"Downtown by history and by choic e"
FPC Bi-Weekly Newsletter
September 3 - 16, 2019
Prayer for Protection During a Storm
Loving God, maker of heaven and earth, protect us all in your love and mercy. Send the Spirit of Jesus to be with us, to still our fears and give us confidence in stormy weather. Jesus reassured his disciples by his presence, calmed the storm (Luke 8: 22-25), and strengthened their faith. Bless all in harm’s way as a result of Hurricane Dorian, and renew our faith to serve you with compassion. Give us the courage to face all difficulties and the wisdom to see the ways your Spirit binds us together in mutual assistance. With confidence we make our prayer, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.  
From the Pastor/Head of Staff
Dear friends,

What a joy it is to be back with you after a challenging and renewing sabbatical! Below I am including the introduction (I know, rather lengthy) to my sermon yesterday in this report in case you weren’t here for worship. It explains some of what my sabbatical meant and how I will be sharing more in the weeks and months to come. The main time for sharing is September 8, 2019. Following worship, we will eat together and then I will share some slides and stories from my sabbatical summer and trips to Israel/Palestine, South Africa, and Montgomery, Alabama. I look forward to sharing more with you!

I arrived back on the FPC scene on Monday, August 19 and started meeting with staff members to catch up on what I missed during the summer. I am so grateful for the incredible pastoral leadership of Marilyn Hedgpeth, Cherrie Henry, John Weicher, Sam Miglarese, and Mary Berry. Valerie McMillian, Tom Bloom, and Robert Daye, along with summer help Vernon Cooper, kept things running smoothly internally. The summer looks like it was a great one, full of study and service, worship and fellowship! What joy!

While I was away, I listened to FPC sermons on podcast, even as I heard other sermons in different places of worship. I missed worshiping with you but was able to worship in several sister congregations here in Durham, including Covenant Presbyterian, Trinity Avenue Presbyterian, First Chronicles Community Church, St. Titus Episcopal Church, and Monument of Faith Church. I also worshiped in Montreat, Asheville, Montgomery, and Israel and visited churches in South Africa.

I read many books, including Long Walk to Freedom, Just Mercy, The Lemon Tree, Blood Brothers, The Housemaid’s Daughter, Team of Rivals, Jesus and the Disinherited, Homegoing, Stride Toward Freedom, No Future without Forgiveness, The Woman Next Door, When Breath Becomes Air, and many articles. I didn’t get to read everything I wanted to, but I will keep at it!

Since my return, I have been meeting with staff, making pastoral calls and check-ins, working with the Associate Pastor for Youth and Their Families Nominating Committee (APNC) and the Personnel Committee (see below for more information) and on the Long-Range Planning report (see below). It is great to see everyone and begin to reconnect. Being back in worship with you on Sunday is a joy to me. I have missed you and am glad to be back and enter a new season of discipleship with you as we seek to understand how to live out the gospel message in our time.

I look forward to many more conversations and to our work together in the months and years ahead!

