"Downtown by history and by choice"
FPC Bi-Weekly Newsletter
September 22 - October 6, 2020
From the Pastor / Head of Staff:

Dear Friends,

What wonderful news we received this week from the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee!

I hope you have had a chance to watch the video (link) of our new associate pastor, the Rev. Mitzi Lesher-Thomas on Sunday. You can see in the video her passion for social justice, racial equity, pastoral care, and worship. She will be a wonderful addition to our staff and will hit the ground running on October 19! I can’t wait for you to meet her.

I want to thank the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee (APNC) for all their hard work over the past nine months. You elected this strong group of people to serve First Presbyterian Church in this way and they took their calling very seriously. They (Marcia Lorimer, Michael Honeycutt, Laura Hanson, Keith Merritt, Griffin Momsen-Hudson, Cris Rivera, and Amy Wilson) met so many times (often 2-3 times a week) to learn the process, make their plan, review many, many applications, conduct Zoom interviews, and narrow their applicant pool to the strongest set of applicants and finally to the best person to serve at First Presbyterian. They did all this guided by prayer, devotion, and study together. Ultimately, they believed the Holy Spirit guided them to Mitzi Lesher-Thomas. 

Though these COVID-19 times will make her entry into this community challenging, she comes with eagerness to get to know you in whatever ways possible. I hope you will welcome her with open arms as she begins her ministry with us next month. We are excited to have her join our ministry team.

In the meantime, my prayers continue for you all as you navigate these pandemic days. They are challenging in so many different ways. Wherever you are and whatever your situation is, I pray that you will find solace and strength in God’s promises to you. You are not alone. Christ is our peace and God’s loving kindness surrounds us each day. May you know the love of God in Christ and find peace in all your hours and days.

If you are in need of anything, please feel free to reach out to me by phone or email. We are all in this together.

Grace and peace to you all,
Marriage Announcement: Congratulations to Dawn Carsey and John Shelton who were married recently in Virginia.

Condolences: The love and concern of the congregation are extended to Valerie McMillian and family on the death of Valerie's mom, Evelyn Bass, who died Sunday, September 20 at the age of 101. A small family service is planned for Wednesday, September 23 at 1:00 p.m. at Scarborough & Hargett Celebration of Life Center in Durham.

Expressions of sympathy may be sent to Valerie at FPC or to her home:
Valerie McMillian
416 Ryan Road
Cary NC 27511.

Please keep Valerie and her family in your prayers. 

Linda Barenchi, recovering from the COVID-19 virus
Harold Dunlap
Roger Kalthoff, husband of Jane Williams, recovering from a toe amputation
Sam Miglarese, recovering from retinal surgery
Ellen O’Brien, mother-in-law of Mindy Douglas, recovering from lung surgery
Carol Wills  

All those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
All those in harm's way in California, Oregon, and Washington state (wild fires) and along the Gulf coast (tropical storms / hurricanes)
Care Communities:
Brookdale Durham: Julian Boswell, Becky Crockett
Croasdaile Pavilion: Bob Rankin, Jane Rourk
Dubose Center at The Cedars, Chapel Hill: Arthur Clark
Durham Regent: John Kerr, Ann Prospero  
Emerald Pond: Paul Cornsweet
Rose Vista Village /Kinston Assisted Living, Kinston NC: Phillip Herndon
The Forest at Duke: Fran Bryant

Family and Friends of the Congregation:
Brendan Bequette, family friend of Margaret & Miguel Rubiera
Peggy Boulden, mother of Dick Boulden
Becky Evans, sister of Vernon Neece
Phil Goss, friend of the congregation
Peggy Mordecai, mother of Beth Eisenson
Shannon Putman, daughter of Mary Putman
Robert Reaves, husband of Floalice Reaves, friend of the congregation
Dear Friends,
We were overwhelmed by FPC's love and care during our recent loss and illness. All the meals were so good and appreciated. I will be doing some deliveries of dishes within the next week. Then the cards were filled with love and hope. I'm so glad to be part of FPC's congregation. 

Love and blessings,
Linda Barenchi and Jacob 
Meet FPC's new Associate Pastor!
On Sunday, September 20, at an online (via Zoom) congregational meeting called by the Session, FPC approved the recommendation from the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee (APNC) to call Mitzi Lesher-Thomas as the new Associate Pastor. Click here to read the recommendation letter from the APNC and here to view Mitzi's profile. She will begin serving October 19, 2020.
Peacemaking Season is here!
September 6 – October 4
Confronting hopelessness,
thwarting division
Empowering congregations and individuals
to become peacemakers themselves.
Through the Peace & Global Witness Offering, congregations are encouraged and equipped to find and address the anxiety and discord that is prevalent throughout this broken and sinful world. FPC will receive the PCUSA Peace & Global Witness Offering on Sunday, October 4. You may mail or bring your offering to the church by October 4th or click here to give online.
Stewardship Season kicks off this Sunday!
Check out this year's campaign here

Sunday, September 27
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Hunger for Change offering is received this Sunday!

