"Downtown by history and by choic e"
FPC Bi-Weekly Newsletter
June 2 -June 15, 2020
From the Pastor/Head of Staff
Dear friends,
         Oh, how hard these days have been! And how easy it is for me, as a white person, to say this. I can pretty much exist in this nation without worrying that I or a close family member might be killed for no good reason simply because of the color of their skin. This is not true for my friends of color who must consider closely every action or inaction lest they be deemed suspicious, or guilty, or lest their actions lead to their abuse or even murder. My dear friend Paul Roberts, President of Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, sat outside on vigil while his 22-year-old son went for a run. He was worried for his safely. I don’t have this same worry when my son goes running. People of color are treated as second-class citizens in our country and racism has infiltrated our systems over the decades and centuries – education, judicial, economic, governmental. White privilege and white supremacy rule the day and we are not even aware of how racially biased we all are.
         George Floyd reminded us of that yet again this week as his trachea was crushed by the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis. Like Eric Garner before him, Floyd cried out, “I can’t breathe!” But his cries for mercy made no difference. His oppressor stayed on top of him until he slowly stopped talking and then stopped moving.  And others looked on.
         What world is this where a black man can’t go out for an afternoon jog (Ahmaud Arbery), can’t ask a woman to leash her dog (Christian Cooper), can’t carry a cell phone (Stephon Clark) or a wallet (Amadou Diallo), or a hairbrush (Sean Bell) lest it be thought to be a gun?
         What world is this where the life of another is not held in holy regard, but is so easily snuffed out by fearful gunfire, where the life of a black person is deemed not as worthy as the life of a white person?
         It hurts to say it, friends, but this is our world. It is the world we live in and it is the world we are called to bear witness to the message of the gospel – that all are created in God’s image, loved and cherished, forgiven and given grace, and that all are worthy of being loved in the community of hope that is established by Jesus, who stood with the oppressed, partnered with the poor, fed the hungry, healed the sick and outcast, and brought near the marginalized, all without violence, all with deep love.
       Read the rest of Mindy's letter here .

The love and concern of the congregation are extended to the following:
  • Shirley Frederick on the death of two family members: sister-in-law Marlene Frederick and sister-in-law and former FPC member Barbara Patton Davis;
  • Hendrika Vande Kemp on the death of her brother-in-law, Tom Van Ewyk, on June 1.

Prayers are requested for Stagville and Vera Cecelski , director of this state historic site. A slaveholder house on this site was partially burned during recent anti-racism protests.

Rhys Huslage , son of Erin McClain and Kirk Huslage, outpatient surgery
Jennie Bodkin , sister of Mindy Douglas, surgery this week
Tony Brown , surgery this week
Rob Parker , recovering from a bicycle accident
Ruth Buck , mother of Susan Buck, in hospice care
Camilla Crampton , companion of Mal King, in hospice care
John Kerr
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 :
Susan B ., friend of Emily Wilkins
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
Samantha Lubkin , friend of Cris Rivera and Beth Stringfield
Doug Neece , brother of Vernon Neece
Shannon Johnson, daughter of Mary Putman
Jim Vacca, father of Jamie Chambliss
Lee Tubbs , mother of Nora Tisdale
CONGRATULATIONS to Vernon Neece who was recognized recently for 25 years of volunteer service with Durham's Museum of Life & Science. Vernon began in 1995, volunteering initially with the Animal Care Team and currently supports AfterHours events.
This Sunday, June 7 , during worship, we will acknowledge FPC's high school graduates and others who graduated in the Class of 2020.

Worship is streamed at 11:00 a.m. via the church's website:
Sunday, June 7

YEAR END SUNDAY SCHOOL PARTY Sunday, June 7, is our last regular Sunday of the program year for our Sunday School. As a part of that, we will have a Zoom party for Sunday School classes of all ages beginning at 9:15 a.m. Everyone is invited!
Meeting ID: 857 6738 3646
Password: 363163
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Our adults will still have their regular classes, so we will end before 10 a.m. so they can join their classes via separate Zoom links.
Sunday, June 14
11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Summer Sunday School begins for children, youth, and adults!
Adult (virtual) classes begin at 10:00 a.m.

Worship streamed at 11:00 a.m. via the church's website:
  • Faith & Community – The Faith and Community class will focus on affordable housing this Sunday. Missy Hatley and Emma Hansen from CASA will be our guest speakers. CASA, an organization that serves Wake, Orange, and Durham counties, provides rental housing for individuals with disabilities, veterans, families, and individuals in the work force whose incomes are below a living wage. CASA is one of the affordable housing organizations that FPC supports through our Service and Missions funds. Class meets on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. Join via Zoom.

  • Journeys – For the first part of the summer, we will be discussing 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. Join us Sundays, 10 a.m. via Zoom. 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. On June 7: St. Patrick wrote "I arise today through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the threeness, through confession of the oneness of the Creator of Creation." How can we understand the paradox and the power of trinity? Are there clues in scripture to help us resolve threeness versus oneness? On June 14: As we enter the Ordinary Season, we are confronted immediately with the rewards, the responsibilities, and the costs of a covenant relationship with God. Sarah and Abraham are promised an amazing gift of a son; Jesus' disciples are given unpaid tasks to do; and most disturbingly, Paul boasts of his suffering. What have we signed up for? 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 or Natalie Wolf to be added to the list.
Winesdays on
Wednesdays Fellowship

For this week's Winesday, Cris has suggested the following wine and cheese pairing. If interested and able, order or purchase the following recommendations to enjoy at home and join us for an hour of relaxed conversation and deliciousness!

Per Cris Rivera . . . "Let's start easy with Goat Cheese and Sauvignon Blanc or Gin and Tonic. Specifically, fresh goat cheese or if you’re able to get a more aged Chèvre like Candide or Hunkadora from Prodigal Farms. If you can’t get a Sauvignon Blanc, then try a Pinot Gris. If you really prefer a red, try a Beaujolais or any other Gamay, Cab Franc or a Malbec - something fresh, fruity, and unoaked."

The Durham Coop is obviously a good choice for these selections, and you can order from them through  Instacart

Cris also says, "A good non-alcoholic alternative would be a grapefruit sparkling water - like LaCroiz Pamplemousse. Or a french lemonade. We're looking for citrus and spring herb notes."

Looking forward to a tasty hour on Wednesdays - usual time - 5:30-6:30 pm,

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 975 6934 9009
You do not need a Facebook account to participate in these services. Simply go to FPC's Facebook page and use this link: / each Thursday at 8 p.m. Susan Dunlap will lead the June 4 service.
Book Group via Zoom
It's decision time, friends. Join us on Tuesday, June 9 via Zoom as we review your suggestions and plan our upcoming reads for 2020-2021. Contact Dale Gaddis for the ZOOM meeting link (or Valerie in the church office if you need access to the book suggestions spreadsheet).
  • Until further notice, the church building is closed to the public. Read Mindy's recommendations to the Session (here) which they approved on Monday, May 19, 2020.

  • Area clergy, including Mindy Douglas, have endorsed a Letter of Solidarity regarding gathering for worship. You are invited and encouraged to read the letter.

  • 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, utility bills and medical copays. 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.
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 at 7:00 p.m. - Kathy will send you the link. If you have any questions, contact Kathy Parkins. Looking forward to catching up!
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 Drive. Contact Miguel Rubiera  or  Margaret Rubiera if you have questions . 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.

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
The next church newsletter will be issued Tuesday, June 16. Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office
by Sunday, June 14.