First Press
an online newsletter
September 2020
Too often these days, it can feel as if there’s no escaping the racket: the bombardment of competing voices from every direction, each one seemingly louder than the last, all vying for our undivided attention, demanding loyalty, claiming truth. I find myself feeling a bit like Price’s favorite story time Grinch as I lament, “Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!” Noise that confounds and distracts. Noise that begets worry and unease.  Noise that inhibits our ability to discern the one voice we yearn to hear above all the rest: that still small voice of our God…speaking words of love and redemption and calling. But just days ago, in a moment when the clamor began to overwhelm, I was heartened in rediscovering a prayer written by the great theologian and educator, Walter Brueggemann:
We are a people with many words and much talk: creeds and ads and propaganda and slogans and sound bytes. We keep listening among these words for comfort, and we find ourselves made anxious by the cacophony. And then—the din is broken; you speak and we enter the zone of address. You speak and we are called by name. You name and we are summoned—summoned, commanded, sent. We hear and cringe and pause…overwhelmed by the mandate. We listen and you speak again: you utter words of presence, promises of protection, assurances of solidarity. We breathe easier, still afraid, but on our way, at risk, not alone. Give us good ears in these days, that we may hear the mandate and listen for assurance. That even such as us may speak you well, you in your sovereignty, you in your fidelity, you in your sadness and in your newness. Let your word be fleshed through our tongues and our lips, that our fleshed verbiage may truly echo your word made flesh via Nazareth.
       (From Prayers for a Privileged People)
That even amid our oft chaotic and noisy times, my soul rejoices in knowing that our God speaks still…“words of presence, promises of protection, assurances of solidarity.” And my hope is bolstered as I ponder the many ways that our church family is closely and with intentionality listening for and responding to God’s summoning words. Despite the fluidity and uncertainty of our days, we’re meeting for Bible study and for faithful and fruitful conversations about race and justice. We’re discerning new mission endeavors that will foster longed-for healing and hope both here in Oxford and around the world. We’re planning new programming for our children and youth and young adults that will cultivate faith and create disciples. We’re prayerfully discerning and developing plans for a safe and responsible reopening of our church campus and to in-person worship. We’re listening. We’re looking forward. We’re answering God’s call.  
In the weeks and months to come, I pray that we might all find ways to connect with, support, and participate in these opportunities for listening, learning, growing, and enacting our faith. And as we do, may we never tire in listening for and harboring trust in the voice that matters most: God’s voice, speaking words of infinite hope, of ardent challenge, and of amazing grace for the sake of our world and our people – a world of immeasurable worth and a people fiercely and forever loved. Let’s listen, First Presbyterian Church! For God IS speaking…even still…even now. 

Peace and grace,
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
Session Summary
The Session of First Presbyterian Church held its stated monthly meeting on Monday, August 10 at 5:30 pm. Thirteen elders were present via an electronic Zoom meeting.

The Session approved the baptism of Francis Carter Webb Sunday, August 16th.
  • Ministry Team Check-in

  1. Finance - Financial reports were shared with the Session members electronically. Elder Susan Abbott stated that revenues are slightly ahead of budget. The funds from the PPP Loan are included in the revenue figures.
  2. Property – Elder John Abernathy reported that painting is almost complete in the administrative areas of the church and should be completed very soon. Property has met with the lighting and security sources who have submitted some rough cost estimates. The Security and Threat Assessment Team will meet again with property to further examine options for needs versus costs as well as logistical use of equipment that might be implemented. Reverend David Randolph reported that a bid has been submitted for a new A/V system. A second bid has been received this time and we are seeking a third bid.
  3. Adult Faith Formation - Elder Ann DeVoe reported that online devotionals are continuing twice a week now through September 1. The Ministry Team has met to consider long range planning as well as options for resuming some version of Sunday school.
  4. Children & Youth Faith Formation – Elder Ruth O’Dell reported that options for Sunday school are being discussed.
  5. Membership & Hospitality – Reverend Ann Kelly’s last Sunday will be August 23rd. Plans have been made for a drive by send off from 1-3 pm on Sunday, August 23rd with gifts and notes to be presented to her that day. Elder Monte Wood reported that the online directory is now available to their committee, deacons and elders for testing purposes.
  6. Mission – no report
  7. Personnel – no report
  8. Worship – Elder Ann DeVoe reported that the ministry team is still exploring ways that members can meet and be together while the Covid-19 restrictions are in place and will be meeting more regularly. 
  • Old Business

