First Press | an online newsletter | May 2020
From the Associate Pastors

The Easter season is filled with stories of encounters with the risen Jesus, but also with an ever-growing awareness that life from the resurrection forward will look much different for the disciples. They are given the power to forgive by their risen Lord. Then, they are told to go baptize and make disciples and teach all the things that Jesus had taught them. He’s passing the baton and they are to take it and run with it. A new life is beginning to unfold.

This season of virtual worship, social distancing, and sheltering in place has been filled with worry, fear, sickness, death, and loss of many kinds. It’s also been a season when God’s presence has become real in a family funeral with no one there to love and support the family as they mourned; in the young couple leaving food on the doorstep of a fellow church member who lives alone; in the call from a church member who was just going through the directory and calling members of her church family; at tables set for the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper; in moments when families still clad in their pajamas gather on the couch for church; and in the comments during virtual worship when we realized that people who couldn’t have joined in person were worshiping with us.

In some ways, we will never go back to life as we’ve known it. Your pastors are already discussing options to allow virtual worship to continue without turning the sanctuary into a production studio each week. That ongoing conversation that your Session has been having since Roger Nishioka chastised us for not really passing the peace has probably ended for good. (We can hear the collective sighs of relief from those of you who are grateful for that!) And, there are other “normal” practices that we’ll have to consider doing differently as we move forward as a church and as a community

One thing remains the same. Like those early disciples, we have been empowered to bear the presence of Christ into the world. In this season of coronavirus, you have found new ways to faithfully care for others from a distance; you have supported one another through times of sorrow and grief without being physically present; you have continued to find new ways to serve and in doing so you have been the presence of Christ. Whatever lies ahead in our new normal, it’s good to see and know that Christ is with us. Thank you for living out that good news!

Grace and peace,
Ann and David
Congregational Meeting Update
On Sunday April 19 th , the congregation of First Presbyterian Church resumed its annual meeting that was originally scheduled for Sunday March 15 th . The meeting was held online through Zoom with about 175 people attending through 125 devices connected. The purpose of the meeting was: to receive the 2019 Annual Report and 2020 Budget, vote upon changes to the Associate Pastor’s Terms of Call, and act upon a report of the Pastor Nominating Committee. The congregation received the 2019 Annual Report and 2020 Budget, approved changes in the Associate Pastor’s Terms of Call, and issued a call to Barrett Milner to be the 26 th Pastor of Frist Presbyterian Church.

Barrett has been serving for the past seven years as Pastor and Head of Staff at Lakeview Presbyterian Church in New Orleans. He also serves as CEO of Lakeview Presbyterian Week Day School which was revitalized under his leadership. Barrett is a native of Lexington, Kentucky, a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a degree in Sociology and a Master of Divinity from Lexington Theological Seminary. He previously served for five years focusing on youth and Christian education ministry as an Associate Pastor at Second Presbyterian Church in Lexington.
First Presbyterian Church is very excited to have Barrett joining our community alongside his family, his wife, Carrie ( a neonatal nurse) and their three sons, ages ranging from 5 to 11. They will physically join us at an appropriate time as all navigate continued developments regarding the coronavirus. Members of the Pastor Nominating Committee are: Richard DeVoe (Chair), Catherine Servati (Secretary), Hayden Alexander, Pete Boone, Gabrielle Chiniche, Carole Haney, Bret Hardin, Lisa Hickman-Tollison, and Hassell Wilkinson. Special thanks to all of them for their hard work and loving dedication in serving out this calling!

Please contact Ann or David should anyone have any questions about the congregational meeting or the calling of FPC’s 26 th Pastor. The congregation will continue to be updated about future plans as things unfold. 
During this unexpected season, please continue to remember your faithful giving to the church as our congregation's ministry continues throughout our community. It's happening within the congregation through virtual Bible studies, small groups, meetings and live streamed worship. It's happening within the community through continued programs like More Than a Meal and Love Packs as well as our mission partners like Interfaith Compassion, the pantry, Doors of Hope and more!

There are a variety of ways you can give:

  • Online through Realm, our website's secure giving system (
  • Mail directly to the church office (924 Van Buren Ave, Oxford, MS 38655)
  • Enroll in direct deposit or withdrawal

If you need help with any specific ways to give, please contact Frances Saralvarez at
Worship continues online throughout the month of May through Facebook Live! The video will go live 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. You may then enjoy the video as it plays live.
We will celebrate the sacrament of Communion this Sunday, May 3 rd , during worship. During this season of sheltering-in-place be sure to have bread/crackers and juice available as we celebrate the Lord's Supper together wherever we may be. 
Lectionary texts for May:

May 3 - Acts 2:43-47; Psalm 23; 1 Peter 2:19-25; John 10:1-10
May 10 - Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16; 1 Peter 2:2-10; John 14:1-14
May 17 - Acts 17:22-31; Psalm 66:8-20; 1 Peter 3:13-22; John 14:15-21
May 24 - Acts 1:6-14; Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35; 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11; John 17:1-11
May 31 - Acts 2:1-21 or Numbers 11:24-30; Psalm 104:24-34, 35b; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13 or Acts 2:1-21; John 20:19-23 or John 7:37-39
A Year with the Bible

One good thing about a season of sheltering in place is that many of us have found time to read or catch up on our reading the Bible in a year. We’ll continue the story of King David as we move into May and hear other gospel accounts of Jesus’ life along with other letters of Paul. This a great way to hear the stories of how our ancestors of faith lived in the midst of their own challenges and how they found God to be present with them. The link to May readings can be found here . Happy reading!
Children & Youth
Celebrating Our Graduates

Sunday, May 10 is Baccalaureate Sunday! Though it will look differently we hope to honor our high school and some of our college seniors in worship on that day. Our seniors this year are: Frances Abernathy, the daughter of Maggie and John Abernathy; Vance Byars, son of Jane Lyle and Trey Byars; and Brooks Williams, son of Machelle and Ernie Williams. Congratulations to all of them on this special occasion!

If you know of other members of FPC who are graduating from high school who are not listed here, please call Ann Kelly at (662) 816-8542 or email her at so that we can honor them, too. Also, send us the names of your college graduates, as well.
Adult Faith Formation
Bibles & Brews continues online with digital editions each Wednesday afternoon throughout May. 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 "Friends."
The Congregational Bible Study continues next week, May 6th, at 10:00 am electronically via Zoom! All are welcome as we discuss the final chapter and conclusion from Bill Brown's book, "Sacred Sense, Discovering the Wonder of God's Word and World". Next week we have a special guest - Bill Brown himself! All are welcome to join in this study whether you’ve been with us each week or this will be your first time.
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 will be written by a member of the congregation offering a word of hope and a continued reminder about the connection we 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
Also, a new summer bible study will be getting underway later in May. It will not be based on a book but will focus on specific bible passages picked ahead of time by the group. More information about this opportunity will be shared soon. If you are interested in participating, please contact David Randolph for more details.
Christian Themes in Pop Music, Sunday, May 17 @ 5:00

The Adult Faith Formation Ministry Team presents Christian Themes in Pop Music. Join Matthew Hall on Zoom for an exploration of a pop song from each of the past five decades. We'll listen to some tunes, read some lyrics and bible verses, and talk about the religious messages that sometimes hide in the Top 40. Contact Matthew Hall or David Randolph for information about how to join through Zoom. 
Greetings, neighbors! 
It's been a while since I shared a UKirk update here, but rest assured we, like FPC, have been finding our way forward in these strange times. As far as our students go, they're currently in about four different states, navigating a digital end to the school year from a mix of family homes and their own apartments. We've continued our weekly Tuesday night gatherings on Zoom, though we've shifted a bit from our default worship services to more casual Scripture discussions, check in time, and our usual sharing of prayer concerns. We've also moved our Monday afternoon Coffee Hour to a drop-in digital Lunch Break on Thursdays. We'll continue these gatherings through Finals Week, which begins May 4, and then have some time to celebrate our Seniors the second week of May. After that, we're brainstorming summer plans, especially for as long as folks are supposed to be staying inside. 

As I imagine many of you can empathize, in many ways this semester is coming to a strange and disappointing end. That being said, I'm thankful for the technology that's allowed our little campus ministry community to stay connected, and know that, whenever we can safely gather together again in person, it will be quite the celebration! In the meantime, we'd be so grateful for your prayers -- for Seniors missing out on celebrations and a sense of closure, for Freshmen whose first year of college has been cut short, for folks in the middle missing their friends too, and for those of us working to support students as best we can. As always, if you'd like to know more about UKirk you can visit our website or find me at

In hope,
It has been suggested that we open the FPC Book Club meeting on Tuesday, May 12, at 1:30 p.m. to any church members who would like to join the meeting via Zoom. Carlisle Wood will lead the discussion of The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. If you would like to join the Zoom meeting, please contact Margaret Fancher at or 662-234-1359.
Pantry Volunteers Needed in June

June is First Presbyterian’s month to staff the Pantry. Volunteers are needed on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings throughout the month of June. On Tuesday, volunteers stock the shelves, fill the shopping carts, bag fruit and other items in preparation for shopping days. Due to the pandemic, the Pantry is currently offering curbside pickup only. Clients remain in the car. There is one shopping list for each size family. The clients are given a number; volunteers place their groceries in a cart; and the groceries are delivered to the car. There is minimal contact between volunteers and clients for the safety of both. This is heavy work so volunteers need to have a strong back and be willing to push full grocery carts and unload them. Also, it works best if volunteers can commit to particular days, such as all the Tuesday shifts or all Wednesday shifts rather than a Tuesday this week and Wednesday next week. In the past, Pantry volunteers have generally been retired members of the church, who in a pandemic, may be less willing and able to serve this year. Please consider volunteering if you are working from home and can spare the time. If you are interested, please call Monte Ochs (704) 763-8446 or Martha Kelley (662) 801-3131 and let them know what day works best for you.
The Pantry has a new PayPal link to allow you to make donations more efficiently in this season of social distancing. As you can imagine the longer this situation lasts, the greater the need at the Pantry. Make your donation at:  
Pentecost Offering
Sunday, May 31, 2020

“God, from my youth you have taught me.” (Psalm 71:17)
God’s vision for the world is that everyone find a place within God’s kingdom—God’s house.

