Garrell Keesler will lead Lessons From the Wilderness: The Book of Numbers on Tuesdays, February 13-March 27. “The wilderness was where the Israelites found themselves suspended between a past they could no longer return to and a future the did not yet have the courage to embrace. It was there, in the barren no-man’s-land of the desert, that the nation found itself alone with God….”
Join the discussion using Jonathan Sacks’ book Numbers: The Wilderness Years, in the Pattie Cole Room (S203), 11:45a.m.-1 p.m. Newcomers are invited. Contact Garrell Keesler for more information.
The PW (Presbyterian Women) Benevolence Review Committee is accepting applications through March 16 for its annual Benevolence Awards. Grants will be disbursed in May.
The committee focuses on awarding funds to agencies working to break cycles of poverty; illiteracy and inferior education; and violence and crime—particularly as these issues impact women and children. The committee encourages any church member with knowledge of an agency in need to request an application.
To be sure all our students at Westerly Hills Academy have weekend meals, ten additional volunteer contributors to Project Backpack are needed. Please consider contributing to this ministry to make sure students come to school on Monday morning nourished and ready to learn. The commitment will be five bags per month, ending June 6. The shopping list can be found on the sign up link.
During an Opportunity Forum last October, Munro Richardson of Read Charlotte challenged our congregation to support literacy at Westerly Hills Academy in one of three ways: 1) help students gain regular access to books by building home libraries, 2) ensure students experience active reading three times per week, and 3) ensure every kindergartener knows his/her letters and phonics by May 2018.
We are putting our energy behind not one, but all three of these challenges—the next one comes up on January 16.
For the next challenge—encouraging active reading—we will sponsor parent dinners and training sessions at Westerly Hills. The first of these is scheduled for Tuesday, January 16, at 5:30 p.m. If you can help with these events, please contact Heather Herring.
Thanks to your generous response to our Christmas Book Drive, we presented each Westerly Hills student with two books to take home on December 18. We plan to add to these home libraries throughout the remainder of the school year. Look for additional collections of gently used books before Spring and Summer breaks.
For the third challenge, FPC members have been working with Read Charlotte and the Westerly Hills administration for two months to develop the curriculum and process around letters and phonics tutoring. We look forward to offering this opportunity to the congregation soon.
Plan to take some time each Sunday morning in Wood Fellowship Hall with your church family for coffee, fellowship, signups, information and First, Coffee for visitors.
This new gathering place will be open from 8:45-11 a.m. So you can stop by when you leave the 9 a.m. service, on your way to 10 a.m. Formation classes or as you arrive a few minutes early for the 11 a.m. worship service.
On our first day in the new gathering place, those who participated in the coffee tasting selected a dark roast to be served at the church in 2018.
During the 2017 Alternative Gift Market, your participation raised $12,923 that will be given back to the community and our global partners. This brings total contributions for the last 10 years to $155,175.
The Alternative Gift Market volunteers thank you for your generosity and your willingness to think outside the box for your Christmas gift giving.
On January 14, 2008, I began my ministry at First Presbyterian Church. When I accepted the call to be your Associate Minister for Pastoral Care, I told the members of the APNC (Julie Caldwell, Bruce Grier, Jane Ives, Mike James, Mary Margaret Porter, Woods Potts and Hank Ralston) that I intended to be here for a long time. At the time, I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant and couldn’t have known what that would look like. But I knew that I was excited to be a part of what God was doing in this place.
This month, I celebrate ten years as one of your pastors.
These past ten years have been rich, both professionally and personally. Many things have changed, and in reflecting upon some of those things, I wanted to share a few of them with you.
In the time since my ministry here began,
Charlotte has had 7 mayors.
The Panthers have had 2 head coaches and 3 starting quarterbacks.
Wachovia became Wells Fargo.
The Bobcats became the Hornets (again).
The landscape of uptown has changed, with numerous new buildings, restaurants, and a professional baseball stadium
I have worked with 10 pastors (Bill Wood, Katie Crowe, Jim Miller, Wes Barry, Kirk Hall, Roland Perdue, Pen Peery, Chuck Williamson, Erika Funk and Katelyn Cooke).
Almost the entire staff has turned over, with the exception of William Andrews, Willie Atkins, Donna Dendy, and Milton Kidd, all of whom have served this church far longer than I have.
My title has changed. Twice.
I have participated in eight congregational retreats, ten PW retreats, one handbell tour (to Scotland), one mission trip (to Haiti) and one youth ski trip.
I have officiated 27 weddings, 71 baptisms, and 97 funerals, and preached 86 sermons.
Three of the most significant experiences of my life have happened—my marriage to Bill, the birth of our daughter, Caroline, and my mother’s illness and death.
What I have also realized in reflecting upon this time is that, while much has changed, much has also remained the same. This church is as committed to being for Christ in the heart of Charlotte as it was ten years ago. The care, compassion and commitment to the gospel that drew me to this place are as vital and central to your mission as they ever have been. This remains a community grounded in faith, full of love, and committed to service, and it remains my privilege to be in ministry with you all.
Over the course of ten years, I have gotten to know you as individuals, families and a community. I have shared in your joys, grieved your losses, and journeyed with you through ordinary time. I have seen you at your best, and at times I’ve seen you at your worst. And you’ve seen the same of me. I have made mistakes and I’ve learned many things about myself, about ministry, and about this extraordinary community. You have taught me more than I can ever express about love and faith, grief and loss, perseverance and forgiveness.
It is one of the richest gifts of my life to navigate the joys and challenges of these years with you all, and I can honestly say that I am stronger and better for the time I have shared with you. Through the highs and the lows of these past ten years, I have grown and developed a great deal as a person and as a pastor, and I have been challenged in ways I never could have imagined. Whether you’ve been here for all of it or some of it, you are a part of this community, a part of the history of this church, and a part of my life, and I am so grateful to be in this with you.
As someone who loves words, and for whom words are an integral part of my daily work, I struggle in this moment to find any words that feel adequate to express my gratitude to you for being the church you are in this place and at this time. Please know that I love you all and am deeply grateful for the countless ways you have modeled faith and servanthood to me. It is a joy to be on this journey with you, and I look forward to whatever is to come.
Want to have fun playing softball while having fellowship with other churches in our area?
First Presbyterian Church is exploring the idea of putting together a team to join the South Charlotte Church Softball league this spring. Games will run from June through August on Monday and Friday evenings. All levels of experience are welcome, so don’t worry if you haven’t picked up a glove or a bat in years.
Contact Josh Humphrey (email@example.com) if you’d like to be included in organizational gatherings.