"Downtown by history and by choice"
FPC Bi-Weekly Newsletter
November 17-30, 2020
From the Pastor / Head of Staff

Grace and gratitude belong together like
heaven and earth. Grace evokes gratitude like
the voice an echo. Gratitude follows grace
like thunder lightning.
Karl Barth

Dear friends,

My friend smiled when I asked her the question. She had been asked it so many times over the last few months. It was not the usual “How are you doing?” question. After all, I knew the burden of grief and stress she carried, in addition to the endless demands on her time and energy as a caregiver. No. I did not ask her how she was doing because I knew her heart was broken and ached with loss. Instead, I asked her what I really wanted to know: “How are you doing it? How are you getting up every morning when your life has been so transformed by loss? I don’t know if I could do it.”

           She smiled gently at me. “You could, though I hope you never have to. You could because you know what I know, that even in the pain, there is life, that even in the sorrow, there is joy, and even in the grief, there is light. I know these things deep in my heart, even though they are hard to reach right now, and so I get up each day when the sun comes up. Because each day is a gift. Each day is grace. Each day is a hope and a dream. You know, as I do, that life is a gift – each beauty, each love, each relationship, each moment. I am not okay now, that is true. But I will be okay. I get up because I know I am not alone and because I am grateful for the gift of a new day and the promise of healing ahead.”

           She went on to tell me that each morning, before she gets out of bed, she makes a mental list of the things for which she is grateful. These might be big things – the love of family members or friends, a roof over her head, the warmth of the sun on a cold morning – or they might be small things – cozy socks, a card from a neighbor, or the sound of acorns falling on the roof. She is no longer easily irritated. She knows better than to let little things get her down. Her perspective has changed, and she values daily what is good and right and true – love and light, hope and dreams, joy and laughter. 

           Friends, as we move into the “holiday season” this year, we know things will be vastly different. I invite you, however, not to let the changes and losses carry you to a place of despair. Instead, wake each morning to set your sights on God and the light of love and gift of grace that God intends for us all. Let gratitude set your intention for the day as you remember all that you are grateful for, even in the midst of a pandemic. And as the day is done, consider following the Jesuit practice of examen in these five ways:
1.    Become aware of God’s presence.
2.    Review the day with gratitude.
3.    Pay attention to your emotions.
4.    Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5.    Look toward tomorrow. (1)

As people of faith and hope, we look toward tomorrow. Each day is a gift and an invitation to life and love. As John Phillip Newell writes:
In this gateway onto what has never been before
let our soul breath hope
for the earth
for the creatures
for the human family.
Let our soul breathe hope.

Friends, during this Thanksgiving season, may your soul breathe hope. 

With love,

(1) Diana Butler Bass, Grateful (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2018), 79.        
Bob and Sheila Breitweiser have welcomed a third great-grandchild into the family. Christian Thomas King was born November 2 in Asheville NC. His parents are Caitlin and Christian King (dad Christian was baptized at FPC) and grandparents are Karla and Bennett King, who got married at FPC and were members before leaving the area. Christian joins big sister Elena Kimberly who is 14 months old.

CONDOLENCES: The love and concern of the congregation are extended to the family of Evelyn Bannerman, friend of the PCUSA who died this week from COVID-19.

  • Becky Crockett
  • Harold Dunlap      
  • Carlisle Harvard
  • Dennis Hill
  • Roger Kalthoff
  • Jane Rourk     
  • Carol Wills
  • Linda Capers, friend of Li-Chen Chin, on the death of Linda’s brother
  • Ann Loebrich, mother of Bruce Loebrich, hospitalized in Ohio with COVID-19
  • Friends and family of Lizzie Lindsey, friend of Cris Rivera
  • Ellen O’Brien, mother-in-law of Mindy Douglas, recovering at home following a recent hospitalization
  • Joe Rodriguez, brother of Jeanne Hervey, complications from a stroke
  • Those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic   

