ta p e s t r y Weaving Stories of Faith, Hope and Life
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Published quarterly by First Presbyterian Church, Charlotte NC Fall 2019
ta p e s t r y
Carson Rogers A lifetime of memories Page 4
Liz and Ward McKeithan Involvement increases belonging Page 8
Martha Mallory Bold steps, lasting connections Page 6
ta p e s t r y a publication of First Presbyterian Church 200 West Trade St. Charlotte, NC 28202 www.firstpres-charlotte.org 2 • tapestry • Fall-Winter 2019
New Members Get to know your newest family in Christ! Page 12
editor Peg Robarchek designer Dartinia Hull publications assistant Savannah Jillani
Both are rooted in the same theology
Brené Brown is a well-known speaker and author whose TED Talk on vulnerability brought her international recognition. Since then, Brown has spoken on various topics, including belonging. While Brown’s work is not overtly Christian, her books and talks can be wonderful resources for people exploring life as Christians. In one presentation, Brown states, “Belonging is belonging to yourself first.” This is an important part in the concept of belonging, but for Christians this is not the first step. For Christians, understanding that we belong to God is the first step. When we have firmly grasped this knowledge, then we can confidently belong to ourselves, to each other, and to a community. Proclaiming that we belong to God, that we are created in God’s image, and that we are saved by God’s grace gives us a common belief that is foundational for a community where we can all find belonging. To find a community in which you truly belong can be a transformative experience. Yet, what happens when a person has to leave the place where they belong? As we know, people are moving to and from Charlotte every day. First Presbyterian Church makes a concerted effort to be a church where new people can belong and find their place among us.
Also, First Presbyterian is a place where people can return. I have heard many stories of members who have moved way and then moved back to Charlotte. Each of them talk about how being able to return to First Presbyterian was a highlight of moving back. I am happy to include myself among those people It can be daunting to return to a place where we once belonged. While we have been away, we have changed and hopefully we have grown. When we return, we are not the exact person who left. Yet, a community that facilitates actual belonging is already creating a welcoming environment for people who are returning. First Presbyterian is a testament to this idea. Belonging and returning are rooted in the same theology, that we belong to God. We know that we don’t actually return to God because God never leaves us, but we do often leave and return to communities of followers of Christ. There are many biblical stories teaching us this message. We have always belonged in the body of Christ, so we can always return. As those who are already here consider what belonging to First Presbyterian means for us, we should keep in mind how belonging can help people return to our church and to a life centered in Christ. Belonging and returning are key parts of the complexity of a life in Christ and they are tied to our very creation. When we proclaim that we belong to God, we are saying that we belong here now, and we belong here when we return.
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Page Rogers (right) was married in the FPC santuary in 1987. Come April 4, 2020, it will be her daughter Carson’s turn.
Creating a Lifetime of Memories 4 • tapestry • Fall-Winter 2019
When Carson Rogers marries Bryce Peacock on April 4, 2020, she will add one more very big memory to the lifetime of memories she is working on here at First Presbyterian Church. Her great-great grandparents were members here. Her greatgrandparents were married here. Her parents, Page and Rick Rogers, were married here on May 16, 1987. Carson was baptized at First Presbyterian Church on July 11, 1993. Carson’s younger sister, Mary Summers, was baptized in the same sanctuary on May 19, 1996. When Carson went away to college, coming home on holidays or weekends and spending an hour in the sanctuary grounded her, reminding her of who she was and how deep was her belonging. continues on next page ....
Carson met Bryce at UNC-Chapel Hill. When they graduated, she moved back to the place where family—both biological and church family—could be found. Bryce, who grew up in Winston-Salem, took a job with a subsidiary of Coca Cola Consolidated in Charlotte to be closer to Carson. They will be married in April 2020.
Carson... continued from previous page She remembers Christopher Edmonston and Mary Katherine Robinson leading Christmas Eve services, and getting to know people like Milton Kidd on the facilities staff. She remembers being in the children’s choir, ringing chimes, flowering the cross on Easter mornings, memorizing the Apostles’ Creed and getting a doughnut every time she got it right. She remembers the special treat of going with her dad and her younger sister, Mary Summers, to serve at the sandwich kitchen on Saturday mornings, with chocolate milk and chocolate-covered doughnuts as part of the family-and-church routine. So when it came to getting married, Carson knew where she belonged. Carson met Bryce at UNC-Chapel Hill. When they graduated, she moved back to the place where family—both biological and church family—could be found. Bryce, who grew up in Winston-Salem, took a job with a subsidiary of Coca Cola Consolidated in Charlotte to be closer to Carson. In the beginning, he suggested they attend a few churches to see if they could find the perfect church home that would be a good fit for both a lifelong Presbyterian and a lifelong Baptist. “I grew up as the member of a Baptist church with a praise band that met in a high school gym,” Bryce said. “So I thought we might find something in between that and First Presbyterian.”
