FIRST PRESS | an online newsletter | November 2018
From the Associate Pastors
I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears:
I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eyes waste away because of grief,
they grow weak because of all my foes. (Ps. 6:6-7)
The Wednesday morning Bible study group recently studied the story of King David using the study, The Jesus Way, by Eugene Peterson. In talking about perfectionism as a disorder that often plagues the Christian community, Peterson holds David up as an vivid example of God's ability to work with the imperfections of ordinary human beings. David was a man of God, but he wasn't perfect in any sense of the word. Neither are we. The good news is that God is at work within and among us in spite of those human imperfections.
Part of the study looked at some of the Psalms that are attributed to David. One of them is Psalm 6 which speaks of the conditions of evil and sin in the world and the devastation they cause. The psalm is a penitential prayer written in a time of deep trouble. Peterson writes: "There are times when an accumulated sense of the sheer mass of trouble in the world just knocks the wind out of us, knocks the prayer out of us - all the sin, all the sickness, all the meanness: damaged lives, broken hearts, child abuse, raped women, rampant hunger, torture, the grinding poverty of the poor, the unchecked greed of the rich, desecrating violations of our land and water and air, brutal arrogance in high places. Details pile up. There is a lot wrong in the world....Those moments are compounded when we realize that some of the wrong is in us - we are not just observers of it, we are part of it. Sin is not a Them thing: it is also Us." (p.89-90)
In the events of recent weeks, it has been very tempting to point fingers at others and their contributions to the divisiveness, hatred and violence of our times. Most of us would rather blame someone else than look closely about how we might have contributed to those attitudes. As long as the acts of violence occur elsewhere, they can't be attributed to me...can they? David might have asked himself the same thing as he prayed the prayed this psalm. It seems time for a good lament, a "passionate expression of grief" and a lot of listening both to one another and to God.
Won't you pray with me?
Grace and peace,

As I prepared to write my monthly newsletter article, it had been my intention to write about all the wonderful ways we worshiped throughout the last month: The David Freeman Lecture Series, Wednesdays Together, Wednesday morning bible study, small groups, the church picnic at Camp Hopewell, Trunk-or-Treat (with a firetruck!), etc, etc. But things don't always go as planned. Little things happen, like when rain postpones the fun of our church picnic. Big things happen too, like when a gunman walks into a Synagogue in Pittsburgh and opens fire.
This tragedy has held my attention since Saturday, October 27 th and my prayers have been consumed by it. I mourn the loss of life. I grieve that a house of worship became a place of murder. I lament our sinful nature and cry out in anger because of this sin. I struggle to find appropriate words to communicate all this while still clinging to the hope of God the Almighty.
            Walter Brueggemann has a book called "Prayers for a Privileged People." He had a tradition of writing a special prayer to begin each class he taught at Columbia Theological Seminary. One of his prayers, "Salvation Oracles," reflects upon Isaiah 43:1-5. Between those verses and his prayer, I find words to cling to in the midst of this tragedy that I wish to share with you.
Isaiah 43:1-5, NRSV

(1)       But now thus says the LORD,
                        he who created you, O Jacob,
                        he who formed you, O Israel:
            Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
                        I have called you by name, you are mine.
(2)       When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
                        and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
            when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
                        and the flame shall not consume you.
(3)       For I am the LORD your God,
                        the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
            I give Egypt as your ransom,
                        Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.
(4)       Because you are precious in my sight,
                        and honored, and I love you,
            I give people in return for you,
                        nations in exchange for your life.
(5)       Do not fear, for I am with you;
                        I will bring your offspring from the east,
                        and from the west I will gather you;
There is a long list of threats around us:
Terror, cancer, falling markets, killing, others unlike us in all their variety, loneliness, shame, death - the list goes on and we know it well.
And in the midst of threat of every kind, you appear among us in your full power, in your deep fidelity, in your amazing compassion. You speak among us in the one word that could matter: "Do not fear."
And we, in our several fearfulnesses, are jarred by your utterance. On a good day, we know that your sovereign word is true. So give us good days by your rule, free enough to rejoice, open enough to change, trusting enough to move out of new obedience, grace enough to be forgiven and then to forgive.
We live by your word. Speak it to us through the night, that we may have many good days through your gift .
Speak Lord, for your people are listening.

