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FIRST PRESS | an online newsletter | March 2019
"When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart."
                                                                                                                   Jeremiah 29:13
That itsy-bitsy-teeny-tiny two-letter word, if, has such significance for our lives: If only I had made this decision and not that one... If only they would listen to me... If only I had the money... If only this or that and so on.
When we contemplate the difficulties that a little if gives us, we might also think about how our heart resolves the many complications and contradictions thrown at us by life.
Jeremiah says we will find God, if we seek God with all our heart. It's easy to miss God in our life; to move away from God, to separate ourselves from the God who continually seeks us. Over time we begin a new search for God. We want to bring God back into our life. We want to renew our faith. We want to build up our hope. We want to know God's love and care and generosity and we hope others will follow our faith in action.
Searching, always leads to new adventures and new learnings, some we might not have expected. Searching is good for us. Searching leads to new awareness of what's going on in our life, in the life of others and in the life of our church community.
When we are searching for God, we are activating our heart muscle. The heart is fully pumped and primed for this search, because God resides within us. We don't have to go far to find God, but we do have to give it "all our heart."
As we journey together along our path of transition and into a new day at First Presbyterian Church, we must give it our all, our whole heart. Half efforts won't help us. We need to be all in for God. No ifs, ands or buts, because God is all in for us.
The joy of the Lord be with you,
From the Associate Pastors

Reflections on Star Words
Courage was my star word on Epiphany Sunday. I confess that my first response was to say a little prayer that I wouldn't encounter anything in 2019 that requires a whole lot of courage. After that I slipped the little star into the pocket of my robe thinking I could put it in my office when I got there and, of course, I forgot. It's been in my pocket for four funerals, one wedding and each time I've stepped into the pulpit or lectern since the beginning of the year. It's reminded me of the courage required to keep going after the loss of a spouse, a parent, a dear friend, as well as the courage it takes to bear witness to the hope and joy of resurrection in the face of death. Likewise, it was a reminder of the courage it takes to commit our lives to someone else in marriage, especially when it is a second marriage and the first did not end well. I've been mindful of the courage it takes to proclaim the gospel in a world where good news competes with so much pain and divisiveness and sheer hopelessness.

While cleaning my computer bag before a continuing education event, I found a little piece of wood given to me at General Assembly this past summer. It said, "Be courageous." When my brother went into the hospital, I left the continuing education event early to be with him, but not before attending one last worship service where I received a blue sticky note as the benediction. It said, "Be of good courage and know you are loved!" Courage seems to be what's needed for each and every step of the way. I'm now praying that I won't need a double or triple dose of courage in this new year, but, at the same time, I'm relying on the promise of Deuteronomy 31:6..."Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified...the Lord your God goes with you; he will not fail or forsake you." May it be so for all of us.
Grace and peace,

Last month's Mr. Rogers movie night will always be a special memory of mine in the life of FPC. About fifty of us gathered at Tallahatchie Gourmet to watch the Mr. Rogers movie documentary, "Won't You Be My Neighbor." We had a wonderful time sharing good food, loud laughs, and heartfelt tears as heard about Fred Roger's story. At the same time, the children gathered with volunteers and nursery workers in the Education building to watch old school Mr. Rogers Neighborhood reruns and the new animated show it inspired, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Everybody got to spend the evening with Mr. Rogers.
As things ended, Ann DeVoe, shared a song Mr. Rogers composed called, " Goodnight God ". He shared it on his program a few times but also sung it to his own children before they fell asleep. So, I went home to look it up and haven't stop singing it since. If you'd like to listen as Mr. Rogers sings it, you can do so here . It goes,

"Goodnight, God, and thank you for this very lovely day.
Thank you, too, for helping us at work and at our play.
Thank you for our families. For each and every friend.
Forgive us, please, for anything we've done that might offend.
Keep us safe and faithful, God. Tell us what to do.
Goodnight God. And thank you God for letting us love you.
Goodnight God. And thank you God for letting us love you."
Amen, Mr. Rogers and might I add, "thank you God for letting us be loved by you." May we follow Mr. Rogers' example as we love others because God first loved us.
  Financial Summary
Summary of Stated Session Meeting
The Session of First Presbyterian Church held its stated monthly meeting on Monday, February 11,2019 at 5:30 pm in Fellowship Hall with fourteen elders present and one excused.

