"Downtown by history and by choice"
FPC Bi-Weekly Newsletter
January 26-February 8, 2021
Letter from Pastor/Head of Staff
Dear friends,

This Sunday, January 31, we have the great joy of celebrating the call of the Rev. Mitzi Lesher-Thomas as associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church in a special service of installation. When an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is called to serve a church, that person is “installed” for service in that particular congregation.  As you have perhaps read in the bulletin, a service of installation is an act of worship; a response in gratitude to the gifts of the Spirit; a celebration of the mission and ministry of the whole church. The service highlights the shared ministry and common calling of FPC and Mitzi as we seek to serve Christ through our roles within the larger ministry of the church.
Sunday’s service of worship will take place at 11 a.m. as our regular worship service and will include the additional special liturgies of an installation service. The service will also include representatives from New Hope Presbytery. The PC (U.S.A.) is a connectional denomination. In a service of installation we recognize, through the participation of others outside of our own congregation, that our ministries and faith are intertwined in sacred connection with one another. We welcome several New Hope Presbytery friends to this service, including the Rev. Lori Pistor, who served for many years as associate pastor here at FPC. Lori and Mitzi worked together at Cary Presbyterian Church recently and became close colleagues. It is a joy to welcome Lori back to our worship to preach the sermon on Sunday.

As many of you know, Mitzi has already been active in pastoral care, preaching, and leading worship. She has enjoyed working with the deacons and connecting with members in whatever ways possible during this pandemic time. This has not been easy, but she has done it with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love. If you have not already had a chance to connect with Mitzi, I hope you will soon. In fact, I hope we will all be able to worship, meet, and fellowship in person again very soon (which reminds me, please get your vaccine when you have the chance to do so – the sooner we are all vaccinated, the sooner we will be able to gather!). I am grateful to God for the gifts for ministry that God has given Mitzi and for this calling to service and relationship that God has given FPC and Mitzi for the years ahead.

Mitzi is already a valuable part of our ministry team, bringing enthusiasm, forward thinking, creativity, deep faith, and a love of God and this community to everything she does. I hope you will join us in celebrating this Sunday (11 a.m. live-stream through our website – what God is doing through Mitzi and with all of us at FPC.

In the meantime, be strong and courageous in these difficult days, be full of hope and find opportunities for joy, be slow to anger and quick to forgive, love one another as God loves us, and may the love of God surround you, the hope of Christ enfold you, and the vision of the Holy Spirit direct you.

With love,
Condolences: The love and concern of the congregation are extended to the following:
  • The family of FPC member Beverly Segee. Beverly died December 14, 2020, in Stokesdale, NC. The family will hold a private memorial service at a future date.
  •  Hendrika Vande Kemp. Her nephew, Bob Vandenberg, lost his wife, Sharon, on January 14, 2021. 
  • Jane Wettach and Paul Baldasare on the death of Jane’s mother, Patricia R. Wettach, on January 20, 2021, in Westport, CT. 
  • Heather Szalanski and family on the death of her husband, Paul, on January 25 to COVID-19. Heather is a co-worker of Tyler Momsen-Hudson.

  Added: Nellie, sister of Hendrika Vande Kemp, diagnosed with metastatic brain cancer

·  Lily Brigman,  recovering from ACL surgery
·  Tom Bloom, preparing for back surgery
·  Dub Gulley
·  Phillip Herndon
·  Kerry Holbrook
·  Robin Morey
·  Kathy Parkins
·  Carol Wills
·  Our nation during this season of leadership transition and unrest
·  The many households impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

Care Communities:
Brookdale Durham: Julian Boswell 
Croasdaile Pavilion: Bob Rankin
Dubose Center at The Cedars, Chapel Hill: Arthur Clark
Durham Regent: John Kerr, Ann Prospero  
Emerald Pond: Paul Cornsweet
Hillcrest Convalescent Center: Walter Chambliss, father of Will Chambliss
The Forest at Duke: Fran Bryant

Family and Friends of the Congregation:
Brendan Bequette, family friend of Margaret & Miguel Rubiera
Peggy Boulden, mother of Dick Boulden
Linda Capers, friend of Li-Chen Chin
Flora Estrella, family of Beth Stringfield and Cris Rivera
Phil Goss, friend of the congregation
Roberta Kessler, mother of Kristen Brigman
Peggy Mordecai, mother of Beth Eisenson
Ade and Sowande, sons of Tolokun Omokunde, pastor of Timothy Darling PC in Oxford
Shannon Putman, daughter of Mary Putman
Rev. Mark Stevens of Phillips Chapel Methodist Church, friend of Al and Judy Arrowood
Dear friends,
I returned to Ohio for a brief respite before going back to California to help Jeff and Eleanor out. I came home to so many cards and thoughts and prayers. What a blessing they were. I am so grateful for you, for my family in NC. Jeff Milbourne was a child of FPC, and you raised him well. He is intent on moving forward, intent on providing what his daughter needs, intent on keeping Chelsea’s memory alive. We will come back to FPC one day when it is safe, so we can express our thanks in person. 
God’s blessings to all of you, 
Mary Holmes Banner

