"Downtown by history and by choic e"
FPC Bi-Weekly Newsletter
May 19-June 1, 2020
From the Pastor/Head of Staff
Dear friends,

Last night, the FPC Session approved a document that includes recommendations for FPC gatherings through the end of June. (click here to see document)

As many of you may know, our governor recently put in place certain restrictions for religious gatherings. These restrictions, however, were subsequently blocked by a federal judge. As a result, the Session has provided our own restrictions/ guidelines based on what we know about how COVID spreads. These guidelines will help inform our community regarding when and how we will gather. They also include reasons why certain restrictions are kept in place at this time.

The approved document allows for outdoor in-person gatherings of small groups only, and many restrictions are in place for such gatherings. We trust that any outdoor in-person gatherings will abide by these restrictions, as they are put in place for the safely of the entire community.

The Session also approved the formation of a task force which will revisit this document at least once a month and recommend changes/additions to the Session for guidelines moving forward. We know that the COVID situation in our county (state, nation, world) changes daily and therefore this document must be regularly re-evaluated.

Friends, I miss you terribly and I know you miss one another. I long to be together again in the ways have been in the past. I long to stand side-by-side and join my voice with yours in song and in prayer to God. I long to see you in person and to offer signs of peace and warm embraces of comfort. I know you long for such connection and community, as well. We have already been apart too long. I trust, however, that these days will return in some way, though no one knows when that will be. In the meantime, let us find our comfort in God’s embrace, in the words of Scripture, and in the ways we are able to connect safely during this pandemic time. 

May the God of peace keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of the grace of Christ Jesus, a gift for us all that never ends and cannot be overcome by a pandemic or anything else in all creation. God is our God and we are God’s people. May we rest in this knowledge and in this love.


The love and concern of the congregation are extended to:
  • Beth and Vern Neece on the sudden passing of Beth's brother, Paul Martin, on May 8th, as a result of a serious fall;
  • Hendrika Vande Kemp on the sudden passing of her nephew’s wife. Maryellen, wife of Craig Jansen, died May 15th in Lansing, MI from kidney cancer. 

Susan B ., friend of Emily Wilkins
Camilla Crampton , companion of Mal King, in hospice care
Dan Hudgins , home recovering from surgery
John Kerr , in failing health
Margaret Mubanga
Mercy Ndambiri
All who have been impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic

Home and in Care Communities :
Brookdale Durham: Julian Boswell , Becky Crockett                 
Croasdaile Pavilion: Bob Rankin 
Dubose Center at The Cedars (Chapel Hill): Arthur Clark
Durham Regent: Ann Prospero
Emerald Pond: Paul Cornsweet
Hillcrest Convalescent Center, Durham: Jean Lazarides
Strategic Behavioral Health, Garner: Phillip Herndon
The Forest at Duke: Fran Bryant

Family and Friends of the Congregation :
Tiffany Barber , niece of Christyn Klinck
Ken Chambliss , father of Will Chambliss
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
Shannon Johnson, daughter of Mary Putman
Jim Vacca, father of Jamie Chambliss
Lee Tubbs , mother of Nora Tisdale
Asher Wilson , son of Mike and Emily Wilson and grandson of Chuck and Jean Wilson
Dear FPC family and friends,
I want to thank each of you for your many acts of kindness and comfort extended to me since the unexpected death of my husband, Tyrone. Words cannot begin to express how grateful I am for your real and virtual presence in my life right now. The beautiful cards, donations, phone calls, texts, and emails have shored me up during this very sad time. Please know that I feel your heartfelt prayers of comfort, and your love holding me. Thank you for caring so much and loving me as one of your own. - Valerie McMillian
Welcome Summer Intern . . .
First Presbyterian Church is excited to welcome Natalie Wolf as our seminary intern this summer. Natalie is a native of Durham and a child of Westminster Presbyterian Church. (She even participated in a combined Vacation Church School with us as a child!) After graduating from Jordan High School and Appalachian State, Natalie has finished her third of four years at Columbia Theological Seminary, where she is earning a combined Master of Divinity and Master of Christian Education degree. Natalie has a great variety of gifts, and she will be serving in several ministries with us this summer, including being the point person for children’s ministry. Her position is funded by New Hope Presbytery, Columbia Theological Seminary and FPC. Her first day with us is Tuesday, May 26. Welcome, Natalie!

