"Downtown by history and by choic e"
FPC Bi-Weekly Newsletter
March 10-23, 2020
From the Pastor/Head of Staff
Dear FPC Family and Friends,

Here is an updated version of the email I sent on March 3. The national and global situation changes daily regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and we are monitoring the situation daily.
While I believe that Christians should not be ruled by fear, I also understand that we need to be good stewards and should not promote unnecessary risks. The Coronavirus has a long incubation period, which makes it hard to detect and contain early, and the virus is particularly dangerous to immune-compromised populations including children and older adults.  Therefore, I share a couple of reminders and ideas:
1. Discernment: Only you can decide what is the right course of action for you. If you prefer to stay home from worship during this time, please do. Sermons are posted on our website: and are available on podcast platforms.
2. Prevention: the best things we can do regularly to avoid cold and flu are also true for COVID-19:
  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. Soap breaks down the protective layer of the virus and kills it.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow (not your hands).
  • If you are sick… stay home. 
3. The Church:
  • We will still gather for worship; we will still pass the peace, but will use the non-physical peace signs, prayer symbol 🙏 or a nod and words of peace. If an outbreak does occur, we will follow any quarantine/isolation practices and find other ways to communicate as a congregation.
  • We will still do communion, but that doesn’t mean you have to – you may always choose not to partake in communion.  Feel free to come forward to seek a blessing (the next communion is not scheduled until April).
  • We are reviewing safety and cleaning practices and have increased disinfecting food surfaces and areas where many people congregate. We have hand-sanitizer at key entry-points in the church and in classrooms. However, remember that hand-sanitizers are not a replacement for good hand washing: remember to wet hands before washing, scrub both sides with soap for 20 seconds, and then rinse. 
  • We continue to consult our local and national health authorities regarding recommendations for our area. A task force will guide us in the days and weeks ahead.  
If you do become ill, please let us know and allow us to be the church to you by dropping off needed supplies and nourishment at your doorstep. I certainly appreciate everyone’s concern for the well-being of all our members and neighbors. The key is preparedness over panic and the church leadership will continue to keep its ear to recommended practices for prevention. If you have any further questions do not hesitate to contact me.
Grace and peace to you all,
  • Jennie Alwood and Frances Zehmer on the death of Jennie's mother, Fran Alwood. Click here to read her obituary.
  • the family of our dear member, Julia Rigsbee, who passed away on March 2, 2020; read Julia's obituary here
  • Tom Juhnke and Diane Prosser on the death of Tom's mother, May Juhnke. You can read May's obituary here

Please keep these families in your prayers. Contact the church office if you need address information.

Jennie Bodkin , sister of Mindy Douglas
Jaxon Buck , serving in the Peace Corps in Madagascar
Conrad Carter , recovering from appendix surgery
Susan Ewald
Margaret Mubanga
Susan Seahorn    

Care Communities :
Brookdale Durham: Julian Boswell, Becky Crockett               
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, Durham: Jean Lazarides
Pruitt Health at Carolina Point, Durham: Helen Garrison
Southern Living for Seniors, Louisburg:  Phillip Herndon
The Forest at Duke: Fran Bryant

