A Message from

Dr. Rev. Frederick "Fritz" Ritsch

Dear Friends at First:


I’m finally coming down to earth after going through two trainings, one of them a week long, about the work of an interim minister. It’s given me a better sense of what lies ahead as we go on this critical journey together. Like the Children of Israel traversing in the desert, we’ll reflect on the past, renew and refine your corporate identity as God’s people, and envision the future, the new land you will discover under the leadership of your next pastor. There are five phases of interim work that are identified in our contract together. Each of these phases will call upon us to meet together corporately and do our work together.

My Intentional Interim Training instructor says that interim work is “radically congregational.” What he means is that the whole congregation must be involved for the work to be effective. For each phase, there will be congregation-wide events, developed by a transition team comprised of people whom you will elect to serve as your guides and my partners as we travel this road together. Given how much is required, this process will take several months. We will make a point of inviting and welcoming every voice in the congregation; having children and youth participate, for instance, will be critical. Here are the five phases:


1.     Heritage—In this phase we talk about First Pres’s storied history and discuss Rev. Gatewood’s departure.

2.     Mission—By mission we don’t mean so much outreach to those in need as we do the purpose of First Presbyterian. What is God’s calling for your church now, in this present moment? This is a discussion of identity. What makes First Presbyterian unique and important to its members and to our community? What are the values that shape us?

3.     Connections—As our contract together puts it, “Celebrating, creating or renewing denominational, geographical, and technological connections.” Who are our partners? With whom would we like to partner?

4.     Leadership—In this phase we’ll examine how the church is organized to implement its mission, how to develop new ideas and strong leadership.

5.     Future—The culmination of this process: What future do we feel God calling us to? Who are we becoming?


This is an exciting, creative process that lays the groundwork for the kind of pastor you will be calling, because it is entirely about the church you are and want to be. You will be calling your next pastor to implement the vision you set for yourselves in this process; in fact, the search process can’t begin until we go through all five phases. It’s lengthy but it’s worth it. Ultimately, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you are working together to create your own future!


I am excited and humbled to be your guide in this process.


Grace and peace,


Sunday, October 30

Generosity Sunday

  • Sermon: Dr. Rev. Fritz Ritsch.
  • Worship Leader: David Rives
  • Flowers: Mary Planer
  • Head usher: Margret Cockerell
Bulletin for Sunday, October 30, 2022
Watch Live Stream

Generosity Campaign

This Sunday, Oct. 30, we launch our 2023 pledge campaign, "Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters." We ask that you prayerfully consider increasing your pledge over last year's gift by 3%. Pledges are due by Nov. 20, and may be made by the pledge card you'll receive in the mail or Click Here to Pledge on Realm

Click here for PDF of Brochure with Form

Sun., November 6: All Saints Day

  • Sermon: Dr. Rev. Fritz Ritsch.
  • Worship Leader: needed
  • Scripture Reader: needed
  • Flowers: The Burke Family
  • Head usher: TBD
  • Pennies for Hunger collected

Sun., November 13

  • Sermon: Dr. Rev. Fritz Ritsch.
  • Worship Leader: needed
  • Scripture Reader: needed
  • Flowers: needed
  • Head usher: TBD
  • Minute for Missions

Sun., November 20

  • Sermon: Dr. Rev. Fritz Ritsch.
  • Worship Leader: Valerie Parker
  • Scripture Reader: Valerie Parker
  • Flowers: Mary Planer
  • Head usher: Margret Cockerell
  • Thanksgiving meal after service
  • Decorate for Christmas
  • Deadline for Thanksgiving meal kit donations

Mon., November 21

  • Poinsettia orders and money deadline
  • 7pm Session Meeting via Zoom

Sun., November 27- First Sunday of Advent

  • Sermon: Vicki Jones-Johnson
  • Worship Leader: Peter Pequeno
  • Scripture Reader: needed
  • Head usher: Margret Cockerell
  • Communion

Thurs., December 1- City Christmas Tree Lighting

  • Beacons will be serving hot chocolate

Sun., December 4 - Second Sunday of Advent

  • Sermon: Dr. Rev. Fritz Ritsch.
  • Worship Leader: needed
  • Scripture Reader: needed
  • Head usher: Margret Cockerell
  • Pennies for Hunger collected

Wed., December 7- 5:30pm

Advent Dinner and Candy Houses

Sun., December 11 - Third Sunday of Advent

  • Sermon: Dr. Rev. Fritz Ritsch.
  • Worship Leader: needed
  • Scripture Reader: needed
  • Head usher: Valerie Parker

Sun., December 18 - Fourth Sunday of Advent

  • 11am: Lessons and Carols
  • Sermon: Dr. Rev. Fritz Ritsch.
  • Head usher: TBD

  • 7pm: Longest Night Service

Thurs., December 22, 4-6pm: Dress Rehearsal for Christmas Pageant and Happy Birthday Jesus Party

