FIRST PRESS  |  an online newsletter  |  August, 2017  
That's a dirty word for a lot of people who just don't handle it very well. Some folks don't even like change in their pockets!
But change, as we all know, is inevitable. It forces us in new directions we might not otherwise choose. Matt Luke is about to find out about that, along with the entire Ole Miss football team. It will be interesting to see how they respond to the challenge before them brought about by such radical and unexpected change.
Change can also be exciting. That's what we're experiencing at First Church right now. New faces have joined our staff this summer (be sure to introduce yourself to Jessica McGee, our director of communications, and David Randolph, our associate pastor for young adults). In the fall, new members will join our church as well, bringing with them gifts that will enrich an already burgeoning talent pool.

Your pastors will also be striving to change you as well. Through education, worship, fellowship and mission, we and our ministry teams will provide new ways to draw you and our children closer in relationship with Jesus Christ and with each other. If there is a clear and present danger to the health of a church, it is the time when the congregation becomes apathetic about faith development and about relationship building among its many constituencies. So to be open to the changing landscape of our faith home is also to endorse our belief that a rolling stone gathers no moss. You'll be seeing more about our programming plans in the coming weeks and months, and I hope you will embrace them for your own benefit as well as for the good of Christ's church here on Van Buren.
The Holy Spirit is an expert on change, and the wind of that Spirit can blow subtly or mightily, depending upon the will of God. Our role as believers and seekers is to remain open to the possibilities the Spirit sends our way, to pray for discernment and affirmation and to move, head first, into those winds fully assured that something great is about to happen and that God will accompany us every step of the way.
Change is always coming. Together, let's embrace it.
John's signature
From the Associate Pastors

Emptying the Nest

"Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on it's pinions, the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no foreign god with him."  -Deuteronomy 32:11
I'm not an expert on eagles, nor have I been able to verify that eagles teach their young to fly by pushing them out of the nest and swooping beneath to catch them on their broad wings. However, I do love this image of God's providential care for Israel and it's an appropriate image as children begin a new school year in new schools with new teachers, youth enter middle school or high school or go off to college, young adults find themselves thinking in terms of 8:00 am to 5:00 pm rather than M, W, F and T, Th classes. It's an exciting time of year, but it's sometimes terrifying, too.
When, as a senior in seminary, I was told to choose an image of God and write a sermon on it, I chose this one. That sermon has yet to be written. The problem was the timing. Senior year began with discussions of Personal Information Forms (the clergy version of a resume), presbytery requirements for those who would be seeking a call, senior sermons and graduation information. This sermon assignment came just a few weeks into the fall semester and I was already screaming, "Wait! Hold on a minute!" I wanted to enjoy my last year with my seminary family, my youth group at Central Presbyterian and my work at the seminary. There was still much to learn before I felt ready to leave the nest and it felt like I was being pushed out before the school year had started. I couldn't write the sermon because I was too busy flapping my wings and too afraid that I wasn't ready to fly.
Now, I'm on the other end of this scenario. The last eaglet is leaving the Kelly nest. We're not exactly forcing him from the nest but like many of you, we are having to let him learn to fly. It's sure to be an adventure for all of us.
It doesn't matter how eagles really learn to fly; the image does what it's supposed to do. It brings to mind those moments in life when we are free-falling and not quite sure how to use the wings God has given us. It's terrifying and exciting all at the same time. It also brings to mind those times when we have to let a child leave the nest and learn to fly or to let a project we've birthed and nurtured move from our hands into the next stage of development so it can achieve its intended purpose. Again, it's exciting and terrifying. The most important reminder is that God, who pushes and challenges us to fly, is always present and watching, swooping beneath us with strong, broad wings so that if we fail, we can try again.

