FIRST PRESS | an online newsletter | April 2018  
"(16:1)When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. (2) And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. (3) They had been saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" (4) When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. (5) As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. (6) But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. (7) But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you." (8) So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid."  (Mark 16:1-8, NRSV)
Two thousand years ago, the tomb was empty. The body wasn't there. He had already left and gone ahead of them. The man whom Rome and the religious leaders dealt with by nailing him to a cross wasn't dead - contained in one place - but was, in fact, out loose in the world at large. Terror gave way to amazement. Silence gave way to words of unbridled joy. The story was not over; it was only the beginning.
Two thousand years later, the tomb is still empty. The body still isn't there. He continues to be one step ahead of us. The man whom the powers of this world try to claim and contain - to hold in one place with a precise message and controlled access - is still loose upon the world at large. The terrors of life continue, but to our amazement, an empty tomb continues to yield unbridled joy. The Good News of Jesus Christ is still not over; it is still being told.

She sat to my left on the floor of the cavernous OHS gymnasium, a total stranger who was about to enrich my life.
Together, "Deborah" and I were part of a larger consort participating last month in "If You Really Knew Me," a secular program designed to break down stereotypes and unite students from all walks of life in one room. The signature exercise happens when the students are each assigned to a small group with peers and an adult facilitator and invited to volunteer something personal (and in confidence) about themselves by saying, "If you really knew me, you would know..." The goal is to help kids realize everyone around them is dealing with "stuff" just like they are.
When it was Deborah's turn, the eleventh grader explained with a soft, angelic voice that, if we really knew her, we would know she has been bullied since she was in grade school mostly because of physical features over which she has no control. Tears streaming down her face, she eloquently described how she is trying to cope and is looking forward to a future away from those who ridicule her. Her honest, mature articulation of the troubled world in which she lives endeared her to me, along with her determination to rise above her detractors and one day "become" someone. One by one, the others in the group encouraged her and helped her to see herself in a more positive light. She soon seemed to realize the risk of her transparency was paying off with a newfound confidence and acceptance.
The revelations of others were just as compelling. One student has a frightening home life with violent siblings. Still another is wrestling with her sexuality, while another suffers from depression. If anything, the experience left me certain about what I have always believed: everyone you meet - everyone - is fighting some great battle.
Near the end, participants got to see with stark clarity who is dealing with what issue. Each was invited to step across an imaginary line if any of a series of facts read by a narrator applied to them ("A girlfriend just dumped me," "My parents are getting a divorce," "My skin color embarrasses me," etc.). I was transfixed watching them watch their peers as all voluntarily chose to be vulnerable so the whole lot could know none among them lives in a pain-free bubble.
At the end of our three-hours together, there were hugs being shared everywhere among a group of kids for whom differences and isolation had been replaced with similarities and hope.
While "If You Really Knew Me" is not perfect - it has its faults - it is, at its core, a valuable tool to help high school kids safely share their pain as well as see the pain in others around them.
It's not easy to be a teenager...never has been, never will be. But if you look around, they're now changing our nation - including Oxford - with grit, determination and resolve.
Let us all care for, listen to and support the teens in our midst, even as we learn from them how to be better ourselves.

John's signature
  Financial Summary
Summary of Stated Session Meeting

The Session of First Presbyterian Church held its stated monthly meeting on Monday, March  12, 2018, at 5:30 pm in Fellowship Hall. Twelve elders were present. 

