FIRST PRESS  |  an online newsletter  |  June, 2016
The continual cycle of the seasons is a wonderful part of living in Oxford. After a cool and wet spring, humidity levels are on the rise and afternoon thunderstorms can't be far behind. Baseball, golf and tennis are in focus for the athletes among us, and vacations are about to happen that will take our members all over our country and around the world. I always look forward to vicariously traveling with many of our flock as you return to share details of your trips to beaches, world capitals and mountaintops.

More than anything else, though, summer is a time for rest. That's certainly the case here at church, where Sunday School classes recede into hibernation to allow our teachers (and their students) some down time after a busy nine months of planning, preparation and attendance. Ann and I will "fly solo" as worship leaders over several summer Sundays to give each other time to enjoy a weekend away or simply to sleep in - a rare and treasured privilege among clergy!

Sabbath, of course, is an integral part of our faith tradition. Beginning with Genesis, the Bible articulates the need for, and presence of, a sabbath for the purpose of rest. This biblical directive directly conflicts with the state of our culture, one known for its addiction to hard work, its wildly frenetic pace and its emphasis upon getting ahead more than attention to self-care.

Let me encourage you to plan a regular sabbath this summer. Sabbath isn't necessarily a Sunday thing. It can be observed on Tuesdays if that's what works for you. It can involve spiritual disciplines such as prayer, reading and meditation, or it can simply be clearing your schedule of all obligations for a day each week in order to just be still and know that God is present. If done well, it probably involves walking away from your addiction to electronic devices and social media (gasp), if only for a day, in order to focus on loved ones, nature or just yourself. And its benefits are immeasurable. As Ann recently observed in a sermon, it can be a time not only to realize how small we are in the universe, but also to comprehend God's intimate and loving relationship with each of us in a way that is staggeringly humbling (see Psalm 8).

So rest up! Make weekly worship and sabbath a part of your summer commitment to take care of yourself so that, as a busy fall arrives, you will be renewed and restored to serve as Christ's hands and feet. Keeping sabbath may be the biggest challenge you've ever taken on, but there's a purpose and a blessing behind it that God intended all along.

I rejoice in serving as your pastor...each and every season.

John's signature

From your Associate Pastor
What a Great Day!

Thank you to everyone who made the Spring picnic such a wonderful celebration of Daniel Howie's ministry at FPC. It took all of you to provide great food and fellowship, but some special thanks are in order:
  • Catie Hester, who planned the event with help of all the Deacons...
  • Paul Hester and Magnolia  Rent-All for supplying bouncy houses, chairs, tables, tablecloths and much more...
  • Vance, Charles and Mary Dale Byars, Daniel Hall, Jess Edge and Daniel Kelly for helping with set up...
  • Jason Bouldin for designing beautiful artwork as a going-away gift for Katie and Daniel (and to all of you who signed it)...
  • Sharron and Harry Alexander for hosting us at their farm...
  • Billy and Julie Chadwick for leading the pony rides...
  • all who attended for taking time out of a Saturday to spend a few hours with your church family...
  • and to God for great weather and for the gift of Daniel Howie and his ministry to our children and youth for over a decade.

Financial Summary
Secure Our Future - Capital Campaign
April, 2016

Total Pledges $198,478
Total Contributions Received $48,697
Summary of Stated Session Meeting
The Session of First Presbyterian Church held its stated monthly meeting on Monday, May 16, 2016, at 5:30 pm in the Session Room. Fifteen Elders were present.  

Ministry Team Check-In:
    1.  Finance:
  • As of April 30, 2016, year to date actual revenue was $246,123.35, and expenses were $301,204.05.  
  • Approximately $250,000 or one-third of the cost of the renovation of Fellowship Hall has been paid.
    2.  Property:
  • Elder Melissa Hall has requested architect Carter Hord provide a time-line document of the completion of the renovation of Fellowship Hall.  
  • Appreciation was expressed to David Shaw and Mack Aldridge for aerating, seeding and trimming the lawn and cleaning the drainage areas near the sidewalks.
    3.  Membership and Hospitality:
  • The ministry team continues to explore options for church parking on Sundays.
  • The ministry team was recognized by the Session for hosting the wonderful breakfast for the Confirmation Class of 2016.
    4.  Children's Christian Education:
  • Children's Church will be held during Sunday worship services in June.
   5.  Adult Christian Education:
  • The Freeman Lectures will be held August 27-28, 2016, with Rev. Dr. Anna Carter-Florence as the speaker.
  • The VIP group will have dinner together Thursday, May 19, 2016.
     6.  Mission:
  • The ministry team sent $250 to replenish the water bottle supply for the water project in Bognotte, Haiti.  The team reported that Dr. Gladys Memnon will continue to give monthly reports on the progress of the water system.
  • After discussion of the ministry team's proposal to support  children's tuition in Bognotte, Haiti, the following motion was made and carried unanimously:
  • Movant, Moderator - Motion that an all church fundraiser be conducted for the purpose of sponsoring Haitian school tuition for $90 per child.
  • The ministry team will begin work on a recommendation to the Session for a redesign of the church website.
    7.  Worship:
  • Summer worship begins Memorial Day Sunday, May 29, 2016, through Labor Day Sunday, September 4, 2016, at 10:00 am with communion.  Children's Church will be held during the month of June.

