Month: July 2017

July 31, 2017

Dear First Presbyterian friends,

Summer is often a season of transition, and that is true for our staff as well! FPC’s Director of Youth Ministry Jen Evans has received a call to serve as the Director of Youth, Young Adults and Young Families at Second Presbyterian Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. As you may know, Jen graduated from Union Seminary-Charlotte with a Master of Divinity in June and is in the ordination process in the Presbyterian Church (USA) as well. Jen will start this new position as a non-ordained staffer and then transition to an ordained role, and we celebrate her call to ordained ministry.

We give thanks to God for Jen’s gifts for ministry and the ways she has shared them with our community for the past 11 years. Jen has been with FPC through many seasons of transitions, and we are grateful for the leadership she’s given our youth ministry program; the relationships she’s built with youth, their families, and the larger congregation; and her passion and energy for the young people of the church.

Jen’s last official day with us will be Sunday, August 13. She and her oldest son Trey will fly to Little Rock that afternoon, so Trey can begin school on Monday, August 14. Rich and William will follow them a few weeks later.

Transitions are often bittersweet, so while we are sad to see Jen and her family go, we are excited to announce that Assistant Director of Youth Ministries Natalie Raygor will step into the role of Director at Jen’s departure. We are confident that Natalie will continue the strong ministry for FPC’s youth and families, and we are thankful for her.

A search committee will begin looking for a new Assistant Director of Youth Ministries in the coming weeks, and we trust that the Spirit is already at work to bring the right person to FPC.

We will have a reception on Sunday, August 20 at 10:00 a.m. in the Wood Fellowship Hall to send Jen, Rich, Trey and William off with our blessings, gratitude, and love, and we hope you will be able to join us for this special celebration.

Thank you, Jen. Our prayers and love go with you as follow God’s call into this new chapter of ministry!


Katelyn Gordon

Associate Pastor for Christian Formation


Note from Jen:


It is with great excitement and a heavy heart that I share that God has called me to Second Presbyterian Church in Little Rock, Arkansas as the Director of Youth, Young Adults and Young Families. We are thrilled about this opportunity and can’t wait to see how the Spirit continues to move! This position will begin as a non-ordained position and become an ordained position once I’ve completed all the Presbytery requirements. It is bittersweet for my family, but we recognize God’s hand at work and looking forward to following this call.

You all have supported me as I journeyed to receive my Masters of Divinity and work towards ordination. We have traveled together for the past 11 years, and it was a joy and an honor to walk together in life and in faith. You encouraged me to follow the Spirit as we tried new things with youth and families. You stood by me when time seemed to stop as I lay in a hospital bed. We stood together and were clear in the call to move to a more sustainable structure for youth ministry. We know that God is making all things new, so let us lean into faith to see and share in the Good News of the Gospel.

I’ll be eternally grateful for the ways that you helped me grow, how we shared life together, and that you were supportive as God used me to lead youth ministry at First Presbyterian Church. This isn’t goodbye; it is until I see you again.

Grace and Peace,



July 28, 2017

Day 1

Today was our first full day in Baltimore and we started our day with worship at Faith Presbyterian Church. Experiencing a different type of service showed us that people live in different environments then we do. After the service we went on a justice tour of Baltimore. This tour showed us the various sides of Baltimore and how drastic they can change from block to block. We also saw glimpses of Baltimore that are not always shown on the news.

We still have a full week ahead of us and much more to look forward too. We are extremely excited for this upcoming week of VBS.

-Reid Bond and Brad Hull


Day 2

Today the group worked at the camp for the first time. We played with kids in the park from the neighborhood and started to form relationships along the way. Everywhere you looked you could see Charlotte boys giving piggyback rides to children and girls holding kids in their laps.

The love that we saw in the neighborhood inspired energy in us that helped get us through a long, hot day. Grateful for the love and hospitality this neighborhood is sharing with us.

