News & Announcements

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)


July 31, 2019

Friends, meet our new Associate Pastor for Christian Formation and Young Adults, the Reverend Robert Lord Galloway.

You can read more about Robert, including his background, his Statement of Faith and what members of the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee say about him.

Shantiqua Neely
Sherry Olson

Many of you will remember Robert from some years ago, when he was with us as a young adult member. Others will have the pleasure of getting to know him as he comes the newest member of the clergy here at First Presbyterian. Robert’s ministry experience at White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh makes him a wonderful fit for our congregation.

Robert arrived on August 5, which marks an exciting time in our ministry here in the heart of Charlotte. He joins our new Director of Outreach and Mission, Shantiqua Neely, who has been with us since early July, and Sherry Olson, our new Parish Nurse. I hope you’ll meet, welcome and get to know them all soon. It is also the end of our time with the Reverend Rebecca Davis, a part-time, interim Parish Associate who assisted with Worship and Formation during the past year. The Reverend Mary Margaret Porter, who joined us about the same time Rebecca came on board, will continue in her role as Parish Associate for Fellowship.

We look forward to the new program year that begins on Sunday, September 8.
-The Reverend Pen Peery
October 12, 2018

September 27, 2018

With the departures of the Reverend Erika Funk and the Reverend Katelyn Gordon Cooke, we find ourselves in a staffing transition. The Personnel Committee, the Session and I have been at work paying attention to where God is at work in this season of our church’s life and where we can find opportunities to build a staff that aligns with our Strategic Plan and continues to build vitality as a witness for Christ in the center of our city.

Soon, the Session will adopt a long-term program staff model that will accomplish those ends. Now, however, we have the need to bring in high-performing talent to help us in our transition. I am pleased and grateful to share that we have found two part-time Parish Associates who I believe are especially gifted to help us meet that need—the Reverend Dr. Rebecca Davis and the Reverend Mary Margaret Porter.

Beginning on October 1, the Reverend Dr. Rebecca Davis will be our Parish Associate with a focus on Christian Formation. Becky is a native of West Virginia. A graduate of Marshall University, Becky also hold degrees from Union Theological Seminary, the Presbyterian School of Christian Education, and her Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia.

Becky is deeply committed to the church, the way God is at work through the ministry of Christian education and formation, the gift of community, the joy of worship and sacraments, and the value of children. Her life demonstrates these commitments, as she has worked at the Children’s Defense Fund, as a pastor (in Texas, Arkansas and at Myers Park Presbyterian Church here in Charlotte), Presbyterian College (where she was a professor for Christian Education), and now at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, where she is a professor for Christian Education. The focus of Becky’s ministry will be to supervise and support our Directors of Christian Formation and the Christian Formation Committee, as well as to lead in worship. Becky will work 12 hours a week.

“Faith formation engages all aspects of the Church’s call and mission,” Becky said. “The model of ministry at First Presbyterian, Charlotte, intentionally seeks to build bridges between personal faith and public engagement as well as between church and world. It is a deeply joyful and compelling experience to join with others on this sacred journey where faith is formed, explored and practiced.”

Also beginning on October 1, the Reverend Mary Margaret Porter will join our staff as a Parish Associate with a focus on connection and fellowship. Mary Margaret will be familiar to many of you. She grew up at First Presbyterian and her husband (Fritz) and two boys (Mason and Hill) are actively involved. Mary Margaret is a graduate of Davidson College and received her Masters at Duke Divinity School. Most recently, she served as the Parish Associate at Davidson College Presbyterian Church.

Mary Margaret finds joy in connecting people to one another, building community and celebrating the ways God is at work in the relationships between God’s people. While at First Presbyterian, Mary Margaret will work with the Reverend Katherine Kerr and the Congregational Care Committee to cultivate and support ways our congregation can build and celebrate our connections to one another. Mary Margaret will be working seven hours a week.

“I am thrilled to be back in my home church to help strengthen our connections to one another and have some fun along the way!” Mary Margaret said. “I look forward to working with you all to think of new and exciting ways for our congregation to meet and grow as a community of faith both in the heart of Charlotte and beyond.”

Mary Margaret also wanted everyone to know that she plans to attend the congregational retreat in November and looks forward to meeting and getting to know folks in the mountains.

~ The Reverend Pen Peery

September 20, 2018

The following letter is an announcement from the Reverend Katelyn Gordon Cooke, followed by a communication from the Reverend Pen Peery.

Dear First Presbyterian friends,

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I write this letter to you with a heart that is full – full of gratitude, sadness, excitement, grief, and love.

A little less than a year after Andy and I were married here at First Presbyterian, we have a received a call to serve as co-pastors at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia. My last Sunday at FPC will be October 7.

I have loved serving as one of your pastors for the past four years. This church has such faithful energy, and it has been a joy to be part of your work for Christ in the heart of Charlotte. You have helped me to grow in my faith and my role as a pastor, and I am so grateful for this chapter of ministry with you. Thank you for your trust, encouragement, and friendship. Personally, FPC will always hold a special place in my heart as the community where Andy and I began our married life together. We love you dearly.

