FIRST PRESS | an online newsletter | February 2019
I am excited to join with you in ministry at First Presbyterian Church, Oxford. I look forward to our times together in worship, in fellowship, in prayer, in times of celebration and in times that challenge us.
I'm acutely aware that churches don't like change. The truth is, every church is in fact, in some form of transition. There are in-between times throughout history including sacred history. These in-between times are holy! They are in the hands of the Creator who journeys with us toward freedom, wholeness and hope. The theology of interim ministry is that it is God breathed.
The interim pastor is called to work alongside the congregation during the in-between time. My goal is to listen well, to become aware of the many and varied voices within the church, while also listening to God. Knowledge speaks - but wisdom listens. Through active listening on my part, our church leaders and all members we will work to breathe God's steadfast love into the life of FPC Oxford.
The interim process can be viewed as a threat or an invitation. Let's make it an invitation for all to join together in a new adventure. For me, you already have my love and devotion. I will be involved and connected to you. I will work for you and alongside you during this time together.
Through the Holy Cow! survey, we will learn where we are as a church, create a vision for the future and empower the membership to act on that vision. William Shedd said, "A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for." I might paraphrase that quote with, "A church is not safe without envisioning a future." Let's pray for God to lead us and fill the sails of the church, moving us beyond the harbor and into the future!
The peace of Christ be with you,

From the Associate Pastors

In preparation for a recent continuing education event, I was required to read  Canoeing the Mountains: Church Leadership in Uncharted Territory. The author uses explorers Lewis and Clark as examples of the kinds of leadership needed in the church today. While Lewis and Clark had prepared to find a waterway to the Pacific Ocean, instead they found themselves facing the snow-covered Rocky Mountains. The skills for which they had been chosen for their mission and the preparations they had made were all based on a belief that they'd be traveling by water. When faced with the mountains they had to make critical decisions: If there was no water passageway, what was their mission? Were they willing to learn new skills and take additional risks? Who would teach them those skills? How would they make their way to the Pacific?
In times of transition, a congregation often looks again at its mission, the gifts and skills and passions of it's members, the future and what God is calling them to be and do within their community and context. The Holy Cow! Congregational Assessment Tool is a way to look at all of those things. It will allow members to give their input, share their passions, express their understandings of this church's gifts and how we're being called to use them. It can be used by our Session and Diaconate and pastoral leadership to make decisions about the future. It can help our Pastor Nominating Committee to discern what FPC needs in a new senior pastor and find the one that God is calling to this place.
This tool is only effective if you, the members of this congregation, do your part. Please set aside 30 minutes of your time to complete the CAT survey either online or using a print copy available through the church office. If you need assistance in filling out your survey the Transition Team has made arrangements for members to come to the Fellowship Hall on Tuesday, February 3 at 10:00 a.m where there will be someone to assist you. The survey asks questions about all kinds of things, including financial giving. Please know that all of your answers are anonymous and answer as honestly as you can.
When leaving his disciples with their unknown future, Jesus commissioned them to go baptize and teach all nations. He gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit and promised to go with them even to the end of the age. As we move into the unknown, the same is true for us. The Holy Spirit will guide us and Christ will go with us as we make our way into the future and live into the God's calling for First Presbyterian Church. May it be so!
Grace and peace,

Won't you be my neighbor?

Frederick Buechner writes in his book,  Wishful Thinking - A Seeker's ABC , about neighbors, saying,

"When Jesus said to love your neighbor, a lawyer who was present asked him to clarify what he meant by neighbor. He wanted a legal definition he could refer to in case the question of loving one every happened to come up. He presumably wanted something on the order of: 'A neighbor (hereinafter referred to as the party of the first part) is to be construed as meaning a person of Jewish descent whose legal residence is within a radius of no more than three statue miles from one's own legal residence unless there is another person of Jewish descent (hereinafter to be referred to as the party of the second part) living closer to the party of the first part than one is oneself, in which case the party of the second part is to be construed as neighbor to the party of the first part and one is oneself relieved of all responsibility of any sort or kind whatsoever.'

Instead Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), the point of which seems to be that your neighbor is to be construed as meaning anybody who needs you. The lawyer's response is left unrecorded."
Buechner then tells his readers to read his passage about love too. Well a different Frederick by the name of Fred Rodgers, the beloved children's television personality and Presbyterian minister, said, "love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like 'struggle.' To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now."