Carson’s response? “I told him he was welcome to look around, but that I was going to First Pres. I couldn’t imagine walking away from all my relationships.”
he halls of First Presbyterian Church are filled with memories for Carson. But it isn’t all about memories. The main thing, for her, is the relationships she just can’t walk away from. And she is discovering that serving side by side with other members deepens relationships. “I knew when I came back that I had enjoyed youth group and wanted to get involved in something related to youth,” Carson said. She met with Natalie Raygor, who is now the Director of Youth Ministries, to learn how she could serve that program. Next, she was asked to be part of the Willard Committee, which brings in speakers such as Walter Brueggemann, Krista Tippett, Cornell West and next spring’s guest speaker, Father Greg Boyles. She chaired the
Willard Committee for a while, co-chaired Fall Fest, and was called to be an elder. “I’ve really enjoyed being on all these different committees,” she said. “I like being in rooms with people who are smarter than me. I like listening to everybody else’s thoughts.” Even though many of the youth her age did not return to Charlotte after college, Carson now finds herself serving on committees with their parents and making the transition from referring to them as “Mr.” and “Mrs.” to calling them by first names. “Maybe they know one of my parents or maybe I grew up with their kids. But every time that happens it’s another little seed. Every time you come back you know another face and another face knows you. The more your web grows, the more you feel you belong.” Bryce echoed his fiancé’s thoughts. “I’ve been visiting since we started dating. I had only been in one other church, the one I grew up with. That praise band in our high school gym was what I had learned to view as church. That was the lens I saw church through. But I started doing things like the youth ski trip and I quickly became comfortable here. I think my church experience is going to be as good as I make it by getting involved.” As First Presbyterian attracts increasing numbers of young adult members, Carson continues on page 14 .... Fall -Winter 2019 • tapestry • 5
Taking Bold Steps to Build Connections 6 • tapestry • Fall-Winter 2019
Martha Mallory remembers walking through the fellowship hall with her grandson, Jack, one morning when he was about six years old. He watched as she greeted everyone she saw and said, “Grandma, why do you know everybody?” “Jack, don’t you know everybody in your family?” “Yes.” “Well, these people are our family, too.” continues on next page ....
member profile Martha Mallory... from previous page Martha grew up at Purity Presbyterian Church in Chester, South Carolina, in an era when everyone in her church indeed felt and acted like family. She was nurtured, taught and loved through those early years. Martha’s father ran the drug store in Chester, then a town of about 8,000 people. Her mother made chicken salad and pimiento cheese for the sandwiches sold at the lunch counter in the drug store. Martha walked to school, carrying her lunchbox, and played all afternoon when school was out. She had the same music teacher from first grade through high school. “Everybody knew everybody in that wonderful little town.”
(Above) Martha and her children and grandchildren. (Right) Martha and Roswell and their grandchildren.
As Martha grew, her sister went to what was then Queens College in Charlotte. So when it was time for Martha to choose a college, she followed her sister to Queens. Attending church each Sunday was a requirement at Queens, which gave Martha her first introduction to people from First Presbyterian Church. Volunteers from the church came to the college and drove them to Sunday school and worship.
After graduating, Martha began her teaching career. The night before her first day as a teacher, she and her roommates were eating dinner at the old S&W Cafeteria at Park Road Shopping Center. A friend from her hometown, a Davidson College graduate who was now in Charlotte working on his law degree, saw Martha and her friends. He was with a friend, Roswell Mallory, and wanted to introduce them. Roswell and Martha started dating in September of 1963, were engaged in January of 1964 and married in June of that year, at Roswell’s church—First Presbyterian. “What a gift from God it was to put Roswell and me together and lead us to become family with each other and with our family at First Pres,” said Martha. “We had a wonderful life together, loving, learning, growing and rearing two children, Kathryn and Ros. We had 49 wonderful years together before cancer took Roswell in 2013.” Back in 1964, when the Mallories were new members, Martha and Roswell noticed that other young couples were rare at First Presbyterian.
