Month: November 2019

November 14, 2019

We will dedicate the newest Habitat House to the glory of God on Saturday, December 7, at 10 a.m. Join us at the site on Red Vest Way here in Charlotte.

Share the spirit of Christmas with our partner schools, Westerly Hills Academy and Lakewood Preschool, in multiple ways.


  • Thanks to your generosity the last two years, each student at Westerly Hills Academy went home for the holidays with books to add to their home libraries. Again this year we will stage a free book fair at Westerly Hills Academy on Thursday, December 19, where students may choose three books to take home and read over winter break. Studies have shown that children who choose their own books are more engaged in what they are reading, read more for pleasure and ultimately perform better in school as a result. Sign up here to help out. Contribute on Sunday mornings, November 24 through December 15, to purchase books. FPC can purchase books at a deep discount through a partnership with Scholastic, so your financial contribution maximizes our purchasing power.


Teacher appreciation

  • Also this year, we will collect donations for holiday gifts for teachers and staff member at Westerly Hills and Lakewood. Signups for teacher appreciation goodies and gift cards are available on our Shop to Share signup. In addition, we are working with our church schools’ families to provide gifts for students.


Shop to Share

  • Sign up online for December donations to this effort for our partner schools, Lakewood Preschool and Westerly Hills Academy. Shop to Share provides a monthly shopping list created from our partners’ most-needed items. You can place your items in the shopping cart in the hallway behind the sanctuary to be delivered to the school.

Alternative Gift Market

For the special people on your Christmas gift list, consider a special gift—a donation to one of our partner agencies, given in honor of friends or family.

Your gift-giving could support both local and global missions with more than a dozen partners, including Camp Grier, Crisis Assistance Ministry, Habitat for Humanity, Lakewood Preschool, Loaves and Fishes, Urban Ministry Center, Westerly Hills Academy, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and our outreach in Cuba, Haiti, Mexico and Russia.

With each donation through the Alternative Gift Market, you receive a gift card. Donations can be made here or in the Historical Lobby on Sunday mornings, November 24 through December 22.

This music-filled service with scripture, hymns and anthems will be at 9 and 11 a.m. on Sunday, December 22.

November 11, 2019

One of my favorite quotes is “A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others” by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Aren’t those words powerful?  I spend a lot of time with teachers, and I know how much time, love and money they pour into their classrooms.  The men and women who choose this profession do so with their hearts, not their heads.

When my children were younger, as many moms and dads do, I spent quite a bit of time volunteering at their elementary school.  Their school was an “A” school, and parents knew the primary reason it was rated so highly and students performed so well was the quality of the teachers.  We showed up for those teachers, too.  We provided them with elaborate lunches throughout the year, holiday parties outside of school hours, we helped in the classrooms and at lunch, and we chaperoned field trips.  At holiday time, each room mom would collect money for the teacher’s holiday gift, and we would present that gift, which was usually in the neighborhood of $300, to him or her at a class party.

As I began volunteering in Title 1 schools, including Westerly Hills Academy, I was surprised by how different the experience is for their teachers.  The median household income for a family at Westerly Hills Academy is just under $27,000.  Most parents at Westerly Hills do not have the luxury of staying home with their children, nor do they have the flexibility at work to pop over to school to volunteer.  There is no extra money for tissues for the classroom, and there is certainly no ability to generate a $300 gift for every teacher at Christmastime.

So where does that leave our teachers at Westerly Hills Academy?  We all know teachers have one of the most difficult, most important, and least appreciated jobs out there.  That’s why we support our own children’s teachers and make sure they know how much we appreciate them!  Our children come into the classroom prepared by preschool, well-rested, fed and with homework completed (for the most part). Imagine how difficult it is to teach in a classroom where students are coming in without preschool exposure to letters, numbers, and classroom structure? To be evaluated on test scores for children who come into your classroom already behind?  To manage the behavioral effects on children of financial and housing instability?  Or to teach a child living in a car or shelter?  All while making it on a starting salary of $40,000 a year, thanks to a county supplement that boosts the $35,000 state salary.

Westerly Hills teachers cheer their unexpected gift from FPC last year.

Fortunately, Presbyterian Women spends a portion of its budget each year supporting Westerly Hills teachers with two staff lunches and treats.  In addition, the PW apple tree provides teachers with classroom supplies and a large item for one grade level each year.  (This year, the large item they chose was a nice electric pencil sharpener. Bless.)

Last year, we found ourselves with extra money in the local outreach budget due to the discontinued CMS child care subsidy.  At the recommendation of the Child & Family Outreach Committee, the Local Outreach Committee approved a one-time $50 gift for each staff member, with the remainder of the balance funding grade-level teacher initiatives.  The teachers and staff members were incredibly grateful and excited, and the lift in their spirits was palpable as I walked down the hall in the days and weeks after.  The transition to a PreK-5 school, which brought in some challenging students from a neighboring school, had worn them out.  While the money was appreciated, I left the school feeling like they were as impacted (if not more) by the message that we recognize not only what they do is hard, but that the work they have taken on is important and valued.

