"Downtown by history and by choice"
FPC Bi-Weekly Newsletter
April 6-19, 2021
Letter from Pastor/Head of Staff:

Dear friends,

Happy Easter! The Lord is risen! He is risen, indeed!

I hope that you all had a wonderful weekend were able to experience the depth of Easter joy and promise given to you in the Risen Christ.

In my sermon yesterday, I shared the story of Cambridge, Maryland (Tom Long shared this story in Journal for Preachers this spring). Cambridge, a town divided by its racist past, experienced an opportunity for transformation last summer. The story tells of the beginning of a long journey of reconciliation, reparation, and love that many people in that town hope to make together. It is an Easter story. It is a story of how we join Jesus in Easter work in the Galilees of our lives (Click here to watch my this sermon on Mark 16. Scroll forward to 15:38 point in the sermon).

It is an Easter story because it includes forgiveness, hope, reconciliation, and a vision for a future filled with community, peace, and love. Easter is that new beginning of a long God-directed journey that we are called to make together with Jesus. Easter is the transformative Spirit-filled journey where we find ourselves changed by the power of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and where we join with others to respond with our lives (“Go to Galilee” as Mark’s gospel instructs us!). Easter is where we find Jesus at work and join with him, guided by a love given so freely to us, and inspired to share that love with others.
It is easy to listen to the story of Cambridge, Maryland and think of a place that is far away, a place that isn’t here. But in our own communities, we have also been called to be open to places of reconciliation and hope. We have been called to see Jesus at work in our midst and to join him in that work. In Durham, that might look like working for fair and safe housing for all or making sure our neighbors are fed. It might look like helping “returning citizens” (i.e., those who have had a time in prison) make their way successfully in their new life. It might look like tutoring a child or helping an adult learn how to read. It might look like any number of things. If God is calling you this Easter to find your Galilee here in Durham, please let me know. I would love to sit with you on my porch and talk about what your Easter journey might look like on the ground. 

And here’s the best news of all, friends. We are not alone. God’s grace in Christ, God’s cosmic victory over sin and death, precedes us. We are on this journey together. God is with us and God has called First Presbyterian Church to a unique, transformative, and hopeful Easter journey in a specific context – love in the heart of Durham. We go together. I am glad to be on this journey with you.
Happy Easter, friends!
With love,

P.S. A few bonus materials for you:
1) A link to an article about the Cambridge, Maryland story:
2) A link to the transcript of Krista Tippett’s full interview with Bryan Stephenson (mentioned in my sermon). You can also listen to this on her podcast.
3) A bonus article by a Charlotte PC(USA) pastor who reminds us what it means to be the church.
The love and concern of the congregation are extended to Caroline Rourk on the death of her longtime boyfriend, Christopher Michael Whitworth, a decorated special ops combat Marine, who died March 27, 2021. Expressions of sympathy may be sent to Caroline at the following address:
Caroline Rourk
3060 D Colony Drive
Durham NC 27705.
Everlyn Bass, aunt of Valerie McMillian, a patient at Duke Regional
Margaret Nelson, sister of Charlotte Nelson, in ICU in Asheville
Franzi Rokoske’s father, recovering from a fall
Samuel, nephew of Susan Dunlap
Liz and Howard Dean, friends of Beth Taylor. Their son was recently killed in a motorcycle accident.
Recovering at their homes
Tom Bloom
Catherine Dumas
Kerry Holbrook
Margaret Sims
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:
Carolyn Bonner, wife of Deborah Momsen-Hudson’s coworker Al Bonner
Peggy Boulden, mother of Dick Boulden
Flora Estrella, a relative of Beth Stringfield and Cris Rivera
Chris James’ mother, suffering from dementia
Grace, Chris James’ great-niece, suffering from a degenerative condition
Phil Goss, a friend of the congregation
Peggy Mordecai, mother of Beth Eisenson
Shannon Putman, daughter of Mary Putman
Carlton Round's mother who is fighting cancer; Carlton is a friend of Li - Chen Chin
John Samulski, owner of Tiger Cleaning and friend of FPC
Thank You, fellow Christ followers, for all the support this last year and the recent birthday cards. You leave me with a warm heart.