Family and Friends of the Congregation :
Ken Chambliss , father of Will Chambliss
Camilla Crampton , companion of Mal King
Chris Kovach , friend of Jeanne Hervey
Doug Neece , brother of Vern Neece
Jim Vacca, father of Jamie Chambliss 
Judy Wood , mother of Sharon Hirsch
  • THANK YOU to everyone who came out to hear music on Main Street in February and early March. Mallarme Chamber Players with North Carolina Central University's choir, Ginger Jones-Robinson (soprano), Muskingum University Choir, and The Aeolians of Oakwood University all provided beautiful music and singing in our sanctuary. FPC was pleased to offer the university choirs in concert to the public at no cost using funds from the Ruth Mary Myer music endowment.
  • CONGRATULATIONS to Noah Dillon, Ellie Everett, and Izzy Allison-Pleasants, who participated in the Durham Public Schools Elementary Battle of the Books last week. Ellie and Izzy were on the George Watts team, which came in second, and Noah was on the Forest View team, which tied for third.
  • FPC received a Hunger Grant from the Presbytery of New Hope in the amount of $2,000. These funds will be used by the Walk-in Ministry to purchase supplies for blessing bags.
Anyone wishing to join FPC should contact Mindy Douglas , pastor, at 919-688-3960 or send an email to: New members will be received again by the Session on March 29, 2020.
Session Briefs - February 24, 2020
At the February stated meeting, Session members received the 2019 Annual Statistical Report and approved the Long-Range Planning Team report . Session members also heard reports from the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee , the delegates to the February gathering of the Presbytery , and all standing committees. The Property Committee, with the Finance and Investment Committee , brought a motion to the floor to approve the use of $180,000 for repairs to the facility in the coming year. Worship and the Arts brought a motion to display Stations of the Cross: Refugee Journeys , eight paintings by Mary Buttons , in the sanctuary during Holy Week. After a lengthy discussion, a majority of Session members voted to approve the proposal from the Service and Mission Committee for the use of the apartment (see separate announcement "Session Approves New Ministry" sent on February 28). Finally, after a brief discussion, the Session accepted an invitation from Binkley Baptist Church to join them and others in publishing a statement in local newspapers opposing the humanitarian crises affecting many citizens and immigrants at this time.

Respectfully submitted, 
Christyn Klinck , Clerk of Session
Now Available at FPC
Pronoun Pins!
All of the cool name tags have them. Stop by the name tag table to add a pronoun pin to your church name tag. As we continue to learn more about each other, ourselves, and what it means to be made well in the image of the divine, the pronouns people prefer are not always so obvious. As a sign of welcome and inclusion, the following pins are available . . .
  • Any pronouns are cool.
  • Ask my pronouns.
  • He/Him/His
  • She/Her/Hers
  • They/Them/Theirs.

These pins are made by More Light Presbyterians.
Spring Day of Service
Saturday, March 21
There are five different opportunities planned for you and your family to be of service to others. 

  1. You can go to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina in Durham and sort food donations for the local food pantries and meal providers in our area who depend on the Food Bank. Marie Sappenfield is wearing the Sorting Hat on this activity.
  2. Would you like to work outdoors? Julie Maxwell and Tom Bacon will lead you in a Keep Durham Beautiful clean-up project of a park, playground, or a trail.  The exact location will be announced.
  3. Do you like the idea of fixing up someone’s house, but don’t know exactly where to start? Tyler Momsen-Hudson will find jobs for everyone on the Rebuilding Together for the Triangle home repair job. The address is 1001 Delray Street in Durham. The work shifts are 8:00 a.m. to 12 noon and 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. We are also seeking a volunteer to provide lunch.
  4. If you’re interested in volunteering at the church – join the FPC Clean-up. From 9 am to 12 noon, Andy Henry is leading the charge to clean out/clean up the nooks and crannies inside the church to make it better for everyone who comes through our doors. He promises free doughnuts and coffee. Barbara Buckley will lead a team of volunteers for a half-day workday outside (grounds) of the church during this same time.
  5. And, for those of you who can’t join the fun on March 21 but would like to contribute to the Day of Service, here’s a chance for all of us. For Book Harvest, we are collecting new and gently used children’s books and young adult fiction. There’s already a drop off box with the other drop off boxes in the foyer.  On March 21, Libby Gulley will need one volunteer to help sort and deliver these books to Book Harvest.
How do you learn more and sign up for one of these Spring Day of Service projects? Click here to sign up online, or stop by the table in the foyer and sign up for the easy, fun, and fulfilling day of service with your fellow First Presbyterian volunteers on Saturday, March 21 st .
Seeking Congregational Lunch Helpers

Have you been wanting to help in the kitchen but didn't know how to plug in? We have sign-ups available for the next three monthly congregational meals, including Mother's Day!

March 14/15: sign up to help here
April 17/18:  sign up to help here
Mother's Day (May 10): sign up to help here.

If you have any questions, please email Cris ( or call/text: 919-225-4228.
Lenten Book Study Begins . . .

