"Downtown by history and by choic e"
FPC Bi-Weekly Newsletter
December 31, 2019-January 13, 2020
The church office will be CLOSED on New Year's Day - Wednesday, January 1, 2020. The church office will resume its regular weekday schedule on
Thursday, January 2, 2020.
From the Associate Pastor
My dearest FPC family, 
I find myself wanting to sing songs for you in thanksgiving for all that you have meant to me since I began to serve as your Associate Pastor in 2003. The first song that bubbles up in my mind is an old song by the Doobie Brothers called Long Train Runnin’. I always said that First Presbyterian Church is like a train: people get on the train, and people get off the train. And now, I’m the one getting off the train as I retire. FPC has been a long train runnin’, since it left the depot in 1871, and that’s quite a record! Many wonderful saints have gotten on the train, and many have departed. And I am so privileged to have been among those saints who have enriched my life and made my spiritual journey a rich one. As the song begins:  Down around the corner, half a mile from here; see them long trains run, and watch them disappear; without love, where would you be now, without love?  My journey of 16+ years with you is a drop in the bucket of the rich 148-year history of FPC, all fueled by our mutual love of God in Christ. Thank you for making that love visible and tangible through your words and works.  

As the Apostle Paul says in his epistle to the Philippians, I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1: 3-6)

I can’t thank you, however, without asking your forgiveness for being limited in my ability to meet the many needs of individuals in this congregation. I often wished I were not so introverted, or so average in intelligence, or that I might have been a better visionary and leader, when in reality, I’m more comfortable as a follower … hopefully as a follower of Jesus. So, I do ask your forgiveness, for needs unmet, for words misspoken, for actions out of line, in living out my humanness within FPC’s beloved community. There’s a great song by the Avett Brothers called No Hard Feelings, which has a verse that says: When the sun hangs low in the west, and the light in my chest, won’t be kept held at bay any longer /When the jealousy fades away, and it’s ash and dust for the cash and lust, and it’s just hallelujah /and love in thoughts and love in the words, love in the songs they sing in the church, and no hard feelings…. That’s how I wish to depart from you: with love in thoughts and love in words, and love in the songs they sing in the church, and no hard feelings. 

For I have loved you, to the best of my ability. I have loved you as a great congregation, and I have loved you as individuals within our congregation. I will miss being among you as I step away from pastoral duties, according to Presbyterian policy, and let you learn to trust Mindy, John, Susan, and the other leaders whom God will send your way. And then perhaps after a few years have passed, I can return to visit as a friend and admirer. I will be watching and praying for you, while we are absent, one from another. And the final song that would want to sing for you would be Days, by Ray Davies. It goes like this: Thank you for the days, those endless days, those sacred days you gave me. I’m thinking of those days, I won’t forget a single day, believe me. I bless the light. I bless the light that shines on you believe me. And though you’re gone, you’re with me every single day, believe me!  
With deep gratitude, in Christ, 
We extend condolences to the following:
  • Katy and Walt Barron (Ruby and Dot) on the death of Katy's father, Chuck Saldarini, on December 15 in Charlotte;
  • the family of Joseph Ngumi, FPC member who died December 27 at his home in Durham. A memorial service will be held Saturday, January 4 at 2:00 p.m. in the sanctuary of FPC followed by a reception in Watts-Hill Hall. (See separate email about financially assisting with the cost to ship Joseph's body to Kenya for burial.)

Added: Faye Thomas , friend of FPC
Chuck Barenchi 
Isabel Brown  
Carol McKnight
Margaret Mubanga   
Mercy Ndambiri-Curlett    
Carolyn Wolfe  

Care Communities:
Brookdale Durham: Julian Boswell, Becky Crockett               
Croasdaile Pavilion: Bob Rankin 
Dubose Center at The Cedars (Chapel Hill): Arthur Clark
Durham Regent: John Kerr, Ann Prospero
Emerald Pond, Durham (Room 212): Paul Cornsweet
Hillcrest Convalescent Center, Durham: Jean Lazarides
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
Jimmy Levy, grandson of Cheryl McDonald (former member)
Carley and Jon Meade, family of Bruce, Ellie, Kristin and Dayton Meade
Doug Neece, brother of Vern Neece
Larry Newark, brother-in-law of Jean Wilson
Danny Parker, father-in-law of Al and Judy Arrowood’s son Jon
Jim Vacca, father of Jamie Chambliss  
To My First Presbyterian Family of Faith:

I have had a week to absorb and appreciate the love and support of the congregation, Session, and staff of First Presbyterian. As I noted before, truly, I have a heart that is filled with gratitude—a full measure, shaken down and running over. You all have been a real blessing to me, to Sheila and my family, and to my ministry among you; and for that, I am profoundly grateful. The cards, the great reception, the gifts, the generous love offering, and all the reflections written and spoken that are now part of my farewell journal. Many thanks!!