We talk about these two things a lot in the church: love and neighbor. On Sunday night, February 24 th , we are going to come together to talk about the ministry of Fred Rodgers and his television program,  Mr. Rodger's Neighborhood . We will gather at Tallahatchie Gourmet from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm to watch and discuss the recent Mr. Rodger's movie documentary, " Won't you be my neighbor ?" The movie is about an hour and a half and you can watch the trailer here.

          Part of being a faith community, or neighborhood if you will, is coming together for fellowship moments like this. Food and drink will be available for purchase as we enjoy our time together. In addition, this is a great chance to spend time with our new Interim, Pastor Paul Phillips.  

Fred Rodgers also said, "listening is where love begins: listening to ourselves and then to our neighbors." That's exactly what we are going to do on February 24 th as we watch a movie together and listen to our neighbors.
  Financial Summary

Summary of Stated Session Meeting
The Session of First Presbyterian Church held its monthly stated meeting on Monday, January 14, 2019, at 5:30 pm in Fellowship Hall. Fourteen elders were present. Highlights from the meeting are as follows:
          1.  Finance:
  • As of December 31, the 2018 pledges were $866,000 and the budget was $863,000. Unpledged amounts were under by $30,000. Budgeted income for 2018 was $1,043,000 and actual was $1,007,205. Expenses were approximately $1,035,000.
  • Approximately $800,000 has been pledge for 2019 representing 152 giving units. These figures equal approximately 80% of the amount and number of pledging units for 2018.
  • 2019 budget will be presented at the February meeting of Session.
          2.  Property:
  • Costs of the two new air conditioner and heating units in Fellowship Hall will be taken from the Property Ministry's budget with any remaining balance to be taken from the Nabors Fund.                        
          3.  Membership & Hospitality:
  • A congregational brunch will be held on Sunday, February 3, 2019, at 9:45 in Fellowship Hall to welcome Pastor Paul Phillips as Interim pastor.
  • The Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper is scheduled for March 5, 2019.
          4.  Mission:
  • Six people will participate in the Haiti Mission Trip, February 9-16, 2019. They are: Elizabeth Owen, Wade Simpson, Greg Patton, Ernie Williams, Michael Magee and Ann Kelly.
          5.  Worship:
  • Communion has been approved for all 8:30 and 10:00 services throughout the year and on the first Sunday of the month at 11:00 services. Easter and Christmas Eve communion were also approved.
  • Communion for the Young Adult Retreat at Camp Hopewell March 3 was approved.
  • Two baptisms were approved: Otis Simmons Alexander and Elizabeth Anne Abbott.
  • People are encouraged to contribute to the Flower Fund for sanctuary flowers.
  • A summer devotional focusing on "What the Church Means to Me" is being prepared by and for FPC members.
          6.  Transition Team:
  • The Congregational Assessment Tool (CAT) was presented so that elders might become familiar with its contents. A representative from Holy Cow! Consulting will interpret the results for leaders of the church on Saturday, March 30, 2019.
The Session adjourned with the Lord's Prayer at 7:10 pm.
Worship Hours

Upcoming worship schedule:
Sunday, February 3
8:30    am Worship (communion)
9:45    am Congregational Brunch
11:00  am Worship (communion)
8:30 am - Worship (communion weekly)
9:45 am - Sunday School
11:00 am - Worship (communion first Sunday of each month)
Nursery Weekly: 8:15 am - 12:15 pm
Lectionary Texts for February
February 3 - Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71:1-6; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Luke 4:21-30
February 10 - Isaiah 6:1-8 (9-13); Psalm 138; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11
February 17 - Jeremiah 17:5; Psalm 1; 1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Luke 6:17-26
February 24 - Genesis 45:3-11, 15; Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40; 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50; Luke 6:27-38
Sanctuary flower dates are available on...
Sanctuary flower dates are available on February 17 and 24 and March 3. If you would like to provide flowers in honor or in memory of a loved one, contact Susan Joiner at or call 662-808-3240.
"To know why we sing may bring to us a deeper delight in our singing and a strengthened resolve to sing without calculation before the God who is 'enthroned on the praises of Israel' (Ps. 22:3)." -  from the preface to A Glad Obedience , by Walter Brueggemann
The Bible contains over four hundred references to singing and fifty direct commands to sing.

            Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!                                                                                                                             (Psalm 47:6)

Four commands to sing in one verse from Psalm 47 alone. We have 150 Psalms, many filled with instruction to sing and make melody to God. "Their (the Psalms) full power comes to expression when they are sun g."
(W-2.1003, Presbyterian Book of Order)
It's clear we are to offer our praise to God through the singing of hymns,  Psalms, and spiritual songs. Some may suggest this doesn't mean them; because they don't have a singing voice. There are voices on the organ which by themselves, are not the most commanding or even pleasant to hear alone; but, when all the pipes (voices) join together, much like the voices in any congregation, even the non-solo voices blend into beautiful music. God wants you to sing!

Some churches have interesting attitudes about music in worship. Anything goes, it's just music, it's not that important. Scripture and our Book of Order teach us this is the wrong approach. Anything commanded by God and offered to God is important and worthy of excellence, and your participation. God hears the most gifted musician and the untrained voice equally as glorious sounds of praise. Lift Every Voice and Sing!
PYF News
February is here and for us here at PYF that means it is time for our annual PYC Retreats at Camp Hopewell. Each year youth from all over St. Andrews Presbytery come together to plan a weekend full of worship and fellowship for all the youth of St. Andrews Presbytery. This group of youth and adult advisers is known as the Presbyterian Youth Council. We are lucky to have our very own Frances Abernathy and Hayden Williams who both give their time to serve on this council. Each year our youth group looks forward to this special weekend where we get to know other youth from around our area. These retreats have made lifelong friendships and truly hold a special place in the lives of the youth in St. Andrews Presbytery. This is a special event at a very special place and we can't wait to see what the Retreat has in store for all of us.
UKirk College News

UKirk Ole Miss began 2019 with a trip to western North Carolina for the College Conference at Montreat. Our presbytery group included UKirk students and leaders from Mississippi State, the W, and of course Ole Miss. We joined with nearly 1,000 other conference attendeess to learn about the theme Compassionate Community. Rev. Aisha Brooks-Lytle preached during worship services, and keynotes from Eboo Patel and the women of Swannanoa Valley Women's Correctional Center engaged the theme through their authentic experiences and deep-thinking questions to us. 
Now that we're back in the swing of things here in Oxford, we're spending Tuesday nights digging into our semester's theme, Live Differently. Each week has its own title -- January brought with it Follow Differently and Receive Diff erently. As the semester goes on, we're looking forward to learning how to See Differently, Love Differently, Question Differently and more.
As always, there are a number of ways to stay connected with us throughout the semester! We're still looking for meal providers, and there's an up-to-date schedule here. You can find us as @ukirkolemiss on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or subscribe to our own monthly(ish) newsletter here.
Young Adult News

Bibles with Brews  continues as a monthly event starting next Monday, February 4th, from 4:30-6:00 pm at the Growler. Join the conversation as we bring and share different scripture passages about our topic of study. Our topic is " identity ". Our next monthly gathering will be on Monday, March 4th. All are welcome!
Who am I? February Young Adult Education Night:  Come and join your fellow young adults as we wrestle with who we are in relation to our God-given identity as we study the book of Galatians. We will meet in Fellowship Hall on Sunday, February 10th, from 5:00 pm - 7:15 pm to share a meal as we discuss how our God-given identity impacts how we live our daily lives. Plus, we will also be joined by our new Interim Pastor, Paul Phillips. RSVP with David Randolph at  if you are interested in participating in this event. Our nursery ministry will be available for our littlest Presbyterians so please include any children in your RSVP.
YA Retreat @ Camp Hopewell:  Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 2nd, to Sunday, March 3rd, as FPC's young adult ministry goes to camp! Come and stay in a lodge at Camp Hopewell for our first FPC's Young Adult Retreat. This is going to be a great opportunity to get away and continue building relationships as we study God's Word together. Our passage of study will be the parable of the prodigal son. RSVP in Facebook  event  or via email at  if you are interested in participating in this event. Please note, childcare will not be available for our retreat. If you need help arranging childcare so that you can join us, please let me know. I want to make sure as many people as possible are able to attend.
Interested in joining a small group?  Our small group ministry has grown to become an important part of FPC's young adult ministry. It's where relationships are deepened as groups meet monthly to share a meal, study, and support one another. With the start of a new year, we have the opportunity to create new small groups. Please contact David Randolph if you are interested in participating.
Pray for the Haiti Mission Team
The Haiti Mission Team embarks on another Haitian adventure February 9-16, 2019. This year's team is small but mighty: Greg Patton, Ernie Williams, Michael Magee, Elizabeth Owen, Wade Simpson and Ann Kelly. Please keep these six members and friends of our church family and our Haitian partners in your prayers in the days ahead.
Thank you again for your support of our Haiti partnership in Bongnotte. Because of you, children receive a healthy meal each day at school and have access to clean drinking water and people of all ages are given much needed medical care. Your contributions, participation in past trips and your prayers make this mission possible. Thank you!

