"Downtown by history and by choic e"
FPC Bi-Weekly Newsletter
November 12 -25, 2019
From the Pastor/Head of Staff
Dear friends,

There have been times over the years when unspeakable tragedy has come into the lives of those within our family of faith. This past week was such a time. From the time we heard the news of the murder of Ken and Mary Jo Schlecht’s daughter and granddaughter in an act of unspeakable violence by their son-in-law, we have wept with them. Their beloved Jennifer and Abaynesh are lost forever to them, taken in terror, sickness, and anger. Their tears will never dry. We rend our hearts with them. We share their pain because our hearts are entwined in our knowledge of the depth of human relationships and in our knowledge of God’s abiding love for us. We know God weeps with them as well.

In these confusing days following tragedy and nightmare, we hold one another close, hold one another up. We seek comfort from each other even as we reach out with words of comfort for Ken and Mary Jo and their family. As they do, we cry out in confusion. As they do, we seek answers to questions that will never be answered. We long for peace.

For Jennifer and Abay, we rest in the assurance that they are whole, at peace, and forever free in the arms of God’s grace and mercy. For Ken and Mary Jo, we pray that God’s arms of comfort will surround them and hold them tight, giving them a peace that now seems unattainable.

Unarguably, the world is a dark and awful place, where people hate, hurt, and even kill each other. Without question, the world is also a lovely and loving place, full of light, hope, and joy, where people hold each other up, heal one another, and laugh and cry together as one. As God’s beloved, we are called to live into the latter, and to be bearers of light and hope to places of darkness. That is what we are called to do now. We will bear this pain and grief in our hearts, minds, and bodies, but we also bear the mark of Christ’s love in our baptisms and in so knowing, we live into hope and embrace opportunities to love.

I close with Jan Richardson’s poem “Blessed Are You Who Bear the Light” to give you comfort and strength for the days ahead.

Blessed are you
who bear the light
in unbearable times,
who testify
to its endurance
amid the unendurable,
who bear witness
to its persistence
when everything seems
in shadow
and grief.

Blessed are you
in whom
the light lives,
in whom
the brightness blazes –
your heart
a chapel,
an altar where
in the deepest night
can be seen
the fire that
shines forth in you
in unaccountable faith,
in stubborn hope,
in love that illumines
every broken thing
it finds. (1)

May Christ’s light shine forth in you for the Schlechts during this time of tragedy and loss, and may it shine forth in you to the world.

Grace and peace,

(1) Circle of Grace, (Orlando, FL: Wanton Gospeller Press, 2015), 47-48.
We extend condolences to
  • Ken and Mary Jo Schlecht on the tragic death of their daughter, Jennifer Schlecht, their granddaughter, Abaynesh, and son-in-law, Yonathan Tedla, on November 6;
  • Mindy Douglas, Tim, Tyler and family on the death of Mindy's paternal grandmother, Dolly Douglas, on November 11;
  • Lina Yoder and family on the death of her husband, Robert (Bob) Yoder, on November 12.


Chuck Barenchi    
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
Emerald Pond, Durham (Room 212): Paul Cornsweet
Pruitt Health at Carolina Point, Durham: Helen Garrison
Strategic Behavioral Health, Garner:  Phillip Herndon
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
Doug Neece , brother of Vern Neece
Jim Vacca, father of Jamie Chambliss 
Bob Warren , father of Dawn Carsey
Dear Friends,
My mother, Frances Harris Kennedy, has healed and rehabilitated enough from her fall in September to move, for now, into an apartment at Highland Farms in Black Mountain, NC. Our family thanks each of you for healing prayers. We continue to pray for others whose lives are currently in the balance and wish you peace. As my college friends used to remind me, from their wheelchair-bound existence, we "able-bodied" are only temporarily abled. If we live long enough, all of us will face some limitations or challenges, whether physical or otherwise. We, therefore, ought to continue to love one another as Christ loves us.

