Blog Archives

Wednesday Worship Series for Spring

April 18, 2017

The final day of the spring Wednesday Worship series Act Now: How the Church Began will be May 24 at noon in the Sanctuary.

The series has explored what the disciples experienced after the resurrection and ascension of Christ, leading up to birth of the new church.

Wednesday Worship is followed by Eat@First at 12:30 p.m. in Wood Fellowship Hall.

Wednesday Worship concludes for the summer on May 31. Read more about the special service.

Surrounded by Angels

April 14, 2017

The first time I heard David LaMotte in concert was the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of high school at Montreat Youth Conference. I was blown away by his amazing musical gift. I immediately became a huge fan and bought every single album he had available that summer. My passion for him and his music continued throughout my college years.

His song We Are Each Other’s Angels inspired me to use some of the lyrics from that song for my final project in Photography II Class in college. While I was not in any way a professional photographer, I did enjoy being as creative as possible and trying new features with my camera. It was through this project that I learned the idea of double exposure and creating “ghost-like” images. While I found it challenging at first, in the end I found it fascinating.

An image from Natalie’s college project, inspired by a David LaMotte song


These are the lyrics from I used David’s song, We Are Each Other’s Angels:

We are each other’s angels. We meet when it is time. 

We keep each other going and we show each other signs. 

Sometimes you will stumble.  Sometimes you will fall down. 

Sometimes you will get lonely when there is nobody around. 

You might even lose your colors but don’t ever lose your faith

’cause we are each other’s angels and we meet when it is time.

Click here for the full song on Spotify.

Singer-songwriter David LaMotte

I am a strong believer that we are constantly surrounded by special people in our lives.  Whether they are with us physically, spiritually or emotionally, God places them in our lives to be our angels. These angels guide us along our journey through life and surround us with their steadfast love. They leave footprints on our hearts and strengthen our faith in God by being a constant presence in our life.

Just as Jesus called his disciples, Jesus calls us to go forth and answer our calling, to go and fill someone’s cup and be an angel to others.

If you’re interested in knowing more about David LaMotte—maybe even wondering how you can meet this amazing songwriter—I have good news. You will have the opportunity on Youth Sunday, April 23. Our youth will lead worship at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., with a celebration of confirmands during the 11 a.m. service. David will join our musicians during both services.

Also, during the Formation hour at 10 a.m., you are invited to Wood Fellowship Overflow for a presentation from David LaMotte about a program (PEG Partners) he and his wife founded to support schools in Guatemala. This will also be an opportunity to learn how First Presbyterian will partner with LaMotte and PEG Partners during the summer of 2018 for a combined high school international youth music and mission trip.

I look forward to seeing you at both worship and formation on Youth Sunday, April 23.

-Natalie Raygor

Suffering Does Not Get the Last Word

April 7, 2017

As I write this reflection, my mind is seared by images of Syrian children fighting for life after exposure to chemical weapons. My heart hurts with the news of Charlotte’s rising murder rate. And my hands are busy trying to find some way to help in response to the Mecklenburg County Economic Opportunity Task Force report that lays out over 90 recommendations that seek to heal the brokenness in our city—a brokenness that I have had privilege to avoid.

I would rather avoid this suffering—but I also write on the precipice of Holy Week, a time in the Christian year when we accompany Jesus in his final days and through his suffering.

So in these days when the suffering of the world feels urgent, I would challenge you—and invite you—to resist the urge to look away. Instead, I would invite you to walk forward.

Come to worship this Palm Sunday, when we remember that Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem is immediately followed by his Passion.

Come to church on Maundy Thursday at 7:30 p.m. for a service of Tenebrae and communion where we mark Jesus’ last supper with his disciples and when we will recite the story of his betrayal, arrest and crucifixion.

Come, too, on Easter Sunday–to our community Sunrise Service at Romare Bearden Park at 6:30 a.m., or to our services in the Sanctuary at 9 a.m. or 11 a.m.

