"Downtown by history and by choice"
FPC Bi-Weekly Newsletter
May 18-31, 2021
Letter from Pastor/Head of Staff:
Dear friends,

           Last week, the CDC issued new guidelines regarding COVID-19 protections. NC followed with its own revised guidelines. Clearly, the best protection against the virus is vaccination and as more people get vaccinated, the more we protect ourselves (personal health) and our communities (public health), leading to opportunities to return to pre-pandemic gathering practices. Even before these two announcements, I know many of you have been anxious to know when and how we will regather for Sunday worship and other activities. The Session meets on Monday night to approve new guidelines for gathering moving forward. Those guidelines will be shared next week. Until that time, the guidelines below apply:
  • Outdoor gatherings are encouraged this spring, as weather allows.
  • Indoor gatherings are limited to under 15 people, masked and distanced, unless all are fully vaccinated.

After the Session meets on Monday, we will have more specific guidelines for worship and indoor/outdoor gatherings. For now, please know that we are all in different places regarding our comfort level in gathering. Check in with those in your group, if you meet face-to-face, and make sure that all are comfortable in the way you are gathering.
When will we worship together? We are aiming to regather for worship on June 20, 2021. Chris Brown, the chair of our property committee, has been working with our tech team and business administrator Tom Bloom to get a new audio/video system in place in the sanctuary by that date so that those who are worshiping at home and those in person will continue to have a meaningful worship experience. Guidelines for gathering for worship will be in place and shared with our community next week.
Thank you for your patience, as many details must be worked out in advance of our gathering. We will be together soon! In the meantime, stay safe, get vaccinated, work for justice, equity, and peace, and love one another!
With love,
Congratulations to Virginia Horne on her engagement to Parker Wethington.

Laurie Anderson, niece of Mary-Jo Keenan
Lori Griffin, great niece of Jeanne Hervey
Ashok Kumar, co-worker of Torrell Armstrong
Deb Walsh, friend of Celia Dickerson

Recovering at their homes:
Kerry Holbrook
Margaret Sims
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

Family and Friends of the Congregation:
Carolyn Bonner, wife of Deborah Momsen-Hudson’s coworker Al Bonner
Flora Estrella, a relative of Beth Stringfield and Cris Rivera
Grace, Chris James’ great-niece, suffering from a degenerative condition
Phil Goss, a friend of the congregation
Peggy Mordecai, mother of Beth Eisenson
Ed Overton and wife Abby, friends of Doug Butler
Shannon Putman, daughter of Mary Putman
Carlton Round's mother who is fighting cancer; Carlton is a friend of Li - Chen Chin
Panel Discussion: ***TONIGHT*** May 18, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
At the intersection of faith and art, a new documentary called "Theirs Is The Kingdom" follows the rare creation of a fresco mural painted inside the sanctuary of the Haywood Street Congregation in Asheville, NC. This is a painting not of the rich and powerful, but of people battling homelessness, addiction, and mental illness. You can watch an exclusive 12-minute “sneak peek” clip here - use the password "fresco." The panel discussion will feature Reverend Brian Combs, founding pastor of Haywood Street Congregation, Jeannette, one of the models in the fresco, and Christina Carnes Ananias, a candidate for the Th.D. at the Divinity School, Duke University, whose research focuses on the particular contributions that modernist and contemporary visual art bring to the practice of theology.
FPC will recognize graduates again this year with a "shout out" on Sunday, June 6. If you or someone in your family or household will be graduating from graduate school, college, or high school this spring, help us share the good news. Please submit graduate information (name, school, degree earned) to Valerie or leave the details via telephone at the church (919-682-5511). The deadline for graduate information is May 31.
Youth Fundraiser for Iglesia Emanuel Food Ministry
ends this Sunday, May 23.
$1,950 has been raised to date.
Pandemic life at FPC has taught us two very important fashion lessons. One is that quality masks can say a lot about a person. And the other is from style icon Kathy Parkins – socks complete any ensemble. Building on those lessons, the youth of the church are holding a socks and mask fundraiser. The rainbow socks feature the Durham skyline, while the masks add the phrase “Love in the Heart of Durham.”  All proceeds go to benefit the food pantry of Iglesia Emanuel, whose ministry has been vital to the Durham community during these last 14 months. 
Between now and May 23 (Pentecost Sunday), please click on the links below to order a FPC mask and/or FPC socks. We are using the vendor Custom Ink, and because of the pandemic, we’ve chosen to have items delivered directly to you (instead of picking them up at the church building) for a small shipping fee. 
If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to John Weicher. Thanks for your support.
Love in the Heart of Durham,
The Youth Ministry Committee

Sunday, May 23, 2021
11:00 a.m. Virtual Worship
Mindy Douglas , preaching

  • Wear Pentecost colors.
  • Holy Communion will be celebrated.
  • Remember to assemble your elements before worship begins.
  • New officers will be ordained and installed.
  • The Hunger for Change and the PCUSA Pentecost Offering will be received.
The Pentecost offering helps our youth begin life with a strong start - a solid foundation of faith formed in the years from childhood through young adulthood. The local church and community keep 40% of the offering to develop and support programs for young people; 25% goes to Young Adult Volunteers (YAV), 25% supports ministries with youth; 10% is devoted to children-at-risk to improve education and provide safe havens. You can give online now to this special offering via the church website (click DONATE)or by text-giving (code: PENTECOST). You can also mail your offering to the church, memo: Pentecost.
Sunday, May 30, 2021
Trinity Sunday
11:00 a.m. Virtual Worship
Mitzi Lesher-Thomas, preaching