Care Communities:
Brookdale Durham: Julian Boswell
Croasdaile Pavilion: Bob Rankin
Dubose Center at The Cedars, Chapel Hill: Arthur Clark
Durham Regent: John Kerr, Ann Prospero  
Durham Ridge: Phillip Herndon
Emerald Pond: Paul Cornsweet
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
  • Phil Goss, friend of the congregation
  • Peggy Mordecai, mother of Beth Eisenson
  • Esther Pardue, former member of FPC
  • Shannon Putman, daughter of Mary Putman
  • Robert Reaves, husband of Floalice Reaves, friend of the congregation
The Church office will be closed Thursday and Friday, November 26-27, 2020 in observance of the Thanksgiving Day holiday. We wish everyone a safe (virus-free) and happy holiday celebration.
A member of our congregation has offered to match all gifts to the Walk-in Ministry over the next two weeks, up to $25,000

Donations can be given in any of the following ways:
·   By check (payable to FPC, with “Walk-in Ministry” on the memo line) and mailed to the church;
·   Online via the church's website using the Walk-in Ministry line;
·   Text Giving (Text WalkInMinistry to 917-373-3254)
Please contact Business Administrator Tom Bloom at 919-682-5511 or by email if you have any questions about giving to the challenge. 
We are closing in on our
due date for materials
for our Christmas Eve Pageant video.

We need all photos and videos by December 12th
in order to complete
video editing on time.

Please spread the word! 
Everyone can participate.

Click here to sign up for a scene in the pageant.

Contact Lenore Champion
at 919-616-2360 for more information.
It will be a Christmas like no other. Family gatherings, if they happen, will be smaller, parties may be virtual, many will feel the pain of loneliness and isolation. We need each other now more than ever. You are invited to share some hope this season by signing up to be a Christmas angel for someone in the FPC community. Sign up here and by December 6th, you'll receive a name as well as a short list of contact-less, easy ideas for sharing a little hope and extending the love of Christ this Christmas.
Sunday, November 22

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

Worship is streamed each Sunday at 11:00 a.m. via the church's YouTube channel which can be accessed via our website:
In preparation for celebrating communion on Christ the King Sunday (November 22) from wherever you are, please have your own bread and cup available at the beginning of worship so that we might partake of the elements at the same time.

Sunday, November 29
First Sunday of Advent

Stay tuned as we will announce our detailed plans for in-person (drive thru) and virtual activities for Advent soon! 
Children's Sunday School
Contact Lenore Champion for class kits and links
to the Children's Sunday School classes
Class link
  • Faith & Community – We are beginning a new discussion. Details will be provided in the Friday Weekend Reminders email.

  • Lectionary – Join us each Sunday for online discussion at 10:00, preceded at 9:45 by sharing of news and concerns. On November 22: If you're going to be judged, don't you want to know the criteria ahead of time? It's not fair to be condemned for something you didn't know was wrong, is it? How could you possibly know that compassion was so important? On November 29: Do you have a feeling that something is about to happen? Things aren't going to go on as they always have. The ones who think they're in charge will be surprised. Yes, something is about to happen. But when? Join via Zoom. (For phone access (audio only), call 253-215-8782 ) 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 - Contact Leah Graves for the links to join us on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. for spiritual formation, following worship for a virtual lunch, and checking in with one another on Tuesdays - all three events 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

As we look ahead to 2021, the Nominating Committee is beginning their work of gathering suggestions from the congregation for the new slate of ruling elders, deacons, and the next Nominating Committee. Ruling elders and deacons serve for three year terms and the Nominating Committee serves for one year. Ruling elders, deacons, and Nominating Committee members may serve a consecutive term.

We normally receive paper nominations over the course of a few weeks that are placed in the offering plate during worship. Since we can't do that this year, we are calling for nominations via a Google form: click here OR you may contact Mary Ann Compton, one of our ruling elders who is serving on the Nominating Committee. Mary Ann can be reached by email OR call her at 919-452-6500.

Especially in these unusual times, we look forward to hearing your suggestions of who should lead us as we work out how to continue being the church to each other and to the world around us. Thank you for your help.

Dawn Shelton and Mary Anne Compton
Co-chairs of the Nominating Committee

Do you have a picture to share? If so, will you scan and email it to Celia? We want as many visuals as we can collect.  We will soon ask for a shower of cards to Robert, thanking him.

The Session has approved a love offering collection for Robert. Please send your donation to Tom Bloom at the church office by December 10th. Make check payable to FPC. Memo: Robert's Retirement. We are looking forward to our congregational thanks to Robert for his many years of service.  
From the committee for Robert's retirement,
Celia Dickerson   Beth Stringfield   Kate Busa   Barbara Buckley 
Tuesdays at 5:00 p.m.

