First Press | an online newsletter | January 2020
Last year, as our church family completed a congregational assessment looking to the future of our church’s ministry, one of our stated goals was to “provide more opportunities for Christian education and spiritual formation at every age and stage of life.” Throughout 2019, the Adult Faith Formation and the Children and Youth Faith Formation ministry teams have taken that goal to heart. Bible studies were offered throughout the year and included extra classes so that more people could participate; PW Circles and Small Groups continued to provide intentional community through meaningful conversation and personal support; new intergenerational opportunities, such as the Wonder Common Read, created space to feel, know, and share the love of God in Jesus Christ; young adults talked about their faith through continued offerings like Bibles and Brews and new conversation series about mental health and grief; VIPs grew enriched in their faith through shared meals together and a trip to Montreat; and the David Freeman Lecture series became an annual event. New opportunities for faith formation are on the horizon too as our children come together for a new weekly program in January for Bible study, crafts, recreation and dinner together.

With that same goal of enriching our faith in mind, we, your pastors have a challenge for the entire congregation in 2020: We invite you to join us in reading the Bible all the way through to the last chapter!

We can do this! The list of daily readings consists of manageable portions of scripture from both the Old and New Testaments. Each month, the list of readings will be published in the Newsletter and on our website online. Printed copies will be available the first Sunday of the month as well as in the narthex. In our efforts to discover a manageable reading list, we found a similar challenge offered by Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago which can help guide our congregation as we begin this journey. On their website ( here ) you can find the assigned readings, a text for reflection and a brief devotion from a member of their pastoral staff. We are committed to enriching this experience by adding our reflections as well and look forward to incorporating them into the life of the church throughout 2020.

Why do this together? Well, if you’ve ever attempted to read the Bible from cover to cover, you know it is not an easy task. Most of us can breeze through the stories found in Genesis and the Gospels, but often we struggle when we’re knee deep in the pages of laws offered in Leviticus or wrestling with visions from the Prophets. By reading together as a community of faith, we can support one another by holding each other accountable. This challenge also is a way for our church family to go beyond Sunday morning by incorporating a new discipline into our everyday activities. It’s an opportunity for every member of our community to engage in the ministry of our church even if you were unable to attend worship that week. It’s a way for all of us, irrespective of age and stage of life, to interact as the body of Christ through the collective reading of God’s written Word. As God’s Spirit moves through our conversations, who knows what new opportunities for faith formation might result from our shared reading?

As your pastors, we’re excited to share this new challenge for 2020 with you and to publicly declare that we are all in! There is no better way to feel, know and share the love of Christ than to surround ourselves with the gift of God’s written Word. Together, we can do this! Let’s resolve to make 2020 a year when we attend to our own Christian faith formation together.

Will you join us?

Ann and David
Financial Summary
Session Summary

The Session of First Presbyterian Church held its stated monthly meeting on Monday, December 9, 2019, at 5:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall.  Fifteen elders were present.  A summary of the meeting follows:

  • Report from the Director of Music/Organist Search Committee: Christina Torbert, moderator of the search committee reported that the committee is proceeding with seeking one candidate that can serve a dual role in both positions at this time. The committee will wait to begin the search once the new senior pastor has been called so that they can communicate with him/her regarding the position. In the meantime, a job description is being constructed along with the details of an employment package.
  • Officer Examinations: Five Elders and five Deacons gave their statements of faith and stated their commitment to the duties of their respective calls. A motion to approve all the examinations was passed unanimously.
  • Consent Agenda: 
  • Approval of Communion for January, February and March.
  • Approval of Communion on January 11 at the officer’s retreat.

Ministry Team Check-in

  1. Finance: Elder Dana Williams reviewed the stewardship campaign. We are currently at 67% of responses as compared to the total last year in the amount of $664,000 to date. Cash balance is $150,570. Income is $819,471, about $45,000 below budget, but remains ahead of last year, given the predicted end of year giving. Unpledged giving remains favorable.
  2. Adult Faith Formation: Elder Ann DeVoe reported that on December 15th will be a Faith Formation opportunity for participation for multiple age groups in conjunction in with the children’s Christmas play. This will consist of a gathering in the fellowship hall with food, hot cocoa and the Chadwicks leading carols.  
  3. Children and Youth Faith Formation: Elder Ruth O’Dell reported that Sunday School is continuing. Christmas tree sales are complete. Plans for new programming in January are in place. 
  4. Membership & Hospitality: Elder Monte Wood reported that Carols and Cocoa will be December 15th. The children will decorate some ornaments for a tree in the fellowship hall.  
  5. Mission: Elder Ashley Callery reported that Mission Ministry Team has distributed a food calendar for Advent season. The team voted to approve to transfer $4,000 from the new local mission account to the associate pastor discretionary fund to assist individuals and families that come to the church seeking assistance. In addition, they voted to donate $750 to the Boy Scout troop that meets at FPC. More than a Meal took place December 3rd
  6. Personnel: Elder Ben Griffith reported that the Christmas gift letter has gone out to the membership. 
  7. Worship: Elder Ann DeVoe reported that the worship schedule is complete. Plans for Advent devotional, services and decorations are in place. The Wholeness and Healing services are planned for December 3rd, 10th and 17th

