First Press | an online newsletter | April 2021 edition
Growing up, I remember birthdays as a turbulent fusion of exhilarating joy and unsettling dread. Alongside the excitement of presents and parties, of cake and friends, of being the absolute center of attention for one single blessed day of the calendar year…there was also fear. Not fear of birthday clowns – though to be fair, they can be quite fearsome – not fear of having to act excited about the underwear and matching tube socks Great Aunt Helen would surely send, not even fear of having "too much birthday;" my fear lay in the simple fact that my birthday, horrifically, coincided with my annual checkup at the pediatrician's office. And this checkup meant shots.

I hated shots. I made an art out of slipping through the capable hands and ample bosoms of every pediatric nurse who dared to try and wrangle me. At times it took three nurses and my mother's expert "leg grip" to hold me in place. To be sure, I was every nurse's worst nightmare, and at the end of the vaccination, their greatest accomplishment.

But my – oh my – how things have changed. Just a couple of weeks ago, as I drove to Baptist Hospital to receive a vaccine – one that I willingly signed up for…one that I hoped for – I reflected on my childhood abhorrence of vaccines. And as I sat in the chair, and the nurse (who did not have to hold me in place) uttered, "It's just going to be a little pinch," I couldn't help but think, oh, but it's so much more than a little pinch!

This literal shot in the arm is so very appropriately also a figurative shot in the arm. For me, for us, and our grieving and ailing world, it's a shot of hope. And while sitting in that hospital conference room, pensively awaiting the conclusion of those 15-minutes of observation, I found myself wholly and tearfully overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude. And I prayed thanksgiving: for the advancement and miracles of science that will save precious lives, for the courage and dogged persistence of countless nurses and doctors who've born the burden of caring for us all as we've endured the pandemic, for the stirrings of healthier fellowship among family and friends, and for the reminder that healing, new beginnings, and hope abide.  

Soon and very soon, another Lenten journey will conclude, and we'll marvel once again at the wonder and grace of God's promise of resurrection life. Again, the Spirit will beckon us to gaze with awe and wonder into an empty tomb. Again, we'll discover that the extraordinary power and sting of death proves no match for God's capacity to love, to recreate, to restore newness and wholeness. Again, we'll reimagine and reclaim the goodness of God's intention for all our collective future holds. Again, we'll embrace Easter for all that it truly is and will forever be.

And in the coming days, I'll shirk my childhood fear of shots once again. I'll eagerly, gratefully, and blessedly lift my sleeve to receive my second shot: a shot of hope. Again, I'll give thanks to God. And this year, perhaps more than any of all my years until now, I'll see, I'll claim, and I'll bask in the grace of having discovered all that Easter truly is and will forever be: God's shot of hope for our weary and suffering world! I pray that the same might be true for you and yours. Continued Easter blessings, amazing grace, and the light of life and love be with you all.  

With hope,

We extend our Christian sympathies to our pastor, Barrett Milner, and his entire family upon his father's death on March 30. As a community, we grieve with them over this loss and wish to offer Christ's love and support during the days to come. Please hold Barrett and his entire family in your prayers. As opportunities to offer care arise, the church will share those with the congregation.
Session Summary
Approval of two baptisms: 

  1. Baptism Sunday, March 14 – Juniper James Nielson, daughter of Christy and Matt Nielson
  2. Baptism Sunday, March 21 – Moxley Blake Gordon, daughter of Gracyn and Steve Gordon

