"Downtown by history and by choic e"
FPC Bi-Weekly Newsletter
June 30-July 13, 2020
From the Pastor/Head of Staff:
Dear friends,
During this pandemic season I have had three mottos:
1.     “We are all in this together.”
2.     “We are all doing the best we can.”
3.     “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

Motto #1 reminds me of the many ways that our lives are interwoven. We are reminded that in washing our hands, wearing masks, and keeping our distance we are keeping a virus from spreading to those for whom it could be dangerous or even deadly. What I do or don’t do has a potential impact on you, and what you do or don’t do has a potential impact on me. By acknowledging that “we are all in this together,” we return to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians where he writes that we are “one body with many parts” (I Corinthians 12:12-27). We need each other to live, grow, and thrive. The action or inaction of one part of the body affects the other parts, either positively or negatively. In other words, “We are all in this together.”

Motto #2 reminds me to take the path of grace when dealing with others I encounter who might seem angry, disgruntled, discombobulated, impatient, or irritable. The likely case is that they are scared, sad, lonely, or confused (as often I have been) and are just doing the best they can under the circumstances. These circumstances are like none we have experienced in our lifetime, and this virus has altered our lives in ways we never could have imagined only a few months ago. The impacts of this virus are many and varied depending on your age, your socioeconomic status, your employment status, your emotional, mental and physical health, and whether you live with others or alone. Ultimately, motto #2 reminds us that now is not the time to sit in judgment of one another (as if anytime was the time to do that) or to have high expectations of one another. Now is the time for deep compassion and empathy. Now is the time, for those who are able, to reach out to help those in deepest need.

Motto #3 is especially important for church leaders to remember. As the result of a judge’s order in May, churches are allowed to gather inside for worship should they choose to do so. Based on the best information available to us about COVID-19, and under the guidance of our COVID-19 Task Force appointed by the Session in May (Kathy Colville, Lesley Curtis, Howard Eisenson, and Karen Romines), we recognize that gathering inside for worship is one of the best ways to spread a COVID-19 infection, even if extensive precautions have been put into place. Even though it is permissible to do so, it is not safe for our community and for the community around us for us to gather in-person for worship at this time. The COVID-19 Task Force recommended to the Session, and the Session approved at their June 22 stated meeting, a recommendation to extend the current guidelines for meeting (first approved in May by the Session) (click here for link to see guidelines) will remain active at least through Labor Day. These guidelines will be re-evaluated by the COVID-19 team again in August.

I have no doubt that you are longing to gather again. I know I am. But until it is safe to do so, we will continue our worship together online and will continue to stay connected by phone, email, Zoom, and social media. You are loved and missed and I long for the day when we gather again. May God be with us in the meanwhile . . . and give us mottos, courage, strength, wisdom, friendship, hope, and comfort to get us through.

I miss you.

With love,
FPC COVID-19 Task Force recommends no indoor gatherings for the remainder of the summer .  
Small outdoor gatherings of FPC members permitted following guidelines included in this document (Click here to see the guidelines).

The task force ( Kathy Colville, Lesley Curtis, Howard Eisenson, and Karen Romines) made this recommendation to the FPC Session at its stated meeting last week. The Session approved this recommendation. This means that we will not gather inside for worship, committee meetings, fellowship or group meetings. 

We will continue to provide live stream online worship on Sundays at 11 a.m., accessible through our website ( and our YouTube channel .(

Past worship services may also be viewed on this YouTube channel link.
Committees, youth groups, Sunday school classes, book studies and fellowship groups will continue to meet online using Zoom or another platform. 

The love and concern of the congregation are extended to the following:

  • The family of FPC member, Jean Lazarides, who died June 17th at Hillcrest Convalescent Center, Durham. Arrangements to celebrate her life have not been announced by the family.
  • Mal King and the family of Camilla Crampton. Camilla was Mal's long-time companion. She died on June 21st. A private family service was held June 25th at Hall-Wynne Funeral Home, Durham.
  • Roxana Boyd and family on the death of her grandfather, the Rev. Jim Atwood, retired PCUSA clergy who died June 26th in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Brendan Bequette , fiancé of Margaret and Miguel Rubiera's granddaughter Meg
June and James Driscoll , parents of Rob Parker
Dale Gaddis ,recovering at home following back surgery
Bill Hendrickson , undergoing tests
Kerry Holbrook , undergoing tests
Rhys Huslage , son of Erin McClain and Kirk Huslage
Mal King , outpatient procedure this week
Peggy Mordecai , mother of Beth Eisenson
Art Warren , friend of Michael Honeycutt & Paul Pasquarella
All those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

Hospice Care : R uth Buck , mother of Susan Buck

  Care Communities :
Brookdale Durham: Julian Boswell , Becky Crockett
Croasdaile Pavilion: Bob Rankin , Henderson Rourk 
Dubose Center at The Cedars, Chapel Hill: Arthur Clark
Durham Regent: John Kerr , Ann Prospero  
Emerald Pond: Paul Cornsweet
Rose Vista Village Assisted Living, Kinston NC: Phillip Herndon
The Forest at Duke: Fran Bryant