Old Business:

  • PNC update- Elder Hayden Alexander reported that the PNC has narrowed the candidate to two people that plan to visit for further interview.
  • Presbytery Support regarding UKirk - The Reverend Ann Kelly reported that the session will meet on Sunday, December 15th following the service with Greg Goodwiller regarding First Presbyterian’s budget for monetary support provided to the Presbytery. The per capita amount is set according to membership numbers and is paid from the church and the additional (Selected Giving) gift to the Presbytery comes from Mission and can potentially vary from year to year. General questions from the meeting should be sent to Ann Kelly prior to the meeting. 
  • Update on Sound System – an audio engineer has been consulted for further review and possible solutions. 

New Business:

  • Annual Report for 2019 – Every Ministry Team should submit a report that summarizes their activity within the past year that will be compiled into an annual report that will be distributed to the congregation along with the budget. Deadline is the January Session meeting.
  • Officer Retreat on Saturday, Jan 11th at Barnard Observatory from 8:30 am-3:00 pm. New members will also meet Friday night from 6-8 pm at the church.
  • There was a discussion of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and how it applies to church employees as well the Presbytery of St. Andrew’s Family or Maternity Leave Policy which is being reviewed by the Commission on Ministry. Currently it says:

Family or Medical Leave Maternity Leave – After one-year employment, installed Pastors, Co-Pastors, or Associate Pastors shall be granted at least six weeks maternity leave with pay, commencing at the time advised by their physician. Accrued vacation time may be used to extend such leave, or an extension without pay may be negotiated, subject to the approval of the Session and COM. As with the presbytery’s policy on Sabbatical Leave, when this policy creates a financial hardship for a congregation, COM will ensure that pastoral duties (preaching, moderating, pastoral care) are covered at no additional expense to the congregation.” 

A motion to adhere to the family leave policy with regard to maternity/paternity leave as stated for ordained personnel in the manual of operations of the Presbytery of St. Andrew was approved.

  • Annual review of ministry contract for Ann Kelly. Ann’s current contract is as an interim associate pastor and her contract term is brought forward for approval on an annual basis. A motion to approve an extension of Reverend Ann Kelly’s annual contract at previous levels pending the establishment of a budget for 2020 at the end of the Stewardship Campaign was approved.       
Upcoming worship schedule:
Sunday, January 5, 2020
9:30-10:15 am Sunday School
10:30 am Worship (communion)

Sunday, January 12, 2020
9:30-10:15 am Sunday School
10:30 am Worship (communion)
Sunday, January 19, 2020
9:30-10:15 am Sunday School
10:30 am Worship (communion)

Sunday, January 26, 2020
9:30-10:15 am Sunday School
10:30 am Worship (communion)
Lectionary texts for January

January 5 - Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 147:12-20; Ephesians 1:3-14; John 1: (1-9) 10-18
January 12 - Isaiah 42:1-9; Psalm 29; Acts 10:34-43; Matthew 3:13-17
January 19 - Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 40:1-11; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42
January 26 - Isaiah 9:1-4; Psalm 27:1, 4-9; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18; Matthew 4:12-23
FPC Members: Max Williams; Tom Meredith; Family of Fannie Elliott; Family of Sue Treas; Syd Shaw; Matthew Hall; J. T. Davis; Becky & Joe Murphey; Lynton Dilley; Walter Nance; Mary Kay McDowell; Joe Burnett; Pierce Buford; Debbie McElreath; Marleah Hobbs; PNC Committee
Family and Friends: Paulette Logan; Family of Steve Cragon, Sr.; Family of Jerry Newcomb; Family of Don Gleason; Family of Ralph Heinauer; Gary Demand; Alex Sessions; Family of David Turner; Brad Hovious; B. Jones; Pat Gillenwater; Family of Owen Stumpf; Family of Rev. Shep Crigler; Angel Thompson; Family of Reynolds Boykin; Ted Stocker; Jane Connell Lee; Tom Callery; Tom Mullen; Ruth Ellen Duvall Kuhnel; 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
U. S. Military: A1C 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.
FPC Members, 

I’ve been singing with the FPC Chancel Choir for almost 6 years, as I was hired on as a Choral Scholar. The FPC congregation is unique in its appreciation for quality music. However, I have observed that the FPC member choir enrollment was oddly low. The choir has been very fortunate that the church sets aside funds to ensure that there are a few lead singers in the form of Choral Scholars, but the FPC choir should be primarily made up of church members.