A special word of thanks to Mindy Douglas for coordinating all facets of this event on the Church calendar; to Kathy Parkins and our wonderful choir; to Eric Wiebe and Men of Faith for the reception, program review and set up; to Sheila Breitweiser for photo montage; and to Beth Springfield and Cris Rivera for the tasty Southern/Italian food at the reception itself and of course to Robert Daye , Valerie McMillian and Tom Bloom for all they did behind the scenes to make the celebration come off without a hitch!

Peace and hope to all for the new year and decade that begins January 1, 2020.

Sam Miglarese


Dear FPC and Friends,
Words of thanks and gratitude for the kind and comforting words you all have shared with me and my family. We will always remember with great appreciation. We were graciously blessed with cards, flowers, food, visits and phone calls. We rejoiced Bob's life with joyful hearts.

Peace and love,
Lina Yoder and Family

The Landscaping and Gardening Committee is pleased to announce the completion of the landscape renovation project with funds from the Ruth Mary and Horst Meyer Fund for Music and Gardens

First Presbyterian Session has approved SamMiglarese’s return to the congregation after a separation of three months. (See Session Briefs in this newsletter.) As of January 1, 2020, Sam has been promoted to Deputy Chief Administrator in the Office of Durham and Community Affairs at Duke University. Congratulations to Sam!
Congratulations to Johanna Bernhardt , staff assistant in Duke Biology, who won “Best Tasting” for her “Decorated Sugar Cookies.” 
Jo's husband, George, found the recipe on The New York Times but made some slight adjustments. Jo left out the dried rose petals and freeze-dried raspberries. “I found this cookie a wonderful addition to our holiday baking,” she said. Bernhardt will receive a $25 card to Duke University Stores. Read the entire story here .
Nominations are now open for the 2023 Class of Deacons and Ruling Elders, and to serve at-large on the 2020-2021 Nominating Committee.   Nominees should be members you know who have shown a special dedication to the church, who would bring a needed talent or expertise, or who might like to serve but have been hesitant to step forward. Or, if you yourself feel called to serve, do not hesitate to write down your own name. Nomination forms will be available in the worship bulletin on Sundays, January 5, 12 and 19. After completing both sides of the form, detach and place in the offering plate or return it to the church office. The deadline for nominations is January 19, 2020. All nominees will be seriously considered by the Nominating Committee. Thank you for participating.
Session Briefs
The Session met in November and jointly with the Diaconate in December. The November meeting was the last regular Session meeting for both Sam Miglarese and Marilyn Hedgpeth , and their years of good relationship with the Session, as well as the sadness of parting, wer e acknowledged. Mindy Douglas proposed that Sam's leave of absence from attending worship at FPC, mandated by the PC (USA), be shortened from one year to three months. His leave from pastoral duties will remain at one year. The motion was passed unanimously. The Session also discussed security during worship services and voted to hire additional, unarmed security for special services such as Christmas Eve and Easter. Emily Wilkins presented a proposal from Fossil Free PC(USA) for the PC(USA) to divest from the fossil fuel industry. After diving into the pros and cons of supporting the proposal, the Session voted to send it to the Presbytery for consideration at their February gathering.

The December Session and Diaconate convened for a very brief joint meeting during an Advent meal and gathering at Mindy Douglas' house, a joyful way to conclude the year together. 
Sunday, January 5
Epiphany Sunday
9:45 a.m. - Sunday School
11:00 a.m. - Worship and Communion

Remember to bring supplies for blessing bags as we extend the Lord's Table to our neighbors in need on communion Sundays.

Liturgist: TBD
Narthex Greeter: Delia Kwon
After Worship Greeters: Laura McDow (narthex/rear); Alice Raney (side/font)

Ushers: Click here to sign up to usher.