Lovepacks  donations are an easy way to help relieve hunger among Oxford and Lafayette County school children. You can help by donating the following items: granola bars, non-refrigerated pudding, pop-top ravioli or pasta, pop-top chicken noodle or vegetable soup, peanut butter crackers, instant grits or oatmeal or 16 oz. jars of peanut butter. If you'll bring them with you to church and deposit them in the church office or the narthex, volunteers will get it to the Lovepacks office for you.

The food of the month is:

16 oz. jars of peanut butter
Please mark your calendars for  Thursday, February 7  and support  Empty Bowls Join in the fun at one of Oxford's most popular charity events in support of the Oxford Pantry. This fundraiser lunch event at the Oxford Conference Center, 102 Ed Perry Blvd., from 11:00 am - 1:00 pm is the primary fundraiser for the Oxford Pantry and is a great activity for all!  For a $20 donation, each attendee chooses a handmade bowl made by local potters, a bowl of signature soup from one of over 20 area restaurants, and bread and water.  This year's restaurants include: McEwen's, Stella, Saint Leo, Oxford Country Club and many others.  Come join your neighbors and friends for this very special event in support of the Oxford Pantry! 
A Haven House Request
Haven House residents are delighted to receive various translations of the Bible and other religious materials. All may be left at the church office, with thanks to all who have responded.
Etcetera . . .
Bible Study

Our  weekly congregational Bible study  turns to the book of Acts to study how God's Spirit moved throughout the early church. Join us each week starting February 6th as we read Matthew Skinner's Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel, Encountering the Divine in the Book of Acts.  This bible study will be offered twice this spring: Wednesdays at 10:00 am and a brown bag lunch group Thursdays at 12:00 pm. Both groups will meet in Room 101. Books will be ordered soon so please contact David Randolph as soon as possible at  or call the church office at 234-1757 if you are interested in participating. 

VIPs Gather for Dutch Treat Dinner
Thursday, February 21 is the first VIP gathering of the new year! We'll gather for dinner at 5:45 pm at Southern Table, 10 Thacker Loop, Oxford for an early dinner. Our new Interim Pastor Paul Phillips will join us. Come enjoy the food and fellowship and get better acquainted with our new head of staff at First Presbyterian. Please call the church office to reserve your spot at the table.
VIP, Very Important Presbyterians, is open to all members and friends of FPC who are 55 and older. The group gathers for dinner each third Thursday for a Dutch treat meal at a local restaurant and occasionally at other times for special lunch speakers, trips, service projects and other activities.
Adult Education
Mark your calendars for Sunday night, February 24th, for our first Adult Education Night . It's not just for young adults anymore, all adults are invited! We will meet at Tallahatchie Gourmet from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm to watch and discuss the recent Mr. Rodger's movie documentary, "Won't you be my neighbor?" You can watch the movie trailer here. Food and drink will be available for purchase. Plus we are excited to be joined by our new Interim, Pastor Paul Phillips. Come and enjoy this time of fellowship as we reflect upon the ministry of Fred Rodgers. Our nursery will be available at the church during this event. Please RSVP with the church office if you would like to attend and if any children will need our nursery.
Parade and Pancake Dinner
Mark your calendars: The Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper and Mardi Gras Parade is scheduled for March 5, 2019.
Sunday Parking Reminder
Bridge Properties, 1000 Tyler Avenue at 10th St., now tows all unauthorized vehicles on its parking lot, including Sundays. Please do not park on the Bridge Properties lot to attend worship or other church events!

Alma Shaw Circle

Tuesday, February 19 @ 9:45 am at The Blake - 110 Ed Perry Blvd.

Lula Gregory Circle

Tuesday, February 19 @ 9:45 in the church parlor

Carroll Barr Circle

Tuesday, February 19 @ 6:00 pm at the home of Carmille Hovious - 112 L'Acadian Drive

Gerry Duvall Circle

Tuesday, February 19 @ 12:00 pm in the church parlor

PW Council 2018-2019

Moderator - Mary Haskell -
Vice - Moderator - Mary Glynn Wright -
Secretary - Julie Field -  
Treasurer - Margaret Fancher -
Historian - Anita Drury -
Ex-Moderator - Sharron Alexander -
News from the Pews
Our condolences to:

The family of Joe Joyer, who died December 30, 2018 in Oxford, MS.

