FIRST PRESS | an online newsletter | September 2018  
Just last September, John's newsletter article raised the question, "What makes a successful church?" His answer included these four things:
  •  "A highly functioning church puts worship at the top of its priority list. It is thoughtful, well-planned, consistent worship that brings together a congregation and helps it coalesce around the grace and love of God found in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ...."
  • "A healthy church also values community....Paul's metaphor of the church as a human body, with many different but equal parts, is essential to ensuring it remains healthy and whole. Respect for each is respect for all. Additionally, a community of faith is valued when its members care for each other and the world around it...."
  • "A vibrant church comprises all age groups....The church with as many babies as retirees is the one providing spiritual nourishment to all its members through worship, education, fellowship and mission. What's more each generation teaches another about the wideness of God's mercy and makes the process of 'doing church' so much more interesting...."
  • "A living church reflects joy. With each welcoming handshake and kind word, with every act of appreciation or congratulatory celebration, a church signals that its chief end is to 'glorify God and enjoy God forever,' as the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it. A church with a despairing soul is devoid of the necessary fuel needed to run its faith engine...that of a joy derived solely from Almighty God. Perhaps more than anything else, it is unfettered joy to which seekers of a church home are most attracted." 
This transition period in the life of our congregation will test our heath and challenge us to continue making the healthy choice of prioritizing our coming together as one in worship and praise to the Lord our God. It will challenge us to show up, as individuals and families, in order that we can learn together and share intergenerational experiences of God. It will challenge us to care for one another as we respect and honor our differences, which make us a stronger community of faith. It will challenge us to determine the kind of church we are called to be and the actions we must take as we move into the future. Throughout all of this, we will be challenged to continue reflecting the joy of God Almighty that we have experienced in our own lives and through the life of our congregation. 
Let us pray that when the individual God has ordained to be our next pastor is called, she or he finds a healthy, vibrant congregation reflecting the love and mercy of a good and gracious God. May it be so.
Ann & David
Pastor Search Process
Frequently Asked Questions
The Diaconate met shortly after John's announcement that he was leaving to take a call as Interim Pastor at Shallowford Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, Georgia. They had a number of questions for Ann to answer and felt that there must be similar questions among the people in the pews. Here are some of the answers to the most immediate questions:

  • How long will it take to get an interim pastor? How will she/he be selected?

You have already received notification that an Interim Pastor Nominating Committee was chosen by the Session at its August 20th meeting.  Members of that committee include Darren Ashmore, Ashley Callery, Trey Cobb, Jon Crawford and Karen Stockton. They met with Greg Goodwiller, Executive Presbyter of St. Andrew Presbytery on August 30 to begin their search which includes writing a job description for the position, publicizing the opening, working their way through applications and then interviewing potential candidates. Greg's connections with the Executive Presbyters in other presbyteries will help the committee find those ministers who are out there looking for another position. When they find the candidate that they feel best fits our needs, they will bring a recommendation to the Session. The Session hires the Interim.
It's usually a matter of few months to find an Interim and get them in place. The good news is that interim ministry is temporary so there are always people looking for positions that need to be filled. We have a healthy church and it will likely be an attractive option for an interim pastor.

  • How will the church operate during the search?

