Blog Archives

Take a Sunday Morning Church Tour

September 30, 2019

Would you like to learn more about the various spaces of our church? Join us on Sunday mornings  at 10:15 a.m. for a tour! Meet us in the Welcome Center, where there will be a tour guide each week. If you have questions, contact Jane Ives or Lucy Caldwell.

Get to Know the Lakewood and Westerly Hills Teachers

Want to help the teachers who help the students learn at Westerly Hills Academy (WHA) and Lakewood Preschool? You can spend one hour a week getting to know a WHA teacher and assisting specific students in that teacher’s classroom. You can select the time and day that fit your schedule. You can also purchase items to support children and families at WHA, as well as classroom supplies and staff appreciation for Lakewood Preschool. Items may be placed in the shopping cart in the hallway behind the sanctuary.

Offer a Welcome on Sunday Morning

Would you like to help make members and visitors feel welcome on Sunday mornings? The Usher Ministry Team is seeking a number of new members to join existing teams of ushers. The time commitment begins about 20 minutes before a worship service and ends 5 to 10 minutes after the end of the service. If you want to know more or are interested in volunteering, email Erin Guinan, or contact her at 704.560.0373.

Staff changes focus on members, ministry teams, food services and Realm

September 26, 2019

Keeping a strong focus on membership, ministry teams, health ministry and connecting through the new Realm app have prompted staff changes.

Flo Bryan
Lucy Caldwell

On September 17, Flo Bryan joined the staff as Ministry Team Coordinator. Flo’s office hours will include Sundays, 9 a.m.-noon. You can contact her at fbryan@firstpres-charlotte.org. After years in the corporate world, Flo said, “It’s nice to take a left turn to a place that has my heart.”

Beginning October 1, Lucy Caldwell will become the Realm Coordinator. Taking her place as Membership Development Coordinator will be Jane Ives.

Lucy will work Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Her email address will continue to be lcaldwell@firstpres-charlotte.org. Jane’s new office hours will be Sundays, 9 a.m.-noon as well as  Mondays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.; Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Email Jane at jives@firstpres-charlotte.org.

Cecil Peay
Jane Ives

Also new on staff is Cecil Peay, who joins us as our Food Services Manager.

These changes follow the addition of Parish Nurse Sherry Olson, Director of Outreach and Mission Shantiqua Neely and the Reverend Robert Galloway, Associate Pastor for Christian Formation and Young Adults. We also look forward to being joined by the Reverend Anna Dickson in November. Anna will serve as the temporary stated supply Associate Pastor for Congregational Care.

 

Habitat, Day 2

God is so good! We had another perfect day up at the site. Weather has NEVER been this cooperative in September (sweatshirts in the morning?), great crew of Wells Fargo volunteers, a handful of church partners, fine and plentiful lunch donated by Harper’s…what’s not to like!

Day 2  was a very productive day, thanks to the Wells crew that Courtney sent us, our faithful partners and Katie’s many helping hands!

We are right on schedule as we installed some windows as well as some trusses after getting both gables up!

Even though the morning weather was cool, the afternoon was hot. Once again we went green even though about a case of  Gatorade and small water bottles were consumed. Still, it’s a far cry from the 100s of bottles from years past! We bought four bags of ice and used one in the water tub after lunch. We are thankful for much, including easy access to ice on Sunset Road.

Session Approves Response to Housing Crisis in West Charlotte

September 25, 2019

While many of us gathered in Wood Fellowship Hall recently to view the documentary Resilience, our Session voted to approve a response to this housing crisis, which will touch as many as 35 families and 50 children from our partner agency, Westerly Hills Academy.

Here’s the background:

  • Residents at the Lake Arbor property have learned that the landlord intended to vacate all units. That process began in August.
  • This action follows a series of complaints from residents surrounding unsafe living conditions, poor property management, and a neglectful landlord. This led to the filing of a class action lawsuit on behalf of the residents. That lawsuit is now under appeal.
  • Six of First Presbyterian Church’s nonprofit partner agencies are collaborating to help the Lake Arbor residents with relocation and critical needs, including Charlotte Family Housing, Community Link, Crisis Assistance Ministry, Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, The Salvation Army, and Urban Ministry Center. United Way serves as a convener to the group and Community Link is taking the lead in organizing support for the families’ needs.

