First Press
an online newsletter
December 2020 Edition
First Presbyterian Church + Oxford, Mississippi
Calendar of Events for Advent 2020
 Sunday, November 29
Advent I Worship
Christmas tree sales begin, 9:00 am
Tuesday, December 1
A Service of Wholeness & Healing, 5:30 pm*
Wednesday, December 2
Ecumenical Noonday Worship
With Stacy Rodgers and Diane Wang, Piano

Sunday, December 6
Advent II Worship
Holy Communion
Advent Together, 4:00 pm (online only)
Tuesday, December 8
A Service of Wholeness & Healing, 5:30 pm*
Wednesday, December 9
Ecumenical Noonday Worship
With Sue Gaston, cello and Jason Derrick, organ

Sunday, December 13
Advent III Worship*
Advent Together 4:00 pm (online only)
Tuesday, December 15
A Service of Wholeness & Healing, 5:30 pm*
Wednesday, December 16
Ecumenical Noonday Worship
Anita Ludlow and Jason Derrick, organ

Sunday, December 20
Advent IV Worship (One Service Only, 10:30 am)*
 PC(USA) Joy Gift Offering
Advent Together, 4:00 pm (online only)

Thursday, December 24Christmas Eve Worship
Family Service with Christmas Story, Candlelight, 11:00 am
Family Service with Christmas Story, Candlelight, 1:00 pm
Traditional Service with Homily, Candlelight & Communion, 5:30 pm*
Traditional Service with Homily, Candlelight & Communion, 7:30 pm

White Christmas Offering, All Services:
Please Bring Unwrapped, Non-Perishable Food Items for the Pantry

Friday, December 25 – Christmas Day
Release of Virtual Lessons and Carols, 2:00 pm*
Dale Beech, Conductor

*Offered Online
PYF continues selling Christmas Trees in the 10th street parking lot from Noon to 6:00 pm each weekday and 9:00 to 6:00 pm each weekend. Please support this vital ministry and spread the word about how others can do the same!
Stewardship 2021
Stewardship season continues as our church family gives thanks to God for the seeds of hope planted in our midst and looks ahead to another year of possibility, promise, and transformation here at First Presbyterian Church! As Pastor Barrett recently wrote, “By the steadfast and boundless generosity of our God, the seeds of hope have been planted in this place, in our time, even here among our First Presbyterian Church family. And together, with fervent prayers, the sharing of our time, and the joyful and generous giving of our God-given treasure to the disposal of God’s kingdom, we will see these fruits of the Spirit spring forth once again in abundance.” 

To those who’ve already returned 2021 pledge cards and completed the invitation to ministry form that was included in this year’s stewardship packet, we offer our heartfelt thanks! Please know that pledge cards can still be submitted to Frances Saralvarez in the church office. If you need a pledge card, please contact the church office and we will be happy to get one to you. Again, many thanks for your continued generosity, faithful stewardship, and joyful giving as we seek to answer God’s call in the year to come!
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  
Financial Summary
Session Meeting, November 9, 2020