FPC’s Legacy Society was featured in the PCUSA Mission Yearbook for the month of May in an article written by Sam Miglarese . Here's the link: .
FPC awarded grant: First Presbyterian Church is the proud recipient of a Duke-Durham Fund—Emergency Relief for the Community Grant. The money will be used to pay rent and utilities for individuals who have experienced financial difficulties due to the impact of COVID-19 and distributed through our Walk-In Ministry.
Join us on Facebook . . .
There is now a Facebook page for friends of music at First Presbyterian.
If you have a Facebook page, you can search for First Presbyterian Church Durham Music in the search bar and ask to join the group. Everyone is welcome to see the posts which will be of interest to people particularly interested in music.

FPC Choir Check-in
Wednesdays (beginning May 20) at 7:00 p.m.
Kathy will send you the link. If you have any questions, contact Kathy Parkins. Looking forward to catching up!
Calling all 2020 Graduates!
FPC will recognize graduates again this year with a "shout out" on Sunday, June 7. If you or someone in your family or household is graduating from college or high school this spring, help us share the good news. Please submit your graduate's information to Valerie McMillian in the church office by email:; or leave the details by telephone at the church (919-682-5511); or text the details to 919-215-3955. The deadline for graduate information is May 29.
Sunday, May 24
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Sunday School: Virtual classes begin at 10:00 a.m.
Worship streamed at 11:00 a.m. via the church's website:

Presbyterian Campus Minister,
Rev. Libby Boehne Sapp,
will be our guest this Sunday, May 24
Libby is the campus minister to the Presbyterian students at Duke University. As campus minister she serves as pastor to Duke students and the Duke community at large. She worked with Presbyterian Campus Ministry for two years prior to taking on this role as campus minister. Libby graduated from Duke Divinity School in 2014, and while a graduate student, worked in the Few Quad living community as a Graduate Resident.  
Sunday, May 31
Day of Pentecost

The PCUSA Pentecost Offering will be received this Sunday. This 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 to this special offering via the church website (DONATE button) or by text-giving (code: PENTECOST).

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

Worship Streamed at 11:00 a.m. via the church's website:
  • Faith & Community –This Sunday, May 24, the Faith and Community Class welcomes Ashley-Anne Masters, noted author and the Presbyterian campus minister at NC State, and our own college student, Parker Klinck. Together, they will talk about the particular challenges for college students, all those who love them, and campus ministry in this pandemic! Class is Sunday at 10 a.m., through this Zoom link. On May 31, we will welcome Gann Herman of the North Carolina Poor People’s Campaign. Gann will discuss issues that this national moral movement addresses including systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism, and the distorted religious narrative. Both the PCUSA and New Hope Presbytery have endorsed the work of the PPC. Gann will also provide information about how to get involved with the digital Moral March in Washington on June 20, 2020, which we can all remotely attend!

  • Journeys – A new book study has begun: Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr. Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of life, but the whole thesis of this book is exactly the opposite. What looks like falling down can largely be experienced as "falling upward." In fact, it is not a loss but somehow actually a gain, as we have all seen with elders who have come to their fullness. Sundays, 10 a.m. The introduction and chapter 1 can be read online at the following link for those who have not received their book: Introduction. Be in touch with Eric Wiebe or Andy Henry for instructions on joining the class via Zoom.

  • Lectionary – Join us each Sunday for online discussion at 10:00, preceded at 9:45 by sharing of news and concerns. May 24:  Something is about to happen. We have heard the Easter messages and the Easter reassurances, but now the words are more disturbing: "The hour has come." "You will receive power." "Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal." What is it that is about to happen? How can we prepare ourselves for it? May 31: What gifts does the Spirit bring to you? Prophetic powers? Deep insight? Fluency in other languages? Do you think your spiritual gifts could get you into trouble? Join via Zoom. (For phone access (audio only), call 253-215-8782 or 301-715-8592.) 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 – Check-in, support, and devotional on Sundays at 8:00 p.m. Join via Zoom. Contact Emily Diy if you need help connecting to the class.

  • Women’s Spirituality Group - Support and check-in during these strange times. Be in touch with Leah Graves for access to the class via Zoom. 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 three of our children’s classes are now meeting on Sunday mornings via Zoom!
  • 2s, 3s & 4s – 9:00-9:30 a.m. 
  • Kindergarten, 1st & 2nd grades – 9:45-10:25 a.m.
  • 3rd, 4th & 5th grades – 10:30-10:55 a.m.
To receive the links – and weekly activities, resources and encouragement for children’s faith formation – be in touch with John Weicher . He sends out a weekly note on Fridays with all of this information. A special thank you to all of our children’s teaching teams for their great care of our children and their flexibility.  
You do not need a Facebook account to participate in these services. Simply go online to: / each Tuesday and Thursday at 8 p.m.