New Business:
           1.  Elder Trey Byars presented the account of the June 2014 incident that involved damage to the 25 passenger church bus due to its Michelin tires.  After discussion, the following motion was made, seconded and passed unanimously:
  • Movant, Moderator - Motion that the Daniel Coker Law Firm, through Elder Trey Byars, be authorized to send a demand letter to Michelin for the sum of $12,000, covering costs from church bus tire damage incurred in June 2014.
           2.  The Ministry Information Form (MIF), written by the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee, was approved by acclamation.  The committee will forward it to the Presbytery of St. Andrew and place it on the PCUSA website.
           3.  Elder Jennifer Williams, chairman of the Youth Director Nominating Committee, reported that the committee recommended Joseph Kelly to be hired as a Youth Director of FPC.  After her report and discussion, the following motion was made, seconded and passed unanimously:
  • Movant, Moderator - Motion to hire Joseph Kelly as part-time Youth Director at a date to be determined and at a salary of $20,000 annually.
Summer Worship Hours (through September 4):

10:00 am - Worship with communion
No Sunday School
Nursery Weekly: 9:45 am - 11:15 am
Children's Worship will again be offered for rising Pre-K-2nd graders each Sunday in June at 10:15 am.
Lectionary Texts for June

June 5 - 1 Kings 17:8-16 (17-24); Psalm 146; Galatians 1:11-24; Luke 7:11-17
June 12 - 1 Kings 21:1-10 (11-14) 15-21a; Psalm 5:1-8; Galatians 2:15-21;
     Luke 7:36-8:3
June 19 - 1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7) 8-15a; Psalms 42 and 43; Galatians 3:23-29;
     Luke 8:26-39
June 26 - 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14; Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20; Galatians 5:1, 13-25; 
Luke 9:51-62
Sanctuary flower dates...
...are now available July 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, and August 7 and 28.
If you would like to provide flowers in honor or memory of a loved one,
contact Margaret Fancher at or 234-1359.
Thank You to Our Pantry Volunteers

Thank you in advance to Martha Kelley and all of the Pantry volunteers this month. Each June, the Pantry is staffed by members of First Presbyterian and Burns United Methodist. For each day the Pantry is open, a dozen or more volunteers are needed to do the work.

The Pantry has been assisting Lafayette County residents with food for over 30 years with the help of volunteers from local churches. Each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, you can find individuals from all over the community and from all denominations at the Pantry from 9:00 am-11:00 am stocking shelves, screening customers, shopping with customers, unloading deliveries or cleaning up at the end of the day.

Not everyone has the flexible schedule or the time to volunteer at the Pantry, but donations of money, canned goods and other non-perishable staples are another way to help fight hunger in the Oxford/Lafayette County area. Donations can be brought to the church office or dropped off at the Pantry at 713 Molly Barr Road in Oxford. In the meantime, when you see any of the following church members, thank them for their hard work and the gift of their time:  Diane Scruggs, Gale Gurner, Scottye Boone, JoAnne Oliver, Barbera Liddon, Mary Glynn Wright, Ann DeVoe, Becki Felts, Sharron Alexander, Sally Hines, Shirley Crawford, Dorothy Lou Aldridge, Jane Henderson, Lisa Hickman-Tollison, Kristina Carlson, Sharon Fenger, Tina Montgomery, Carmille Hovious, Syd Shaw, Mack Aldridge, Jimmy Heidel, Kevin Christian and Will Christian.  And, of course, a big thank you for Martha Kelley, who represents FPC on the board of the Pantry and has recruited all of these wonderful volunteers for the last two years. Thank you all!
Children's, PYF & UKirk News
VBSis just around the corner July 18-22 and you can register your child now by clicking on this linkCome learn about Joseph's journey from prison to palace with us this summer at First! If you would like to volunteer or donate any items please contact Sarah McLellan at
A Farewell from Daniel Howie
As Delivered in Worship May 29, 2016

"Do we, as members of the church of Jesus Christ, promise to nurture Daniel by word and deed with our ongoing prayers, that we may join with others in Christ's church who will encourage him to know and follow Christ, and to be a faithful member of Christ's church?"