  Financial Summary
Summary of Stated Session Meeting
The Session of First Presbyterian Church held its stated monthly meeting on Monday, October 8, 2018, at 5:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall.  Twelve elders were present. Highlights from the meeting are as follows:
Ministry Teams:
  • As of August 31, 2018, year-to-date revenue was $666,412.07, and expenses were $789,005.20.
  • The team is finalizing the 2018 Stewardship Campaign plans.
  • The team is reviewing options for property insurance. The team is scheduled to meet on October 11, when they will review air conditioning issues.
  • The team has been approached about the possibility of the church partnering with Mary Cathey Head Start Center. Volunteers would be needed to assist the teachers. Book drives and other opportunities to help were also presented.
  • FPC has an opportunity to continue our efforts to provide clean water to the Bongnotte area of Haiti. Howard Dudley's new church has expressed interest in partnering with FPC to install another water system. The team will continue to discuss this possibility.
 Adult Christian Education:
  • A successful Freeman Lecture Series was held September 30, with the Rev. Dr. Rodger Nishioka as the guest speaker.
  • Wednesdays Together programming and meals continue through October 24. The final meal will be a hamburger cook out.
Children's Christian Education:
  • The team is addressing the Children's Protection Policy. Plans are underway to develop and write a new policy.
 Membership & Hospitality:
  • New friendship pads have been ordered.
  • Membership rolls are being monitored by this ministry team. When members move away and join other churches, their names will be removed from the current member rolls.
  • Carols and Cocoa is scheduled for December 19th. Cocoa will be served beginning at 5:30 p.m. and caroling on the buses will begin at 6:00 p.m.
Old Business:
  • 1. The Interim Pastor Nominating Committee reported that they have completed the MIF and that it has been turned in to Executive Presbyter, Rev. Greg Goodwiller.
New Business:
    1. Rev. David Randolph presented a copy of a contract with Confit LLC, a professional web design company. It was agreed to move forward with this previously budgeted project. The new church web site should be complete by early December 2018.
General Announcements:
The annual church picnic will be held Sunday, October 14, from 4-6 at Camp Hopewell. It is a potluck dinner. **Due to inclement weather, this was changed to November 4, 2018.
The next stated Session meeting is Monday, November 12, 2018, at 5:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall.
The Session recited the Lord's Prayer and adjourned at 7:00 p.m.
Worship Hours

8:30 am - Worship (communion weekly)
9:45 am - Sunday School
11:00 am - Worship (communion first Sunday of the month)
Nursery Weekly: 8:15 am - 12:15 pm
Lectionary Texts for November
November 4 - Ruth 1:1-18; Psalm 146; Hebrews 9:11-14; Mark 12:28-34
November 11 - Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17; Psalm 127; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44
November 18 - 1 Samuel 1:4-10; 1 Samuel 2:1-10; Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18) 19-25; Mark 13:1-8
November 25 - 2 Samuel 23:1-7; Psalm 132:1-12 (13-18); Revelations 1:4b-8; John 18:33-37
Sanctuary flower dates are available on...
November 25 and December 2, 16, 23 and 30 (seasonal greenery only). If you would like to provide flowers in honor or memory of a loved one, please contact Margaret Fancher at 234-1359 or email her at
30-minute concert followed by a catered lunch in Fellowship Hall.
Wednesday, December 5 - 12:00 P.M.
Diane Wang, flute & Stacy Rodgers, piano
Wednesday, December 12 - 12:00 P.M.
Tanisha Ward, soprano & Amanda Johnston, piano
Wednesday, December 19 - 12:00 P.M.
Robert Knupp, organ
Sunday, December 9 - 5:00 P.M.
The Chancel Choir
Nancy Maria Balach, soprano
Ricky Burkhead, percussion
Jacob Jordan, guitar
Diane Wang, piano