We cannot avoid the suffering of this world.  But because we follow Jesus, the suffering servant, we can walk through the darkest valleys in the knowledge that suffering does not get the last word.

For your reflection and devotion at the beginning of Holy Week, I offer this prayer by Dr. Walter Brueggemann:

Loss is Indeed Our Gain

The Pushing and Shoving in the world is endless.

We are pushed and shoved.

And we do our share of pushing and shoving

in our great anxiety.

And in the middle of that

you have set down your beloved suffering son

who was like a sheep led to slaughter

who opened not his mouth.

We seem not able,

so we ask you to create space in our life

where we may ponder his suffering

and your summons for us to suffer with him,

suspecting that suffering is the only way to newness.

So we pray for your church in these Lenten days,

when we are driven to denial —

not to notice the suffering,

not to engage it,

not to acknowledge it.

So be that way of truth among us

that we should not deceive ourselves

That we shall see that loss is indeed our gain.

We give you thanks for that mystery from which we live.


– Pen Peery

Snapshots: Blessings from Room in the Inn

March 30, 2017

Four-year-olds make sandwiches for our Room in the Inn neighbors.

Thank you to our amazing volunteers who host groups of folks living on the margin.

Throughout the winter months, you provide food, fellowship, a listening ear and an open heart to 12 guests each Monday and Tuesday night through the Urban Ministry Center’s Room in the Inn program. Without you, First Pres would not be able to sustain this partnership. I promise you, this is the God’s honest truth!

Here are a few snapshots from this season, shared by FPCers who made time for our Room in the Inn guests. Some are happy and some are gut-wrenching and all reflect time spent in community with one another.

  • A pan of brownies transformed into a birthday cake for a six-year-old girl—the first birthday cake she has ever had.
  • Guests schooling some young FPC whippersnappers in basketball, only to let them take the lead in the end and win the game.
  • Two men sharing the experience, strength and hope—as well as love—that they’ve learned in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous…emphasizing that addiction knows no zip code.
  • Four-year-olds in our Weekday School making lunches for our guests.
  • Clemson and Alabama fans alike cheering on their respective teams, coming together at the end of the game with a prayer of solidarity.
  • Two moms from different worlds sharing a meal and tears over the struggles of raising young children.
  • Bumping into a guest who works at Which Wich and meeting his co-workers.
  • A letter left by a guest expressing gratitude for the laughter of young children in the dining room.

These are just a few exchanges. I feel sure there are countless others just as profound and moving. All are examples of how we spend time with our neighbors for Christ in the heart of Charlotte.

I also want to thank the Urban Ministry Center for allowing us the opportunity to spend time with men, women and children who find themselves in challenging and sometimes traumatic circumstances. What a gift it is to connect with new and old friends and share parts of our lives, our struggles and our dreams with each other. Also, a list of the volunteers is at the bottom of this post, with my apologies for anyone who was inadvertently left out.

Glory to God for the love being shared, friendships being formed and souls being nurtured within the walls of this building.

