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"Downtown by history and by choice"

Bi-Weekly news & updates

June 29, 2021 Issue 14

Helpful Links






for worship

Contact Valerie in the church office if you encounter missing or non-working links in this newsletter.

In this issue . . .

Congregational Life

  • For questions and answers about in-person worship, click here.

  • For questions and answers about live-stream worship, click here.

  • Let's (re) introduce ourselves: Bulletin Board Project Read more

  • New Small Group meets July 1: "Becoming" Read more

  • Sign up to tour Historic Stagville with the Faith & Community Class on July 17

  • FPC announces Community Blood Drive with the Red Cross Read more

Faith Formation this summer

  • Summer Sabbath Practices RESCHEDULED: August 16-20 REGISTER

  • For Children - Beginning July 4, the children's class goes hybrid (in-person and online) - see info below

  • For Adults - see listings and links below

  • For Youth - see calendar below

Service and Mission

New members to be received Sunday, July 25

If you wish to join this faith community, we will receive new members on Sunday, July 25 during our 11:00 a.m. worship. Please let Mindy Douglas (pastor) or Mitzi Lesher-Thomas (associate pastor) know if you are ready to join. Session approval is needed prior to you being received into membership.

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Letter from the Pastor

Dear friends,

I cannot begin to describe the joy of being together again in worship. We pastors and worship leaders are thrilled to be able to look in the eyes and faces of people we worship with. You who have gathered have been so happy to see one another face to face and are finding ways to honor different comfort levels with touch and distancing.  Though worship together is not what it once was, for now, in this moment of pandemic relief, it feels good, and it feels right, and it feels holy.

Even as we celebrate this in-person connection in worship, we also know that not everyone is ready to be in-person, for many and good reasons. Children under twelve can still not be vaccinated. Others are immuno-compromised, or someone they love is. I am grateful that we have a way for all to still participate in worship online each Sunday. Some who are travelling are taking advantage of this, too! Thanks to all – especially our tech team and Property Committee – who have been working to make live-stream worship a good and reliable option for those who cannot attend in person.

To be sure, we are still figuring things out. We don’t have all the answers. We don’t even know all the questions! Many meetings are still happening on Zoom.  Some groups are starting to find ways to gather safely in person. Classes are considering and implementing hybrid options to accommodate the needs of all. As a staff, we continue to be grateful for your patience as we have worked through the many details involved in these transitions. We continue to make decisions and plans based on the needs of the entire congregation, from our youngest member born in June to our oldest member at 101!

As FPC plans for our future, we recognize that “plans” must be flexible and hybrid. We also recognize that such plans must be compassionate and respond to many different needs. Most of all, however, we continue to remember that God is God and we are God’s people, created for love and community, grace and peace. We are one body, Christ’s body. Our many and varied gifts make us strong, agile, beautiful, creative, and ready for the future plans God has for us as people of hope and justice. Love in the heart of Durham. This is who we are. What joy! 

Grace and peace to you all,



Sunday, July 4 - Independence Day

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Adult Sunday School classes (in-person and online) at 9:45-10:30 a.m.

Children's class (in-person and online) from 10:00-10:30 a.m.

Worship (in-person and online) begins at 11:00 a.m.

Mitzi Lesher-Thomas, preaching

Cris Rivera, liturgist

The church staff will observe the July 4th Independence Day holiday on Monday, July 5. The office will be closed. Staff will be reachable on their cell phones and by text messaging. You are all wished a safe holiday weekend.


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Condolences: The love and concern of the congregation are extended to Mercy Ndambiri-Curlett on the recent death of her sister-in-law, Edith Micere Chomba, in Kenya.

Concerns - recently added:

  • Dorothy Collin Horne, mother of Ginny Horne, in Duke ICU
Click to view the Concerns List

Memorial Services in the sanctuary ...

  • July 21 at 11 a.m. - John Kerr
  • July 28 at 11 a.m. - Carolyn Wolfe

Dear FPC,

Our father, Robert Rankin Sr, joined First Presbyterian when he came to Durham in the 1920s, so for almost 100 years the church has been a significant part of the Rankin family's life. Please know that Bob Rankin's family appreciates the concern and affection shown to Bob through the years of his illness: for the visits, the flowers, the cards, the newsletter, the shared communion, etc.

