FIRST PRESS | an online newsletter | August 2018  
It's a part of life, and it often happens whether we are ready for it or not. The older I become, the more I understand that  accepting change is the first step toward dealing with it. Psychologists call this "resilience," whether it's a change in vocation, relationship or something else.
In taking leave from my call at First Presbyterian Church, I have thought a lot about how your lives as a congregation are about to change. Adjustments to the normative rhythms of the church will have to be made. The cadences of worship may seem temporarily unsettled. New roles will have to be assumed in the area of lay leadership. Patience will become an essential virtue while waiting for your 26 th pastor to be installed.
All of this may seem a bit daunting, at least at the outset. But there is good news, of course, even with regard to change. God is in all of it! A change in pastoral leadership is nothing less than a sign that God is doing something new and wonderful at FPC. That fact alone is worthy of praise, and excitement should be the prevailing emotion moving forward. Your Pastor Nominating Committee, once elected, will have  a lot of options because great churches draw great candidates. In fact, God has already ordained the next individual to become pastor among you...all that's left to do now is find that person and get him/her to Oxford (and who wouldn't want to come to Oxford?).
In the coming weeks, following the August 13 stated meeting of Session, you will learn more about the process of searching for a new pastor/head of staff. Fortunately, our Presbyterian polity very ably guides churches during transitional periods. To that end, Rev. Dr. Greg Goodwiller, Executive Presbyter, has already committed the resources of St. Andrew Presbytery and our denomination. In the meantime, your gifted associate pastors and non-ordained staff are all dedicated to maintaining a high level of effort and dedication to excellence in every aspect of church life.
Through it all, I'll be watching from afar and praying for the Session and Diaconate, for the staff...and for you,  all of whom are held safely in the palm of God's hand in this season of change. FPC will remain a strong presence in this community, and the next chapter in the great narrative of Christ's church on Van Buren Avenue will soon be written. I can't wait to read it.
May God's grace and mercy always be abundantly evident in your midst.
John's signature
From the Associate Pastors

The  Lord  will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and for evermore. Psalm 121:8
John O'Donohue, author of To Bless The Space Between Us, writes:
          "Today many people describe themselves as "being in transition." In a culture governed by speed, this is to be expected, for the exterior rate of change is relentless. This "transition" can refer to relationships, work, and location; or more significantly to the inner life and way of viewing the world. Yet the word transition seems to be pale, functional, almost inadequate and impersonal, and does not have the same intensity or psychic weight as perhaps the word threshold evokes. The word threshold was related to the word thresh, which was the separation of the grain from the husk or straw when oats were flailed. It also includes the notions of entrance, crossing, border, and beginning. To cross a threshold is to leave behind the husk and arrive at the grain."
Threshold....As this month unfolds and we say our goodbyes to John and Cindy and consider what the future holds for FPC, I invite you to join me in thinking of this season as a threshold for all of us. Maybe you are at a threshold in your personal and family life as well. It comforts me to know that whether we're coming in or going out, God's got this! May we all know his presence as we cross this threshold into new beginnings.
Grace and peace,

