FIRST PRESS | an online newsletter | January 2019
From the Associate Pastors

18 Do not remember the former things,
   or consider the things of old. 
19 I am about to do a new thing;
   now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
   and rivers in the desert.
 Isaiah 43:18-19
As the prophet Isaiah prepared the people of God for the end of exile and  the homecoming that lay ahead, he encouraged them to let go of the  past. It was key to receiving and participating in the new thing God was  about to do in their midst. Our own future at FPC depends on our  ability to let go of some things in order to make room for the new  things God has in store for us.
There is a lot of evidence that something new is happening among us...
  • On January 6, 2019 we will ordain and install a new class of elders and deacons. These are the church leaders who will see us through this transition time and into the next era of pastoral leadership.
  • The following week, January 13, we hope to launch the Holy Cow! Congregational Assessment Tool and begin to receive input from the congregation that will be used in the search for our next senior pastor.
  • January 27 is the tentative date for electing the Pastor Nominating Committee who will do the work of completing our Ministry Information Form, reading Personal Information Forms from possible candidates, listening to sermons, checking references and finally, presenting a candidate to the congregation.
  • And, to help us out in the meantime, Reverend Paul Kevin Phillips will begin his ministry as our Interim Pastor on February 1 and we will welcome him in the pulpit on Sunday, February 3.
I'm sure that there are other new things stirring among us, both in our corporate life and our individual lives. What are the things we must let go of in order to receive the newness God offers us? In what ways are we being called to participate in the new things God is doing in our church, in our lives or in the community? I'm excited about spending time together in the coming year and discerning some of what God has in store for all of us!
Grace and peace in the new year!

My parents needed a caregiver when my mother returned to work. The daycare they lined up didn't work out. So, they placed a classified in the local paper. Louise Vaughn answered it. She was in her sixties and looking for work as she was recently widowed. I later learned her husband was in the hospital dying the day I was born.
Louise, or Nanny as I called her, was a sweet woman. My parents actually considered her a Godsend. She felt the same way about us. We became family. She cared for me until I went to preschool and then some. When I was older, my mother and I would take her out for dinner before driving around town to see local holiday lights. It was one of our New Year's traditions until she passed away.
Thinking about her at this time of year, I began to remember some parts of our daily routine together. We would make biscuits from scratch most mornings, take walks around her neighborhood after lunch and always made sure to watch The Price is Right every afternoon. I can still see her old television in my mind as participants were invited to "come on down" to guess the price of that first initial prize with Bob Barker on stage.
In light of the new year, I catch myself reflecting on Revelation 21:1-6. It's actually one of my favorite passages in all of scripture.
"(1) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. (2) And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (3) And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
     "See, the home of God is among mortals.
     He will dwell with them as their God;
     they will be his peoples,
     and God himself will be with them;
(4)he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
     Death will be no more;
     mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
     for the first things have passed away."
(5) And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." (6) Then he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life."
A new heaven...
a new earth...
a new Jerusalem...
...all coming down.
How fortunate are we that our God comes down to dwell with us! That God, the Alpha and Omega, comes to us as a baby born in Bethlehem before the start of a new year. It's the very definition of a Godsend. Our great need is met by the one who loves us, wipes away the tears from our eyes, and gives us needed water to drink.
Indeed, come on down Lord Jesus. Come on down.
  Financial Summary

Summary of Stated Session Meeting
The Session of First Presbyterian Church held its stated monthly meeting on Monday, December 10, 2018, at 5:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall. All fifteen elders were present. Highlights from the meeting are as follows:

         1. Finance:
  • As of November 30, 2018, year to date revenue was $830,819.36, and expenses were $935,714.76.
  • At present, the ministry team reported that 115 family units had pledged $696,406 toward the operating budget of 2019. This amount creates a shortfall of approximately $400,000 for budget requests for 2019 or a 19% shortfall. The number of families that have pledged to date is 45 less than at the same time in 2017.
  • The team has received the annual audit report for the calendar year 2017. 
         2. Property:
  • Two new heating systems will be installed tomorrow in Fellowship Hall building. The two new air-conditioning units will be installed in two weeks. A leak in the basement of Sanctuary Building is being addressed by the company that installed the system.
       3. Membership & Hospitality:
  • The team has recommended that the bus transportation for the Blake residents be suspended until next year due to lack of participation of the residents. The Blake residents who did ride the bus will be contacted and rides will be offered by FPC members.
  • Cocoa and Carols event is scheduled for Wednesday evening, December 19th at 5:30. There will be only one double decker bus available, which will depart the church at 6:00 p.m.
  • The ministry team will host the first Sunday lunch of 2019 on January 13. There will be only one worship service that day since Joan S. Grey will be speaking and leading Sunday school. 
        4. Mission
  • The ministry team reported that work was in the final stages of completion for the new church website.
  • At present six people have committed to going on the annual mission trip to Haiti scheduled for February 9-16, 2019.
       5. Adult Christian Education:
  • The team is planning an adult event for some time in January where the Fred Rogers movie will be shown. Plans will be announced when they are finalized.
  • Tapestry will be held January 25-26 at Batesville Presbyterian Church in Batesville, MS. Rev. Ann Kelly, Rev. David Randolph, and Rev. Allison Wehrung will all have teaching roles during Tapestry. 
       6. Children's Christian Education:
  • Children have been working on their Christmas program which will be presented Wednesday, December 12, at 6:00 p.m.
  • 12 Christmas trees are left unsold and will be donated to NMRC.
7. Personnel:
  • The ministry team met with the Finance ministry team to gather input and to align budget increases.
     8. Worship:
  • Special services planned  are:
-Grace Notes which occurs at noon on the first three Wednesdays in December. Each musical presentation is followed by a lunch in Fellowship Hall.
-A Festival of Carols presented by the Chancel Choir on Sunday, December 9 at 5:00 p.m.
-Wholeness and Healing services each Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.
-Christmas Eve services are planned with a child friendly service at 4:00 p.m. and a candlelight service with communion at 5:30 p.m.
The Session recited The Lord's Prayer and adjourned at 7:50 p.m.
Worship Hours

Upcoming worship schedule:
Sunday, December 30
10:00 am worship (communion)
*No Sunday School
Sunday, January 6
10:00 am worship (communion)
*No Sunday School
Sunday, January 13
9:45 am Joint Adult Sunday School
11:00 am worship (communion)

8:30 am - Worship (communion weekly)
9:45 am - Sunday School
11:00 am - Worship (communion first Sunday of each month)
Nursery Weekly: 8:15 am - 12:15 pm
Reverend Joan Gray to Lead Officer Retreat, Sunday school & Worship
Saturday, January 12 and Sunday, January 13

Please note: There is only one service of worship with communion on Sunday, January 13 at 11:00 am!
The Reverend Joan Gray, a former moderator of the PC(USA) General  Assembly, will be leading FPC's Church Officer Retreat at Camp  Hopewell on Saturday, January 12, 2019, from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm.  All officers in the Classes of 2019, 2020 and 2021 are expected to  attend.
Reverend Gray will also lead Sunday school for all adults at 10:00 am in  Fellowship Hall and worship at 11:00 am on Sunday, January 13.
In addition to serving several Georgia congregations as Senior and Interim  Pastor, Reverend Gray is the author of several books on church  leadership and polity and has served as Adjunct Faculty and Interim  Dean of Students at Columbia Theological Seminary.
Lectionary Texts for January
January 6 - Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12
January 13 - Isaiah 43:1-7; Psalm 29; Acts 8:14-17; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
January 20 - Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 36:5-10; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; John 2:1-11
January 27 - Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a; Luke 4:14-21
Sanctuary flower dates are available on...
January 6 (seasonal greenery only) and January 13, 20 and 27. If you would like to reserve a date in honor or memory of a loved one, please contact Margaret Fancher at 234-1359 or email her at
From your staff...
Thank You, FPC!