It's a comforting reminder to both the eaglet, who has been pushed out of the nest, and to the eagle, who has to let go. May we as a church family be part of the wings that lift and carry those who are in the midst of flying lessons.
Happy flying,
Entering the Fold

Greetings! I want you to know that it is good to finally be with you in Oxford at First Presbyterian Church! Thank you all so much for the warm welcome you have extended to my family and me as we entered into this new community. It is a blessing to experience firsthand the love, prayers and support of the church. Indeed, God is good!

So...what am I here to do?  That's what everyone is wondering, and I'm not going to hide it from you. I've been called as your Associate Pastor for Young Adults and Their Families, which is a fancy way to say I'm here to be a dedicated pastor for our young adults. Our young adults come in all ages and stages of life. Each one is unique and deserves a church home where they can be fed and where they can give their time and talent as God has called them to do. But as one of your associate pastors, I'm also here for the entire congregation. I'm here to discern God's Word with you, to pray with you, to laugh with you, to cry with you and to live in community with you.

So...when is our ministry kicking off?  Our ministry together has already begun. It's not going to be quick and flashy; it's going to be sustainable and real. Don't expect a quick fix because over the next few months, I am going to be trying to meet with as many members of the congregation as I can. It's important for me to learn about you and for you to get to know me. Strong relationships grounded in faith are what make communities grow and that is what I hope for the ministry of First Presbyterian. We build those strong relationships by studying scripture together, by spending time together and by serving alongside one another in service to our God. It is my hope that by spending time getting to know you, and you getting to know me, that we can provide a space where all are welcome to gather and worship God, not just on Sunday but each and every day of the week!

So...what can you do?  It's simple... Let's get to know one another.   Let's  get the conversation started and send me an email ( or give me a call (662.234.1757 ext. 11). That way, we can find a time to begin a relationship in the faith and listen where God is calling.
  Financial Summary
                           First Presbyterian Church                          Oxford, MS
Financial Summary
June 2017
2017 Actual                                (June)
2017 Budget                               (Jan-Dec)
   Total Income
Benevolence expenses
Personnel expenses
Ministry team expenses
Property expense
Administrative expenses
Other expenditures
   Total Expenses
Surplus/ (Deficit)

Summary of Stated Session Meeting
The Session of the First Presbyterian Church did not meet in July. Its next stated meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 14, 2017.

Summer Worship Schedule Reminder

August 6 - September 3
11:00 am -Worship with communion (note time change)
Sunday School Rally Day - August 6, 10:00 am
Adult & Children's Sunday School Classes Begin August 13
Nursery Weekly: 10:45 am - 12:15 am
  Lectionary Texts for August

August 6 - Genesis 32:22-31; Psalm 17:1-7; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:13-21
August 13 - Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28; Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b; Romans 10:5-15; Matthew 14:22-33
August 20 - Genesis 45:1-15; Psalm 133; Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32; Matthew 15:(10-20) 21-28
August 27 - Exodus 1:8-2:10; Psalm 124; Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20  
Sanctuary flower dates are available...
September 17 & 24 and October 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29.
If you would like to provide flowers in
honor or memory of a loved one, please contact
Margaret Fancher at 234-1359 or
email to

Benjamin Pila is the only classical guitarist ever named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts. He's performed extensively throughout the United States and has been a featured artist at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Lincoln Center, Washington, D.C.'s John F. Kennedy Center and San Francisco's Herbst Theater.

Pila is a semi-regular performer at the 9/11 Memorial Museum where he's performed for Pope Francis, Barack Obama, and George  W. Bush. He's also shared the stage with such notables as James Taylor, Paul Simon, Itzhak Pearlman, and Yo-Yo Ma. Pila's debut CD, "Commemoration," is a tribute to the survivors and victims of 9/11.
Benjamin has been featured on NBC's "Today Show" and NPR's "From the Top." He was awarded ASCAP's "Best Performance of a Contemporary Work," is a Young Arts Silver Award winner, and has won prizes in the Texas International Guitar Competition and the Yamaha 6-String Theory Guitar Competition.
Pila is a Grand Prize winner of the Pacific Guitar Festival, the Tampa Bay Symphony Concerto Competition and the University of Southern California Guitar Concerto Competition. He's also performed the World Premiers of two guitar concerti: Michael Gilbertson's Concerto for Guitar and Strings (2013) with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and Troy Gifford's Concertino (2003) with the Florida Southern College Orchestra.
Benjamin received his Bachelor's degree from Florida State University, his Master's degree from The Juilliard School and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Southern California. Dr. Pila currently lives in Tampa, Florida, teaches guitar at Polk State College and performs and teaches across the nation.


