"Downtown by history and by choice"
FPC "End of Year" News and Reminders
December 29, 2020
Letter from Pastor/Head of Staff

Dear friends,

           I have never been one to rush the passing of time. In hindsight, it (time) is always gone too quickly anyway, right? We should savor every moment. But what about 2020? Surely, there is not much to savor in this year. Most of us are ready to see 2020 in our rear-view mirror, to put it behind us, to let the vaccine free us for life together again. 

The New Year is a welcome celebration this year, as the past year has been hard in endless ways - painful, plodding, lonely, grief-filled, confusing, fearful, and mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting. At the same time, however, 2020 has been for some a time of deep joy – with new babies, weddings, engagements, graduations, new love, space to explore new hobbies, and time to reflect on the meaning of life, relationships, and God. In this way, this year has been like every other year . . . and yet it has been like no other year we have ever experienced. But through it all, God has been with us. We have never been abandoned or left alone. God is with us even now, as we move into a winter that will include more cases of the coronavirus while also including more vaccines. We move closer to the time when we can be together again. That brings me much joy. I have missed you all and I know how much you have missed one another.

           Every year at this time, I turn to the words of Howard Thurman, and this year I want to share them with you to use as you reflect on the New Year that begins on Friday.

           “This is a New Year. . .. It may mark the end of relationships of many years’ accumulation. It may mean the first encounter with a stark tragedy or radical illness or the first quaffing of the cup of bitterness. It may mean the great discovery of the riches of another human heart and the revelation of the secret beauty of one’s own. It may mean the beginning of a new kind of living because of marriage, of graduation, or one’s first job. It may mean an encounter with God on the lonely road or the hearing of one’s name called by Him, high above the noise and din or the surrounding traffic. And when the call is answered, life becomes invaded by smiling energies never before released, felt, or experienced. In whatever sense this year is a New Year for you, may the moment find you eager and unafraid, ready to take it by the hand with joy and with gratitude.”

Friends, I pray that as you enter this New Year, you will enter it with joy in your hearts over God’s great and enduring love, with gratitude as your guiding spiritual gift, with hope as the light that guides your way, and with courage as your steady companion. God is with us. 

With love,
  • Grace Abels (recovering from back surgery)
  • David & Tina Cotto, brother and sister-in-law of Miriam Morey (diagnosed with COVID-19)
  • Dewey Lawson (recent hospitalization)
  • Robin Morey (illness not related to COVID-19 virus)
  • Kathy Parkins (recovering from shoulder surgery)
  • Jane Rourk (hospitalized at Duke)
  • Nora & Alfred Tisdale (diagnosed with COVID-19 virus)
  • Carol Wills
  • 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:
Evelyn Bass, aunt of Valerie McMillian
Brendan Bequette, a friend of Margaret & Miguel Rubiera
Peggy Boulden, mother of Dick Boulden
Linda Capers, a friend of Li-Chen Chin
Daniel Cheney, brother of Johanna Bernhardt
Meg Courtney, daughter of Bob & Mary Lee Clark, friends of the congregation
Maureen Darcey, a friend of Brianna Bennett 
Phil Goss, a friend of the congregation
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
I finally get to display the beautiful crèche created by the prayer shawl team, and gifted to me as a farewell gift last year!  And as much as I miss everyone at FPC, the wonderful memories of each unique child of God more than fills that void. Blessings to all for a “hunkered down holiday season”!

Love and joy,
Marilyn Hedgpeth

NOTE: this photo was also included in the congregational Christmas Eve pageant video!
The church must receive your charitable contributions by 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, 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 online gifts 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 the tax year 2020.  



Hunger for Change - These funds are sent to the Presbytery of New Hope to combat hunger locally. The Presbytery disperses the funds to hunger relief programs based on a grant application process. Urban Ministries of Durham, Presbyterian Urban Ministries, and Iglesia Emanuel are frequent recipients. In 2019 FPC’s Walk-in Ministry received a grant which was used to purchase blessing bag supplies. 

Christmas Joy - 50% of your gifts to this PCUSA special offering make it possible for students to learn and grow in faith at Presbyterian-related schools and colleges equipping communities of color; the other 50% of your gifts provide assistance for current and retired church workers and their families with critical financial needs.

Christmas Eve Offering - This year's offering will be allocated to three organizations, with each receiving one-third of the amount received. The organizations are Welcome Baby, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC, and the food ministry at Iglesia Emanuel

You can mail your offerings to the church, give them online here, or text the appropriate code (Hunger, XMASEVE, XMASJOY) to 917-373-3254. 

Thank you for your generous giving in 2020.
Happy Birthday to you . . .

Organized December 31, 1871, First Presbyterian Church of Durham turns 149 years old on December 31, 2020. Still a thriving downtown faith community, FPC, you are loved by the congregation and the community. To God be the glory!
January 3, 2021
2nd Sunday of Christmas
Epiphany Sunday
(Epiphany of the Lord is January 6)

Sunday School for children begins at 9:00 a.m. and for adults at 10:00 a.m.

Worship will be streamed live at 11 a.m. on FPC's YouTube channel via the church's website:

John Weicher, preaching
January 10
Baptism of the Lord Sunday

Sunday School for children begins at 9:00 a.m. and for adults at 10:00 a.m.

Worship will be streamed live at 11 a.m. on FPC's YouTube channel via the church's website:
Children's Sunday School Classes resume . . .
Contact Lenore Champion for class kits and links
to the Children's Sunday School classes
Faith & Community Class:
With an evolved Supreme Court, reproductive rights and justice are back in the news (if they ever really left). Faith & Community is exploring these important issues, under the leadership of Scottie Seawell and Heather Wallace, using the book Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive JusticeThis series runs from January 3 to February 7, and we are hoping to be joined by a variety of experts later in the run of the class. Reading the book is encouraged but not necessary. This class is for all people. Click here to join us via Zoom.
Sunday, January 3
Journeys will discuss chapter 11 from Barbara Brown Taylor's An Altar in the World. This chapter, called “The Practice of Being Present to God,” is subtitled as Prayer. Join via Zoom. Contact Andy Henry for more information. 
  • Lectionary – Join us each Sunday for an online discussion of the lectionary texts for the day at 10:00 a.m., preceded at 9:45 by sharing of news and concerns. 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. We are discussing "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. 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

Monday, January 4, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.
Listen at FM103.5 (Chapel Hill/ Carrboro area) or online at

Bill Hendrickson will feature FPC member Connel Fullenkamp as his guest on Monday, January 4. Fullenkamp will discuss American and international economics during and following this dreadful pandemic.  Fullenkamp is Professor of the Practice of Economics and Director of Undergraduate Studies of Economics at Duke University. He specializes in the investigation of financial market development and regulation of financial markets.
Study books for 2020-2021 are still available at the church (in the Volunteer's office). Contact church staff if you need a copy. Contact Linn Lopez (919-596-5707) for ways to connect with Presbyterian Women in 2021.
The Things That Matter Book Group will meet via Zoom on Tuesday, January 12, at 7:00 p.m. Marcia Lorimer will be sending the link prior to the meeting. Marila Cordeiro-Stone will be leading our discussion of The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea. Join in even if you haven’t finished the book. We just enjoy seeing you during these times of separation.
The next church newsletter will be issued Tuesday, January 5. Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office
by Sunday, January 3.