"Downtown by history and by choic e"
FPC Bi-Weekly Newsletter
April 7 - 20, 2020
From the Pastor/Head of Staff
Dear friends,

There have been a few times in my life when the ground beneath my feet crumbled. The foundation which I thought held me up and gave me solid and firm footing disintegrated and left me nowhere to stand – when I first experienced the death of an infant, when I first pastored children through their mother’s death, when my marriage fell apart, when my dear friend’s daughter died of cancer, when I learned of a deep betrayal by someone I trusted. You need not to have lived very long to know what I mean. In a moment, everything changes. That which you thought you could be sure of fell apart and left you crumpled in a heap of distress or tears, confusion or despair.

I have to imagine that the disciples were beginning to feel the ground beneath their feet shift this week. They had to have noticed that something had shifted in Jesus. As the psalmist says, he seems to have “set his face like flint,” resolute in his journey to his own death. This is not something the disciples could have missed. But could they have known how much would change in such a short period of time?

I imagine you also have felt the metaphorical shakiness of the ground beneath you in these last few weeks. Things are not as they always have been. They are not as we believe they should be. We are isolated. We are afraid of a virus we cannot see or fully understand. We are afraid of the fragility of our own bodies and of the bodies of those we love. We are afraid of that which is before us that has not yet unfolded. 

In the prelude to his gospel, John reminds us of the light that shines in the darkness – the light that has not and will not be overcome. Greg Jones of Duke Divinity School knows that in this time of darkness, Jesus’ love reminds us of the power of the light. He writes:
“As we enter this most holy of weeks, we confront the darkness from a perspective of light. The darkness is real; our sin and selfishness, the world’s fragility and brokenness, stare us directly in the face. And yet. As we journey with Christ from Palm/Passion Sunday, through his betrayal and the agony of Good Friday, and the emptiness of Holy Saturday, to the promise of Easter, we discover that the reality of the darkness is not overwhelming. It is present, but even more powerful is the light of Easter. The passage from John 1 is from the beginning of the story, the Incarnation, the Word made flesh. And yet it is powerful testimony to the climax of the story, the triumph of the Light over the darkness in the reality of the Resurrection.”
Friends, if the ground you stand on seems to crumbles beneath you this week and in the weeks to come, remember that our only sure and certain foundation is the foundation of love that comes from our Triune God – the love that created us, the love that died and was raised for us, and the love that holds us up into the light so that no darkness can overcome us. “The eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27). May this love surround you, hold you up, and give you light.

With so much love to you all,
Birth Announcement

Congratulations to Mary and Stephen Berry on the birth of their first child! August Graham Berry was born Saturday, March 28 at 3:45 p.m., weiching eight pounds, one ounce; 20 inches long. Mom and baby are doing well and the family is home, self-isolating, and learning how to be a family of three.
The love and concern of the congregation are extended to the families of the following:

Helen Marie Garrison , wife of the late Rev. David Garrison, passed away peacefully in her sleep on April 1st at Pruitt Health at Carolina Point (assisted living facility) in Durham. Read Helen's obituary here .

J. René Herlong  passed away on March 25th in Rock Hill, SC. He is survived by his mother, Eleanor Reid Herlong. René had a long and successful career as a pediatric cardiologist. Read René's obituary  here .

Our Concerns
All who have been impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic
Tiffany Barber, niece of Christyn Klinck
Beth and Larry Brockman
Shannon Johnson, daughter of Mary Putman
Julio Manceras
Margaret Mubanga

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
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
Becky Evans, sister of Vernon Neece
Dolores Ewald, mother-in-law of Susan Ewald
Chris Kovach, friend of Jeanne Hervey
Doug Neece, brother of Vernon Neece
Jim Vacca, father of Jamie Chambliss
Dear Church Staff,
This is a little note to express my gratitude for all you are doing to serve the congregation and community during these trying times. I have enjoyed the on-line worship services very much. It is true that it is not quite like worship in person, but it is inspiring and uplifting just the same. Thanks to all who work hard in front of the camera and behind the scenes to make it all come together. God's peace, love and blessing upon you all. - Debbie Hamlin-Aggrey


Dear First Presbyterian Church,
The First Presbyterian Day School would like to share our sincere appreciation for all the support and contributions the Service and Mission Committee have made to the day school. Because of your generous contributions over the years, we are able (during this time of crisis) to sustain payroll and health insurance for our staff during this 2-month closure. On behalf of the children, families, teachers and administrative staff, we say Thank You!