Summer breaks the rules. Flexibility is important because during the summer, things change. My schedule changed when I volunteered for a week this past month as a camp pastor, serving alongside the staff of Camp Hopewell, a year-round ministry of our presbytery just fifteen minutes down Highway 30. It's a joyful place with wonderful people who seek to share the love of God and God's good earth with campers, visitors and pastors alike. Anyone should go if given the chance!
            My week of camp was called Night Owl. It's the last week of summer camp for children 10 years and older. Why is it called Night Owl? Well, the normal rules change because these campers get to wake up later since they get to stay up later doing all kinds of fun nighttime activities. One night, there was a camp-wide outdoor mystery game of Clue (like the board game). Another night, there was a late-night talent show and lip sync battle. Two things were certain: fun schedules would be made and, eventually, it was going to rain. Remember, flexibility is important.
Besides sharing a brief Bible study each morning and helping the different cabins prepare to lead a portion of worship on our final day, my time was spent talking with campers and staff. The conversations took on different forms, but one topic remained the same... change. For many, summer was almost over and school would be starting soon. Flexible summer schedules were about to give way to the normal fall, winter, spring routine. For some it was a pleasant and familiar change. For others, it was nerve-wracking because they were about to start something new.
Each day after lunch, I'd offer a brief devotion for members of the staff from one of two books by Frederick Buechner, "Wishful Thinking, a Seeker's ABC" or "Whistling in the Dark, Doubters Dictionary." One of those devotions has stayed with me through this late night adventure and I'd like to share it with you.
"Sleep: It's a surrender, a laying down of arms. Whatever plans you're making, whatever work you're up to your ears in, whatever pleasures you're enjoying, whatever sorrows anxieties or problems you're in the midst of, you set them aside, find a place to stretch out somewhere, close your eyes, and wait for sleep.
All the things that make you the particular person you are stop working - your thoughts and feelings, the changing expressions of your face, the constant moving around, the yammering will, the relentless or not so relentless purpose. But all the other things keep on working with a will and purpose of their own. You go on breathing in and out. Your heart goes on beating. If some faint thought stirs somewhere in the depths of you, its converted into a dream so you can go on sleeping and not have to wake up to think it through before it's time.
Whether you're just or unjust, you have the innocence of a cat dozing under the stove. Whether you're old or young, homely or fair, you take on the serenity of marble. You have given up being in charge of your life. You have put yourself into the hands of the night.
It is a rehearsal for the final laying down of arms, of course, when you trust yourself to the same unseen benevolence to see you through the dark and to wake you when the time comes - with new hope, new strength, into the return again of light."

  Financial Summary

Summary of Stated Session Meeting
The Session of First Presbyterian Church held its stated monthly meeting on Monday, June 18, 2018, at 5:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall.  Fourteen elders were present.  Highlights from the meeting are as follows:

  • As of May 31, 2018, year to date revenue was $374,855.06, and expenses were $440,917.51. At this time total revenues fall about $37,000 below what was budgeted. 
  • The ministry team presented a list of projects to be completed during the month of July. The team requested funding from the Nabors Fund, and the following motion was made and unanimously approved:
    • Movant, Karen Stockton - To expend $48,550 from the Nabors Fund for 2018 property projects.
    • The water pump has been replaced at a cost of $6000.
  • Two service groups within the Oxford community, Leap Frog children's after school program and Memory Makers, have met with the Mission Ministry Team to make requests for funds. It was decided that the Mission team would develop possible projects to help with the "named needs" of each group. The monetary needs will be discussed at a later meeting.
  • The Mission team reported that they had previously challenged Presbyterian Women to contribute $1000 toward retiring the debt for the Camp Hopewell swimming pool, stating that they would contribute $4000. PW contributed $1500. With an additional $4000 from the Ministry Team, FPC gave $5500. The Presbytery gave an additional $5000 toward retiring the debt.
  • The park at Montreat, NC was recently destroyed by storms. Funds are being raised to reconstruct the park. Our church will consider ways to aide in the effort to restore the park.
           Children's Christian Education:
  • Children's church for the month of June is successful with an average of 15 in attendance.
  The Session recited The Lord's Prayer and adjourned at 6:56 p.m.            
Summer Worship Hours