Faith, hope, and love abide,

Emily Wilkins
From the Associate Pastor

Dear friends,
Two unrelated thoughts:
1)    On Veterans Day, I just happened to have been cleaning out a chest of drawers at my house when I ran across a box of artifacts my father saved while deployed on a destroyer (USS Harding)in the Pacific during World War II. Among the clippings of articles and letters from his mother and father were two breath-taking items. One, a pocket-sized New Testament with a lead cover, engraved with the words, “may this keep you from harm.” I suppose if you carried in your breast pocket, the lead cover might deflect a bullet or shrapnel if it were heading towards your heart; or the words themselves might deflect hopelessness during especially challenging times. I don’t think it was the lead cover that kept him from harm when his ship was kamikazied somewhere between Pearl Harbor and Okinawa, but rather God words that were close to his heart.
I also found a map of the world in the 1940’s, where he had used a pen to trace the path his destroyer took from Pearl Harbor towards Okinawa, with an asterisk where the ship was hit. One little asterisk shows that point where many lives were lost and others forever changed, as the ship reversed engines and back-tracked to Pearl Harbor to keep from sinking; which leads me to give thanks to God for all of you who are veterans this day, for having put yourselves in harm’s way to save others. We are all so grateful for the many sacrifices you have made.
2)    And similarly, an asterisk marks a sad day for the Schlecht family this week, as well as for Mindy’s family, where lives were lost and others changed irrevocably. As we enter the darkness of late fall and early winter, and as we have entered the darkness of grief with the Schlecht family and with Mindy and Tim to walk alongside them, I wanted to share a poem with you by Jane Kenyon that I found to be comforting during this troubling time. May it be a salve to those who are seeking comfort. 

Let Evening Come
Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.
Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.
Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in the long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.
Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.
Let it come, as it will, and don’t
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come. 
Katie Hirsch who recently received the ATHENA Leadership Award. The ATHENA Leadership Award honors an outstanding and dedicated leader in Windsor, Ontario who is interested in increasing leadership opportunities for women, enhancing quality of life in their community, mentoring, teambuilding and pursuing diversity. Katie earned her Master of Human Kinetics with a focus on sport and exercise psychology in the Spring and is in her first year as a PhD student in Kinesiology at the University of Windsor. She is a Co-Founder of the HEALTHY Body Image Program delivered to female youth athletes in Windsor.

Sam Miglarese who will assume a new role at Duke University on January 1, 2020 as Deputy Chief Administrator. Sam will manage critical priorities and provide leadership and direction for change management initiatives, project management, and program development on behalf of the Vice President. Sam will retire from his ministry responsibilities at FPC on December 31, 2019.

Robert Daye , who celebrated his 42nd anniversary as FPC custodian on Monday! 

The documentary Resilience will air on UNC-TV on Tuesday, November 19 at 8:00 p.m.  If you missed the showing at FPC, be sure to watch it (or record it to watch later) to learn how FPC might intentionally and purposefully create a safe and nurturing environment for all children.    
The Sacrament of Baptism was celebrated for Evelyn and Penelope (Penny) Walters, daughters of Josh and Amanda Walters on November 10 during worship. Josh and Amanda were also received into membership and welcomed during worship on Sunday, along with Nash Luffman, Julia Wigger and Sandy Roberts. Click here to read the profiles of our newest members and their families.
The Search Committee for the Director of Children’s Ministry has been formed. Questions or feedback may be directed to Committee Co-chairs Kathy Conner ( and Laura Kelley ( Additional members of the Committee are Tom Admay, Leah Graves, Amy Sanchez, and Katharine Whitmore.
Long Range Planning Team Follow-up Discussions: If you missed the October 20th presentation by the Long Range Planning Team, or would like further discussion on one of the four priorities, a follow-up discussion session will be held during the Sunday School hour (9:45 - 10:45 a.m.) on Sunday, November 17 in the Wilson Parlor. Click here to read the full report from the Long Range Planning team.
Sam Miglarese and Marilyn Hedgpeth
Retirement Celebrations
We will celebrate the 50 th anniversary of Sam Miglarese’s ordination to Word and Sacrament and his retirement from 13+ years of ministry with us at First Presbyterian on Sunday, December 22 following worship. We will also celebrate Marilyn Hedgpeth’s retirement from 16+ years of ministry with us on Sunday, January 12, 2020 following worship. We need your help with these celebrations.

First, we need pictures of Sam and Marilyn in ACTION around FPC. Send digital files (.jpg format) by email to and include a description. If you have physical pictures, place them in an envelope with a “return to” name on outside and leave in the box in the volunteer office. Approximate date taken will be helpful in placing these in order. 

Second, we are collecting note cards with stories and expressions of gratitude for Sam and Marilyn. These can also be placed in the volunteer’s office in boxes labeled for Sam and Marilyn. You may use the enclosed card and envelope for your personal message. Extra blank cards are available from the tables in the narthex and foyer. If you prefer, you may use your own card and stationery. All pictures and note cards are needed in the church office by Sunday, December 1st. 

Third, a love gift is being collected for the three departing pastors. Ways to give:
  • By check made payable to FPC (memo who the gift is for)
  • Online by clicking here
  • By Text-giving.