Saturday, December 24: Christmas Eve

  • 3:00 Children's Pageant
  • 7:00 Candlelight Service
  • Speaker: Dr. Rev. Fritz Ritsch.
  • Head Usher: TBD
  • Communion

Sun., December 25- CHRISTMAS DAY

  • Casual worship, scriptures, prayer, and carols
  • Worship Leader: needed
  • Head usher: TBD
Complete Church Calendar

Fri. 10/28- Sat. 10/29: Lock-in

Sun. 10/30: No meeting since we had lock-in

Wed. 11/23: Help Assemble Thanksgiving Meal Kits- time TBD

Meals for the Beacons

The Beacons are looking for people to provide light suppers for their meetings on Sunday evenings. If you are willing to be a supper host, click the button for available dates and more details.foBeacons

Meals for Beacons

Godly Play: children ages 3 - 1st grade

Faith Friends: 2nd-5th grade

Meetings held on Wednesdays

in the Scout Hut

11/02-Godly Play:5-6:30pm

We will begin our month of November with fun crafts and BIble stories that talk about counting our many blessings and we will discuss those things we are most thankful for this year and why Jesus should always be first!

11/09-Faith Friends:5:30-7pm

11/16-Godly Play: 5-6:30pm

For more information about our Children's Ministries, contact Loida Slate at [email protected]

Sunday, Nov. 6th- All Saints Day

This is a worship service in which we recognize and remember loved ones who have passed away in the previous year. Please let the office know by email ([email protected]) or phone (336-786-2803) if you have a special friend or loved one who you would like to be remembered by listing their name in the bulletin that day. 


Pennies For Hunger: Nov. 6

The first Sunday of the month we pass around yellow buckets for our Pennies for Hunger offering. You can also give to this fund through the Realm app. Just go to the giving tab and select the fund "HUNGER"

Special Guest Nov. 6-13

We are excited to have a guest musical director the week of November 6-13 at FPC! Ellen Brown recently retired after many years doing what she loved: serving as a church musician and a middle school choral director.

While her degrees in vocal performance are from Mars Hill University and Indiana University, much of her expertise comes from a lifetime of making music and worship with others throughout those years. Ellen never failed to grow church choirs in numbers and musicianship. Ellen's middle school choirs were consistent in receiving Superior ratings at yearly choral competitions, solo festivals and other competitions. Her chorus was featured as the demonstration honor choir for Anton Armstrong of the St. Olaf College Choirs at the Southern Division ACDA Convention.

She enjoyed having numerous student teachers and mentoring those beginning their careers in choral music. During her years as a professional musician, she was chosen as the NC Choral Teacher of the year (2010) and served as choral clinician at many All-County Choruses in NC, summer music festivals at Bonclarken. Lutheridge, and Lake Junaluska Music Week.

As an accompanist, Ellen has performed several times at Carnegie Hall in NYC and traveled with the Ashbrook High School concert Choir on eight European tours. Since her retirement, Ellen has continued to be involved in church music as a substitute pianist, choir member and choir director. It is her greatest joy these days to spend time with her family, friends, and especially her grandchildren.

Ellen will be our guest pianist filling in for Jane Tesh on Sundays November 6 and 13, and she will also direct the choir for their Fall Retreat on Wednesday night, November 9th. We will begin at 5:30 with a soup supper, and will rehearse after. 

Community Outreach:

Thanksgiving Meal Kits, Hams

We are once again working with local charities to provide Thanksgiving meal kits and hams to families in need.

We are pricing the kits at $40 this year, but any amount you can give would be greatly appreciated. Deadline is Nov. 20. If you’d like to pay by check, write “Thanksgiving Dinner” in the memo, or you can give through Realm to the fund titled “Special Offering”.

Items will be purchased and kits assembled on Wed., Nov. 23. Please sign up to help at the church, or contact Beth Pequeno at [email protected].

Our goal is to provide 30 meal kits and 45 hams. We have a good start using the money raised with parking during Autumn Leaves. So far, we have 17 kits covered!

Current Requests:

  • Salvation Army- at least 18 meal kits
  • The Children's Center- 3-4 meal kits
  • Helping Hands- 45 hams

Sunday, November 20

Pledge Return Sunday and Fellowship Meal

We will be returning our pledge cards during the service. A fellowship meal will follow the service and Rev. Ritsch will be speaking to the congregation about the steps of the interim process. Please plan to attend this special worship service and fellowship! 


Poinsettias will be placed in the sanctuary during the Christmas season. You may place a poinsettia in honor or in memory of a loved one. The poinsettias will be ordered by the church and the cost this year is $13.50 each. Monday, November 21 is the deadline to place your order. Please return your form to the church office or drop in the offering plate. You can also give online through Realm to the fund "Poinsettia/Easter Lily".

Click to print out order form

Financial Update

Just a quick note to thank all of you for your help and support as we manage our Church’s finances. 


