FIRST PRESS | an online newsletter | December 2018
From the Associate Pastors

Two key figures in the stories of Advent are Zechariah and Mary, both of whom received a message from an angel about the newness that was being born into their lives in the form of John the Baptist and Jesus. In spite of all the uncertainty of having a newborn around the house in his old age or the stigma of being pregnant when she was not yet married, Zechariah and Mary received their announcements as good news. The tremendous changes about to occur in their own personal lives, was a sign of even bigger changes that were coming to God's people and yet, they received word of those changes with hope.
Hopefulness is not always the first emotion we associate with change, is it? We're in the midst of change ourselves with an Interim Pastor Nominating Committee hard at work to find an Interim Pastor. In January we will elect a Pastor Nominating Committee and the real search will begin. There is a lot of uncertainty ahead, a lot of adjustments to new ways of doing things and new personalities and all of it will happen according to God's timing and not ours. And so we wait. We wait to see what new things God will do in our midst. We wait to see who we will become under new leadership and new vision, both in our pastor and among members of the congregation. We wait and hope that we will be discerning and ready when this new thing God is doing is revealed to us.
I know there are questions about the future. When you find those questions keeping you awake at night, take a tip from Zechariah and Mary, imagine what big things God will do when you and our new pastor say "Yes" to a future together. Perhaps your dreaming will help you discern what you think is important for the future of this church and in a new pastor and give you good material to share with our newly elected Transition Team. More importantly, I hope it keeps you optimistic and excited and hopeful about the future of FPC.
Happy Advent!

Last November I wrote to our congregation about my love of TED Talks. They are informative and inspirational presentations about a variety of subjects. The talk I shared was given by Brené Brown called "The power of vulnerability." (You can still watch it here if you are interested.) Brené speaks about the power of vulnerability in our lives and how being vulnerable allows us to create authentic connections with each other. By being vulnerable, we let down our guard and allow ourselves to honestly love one another as we build relationships in community.
Last year, I shared this with you for two reasons. The first is that I believed, and still do, that being vulnerable is an important aspect of our faith. We are called to be connected to one another through this community, the church. To be appropriately connected, we must be our authentic selves and be willing to be vulnerable with each other. There's no magic formula that makes us successfully vulnerable. It still takes time and effort, even more than watching an 18-minute TED talk for the second year in a row.
The second reason is that being vulnerable has been, and continues to be, a critical component of building our Young Adult Ministry at FPC. This ministry still seeks to be one where people can be vulnerable enough to have honest conversations about how our faith is lived out in our everyday lives. It seeks to be a ministry where all young adults are welcome, no matter their age, their job, their relationship status, or their family dynamic. By being vulnerable enough to do life together, this community continues in seeking to be a place of strength and support.
So why bring all of this back up? Well it's worth repeating because it's been one year since FPC kicked off this new young adult ministry on December 3 rd, 2017. In one year, this ministry helped people connect by going bowling, to an Ole Miss baseball game, and working together in an escape the room challenge. In one year, this ministry has encouraged people to study scripture together through monthly small groups, different themed education nights, a regular Sunday School class, and ongoing Bibles with Brews studies. In one year, this ministry has brought young adults together in serve to others: at Camp Hopewell, at FPC during our summer lunches, at More than a Meal, and in partnership with Doors of Hope this Christmas.
Over the course of one year, relationships have been made and strengthened through this community of faith. What has made all of this possible is our congregation's willingness to be vulnerable to the movement of God's Holy Spirit and try something new. Our young adults had to be vulnerable enough to get involved by attending monthly events and participating in a small group. Our entire congregation had to be vulnerable enough to support this ministry, by making space and setting aside funds, in order for a seed planted years ago to grow. I'm grateful for this church family and everyone who helps make this kind of ministry possible. Thank you for vulnerably living into what it means to be "church" together.
Throughout this next year, I hope we as a congregation can continue to vulnerably follow where the Spirit of God leads. With our young adult ministry, that means continuing to try new things and welcome new people into the life of this ministry. Within our congregation, that means living into Jesus's call that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. May God be with us as we seek to do just that.
  Financial Summary
Summary of Stated Session Meeting
The Session of First Presbyterian Church held its stated monthly meeting on Monday, November 12, 2018, at 5:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall.  Fourteen elders were present. Highlights from the meeting are as follows:
Ministry Teams:
  • As of October 31, 2018, year-to-date revenue was $751,776.86, and expenses were $867,799.69.
  • 2018 Stewardship Brochures and pledge cards were mailed out, but there are still some members that have not received theirs.
  • The team has spent most of the month working on failed air conditioning/heating issues in Fellowship Hall. Both units will be replaced, with funds coming from the Property budget and the Nabors Fund.
  • The team met and reviewed their 2019 budget.
Adult Christian Education:
  • The team met to evaluate the Wednesdays Together Fall Series and the Freeman Lecture events.
  • Wednesdays Together programming and meals were successful averaging a steady attendance of about 65 each week.
  • The Freeman Lecture series events were well attended and received very favorable reviews. The frequency of having guest speakers and the kinds of notable speakers were discussed. Continued funding was discussed. The Freeman Fund is not an endowed fund and currently undesignated memorials go to the Freeman Fund.
  • The team is proposing an Adult event in January that might include something like the screening of the Fred Rogers movie," Won't you be my neighbor?" The Powerhouse or the Ukirk Building were considered as locations.
    • Adult Sunday school classes were reviewed.
Children's Christian Education:
  • The Children's Christmas Pageant will be held Wednesday, December 13, 2017, at 6:00 pm.
  • PYF Christmas Tree sales will be held November 25 - December 3, 2017. 
           Membership & Hospitality:
  • New friendship pads are in place.
  • Carols and Cocoa is scheduled for December 19th. Cocoa will be served beginning at 5:30 p.m. and caroling on the buses will begin at 6:00 p.m.
  • The team reported that the first annual Trunk or Treat was a success with lots of participation.
  • The team reported that there was a very good attendance at the November First Sunday lunch with approximately 90 people attending.
  • The team is recruiting new members.
  • The team has met with the Finance team to get their budget in line for 2019.
  • Advent Devotional books are currently being proofed for distribution. Special thanks go to Carlisle Wood and Sally Hines for getting these together this year.
Old Business:
  • 1. The Interim Pastor Nominating Committee reported that they have received 11 applications based on matches with our forms and pastor forms submitted to the Presbytery. The IPNC is in the process of reviewing applications and listening to sermons, along with rating the applicants.
New Business:
  1. 1.     A Congregational Meeting is scheduled for Sunday, November 18, following the 11:00 a.m. worship service for the purpose of electing a slate of officers to serve as Elder and Deacon, Class of 2021.
The slate of officers includes:

Elder                                                  Deacon
Hayden Alexander                          Thelma Curry
Pete Boone                                        Karen Elliott
Julie Field                                           Luke Harris
Carmille Hovious                             Brian Hyneman
Ruth O'Dell                                        Niles Lovelady

     2. Holy Cow! Consulting- The purpose of using an independent consulting firm to gather questions and information from the congregation during the pastor search process was explained. Rev. Kelly pointed out the steps and the ways in which an independent consulting firm could be utilized to benefit the search committee and the congregation, as well as to not slow down the process by having the search committee to create assessment tools. Concerns and questions regarding how it worked and its cost were addressed. All groups and members will be included in the polling of the congregation. The questions and answers period will be open for 6 weeks. The consulting firm expects to give results to the congregation no later than 2 months after the Q & A period opens. The Session agreed that using an independent firm where congregational polling questions were already developed would be beneficial and save time.
    3. Personnel: The Session voted to extend the pastoral relationship with Rev. Ann Kelly for twelve months.
General Announcements:
The next stated Session meeting is Monday, December 10, 2018, at 5:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall. The new church officers will be examined at the meeting.
The Session recited the Lord's Prayer and adjourned at 7:00 p.m.
Worship Hours

8:30 am - Worship (communion weekly)
9:45 am - Sunday School
11:00 am - Worship (communion first Sunday of each month)
Nursery Weekly: 8:15 am - 12:15 pm
Lectionary Texts for December
December 2 - Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:35-36
December 9 - Malachi 3:1-4; Luke 1:68-79; Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6
December 16 - Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18
December 23 - Micah 5:2-5a; Luke 1:47-55 or Psalm 80:1-7; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45 (46-55)
December 30 - 1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26; Psalm 148; Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:41-52  
Sanctuary flower dates are available on...
December 30 and January 6 (seasonal greenery only) and January 13. If you would like to reserve a date in honor or memory of a loved one, please contact Margaret Fancher at 234-1359 or email her at
Church  News
New Officers Elected

