"Downtown by history and by choic e"
FPC Bi-Weekly Newsletter
December 10-19, 2019
From the Pastor/Head of Staff
Dear friends,

This week I have felt the juxtaposition of the season of Advent in significant ways. There is the difference, you see, between what the world is doing and what God is doing. The world is selling its wares, reminding us of what we don’t have that we should have if we are to be complete. The world makes demands of us – Have you done this? Have you completed that? Have you purchased this? Have you gifted that? I have a close family member who always becomes depressed this time of year. She knows exactly why. “This season makes me feel like a failure. I can’t ever do enough or do it right. I am tired of trying to do all the things expected of me. I just want to go back to bed.” She is not alone in her feelings. The world puts great expectations upon us to prove ourselves worthy, to do everything right, at just the right time, in just the right way. No wonder this season weighs heavily on many.

As the church, we have a contrasting message of the season. It is a message of peace, hope, love, and joy. Advent brings a message of God’s grace shown in deep and abiding love for us all. This unconditional love holds us up when we are collapsing under the weight of the expectations of the world. It enfolds us when we are wracked with fear. This love accepts us where we are and as we are, even as it invites us into a deeper relationship with ourselves, with God, and with others around us. This love brings us from here to there – from despair to hope, from darkness to light, from emptiness to fullness, from inadequacy to completeness. As Anne Lamott writes:

Love has bridged the high-rises of despair
we were about to fall between. 
Love has been a penlight in the blackest, bleakest nights. 
Love has been a wild animal, a poultice,
a dinghy, a coat. 
Love is why we have hope.
In our worship on Sunday morning and Wednesday night, we come together to be reminded that the season of Advent:
  • calls us to re-focus our lives on God;
  •  invites us to pull away from the distractions of the world and lean into the love of God; 
  •  silences the voices that tell us we are not enough and reminds us that in Christ we are exactly, beautifully, perfectly enough;
  •  faces the darkness and holds the light before us. Always.
The light shines in the darkness, friends, and the darkness has not overcome it. May Advent peace, love, joy, and hope be with you all.

With love,
We extend condolences to the following:
  • Sandy and Thomas Roberts on the death of Tom's mother, Sarah Roberts, who died December 2nd in Connecticut. A private family memorial service will be held;
  • the family of Anne Hall McMahon (Moanie McMahon) who died December 7th. Arrangements are incomplete at this time;
  • Steve and Martha Rimmer on the death of Steve's uncle, Franklin Rimmer, who died December 4th. A service was held December 7th in Statesville.

Isabel Brown, a patient at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill
Jimmy Levy , grandson of Cheryl McDonald
Larry Newark , brother-in-law of Jean Wilson
Danny Parker , father-in-law of Al and Judy Arrowood's son Jon

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
Southern Living for Seniors, Louisburg,  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
Mindy Douglas and Marilyn H edgpeth had a lovely visit with Arthur Clark and his son Claiborne Clark on December 4 th . They both send their best to the beloved community at FPC.
The Sacrament of Baptism was celebrated for Clark Stephen Bass on Sunday, December 8 during worship. Clark is the son of Dustin and Elizabeth Bass ( sibling to older sister Bennett ) and grandson of Ed and Caroline Pritchett .

In a Congregational Meeting held at the end of worship on Sunday, December 8, the following persons were elected to serve on the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee :
Laura Hanson
Michael Honeycutt
Marcia Lorimer
Keith Merritt
Griffin Momsen-Hudson
Cris Rivera .

Click here for info on these persons who have been charged to find a candidate to serve as Associate Pastor, replacing Marilyn Hedgpeth .

  • Bill Hendrickson who received the Cat Devine Award from WCOM Radio in Carrboro on December 5. The award is named for Cat Devine, a woman in Carrboro who supported the station from its birth till her death. Bill's talk show, "Time Out" is heard locally on FM 103.5 (Mondays at 5:00 PM) and members of FPC are often asked to participate.
  • Rachel Randell and Zachary Damweber who were married November 28, 2019 in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Rachel is the daughter of Barbara Buckley and Scott Randell and the granddaughter of Dennis Buckley.

