First Press
an online newsletter
August 2020
“To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops *  and deacons: *

2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 I thank my God every time I remember you, 4 constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5 because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, *  for all of you share in God’s grace *  with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. 9 And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight 10 to help you to determine what is best, so that on the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11 having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.”

“I thank God in all my remembrance of you….” Our relationship could go down in the history of Presbyterians as the longest running interim ministry, but such an achievement would say very little about the relationship itself. It wouldn’t speak of those moments when you were truly the church - providing crayons, construction paper, hammers, screws and even tuna fish packets for the water installation in a remote community in Haiti or welcoming little Wesley Boateng into the world at the reception following his baptism or coming out of the woodwork to volunteer for VBS. Moments like that were so overwhelming that, even now, I get a little weepy just thinking about them. Making the Guinness Book of World Records wouldn’t say much about the challenges you’ve posed (I’ll leave out the specifics on those!) or the ways you helped me grow as a pastor or the joys of ministering by your side. It wouldn’t reflect how it felt on rather dreary Sundays when I felt ill-prepared for worship to hear some soul-stirring music from the choir and Joe or John’s first note on the trumpet and suddenly felt the winds of the Spirit sweeping through to make me ready for worship.

There are no words to express the gratitude I feel for the way you’ve ministered to me - never treating me as temporary, praying for us during some tough years of parenting, loving me through the death of my mother, my brother’s battle with cancer and now a divorce. There were countless meals brought to our house and other random acts of kindness that lifted me up and kept me going. You have given far more to me than I have given in return. It is a tough time to say goodbye knowing that we will not be able to worship together and that I will not be able to share with you the body and blood of Christ one more time before I leave.
And, so I write this letter as Paul did to say that I am so very grateful to God for each and every one of you and for the ministry we have done together over the last 8 1/2 years. This new chapter in our lives will bring good things for all of us and for the communities in which we serve. God bless you, my friends, and thank you!

Blessings and peace,
As our church family continues ministering during this season of social isolation, 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. Bible studies and various small group meetings continue online to enrich our lives through the sharing of scripture; local missional activities continue to care for others like More Than A Meal and Love Packs; partners in mission, like Interfaith Compassion, the pantry, Doors of Hope and more, continue their important work as well and we help make that possible.
There are a variety of ways you can give:
If you need help with any specific ways to give, please contact Frances Saralvarez at .
Session Summary

The Session of First Presbyterian Church held its stated monthly meeting on Sunday, June 14, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. Thirteen elders were present via an electronic Zoom meeting due to Corona virus restrictions. Elder Hayden Alexander was not in attendance. The minutes from the meeting are as follows:

A.    Declaration of Quorum:                                                                           Moderator

B.     Opening Prayer:  Reverend Ann Kelly gave the opening prayer. After, each Session member introduced themselves to FPC’s new minister, Barrett Milner, and shared their concerns as well as what they are thankful for.

C.     Approval of Agenda:  approved as submitted

D.      Approval of Previous Minutes:                                                             Moderator
  1. Stated Session Meeting: May 3, 2020
  2. Called Session Meeting: May 17, 2020

E.     Communications:    none                                                                                    Clerk
F.     Consent Agenda:  The Session approved the following:
  1. Approval of request from Presbyterian Women change the name of the Alma Shaw Circle to now the Fannie Elliott Circle.
  2. Approval of the wedding of Lark Lindley on July 25th
  3. Approval of Baptism for Elizabeth Logan Randolph, Daughter of Katherine and David Randolph, for August 23rd by the Reverend Ann Kelly. 
  4. Approval of Wedding date for Courtney Gibens and Wade Simpson for Saturday, October 17th. 
  5. Transfer of membership for Louis and Lucia Brandt to Houston, TX

G.    Order of the Day:  Threat Assessment Report. Deacons Thelma Curry and Todd Abbott gave a summary of findings that were put together after a walk through that took place with a police officer on the property. It was suggested to put together a committee that will further examine the needs for security measures. Property will propose some physical changes that can be implemented soon to make places like the Education building more secure. The committee will prepare a full report with options, including pricing, as to the level of measures implemented. 
H .     Ministry Team Check-in

