Month: May 2018

May 17, 2018

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from your West Campus Visioning Committee. We’ve been hard at work, making progress, and with more work to do! Beginning with these Frequently Asked Questions, we will be more regular in our communication with the congregation and hope that as you have questions or comments you will send them to us. We’d love to hear them!

The motivation for our visioning work continues to be focused on how we use the asset of our parking lot to express our mission to be For Christ in the Heart of Charlotte. The Scripture that has guided our work is this:

“…but seek the welfare of the city, for in its welfare, you will find your own…”

-Jeremiah 29:7



Q: Maybe I should know this already, but what is the “West Campus?”

A: The “West Campus” is the 2.4-acre parking lot – excluding the historic house on the corner of Poplar and 5th – that is west of the church.  We call it the West Campus because we see the land as another place to express our church’s mission.


Q: Hasn’t there been a committee working on this for a long time?

A: Yes!  For almost three years, in fact! The West Campus Visioning Committee has been deeply committed to a generative process of study, seeking input from inside the church and in the community, deliberation, discernment, and prayer.


Q: I know the Session approved a Strategic Plan and are in the process of implementing it. How does the Strategic Plan relate to the West Campus project?

A: The Strategic Plan impacts what from the church’s mission may “live” on the West Campus. As those strategic initiatives become concrete they will impact potential near term real estate uses on the West Campus. Parts of the block that are revenue generating also would be compatible with the church’s mission.


Q: I remember filling out a survey and hearing something about a consultant helping the committee. What did you do with that information and where do things stand now?

A:  Two years ago the Session engaged a development consultant called the DaVinci Collaborative to help guide us in a visioning process with an executable outcome. Through a study of market dynamics, congregational surveys, input from current and past church officers, and external stakeholders, they concluded their work last year. Now, the West Campus Visioning Committee is sorting that body of work into priorities that we have shared with the Session.


Q: So, just to be clear, will we have to do a capital campaign for a West Campus project?

A: If we were to develop the land that is our West Campus, the burden of the cost would fall to a development partner. The church’s main contribution to the project would be the land. There could be potential church investment in aspects of the West Campus project that are related to benevolence, but these would be connected to a more comprehensive church-wide campaign.


Q: What are the next steps? When are we going to hear more about the specific ideas?

A: Starting this summer and into the fall, the West Campus Visioning Committee will be communicating more specific ideas about the priorities that will outline the vision for the block.


Q: Who can I contact if I have questions or ideas?

A: The West Campus Visioning Committee would love to hear questions or comments! You can email the committee at Or, you can reach out to Pen at

~ The West Campus Visioning Committee

May 14, 2018

The Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry needs volunteers with the strength and ability to lift loaded crates, to bend and stoop as needed, and to catch loaded crates coming down the delivery chute. Contact Diane Carey or Mary Scott Peterson to learn more.

The church needs five volunteers to serve as sound board operators during both the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. worship services. No experience is needed and training will be provided. If you’re interested in helping with this vital component of our worship service, contact Jesse Hite.



 K-2nd graders are invited to participate in a brief “mindful motion” session to nurture their physical, emotional and social needs through games, body postures, and breath awareness activities. During the 11 a.m. service on June 10, children will be escorted to P309 (the Gym) after children’s time and will return before the last hymn.

May 11, 2018

Over the last nine months, academic improvement for children across Charlotte–and especially at our partner school, Westerly Hills Academy–has been a big focus for members of First Presbyterian Church.

We’ve learned more and we’ve stepped up our involvement in initiatives that can make a big difference for local children. We participated with Read Charlotte to develop a literacy program for kindergarten students. We launched a significant book drive for students at Westerly Hills Academy–more than 600 books were given to students to start their home libraries.

And now it’s time to look ahead to the summer and the BELL academic enrichment camp we host every year.

BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) begins in June and a few hours of your time will make this a memorable and enriching summer for our young scholars.

Each morning from June 18 through July 25, 60 rising first through third graders will receive literacy and math instruction as part of the curriculum.  First Presbyterian has hosted this summer program for seven years and we have seen a minimum growth of one month in reading, rather than reading loss, which occurs without summer reading, every year.

