Page 1

ta p e s t r y Weaving Stories of Faith, Hope and Life

Transforming

the World Transforming Ourselves Mission, whether local or international, is humbling, challenging work. And at its most profound moments,

we find we are the ones being transformed.

Published quarterly by First Presbyterian Church, Charlotte NC Spring 2019


Spring 2019

ta p e s t r y

what’s inside

My Job is to Help Kenny Archie found his way back to First Presbyterian decades after his mother entered its doors. Page 12

Girl Scout Troop 15 Humbling, rewarding, sometimes chaotic Page 4 A Launching Pad for Outreach The Catherine Grier Community Initiative makes space for projects and programs to begin. Page 7 People in the Pews How has mission changed you? Page 8 A Glad Spirit Willie Atkins’ advice is full of love Page 10

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 • spring 2019

On Behalf of God A small encounter led to an international calling. Page 14 A Success Story In Everyone Versie Massey makes the journey from Camp Grier to MBA to camp parent Page 20 New Members Get to know your newest family in Christ! Page 22

editor Peg Robarchek designer Dartinia Hull publications assistant Savannah Jillani


Transforming

the World Transforming Ourselves Since I have been here at First Presbyterian Church, I have had the opportunity to go on several mission trips where I have met pastors who have become inspirational models for me. Carlos Ham’s story started with his father, who was studying in Geneva, and his mother, who grew up in West Virginia. When the revolution came, a lot of people left Cuba, including 75% of Presbyterian pastors, who left for Europe, South America, the US. They said Jesus had left Cuba and if Jesus was gone they might as well go, too. That was the moment when Carlos’ father said, “This is exactly where we are supposed to be.” And now Carlos is shepherding a seminary in this place some said Jesus had left behind. Or, here is Oscar Dorantes in this remote area of Mexico where young people have no access to a good school. He comes up with this harebrained idea for creating a safe place for young people to live in more populated areas where they can attend school. And people like our own Elise Barksdale got behind the project to make it happen. Today, VIM (Vila Infantil Mayan) is doing just what Oscar envisioned. How does somebody say I think God is calling me to do this huge thing? That’s almost overwhelming for me to grasp. And that is one of many ways that global mission—local outreach, too—can transform us. I see a level of sacrifice on these mission experiences that makes me feel hopeful, but disappointed in myself for the times I have had opportunities to do something and passed on it. If the only thing we know is living in our own little corner of the world and having lunch with people who look like us and went to the same schools we went to, how sad that is. It seems to me that life is more fulfilling when we can look back on something we took part in and realize somebody is better off now because of that. In this issue of Tapestry, you’ll hear from some people who feel that mission work has changed them as much as it’s changed anybody. The Reverend Chuck Williamson

spring 2019 • tapestry • 3


profile of troop

15

Troop 15

Mission work is often challenging. When it’s a girl scout troop for middle school girls at Wilson STEM Academy, it can also be

Humbling, challenging and sometimes chaotic Sometimes it’s hard for the girls to settle down, having been in classrooms all day. Especially, perhaps, during the last hour of the day on Friday afternoons. At one recent meeting, troop leaders engage the girls in a conversation about something good that has happened since the last time they met. My grades improved. I did get into the troop. Electives – art and painting. As that meeting wraps up, the girls plan the February investiture ceremony. They are excited to hear they can 4 • tapestry • spring 2019

invite parents, guardians and grandparents when they receive their Girl Scout sashes with their troop number and the troop crest. They decide they want to dress alike, in black jeans and a white shirt. At a field trip in March, they visited Ernst & Young and the Mint Museum in Center City to think like an entrepreneur and begin to create a marketing plan. And as the end of the school year draws closer, they ask troop leaders if they can continue to meet during the summer. The troop leaders, also seeming reluctant to go for three long months without seeing their Girl Scouts, say maybe they can plan a camping trip.


profile of troop

15

the different things we do every week. And that we all get along.” Shamaria

“What I like best is

Girls from Troop 15 work on their marketing plan on a field trip to Ernst & Young.

“I like Girl Scouts because

I can be myself. ” Zyan Troop Volunteers

Dani Hall (troop leader) Holly Ham (assistant troop leader) Barb Neidinger (organizer) Kathryn Raby (arts & crafts) Sue Loeser (snacks) Debbie O’Hara (snacks) Dianne Hite (sewing) Dora Lee Brown (sewing) Flo Bryan (registrar) Ruth Ellen Gill (communications) Turn to page 8 to read about one troop leader’s experience.

spring 2019 • tapestry • 5


troop

15

“ Being a Girl Scout

Volunteer Holly Ham and the members of Troop 15 work on a project together.

inspires me

— the activities, the teachers.” Story

In 2019-20, another group of sixth graders from Westerly Hills will be joining Troop 15. With double the number of girls, it would be great to double the number of volunteers. Interested? Contact Barb Neidinger (barbneidinger@gmail.com). 6 • tapestry • spring 2019


g r i e r i n i t i at i v e The Catherine S. Grier Community Building Initiative finds potential in a program, then encourages the

S

program’s growth.