Communion Elders:
Leah Graves                        Replenish elements/Head
Laura McDo                     Bread 1 /Process
Diane Prosser                     Bread 2
Alice Raney                         Bread 3 GF
Dawn Carsey                      Bread 4
Tyler Momsen-Hudson   Cup 1
Griffin Momsen-Hudson Cup 2 /Process
Amy Wilson                        Cup 3
Michael Honeycutt          Cup 4
Carol Carson                       Shepherd Font Aisle
Raymond Mbah                 Shepherd Pulpit Aisle
David Sappenfield            Shepherd Center Aisle 
Baptism of the Lord Sunday
Sunday, January 12
9:45 a.m. Sunday School
11:00 a.m. Worship

Liturgist: (Please sign up)
Narthex Greeters: Maxie Honeycutt, El Hess
After Worship Greeters: TBD (narthex/rear); TBD (side/font)
Ushers: Click here to sign up to usher. 
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 .

January 5: The Walk Class will not meet this Sunday.

January 12: Chapter 17A - The Light Has Come (pp. 79-81)

  J ourneys will continue t heir discussion of the book “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo and Michael Eric Dyson. On January 5th, we’ll discuss chapter 5, The Good/Bad Binary.  All are welcome to join the conversation whether or not they have had time to read the chapter.  We meet in the apartment(room 221) on the second floor of the church house. 

A special note to Journeys participants – If so motivated, you can keep a journal of instances of racial issues, images, and understandings in your everyday life and discuss them at class. This journal exercise is discussed on page 48 of the book.

The Faith and Community Class
Coming in January . . .
Guest speakers from the community will address aspects of climate change. Stay tuned!   C lass meets at 9:45 in Watts-Hill Hall and all are welcome.  

Lectionary Class:
 January 5: The mystery has now been revealed. Light has broken through the thick darkness, and nations, kings, and wise men have come to see the light. Join us for discussion at 9:45 in the East Parlor.
January 12: What is the power of baptism? A little water, perhaps from a muddy river…is the voice of God heard over the water? And is the person who emerges from the water different in some way? 
January 19: God calls someone - to be a prophet, a psalmist, a disciple, an apostle - and suddenly a life is transformed. There may be release from danger or trouble; there may be renewed strength; there is always awareness of a new task to be done. 
January 26: A land of darkness and gloom has seen light; simple fishermen have become effective evangelists; and a message of foolishness has been filled with the power of God. How are these transformations possible? 
February 2: Is it the rich, the wise, and the powerful who are welcomed and honored in the kingdom of God? No, the rules are reversed: meekness, kindness, humility, and mercy are rewarded. Is this a message of foolishness in the twenty-first century? 
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 & Calendar for 2020
Youth Groups will resume on Sunday, January 12, 2020:
Middle Schoolers at 4:30 p.m.
High Schoolers at 6:00 p.m.
The Alleluia Children’s Choir is open to children in second - fifth grade who attend or have friends at FPC or Covenant Presbyterian Church. Our next rehearsal will be Sunday, January 5 at 5:00 p.m. at FPC. Please contact Kathy Parkins at for more information. Brennetta Simpson is the director of the choir and she can be reached at
These Days  devotional books for January - March 2020 have arrived. Pick up a copy (regular or large print) from the tables in the foyer and narthex while supplies last. Copes are free.
First Friends and Families
Saturday, January 4
FPC - Watts-Hill Hall
6:00 - 9:30 p.m.
Kids welcome. Bring a dish to share. Please respond to the EVITE. Contact the church office if you would like to be added to this fellowship group's EVITE list.
Our next segment of Membership Inquiry Classes will be offered on Sundays, January 5, 12, and 19  in the  Wilson Parlor If you are curious about what membership entails at FPC, please join us for these classes, which meet from 9:45 – 10:45 on these three Sundays in January. Contact  Mindy Douglas  for more information about these classes:
On Monday, January 6 at 5:00 p.m., Bill Hendrickson' s guest will be Connel Fullenkamp , Duke professor known for his works on international relations, economics of uncertainty, as well as lessons from disaster.  Time Out can be heard in Carrboro and Chapel Hill on FM103.5 and elsewhere on