Sunday School
The Children's (virtual) class begins at 9:15 a.m.

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

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

Mindy Douglas, preaching
Sunday, October 4
World Communion Sunday

Sunday School
The Children's (virtual) class begins at 9:15 a.m.
Adult (virtual) classes begin at 10:00 a.m.

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

Susan Dunlap, preaching

The PCUSA Peace and Global Witness offering will be received. You can mail your contributions to the church or give online via the church's website.
Children's Sunday School
Contact Lenore Champion for class kits and links
to the Children's Sunday School classes
  • Faith & Community – “Reckoning with the Call to Reparations” is our current topic, discussing responses to reparation locally (especially Durham), what FPC is currently doing to address structural racism and inequality, what the Scriptures tell us to do, and what our response needs to be. Material for all the classes is posted here. Class begins at 10:00 a.m. FPC members should CLICK HERE to be admitted to the class. Each class will be recorded and a link to the video will be made available upon request to Jon Abels. The class is open to the public and all guests must REGISTER to be admitted to the class. After registering, guests will receive a link that gives you access to current and future classes.

  • Journeys – We began a new topic on August 30. Rev. Dr. Richard C. "Dick" Prust is leading us in an abbreviated study of the Old Testament. Join via Zoom at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings. Click here for the class assignment for Sunday, September 27. Contact Andy Henry for more information about weekly studies and class assignments.

  • Lectionary – Join us each Sunday for online discussion at 10:00 a.m., preceded at 9:45 a.m. by sharing of news and concerns. On September 27: How do we recognize authority? Did Moses act with authority? Did Jesus? Where did they get their authority? On October 4: Paul came to a point where he considered that everything that had defined his early life – the privileges of his ancestry, his zealous devotion to the law - was worthless and could be discarded, because he had found something much better. What defines your life? What could you "regard as rubbish" and leave behind? 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.

  • Women’s Spirituality Group - We are joining the Faith and Community class' study (see above) through September 27 - Sundays at 10 a.m. via Zoom. We also enjoy a monthly hangout on the third Tuesday of the month at 7:30 p.m. Contact Leah Graves to join us on Tuesdays via Zoom.

  • SCRATCH – Looking forward to seeing everyone at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday evenings! Join via Zoom. This fall we are using "Home by Another Way" by Barbara Brown Taylor to guide our discussions. The book is a series of short sermons by Taylor that will walk us through the church year. The readings each week are short. We're going to set up the discussions so even if you haven't read the chapter, the leader will provide a short summary. If more info is needed, contact Emily Diy.
Contact John Weicher for link information
on YOUTH Sunday School classes and other activities
Congregational Events / Activities
The These Days devotional books for the fall quarter (October, November, December 2020) have arrived at the church. Regular and large print copies are available at no cost. You can drop by the church to pick up a copy (Mondays or Fridays), or contact the church office and one can be mailed to you.
Click here to be counted in the 2020 census survey!
Deadline is September 30.
Beginning October 4, the Faith and Community class will have a 4-week series on the community organizing group, Durham CAN (Congregations, Associations & Neighborhoods). This will be an action-oriented follow up to our classes on racial equity and reparations. Our church is a member of CAN, and a number of our members have attended CAN events.

Click here to learn about what CAN has focused on lately. This material provides a good introduction to our series in October.
Winesdays Meeting ID: 975 6934 9009
Support for Those Who Mourn

Growing thru Grief offers year-round support to people who have lost a loved one. Currently we are meeting on zoom each week. The final session for September will be held September 29: Bill Dahl speaking on "Where Exactly Am I Now?" If you would like to attend, please send a request to Then we can send you the information. Everyone must register every week. We need to receive your inquiry by 8 a.m. on Monday for Tuesday’s session. We meet each Tuesday from 4:15-6:00 p.m., with a presentation plus small group discussion.

October 6 marks our seventh year and we will again offer our fall “Introduction to Grief” series. This is a six-week program that explores the journey through grief. William Holloman, manager at Duke HomeCare and Hospice, will lead these sessions. Topics are:
October 6       Dimensions of Grief—What is Normal?
October 13     Experiencing the Pain of Loss?
October 20     Difficult Emotions
October 27     Remembering
November 3   Important Events
November 10 Reinvesting in the Future
On November 17, Duke HomeCare and Hospice will present “Grieving the Holidays.”

