Blog Archives

Habitat Kickoff Dinner

August 18, 2017

RSVP now for the Charlotte Church Partners Habitat for Humanity Kick-off Dinner and Celebration on Thursday, September 14, at 6 p.m. in Wood Fellowship Hall.

Send the following information to Marwen McDowell  no later than Thursday, September 7; call her at 704.365.9314 with questions.

Name:__________________________________________   Phone:_________________________________

Church Name_________________________________     Number of Adults ($8)__________________________

Number of Children 5-11 ($5)___________________________

Children 4 and under are no charge

Pay at door, cash or check payable to First Presbyterian Church

Blessing of the Backpacks

August 14, 2017

School, back, bag.

Children are invited to bring their backpacks to worship on Sunday, August 20. During the Children’s time we will bless them all and ask for God’s guidance in our upcoming year.

We will also bless the supplies gathered for the classrooms at our partner school Westerly Hills Academy. If you are shopping for school supplies, please pick up any of the following items and drop them in the bin just beyond the Historical Lobby by Wednesday, August 16:

  • Expo Dry Erase Markers
  • Post-it 3×3 Pop Up Notes
  • Plain 9.5″ x 12 Clipboards

Child and Youth Protection Training

August 10, 2017

Training for those who work with children and youth is on Sundays, August 20 or 27, at 9 a.m. in P206. If you are a new volunteer or staff member, or if it is time for you to update your training, mark your calendars for one of these sessions.

The Heart and Soul of Making a Home

August 9, 2017

How do the lives of families change when we help build a Habitat home? Take a few minutes to watch this powerful snapshot into the lives of several beneficiaries of Habitat homes. Their stories make it crystal clear that when we pour our hearts and souls into building homes, we’re making a lasting impact on people’s lives.

Now don’t you want to be part of that? Signups for Habitat begin on Sunday, August 20. Watch for information in the lobby and the registration link on the Now@FPC page on the website.

– Mary Scott Peterson, Ministry Team Coordinator

Music Ministry Registration & Rehearsal Changes

With choir rehearsals beginning soon, it is time to register your children who want to participate in Music Ministry. You can register online or watch for Music Ministry signup on Sundays, August 27 and September 3, in the Historical Lobby before 11 a.m. and in the driveway following worship.

Mark your calendars for Wednesday night choir rehearsals, which begin on Wednesday, September 6, with some changes to the schedule:

  • 5:15 p.m. – Dinner
  • 6-7 p.m. – Child’s Intro to Music (TK-Grade 1)
  • 6-7 p.m. – Carol/Kirk Choir (Grades 2-5)
  • 6:30-7:15 p.m. – Youth Choir (Grades 6-12)
  • 6:30-7:15 p.m. – Adult Bells
  • 7:05-7:30 p.m. – Calvin Chimes
  • 7:15-8 p.m. – Knox Bells
  • 7:30-9 p.m. – Sanctuary Choir
  • 7:45-9 p.m. – Ivey Bells

For information about children’s vocal choirs, contact Kelly Potts To learn more about chime and handbells, contact Trevor Cook For more information about youth and sanctuary choirs, contact Will Young



Street Closings through August

August 7, 2017

West Trade Street will be closed between Church and Poplar streets through the month of August.

You can enter our parking lot from all three of the usual entrances on Sundays and weekdays.

CDC parents should check for additional details about carpooling in the communication from the school.

Watch for

BELL Camp: Setting Up Children for Success

Sixty precious scholars left our church campus a few weeks ago, and we are missing them! They brought such joy, energy and light into our church this summer.

I have volunteered with BELL in the past with my children. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the program and how it benefits the families with whom we partner at Westerly Hills. I know now that I didn’t have a clue. What I learned this summer blew my mind and made me so very proud to be a part of this program and our church.

First Presbyterian Church began hosting BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) six years ago. BELL is a national program, headquartered in Boston and started in 1992 by students at Harvard Law School. The program seeks to serve children in under-resourced communities by providing summer instruction and enrichment.

