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First Press | an online newsletter | November 2021

Little compares to that annual Turkey Day tradition of sleepily watching (or conceivably snoring during) the gridiron battles hosted by the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys. Or spying the Macy’s Day Parade as it struts across our TV screens, while smelling a turkey being fried into glorious decadence. Nevertheless, the Milner family has another Thanksgiving tradition that, I believe, rivals even these time-honored traditions.  Before the turkey is carved, the wine poured, or pecan pie passed, all who've gathered for the feast—friends and family, young and old—stand circled together with hands embraced and share something for which we are truly thankful.  Over the years, we've enjoyed many laughs and certainly a few tears.  Although the inevitable passing of time and circumstance has changed the composition of our motley and beloved crew, we still stand together in this annual tradition.  


For the introverts linking hands within the group, it's about as welcomed an experience as a full tackle during that afternoon’s game of “touch” football!  While for the extroverted preachers in the family (spoiler alert: I happen to be the first and only clergy to hail from the Milner clan), it's a chance to wax on—rather eloquently, I'm sure—about the many blessings and the abundant goodness we share.  But for the blustery and timid alike, it is a profound joy to stand in that circle of love and family that is deeply cherished.  It's a tradition that's continued, year after year, to help remind us all of the multitudes of blessings we know.


Thanksgiving.  It's that time of year when we're encouraged to pay attention to, to name, and to share those things for which we are individually and mutually thankful.  It's a time when friends and families gather around the table to break bread after being apart for far too long.  It's a time when new memories are born and cherished memories remembered.  And it's a time when we might all pause and reflect upon the many gifts our generous and loving God has provided—even amid troubling and challenging times.  


In his first letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul urged the church to thank God “in all circumstances” and every season of life (5:16 NRSV).  Nevertheless, I believe that New Testament scholar and biblical commentator, Abraham Smith may well have said it best when he observed the following about Paul’s exhortation: “That has to be one of the most adventurous voyages of thought ever embarked on the rough waters of reason. And logically, it seems destined for shipwreck.”[i] After all, life hasn't been, nor will it ever be, a complete walk in the park. Hardships and heartbreaks come.  Doubts and questions confound.  Nevertheless, grace and blessings and abound!


While Carrie, the boys, and I look forward to a few weeks from now, when we'll stand in our family's circle once again and join in our beloved family tradition, I thought it appropriate to share with all of you, my First Presbyterian Church family, just a few of things for which I am truly grateful:


I'm thankful for every member and friend of this church family.  I am thankful for how you've chosen to embrace me as your pastor.  I am thankful for the ways you've accepted Carrie as one of your own and for the way you've shown your love and care for our three "spirited" little boys. 


I'm thankful for our budding friendships that I have no doubt will become life-long and cherished partnerships.  I'm thankful for your many and varied gifts.  And I'm thankful for your eclectic and resilient "can-do" spirit as we look forward in hope and continue answering God's call.


I am thankful for your commitment and faithful stewardship to this church we love, and that loves you too!  I am thankful for all that you've contributed to ensuring its sure foundation and celebrated past, for the little things you do behind the scenes that are furthering our church's mission and ministry to this community today, and for your partnership as we begin to lay the necessary groundwork that will enable us to build—together—our bright and hope-filled future. And I am thankful that our God of possibility, abundant love, and abiding grace has brought us together to share this season of life and ministry.


Yet above all else, I am thankful that we, a people of faith—as God's own beloved—have been given both the reason and the ability to live into our individual and collective future with hope.  I am thankful that, from the depths of life, we can join the poet James Russell Lowell and say:


Truth forever on the scaffold

Wrong forever on the throne

But that scaffold sways the future

and beyond the dim unknown

Standeth God within the shadows

Keeping watch above God's own.


Happy Thanksgiving, First Presbyterian Church family!


Peace and grace,


Abraham Smith, The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000). Vol. XI, 733.

Session Summary




October 11, 2021

Communications: Clerk - Notification from St. Andrews Presbytery regarding the Stated Meeting on October 12, 2021.


