Month: October 2019

October 28, 2019

In the Presbyterian Church, All Saints’ Day marks a time when we give thanks  for the ordinary, holy lives of the believers in this and every age. It is also a time when we celebrate the lives of those in our community of faith who have died in the past year. When we give thanks and celebrate on November 3, our scripture will be Revelation 7:9-17 and Matthew 5:1-12.

October 22, 2019

Do you know the most urgent need of Westerly Hills students experiencing homelessness? Food, shelter and transportation?

I learned this recently from the Communities in Schools counselor responsible for students who are homeless. Her information brought to mind for me Maslow’s hierarchy, and the fact that education will never be the top priority for these children until their needs for food, shelter and transportation are met.

As Communities in Schools works with partners in the school and community to navigate these stressful circumstances, we can show our love and make the lives of these students little easier by offering food and transportation support.

In our discussion, I learned that 21 children at Westerly Hills Academy have been identified so far as either homeless or displaced. Efforts are being made to reconcile the community’s work with that of the school, to ensure all affected families are included. Challenges such as poor student attendance and changing contact information unfortunately impede the process and create delays. While recent news has been focused on the Lake Arbor situation, it is important to remember that other families at the school are struggling with eviction and homelessness due to the lack of affordable housing in our city; therefore, we have decided to include them in our efforts, as well.

We are fortunate to work with partners at the school who know the families and children affected. They are able to assess needs and distribute items to families and children as emergencies arise. Some families are living at shelters, some in cars, some in hotels and others with friends or families who could fit them into a spare room. With the varying circumstances, the needs are different due primarily to storage and transportation limitations.

FPC has decided to respond in the following manner:  to address immediate needs, our youth provided large care packages of food, toiletries and blankets to families in cars and temporary housing, as well as gas cards for families who would benefit from them. For families with limited storage and/or no transportation, FPC has provided emergency food bags and toiletry bags that can be sent home with students as needed.

We will conduct a special collection for the most urgent needs of food and transportation gift cards, which you can access here.  For families living in their cars or who have found temporary housing outside of the school district, gas cards are helpful for getting children to and from school. (CMS will ultimately provide transportation as required through the McKinney Vento Act, but the transition takes time. Gas cards prevent a lapse in school attendance.) For families with no transportation, bus vouchers and Uber gift cards are best.

FPC’s new program, Shop to Share, is a monthly opportunity to support children, families and staff at our partners, Westerly Hills Academy and Lakewood Preschool. Through this program, we will work to build and maintain a supply of seasonal needed items. The current signup includes coats, winter uniforms and toiletry items that will also benefit Lake Arbor/homeless families at the school.

Temporary affordable housing is still the most critical need.  If you or someone you know is in a position to help, please reach out to Shantiqua Neely, our Director of Outreach and Mission.  Please remember these families in your prayers!

~Heather Herring, Child & Family Partnership Coordinator

October 18, 2019

The forecast says this winter will be a bitter one. The projected number of men, women and even children who will experiencing homelessness during those months is equally grim. Sign up today to offer hospitality and shelter from the storm as part of our Room in the Inn Ministry Team. And plan to attend dinner and orientation on Wednesday, November 13, at 6:15 p.m.

First Presbyterian has been opening its doors to our neighbors who need shelter two nights a week during the winter since 1996. It takes a lot of people to make that happen. We hope you’ll want to scope out what happens during Room in the Inn and how you can be part of offering safety, food and a deeper connection for some of our most vulnerable neighbors this winter.

Contact Ministry Team Coordinator Flo Bryan if you have questions or want to learn more at the orientation before signing up.

October 15, 2019

A group of Young Adults will helping complete First Presbyterian’s Habitat build on Saturday, November 9, 8 a.m.-noon. All skill levels are welcome. The group will have lunch following the build. Contact the Reverend Robert Galloway ( to sign up or for more information.

Registration will be November 11-December 2 for the summer 2020 mission trip to Mexico for high school youth. The interest meeting for you and/or parents will be Sunday, November 10, in the high school room (P321), 12:15-1 p.m.

Members and guests are invited to attend when our K-5th graders retell the Christmas story at 10 a.m. in Wood Fellowship Hall on Sunday, December 15.

The rehearsal schedule for participants is:

  • Sunday, December 8, 9:30-10:45 a.m.  Rehearsal for speaking parts
  • Saturday, December 14, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Rehearsal for all parts (staggered arrival times depending on role)
  • Sunday, December 15, 8:30-10 a.m.  Dress rehearsal for all actors (except Sheep)
  • Sunday, December 15, 9:30-10 a.m.  Sheep rehearse with cast
  • Sunday, December 15, 10 a.m.  Nativity Play
Kelly Sikkema/unsplash

Get ready for Advent by creating an Advent wreath on Sunday, December 1, in Wood Fellowship Hall at 10 a.m. Lighting the wreath and reading scriptures each Sunday of Advent is a wonderful way of anticipating the birth of Christ as we lead up to Christmas.

This activity takes the place of children’s Sunday School classes but is also open to adult church members who would like to make a wreath for their home.

It is only necessary to register once per family; each wreath kit is $10, but additional wreaths may be ordered during registration. Pay online, at the church, or at the door.  If paying at the door, please bring a check for $10/kit, made to First Presbyterian Church. Confidential scholarships may be requested by clicking “Pay in Person,” then clicking “Yes” when asked if seeking scholarship.

Families who choose not to make a wreath are welcome to join the card making station at no cost. Register online by November 18. Contact Director of Children’s Ministry Tammy Winchip (

A three-week Formation series about housing, eviction and homelessness will be led by three community leaders in Wood Fellowship Hall Overflow at 10 a.m.

Kathy Izard, Tommy Holderness and Liz Clasen-Kelly will share their calling to work with our neighbors to create not just a place to live, but also a sense of home.  Their stories will help us learn more about our neighbors’ lives and how we can respond with love and compassion.

  • November 10 – Kathy Izard, author of The Hundred Story Home and A Good Night for Mr. Coleman,who was instrumental in establishing Moore Place, permanent housing for those who were formerly homeless. She will talk about belonging and what home represents.
  • November 17 – Tommy Holderness, FPC Member and Attorney at Legal Aid of North Carolina, will talk about the connection between his calling to Union Seminary and how it led him to leave a corporate law practice to work for Legal Aid of NC.  He sees home as central to belonging and will focus on evictions (stats and recent examples) and their impact on individuals and communities.
  • November 24 – Liz Clasen-Kelly, CEO of the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte and Urban Ministry Center, will address the status of homelessness in Charlotte.    

The Conversations and Passages classes will combine for this series.


October 14, 2019

On Monday, November 11, join FPC friends at Beads Inc. for an evening of jewelry-making and fellowship just in time for the holiday season. Make something for yourself or to give as a gift. Ages 10+ welcome! Cost is $20 per person for instruction, not including supplies. RSVP to the Reverend Mary Margaret Porter (

FPC’s Moving Ministry helps a family move from homelessness or transition into a permanent home. Meet at 9 a.m. at the Crisis Assistance Furniture Bank, 333 Dalton Road, on Saturday, November 9. There is work for friends and family, including teenagers and their friends. Sign up online or if you want to be part of the Moving Ministry group on Realm Connect, contact Michael White (