And they’re off!


The FIRST Barnabas Trip of 2013:  On Sunday, February 3, Jay, Brandon, Scott, Teddy and Ranger loaded their RV and hit I-40 West for Oxford, Mississippi!  From there they’ll travel to Tuscaloosa, Auburn and Samford.  To follow their trip (and see how 4 men and a dog fit inside this tiny RV) check out their Webisodes on youtube @


Home after nearly 4 months in Uganda…

OliviaHi Friends, 

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Olivia Coble.  I was born and raised here at First Pres, and now call Colorado my home.  I am in my third year at Colorado College and spend a lot of time playing in the mountains – hiking, skiing, you name it.  When it came time last year to consider studying abroad, I looked into a plethora of programs and decided on one in northern Uganda.  The program was through the School for International Training, and focused on post-conflict transformation.  (If you’re not familiar with recent Ugandan history, there has been a conflict between a rebel group and the government in the northern part of the country for over two decades now, though it has largely moved out of Uganda at this point.)  It certainly wasn’t going to be an easy semester, but that was fine with me.  I set off to East Africa at the end of August and called Uganda home until mid-December.

To give a brief overview of the program, our first two months were spent living with host families and learning from lecturers about the conflict.  We heard from government officials, religious leaders, cultural leaders, and nonprofit workers.  We also traveled to different parts of Uganda and spent two weeks in Rwanda learning about the genocide.  During our third month of the semester, each person in my group of fourteen either did an independent research project or internship.  I learned a great deal, both from my host family and through doing an internship with an outdoor education-based nonprofit.  People in northern Uganda are surprisingly open in talking about the conflict, something I didn’t initially expect.  One of my host brothers once pointed to a building in town and told me that’s where he and his siblings would stay at night to escape the rebels, who abducted children from their homes.  I learned that one of my adopted host brothers was the child of a woman raped by a rebel.  I also met more siblings than I could keep track of who had been adopted into our family after losing their parents to HIV/AIDs, murder, and other horrible things.  I learned to cook traditional foods and speak the local language.  I was invited to countless church services.  I never quite convinced my host sister that I could actually wash my clothes by hand without her help.  It was a semester filled with both laughter and tears.

There are still many fresh wounds in northern Uganda.  Previously-abducted individuals continue to return from the bush…yet I learned more about forgiveness and resiliency than I did anger or resentment.  Though thousands were killed and many more maimed or left without family, people in northern Uganda choose to move forward.  I often asked myself several questions throughout the semester – How do these people keep the faith?  And why does God let such atrocities occur?  I struggled to find answers to these questions, but am slowly developing some answers since returning home.  Maybe we DON’T get to know why such horrible things can happen in the world.  Maybe the more important thing to take away is how individuals respond.  Northern Ugandans are choosing to forgive those who have murdered, and are moving forward to rebuild a broken society.  If there is one lesson I have learned more than any other while living abroad, it is that humans are resilient.  There may be some who think that forgiveness is impossible.  I have seen first-hand, however, that people left without much can be some of the kindest and most warm-hearted people I have ever met. 

There is a lot more that I’d love to talk about, but I know my space is limited.  I hope that this short write-up causes you to pause in your day and reflect on the sweet lives we each live.  Thank you for taking time to read this!  Sending my best to Nashville from Colorado now.

Cheers and blessings,


2012 College Christmas Party


December Barnabus Trip: First leg, University of the South

Wednesday, December 5th, Brandon, Scott and Teddy loaded up a minivan, added Ranger and headed east on 24 up Monteagle Mountain.  There they rounded up as many FPC students as they could find and spent some time catching up.  It’s Thursday afternoon and they’re on the road again… to Knoxville. Stay tuned!

2012/2013 College Committee

In the winter of 2011, a group of parents of college students came together to from the College Committee.  This body works to support the First Presbyterian Church College Ministry as it serves our high school graduates away at various colleges throughout the country and students in local universities.  

The College Committee meets quarterly to plan and also serves at various times throughout the year by preparing dinners for Vanderbilt and Belmont students at Presbyterian Student Fellowship (PSF) and on projects such as mailing notes and goodies to our FPC students away from home.  

If you’d like to know more about the College Ministry, the College Committee or would be interested in serving within our College Ministry please contact Linda or Jay in the college office (298.9567).


Passion Conference 2013

Passion is an annual 4 day conference for college students from all over the world that focuses on worship and missions that flow from a life rooted in Christ.  Last year there were almost 45,000 students filling the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The experience of worshiping with thousands of students from every state and many different nations is pretty incredible.  With speakers such as Francis Chan, John Piper, Beth Moore, and Louie Giglio, there is a very strong depth of teaching.  Excellent teaching combined with Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Matt Redman, and others leading music, provides a powerful experience. 

 We will drive down to Atlanta during the day on January 1st to catch the opening session that night, and then will return the afternoon of the 4th after the closing session that morning.  In between there is a combination of worship times and smaller break-out session small groups.  Passion has had quite an impact on many students lives and is an awesome opportunity for spiritual growth, renewal, and perspective to start the year.  – Jay Denton, College Director

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