In September when Joseph Garrison was called to serve at another church, I stepped into the Interim Choral Director position while church leadership seeks permanent replacement organist/choral director. Knowing the congregation’s love for quality music, hearing the congregation sing hymns, and hearing word-of-mouth that there are great musicians in our congregation, I suspect that the choir should be so much larger than it is.

One of my former music teachers once told me, “My goal is to leave this program in better shape than how I found it.” I see my movement into this position as a step in God’s plan for our church to get us through one of many transitions. I would love to see the choir’s enrollment increase in numbers as well as diversify in age. I believe the Chancel Choir should enroll singers from high school through retirement. When a full-time organist/choral director is hired, I plan to leave the FPC choir in better shape than how I found it. 

We are all too familiar with sermons addressing stewardship/tithes. The other two T’s, talents and time, are often overlooked. If you’re on the fence, what do you have to lose? With the new year, why not try something new or return to something you once loved? Please prayerfully consider offering your talents and about an hour of your time per week to our church by joining our FPC Chancel Choir family. We rehearse Sunday mornings - mostly at 9:30 am. If you have any questions or want more details, please don’t hesitate to contact me. 

Dale Beech
FPC Interim Choral Director
Children's Faith Formation
We are so excited to announce our new Wednesday night program for kids! JAM (Jesus and Me) will start on January 8, 2020 at 5:30 pm! We’ll have rotations of Bible and crafts, dinner and recreation. Drop-off begins at 5:15 and pick-up will begin at 6:45. All children need to be picked up by 7:00 pm. Every 3 year old (must be potty trained) through 4th grade is welcome to join us. 5th-6th grades will have their own program. Please call the church office with questions. Sign up below!
Adult Faith Formation
FPC's Young Adult ministry kicks off 2020 with a bowling night at Premier Lanes on Saturday, January 25th from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. All are welcome to come and enjoy in this annual tradition of fellowship and fun! It's the perfect time to invite a friend to participate in this ministry because we'll have plenty of bowling lanes and finger foods to share. Please RSVP with David Randolph so we an know how many to expect. Please note, our nursery ministry will not be available due to this event being away from the church property.
Bibles with Brews  returns to its weekly format for the month of January! Our first gathering will be  Wednesday, January 8th , from 5:00-7:00 pm at the Growler. Join the conversation as we bring and share different scripture passages about our monthly topic of study. Next time's topic is "Resolutions". All are welcome!
Interested in joining a small group?  FPC's small groups meet monthly to share a meal, study and support one another in our faith. With the new year here, it's the perfect time to sign up to participate in this ministry. New small groups are created on a rolling basis based on interest. Please contact David Randolph   if you are interested or would like to know more.
UKirk News
UKirk Ole Miss had a great semester, and is already busy planning for the next one! With gratitude to everyone who provided Tuesday night meals this Fall, they're looking toward Spring calendar. Interested in providing a meal for hungry college students? Curious, but have some questions? Find available dates online at or email
we would like to say thanks... Anna Ruth Kesler for helping out in the church office during the Advent and Christmas seasons;

…to Jess Edge for helping the Christmas tree lot run smoothly and to everyone who volunteered, made donations or purchased items from the tree lot;

…to Santa, Mrs. Claus and Elfis for their appearance at the Christmas Tree Lot’s Grand Opening;
…to Kristina Carlson, Doug Alexander and Captain for hosting our church officers last month;

…to Melissa and Matthew Hall for hosting the VIP appetizer dinner in December. It was a great evening of good food and fellowship. And, also, to the entire Hall family for preparing communion for the Christmas Eve service;

…to Amy Lowe Lewis who makes our bread for Christmas Eve and other seated communion services;

…to Dale Beech and the Chancel Choir for the beautiful Lessons and Carols Service on December 8;
…to the Reverend Dr. Gregory Goodwiller for preaching on December 15;

…to Whitney Bolen, Terrell Hall, Angela Manley, Brynnen Quick, and Thomas Ardrey for their help in preparing our children for their presentation of The Reluctant Innkeeper;