Our summer worship schedule is in effect through September 2:
10:00 am - Worship with communion
No Sunday School
Nursery Weekly: 9:45 - 11:15 am
Lectionary Texts for August
August 5 - 2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a; Psalm 5:1-12; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:24-35
August 12 - 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 311-33; Psalm 130; Ephesians 4:25-5:2; John 6:35, 41-51
August 19 - 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14; Psalm 111; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 5:51-58
August 26 - 1 Kings 8:(1, 6, 10-11) 22-30, 41-43; Psalm 84; Ephesians 6:10-20; John 6:56-69
A new season of singing for adults and children is fast approaching. While the choir has been out of the loft for a few weeks, I've begun the process of pondering and planning music for the fall. Many of you share how much you miss the choir when they're not in the loft. I agree with you! The music is better when they are leading from the loft, but they, too, need a break during the summer. Their absence also clarifies the important role they play in worship each Sunday.
I'm asking you to consider joining the Chancel Choir. I believe every choir member would tell you he/she most always leaves choir happier than when they arrived. Music is good for the soul! Music helps us proclaim the good news of the Gospel...and let's not forget that God commands music in worship. Many of you have high school and college choir experience; the choir needs you. We are thankful for our choral scholars who make it easier for volunteer members, but we still need volunteers.
As a piano teacher and a choral director, I've heard all of the excuses for not practicing and not joining the choir, but I also know we all find time to do the things we deem important. Let's move the choir to the "important" category.
O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
     ~ Psalm 95:1~
Children's News
Mark your calendars because Rally Day is a month away! Rally Day is our annual celebration of a new church year. As a new school year begins, so does the ministry of our children's Christian Education ministry team. Rally day will be held at 10:00 am on Sunday, September 9th with many activities for our children happening on the courtyard and lawn, weather permitting. Children's Sunday School classes will resume on Sunday, September 16th. Adults - you too have a chance to participate! Be on the lookout for an exciting announcement about a gathering of your own.
PYF News
This summer we had the opportunity to attend Montreat Youth Conference located just east of Asheville, North Carolina. The theme for the conference was Lift Every Voice. Our youth spent the week with other youth from around the country, reading scripture and exploring ways to use their own voice in the world. All in all it was an amazing trip for all of us who got the opportunity to attend. We'd like to give a big thank you to Jennifer Williams and Leslie Orrell for volunteering their time to chaperone our trip. We wouldn't have been able to do it without them.

Parent Meeting
Summer is coming to a close and that means that PYF will start back with it's regular schedule very soon. There is an informational parent meeting scheduled for August 12 in Fellowship Hall at 3:00 pm. This meeting is for all youth grades 7-12 and their parents. Here, we will go over the calendar for the semester and get everyone ready for our year together. I hope everyone has enjoyed their summer and I am excited for us to start back again in this wonderful ministry.

UKirk College News

A new semester of campus ministry is upon us! Ole Miss students head back to class on August 20 and UKirk Ole Miss will officially kick off our year together on August 28. This Fall, we're exploring the theme, "Anything But Ordinary." Guided by some visual inspiration from "A Sanctified Art," we'll spend the season of ordinary time delving into the Old Testament family stories of Abraham and his descendants. 
An important note about the Fall: we will not be hosting our football parking fundraiser this year. Due to low sales and the person-power required, we're in the process of imagining other possibilities for folks to financially support our ministry. There are plenty of other ways you can be in ministry with us too, including providing meals on Tuesday nights. You can always find more information at and, for the most detailed updates, subscribe to our own monthly newsletter (look for "Friends of UKirk" in the bottom left corner of our homepage). 
While summer is a nice time for me to slow down a bit, this campus minister is ready to have her people back! Do keep our UKirk community (and others across the country) in your prayers as we begin another year together. 
A Haven House Request
Haven House residents are delighted to receive various translations of the Bible and other religious materials. All may be left at the church office, with thanks to all who have responded.
The Pantry
The Pantry needs several volunteers to substitute or be regular deliverers monthly to home-bound clients. It requires only part of the second Tuesday afternoon each  month. Please consider this helpful task and call Linda Jansen at 801-7325 if you can volunteer.
Etcetera . . .
honoring John and Cindy Semmes
August 26, 2018
immediately after 10:00 am worship
in Fellowship Hall
Dear church family,

Thank you for the lovely chancel flowers you gave us in honor of James. We are blessed to have a great church family, especially in times like these.

Al, Kim and James Ling
Wednesdays Together

Wednesdays Together returns this fall for a prophetic season! Come and enjoy a great catered meal with your church family before we study God's written word. This fall we journey with three of the Old Testament Prophets. Mark your calendars for Wednesday, September 19th. Hope to see you there!  
Calling All Talent!
The Second Annual FPC's Got Talent will kick off our Wednesdays Together on Wednesday, September 12 and we need talent! Please contact Ann Kelly if you are willing to be a part of the show. All ages are welcome to participate.
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 9:15 am. The bus then proceeds to Brookdale for pickup at 9:30 am. Immediately after 10:00 am worship, the bus returns to both stops. Thanks to all our volunteer drivers who make this service possible!

Presbyterian Women: If you would like to join a circle, change circles,  
or are not able to attend a circle this year, please fill out a card found in the Friendship Register on your pew and place it in the collection plate.  

If you wish to remain in your current circle, it is not 
necessary to fill out a card.