With love,

From Sunday, August 25 - sermon introduction:
         My summer sabbatical journeys have taken me many places – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Together with my husband Tim, I have explored new countries and landscapes, I have connected with people of many different traditions, languages, and cultures, and I have learned much about the human capacity to build walls based on difference and fear, to put in place systems and mindsets that keep communities and peoples weighed down, oppressed, and imprisoned, literally and metaphorically.
           It was a deep and rather heavy sabbatical, as you can tell, but it was not without hope. The theme of my summer of study and the Lily grant that supported it was “Breaking Down the Dividing Walls: Truth-telling, Reparations, and Racial Equity.” In the grant application, I explained the reasoning behind my desired theme: “Our hearts ache when we realize the ways the walls of racism and racial inequity divide God’s people around the world. Our hearts are restless until we recognize the peace that God desires among God’s children. We believe God calls us to participate in breaking down the walls of division. We long to listen for the truth, tell the truth, and make necessary reparations to pave the way for true, lasting reconciliation, and for wholeness. We want to sing the songs of those reunited, rejoined, reconciled, and healed.”
           I will tell you much more about this at the luncheon following worship on September 8. At that time, I will share stories and photos of our experiences in Israel and the West Bank, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and Montgomery, Alabama. In these places, we saw clearly how racism has been baked into laws and systems by those in power. These laws and systems are put in place to keep a group of people oppressed (because of their religion, race, culture, or language). They are also put in place to benefit those in power through the accumulation of more land, wealth, and power. Such systems have been justified in endless ways and the systems have been used to force the relocation of entire communities in the West Bank, South Africa, and the US. Such systems have been used to justify the enslavement of nations and peoples, including Africans and Native Americans, the oppression of people of color in places all around the world, and even the abuse, imprisonment, rape, lynching, and murder of those peoples considered to be less than human.
           But I did not go on this sabbatical to be pulled into despair by the truth of the stories I heard and the situations I saw. I went to dig more deeply into the truth, no doubt, but also I went to find the places where truth-telling was taking place, where reparations were encouraged and enacted, where hope and healing blossom and bloom and invite us to learn from our past and to make a difference as justice-seeking, justice-making, and justice-enacting people. This is who we are called to be as the church of Jesus Christ. This is why you studied together the book Just Mercy this summer, a book about the redemptive potential of mercy. This is why you journeyed with our sister congregations, Covenant and Timothy Darling Presbyterian Churches, to visit the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro and to stand together as multi-racial Christians. Together you stepped into the history of this region to experience in a new way the willingness of the Greensboro Four to risk their own safety to protest injustice toward and oppression of African Americans all over the south. This is why you heard from a panel in Sunday School last week of people who are working to defend the rights of the poor and racially oppressed, and from those who are seeking to re-enter their communities with a chance to work, find forgiveness, reunite with their families, live their lives, and even thrive. You did all these things as truth-tellers and justice seekers. You did all these things as followers of Christ and the gospel of justice, peace, and mercy.
           There is so much more to say and share – it is overwhelming – but it is also hopeful – hopeful that we can continue to be a church that works for equity and fullness in the lives of all people – and most especially for people who have been oppressed and continue to be oppressed by systems in place around us – the poor, the homeless, people of color, those who are LGBTQIA+, women, children, the elderly, the differently abled, those who battle mental illness and addiction, men who are unjustly judged, and anyone who is weighed down and burdened by the hatred, violence, and racial disparities around us. We are all God’s children and as such, we are people worthy of love, acceptance, and inclusion in God’s family of welcome and community of peace, created for us from the dawn of time. I can’t wait to continue to unpack the impact of my sabbatical through sermons, conversations, photos, and stories with you in the months and years ahead. What a joy to be a part of a community called to the good work of sharing the message of Jesus’ gospel of healing and hope, equity and inclusion with the world!
Birth Announcement: Congratulations to Elizabeth and Dustin Bass on the birth of a son.  Clark Stephen Bass was born August 27th. He joins older sister Bennett. The happy grandparents are Ed and Caroline Pritchett

Marriage Announcement:   Congratulations to Lewis McCorkle and Virginia Selden who were married in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 31st. Lewis is the son of Wendy and Mac McCorkle.   

We extend condolences to Franzi, Keith and Noah Rokoske on the death of Franzi's mother, Christina Zabolitski on September 2. Please keep the Rokoske family in your prayers. Expressions of sympathy may be sent to:
Franzi and Keith Rokoske (and Noah)
416 Longford Court
Durham NC 27713.

Added this week :   
  • Chuck Barenchi, at Hillcrest following a hospital stay
  • Paul Cornsweet, at Duke Hospital recovering from surgeries

Home :
Margaret Mubanga
Mercy Ndambiri-Curlett
Joseph Ngumi 
Carolyn and Jim Wolfe
Care Communities :
Brookdale Durham: Julian Boswell, Becky Crockett              
Croasdaile Pavilion: Bob Rankin 
Durham Regent: John Kerr, Ann Prospero                     
Pruitt Health at Carolina Point, Durham: Helen Garrison
The Forest at Duke: Fran Bryant

Family and Friends of the Congregation :
Fran Alwood , mother of Jennie Alwood    
Ken Chambliss , father of Will Chambliss
Camilla Crampton , companion of Mal King
Ralph Edwards , grandfather of Amy Wilson
Heath Huberg , friend of Kathy Parkins
Jim Vacca, father of Jamie Chambliss 
Bob Warren , father of Dawn Carsey
  • to Emily Wilkins whose question about the climate crisis was accepted by CNN and will be included in the Climate Crisis Presidential Debate they are filming in NYC on Wednesday, September 4. Sophie and Emily will travel to NYC at CNN's expense for Wednesday's filming. Emily will participate in the Town Hall which will be broadcasted live on CNN on Wednesday evening from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.
  • to Michael Schultz whose first sole-authored article was just published in an academic journal called RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal for the Social Sciences. You can read the article here (open the article as a pdf). The article is about how the low-wage labor market has changed since the late 1960s.  