Highlights from the meeting are as follows:
         1. Finance:
  • As of February 28, 2018, year to date revenue was $147,879.65, and expenses were $188,594.12.
  • Dana Williams is analyzing increasing costs for monthly gas utilities. She will report back information regarding the possibility of averaging the monthly cost so that no month is significantly higher than another.
         2. Worship:
  • Holy Week services begin on Maundy Thursday with a worship service including Tenebrae on Thursday, March 29 at 7:30 pm.
    • Identical worship services will be held on Easter Sunday at both 8:30 am. and 11:00 am. Seated Communion will be served at 11:00 am worship.
    • Elders to serve seated communion on Easter Sunday at 11:00 am worship were identified. Dorothy Lou Aldridge will act as Marshall and email position assignments to the Elders.
    • The annual FPC all-church Easter egg hunt will be held Saturday, March 31 at the home of Mary and Sam Haskell, 415 Park Drive, from 10:00 am.-11:30 am.
       3. Membership & Hospitality:
  • Elder McLeod announced that the 6th annual Jerry Warner Memorial Golf Tournament still needs participants. 
  • The softball team has a good number of people already signed up to play.
  • A potluck dinner on the grounds will take place on Sunday, May 6th following 11:00 am worship. The Deacons are providing set-up, clean-up, and supplying chicken for the main course. The congregation is asked to bring side dishes and desserts.
  • There will also be Sunday lunches in June after 10:00 am worship. The lunches will be provided by various groups within the church. The Elders will host the first Sunday in June.
  • There will be no First Sunday lunch in April.
       4. Children's Christian Education:
  • Associate Pastor David Randolph reported that on Saturday, May 5, 2018, the CE ministry team will host a half day Children's Education focused workshop. All adults are invited to attend the workshop. It will be held from 8:30- am.-1:00 pm.
  • The ministry team is exploring the possibility of having prayer boxes for children to use with their families during the late summer Sundays as a way to gear up for Rally Day.
  • Online nursery sign-up is ongoing and encouraged.
       5. Mission
  • A request has been made to the ministry team for volunteers to be readers in schools. More specific information is needed.
  • The ministry team is awaiting specific needs for volunteers with the Second Chance literacy program.
         6. Presbytery Report:
  • Dorothy Lou Aldridge reported that the Presbytery of St.Andrew met at Camp Hopewell on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at Camp Hopewell. The order of the day was a typical Presbytery meeting with reports from officers, boards, commissions, and committees. Darren Ashmore reported that it was the Camp's desire to retire the debt incurred for the camp's swimming pool. Donations are being accepted and matched by an anonymous donor. The Presbytery business meeting was concluded prior to lunch.
        7. Deacon Report:
  • The diaconate has assigned homebound members to each deacon.
  • The group is planning for the May dinner on the grounds and a picnic later in the year.        
Regular Worship Services
  8:30 am - Worship (communion weekly)
9:45 am - Sunday School
11:00 am - Worship (communion first Sunday of the month)
Nursery Weekly: 8:15 am - 12:15 pm

Holy Week Services
Easter - April 1 - 8:30 am and 11:00 am (identical)
Lectionary Texts for April
April 1 - Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 or Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18 or Mark 16:1-8
April 8 - Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; 1 John 1:1-2:2; John 20:19-31
April 15 - Acts 3:12-19; Psalm 4; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36b-38
April 22 - Acts 4:5-12; Psalm 23; 1 John 3:16-24; John 10:11-18

April 29 - Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 22:25-31; 1 John 4:7-21; John 15:1-8
PYF News
PYF will hold its annual lock-in on Friday, April 13 . We will begin at 7:00 pm on Friday night and wrap things up at 8:00 am on Saturday morning. All youth from grades 7-12 are invited for a fun-filled night of fellowship and recreation!
Confirmation Class Now in Full Swing

Confirmation is underway and we have a wonderful class of eight confirmands who are learning all about their faith and about the life of the Presbyterian Church. We ask that you please keep all of our confirmands and mentors in your prayers during this important time in the lives of our young people in the church.
Confirmation Class of 2018
Sallie Abernathy
Emory Barrios
Charles Byars
Porter Callery
Ella Chiniche
William Lewis
Heath Stevens
Hassell Wilkinson
UKirk College News

March was a great month at UKirk! We enjoyed a bonfire hosted by FPC's own Greg Patton, and delicious meals provided by FPC's young adults. Our weekly  gathering s continued to center around the different days of Holy Week. We broke bread, reflected on the raw grief of Good Friday, and spent time in the awkward, silent "what now?" of Holy Saturday. For our Palm Sunday day, we prepared the way for the Lord through a community art project. 