Leaders this week: Cris Rivera (May 19) and Brent Curtis (May 21)
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.
We still have These Days devotional booklets for April - June 2020 in regular and large print at the church. Contact the church office (call 919-682-5511 or email Valerie) to arrange to pick up a copy at the church, or to have a copy mailed to you.
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 or Mindy Douglas to be added to the group's listserv.
  • Until further notice, the church building is closed to the public.

  • 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 has funds for helping neighbors with past due rent and utility bills. Phone interviews are available between 9:00 a.m. -12 noon, on Mondays (919-682-5511). Please make sure you can substantiate your need before calling.
See Ways to Give for the many options available to pay pledges, make donations, and give to special offerings. Thank you for your continued generous giving to the church and its partners 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.
Feeding Durham's School Children
Volunteer assistance is needed for the DPS Foundation Feast program. The foundation is partnering with local restaurants who are buying local produce to supply nutritious meals for school children and their families. Opportunities include: handing out food at schools, loading meals onto buses, and taking food (with no contact) to families. In addition, people can donate to the fund. Go to: and click on the link to COVID-19 response to sign up for volunteer opportunities.
Iglesia Emanuel Food Pantry
Our FPC congregation is earning gold stars for your wonderful, generous response to the call for support of the Food Pantry at Iglesia Emanuel! They continue to provide ample boxes of fresh and staple food for over 350 struggling families every week. This is a huge undertaking, and the needs for ongoing support are not likely to diminish in the near future. If you would like to help, know that your contribution will be greatly appreciated. Here are current options:

Make a financial donation by going to , and click on “Donate.” 

Mail a check to Iglesia Presbyteriana Emanuel, 2504 N Roxboro, Durham 27704.

Purchase food items, preferably in bulk. Most helpful are:
  • Cereal (cold or hot, preferably multiple regular-size boxes rather than extra-large ones)
  • Granola bars and cereal bars (preferably large boxes like sold at Sam’s or Costco)
  • Fruit cups (large boxes)
  • Peanut butter (small jars, preferably whole flats)
  •  Macaroni and cheese
  • Cup a noodles/ramen noodles (preferably large packages like sold at Sam’s)
  •  Spaghetti or any kind of pasta (preferably multiple small boxes)
  • Canned vegetables (preferably whole flats of small cans, green beans and corn)
  •  Canned soup, tuna, Spaghetti-Os or other protein or whole meal item.

You may deliver food items to Iglesia Emanuel on Monday afternoons, from 3 - 5, on Tuesdays, or drop them off at Margaret and Miguel Rubiera’s home, 3108 Chelmsford Dr. Contact us with any questions: Miguel Rubiera  or  Margaret Rubiera . Thank you again for your loving commitment to help others.   

Volunteers needed at Urban Ministries of Durham
Those of you who have high school or college kids looking for a meaningful reason to get up early in the morning, suggest they come volunteer at Urban Ministries. We could certainly use their help, and they would hopefully realize what joy comes from helping others while working together as a faith community. As a reminder, the 89 shelter residents are still lodging at an area hotel, so all meals will be packed in take-out boxes. UMD has been serving about 250 people for each meal, but they anticipate that the needs will be increasing the longer so many people are out of work.

Here are the remaining shifts that FPC has committed to filling for this month. Please reply to Margaret Rubiera as soon as you can, and let’s work together to spread hope and fill tummies!
  • Thursday, May 28, lunch prep, 9:30 - 10:30
  • Friday, May 29, breakfast shift, 7 - 9 am

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
  • 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
Stronger Together Fund is a relief fund that will help Durham Habitat meet the ever-evolving needs of our homeowners, partner families, and the Durham community during this difficult time. With over a third of our homeowners out of work, many will be unable to make their mortgage payments, which average about $650 per month. Your support will help us fill that need immediately. In addition, we face a serious backlog of critical repairs and a significant disruption in new home construction. We need your help to build capacity so we can hit the ground running when the time is right. Click Stronger Together Fund for more information.
The next church newsletter will be issued Tuesday, June 2. Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office
by Sunday, May 31.