In its August 20 meeting, the Session voted to make Ann Kelly Acting Head of Staff until the Interim arrives. Ann, David Randolph and Allison Wehrung, UKirk campus minister, will share responsibilities for preaching, teaching and worship leadership. Other than that, it will be business as usual with our Session, our ministry teams and our diaconate helping make decisions, maintain the property, care for the congregation and assure that our programming continues.
There are numerous questions right now. The Session, at its stated meeting in September, will take steps so that the next phase of the process can begin. Please be patient and know that your voice matters as we begin a period of self study in order to complete our Ministry Information Form (MIF), select a Pastor Nominating Committee and begin the search. Patience is key. Throughout the process the Session, the PNC and the Acting Head of Staff will communicate with you about how we are progressing.
You can expect more questions and answers about the actual search process and selection of the PNC in coming editions of the newsletter. In the meantime, trust that God is working in, among and through this process.
  Financial Summary
Summary of Stated Session Meeting
The Session of First Presbyterian Church held its stated monthly meeting on Monday, August 13, 2018, at 5:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall.  Fourteen elders were present. Highlights from the meeting are as follows:
  • As of July 31, 2018, year-to-date revenue was $515,422.83, and expenses were $625,766.48. Currently pledges are approximately $30,000 below the amount budgeted and approximately $60,000 below what was collected last year at this time.
  • Most of the summer projects such as new carpet installation, pruning, painting and refurbishing the Education building are complete.
  • Work on the Annex building exterior will begin soon.
     Children's Christian Education:
  • Children's Rally Day will be held Sunday, September 9, 2018.
    • All teachers are secured and ready to begin a new Sunday School year.
Adult Christian Education:
  • The Freeman Lecture series for 2018 will be held September 29 & 30. There will be a Saturday event, a common Sunday School on Sunday, worship, and lunch.The guest lecturer is Rev. Rodger Nishioka.
  • Plans are in place for fall Wednesdays Together programming and meals from a variety of local restaurants. Wednesdays Together meal pricing will be: Adults: $6/person, All Students: $3/person, with families max of $20.
  • The 2019 Haiti mission trip is scheduled for February 9-16. An informational meeting is planned for late September.
  • Rev. Ann Kelly and Rev. David Randolph have synced their calendars to insure Sunday preaching coverage for the last third of the year.
Membership & Hospitality:  
  • A lunch type reception is planned for Rev. John Semmes and his wife Cindy following 10:00 worship on Sunday, September 26. Please make plans to attend.
  • A church wide Talent Show is planned for Wednesday, September 12, 2018.
Report from General Assembly:
  • Rev. Ann Kelly reported that this year's assembly was a kinder and gentler assembly with opportunities for worship or Bible study daily, along with various service projects throughout the St. Louis area that helped the attendees to become involved with the community. Rev. Kelly stated that her experience at General Assembly left her feeling excited to be a Presbyterian.
       Rev. Semmes welcomed the Rev. Dr. Gregory A. Goodwiller, Executive Presbyter and Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of St. Andrew, PC (USA) to the meeting to explain the process for the pastoral call transition. Rev. Goodwiller distributed hard copies of some relevant policies and other information, while explaining the phases and policies regarding pastoral transition, along with average timelines. Rev. Goodwiller will work with the Session to call an interim pastor. The Session called a meeting for Monday, August 20 at 5:30 p.m. for the purpose of electing an Interim Pastor Nominating Committee.
The next stated Session meeting is Monday, September 10 at 5:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall.
The Session recited the Lord's Prayer and adjourned at 7:43 p.m.
Summer Worship Hours Through September 2

10:00 am - Worship with communion
No Sunday School
Nursery Weekly: 9:45 - 11:15 am

Regular Worship Hours Begin September 9

8:30 am - Worship with communion
9:45 am - Sunday School
11:00 am - Worship
Nursery Weekly: 8:15 am - 12:15 pm
Lectionary Texts for September
September 2 - Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9; James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
September 9 - Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23, Psalm 125; James 2:1-10 (11-13) 14-17; Mark 7:24-37
September 16 - Proverbs 1:20-33; Psalm 19; James 3:1-12; Mark 8:27-38
September 23 - Proverbs 31:10-31; Psalm 1; James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a; Mark 9:30-37
September 30 - Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22; Psalm 124; James 5:13-20; Mark 9:38-50
PYF News
The year has started off great here in the life of PYF. We had our Fall kickoff at the home of Mary and Sam Haskell where we enjoyed swimming, boating, fellowship and some wonderful food. We would like to give a big thank you to the Haskells for being such gracious hosts. 
We have much more to come this year starting off with Rally Day on September 9th. All youth are invited to come out and assist in leading recreation for our youngest Presbyterians. Festivities will begin at 10:00 am on September 9th on the front lawn of the church. 
With the start of the new year I am always looking for new fellowship and mission events for our youth. If you have any ideas for us, or would like to host an event for our youth, feel free to contact me at
UKirk College News

UKirk Tuesday nights are back! Many thanks to the Deacons for our delicious kick off meal. We're also grateful to all of you who have signed up to provide a meal this semester. Thanks to your generosity we have the entire Fall semester covered. For updates on our activities and other ways you can be in ministry with us, subscribe to our own monthly newsletter here
As we return to our weekly UKirk worship services, we'll be spending this semester digging into Abraham's family tree with texts from Genesis and Exodus along with visual art from the creative folks at A Sanctified Art. I'm excited about some other plans we've got in the works, including a weekly coffee hour on campus and a Mister Rogers movie night.
With that, I'd be remiss if I didn't congratulate the winner of our summer Church Bracket Challenge email series...Fred Rogers himself! (If you're wondering what a church bracket is, you can catch the whole thing here.) 

