"Downtown by history and by choice"
FPC Bi-Weekly Newsletter
March 9-22, 2021
Letter from Pastor/Head of Staff:
Dear friends,
One year ago. We all know it. We all feel it in our bones. For the last week we have been saying, “this time last year was the last time I did _______.” Our hearts are a little heavier this week as we remember these lasts that led to a time of confusion and isolation. So much has happened during this past year. We have been irrevocably changed.
We mark this time with our lament, to be sure, over all that we have lost.
We also mark this time giving thanks that God has carried us this far and that we have maintained connection with one another somehow, someway. 

In a presbytery meeting I attended last week, Rev. Meg Peery McLaughlin, Co-Pastor at University Presbyterian Church in Chapel Hill, led our devotion and ended with the following prayer she wrote for this season, for this time of lament and gratitude. With her permission, I share it with you here so that you might use it in your own prayers this week.
Usually, when we mark the earth’s full rotation around the sun,
it is with cake and cards, and a rousing tune of Happy Birthday to you!
Or it’s when, we watch the ball drop and pop bubbly,
kiss a loved one whispering Happy New Year.

God, this is different.
The orbit is complete, the countdown back to zero,
but Happy isn’t our word—it’s something more like oof, or ouch.

To be honest with you,
we’re not altogether sure how we made it through this year,
and we grieve – oh we grieve – that so, so, so many didn’t.
It’s hard to make sense of that, God.

We still don’t know when this losing-track-of-days time will end,
and we don’t know what “back to normal” will look like
(because surely it won’t be normal), but we do know this:
from the rising of the sun to its setting, your name is to be praised
and you are the alpha and omega, beginning and end.

So we thank you God for showing up this past year:
              on screens and in silence,
              through front-line workers and face-time calls with grandparents,
              in our worship and wonder at your creation,
in the dismantling and deconstruction of all that detracts from your way.
 And we trust that you will be present as we start the rotation once again:
              you’ll be present in the joy at vaccine selfies
              and the backpacks finally worn by students,
              you’ll be present in the tears that are released
              when we once again sing our alleluias.
 We pray this in the name of Jesus the Christ, Amen.
May God be with us in all our laments, in all our hopes, and in all our prayers for today and tomorrow.

Peace be with you, friends,
Marriage Announcement: Congratulations to Ana Kasibhatla and Ruben Cruz who were married on March 1, 2021. Ana is the daughter of Susan Dunlap and Prasad Kasibhatla and granddaughter of Harold Dunlap. Ana was baptized and confirmed at FPC.
The love and concern of the congregation are extended to Elizabeth High on the death of her brother-in-law, Ronald E. Nettles, on March 2. Ronald was married to Elizabeth’s sister Esther, and they lived in Meadville, Mississippi. 
Birth Announcement:
Congratulations to Megan Champion on the birth of her first child. Stephen Davis Champion was born February 26, 2021. Excited and happy relatives are Lenore Champion & Susan Buck (grandparents), Kayla Champion (aunt), and Alex and Jaxon Buck (uncles).

  • Dewey Lawson, a patient at Duke Hospital
  • Carolyn Bonner, wife of Deborah Momsen-Hudson's co-worker, Al Bonner. Carolyn was in a horrible car accident over the weekend
  • Mother of Chris James and Chris' one-year-old great niece Grace who has been diagnosed with a rare genetic disease.
  • Mary Myers, mother of Christy Gudaitis, recovering from a stroke

 Recovering at their homes
  • Grace Abels
  • Tom Bloom
  • Catherine Dumas
  • Kerry Holbrook
  • Robin Morey
  • Margaret Sims
  • Alfred Tisdale
  • Carol Wills
Care Communities:
  • Brookdale Durham: Julian Boswell 
  • Croasdaile Pavilion: Bob Rankin
  • Dubose Center at The Cedars, Chapel Hill: Arthur Clark
  • Durham Ridge Assisted Living: Phillip Herndon
  • Emerald Pond: Paul Cornsweet
  • Hillcrest Convalescent: Walter Chambliss, father of Will Chambliss
  • The Forest at Duke: Fran Bryant
  • The Laurels of Chatham County: Ann Prospero
Family and Friends of the Congregation:
  • Linda Capers, a friend of Li-Chen Chin
  • Flora Estrella, a relative of Beth Stringfield and Cris Rivera
  • Phil Goss, a friend of the congregation
  • Peggy Mordecai, mother of Beth Eisenson
  • Shannon Putman, daughter of Mary Putman