Who’s been impacted:

  • 177 residents must find new housing; units will be vacated now through mid-2020
  • 35 families, including 50 children who attend Westerly Hills

How you can help:

  • Permanent housing: The first step is to provide stability through permanent housing for these families and students. If members of First Presbyterian Church have local rental property, and are willing to rent for an affordable rate, contact Shantiqua Neely, Director of Outreach and Mission.
  • Immediate basic needs: While the search for permanent housing and/or emergency shelter is taking place, collaborating nonprofits will provide for the families’ basic needs using funds from the Critical Need Relief Fund. First Presbyterian Church has answered the call and contributed $5,000 to this fund to be used for the most critical immediate needs. You can donate online  or via mobile giving by texting HELPCLT to 71777 to receive a text to the direct link.

Habitat for Humanity: Follow the Build!

September 20, 2019

Best first day ever

At 8 a.m. this past Saturday, a surprise awaited Eboni, who is the 2019 Habitat homeowner.

There were 31 volunteers ready to work on her house and others in the neighborhood.

Eboni was speechless.

This past Saturday was first day of the 2019 Habitat build, and it was probably the best ever. We had a record turnout all day, cloud cover until after lunch, and lots of energy for getting our work done.  We got the inside and outside walls up, as well as blue board installed and a few caps plates.

Thanks to Katie, from Dilworth United Methodist Church, there were tubs for water and Gatorade, and plenty of ice – Dilworth United Methodist supplied seven bags of ice –  but the collective team only used five because it wasn’t sunny and hot until after lunch, and even though we drank close to nine gallons of Gatorade, we used just a few plastic bottles, thanks to the tubs of Gatorade and water.  There were enough subs and fixings to cover our collective group of 40 and also allow us to share with the house next door.

Marwen ran shuttles from our parking spaces at Statesville Road Elementary School. Kent Buzard supplied a tent for shade.

Each day of building will be different,  but we are in need for more volunteers for EVERY day going forward. We will have help on Friday and Saturday of this week, but after that, let’s see if we can get the other Saturdays filled on our own. It’s only one house, and we are used to building two!

Register here https://habitatcltvolunteers.force.com/apex/VolunteerGroupSearch, and use group number 1686.

Come out and be a part of making home ownership a reality for more people in Charlotte!

 

 

 

 

Perfect weather, plenty of helping hands

God is so good! We had another perfect day up at the site. Weather has NEVER been this cooperative in September (sweatshirts in the morning?), great crew of Wells Fargo volunteers, a handful of church partners, fine and plentiful lunch donated by Harper’s…what’s not to like!

Day 2  was a very productive day, thanks to the Wells crew that Courtney sent us, our faithful partners and Katie’s many helping hands.

We are right on schedule as we installed some windows as well as some trusses after getting both gables up!

Even though the morning weather was cool, the afternoon was hot. Once again we went green even though about a case of  Gatorade and small water bottles were consumed. Still, it’s a far cry from the 100s of bottles from years past! We bought four bags of ice and used one in the water tub after lunch. We are thankful for much, including easy access to ice on Sunset Road.

 

Every day is a lesson

 

Three in a row of perfect workdays…fully staffed (thanks to Courtney) and several partners from several churches and another gorgeous day.


In fact we had so many volunteers, Katie was able to have many hands unload a trailer and organize all the stuff before reloading it!

We are finished with trusses on FPC’s house, and got all the hurricane hangers installed as well. Hurricane hangers are metal pieces that go on the ends of every truss to help weigh it down. You learn something new every day at the site.
Lots of the interior punch list got done as well, with folks inside all day hammering away at small tedious jobs. All windows have been installed, also, so this was another productive day. We are on schedule for roof work.

Susan and St. Marks fed the street today with Jason’s deli boxes..always a welcome treat! She also had water and Gatorade bottles but we still haven’t filled up the  recycling bin so are doing great going green. She bought 4 bags of ice but could have done with just 3.

If you would like to volunteer to help build a home for a family, please register here.

Small crew, plenty of food

Day 4 did not disappoint!  We had a small but mighty crew of  nine. The Thursday crew got all the roof sheathing up, so we were able to do the tar paper and the first two rows of shingles, so the Saturday group had two crews doing shingles at the same time. The front and back door also were installed.

Again, the weather was beautiful in the morning but got very hot after lunch!  We are fortunate to have some shade in the morning so the next goal is to do all the remaining roof work , shingles, and remove the hugs before lunch.