  1. Finance – YTD date reports were shared electronically.     
  2. Property – Elder John Abernathy reported that improvements at the front steps railing are taking place. The team has been in contact with the city to address possible water issues that may be contributing to the water problems in the basement. 
  3. Adult Faith Formation – Elder Allyson Ashmore reported that the drive-in movie night took place and went well.  Two Lenten studies are in progress and have been popular. Future plans for programming for all adult ages are being planned.     
  4. Children & Youth Faith Formation – Elder Kathryn Elliott reported that that children’s church has begun. The ministry team has requested permission to move forward with an Easter Egg Hunt. In lieu of Bible School it has been suggested that a Day Camp at Camp Hopewell take place with the Methodist church in July. Parents will be asked to contribute to the cost. More details are to follow.
  5. Membership & Hospitality –no report
  6. Mission – Elder Greg Patton reported that mission highlights will be added to Fast Facts. MTaM went well on 2/23/2021. The next meal will be Tuesday, March 23. Monte Ochs is recruiting volunteers for the pantry in June. Elder Patton also reported that the Haiti trip will not take place this year due to continued political unrest. Funds that are designated for Haiti travels will be redirected to monetary support of the Haiti community that FPC has supported in the past. The conversation regarding becoming a Matthew 25 church will be tabled until the next session meeting in April.
  7. Personnel – no report
  8. Worship – Reverend Barret Milner reported that the search committee for the Organist/Choir director are moving forward and several candidates have been identified. One candidate has been invited to visit FPC.
  9. Deacon’s report – Reverend David gave a report regarding the duties of ushers and hosts. A training session will take place after the service on March 21.

Old Business

  1. Children/Youth Faith Formation Personnel – Reverend Barrett Milner reported that there is now a group assembled who will begin to seek a full time Director of Faith Formation for Children and Youth. They have developed a time frame for the completion of this hire. This will be a non-ordained position.
  2. Strategic Planning for Ministry teams – Ministry teams will be asked to respond to some information gathering prior to meeting as a full session in a strategic planning retreat.
  3. Services of Worship/Covid Task Force discussion – Reverend Barret Milner provided a written list of recommendations from the task force for the foreseeable months of March and April.  Capacity will increase to 70. One soloist per service is permitted. Additional details are outline in the formal proposal. The session approved the recommendations.
New Business: A Congregational meeting was approved for March 21 following the 11:00 am worship service to include three items:

  1. Dissolvement of the terms of call for Associate Pastor, Reverend David Randolph, effective May 5, 2021
  2. Presentation of the 2021 annual budget
  3. Approve the terms of call of our Pastors
The next stated session meeting will be April 12 at 5:30 pm.  
Financial Summary
As our church family continues ministering during this season of change, please continue to remember your faithful giving to our church. The ministry of FPC continues to make an impact within our congregation and throughout our community. There are a variety of ways you can give:

If you need help with any specific ways to give, please contact Frances Saralvarez at [email protected].
In observance of Good Friday, the church office will be closed Friday, April 2, 2021. We will reopen Monday, April 5 with regular hours.
Sunday, April 4, 2021
Easter Sunday
7:00 am Sunrise Service
9:00 am worship with communion
11:00 am worship with communion*

Sunday, April 11, 2021
2nd Sunday of Easter
9:00 am worship
11:00 am worship*

Sunday, April 18, 2021
3rd Sunday of Easter
9:00 am worship
11:00 am worship*

Sunday, April 25, 2021
4th Sunday of Easter
9:00 am worship
11:00 am worship*

*online worship available
Three services of worship are offered on Easter and room is still available at the 7:00 am outdoor sunrise service. Click here to sign up. 
Our annual Maundy Thursday/Tenebrae service of worship will be held today at 7:00 pm in the Sanctuary and on Facebook Live!
Join us for worship each Sunday at 10:55 am on Facebook Live. You do not have to have an account to join us. The video will go live on the church's public Facebook group. If you do not have a Facebook account, a message will pop up asking if you wish to join. Simply click, "not now" at the bottom of that message and it will go away. You may then enjoy the video as it plays live.  
Lectionary texts for April