Volunteer opportunities are available for tutors, lunch and playground buddies, enrichment helpers and field trip chaperones.  Come spend a day (or even an hour) with us to see the magic that occurs during BELL over the summer. Sign up now online.

Last week, I was working on literacy with a sweet little kindergartner named Nia. She is so sweet, a tiny little thing with the biggest brown eyes you’ve ever seen. She is bright, too. She was easily mastering the material I brought that day, and I suggested we read Green Eggs and Ham instead.

Nia’s big brown eyes lit up and she exclaimed, “Yes! I love that book! My brother has that book and CD! Our older brother puts it on for us and we read along with it.”

As I sat there, listening to her read the story perfectly, I was overcome with the feeling that I was witnessing a small piece of the good the First Presbyterian literacy ministry is doing.

You see, Green Eggs and Ham was one of the books selected by teachers at Westerly Hills Academy for us to purchase with your holiday book drive contributions. Nia’s brother received Green Eggs and Ham, along with an audio CD, with the rest of his first grade class. And here was his sister, who is spending time at home reading with her brothers, reading that very book to me.

My heart was full with joy and hope.

I was also reminded of the day I sat with all the books that your donations made possible. Before FPC volunteers delivered the books, I prayed over those books, asking God to bless the children who received them. I prayed that the books would spark a love of reading and perhaps create some special moments for the children who received them.

My time with Nia felt a little bit like God showing me that my prayer was being answered.

The road to achieving literacy success at Westerly Hills may be a long one, but glimpses of success along the way are encouraging. We are fortunate to have the guidance of Read Charlotte, which has shared its blueprint for success:

  • help children build home libraries;
  • empower families to support literacy at home;
  • provide high quality, targeted tutoring; and
  • stop summer reading loss.

The last of these is particularly relevant as we prepare to kick off our BELL summer learning program on June 18.

Summer reading loss between grades K – 9 contributes to more than 2/3 of the achievement gap between low-income students and those who are from middle- and high-income homes. Our BELL scholars consistently gain between one and three months of reading every year; most children who do not read during the summer lose one month. It’s sometimes called the summer slide, which we tackle again this year by helping them experience learning as fun and rewarding.

BELL will be in session for 6 weeks, June 18–July 25. Every Monday through Thursday, 60 scholars (rising first through third graders) will learn in the morning and experience enrichment activities (such as yoga, Lego robotics, coding, dance and swimming) in the afternoon. Every Friday our scholars go on fun, educational field trips.

Nia and her brother will be at BELL this summer, reading, playing, laughing and learning with 58 of their friends. Sign up online to volunteer (one time or many times) and experience our mission first-hand. You’ll be so glad you did.

~Heather Herring, Child & Family Partnership Coordinator

May 4, 2018

Vacation Bible School needs plenty of helping hands and many parents are not available during the day. If you are, please considering helping out during this year’s Rolling River Rampage VBS, 9 a.m.-noon on Monday-Thursday, June 25-28. Volunteers will also have childcare and preschool options for their younger children.

If you can help out, please contact Tammy Winchip, Director of Children’s Ministry.

Read more about this year’s Vacation Bible School and register your children online.

May 1, 2018

Led by the Reverend Pen Peery and Israeli Guide Doron Harel

Registration for the trip to the Holy Lands in the spring of 2019 is currently full; however, we are happy to add your name to a waiting list. You do not need to pay a deposit to be on this list.  If there are cancellations, you will be contacted about making your $500 deposit in the order in which you joined this list.  Being on this list does not obligate you to participate.

The trip, led by the Reverend Pen Peery and Israeli guide Doron Harel, will be March 29-April 9, 2019.

The estimated cost of $5,000 per person is based on double occupancy and an estimated airfare of $1800-$1900.  The final cost will be determined when flights are booked and will be subject to contractual terms as outlined by Mabat Premium Ltd. Touring Company. 

On this trip, you will be able to discover a deeper appreciation for the stories of the Bible, walk the land traversed by beloved biblical figures and experience the culture underlying the ancient Scriptural texts.

All the details, including the daily itinerary, are available in this Holy Lands Digital Brochure.

You can add your name to the waiting list now.