"Downtown by history and by choic e"
FPC Bi-Weekly Newsletter
March 24 - April 6, 2020
From the Pastor/Head of Staff
Dear friends,
 As we move into another week facing the threats and challenges of COVID-19, I want you to know how much I and the rest of the staff are holding you in our prayers. We know that everyone has been affected in different ways – children at home, semesters online, trips cancelled, weddings postponed, jobs lost, rhythms changed, isolation enforced. Some are lost in loneliness while others have embraced the new time to engage with family members. Everything is different. 
           This morning I shared a blog post by a Presbyterian pastor in Shreveport, LA, Chris Currie. In it, he reminds us that while everything has changed, everything also remains the same, particularly God’s abiding love for us. We are not left alone in these changes and challenges. Rather, we are surrounded by a love that accompanies us, envelops us in grace, and invites us to places deep in our spirit where we can find peace. Click here to read the post.
           Though these days are vastly different than our days were only a month ago, they remain the same in that we need one another. We need to talk about life and our fears with those we love. We need to laugh together about silly things. We need to play together, even from a distance. And we need to reach out to those who need to hear a friendly voice and a word of support and hope. 
           We have put together a phone tree to allow us to stay in touch with each other. Many of you have volunteered to make calls. Others should be receiving calls in the next week or so. Take the time to get to know the person on the other end of the line. Now is the time to build relationships with those we have not known before and strengthen relationships we are already in. 
           I will hold office hours (via Zoom) on Wednesdays from 2-4. You can speak to me privately at that time, if you like, or join a group to chat. There will be a “waiting room” for folks to hang out in if I am speaking with someone else. Please stop by if you like. The link is below in this email.
           We are also sharing in this email ways you can help those in need. This is important moving forward as jobs are lost, food is not as available to our school children, and sickness touches so many. Please help as you are able.
           Friends, we are the church.  Being the church looks different these days, but in that we reach out in the love of Christ, build community with one another, love our neighbor, and find our strength and hope in God, being the church is the same. Thanks be to God.
            May God be your strength and your courage in the days ahead.
With love,
Virtual "Office Hours" with Pastor Mindy Douglas
Wednesdays, beginning March 25, 2020 via Zoom.
Mindy will be available to chat with individual members between 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. To reach her during this time, click Zoom APP or open Zoom and enter the Meeting ID: 257 889 231 .

These virtual meetings with Mindy will be one-on-one (or group) conversations with audio only or audio with video. When you "Join the meeting" you will be placed in the waiting room until called. This helps keep conversations confidential. Call Mindy if you have trouble making the Zoom connection work: 919-260-5107.
  • All persons and households impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Kim Abels' father (broken hip)
  • Tony Brown, recovering from surgery
  • Conrad Carter, recovering from surgery
  • Brent Curtis, recovering from surgery
  • Sharon Hirsch's family members diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Kristin Meade
  • Margaret Mubanga
  • Whitney S., friend of Chris and Meredith Brown

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 :
Jennie Bodkin , sister of Mindy Douglas
Ken Chambliss , father of Will Chambliss
Camilla Crampton , companion of Mal King
Becky Evans , sister of Vern Neece
Dolores Ewald , mother-in-law of Susan Ewald
Chris Kovach , friend of Jeanne Hervey
Doug Neece , brother of Vern Neece
Jim Vacca, father of Jamie Chambliss 
Judy Wood , mother of Sharon Hirsch
Congratulations to Michele Miller-Cox, Executive Director of First Presbyterian Day School, for having her article, "In the Rush to Improve Early Childhood Education, Don’t Forget the Educators," included in a New America compendium last week. The article originally appeared in Education Week, and can be found here.
  • Until further notice, the pastoral staff (Susan, John, Kathy, and Mindy) will be working remotely from their homes. You can reach them by email, mobile phone, or texting. Administrative staff (Valerie, Tom, Sybil, and Robert) will continue to serve, working at FPC on Mondays and Fridays, and available by email or phone/text on other days of the week, as needed. Office volunteers are not needed at the church at this time. The Walk-in Ministry will interview clients between 9:00 a.m. -12 noon, only on Mondays, and only by telephone. We will not be handing out blessing bags.

  • UPDATE YOUR CONTACT INFO: Now is a good time to make sure the church office has your updated email, phone number(s) and mailing address. Please email the office or post changes to your contact info to the church office via the ChurchLife (membership directory) App.

  • The Daytimers’ Luncheon (March 24) and Seniors’ Spring Luncheon (April 22) have been canceled.

  • The Annual MLK Good Neighbor Brunch planned for April 4, 2020 at FPC will not be held.

  • Presbyterian Women will not meet for Circle and Bible study on Monday, April 6.

  • Iglesia Emanuel's Annual Ministry Celebration: Unfortunately, the Iglesia Emanuel Dinner Celebration scheduled to take place on March 28 has been postponed out of respect for the current widespread health concerns over the coronavirus. The event will be rescheduled, possibly for early fall. Please keep in mind the needs of many of the most vulnerable members of our community during this challenging time. If you have further questions, or would like to find tangible ways to provide additional support to our immigrant families, contact Margaret Rubiera at
See Ways to Give for the many options available to pay pledges, make donations, and give to special offerings. The option to give to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering (received annually on Easter Sunday) is now available on the website for contributions. Thank you for your continued generous giving to the church while we practice social distancing.