April 4 - Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 or Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18 or Mark 16:1-8
April 11 - Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; 1 John 1:1-2:2; John 20:19-31
April 18 - Acts 3:12-19; Psalm 4; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36b-48
April 25 - Acts 4:5-12; Psalm 23; 1 John 3:16-24; John 10:11-18
Remember in Prayer
FPC Members: Caroline McIntosh; Family of Walter Nance; Tommy Patrick; Family of Shirley Crawford; Helen Scruggs; Wil Howie; Martha Walcott; Family of Mary Sims; Lark Lindley Wells; Lydia Moak; Family of Pierce Buford; Max Williams; Family of Joe Burnett; Family of Doug Alexander; Family of Marleah Hobbs; Family of Elizabeth Black; Family of Jane Boykin; J. T. Davis; Becky & Joe Murphey; Lynton Dilley; Debbie McElreath; Director of Music/Organist Search Committee
Family and Friends: Family of Steve Milner; Daniel Kwak; Ellington Family; Family of Tom Mullen; Norma Myers; Family of Tommie Waters; Family of Paulette Logan; Family of Florence Pulliam; Stephanie Polk; Taylor Polk; Wanda Lundstrom; Family of Jane Chancey Dubberly; Family of Randy Lutz; Charles Moseley; John Hamauei and family; Rhona Justice-Malloy & Amanda Malloy; Family of Betty Field; Joyce Sumners; Richard Bremer; Sarah LaPrade; Mary Tyler Browne; Patch Hailey; Family of Mary Poole; Family of Ruth Ellen Duvall Kuhnel; Family of Carolyn Stevenson; Sigrid Morrison Long; Family of Barbara Young; Pauline Dick; Bill Sessions; Family of David Brooks; Roun McNeal; Jamie Henderson Turner; Family of Joel James; Lowry Davis; Family of Don Gleason; Brad Hovious; B. Jones; Pat Gillenwater; Linda Chavers; Mark Barnes; Joe Houston; Matt Branch; Erica Baggett; Mackenzie Stetz; Mike Smith; Parchman Prison inmates; Haven House residents; Our Haiti partners; Oxford & Lafayette County First Responders; Community leaders
U. S. Military: SSgt Jason Freeland, USAF 4th Air Support Operation
Please pray, too, for those with unspecified needs.
If you wish to have a name removed or added to this list, please contact the church office.
The FPC prayer chain is ready if you or someone you know is in need. This is a confidential list that is independent from the names listed above. Please contact Carlisle Wood at [email protected] or 662-832-8606. All requests are held in strict confidence.  
Adult Faith Formation
Bibles with Brews continues throughout the month of April each Wednesday evening! All are welcome to participate in this bible study as we share different scriptures about a weekly topic. The topic for April 7th is "Home". Contact David Randolph for more details.
PYF News
PYF has returned to in-person meetings! All meetings will take place in the Fellowship Hall.
7-9th grade
Fellowship: 4:00-5:00 pm
Dinner: 5-5:30 pm
10-12th grade
Dinner: 6-6:30 pm
Fellowship: 6:30-7:30 pm
Because in-person gatherings are limited to 15, a sign up sheet is sent out via GroupMe each week. To be added to the group or to sign up to provide a meal for the youth, contact Lindsay at [email protected]
Lafayette County Literacy Council

It can be hard to imagine that illiteracy is a significant problem in Oxford and Lafayette County. Most people who live in this community - known for its university, strong public schools and relative wealth - are surprised to learn that estimates show 20-25% of Lafayette County Adults can't read well enough to fill out a job application.

Why should you care? Because literacy is essential in the social, economic and cultural quality of life of everyone who lives in Lafayette County. Every study shows that literacy breaks the cycle of poverty, strengthens families and relationships, promotes self-esteem, and broadens perspectives of the world. Every study shows that communities with lower literacy rates struggle with higher levels of poverty, crime, teenage pregnancy, and more. So, every time we help one adult learn to read or help a child not fall further behind - we improve the lives of our neighbors and our community through literacy and reading.