For more information on these planned celebrations, contact coordinators:  Caroline Rourk, Deborah Momsen-Hudson, Eric Wiebe, or Sheila Breitweiser.
At its October stated meeting, the Session heard from Mindy Douglas and John Weicher about plans for the coming months of transition, and discussed how best to support them during that time. 
  • The Session joyfully approved the establishment of the Verhey Reading Corner within the Wilson Parlor, in memory of Allen Verhey.
  • The Personnel Committee reported on the conclusions of the staffing consultant and the Stewardship Committee on the successful campaign.
  • Delegates to the Presbytery meeting reported on the meeting, including the approval of John Weicher's ordination and Emily Wilkins's presentation from the Peacemaking Network. 
  • Several motions were approved: to pay taxes on monies earned from the parking lot, to make repairs to the facility which will alleviate water problems, and to renew the lease with the Day School.
  • Finally, the Session called a Congregational Meeting for December 8 in order to elect an Associate Pastor Nominating Committee. 

Respectfully submitted,
Christyn Klinck , Clerk of Session
The church office will be closed T hursday, November 28 and Friday, November 29 in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Care Packages for College Students
Do you have a student in college? Please make sure the church office has their current college address.  Send address info to Valerie at: The Pastoral Care Committee is assembling care packages for our college students. The congregation is invited to support this project by bringing in items for the packages - gum, hot chocolate, microwave popcorn, hard candy, Granola bars, puzzle or joke books, etc. Baskets will be labeled at FPC’s Mission Collection Center in the foyer for the donations. Items are needed by Sunday, November 24. Your support is very much appreciated.
Sunday, November 17
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
9:45 a.m.  Sunday School
11:00 a.m. Worship and Baptism of Lee Weldon House , son of Lucie and Wayne House

Liturgist: Amy Dillon
Narthex Greeter: Alice Raney
After Worship Greeters: Lenore Champion (font/side door); Kim Abels (rear/narthex)
Ushers: Click here to sign up to usher.
Sunday, November 24
Christ the King Sunday

9:45 a.m.  Sunday School
11:00 a.m. Worship and Communion

Liturgist: Jennie Alwood
Narthex Greeters: Chris Williams
After Worship Greeters: Brent Curtis (font/side door);
Dawn Carsey (rear/narthex)
Ushers: Click here to sign up to usher. 

Communion Elders:
Head/Replenish Elements: Tyler Momsen-Hudson
Bread: Lenore Champion (B1, process), Raymond Mbah (B2), Chris Brown (B3), David Sappenfield (B4)
Cup: Griffin Momsen-Hudson (C1), Leah Graves (C2, process), Diane Prosser (C3), Amy Wilson (C4)
Shepherds: Carol Carson (pulpit aisle), Michael Honeycutt (center aisle), Brent Curtis (font aisle)
Click here to see brief descriptions of Sunday School
and short-term study opportunities for adults, youth, and children.

The "Becoming an Anti-Racist Church" and
" The  Thoughtful Christian" classes have been postponed.
These classes will be offered in 2020. Stay tuned for startup dates.
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 walk with us! This class meets in room 205 of the Education building from 9:45 - 10:45 a.m. on Sunday mornings.

November 17 - Chapter 10: " Getting Slavery Out of the People. " Each day this week, reread the Ten Commandments as worded in this chapter. (Maybe send them to yourself and others via email or social media.) Look for ways this ancient moral code is relevant in today's world - and in your life.

No class on Sunday, November 24.

December 1 - Chapter 11: "From Ugliness, A Beauty Emerges" This week, listen for situations when people use God (or some other "good reason") to justify violence or unkindness. Try to understand why they would see God and violence this way. Seek to see the world through their eyes and to imagine how hard it would be for them to see God differently.

  We wrapped up The Cross and the Lynching Tree last Sunday and will continue our study of racism with a reading this week and then start studying and discussing another book on November 24.
November 17: "The Case for Reparations" by Ta-Nihisi Coates in The Atlantic Karolyn may also be sharing another related article with us.
November 24: We will start the book "White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism" by Robin J. DiAngelo. Please get the book on order now so you'll be ready to start discussing it on November 24.

We meet at 9:45 a.m. in the apartment classroom on the second floor of the church house Class leaders are  Andy Henry   and  Eric Wiebe .

The Faith and Community Class:
Many thanks to Kokou Nayo from Church World Service, regarding refugee resettlement efforts in Durham, and how FPC might participate. Nayo is looking for volunteers to join him in meeting with our elected officials to advocate for the rights of immigrants in North Carolina. If anyone feels called to do that, let Marilyn know, and she’ll put you in touch with Nayo. 