1. Finance: 

  • Voting on the 2019 budget.  Elder Dana Williams distributed reports that detailed the current pledge amounts and units.  Total Revenue, pledged and unpledged is $945,276.  This is a decline from last year of about $65,000 with 21 less pledging units. Total budgeted expenses are $1,058,451.  A shortfall of $113,175 is projected.  There is a general fund balance of $192,797 that can offset the shortfall, leaving the general fund balance at $79,622 at the end of 2019.
  • Presbytery per capita will decrease next year to accurately reflect the number of ACTIVE members which will include only members that are above confirmation age.  Younger baptized children were previously included in that number, but will not be included moving forward.
  • There is a request from the Personnel Ministry Team for a 2.5 % salary increase requested from Personnel ministry team.
  • A budget line item for Continuing Education was added for the youth minister. There is a new account created for health and dental insurance for the youth minister, Joseph Kelly beginning in July 2019. 
  • After much discussion about the $113,175 projected shortfall, Elder Pete Boone proposed that we revisit the income and expenses in 3-6 months. Ministry teams are also being asked to re-examine their budgets to see if there are areas where reductions to the proposed budget can be made.
  • The Nabors Fund, which is designated for property expenses, was discussed along with the possibility of using some of the funds to offset the planned expense for the roof in an effort to reduce the proposed property budget. This would decrease the proposed deficit.
  • Dana Williams gave a report regarding the month end report for January which falls in line with projections and expected trends. 
2.     Property:  
  • Elder Karen Stockton reported that the property ministry team has met and discussed the roofing project among other small pending items.  The ministry team is currently waiting on final cost estimates for roofing. The project of painting the annex was delayed from 2018 to this year and will be revisited later in the year. 

3.     Adult Christian Education:

  • The Congregational Bible study on ACTS will begin Feb 6/7 and continue through May 1/2.
  • Sunday school curriculum for all classes was shared with the WIRED WORD being revamped after the interim pastor arrival.
  • Wednesday's Together will begin February 6 and end the week before Holy Week.  Prices will remain the same with prepayment available. Inquiry on lowering credit card fees is being looked into by the office.
  • The congregational event of the movie screening of "Won't You Be My Neighbor" about the life of Fred Rogers, who was a Presbyterian minister, will be at 5:00 pm on Sunday February 24 at Tallahatchie Gourmet.
4.     Children's Christian Education:
  • Wednesdays Together - We need 4 volunteers each Wednesday to help with children's programming. There will be 10 weeks of programs, but only 8 for children's programs.
  • VBS: July 8 - 11
  • Youth Confirmation - 7th and 8th graders will go through Confirmation this year. There will be 12 - 14 kids. It will begin with a Confirmation Retreat at Camp Hopewell March 1 - 2 and Confirmation Sunday is May 12.
  • Youth Program - Brian Hyneman will be the adult representative from the Youth Council on the Christian Education Committee.
5.     Membership & Hospitality: 
  • The golf tournament is planned for May 18th
  • Pancake supper will be held March 5th. 
  • No first Sunday meal will be offered in March.
6.      Mission:  Elder Jon Crawford reported that Greg Patton will be the new liaison for the Scouts. The ministry team has recruited some new members and will meet next week.

7.     Personnel:  Elder Ben Griffith reported that their committee is full.  Members include Adelene Pettis, Tommy Rosser, Al Ling, Karen Stockton and Paul Chiniche.  His committee will meet with Finance ministry team to review details in the budget.

Old Business:


1.     Holy Cow! Survey: The Reverend Ann Kelly reported that there were 100 responses submitted thus far. The interpreter will be here to discuss the results on March 30th at 9:00 am with the leaders of the church.


2.     Church Web site: The Reverend David Randolph reported that the church staff will be working to pull together the web site. Ministry teams are asked to look at the link that will be provided for review and to help finalize information needed.

General Announcements:


1.     Called Session Meeting Sunday, February 17, 2019 at 10:30 am in the Fellowship Hall to receive Corey and Drew Mauldin as members and to baptize their son, John Isaac Mauldin.


2.     The Reverend Paul Phillips will attend the COM meeting at Presbytery on Monday, Feb. 18th at 11:00 am to be examined


3.     The Reverend Ann Kelly informed the session about several pastoral concerns. 


The next stated session meeting will be held Monday, 4th, 2019 at 5:30 in the Fellowship Hall.  The change of date is due to spring break. 
Worship Hours

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
Lectionary Texts for March
March 3 - Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2; Luke 9:28-36 (37-43)
March 10 - Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16; Romans 10:8b-13; Luke 4:1-13
March 17 - Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35
March 24 - Isaiah 55:1-9; Psalm 63:1-8; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13; Luke 13:1-9
March 31 - Joshua 5:9-12; Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
A service of worship for Ash Wednesday, including the imposition of ashes, will be held next Wednesday, March 6 at 5:30 pm in the Sanctuary. A nursery will be available.
Sanctuary flower dates are available on...
May 5 & 26. If you would like to provide flowers in honor or in memory of a loved one, contact Susan Joiner at sjoiner@oxford.ms or 662-808-3240.
Concert Organist Scott Montgomery will join with The Chancel Choir on April 7, at 4:30 in the afternoon for a concert featuring the sacred cantata "Hear My Prayer" by Felix Mendelssohn. Our own Nancy Maria Balach will be the soloist. Composed for SATB choir, soprano soloist and organ, this short work of approximately fifteen minutes is based on Psalm 55, is hauntingly beautiful, and will help lead us into Holy Week. Scott will also play major organ solo pieces by Mendelssohn and other composers. Having given a concert as part of our 175th-anniversary celebration, this will be his second time to perform at FPC.