– Mary Scott Peterson

Ward and Sally Davis, John Graham, Kory Eubank, Don and Anne Schmit, Mike and Debbie O’Hara, Georgia and Ken Johnson, Melissa Walker, Holly Ham, Stephanie Owens, Jenni and Rob Grier, Page and Martin Hull, Suzy Nurkin, Emily Johnson, Lisa Ku, Kathryn Raby, Caroline Sink, Ingrid Johnson, Jen Dauska, Sarah Moody, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Bowman, Carol and Milt Childress, Chad and Mary Scott Peterson, Amy Hilyard, Susan Keesler, Rebecca Morris, Caroline Veronee, Patti and Steve Mayo, Anne Bridgeman, Elizabeth Fagg, Heather Hayes, Holly Loeffler, Caroline Sharp, Ros Mallory, Addison Ayer, Marwen McDowell, Grace Hoover, Katie Williams, Nick Valaoras, Christian and Sarah Flohr, Ward McKeithen, Kitty Ray, Frances Campbell, Jane Lomax, Marilyn Armstrong, Lisa Dillard, Rich Neidinger, Liana Humphrey, Amy Jones, Crystal Sellers, Sarah Lockhart, Lauri Clark, Dennis Elliott, Vicki Sutton, Elise Barksdale, Rick Rogers, Diane Carey, Don Olmstead, Sonya Snowdon, Ann Temple, Rich and Jen Evans, Claire Tate, Natalie Raygor, Drew Quartapella, Roy Michaux, Alison Dalton, Al Riddick, Sally Billington, Debbie Barberr, Tiffany Guy, Graham Johnson, Roger Lovelett, Tripp Monroe, Fritz Porter, David Taylor, Renna Massey, Katie James, Ron Hankins, Kent Main, Doug Williams, Martha Ogburn, Allen Shifflet, Austin Tate, Jane Gustafson, Bart Landess, Tim Ryan, Bradley Griffin, Dan Ogburn, George Climer, Joe and Sonja Elliott, Kelli Mallory, Marc Gustafson, Tayna Gaspar, Roberta Fox, Lee Bradley, Stacey Stevenson, Gretchen Bottrill, Libby Bell, Grace Ulrich, John Tate, Ruth Ellen Gill, Erika Funk, Walter Bridgeman, Dick Ridenhour, Rich Lyman, John Corder, Marty Griffin, Rick Winn, Jim Sharp, Lee Cory, Shana Hetherington, Elizabeth Clark, Joe Bossong, Carroll Walton, Margaret Dunn, Warren Snowdon, Ron and Vicki Hankins, Bowen Caldwell, Mary Caroline Lee, Beth and Doug Williams, Bryan Morris, Zenny Aycock, Barret and Bryan Butler, Young Adult Bible Study, Middle School and High School Youth

Time Change for Tenebrae Service

Please note that the Tenebrae Service on Maundy Thursday, April 13, has been moved to 7:30 p.m.

Men’s Bible Study Postponed

The Men’s Morning Bible Study scheduled for March 28 will be postponed to April 11.

Parking Lot Code Update

It’s time to update the code for exiting our parking lot when you are at the church during the week. The code changed on April 4, so be sure to check at the reception desk before you leave the church.

Paxton Williamson Named Appleby Award Winner

Paxton Williamson, a junior at South Mecklenburg High School, has been named the recipient of the Will Appleby Award for Spirit, Dedication, and Leadership.

This lifelong member of First Presbyterian Church is the son of David and Tracy Williamson. Paxton has served on the Youth Council throughout his middle and high school years and has participated in mission trips to Baltimore and Mexico. He is currently in his fourth year as an Ivey Handbell Ringer and has been on three tours with the group to the northeastern US, Canada and Chicago. He is looking forward to their tour of the Pacific Northwest/Canada this summer. Paxton also plays the bass with the youth band on Youth Sunday and serves as an instrumentalist for the Children’s Musical in the spring. Paxton attended the Montreat Youth Conference last summer, where he enjoyed meeting and getting to know youth from across the nation. In middle school, Paxton was asked to speak to the rising sixth graders about his experience in youth group and what it has meant to him. He has also participated in the 30-hour famine with other youth in the Charlotte area. Paxton currently serves as an Impact Group leader for the middle school youth and enjoys participating in PYC service projects.

Paxton follows the tradition Will Appleby set by being an outstanding member of the youth program at First Presbyterian Church. Please join us in congratulating Paxton Williamson!

VBS Volunteers Needed

March 27, 2017

Adults, high schoolers and middle schoolers are invited to volunteer as Vacation Bible School guides to get to know and lead our children from station to station this summer, June 26-29, 9 a.m.-noon each day. Volunteering includes one organizational meeting, VBS set-up day and hanging with your group for four mornings. Contact Tammy Winchip (, 704.927.0265) if you can be part of this experience with our children.

Child and Youth Protection Training

If you work with children as a volunteer or an employee, the next training is Sunday, May 7, 9 a.m.-Noon. Contact Garrell Keesler (