On behalf of all the staff, thank you for your generosity to us this Christmas and throughout the year! We could not do the work we've been called to do without your help. It's a lot easier to do our jobs when we see your commitment as church officers and volunteers. You are an inspiration to us and your generosity is very much appreciated!
The Church Staff
Church  News
FPC's Transition Team has engaged Holy Cow! Consulting to help our congregational leaders prepare for the search for a new senior pastor. In a few weeks, you will be invited via email and regular mail to complete the Church Assessment Tool (CAT), an on-line instrument that will help leaders gauge the strength, vitality, and trends in our church.  The information gained from this assessment will be valuable for the Pastor Nominating Committee as it begins the search for a new senior pastor and all our church leaders as they make decisions about the future of FPC.

Here are the basics:
  • The Transition Team hopes to launch the CAT on Sunday, January 13. You will hear more about this in the coming weeks .
  • The invitation letter will include a link to the CAT online as well as directions for receiving a printed copy of the survey. The online site will be open for approximately three weeks to allow everyone time to complete the assessment.
  • It will take 20-30 minutes to complete the assessment and tell us about your experiences in and priorities for our church. Please do not discuss the survey or your answers with others as this may influence their answers.
  • All answers are strictly anonymous. The paper copies will include a self-addressed stamped return envelope so that those answers can be kept confidential. We want each participant to candidly share his/her own perceptions, opinions and experiences within the church.
Our future together is dependent on your participation and honest answers. Please be on the lookout for more information about this important event in the life of our church.
If you have questions, contact Ann Kelly, (662) 234-1757,
Many thanks,
Dorothy Lou Aldridge
Darren Ashmore
Kristina Carlson
Suggestions for Pastor Nominating Committee Needed

The Officer Nominating Committee needs for you to carefully consider the names of those whom you would like to suggest as potential candidates for serving on the Pastor Nominating Committee. A list of the church membership is available here Members of the Pastor Nominating Committee will include two current members of the Session, one current member of the Diaconate, and six other members of the congregation. The congregation will vote on the nominees at a congregational meeting in late January or early February.
PYF News
PYF Kick Off
PYF will kick off on Sunday, January 13 at 4:30 for our evening fellowship. We have a busy semester ahead of us and we are looking forward to kicking off the new year in our wonderful family of faith that we call PYF.
UKirk College News

As this newsletter is published, UKirk students will be preparing to travel to western North Carolina for College Conference at Montreat Conference Center. College Conference brings together 1000+ students and ministry leaders from across the country. We're traveling as part of a presbytery-wide group that includes folks from Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and the W. If you're on social media and want to follow along, we're @ukirkolemiss on Instagram and Facebook. 
A new calendar year also means another semester of UKirk meals. Our Spring schedule is online here, and as always we're grateful for your support in providing dinners for our weekly time together. UKirk is back January 22!
Young Adult News
Young Adults are bowling again!

Join us on Saturday, January 19th from 5:00-7:30 pm at Premier Lanes for our first young adult fellowship opportunity of the new year! Invite a friend because we have plenty of bowling lanes and finger foods to share. All are welcome! RSVP on Facebook or with David Randolph. Please note, our nursery ministry will not be available due to this event being off church property.
Interested in joining a small group?
Our  small   group  ministry has grown to become an important part of FPC's young adult ministry. It's where relationships are deepened as  groups  meet monthly to share a meal, study and support one another. With the start of a new year, we have the opportunity to create new small  groups . Please contact David Randolph   if you are interested in participating.
Haiti Mission Team Prepares for Upcoming Trip
Please begin to remember the Haiti Mission Team and our Haiti partners in  prayer as preparations for the upcoming trip begin. The team will be  traveling in Haiti February 9-16. Team members include: Ann Kelly,  Michael McGee, Elizabeth Owen, Greg Patton, Wade Simpson and  Ernie Williams. The focus of this year's trip will be mobile medical  clinics in the area around Bongnotte.
Thank you for your contributions of school supplies for the upcoming trip. The students, teachers and Dr. Gladys greatly appreciate your support.