Dear friends,
Thank you for the support you have sent my way following the death of my sister, Mae. The many cards, phone calls, emails, and flowers helped to ease the ache in my heart. I am very grateful to be a part of the FPC family and look forward to the day we can once again worship together in the Sanctuary.
Shirley Frederick
Stewardship Campaign Update
Thank you for the extraordinary support for our Stewardship Campaign – One Body, Many Parts and The Church is the People– during these challenging times and a virtual campaign! While we did not reach our ambitious goal, we have come close and have been able to support our budget for 2021. As a result of the campaign, we have budgeted $972,496 in pledges, but there are still some whom we expect to participate but have not officially pledged, totaling about $95,000. We still need to complete the puzzle!

If you are not sure if your pledge was received, please contact Tom Bloom (we have had some glitches with online pledges this year). Look for a survey from the Stewardship Committee in February as we work to improve our campaign next year after this unusual virtual campaign for 2020. Thank you for your generosity and support for the life and mission at First Presbyterian!
Part 2 of this interfaith conversation takes place this Sunday, January 31 from 4:00 - 5:15 p.m.
All are welcome to join this conversation!
Children's Sunday School Classes are virtual . . .
Contact Lenore Champion for class kits and links
to the Children's Sunday School classes
Faith & Community Class:
Join us this week to hear from Rebecca Todd Peters, author of Trust Women. We will continue our discussion of what it means to work for reproductive justice as people of faith and as a community of faith. Everyone is welcome whether or not you have read the book or attended past classes. If you would like a copy of the PowerPoint slides from our classes, email Heather Wallace. Click here to join the discussion via Zoom. This class is for all people. 
Journeys Class is exploring the Book of Ruth and Old Testament wisdom literature with the guidance of Professor Sam Adams. We have an adjusted schedule for our January 31st Journeys class: 9:30 a.m. social time; and at 9:45, class begins. Immigration is an important issue today in our country. What do Ruth, Ezra, and Nehemiah say about immigrants?  Join via Zoom. Contact Andy Henry for more information.
  • Lectionary – Join us each Sunday for an online discussion of the lectionary texts for the day at 10:00 a.m., preceded at 9:45 by sharing of news and concerns. On January 31: Where does knowledge come from? Is it simply the accumulation of learned facts? Does knowledge give you authority? On February 7: Jesus said that proclaiming the message is what he came to do. Paul put it even more strongly: “an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!” Do we have an obligation to proclaim the gospel? Join via Zoom. For phone access (audio only), call 253-215-8782.) If you need a copy of the handout of scripture readings or need the ID for the Zoom connection, contact David Smith.

  • Women’s Spirituality Group - Contact Leah Graves for the links to join us on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. for spiritual formation, following worship for a virtual lunch, and checking in with one another on Tuesdays - all three events via Zoom.

  • SCRATCH – We're on for our usual meeting time at 8:00 pm via zoom. As always, no pressure to read the chapter ahead of time. Come for some good conversation. Join via Zoom.
Contact John Weicher for link information
on YOUTH Sunday School classes and other activities
Congregational Life
Help Us Create a New
Pictorial Directory . . .
Need help remembering what people look like without masks? Longing for a church picture directory? You know, the kind where the corners get crinkled and you write notes in the margins. Help us make it happen! If you haven't already uploaded a picture to our online directory now's your chance and here are directions! The instructions to install the ChurchLife app on your smart device are here. The instructions for uploading your picture to the online directory are here. We'll use photos from the online directory to create our print version so we need your help. We want to see your smiling faces, so please take a moment and upload those photos! For more information on using the ChurchLife app or the kind of photos that work best in a directory, contact Tom Bloom or Sybil King. Please upload your photo(s) by January 31, 2021.  Thank you.
Things That Matter Book Group

February 9, 2021, at 7:00 PM
In February, we typically get together for a potluck dinner and veer from our usual book discussions. This year, unfortunately, we are still locked down, so the dinner is not possible, but we may still enjoy the poetry reading session we had planned. Originally, we had thought about selecting poems by Jacqueline Woodson, Joy Harjo, and/or Thanhha Lai. We can still select from one of these authors, but on Tuesday Dale Gaddis suggested that we select poems that have had particular meaning for each of us in the last year, in light of all that has happened. So, that is what we are going to do. Celia Dickerson requested that we email our poems ahead of time so we can have some time to absorb them before having them read aloud. If you are planning to read your poem, please email a copy of the poem to Celia by Sunday, February 7.

March Meeting: March 9, 2021, at 7:00 PM
Jane Williams will lead a discussion of The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. 