A Christmas Musical for Children
Wednesday, December 12 - 6:00 P.M.
Chapel and Cherub Choirs
Church  News
Suggestions Needed for Elder and Deacon Class of 2021
Your input is needed by the Officer Nominating Committee as they begin the process of putting together a slate of nominees for the Elder and Deacon Class of 2021 to present to the congregation on Sunday, November 18 at the congregational meeting at the close of 11:00 worship. Please use this link to find your suggestion form and a list of the church membership or just write down your suggestions and return them to the church office by Monday, November 5.
In your consideration of nominees, remember the function of these two offices in the church:
The ministry of deacon as set forth Scripture is one of compassion,  witness, and service, sharing in the redeeming love of Jesus Christ  for the poor, the hungry, the sick ....Persons of spiritual character,  honest repute, exemplary lives, brotherly and sisterly love, sincere  compassion and sound judgement should be chosen for this ministry ... .their ministry is under the supervision and authority of the session.
                                                                             G - 2.02, Book of Order
...congregations should elect persons of wisdom and maturity of faith,  having demonstrated skills in leadership and being compassionate in spirit ... they are chosen by the congregation to discern and measure its fidelity to  the Word of God, and to strengthen and nurture its faith and life. Ruling elders, t ogether with ministers of the Word and Sacrament, exercise  leadership, government, spiritual discernment, and discipline and have  responsibilities for the life of a congregation as well as the whole church,  including ecumenical relations.
                                                                             G - 2.03, Book of Order
Each new class of elders is important in the life in the church. In times of transition, it is even more essential to have strong officers who can provide spiritual leadership for the church as it strives to continue doing ministry and serving as Christ's hands and feet in the world without the leadership of a senior pastor. Consider the names that come to mind. Pray about them. Submit them so that your Officer Nominating Committee can do their work of discernment and present to you a slate of nominees that will lead us into a new era of our church's life. Along the way, trust that God is part of the process.
Annual Church Picnic
Sunday, November 4, 2018
at Camp Hopewell
from 4:00 to 6:30 pm

First Presbyterian will host a church picnic, at 4:00 pm on Sunday, November 4, at Camp Hopewell. We encourage members of all ages to join us as there will be fun for everyone! Music, games, worship, fellowship and much more. 

The deacons will provide chicken tenders, beverages and S'MORES! We ask that members of the church bring additional side dishes and desserts. Members with last names beginning in A-M are asked to bring desserts, and members with last names beginning in N-Z are asked to bring side dishes. You can bring your dishes with you as you arrive. If you will, please RSVP to and let us know if you plan to attend and the number of kids and adults attending with you.      
Bring your entire family and always feel free to invite friends! We look forward to sharing this time with everyone.  

If we walk in the light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us all from sin.
1 John 1:7
PYF News
PYF Christmas Tree Fundraiser
It is that time of year again where our youth of FPC start to prepare for their upcoming trip to Montreat Youth Conference in the summer of 2019. To make this trip happen, our youth work hard to put on our Tree Lot Fundraiser where we sell beautiful Fraser Fir Christmas Trees and wreaths. The tree lot will open on Saturday, November  24th and will close on Sunday, December 2nd. This sale is for one week only, so make sure you tell all your friends where they can get some of the most beautiful trees in Oxford and that all proceeds go to a great cause. Have a wonderful day and an early happy holidays to all of you.
UKirk College News

October was a great month for UKirk Ole Miss! 

In addition to our regular Tuesday night gatherings, we've been enjoying a new on-campus time for fellowship each Wednesday afternoon. We are grateful for Greg Patton and Melissa Hall, who donated some of the things we needed to get this drop-in coffee hour up and running. 
We also got together for a movie night featuring Won't You Be My Neighbor?, the recent documentary about everyone's favorite Presbyterian and the champion of our summer Church Bracket Challenge (Mister Rogers of course). 
UKirk continues to be a place of friendship and growth for college students in our midst! To hear from some of our students themselves, check out this video featuring all four campus ministries from our presbytery.
Young Adults
Rain might have delayed October's gathering but on Sunday, November 4th,  we  will have our chance during the church picnic to compete for the first annual FPC Volleyball Cup. Come and enjoy time with our church family that afternoon as we play against the youth group in a friendly volleyball match.