New elders and deacons for the Class of 2021 were elected at a congregational meeting on Sunday, November 18. Many thanks to these ten individuals and their willingness to serve during this important time in the life of FPC:
Hayden Alexander is husband to Erin and father to Monroe, Spears and Otis.  A native of Oxford, Hayden is a lifelong member of First Presbyterian Church.  He owns Good Earth Landscape & Design and Oxford Pools.  Hayden is grateful for the opportunity to serve his church as an elder and knows the session can lead our church and guide her through this time of transition.
Pete Boone has been married to Scottye for 48 years and they have two sons and four grandchildren. He has been a member of FPC for about 15 years.  Pete teaches the Alton Bryant Sunday School class and volunteers at the Pantry. He is hopeful that his lifelong experiences will be a positive impact on the direction of our church. 
Julie Field has been a member of First Presbyterian since 1995 when she and her husband, Ed, were married in the church.  Since that time, Julie has served as a Sunday school teacher, Bible School Coordinator, a member of the Securing our Future Capital Campaign Team, Architectural Oversight Committee, Mission Team, Christian Education Team, and Haiti Mission Team , 2018.   An active member of Esther Ethridge Circle, she also serves as Secretary of Presbyterian Women.  Julie and Ed have two daughters, Elizabeth and Catherine. She looks forward to the opportunity to become more deeply involved as a leader of the FPC community of faith. 
Carmille Hovious moved to Oxford in 1959 when her father was named Executive Secretary of St. Andrew Presbytery. Her two daughters, Mary Katherine Stout and Taylor Wilkinson, were baptized by their grandfather at FPC. Carmille has been a member for 34 years and says, "It has been a privilege to serve as a deacon, an elder and on various committees over the years. I would be honored to be a part of the session during this time of transition. I look forward to discerning God's plans for the future of First Presbyterian Church and witnessing how He leads us through those plans."
Ruth O'Dell is the grandmother of Jack and Max Hill, mother or Ray Hill. In her 34 years as an educator, she was a teacher, school psychologist, principal, and superintendent. Ruth is an ordained elder in the PC(USA) and served as Clerk of Session in her previous church. Upon retirement she moved to Oxford to be closer to her family. She currently serves the larger church as a member of the National Response Team of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and teaches the 5th and 6th grade Sunday school class. She serves the community as President of the Leap Frog Board of Directors, a literacy program for at-risk students in Lafayette County.

Thelma Curry has been a member of FPC for over twenty years.  She has served 3 terms as an elder and has been involved with various activities of the church throughout the years and currently serves on the Mission Ministry Team.
Karen Elliott joined First Presbyterian as an 8th grader, moved away from Oxford for ten years when her husband, Bo, served in the US Air Force, and returned home in 1996.  She has served FPC as Director of Christian Education, Youth Director, and an elder.  She is a member of the Women of Faith Sunday School Class. Karen is the librarian at Oxford Middle School and teaches literature and writing to 7th and 8th graders.  She and Bo have a 23 year-old son in graduate school, Baxter. 
Luke Harris and his wife Heather have been married for 7 years. They are the proud parents of a 3-year-old boy, Thomas, and a 1.5-year-old girl, Anna Presley. Luke and Heather were both raised in Memphis and went to Ole Miss for undergrad. They moved back to Oxford February 2017 and have been attending First Presbyterian Church since that time.
Brian Hyneman has been a member of FPC since 2005.  Brian has served his community as former Chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission and current Chairman of the Oxford Planning Commission.  He is married to Amanda Lewis and has two sons, Henry (14) and Howard (10). 
Niles Lovelady is the father of William Niles Lovelady, IV (age 11) and Laura Lovelady (age 8). He has served First Presbyterian as a member of the Session and the Diaconate and is an active member of the Mission Ministry Team. He is Division Manager at Encompass Health - Hospice. Niles considers it an honor and a privilege to accept this call to serve as Deacon.
Thank You to the Officer Nominating Committee

Many thanks to the members of the 2018-2019 Officer Nominating Committee for their discerning work in selecting a slate of nominees for elder and deacon. Their work was made much easier by the suggestions made by members of the congregation. Members of the ONC are: Jon Crawford (Session), Monte Wood (Session), Lisa Hickman Tollison (Diaconate), David Flautt, Sr., Brent Hardin, Kathy Neff and Nila Williams.
Transition Team Formed

At its November meeting, the Session formed a Transition Team made up of Dorothy Lou Aldridge, Kristina Carlson and Darren Ashmore. Their role during this in-between time will be to help communicate information about the pastor search process and to gather information from the congregation that will be helpful as we move forward. Thank you to these three officers of the church for their willingness to take on a little bit of extra work to help us through the transition.
UKirk College News