  • Finance – Financial reports were shared with the Session members. Elder Susan Abbott gave a brief summary report.
  • Property – Elder John Abernathy reported that painting is taking place in the administrative areas of the church. Lighting of the steeple are being repaired. Reverend David Randolph also pointed out that the maple tree in the courtyard is not in great condition.
  • Adult Faith Formation – Elder Ann DeVoe reported that online devotionals are continuing twice a week now through September 1. Elder Matthew Hall added that the book study, “How to be an Antiracist,” is continuing led by himself, Michael Fagan, and David Randolph. FPC's two bible studies, Bibles & Brews and Theological Thursdsays, continue virtually throughout the summer. David Randolph reported that the Presbytery would like to partner again this year for a continuing education event alongside the David Freeman Lecture Series. The Presbytery Admin Board meets next week to extend an invitation.
  • Children & Youth Faith Formation – Elder Ruth O’Dell stated that there may be some type of activity offered in lieu of Vacation Bible School if the Corona Virus Task Force thinks that this opportunity is advisable.  
  • Membership & Hospitality – Elder Monte Wood reported that the online directory is now available to their committee, deacons and elders for testing purposes.
  • Mission – Elder Ashley Callery reported that there will be a food drive hosted by Eagle Scout candidate, Dontavius Webb, on June 20 and 27 in the FPC parking lot. The use of the parking lot and refrigerator was approved by the Session. The congregation also generously supported the recent fundraising effort for More Than a Meal.
  • Personnel – The Personnel Ministry Team makes the following recommendations:
  • Reverend Ann Kelly’s last date of employment with FPC Oxford will be Sunday, August 23. In light of accrued vacation, Personnel recommends that she be paid through August 30.
  • Motion to accept the recommendation of the Personnel team – motion approved.
  • Reverend Kelly currently uses and has become accustomed to an Apple computer purchased by the Church 2 to 3 years ago. Personnel recommends that FPC gift the computer to her in consideration of her many years of excellent service to the Church.
  • Motion to accept the recommendation of the Personnel team – motion approved.
  • Worship – Online worship opportunities still continue. At this time, FPC has not elected to offer in person worship per the recommendations of the Covid-19 Task Force and the guidelines put forth by the City of Oxford (which currently prohibits gatherings of more than 20 people). Reverend Barrett Milner will give his first sermon in the current online format.
  • Deacon’s report – no additional report

I.     Old Business

  • Services of Worship – at this time current virtual worship services will continue. Plans for in person worship are being prepared for when that takes place.
  • Covid-19 Task Force – Currently FPC is still in Phase I of the Covid-19 Task Force recommendations.

  • A two-part motion was brought forth:
  1. Amend the Covid-19 plan to use the fellowship hall for a gathering place rather than a meeting room upstairs for ease of social distancing and cleaning.   
  2. Move, from an administrative operation standpoint only, into Stage II Covid-19 recommendations. Staff would return to work at the church, and members could make an appointment to meet a staff member, but worship would remain in Phase I recommendations.

The Session approved the two motions. 

J.    New Business – none

K.   General Announcements:

  • Request to move our next Session meeting to Monday, July 13th outside at the church. The session agreed. 

L.   Closing Prayer                                                                            The Lord’s Prayer
Monthly Bible Reading
Our 2020 scripture reading challenge continues throughout August! What words of hope does God's Spirit have ready for us to turn to this month? Well, after wrapping up the Book of Job within the Old Testament, we turn our attention to the wisdom literature shared through the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Within the pages of the New Testament, we continue studying the words of the Apostle Paul and his theological successors through the books of Philippians, Colossians, and First and Second Thessalonians. The link to the August readings can be found here and on FPC's website here. May God's Spirit guide your study through these important biblical books!
Upcoming worship schedule:
Sunday, August 2, 2020
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
10:30 am online worship (communion)

