ARTESIA — First Evangelical Presbyterian Church can trace its history to the early half of last century, according to Pastor Dan Phelps.
“It was kind of begun as a Sunday School,” he said.
Over the decades the church has dealt with many changes on a national level and a few years ago Phelps said the Artesia church joined the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
“It’s very similar to how we govern and do things,” he said. “The theology was a lot stronger in terms of staying true to what we believe the scripture is teaching.”
This is Phelps’ first church as a pastor. He arrived in Artesia with his family in late 2009 and he became the pastor on Jan. 1, 2010.
“We’re a small congregation, when I came we had an older congregation, we have lost folks through death and several of our older members have moved away to be closer to family,” he said.
Phelps added that several families have also come in over the years, however, due to the transitory nature of Artesia’s oil and gas business and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center some of those families have moved away.
“We kind of feel like we’re starting to get a little traction as far as numbers of people and then sometimes it goes, so it’s kind of up and down,” he said.
“My heart for this church is for us to go deeper into God’s word and to help really build up the members that are here and what it means to follow Christ and how do we live that out,” Phelps added.
Phelps said the church will have plenty of activities this month.
On Dec. 10, they will have two events.
“We’re having a visiting worship leader, his name is Levi Stinton, phenomenal pianist,” Phelps said.
Phelps added the two met at the Sacramento Methodist Assembly, which is located west of Artesia in the Sacramento Mountains.
“We we’re having dinner there and he sat down and just started playing off of the top of his head, just amazing,” Phelps said.
Phelps said that Stinton will be doing the whole service. Phelps, however, will be bringing the congregation a sermon after Stinton’s performance.
Phelps said that will start at 10:45 a.m. Then later that evening at 6 p.m. there will be a community Christmas concert.
“Folks from different churches have come together,” Phelps said.
Nearly a week later on Dec. 16, Phelps said the church will host a party for the Grammy’s House domestic violence shelter in Artesia.
“We invite Grammy’s House to come and we serve them lunch and we put together gingerbread houses for the kids,” Phelps said.
Phelps said that will take place from 10 a.m. to noon.
The next night, on Dec. 17, Phelps said church members will have a caroling party. He said they perform at some of the nursing homes in Artesia and for some of the church members who aren’t able to get out.
On Christmas Eve, Phelps said the church is, “trying a couple of different things.”
“We are going to have worship that Sunday morning, it will just be real low key,” he said. The service will start at 10:45 a.m. on Dec. 24.
Christmas Eve night, Phelps said the church will be hosting two services.
The first will be at 6 p.m. and Phelps is describing it as “laid back.”
Then the church will be hosting a late-night service at 11 p.m.
“Back in the day, this church always had an 11 p.m. service,” he said. “I grew up in a church where we had two services as well.”
Phelps added that some members of the community choir have been invited to perform on that night.
In addition to the December activities, Phelps said the church offers some programs on Wednesday night.
“We have small groups for adults (and) for the younger kids we have a class for them and then the youth group,” he said.
Before the evening ends, Phelps said the younger kids join the older kids for some games.
First Evangelical Presbyterian Church is located at 402 W. Grand in Artesia.
General assignment reporter Mike Smith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 307, or at email@example.com.