God has made the way clear for Andy and me to be in ministry in Augusta, and we believe this is our call for this season of life. It’s important to us to be closer to Andy’s boys, who live in Newnan, Georgia, and we are excited to be able to serve a church together.

Transitions are often messy and difficult, and still we trust that God is faithful and steadfast. In the midst of this transition, I give deep thanks for the ways the Spirit has been at work here and continues to be at work in and through each of you.

In Christ,
Katelyn Gordon Cooke

Friends in Christ,

I find Katelyn’s news to be bittersweet. I am grateful to God for Katelyn’s ministry these past four years, and am grateful that she and Andy can grow together in their marriage and their ministry as co-pastors in Augusta, Georgia. At the same time, I will miss Katelyn’s gifts as a part of our staff team.

So I hope you will join me in wishing Katelyn well at a reception in the Wood Fellowship Hall after the 11 a.m. worship service on Sunday, September 30. For those who would like to show your appreciation in a tangible way (as you have done so generously with other pastors and staff), you can send a check to be collected as a love offering for Katelyn to the church office at Jan Gaddis’ attention.

One of the things I have appreciated about how Katelyn has navigated her new call to Augusta is that she has been very communicative with me. As such, I have been able to be in conversation with our church’s Personnel Committee about how we can continue to provide excellent staff support for our ministry and mission. Soon, I will come to the Session with a staffing plan – both short and long-term. Losing two associate pastors in consecutive months is not common or ideal, but it does afford us an opportunity to align our staff with God’s call. I am confident that God is at work through this transition to guide us to a faithful and vibrant place.

In faith, hope, and love –


February 6, 2018

Join the Reverend Pen Peery and other FPC men for this new opportunity for discussion and fellowship on Tuesday, February 13, at Duckworth’s Taphouse on Park Road (4435 Park Road), 8-9:30 p.m. <RSVP to Pen> ( if possible, but don’t stay away if it’s a last-minute decision.

February 5, 2018

First Presbyterian Church will take a team to Villa Infantil Maya (VIM), a residence that enables Mayan students to attend middle and high school away from home in a spirit-filled, caring environment.

During the mission trip, First Presbyterian team members will stay in the dorm, interact with the VIM students and perform some construction work to improve the facility. Past groups have painted, sanded and installed concrete. A variety of tasks suit all ages and abilities.

If you are interested in being a part of this exciting and long-running mission, contact Martha Eubank for more details.

The approximate cost for the trip will be $1300-$1400, with scholarship help available.

Here is the anticipated itinerary:

  • Monday: Leave around 9:30 a.m.  Arrive in Cancun in time to shop for supplies for the week.
  • Tuesday-Friday: Work at VIM, meet the students and visit the schools VIM students attend.
  • Friday afternoon: Travel to the quaint colonial town of Valladolid for an afternoon/evening of R&R.
  • Saturday: Return to Charlotte

Watch this video to learn more about the work of Accion Ministries, our mission partners in the Yucatan.

This year during the Lenten season, our worship will be focused on the promises God makes to us in preparation for the ultimate promise that we find in a tomb that is empty and a world that is changed. Plan your Lenten season around these opportunities for worship.

Sunday, March 25, Palm Sunday: The Reverend Katelyn Cooke preaching

Thursday March 29, Maundy Thursday: Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper and Service of Tenebrae. Sanctuary, 7:30 p.m.

February 2, 2018

Dear FPC youth and families,

When Director of Youth Ministries Natalie Raygor shared the news of her pregnancy back in September, her March due date seemed so far away! And now the time is coming for baby Raygor to make a big debut, and the time is coming soon!

As you may have heard from Natalie or through the FPC grapevine, Natalie is scheduled to deliver on Monday, February 12. We are so excited for her and Kyle to welcome their little one, and we know the FPC family is looking forward to celebrating with them too.

Natalie will be on maternity leave through the beginning of May, and we are grateful for the multitude of advisors, teacher,s and families who will keep things going during her time away.

While Natalie is out, the Assistant Director for Youth Ministry search committee will continue its work as well, and we appreciate your prayers for our discernment. We have every intention of continuing with business as usual over the next three months, and we also appreciate your patience and grace as we don’t have a full youth staff currently.

You will continue to receive weekly newsletters with info about upcoming events and retreats, and you are welcome to reach out to me or Elizabeth Cook if you have questions about youth ministry.

I’ll also be available this Sunday, February 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in Wood Fellowship Hall to meet with parents and answer any questions you may have about our plans while Natalie is on maternity leave.

Being a church together means we get to experience life’s sorrows and celebrations with each other, and this is a fun season of celebration for Natalie and Kyle! Thank you for being part of it!

Grace and peace,

Katelyn Gordon Cooke, Associate Pastor for Christian Formation

January 29, 2018

Garrell Keesler will lead Lessons From the Wilderness: The Book of Numbers on Tuesdays, February 13-March 27. “The wilderness was where the Israelites found themselves suspended between a past they could no longer return to and a future the did not yet have the courage to embrace.  It was there, in the barren no-man’s-land of the desert, that the nation found itself alone with God….”

Join the discussion using Jonathan Sacks’ book Numbers: The Wilderness Years, in the Pattie Cole Room (S203), 11:45a.m.-1 p.m. Newcomers are invited. Contact Garrell Keesler for more information.