The First Presbyterian Day School will hold its Winter Pageant this Friday, December 13 at 10:00 a.m. in the sanctuary.

What a fabulous Advent Festival / Alternative Giving Fair on Sunday! It was truly a fest for the senses: the smell of cedar candle holders ( Brent Curtis and Lenore Champion ) and wassail ( Phyllis Supple ); the taste of gorp and yummy sandwiches, cookies, and Clementine slices ( Marcia Lorimer, Kim Abels, Brent Curtis, Marilyn Hedgpeth , décor by Thilo Fullenkamp ); the sound of Christmas music ( John Weicher ), and so many happy, chatty people having a good time; the sight of so many busy people enjoying the work of their hands ( Katharine Whitmore , the Queen of the Advent Festival). I am biased, but I thought it was “the best one ever!”  We will make sure that all of the beautiful, glittery cards will be sent to our members who are homebound. Thank you for thinking of them. Additional thanks must be given to Robert Daye and Matthew Dickerson , who worked hard on the set up and take down of the festival, before and afterwards, and to Valerie McMillian and David Lorimer who put together the Alternative Giving leaflet, and made signs for each table. It was great to honor our community partners after worship, and show our continued support for the wonderful ministries they embody throughout Durham County. This event is sponsored by the Christian Education Committee, which is chaired by Kim Abels this year. We hope that all who left with glitter and smiles on their faces enjoyed the day. 

Schlecht Family Memorial Funds
Jennifer Schlecht Memorial Fund: The Schlecht Family is establishing this fund to continue their daughter Jennifer’s life and work dedication to transform the lives of women and girls in crisis around the world. For more information and to donate please visit:

Abaynesh Memorial Fund: This fund, in memory of Ken and Mary Jo’s granddaughter Abaynesh, will provide scholarships so that other young children have the opportunity to attend the O'Gorman Garden School in Harlem. Abaynesh loved the Garden Montessori School and flourished there while developing a love for learning. For more information and to donate please visit:

Caregiver Support Group: The next support group meeting for care-givers of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia will be Sunday, January 12, 2020 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.
Church Office Holiday Schedule
Tuesday, December 24, 2019
9:00 a.m. til about 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019
Christmas Day CLOSED

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Friday, December 27, 2019

Monday, December 29, 2019
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Tuesday, December 30, 2019
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020
New Year's Day - CLOSED

The church office will resume its regular weekday schedule on Thursday, January 2, 2020.
Year-End Giving
Contributions statements are being mailed soon to all those who had pledge balances as of November 30. Timely payment of pledges by December 31 will allow First Presbyterian to pay its end-of-year bills promptly and to meet its benevolence obligations for 2019.
Please remember that the church must receive your charitable contributions by 12:00 p.m. on Monday, December 31, 2018; or placed in the offering plate at a service through Sunday, December 29, 2019; or the gift must be postmarked by December 31, 2019, if mailed, to be deductible on your 2019 taxes.
If you wish to make a contribution by credit card, this may be done through the parish’s website ( ) at any time. To be deductible on your 2019 taxes, please initiate the gift by Friday, December 27.
If you wish to make a donation through a gift of stock, please notify Tom Bloom, Business Administrator ( as soon as possible .
Members aged 70 ½ + who own an IRA may be able to make a tax-excludable gift directly to First Presbyterian and have that gift satisfy any required minimum distribution for this year. Please contact your IRA administrator ASAP if you wish to consider this giving option for tax year 2019.  
Joint Officers Meeting
(for current Ruling Elders and Deacons)
Monday, December. 16, 6:00 p.m.
Mindy and Tim's house--1502 Oakland, Durham
Bring a dish to share.
Spouse/partner/s.o. are invited, too!
Officers will gather very very very briefly for a meeting, but the rest of the night is simply a time to be together in fellowship.   RSVP here
Thanks to all who made contributions to our recent annual Thanksgiving community meal. It was attended by over 70 families (about 180 people altogether). We served our usual hot Thanksgiving meal and distributed a large quantity of food to the recipients. Now we're in the process of planning for our Christmas community meal, which will be Wednesday, December 18 at 5:00 p.m. We are also collecting toys (new or used, but in good condition) for our annual Three Kings (Epiphany) giveaway in early January. If you have any you would like to donate before or after children receive their new toys, please contact us.
Rev. Julio Ramirez-Eve
Iglesia Presbiteriana Emanuel
2504 N. Roxboro Street, Durham, NC 27704
(919) 672-4333 or
Join us on Wednesdays during Advent
Enter the silence of the season, and wait for the mystery of Word made Flesh. Enter the darkness of the season, and watch for the Light of the World. For three evenings in December, we are worshipping from 6:00 – 6:30 p.m., singing, keeping silence, praying and lighting candles for those whom we love, and celebrating Holy Communion. Adults, youth and children are invited to these services. Remaining speakers are:  Lenore Champion ( December 11 ), and David Smith ( December 18 ). Following worship, a light fellowship dinner, prepared by Cris Rivera , is served in Watts-Hill Hall.  There will not be caroling on the steps this season , but we hope you will join your faith family for a time of quiet reflection to mark the days of darkness in anticipation of the coming light of Christ.   
Sunday, December 15
Third Sunday of Advent