Lovepacks  donations are an easy way to help relieve hunger among Oxford and Lafayette County school children. You can help by donating the following items: granola bars, non-refrigerated pudding, pop-top ravioli or pasta, pop-top chicken noodle or vegetable soup, peanut butter crackers, instant grits or oatmeal or 16 oz. jars of peanut butter. If you'll bring them with you to church and deposit them in the church office or the narthex, volunteers will get it to the Lovepacks office for you.

The food of the month is:

Pop-top cans of chicken noodle/vegetable soup
A Haven House Request
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.
Etcetera . . .

During the baptism of our son Wesley, you all showed us lots of love! We are deeply grateful for all the support, help, gifts, prayers and thoughtfulness during this memorable day. May the good Lord continue to shower his blessings on FPC and may it always be a place of joy!
- Nana & Francis Boateng
Tapestry is Coming!

Friday & Saturday, January 25-26, 2019
Batesville, Presbyterian Church
What is it?   A leadership training event for the people of the Presbytery of St. Andrew and the Presbytery of the Mid-South.
Where is it? Batesville Presbyterian Church, 121 Eureka Street, Batesville, MS
Who is the Keynote Speaker? Dr. G. Lee Ramsey, Jr. is the Marion and Sheila Foster Professor of Pastoral Theology and Homiletics at Memphis Theological Seminary, where he has taught for 20 years. An ordained United Methodist Minister, he is the author of Preachers and Misfits, Prophets ad Thieves: The Minister in Southern Fiction, and Care-full Preaching: from Sermon to Caring Community. His interests include how contemporary fiction and film can inform Christian faith and ministry, the use of narrative in preaching and the ministry of pastoral care in times of grief and loss.
What is the cost?
          Friday fee (includes dinner)                          $36.00
                             Children under age 9 dinner ___ x $9 =        ______
                             Saturday fee (includes lunch)                       $20.00
                             Saturday on-site registration                        $30.00
                             Optional child 's lunch _____ x $5 =             ______                
What is the schedule?
          Friday Registration and Fellowship                       5:00 - 6:00 pm
                   Keynote Address                                        6:00 - 7:00 pm
                   Dinner at Area One Ranch Steakhouse        7:30 pm
          Saturday Registration and Fellowship                    8:30 - 9:00 am
                        Worship                                                 9:00 - 10:00 am
                        Session A Workshops                             10:15 - 11:30 am
                        Session B Workshops                             11:45 - 1:00 pm
                        Lunch                                                     1:00 - 2:00 pm
                        Session C Workshops                             2:00 - 3:15 pm
What kind of workshops?
          Children's Faith Formation in Today's Church
          History of the Presbyterian Church in Mississippi
          Training for New Officers
          Adult Education Galore
          Mixed Media Spiritual Expression
          Care in Times of Grief and Loss
          Technology and the Church: Enemies or Best Friends?
          Why Should Women Gather
          Presbyterianism 101
          Interested in Missions? Meet Me at the Corner!
          Calling All Clerks
          Belhar, Barmen, and Birmingham Jail: Confessions for Today
          Journaling as Spiritual Practice
          It 's a Family Thing: Israel's Story of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz
          Civil Conversations in a Polarized World
          Frisbee? Check. Snacks? Check. Bible? Check.
          The Yin and Yang of Yoga
          and many more ....
Register by January 7, 2019 , to receive the discounted rate. Brochures are available in the church office.
Bibles with Brews

Bibles  with Brews  returns to its weekly format for the month of January!  Our first gathering will be Wednesday, January 9th, from 4:30-6:30 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 "Newness". All are welcome!
VIP Gathering for January To Be Announced

VIPs will gather in January after the launching of the Holy Cow! Congregational Assessment at a time to be determined. We will have a simple lunch in Fellowship Hall and volunteers will be available to help you fill out your assessment on line. Watch for more details to come!
Sunday Parking Reminder
Bridge Properties, 1000 Tyler Avenue at 10th St., now tows all unauthorized vehicles on its parking lot, including Sundays. Please do not park on the Bridge Properties lot to attend worship or other church events!