I. Ministry Team Check-in 
  1. FinanceThe Finance Ministry Team will recognize Frances Saralvarez for extra time involved in preparing the PPP Loan for the church. A 2021 budget is forthcoming. It will be sent to each ministry team for review.
  2. Property – Improvements to exterior security lighting are progressing. The front door needs to be stripped and painted. The rails at the front steps need to be improved to meet code as well as some work done to the front steps. The partition wall motor repair will be addressed by the electrician that is coming for lighting.
  3. Adult Faith Formationthe ministry team has launched a three week Advent program. An Advent box will be delivered to families who sign up to participate. Church wide bible studies continue as well as Bibles and Brews.
  4. Children & Youth Faith FormationHopewell Halloween was a big success. Whitney Bolen has volunteered to help with the children’s Christmas program, possibly in the form of a nativity scene. Christmas trees will be delivered Monday, November 23rd. Sales will begin Friday, November 27th.
  5. Membership & Hospitalityno report
  6. MissionThe Boy Scouts will meet at Hopewell for the next 14 weeks rather than meeting outside at the church due to Covid-19 restrictions and weather concerns. The cost is $5/scout. The session approved that the Mission Ministry Team be allowed to exceed the annual budget by $750 to help cover the cost of the Boy Scouts meeting at Camp Hopewell.
  7. PersonnelSession approved a motion authorizing the Personnel Committee to send the usual solicitation letter to the Congregation as in prior years for Christmas bonuses.  FPC will offer BOP insurance benefits to Wade Simpson. Wade is now to be included as a member of the non-ministerial team with respect to the Board of Pensions.
  8. WorshipThe Advent devotional books are close to completion. Those will be distributed by print and email. A service of wholeness and healing will take place, date TBD. The worship ministry team has asked the Covid Task Force to look at possible in person seating in family units in an effort to maximize in person worship numbers. There will be record keeping of in-person attendance as well as online participation and viewing. 
  9. Deacon’s report – Reverend Barrett Milner gave a brief report about the restructuring efforts of the Deacons toward pastoral care.  

II. Old Business
  1. Audiovisual System biddingA final bid has been received from Academic Technology in the amount $37,700. The bid included a camera to be able to stream online and record services, capability to share the service in the fellowship hall, ability to simultaneously share photos or files in the congregation as well as online, training and warranty. The only thing not included is the additional cost of a computer which can be purchased less expensively, independent of the bid. The Session approved a motion to accept the bid as outlined with the approval of the additional cost of a computer, not to exceed $43,000.
  2. Services of Worship/Covid Task Force discussionReverend Barrett Milner said that the task force and ministers are in continuing conversation to assess the situation. 
  3. Long Range/Strategic PlanningReverend Barrett Milner stated that he is evaluating information from past surveys and session meetings to begin to prepare for a long range or strategic planning process in which the Session, Diaconate and members will participate.
  4. StewardshipThe Stewardship Committee has prepared all the materials that should be mailed soon. Speakers are set for the next two Sundays.
III. New Business: Advent Services: Reverend Barrett Milner stated the Advent service plans are being planned. There is a possibility of having three services. 
IV. General Announcements: Next stated session meeting will be December 14th at 5:30 pm.  
New officers for the class of 2023 were elected by the congregation at it's called meeting on Sunday, November 22nd. Those elected to the office of Elder are: Allyson Ashmore, Kathryn Elliott, Goodloe Lewis, Drew Mauldin, and Lee Miers Those elected to the office of Deacon are: Laura Jackson, Chloe Lloyd, Allison McCord, Shae Orrell, and Adam Quick. Bios will be available and shared with the congregation in the coming weeks. 

Many thanks to the members of this year's Officer Nominating Committee for their thoughtful discernment throughout this process. Their work was made much easier by the suggestions made by members of the congregation. Members of the ONC are: Whitney Bolen, Ashley Callery (Elder), Bo Elliott, Al Ling, Kathy Neff, Greg Patton (Elder), and Pattye Wilson (Deacon)
Monthly Bible Reading
There is one more month left on this year-long journey through scripture and it seems we've saved some of the best for last. Within the Old Testament, we spend time conversing with all twelve of the minor prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. And within the story of the New Testament, we journey to the island of Patmos to sit with John and hear his Revelation of God's Word. The link to December's readings may be found here or on the website

For those who are interested and have been participating in this spiritual discipline, a time for conversation and reflection will be organized in early 2021. Please contact David Randolph at if you would like to participate.
Sunday, December 6, 2020
2nd Sunday of Advent
8:30 am & 11:00 am worship with communion
11:00 am online worship

Sunday, December 13, 2020
3rd Sunday of Advent
8:30 am & 11:00 am worship
11:00 am online worship

Sunday, December 20, 2020
4th Sunday of Advent
8:30 am & 11:00 am worship
11:00 am online worship

Sunday, December 27, 2020
1st Sunday of Christmas
10:30 am worship
10:30 am online worship
In addition to in-person worship each Sunday, the 11:00 am service continues to be offered online through Facebook Live! The live video feed begins at 10:55 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. 

