COVID-19 Update

Resources for Our Work Against Racism

The work that needs to happen on issues of systemic racism is the work of white people. Here are details about the 21-Day Race Equity Challenge, explained below. And here are other resources to help with that work. It’s time for action and change. Feel free to circulate this document on social media and with your friends, family, and colleagues.

A Word From Pen

Great is Thy Faithfulness: A Summer Bible Study

Taking the Next Steps from Non-Racist to Anti-Racist

In light of the death of George Floyd and the protests occurring across our country, First Presbyterian Church has committed to becoming anti-racist.

In an effort to help us learn and broaden our minds, an initiative called Taking the Next Steps from Non-Racist to Anti-Racist will offer programs in June and July to facilitate conversation, education, and growth.  We invite you to explore the work and programs below. If you have questions about this initiative, contact the Reverend Robert Galloway.

 

Discussion Meet-ups in July

Continuing with our outside fellowship gatherings, we will host some with guided discussions around videos, podcasts, or articles from the Anti-Racism Resource. Specific details will be announced at the end of June.

 

Community Events

Follow us on social media, where we will highlight local community events and programs that can continue the conversation regarding race in the broader community.

 

Other anti-racism resources are available for members and the community.

 

 

 

Summer Meet-Ups Postponed

With North Carolina not yet having moved into is Phase 3 of re-opening, June meet-ups have been postponed until we are certain we will be aligned with the state’s re-opening plan.

Advocacy Committee: Plowshares Book Group

As part of First Presbyterian Church’s work in becoming anti-racist, the Advocacy Committee’s Plowshares Book Group will discuss How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

Named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review, Time magazine, NPR, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, this book uses the author’s own life journey to show us why becoming antiracistwhich is not the same as not being a racist–is as essential as it is difficult. Equal parts memoir, history, and social commentary, this book is honest, brave, and necessary.

The congregation is invited to participate in a Zoom book discussion sponsored by the Advocacy Committee, to be held on Thursday, July 30, from 6:30-8 p.m. Register for this event in advance by contacting Nan Clarke to receive a link for the discussion.

The Plowshares Book Group is an ongoing effort by the Advocacy Committee to learn more about issues facing our community and to both deepen our faith and our relationships with each other.

Bible Study Opportunity: Moses

This seven-week discussion on Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. and at 4 p.m. on Sundays continues it’s study of the book Moses: In the Footsteps of the Reluctant Prophet by Adam Hamilton. The group meets via Zoom for an hour. If you are interested in either group, contact the Reverend Mary Margaret Porter for details on how to access the meeting.

All are welcome!

Outreach: Survey, Volunteer Opportunities

Outreach Survey

As a stakeholder in FPC’s Outreach efforts, please take a few minutes to complete this survey, prepared by C.A. Friend Consulting to inform our planning efforts. Your responses will be anonymous and results will only be reported in aggregate. The survey has 15 questions and takes about 12 minutes. We greatly value your input. Keep in mind, we are asking for your opinions and there are no right or wrong answers. If you have questions or concerns about the survey you can reach C.A. Friend Consulting via the contact page of their website.

 

Volunteer Opportunities

With so many nonprofit partners still unable to allow our volunteers on site, Ministry Team Coordinator Flo Bryan has developed a list of volunteer opportunities for those who are eager to serve the community.

Loaves and Fishes is in need of drivers who can use their own cars for its home delivery program. Contact Danielle.

Freedom School Partners is in need of volunteers to prepare activity kits and sort donations in their Latrobe Ave warehouse. Contact Tommy.

Classroom Central can use help creating SPARK Flashcards with their template, index cards, markers and zip lock baggies. Visit their website for details.

MedAssist is a nonprofit that distributes prescription medicine to the uninsured in our community. They need volunteers to help sort and repackage donations in their warehouse on Taggart Creek Rd. Register online.

Many, similar opportunities can be found on the following websites:

Contact Flo if you have questions or need guidance signing up.

Middle School Formation: The Promises of God

The Promises of God: Rainbows to Revelation is a weekly hour for our Middle School Youth to explore God’s covenants with God’s people. Zoom meetings will be Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m., through July 14. Contact Bryce Lapping.