Mindy Douglas has begun a study of Call It Grace: Finding Meaning in a Fractured World by Serene Jones this Lenten and Easter season. The study is held Tuesdays during the Lenten and Easter seasons through May 19th. We will meet from 5:00-6:00 p.m. in the East Parlor. All are welcome to join us.

Use this link to purchase a copy of the book.
Sunday, March 15
Third Sunday in Lent
9:45 a.m. Sunday School
11:00 a.m. Worship
Mindy Douglas , preaching

Everyone is invited to lunch following worship this Sunday. Cris Rivera and Beth Stringfield are preparing another delicious meal for us to enjoy. Donations will be received to offset the cost of the meal: $8/per person; $24 per family. Credit card, text and online payments (via church's website) accepted.

Liturgist: Jean Cary
Narthex Greeter: Alice Raney
After Worship Greeters: Laura McDow (Narthex/Rear);
Chris Brown (Font/Side)
Ushers: TBD (head), Christy Gudaitis (flowers), Julie Whiddon (count), Dale Gaddis , Michael Honeycutt
Click here to sign up to usher. 
Sunday, March 22
Fourth Sunday in Lent
9:45 a.m. Sunday School
11:00 a.m. Worship
John Weicher, preaching

The Hunger for Change Offering is received during worship on the fourth Sunday of the month. Please give generously to combat hunger in our community and around the world.

Liturgist: Cris Rivera
Narthex Greeters: Chris Williams
After Worship Greeters: Leah Graves (Narthex/rear) ;
Griffin Momsen-Hudson (Font/side)
Ushers: Julie Whiddon (head), Christy Gudaitis (flowers)
Click here to sign up to usher. 
Click here to see brief descriptions of Sunday School
and short-term study opportunities for adults, youth, and children.
The Walk
Using Brian McLaure's book by the title,  We Make the Road by Walking,  and led by Mary Berry, Emily Diy, and Abi Warmack , this class invites all who come to walk together through an overview of the whole Bible exploring the difference an honest, living, growing faith can make in our world today. Come make your road as a person of faith. Come walk with us! ALSO, there is always childcare during the Sunday School hour if your child is too young to go to a church school class. We meet in the Education building, room 205 .

March 15: Chapter 22 "Jesus the Teacher"
March 22: Chapter 23 "Jesus and the Multitudes"

  Journeys will continue a study of the Gospel of Matthew based on a PCUSA mission called Matthew 25 that calls for the church to actively engage in the work around us that serves people who are hungry, oppressed, imprisoned or poor.  We will cover the fifth discourse of the study guide, which includes chapters 24 and 25.  The Bible study guide can be downloaded at this link: .   We meet in the apartment classroom on the second floor of the church house . All are welcome. 

The Faith and Community Class
In March, the Faith & Community class will continue its winter focus on climate change and discuss Lenten texts from the gospel of Matthew.  Cris Rivera will present about becoming a Presbyterian Earth Care Congregation on March 29. In between, our resident Matthew scholar, Robert Brawley , will teach (March 15 & 22) on the Gospel, which is also our lectionary text in worship. The class meets from 9:45 – 10:45 a.m. in Watts-Hill Hall . All are welcome. 

Lectionary Class
March 15:  What is more important to a thirsty person than water? But perhaps there are gifts from God that are even more vital and refreshing than that. 
Join us for discussion at 9:45 in the East Parlor .
March 22:  Jesus provoked controversy by restoring sight to a man who was born blind. The healed man's faith and understanding continued to grow as he was questioned, but others refused to see or accept the truth. “The Lord does not see as mortals see.” 

Spiritual Formation Class
This year-round class for women is coordinated by Leah Graves  and explores spiritual life within the construct of a supportive community. We have begun a study of the book Helpmates, Harlots, and Heroes: Women's Stories in the Hebrew Bible , 2nd Edition by Alice Ogden Bellis .  We would welcome any women wishing to join us.   Join us at 9:45 a.m. in  basement classroom B-16 .  
Youth Sunday School & Calendar for 2020
The Alleluia Children’s Choir is open to children who attend FPC or Covenant Presbyterian Church and their friends. The choir will sing at Covenant this Sunday, March 15 at the 10:00 a.m. worship. A rehearsal is planned for Saturday, March 14 at ???.