 Baby Grand Piano Given for Fellowship Hall

Two generous gifts made possible the purchase of this baby grand piano and the installation of the PianoDisc (self-playing) system, which enables the piano to play hundreds of songs from all genres of music. The piano made its debut during our recent summer lunches.

Thanks for your gifts to FPC!

Children's and PYF News
PYF Parents and Youth Kickoff Meeting Coming Up!

As we get ready to start a new year, mark your calendars for Sunday, August 6 for our PYF parents and youth meeting in Rooms 1 & 2 of Fellowship Hall. At this meeting, we'll be discussing all things, schedules, Christmas trees, Montreat, volunteer opportunities, and much more. All parents and youth, grades 7-12, are welcome.
Additionally, all PYF members are asked to assist with our Rally Day celebration at 10:00 am August 6. PYF will help with the leadership of games and activities for our younger children.
We are gearing up for a new and exciting year in PYF. I'm so excited to see what this year has in store for all of us.
Joseph Kelly

Rally Day is a week away! A new school year begins the first week of August, along with our annual celebration of a new church year. Rally Day will be held at 10:00 am Sunday, August 6 with many activities for our children happening on the courtyard and lawn, weather permitting. Most Sunday School classes resume August 13. The Wired Word class resumes August 20
College News

Greetings from UKirk Ole Miss! We've had a busy summer of orientation tables to reach new students, and lots of planning for the Fall. We're excited about the renovations to our building, and grateful to FPC for making it happen. The school year will be here before we know it, and as we continue planning to make it our best one yet, there are a few important ways you all can support us.
Provide a Tuesday night meal. Fall will be here before we know it, and we'll be back to our weekly gatherings for dinner and worship. We're still looking for meal providers for almost every week this semester. Whether the meal you bring is home cooked or catered, we'll be thankful!
Buy a Game Day parking season pass. Our Game Day parking fundraiser is back again. A $350 season pass will get you access to the FPC all day for each home game. Passes are available to non-FPC football fans too, so tell your friends. Money raised will benefit UKirk Ole Miss's general fund.
Check out our Wish List. Throughout the year, there are a number of items that will help support our programming with Ole Miss students. We're cultivating a new Wish List on our website that includes both items you can donate used, and more specific things you can order straight from Amazon.
Sign up for our monthly email newsletter. For the most up-to-date news on all things UKirk Ole Miss, subscribe to our monthly email newsletter using the link on the bottom left side of our website.
There's more information about all of these things online at (click on "Supporters" in the top right corner once you're there). And don't hesitate to contact me at or (662) 234-6069 ext 151 with any questions or interest you might have.
Rev. Allison Wehrung
Campus Minister
Adult Education
The Bible and the Qur'an

Dr. Mary Thurlkill, a friend of our congregation, is teaching a course this fall that is also open to community members. The course will cover topics common to both the Bible and the Qur'an: Sacred Story and Interpretation, Ritual and Performance, Community and Ethics, Death and Afterlife. Classes will meet on Tuesday evenings, Aug. 29 through Nov. 7, 5:30-7:00 pm. Details about community registration are still forthcoming from the McLean Institute. For more information, contact elder Christina Torbert at
Etcetera . . .
Wednesdays Together Opens a New Year Soon With
"FPC Has Talent!"
Wednesday, September 20
Time to show off your unique talents! This fall, Wednesdays Together will kick off with a church family talent show. On Sept. 20 at 5:30, we will have dinner together followed by performances from anyone who wishes to participate. Sing or play a song, tell a joke or two, juggle...all family friendly talents are welcome. Email Ann Kelly at to sign up your act!