…to Captain Alexander for sharing his gift of music with us for the Children’s Christmas Pageant and the Advent Wholeness and Healing Service;

…to Paul Hester and Magnolia Rental with helping us with microphones for the performance;

…to Greg Patton for hosting the end of the year bonfire and Dirty Santa party for the youth;

…to Ann DeVoe, Matthew Hall, Carmille Hovious, Margie McLeod, Ruth O’Dell, Monte Wood, Julie and Billy Chadwick and the many, many volunteers who helped make the Christmas Extravaganza such a fun evening for so many;

…to Margie and Kevin McLeod and all the many elves who helped decorate our beautiful Chrismon tree;

…to Margaret Fancher and her greening crew who kept the sanctuary beautiful throughout the season of Advent…

…to each of you and all of you who helped prepare the way for Christmas!
On behalf of the Worship Ministry Team, thanks go to Ann DeVoe, Margaret Fancher-Chair, Betsy Holcomb, Kay Meadors, Kay Tyler, Nila Williams and Pattye Wilson for coming week after week to decorate and keep the sanctuary fresh during the Advent and Christmas seasons. Julie & Billy Chadwick provided pine and cedar each week, with magnolia from Ann DeVoe and holly given by Kay Tyler rounding out our supply of natural greenery. A huge thank you also goes to Wade Simpson for help and general kindness during the season. You all are greatly appreciated.

Margaret Fancher, Chair, Greening Committee
Our Advent Calendar resulted in over 500 pounds of food being delivered to the Pantry after Christmas! Thank you, First Presbyterian, for your support of our neighbors in Oxford and Lafayette County and of the Pantry!
How to Help Our Haiti Partners
In lieu of a trip to Haiti in 2020, the Mission Ministry Team encourages those who would like to support our Haiti partners to consider making a financial contribution to Discopelbon, the clinic started by Dr. Gladys Memnon several years ago in the Bognotte community. Each year our mission team takes much-needed medical supplies to Haiti which will be missed this year. Your support can help FPC continue to show our care and support for the community of Bongnotte, even if we are not able to take supplies ourselves. Discopelbon is a U.S. based non-profit and has 501C3 status. Elders Greg Patton and Susan Abbott both serve on the board of the clinic. The new clinic has two part-time doctors and a nurse which allows them to be open five days a week providing medical care to the Bongnotte community and beyond. Checks may be made payable to Discopelbon and mailed to Susan Abbott at 512 Woodland Hills Drive, Oxford, MS. Donations are then wired to an account in Haiti. Honorariums and memorial gifts may be made as well. Every dollar donated goes directly to the clinic to supplement doctors' and nurses' salaries, purchase medications and furnish the new clinic building. This continues FPC's partnership with Dr. Gladys and the people of Bongnotte and helps improve the health of the people in this community. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Lovepacks  donations are an easy way to help relieve hunger among Oxford and Lafayette County school children. If you'll bring your donations with you to church and deposit them in the church office or the narthex, volunteers will get them to the Lovepacks office for you. Items needed are:  

  • 10-18 oz Pop-Top Chicken Noodle or Vegetable Soups
  • Pop-Top Ravioli
  • Snack Pack Pudding Cups
  • Cheese/Peanut Butter Crackers
  • 16 oz. Jars of Peanut Butter
  • Pop Top Beanie Weenies
  • Granola Bars
  • Pop Top Canned Fruit (Please, No Fruit Cups)
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.
VIPs will kick off the new year by gathering at 5:45 on Thursday, January 23 at the SIPP, a wine bar with food tastings and full entrees, located at 400 South Lamar, Suite A2, just down the street from the church. Note that it’s Tuesday rather than our regular Thursday night in order for us to reserve the private room. Take a look at the menu here to see what they offer. The management has suggested that those who do know what they’d like to eat order ahead of time through the church in order to reduce our wait time.

Many thanks to James Day for working out the details. Please notify the church if you plan to attend so that we can give the SIPP a head count. Hope to see you there!
Mark your calendars for Tuesday, February 18 and Tuesday, April 14 to take part in hosting More Than a Meal for FPC!