Come Learn More about FPC's Haiti Mission
Anyone interested in learning more about FPC's ministry in Haiti is invited to an interest meeting on Sunday, September 16 at 6:00 pm at the home of Karen Stockton, 1109 Grant Circle. The formal part of the presentation will begin at 6:15 pm followed by a more informal time for questions, answers and more conversation. Attending this event is not a commitment to take a trip, but simply a sign of your interest in our work with our partners in Haiti. Members of former Haiti mission teams will be there to help answer questions or share their experiences. Please let the church know you are coming by contacting the church office, Ann Kelly or Karen Stockton.
School Supplies Needed for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
Among the first things needed from the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance warehouse when a disaster strikes are school supplies. Children's lives can't go back to normal, or a new normal, until their education has resumed and their minds begin to focus on something other than the devastation of their homes and communities. The Mission Ministry Team along with our FPC youth will be collecting items for school kits throughout the month of September and assembling kits in early October. The value of each kit is approximately $15.00. Monetary donations as well as supplies are appreciated.
Each school kit contains:
  • 1   pair of blunt scissors (rounded tip)
  • 3   70-count spiral notebook or tape-bound pad of 8" x 10 1/2" ruled paper OR pads with 200-210 sheets of ruled paper. Do not include filler paper.
  • 1   30-centimeter ruler (12")
  • 1   hand-held pencil sharpener
  • 6   new pencils with erasers
  • 1   large eraser
  • 1   box of 24 crayons
  • 1   cloth bag, 12" x 14" to 14" x 17" finished size cotton cloth bag with cloth handles. (Please, do not use reusable shopping bags or backpacks.) 
There is a pattern available if anyone would like to make some cloth bags for these school kits. Please contact Ann Kelly at (662) 234-1757 or if you would like to help in this way.
Supplies can be placed in the bins inside Fellowship Hall, the Education Building, the narthex or the church office any time in September.
Soup Anyone?
FPC's Mission Ministry Team is challenging our members to provide 2-3 meals each month for Memory Makers.   Memory Makers, a respite day program serving caregivers and persons suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other related dementia, is open daily Monday through Thursday from 10:00 am-2:00 pm. Volunteers, along with the Memory Makers staff, offer a variety of activities, including lunch for up to 12 clients each day.
You can support Memory Makers by making a batch of soup to feed 16-20 people and delivering it frozen to Memory Makers at 311 Heritage Drive between 9:00 am and 2:00 pm Monday through Thursday. Get your kids involved and make it a family service project. Have your circle, Sunday school class, small group or several friends take a month or two, or just make a pot of soup yourself and know that you're helping a caregiver get some much needed rest while their loved one is enjoying a hot meal and fun activities with other people.
You can sign up using this link: Though the date on the sign-up sheet is the first Monday of the month, when you sign up you are committing to make one batch of soup at some time during that month. You will receive a reminder prior to that first Monday that your month to serve is coming up. You may make the soup and deliver it frozen any day, Monday through Thursday between 9:00 am and 2:00 pm.
This local agency provides much needed respite to caregivers and care to the clients who suffer from various types of dementia. Please help by signing up to make a batch of soup. It's a little bit of work that will be greatly appreciated! 