To join in-person worship, an email will continue being sent each Wednesday at 5:00 pm to sign up.
If you have any questions, please call the church office at 234.1757.
Seasonal greenery and berries dates are available throughout Advent. The dates available are December 6, 13, 20, 27, and January 3. To provide seasonal greenery and berries in honor or in memory of a loved one, contact Margaret Fancher at or 234-1359. Contributions to the Flower Fund are greatly appreciated.  
Lectionary texts for December

December 6 – Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13; 2 Peter 3:8-15a; Mark 1:1-8
December 13 – Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; Psalm 126 or Luke 1:46b-55; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28
December 20 – 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Luke 1:46b-55 or Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-28
December 27 – Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Psalm 148; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:22-40
Members are invited to help decorate the Sanctuary for Christmas by purchasing poinsettias for $12 each in memory or in honor of friends or loved ones. The deadline for ordering is Monday, December 7th. Please click here for the order form. You may also click the button below to order online. Be sure to list your information as you would like it printed in the bulletin and return it to the church office with your payment attached.   
The church needs volunteers to help with sanctuary greening each Friday morning at 9:00 am during the Advent Season. All you need is your favorite pair of clippers and a mask! Social distancing will be observed and a mask is required in the building at all times. If you are able to help on December 4th, 11th, or 18th, please call Margaret Fancher at 234-1359 or email her at  
Advent Wholeness & Healing services are offered on Tuesdays, December 1st, 8th, and 15th, at 5:30 pm in the Sanctuary. These 30-minute services offer peace and solitude for all during the busy Christmas season and incorporate prayer, scripture and communion. Services will be streamed online each week on the church's Facebook page to ensure everyone may participate. Please sign up below to let us know to expect you.
Remember in Prayer
FPC Members: Elizabeth Owen; Family of Shirley Crawford; Helen Scruggs; Wil Howie; Billy Wood; 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; Walter Nance; Debbie McElreath; Director of Music/Organist Search Committee
Family and Friends: Paulette Logan; Tommy Waters; Mary Gietzen; Donna Buckley; Rachel & Bruce Robinson; 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; Ted Stocker; Tom Callery; Tom Mullen; Linda Chavers; Mark Barnes; Joe Houston; Matt Branch; Erica Baggett; Mackenzie Stetz; Betty Hoar; 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. Please contact Carlisle Wood at or 662-832-8606. All requests are held in strict confidence. 
Adult Faith Formation
Don't forget about FPC's upcoming Adult Faith Formation event, Advent Together! All are welcome to participate in this three part online program about the Christmas story shared through the Gospel of Luke, the Gospel of Matthew, and our favorite Christmas carols and hymns. Each session will happen online via Zoom from 4:00 to 5:15 pm on December 6th, 13th, and 20th. Please sign up by clicking the link below.
Bibles & Brews celebrates the holiday season in style with a special Jeopardy night on Wednesday, December 9th, from 7:30 to 9:00 pm via Zoom! All are welcome to participate in this online communal gathering and are encouraged to wear their favorite Christmas sweaters. Special thanks to the Rev. Allison Wehrung for her help with this Jeopardy night. Contact David Randolph for more details.
Mark your calendars now for a special congregational Bible study offer about the book of James! Two classes will be offered on Wednesdays at 10:00 am and Thursdays at 5:15 pm. Things get started on January 13th with chapter one and run through chapter five on February 11th. Please contact David Randolph to sign up.
UKirk College News
UKirk Ole Miss, as you might imagine, had a Fall semester like no other. We began the way we ended last Spring -- with weekly check in time and Bible study on Zoom. Thanks to FPC's ongoing hospitality and diligent COVID precautions, we were able to begin in-person gatherings in late September. It turns out the Holy Spirit shows up among spaced-out chairs in the courtyard just as much as it does between the mis-matched couches and year-round Christmas lights in our UKirk building! We continued regular Bible study throughout the semester, and relished the chance to carefully share face-to-face the ups and downs (and in-betweens) of this wild semester. 