Creation is waking up after winter, and we're not slowing down either. With Lent over and Easter arrived, we continue to meet weekly, following a UKirk lectionary of readings offered by our denomination's national campus ministry office. I'm also excited to share that April 22 will be UKirk Sunday at FPC! Congregations presbytery-wide have been invited to lift up campus ministry during worship on that day, and I'm excited that UKirk Ole Miss students will be joining me in leading worship in Oxford. 
As we move through the rest of Spring, keep the college students among us in your prayers as they make their way through end-of-year busyness, summer plans, and next things. For the most detailed updates on UKirk goings on, you can subscribe to our own monthly email newsletter here:

Young Adult News
In April, our young adult ministry will be hosting a baseball tailgate for the UGa vs. Ole Miss game on Saturday, April 21 , at 1:30 pm. Tickets will be purchased at a later date. Please contact David Randolph if you are interested in either of these events or participating in this ministry.

Lovepacks donations are an easy way to help relieve hunger among Oxford and Lafayette County school children.  Bring your donations by the church office and we'll deliver for you. Lovepacks sends home bags of non-perishable, kid-friendly food each week with students who have been identified by their school counselor. Here are the foods you can donate:

          Pop-top cans of chicken noodle or vegetable soup
             Pop-top cans of ravioli
           Peanut butter crackers
           Cheese crackers
           Saltine crackers
           16 oz. jars of peanut butter
           Non-refrigerated pudding
           Granola, breakfast, or protein bars
           Pop-top cans of beanie weenies
Etcetera . . .

Rebekah Abel Lamar , Associate Pastor for Christian Formation at Idlewild Presbyterian Church in Memphis, will be the facilitator for this year's Women's Retreat at Camp Hopewell. The weekend will be a time to remember the goodness of God ' s grace while we spend time together in fellowship, worship and being present in God ' s creation. There will be plenty of time to catch up with old friends and make lasting memories with new ones.  Linens will be provided and delicious food will be served.   Register online at .
Stay After Church Sunday, May 6 for Dinner on the Grounds!
The First Sunday Lunch on Sunday, May 6 will be a "dinner on the grounds" hosted by the FPC Diaconate. The deacons will provide the main course and drinks and ask that you bring sides, salads and desserts to round out the meal. Be on the lookout for more information, but mark your calendar now for Sunday, May 6 following the 11:00 am service of worship.
It's Time to Register for Summer Camp!

Summer camp at Camp Hopewell is a wonderful gift that will nurture your children's faith, build up their self esteem, teach them about living in community and about the wonders of the world around them...all while they have a blast! Each day is filled with opportunities for canoeing, swimming, hiking, arts and crafts, archery, fun and games as well as daily Bible study and worship. Check out the summer brochure at and find just the right opportunity for your child to enjoy summer camp at Camp Hopewell this year. Hopewell Camp and Conference Center is a ministry of the Presbytery of St. Andrew. It's your camp, so ENJOY!

FPC Golf Tournament Update
The 6th annual Jerry Warner Memorial Golf Tournament is scheduled for Saturday, April 14 at the Ole Miss Golf Course. The cost is $60 per player. Every two-man team must have one FPC member, but if you don't have a playing partner, we will pair you with someone. The deadline to register is April 8. You can do so by calling the church office or by placing your payment marked "Golf Tournament" in the offering plate on Sunday. There will be an 8:00 am shotgun start on the day of the tournament with sign in beginning at 7:00 am. Donuts and bottled water will be available. Mulligans can be purchased (2 per player) for $5 each. All proceeds will benefit Camp Hopewell. Come enjoy the fellowship and a round of golf while supporting Hopewell's ministry.

Save the date for our Children's Christian Education workshop and seminar on Saturday, May 5 , from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm in Fellowship Hall. This event seeks to bring the congregation together in conversation to learn how we might continue educating our children well at FPC. We are grateful to have our own Ruth O'Dell as our facilitator; Ruth brings to us her gifts and professional expertise within the education field. Be on the lookout for more details coming out soon. 
A Haven House Request
Haven house residents are delighted to receive various translations of the Bible and also other religious material. All may be left at the church office and thanks to all who have responded.
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!