Tickets Are Available for Holiday House Tour
The Doors of Hope Transition Ministries will host its second annual Holiday House Tour on Saturday, December 1, 2018, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Five homes on South Lamar and in the surrounding area will be on this year's tour. Raffle tickets are also on sale for $25 each or 5 for $100. Items included in the raffle are: a year of wine donated by Kiamie's; dinner for 20 at the Oxford Treehouse Gallery served by chefs from Hog and Hominy in Memphis; a year of date nights (dinner for 2 from 12 local restaurants); $500 gift certificate from Jones at Home; two festive holiday magnolia wreaths from Discount; a staycation at The Chancellor's House; or a $250 gift certificate from Cat Daddy's. Tickets for the home tour or the raffle can be obtained in the church office or at the Doors of Hope office in the Educational Building.
Doors of Hope offers transitional housing and other support to families with minor children who are homeless or on the verge of being homeless. The Housing in Place program has expanded DOH's ability to serve more families in the community by opening the program to families that have a place to stay but need help getting back on track financially. Support Doors of Hope and enjoy a wonderful opening of the holiday season!

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.

Granola or Protein Bars
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 . . .
Upcoming Events for VIPs

VIPs Host Young Adults
November 14, 2018
5:30 pm
FPC's VIP group will host a chili supper and joint education event for theYoung Adults on Wednesday, November 14 from 5:30-7:00 pm. After the meal, Allison Wehrung will lead the group in a creative reflection on Romans 12:3-8. Don't let the word "creative" keep you away-if you can operate a glue stick, you can do this! No artistic skill required (seriously). Childcare will be provided for infants. Older children will be engaged in activities led by our 5th and 6th graders and their leaders. Pizza will be provided for the children's supper. Reservations will be helpful for preparing food, adequate childcare and educational supplies. Please RSVP through Facebook or by calling the church office.

Appetizer Dinner

Appetizers...they are what's for dinner on Thursday, December 6 for the VIP Appetizer Supper. Put it on your calendar and watch for more information later this fall!
Trunk - or - Treat!

Thanks to everyone who participated in our first Trunk-or-Treat! What a great way to come together in intergenerational fellowship! If you have any high-quality pictures from the event, we would love to see them! Add them to the church Facebook group or email them to Ann Kelly or David Randolph.

Wednesdays Together

Thanks to all who made this fall's Wednesdays Together events so successful! Wednesdays Together will begin again in February. Contact David Randolph or Ann Kelly if you are interested in helping to make this wonderful series possible for all of our congregation. 
Bibles with Brews

Bibles with Brews continues as a monthly gathering on Monday, November  5th , from 4:30 to 6:30 pm at the Growler. Join the conversation as we bring and share different scripture passages about our monthly topic of study. Next week's topic is "Women of the Bible". Next month's Bibles with Brews will be on Monday, December 3 rd . All are welcome!
From the Greening Committee:
The church needs fresh cedar, pine, and magnolia to decorate the Sanctuary each Friday morning during the Advent Season. If you have access to greenery and can bring it to the church starting Thursday, November 30, please let Margaret Fancher know. 
Also, the church needs volunteers to help green the sanctuary each Friday morning during Advent, beginning December 7th. If you can help us, please call Margaret Fancher at 234-1359 or email her at
Thank you!
Church Now Receiving Poinsettia Orders

Poinsettias are available this year for $12 each. The deadline for ordering one or more in memory or in honor of friends or loved ones is Monday, December 3. Please print the order form  here  and return to the church office with your payment.
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!
Ride the Bus to Church!

