Tag: Christian Formation

September 11, 2019

September 7, 2019

Small groups are modeled after the practices of Jesus, who ate, studied and prayed with others. These groups meet throughout the week in homes and at the church.  Covenant Groups are specifically for young adults (ages 20-40) and meet on a schedule determined by the individual groups. Check the current issue of FirstNEWS (available to read online at the top of the Now@First page) or the News & Announcements section of the Now@First page for more current details.


Covenant Groups – FPC young adults (anyone 40 or younger!) are invited to be part of a small group of 8-12 people who will learn and grow together.  Groups will meet at least once a month on a mutually agreed upon schedule and will study various books.  Being part of a Covenant Group involves making an initial commitment of one semester (September-December) with the opportunity to re-up in January.  If you have any questions or would like to be part of one of these groups, contact Tanya Gaspar.


Bible and Beverage – Join the Reverend Pen Peery and other FPC men for discussion and fellowship to deepen the faith of and the connection among men of all ages. (Second Tuesdays, 8-9:30 p.m., usually at Resident Culture Brewing Company, 2101 Central Avenue.)


Tuesday Morning Bible Study – This group engages in deep, critical thinking as it seeks to know God and God’s revelation in Jesus Christ. Units include scriptural study, theology, ethics, and spirituality. Contact Garrell Keesler.  (Tuesdays, S203, 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m.)


Thursday Morning Men’s Bible Study – This group of faithful men gathers to study God’s word and build and strengthen relationships. Leadership comes from within the group, and all variety of ideas are honored and respected. New participants are always welcome. Contact Chuck Williamson. (Thursdays, Frances Browne Dining Room, 7-8 a.m.; breakfast served every second Thursday.)


Thursday Women’s Bible Study (ThuMBS)  – Studying various books together, this group develops a deepened connection to God and builds bonds of friendship and mutual support with one another. Led by the Reverend Katherine Kerr(Thursdays, Pattie Cole Room, 9:30-11 am)

For additional information about small groups for adults, contact Garrell Keesler, Director of Adult Formation.


Return to the Learn page or read more about specific Adult Formation programs:

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
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

August 29, 2018

Sunday Formation is the space between worship services to study God’s word and deepen relationships with others. Class discussions help us apply the Word to our lives. Format varies among classes. There are no age specifications for these adult classes.

Here are the classes we offer on Sunday mornings, 10-10:45 a.m. Learn more about the weekly details for each class, as well as a monthly roundup of Adult Formation classes.

Chapel Class

The Chapel class uses The Present Word curriculum to study Genesis, about the beginning of God’s activity in the world through relationships, family and divine promises. (Meets in the Chapel)



The Passages class presents topics that invite exploration of Scripture and ways of living the faith personally and for the world.  The lessons are attentive to the interests of those navigating mid-life passages, but the class is open to all.  This group gathers for social events at least twice a year.  (Meets in Pattie Cole, S203)



The Conversations class uses a round-table setting to explore the ways we understand Scripture and apply it to our lives. This fall, the Reverend Mary Margaret Porter leads a series on Ten Prayers that Changed the World to illustrate the ways God was, and is, active in our lives. (Meets in Frances Browne Dining Room, P212)


The Good Samaritan Class

The Good Samaritan Class considers events in our world and discusses how people of faith respond and live. (Fresco Lobby)


Fellowship Group

Fellowship Group is a welcoming table for all to build community through connecting with others.  It is minimally structured and open to all. (Meets in Wood Fellowship Hall)


Return to the Learn page or read more about specific Adult Formation programs:



July 19, 2018

Welcome the ongoing blog for the Montreat Youth Conference. Watch this video and keep your eyes on this space for updates, photos and videos July 22 through 28.


FPC Youth lifted their voices through music during Backhome Group Monday night!


An update from the youth from Tuesday and, below that, from Wednesday.



No video from Thursday, which was another awesome day in Montreat! The theme for Thursday was “silent voices,”, and we all enjoyed both keynote and worship that forced us to think critically. We were challenged and learned ways to stand up for the silenced voices.  Some of us enjoyed a great hike on Lookout Mountain and we were all entertained by the variety show and magic Matt! We are excited for the last day in Montreat as we wrap up this wonderful week!

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.

December 7, 2017

The waiting is behind us and we are now in the Christmas season. However, you will still be able to spend time with the daily devotionals offered during the 2017 Advent season.  With scripture, a point for reflection and a prayer, these devotionals still offer significant insights to pause and ponder the significance of the birth.