An Important Sunday Parking Reminder

Bridge Properties, 1000 Tyler Avenue at 10th St., now tows all unauthorized vehicles on its parking lot, including Sundays. Please do not park on the Bridge Properties lot to attend worship or other church events!

Ride the Bus to Church!
Make plans now to park at the Blake and ride the bus to church each Sunday so that you won't have to worry about parking downtown. Time of departure from the Blake is weekly at 10:30 am. The bus returns immediately after 11:00 am worship. Thanks to all our volunteer drivers who make this service possible! 

Here's Something New for Those Who Love to Read:
BYO Book Club and Dessert
"Dessert and Books - Summer Reading Edition"
FPC's BYOBook Club would like to hear what you read over the summer. Come to Fellowship Hall on Wednesday, August 23 at 7:00 pm for some sweets and fun conversation about the books that entertained and sustained you through the long, hot months. All ages and genres are welcome. Please call the church office to RSVP.

The Prayer Shawl Ministry


...will meet Monday, August 7 at 1:00 pm in Room 101.

Presbyterian Women Logo

PW Women:  Please join us on Tuesday, September 12 at 6:00 pm in the sanctuary to welcome new members and preview this year's study book on Hebrews. A reception will follow in Fellowship Hall. PW hopes that all women will take advantage of being a part of a circle as we begin an exciting new year! To join a circle, you may fill out a card in the Friendship Register and place it in the collection plate, or contact Sharron Alexander at 662-234-3144 or
PW Council 2017-2018
Moderator - Sharron Alexander -
Vice - Moderator - Mary Haskell -
Secretary - Julie Field -  
Treasurer - Margaret Fancher -
Historian - Karen Stockton -
Ex-Moderator - Becki Felts -

News from the Pews
VIPs Kick Off a Busy Season

The VIP lunches on the first Tuesday of the month and Dutch treat dinners on the third Thursday are a great way for FPC members who are 55 and older to enjoy fellowship, learn more about out church and community and engage in the life and ministry of the church. A few service projects are thrown in throughout the year to offer opportunities for outreach and mission.

August begins with a day trip to the Grammy Museum in Cleveland, MS on August 1 in lieu of the monthly lunch at the church. On August 17, we will visit the Mississippi Bicentennial Exhibit at the J.D. Williams Library on the campus of the University of Mississippi. Included in that trip will be a brief tour of the library, which is available for use by all residents of Mississippi. Finally, the group will gather on the fourth Thursday, August 31 at 5:45 p.m. for dinner at Oxford Burger Company.

Please remember to call the church office to let us know that you plan to participate in any of the VIP events. It helps the planners of the event make sure we have plenty of seats at the table and plenty of food for the whole group. Don't miss out on these upcoming VIP events.

FPC B ring Your Own Book Club Recommendations June 2017

What books have you read that have inspired you or changed your perspective on things? Which ones have challenged or nurtured your faith? In June, members of FPC met for dessert and a time of sharing the books that been important to their lives of faith. If you need suggestions for your next read, here are some suggestions based on the recommendations of members of our church family.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Bachman (2015)
Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (2014)

Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus by Thomas Cahill (1999)
Dying Well by Ira Byock (1997)
Have a Little Faith: A True Story by Mitch Albom (2015)
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance (2016)
Hoping for Something Better: Refusing to Settle for Life as Usual by Nancy Guthrie (2007)
How We Die: Reflections on Life' s Final Chapter by Sherwin Nuland (1993)
Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff (1987)
Last Rights: Rescuing the End of Life from the Medical System by Stephen Kiernan (2006)
Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor (2014)
Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness by Robert Greenleaf (1977)
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (2008)
Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir by Frances Mayes (2015)
When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor ... and Yourself by Steven Corbett and Brian Fikkert (2009)
We Extend Congratulations to:

Kate and Christopher Newman upon the birth of their son, Woods Granville Newman, born July 5, 2017.

