Session Digest for August 2020

Greetings from the Session.
We held our stated meeting on Sunday evening, August 16, 2020. Here are some highlights of the meeting.
  • I am excited to share that preparations are being made for outside Sunday morning services! We are working hard to put together a plan for holding these services on our front lawn. Special care is being taken to have a set of safe guidelines in place that will allow us to meet safely in these unusual times. Things such as social distancing with your family, wearing masks, bringing your own chairs, etc. will be observed. Our target date is August 30, 2020. Look for more information coming via the phone tree, website, and mailings in the next weeks. It will be so good to be together as a congregation! Can’t wait to see your smiling faces again as we come together to worship God.
  • The Transitional Team has completed a Ministry Information Form which will allow us to expand our search for a transitional minister. The form gives applicants a picture of our congregation and an insight into our good works. It has been presented to the Council on Ministry of Salem Presbytery for approval and then will be posted on the General Assembly’s website. The process will help ensure we are getting the very best fit for our congregation.
  • The Technology Team is moving forward with its plans to upgrade our equipment used for live streaming our services. They have worked very hard over the summer to provide us with a morning worship service. Special thanks to Blake Benton, Craig Koontz, and Sammy McFarland for all they have done to bring us our services each week.
  • The Faith in Action Ministry reported Davidson County Medical Ministries had suspended all donations at the beginning of the pandemic. They have lifted the suspension and donations are being accepted once again. Collection boxes will be in the lobby outside the office and under the stairwell near the pastor’s office. Needed items include: soap, shampoo, hand towels, combs, toilet paper, paper towels, ink pens, large paper clips, and tape. Thanks for your continued support of this vital community ministry.
  • Plans for Sunday School are underway. The adult class will be continuing a study of Tony Evans’s series on racism via Zoom. Karen Carrickhoff is putting together a wonderful series for our children. Katherine Team and Teresa Herman are looking forward to meeting with the middle school youth, and Robin Team will resume high school Sunday School classes. Thanks to you all for your support of our Sunday School programming.
  • Plans are also underway for YD’s and Acts Alive to kick off their fall season. It will look a little different this year with outdoor meetings and safety protocols in place, but the advisors are enthusiastically putting together a fun year. They will resume on September 13.
  • Finally, our Preschool Director, Jane Blackerby, and her staff are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Pre-K classes on October 5, 2020. Preparations being made to sanitize this area well, and again, safety guidelines will be in place for staff, parents, and children. Jane has worked diligently to put together a program for these precious children that will keep them safe as well as very busy! This is such a wonderful ministry we provide for our community, and we are fortunate to have such a successful program to offer these families. It is one of the best around – something to be proud of!
In closing, we read in Philippians that the Lord cares for us all the time. Through Jesus Christ, we have the strength to face all the strange conditions that the world has given us. The blessings we receive through Christ will supply all our needs during this time. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. May the strength and love of Jesus Christ continue to guide us in doing His good works.

Blessings to you all.

Margaret King, Clerk of Session

An Update from the Session

I hope this message finds all of you in good health and dealing well with the COVID situation. The Session has continued to work hard during this time to make sure we are providing the church family with a positive spiritual experience during these unusual times.
The Transitional Team has been meeting since Pastor Lee’s departure, working to find the best transitional minister for our congregation. The team is composed of Craig Koontz, Chair; Margaret King, Clerk; Robin Team, Pat Ulmer, Amy McNeill, Dave Hiller, and Roy Rowe.
The Presbytery appointed Rev. Brian Rummage of New Hope Presbyterian Church, Lexington, to serve as our liaison to the Presbytery. He laid out the steps involved in finding candidates for this position. In all, there have been five possible candidates, each with their own unique set of gifts and talents. The Team has been busy reviewing resumes, interviewing, and checking references on these candidates. We have enjoyed talking with these folks. It has allowed us to reflect on the characteristics that are most important to us as we progress through this process. Our goal now is to find the perfect match for our church. We may be in the final stages of this process. We appreciate your patience as we search for the one who will lead us spiritually and faithfully toward our permanent minister.
The Reopening Team, with Richard Goff as chair, has been charged with preparing guidelines for us to follow when we are able to worship again in the sanctuary. The Presbytery has asked that we follow CDC guidelines, as well as those coming from the Governor’s office. With that in mind, the Team has compiled a comprehensive list of guidelines for each of us to follow when we are able to worship together in the sanctuary. Things like taking temperatures, wearing masks, and social distancing are just part of the safety measures implemented in the plan. First and foremost, the health and safety of our church family is paramount to our reopening for worship. The Team continues to monitor the status of the pandemic in our area and will move forward when the time is right. They understand the need we all have for coming together again for worship. Please continue to pray for an end to this crisis.
Another new team is the Technology Team. It is composed of Craig Koontz, Blake Benton, Sammy McFarland, and Travis Fortune. Because of the pandemic, we turned to live streaming for our Sunday morning worship services. Sunday School has been attended through Zoom. We were very spoiled as a congregation when Pastor Lee was with us because he was so well versed in producing our worship services. That being said, our Tech Team has stepped up and provided us each week with morning worship. We are investing in some new equipment, which should make this experience even better. It is a project that we hope to continue after the pandemic is behind us in order to allow us to minister to those who are unable to be in the sanctuary every Sunday.
As you remember, Meredith Trout vacated her role as DCE to spend more time with her three precious children. Karen Carrickhoff has graciously agreed to serve as interim DCE in order to allow us to search for a permanent replacement. Karen has hit the ground running and is busy putting together a curriculum for our fall Sunday School season. We appreciate all Karen has done to keep us on track with our Christian education programs.
Because of the pandemic, we haven’t been able to see each other on a regular basis.The Session has been calling all our members to check on everyone during this unusual time. The Fellowship Ministry Team also put together some gift bags and delivered them to our members in nursing facilities and those who are staying close to home. These activities have been very well received. Thanks to Donna Bryan and her helpers for coordinating the gift bag deliveries. A big thank you to Jeanna for supplying the weekly call lists.
As you can see, the church is still going about the task of doing God’s work. My prayer is for us all to remain safe and healthy and for the opportunity to return to some kind of
normalcy soon. God is still working through us each time we make a call, hold a meeting, or pray for each other.
Much love to you all.
Margaret King, Clerk of Session