In love ,
Paul Cornsweet
Sunday, April 18, 2021
11:00 a.m. Virtual Worship via the church's YouTube channel
Mitzi Lesher-Thomas, preaching

Sunday, April 25, 2021
11:00 a.m. Virtual Worship via the church's YouTube channel
Mindy Douglas, preaching

The Hunger for Change Offering is received on the fourth Sunday of each month. You can mail a check to FPC or give online from the church's website. Thank you for your generous giving.
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
Zoom link Class begins at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings.
A new discussion series will begin on April 11.
The Friday Weekend Reminders email will have the details. Stay tuned.
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 April 11: Can a community exist if the members do not all agree? Can a community of faith exist if some members do not believe? 
On April 18: When you have witnessed something important, you have a duty to testify. But sometimes there are consequences. Are you willing to be a witness? Are you willing to get involved?

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 will continue with the Living the Question series. Join via Zoom. Contact Andy Henry for more information.

For Sunday, April 11, use this link to access and view the Painting the Stars video called “An Evolving Spirituality: Mysticism” (title #7). 
If you are asked for a password, use the following: sm9843pts.
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 back on for our usual meeting time, Sundays at 8:00 p.m. via Zoom. We are currently discussing chapters in "Home by Another Way" by Barbara Brown Taylor. Join via Zoom. It's time for more fun and fellowship!
Contact John Weicher for link information
on YOUTH Sunday School classes and other activities
Congregational Life

Ben Maxwell’s Senior Recital
Saturday, April 10 at 12 noon
at the New England Conservatory
Live-streamed via this link

Enjoy some beautiful music during your lunch time performed by our very own Ben Maxwell.
FPC has a terrific group who have signed up for this year's CROP Hunger Walk to raise money to provide more meals for people in Durham who need them, and greater food security in communities around the world. Since there's no community-wide walk this year, we're doing our own walk on the afternoon of April 18, and we'd love to have more people join us. If you can't join us, consider donating to support one of those who are. FPC CROP walkers include Emily Wilkins, Julie and Jody Maxwell, Kerry Holbrook, Marie Sappenfield, Sharon Hirsch, Shirley Frederick, Tim O'Brien, Mindy Douglas, Karolyn Mangeot, Andy Henry, Jane Williams, and Tom Bacon.

Click on the link below to either join the FPC Team or to make a donation in support of those walking.
Small Group Gatherings
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.
For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.  
 - Ps. 100:4-5
Are you 65 years of age or older? Fully vaccinated? (2 weeks or more after your second vaccine) If so, we're thrilled to offer the opportunity for small groups of 13 people, masked and distanced, to meet in the sanctuary for a time of prayer and fellowship. Come to hear the organ, see dear ones and be in prayer together. Sign up at this link or by calling First Presbyterian (919-682-5511 ext. 217) and state the date in April and May you wish to join us. Please let us know if you need a ride when you sign up, we may be able to help.
Volunteers needed at Urban Ministries
For years, FPC has committed to provide volunteers to help prepare and serve meals at Urban Ministries of Durham. Even through the pandemic, members of FPC and those connected to us, have faithfully showed up as volunteers. If you are fully vaccinated and itching to serve again, please know that you are needed. FPC needs workers on these dates in April. As always, only volunteer when you are comfortable doing so.
  • Friday, April 16, prepare breakfast and fill take-out boxes, 7 - 9 a.m.
  • Monday, April 19, assist with lunch prep 10:30-11:30 a.m.
  • Thursday, April 22, assist with lunch prep 10:30-11:30 a.m.
  • Friday, April 30, prepare breakfast and fill take-out boxes, 7 - 9 a.m.

Contact Jen McGonigle to sign up for a slot or call her at 202-421-5870. If you have interest in serving at Urban Ministries at other times and in other ways, click this 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.

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.
The next church newsletter will be issued Tuesday, April 20. Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office
by Sunday, April 18.