Family and Friends of the Congregation :
Peggy Boulden , mother of Dick Boulden
Ken Chambliss , father of Will Chambliss
Paula Cope , sister of Sam Miglarese
Becky Evans , sister of Vernon Neece
Dolores Ewald , mother-in-law of Susan Ewald
Randy A. Howard, FPC Facebook friend
Shannon Johnson , daughter of Mary Putman
Chris Kovach , friend of Jeanne Hervey
Lee Tubbs , mother of Nora Tisdale
Jim Vacca, father of Jamie Chambliss
The church staff (and office) will observe the July 4th Independence Day holiday on Friday, July 3. The office will be closed. Staff will be reachable by cell phone / texting on that day.
The Session met on June 22 in its last meeting before a summer break, and first Stated meeting with new officers.
  1. On the previous Tuesday (June 16) the Session met in a Called meeting and approved a proposal from the COVID-19 Task Force to reopen the First Presbyterian Day School on June 29.
  2. At the June Stated meeting, the task force brought another motion, approved unanimously, to extend the Recommendations for Gathering guidelines through Labor Day.
  • Other motions approved at the Stated meeting included to offer an option for virtual communion to be planned and implemented by pastoral staff,
  • From the Creation Care subcommittee, to sign a petition to Duke Energy from the citizens of Durham, supporting the Mayor's negotiations with Duke Energy regarding sustainable energy sources for Durham. The petition will also be made available for church members to sign if they wish.
  • In addition to these items, the Session heard reports from all staff, including summer intern Natalie Wolf; from the standing committees; and from the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee
  • The meeting concluded with a review and discussion of the first draft of a statement on racism, which will be presented at a later date for a motion to approve. 
Submitted by Christyn Klinck,
Clerk of Session
 Hello Friends,
The Finance & Investment Committee is happy to report that our Church continues to be financially strong. At the end of May, despite an understandable drop in plate collections, revenues were ahead of schedule ($482K vs the YTD pro rata amount of $444K). In addition, our expenses were less than expected on a pro rata basis, mainly due to our vacant ministerial positions and the closure of our building since mid-March. We are waiting for the second quarter investment results, but know our situation is improved since the initial downturn of the markets in late February and March. That being said, we have renewed appreciation for the unpredictability of our world, and will update you as things develop.
Thank you for maintaining and even accelerating your pledge payments, and for your faithful support during these difficult times. Please let us know if you have any questions -- they are always welcomed. 
Wendy McCorkle (Chair)
Torrell Armstrong (Treasurer)
George Bernhardt
Doug Butler
Carol Carson
Tom Keller
Leslie McDow
Ed Pritchett
Karen Romines
Gray Wilson
FPC Stimulus Fund: Making an Impact in People's Lives
Many thanks to those of you who have contributed to the Stimulus Fund, which was set up for members of First Pres to contribute a portion of their stimulus checks, and to be used to address immediate needs in the community caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. To date we have received $6,750, and the Service and Mission Committee has allocated the funds as follows:
 - FPC's Walk-In Ministry - $4,950 , to address immediate needs, often for rent or utilities, of individuals and families who have lost jobs or otherwise been impacted by the pandemic
 - Iglesia Emanuel - $458 , to support their food assistance program serving some 360 families
 - Durham Public Schools Foundation - $458 , to support their meals program for low income children and families
 - Society of St. Andrews - $500 , to support their efforts to collect food from farmers and distribute it to food banks and other meals programs
 - Pastor's Discretionary Fund - $400 , to provide resources to Mindy to use in responding to special requests for assistance that come directly to her.

Thanks to your generosity, hundreds of individuals and families have received assistance through our own programs and those of these partner organizations.
Sunday, July 5
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Summer Sunday School
Adult (virtual) classes begin at 10:00 a.m.

Worship streamed at 11:00 a.m. via the church's website:

Preaching: Rev. Rebecca Reyes

Rev. Reyes grew up in South Texas and moved to Durham 30 years ago. She received an M.Div. from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and in 1979 was ordained as the first Hispanic woman in the Presbyterian Church US. In 1993 she received a Master of Social Work from UNC-Chapel Hill. She is involved in several state and inter-agency committees and groups addressing justice issues, health care, and community development. Rev. Reyes has joined us in worship in the past, speaking about the work of the PC(USA) Mission Agency's Self-Development of People Committee.
Sunday, July 12
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Summer Sunday School
Adult (virtual) classes begin at 10:00 a.m.

Worship streamed at 11:00 a.m. via the church's website:

Preaching: John Weicher
Faith & Community  – We will continue our 10-week series reading From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the 21 st Century (2020) by William Darity and Kirsten Mullen. Class begins at 10 a.m. FPC members can CLICK HERE to be admitted to the class. (We will use this link for all future classes.) Each class will be recorded and a link to the video will be made available upon request to Jon Abels, who will be facilitating the discussion this Sunday. The class is open to the public and all guests must REGISTER to be admitted to the class. If you are a guest and you registered on or before June 28, 2020, you do not need to register again. You should have received a link to all the future classes.

