First Press | an online newsletter | March 2021 edition
I never doubted that it would be a welcomed change. I never questioned that it would be good. All the same, I’ll confess I wasn’t prepared for the profound sense of joy that I felt as I looked into many of your eyes, rather than the backside of an iPhone, as we gathered again in our sanctuary on the first Sunday of Lent. For all of us – and the entirety of our grieving world – these last several months of continued adversity, isolation, and uncertainty have challenged us in ways we might never have imagined. And yet, as I stood before you, having gathered safely in the same shared physical space after so many weeks apart, joy arose and gratitude overwhelmed. Joy for togetherness and the promises of brighter, more healthy days to come. And gratitude for the abiding presence, comforting guidance, and movement of God’s Spirit in our midst here at First Presbyterian Church, Oxford.

At times – for all of us, I imagine – it seems that it’s easier to focus on all that’s going wrong around us than it is for us to shift to the happier news of the day. It’s easier to be morose and stagnant than it is to be uplifted and forward-thinking. It’s easier to get bogged down with the “what’s wrongs” than it is to be optimistic about the “what’s nexts!” It’s easier to stare hopelessly at the Lenten Cross, rather than bask in the glory of the Easter Cross.
Therefore, after our sunlit sanctuary filled with your bright faces gave me such hope, I was inspired to put together a list of just a few of the things that I am so very optimistic about…the “what’s nexts” for our church family!

  • Once again, we are safely worshipping together, in-person, with increased capacity.
  • A search is underway for our new music director, with many wonderful candidates being interviewed.
  • The search committee for our new full-time director of Faith Formation for our children has been formed and is currently working to establish the type of candidate that will best serve our church’s needs.
  • We are aggressively and thoughtfully planning for increased, in-person programming for children on Sunday mornings (which will include nursery care), to begin this month.
  • UKirk and PYF are back and already gathering for in-person meetings!

For God’s people, the Lenten season provides the coveted space and time for deeper reflection on the love of God and the gift of God’s grace. It’s a season to ponder again, more deeply, the wonder of Christ’s sacrificial love that redeems and brings life and wholeness to us, even now. It’s a season in which we’re invited to rediscover gratitude and gracious living. Perhaps after much of the tumult and trauma of the year behind, a year when we have sacrificed so much, this Lenten season will give us the time to reflect on the many things we have in our lives – and indeed in our church – that deserve our optimistic excitement! As we take the time to redirect our attention on the “what’s nexts” we might more fully comprehend the beauty and promise of resurrection…as we rise…

In hope,
Session Summary

Ministry Team Check-in 

  1. Finance – Elder Susan Abbott asked that if any ministry team had requested changes to the budget amounts, to please remind her of those requests.     
  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. An October Glory Maple tree will be planted adjacent to the existing front sugar maple. 
  3. Adult Faith Formation – Elder Allyson Ashmore reported that the drive-in movie night had to be postponed to March 6th.  Lenten devotionals will take place during the season.   
  4. Children & Youth Faith Formation – no report
  5. Membership & Hospitality – Kevin Christian reported that the Mardi Gras event is planned without the pancake supper. Church golf tournament is scheduled for May. A church picnic will take place in the fall as well as a Halloween event. Elder Drew Mauldin stated that the online membership app/directory is moving forward.
  6. Mission – The ministry team met and is continuing to highlight our mission partners in the monthly newsletter. Elder Greg Patton stated that FPC is doing MTaM in February and March. Pantry service will take place in June. Patton outlined a proposal for the session to consider becoming a Matthew 25 Church. This is an invitation to join a group of churches who engage persons in need and incorporate a broad-based approach to reach those in need and understand the greater issues as well as the underlying causes. The ministry team recommends that FPC Oxford become a Matthew 25 Church by signing up online.  There is no cost. After discussion, it was agreed that session members will individually do further research to learn about the program at this time.
  7. Personnel – no report
  8. Worship – no report
  9. Deacon’s report – Reverend David Randolph requested that any needs for pastoral care be shared with the deacons.

Old Business

  1. Services of Worship/Covid Task Force discussion – the task force has recommended that in-person worship resume on February 17th, increasing the capacity to 70. One soloist per service is permitted. Additional details are outlined in the formal proposal. After discussion it was requested that If the task force finds that we are able to move any of the outlined dates forward, then every effort will be made to do so. * Motion made to adapt the recommendations from the Covid Task Force as outlined. Motion approved.
  2. Children/Youth Faith Formation Personnel – Reverend Barrett Milner reported that there is now a group assembled who will begin work to seek a full time Director of Faith Formation for Children and Youth. The group consists of Jason Bouldin, Catie Hester, Brynnen Quick, Ruth O’Dell. The role of this staff person will be to focus on program development for children and youth. This person would work alongside the youth interns that are in place. 
  3. Strategic/Long Range Planning – conversations are ongoing to determine how to move forward to establish a strategic plan while in pandemic. Kristina Carlson is involved in helping review data and then bring some possibilities back to the session.
New Business – Reverend Barrett Milner stated that a congregational meeting needs to be called to approve the budget and terms of call. Date is TBD.
General Announcements: Next stated session meeting will be March 8th at 5:30 pm. 
Deacon's project
Pictured left to right: James Day, Cliff Smith, Brian Hyneman, Thelma Curry, Karen Elliott, Allison McCord
Thank you to members of our Diaconate for making Valentine's Day treats for members of our congregation! Deacons are called to be servant leaders as the hands and feet of Christ within the family of faith. If you need some kind of support or wish to spend time with a friend in prayer, please contact a member of the diaconate and we'd be happy to help.
Financial Summary
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  
Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, March 14. Don’t forget to set your clocks and watches forward one hour the night before so you won’t be late for church!
Sunday, March 7, 2021
3rd Sunday in Lent
10:30 am worship with communion