The Lafayette County Literacy Council (LCLC) is a non-profit, community based agency founded in 1996 to promote the importance of literacy in our community. The Adult Basic Literacy Education (ABLE) program improves local literacy levels by assisting functionally illiterate adults obtain their high school equivalency certificates through one-on-one coaching by trained volunteers. Want to help teach adults to read proficiently? Go to to sign up.

For children's literacy the LCLC sponsors the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in Lafayette County. Through workshops and newsletters parents are encouraged to promote reading in the home. Want to help? A $25 donation will supply a child in need between the ages of 0-5 years with a book each month for a year. Contributions may be made through the church office.

For more information about the Lafayette County Literacy Council go to or contact Sarah McClellan, Executive Director at [email protected].
Presbyterian Women Officers for 2020-2021
Kathryn Elliott - Moderator
Caroline McIntosh - Vice Moderator
Whitney Bolen - Secretary
Margaret Fancher - Treasurer
Marianna Ochs - Historian
Thank you for your willingness to serve FPC in this way!
News from the Pews
Honorariums & Memorials

~ With gratitude for contributions to First Presbyterian Church ~

Shirley Crawford

Gerry Duvall Circle

Walter Nance

Mr. & Mrs. George Abdo
Dorothy Lou & Mack Aldridge
Yung & Dean Chow
June & Ralph Stephenson
Kay & Larry Tyler
Nancy Warner
Upcoming Birthdays and Anniversaries
April Birthdays

1 Mary Kate Duke, Gavin Eifling, Ron Wilson
2 Tony Mize, Mary Williams
3 Brandall Laughlin, Ben Smith
4 Susan Meredith, Helen Scruggs, Martha Walcott
5 Otis Alexander, Thomas Cribbs, Tommy Cribbs
7 Angela McRae
8 Janet Barnes
9 Clara Flautt, Melinda Freeman, Rachel Mauldin
10 Dunbar Jenkins, Tony Montgomery
11 John Abernathy, Karen Elliott, Milton Hobbs, Julia James, Nila Williams
12 Tyler Flowers
14 Michael Goodwiller, Amanda Hyneman, Emily Stevens
15 Larry Tyler
16 Beckham McCord
17 Mary Helen Carr, Marc Showalter
18 Elsie Bridgers, Tucker Bridgers, Adam Quick
19 Yung Chow, Bobbie Shaw
20 Laura Jackson
21 Spencer Patton
22 Todd Abbott, Don Giles
23 Sarah Brooke Bishop
24 Michael McLellan
25 Southerlin Rosson, Dorothy Williams
26 Ed Croom, Monte Ochs, Cragon Randolph
29 Harry Alexander, Doug Atkinson, Price Walden
30 Robert Kennedy, Shands Orrell, Kay Tyler

April Anniversaries

1 Erin & Grant Goforth
21 Haley & Justin Eifling
23 Cheryl & Keith Hayward
25 Karen Stockton & Danny McKittrick
30 Kathleen & Bradley Mayo
Note: The May deadline for submissions to First Press is Thursday, April 15.
The Session
 CLASS of 2021
Hayden Alexander, Pete Boone,
Julie Field, Carmille Hovious,
Ruth O'Dell
CLASS of 2022
Susan Abbott, John Abernathy,
Trey Byars, Kevin Christian,
Greg Patton
CLASS of 2023
Allyson Ashmore, Kathryn Elliott, Goodloe Lewis, Drew Mauldin,
Lee Miers
The Diaconate

CLASS of 2021
Thelma Curry, Karen Elliott,
Luke Harris, Brian Hyneman,
Niles Lovelady
CLASS of 2022
Gabrielle Chiniche, James Day,
Rob Howell, Cliff Smith,
Pattye Wilson
Class of 2023
Laura Jackson, Chloe Lloyd,
Allison McCord, Shae Orrell,
Adam Quick
Your Church Staff

The Ministers
Senior Pastor
Interim Choir Director
Dir. of Communications
Associate Pastor
Director of Elem. Music
Property Manager
Pastor, UKirk Ministry
Office Administrator
Nursery Director