Elder Installation and Ordination

On Sunday, June 14 at 7:30 PM, our Elders-elect will be ordained and installed. The congregation is invited to observe the installation via Zoom. The meeting ID is 930 0593 7108. You may also access the meeting at this link: Please note that you WILL need a password in order to access the meeting. Please contact Jeanna in the church office (336-248-2140) during normal business hours to obtain the password, or consult your snail mailed copy of the June 9 ACTION.
Unfortunately, we will not be able to provide an audio-only option for this meeting.
Elders-elect include: Meredith Andrews, Beverly Black, Jim Beall Graham, Jan Greer, Jimmy Holshouser, Jo Leonard, Sammy McFarland, Phyllis McGee, and Bill McMurray.
On behalf of the FPC family, I want to send a heartfelt THANK YOU to our Session for all their hard work and leadership, especially during this pandemic. Please take the time to express your appreciation to our Elders, especially the Class of 2020, who is rotating off the Session this month: Faith Albert, Ginger Briggs, Jeff Davis, Ben Kiefer, Craig Koontz, Lisa Lucas, Beth Parrott, Nicholas Priddy, and Matt Welborn.

A Letter from Our Session

First Presbyterian Family,
We have been following the Governor’s guidelines and common sense regarding public worship at First Presbyterian Church during the COVID-19 pandemic. Information regarding government regulations has been contradictory at times, and news stories have only added to the confusion. This has led to some misunderstanding as to why some churches are electing to have in-person services and other churches, like ours, are not.

As you may know, our Session has met via Zoom every Sunday night since this pandemic necessitated the closing of our normal worship services. On Sunday, we discussed the issue of reopening. The consensus was that we adopt the following policy:

First Presbyterian Church of Lexington will not reopen until consultation with the Davidson County Health Department and North Carolina State regulations inform us that it is safe to do so. We will revisit this question each week, but for now do not plan on a public worship service through the month of June.
Each member of our church will have an opinion as to the “right” time to resume worship and our other activities. Some may want to open quickly; others would as soon wait until the risk of spreading this virus is passed completely. The practical answer is somewhere in between the two extremes, but the Session is committed to re-opening when we can provide a safe environment for worship.

We adopted this statement because we care about our church family and feel it would be too risky to engage in public worship at this time. Confirmed cases in Davidson County jumped over 50% last week. On Mother’s Day there were 199 confirmed cases. Today there are 304. The Health Department is reporting that the great majority of cases have come from people who have congregated in groups. Considering the demographics of our congregation, we would be irresponsible and foolish to open our doors and place our people in jeopardy.
When the Health Department informs us that we can safely begin steps to reopen, we will. But we want you to understand that public worship will be much different than it was before. When we return to worship in the sanctuary, we will encourage people to wear masks and practice social distancing. We will not be able to pass the offering plate, and communion will have to be handled in a different manner than our traditional passing of the elements. Every precaution must be taken to protect the health of our worshipers.