The family of Ed Perry, who died January 15, 2019 in Oxford, MS.

Memorials and Honoraria

~ With gratitude for contributions to First Presbyterian Church ~
In memory of:

Mary Glynn Carrington

Dr. & Mrs. Robert Cooper

Martha Chadwick Duncan

Rosie & Robert Cooper

Jim Jackson

Rosie & Robert Cooper
Shirley Crawford
Pat & Ralph Neely, Jr.
Carlisle & Billy Wood

Joe Joyer

Kay Meadors
Carlisle & Billy Wood

Ed Perry

Shirley Crawford

Dr. Leighton Pettis

Rosie & Robert Cooper
Carlisle & Billy Wood

Louise & Morris Sneed

Rosie & Robert Cooper
Carlisle & Billy Wod

Thomas Styers

Rosie & Robert Cooper

Jewel Turman

Shirley Crawford

Annie Grace White

Rosie & Robert Cooper
Shirley Crawford

In honor of:

Keith Wiseman

Will Lewis

Upcoming Birthdays and Anniversaries

February Birthdays:

1     Lila Luster, Marianna Ochs
2     Charlie Quick
3     Gail Hercules
4     William Elliott, Kate Embry, Hollins Hardin, Tommy Smith
6     Michael Abraham, Joan Westmoreland
7     Jeb Bishop, John Callery, Ann Dickins, Cynthia Freeland
8     Trey Byars, Roy Selvidge
9     Carolyn Hopkins
10   Hayden Williams
11   Margaret Blake Embry, Spencer Huggins, Donna Ruth Roberts
12   Darren Ashmore
13   Michael Blackburn, Kylea Boutwell, Lucy Chiniche, Daniel Payne, Vicki Stevens
16   Olivia Briscoe
17   Mamie Embry, Tad Wilkes
18   Catherine Field, Leslie Orrell, Linda Scarbrough, Aubrey Mae Wigginton
19   Shirley Crawford, Angela Manley
20   Will Lewis
21   Sarah Smith
22   Max Hill
24   Sallie Abernathy
25   Edward Duke, Katherine Estes, Thomas Harris, Chase Neal, Mary Williams
26   Riley Mullen
28   Kris Kersey, Matt Moore

February Anniversaries:

4     Kathy & John Neff
5     Susan & Tom Meredith
15   Gale & Richard Gurner
17   Patsy & Jay Eads
20   Debbie & Ken Boutwell
22   Beth & Christ Pace

   First Dates

The Prayer Shawl Ministry Team will meet Monday, February 4 at 1:30 pm in Room 101.
The Diaconate  will meet Tuesday, February 5 at 5:30 pm in the Session Room.
The Session  will meet Monday, February 11 at 5:30 pm in Fellowship Hall.
The FPC Book Club  will meet Tuesday, February 12 at 1:30 pm in Room 101.

Reminder: The March deadline for submissions to First Press   is Friday, February 15.

The Session
  CLASS of 2019
Trey Cobb, Jon Crawford, Margie McLeod, 
Karen Stockton, Dana Williams
  CLASS of 2020
Ashley Callery, Ann DeVoe, Ben Griffith,
Matthew Hall, Monte Wood

CLASS of 2021
Hayden Alexander, Pete Boone, Julie Field, 
Carmille Hovious, Ruth O'Dell

The Diaconate
CLASS of 2019
Lee Borden, Kristina Carlson, Dean Chow,
Lele Gillespie, Pick Scruggs
CLASS of 2020
Todd Abbott, Rosie Cooper, Ed Croom,
Lisa Hickman-Tollison, John Schuesselin, Amy Wilkes

CLASS of 2021
Thelma Curry, Karen Elliott, Luke Harris,
Brian Hyneman, Niles Lovelady

The Congregation

Paul K. Phillips
Interim Pastor   3
Ann H. Kelly
Interim Associate Pastor
J. David Randolph
Associate Pastor   5
Allison C. Wehrung
UKirk Pastor

Joseph W. Garrison
Director of Music/Organist
Terrell R. Hall

Director of Elementary Music

Joseph H. Kelly
Director of Youth
Frances Saralvarez
Office Administrator
Jessica M. McPhail
Director of Communications
Wade Simpson
Property Manager

LaShaunda L. Sisk
Nursery Director