Other January conversations:
          January 13 , Bill Marshall , UNC School of Law Professor --Presidential Power, constitutional law, current impeachment proceedings.
          January 20 , Joseph Blocher , Duke School of Law Professor and Co-Director of Duke Center for Firearms Law (M.L. King Day)
          January 27 , Gene Nichol , UNC School of Law Professor, "Faces of Poverty" and many essential studies of poverty and struggles for a living wage, etc. 
Circle and Bible Study
Monday, January 6
10:30 a.m. -12 noon
in FPC's East Parlor
New faces are welcome!
Monthly Potluck for Women
FPC Women, we are trying something new in 2020: a monthly potluck on the first Tuesday of each month just for women. Our first one will be held Tuesday, January 7, at Jancy Johnstone's house, 4730 Old Lake Trail, Hillsborough at 6:30 p.m., bring a dish to pass. These gatherings grew out of the Women's Spiritual Formation class, and we would like to invite all First Pres women to join us! All are welcome! Please email Deborah Momsen-Hudson at or call 919-417-8664 to be added to the email distribution list for logistics and meal planning.  
Caregiver Support Group: The next support group meeting for caregivers of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia will be Sunday, January 12, 2020 at 2:00 p.m . basement 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 leads the support group.
The Things That Matter Book Group will meet to discuss Cathy Guisewite's "Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault: Essays from the Grown-Up Years" on Tuesday, January 14 at 3:30 p.m. at the home of Jane Williams (4804 Ashland Dr, Duham). Marila Stone will lead the discussion. New faces welcome.
Wednesday, January 15
Durham City/County Employees’
MLK Civic Celebration
12 noon, FPC sanctuary

Monday, January 20
FPC Family Mission Project
All ages, especially families with school-age children, are invited to church for three service activities on MLK Day, January 20, 10:30 -11:30 a.m. In addition to making the dry bean soup packets like last year, we will also assemble Blessing Bags and write cards to be delivered with Meals on Wheels. In preparation, please bring donations of cheese crackers, fruit snacks, granola bars and bottled water for the Blessing Bags. These service activities are sponsored jointly by the Christian Education and Service and Mission Committees. 

Annual MLK Unity March and Community Worship
The March begins at 10:30 a.m. from N.C. Mutual Life Insurance Company (411 W. Chapel Hill Street) and ends around 11:45 the sanctuary of FPC, followed by a community worship which begins around 12 noon. All are welcome to participate in the march and attend the worship. The Durham Children’s Choir will provide music for the service.
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 meetings will take place on Tuesdays, January 7 and 21 . For more information contact Mt. Bethel is located at 3541 Rose of Sharon Rd, Durham.
Save the Date . . .
Saturday, January 11, 2020
3:00 p.m. in the FPC sanctuary
Please join Singers of New and Ancient Music (SONAM) for our upcoming winter concert! Admission is free with a suggested donation benefiting East Durham Children’s Initiative, a nonprofit organization that helps children in Durham from cradle to college and career. The concert will feature music about light and gifts written by contemporary female composers, as well as the first half of Rachmaninoff’s magnificent All-Night Vigil :
  • Abbie Betinis - Dormi Jesu (Sleep, Jesus)
  • Mia Makaroff - Butterfly
  • Kala Pierson - Broadloom I
  • Rosephanye Powell - The Word Was God
  • Patricia Van Ness - Custodes Angeli (Guardian angels) from The Nine Orders of the Angels
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff - movements 1-6 from the All-Night Vigil
To see the full program, visit the upcoming concerts page on the SONAM website: .
Save the Date . . .
Sunday, January 19, 2020
3:00 p.m. in the FPC Sanctuary
Durham's Vox Virorum Men’s Chorus CONCERT: “Traveling to Freedom” – the search for freedom, the dangers of the journey, our country’s history of freedom (both demeaning it and denying it), and our possible roles in offering it to others. Directed by Jeremy Nabors , accompanied by Deborah Coclanis. Free admission: $10 suggested donation. Email:  for more info.
North Carolina Council of Churches
Uniting Communities for Public Education Excellence
A program for dialogue and coalition building around classism and racism, scarcity of resources, and the struggle for racial equity in the face of the school privatization movement, led by Dr. David Campt, Principal consultant at the Dialogue Company.

February 15, 3-5 p.m. - Burlington Masjid
February 29, 9-11:30 a.m. - Milford Hills UMC, Salisbury
March 7, 9-11:30 a.m. - West Nash UMC, Wilson

For more info:, or 919-828-6501.
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  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 issued Tuesday, January 14. Please submit your articles to Valerie in the church office
by Sunday, January 12.