The church staff will observe Monday, May 31 as a holiday. Staff will not be in the office on that day to take your calls, receive visitors, or packages. They will be reachable for mobile phone or text messaging.
Faith Formation/Sunday School Summer Plans
  • Our last “regular” Sunday for spring will be THIS SUNDAY, May 23.
  • On May 30 (Memorial Day weekend), classes will not meet. There will be an in-person event for collecting and assembling hygiene kits for our friends at Urban Ministries. (See details below.)
  • Our Children's summer schedule starts June 6, as we move to one class for all the children. 
  • The summer Faith & Community class will have six weeks led by the Anti-Racism Task Force (June 6 - July 11), followed by five weeks of discussion of The Black Church, the documentary by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (July 18 - August 15).
  • We will kick off the fall (in some form) on August 22, with a possible evening event on Sunday night. 
  • Durham Public School starts on Tuesday, August 24.  
Intergenerational Sunday School Event
Hygiene Kits Project & In-Person Picnic
Join us on Memorial Day Sunday, May 30, as we love our neighbors and reconnect with each other. We are collecting and assembling items for hygiene kits that our friends at Urban Ministries will distribute. (See this Amazon wish list for the specifics:  After we’re done, there will be yard games and a bring-your-own picnic on the back lawn. If you’re in town, join us on May 30, 4:30-5:30 p.m. If not, or if you’re not ready to, you can drop off contributions at the church on Monday, May 24 and Friday, May 28. You are also welcome to assemble kits at home and drop them off.  
Children's Faith Formation classes are virtual . . .
Contact Lenore Champion to be added
to the Parents' weekly email
Adult Faith & Community Class - Zoom link
Class begins at 10:00 a.m. Join via Zoom or by phone access.
Adult Lectionary Bible Study Class
Join us year-round 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 May 23: What gifts does the Spirit bring to you? Fluency in other languages? Bold, prophetic preaching? Insight into divine truth? How will you use your gifts?
On May 30: What is the Trinity? Is it in the Bible anywhere? Why does the church make such a big deal about it? 
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.
Adult Journeys Class - Zoom Link.
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: Join us on 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. New faces always welcome!
Contact John Weicher for link information
on YOUTH Faith Formation classes and other activities
Congregational Life
Thanks for a wonderful showing for Earth Day and Faith Climate Action Month. The worship leadership did an amazing job with the dedicated stewardship of creation worship service, and the park clean-up got us out in the outdoors together and in person! We also enjoyed hosting another Creation Care Sunday School through Faith & Community and you can catch recordings of those on our Creation Care YouTube playlist. We are now working with the Day School to convert the sandboxes into small gardens. 
Our next meeting will be Thursday, June 10 at 7:00 p.m. As a continuation of our focus on climate, soil, and food justice, we will hear from Michelle Osborne, senior program manager of Come to the Table/RAFI. She will lead a discussion on the intersection of environment and racial justice, in particular how it relates to landownership and farming practices and the current “regenerative at” movement. Contact Cris Rivera for the zoom link. Everyone is welcome!!
Speaking of farming, Interfaith Power & Light has a postcard campaign to urge the Department of Agriculture to support small and medium farmers, especially those of color, to solve the climate crisis Physical postcards are located in the lobby of the church, and we invite you to pick some up, sign and mail them when you can. (Or contact Cris Rivera to get them to you.) You can also get more information and sign the petition online here.
We invite you to read our first ever Creation Care newsletter and sign up for the summer issue planned for July as we joyfully anticipate being together again.
Book Study
Tuesdays at 6:15 p.m.
Mindy Douglas leads the study. Click here to join the study via Zoom.
Saturday, May 22
starting at 5:30 p.m. at the home of
Jane Wettach and Paul Baldasare
Click here to sign up. Limited to 12 people.
We will provide ham biscuits; guests should bring “picnic” sides or dessert.
We plan to be outdoors, weather permitting.

Footloose and fancy free?
Not checking someone's homework or doing their laundry?

to join us at the next
Durham Central Park POP-UP!
Thursday, May 27
from 6:00-7:00 p.m.
  • Dinner from home or order ahead from Durham Food Hall
  • Camp chair or blanket
  • A response to: I've always wanted to ask... (but didn't think I could ask that in church)
  • We'll stretch out on the lawn directly across from the food hall for conversation and fellowship. 
For more information, contact Mitzi Lesher-Thomas.                 
Bringing It Home
Presbytery Racial Equity Team Webinar
Thursday, May 20
6:30-8:30 p.m.
The Racial Equity Team of New Hope Presbytery will host its 4th webinar, “Bringing it Home,” on Thursday, May 20 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Webinar will focus on phases of becoming anti-racist congregations, the tools for intentional change, and the transforming power of the Spirit via storytelling. Testimonials will come from Vernon Cooper and David Remington of Hillsborough Presbyterian Church and Rev. Reynolds Chapman, executive director of DurhamCares. Register now!
Spring Fellowship
Book Discussion
Love Marilynne Robinson? Join Bert Clere at Ponysaurus Brewing Co. at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 6 for a discussion of her latest book, Jack. Participation is limited to 10 people. CLICK HERE to sign up. We ask that attendees wear masks and practice social distancing.
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. As always, only volunteer when you are comfortable doing so.

Contact Jen McGonigle to sign up for one of FPC's regular time slots, or call Jen 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, June 1. Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office by Sunday, May 30.