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.
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.
The Pantry
The Pantry needs volunteer screeners who will accept training and be available to screen clients at the Pantry one morning per month. If you can help, please call Ann O'Dell at 234-2907.
Etcetera . . .
Dear Friends:
On behalf of my family, I extend to you our heartfelt gratitude for your cards, letters, texts and emails in these last weeks, as well as for your many well-wishes at the beautiful reception given for us on August 26. In addition, your generous gift presented that day, along with so many other tangible expressions of your love, are both humbling and overwhelming. For all these things, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Cindy, Emily, Sophie and I will miss the FPC family, and the church campus you call home, more than we can say. But we hope to see you out and about on future visits to Oxford. In addition, I look forward to watching unfold all that God has in store for First Presbyterian Church. Yours is indeed a bright and exciting future. 
I will pray for you always. 
In Christ, John
Coming Events for VIPs
Thursday, September 20 Dutch treat dinner at Rafters on the Water in Sardis. Bus will leave the church at 5:30 pm.
Tuesday, October 2 Catered lunch in Fellowship Hall with Special Speaker
Thursday, October 18 Dutch treat dinner at Ciao Chow in New Albany. Bus will leave the church at 5:30 pm.
Wednesday, November 14 Chili supper at the church with the Young Adults. Program by Allison Wehrung.
Thursday, December 2 Appetizer supper (Time and location TBA)
Wednesdays Together

Wednesdays Together returns this fall for a prophetic season! Come and enjoy a great catered meal with your church family before we study God's written word. This fall we journey with three of the Old Testament Prophets. Mark your calendars for Wednesday, September 19th. Hope to see you there!  
Calling All Talent!
The Second Annual FPC's Got Talent will kick off our Wednesdays Together on Wednesday, September 12 and we need talent! Please contact Ann Kelly if you are willing to be a part of the show. All ages are welcome to participate.
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 9:15 am September 2. Beginning September 9 it is weekly at 10:30 am. The bus returns immediately after 11:00 am worship. Thanks to all our volunteer drivers who make this service possible!

PW will celebrate their Fall Gathering on September 9 at 4:00 pm in the sanctuary. A reception will follow 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
Memorials and Honoraria

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

Morris Sneed

Pat Bittmann
Anne & Robert Gowdy
Kay & Larry Tyler
Louise & Nolan Waller
Nila & Max Williams

Upcoming 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, Luke Wigginton
9     Randel Gibson, Cooper McIntosh
10   Scott Jimenez, Gina Matthews, Harper Pace
11   Kelli Briscoe, Hassell Wilkinson, Billy Wood
12   Sarah-Elisabeth Davis
13   Allie Rose Baquie, Michael Lewis, Elizabeth Owen
14   Karen Stockton
15   Ruby Jean 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   Mac Monteith, Miles Lovelady
26   Shelley Cribbs
27   Grace Flowers
28   Ray Hill, Michael Morrison
29   Nolan Waller

September Anniversaries:

5     Elizabeth & Mac Monteith
6     Nancy Maria Balach & John Schuesselin
8     Bette & Jeff Butler
12   Leslie & Shae Orrell
14   Brynnen & Adam Quick
16   Alissa Davis & Jeffrey Stricklin
20   Ashley & Henry Johnson, Sarah & Michael McLellan
21   Ann & Lee Borden
24   Ann & Danny Kelly
25   Amy & Slade Lewis
27   Shelby & Lewis Smith
28   Nancy & Bill Rogers
29   Kate & Case Embry, Melissa & Brad Logan, Jenna & Tyler Lovelace

   First Dates

The Diaconate  will meet Tuesday, September 4 at 5:30 in the Session Room.
The Property Ministry Team will meet Thursday, September 6 at 5:00 in Room 101.
The Mission Ministry Team will meet Thursday, September 6 at 5:30 in the Session Room.
The Adult Christian Education Ministry Team will meet Thursday, 
September 6 at 5:45 in Room 101.
The Finance Ministry Team  will meet Monday, September 10 at 4:30 pm in Room 101.
The Session  will meet Monday, September 10 at 5:30 pm in Fellowship Hall.
The FPC Book Club  will meet Tuesday, September 11 at 1:30 in Room 101.
The Membership & Hospitality Ministry Team will meet Thursday, September 13 at 5:30 in Room 101.
The Worship Ministry Team will meet Monday, September 17 at 4:30 in Room 101.
The Children's Christian Education Ministry Team will meet Monday, September 24 at 5:30 in Room 101.
Piecemakers  meet each Thursday at 9:00 am in Fellowship Hall.

Reminder: The September deadline for submissions to First Press   is Saturday, September 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