Life at First

Pathways to Discipleship

A new initiative called Pathways to Discipleship begins on Kick-Off Sunday, September 13. This initiative will guide us to live as disciples of Jesus Christ and make the Christian faith a way of life. Aimed at deepening inward faith and inspiring outward service, Pathways combines virtual gatherings and online “playlists” of content for personal study. Children, Youth and Adults will have control over what, when and where they participate.

See details at the Pathways to Discipleship website.

A Word from Pen

Our Summer Family Album

Going About the Work of Antiracism

Responding to the presence of racism is the work of faith. We understand that the promise of the gospel is that in Jesus Christ, the dividing wall and hostility between peoples has been broken down (Ephesians 2:14). As we are the body of Christ, we have a responsibility to continue the work that Jesus started. And as we have learned, it is not enough to simply be nonracist. We also must firmly be antiracist. This is a journey that is filled with hope, honesty, and, often, tough discussions.

As we go about this work and our responses in the continuing conversation, here are resources that you may use in your journey. These resources include books for all ages, podcasts, articles and videos.

Also, the Foundation for the Carolinas recently published a list of non-profits that work directly in the field of social justice and that address racial equity. You may access that resource here.

“How To Be An Antiracist” Book Read: The Plowshares Book Group will have a Zoom meeting on July 30 to discuss How To be An Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi. All are welcome and invited. Contact Nan Clarke if you would like to be a part of the discussion.


Advocacy Committee: Antiracist Personal Audit

According to Ibram Kendi, author of How to be an Antiracist, actions that impact racial equity are either “racist” or “anti-racist.” For Kendi, neutrality implies acceptance of the status quo, so the opposite of racist is anti-racist. “There is no room for neutrality in the racism struggle.”
As the Reverend Pen Peery announced that the church is doing an “institutional audit” for racism, the members of the Advocacy Committee have been working through our own personal audits. We invite you to join us by reflecting on questions about how you are showing up around issues of race and racial equity.


Together You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation

John Lewis, the civil rights leader, wrote this essay shortly before his death, to be published on the day of his funeral – Together You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation. It was published in the New York Times on July 30, 2020.


Outreach: Westerly Hills, Habitat & more

Westerly Hills Opportunities

Bridge Learning Site: As virtual learning continues, the community is rallying around CMS to provide small, in person learning sites to supervise and reinforce learning for our youngest and most at-risk students. We are thrilled to support the Core Church, which is hosting an in-person learning site at their church for Westerly Hills students, beginning in mid-September. Core Church is located less than a mile from Westerly Hills Academy, which provides many logistical advantages.  The name of the program is the Bridge Learning Center, and it will support remote learning and then transition to afterschool care once full time in-person instruction resumes.

There are 2 ways to support this site right now:

  • Volunteer to help prepare the space on the weekends, beginning this Friday and Saturday.  Small groups will sign up for morning or afternoon shifts and paint the space, clean up recreation areas and set up individual classrooms.  A sign up is being developed, and will be shared when it is available.  Feel free to email Heather Herring with your availability in the meantime and she will sign you up!
  • Donate playground equipment for recreation time by Friday, September 4th.  Please drop off at the church in the labeled bins on the stage of Wood Fellowship Hall.  If you’d like to make other arrangements, please contact Heather Herring.

Internet Hotspots: CMS schools (including Westerly Hills Academy) need 16,000 additional hotspots for students system-wide, due to changes in economic situations for families and the addition of technology support for K-2 students, who are receiving iPads. The CMS Foundation is coordinating in order to minimize cost and prevent inequities between schools. If you are interested in contributing, you may donate online, mail a check to the CMS Foundation at 4421 Stuart Anderson Boulevard, Suite 100, Charlotte, NC 28217 or text GIVETECH to 44-321.

Family in Need: Another Westerly Hills family has suffered a house fire. Their housing can be repaired, but they did lose their belongings. If you are able to contribute clothing and other needs, please leave them in the labeled bin in Wood Fellowship Hall by Friday, September 4. Please note that drop off should take place between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 3:30  p.m.  Call church security at 704.507.1898 to access the building. You may also purchase a Walmart gift card and send to Heather Herring (1616 Arborfield Commons Court, Matthews, NC 28105).

Currently, the family needs undergarments, clothes, shoes, hygiene items, cooking supplies, and gift cards.

  • Male (3rd grade), 8-year-old, size 6/7 clothes, size 2 shoes, size small underwear
  • Female (5th grade), 10-year-old, size large in Jr/Misses clothes, size 8 1/2 shoes, size large bra, size 8 underwear, size 8 1/2 socks.
  • Female (4th grade), 9-year-old, size 14/16 clothes or size medium Jr/Misses, size 8 1/2 shoes, size medium bra, size 8 underwear (in women’s underwear due to children’s size being too small).
  • Male, 3-year-old, size 4t clothes, size 4t pullups, size 12 shoes.
  • Male, 18-month-old, size 18-month clothes, 5t shoes, size 4 diapers
  • Mom wears XL in shirts and pants, did not provide any additional information, stating that she just wants assistance with the children getting their needs.