Michele Miller-Cox
Executive Director
Tuesday, April 7 - Night Prayer led by Kathy Parkins
8:00 p.m.  - FaceTime Live -

Wednesday, April 8 - Night Prayer led by Cris Rivera
8:00 p.m.  - FaceTime Live -

Thursday, April 9 - Maundy Thursday Service led by John Weicher
8:00 p.m.  - FaceTime Live -

Friday, April 10 - Good Friday (No events sponsored by FPC)
      1:00 p.m.  - Service for children/families with Saint Michael Episcopal Church in Dallas, TX
    1:10 p.m.  - Worship with Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago

     7:00 p.m.  - Worship with White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh

     7:00 p.m . - Worship with First Presbyterian Church in Raleigh
Saturday, April 11 - Holy Saturday Night Prayer led by John Weicher

Sunday, April 12 - Easter
      11:00 a.m.  - Live service led by  Mindy Douglas  -  
From the homepage, click on "Worship - live stream" to watch;
From the homepage, click on "worship bulletin" to see/print bulletin

      Anytime  -   Watch PC(USA) leaders lead Easter service -  

Holy Week Devotional Guide
(from White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh)
We invite you to  download  this Devotional Guide. Daily scripture, prayer and reflection are included.  
FPC Easter Offerings   - Click  here  to give to the church and to the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering.
The Flower Cross Is Going Virtual!

In strange times like these, many of our traditions and faith practices are having to adapt. The beloved Easter flower cross is no different. So, here's what we're asking FPCers (and friends) to do:
  1. Take a picture of a flower from your garden, home or nearby socially distant outdoor space you frequent.
  2. E-mail it to Griffin Momsen-Hudson on or before Easter Sunday.  
  3. Griffin and Webb Cummings will produce the virtual flower cross the week after Easter.  
Questions? Be in touch with John Weicher.  
Sunday, April 12
Easter/Resurrection of the Lord

Sunday School
(Virtual classes begin at 10:00 a.m.)

Worship streamed at 11:00 a.m. via the church's website:
Mindy Douglas, preaching

One Great Hour of Sharing: On Easter Sunday, all around the world, Presbyterians will be giving to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering. T his offering supports efforts to relieve hunger through the Presbyterian Hunger Program, promotes development through the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People, and assists in areas of disaster through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. Please give as you normally would, online via the church's website, or mail a check to the church, memo "OGHS." The needs are especially great this year as we face the global COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Faith & Community –will not meet on Easter Sunday, April 12. You are encouraged to join another class that is meeting this Sunday. We will begin a new topic of study on April 19. Stay tuned.
  • Journeys –  Journeys will continue discussion of “Building the Good Life for All” by L. Shannon Jung at our Easter Day Sunday School at 10:00 a.m. We will cover chapter 3, Strategy 1: Relief. This book is about how we can participate in transformational strategies to help the working poor, which is sure to become a growing issue with the anticipated economic downturn from the Covid-19 pandemic. There are also short YouTube presentations available for each of the book’s seven chapters. If you’re having trouble obtaining the book or connecting to the class via Zoom, contact Eric Wiebe
  • Lectionary – For April 12 (Easter): "Do not be afraid." Faced with the amazing events and discoveries of Easter morning, how could the witnesses not be afraid? But we have heard it all before. How can we recapture the feelings that overwhelmed them? "They left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy." For April 19: The disciples saw the risen Jesus with their own eyes, and they believed. But now the gospel story is our story. Can our faith, received through the testimony of others, be as strong as theirs? And can we pass that faith on to those who come after us? "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." Join us for our online discussion, using the same Zoom link as last week. (For phone access (audio only), call 253-215-8782 or 301-715-8592.) We will start at 9:45 for sharing of news and concerns, but the actual class discussion will begin at 10:00. If you need a copy of the handout of scripture readings or need the ID for the Zoom connection, contact David Smith.
  • We Make the Road by Walking – Bert Clere is leading this week’s gathering – check-in, support, and devotional on Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Join via Zoom. Contact Emily Diy for the Zoom ID.
  • Women’s Spirituality Group -  Support and check-in during these strange times. Be in touch with Leah Graves for access to the class information. We meet virtually on Sundays at 10 a.m.
(If you are not receiving a separate weekly email connecting you
to FPC online activities for children and youth,
contact John Weicher to be added to the list.)
All are invited to join this Lenten Study led by Mindy Douglas on Tuesdays, 5:00-6:00 p.m. via Zoom. Contact Mindy if you need the Zoom ID to connect to the group.

All are welcome to join the Women's Spirituality Group in this study of Helpmates, Harlots and Heroes by Alice Bellis. We meet via Zoom on Wednesdays, 7:30-8:15 p.m. During this time we discuss, learn some new things, have social time, and share joys and concerns and how God is acting in our lives d uring these crazy days. Contact Deborah Momsen-Hudson if you need the Zoom ID or wish to listen in to the discussion.

  • 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 working as needed at the church and will be available by email or phone/text during normal business hours. 