Beth and Chris Pace upon the birth of their daughter, Abigail Josephine Pace, born July 28, 2017.
We Extend Sympathy to:
Shirley Crawford, whose husband, Eddie Crawford, died July 9,  2017 in Tupelo, MS. 
Special Thanks:
Dear Friends,
Thank you for the cake and the gift card recognizing my ten year anniversary. I appreciate you acknowledging my tenure at FPC.

Joseph Garrison
Directory of Music and Organist
Memorials and Honoraria

~ With gratitude for contributions to First Presbyterian Church ~
In Memory Of:
Eddie Crawford
Phillip Bailey
Reginald Barnes
Michael Blackburn
Scottye & Pete Boone
Melba & Bill Bowlin
Jean Dalton
John Douglas
Susan Hayman
Betty Koestler
Sara Mize
Charlie Moss
Emily & Don Newcomb
Joseph Portera
Catherine Smith
Susan Smith
John Sumner
Lorraine Tramel
Kay & Larry Tyler
Curtis Wilkie
Charles Walker
Marsha Williams
Nila & Max Williams
Polly & Parham Williams

Jean Davidson Crawford
Joe Hudspeth, Jr.
Tina & Tony Montgomery
Clinette Conlee
Patsy & Jay Eads
Elizabeth Ferguson 

Myrna Cook
Sally Booke
Pat Caldwell
Doris Laughlin
Morton Law Firm
Conny E. Parham
Cynthia Parker
David Roach

Recent & Upcoming Birthdays and Anniversaries

July Birthdays:

1 - Martha Burnett, Wendy Carmean, Mary Douglas Hester
2 - John Neff
3 - Carter Wilkes
5 - Louis Brandt
6 - Carolyn Abbott, Amelia Simpson
7 - Tom Franklin, Matthew Hall, Ernie Williams, Alice Wilkes
8 - Kay Croom, Martha Kelley
9 - Betty Abdo, Paul Chiniche, Nat Harris
10 - James Thompson
11 - Jean Blackston
12 - Ann Louise Miers
13 - Alicia Bouldin, George Moak, Bobbye Wiley
14 - Pauline Lewis, Neely Mullen
15 - Joe Huggins, Charles Montgomery, Beth Pace, Stuart Schuesselin
16 - Duke Goza
17 - Pat Carpenter
18 - Ken Boutwell, Ann DeVoe, Walter Nance, Tricia Showalter
20 - Doc Buford, Leigh Bundren, Coy Manley, Merrick McCool, David Shaw
21 - Miller Elliott, Daniel Hall
22 - Campbell McCool, Buddy McRae, Michelle Rounsaville, Erin Snellgrove
23 - Billy Chadwick, Brad Mayo, Ophelia Orrell
24 - Lauren Abbott, Kate Byars, Joseph Kelly, Louise Waller
25 - Bette Butler
27 - Robert Cooper, J.T. Davis, Rob Williams
28 - Ed Field, Weldon Wilkinson
29 - Sparky Luster
31 - Richard Atkinson, Vance Byars, Hayes Hollis, Chloe Lloyd, Tina Montgomery, Jeannice Russell
July Anniversaries:
4 - Scottye & Pete Boone, Lindsey & Brett Estes, Emma & David Flautt
7 - Allison & Jon Crawford, Robin & Justin Geurin
11 - Kim & Al Ling, Peggy & Walter Nance
12 - Fay & Earl Grissinger
13 - Margie & Kevin McLeod
15 - Darri & Keith Mansel
17 - Cherri & Bill Mayo
18 - Pat & Richard Atkinson, Jennifer & Jimmy Williams
20 - Missy & Michael Morrison
24 - Sharron & Harry Alexander
25 - Betsy & Ed Holcomb
26 - Karen & Bo Elliott
28 - Kathryn & Allen Elliott
August Birthdays:
1 - Russell Coon, Walker Coon, Diane Scruggs
2 - Ellie DeVoe, Allison Harris, John Schuesselin, Kyle Shannon
3 - Susan Abbott
4 - Sharron Alexander, Elizabeth Miers, Don Whitten, Mary Glynn Wright
6 - William Lewis, Al Ling
7 - Harper Lovelace
8 - Ella Chiniche
9 - Sarah Bridgers, Wyatt McCool
10 - Barron Rosson
11 - Gale Gurner
12 - J.J. Jones, Daniel Olson, Diane Olson, Bill Sloan
13 - Megan Bundren, Kathryn Duke, David Flautt, Lee Miers
14 - Bob Joiner
16 - Matthew Ueleke
17 - Joslin Williams
19 - Henry Hyneman, Lark Lindley, Polly Taylor
21 - Kate Abraham, Julie Chadwick, Ann McIntosh, Virginia Smith
22 - Danny Collins, Kathryn Elliott, Hugh Monteith, Tennyson Monteith, Machelle Williams
25 - Andrews McLellan, Kate Newman, David Randolph
26 - Mary Haskell
27 - Bill Bowlin, Nolan Shannon
28 - Marion Bishop, Richard Gurner
29 - Sarah Hester
30 - John Edge, Sr., Kate McPhail
31 - Mary Dale Byars, Nat Harris, Jr., James Ling
August Anniversaries :
5 - Jane Lyle & Trey Byars
6 - Jody & Ron Wilson
7 - Kate & Christopher Newman
8 - Melissa & Matthew Hall, Lynn & Bill Sloan
12 - Elizabeth & David Coon, Wendy & Jay Carmean
14 - Kristina Carlson & Doug Alexander
16 - Ashley & John Callery
17 - Grace & Dennis Feller, Julie & Bill Chadwick
19 - Kathryn & Ray Hill
21 - Mary Cates & Robert Williams
23 - Sarah & Jeffrey Hollis
28 - Ashley & Pratt Wilkinson
    First Dates