Westerly Hills Academy Apple Tree: Our Westerly Hills Academy Apple Tree will be different this year, due to COVID-19. Instead of providing teachers with classroom supplies, Principal Malacy Williams has asked if our congregation would provide the staff with personalized masks along with cleaning and sanitation supply kits for the teachers. Kits would include large bottles of hand sanitizer, no-wipe disinfectant spray, and wipes and gloves.

If you know of any place that is donating these, or if you have access to extras, please let us know! Contact Barbara Climer if you want to deliver supplies. You can also donate online via Realm.


Habitat 2020

Meet Thesh! She is our proud Habitat homeowner for this year’s build.

Thesh is originally from Ethiopia but has been in the Charlotte region for a little more than seven  years. In her free time, she enjoys watching Manchester United soccer, going to church and visiting with family and friends. She first heard about Habitat through a friend and after doing her own research she walked into the office to learn more. She says her favorite part about the process thus far has been the classes, where she likes the practical, applicable concepts that will help her throughout her life. Thesh is most excited about moving into her home because  she can finally have a garden to plant her own flowers. She feels very grateful to be involved in the homeownership process and is thankful for volunteers that are willing to donate their time and energy to this process.

Building starts September 12 with framing and it promises to be a great day.

Because of COVID, this year will look a little different from previous years. Habitat will use its regular crews and staff to build our house this fall and Charlotte Church Partners  will provide devotions, prayers, food, and financial contributions–just not workers onsite.

Help us be the best behind the scenes support by praying for Thesh and her family and for all the crews that will build her home.

Marwen McDowell will collect individually wrapped snacks and small water and Gatorade bottle throughout the build. Contact Marwen with questions.

Look for updates throughout the build as we show our love and support for another successful build.


Outreach Updates 8-28-2020

Contact Flo Bryan if you have questions or need guidance with Outreach opportunities.


Book Study

The discussion of the book A Flexible Faith, by Bonnie Kristian, will continue on Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. through September 24. What does it mean to be Christian today? How might we might cultivate diversity instead of division in our faith? The group will meet for an hour via Zoom at 9:30 a.m. on Thursdays through September 24.  If you are interested in joining or in hearing more, please contact the Reverend Mary Margaret Porter.



Positions Available

First Presbyterian Church has two positions now available in the Formation Department–Director of Youth Ministry and Director of Children and Family Ministry. Use these links to review job descriptions and instructions for applying.

Have questions? Contact the Reverend Robert Galloway.

This Week's Blog: Session Updates on Anti-Racism

Anti-Racism from Session

July 24, 2020

Members of First Presbyterian Church:

At last month’s Session meeting, your Elders engaged a substantial conversation on how our church might respond faithfully and meaningfully to issues of racism that have been a perennial problem for our country, and a topic of national conversation over the past two months.  

The Session believes that responding to the presence of racism is the work of faith because we understand that the promise of the gospel is that in Jesus Christ the dividing wall and hostility between peoples has been broken down (Ephesians 2:14). As we are the body of Christ, we have a responsibility to continue the work that Jesus started.   

Believing that a faithful response is found in an outward affirmation and an inward commitment to examination and change, the Session took five actions that I would like to share with you:

  • We have put up a banner on the fence around the front lawn of the church that is a replica of the Black Lives Matter mural on Tryon Street, which has become a place of community gathering and conversation.* This action is meant to signal to our neighbors and community that our church recognizes the disproportionate loss of life in the African-American community and the need to say, unequivocally, that until Black lives matter to us as a society we cannot assert that all lives do. 
  • Believing that it is important to create a space for worship that welcomes all and does not send subtle messages that might be stumbling blocks to people of color, the Session voted to remove two plaques on our pews that honor Gov. Zebulon Vance and Mrs. Stonewall Jackson. These plaques will be re-located in the Historic Lobby with an explanation to acknowledge honestly our history and describe why we removed them.
  • We have instructed the committee planning next year’s Bicentennial celebration to render an honest account of our history—that is both faithful and flawed, as all histories are—through the history book that is being written on the occasion of our 200th year, and in programs and publications.
  • We are forming a Racial Justice Task Force to examine and audit our institutional life through an anti-racist lens: looking at our facility, our investments, and our Personnel policies. This group will make recommendations back to the Session in November of this year.
  • We are committing to continuing to provide anti-racist education and training for members and staff.

Additionally, the members of the Advocacy Committee are exploring ways that individual members of First Presbyterian can take action to respond as followers of Christ to the injustices of racism both to express our support for racial justice and to work for change. Soon, you will have an invitation to participate in a personal way.  

Christ has given each of us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). It is a holy, demanding, and transformative work.   

As a church that proclaims Christ in the center of our city, I am grateful for the ways that you and I can commit to heal, change, and mend the places where the legacy of racism has wounded our community.   

In faith, hope, and love –