- Battle R. Robinson, sister of Bob Rankin


FPC's Walk in Ministry has received a generous financial gift from Judea Reform Congregation of Durham. From their website, www.judeareform.org , click- What We Do, then click- Social Action. “ As reformed Jews, we are called to engage in the work of tikkun olam, improving the world in which we live. One way to participate is through Tzedakah.” The Hebrew word, Tzedakah, means righteousness but commonly is used to signify charity. It is considered a moral obligation of their faith. The congregation has a Tzedakah box where donations are deposited. The donations are gifted to a variety of local, national and global causes that reflect their Jewish values. Walk in Ministry at FPC was chosen to receive these donations from the months of May and June. Judea Reform is an active member of Durham CAN, which is where they learned of the work of our Walk in Ministry with neighbors who are struggle during the COVID pandemic. We are so grateful for the support from our friends at Judea Reform and pray for their continued work in our community. - Marie Sappenfield

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Let's (re)introduce ourselves

Bulletin Board project

Learn more here.

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Tour Historic Stagville

Join with members of the Faith & Community Class in a tour of Historic Stagville, led by FPC's own Vera Cecelski.

Saturday, July 17

8:00-10:00 a.m.


Click here to learn more about Historic Stagville.


New Small Group?

If you're interested in sharing the journey and shaping a new small group, join us at one or all of the following gatherings:

Thursday, July 1 Fullsteam Brewing Co. 6:00 p.m.

Sunday, July 11 Neomonde 12:45 p.m.(after worship)

Sunday, July 25 Ninth Street Bakery 12:45 p.m.(after worship)


FPC Sponsors Community Blood Drive


FPC will host a Community Blood Drive with the American Red Cross on Thursday, July 29 from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in Watts-Hill Hall (305. E. Main Street).


For more information or to make an appointment to donate, sign up online at redcrossblood.org with sponsor code: firstpres. Read more here.  


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Sundays via Zoom

beginning at 9:45 a.m.


Sign up to tour Stagville

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Sundays in the Robert Daye Meeting Room (East Parlor) and via Zoom

beginning at 9:45 a.m.

CLASS NOTES July 4 & 11


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Sundays in the Wilson Parlor and via Zoom

beginning at 9:45 a.m.

July 4 Class Notes


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joining the Faith & Community Class discussions on

Sundays at 9:45 a.m.


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meets via Zoom on Sunday evenings at 8:00 p.m.


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All children meet together in one room at FPC

(and via zoom)

from 10:00-10:30 a.m.


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Discussion Leaders Needed

Later this summer, we’re continuing to learn and understand the stories of race in our country. Following The Best of Enemies, the Faith & Community class will be watching Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s documentary, The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song. Each week, July 18-August 15, we’ll watch 30 minutes together over Zoom and then discuss, so there’s no homework required. This class needs discussion leaders. It’s easy to do – please contact John Weicher if you are interested.  

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ALL-CHURCH EVENT rescheduled!

Monday, August 16 through Friday August 20 

Come for 1, 2, 3, 4, or ALL evenings!! Each evening we will explore a different FAITH PRACTICE: Hospitality, Prayer, Service, Storytelling, and Retreat. 

There will be something for EVERYONE plus FREE DINNER is included for those who pre-register -- EAT PICNIC STYLE OUTSIDE OR GRAB DINNER TO TAKE HOME! 

Also, we still need volunteers to help out.  Click VOLUNTEER if you are available to help at this event.

Here is the link to the registration form: PRE-REGISTER.


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Bill Hendrickson's guest on Monday, July 5 will be Prasad Kasibhatla, husband of Susan Dunlap and professor of Environmental Science at Duke Nichols School. Included in Prasa work is the study of the environment and how it affects our atmosphere. Time Out is recorded via zoom and broadcast at 5:00 p.m. on WCOM, 103.5FM radio and can be heard live at that time.

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Day School News

Sheila Breitweiser to be honored with train dedication!

July 11, 2021 from 12:30-1:30p.m.

The refurbished train on the FP Day School playground will be dedicated in honor of Sheila Breitweiser. 

First Presbyterian Day School is hiring!

If you know of someone who is passionate and has experience working with children between the ages of 6 weeks and 5 years old, please have them send a cover letter and resume to admin@fpdayschool.org.

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If you are fully vaccinated, contact Jen McGonigle to sign up for one of FPC's regular time slots each month, or call Jen at 202-421-5870. If you have interest in serving at Urban Ministries at other times and in other ways, click this link.

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Iglesia Emanuel Food Pantry Continues Strong! Read more.

Contact Margaret Rubiera to hep with this mission endeavor.

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