Ministry Team Check-in:

  • Finance –
  1. YTD reports were shared electronically.
  2. Elder Susan Abbott reported that stewardship season is underway and packets have been sent out.
  3. Budget spreadsheets for the upcoming year will be distributed to each ministry team.
  4. Session and Diaconate members are encouraged to pledge as soon as possible.
  • Property –
  1. Elder John Abernathy reported that the front rail repairs are complete.  
  2. The team has been working to gather estimates on exterior repairs including windows, painting, gutter work and water proofing the basement. Phase I of the repairs would include repairs to the soffit of the sanctuary, the dormers and windows of the Education Building, the fascia at the Fellowship Hall and the gate. The second phase would consist of the painting of the exterior of all or most of the buildings.
  3. Replacement tree options and timeframe are being considered. There may be some brick paver disruption during stump removal. 
  • Adult Faith Formation
  1. Elder Allyson Ashmore shared that a congregational bible study will be offered in January. Bibles and Brews will re-start in January as well.
  • Children & Youth Faith Formation
  1. Elder Lee Miers asked for clarification from the Personnel ministry team regarding the policy for hiring a Director of Children and Faith Formation as candidates are still being considered. A source has been identified for Christmas trees and the order has been placed.
  • Membership & Hospitality
  1. Elder Kevin Christian reported that the church picnic is October 24th. 
  2. Halloween at Hopewell is planned for October 30th at Hopewell. Members are welcome to attend and/or donate candy. 
  3. A harvest lunch is being planned for Sunday, November 14th
  4. The children’s musical is being organized for December. The team is discussing a Christmas caroling event on December 19th with families possibly riding the Double Decker bus. 
  • Mission – Elder Greg Patton reported.
  1. Volunteers are being recruited to serve for LeapFrog snacks on Tuesdays. 
  2. Lovepacks donations will be accepted at the church picnic as well as the church office.
  3. Medications to provide over 4,400 prescriptions have been purchased and shipped to Haiti to help supply the ongoing medical mission there.  
  4. FPC has offered to purchase books for Head Start teachers that support a nationwide reading day. 
  5. A new email account has been established for those interested in mission opportunities, missionteam@fpcoxford.net. Please email this account if you would like to receive notifications regarding various opportunities.  
  6. Another community food distribution took place at Oxford First United Methodist Church, benefitting over 200 families. Greg stated the members of OFUMC are interested in engaging in conversation for racial healing on October 19th. Cade Smith, the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Community Engagement at the University will attend and present the program at the joint meeting of those interested form OFUMC/FPC. 
  7. Other mission interest conversations are ongoing with regard to: Presbyterian Disaster Assistance for hurricane victims, needs of the Family Crisis Center, assistance with refugees from Afghanistan and the need in Oxford for a domestic violence shelter.
  • Personnel – no report
  • Worship – no report
  • Deacon’s report – no report

  • Old Business:
  1. Covid 19 Policies - current policy of a mask recommendation will remain in place.


  • New Business
  1. Selection of two elders for the upcoming Nominating Committee – Elders Julie Field and Greg Patton will serve on the Nominating Committee.


  • General Announcements: Next stated session meeting will be November 8th at 5:30 pm. 

Financial Summary

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Stewardship 2022

The Stewardship Campaign for 2022 is currently underway! As this year's campaign theme declares, we are "Rooted in Faith. Flourishing in Gratitude. Poised for Rebirth." By now, we certainly hope that you have all received your stewardship materials and that you have joyfully embraced God's call to prayerfully discern how you will participate in this year's campaign. 

To those who've already returned pledges and your "Time and Talent" surveys, we offer our heartfelt thanks! Indeed, it is your generous giving that ensures our church family may continue to celebrate the abundant blessings of our past, to answer God's call in the here-and-now, and to look to our future with hopeful anticipation, shared vision, and renewed excitement.  

In this season, may we continue to reflect upon and give thanks to God for the many blessings we enjoy. May we also give thanks for the promise of God's ever-present Spirit—forever loving, nurturing, inspiring, and calling our church family forward. And may we all embrace God's invitation to be good stewards of the many blessings we have received by God's grace and to recommit ourselves to sharing those gifts with God's world with glad and joyful hearts!   