Services of Worship/Covid Task Force discussion - at this time current virtual worship services have continued. Plans for in-person worship are still being evaluated by the Covid-19 Task Force. In light of the recent spike of the number of state-wide Covid-19 cases, the session agrees that it is not advisable to move to indoor worship at this time. This will be re-evaluated continually. The Session has directed the Worship Ministry Team to explore all options for worship. Reverend Barrett Milner will be sending a communication to the congregation regarding the status of worship opportunities.
The next stated session meeting will be September 14th at 5:30 pm.
The meeting was closed with the Lord’s Prayer. 
Monthly Bible Reading
The journey through Scripture continues throughout the month of September! This month we turn to the inspiring and comforting words from the prophet Isaiah within the Old Testament while learning more about this life of faith described in the pastoral letters and the Book of Hebrews within the New Testament. The link for September's readings may be found here or on the website. Thanks to all who continue to participate in this 2020 challenge and may God continue to sustain us all on this journey!
Sunday, September 6, 2020
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
10:30 am online worship (communion)

Sunday, September 13, 2020
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
10:30 am online worship

Sunday, September 20, 2020
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
10:30 am online worship

Sunday, September 27, 2020
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
10:30 am online worship
Currently, worship each Sunday continues to be offered online through Facebook Live! The live video feed begins at 10:25 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. 
Lectionary texts for September:

September 6 - Exodus 12:1-14; Psalm 149; Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20
September 13 - Exodus 14:19-31; Psalm 114 or Exodus 15:1b-11, 20-21; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35
September 20 - Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 105 1-6, 37-45; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16
September 27 - Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32
Remember in Prayer
FPC Members: 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; Leon McCullouch; J. T. Davis; Becky & Joe Murphey; Lynton Dilley; Walter Nance; Debbie McElreath; Director of Music/Organist Search Committee
Family and Friends: Family of Mary Poole; Jane Waits; 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; Susan Treas; Jamie Henderson Turner; Family of Joel James; Family of Don Dees; 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.
Thank you for such a wonderful send-off! It was a wonderful weekend with a Semmes’ wedding, a Randolph baptism, leading worship with Barrett and David, your wonderful gifts and an awesome drive-by going away party. You all are wonderful and I will miss you so much. I’m saving your notes for the waves of homesickness that I know will come and I look forward to reading each one and thinking of you.

I am grateful for all the many blessings that God has showered upon us in these last eight years and I know there are more to come for all of us! If you are ever in the Delta, stop by and see me at 306 S. Deer Creek W., Leland, MS 38756. It’s easy to find. Blessings to all of you, my friends!

Grace and peace,
Adult Faith Formation
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 is written by a member of the congregation and offers a word of hope as a reminder about the connection we continue to 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
Bibles & Brews continues online with digital editions each Wednesday throughout the month of September. All are welcome to participate in this group bible study as we bring and share different passages of scripture about a group picked topic. Typically this group gathers from 4:30 to 6:00 pm but this month we will host two later gatherings to see if others wish to participate. Those later gatherings will be held on the 16th and 23rd from 7:45 pm to 9:00 pm. Contact David Randolph to learn more.
Fall is here and so it's time to restart FPC's Congregational Bible Study! A short list of books have been selected and we are excited to announce which one we will study later in September. Classes will be held at 10:00 am on Wednesday with another option gathering electronically in the evenings. Please contact David Randolph if interested in learning more. All are welcome!
UKirk Ole Miss is looking for weekly meal providers. Due to COVID-19, of course this semester is looking different, but UKirk is still committed to caring for their students, including through food! For more information, check out, and feel free to email Allison Wehrung ( with any questions.  
Minute for Mission
"Bonjour mes chèrs amis!" Dr. Gladys Memnon sends her warmest greetings and prayers from Bongnotte, Haiti to her brothers and sisters at FPC. Since 2013 we have partnered with the Bongnotte community in establishing a Living Waters for the World water purification system, assisting with the local school, and participating in mobile medical clinics. 5 years ago Gladys single-handedly established a permanent medical clinic in Bongnotte with one part-time physician open 3 half days per week. She subsequently built a new clinic building. Today, two physicians operate the clinic 6 days a week. A dentist has recently joined the staff. Dr. Gladys reports there are now over 6,100 medical charts, and patients are served from surrounding villages as well. She thanks FPC for its ongoing support of the clinic and water purification project. She very much looks forward to the day when her Oxford friends may return to Bongnotte to continue our ongoing involvement there. Tropical storm Laura passed over Haiti the third week of August causing major flooding in Port-au-Prince, the capital. The village of Bongnotte fared better with no significant structural damages or personal injuries. "Thanks God!"
Presbyterian Women will host the PW Fall Gathering on Facebook Live Sunday, Sept. 13 at 2:00 pm. We will welcome new members, review our 2020-2021 Circle study book, celebrate the lives of women of our church who have died this year, and recognize a new Lifetime Member of PW. Please join us on FB Live just as you join the Sunday morning worship service! We will see you on Facebook!
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
~ With gratitude for contributions to First Presbyterian Church ~