“The few that were there were faithful in calling most Saturdays and inviting us to come to Sunday school the next day,” Martha said. She and Roswell became friends with two other young couples— Liz and Ward McKeithen* and Jim and Wardie Martin. Martha likes to say that they, and their children, grew up together in the church. Fellowship activities were abundant—picnics, softball games, *Read about Liz and gatherings at Camp Stewart, weekends Ward McKeithen on at Camp Grier, square dances in the page 8 fellowship hall and weekend workshops for young adults who were beginning to have children. “That sense of belonging was strengthened by the family feel of being part of a smaller group offered by the church,” Martha said. One of the bold steps Martha took in order to find a way to belong got its start one afternoon when she arrived home from work and found, stuck in her screen door, a PW (Presbyterian Women) continues on page 11 .... Fall -Winter 2019 • tapestry • 7
Ward & Liz McKeithen
Two threads run through the lives of Liz and Ward McKeithen. The first is gratitude. The second is longevity.
Increasing the Circle
“I’m quite into staying with things,” Ward said. “I’ve worked in the same law firm 50 years. We’ve lived in the same house in Charlotte 52 years. We’ve been in this church for 52 years.” Also, Liz and Ward have been married 58 years. They were high school sweethearts in Winston-Salem, where they grew up, and throughout college. Ward tied the two threads together when he said, “That longevity has been a blessing to me. One of my fundamental dispositions is gratitude. I’ve always had a great deal for which to be very grateful—so grateful that I’ve managed to get right from the get-go the things that were fundamentally important.” One of those fundamentally important things is family. The other is faith. continues on next page ....
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Liz and Ward with their extended family.
iz and Ward married in January of 1961, during Ward’s first year in law school at Duke. Liz taught school in Durham. Their first child, Ashley, was born there. They spent two years in Germany when Ward served in the Army. Then Ward joined the Charlotte law firm Robinson Bradshaw. They moved into a small house in the Cotswold area. They added two other children to the family, Alex and Millicent. As the family grew, so did their house. “We’ve added on to our home eight times,” Liz said. “We would decide we needed another bedroom, or a change in the kitchen.” The McKeithen children are happily married, including two foreign-born spouses and three college-age grandchildren, all of whom Liz and Ward consider true blessings in their lives. Their faith journeys are individual and distinctive, and less traditional than that of Liz and Ward, to which Ward observes, “Their relationship with God is between them and our always loving God in whom we trust.” Liz doesn’t recall that they did a lot of visiting around when they went in search of a new church after moving to Charlotte. They
visited First Presbyterian Church and the church wouldn’t let go of them. “My granddaddy was an old-fashioned, fiery minister in eastern North Carolina,” Liz said. “When we came to First Presbyterian, somebody who knew him got our name and started coming around to visit. I had a very young child and I was exhausted and didn’t have an awful lot of time for visiting, but he kept after me.” One of Liz’s most memorable visitors was Belle Ward. Liz was embarrassed at first by the visit because it wasn’t easy to balance mothering and housecleaning—a feeling that today’s mothers may recognize. “She came at the end of a day when I was tired, there were toys all over the floor and she could barely get in the door,” Liz said. “But she didn’t seem to mind.” Liz soon became close friends with her visitor’s daughter, Wardie Martin, another young bride in the First Presbyterian family. They are still good friends today. The McKeithens, Wardie and her husband Jim Martin, became fast friends, along with another young couple who joined about the same time, Martha and Roswell Mallory.* The three couples raised their *Read about Martha Mallory on page 6 children together in the church and, as each of them has said in one way or another, growing up together at First Presbyterian. Jim Martin died in 2018, and Roswell Mallory died in 2011. But in a few months, Wardie, Martha, Liz and Ward will be neighbors at Sharon Towers. continues on next page .... Fall -Winter 2019 • tapestry • 9
Ward and Liz McKeithen ... continued from previous page
“An answer is for those who do belong to be
“I feel very fortunate for this phenomenon of long-term friendship,” Ward said. “I have a clear recollection that there were far fewer young families than there now are; you could probably count them on a hand. But they’re lovely people who have become lifetime friends. The fact that we’re going to be common-wall neighbors with Martha at Sharon Towers, which just sort of fell out of the sky, we were surprised and delighted to learn about it.”
