First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Youth Time: Bowling!

The middle and high school youth will be meeting at Bowl America in Mandarin at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 28. They will bowl until 5:30 p.m. and then come back to the church in time for the Soup Supper. Parents, please make sure the youth have their donation for the meal, as well as money for bowling (approximately $15 for bowling, plus any money for snacks, drinks, etc.).

Annual Soup Supper

The annual Bailey Family Soup Supper will be held on January 28 at 6:00 p.m. This FCC tradition is a fundraiser for the Mandarin Food Bank. The Bailey family prepares and serves a meager (yet delicious!) dinner of soup to remind us we’re blessed not to be hungry. We love coming together for this evening of giving and fellowship each year, and we hope to see you there.

Christmas Poinsettias


Order forms are available now for Christmas Poinsettias, which will fill our Sanctuary for our Christmas Eve morning and evening services. Flowers may be dedicated in honor or memory of someone, and they can be taken home after the Christmas Eve evening service.

Each plant costs $10. Order forms are available in the bulletin on Sunday mornings or from the church office, and we ask that you please attach your order form to your payment (paperclip, envelope, etc.) so we know whose flowers have been paid for.

The deadline to order poinsettias is December 17, 2017.


Opportunity to Give: Angel Giving Tree

An angel Christmas ornament on a decorated tree.

The Angel Tree is an annual tradition and one way our congregation can help families in need who, without your generosity, would have little or no Christmas. The Angel Giving Tree will be in the Narthex beginning Sunday, November 26.

Each angel on the tree contains a gift request for a family member. There is no name on the request, only the gender and age of the recipient and the type of gift requested. Several of the angel tags request a gift certificate from a local grocery store instead of a specific item. The gift certificates will be used towards the families’ Christmas meal.

If you would like to participate, here’s how it works:

  1. Select one or more angels from the Angel Giving Tree in the Narthex. If you choose a tag for a stocking, please pick up the stocking in the office.
  2. Purchase the gift that is listed on the back. If you’d prefer to donate money instead of shopping, or if you have any questions, please see Pam Haley or Sue Trojnarski.
  3. Put the new, unwrapped gift along with the angel tag under the tree by Sunday, December 10. Please do not leave cash donations or gift cards under the tree. Instead, please give them to Pam Haley or Sue Trojnarski.

All gifts will be wrapped and grouped by family for Rev. Smith to deliver to each family’s home.

Introducing your Transition Team

A circle of people holding hands in prayer.

The transition team is responsible for creating a smooth transition from our current pastor to our new pastor. God blessed us with eighteen wonderful years under Jeff’s guidance and care. Now we want to ensure that Jeff enjoys the smooth transition he deserves as God leads him to the next phase of where he’s needed. It is also our goal to provide a smooth transition through the process of finding the next person God calls to lead the congregation.

It is important to realize the transition team is not responsible for selecting the next pastor. That responsibility will be carried out by the pulpit committee.

The transition team will handle the time between Jeff’s retirement and the new pastor. The transition team is made up of team leader Cathy Hamilton, Lisa Stoneking, Bill Ringgold, Sheri Lung, and Robert Presley.

We will be reaching out to the congregation through discussion groups, surveys, and one-on-ones, to gather your feedback on how we are doing now, and what you would like to see from an interim pastor.

Some key dates for the congregation: Jeff’s last Sunday is January 14, 2018. From January 21, 2018, through April 1, 2018, we will rely on the congregation’s own talent while we select an Interim pastor, whom we hope to have in place April 8, 2018.

We are also very pleased to announce that Fred Caldwell has agreed to serve temporarily on Sundays to carry out the primary functions we are accustomed to seeing Jeff fulfill. He and Karen have both agreed to share other pastoral care roles for the congregation.

Our goal throughout this time is to ensure the needs of the congregation and our community are met to the best of our abilities.

God Bless,

Your Transition Team

Rev. Jeff Smith to retire in January

Folded hands over an open Bible

Friends and family of First Christian Church:

It is with both joy and sorrow that we share with you the news that, on January 14, 2018, our senior minister, Rev. Jeff Smith, will retire. We are excited for Jeff and Elaine as they prepare to take this next step in their journey, but, of course, we are also very sad to say goodbye to our dear friends. It will be difficult indeed to say farewell to the man who’s baptized our children, buried our loved ones, and seen us through so many blessings and sorrows over the last 18 years.

The next several months will be a period of great transition for our church family. We will be busy, of course, with the normal activity of this time of year in the church: congregational meetings, Thanksgiving, and the approaching season of Advent. We will also be working to prepare the church for Jeff’s departure and for the continuation of our ministry after he leaves.

How do we do that? We’ve already started, actually. The executive committee of the Board – which includes Board Chair Cathy Hamilton, Board Vice Chair Lisa Stoneking, Board Secretary Amanda Billy, and Board Treasurer Emily Madigan – met in October to discuss the path forward.