The rest is up to the congregation.

A Launching Pad for Outreach and Connection

ometimes, being an active part of outreach and mission continues even after a member is no longer with us. Catherine Smart Grier, for example.

Catherine passed away in 2008, but she still supports outreach here at First Presbyterian through the Catherine S. Grier Community Building Initiatives fund. Through the Foundation For The Carolinas, the initiative invests in projects intended to strengthen relationships between members of First Presbyterian Church and families and children in the communities it serves. Claire Tate, chairperson of the committee that oversees the Grier Initiative, said, “This is a launch pad for programs that aren’t in the regular church budget but could become part of our outreach, if the congregation embraces them.” The Girl Scout Troop at Wilson STEM Academy is one example of a program launched with support from the Grier Initiative. Learn more about how it brings together church members and girls from West Charlotte on page 4 and page 8. “One barometer we developed about whether to fund something would be whether there was a way for something to happen if we didn’t fund it,” said son Bruce Grier. “It the answer is ‘no,’ even though it has real potential, that encourages us to launch it and see if the congregation embraces and owns it.” Faith and First Presbyterian Church were at the center of Catherine and Joe Grier’s marriage and their family. Although Catherine grew up in the Baptist church, when she married Joe and they began to raise a family, she became a Presbyterian. Joe III, Cathy, Susan, Roy, Bruce and Robin all grew up as active members at the church where their father had grown up. Catherine sang in the choir. Joe, Jr., was active over the years as an elder and on pastor nominating committees and capital

campaign committees, before passing away in 2010. “My dad was duly recognized, both in his life and afterward, for his success and for the ways he served the church,” said Bruce Grier. “My mother was not necessarily because she did a lot of the heavy lifting for our family, raising six kids and being the spiritual leader at home.” Joe III recalls that his mother took notes during every sermon. “She would open up her Bible to the text and make notes of what the preacher was saying. The church and all it stood for were very important to her.” So when Catherine left a portion of her estate to charity and specified that her children should decide how to use that bequest, they agreed that doing something through the church she loved would be the best way to honor her legacy and carry on with the work that mattered to her. The seven-member Grier Initiative committee meets quarterly to review applications. It also meets with the Senior Pastor once a year to discuss possible initiatives. Generally, the committee will award grants up to $10,000, but will consider larger projects. If successful, a grant may be renewed for up to two years. When reviewing grant applications, the committee is guided by the following considerations: 1. Is the initiative transformative and does it forge and strengthen relationships among First Presbyterian Church and diverse communities? 2. Is this request for funding a one-time opportunity to create a new initiative or expand a current initiative? 3. Would this initiative happen without funding from the Catherine S. Grier Community Building Initiative? Since 2011, Grier Initiative has funded a number of programs at First Presbyterian Church. Several have been closely aligned with the church’s support of Westerly Hills Academy—Heart Tutoring and a Girl Scout Troop—as well as supporting partnerships with students attending Camp Grier (no relation to this Grier family). CHURCH PRESBYTERIAN FIRST FO R C HRI S T I N T HE HE A RT O F C HA RLOT T E

(Visit the church website for a downloadable application on the Now@First page, under Tickets & Signups.) spring 2019 • tapestry • 7


people inthe pews

In each issue, we ask the people in the pews to answer a question related to their faith journey. In this issue, our question is: How have outreach and mission changed your life?

Bryan Morris (right) talks with Furniture Bank Director Hadari Jones at the Moving Ministry.

“God calls” can come in any form

I

By Bryan Morris was raised not necessarily in a servant-oriented family, but we did our modest share. I got to know a lot of people in compromised circumstances. I think that’s what drew me to outreach and mission work.

I am one of four kids—my father was a thoracic surgeon, Mom was a Bryan Morris helped homemaker. I have an older brother, launch our Moving two sisters in between and I rolled Ministry with Crisis along through the Age of Aquarius. Assistance Ministry’s I won’t apologize for growing up in a Furniture Bank, has family of privilege. That shaped me in a certain way. I graduated from Chapel worked with Room in the Inn and has been Hill in ’83, moved to Charlotte and part of mission trips came to First Pres. A few years ago, I to Haiti. was minding my own business and a fraternity brother, Thold Gill, calls and says, “Hey, man, what do you think about helping start up this thing helping chronically homeless people find permanent places.” So we started working with the furniture bank. “God calls” can come in any form. We have twins, Betsy and Marshall. Every single thing I did, my kids did, too. And there wasn’t coercion. They saw what I was doing and they would ask questions, like, “Why are you spending the night at Room in the Inn?” I would explain and then they wanted to go, too. You wonder, as a parent, if things we do have a lasting impact. I can simply say that both my continues on next page ....