This past Sunday, November 10, we began a three-week series on Climate Change and the Environment (per the class’s request). We saw a documentary sponsored by Interfaith Power and Light called, “Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution.” We only had a little time to discuss the documentary, but we will continue that discussion this Sunday, November 17 . FPC is looking into becoming a PC(USA) Earth Care Congregation and what that entails.  Cris Rivera and the Stewardship Committee are working to establish a Sustainability Committee to pursue that inquiry. If you would like to be part of that team, please let Cris know.  

Then, if time allows, we will begin viewing our second documentary, which is entitled, “ Love Thy Nature, ” narrated by Liam Neeson. This piece speaks to “how deeply we’ve lost touch with nature, and takes viewers on a cinematic journey through the beauty and intimacy of our relationships with the natural world. The film shows that a renewed connection with nature is key both to good health and to solving our environmental and climate crises.” It’s appropriate as we approach Thanksgiving, that we take time to appreciate and give thanks for the natural world that God has created, and has commissioned us to care for. We will discuss “ Love Thy Nature ” on Sunday, November 24 . Faith and Community meets at 9:45 in Watts-Hill Hall and all are welcome.  
Lectionary Class:
Class discussion notes will be provided in the Friday Weekend Reminders email for November 17 and November 24. Class meets at 9:45 in the East Parlor.

Spiritual Formation Class
This year-round class for women is led by  Susan Dunlap  and explores the topic of spiritual formation. Join us at 9:45 a.m. in  basement classroom B-16 .  
Youth Sunday School & Fellowship Activities
Click here to view the Middle School Youth Group Calendar.

Click here to view the High School Youth Group Calendar.
Sunday Evening "Holy Envy" Book Study
The Holy Envy book study group had a wonderful visit with the Durham Friends Congregation on Sunday, November 10. We had an orientation meeting with two of their members before the official meeting, where we could hear about the history of George Fox and the real “first friends” meetings in England in the 1650’s. Like other Protestant groups at that time, they suffered persecution in England before immigrating to the New World. During the unprogrammed meeting, we sat in silence with the friends, listening for that still, small voice of God, and waiting to see if anyone would be moved to speak. Several stood and spoke their convictions about the sanctuary movement regarding immigrants in our area. We discovered that Presbyterians and Quakers we have similar interests in the social justice issues at our doorstep.   Our final two meetings will be on November 17 and 24 from 4-5 p.m. to conclude discussing the book.       
The Alleluia Children’s Choir is open to children in second - fifth grade who attend or have friends at FPC or Covenant Presbyterian Church.
  • Saturday, November 16   1:00 p.m. Rehearsal at Covenant
  • Sunday, November 17      3:00 p.m. Sing at Covenant's Service of Installation for new pastor, LaKesha Bradshaw Easter
  • Sunday, November 24     5:00 p.m. Rehearsal at First Pres
  • Sunday, December 1     NO REHEARSAL
  • Saturday, December 7  1:00 p.m. Rehearsal at First Pres
  • Sunday, December 8     Sing at 11:00 a.m. service at First Pres
  • Saturday, December 14  1:00 p.m. Rehearsal at Covenant
  • Sunday, December 22      Sing at 10:00 a.m. service at Covenant AND sing at 6:00 p.m. Lessons in Carols service at Covenant
  • NO REHEARSALS after December 22 until January 5 at 5:00 p.m. at First Pres
Please contact Kathy Parkins at for more information. Brennetta Simpson is the director of the choir and she can be reached at
Winesday Fellowship
Wednesday, November 20
5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Durham Co-op
Join members of FPC in sharing wine and breaking bread in a more casual setting on the third Wednesday of the month! The cost is $3 for wine tasting and then we each usually pitch in on an assortment of bread, cheese and other light dinner snacks to share. We usually eat outside which is lovely, weather permitting. Email or text Laurie Williamson (919-724-1682) to let us know you are coming or you can just show up. You are welcomed to bring a friend! Check out the Co-op's website here.
Scratch November Potluck
Friday, November 22 at 6:30 p.m.
Hosted by Elizabeth Klinck and Matthew Eggleston . EVITE with details coming soon. Contact the church office if you would like to be added to the Scratch EVITE listserv.
Daytimers’ Luncheon
Tuesday, November 26 at 11:30 a.m.
Bullock’s Barbecue - 3330 Quebec St., Durham
Elizabeth High , hosting
RSVP to the church: 919-682-5511
Save these Holi-Dates:

Sunday, December 8
9:45 – 10:45 a.m.
12 noon – 1:00 p.m.
FPC’s Advent Festival and Alternative Giving Fair . During the Sunday School hour, children and youth are invited to Watts-Hill Hall to participate in some of our all-time favorite holiday crafts, which will include some edibles, smellables, stringables, lightables, and mailables. Then, following worship, the Fellowship Hall will transform into a fair, featuring many of our favorite community partners whom we like to support throughout the year. Be sure to bring some money and checks with you to make donation gifts on behalf of your friends and family. Light holiday refreshments will be served…and wassail! 