Sunday, March 14, 2021
4th Sunday in Lent
10:30 am worship

Sunday, March 21, 2021
5th Sunday in Lent
10:30 am worship

Sunday, March 28, 2021
Palm Sunday
10:30 am worship

*online worship available
Join us for worship each Sunday at 10:25 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 March

March 7 - Exodus 10:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22
March 14 - Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22; Ephesians 2:1-10; John 3:14-21
March 21 - Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:1-12; Psalm 119:9-16; Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:20-33
March 28 - Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philemon 2:5-11; Mark 4:1-15:47 or Mark 15:1-39 (40-47)
Remember in Prayer
FPC Members: 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 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; 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; 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 or 662-832-8606. All requests are held in strict confidence.  
Adult Faith Formation
Don't forget about FPC's Drive-In Movie Night this coming Saturday, March 6th! All are welcome to come out to the Oxford Film Festival lot for a fun fellowship opportunity. Be on the lookout this week for details about the exact show time around 7:00 pm. The Oxford Film Festival Drive-In is located next to the Krystal at 100 Thacker Loop, Oxford MS, 38655. To learn more about the drive-in experience, visit their website here. Please RSVP below or with the church office to let us know how many people and cars to expect.
FPC's Lenten Studies continue each Sunday afternoon in March! The first class focuses on Spiritual Practices and the second one focuses on a devotional, "Lent of Liberation: Confronting the Legacy of American Slavery". All are welcome to participate in either or both of these wonderful offerings! The spiritual practices class will meet from 3:30 to 4:45 pm and the Lenten Devotional class will meet from 5:00 to 6:15 pm. Books are now available in the church office for $10.
Bibles with Brews continues during the month of March each Wednesday! All are welcome to join in the conversation as we bring and share different scripture passages about a group picked topic. Late night digital editions are scheduled on March 3, 10, and 17 from 7:30 to 9:00 pm. An in-person gathering is being scheduled for March 24th with exact details to be announced. The topic for March 3 is "Self Care". Please contact David Randolph if you would like to participate.
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
The FPC Book Club has continued online and has an exciting opportunity for anyone interested in participating. Book Club meets the second Tuesday of each month and this month's book is "The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective" by Richard Rohr and Andres Ebert. Books are available at Square Books and an audio book is also available. All are welcome to participate in this group conversation on March 9th at 1:30 pm. Contact Margaret Fancher or David Randolph for more details.
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 ~

Joe Burnett

Mary Ann S. Connell
Mary Margaret & Tyler Rogers

Shirley Crawford

Ben & Adalene Pettis

Walter Nance

Acadia Park HOA
Maggie & John Abernathy
Richard & Sherry Cooper
Dennis & Grace Feller
Robert & Anne Gowdy
Ben & Kathy Griffith
Ernie & Pat Lowe
Darrie & Keith Mansel
Libby & Leon McCullouch
Tom & Susan Meredith
Greg Patton
Don & Jan Riviere
Syd & Bobbie Shaw
Dr. & Mrs. Mitch Singleton
Max & Nila Williams

Catherine Rosser

Ben & Adalene Pettis

Mary Sims

Mary Margaret & Tyler Rogers

William Winter

Ben & Adalene Pettis
Upcoming Birthdays and Anniversaries
March Birthdays

5 William Burton, Harper Harris
6 Lauren McRae
7 Brett Person, Max Williams
8 Trey Cobb, Thomas Patrick
9 Adalene Pettis
10 Cal Montgomery
11 Phillip Embry, Winn Hutchcraft
12 Lenore Hobbs, Ashley Wilkinson
13 Jason Freeland, Charles Roos
14 Ann Person, Claire Stevens, Brooks Williams
15 Neil Eads, Carolyn Gibson, Ella McIntosh
16 Henry Haney, Susan Joiner, Hannah Mayo, Griffin Tanner
17 Elizabeth Coon
18 Captain Alexander, Wes Estes, Robert Gowdy, Mary Matthews, Leighton McCool, Anne Tanner
19 Hayden Alexander, Brynn Ashmore, Alexis Longsdorf, Katherine Randolph
20 Kim Ling, Samuel Logan, David McPhail, Molly Neff
21 Harry Embry, Ava Manning
22 Hampton Hardin
23 Erin Alexander, Jim Deloach
24 Nan Davis, Bel Monteith
25 Sophie Semmes
26 Josh Gibbs
27 Frances Abernathy, Jess Edge
29 Spears Alexander
30 Sterlin Smith
31 Kim Funderburk, Elizabeth Monteith, Greg Patton

March Anniversaries

5 Rose & Henry Paris
7 Cindy & Eric Snellgrove
10 Sarah Brooke & Jeb Bishop, Melinda & Bill Freeman
11 Ashley & Michael Abraham
15 Angela & Scott Manley
22 Taylor & Hassell Wilkinson
25 Amy & Tad Wilkes
30 Jenny & David McPhail
31 Nan & Tom Davis
Note: The April deadline for submissions to First Press is Monday, March 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
Associate Pastor
Pastor, UKirk Ministry
Interim Choir Director
Director of Elem. Music
Office Administrator
Dir. of Communications
Property Manager
Nursery Director