  • Journeys – Journeys is now discussing chapters 7 and 8 of Falling Upward by Richard Rohr. The book presents how our spirituality changes as we move through different phases of our lives. Participants are also asked to identify a personal experience related to the chapter’s theme of the first-half of life to share with the group.  Join via Zoom, Sundays at 10 a.m. Class leaders are Eric Wiebe and Andy Henry.

  • Lectionary – Join us each Sunday for online discussion at 10:00, preceded at 9:45 by sharing of news and concerns. July 5: We go through our daily life, eating and drinking, working and relaxing, living alone or in families, sometimes doing good, sometimes not.... Is God involved? July 12: Our roots give us strength and sustenance in difficult times. Where are we rooted? In our families? In our own wealth and abilities? 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.

  • SCRATCH – This class will not meet on July 5th. We will resume our Zoom gatherings on Sunday, July 12th.

  • Women’s Spirituality Group - We are joining the Faith and Community's study of From Here to Equality this summer - Sundays at 10 a.m. via Zoom.
Register your child(ren) here for VBS: .
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.
Attention Committee Chairs and Moderators: The deadline for submitting your Annual Report summary for the 2019-2020 church year is July 15, 2020. Please submit your summary by email to Valerie in the church office. If you need to see a copy of your committee's report from last year, let Valerie know.
THESE DAYS devotional booklets for July - September 2020 are now available at FPC. Stop by the church (Mondays or Fridays) to pick up a copy, or contact Valerie or Sybil in the church office if you would like a copy mailed to you. Regular and large print copies are available.
Join us on Facebook . . .
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. - If you have any questions, contact Kathy Parkins. Looking forward to catching up each week!
The Creation Care Subcommittee of the Stewardship Committee is encouraging members of the congregation to sign a petition that was endorsed by the Session at their June 22 meeting in support of Mayor Steve Schewel’s efforts to negotiate a better Operating Agreement for the City with Duke Energy to help Durham transition to 100% renewal energy. The negotiations begin this summer and having strong community support will strengthen the City’s position. You can   See the petition for more details and to sign on. 
We have seen photos of beaches strewn with plastic trash, and we have heard about the 8 million tons of plastic that go into the ocean every year. Here is something we can do about it, together! We can make a commitment to a Plastic Free July.   Sign up here , and commit to either cut down on single-use plastic, or eliminate certain plastic items (grocery bags, water bottles, straws, for example), or you can go all the way and commit to eliminating all plastic. As a church, we can make a difference! If you have any questions, contact Cris Rivera . - The Creation Care Committee
Service and Mission Opportunities
Walk-in Ministry Client Needs Beds
A single mom with four kids is seeking help with furniture after she had to move to another apartment due to a bed bug infestation. She needs two twin beds for two of her kids and a bed for herself. Her new apartment is located at McDougald Terrace. If you have twin or double beds (frames with mattresses) you no longer use or need, please contact the church office (919-682-5511) and leave detailed information for follow up. Thank you.
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 - Volunteers Needed
Our sibling congregation, Iglesia Emanuel, is looking for volunteers to help staff their foodbank. Between the pandemic and resulting economic difficulties, Iglesia Emanuel is trying to meet several times the pre-COVID 19 demand. They ask that volunteers be of high school age or older. There are a variety of jobs, some of which include heavy lifting. Masks are worn, and social distancing is observed. To sign up, go the Iglesia Emanuel COVID-19 Food Bank Master Signup Genius. Some slots requiring heavy lifting on both Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Those slots have already been our most difficult to fill, so if any of you can make a special plug for strong people who feel comfortable performing that type of task, it would be much appreciated. Teenagers are great for this! Some of our regulars (including our own kids) are beginning to work, so we are in need of reinforcements. You can also donate to support the foodbank via their church website: Thanks again for all your help and support! -- Marty Ramirez

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.
Sign up with Margaret Rubiera  if you would like to volunteer on a regular basis. There are many openings for volunteers to help with breakfast, lunch or dinner shifts in addition to FPC's regularly scheduled ones. For these additional shifts, please contact FPC member  Jen McGonigle . Help is needed as follows:
  • 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
  • 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
  • Send a monetary donation to
Study on Aging for LGBT
Vanderbilt University Social Networks, Aging, and Policy Study (VUSNAPS) is recruiting older LGBT adults across the South to participate in a paid study on relationships, health, and aging. The results of this study are informing and shaping supportive policy and programs for older LGBT adults in the South.
To qualify participants must be: 
·       Between the ages of 50 and 76
·       Identify as LGBT
·       Live in an active recruiting area in the South 
Participants will:
·       Complete three 60 - minute online surveys over the next four years
·       Be paid $40 for the first survey, $50 for the second, and $60 for the third
·       Have all information shared remain confidential
For more information, please visit or if you have any questions please feel free to call 1-615-343-2631 or, toll free, 1-877-932-0614. You can also email
The next church newsletter will be issued Tuesday, July 14. Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office
by Sunday, July 12.