All are invited to pledge your commitment to by:

  • returning the pledge card and Time and Talent survey that you received in the mail
  • going to FPC, Oxford's website HERE and confidentially and securely submitting your commitment there, or
  • contacting Frances Saralvarez, Financial Secretary, at the church office with your pledge information.  

We thank you for your abundant generosity!


Sunday, November 7, 2021

24th Sunday after Pentecost

9:45 am Sunday School

11:00 am Worship w/communion*

Sunday, November 14, 2021

25th Sunday after Pentecost

9:45 am Sunday School

11:00 am Worship*

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Christ the King

9:45 am Sunday School

11:00 am Worship*

Sunday, November 28, 2021

1st Sunday of Advent

9:45 am Sunday School

11:00 am Worship*

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The Sacrament of Communion will be celebrated this Sunday, November 7 at the 11:00 am service. For those celebrating on-line, please remember to set up your worship space with the appropriate elements. 

Join us for worship Sunday, November 7 at 11:00 am on Facebook Live and each Sunday following at 10:55 am. 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. 


The Session has called a congregational meeting at the close of 11:00 am worship this Sunday, November 7, for the purpose of electing a slate of nominees for the 2022 Officer Nominating Committee.


Seasonal greenery and berries dates are available December 5, 12, 19, 26 and January 2. To provide seasonal greenery and berries in honor or in memory of a loved one, contact Margaret Fancher at fancherm@bellsouth.net or call 234-1359. Contributions to the Flower Fund are greatly appreciated.

Lectionary texts for November

November 7 - Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17; Psalm 127; 1 Kings 17:8-16; Psalm 146; Hebrews 9:24-38; Mark 12:38-44

November 14 - 1 Samuel 1:4-20; 1 Samuel 2:1-10; Daniel 12:1-3; Psalm 16; Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18) 19-25; Mark 13:1-8

November 21 - 2 Samuel 23:1-7; Psalm 132:1-12 (13-18); Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; Psalm 93; Revelations 1:4b-8; John 18:33-37

November 28 - Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13; Luke 21:25-36

Remember in Prayer


FPC Members: Susan & Tom Meredith; Michele Howie; Margaret Fancher; Family of Betty Mullen White; Family of Mary Helen "Babe" Field Carr; Joe Murphey


Family and Friends: Family of Elise & William Winter; Parchman Prison inmates; Haven House residents; Our Haiti partners; Oxford & Lafayette County First Responders; Community leaders 


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.

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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 carlislewood@gmail.com or 662-832-8606. All requests are held in strict confidence.  

Anyone interested in an FPC member directory can call the church office at 234-1757. One will be printed for you.

Membership & Hospitality

Our Church Picnic was a big success!! 70 adults and 50 children attended, we caught up on one another’s news, played games, shot some baskets, and, of course, ate! Thanks to Camp Hopewell for being gracious hosts, as always. Thanks to our Children and Youth Faith Formation Team, who arranged for games and a bouncy house. The bouncy house was a huge hit was the kiddos, and many observed the Christ-like love and care taken by the older children as they protected the littles from harm as they bounced together. The hay ride was also much fun, as reported by those who went. Thanks to our Membership and Hospitality Team for arranging the meal, for our grill masters for cooking 90 hamburgers and 60 hotdogs, and for so many of you who brought delicious offerings to share. Congratulations to our contest winners: Whitney Bolen with potato casserole, Matt Nielson with corn relish salad, Jessica Holder with lemon ice box pie, and Teresa Flautt with Hello Dolly cookies. Now let’s look forward to next year!

Click HERE to see more pictures of the event.

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A Hallowed Hopewell


In partnership with Camp Hopewell, FPC hosted a Hallowed Hopewell Saturday, October 30. Thank you to all who donated candy to make this event a success. A great time was had by all!


UKirk News

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UKirk Ole Miss is grateful to those of you who have served as Tuesday night meal providers! And they still need a few more to round out their Fall schedule. For more information and to see a list of available dates, visit ukirkolemiss.org/tuesday-meals or email Allison at ukirk.olemiss@gmail.com

Adult Faith Formation


Hello, Church! 