The first step we’ve taken is to create a transition committee, co-led by current Board Chair Cathy Hamilton and rising Board Chair Lisa Stoneking. This team is responsible for discerning the next steps for the congregation, including identifying guest pastors and, potentially, searching for an interim pastor. The transition committee meets weekly, and they will share their progress with the congregation through a variety of media, including this website, email, the newsletter, the bulletin, Facebook, and the bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall.

Communication, consistency, and community will be more important in the coming months than ever. The Board, the transition committee, and church staff will be in regular communication with you. If you haven’t recently updated your contact information with us, please contact the church office to do that.

The first communication from the transition committee will be shared through email and on the bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall within the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, if you have any questions, concerns, or thoughts you’d like to share with the transition committee, please contact Cathy Hamilton or Lisa Stoneking, or reach out to anyone on the Board.

We look forward to seeing you at the congregational meeting this Sunday (November 19), the Thanksgiving meal on November 23, and the Hanging of the Greens on November 28. May God bless us all with wisdom and peace. Amen.

The Executive Committee of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Joy to the world!

We have a number of events planned throughout Advent, starting with the annual tradition of decorating the church for Christmas on the Tuesday evening following Thanksgiving, and running through Christmas Eve. We hope to see you during this joyous holiday season!

A note about worship

From December 3 – January 7, we will have just one worship service each Sunday morning at 10:00 a.m. Small groups will meet after worship at 11:00 a.m. This change of schedule allows us to celebrate Advent as one community, and to simplify planning on Sundays like Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Do you have somewhere to go for Thanksgiving? Or are you just plain tired of hosting turkey dinners?

Join us at 12:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day for a meal at the church. Pastor Jeff and Elaine will provide the meat (turkey and ham). Please bring a side dish and a dessert to share.

If you’re planning to come, please sign up in the Narthex.

Congregational Meeting

On November 19, after each worship service, the congregation will meet to review and vote on the proposed budget for 2018. These meetings are very important. The same information will be presented at each meeting, so you may attend either one, but we strongly encourage you to be present for at least one of them.

Are you in? [Stewardship Campaign]

A little history

Believe it or not, our church — First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Jacksonville, Florida — first took shape 134 years ago. This church is older than the Statue of Liberty, the Wall Street Journal, the Eiffel Tower, and Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night.

In this time of transition, it’s easy to forget the breadth and depth of our community’s roots. Change can be difficult and frightening, but it’s also inevitable and, more importantly, nothing our church hasn’t gone through many times before.

This longevity is not an accident. It is the direct result of good stewardship.

What is stewardship, anyway?

Stewardship is the management or care of something. When we talk about stewardship within the church, we generally talk about it in the Biblical sense: the intentional management of resources (all living things in and of the earth and everything they produce) on behalf of the rightful owner, who is God.

Your church leadership practices stewardship with the resources that come in throughout the year. When we presented the proposed budget at the congregational meeting on Sunday, we showed you our plan for the management of any of God’s resources that come to the church.

You practice stewardship, too, when you determine how to use the resources you accumulate.

Why pledge?

God calls us to give back a portion of that which he’s given to us. Giving to the church is an easy and effective way to do just that. Our church participates in many ministries across myriad communities, including:

  • First Christian Preschool
  • Second Saturday Arts & Farmers Market
  • Food drives for the Mandarin Food Bank
  • Bear Ministry
  • Angel Giving Tree
  • Tailgate Market
  • Caring Meal Ministry
  • Health Ministry
  • Meeting space for AA, NA, and Alanon groups; Boy Scout troops (and Girl Scouts in the past); and other local groups like the line dancers

By making a pledge, you help church leaders plan effectively for the coming year. We use your pledges to determine what to expect on a weekly and monthly basis so we can make better decisions about how to operate within our means throughout the year.

Without a pledge, we have to estimate, based on past giving, what the church might receive in offerings throughout the year. This is much less accurate, and it makes effective planning very difficult.

How much should I pledge?

Only you know what you can give. Remember: the dollar amount is not the most important detail of your pledge, and your pledge is not a contract.

We are called to give sacrificially. For some people, giving 10% is not a sacrifice. For others, giving 10% is impossible. How much you can pledge is between you and God.

What if I can’t give as much as I pledged?

While your pledge is a commitment to God and to your church family, it is not legally binding. If your circumstances change, you may certainly change your pledge, no questions asked. If you’re blessed with unexpected extra income, you’re always welcome to increase your pledge as well!

How do I pledge?

Complete the online pledge form at, or complete a pledge card (available in the Narthex) and put it in the offering plate or turn it in to the church office. We need your pledge by November 12.

Then what?

The following Sunday, November 19, the Board will present a revised proposed budget based on the pledges we receive. The congregation will vote on that proposed budget in congregational meetings after each service.

Is it really that important that I make a pledge?

The short answer: yes. It really is.

For 134 years, members of FCC have committed and recommitted to sustaining the church. That ongoing cycle of commitment is what this time of year — our annual stewardship campaign — is all about.

In the face of looming changes, and on the tail of another year of growth for our church family, we have the opportunity to say, as our congregational ancestors did before us, that we intend to stand with our community.

Today, you are the members, official and otherwise, considering the commitment. So here’s the question:

Are you in?