KUDOS to the following who arranged and/or hosted a fellowship group or meal in August:
  • Deacons and Membership Committee who on short notice organized a "meet and greet" reception following worship on August 18 for Margaret Eme and Ready Singers;
  • Wendy and McCorkle who hosted First Friends and Families at their home on August 23;
  • BJ and Parker Morton who arranged for Daytimers to meet for lunch at Bennett Pointe Grill on August 27.

MANY THANKS to Laura McNab for leading the Faith and Community Class this past Sunday, and presenting her plans to form a support group for caregivers of those who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  
New Support Group
Forming at FPC for Caregivers
Are you a caregiver, family member, or a friend of someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia? A Caregiver Support Group is gathering this month to offer educational and emotional coping support in a confidential setting with trained facilitators. This support group will be open to the community, and will meet on second Sunday afternoons at 2:00 in the East Parlor beginning this month of September.   For more information, contact Laura McNab at 843-222-1718. She will facilitate this group.  
Day School hires new director!
The First Presbyterian Day School is proud to announce its new director, Michele Miller-Cox .  Ms. Miller-Cox will begin her job at FPDS on September 9.  Mamie Watson has done an excellent job of serving as interim director (twice), as the search committee has interviewed candidates and sought input from the teachers. Everyone is excited about the new director’s arrival. We hope that you will take time to welcome Michele.  
The Session resumed monthly stated meetings, after a brief summer break, on August 26 , welcoming Mindy back to the role of moderator. 

Sam Miglarese announced his intention to retire as Associate Pastor on December 31, 2019 and shared his gratitude for the many blessings he has received while serving as Associate Pastor. Sam's letter to the Session can be read here.  The Session members gathered around him to lay-on hands and pray. 

The Session also:
- approved the spending of proceeds from the Building and Grounds 2020 Endowment to abate asbestos-containing material in the CE Building (work will take place in 2020);
- approved a partnership with Covenant Presbyterian Church for a grant application to New Hope Presbytery to explore the effects of gentrification on faith and spiritual life;
- called a Congregational Meeting for September 22 following worship to hear a report from the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee and voting on a candidate for the installed position of Associate Pastor for Youth and Their Families;
- called a Congregational Meeting for October 20 following worship for the purpose of receiving the 2018-2019 Annual Report, meeting as the “Corporation,” and discussing the Long-Range Planning Team Report to the Session. This report will be distributed a week in advance of the October 20th congregational meeting. On that day, after lunch, we will divide into small groups led by planning team members to discuss the priorities and goals of FPC as we look toward our future together as God’s people living the gospel of Jesus Christ in the city of Durham;
- heard a report from Carol Carson and Tyler Momsen-Hudson on the July Presbytery gathering;
- elected Dawn Carsey and Jane Wettach to serve on the Nominating Committee. 

Respectfully submitted, Christyn Klinck , Clerk of Session
Sunday, September 8
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
9:45 a.m.  Sunday School
11:00 a.m. Worship with Communion
Mindy Douglas , preaching

On Communion Sundays, please remember to bring supplies for blessing bags as we extend the Lord's Table to the community.

Following worship, everyone is invited to Watts-Hill Hall for a free fellowship lunch and presentation by Mindy Douglas surrounding her sabbatical.
Liturgist: Amy Wilson
Narthex Greeters: Maxie Honeycutt, El Hess
After Worship Greeters: Gray Wilson (font/side door);
Andy Henry (rear/narthex)
Ushers: Katy Barron (head), John Mozart (counter), El Hess
Click here to sign up to usher.
Youth Parents' Meeting
Following worship on Sunday, September 8 , parents of middle and high school youth are asked to meet briefly with John Weicher during the fellowship lunch. Plate your food and come to the East Parlor where we will eat and meet together. We'll be done in plenty good time to return to Watts-Hill Hall to hear Mindy's presentation on her sabbatical.
Sunday, September 15
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
9:45 a.m.  Sunday School
11:00 a.m. Worship
John Weicher , preaching

Liturgist: Please sign up here .
Narthex Greeter: Alice Raney
After Worship Greeters: Wendy McCorkle (font/side door);
Raymond Mbah (rear/narthex)
Ushers: Katy Barron (counter), Dale Gaddis
Click here to sign up to usher. 
FPC’s theme for the year is Building Connections.
Th e Bible tells us that loving relationships matter : relationships with God, and relationships with one another. Furthermore, brain science research tells us that these relationships are the biggest builder of children’s brains and the greatest way to build health and well-being into their lives that will last into adulthood. We invite you to join us as we explore this theme in our Ministry of Christian Nurture this fall and spring.
Click here to see brief descriptions of Sunday School and short-term study opportunities for adults, youth, and children.