In memory of:

Doug Alexander

Jody & Pick Scruggs

Pat Bittmann

Lula Gregory Circle

Pierce Buford

Sarah A. Johnson

Dr. Joe Burnett

Wayne Barker
Bette Butler
Allison & Steve McCord
Rose Paris
Jody & Pick Scruggs

Kobe Jay Cooper

Rebecca Dykes Evershed

Marleah Hobbs

Bette Butler
Allison & Steve McCord

Ruth Ellen Duvall Kuhnel

Bette Butler
Allison & Steve McCord

Dr. John R. Neff

Bette Butler
Rose Paris
Jody & Pick Scruggs

Katherine & Marshall (Bush) Satterfield

Kay & Larry Tyler

Mary Sims

Cammack Master Gardener Project
Hotty Toddy Super Club
Lula Gregory Circle
The Woman's Forum
Betty & George Abdo
Beth Andrews
Melba & Bill Bowlin
Sally & Tyce Buntin
Linda, David, Davey & Ben Burnett
Bette Butler
Betty Butler
Kim Cherry
Jean Dalton
Sally Featherstone
Fay & Earl Grissinger
Susan Sadler Hayman
Trent L. Howell
Susan & Ken Martin
Allison & Steve McCord
Susan & Tom Meredith
Rose Paris & Irma Buchanan
Sue & Richard Russ
Jan & Doug Sherman
Paula & Hugh Stubbs
Libby & Randy Taylor
Kay & Larry Tyler
Nila & Max Williams
Patti & Jim Womble Family

Dr. & Mrs. Charles Treas

May W. Best

Lillian & Elbert Tyler

Kay & Larry Tyler
Birthdays and Anniversaries
September Birthdays:

1 Tom Davis, Daniel Fudge
2 Robert Gage, Goodloe Lewis
3 Parker McPhail
5 McCay Luster
6 Mary Frances DeVoe, Isabella Moak
7 Conner Eifling, Drew Mauldin, Luke Wigginton
9 Randel Gibson, Cooper McIntosh
10 Scotty Jimenez, Harper Pace, Gina Matthews
11 Kelli Briscoe, Hassell Wilkinson, Billy Wood
12 Sara-Elisabeth Davis
13 Allie Rose Baquie, Michael Lewis, Elizabeth Owen
14 Karen Stockton
15 Ruby Embry, Carole Haney
16 Dick Hercules
17 Mack Aldridge
18 Anna Ruth Kesler, Meredith Pyle
20 Susan Shaw, Curtis Wilkie
21 Ann Luckett Montgomery, Samuel Morrison, Katie Ochs, Virginia Stricklin
22 Pete Boone, Jack Bridgers, Kathryn James, Catherine Rosser
23 Sherry Styers, Dee Walker
24 Steve Mullen
25 Niles Lovelady, Mac Monteith
26 Shelley Cribbs
27 Wesley Boateng, Grace Flowers
28 Ray Hill, Michael Morrison, Nathan Robbins
29 Nolan Waller, Jerry Wilson
30 Patrick Bolen, Jim Catt

September Anniveraries:

4 Dianne & Jim Catt
5 Elizabeth & Mac Monteith
6 Nancy Maria & John Schuesselin
8 Bette & Jeffrey Butler
12 Michele & Wil Howie, Leslie & Shae Orrell
13 Brynnen & Adam Quick
20 Sarah & Michael McLellan
24 Amy Lowe & Slade Lewis
27 Shelby & Lewis Smith
28 Nancy & Bill Rogers
29 Kate & Case Embry, Jenna & Tyler Lovelace
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
Senior Pastor
Associate Pastor
Pastor, UKirk Ministry
Interim Choir Director
Director of Elementary Music
Office Administrator
Director of Communications
Property Manager
Nursery Director
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