Your pastors would love you to join us in a three-week conversation on Gratitude. We’ll gather in the Fellowship Hall at 9:45 a.m. for three successive Sundays, beginning on November 7th. We have all been through the wringer in these past two years. Losses, changes, juggling of childcare and work or balancing your own health and your need to be with those you love. For a time we were even unable to gather as a church family. Let’s admit where we are, and also seek out where we have seen God at work. In this season of gratitude, what are we grateful for? How does seeing through the lens of gratitude change our experience of grieving? We’d love for you to come along with us, as we turn our eyes to the ways our God has walked with us along the way. 

—Yours with thanksgiving for all you bring to this journey,

                                               Deb de Boer


Adult Faith Formation is offering Bibles and Brews again beginning in January! Bibles and Brews is open to any adult. We plan to meet on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month through the spring semester. We will gather at The Growler beginning at 4:30 pm for a time of fellowship, Bible study and engaging conversation. Please join us for an informational gathering, with some fun thrown in, on Wednesday, December 8th at 4:30 pm. For more information, please contact Allyson Ashmore at allyson@camphopewell.com allyson@camphopewell.com or 662-816-8544.


Coming to Sunday School Hour in Advent: 

Keep your Sunday mornings open for An Advent Class with Your Pastors, November 28 - December 19, at 9:45 - 10:45 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall. More details to follow!

Lauren Plummer, Advent Candle. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=57464

Thank you!

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Special thanks to all who came out and helped spruce up the church grounds. This group of people worked tirelessly to give the church a much needed makeover. Pictured (left to right): Pat Lowe, Pattye Wilson, Courtney Simpson, Allison Crawford, Frances Crawford. Not pictured: Francis Boateng, Sally Hines, Drew Mauldin, Wade Simpson.



Oxford First United Methodist Church holds its next food distribution Friday, November 19 from 9:00 am-1:00 pm at their church, 102 Dylan Avenue next to the Mary Cathey Head Start off Old Sardis Road. 250-300 needy Lafayette County families are served through this monthly outreach program. FPC volunteers are needed to assist in unloading the supply truck from the Memphis Food Bank and distributing it to clients in the drive through at OFUMC. Even an hour of your time would be greatly appreciated. This could be your mission.


In the mood to swing a hammer? If so, Habitat For Humanity needs 6 volunteers to assist constructing a new ramp for a family's home in Oxford. The construction project will last 4-5 hours and will take place on Saturday morning, November 20th. No construction experience required. Tools are provided. To volunteer contact Adam Quick, 662-832-5051. This could be your mission as we seek to serve the least of these. 


Leap Frog Program is a non-profit after-school literacy and tutoring program serving at-risk students in Oxford and Lafayette County. FPC is committed to providing snacks for the sixty students enrolled in the program. We thank the Carol Barr Circle for their active participation in this ministry. The 'healthy' snack will consist of juice and a finger food such as fruit, peanut butter crackers, etc. A volunteer is needed Tuesday, November 26. The time commitment is limited to the provision, preparation, and serving of the snacks from 2:50-3:20 pm at the former Oxford Elementary School located at 1637 Hwy 30 East. For more information or to sign up please email Patty Abbott, peaccc-slp@sbcglobal.net. This could be your mission.


The Doors of Hope Transition Ministry, based in the education building here at FPC, is an outreach agency that assists single parents in their efforts to become self-sufficient. Through finance and budget counseling, a limited period of housing assistance, educational opportunities, and employment searches, clients learn to break crippling patterns of dependence and start new lives. Each month graduates of the program meet with current clients during the Step 2 Dinner. While sharing a meal together, clients are encouraged by the success stories of their predecessors. The Step 2 Dinner is held the second Tuesday of the month in our fellowship hall. Two FPC volunteers are needed to order prepared meals from Larson's Cash Savers and deliver them to the church. The FPC volunteers then sit at table with the clients to become better acquainted with their stories. The next dinner is Tuesday, November 9 at 5:30 pm. If you would like to volunteer, please call the church office, 234-1757. This could be your mission.