Monday, December 4

Tuesday, December 5

Wednesday, December 6

Thursday, December 7

Friday, December 8

Saturday, December 9

Monday, December 11

Tuesday, December 12

Wednesday, December 13

Thursday, December 14

Friday, December 15

Saturday, December 16

Monday, December 18

Tuesday, December 19

Wednesday, December 20

Thursday, December 21

Friday, December 22

Saturday, December 23

Monday, December 25







November 21, 2017

If you’ve read the Strategic Plan document available around the church, you’ve learned about the four-pillared plan that grew out of the work of The Balcony Group over the last year. If you haven’t read the document, you may want to pick up a copy on Sunday or read it here. When you do, we hope you’ll feel the gratitude all of us on staff feel when we anticipate the ways we expect to expand our work for Christ here in the heart of Charlotte.

That work is already under way. Each of the Four Pillars of the Strategic Plan–Life Together, Welcoming Each Other and Our Neighbors, Serving Our City and Sustaining Our Future–has been broken down into three initiatives for implementing the plan. Committees are now in the process of developing action plans around those 12 initiatives.

Below, you’ll see who is heading up the committees that are developing those actions, how to contact the people chairing those committees, and the timeline for implementation. We encourage you to thank them for leading us into the future. We also hope you’ll have conversations with these committee chairs to share your thoughts about these initiatives.

In wave one, we will begin work on initiatives to:

Broaden Adult Christian Formation

Staff contacts Garrell Keesler & the Reverend Katelyn Gordon Cooke  (October 2017 through January 2018)


Deepen Our Relationships with One Another

Co-Chairs Jean Cochrane & Milt Childress (October 2017 through January 2018)


Foster Hospitality

Co-Chairs Melissa Toth & Jenny Allen (October 2017 through January 2018)


Offer Different Ways of Worship

Co-Chairs Tommy Holderness & Gail Henderson-Belsito (October 2017 through May 2018)


Embrace and Engage the Needs of Our City

Co-Chairs John Tate, Scott Warfield & Scott Bryan (October 2017 through May 2018)


Create a Financial Resource Development Plan

Co-Chairs Mike Fischer & Bart Landess (October 2017 through May 2018)


Cultivate Future Leaders

Co-Chairs Mark Caldwell & Amy Brinkley (January through May 2018)


Craft a Master Campus Plan

Co-Chairs Jimmy Dudley & Susan Keesler (October 2017 through Summer 2018)\


In wave two, committees will begin work on initiatives to:

Honor the Sabbath (January through December 2018)

Reimagine our Physical Space (January through September 2018)

Emerge as an Epicenter of Service in Our City (May 2018 through Spring 2019)

Expand Pastoral Counseling Outreach in Our City (May through December 2018)


Watch for updates from these committees under News & Announcements on the Now@FPC page.



August 31, 2016
Kyle Chandler as Coach Eric Taylor

I’m totally hooked on the TV show Friday Night Lights. Yes, I know the show has actually been off the air since 2011; I tend not to catch on to the good stuff until it’s released in box set. Thanks to the convenience of Netflix, I don’t have to wait a week to watch the next episode, so I’ve been watching an episode or two almost every night for the past few weeks.

It’s gotten to the point (the sad point?) where I think of the characters on the show as real people.  I find myself seeking out friends who’ve watched the show and saying things like, “Don’t you just love Matt Saracen?” Or “Buddy Garrity drives me crazy,” and “I can’t believe Lila did that!”  Events in everyday life make me think of something that happened two episodes ago, and I wonder WWCTD (What Would Coach Taylor Do?).  I bring up Friday Night Lights in conversation and encourage people who haven’t seen it to start watching it.

I’m now in the last season of the show, and I’m trying to slow myself down so I don’t get to the finale too soon.  I’m not ready for it to be over.As silly as it may seem to feel so strongly about a TV show and its characters, I’m guessing I’m not the only one.  Maybe for you it’s West Wing, Friends, LOST, Breaking Bad, or The Good Wife.  (If you’re a fellow Friday Night Lights groupie, let me know!)  Our love for these shows and their characters is a testament to the power of stories.  A good story captures our attention and sticks with us even when it’s over.  A good story can challenge us and inspire us to make a change in our lives, to work to heal a relationship, to try again.

This understanding of the power of stories is what’s behind “The Stories We Tell,” our formation theme this year.  As Christians, we learn and study the stories of the Bible, trusting that they help us better understand who we are and who God is.  We share our own stories – stories of success and loss, stories of defining moments in our lives and of mundane daily routines – and we listen to the stories of others.

The more I think about it, the more I think that story may be one of the greatest gifts we share with each other as the church.  This community is one where we practice being honest about our own stories and where we open ourselves to being transformed by the stories of Scripture and our neighbors.

As we begin this new program year at FPC, I hope you’ll find a place to connect with the story of our church and our ministries and a place to share your own story.  Personally, I can’t wait to see what happens next in the story God is telling through the people of First Presbyterian.

– Katelyn Gordon