"Downtown by history and by choice"
FPC Bi-Weekly Newsletter
December 14-28, 2020
The season of ADVENT is here!
Click ADVENT to see what's happening at FPC!
From the Pastor/Head of Staff
Dear friends,

           The nights are long, aren’t they? They are the longest they have been all year and we know it in our bodies, in our spirits, and in our hearts.
           As we move toward the last week of Advent and that holy night of Christmas Eve, we know that things are not as they should be. We are not gathering in the same space with family, friends, and our faith community. We are not laughing, dancing, and singing together in the same room. We are not sharing gifts in person but packing them into boxes and standing in long lines to ship them across the country to loved ones. The days are short. nights are long.
But beginning sometime next week, the light will gradually increase in each day. After the longest night, comes the light. So it is with our sorrow. So it is with our pain. 
As the Psalmist sings:
May those who sow in tears
    reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
    bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
    carrying their sheaves.
           The longest night will soon be shorter. The light will shine more brightly each day. One physician said this week the approval of the COVID-19 vaccine is like the light of dawn coming over the horizon. And it is! The full light of day is not yet with us, but it will be. We live now in the dawning light of a very real hope of a virus under control. 
 As people of faith we believe that ultimately this full light is the light of Christ, and the shouts of joy we sing are shouts from those who have seen the light and know that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not, will not, and cannot overcome it. This is the greatest hope of Christmas. It is the true hope of our lives.
           My prayer this season is that wherever you are and whatever your circumstance, you will find comfort and hope in the assurance of the light of Christ in your life. This light shines for you. Our hope is, as it has always been, in the Lord.

           And you, beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low,
who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow,
look now, for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing;
O, rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing.
For lo, the days are hastening on, by prophets seen of old,
when with the ever-circling years shall come the time foretold,
when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling,
and the whole world give back the song which now the angels sing.
May each new day bring more of Christ’s light to your life.

With much love this Advent and Christmas,

The love and concern of the congregation are extended to Emily Wilkins and family on the death of her Uncle Al on December 2.

Kathy Parkins, recovering at home from shoulder surgery
Grace Abels, recovering at home from back surgery
Harold Dunlap      
Kerry Holbrook
Jane Rourk     
Carol Wills
Evelyn Bass, aunt of Valerie McMillian, in hospice care at Hock Pavilion
Daniel Cheney, brother of Johanna Bernhardt, hospitalized with a heart issue
The many households impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
Those who are grieving during this holiday season   

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
Hillcrest Convalescent Center: Walter Chambliss, father of Will Chambliss
The Forest at Duke: Fran Bryant

Family and Friends of the Congregation:
Brendan Bequette, friend of Margaret & Miguel Rubiera
Peggy Boulden, mother of Dick Boulden
Linda Capers, friend of Li-Chen Chin
Meg Courtney, daughter of Bob & Mary Lee Clark, friends of the congregation
Maureen Darcey, friend of Brianna Bennett 
Phil Goss, friend of the congregation
Ann Loebrich, mother of Bruce Loebrich
Peggy Mordecai, mother of Beth Eisenson
Shannon Putman, daughter of Mary Putman
Robert Reaves, husband of Floalice Reaves, a friend of the congregation
Joe Rudigier, brother of Jeanne Hervey
Dear Friends,
My heart is full of gratitude to you for
your many expressions of love and concern for me over the days of my hospital stay and recovery.
My recovery is going well as I am getting stronger by the day.
Joe has provided me wonderful care.
With much love and gratitude,
Carlisle Harvard

From Iglesia Emanuel: Here's a little thank you video we made to show our gratitude to all our partners in ministry who have so generously supported the food bank all this time. THANK YOU AND BLESS YOU, and happy holidays! -
Julio and Marty Ramirez-Eve

Welcome New Members

On November 23, 2020, the Session received Art Baker and Lara Duffney into membership. Art and Lara were introduced and welcomed to the congregation during our live-streamed worship on Sunday, December 13.

Art grew up in Nashville, TN, and attended medical school at the University of Kentucky. He moved to Durham in the summer of 2012 and works as an Infectious Diseases physician at Duke. In his free time, Art enjoys playing tennis and spending time outdoors. Lara is originally from Rochester, NY. She completed graduate school at the State University of New York at Buffalo and moved to Durham in 2014. She works in RTP as a research scientist in Regulatory Affairs for UCB. Lara enjoys exercising and working in the garden. Art and Lara met in Durham, and they married in June of 2019. They love to travel together and spend time with family. They are joining FPC by Letter of Transfer.
Support for Presbyterian Camps and Conferences Centers
At its meeting on Monday evening, the Service and Mission Committee voted to provide emergency financial support to Camp New Hope, Montreat, and Massanetta Springs. These camps and conference centers that are so important in the life of our congregation have been seriously impacted by the pandemic because of the loss of registration income for most of this year. Each organization will receive $500 in end of year funding to support their ongoing operations.
Please remember that the church must receive your charitable contributions by 12:00 p.m. on Monday, December 31, 2020; or the gift must be postmarked by December 31, 2020, if mailed, to be deductible on your 2020 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 2020 taxes, please initiate the gift by Tuesday, December 29. On-line contributions scheduled for December 31 will not reach us in time.

If you wish to make a donation through a gift of stock, please notify Tom Bloom, Business Administrator ( If you have recently transferred stock to FPC, but have not notified the church, please contact Tom Bloom, Business Administrator, ASAP. 

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 2020.  