Each class of 20 scholars (rising K-3rd, so 60 total) begins the day with a hot breakfast, then participates in community time, where they learn about the BELL core values (learning, collaboration, respect and excellence.) Each class receives literacy and math instruction from certified teachers for the first half of the day, reinforced by First Presbyterian member tutors and speech therapists from Charlotte Speech and Hearing. After lunch and playground time, the scholars participate in enrichment activities, such as dance, Legos and science, coding, yola (language-based yoga practice), Reading with Rover, music, cooking, recreation, character education, art and swim lessons. Every Friday is reserved for education-based field trips. This year the scholars went to Dan Nicholas park, Carolinas Aviation Museum, the Charlotte Raptor Center, the play James and the Giant Peach, the Nature Museum and a performance by a magician.

Distracted by all the fun, the children seem to forget they are attending a little bit of school when they are at BELL.

Parent involvement in BELL is also a huge part of the program. Attendance is critical for success, so each family pays a $20 goodwill deposit that is refunded if the scholar misses no more than 3 days. Parents are also responsible for attending an open house and participating in a scholar showcase, where they visit the classrooms, attend an active reading workshop and eat lunch with their scholar. This year 37 families attended the scholar showcase. The scholars were SO excited to read with their parents, and the parents were hilarious pretending to be kids during the active reading workshop. We all know how important parent involvement and commitment are for a child’s success at school, and programs such as BELL help build that vital commitment.

Did you know the lack of learning during the summer causes up to 2/3 of the achievement gap between low-income students and their higher-income peers? According to statistics published by Read Charlotte (learn more at 96% of third graders reading at grade level go on to graduate high school on time; third graders reading below grade level are four times more likely to drop out of school. At the end of 2016, 72.5% of Westerly Hills’s third graders were reading below grade level, the worst reading scores in all of CMS. 

Last year, our BELL scholars gained reading proficiency rather than backsliding during the summer. This year, our scholars gained again. Clearly, literacy is critical to the success of our city’s children, and this program is a way our church is having a direct, positive impact on the children of Westerly Hills.

Periodically, our BELL program receives a visit from the national Quality Assurance team to be observed and evaluated. Our program remains one of the best in the country, if not the best.  The QA team raved about the standards we set for our program and the amazing enrichment and field trips we offer. The wonderful BELL staff sets the same expectations for the scholars, and they rise to the occasion again and again.

This program requires significant time, money and commitment from our church, but it is so absolutely worth it.  If you have contributed to this amazing program, thank you! I hope you know how valuable that contribution is.  If you haven’t yet contributed, please consider doing so. It costs $1,500 per child to run this program, and we still need to raise money to cover the cost for this summer’s program. Any and every contribution helps to change the life of a child.

I saw just how much every little contribution matters this summer.

– Heather Herring, Child & Family Partnership Coordinator

Mexico Mission Trip November 5-10

Thanks to the stewardship dollars you committed during our campaign last fall, we will be able to equip our partner school in Merida, Mexico, with electricity and kitchen appliances for the new kitchen our members have helped build when we return in November.

The work on these trips can be strenuous for those who are able and there also will be a variety of tasks requiring a wide range of strength. A group of local Mayans will direct our work. And there will be plenty of bonding experiences and participation in Sunday worship with one of the village churches.

FPC has been working with Accion Ministries in the Yucatan Peninsula for many years. Come be part of this long tradition and meet our brothers and sisters in Merida! The cost of the trip is dependent on airline costs and could range from $1100-$1400. Contact trip leader, Martha Eubank,

Additional Street Closings: Trade & Poplar

August 4, 2017

Although West Trade Street between Pine, Mint and Poplar streets will re-open on Saturday, August 5, at 7 a.m., another street closing begins at that time.

Beginning Saturday morning, August 5, and continuing through September 4, West Trade Street will close between Church and Poplar streets. During the week, the Trade and Poplar Street intersection will be closed. On Sunday morning, you can enter our parking lot from all three of the usual entrances.

On weekdays, you can enter the parking lot from Poplar Street by coming from 5th Street or from our driveway from Church Street.

CDC parents should check for additional details about carpooling in the communication from the school.


Changes in Youth Ministry Staff

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,