2022 has been a tough financial year for the nation, Mount AIry, and FPCMA.


Thanks to great work by all those who oversee the day to day operation of the Church, we will probably see a savings of about $30,000 vs our 2022 budget of $244,250.


Unfortunately, our giving is also substantially lower than had been anticipated when the budget was developed in 2021.  


Fortunately, we have a pretty healthy cash position. The checking account balance as of the end of Sept was $28,524.

We’ve responded to this reality by developing a draft 2023 budget that is substantially less than our 2022 budget.


We will update that draft as needed after we see the results of the Generosity Campaign and can review it with the Session.

-The Financial Oversight Committee

LIGHT THE WAY Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Walk

Nov 5th - 6pm at Traxx Shoes lightthewayhomelessnessandhunger.eve

Special Thanks for Those Involved with the Rosenwald School Plaque Unveiling Ceremony:

Thank you to those in attendance on October 25th in the church fellowship hall for the unveiling of the historic plaque for the Site of Sandy Level Rosenwald School. This plaque is an important historical marker in Surry County. Having the unveiling at First Presbyterian Church was also in representation of The Edward Webb Presbyterian Church, in which the result of its closing merged their membership into ours. A special thank you goes out to Rev Dr Fritz Ritsch for the beautiful invocation he gave that day. 

-Carol Burke

Click to read invocation

First Steps is hiring! First Steps is hiring! The program is looking for an assistant for our two-year-old class. If you are a lover of little ones, and open to spending three mornings a week in the happiest little class, please reach out to Director Mary Alice Leonard at [email protected]. They are also looking for substitute teachers so you may apply for that position as well.

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Support Our Area Charities 

Baskets are located in the Foyer outside the sanctuary for:

Yokefellow: Rice, Macaroni & Cheese 

They are also low on canned corn, Ramen noodles, spaghetti noodles, and saltine crackers.

Shepherd's House: Laundry Detergent


Worship Volunteers Needed:

There are lots of ways to get involved during Sunday morning worship. We need scripture readers, flowers for the sanctuary, greeters, nursery helpers and Little Church helpers. There are sign-up sheets in the foyer, click a button below, or reach out to Anna at [email protected].

Flower Arrangement Sign-up
Scripture Reader Sign-up

Adult Sunday School Offerings:

Odds and Ends: This is our longest established class and it meets every Sunday at 10am in the classroom located at the end of the long hallway upstairs.

Adult Sunday School: Sundays at 10am in the Ladies Parlor. This class is open to all adults and uses The Bible Project that pairs a video with passages to read and discussion questions to walk through as a group. Each lesson stands alone, so come when you are able. Led by David Rives.


Prayer List

Please keep the following people in your prayers:

Charlie Graham, Bill Rountree, Steven Lowe, Jim and Janice Younger, Tyler Payne, Tim East, Jean Arrington, Ron Atkins, Mariah Tate, Becky Lyons, Terri Keck, Pam Church, Denny Holder, Kathryn Benfer, Wendy Bryd, Lori Bush, and Kristen Folk.

If you have a prayer request, contact Anna in the church office or email [email protected].


November Birthdays

11/01 Millie Beal

11/06 Ella Morrison

11/11 Joan Godwin, Hart Roach, & Christie Sheppard

11/13 Joanna Refvem

11/14 Liam Overby & Reedy Roach 11/15 Carla Majure

11/16 Cora Fowler & Kit Trotter

11/19 Samantha Cooke

11/20 Brian Minter

11/24 Felton Godwin

11/25 Andie Horton & Burke Robertson

11/29 Alyssa Grace Draughn

11/30 Sylvia Chilton & Morgan Cooke

November Anniversaries

11/15 Mickey & Margaret McGuire

11/23 Tim & Laura East

11/25 Ted & Gloria King

Family Day at The Farm: Sun., October 23

Hospice Afghans for Veterans

Hospice is running low on afghans for their veterans. Afghans need to be no more than 3'x3' and use red, white and blue yarn in any pattern you choose.

They can always use 3x'3' afghans in any color you choose.

Contact Beth Pequeno for more information. [email protected].

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

9-8-8 is the new three-digit dialing code to reach help for suicide and crisis help across the United States. Please help to spread the word about this very important topic, and encourage anyone you know who may need help to dial 9-8-8. Texting is also an option.

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Session Members

Moderator: Dr. Rev. Frederick "Fritz" Ritsch

Clerk of the Session: Bob Keck



Class of 2022:

Mary Ellen Goad, Joy Barlow, Nelson Clark, and Valerie Parker

Class of 2023:

Will Sheppard, Margaret Cockerell, and

Beth Pequeno

Class of 2024:

Barry Schneider, Lydia Taylor, and David Rives

Visit our Website

First Presbyterian

Church Of Mount Airy

326 S Main St

Mt Airy, NC 27030

(336) 786-2803

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