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  • A Decade of Excellence

    On April 27 First Church celebrated a decade under the leadership of Senior Pastor Doug Pratt. The service marked this milestone with praise and celebration for all God has done in and through our family of faith.

     

    Announcing the…

    Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
    Douglas G. Pratt Scholarship Fund

    Our beloved pastor earned his Master of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (GCTS) in 1979. To honor his exemplary service to the Lord and with gratitude for his outstanding pastoral leadership, the congregation of First Church has established the Douglas G. Pratt Scholarship Fund at GCTS.

    This ongoing scholarship fund provides an opportunity for us, even as we continue under Pastor Pratt’s leadership, to touch the future through tuition assistance for seminary students at GCTS. All gifts are tax-deductible.

    Please join us as we build a Legacy of Excellence, to the glory of God!

    Online giving is available here or you can send a check made payable to:

    First Presbyterian Church of Bonita Springs
    P.O. Box 2168
    Bonita Springs, FL 34133-2168
    Memo: Doug Pratt Scholarship Fund

    – or –

    Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
    Attn: Kurt W. Drescher
    130 Essex Street
    South Hamilton, MA 01982
    Memo: Doug Pratt Scholarship Fund

    Words of Hope

    In celebrating a decade under the multifaceted leadership of Pastor Doug Pratt, it is no surprise that a book of his sermons was proposed as a memento of the occasion. We decided on ten—one for each year of his ministry at First Church—and a small committee then assembled the collection entitled Words of Hope: A Decade of Enduring Sermons.

    It is our prayer that God will use these words, which have spoken so powerfully to the congregation of this church over the last ten years, to bring hope, encouragement and instruction to many more in the years to come.

    All proceeds from this book will be given to the Douglas G. Pratt Scholarship Fund. You can purchase your copy of Words of Hope for $10 at the BookCenter or contact manager Ed Schick (239-992-3233 or eschick@fpcbonita.org) to have your purchase delivered via USPS (an additional charge of $5.00/book applies).

    Here is a short excerpt from Words of Hope.

    If Christ Never Came
    December 15, 2013

    Alternative Histories
    Less than two months ago, veteran political journalist Jeff Greenfield published his newest book: If Kennedy Lived. Released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination in Dallas, it is the latest in a tradition of what is known as “alternative history.” Greenfield poses some fascinating questions. How might the events of our lifetimes turn out differently, and how would the world we live in be different today, if that shocking act of violence in 1963 had not triggered dramatic convulsions in American political life? If the bullets had missed him, what would the remainder of Kennedy’s first term been like? Would he have been re-elected, and if so, what would he have done in a second term? Would the Vietnam War or the Cold War have followed different courses? Would Lyndon Johnson have been cut from the ticket? Would Kennedy’s marital indiscretions ultimately have led to public scandal (as with President Clinton)?

    Many writers have tried to exercise their imaginations along similar veins. I have read alternative histories of the Civil War, imagining that Lee had been victorious at Gettysburg, his troops had wheeled south towards Washington, and Lincoln’s government had sued for peace. We would now have to show passports at the Mason-Dixon Line, Florida would be part of the Confederate States of America, and blacks would be second-class citizens or worse.

    I have read alternative histories of the Second World War, imagining that Hitler had defeated Stalin and annexed the western half of Russia, and the mighty German war machine had turned western Europe into an impregnable fortress—preventing D-Day and the liberation of France and the Low Countries. We would have never had a Cold War against Communism, but we may have had a Cold War, or an extended Hot War, against Fascism.

    It’s all quite fascinating, and a bit chilling, to think about “what if…”  Hollywood screenwriters have followed the same trail. In 2000 actor Nicolas Cage starred in a film called The Family Man, in which a single and work-obsessed Wall Street investment banker is given a glimpse of what his life could have been like, had he married his girlfriend 13 years earlier and chosen a more humble set of aspirations. And, of course, the classic “What if…” film is Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, where George Bailey is shown by Clarence the guardian angel (who hadn’t yet earned his wings) what his hometown of Bedford Falls would have been like if he had never been born.

    I’ve always enjoyed these kinds of imaginative speculations. And I have found myself at times wondering about my own personal journey through life. How would I be different today, and how would others who are now part of my life be different, if I had chosen a different path? Perhaps you’ve wondered that as well. The ending of the famous Robert Frost poem sums up the amazing power of choices:

    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
    I took the one less traveled by,

    and that has made all the difference.

    But a couple weeks ago, with the Advent and Christmas season looming on the horizon, I was reading through a portion of the Gospel of John for my morning reflections. I stumbled (as if on an unnoticed rock or tree root along a forest trail) over verse 22 of our text. Jesus, speaking to His closest friends the night before He went to the cross, said to them, “If I had not come…”