Following each service of worship, the sanctuary must be sanitized by professionals. The same is true of any activity in the fellowship hall. We will probably open the doors of our sanctuary to worship before we open our educational space for Sunday School and small groups. Most of our classrooms are not large enough to practice social distancing. Any space that is used must be sanitized before it can be used again.

One of the biggest issues in reopening is congregational and choral singing. Saliva droplets are considered a prime vector for spreading the coronavirus. When people are singing with passion and conviction, saliva droplets can carry well beyond six feet. One of the first major outbreaks of the virus in March was a community choir in Washington. Almost everyone in the choir came down with the virus. As hard as it is to say, and as hard as it is to imagine, we may be returning to public worship without a choir to sing and without congregational singing. Music is important to every worship service, but this will be especially challenging to our early worship where music is a focal point of the entire service.

We are sharing this with you because we want you to understand that reopening the church will not be as simple as opening the doors and welcoming people back in the sanctuary. Public worship will look different, feel different, and sound different for some time.
As you know, the Session has appointed a Transition Team to find a transitional minister to lead us until we can find a new permanent pastor through a Pastor Nominating Committee. This transition team has taken on the added responsibility of working with the Worship Ministry Team and our new Technology Committee to formulate our plans for “virtual” worship when Pastor Lee is no longer with us. The plan is to have a live worship service that is available to the membership each Sunday at our normal summer worship time of 10 am. This live-streamed service will have all the usual elements of our normal service, and we hope it will provide inspiration and an uplifting spiritual message each week.
There is a committee forming now to begin the planning process for resumption of our public worship. When it is safe to come back together, we will be ready!
The phrase “challenging times” has become a common description of our life during this pandemic. So too, it is an appropriate description for our Church. While dealing with the worship interruptions due to the pandemic, we are losing our two staff professionals at the same time who have been a steadying influence in our lives when we have needed it the most. But the situation has a silver lining – we get a chance to hit the reset button at First Presbyterian. Now is the time to think about what you can do to assist our church. When asked to volunteer, say yes!! We can improve all aspects of our church, from Building and Grounds to our Sunday School offerings to our worship services. We can re-dedicate ourselves to our vision statement where “as a loving community in Christ, we call people to faith, develop them as disciples and send them to serve.” Let your light shine, which in turn will shine through the work and worship of our church.
There are many creative ways we can continue to be the church. If you have ideas of different ways we can minister and worship in this crisis, please share them . . . we are all in unchartered water together.

One day we will all look back on this experience and reflect on the lessons we learned and the many ways we saw God in the storm. And we will give testimony of how we emerged from the darkness into the marvelous light!

Grace and Peace,
Your Session

2020-2021 Time and Talent

Time and Talent forms were mailed out the last week of April. We are asking that they be completed and returned to the church by May 15, 2020. You may drop them in the mail slot located in the exterior door beside Lee’s office or bring them by the church office (please call first if you need assistance entering the building). You may mail them to the church at PO Box 586, Lexington NC 27293 using the envelope that was provided in the mailing, or you may email them to Jeanna.

Now Accepting Applications for the Winnie Green Scholarship

The Session and the Endowment Ministry Team of the Session would like to invite eligible persons to apply for a grant from the Winnifred Zimmerman Green Higher Education Scholarship Fund. The Scholarship was made possible by a generous gift from the estate of long time member Winnie Green to aid “worthy students of high academic achievement” with their college expenses.
The Session has established guidelines for the awarding of grants. Grants will be awarded each spring; students receiving scholarships shall not be guaranteed renewal of scholarships. Students must re-apply for a new grant each year.
The application deadline for this year is May 1. Application forms and the full list of applicant guidelines are available from the church office, on the lobby side of Jeanna’s service window, or may be downloaded by clicking here:   guidelines  or  application.

2020 Lent & Spring Worship Schedule

Special events in the life of the church have necessitated some changes to our normal worship schedule. Following is our worship schedule through the beginning of the summer:

Wednesday, February 26, 2020
∙ Ash Wednesday Service at 6:30 PM in the sanctuary.

Sunday, March 1
∙ Youth Sunday;  Single service at 11 AM – Sanctuary.
∙ Baked potato and salad lunch at 12 PM.

Sunday, March 8
∙ Retreat weekend;  Single service at 11 AM – Sanctuary.

Sundays, March 15, 22, 29
∙ Normal schedule – two services.
Sunday, April 5
∙ Palm Sunday;   Normal schedule – two services.
∙ Communion observed.
∙ Process to the Square at the end of the 11 AM worship service.
∙ Children’s egg hunt in the afternoon (4 PM).
Thursday, April 9
∙ Maundy Thursday service at First United Methodist at 7:00 PM.