Just like that, another semester is over. Although Advent is barely just beginning, we celebrated Christmas a bit early at our last Tuesday night gathering of the semester, with dinner and a festive gift exchange. As this newsletter comes out, our students will be working through exams (keep them in your prayers!) and then going their separate ways for the holidays. 
While everyone is scattered for break, we're excited to offer our students an Advent devotional provided by the UKirk national office that features daily reflections from students and campus ministers across the country. The words and images in this devotional were created with college students in mind, and of course you've already got a great FPC devotional for the season. If you're curious though, you can find it in both PDF and blog form here.* 
Finally for now, we're thankful for the many individuals and families that have provided dinners for us this semester. If you're interested in supporting us this way, our Spring schedule is online! Find it here** or email me.
Young Adult News
This Advent season , our young adult ministry partners with Doors of Hope as we help spread some Christmas love.  Individuals and small groups will be able to donate new items to be gifted to DOH clients. Check out the young adult Facebook group or email chain for more details. Gifts should be brought to the church office by Monday, December 17th.
Help Our Haiti Friends
You can participate in FPC's mission to Haiti without ever leaving Lafayette County! Here's how:
  •  Check out the bulletin board in the entrance to the Education Building to see what items are needed in the Bongnotte school;
  • Take one or more strips with suggestions of what to buy;
  • Purchase those items;
  • Return them to the church office before January 1.

These items will be delivered to the school when our Haiti  Mission Team travels to Bognotte in February. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated by both the teachers, students and parents.

Lovepacks  donations are an easy way to help relieve hunger among Oxford and Lafayette County school children. You can help by donating the following items: granola bars, non-refrigerated pudding, pop-top ravioli or pasta, pop-top chicken noodle or vegetable soup, peanut butter crackers, instant grits or oatmeal or 16 oz. jars of peanut butter. If you'll bring them with you to church and deposit them in the church office or the narthex, volunteers will get it to the Lovepacks office for you.

The food of the month is:

Pop-top cans of chicken noodle/vegetable soup
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.
Etcetera . . .
Membership & Hospitality Hosts Cocoa and Carols

Members and friends of all ages are invited to FPC's
second annual Cocoa and Carols on Wednesday, December 19 at 5:30 pm in Fellowship Hall. We'll enjoy a mug of hot cocoa and practice our songs befo re bundling up and boarding the Double Decker buses. There will be two buses covering two different parts of town. We hope you'll help us fill the buses and join us in sharing a little bit of Christmas cheer with members of our church and community.

The Communion Table is a Welcoming Table
This fall the children who attended Wednesdays Together studied 
Lessons from the Table , where they learned that the communion table is a table of transformation, welcome, peace, love and grace. Fun activities were mixed with Bible study and discussion to help them understand these hard concepts. The card pictured at left was created by Alice Wilkes for use  in new member packets and it sums up the lessons pretty well. All are welcome at Christ's table and "God's love is with you right here." Thank you to Allyson Ashmore, Jane Lyle Byars, Paul Hester, Kathryn and Ray Hill, Carmille Hovious, Lizzie Kelly, Lindsey Mitchell, Kathy Neff, Katherine Randolph, Cliff Smith and Karen Stockton for helping with the children's programs for this fall. 
Bibles with Brews

Bibles with Brews continues as a monthly gathering Monday, December 3rd , from 4:30-6:30 pm at the Growler. Join the conversation as we bring and share different scripture passages about our monthly topic of study. This month's topic is "Hope."  All are welcome!
From the Greening Committee:
The church needs  fresh cedar, pine, magnolia and especially holly to decorate the Sanctuary each Friday morning during the Advent Season. If you have access to greenery, please call Margaret Fancher at 234-1359.

Also, the church needs volunteers to help green the sanctuary each Friday morning during Advent through January 4. If you can help us, please call Margaret Fancher at 234-1359 or email her at
Thank you!
Church Now Receiving Poinsettia Orders

Poinsettias are available this year for $12 each. The deadline for ordering one or more in memory or in honor of friends or loved ones is Monday, December 3. Please print the order form  here  and return to the church office with your payment.
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 will be 10:30 am. The bus returns immediately after 11:00 am worship. Thanks to all our volunteer drivers who make this service possible!