The Faith and Community Class:
It’s hurricane season as you know, and already we have begun seeing the catastrophic damage and devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian as it stalled over the Bahamas, and as it now heads up the east coast.  Emily Wilkins was a member of a PC(USA) peace-making team who had the opportunity to visit Puerto Rico in July, to see the remnants of the devastation done there by last year’s Hurricane Maria, resulting in nearly 3,000 deaths.  This Sunday, September 8, Emily will talk about her peace-making trip, her experience in Puerto Rico, and thoughts about alternative forms of energy as the country rebuilds this Sunday. Emily is a remarkable woman who feels very deeply for the people of this world. I know you will enjoy hearing her first-hand experience of visiting Puerto Rico.

Then, beginning September 15 we’ll have a series of discussions around Building Connections to a Life of Meaning: Beyond the Offering Plate.  The focus will be on organizing our lives and resources in service to God, and will be led by Sharon Hirsch, Cris Rivera and George Bernhardt .  Faith and Community meets from 9:45 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. in Watts-Hill Hall, and all are welcome. 

Lectionary Class:
September 8: What is the cost of your faith? Are there valuable things or relationships that you must give up in order to be a faithful disciple? What are you willing to give up? The class meets on Sunday mornings from 9:45 - 10:45 in the East Parlor.
September 15: In this week's readings, Jeremiah tells of the Lord's fierce anger and unrelenting judgment against the people, while Jesus, on the other hand, tells a parable about the joy in heaven over one sinner found like a lost sheep. Is there a contradiction here, or just a different set of circumstances? 