Phyllis Verhey
20 Aldersgate Court
Durham, NC 27705
919-698-3653 (cell)
Daylight saving time begins at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 14. Remember to SPRING your clocks forward one hour before going to bed on Saturday, evening, March 13, to avoid being an hour behind on Sunday morning.
Many of you heard Gray Wilson (Chair of the Budget Subcommittee) present the 2021 operating budget at the Annual Congregational Meeting on February 21. We also wanted to be sure you had a chance to look at the Session approved full budget (click on this link), which is always available to members.  Gray, Mindy Douglas (Pastor), Wendy McCorkle (Chair of Finance), Torrell Armstrong (Treasurer), or Tom Bloom (Business Administrator) would welcome your comments or questions. Thank you for your generous support of First Presbyterian Church.

Flower donors are needed for Sundays this spring and summer. If you would like to donate flowers for worship, you can sign up using this link or go to the church's website and click "Flowers for Worship" from the home page. Click here for more detailed instructions on how to donate flowers. During the pandemic, a typical arrangement costs $40.00.
These Days devotional books for April - June 2021 have arrived. Free copies in large and regular print are available for pickup at FPC or you can request a copy be sent to you by mail. Simply call the church (919-682-5511 x 217) or email Sybil King to request a copy.
Sunday, March 14, 2021
Fourth Sunday in Lent
Worship and Holy Communion - 11:00 a.m.
Mindy Douglas, preaching
Jean Cary, liturgist

We will celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion this Sunday during worship. Remember to assemble your communion elements before worship begins.
Sunday, March 21, 2021
Fifth Sunday in Lent
11:00 a.m. Worship via FPC 's YouTube channel.
During worship. you will view a video Minutes for Stewardship from the Creation Care Committee on the body.
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:
Former FPC seminary intern Natalie Wolf will lead the Faith and Community class in the second of a two-part series about reading liturgies and prayers from Christians in the Philippines, South Africa, Italy, and Jamaica, and wondering together: “What happens to our faith when we pray with those who are on the margins of society?” Zoom link. Class begins at 10:00 a.m.
Lectionary Class: Join us as we discuss the lectionary texts for the day at 10:00 a.m., preceded at 9:45 by sharing of news and concerns.
On March 14: What does it take to remove our sins? Surely there is a price we must pay or a difficult task we must perform or a punishment we must endure, in order to be forgiven.
On March 21: What do you do when what you've always done doesn't work any more? It can be frightening to abandon the old ways – old structures, old covenants – and try something very new, but the rewards can be wonderful. As Jesus said, bury the old seed and it will grow into a new plant.
 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 actual ID for the Zoom connection, contact David Smith.
Journeys Class: Journeys has begun a new series on the intersection of science and religion called “Painting the Stars.” Living the Questions provides a series of videos and written support materials to help progressive Christians wrestle with basic questions of faith. The goal is to educate congregations on the unfolding challenges of our times. Please use Link #1: to access the Painting the Stars video series. 
Link #2 will take you to supplemental material for each of our classes. 
Join via Zoom. Contact Andy Henry for more information.
Women’s Spirituality Group: Contact Leah Graves for the links to join this class at 10:00 a.m.on Sundays for spiritual formation, and/or following Sunday worship for a virtual lunch together, and checking in with one another on Tuesdays - all three events via Zoom.
SCRATCH: We're still on for our usual meeting time, Sundays at 8:00 p.m. via Zoom. We are currently discussing "Home by Another Way" by Barbara Brown Taylor. Join via Zoom
Contact John Weicher for link information
on YOUTH Sunday School classes and other activities
Congregational Life
The Things That Matter Book Group

TONIGHT (March 9) at 7:00 p.m.

Join the discussion via Zoom by clicking here.

Meeting ID: 821 9606 2443
Passcode: 407014

Dial from your location: 1 301 715 8592
A small number of Easter lilies will grace our sanctuary this year. If you would like to honor or remember someone in the bulletin on Easter Sunday, you can give a virtual lily by completing TWO steps.

STEP 1: Sign up to donate a virtual lily using this link to complete the Lily donation form.
STEP 2: Go to the church's website to make your corresponding donation. Click here.

NO INTERNET ACCESS: you can request a lily donor card be mailed to you. Return the card by US mail with your donation (any amount) to the Church office by March 29. Make check payable to First Presbyterian Church, memo: Lilies.