This holiday season, we will be collecting money to hold a free book fair and winter party for every Westerly Hills student.  Our goal will again be to send three books home with each student.  In addition, we will be collecting money to provide teachers and staff with a monetary gift.  There are approximately 80 staff members at Westerly Hills, and I am confident that this community can shower both students and staff with our love and appreciation this Christmas!  Contributions can be made here.

As always, volunteers are needed to help make the book fair a success, and I can only describe last year’s event as a true delight!  Who couldn’t use an hour of genuine, boundless joy and gratitude in the midst of the holiday bustle?   Shifts are one hour to ninety minutes on December 13, 18 and 19 – hope to see you there!


Heather Herring

Child and Family Partnership Coordinator

November 1, 2019

Hi, FPC!

You likely have already read in the November issue of FirstNEWS that I am changing roles, switching from being Communications Manager to FPC’s Digital Community Manager.

It sounds like I get to hang out online all day, and I definitely am on Facebook and Instagram and the website for a chunk of time. But the word “community” in my new title also means that I’m here now on Sunday mornings, except for when I need to take my Mama to church, so if you have specific questions about communications, ask me! I’ll be moving around, gathering video and photos to use in future communications. (I especially LOVE getting pictures of our newly baptized babies and their joyful families.) Quite often, I run into members who say you’ve heard my name but haven’t had the chance to put the face to it. Come grab me, and we can chat. I’ll talk your ear off.

Now let’s get digital.

Being a digital manager means we’ve recognized the need to grow our connection with our community through digital communications. Especially for a church, being a digital community manager means we value the importance of faithfully building community, connectivity and awareness digitally within our staff, our congregation, our hometown, our local mission partners, and our international partners. Being digital community manager means we recognize what this space can mean to outreach, ministry, formation and evangelism.

While focusing on creating content for our ministries, we’ve also expanded that content to nourish our growing online and social media presence. The Communications Department already has discussions with our program areas to create  graphics, bulletins and other plans, but I’ll help us hone in on priorities that can serve the congregation and audiences outside the church. Our hope for this is creation of connected, consistent presence across our public and private social media pages. Check the bottom of this post for links to pages.

Peg Robarchek and I continue to tag-team on managing the website. Click the Now@First button at the top of the home page on the website for the latest news. Take a look at the Events listing at the bottom left of every page for upcoming programs. There’s also a link to sign up for Realm, so if you haven’t started your Realm account, you can do that on the website and make it easier to receive signups to programs and events.

I’ll be visiting with our staff members and ministries regularly to find out their priorities, and to help them discern where other ministries could benefit from cross-awareness.

I’ll also work on developing a more consistent blog/vlog of written and video content for the church’s website. The Communications Department has been creating videos for various ministries for a while now, but I’ll focus on making sure our videos are aligned with program-area priorities and distributed effectively across social media channels.

Another new digital channel is Faith Unfiltered: Seeking God in the 21st Century, a weekly podcast that discusses the intersection of the spiritual and the secular in our evolving world. Communications and Formation have teamed up to produce Faith Unfiltered and I’ll work on building awareness and a community around this podcast. Keep an eye out for the links and for the Spotify playlists of the folks we’ve interviewed and the podcast staffers who are doing the productions.

All of this sounds fancy, but it’s really an extension of the communications we already have in place, and it doesn’t mean a disconnect in those communications. We continue to send out the weekly e-news blast every Friday that has links to events, programs, Sunday worship and our Tapesty and FirstNEWS magazines. If you aren’t receiving that eblast on Fridays, please let me know. If you aren’t opening the email, then start opening it! It’s the best and easiest way to know what’s going on and how to stay connected important to be informed about your church. It makes me happy when you open your emails because I know we’re helping you connect to the church.

The Communications Department also continues to give out the hard-copy Tapestry and FirstNEWS on Sundays. FirstNEWS remains our go-to monthly newsletter, with a month to six weeks of information about gatherings, meetings, worship, classes, fellowship, outreach and mission. Tapestry, a quarterly magazine, features longer-form stories about our members and our faith journeys. Both publications are posted on the website and are linked in the weekly e-news, and I’ll be looking for ways to use these stories digitally.

We continue to have announcements on the Sunday bulletins, on the back page. It’s easy to post this on your fridge at home and get a daily glimpse of the life of your church.

It’s a space I enjoy, the digital world, and this an opportunity for us to be completely thoughtful in our digital and social endeavors. This new opportunity excites me with its possibilities, encourages me to think bigger, broader, and in ways that can encourage all of us in our mission and our ministries. And it means we can expand our voice of love and hope and inspiration in Charlotte and beyond, and for simply offering a reminder that wherever you are, and whoever you are, you are loved.

~ Dartinia Hull, Digital Community Manager

Instagram: @firstprescharlotte


First Connect (private group on Facebook)