Becoming an Anti-Racist Church Class has been postponed until this winter. In the meantime, those who are interested are encouraged to join the Journeys class this fall, which is studying issues of poverty and race. The Journeys Class will start September 22 and will use The Cross and the Lynching Tree as a resource. The class meets in the church house apartment, room 221. Class leaders are Andy Henry and Eric Wiebe .
*** New Sunday School Class***
The Walk
Using Brian McLaurin's book, We Make the Road by Walking , and led by Mary Berry, Emily Diy, and Abi Warmack , this class invites all who come to walk together through an overview of the whole Bible exploring the difference an honest, living, growing faith can make in our world today. Come make your road as a person of faith. Come walk with us! This class begins Sunday, September 8 and will meet in room 205 of the Education building from 9:45 - 10:45 a.m. on Sunday mornings. Our study schedule for September:
September 8 - "Awe and Wonder," Chapter 1
September 15 - "Being Human," Chapter 2
September 22 - " A World of Meaning," Chapter 3
September 29 - Christian Education Committee plans Sunday School event
Sundays, September 8, 15, 22
9:45 – 10:45 a.m.
Wilson Parlor
Using Rowan Williams’ book, Being Christian, this set of three classes reviews the basic tenets of Christianity, and the various ways members strive to live out those qualities in life and service. Click here to read a letter to anyone interested in membership and our newest members who want to learn more about FPC and have not taken this class. Sam Miglarese will teach on September 8; David Smith on September 15; Marilyn Hedgpeth on September 22.  
Who Is My Faith Neighbor? 
Sunday Evenings
September 8 - November 24
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. at FPC
This will be an experiential learning class for adults who may or may not have children or youth in programs on Sunday evenings. Using Barbara Brown Taylor’s latest book, Holy Envy , we will read and discuss religious plurality in the Durham area, and observe how others express their faith. Read more here . Visits are planned this fall to the Sikh Gurudwara, Judea Reform, Ar Razzaq Masjid and The Durham Friends Congregation. These visits will take place at various times, but our discussions will be on Sunday evenings, running September 8 – November 24. To register and get a book, contact Marilyn Hedgpeth .  
Saturday, September 7
We're gathering at Jenna Kneepsken-Susen and Matt Susen's home ( 1503 Spring Overlook Lane, Hillsborough ) at 6 p.m. We're asking everyone to make a concerted effort to be there if you can. Bring a dish (fancy or easy, your choice) and let's do some serious catching up and talk about our upcoming year together.
Announcing the "Alleluia Children's Choir"
First Presbyterian second-fifth graders are invited to be part of a new young people’s choir with Covenant Presbyterian Church. We're calling it the Alleluia Children's Choir! We’ll meet here at First Pres on Sunday nights at 5:00-6:00 beginning this Sunday, September 8. The current Covenant choir includes some older children’s voices so we will be able to sing two and three- part anthems. The choir will sing on a regular basis at Sunday services both at Covenant and here. The choir will be conducted by Brennetta Simpson, a music education professor at NCCU and choir director at Covenant. We are excited about being part of this joint venture. Kathy Parkins and Brennetta Simpson are developing a curriculum for the choir. Please contact Kathy if you have any questions. 
Newcomers, Visitors and Current PW Members . . .
You are cordially invited to participate in the 2019/2020 Presbyterian Women's Bible Study which will begin on Monday, September 9 at 10:30 a.m. in the East Parlor of the Church House. New members and visitors are especially encouraged to join with current members of the PW. The one and a half hour meeting starts with refreshments and coffee and concerns of the church, followed by the Bible study led by our Parish Associate, Susan Dunlap . This year's study is titled " Carved in Stone- A Fresh Look at the Ten Commandments"  by Eugenia Anne Gamble. Questions and further information may be directed to BJ Morton at 919-383-3855 or  OR Shirley Frederick at 919-384-2017 or .
The Things That Matter Book Group will meet on Tuesday evening, September 10 at 7:00 p.m. at the home of Mary Kay Robinson (10011 Hammock Rd, Chapel Hill) to discuss Holy Envy by Barbara Brown Taylor. Barbara Gerwe will lead the discussion. Note: this book is also being discussed this fall on Sunday evenings at 5:00 p.m. at the church. All are welcome to join these discussions.
 September 13-1 5
First Friends & Families
Annual Beach Weekend
Watch your email for updates on our plans and accommodations or contact Kathy Conner at or call/text: 919-451-5445.
Another grounds workday is being set for Saturday, September 21 from 9:00 a.m. - 12 Noon. If yardwork is your thing, join Barbara Buckley and others as we prepare the church grounds for fall. Contact Barbara at or call 919-210-0482 for details on the work to be done.
The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and
The Legacy Museum:
From Enslavement to
Mass Incarceration
A group of First Presbyterians is planning a trip to the Memorial and Museum in Montgomery this October 18-20. Details regarding transportation and lodging TBD. If you are interested in learning more please contact Kathy Conner 919 451-5445 or Eric Wiebe 919 656-0886.  Check out the museum: Legacy Museum.
Volunteer Opportunity to Help our Hispanic Community! 
The Tutoring Program for children, held every Tuesday evening from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. at Iglesia Emanuel, is gearing up for the new school year, and we need many more eager and committed tutors for reading or math. We promise that you will find this endeavor to be most rewarding, and it is a simple but effective way to show love and support to our Hispanic community in Durham. Click here to read answers to frequently asked questions. More questions? Contact Miguel Rubiera or Margaret Rubiera
Growing thru Grief offers year-round support with education and small groups for those who have lost a loved one. Here is the schedule of speakers for the next few weeks:

September 3:
Jane Williams’ topic is “To Speak or Not to Speak”
September 10:
Joyce Rea will share some “Tips on Navigating the Grief Journey”
September 17:
Rabbi Daniel Greyber on “Grieving at Your Own Pace”
September 24: Mitzi Quint will begin our fall six-week series on the Introduction to Grief. She will explore six myths of grief.

Growing thru Grief is a free, open, confidential program sponsored by a coalition of area religious and civic organizations to provide support and comfort to those who mourn. Meetings are held year-round on Tuesdays (except for holidays) at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 1200 W. Cornwallis. We gather at 4:00 p.m. for registration, coffee, and cookies; the meeting, a presentation plus small group discussion, starts at 4:30 and ends by 6:00 p.m.
New Book Available
Mark E. Diehl, a former interim pastor at FPC Durham, has authored a new book,  God of Deliverance and Transformation: The Ten Commandments for the Twenty-First Century. Detailing the Commandment’s revolutionary vision and path for formerly oppressed and newly liberated people, surprising perspectives are offered as the Decalogue shepherds people of faith in building communities of human dignity, peace, justice, and equality. Mark’s book is available through Amazon. 
The next church newsletter will be issued September 17.
Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office
by Sunday, September 15.