Make plans now to park at the Blake and ride the bus to church each Sunday so that you won't have to worry about parking downtown. Time of departure from the Blake will be 10:30 am. The bus returns immediately after 11:00 am worship. Thanks to all our volunteer drivers who make this service possible!

Alma Shaw Circle

November 20 @ 9:45 am at the home of Fannie Elliott: 919 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, MS 38655

Lula Gregory Circle

November 20  @ 9:45 am at the home of Rose Paris: 1310 Pelican Loop, Oxford, MS 38655

Carroll Barr Circle

November 13  @ 6:00 pm at the home of Martha Burnett: 761 Nottingham Drive, Oxford, MS 38655

Gerry Duvall Circle

November 20  @ 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:

Carol Butler Haney on her nomination as a Girl Scout Woman of Distinction.

Memorials and Honoraria

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

Martha Beanland

Ilene Kessler
Jessica & Kenneth Rector

Patsy Culpepper

Carlisle & Billy Wood

Annie Grace White

J.J. Jones
Emily & Don Newcomb
Nila & Max Williams

Upcoming Birthdays and Anniversaries

November Birthdays:

1     Meredith Goza, Brad Logan, Nina Patrick, Eric Snellgrove, Taylor Wilkinson
2     Tommy Rosser, Pratt Wilkinson, Jr.
3     Virginia Spears Lovelace, Lee Mullen, Nancy Maria Balach Schuesselin
4     James Day, Sally Featherstone, Ingrid Kondos
5     Stephanie Leonard
7     Fannie Elliott, Cindy Grant, Peggy Nance, Michael Stevens
8     Bill Dickins
9     Bill Freeman, Jennifer Payne, Lisa Hickman Tollison, Jody Wilson
11   Garrett Chow, Scott Drury, Haley Eifling
12   Becki Felts, Guy Gillespie, MIssy Morrison
14   Carmille Hovious, Samuel Lewis, Max Robinson
16   Nash Bolen, Hal Haney, 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, Pierce Buford, Kathleen Mayo, Kevin McLeod, Cindy Semmes, Sue Treas
21   Eva Webb
22   Kathleen Patton
23   Jason Bouldin, B.J. Chain, Morgan Collins, Justin Eifling, Elizabeth Field, Joanna Heidel
24   Julia Lowe, Andrew Moak
25   Corrine Cullen
26   Doug Sullivan-Gonzalez
27   Lydia Moak
28   Lele Gillespie, Earl Grissinger, Laughlin Atkinson, Glynna McKendree
29   Libby McCullouch
30   Lee Borden, Katherine Howell, Barbera Liddon, Cait Mayo

November Anniversaries:

2     Lee & Steve Mullen
5     Elizabeth & Lee Miers
16   Margaret Blake & Phillip Embry
18   Adalene & Ben Pettis
21   Gabrielle & Paul Chiniche
25   Caroline & Cooper McIntosh
26   Libby & Leon McCullouch
29   Joanna & Jimmy Heidel, Kate & Brett Rosson

   First Dates

The Diaconate  will meet Tuesday, November 6 at 5:30 pm in the Session Room.
The Finance Ministry Team  will meet Monday, November 12 at 4:30 pm in Room 101.
The Session  will meet Monday, November 12 at 5:30 pm in Fellowship Hall.
The FPC Book Club  will meet Tuesday, November 13 at 1:30 pm in Room 101.
The Membership & Hospitality Ministry Team  will meet Thursday, November 8 at 4:30 pm in Room 101.
The Worship Ministry Team  will meet Monday, November 5 at 4:30 pm in Room 101.
The Officer Nominating Committee will meet Monday, November 5 at 5:30 pm in Room 101.

Reminder: The December deadline for submissions to First Press   is Thursday, November 15.

The Session
  CLASS of 2018
Darren Ashmore, Dorothy Lou Aldridge,
Jane Lyle Byars, Paul Chiniche, Kathryn Hill
  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

The Diaconate
CLASS of 2018
Whitney Bolen, Julie Chadwick, James Day,
Teresa Flautt, JoAnne Oliver
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

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