We are especially grateful to those supporters who made donations to feed our faith community this Fall; we put your contributions to use through a combination gift cards and individually-portioned meals we were able to eat together. In particular, thank you to: Mary Haskell, the Lula Gregory Circle, Greg Patton, Batesville Presbyterian Church, and Ruth O'Dell.

Though our last regular Tuesday gathering was November 17, we're looking forward to reflecting on the coming weeks with the national UKirk Advent devotional, and our continuing to collect resources in our virtual prayer room. Plans are in the works for a virtual Christmas Party over break, too! 

As always, we would appreciate your prayers for the UKirk community. If you have any questions, or know a student we should meet, check out our website or email me (Allison Wehrung) at
“Many hands make light work.” “Teamwork makes the dream work.” “If we all do a little, it adds up to a lot.” There are lots of ways to say it — but working together really does make bigger and better things possible. And, lots of times, working together makes it more fun, too. In fact, there are times made better just by our ability to be together, to be with one another. That is something that really rings true, doesn’t it? Being together. During these past months, many of us weren’t able to be together in person. We have always been together in spirit, and in faith. But we missed seeing each other. We missed seeing faces we love — up close and personal. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t been together. And we definitely have not been alone.

There is a word that comes up a lot during this season we call Advent in the Church, and it points to the same sentiment, but about God: “Emmanuel.” Emmanuel means “God is with us,” and, in Jesus, we Christians claim that God took on human form to be with us. “God is with us” is more than just saying God is along for the ride. It states God values togetherness and relationship with us, leading us to value togetherness and relationship with one another. When we are all together as we are today — and even when we are apart. The Christmas Joy Offering is one way we join together as Presbyterians from around the country. We do this to meet the needs of vulnerable people we might not be able to meet as individuals or as single congregations. We might not be able to meet face to face with those who need the support that our gifts provide, but we are very much still together. The gifts we share connect us. They also change lives.

Through the Christmas Joy Offering, we support church workers and their families who experience critical financial needs through help from the Assistance Program of the Board of Pensions. We connect with the young people attending Stillman College, Presbyterian Pan American School, and the Menaul School, supporting the education and leadership development for students of color, who will soon be leaders in our Church and in the world. “God is with us.” All the time. During this season of Advent, as we approach Christmas, I can’t think of a more perfect gift than that. Thank you for sharing those lessons and those truths, through your gift to the Christmas Joy Offering. Please give generously, for “if we all do a little — together — it adds up to a lot.”
Could This Be Your Mission?

While the word ‘mission’ is typically associated with travel, many mission opportunities exist locally in the Oxford community. The Leap Frog Program of Oxford is one such opportunity. Founded in 1990, The Leap Frog program provides free after-school literacy tutoring and mentoring for “at risk” first through third grade students enrolled in the Oxford Elementary and Lafayette County public schools. Volunteer tutors provide individualized instruction and enrichment activities, working one-on-one with each student to improve reading skills, develop necessary skills for academic success, instill a love of reading and improve self-esteem. Serving more than 100 elementary students from across Lafayette County, the program utilizes a formal curriculum to complement school learning, carefully monitoring each student’s progress in close collaboration with each school district.

During current school closures due to Covid-19 the Leap Frog Program continues to deliver services. Tutors and students able to connect to the internet are being supported virtually via FaceTime or Zoom while books and other learning supplies are being delivered to students without this option. With limited opportunities for fundraising this year supplies are needed to support this modified service delivery now more than ever.