Sunday, August 9, 2020
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
10:30 am online worship

Sunday, August 16, 2020
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
10:30 am online worship

Sunday, August 23, 2020
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
10:30 am online worship

Sunday, August 30, 2020
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
10:30 am online worship
Currently, worship each Sunday continues to be offered online through Facebook Live! The live video feed begins at 10:25 am on the church's public Facebook group which you can access here . You do not have to have an account to participate. If you do not have a Facebook account, a message will pop up asking if you wish to join. You may click, "not now" at the bottom of that message and it will go away.
Sanctuary flowers  will not be used during online worship services. We regret that we will not be able to honor or memorialize your loved ones with flowers during this difficult time, but we hope you will choose another date once we are able to resume in-person worship. This decision was made to limit the number of people who are in and out of the church and because the flowers will be such a welcome part of worship once we are together again
Lectionary texts for August:

August 2 - Genesis 32:22-31; Psalm 17:1-7, 15; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:13-21
August 9 - Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28; Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b; Romans 10:5-15; Matthew 14:22-33
August 16 - Genesis 45:1-15; Psalm 133; Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32; Matthew 15:(10-20) 21-28
August 23 - Exodus 1:8-2:10; Psalm 124; Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20
August 30 - Exodus 3:1-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16:21-28
Adult Faith Formation
The Adult Faith Formation and Worship Ministry teams are partnering to bring two weekly devotionals to the congregation during this season of social isolation. Each devotional is written by a member of the congregation and offers a word of hope as a reminder about the connection we continue to share with one another. If you would be interested in writing a devotional in the future, please contact Sally Hines at or Carlisle Wood at
Bibles & Brews continues online with digital editions each Wednesday afternoon from 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm throughout August. All are welcome to participate in this group bible study as we bring and share different passages about a group picked topic. Next week's conversation is about "in the beginning". Please contact David Randolph if you are interested in joining any future discussions.
Theological Thursdays continues online for the first two weeks of August from Noon to 1:00 pm each Thursday. All are welcome to participate in this congregational bible study about topics you get to help pick. Each week’s class focuses on a single lesson and then looks to a corresponding scripture passage. Next week's class on August 6th will be a discussion about what happens to our bodies after death. The 2020 finale of Theological Thursdays will be on August 13th about the most requested topic for the second summer in a row - Predestination. Please contact David Randolph if you would like to attend either discussion.
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!
Adopt-a-School Project

Churches in Oxford are working to support our schools—particularly the teachers and staffs of our schools as they work to reopen. First Presbyterian has adopted the almost 70 staff members at all three Central Office sites in the Oxford School District.  We need your help!  Our first step is for members of our congregation to adopt a member of the Central Office staff or a groundskeeper to pray for and write a note of encouragement to before the school year starts. 

We are asking members to:
  • Write a personalized note or letter to the staff member assigned to you. Please leave the envelope open so the church can add a copy of the Serenity Prayer for each teacher.
  • Include a $10 gift card (coffee, ice cream, WalMart, Amazon, etc.) with the note if you can (if not the church will add a gift card).
  • Commit to pray for for that staff member by name for the first two weeks of school.
  • Deliver the note to the church by Tuesday, August 4 (the office is open 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday - Thursday and 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Friday).

Please let Jessica know by email or phone (662-234-1757), if you are willing to write one (or more) of the Central Office staff members and she will assign you a name!
Memorials and Honoraria
~ With gratitude for contributions to First Presbyterian Church ~
In memory of:

Doug Alexander

Rosie & Robert Cooper
Tina & Tony Montgomery

Pat Bittmann

Adalene & Ben Pettis

Pierce Buford

Sandy & Vaughn Grisham

Joe Burnett

Megan & Richard Addy
Julia Keeton Arnold
Yung & Dean Chow
Rosie & Robert Cooper
Dr. & Mrs. J.T. Davis, Jr.
Tis & Ralph Dean
Karen & Bo Elliott
Billie & Al Green
Mr. & Mrs. Heyward C. Green
Kathy & Ben Griffith
Carole & Hal Haney
Dr. & Mrs. Stanley Hartness
Carolyn & Donald Kessinger
Dorothy & John Laurenzo
Pat & Ernie Lowe
Cecilia & Sam Marshall
Mary Kay McDowell
Tina & Tony Montgomery
Dr. Greg Patton
Nancy Rogers
Bobbie & Sydney Shaw
Mr. & Mrs. John B. Sneed
Vicki & Harry Sneed
Brenda & Buddy Spencer
Mary Glynn Wright

Carolyn Aldridge Delorio

Adalene & Ben Pettis

Fannie Elliott

Marilyn & Harbert Mulherin

Marleah Hobbs

Mary Glynn Wright

Ruth Ellen Duvall Kuhnel

Rosie & Robert Cooper
Karen & Bo Elliott
Cecilia & Sam Marshall
Mary Kay McDowell
Mary Glynn Wright

John Neff

Rosie & Robert Cooper
Tina & Tony Montgomery
Adalene & Ben Pettis
Mary Glynn Wright

Raphael Eustace Semmes

Adalene & Ben Pettis

Elaine Webb

Sandra Webb

In honor of:

FPC Staff

Rosie & Robert Cooper

Allison & Darren Ashmore

Rosie & Robert Cooper

Jason Derrick

Rosie & Robert Cooper

Kathy Priestley

Rosie & Robert Cooper

Nancy Maria Balach & John Schuesselin

Rosie & Robert Cooper

Jane Williams Simmons

Carole Haney

Wilma Johnson Wilbanks

Carole Haney

Nila & Max Williams

Carole & Hal Haney
Birthdays and Anniversaries
August Birthdays:

1 Russell Coon, Walker Coon, Diane Scruggs
2 Ellie DeVoe, Allison Harris, Walter Kersey, John Schuesselin
3 Susan Abbott, Waylon Kennon
4 Elizabeth Miers, Don Whitten
6 William Lewis, Ruth O'Dell
7 Harper Lovelace, Baxter Montgomery
8 Ella Chiniche
9 Sarah Bridgers, Wyatt McCool
10 Barron Rosson
11 Mary Freeman, Gale Gurner, Brynnen Quick
12 Dan Olson
13 Ernest Flautt, Lee Miers
14 Bob Joiner, Christy Nielson
15 Kathryn Duke
16 Dubbie McClatchy, Matthew Ueleke
17 Joslin Williams
21 Kate Abraham, Julie Chadwick, Ann McIntosh
22 Kathryn Elliott, Hugh Monteith, Tennyson Monteith, Machelle Williams
25 Andrews McLellan, David Randolph
27 Bill Bowlin
28 Marion Bishop, Richard Gurner
29 Sarah Hester
30 John Edge, Kate McPhail
31 Mary Dale Byars, Nat Harris, James Ling

August Anniversaries:

5 Jane Lyle & Trey Byars
6 Kaitlyn & Tyler Flowers, Jody & Ron Wilson
8 Melissa & Matthew Hall, Lynn & Bill Sloan
12 Wendy & Jay Carmean, Elizabeth & David Coon
16 Ashley & John Callery
17 Julie & Billy Chadwick
19 Kathryn & Ray Hill
21 Mary Cat es & Robert Williams
23 Sarah & Jeffrey Hollis, Cydni & Kris Kersey
28 Ashley & Pratt Wilkinson
30 Mary Edith & George Walker
The Session
  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
CLASS of 2022
Susan Abbott, John Abernathy,
Trey Byars, Kevin Christian, Greg Patton
The Diaconate

CLASS of 2020
Todd Abbott, Rosie Cooper, Ed Croom, Lisa Hickman-Tollison, John Schuesselin
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
Your Church Staff
Senior Pastor

Interim Associate Pastor
Associate Pastor
Pastor, UKirk Ministry
Interim Choir Director
Director of Elementary Music
Office Administrator
Director of Communications
Property Manager
Nursery Director