On February 19, 1984, this congregation said, "We do" to a beautiful baby boy named Lucy-Daniel Spencer Howie. That baby moved away because his father wanted to become a pastor, and before the Howie family could recover... his mother decided she was called to be a pastor too! I can never thank my parents enough for daily showing me what it means to be a Child of God. They taught me many things but the most important lesson they taught me was this: "It's ok to wrestle with your faith and have doubts, BUT you never get to stop loving the messed up, beautiful people of this world."

That is what this congregation did with me, in my family's 19 years of traveling all over the south, YOU never stopped loving me. When that now-lanky, long-haired boy made it back into these pews, he was a freshman at the University of Mississippi in the Fall of 2003 and you picked up right where you left of. YOU taught me by your words and deeds, YOU prayed for me and YOU taught me how to follow Christ. You taught me so well, that you gave me one of the greatest honors of my life...YOU let me do the same for the children of this church. Your children.

On September 26, 2005 I accepted the job as Youth Director after having met the still-wet-behind-the-ears, high-waisted pastor when he came out to Camp Hopewell to lead the staff in a lunchtime devotion. And so began the whirlwind that would become an 11-year ministry that we shared together. John and I weathered three wonderful associate pastors, two incredibly talented musical directors, two office managers that kept us in line, four secretaries that kept us organized and more property managers than I can count! John: you have been my boss, my friend and my advocate. Whether we were screaming, laughing or crying with each other, it always ended in a hug and: "You know I love you, right?"

That is what I tried to surround my ministry with...the lesson that my parents, you and John have taught me my whole life: how to love our God and each matter what. Each and everyone of you, from the babies to the loved ones with the heavenly hosts above, have molded and made me into the man I am today. The imperfect, goofy, Child of God that now has to figure out how to be a southern gentleman in the great white north.

The good news is that I do not have to go alone. Through your many years of patience, teachings, and occasional "groomings," you helped make me the man that got to stand right here and cry his eyes out as the most beautiful woman in the world walked down that aisle, and said "I do" to this goober. Katie, thank you for being the most amazing person I have ever known. You surprise me every day with how kind and brilliant you are. You have made my ministry your own and loved this church and its people as much as I do. I am ready for this great adventure only because I get to take it with you.  

Thank you. Thank you for bringing me into your families and letting me be a part of your child's life. There are 132 teenagers (well at least they all used to be) that I consider my younger sisters and brothers. I love each and every one of you and pray daily that I did not mess you up too badly! You are the ones that kept me here for 11 years: you are the reason I did not burn out, your smiles are what picked me up when I fell, your faith kept my spirit alive, your energy kept me young and your trust grew my faith.

Thank you to the staff, elders, deacons and members that worked with me over the past 11 years. There are too many to name, but you know who you are and how special you are to me. From the day you said "we do" at my baptism until this very moment, you have kept your baptismal promises to me. I love you all. Thank you.

Etcetera . . .
Our Church Still Receives Bills During the Summer!

Please continue to financially support First Presbyterian Church throughout the summer. As grateful contributors, it is important to remain mindful of good stewardship throughout the year. If you have questions or need additional information about your pledge, please contact our Office Administrator, Frances Saralvarez, at 234-1757 or

General Assembly Biennial Gathering Upcoming

The 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) will be held June 18-25, 2016, in Portland, Oregon. For GA information and updates, visit 

Golf Tourney on June's Calendar 

Don't forget! FPC's 4th annual Jerry Warner Memorial Golf Tournament
will be held Saturday, June 4 at the Ole Miss Golf Course with
check-in at 7:30 am and a shotgun start at 8:00 am. As part of the tournament,
remember to bring canned goods to be donated to the Food Pantry.
VIP "Third Thursday" Dinner Coming Up on June 16

VIPs will gather at 5:45 pm on the third Thursday, June 16, for another night out on the town. A simple Dutch treat dinner at a local restaurant is a great way to spend time with members of the church family. Be on the lookout for information about the location in Fast Facts and the Sunday bulletin.
The Prayer Shawl Ministry

will meet Monday, June 6 at 1:00 pm in Room 101.
Remaining Men's Softball Schedule
Mon. June 66:00 pmvs. Picken Pest ControlFNC #10
News from the Pews
We extend sympathy to:

The family of Alene Pulliam, who died May 12, 2016, in Oxford, MS.
We extend congratulations to:

Rosie & Robert Cooper on the birth of their grandson, Cooper Patrick Dees, born April 28, 2016 in Birmingham, AL.
Birthdays and Anniversaries
June Birthdays