He became nationally recognized in 2006 by winning both the Lilian Murtagh Memorial Award (first-prize) and the Audience Prize of the prestigious American Guild of Organists' National Young Artist Competition in Organ Playing (NYACOP), the first person to win both prizes in the history of the competition. Scott has been a prize winner in several other notable competitions including first-prize in the American Guild of Organists' Region V Competition in Evansville, Indiana (1997), second-prize in the Arthur Poister National Organ Competition in Syracuse, New York (2002), and was also the first recipient of the M. Louise Miller Scholarship (2002) sponsored by the Greater Bridgeport Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Scott is a member of the Concert Artist Cooperative, a roster of national and international concert artists.

His performances have been broadcast on nationally syndicated radio programs "Pipedreams" and "With Heart and Voice." His debut recording, Water and Light , was released in 2008 by the Pro Organo label. His second CD, Inspirations From England , was released in 2009 by the Regent Record label. Most recently, Scott has released his third CD, Organo Plano: Music for a Joyous Occasion , on the Raven label.

Mark your calendars now, you don't want to miss this event.
Children's News
Vacation Bible School dates have been set!

July 8-11     

More details will follow but please put it on your calendars.
                                                            - Ruth O'Dell and Carmille Hovious
PYF News
March is here and for the youth here at FPC that means it is time for our Confirmation Class. Starting on March 1 st we begin our time with our 7 th and 8 th graders as they learn about their personal faith and the roles of the church. Confirmation is always a special time here for us at FPC as we get to watch our young people grow in their relationships with God and with one another. Our class will wrap up with Confirmation Sunday on Mother's Day, where our class of young people will come before the congregation and become full members of First Presbyterian Church. Confirmation allows us to see the future of our church and that is a truly special thing to see. 
UKirk College News

Thanks to your generosity and that of other churches in our presbytery, UKirk meals are covered for the rest of this semester! Our Fall schedule will be available this summer.   
UKirk continues to meet weekly for dinner, worship, and discussions around our theme, "Live Differently." We had a great time bowling together in February, and are looking forward to a game night in March. This is our second semester of weekly on-campus coffee hour, and that's another great midweek chance for us to check in with each other. 
We hope you'll save the date for UKirk Sunday, which is March 31! In the meantime, don't forget that you can subscribe to our own monthly(ish) UKirk newsletter  here.

Young Adult News
Young Adults are headed to Camp Hopewell for FPC's first Young Adult Retreat on Saturday, March 2, through Sunday, March 3. Contact David Randolph at drandolphfpc@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Bibles with Brews  continues as a monthly event on Monday, March 4th, from 4:30-6:00 pm at the Growler. Join the conversation as we bring and share different scripture passages about our topic of study. This month's topic is "Seasons of Change " since it is the season of Lent. Our next monthly gathering will be on Monday, April 4th. All are welcome!
Young Adult Service Project at Camp Hopewell:  Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 23rd, as FPC's Young Adult Ministry volunteers at Camp Hopewell for their 70th anniversary celebration. Come out from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm as we help with various service projects around camp. There will be plenty to do from painting to landscape work and more. A simple lunch will be provided. Please RSVP in the Facebook event so we can be prepared with enough materials. Children who are able to help (5 and older) are welcome to volunteer as well but a nursery will not be provided during this service event.
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.
These prayer flags are a work in progress. They started as part of our "sabbath spaces" for the 2018 trip when each member of the Haiti Mission Team was asked to write a prayer for the people of Haiti and we turned it into a prayer flag. It was Greg Patton who suggested we hang it at our mobile clinic that day rather than at the guest house among our hosts and their neighbors.

This year before sending the mission team off to Haiti, church members wrote prayers on Wednesday night and our older children made the prayer flags to send with the team. One of the children asked, "How will they know what our prayers say?" so it was quickly decided that each clinic should begin with the sharing of these prayers. Mid-week a text came from the mission team to share with all of you: "We are all healthy and in good spirits. We now start each clinic with a prayer and sing Amazing Grace in three languages beneath the fluttering prayer flags. It sets the tone for the day and has a calming effect on everyone. Thanks God!

The mission team has lots of stories to share about their adventures this year and plans for the next year will soon be underway. The stories are not just their stories but the stories of this congregation and what God is doing among and through all of us. Thank you for your support of the Haiti Mission Partnership.