Alma Shaw Circle

December 18 @ 9:45 am at the home of Becki Felts: 325 Van Buren Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655

Lula Gregory Circle

December 18  @ 9:45 am at the home of Nancy Warner: 1139 East Wellsgate, Oxford, MS 38655

Carroll Barr Circle

December 18  @ 6:00 pm at the home of Ann O'Dell: 200 Price Street, Oxford, MS 38655

Gerry Duvall Circle

December 19  @ 6:00 pm at the home of JoAnne Oliver: 306 Segrest Pointe, Oxford, MS 38655

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
We extend congratulations to:

Nana & Francis Boateng on the birth of their son Wesley Danso Boateng, born September 27, 2018 in Oxford, MS.

Susan & Todd Abbott on the birth of their daughter Elizabeth Anne Abbott, born November 26, 2018.

We extend sympathy to:

The family of Jim Jackson who died November 7, 2018 in Oxford, MS.

The family of Diane Olson who died November 28, 2018 in Oxford, MS.

Memorials and Honoraria

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

Jim Jackson

The Treas Family
Earl Grissinger
Rose & Henry Paris
Nila & Max Williams

Annie Grace White

Sally Booke
Sandra Webb

In honor of:

Margaret Fancher

Irma Paris Buchanan

Upcoming Birthdays and Anniversaries

December Birthdays:

1     Baxter Elliott, Brett Estes, Kathy Griffith, Brent Hardin, Jimmy Heidel
2     Margaret Fancher, Sandy Grisham, Tyler Lovelace, Mary Kay McDowell, Kay Meadors
3     Ashley Abraham
4     Monte Gibbs, Ernie Lowe
5     Mark Clark Hayward, Robert Williams
6     Charlie Cascio, Dean Chow, Ty Gillespie
7     Ralph Kersey, Tom Meredith
8     Sandra Webb
9     Rosie Cooper, Sharon Lovelace
10   George Abdo, LeAnne Neal, Syd Shaw
11   June Goza, Miles Luster, Ben Pettis, Damein Wash
12   Emma Flautt, Merrel Johnson, Jenny McPhail
13   Guff Abbott
15   Kristina Carlson, Thomas Embry, Vaughn Grisham, Mary Elizabeth Miers, Laura Whitten
16   Kate Rosson
17   Debbie Boutwell, Logan McPhail, Wes Snellgrove
18   Marty Mauldin
19   Gracyn Ashmore, Derek Baker, Joyce Gibbs
20   Matthew Chow, Hale Freeland, Grace Gillespie, Mary Sims
21   Julie Field
22   Maggie Abernathy, John T. Edge, Robert Hall, Mike Lovelace, Davis McCool, Randall Mize
23   Jack Hill, Robert Lake, Liza Kate Orrell, Antje Webb
24   Lee Mize
25   Lynton Dilley, Marjorie Selvidge
26   Luke Gibbs
27   Cliff Smith
28   Allison Crawford, Lainey Schuesselin
29   Kristen Phillips
31   Ashley Callery

December Anniversaries:

4     LuAnn & Tommy Smith
5     Susan & Todd Abbott
6     Machelle & Ernie Williams
8     Susan & Jim Deloach, Maribel & Doug Sullivan-Gonzalez
11   Laura & Charles Montgomery
12   Jenny Kate & Sparky Luster
21   Ann & Bill Dickens, Jody & Pick Scruggs
22   Patsy & Guff Abbott, Ann & Richard DeVoe, Susan & David Shaw
24   Marianna & Monte Ochs
28   Mary & Sam Haskell
29   Joyce & Monte Gibbs, Trenia & Bruce Reynolds
30   Lucia & Louis Brandt, Sarah & Trey Bridgers, Julie & Ed Field, Cynthia & Hale Freeland, Lele & Guy Gillespie, Marjorie & Roy Selvidge

   First Dates

The Diaconate  will meet Tuesday, December 4 at 5:30 pm at the home of Julie Chadwick: 449 Hwy 334, Oxford, MS.
The Property Ministry Team will meet Tuesday, December 4 at 5:30 pm in Room 101.
The Finance Ministry Team  will meet Monday, December 10 at 4:30 pm in Room 101.
The Session  will meet Monday, December 10 at 5:30 pm in Fellowship Hall.
The FPC Book Club  will meet Tuesday, December 11 at 1:30 pm in Room 101.

Reminder: The January deadline for submissions to First Press   is Saturday, December 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

Ann H. Kelly
Acting Head of Staff
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