2 - Emily Semmes, Sloan Hollis, Gary Wright
3 - Margie McLeod, Jane Henderson, David Flautt, Jr.
4 - Patsy Abbott, Dora Leache, Martha Brock, Elizabeth McLellan
5 - Brad Mayo
6 - Allyson Ashmore, Susan White, Jacquelyn Gage
7 - Jennifer Williams
8 - Elizabeth Black
9 - Ben Neff, Fay Grissinger, Molly Tanner
11 - Brum Abernathy, Lock Elliott, John Semmes, Brian Hyneman, Sarah McLellan Thomas Franklin, III, Denson Hollis, Henry Johnson
13 - Bill Rogers, Wil Rogers
14 - Hunter Haney, Sallie Wilkerson, Judy Edgar
15 - Katie Goodwiller
16 - Teresa Flautt, Art Smith
17 - Cindy Snellgrove, Lucy Manning
18 - Suzanne Black, Whitney Bolen
19 - Lindsey Estes, Frances Sullivan-Gonzalez, Jimmy Williams, Jack Johnson, Blair Hobbs
20 - Niles Lovelady, Heath Stevens, Shely Shows
21 - Miller Callery, Jenna Atkinson, Rose Paris
22 - Olivia Estes
23 - Amelia Lindley
24 - Sam Haskell
25 - Keith Hayward, Catherine Freeland, Linda Abbott, Talmadge Lewis, Lucius Brock
28 - Sharon Fenger, Mary Rhodes Manley, Samuel Thompson, Caroline Wigginton
29 - Jean Crawford, Anderson McIntosh
June Anniversaries

1 - Caroline & Kerry Wigginton
2 - Bess & John Currence, Erin & Hayden Alexander
4 - Maggie & John Abernathy
5 - Sadie & Kyle Shannon
6 - Betty & George Abdo, Allison & Nat Harris
7 - Gail & Dick Hercules
8 - Nila & Max Williams, Amy & Granville Sherman, Cindy & John Semmes
12 - Sandy & Vaughn Grisham, Vicki & Michael Stevens
13 - Barbara & J. T. Davis, Ferriday & Charly McClatchy
14 - Laura & Don Whitten
16 - Moni & Stuart Simpson
19 - Ruthann Ray & Rex Deloach, Blair Hobbs & John T. Edge, Julia & James Jimenez
20 - Katie & Bradley Goodwiller
21 - Mary Yurkow & Edward Duke
28 - Hannah & Rush Mayo
Memorials and Honoraria

~ With gratitude for contributions to First Presbyterian Church ~

In Memory Of:

Alene Pulliam
Bobbie & Syd Shaw
Kay & Larry Tyler
George Patterson
Melba & Bill Bowlin
Emmie Ellen Wade
Mary Wade Shanks

In Honor Of:

Bette Butler
Frances Abernathy
First Dates

The Men of the Church will meet during the summer on Tuesdays, June 7, July 5 and August 2 at 6:30 am at the Beacon Restaurant. The regular schedule resumes Tuesday, September 6. 
The Diaconate will meet Tuesday, June 7 at 5:30 pm.
The Finance Ministry Team will meet Tuesday, June 14 at 11:30 am.
Piecemakers meet each Wednesday at 9:00 am in Conference Room 101 and Saturday, June 11 at 10:30 am at St. Andrew's Methodist Church, 431 N. 16th Street.
The Session will meet Monday, June 13 at 5:30 pm in the Session Room.
The Book Club will meet not meet until September 13.
The Dewey Hickman Grief Support Group will meet Tuesday, June 28 at 10:00 am at the home of Fannie Elliott.
Reminder: The July deadline for submissions to First Press is
Wednesday, June 15.
The Session
CLASS of 2016
Maggie Abernathy, Bill Bowlin,
Bette Butler, Melissa Hall, Ernie Williams
CLASS of 2017
Tom Meredith, Walter Nance, David Shaw,
Christina Torbert, Mary Glynn Wright (Clerk)
CLASS of 2018
Darren Ashmore, Dorothy Lou Aldridge,
Jane Lyle Byars, Paul Chiniche, Kathryn Hill

The Diaconate
CLASS of 2016
Betty Abdo, Sarah Brooke Bishop,
Gale Gurner, Anna Ruth Kesler, Tony Mize
Kevin Christian, Catie Hester,
Laura Montgomery, Diane Scruggs, Cliff Smith
Whitney Bolen, Julie Chadwick, James Day
Teresa Flautt, JoAnne Oliver

The Congregation

John M. Semmes
Ann H. Kelly
Interim Associate Pastor
Joseph W. Garrison
Dir. of Music/Organist
Terrell Hall
Dir. of Elementary Music

Joseph KellyDirector of Youth
Howard Dudley
College Ministry

Frances Saralvarez
Office Administrator
Suzan Clark
Carnice L. Woods
Wade Simpson
Property Manager

Whitney Allen
Nursery Coordinator