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 ravioli
MTaM:  Join us on Tuesday, March 26th at the Stone Center from 4:00 - 6:00 pm. Click here to volunteer! To learn more about how you can help extend a Christian hand and hope through this dynamic outreach, contact coordinator Tricia Barrios at tgbarrios463@gmail.com or at 662-801-6521.
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 . . .

Everyone is invited to the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper and Mardi Gras Parade on Tuesday, March 5 th . We'll gather in the parking lot at St. Peter's Episcopal Church at 5:15 pm and join our neighbors for a parade around the Square. The parade begins at 5:30 pm on the dot! Be sure to wear your crazy Mardi Gras attire and feel free to bring beads or candy for throwing. Afterward, we'll all gather in Fellowship Hall for pancakes and fellowship!

Daylight Saving Time  begins next Sunday, March 10. Don't forget to set your clocks and watches forward one hour the night before so you won't be late for church!

VIPs Gather in March

Joseph Garrison, FPC's Director of Music and Organist will host the VIP dinner on Thursday, March 21 at his home. The bus will leave the church parking lot at 5:30 pm. Those not riding the bus should arrive at Joe's house by 5:45 pm. Reservations are a must for this event, so please call the church office by Monday, March 18.
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!

Esther Ethridge Circle

Sunday, March 10 @ 4:30 pm at the home of Caroline McIntosh - 906 Muirfield Drive

Alma Shaw Circle

Tuesday, March 19 @ 9:45 am at the home of Jody Scruggs - 3904 Eagle Cove

Lula Gregory Circle

Tuesday, March 19 @ 9:45 in the church parlor

Carroll Barr Circle

Tuesday, March 19 @ 6:00 pm at the home of Dorothy Lou Aldridge - 132 Lakeway Drive

Gerry Duvall Circle

Tuesday, March 19 @ 12:00 pm in the church parlor

PW Council 2018-2019

Moderator - Mary Haskell - haskellfam@aol.com
Vice - Moderator - Mary Glynn Wright - mgw0804@yahoo.com
Secretary - Julie Field - jfieldrx@aol.com  
Treasurer - Margaret Fancher - fancherm@bellsouth.net
Historian - Anita Drury - sakbg5@gmail.com
Ex-Moderator - Sharron Alexander - sharronalexander@bellsouth.net
News from the Pews
Memorials and Honoraria

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

Bruce J. Brumfield

Dr. & Mrs. Robert Cooper
The Fishing Group

Doc Buford

Shelley & Jim Crutcher

Joe Joyer

Rose & Henry Paris

Ed Perry

Sally Booke
J. J. Jones

Thomas Styers

J. J. Jones

Jewel Turman

J. J. Jones

Annie Grace & John White

Diane W. Lindley

Upcoming Birthdays and Anniversaries

March Birthdays:

2     Trenia Reynolds
5     Harper Harris
6     Lauren McRae
7     Brett Person, Max Williams
8     Trey Cobb, Danny Kelly, Thomas Patrick
9     Adalene Pettis
10  Cal Montgomery
11   Phillip Embry, Winn Hutchcraft
12   Maddie Grace DuBard, Lenore Hobbs, Ashley Wilkinson
14   Ann Person, Claire Stevens, Brooks Williams
15   Carolyn Gibson, Ella McIntosh
16   Henry Haney, Susan Joiner, Griffin Tanner
17   Elizabeth Coon
18   Captain Alexander, Wes Estes, Mary Charles Matthews, Leighton McCool, Anne Douglas Tanner
19   Hayden Alexander, Brynn Ashmore, Lucia Brandt, Alexis Longsdorf, Katherine Randolph
20   Doug Alexander, Sam Logan, Kim Ling, David McPhail, Molly Neff
21   Harry Embry
22   Hampton Hardin
23   Erin Alexander, Jim Deloach
24   Nan Davis, Bel Monteith, Renee Sullivan-Gonzalez
26   Josh Gibbs
27   Frances Abernathy, Joe Burnett, Jess Edge
29   Spears Alexander
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

   First Dates

The Prayer Shawl Ministry Team  will meet Monday, March 4 at 1:30 pm in Room 101.
The Worship Ministry Team will meet Monday, March 4 at 4:30 pm in Room 101.
The Finance Ministry Team  will meet Monday, March 4 at 4:30 pm in the Session Room.
The Session  will meet Monday, March 4 at 5:30 pm in Fellowship Hall.
The FPC Book Club  will meet to discuss Educated by Tara Westover Tuesday, March 12 at 1:30 pm in Room 101.
The Membership & Hospitality Ministry Team will meet Thursday, March 14 at 4:30 pm in Room 101.

Reminder: The April deadline for submissions to First Press   is Friday, March 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

Paul K. Phillips
Interim Pastor
pphillipsfpc@gmail.com   3
Ann H. Kelly
Interim Associate Pastor
J. David Randolph
Associate Pastor
drandolphfpc@gmail.com   5
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