  • 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 are not handing out blessing bags.
See Ways to Give for the many options available to pay pledges, make donations, and give to special offerings. The options to give to the Hunger for Change offering (monthly on the fourth Sunday) and One Great Hour of Sharing offering (received annually on Easter Sunday) are available on the church's website homepage (click the Donate button). Thank you for your continued generous giving to the church and its causes 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.
Iglesia Emanuel desperately needs our help!
Iglesia Emanuel is receiving more people in need of food assistance, with more needs than we are able to meet with our current level of resources. If you would like to contribute to this effort to assist our vulnerable community members, we would be grateful for any and all donations. The safest and most helpful way to contribute is by making a financial contribution at our website.  If you prefer, you can notify us if you would like to drop off non-perishable food on the front steps of the church for us to collect. The most needed items are: cereal, rice, beans, pasta (including macaroni & cheese), canned food (soup, beans, fruit) and granola snacks for kids. Thank you very much for your generosity and concern in this time of need. Also, please continue to keep us in your prayers.
Rev. Julio Ramirez-Eve , pastor, Iglesia Presbiteriana Emanuel
2504 N. Roxboro Street, Durham, NC 27704
Urban Ministries Volunteers
For the month of April, FPC and Urban Ministries of Durham (UMD) are asking that only people under the age of 60 work in the kitchen at UMD, so share this message broadly with all your younger friends!
  • Friday, April 17, 7:00 - 9:00 a.m. prepare breakfast/fill takeout boxes
  • Monday, April 20, 9:30 - 10:30 a.m., prepare lunch bags
  • Thursday, April 23, 9:30 - 10:30 a.m., prepare lunch bags

Remember to respond to Margaret Rubiera if you meet the criteria to volunteer during the pandemic.

Additional opportunities with no maximum age limit:
  • Prepare lunch bags containing a sandwich (no condiments so it keeps safely for 1-3 days), piece of fruit, cookie or granola bar, bottle of water
  • Or just prepare sandwiches in ziplock baggies (again, no condiments, but some protein, please)
  • Prepare casseroles for dinner
  • Donate deli meats/cheeses/bottled water/fresh fruit/snack items
  • And last, but certainly not least, send a monetary donation to

Also, there are many openings for volunteers to help with breakfast, lunch or dinner shifts in addition to our regularly scheduled ones. For these additional shifts, please contact FPC member Jen McGonigle
Winesdays on Wednesdays Fellowship
The First Presbyterian Fellowship group has decided to start doing weekly Virtual Winesday Happy Hours on Wednesdays 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 Google Hangouts Meet . Contact Laurie Williamson to be added to the group's listserv.
Session Briefs
In its inaugural virtual meeting on March 23, the Session gathered by Zoom Meeting to hear from each committee, all pastors, and each other about the effects of and the church's responses to the COVID-19 outbreak. The beginning of the meeting was devoted to time to check in with each other . Then pastors reported on the church's response, including a call list for the entire congregation ; worship services streamed on YouTube; Sunday School Book Group , and social meetings by Zoom; movie viewing parties, phone calls, and Zoom meetings for the youth; and other ways the pastors and officers are helping members to stay connected. Committees also reported on negative impacts on their plans due to the impact of the virus, especially to Christian Education and Service and Mission programming and to Finance and Investment's  financial planning. The Nominating Committee is consulting with the Presbytery about how to handle the postponed election of new officers. The Property Committee is hoping to take advantage of the closure of the Day School in order to make needed repairs there now. Updates were also given for the Associate Pastor and the Children's Ministry Director positions and the meeting was closed with prayer. 

Respectfully submitted,
Christyn Klinck, Clerk of Session
Director of Children’s Ministries position open at FPC
Do you love children, in all their glory? Our congregation is seeking a Director of Children’s Ministries, and we have officially opened the position to candidates from within the congregation – members and friends. We are seeking someone who loves children, loves Jesus, and is interested in introducing the one to the others. Might that be you?

In partnership with our Christian Education Committee, this person will coordinate and implement Sunday School and our other ministries of faith formation with our younger members and friends (birth-5 th grade). We are looking for someone with knowledge of the Bible, experience with faith formation and a passion for children. The job description and overview are available on the church’s website: . This is a 12-hour-a-week position. Please email your resume and cover letter to John Weicher.
This is the first time StepUp Durham’s annual campaign will be entirely virtual. There will be four short videos in the next few weeks, and a 15-20 minute online presentation at 12:00 p.m. on April 21st. The program will include images and words from staff, volunteers, employers, and participants. For more information about the event click here .  
The 2020 Census counts every person living in the United States and five U.S. territories. In mid-March, homes across the country began receiving invitations to complete the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail. When you respond to the census, you'll tell the Census Bureau where you were living as of April 1, 2020.
The State Board of Elections announced today that the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV)  is now offering online voter registration (OVR) as part of services available at the NCDMV website. 
That means if you have a North Carolina driver’s license or NCDMV-issued ID, you can now apply to register to vote or update existing voter registration information — all online. Even better, this free, standalone service DOES NOT require you to complete another NCDMV transaction, such as renewing or duplicating a license, at the same time.
The next church newsletter will be issued Tuesday, April 21. Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office
by Sunday, April 19.