Sunday, April 12
∙ Easter Sunday. Single service at 11 AM – Sanctuary.
One Great Hour of Sharing offering received.

Sunday, April 19
∙ Normal schedule – two services.
Sunday, April 26
∙ Single service at 11 AM – Sanctuary. Kidz Club Choir singing in worship.
∙ Luncheon following worship.
Sunday, May 3
∙ Single service at 11 AM – Sanctuary.
∙ Communion observed.
∙ Two Cents a Meal offering received.
∙ No luncheon.
Sunday, May 10
∙ Normal schedule – two services.
Sunday, May 17
∙ Graduation Sunday.
∙ Normal schedule – two services.
Sunday, May 24
∙ Memorial Day Weekend
∙ Normal schedule – two services.
∙ Luncheon to honor our Veterans.
Sunday, May 31
∙ Normal schedule – two services.
Sunday, June 7
∙ Single service at 11 AM – Sanctuary.
∙ Confirmation Sunday.
∙ Communion observed.
∙ Two Cents a Meal offering received.
Sunday, June 14
∙ Summer Schedule Begins.
∙ Sunday School at 9 AM.
∙ Single service at 10 AM – Sanctuary.

Women of the Word – Spring 2020

Women of the Word’s spring session begins soon! This round, we’ll be revisiting Twelve Women of the Bible, this time focusing on six New Testament women – Mary, the mother of Jesus; Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, Martha, the Woman at the Well, and the Syrophoenician Woman. This seven-week study features life-changing stories for women today.  We will discover new insights and find a powerful witness to God’s gracious love that will leave us feeling challenged, encouraged, and deeply valued. Even if you were not able to make the last session of WOW, please come join us! We’re always happy to see new faces and excited to reunite with old friends. 
The next session begins on Monday, February 10 at 6:30 PM for the Evening group and Tuesday, February 11 at 9:15 AM for the Morning group. All women are invited! We will gather in the fellowship hall for the first session; please bring your Bible and a pen. There will be a small cost for the study book if you do not already have one.
Questions may be directed to Katherine Team (336.242.4019) or Ann McMurray (336.239.4042).

Gathering Band to Perform for Project Potential

Our church has a strong history of members of our church family participating in Project Potential’s Dancing (and More) with the Potential Stars. Last year, organist Connie Burleson and choir member Ginger Briggs both participated. This year, First Presbyterian will be represented by the Gathering Band.
Project Potential was begun to encourage more students in our community to enroll in a college or university after graduating from high school. Since its inception in 1996, it has expanded its vision in order to meet the needs of a growing number of economically disadvantaged students in the Lexington City School system by adding services that provide comprehensive support for these students throughout high school. Each year, Project Potential holds a fundraiser to support its programs that help these students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend college. In most cases, the students helped by Project Potential will be the first in their family to attend college.

You can support Project Potential – AND the Band – by casting your vote at Donations are $10 per vote, and proceeds go to help youths right here in our community, helping to make their college dreams come true. The show will be held January 26, 2020 at 4:00 PM at the Civic Center in Lexington and is open to the public.

Registration Open for 2020 Family Retreat

Registration for our Annual Church-wide Family Retreat has begun! Retreat weekend is March 6-8. We will return to the beautiful setting of Montreat, NC with the Rev. Dr. Sid Batts leading our retreat programming. For more information or to print a registration form, please view the brochure by clicking here. Registrations are due February 16, and rooms are reserved on a first come, first served basis.
UPDATE:   Because of space and logistics, we decided to move the lodging back to the Winsborough this year, which has 31 rooms, plus private bathrooms. Prices for the Winsborough for the FULL Weekend are as follows:  $50 – individual; $75 – Couple; and $125 – Family. This will also include breakfast at Assembly Inn both Saturday and Sunday mornings. Lunch on Saturday will be on your own. Dinner Saturday night will be catered at the Winsborough. 
About Our Retreat Leader
This year’s retreat will be led by the Rev. Dr. Sid Batts. Sid, a native North Carolinian, holds degrees from High Point University, Princeton Theological Seminary, and McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. During his career he served churches in Mobile, Alabama; Atlanta, Georgia; Dunn, NC, and Lowell, NC. He has been active in the work of presbyteries in addition to civic involvement in local communities and served as a board member of Columbia Theological Seminary. He was also featured weekday mornings on 107.5 KZL for his 30 second “Just a Thought.” Sid is the author of 6 books, including “The Protestant Wedding Source Book,” “Go and Do,” and “Elevation: 8 Blessings for the High Road.” His interests include golf, The Beatles, and good books. He and his wife Cathy and their dachshund Luey currently reside in Southport, NC. Sid is also the proud grandfather of Rory, David, and James Trout.