The annual Presbyterian Women's Birthday Tea will be held Sunday, April 22, at 2:00 pm in Fellowship Hall. The new slate of officers will be introduced. Please mark your calendar to attend!  

Carroll Barr Circle
Tuesday, April 17 at 6:00 pm @ the home of Marianna Ochs - 917 Bonnie Blue Drive, Oxford, MS 38655 
Alma Shaw Circle
Tuesday, April 17 at 9:45 am @ the home of Fannie Elliott - 919 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655

Esther Ethridge Circle
Sunday, April 8 at 4:30 pm @ the home of Leighton McCool - 1102 South 11th Street, Oxford, MS 38655

Lula Gregory Circle
Tuesday, March 20 at 9:45 am @ the home of Nila Williams - 535 North Lamar Boulevard, Oxford, MS 38655

Gerry Duvall Circle
Monday, April 16 at 12:00 pm in Fellowship Hall

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
Plan Ahead for These VIP Events

The VIPs, Very Important Presbyterians, have some fun opportunities for fellowship in the coming months for those who are 55 and older. Reservations are helpful in all cases and a must for one or two. If you think you'd like to participate in any of these events, just call the church office to let us know to reserve a seat for you. Activities for the next few months include:
          Tuesday, April 3                                          8:00 am at the church
                   A bus trip to the Mississippi Delta to visit McCarty Pottery in
                   Merigold, followed by lunch at the Gallery restaurant. After
                   lunch, the group will travel to Mound Bayou to visit Peter Pottery
                   before returning to the church around 4:00 pm. Space on the bus
                   is limited to 25, so make your reservation early!
          Monday, April 16                                        5:30 pm at the church
                   Hop on the bus for a "progressive dinner" beginning with appetizers
                   at the home of Irma Buchanan. The main course will be hosted
                   by Mary and Sam Haskell at their home on Park Drive. Dessert
                   will follow at the home of Fannie Elliott. Don 't miss the fun and
                   fellowship! Call and make your reservation today.
          Tuesday, May 1                                           12:00 pm at the church
                   Gather for lunch with guest Arledia Bennett, who will tell us 
about engaging older adults in community service through her 
work with Lafayette County RSVP . Lunch is catered and 
donations  will be appreciated.
          Thursday, May 17                                       5:30 pm at the church
                   Join other VIPs for a delicious Dutch treat dinner at 
Taylor Grocery.
There are more fellowship opportunities throughout the summer months so to learn more, keep looking for details in the monthly and weekly newsletters and in the church bulletin!
Sympathy of the congregation is extended to :

Curtis Wilkie and Leighton McCool, whose son and whose brother, Stuart Wilkie, died March 18, 2018 in Tupelo, MS.

The family of Louise Sneed, who died March 24, 2018 in Oxford.

We extend congratulations to:

Captain Alexander, who is a semifinalist in this year's Mississippi National Geographic State Bee, to be held on April 6.

Dr. Caroline Wigginton, who recently won the Society of Early Americanists' Annual Essay Competition. Caroline is a professor in the Department of English at the University of Mississippi.

Anna Claire Franklin, who recently won the local, regional and state titles of the Poetry Out Loud competition and who now advances to the national competition in Washington, DC.

Jordan and Hunter Haney on the birth of their son, Harold Eugene "Henry" Haney, IV, grandson of Carole and Hal Haney, born March 16, 2018.

Memorials and Honoraria

  ~ With gratitude for contributions to First Presbyterian Church ~
In memory of:

Joan Semmes Bullard

Pat Bittman
Lisa Hickman-Tollison

Evelyn Carlson

JJ Jones
Charlotte Parks

Suzanne Sam Garrott

Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Taylor

Bobbye May Henderson

JJ Jones

Helen Howie

Emily & Don Newcomb

JoAnne Larguier

Sandra, Bill & Johnny Webb

Helen Frances Sam

Sally Booke
Lynton Dilley
Lisa Hickman-Tollison
Dr. & Mrs. James Potts and family
Louise & Fletcher Powers
Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Taylor
Beth & Tripp Thomas
Kay & Larry Tyler