The choir will sing at FPC on Sunday, March 29 at the 11:00 a.m. worship. Stay tuned for an updated rehearsal schedule.

Please contact Kathy Parkins at for more information. Brennetta Simpson is the director of the choir and she can be reached at
The 46 th Durham CROP Hunger Walk  is a fun family event which combines community building and raising resources for hungry people in Durham and around the world. This year’s walk will take place on Sunday, April 5. Walkers will step off from Duke Chapel at 2:30 p.m. Jody Maxwell is FPC’s recruiter and he will have information for walkers and sponsors in the foyer following worship. You can join FPC’s walk team by signing up at church following worship or go online to the website: 
Seniors Spring Luncheon
Wednesday, April 22
Gather at 11:30 in the East Parlor
Luncheon at 12 Noon in Watts-Hill Hall 
FPC is participating in this local Book Drive
February 25 - March 21
Please bring your book donations to the church
and place them in the container provided in the church foyer.
An invitation to Iglesia Emanuel's
Annual Ministry Celebration
Once again, FPC is partnering with Iglesia Emanuel, our sister Latino Presbyterian congregation, to host their third annual ministry celebration, including dinner and entertainment. This year’s event promises to be very powerful, as the theme for the evening is: “Journeys to Durham: Receiving the Stories of Our Immigrant Neighbors.” Please mark your calendars for Saturday evening, March 28, 6-8pm, Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church. The purpose is twofold: fundraising to support and expand the church’s amazing ministry in the community, and a wonderful opportunity for friendship, fellowship and a delicious meal. Because seating is limited, RSVP just as soon as possible to Margaret Rubiera at
Faith Connections on Mental Illness  
“Faithfully Practicing Community Inclusion”
Friday, March 13 
McKimmon Conference Center in Raleigh, NC
Father Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, Los Angeles, CA, and two homeboys will be sharing how they engage in healing conflicts and instilling hope for a fulfilling life. Speakers from the Durham Nativity School, Rebound, Recovery Communities of NC, and Reintegration Support Network will present 
how engagement and support creates a healthier community. Discount rate ends February 28 th . For more information and to register, visit:
A Writing Workshop with Carol Henderson
March 13-14, 2019
Friday 7-9 pm, Saturday 9:30 am-3:30 pm
Come write with veteran teacher Carol Henderson. Be prepared to write a lot and to leave with deeper insight and fresh perspective on your life as well as plenty of material for further inquiry and writing. Bring a bag lunch. Coffee, tea, and snacks provided. For women only.

Carol Henderson is a writer, editor, workshop leader, the author of Losing Malcolm, and Farther Along: The Writing Journey of Thirteen Bereaved Mothers, and the editor of Wide Open Spaces: Call Stories. More info at:

Cost: $125. Click  HERE  to register. Location: In a cozy house in Durham with a cat.

Contact: RCWMS, 919-683-1236, .
Would you like to be a judge for SilverArts 2020?
SilverArts, a celebration of the creative expression of Mature Adults in Durham, is a major component of the traditional athletic competition of Durham Senior Games. In a philosophy that strives to keep Mature Adults healthy, active and involved, SilverArts unites the athlete and artist in a program that recognizes the similarities of both endeavors: discipline, dedication, and pride in one's accomplishments. The 2020 SilverArts will begin in April and judges for the various aspects of the program are sought. For further information, click here .
Help Tim O'Brien Fight Blindness
You can support Foundation Fighting Blindness by making a donation through Tim's team (Soles4Sight) fundraising page for Triangle Vision Walk 2020. Every donation appreciated. Click here to donate. No amount too small.
Alienated Grandparents Anonymous of the Triangle
You are invited to this support group for grandparents who have not had access to their grandchildren. NOTE: This is not a 12-step group nor does it follow any particular spiritual axiom.
WHEN: First and Third Mondays, 1:00-2:30 p.m.
WHERE: Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church
(Parlor in "Carr" entry, south side of building near playground)
927 W. Trinity Ave, Durham
Park in the lot off Gregson St.
The next church newsletter will be issued Tuesday, March 24. Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office
by Sunday, March 22.