The Property Ministry Team will meet Tuesday, August 1 at 5:30 pm in Room 101.
Piecemakers meet each Thursday at 9:00 am and Saturday, August 12 at 9:30 am in Fellowship Hall.
The Finance Ministry Team will meet Monday, August 14 at 4:30 pm in Room 102.
The Session  will meet Monday, August 14 at 5:30 pm in Fellowship Hall.


 Reminder: The September deadline for submissions to First Press is

Thursday, August 15. 


The Session
CLASS of 2017
Tom Meredith, David Shaw, Griffin Tanner,
Christina Torbert, Mary Glynn Wright (Clerk)
  CLASS of 2018
Darren Ashmore, Dorothy Lou Aldridge,
Jane Lyle Byars, Paul Chiniche, Kathryn Hill
  CLASS of 2019
Trey Cobb, Jon Crawford, Margie McLeod, 
Karen Stockton, Dana Williams

The Diaconate
Kevin Christian, Catie Hester,
Laura Montgomery, Diane Scruggs, Cliff Smith
Whitney Bolen, Julie Chadwick, James Day,
Teresa Flautt, JoAnne Oliver

CLASS of 2019
Lee Borden, Kristina Carlson, Dean Chow,
Lele Gillespie, Pick Scruggs

The Congregation

John M. Semmes
Ann H. Kelly
Interim Associate Pastor
J. David Randolph Associate Pastor 22
Joseph W. Garrison
Dir. of Music/Organist
Terrell Hall
Dir. of Elementary Music

Allison Wehrung

Joseph Kelly
UKirk Ministries 

Director of Youth


Frances Saralvarez
Office Administrator
Jessica McGee
Director of Communications
Wade Simpson
Property Manager

Whitney Allen
Nursery Coordinator