ever trying to increase the circle of belonging, so that it’s not having 10 belongers,
it’s having 20 with an open door for more.” Ward McKeithen
Living with members of their church family close by is good news as they make this transition, Liz said. “When you live in the house where your children grew up and you have so many happy memories and holidays, you hate to leave it.” For the McKeithens, being active in the church meant participating in worship, mission trips, Room in the Inn, Christian Formation leadership and Loaves and Fishes, as well as serving as elders. Liz has also been moderator of PW (Presbyterian Women), where she is an Honorary Lifetime Member, as well as a participant in mission trips and more. Ward remembers years ago that he moderated a class of women who were closer to the age he is now than the age he was then—a class of saintly, Bible-reading, praying women, as he described them. One day the subject of the Holy Spirit came up and Ward asked, as a way to generate discussion, how they explained the Holy Spirit. One of those saintly members of the class responded, “Young man, you don’t explain it. You experience it.” “I had just learned more in that class than I could impart,” Ward recalled. “The church had some formidable women.” Ward’s most effective outreach on behalf of the church may have been his introduction of young lawyers in his firm to First Presbyterian Church. “When I started with Robinson Bradshaw, there were four lawyers and I was the one associate who was a member of First Presbyterian Church. Now there are about 15 families from First Presbyterian from our firm.”
Ward is known for his 25 years of singing with the Sanctuary choir. Ward’s last day as a member of the choir was on Music Sunday in May of this year. “I feel like an amateur who has gotten to be on Ward may be best known for two other acts of service. The first might be called his Yellow Legal Pad Ministry. For years, countless a major league team and it has been a joy,” he said. “I don’t read music and I’m quite bad at pronouncing Latin. But I have found members and staff at First Presbyterian Church have received if you stand among people who do know what they’re doing and hand-addressed envelopes in the mail. Tucked inside are sheets from a yellow legal pad, with handwritten expressions of gratitude if you have a real feel for the message and joy of the music, the spirit with which you sing is about as important as the technical from Ward. He might be thanking someone for a sermon, for a correctness with which you sing.” prayer, for a kind word, or for going over and above the call to serve God in some way. Only when pressed did he admit that he has been sending such letters of gratitude and encouragement for "I feel like an amateur who has gotten to be on a major league about 20 years. team and it has been a joy,” Ward said. “I don’t read music and I’m quite bad at pronouncing Latin. But I have found if you stand The other activity Ward is known for here at the church is his among people who do know what they’re doing and if you have 25 years of singing with the Sanctuary choir. Ward’s last day as a a real feel for the message and joy of the music, the spirit with member of the choir was on Music Sunday in May of this year. which you sing is about as important as the technical correctness He counts the choir as such a blessing to him that he made the with which you sing." decision with ambivalence. continues on page 15 .... 10 • tapestry • Fall-Winter 2019
The 2019 Roswell T. Mallory Award Recipient
Wardie Martin The second Roswell T. Mallory Service Award was announced at the August meeting of the College of Elders and Deacons. This new tradition celebrates the great strength of the leaders of the congregation and was named for Roswell Mallory, who embodied faith and selfless service to the congregation. Wardie Martin, the wife of the late Jim Martin, has served First Presbyterian Church as an elder, a deacon, and a former moderator of Presbyterian Women who has also been designated an Honorary Life Member of PW. She currently serves on the Willard Committee and the Capital Campaign Cabinet. In making the announcement, the Reverend Pen Peery said, “This year’s recipient was claimed by God’s grace through the waters of baptism in our sanctuary. The daughter of two beloved members and leaders at First Presbyterian Church, her life and her faith have been formed by the community here at 200 West Trade Street – where she has also helped to shape the life and faith of countless others.” Pen also quoted a friend and former neighbor, who said, “She’s been near the center of everything our church has done throughout her years and literally everywhere you look you will see her impact.”
Martha Mallory... continued from page 7 member directory and an invitation to join a PW circle. Martha laughed when she read the note and thought, What a hoot! Circles are for old people! “That, of course, was my impression since at my home church back in Chester all the women who did PW work did seem old!” Nevertheless, Martha looked at the circle schedule and spotted a group for working women. She took a deep breath and started attending. “What a great decision that was because I met so many wonderful ladies who had so much wisdom and special stories about their belonging to First Pres,” Martha said.