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The Family Crisis Services of Northwest Mississippi is a comprehensive victim services organization. It is the only nonprofit in Oxford that specifically addresses and provides services to victims of interpersonal violence--sexual assault, domestic violence, homicide, etc. Staff and volunteers are available 24/7 to provide crisis intervention services. Recently, Family Crisis Services experienced a $200,000 cut in federal funding. Six staff members, including their intervention child psychologist, were laid off. Interested in helping? Current needs include monetary donations, cleaning supplies, basic office supplies, paper toiletries, and new stuffed animals for each child that the facility receives. If you would like to donate any of these supplies, please drop them by the church office. More information is available at oxfordadvocacy.org or call 234-9929. 


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Attention VIP's! Our November outing will be attendance at "The Light in the Piazza" starring Mary Haskell. We will go to the matinee on Sunday, November 21. Mary will get the tickets for us but she needs a count ASAP. Tickets are $20 each. Please call the church at your earliest convenience to put your name on the list. The deadline for sign-up is Tuesday, November 9. Thanks.

Sally Hines

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Presbyterian Women Officers for 2021-2022


Kathryn Elliott - Co-Moderator

Caroline McIntosh - Co-Moderator

Lisa Tollison - 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

~ With gratitude for contributions to First Presbyterian Church ~

In memory of:

Mary Helen "Babe" Carr

Patsy & Guff Abbott

Martha Briscoe

Jean Greenway

Nita Lovelady

Greg Patton

Thana Elizabeth "Betty" Mullen White

Carol Greer

Nancy Johnson

Kitty Maris & family

Paul White

Upcoming Birthdays and Anniversaries

November Birthdays:

1 Meredith Goza, Nina Patrick, Eric Snellgrove, Taylor Wilkinson

2 Tommy Rosser, William Wilkinson

3 Virginia Lovelace, Lee Mullen, Nancy Schuesselin

4 James Day, Sally Featherstone, Ingrid Kondos

5 Stephanie Leonard

7 Cindy Grant, Eloise Hollis, Peggy Nance, Michael Stevens

8 Bill Dickins

9 Bill Freeman, Lisa Tollison

11 Garrett Chow, Scott Drury, Haley Eifling

12 Becki Felts, Guy Gillespie, Missy Morrison

13 Caroline Gillespie

14 Carmille Hovious, Samuel Lewis, Max Robinson

16 Nashua Bolen, Ramey Hardin, Lynn Sloan

17 William Bouldin, Jay Carmean, Betty Lou Flautt, Melissa Hall, Mit Hobbs

19 Porter Callery, Ben Griffith, Carlisle Wood

20 Dorothy Lou Aldridge, Kathleen Mayo, Kevin McLeod

21 Eva Webb

22 Anne Gowdy, Price Milner, Kathleen Patton

23 Jason Bouldin, B.J. Chain, Morgan Collins, Justin Eifling, Elizabeth Field, Joanna Heidel

24 Melissa Graves, Julia Lowe, Andrew Moak

25 Corrine Cullen

26 Elizabeth Abbott, Doug Sullivan-Gonzalez

27 Lydia Moak

28 Dianne Catt, Lele Gillespie, Earl Grissinger, Glynna McKendree

29 Libby McCullouch

30 Lee Borden, Barbera Liddon, Cait Frances Mayo

November Anniversaries:

2 Lee & Steve Mullen

5 Elizabeth Ann & Lee Miers

10 Anne Grace & Justin Kennon

15 Jorden & Hunter Haney

16 Margaret Case & Phillip Embry

18 Adalene & Ben Pettis

21 Gabrielle & Paul Chiniche

25 Caroline & Cooper McIntosh

26 Libby & Leon McCullouch

27 Marty & Steve Mauldin

29 Joanna & Jimmy Heidel, Kate & Brett Rosson

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,

Cliff Smith, Pattye Wilson


CLASS of 2023

Laura Jackson, Chloe Lloyd,

Allison McCord, Shae Orrell,

Adam Quick

Your Church Staff

The Congregation

The ministers

Rev. Barrett C. Milner

Senior Pastor

Rev. Deb de Boer

Interim Associate Pastor

Rev. Allison C. Wehrung

Pastor, UKirk Ministry

Creighton R. Holder

Director of Music

Frances Saralvarez

Office Administrator

Jessica M. McPhail

Director of Communications

LaShaunda Sisk

Nursery Director

D. Wade Simpson

Property Manager