Charlotte Country Club donated a wonderful and plentiful lunch and we were able to share with the rest of the volunteers on the street. Thanks to our own John Tate for securing that donation as well as delivering it to us. Ice tally: two bags of ice were used, and we went thru about 35 bottles of Gatorade and 70 water bottles. Marwen McDowell’s job was to toss water bottles to the roof folks (and she was great!)

Thanks to all who have helped with the build. Knowing you are building a home and hope for Eboni and her family is a balm.

If you would like to volunteer to help build a home for a family, please register here.

 

We Are Half Way There! 

Again, we had perfect weather! And we had great volunteers and a plentiful lunch. 

Thanks to St. Peter’s Catholic for recruiting new volunteers as well as seasoned ones, all of whom stayed until the bitter end to finish up their tasks. 

Eboni’s house looks wonderful already … all the siding is up (even on the gables), all the soffits have been installed, and even the shutters up.

Eboni is so thankful for your time and efforts and passion. She thanks everyone at the site everyday she is there.

Later in the day, we vvisited Arvin Meadows, a previously built Habitat neighborhood, where they saw homeowners who have worked with FPC. One young man, who was six when he and his mother moved into their house in 2014, thanked us when we told him who we were. 

It melts my heart to see families so happy and thriving.

Thanks to you and all you do!

Marwen

 

Congregational Meeting

September 17, 2019

Plan to attend the Congregational Meeting immediately following 11 a.m. worship on Sunday, September 29. At that time, we will vote on nominees to serve as church officers beginning in January and on dissolving the pastoral call with the Reverend Katherine Kerr.

You can review the officer nominees now.

Resilience: Recovering from the traumas that touch us all

Last fall, local counselor and Charlotte Observer contributor Justin Perry came to our church to speak on educational equality in Charlotte as part of our Color and Character book study.  After his presentation, I asked him what he thought was the most important thing we could do to support Westerly Hills Academy. He said, “Watch Resilience.”

We can do what Justin Perry suggested on Sunday, September 22, beginning at 5 p.m. in Wood Fellowship Hall, when we’ll have a free viewing of Resilience. This documentary is about how trauma impacts both our mental and physical health, and how we gain the resilience needed to recover from the trauma.

What, exactly, is trauma? In a brochure from Presbyterian Psychological Services, various experiences that qualify as “trauma” include:

  • Abuse/neglect
  • Incarceration
  • Mental illness or substance abuse in the family
  • Divorce
  • Witnessing domestic violence or a violent crime

My heart sank when I read this list. Here is what those experiences look like in the lives of people I’ve encountered recently through my work here at First Presbyterian:

  • A church member told me that dad was being released from prison soon, and asked for prayers, as they were nervous about the transition.
  • A BELL scholar whispered to me that her family was moving because there were “too many bullets” in their neighborhood.
  • Another BELL scholar was late because a man showed up at their house the night before with a gun.
  • A nine-year-old I’ve tutored was dropped off at his dad’s house by his mother, who said, “I’m done with him” and never returned.
  • Many young scholars and students I’ve tutored that have brothers and sisters who have died.

There are experiences on this list that many of us will never have to deal with. But there are plenty that we do experience, despite our “privileged” status:  substance abuse, mental illness, physical and emotional abuse, divorce. When it comes to traumatic experiences, Father Gregory Boyle’s words come to mind: “There is no us and them.  There is only us.”

Marc Dickmann, who is currently the Director of Education for Freedom Communities and has been a longtime west Charlotte advocate, told me recently that  he thought the biggest need in west Charlotte was “trauma support.”

Watching Resilience together on Sunday evening is a great place to begin understanding this piece of the equation called trauma and how we can care for one another, for our community and ourselves.

– Heather Herring, Child & Family Partnership Coordinator

Details: Sign up here for the free documentary, accompanied by a light meal, on Sunday, September 22, 5 p.m. The movie is suitable for middle school youth through adults. An elementary program, Identifying Emotions, will be offered concurrently. Preschool care will be provided at no cost but registration is required. We will also have the opportunity following the film to be part of small group conversations led by experts in outreach and advocacy, understanding stress, mindfulness and meditation and movement as a stress buster.

 

Tuesday Morning Bible Study Location Change

September 16, 2019

Through the end of the year, Tuesday Morning Bible Study will be at Myers Park United Methodist Church. The class will return to First Presbyterian in January. Contact Garrell Keesler (gkeesler@firstpres-charlotte.org) with questions.