9:45 a.m.  Sunday School
11:00 a.m. A Service of Lessons and Carols
The Festival of Lessons and Carols was first celebrated at King's College, Cambridge on Christmas Eve, 1918. It was an adaptation of a similar service that had been written for the cathedral at Truro in 1880. At King's College, the Festival is a Christmas Eve service, and the le ssons, and music, move deliberately from the season of Advent into Christmastide. We have patterned Sunday’s worship after this Festival. Our worship will include a meditation by Mindy Douglas.

Liturgist: Amy Wilson
Narthex Greeters: Alice Raney
After Worship Greeters: Wendy McCorkle (font/side door);
Alice Raney (rear/narthex)
Ushers: John Mozart (head), Christy Gudaitis , Dale Gaddis , El Hess , Bob Pleasants - Need one more usher/counter!
Join us on Sunday evening (December 15) beginning at 5:30 p.m. for our annual All-Church Christmas Potluck and Sing-Along. The church is providing ham, rolls and beverages. Each household is asked to bring a vegetable dish, casserole, or dessert to share. Following the meal, we will gather around the tree and sing songs of the season. Those who play a musical instrument are invited to play along with the improvised orchestra, so bring your instrument and a music stand. Sheet music will be available.
Sunday, December 22
Fourth Sunday of Advent

9:45 a.m. - Sunday School
11:00 a.m. - Worship and Holy Communion
Sam Miglarese, preaching

Remember to bring supplies for blessing bags as we extend the Lord's Table to those in need in our community.

The Hunger for Change Offering will be received. This is your last opportunity to give to this offering for 2019.

The Christmas Joy Offering will also be received during worship on December 22. This special PC(USA) offering is equally divided between educational opportunities and leadership development for communities of color and provides critical financial assistance for current and retired Presbyterian church workers. Online giving is available using this link .

Liturgist: Jennie Alwood
Narthex Greeter: Chris Williams
After Worship Greeters: Cris Rivera (narthex/rear); Sharon Hirsch (side/font)
Ushers: Click here to sign up to usher. 
Communion Elders for December 22:
Head /Replenisher: Andy Henry
Bread: Alice Raney (B1/Process), Sharon Hirsch (B2), Brent Curtis (B3), Amy Wilson (B4)
Cup: Cris Rivera (C1), Tom Bacon (C2, process), Chris Brown (C3), Leah Graves (C4)
Shepherds: Luke Everett (font aisle), Raymond Mbah (pulpit aisle), Lenore Champion (center 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 McLauren's book by the title,  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! ALSO, there is always childcare during the Sunday School hour if your child is too young to go to a church school class. We meet in the Education building, room 205 .

December 15: Chapter 13: The Great Conversation - Activate: This week, listen for voices who fit in the tradition of the priests, prophets, poets, sages, and storytellers in today's culture. See if you perceive points of agreement and disagreement with their counterparts in the biblical library.