High School and Adult Formation: Great is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy Faithfulness: God’s Covenants is a weekly Bible study on the covenants of God, complementing the July/July Sermon series. Zoom meetings will be Wednesdays at 7 p.m., through July 15. Register for the Zoom Meeting here. For more information, contact the Reverend Robert Galloway.

Advocacy Committee: Neighbors Facing Eviction Need Pro-Bono Counsel

One of the initiatives of the Advocacy Committee to help with the affordable housing crises is to find lawyers who are willing to consider volunteering to serve as counsel for tenants who are facing eviction. Member Tommy Holderness is leading an effort at Legal Aid of North Carolina to provide counsel to those facing eviction who cannot afford to hire counsel.

An important dimension of the affordable housing crises in Charlotte is the number of tenants who are unrepresented in eviction proceedings brought by landlords. In 2019, more than  32,000 evictions proceedings were brought against tenants. In only a fraction of these cases were the tenants represented, generally because they cannot afford counsel. As a result, most tenants do not have an opportunity to have counsel assess and assert potential defenses and claims they might have under North Carolina law that that would delay or prevent their eviction. This story in the Charlotte Observer describes what tenants face. This Charlotte Observer article describes what tenants face.

Tommy Holderness is a Legal Aid of North Carolina attorney who represents tenants and coordinates Legal Aid of North Carolina’s program to provide volunteer lawyers in the community to eligible tenants. Tommy would like to recruit lawyers willing to represent tenants facing eviction.

The eviction process is in flux now due to the pandemic. When the courts resume eviction hearings, there will likely be a large number of pending cases. The court is hoping to resolve many of these using a voluntary mediation procedure. Tommy expects that many hearings and mediations will be done remotely, but details have not been decided at this point.

Tommy is adamant that landlord-tenant law is not that complicated and that every lawyer would be a huge benefit to tenants facing eviction. Please consider volunteering to serve or at least to take time to learn more about the commitment required and the training offered. If nothing else, you will benefit from learning more about a significant process within our community.

Later in June, Tommy will host a Zoom call which will have two parts. In part 1, Tommy will give an overview of the program and what is expected of volunteer counsel. He will answer questions about the program and your participation should you agree to volunteer. In part 2, Tommy will provide training in the substantive law, the eviction court’s procedures and the processes of Legal Aid of North Carolina.

Please consider volunteering as a pro bono lawyer or at least join the call to see if this opportunity is right for you. To register for the Zoom meeting, email Hal Clarke.

Here are some questions and answers which may be helpful as you consider volunteering:

Q. What would be the time investment to be trained to serve as a volunteer lawyer?

A. The initial call plus any additional time that you would like to invest in learning. Tommy has written materials that he’d be happy to provide for additional study (though that is not necessary).  The vast majority of cases are straightforward non-payment cases.

 

Q. What is the time commitment that I should expect in representing an eviction client?

A. It depends on how the case is resolved. At a minimum, you should expect at least an hour to interview the client. If the case is resolved in mediation or small claims court, it may require no more than an additional hour or two. If the case is tried and then appealed to District Court, it could require ten hours or more. But your initial commitment would be no more than handling the matter through small claims court, so continuing the representation in District Court would be optional.

 

Q. Would I be working under the supervision of Legal Aid of North Carolina?

A. Yes, Tommy is contact person for all volunteer lawyers. He is willing to answer questions and provided suggestions and advice.

 

Q. Is malpractice coverage provided?

A. Yes, through Legal Aid.

 

Q. Are there a minimum number of cases that a volunteer should plan to handle?

No, volunteers typically handle only one case at a time.  Tommy hopes people would want to keep taking new cases as old cases finish, but there is no expectation or requirement that they will do so.

 

Journey to the Holy Land 2022

The trip to the Holy Land planned for 2021 has been postponed to March 25-April 5, 2022. The trip is currently full, but you can add your name to the Wait List.

Pastoral Care

If you have a pastoral emergency, call 704-927-0256 for the on-call voicemail. Your call will be returned promptly. 