What we celebrate at Pentecost is God’s pouring out of the Holy Spirit so that people of every identity and language can hear a word of welcome into God’s household. All belong in God’s household, and we get to live together, and learn together and celebrate together.

At Pentecost, we look especially to the children, youth and young adults with whom God has called us to live. The psalmist reminds us of the importance of faith being established during our earliest years, saying, “God from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.” God’s youngest family members need support to build their full potential in both faith and life, and all of us have a role to play. These young ones also show and sometimes teach all of us more about faith in Jesus Christ and how the Holy Spirit is moving in our world. The Pentecost Offering lets us support the development of children, youth and young adults in our community and throughout the country.

Forty percent of this offering stays within our community because we want to build the household of God together, in this place. The remainder is sent on to our denomination so that young adults can lay a foundation for their lives through a year of service as part of the Young Adult Volunteer program. It is also used to support ministries with youth, through experiences of worship and formation like the Presbyterian Youth Triennium, which gathers nearly 5,000 young people every three years to learn and grow together There is also a portion of this Offering that supports the education of every child in this country, through the Educate a Child, Transform the World national initiative. During this Pentecost season, let us to celebrate the fact that we are building a life of faith and building the household of God with our children, youth and young adults.

Support the Pentecost Offering on Sunday, May 31, 2020.
Memorials and Honoraria
~ With gratitude for contributions to First Presbyterian Church ~
In memory of:

Doug Alexander

Betty & George Abdo
Kathy & Ben Griffith
Emily & Don Newcomb
Greg Patton

Gladys Marie Bowlin

Kathy & Ben Griffith

Jane Boykin

Meredith & Jim Black
Ronnie & William McGinnis
Marleah Hobbs

Emily & Don Newcomb
Greg Patton
John Neff

Betty & George Abdo
Greg Patton

Raphael Eustace Semmes, Jr.

Kathy & Ben Griffith
Greg Patton
Kay & Larry Tyler

Barbara Young

Emily & Don Newcomb
Birthdays and Anniversaries
May Birthdays

2 Olivia Williams
4 Ruby Jane Baquie, Plicca Watt, Hassell Wilkinson
5 Anne Hunter Stribling, Scott Manley
6 Mack Schuesselin
8 Stefanie Goodwiller
10 Pat Atkinson, Evelyn Rose Carmean, Jane Reeves Carmean
12 Harriman Abernathy, Olivia Lovelace
15 Nana Adjekum-Boateng, David Robinson
16 Grace Ann Wilbanks
17 Gabrielle Chiniche, Kaitlyn Flowers, Ashley Johnson, Dick Scruggs
18 Carmichael Jenkins
19 Anna Claire Franklin, Justin Kennon
21 Phil Baquie
22 Mary Shields Hunter, Jack Mauldin
25 Lauren Goodwiller, Lucille Jones, Jenny Kate Luster
26 Allen Elliott, Georgia Wigginton
27 Kevin Christian, Bradley Goodwiller
28 John Scarbrough
29 Christopher Newman
30 Paul Hester, Duvall Flautt, William Webb

May Anniversaries

3 Ramey & Brent Hardin, Amanda & Brian Hyneman
7 Whitney & Patrick Bolen
8 Diane & Dick Scruggs
10 Jacquelyn & Robert Gage
12 Tina & Tony Montgomery, Christy & Matt Nielson
18 Kelli & Bradley Briscoe
19 Martha & Lucius Brock
21 Melba & Bill Bowlin
23 Carlisle & Billy Wood
24 Shelley & Tommy Cribbs, Beth Ann Fennelly & Tom Franklin
26 Kathy & Ben Griffith, Bobbie & Syd Shaw
27 Dorothy Lou & Mack Aldridge
28 Lindsey & Phil Baquie, Nancy & Don Giles, June & Duke Goza
29 Beth & Bobby Kennedy, Randall & Lee Mize
30 Teresa & David Flautt, Lenore & Mit Hobbs, Molly & Griffin Tanner
31 Anne & Robert Gowdy, Catie & Paul Hester
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
Interim Associate Pastor
Associate Pastor
Pastor, UKirk Ministry
Interim Choir Director
Director of Elementary Music
Office Administrator
Director of Communications
Property Manager
Nursery Director