PW Council 2018-2019

Moderator - Mary Haskell -
Vice - Moderator - Mary Glynn Wright -
Secretary - Julie Field -  
Treasurer - Margaret Fancher -
Historian - Anita Drury -
Ex-Moderator - Sharron Alexander -
News from the Pews
Sympathy of the congregation is extended to:

The family of Morris Sneed, who died July 22, 2018 in Jackson, TN .

We Extend Congratulations to:

Ellen Shelton and Tom Meredith, who were recently inducted into the Mississippi School of Education's Alumni Hall of Fame. 

Bill Mayo, who was inaugurated as president of the American Osteopathic Association for 2018-19, the first Mississippian to be so honored.

Memorials and Honoraria

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

David Cook

Rayna Bogue

Fredrick Richard Lickfold III

JJ Jones

Jane Roy

JJ Jones

Helen Frances Sam

Ann Gilmore

Katherine Satterfield

Dorothy Lou and Mack Aldridge
JJ Jones

Louise Sneed

Barbara H. Mangum

Upcoming Birthdays and Anniversaries

August Birthdays:

1     Russell Coon, Walker Coon, Diane Scruggs
2     Ellie DeVoe, Allison Harris, John Schuesselin
3     Susan Abbott
4     Sharron Alexander, Elizabeth Miers, Don Whitten, Mary Glynn Wright
6     William Lewis, Al Ling, Ruth O'Dell
7     Harper Lovelace, Baxter Montgomery
8     Ella Chiniche
9     Sarah Bridgers, Wyatt McCool
10   Barron Rosson
11   Mary Freeman, Gale Gurner, Brynnen Quick
12   J.J. Jones, Dan Olson, Diane Olson, Bill Sloan
13   Megan Bundren, Ernest Flautt, Lee Miers
14   Bob Joiner
15   Kathryn Duke
16   Dubbie McClatchy, Matthew Ueleke
17   Joslin Williams
19   Henry Hyneman, Polly Morrison Taylor
21   Kate Abraham, Julie Chadwick, Ann Caroline McIntosh, Nancy Rogers, Virginia Smith
22   Danny Collins, Kathryn Elliott, Hugh Monteith, Tennyson Monteith, Machelle Williams
25   Andrews McLellan, Kate Newman, Allison Wehrung
26   Mary Haskell
27   Bill Bowlin
28   Marion Bishop, Richard Gurner
29   Sarah Margaret Hester
30   John Edge, Sr., Kate McPhail
31   Mary Dale Byars, Nat Harris, James Ling

August Anniversaries:

5     Jane Lyle & Trey Byars
6     Kaitlyn & Tyler Flowers, Toni & Joe Joyer, Judy & Ron Wilson
7     Kate & Christopher Newman
8     Melissa & Matthew Hall, Lynn & Bill Sloan
11   Laura & Jim Jackson, Diane & Dan Olson
12   Wendy & Jay Carmean, Elizabeth & David Coon
14   Kristina Carlson & Doug Alexander
16   Ashley & John Callery
17   Julie & Billy Chadwick
19   Kathryn & Ray Hill
21   Mary Cates & Robert Williams
23   Sarah & Jeffrey Hollis, Cydni & Kris Kersey
28   Ashley & Pratt Wilkinson

   First Dates

The Adult Christian Education Ministry Team  will meet Wednesday, August 1 at 5:30 in Room 101.
The Prayer Shawl Ministry Team will meet Monday, August 6 at 1:00 pm in Room 101.
The Property Ministry Team  will meet Tuesday, August 7 at 4:30 in Room 101. 
The Diaconate  will meet Tuesday, August 7 at 5:30 in the Session Room.
The Membership & Hospitality Ministry Team will meet Thursday, August 9 at 5:30 in Room 101
The Finance Ministry Team  will meet Monday, August 13 at 4:30 pm in Room 101.
The Session  will meet Monday, August 13 at 5:30 pm in Fellowship Hall.
The FPC Book Club  will not meet in June, July or August.
Piecemakers  meet each Thursday at 9:00 am in Fellowship Hall.

Reminder: The September deadline for submissions to First Press   is Wednesday, August 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. McPhail
Director of Communications
Wade Simpson
Property Manager

LaShaunda L. Sisk
Nursery Director