Your pastors are eager to support you in this season through prayer and pastoral care. If you have a need, or you know someone in our congregation who has a need, please contact the Reverend Anna Dickson.

The primary way that pastors will be offering care for the next few weeks is through calls and emails.  We are following the recommendations and requirements from the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC), hospitals and retirement communities, and will only make in-person visits where allowed for emergency circumstances.

If you are interested in being a part of a team committed to connecting with people who need to be looked after (by making calls or running errands for those who cannot), please contact the Reverend  Anna Dickson.

 

 

 

This Week's Blog Post: The Work of Anti-Racism

Comments and prayer from the Reverend Pen Peery on Pentecost 2020

Before I call us to come before God in prayer, I would like to take a moment of pastoral privilege to address, directly, the moment we are in with our country roiling after the death of a another black person at the hands of law enforcement. What happened to George Floyd in Minnesota was tragic and wrong. Unfortunately, it was not new. George Floyd is a name we will add to a litany of names of black and brown people whose lives have been lost because of systematic racism.

What we are seeing around the country is the cumulative impact of so many wrongful deaths. It’s not only about one black man. It needs to be addressed. It requires action. It is change that God desires and demands.

For the past 10 weeks I have treasured and been enriched through partnering with First United Presbyterian Church in worship.  To have our congregations – one proudly African-American, the other largely white, with our shared history – worshipping together in these times has been, I think, evidence of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

But what I am very clear about – informed by my sisters and brothers of color – is that the work of being anti-racist (not simply “not-racist”) is work that white people must engage. So this morning I want to challenge the members of my congregation – First Presbyterian Church – to join me in getting serious about that work of being anti-racist. And I want to suggest two ways we can start – or continue – that work.

First, we need to educate ourselves about the impacts of racism and privilege. At noon today on our church’s webpage and social media pages we are publishing a curriculum of sorts for white people. (You are also urged to participate in a new challenge, beginning Sunday, June 7, as part of FPC’s Taking the Next Steps from Non-Racist to Anti-Racist.) I hope you will join Lindsey and me in reading, discussing, and learning from it.

Second, we need to agree that we will confront racism in our own lives, circles, places of work…even families. Change starts small, but it starts with us.

I believe this work of being anti-racist is a way we can respond to the good news of God’s claim on our lives and God’s hope for the world.

Now let us pray…

Most Holy and Gracious God –

On that day of Pentecost, when your presence was made manifest in the rush of mighty wind…

When you mixed up speech, in order that your name might be more widely shared…

When you agitated what seemed so decent and orderly, so that a small band of followers might become the body of Christ…

When you set your Spirit upon us, giving us both courage and boldness to face a broken world with resurrection hope and the conviction that what is broken will be redeemed…

On that day of Pentecost you reminded us that in these days, our young would see visions and our old would dream dreams.

And that in these days, our business would be about living into the promise of your kingdom, so that all who call upon your name would be saved.

And so, on this day of Pentecost, we pray that we might be so bold as to believe that there are still visions for us to see. And dreams for us to dream. That your Spirit still mixes us up, and agitates our order, and infuses us with courage, because we are still your people, anointed and charged with being your body in the world.

We pray for your world – that you call us to love.

And we ask, O Lord, that by your Spirit, you would dismantle systems and racism and free us from its stain and legacy. We pray for the family of George Floyd. We pray for communities who are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We pray for people of color who are too familiar with pain and fear. We pray for white people to wake up and get about the work. We pray for local and state officials who are charged with maintaining order and ask that they also practice patience.

We pray for your church, that when people see us – be it in this room, or in our place of work, or in our neighborhoods – we pray that when people see your church, they would see love…love willing to sacrifice and stretch…willing to be odd for the sake of your promise and your vision.

And, finally, we pray for ourselves. A people who navigate many different worlds. A people who are capable of mischief and of mercy. A people who have all experienced joy and pain.

Bind us up where are broken and weary.

Fill us up when our reservoirs are low.

Help us to shine as we reflect the light of your grace.

And keep us aware to the freshening wind of your Spirit.

We make this and all of our prayers in the strong name of Jesus.  AMEN