See Ways to Help for a list of some of the opportunities available to assist our Durham community partners and neighbors in need. Please support them as you are able.
The effects of the coronavirus pandemic brought a need to best determine how we proceed with our search for FPC’s new Associate Pastor.
With respect for these challenging times and concern for all of us who are dealing with this new reality, we are moving along by continuing our weekly meetings via Zoom, email, and telephone.
Our commitment is to keep the congregation updated. Click TIMELINE to see where we are in the overall process.
FPC’s Ministry Information Form (MIF) has been posted to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Church Leadership Connection. This gives potential candidates access to learn about our church and the competencies we are seeking in our next Associate Pastor.
Interested individuals are now posting their Pastor Information Forms (PIF) and we are doing our initial review of what has been received to date. Our committee has developed a thorough evaluation criteria and that criteria enables us to perform a uniform review of applicants.
We continue our plan to broadly make available our position specifics to encourage the broadest range of diversity in applicants. Individuals and groups who have relationships within and outside our Presbyterian communities and institutions of faith guide us in this important aspect of what you have entrusted us to do. 
We have a visual timeline as to our goals and where we are in the process. Our latest timeline is attached to this report. 
We as members of the APNC welcome your comments, suggestions, and prayers. Our email through which you can contact us
Laura Hanson
Michael Honeycutt (co-chair)
Marcia Lorimer (co-chair)
Keith Merritt
Griffin Momsen-Hudson
Cris Rivera
Amy Wilson
APNC Committee  
Sunday, March 29
Fifth Sunday in Lent
Sunday School (Virtual classes begin at 10:00 a.m.)
11:00 a.m. Worship (Live Streamed)
Mindy Douglas, preaching

Each Friday, the congregation will receive an email with information on how to attend (connect to) "virtual" Sunday School classes and Sunday morning worship. You are also encouraged to visit the church's website where the latest links to worship (live-streamed via YouTube) and study opportunities via (Zoom) will be posted.
Thanks to the great work of our class leaders, all of our adult education opportunities are continuing online via Zoom. Each week, an online link will be provided in a Friday email.
  • Faith & CommunityRobert Brawley is teaching on the Gospel of Matthew for Lent. Sundays, 10:00 a.m. 
  • JourneysEric Wiebe and Andy Henry lead this class. We will begin discussion of chapter 1 of “Building the Good Life for All” by L. Shannon Jung at our March 29 Sunday School. This book is about how we can participate in transformational strategies to help the working poor. The COVID-19 economic downturn will surely make this a topic of growing importance. You can order new and used copies on Amazon, and if you want to support local businesses, the Regulator can order a copy and safely hand it over to you using their curb service. Until you receive your copy, you can read the introduction and first chapter using the Look Inside mode on Amazon. There is also a Youtube discussion available for each of the book’s seven chapters. You can participate in Journeys by downloading the Zoom app onto your computer and clicking the link that First Presbyterian sends out weekly. Kudos to Eric Wiebe for hosting on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. via Zoom.
  • LectionaryDavid Smith is leading a discussion of Sunday biblical texts. Sundays, 10:00 a.m. For March 29: Does death have the last word? Does death have the power to end our relationships and dry up our hopes? "He who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies." For April 5:The transition from crowds shouting "Hosanna!" to betrayal and execution in just a few days is too abrupt. How could this have happened? Why did God allow it to happen? 
  • We Make the Road by WalkingMary Berry, Abi Bissette and Emily Durham are leading a time of check-in and support, as well as a devotional. Sundays, 8:00 p.m. 
  • Women’s Spirituality Group – Two opportunities:
  1.  Support and check-in during these strange times. Be in touch with Leah Graves for access information. Sundays, 10 a.m.
  2. Book study of Helpmates, Harlots and Heroes by Alice Bellis. Wednesdays, 7:30-8:15 p.m. 
Lenten Book Study
Join us on Tuesdays, 5:00-6:00 p.m. via Zoom

Join Zoom Meeting ID: 482 579 839

Other ways to connect:
One tap mobile
+19292056099,,482579839# US (New York)
+13126266799,,482579839# US (Chicago)
Winesdays on Wednesdays Fellowship
The First Presbyterian Fellowship group has decided to start doing weekly Virtual Winesday Happy Hours beginning tomorrow March 25 at 5:30. Regular attendees to the Coop have been sent a link to participate via zoom. You can join the gathering by connecting via Hangouts Meet:  . Join by phone: +1 319-449-2941 (PIN: 283670966). Contact Laurie Williamson to be added to the group's listserv.

The 46th Durham CROP Walk has not been cancelled but is now considered a “virtual walk.” We will continue to raise money to support CROP walk; the easiest way to support at this time is to make a donation through our team page ( WALK) .  For more information on other ways to support this virtual walk, contact Jody Maxwell.
The next church newsletter will be issued Tuesday, April 7. Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office
by Sunday, April 5.