Martha Mallory (left) and Wardie Martin stand in the Jordan River during a visit to the Holy Land. Wardie received the Roswell T. Mallory Award, which celebrates strength of the leaders of our congregation.
“I wonder if I would have ever had the opportunity to know them if I hadn’t made myself step out that way.” Over the years, Martha and Roswell were guided to other ways of belonging. Roswell served as a deacon and elder, served as a youth advisor and basketball team coach, taught adult Sunday School, served with the TV ministry and helped with Room in the Inn, the Sandwich Kitchen and the Men’s Shelter. Martha served as deacon and elder, as well, and taught Sunday School, directed the children’s choir and for the past 45 years has sung in the Sanctuary Choir. Then came the day that PW reached out to her yet again—this time asking her to serve as moderator in 2006-2007.
“That very morning Circle 13 had discussed a passage from Exodus and the reaction Moses had when God asked him to lead his people out of Egypt,” Martha said. “Moses said, ‘Why me, God? I can’t do that. Send someone else.’ I was about to give a similar response to the PW request and realized what my answer should be.” Asked what she would tell newer members about how to gain that sense of belonging, Martha suggested bringing one’s Godgiven gifts to one’s church family, finding the opportunities that are right for you and getting busy. “What you get from making that step will far outweigh what you give.”
CHURCH PRESBYTERIAN FIRST FO R C HRI S T I N T HE HE A RT O F C HA RLOT T E
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Ana and Fred DeLaRosa, and son Frederick
Chelsea & Drew Ludeke
Jason & Jenna Elkins, and daughter Vale
Beth & Steve Lyon
Jeff & Anne Neikirk
Meredith & Chris Hartman
• Originally from Pennsylvania, Marian now lives in Waxhaw • She attended Penn State and has three adult children • Marian’s favorite activity is sewing • Ana and Fred moved to Charlotte from Laredo, TX; Fred is originally from Austin.
Ana & Fred DeLaRosa
• Both lawyers, they have a 2 ½-year-old son named Frederick and 3 pugs, Cosette, Sheldon and Eponine. • They enjoy exploring all the parks in Charlotte. 12 • tapestry • Fall-Winter 2019
Brian & Katie Maxwell
Marion Carter (no photo available)
Kelly & John Perry
Jason & Jenna Elkins, daughter Vale
• Jason is a Nuclear Engineer for Duke Energy and works at McGuire Nuclear Plant; Jenna is an interior architect in Workplace Design with Little Architects. • Jason graduated from NC State University, Jenna from Purdue University. • They live in the Brightwalk neighborhood in Camp North End with their daughter, Vale.
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... continued from previous page
Meredith & Chris Hartman
• Meredith is originally from Spartanburg, SC; Chris is from Chattanooga, TN. They attended Furman University, where they met. • Both are small-business owners; Meredith owns Bella Bridesmaids in Philadelphia (where they lived previously) and Chris is co-owner of American Scale Company here in Charlotte. • Their first child, a girl, is due in November. • Meredith enjoys yoga and playing the cello. Chris enjoys running and playing golf. • They moved to Charlotte fall of 2017 and live in the NoDa area.
• Originally from Philadelphia, Claire lives in the Trademark Building in Center City. • She works for Levine Cancer Institute as an oncology nurse practitioner.
• Steph is Director of New Business Development for The London Stock Exchange Group. • She attended the University of Delaware. • Her three-year-old son is Beckham. • She enjoys playing volleyball.
Drew & Chelsea Ludeke
• Chelsea is from Rochester, NY, and Drew is from New Brunswick, NJ; they have been in Charlotte six years and currently live in North End. • Chelsea is an online sales manager with Dan Ryan Builders and Drew is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker; he is also a media operator with ESPN. • Chelsea attended Ohio Wesleyan and Drew attended Ithaca College. • Their first child was born in October. They are also pet parents to dachshunds Ella Fitzgerald and Jackson • They are avid cooks and gardeners, love to travel and spend time with pets, family and friends.
Beth & Steve Lyon
• Originally from Virginia, Beth and Steve lived in Roanoke for 23 years
before moving to Charlotte 10 years ago. They live in the Dilworth area. • Steve is a career commercial banker and works at South State Bank as a Senior VP. • Steve graduated from VMI; Beth attended Longwood College and obtained her RN from Old Dominion University. • They have one daughter, Sarah L. Marchewka, and two granddaughters, Jane and Hadley. • They enjoy travel, spending time with family, reading and taking long walks on the greenway.