December 22: Using a journal, compose an honest and heartfelt reply to the following queries:
  • What does it mean to you . . . to live within the story of creation? Of crisis? Of calling? To live in a world of captivity and conquest? To be part of a great conversation?
  • What do you learn from priests, prophets, sages, poets, and storytellers?
  • In what ways are you integrating into your daily life your identity in God's unfolding story?
  • What are some significant changes you've experienced from being part of this learning circle?

  Journeys will continue their discussion of the book “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo and Michael Eric Dyson.  This Sunday, December 15, we’ll discuss chapter 3, Racism After the Civil Right Movement.  All are welcome to join the conversation whether or not they have had time to read the chapter. 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 "Swan Song"
We are in the thick darkness of Advent, and Sam Miglarese is back to bring us Light-Reflections and Readings for Advent and Christmas.  Sam is a favorite leader of the Faith and Community class, and we get to sit at his feet one last time on this Sunday, December 15 before he retires at the end of this year. On the following Sunday, December 22 , Marilyn Hedgpeth will share with the class some of her favorite Advent and Christmas poems. If you have a favorite poem which you would like to share, please bring it with you that Sunday. I think I speak for both Sam and myself in saying that serving as a Teaching Elder has been a great privilege to us both. (submitted by Marilyn Hedgpeth) Join us this Sunday as class meets at 9:45 in Watts-Hill Hall and all are welcome.  

Coming in January . . . Guest speakers from the community will address aspects of climate change. Stay tuned!  
Lectionary Class:
 December 15: There are reports of amazing things: miraculous healings, plentiful food for the hungry, streams in the desert, safety in dangerous places.... Does this mean that the one we have been waiting for is almost here? How much longer do we have to wait? Join us for discussion at 9:45 in the East Parlor .
December 22: What is the significance of a child? Does the birth of a child bring love or scandal, hope or anxiety? These are weighty matters, more than a tiny human life can bear. But what about a child of God? 

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 & Christmas Party
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, December 21  1:00 p.m. Rehearsal at Covenant
  • Sunday, December 22    Sing at 10:00 a.m. 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
Search Committees for the Director of Children’s Ministry (DCM) and Administrative Assistant (AA) positions are busy at work. Both committees are now accepting letters of interest and resumes.

Director of Children's Ministry Position: The DCM Committee asks that qualified candidates submit letters of interest and resumes to: or by mail to the church: Attention DCM Committee. Click here for the DCM job description. Questions or feedback may be directed to DCM Search Committee co-chairs Kathy Conner ( and Laura Kelley ( Additional members of the DCM Search Committee are Tom Admay, Leah Graves, Amy Sanchez, and Katharine Whitmore

Administrative Assistant Position: Click here for the Administrative Assistant job description. The Administrative Assistant Search Committee contacts are co-chairs El Hess ( and Jerry Postema ( Additional members of this Search Committee are Christy Gudaitis, George Danser, and Marie Sappenfield.