New faces are always welcome to join us. Contact Dale Gaddis if you wish to be added to this book discussion group.
This study is led by Mindy Douglas
Click here for ways to access the class.
Winesdays Meeting ID: 975 6934 9009
We continue to meet every other Wednesday.
Presbytery presents Racial Equity Webinar
On Thursday, January 28, at 6:30 p.m. the Presbytery of New Hope will be exploring the PCUSA’s Matthew 25 initiative and discussing the proposal for New Hope Presbytery to become a Matthew 25 presbytery. Our special guest for the evening will be the Rev. Dr. Diane L. Givens Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Register now!
Prior to assuming her current call in June 2018, Diane was senior pastor of St. James Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she served on several boards, became a candidate for mayor of the city, and was co-chair of the Greensboro Interfaith Clergy Council and vice president of the Pulpit Forum. In April 2018, Diane received the Sojourner Truth Award, the highest honor of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, for her commitment to serving others. She has also served congregations in Oakland, California, and East Orange, New Jersey.
The presentation and conversation for this webinar will center around the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Matthew 25 Church Initiative. This initiative builds on the call of Matthew 25:31-46 to actively engage in the world around us, inviting Presbyterians across the country to act boldly and compassionately to serve people who are hungry, oppressed, imprisoned, or poor. The initiative lifts up three primary foci for the Church’s action: building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism, and eradicating systemic poverty. 
Linda Carter shares an experience from the Walk-in Ministry . . .

“ Can we sow joy?” The final question of an Advent lesson brought pen to paper to answer Marie’s request to share a Walk-in-Ministry experience.

T.S. had called the ministry for help with her water bill. After losing her office management position in October due to COVID cutbacks, her unemployment benefits did not pay rent, utilities, car loan, and food for herself and two daughters (4 and 5 years of age). She had been without running water for a week, too embarrassed to ask for help. A friend had recommended FPC.

Walk-In was able to pay $125 and find a donor for the balance so that reconnection would occur that day. When told this, T.S. burst into tears of relief. In addition, she was referred to the Iglesias Food Pantry. She then asked about toys, each girl wanted a doll, and she had missed the deadline at the Salvation Army. Reaching out to some people with caring hearts, Santa was able to deliver dolls, doll clothes, books, coloring books, and crayons. T.S.'s text on receipt of the toys: “...I received the gifts and couldn’t be more grateful. I’m over here tearing up now but I just really thank y’all from the bottom of my heart. May God bless you all.❤️
Iglesia Emanuel Food Pantry needs our continued support!
2021 started off really rough on a national level (quite the understatement), but locally, we continue to work together as people of faith to provide nutritious food to over 500 families in need every single week at Iglesia Emanuel. Come join us as we seek to share God’s love in this most tangible way! New volunteers are always welcome.
1.   Bag rice or beans from home. For instructions and to sign up, simply click this link. Put on music, sing, and have fun while you fill those bags!
2.   To help in person at Iglesia Emanuel, grab your trusty mask, and come join others in a safe environment to help organize donated food, fill bags and boxes in preparation for the Wednesday food pantry. You will work hard but leave after your 2-hour shift knowing you have made a big difference in the lives of many families. For more information, and to sign up, click here: Iglesia Emanuel COVID-19 Food Bank Signup Genius 
3.   Your financial support is always welcome, and will help us purchase more food. Online:, or mail your check to Iglesia Presbiteriana Emanuel, 2504 N Roxboro, Durham 27704.

Thank you so much!
Margaret and Miguel 
Items Needed for Day School

The First Presbyterian Day School has a pressing need for personal protective equipment and other supplies for which it does not have current funding. Like so many other organizations in our community, the Day School has been seriously impacted by the pandemic and was forced to close in mid-March. After reopening at the end of June to meet the needs of children of essential workers, the Day School has seen its enrollment remain at around 25, or half of normal capacity. Through heroic efforts by the faculty and staff, the school has not experienced any cases of Covid 19, has maintained its 5 Star status, and has kept all faculty and staff on board. At her presentation to the Service and Mission Committee earlier this month, Executive Director Michele Miller-Cox noted that the school is doing well and providing a vital service to the community, but it has a need for supplies that are beyond its current capacity to purchase.

Rather than asking for donations of supplies, the Day School has set up an Amazon site that lists the supplies needed. Those wishing to contribute can go to the site, purchase items of their choosing, and the supplies will be sent directly to the school. The link for the site is listed below. Thanks.

Growing thru Grief offers year-round support for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. We meet each Tuesday from 4-6, for now on zoom. Those who attend need to have both audio and video available. Each meeting begins with a short presentation about a part of the grief journey, and then we break into small groups for sharing and conversation. Here are our speakers for February:

February 2: Nell Noonan, “What Do We Do When Our Hearts Hurt?”
February 9: Blaise Mercadante, To be announced
February 16: Amy Onstad, “Anger: Ally or Enemy?”
February 23: Mike McCleod, “What Is the Condition of Our Hearts: How Do We Heal?”

Growing thru Grief meets each Tuesday from 4 to 6 pm. To register for one of these zoom meetings, please contact by 8 am on the Monday before the meeting. 
The next church newsletter will be issued Tuesday, February 9. Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office
by Sunday, February 7.