• Moved to Charlotte from Long Island, New York, when she was a child; lives in Cotswold; • Graduated from UNCC in class of 2012, as a Religious Studies Major with a Minor in Criminal Justice, as well as two undeclared minors in Anthropology and English. • Loves fiber work (weaving, knitting), poetry, nature and animals.
Brian & Katie Maxwell
• Originally from New York, Brian and Katie have lived in Charlotte for 11 years. • Both attended St. Bonaventure University; Brian is a Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Katie is an Assistant Vice President of Marketing at LPL Financial. • They currently live in the Freedom Park area and are expecting their first child in the fall.
Jeff & Anne Neikirk
• Jeff and Anne Neikirk returned to Charlotte and First Presbyterian after living in Atlanta the past 14 years. • Oiginally from North Carolina, Anne grew up in Asheville and Jeff was born in Hickory. • The Neikirks have grown children living in Dallas and Brooklyn; last spring they became grandparents to Aiden.
• A Charlotte native, Marcy attended Myers Park High School and Central Piedmont Community College. • She has two grown children, Robert and Chris.
• She lives near the U.S. National Whitewater Center and enjoys the outdoors and sunshine.
• Originally from Winston-Salem. • Bryce is a logistics planner for Red Classic, a subsidiary of Coca Cola Consolidated. • He attended UNC and enjoys fishing and cheering on the Tar Heels.
• Originally from Charlotte, Eric attended Sewanee and received his MBA from Wake Forest. • He works with U.S. Bank and currently lives in Myers Park. He enjoys running. • Eric has a two-year-old son, George.
Kelly & John Perry
• John and Kelly met at the University
of Florida. • John is CEO of Altavian, a drone technology company; Kelly is a radiologist with Charlotte Radiology. • They live in Eastover with their son, Michael.
• The daughter of a Presbyterian minister, Emily grew up in Dunn, NC. • She attended Agnes Scott College in Atlanta and has also lived in Columbus, GA, and Washington DC. Her three adult children live in Atlanta and Washington DC. Currently she lives in the Dilworth neighborhood. • After 25 years as a stay-at-home mom, Emily went to nursing school five years ago. She has begun a job search for a school nurse position and hopes to leave summers free for mission work.
• Currently a student at UNC Charlotte; will be a senior next year and is studying accounting. • Originally from Connecticut, moved to Charlotte about three years ago. • Has a 10-week old Australian Shepard puppy named Sidda who takes up most of her free time.
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Carson Rogers ... continued from page 7
I hope that in a hundred years
recognizes that not everyone who longs for a church family today had parents who modeled what that means. When Carson was growing up, it went without saying that her parents, Page and Rick, were actively involved in doing the work of the church—and they still are.
First Presbyterian will still be recognizable
“That’s where they invested their time and energy,” she said. Carson hopes the young members who are joining today learn what Bryce learned so quickly: that serving alongside others is one of the best ways to plant the seeds of belonging. “Our church is large and that can be, on its face, intimidating. But there are hundreds of ways that it immediately starts to feel small when you plug into where your passions and gifts call you.”
place, a viable church on this campus.
I hope we continue to be brave to step forward when we see a need even if we’re unsure how to face it, not being afraid to be pioneers. Carson Rogers
Carson also believes First Presbyterian may be attractive to younger members because it has never been a place that forces people into a narrow box as far as beliefs.
ost recently, Carson served on the nominating committee that brought the church’s newest Associate Pastor, the Reverend Robert Galloway. The things that stood out about Robert, who was once a young adult member at First Presbyterian, were his energy, his work ethic and his deep knowledge of and respect for Presbyterian theology. “I think it’s going to be very energizing for the staff,” she said. “It all goes back to the relational piece; our church wants somebody that makes it feel as if somebody knows their name.” In the end, she said, it helped her to remember what Pen told her when she agreed to serve: That she wasn’t there to represent the congregation or to discern the will of the congregation, but to discern the will of God.
“We all have, in some ways, different nuances of belief and I have always appreciated that,” Carson said. “You don’t have to come through the door having all the answers. Even when I was growing up here, nothing was ever beaten into us as members. We’ve always been free to question and to doubt. It’s a welcoming place in terms of letting you have the time and space to figure things out.”
s a young member who has already stepped into multiple leadership roles at the church, Carson does more than keep her memories in mind when she thinks about First Presbyterian. She is also looking to the future.