Louise Sneed

Lisa Hickman-Tollison
Martha Kelley
Marcia & Art Magee
Mr. & Mrs. Don Newcomb
Sebron Morris Sneed

Stuart L. Wilkie

Shirley Crawford
Lisa Hickman-Tollison
Martha Kelley
Neal & Nat Sumner

Upcoming Birthdays and Anniversaries

April Birthdays:

1     Mary Kate Duke, Gavin Eifling, Ron Wilson
2     Tony Mize, Rebecca Morgan, Mary Williams
3     Brandall Laughlin, Ben Smith
4     Susan Meredith, Helen Scruggs, Martha Walcott
5     Thomas Cribbs III, Tommy Cribbs
7     Angela McRae, Jeffrey Stricklin
8     Janet Barnes
9     Clara Hartwell Flautt, Melinda Freeman
10   Emily Eads, Dunbar Jenkins, Tony Montgomery
11   Jon Abernathy, Karen Elliott, Dee Hobbs, Lucy Thompson, Nila Williams
12   Tyler Flowers
14   Michael Goodwiller, Amanda Hyneman, Emily Stevens
15   Larry Tyler
17   Babe Carr, Diane Lindley, Melissa Logan, Marc Showalter
18   Elsie Bridgers, Tucker Bridgers, Adam Quick
19   Yung Chow, Robin Geurin, Bobbie Shaw
20   Laura Jackson
21   Sam Cunningham, Spencer Patton
22   Todd Abbott, Don Giles
23   Sarah Brooke Bishop
24   Jay Eads, Michael McLellan
25   Southerlin Rosson, Dorothy Williams
26   Ed Croom, Monte Ochs, Cragon Randolph
29   Harry Alexander, Price Walden
30   Shands Orrell, William Redditt, Kay Tyler

April Anniversaries:

21   Haley & Justin Eifling
23   Cheryl & Keith Hayward
30   Kathleen & Brad Mayo
   First Dates
The Prayer Shawl Ministry  will meet Monday, April 2 at 1:00 pm in Room 101.
The Property Ministry Team  will meet Tuesday, April 3 at 5:30 pm in Room 101.
The Diaconate will meet Tuesday, April 3 at 5:30 in the Session room.
The Mission Ministry Team will meet Thursday, April 5 at 5:30 pm in Room 101.
The Finance Ministry Team  will meet Monday, April 9 at 4:30 pm in Room 101.
The Session  will meet Monday, April 9 at 5:30 pm in Fellowship Hall.
The FPC Book Club  will meet Tuesday, April 10 at 1:30 in Room 101. The book will be Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson.
The Membership & Hospitality Ministry Team will meet Thursday, April 12 at 5:30 pm in Room 101.
The Children's Christian Education Ministry Team will meet Thursday, April 12 at 5:30 pm in Room 101.
Piecemakers  meet each Thursday at 9:00 am in Fellowship Hall and Saturday, April 14 at 10:30 in Fellowship Hall.

Reminder: The May deadline for submissions to First Press is
Sunday, April 15. 

The Session
  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

CLASS of 2020
Ashley Callery, Ann DeVoe, Ben Griffith,
Matthew Hall, Monte Wood

The Diaconate
CLASS of 2018
Whitney Bolen, Julie Chadwick, James Day,
Teresa Flautt, JoAnne Oliver
CLASS of 2019
Lee Borden, Kristina Carlson, Dean Chow,
Lele Gillespie, Pick Scruggs

CLASS of 2020
Todd Abbott, Rosie Cooper, Ed Croom,
Lisa Hickman-Tollison, John Schuesselin, Amy Wilkes

The Congregation

John M. Semmes
Ann H. Kelly
Interim Associate Pastor
J. David Randolph
Associate Pastor 22
Allison C. Wehrung
UKirk Pastor

Joseph W. Garrison
Director of Music/Organist
Terrell R. Hall

Director of Elementary Music

Joseph H. Kelly
Director of Youth
Frances Saralvarez
Office Administrator
Jessica M. McGee
Director of Communications
Wade Simpson
Property Manager

LaShaunda L. Sisk
Nursery Director