Tag: Disciples of Jesus Christ

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:



December 28, 2017

Now the Work of Christmas Begins

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

– Howard Thurman


December 25. It’s a lot of build up to one day.

But when we read the origin story, the birth of Jesus, we see that the story continues beyond that one day. The visit by the shepherds, the gifts from the Magi and the escape to Egypt happen after the birth.

Perhaps my favorite part of the story comes when Mary and Joseph take the week-old baby Jesus to the temple for dedication (Luke 2:21-22). At the temple they meet Anna and Simeon, who recognize Jesus as the savior they have been waiting for. The story suggests they had been waiting a very long time. When he holds the baby Jesus in his arms, Simeon essentially says, “I can now die happy.”

Now that our waiting for Advent is over and Christmas has come, our real work begins, the real work we have been longing for: restoration and reconciliation.

Howard Thurman was an African American poet, a preacher, a civil rights leader and a theologian of liberation. His writings helped Christian activists draw strength from the gospel story. It is true that the work of Christmas for people of faith has just begun, but really it never ended. We begin again each day with renewed strength to work towards an end of suffering and ensure the work of reconciliation. So stay calm and carry on—it’s still Christmas!

– The Reverend Erika Funk

September 23, 2016

welcome-sign-croppedAs a church family whose home is in the heart of Charlotte, this has been a heartbreaking week. All of us have hurt and wept and prayed while seeking to understand how God would have us stand for Christ while violence disrupts the streets of our neighborhood.

So many things are unclear, and may continue to be for some time to come.  But this much is clear: The events of the week serve as evidence that there is much for us to do as a church in the center of our city.

Your clergy and staff want you to know that all is well here at the corner of Trade and Church streets. We want you to know that we are eager to gather as a family on Sunday morning, to take comfort in music, to find hope in the liturgy, and to glimpse healing in the warm welcome we always experience from one another.

After our services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., we will take time in the chapel for prayer for our city and for our neighbors as we all seek wisdom in answering God’s call to reconcile.

We hope to see you in worship on Sunday.

– Pen Peery, Katherine Kerr, Erika Funk, Katelyn Gordon, Chuck Williamson

July 25, 2016

From a July 24, 2016, sermon on Acts 9:1-19

Let’s all take a pledge.  The politicians do it – why not us?

Pick a circle of people in your life: not the people that agree with everything you think, but a circle of people that God has put in your path.

Pen mug 7-16Maybe it’s your colleagues at work.

Maybe it’s your classmates at school.

Maybe it’s your Facebook friends, or Twitter followers…

Definitely the people who are your fellow members of this church.

Let’s take a pledge that when we talk with this circle of people, we will use the language of family.  That we will honor and respect difference.  That we will be patient.  That we will assume no malintent. 

Let’s all take the pledge.

As disciples of Jesus Christ in the midst of a world of difference we have a special mandate to treat people well.  We are not only bound by cultural norms, or civic duty – we are bound by our identity as children of God.  Our reasons for treating people with respect have little to do with being polite and well mannered.  They have everything to do with God’s expectations of us.

And who knows?  Maybe our small commitment to faithfulness might rub off on the world around us?

After all, God has been known to accomplish stranger things by way of regular people like you and me.

– Pen Peery

December 27, 2012

On Sunday evening, December 16th, the Wood Fellowship Hall was filled with energy and conversation.  Approximately 250 people circled around tables to share a meal and think about our future as a congregation.

This was the first (but not the last) gathering of a group I dubbed “The College of Deacons and Elders.”  The intent of the night was to connect leaders in the church – past and present – together in order that we might build consensus around where God is calling us as the body of Christ.  There is a tremendous amount of wisdom in the experience of our past officers.  Those whom God has called to serve as leaders in the church have something to offer even after their term on the session or diaconate has ended.  Sunday night was a chance to harvest this collective wisdom.

After supper, I shared with the group some of my vision for our church – a vision that has been shaped as I have spent time these past few months listening to various members and groups within our congregation.  Our conversation centered on four areas around which I solicited feedback from the “College.”  Those areas were:

Priorities for Ministry

I suggested that our primary task as a church was to worship God.  From that worship grow three “spheres” of ministry that are equally important and valued.  I believe our focus (and our staffing) should be organized under these three spheres:

  1. Mission – Defined by where we meet Christ in the world rather than where we take Christ to the world.
  2. Community Life and Care – Focused on building networks of care and opportunities to grow in fellowship.
  3. Christian Formation – Claiming the purpose of Christian Education, which is to shape members into disciples of Jesus Christ.



My observation is that we are generally a very healthy church in terms of stewardship.  However, we need to pay attention to some new trends on the horizon.  Notably, that more and more people give out of a sense of passion rather than a sense of duty.  This has implications for the way the church communicates its mission to the congregation.

Building Partnerships

It is no secret that we are increasingly busy people.  This is true within and outside of the church.  Paying attention to this, I see great value in forging partnerships among the variety of ministries that take place under the banner of First Presbyterian Church.  Doing ministry in partnership (instead of every group or committee carrying out their own program) will better use our time and resources, as well as create a larger impact and exposure for our programs.

Releasing Passion and Increasing Participation

As a large church filled with talented and faithful people, we need to find ways to connect more members with our mission and ministry.  We also need to make sure that we retain our identity as a church and not “run off in a thousand different directions.”

To that end, I proposed that we spend the next year discerning and articulating five to six “distinctives” or “pillars” that will ground us in our identity as Christ’s body.  What is our particular calling as an uptown church?  Where does God need our witness?  How can our gifts and history and abilities best connect with our city and world?  These are the kind of questions that will drive us in discovering our “disctinctives.”

Once we are comfortable claiming who we are I believe we will be in a position to create “a culture of permission” – where someone who has an idea or a passion can pursue it without having to navigate a lot of “red tape” from the committee structures of the church.

It is my hope that the next time we gather the College of Deacons and Elders (in January of 2014) we will be in a position to share these five or six disctinctives and make sure that they reflect who we all understand God calling us to be.

This first experience of being with such a dynamic group of leaders was, for me, a confirmation of both my call to serve First Presbyterian Church and of our calling as a congregation to be bold in the ways we embrace Christ’s call for us in the future.