Many thanks to everyone who participated in December! Mary Haskell, Sarah McLellan and Ashley Callery and all the other volunteers did a great job and we thank you all for your support of More Than a Meal.
Moderator - Mary Glynn Wright -
Vice - Moderator - Kathryn Elliott -
Secretary - Whitney Bolen -  
Treasurer - Margaret Fancher -
Historian - Marianna Ochs -
Ex-Moderator - Mary Haskell -
News from the Pews
Memorials and Honorarias
~ With gratitude for contributions to First Presbyterian Church ~

In memory of:

Susan Emptage Burkett

Homer Burkett

Fannie Elliott

Mary Dana & Tommy Baird
Evana Barrett
Sally Booke
Kaye Bryant
Mr. & Mrs. Robert A. Carson, Jr.
Julie & Billy Chadwick
Yung & Dean Chow
Corrine Cullen
Barbara & J.T. Davis
Ann DeVoe
Gail & John England
Julie & Ed Field
Elizabeth & Jon Fisher
Stump, Juliette & Nash Gilmore
Llewellyn & James Hall, Jr.
Margaret Hall
Gerrard, Kathy & Wade Hannah
Rebecca Johnson
Ernie & Pat Lowe
Marty & Steve Mauldin
Allison & Steve McCord
Mr. & Mrs. Floyd Melton, Jr.
Mary Ellen Odom
Rose Paris
Pam & Ed Parker
Will & Paige Parker
Randy Randall
Dr. & Mrs. James W. Rayner
J.S. Roper
Robbie & Charlie Schuchard
Judy & David Shannon
Becky & Christopher Smith
Vicki & Harry Sneed
Tommy Thomas
Noel K. Toler, Jr.
Miriam & Kyle Wicker
Machelle & Ernie Williams
Jeannine White
Ginger & Quentin Whitwell
Martha & Bob Whitwell

Don Oliver Gleason

Julie & Ed Field

Sue Treas

Sally Booke
Yung & Dean Chow
Corrine Cullen
Barbara & J.T. Davis
Ann DeVoe
Julie & Ed Field
Allison & Steve McCord
Barbara & John Messina, Jr.
Robbie & Charlie Schuchard
Judy & David Shannon
Machelle & Ernie Williams
Beth & Jack Yates

In honor of:

FPC Staff

Jason Derrick

Carmille Hovious

Dr. Michael & Patty Robbins

Ann Louise & Mary Elizabeth Miers

Cindy & Lee Miers
Birthdays and Anniversaries

January Birthdays:

1 Frances Crawford, Edna Wright
2 Kathryn Hill, Steve Mauldin, Jody Scruggs, Kerry Wigginton
5 Barbara Davis
6 Nancy Giles
7 Lindsey Baquie, Anna Presley Harris, Maribel Sullivan-Gonzalez, Lynn Treas
9 Ney Williams
10 Lu Ann Smith
11 Marleah Hobbs
12 Pat Bittmann, Donald Felts
13 Melba Bowlin, Sam Cribbs, Suzan Deloach
15 Caroline McIntosh
16 Hal Haney
17 Toni Joyer, Ann O'Dell
18 Sally Hines, Catherine Servati
19 Becky Murphey
20 Nolan Franklin, Peter Kondos, Suzy Phillips
21 Jon Crawford, Shelby Goza, Ed Holcomb
22 Anita Drury
24 Emory Barrios, David Coon, Alli Hayward, Cydni Kersey, Pick Scruggs
25 Jay Chain, Pat Lowe
26 Jeffrey Hollis
27 Monroe Alexander, Charles McClatchy, Henry Tanner
28 Thelma Curry, Amy Wilkes
30 Rob Howell
31 Pratt Wilkinson

January Anniversaries:

14 Linda & John Scarbrough
16 Dana & Ney Williams
22 Sarah & Cliff Smith
24 Yung & Dean Chow
First Dates
The Prayer Shawl Ministry will meet Monday, January 6 at 1:00 pm in Room 101.
The Worship Ministry Team will meet Monday, January 13 at 4:30 pm in the Session Room.
The Finance Ministry Team will meet Monday, January 13 at 4:30 pm in Room 101.
The Session will meet Monday, January 13 at 5:30 pm in Fellowship Hall.
The FPC Book Club will meet Tuesday, January 14 at 1:30 pm in Room 101.
The Director of Music/Organist Search Committee will meet Wednesday, January 8 at 5:30 pm in Room 101.
The Membership & Hospitality Ministry Team will meet Thursday, January 16 at 5:30 pm in Room 101.
The Adult Faith Formation Ministry Team will meet Thursday, January 16 at 5:30 pm in Room 101.
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
Gabe Chiniche, James Day, Rob Howell,
Cliff Smith, Pattye Wilson
Your Church Staff
The Congregation
Interim Associate Pastor
Associate Pastor
Pastor, UKirk Ministry
Interim Choir Director
Director of Elementary Music
Office Administrator
Director of Communications
Property Manager
Nursery Director
First Presbyterian Church | 662.234.1757 |