Click here to see ways to connect to this virtual class.

Mindy Douglas
will lead the class.
We are meeting every other week this fall.
Winesdays Meeting ID: 975 6934 9009
Service and Mission Opportunities
Help Us Provide a Meal for Families Moving Forward

A small group of faithful First Presbyterian volunteers prepares meals and provides childcare for Families Moving Forward (FMF) throughout the year, but, in the current situation, FMF has asked us to prepare a meal for all the families sheltering there on Monday, December 7, about 60 people. So we need your help! If you are willing to prepare part of this meal, please sign up using this link.

Instructions: You will bring your meal contribution to FMF at 5:30 p.m. on December 7, and, for the safety of residents and volunteers alike, just leave it on the picnic table outside.

Looking for other ways to help? 
FMF asks for your help in the following ways:
  • Assist with FMF's Study Buddies program. They need volunteers to help virtually one day a week to help kids with homework E-mail
  • Provide support for FMF's annual holiday NEST Adopt a Family for the Holidays of holiday toy donation program. Contact
  • Donate NEW twin and full comforters and sheet sets for our families to enjoy when they move in. They could also use donations of laundry detergent, cleaning supplies and other essential household items. Contact if you have a donation to drop off.
Questions? Please contact Lea Bingham, or 919-358-1774.
Most of the Walk in Ministry work is done remotely but on Mondays a volunteer works in the church building. Although we encourage folks to call, there are still a few who show up at the church doors as usual.

 Last Monday a man came by for assistance with his power bill. His story was that he had a great job that he loved at a “fancy” restaurant down the street. The owner of the restaurant had to lay him off for financial reasons but hopes to rehire him as soon as possible. He applied for unemployment and was getting by until it his benefits were depleted.  He is a veteran so he gets assistance with rent from Veterans benefits. His struggle now is paying utilities until he gets back to work.
We were able to pay his power bill.  As he was leaving he said to me, ”You don’t remember me do you? You referred me to Step Up, I finished their employment program and they helped me get this job that has changed my life!”

  Step Up is a nonprofit that we as a church financially support. They provide “ free employment training services to Durham job seekers, especially those who have challenges to gainful employment such as a criminal background and gaps in work history.” Your donations helped him twice!
It’s Turkey Time!
The Iglesia Emanuel Food Pantry continues to provide an abundant amount of healthy food to almost 500 families a week. Many families have come to depend on this help to keep their families going during this challenging time. Thanks so much to all our partners, volunteers and contributors for your faithful, consistent collaboration. For Thanksgiving, we would like to do something a little special for them. We will be purchasing turkeys or whole chickens to add to the boxes of food to be distributed on Wednesday, Nov 25. Your financial donation will ensure the success of this wonderful project. You can contribute online:, or by check, payable to Iglesia Presbiteriana Emanuel, 2504 N Roxboro, Durham NC 27704. Note “Thanksgiving” on the memo line of your check or in the comment section of Pay Pal. We are forever grateful for you and your support!

Supporting the Food Pantry at Iglesia Emanuel
This Christmas holiday season is going to be different for all of us, but we can still find wonderful, practical ways to share God’s love with our neighbors. The Food Pantry at Iglesia Emanuel continues to provide large boxes of healthy food to almost 500 families a week, thanks to the dedicated help and generous donations from our community. We would welcome your participation or contributions at any time! Here are a couple of easy ways to be part of this special ministry:

  1. Bag rice or beans from home. For instructions and to sign up, simply click this link. Put on music, sing and have fun while you fill those bags!
  2. To help in person at Iglesia Emanuel, grab your trusty mask, and come join with others in a safe environment to help organize donated food, fill bags and boxes in preparation for the Wednesday food pantry. You will work hard, but leave after your 2-hour shift knowing you have made a big difference in the lives of many families. For more information, and to sign up, click here: Iglesia Emanuel COVID-19 Food Bank Signup Genius 
  3. Your financial support is always welcome, and will help us purchase more food. Online:, or mail your check to Iglesia Presbiteriana Emanuel, 2504 N Roxboro, Durham 27704.
Muchas gracias! 
STILL NEEDED: Cleaning and Hygiene Supplies
Our local food pantries continue to be flooded with requests for basic sanitation items. 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 continued support of this project!
The next church newsletter will be issued Tuesday, December 1. Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office
by Sunday, November 29.