“I hope that we’ll maintain if not increase our outward view, and not only our inward focus,” she said. “In terms of caring about and loving people outside our church, whether they become part of the church is not the motivating goal. I hope we’ll increase efforts to go outside the fence, being active and generous with our time, resources, talent and space.”
She also looks forward to seeing how Robert will strengthen formation and fellowship for the Young Adult members who join. She is learning that they like the traditional feel of the church, as well as the big-church feel, the historic roots of First Presbyterian and the relationships.
She is also excited that the new Director of Outreach and Mission, Shantiqua Neely, and the new Associate Pastor offer a way for more people to see themselves represented here, as the city continues to grow in diversity.
“Those things attract people who are looking ahead in their lives and putting down roots,” she said. “It’s a place where we can go through all the life stages and find support.”
“I hope that in a hundred years First Presbyterian will still be a recognizable place, a viable church on this campus,” she said. “I hope we continue to be brave to step forward when we see a need even if we’re unsure how to face it, not being afraid to be pioneers.”
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CHURCH P RES BY T ERIAN FIRS T FOR C HRIS T IN T HE HE ART OF C HARLOT T E
“My granddaddy was an old-fashioned, fiery minister in eastern North Carolina.
When we came to First Presbyterian, somebody who knew him got our name and started coming around to visit.” Liz McKeithen Liz and Ward McKeithen ... continued from page 10 Belonging, for the McKeithens, has been more than just being on the roll of members of the church. Liz speaks of what a spiritual, worshipful experience it is to be in the sanctuary. Ward notes the vibrancy that shows up in so many ways—in the preaching, in meals shared, in outreach, in music, in its prayer ministry, in mission trips, in the schools. They both hope that today’s young members will find the strong sense of belonging that has been at the center of their lives. “The more one participates, the more they have a sense of belonging,” Ward said. “One might say that makes sense, but what about the people who aren’t participating? What do you do to give them a sense of belonging? I don’t know the sure answer to that. An answer is for those who do belong to be ever trying to increase the circle of belonging, so that it’s not having 10 belongers, it’s having 20 with an open door for more.” Liz and Ward talk about the importance of sharing events or meals or a retreat, serving or worshipping side by side. “If you want this church to be meaningful in your life and in your family’s life, it will be necessary to get engaged, beginning with regular worship,” Ward said. “Then seeking out some other group whether it’s a Sunday school class or service activity or church retreat. Participation is pretty crucial to having this thing move into significant relationship with fellow members and our loving God.” Like others, Liz looks to the future and hopes the family feel of First Presbyterian Church never changes. If she had one wish for the future, it would be to see the church get more involved in resources for homeless neighbors. “We own the lot across the street,” she said. “I would like to see some space devoted to homeless people. I think that’s something God would like to see us do; I think He wants to see us take care of each other.” Ward said he is not a long-range planner and believes that even the leaders of the church are not ultimately in control of what happens at our corner of Church and Trade streets. “I trust that God is in control and that God’s essential nature is love,” Ward said. “Although this world is remarkably messed up, I believe God’s love will prevail. The really good news is that God loves us all and loves us, as best I know and trust, unconditionally. So I think there’s hope for all of us. It won’t be that some are graded D and some will get an A. I’m a rather strong believer that our loving God does not grade. The God of the universe is going to say, ‘Welcome home, everybody.’ ” CHURCH PRESBYTERIAN FIRST FO R C HRI S T I N T HE HE A RT O F C HA RLOT T E
t n e v d A
e v E s a m t s i r
h C &
Singing in the Season
Sunday, December 8 Wood Fellowship Hall, 5 p.m.
Elementary Nativity Play
Sunday, December 15 Wood Fellowship Hall, 10 a.m.
Service of Wholeness & Healing
Thursday, December 19 Sanctuary, 7 p.m.
Lessons & Carols
Sunday, December 22 Sanctuary, 9 and 11 a.m. Advent Celebration for All
Sunday, December 22 Wood Fellowship Hall, 10 a.m.
Christmas Eve Sanctuary 5 p.m.
This candelight service is open to all, and is particularly suited to children.
10:15 p.m. Handbell Concert Wood Fellowship Hall 11 p.m.
With Candelight and Communion