Could this be your mission? You can participate in this program by donating supplies found on Leap Frog’s Amazon Wish List via or by making a monetary donation by visiting the Leap Frog Program website at: A mission opportunity in our own back yard. This could be yours!
We also have a COVID friendly option for dropping off. If you would like to buy through Amazon, all you have to do is click the link here and pick an item. It ships directly to Charlie's house.
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 ~

In memory of:

Doug Alexander

Pat & Richard Atkinson

Dr. Joe Burnett

Pat & Richard Atkinson

Shirley Crawford

Kim Aguirre
Scottye & Pete Boone
Jeff Bowen, Jr.
Starling & Lesley Cousley
Mary Ann & John Cropp
Kathryn & Allen Elliott
Laura Jackson
Allison & Kyle Koestler
Susan & Tom Meredith
Cindy & Lee Miers
Emily & Don Newcomb
Ruth "Cootie" Odom
Rose & Henry Paris, Irma Buchanan
Paul Pittman
Nancy & Bill Rogers
Jody & Pick Scruggs
Nila & Max Williams
Polly & Parham Williams
Carlisle & Billy Wood

Fannie Elliott

Pat & Richard Atkinson

Catherine Rosser

Yung & Dean Chow
J.J. Jones
Nancy & Bill Rogers
Nila & Max Williams
Martha & Frank Witherspoon
Upcoming Birthdays and Anniversaries
December Birthdays

1 Baxter Elliott, Brett Estes, Kathy Griffith, Brent Hardin, Jimmy Heidel
2 Margaret Fancher, Sandy Grisham, Tyler Lovelace, Mary Kay McDowell, Kay Meadors
3 Ashley Abraham
4 Monte Gibbs, Ernie Lowe
5 Mary Clark Hayward, Robert Williams
6 Charles Cascio, Dean Chow, Ty Gillespie
7 Ralph Kersey, Steve McCord, Tom Meredith
8 Sandra Webb
9 Rosie Cooper, Caroline Croom, Gracyn Gordon, Sharon Lovelace, Carrie Milner
10 George Abdo, LeAnne Neal, Syd Shaw
11 June Goza, Miles Luster, Matt Nielson, Ben Pettis, Damein Wash
12 Emma Flautt, Allison McCord, Jenny McPhail
13 Guff Abbott
15 Kristina Carlson, Thomas Embry, Finley Flowers, Vaughn Grisham, Mary Miers
16 Kate Rosson
17 Debbie Boutwell, Logan McPhail, Wes Snellgrove
18 Marty Mauldin
19 Derek Baker, Joyce Gibbs
20 Matthew Chow, Hale Freeland, Grace Gillespie
21 Julie Field
22 Maggie Abernathy, John Edge, Robert Hall, Mike Lovelace, Davis McCool, Randall Mize
23 Jack Hill, Robert Lake, Liza Orrell, Entje Webb
24 Alissa Davis, Lee Mize
25 Lynton Dilley, Marjorie Selvidge
26 Luke Gibbs
27 Cliff Smith
28 Allison Crawford, Lainey Schuesselin
29 Kristen Phillips
31 Ashley Callery

December Anniversaries

4 LuAnn & Tommy Smith
5 Susan & Todd Abbott
6 Machelle & Ernie Williams
8 Maribel & Doug Sullivan-Gonzalez
11 Laura & Charles Montgomery
12 Jenny Kate & Sparky Luster
18 Melissa & Matthew Graves
21 Ann & Bill Dickins, Jody & Pick Scruggs
22 Patsy & Guff Abbott, Ann & Richard DeVoe, Susan & David Shaw
24 Marianna & Monte Ochs
28 Mary & Sam Haskell
29 Joyce & Monte Gibbs
30 Julie & Ed Field, Cynthia & Hale Freeland, Lele & Guy Gillespie, Marjorie & Roy Selvidge, Sarah & Trey Bridgers
The deadline for the January Newsletter is Tuesday, December 15, 2020.
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

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