Note: FPC members, family members of FPC members and regular non-member attendees are not eligible to apply for these positions.
Saturday, December 14
Everyone (young, old, even pets on leashes) is invited to join this year’s Durham Holiday Parade and march with Laura McDow and her group, March For Our Lives , to support sensible gun violence prevention that saves young lives. Our church’s theme is “Marching in the Light of God.” You are invited to come be-decked with twinkling lights, sparkles, glitter, blinkers, and bring colors for the parade. Dress warmly; and if it rains, just bring an umbrella, we’ll march anyway! We will gather in the FPC foyer to make signs for the parade at 9:30 a.m. The parade begins at 10:00 a.m., and when MFOL gets close to the church, we will venture out with our signs to join them. We will not have a truck this year, so if you have little ones, you might want to bring strollers or wagons to transport them. We will have a truck at the parade’s end, however, to bring marchers back to the church where they are parked. Some of our blessing bag friends will also be marching with us, which is such a joy! If you have any questions about the parade, contact Marilyn Hedgpeth . This is the third year that FPC has participated in the Durham Holiday Parade. 
Scratch December Potluck and Toy Drive
Saturday, December 14 at 5:00 p.m.
Hosted by Matt Cline and Chris Williams
Check out the revised EVITE for details on what to bring. Contact the church office if you would like to be added to the Scratch EVITE listserv.
Saturday, December 14
6:30 p.m. at the home of Melinda Ruley and Stewart Fisher
5301 Cabe Ford Rd, Durham
Adult only! Please join us for this annual tradition of fun and fellowship near the fire. Remember to bring a dish to share.
Daytimers’ Christmas Luncheon
Croasdaile Village - Commons Great Room
December 17 at 11:30 a.m.
$12.00 per person. Remember to respond to the invitation with your specific choice for the entree (salmon or chicken). RSVP to Shirley Frederick at 919-384-2017 or email her at: by Sunday, December 15.
Wednesday, December 18
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. 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 .
Come join the
Christmas Eve Pageant!
December 24 th at 3:00 p.m. Anyone can participate! 
We have a Holy Family ( the Bass family with little Bennett and Clark ); we have a flock of birds ( Ellie Everett, Leone Mbugua, Rory Dillon, Cordie Raymont ), now we need angels, shepherds, all kinds of animals, and wise people to serve as bird watchers in the tableaux. The theme of this year’s pageant is “ Bird Watchers, ” and it promises to be short and sweet. Those with singing/speaking parts will practice after worship this Sunday, December 15 in the sanctuary for about 15 minutes. Everyone else will practice again on Monday, December 23 rd , from 11:00 a.m. – noon. This year’s Christmas Eve Service at 3:00 p.m. will be a 45- minute service with the pageant and Holy Communion. You may pick up costumes this Sunday and next Sunday, or on December 23 rd , in the basement beneath the sanctuary. All are invited to participate! This event is sponsored by FPC’s Christian Education Committee!
The 5:00 p.m. worship will include Holy Communion and conclude with candle lighting.
Urban Ministries of Durham
Contact Margaret Rubiera if you are available to serve this month:

Saturday, December 14
SPECIAL EVENT: Christmas Party (with plated meal, crafts and gifts),
Noon- 1:30 p.m. at St. Philip's Episcopal Church fellowship hall (enter from Queen St.)
Monday, December 16 - prepare lunch bags, 9:30 - 10:30 a.m.
Friday, December 20 - prepare and serve breakfast, 7:00 - 9:00 a.m.
Thursday, December 26 - make sandwiches for lunch bags, 9:30 - 10:30 a.m.
Support for those who mourn: Growing thru Grief offers year-round support with education and small groups for those who have lost a loved one.

Here is the remaining schedule for the month of December:
December 17: Cora Harrison will open the discussion groups
December 24: No meeting
December 31: Possible Gathering; more information to come.

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.
A new NAMI Family Support group has formed at Mt Bethel Presbyterian Church for family members and friends who have mental illness in their family. The group meets twice a month on the first and third Tuesday at Mt. Bethel at 7:00 p.m. The next meeting will take place on December 17th . For more information contact Mt. Bethel is located at 3541 Rose of Sharon Rd, Durham.
FPC members are invited to join folks from Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church and Beth El Synagogue on an interfaith trip to Israel, scheduled to take place July 27 to August 6, 2020 . It is a unique opportunity to see Israel through Jewish and Christian eyes and build community with our Jewish and Christian neighbors. The group will visit important historic and religious sites, learn some about current political realities in Israel (discussing what it means for Israel to be a religious state, hearing about and seeing the Israel--Palestinian conflict from both sides), and have time to talk about what they've seen with Rabbi Greyber and Rev. Crowe . There will also be time for fun, camaraderie, and good food! The trip will be limited to 20-30 people, ideally half of them Jewish and half Christian. If you might be interested, contact Jerry Postema at or attend the information session to be held on December 5 at 5:30 pm, at the Jewish Community Center on Cornwallis Road. For more information, click here . The flyer has more about the info session and information about the trip.  
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. 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 as a
Christmas edition on Friday, December 20.
Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office
by Tuesday, December 17.