Alma Shaw Circle

January 15  @ 9:45 am at the home of Barbara Davis: 206 Clubhouse Drive, Oxford, MS 38655

Lula Gregory Circle

January 15  @ 9:45 am in Fellowship Hall

Carroll Barr Circle

January 15  @ 6:00 pm at the home of Polly M. Taylor: 118 Price Street, Oxford, MS 38655

Gerry Duvall Circle

January 15  @ 12:00 pm in Fellowship Hall

PW Council 2018-2019

Moderator - Mary Haskell -
Vice - Moderator - Mary Glynn Wright -
Secretary - Julie Field -  
Treasurer - Margaret Fancher -
Historian - Anita Drury -
Ex-Moderator - Sharron Alexander -
News from the Pews
We Extend Congratulations to:

Cindy & Eric Snellgrove on the birth of a new granddaughter, Molly Cathryn Whalen, daughter of Emily & Andrew Whalen, born December 3, 2018.

Memorials and Honoraria

~ With gratitude for contributions to First Presbyterian Church ~
In memory of:

Martha Beanland

Alton Bryant Sunday School Class
Natalie & Bobby Bailess

Susan Emptage Burkett

Homer Burkett

Jim Jackson

Alton Bryant Sunday School Class
Dorothy Lou & Mack Aldridge
Yung & Dean Chow
J. J. Jones
Allison & Steve McCord

Nancy Roberson Wilkie

Curtis Wilkie

In honor of:

Carmille Hovious

Mike Robbins

Susan & Bob Joiner

Judy & Bob Davis

Mary Elizabeth & Ann Louise Miers

Cindy & Lee Miers

Upcoming Birthdays and Anniversaries

January Birthdays:

1     Frances Crawford, Edna Wright
2     Kathryn Hill, Steve Mauldin, Jody Scruggs, Kerry Wigginton
3     Allyn Cascio
5     Barbara Davis
6     Nancy Giles
7     Lindsey Baquie, Anna Presley Harris, Maribel Sullivan-Gonzalez, Lynn Treas
8     Thelma Curry
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
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, Avery Laughlin
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 III, Henry Tanner
28   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
30   Allysen & Darren Ashmore

   First Dates

The Diaconate  will meet Tuesday, January 8 at 5:30 pm in the Session Room.
The Prayer Shawl Ministry Team will meet Monday, January 7 at 1:00 pm in Room 101.
The Finance Ministry Team  will meet Monday, January 14 at 4:30 pm in Room 101.
The Session  will meet Monday, January 14 at 5:30 pm in Fellowship Hall.
The FPC Book Club  will meet Tuesday, January 8 at 1:30 pm in Room 101.

Reminder: The February deadline for submissions to First Press   is Tuesday, January 15.

The Session
  CLASS of 2019
Trey Cobb, Jon Crawford, Margie McLeod, 
Karen Stockton, Dana Williams
  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

The Diaconate
CLASS of 2019
Lee Borden, Kristina Carlson, Dean Chow,
Lele Gillespie, Pick Scruggs
CLASS of 2020
Todd Abbott, Rosie Cooper, Ed Croom,
Lisa Hickman-Tollison, John Schuesselin, Amy Wilkes

CLASS of 2021
Thelma Curry, Karen Elliott, Luke Harris,
Brian Hyneman, Niles Lovelady

The Congregation

Ann H. Kelly
Acting Head of Staff
J. David Randolph
Associate Pastor 22
Allison C. Wehrung
UKirk Pastor

Joseph W. Garrison
Director of Music/Organist
Terrell R. Hall

Director of Elementary Music

Joseph H. Kelly
Director of Youth
Frances Saralvarez
Office Administrator
Jessica M. McPhail
Director of Communications
Wade Simpson
Property Manager

LaShaunda L. Sisk
Nursery Director