Growing thru Grief is a free, open, confidential program sponsored by coalition of area religious and civic organizations to provide support and comfort to those who mourn. 
Service and Mission Opportunities
A Story from the Walk-in Ministry
I have been struck by so many survival stories of people who have contacted us, but one continues to stay in my mind. A father called and said that he was behind in his rent. He has two sons and his younger son is in high school. The school district will provide a computer for him in this time of remote learning. However, his older son is starting college and needed a computer that would not be provided. The father used his rent money to help pay for the computer. The father is visually impaired and receives $609 per month in social security disability. It didn’t sound like his rent problem was due to the pandemic, but for some reason, I asked him if there had been any financial issues due to COVID-19. He said that there had been. He sells his plasma on a weekly basis to add $267 to his monthly income. He tested positive for the virus and could not longer donate. He told me this story with immense pride in his son and resilience about how he and his family survive. This month, we made sure his rent was paid. - Marie Sappenfield
from the comfort of your own home —

Bag Rice and Beans for the Food Pantry at Iglesia Emanuel:
· Divide large bags of beans — black, pinto or red — or white rice into quart-size, freezer strength Ziplock baggies. 
· Fill the bags until almost full, leaving just enough room to close securely. 
· Large bags of beans or rice can be purchased at Costco, Sam’s Club, or El Camino, a Mexican food distributor located at 2314 Reichard St, Durham 27705. 
· Deliver the bags to Iglesia Emanuel on Monday afternoons between 3 and 5, or contact Margaret Rubiera for other options 
· Sign up at this link 

Do a little cooking for Urban Ministries:
· Casseroles for breakfast, lunch or dinner (baked ziti, tuna, mac n cheese, etc.)
· Sandwiches in individual Zip-lock bags — no condiments, so they keep fresh longer. If able, please label bags according to ingredients, such as “turkey & cheese, or T & C.”
· Cookies or brownies in individual baggies, to go in the lunch bags. Everyone loves a touch of sweetness!
· Encourage neighbors or friends to join your efforts and deliver all the food at one time
· Deliver to the main door of Urban Ministries, 410 Liberty St, between 9:30 - 5:30, Monday - Friday

Make phone calls to Meals on Wheels clients:
· Give a quick call to home-bound senior citizens or disabled adults on Wednesday or Friday mornings to check on them and offer a much needed warm, human connection
· Contact Britt Barnes to sign up

You can safely lend a hand in person —

Food Pantry at Iglesia Emanuel:
· Sign up for a 2-hour shift on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday sorting and bagging food, unloading deliveries, loading boxes of food into cars
· Find your spot on the SignUp Genius and know you are making a huge difference in the lives of struggling families 

Urban Ministries:
· FPC provides volunteers multiple times a month to help prepare and serve breakfast or prepare lunch bags for hungry members of our community
· Breakfast shifts are the 3rd and 5th Fridays of every month, from 7 - 9 am
· Lunch bag shifts are every 3rd Monday and 4th Thursday, 9:30 - 10:30 
· Enjoy fellowship with your church friends while you serve our neighbors!
· Contact Margaret Rubiera to sign up

Deliver Meals on Wheels:
· Deliver boxes of nutritious frozen meals to home-bound seniors and handicapped adults every Monday
· Offer a friendly smile from behind your mask and encouraging words to brighten someone’s day!
· Contact Britt Barnes to sign up
STILL NEEDED: Cleaning and Hygiene Supplies
Our local food pantries have been flooded with requests for basic sanitation items that have become hard to come by in the pandemic, but they have not had enough to meet the demand. To answer this urgent need, Durham Congregations in Action (DCIA) launched a hygiene drive to keep our partner pantries fully stocked with the supplies Durhamites need. They are seeking the following items: 
  • CDC-approved disinfectant wipes or sprays (Lysol, Scrubbing Bubbles, Clorox)
  • hand sanitizer
  • empty spray bottles
  • paper towels
  • toilet paper
  • feminine hygiene products
  • hand and body soap
If you can donate any of these, they can be dropped off at any of these partner congregations, from which the supplies will be delivered to area food pantries for distribution to our Durham neighbors! 

First Presbyterian Church
Mondays and Fridays, 9:00am-1:00pm.
305 E. Main Street

Cole Mill Road Church of Christ
Monday through Friday, 9:00am-4:00pm.
1617 Cole Mill Road

Antioch Baptist Church
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:00am-12:00pm.
1415 Holloway Street

Pilgrim United Church of Christ
Tuesday through Friday, 8:00am-12:00pm.
3011 Academy Road

 • Christus Victor Lutheran Church
Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, 9:00am–2:00pm
1615 E. NC 54 Hwy

Thank you in advance for your support of this project!
The next church newsletter will be issued Tuesday, October 6. Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office
by Sunday, October 4.