Funds received in excess of the amount needed to purchase lilies will be ADDED to the annual One Great Hour of Sharing offering. The deadline to participate in this virtual lilies opportunity is Palm Sunday, March 28.

The PC(USA) annual One Great Hour of Sharing offering provides relief to the hungry, poor and oppressed, and those affected by natural disasters. The link to give online is now active. Click on the DONATE button from FPC's website homepage to give to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.
Palm / Passion Sunday, March 28
11:00 a.m. Virtual Worship
(Watch on FPC's YouTube channel.
Click on WORSHIP from the church's website.)
Maundy Thursday, April 1
7:00 p.m. Virtual Worship with Holy Communion
(Watch on FPC's YouTube channel.
Click on WORSHIP from the church's website.)
Good Friday, April 2
Time TBA - Stations of the Cross
(FPC grounds, weather permitting)
Easter Sunday, April 4
11 a.m. Virtual Worship with Holy Communion
(Watch on FPC's YouTube channel.
Click on WORSHIP from the church's website.)

Join the Creation Care Committee in a discussion of biodiversity: what it is, why it’s important, and what humans have sometimes done in ignorance to disturb the balance of ecosystems and even cause extinction of species. Join us at our monthly Creation Care meeting, Thursday, March 11 at 7:00 p.m. (Zoom). All are welcome. For more information about the Creation Care Committee, check out our page from the church’s website.
Class meets on Tuesdays during Lent.
Note the new start time is 6:15 p.m.
This study is led by Mindy Douglas.
Click here to join the class.
Meeting ID: 975 6934 9009
Every other Wednesday: March 17 and 31
Mark your calendars, practice your stick figures and be ready to laugh!

Deacons will host some Zoom fun and fellowship on March 19 from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Join us for an online version of Pictionary (no artistic skill needed) and enjoy some fellowship together. Bring your favorite beverage, game night snack, and meet us on Zoom. Zoom link.
Multiplying the Blessings
At the Iglesia Emanuel Food Pantry, we see miracles every week. We prepare for 550 families. 590 families show up, and there is enough food for all. Most people come by car. They line up well before the 2 o’clock start time on Wednesday afternoon, waiting patiently for blocks and blocks in the neighborhood behind the church. Many families have 3 or 4 children in the car, and their excited faces tell us how much they look forward to discovering what food awaits them. A few people come by foot. They either live close enough to walk, carrying the heavy bags of food back home with them, or they come by bus. Recently, an older Latina woman came by bus. She mentioned that she comes every week, and shares the food she receives with an even older white couple who live in the apartment next to her. That week, we had received a large number of frozen casseroles. When asked if she would like an extra one to share, she gladly said yes. We gave her a stronger, reusable bag to carry her sizable load, and she left, praising God and blessing us, as she made her way back to the bus stop. 

Come, be part of the miracle at 2504 N Roxboro. Join other volunteers for a 2-hour shift, bag rice and beans from home, donate food, or give a financial donation. Together, we will continue to spread God’s love throughout our community in this most tangible way. 
  •  To sign up for a 2-hour shift, click here
  • To bag rice and beans from home, or donate food, click here
  • To make a financial donation, go to and click on “Donate.”
  • More questions? Contact Margaret Rubiera.
Upcoming we are Events 
"we are," which stands for working to extend anti-racist education, is a non-profit organization that provides anti-racism training for children, families, and educators. We use a three-pronged approach to dismantle systemic racism in education by offering summer camps for children in rising 1st-5th grade, professional development for educators, and workshops for parents & families."
Registration for our annual "Let's Talk Racism" Conference is now live! Be sure to join us March 19-20, 2021 for our first virtual conference! If you registered for the conference last year, we still have your registration and payment on file and you will not need to take any further action. If you are unable to attend this year's conference and you are already registered, click here to transfer your registration to someone of your choosing no later than March 17, 2021. If you have any additional questions or concerns please feel free to email us at

This year, we are is sponsoring four, week-long summer camps for kids in rising 1st-2nd grade and rising 3rd-5th grade. We are encouraged by the new administration’s COVID action plan. Accordingly, we aim to hold this year’s camps in person. Registration per camp is $300. Scholarships & transportation are available for families who have a financial need. Because the guidelines for this summer are yet to be determined, we are only seeking a non-refundable $25
deposit at this time (not applicable if requesting a scholarship).
Email if you have questions.
The next church newsletter will be issued Tuesday, March 23. Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office
by Sunday, March 21.