inspire the kids this way. Way to go, Chelsea!
 
Wednesday we will have our normal Recalibration gatherings. We will be looking at a number of the marvelous allusions to Jesus scattered through the book of Isaiah.

You can be part of this at either 11:00 a.m. or 7:00 p.m.
 
This Thursday night (the 21st) our Finance Committee (6:00 p.m.) and Church Board (7:00 p.m.) will both be operative for their "delayed-by-one-week" January meeting. We appreciate the commitment and dedication of those who serve us this way.
 
We also hope you have put January 30 on your calendar. That will be a big day as we ordain some new elders and our Deaconesses vision together. Don't forget to make these things a priority, please.

Sunday January 31 the Pathfinder auction and meal will be held.
 
One last item: To those who host our various Refueling Stations- we now have flash drives that provide the lead-in teaching time up to #18. Just ask me for it (and please remember to bring back the "old" one so we can continue to recycle them.)

Also, a reminder that any and all of you can be part of a Refueling Station. Pastor Andrew just needs to know of your interest and he will work with you to get you on board.

That's enough for this communique'. I'm sure I'll try to write you on Friday and be able to report to you regarding the important deliberations that happen the night before at Finance Committee and Church Board.
 
Blessings on each and every one of you! Don't forget to pray for the Gillett/Hickerson family at this time, please.
'Lord Bless',

Don Pate
Knoxville First Church