We are showering Robert with cards this week! Send a card and/or a note of congratulations to Robert, addressed to the church (305 E. Main St., Durham NC 27701). These will be presented to him, along with the love offering, at his virtual celebration this Sunday, December 20 beginning at 2:00 p.m. There will be some exciting announcements to honor Robert at this event. Don't miss this!
December 20th
4th Sunday of Advent
Sunday School for children begins at 9:00 a.m. and for adults at 10:00 a.m.
Worship at 11:00 a.m. (streamed live)

The Service of Lessons and Carols is a reading of texts from the Old Testament prophecies, to the birth of Jesus Christ, with hymns and anthems commemorating the Incarnation. It is patterned after the King’s College Service of Lessons and Carols which is presented annually on Christmas Eve. 

The PC(USA) Joy Gift Offering will be received during worship this Sunday to support the financial assistance program of the Board of Pensions and Presbyterian racial ethnic schools and colleges. You can mail your gift to the church this week using the enclosed Joy Gift envelope, give it online here, or text the code JOYGIFT to the following: 917-373-3254.

How do you have a Christmas pageant
without being in the same room? 
What has become of our new(ish)
3 pm Christmas Eve service? 
Most importantly, who gets to be Mary? 

In this season of Jesus’ birth and pandemic rethinking, we have some answers – thanks to the creativity of the Director of Children’s Ministry Lenore Champion and many, many folks within the congregation. At 3:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, we will share our Christmas pageant worship service. Lots of members and friends of FPC have contributed photos and readings to tell the story in a fresh, creative, and unique way. These are being knit together, along with other liturgical elements, to form the worship service.

As with all of our pandemic worship, it will be available on our YouTube page: First Presbyterian Church - YouTube, in this case at 3 pm. This is the same place you can see our traditional 5:00 p.m. service (which will be led live at 5). This service will include communion and candle lighting. As with all services, Christmas Eve, Sunday, or otherwise, you can go back and watch it any time after it happens on the YouTube page.

A Christmas Eve offering will also be received. This annual offering will be allocated to three organizations this year, with each receiving a third of the amount received. The organizations are Welcome Baby, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC, and the food pantry at Iglesia Emanuel. You can mail your offering to the church, give it online here, or text the code XMASEVE to 917-373-3254.
December 27th
First Sunday after Christmas

No Sunday School on December 27.

Worship will be streamed live at 11 a.m. on FPC's YouTube channel via the church's website:
The last Hunger for Change offering for 2020 will be received on December 27th. Please give generously. Thank you.
Children's Sunday School
Contact Lenore Champion for class kits and links
to the Children's Sunday School classes
Missing the Alternative Giving Market? Fear not! Your chance to learn about some fabulous and faithful organizations – as well as to donate to them as gifts for the important people in your life – has moved onto Zoom. Each week in Advent, friends from two of our favorite AGM organizations will speak during the Faith & Community class.  Click here  to join this Sunday's class.
This Sunday, December 20, Journeys will discuss chapter 9 from Barbara Brown Taylor's An Altar in the World. This chapter, called “The Practice Carrying Water,” is subtitled as Physical Labor. Join via Zoom. Contact Andy Henry for more information.
  • Lectionary – Join us each Sunday for online discussion at 10:00, preceded at 9:45 by sharing of news and concerns. On December 20: David had plans to build a temple, but God had other plans. Mary had plans for a quiet, traditional start to her married life, but God had other plans. What plans have you made? 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

Join us on Tuesdays
at 5:00 p.m.

Click here for ways to
access the class.

Mindy Douglas
leads the class.

We will meet on December 16,
then take a break until after the first of the year.
Winesdays Meeting ID: 975 6934 9009
Join us on our FACEBOOK page for Advent Vespers
Thursdays, December 3, 10, & 17 at 8:00 p.m. (online, live)
Looking for a Christmas present idea for the human in your life? Or a little something for yourself? Faith & Community will be returning to Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice for six weeks in January and February, potentially including some outside speakers. We encourage folks to purchase this book ahead of our January 3 return to the topic, as we explore so many of the important issues it discusses.
Blue Christmas Service
Wednesday, December 16
7:00-8:00 p.m.
An online FACEBOOK event hosted by the Washington National Cathedral

2020 has been a difficult year for so many, with grief, loss, and hardship around every corner. If you are in search of hope and healing, and/or struggling and need to talk with someone, counselors and chaplains are available to talk with you by phone by calling 202-998-3510. Even though we can't gather in person, you'll still find the same Cathedral warmth and welcome, no matter where you live.
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.

Our coming speakers:
        December 22     Janet Stolp                          Topic to be determined
        December 29     Vivian Harris                       The Ugly Shoes Club

If you would like to attend any or all of these sessions, please send your request to Then we can send you the information. Everyone must register every week. We need to receive your inquiry by 8 am on Monday for Tuesday’s session.

We meet each Tuesday from 4:15-6:00 p.m., with a presentation plus a small group discussion. For more information about Growing thru Grief, check out our website,
Service and Mission Opportunities
Below are two more stories from the Walk-in Ministry of clients we have been able to help with your donations to this ministry. (Submitted by Mary-Jo Keenan)

C.B. We had helped this woman's daughter and she then referred her mom to us. CB lost her job as a CNA in a group home due to COVID-19. She applied for unemployment but hasn't heard anything (a common complaint). We sent $125 to Duke Energy on her behalf. 

F.R. lost her job due to COVID-19. She had lung cancer a while ago and can't risk exposure. We sent $125 to Duke Energy on her behalf
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! 
The next church newsletter will be issued Tuesday, December 29. Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office
by Sunday, December 27.