-Ansley Nurkin and Kimberly Morgan


Day 3

As the week progresses, our days are going by faster and we are getting to the know the kids better and better. Our relationships with them are strengthening but our bodies are definitely worn out by the many piggy back rides and pushing kids on swings.

Our theme this week has been crossing boundaries and making ourselves aware of the boundaries in both Baltimore and in our hometown. We have not only crossed physical boundaries this week but also boundaries of fear and acceptance. It has been a growing week for all of us and look forward to seeing where God is at work.

-Will Hull and Cam Peterson

Day 4

We have seen God in the children of the community and the many people that are helping them.

God is at work through a lady named Phyllis who is the ambassador of the neighborhood. Her love and care for the McCabe-Woodbourne community is astounding. There is too much to say about her in this post but let’s just say every neighborhood needs a Phyllis.

God is also at work in the methadone clinic that provides services to the neighbors and other homeless addicts in need. As they heal, they nurture the neighborhood garden with one another.

Lastly, no doubt that God is smiling as he observes strangers becoming friends, hearts softening and boundaries dissolving.

-Twyshanti Elmore, Natalie Raygor and Mary Scott Peterson

Day 5

As we reflect on this past week, each of us have been transformed by the children and adults of the McCabe-Woodbourne neighborhood. Each of us left a piece of our heart in the neighborhood where boundaries were crossed, memories were made to never be forgotten and the love of Christ was shared by all.

We truly lived our church’s motto in this city: For Christ in the heart of…Baltimore.

– Natalie Raygor and Mary Scott Peterson

July 21, 2017

Are you part of one of the many FPC Ministry Teams that are involved in outreach to our neighbors?

If not, let member Michael White give you a quick look at just one of these teams, the FPC Moving Ministry, which helps with the Crisis Assistance Ministry’s Furniture Bank and Relocation program. As Michael says, just a couple of hours on a Saturday morning once a moth means we help “put their stuff in their place and put smiles on their faces” for people who are transitioning from having no place to live to having their own place to live.



July 6, 2017

Welcome to summer! I hope you’re enjoying a slower pace in some way, maybe spending more time with family or even thumbing through a good book.

I wanted to share with you my thanksgiving for the ways God is using the stewardship dollars so many of you committed last fall to support our church’s mission and ministry.

Through the end of May our members’ pledge payments exceeded our budgeted amount by $96,675. I celebrate that First Presbyterian Church is a generous congregation, and that generosity continues to spill over!

The committed pledges of individuals and families allow us to plan confidently to do many things in Christ’s name:

  • feed the hungry
  • teach a third grader about the gift of God’s word in Scripture;
  • support our partnerships in Haiti and Mexico and Russia;
  • provide support for those who are grieving, and
  • lift our voices in praise through the gift of music on Sunday morning.

In all areas of our ministry we are doing the work of the Kingdom.

In 2017 one particular area of focus from our stewardship campaign was to respond to a call to support our local teachers. Charlotte Mecklenburg Superintendent Ann Clark challenged the faith community to support the recruitment and/or retention of excellent teachers by providing money to help them with child-care expenses. Superintendent Clark helped us see that too many teachers were choosing to leave the classroom because they could not afford daycare on their salary.

I am happy to report that First Pres stewardship dollars will be used by three teachers, all of whom work at our partner school, Westerly Hills Academy. The need for this help in retaining excellent teachers was so great that principal Malacy Williams decided to grant one teacher a full scholarship and split the second scholarship 50/50 between two additional teachers. One of the recipients teaches second grade literacy.  The second recipient teaches second grade math. The third recipient is an instructional coach for six teachers in K-5 literacy.

My gratitude overflows: for your generosity, for God’s faithfulness, and for the ways our church serves as an instrument for grace and healing and good in our community and world.

I look forward to seeing you in worship this summer, and appreciate so much who you are as a member of Christ’s body here on 200 West Trade Street.

– Pen Peery