Saturday, December 14 (early)
We are invited to join the Durham Holiday Parade and march with Laura McDow’s group, March For Our Lives , to support sensible gun-violence prevention that saves young lives. The time/place of our gathering has yet to be determined. FPC’s sub-theme will be “Marching in the Light of God”, so come be-decked with twinkling lights, sparkles, glitter, blinkers, etc. and join the parade. Also invite our blessing-bag neighbors in the community to march with us, as they have done in the past.

Tuesday, December 24 at 3:00 p.m.
We will include the Children’s Christmas Pageant in worship. This year’s theme is “Bird Watchers”, and we will be looking for some children to participate as readers, as singers, and as characters. Let Marilyn know if you are interested. This will be a 45-minute service with Holy Communion, and all are invited.

All of these events are sponsored by FPC’s Christian Education Committee!     
The next support group meeting for care-givers of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia will be on Sunday, December 8 at 2:00 p.m. in the Wilson Parlor at FPC .   This group is open to anyone in the community who wants to share the joys and perils of being a care-giver.  Laura McNab is leading the support group. 
Community Invitations
Neighborhood Developments
Two parking lots near our church are going to be redeveloped to include affordable housing and retail, located down the street at the 300 and 500 blocks of E. Main. The First Pres Session endorsed this project and many in our congregation attended a Durham CAN assembly promoting it. We have a chance to meet with the developers to give public input TONIGHT, Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. at the Durham County Human Services Building, located at 414 East Main Street. For more details, click  300/500 East Main Street Redevelopment.
North Carolina Central University
Women’s Basketball
Annual Education Day
Tuesday, November 19 at 11 a.m. in the McDougald-McLendon Arena (NCCU campus)
Education Day is an opportunity to expose students in elementary grades to higher education. The event will feature educational basketball workbooks focusing on areas such as math, reading, spelling, and health & fitness. Students will also watch women student-athletes in action, engage with “Eddie the Eagle” (mascot), and participate with in-game promotions and activities. Admission is free for school-aged youth. Help us pack the arena for this fun environment for Lady Eagles Basketball. Contact the NCCU Department of Athletics at 919-530-6530 for more information and complimentary tickets.
Advancing the Vision Breakfast
Join DurhamCares on Tuesday, November 19 for the 2019 Advancing the Vision Breakfast at the Durham Armory . The featured speaker will be Virginia Williams, a civil rights leader and participant in Durham’s 1957 Royal Ice Cream Sit-in. There will also be testimonials from people who have participated in DurhamCares programs like the Durham Pilgrimage of Pain and Hope and Church Mobilization Network. The breakfast is complimentary and all donations made at the event will benefit DurhamCares. All are welcome. RSVP here.
50 th Anniversary of the Organ
Recital byTom Bloom
with reception following
Saturday, November 23, 3:00 p.m. at Watts Street Baptist Church
800 Watts Street, Durham
The third program in the Organ Anniversary series will be a recital by Tom Bloom , Church Organist. The program has been constructed to show off the capabilities of the instrument as thoroughly as possible and will include works from the 16 th century to the present, including music by composers from Canada (the seldom-heard “Epilogue” by Healey Willan), England, Italy, Germany, Mexico, and the United States.
Join the Choral Society of Durham at a  FREE Messiah Sing-Along  on Sunday, December 1, 2019, at 4:00 p.m., at Duke Memorial United Methodist Church , 504 W. Chapel Hill Street, Durham. Doors open at 3:15 p.m.

Rodney Wynkoop will be conducting and William Weisser will be the organist. Although it’s free, donations are appreciated. $10 is suggested per adult. No requested donation for students or children. This is not a ticketed event. There’s open seating until the sanctuary is full. Click here for full details of this event.

NOTE: Kathy Parkins has scores if anyone wants to borrow one and sing along.  
Union Presbyterian Seminary announces
President's Global Seminar
China 2020
October 14-27, 2020
Hosted by Dr. Brian and Sharon Blount; Dr. Lewis Galloway, and Dr. Bunny Alexander

Click here for more information and to join the interest group. A detailed brochure will be provided in December. The estimated cost ranges from $6,000 - $6,275. Registration requires a $600/per person deposit be paid in July 2020.
The next church newsletter will be issued November 26.
Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office
by Sunday, November 24.