8 • tapestry • spring 2019

Kathryn Raby ties a sash for a brand-new Girl Scout with Troop 15.

Making a difference, starting with one

W

By Kathryn Raby

orking with middle school girls at the Wilson’s STEM Academy is humbling. I want to make a difference but it is challenging to work with girls that age. You don’t know if you’re reaching them or not. When I tutored at Westerly Hills for five In addition to years, the little ones I tutored loved you and working with the hugged you. But these girls are at an age Girl Scout Troop, where they are testing their limits and don’t Kathryn has always want to listen to authority figures. tutored at Westerly That makes this is a great age to make a Hills Academy, difference in the lives of girls. and taught Sunday school from I’m not going to run for office and help preschool to high millions of people, but I can make a school at First difference for the one little kid that I’m Presbyterian. tutoring, or a handful of girls who can have a Girl Scout troop because we are willing to get out of our comfort zone. These girls are underprivileged through no fault of their own. And working with them helps me realize how privileged I am and how privileged my own children are. It would be sad if we went to our grave having been born privileged, having continues on next page ....


Morris... continued from previous page kids, when they wrote their college application essays, decided independently to write about the outreach they had done.

Rick Rogers tries to channel his energy into doing what he can to help other people through hard situations.

I

“We all need ... to take care of each other” By Rick Rogers t’s hard, sometimes, to put into words exactly how something changes you, but there’s a sense inside yourself that you’re a different person. How you look at people and what is important to you, what has value. That’s what happened to me after my first mission trip to Haiti.

It was overwhelming to see so many people who had so little. Seeing the poverty in some of the larger cities on the way to Bayonnais, I remember being overwhelmed and not being able to think about anything else. No sanitation, no potable drinking water, how obvious it was that people didn’t have enough to eat. One of the things in Bayonnais that continues to stick with me is the faith people have and the positive outlook a lot of them have despite their living situation. One boy I met didn’t have parents any more but kept referring to his father and I realized that the father he was talking about was God. Had a smile on his face all the time. I was taken in by the strength of his faith in light of the fact that here he was a teenage boy with no parents and still feeling like he had things to live for. It was remarkable. I walked away one night after we talked and sat in front of the guest house crying, full of a range of emotions.

Rick Rogers is a regular at the Saturday morning Sandwich Ministry, helping make hundreds of sandwiches for our neighbors. He has served with Room in the Inn, helped with Habitat for Humanity, on mission trips to Haiti, as a camp parent for Camp Grier, as a Westerly Hills tutor and more. When I came back from Haiti the first time, it took me several days to readjust to being back in the US, back to my life as I know it in Charlotte. I couldn’t think about anything else except the people I had met and the places I had been in Haiti. That trip strengthened my resolve that we all need to figure out to take care of each other and how to get along and how to live in this world together. That’s the big thing foreign mission work has left me with. I try to channel that into doing what I can to help other people through hard situations. To me it seems like the right thing to do. I don’t see that I have any other option. No other option is satisfying to me except to participate.

I can listen to the Word, I can ponder and try to discern it, but for me to understand it, I need to take it from the abstract to more experiential. But sometimes when I get up in my own head, I find it can be a bad neighborhood. Doing things like this helps me get out of myself and re-discover my True North, if you will. It reorients me to the stuff that really matters in life. Doing mission work can be a way to check the box so you can say you did it. At its cheapest, it’s obituary fodder. It can be something that keeps you coming back because it makes you feel good. Or you can have that moment when your own life looks differently to you because of what you’ve seen, learned, experienced and shared.. CHURCH PRESBYTERIAN FIRST FO R C HRI S T I N T HE HE A RT O F C HA RLOT T E

Raby... continued from previous page attended schools and lived in neighborhoods and joined clubs where everyone looks like us and died without ever having a chance to walk in somebody else’s shoes. As long as it’s acceptable in our society for us to have a large population of have-nots, people like us need to do what we can oneon-one to create a positive impact. I think about a church our size and what would happen if all of us who are able gave two hours a week to connect with one child. That would be a huge accomplishment. CHURCH P RES BY T ERIAN FIRS T FOR C HRIS T IN T HE HE ART OF C HARLOT T E

We may never really understand each other but I think we have to figure out a way to accept each other. I see outreach and mission as a way to cultivate acceptance of one another. CHURCH PRESBYTERIAN FIRST FO R C HRI S T I N T HE HE A RT O F C HA RLOT T E

spring 2019 • tapestry • 9


a p r o f i l e o f d e e p l o v e , d e e p fa i t h

A Glad Spirit

Willie Atkins: Going Strong after 46 Years as Part of the FPC Family

W

illie Atkins will tell anyone that working at First Presbyterian Church has changed his life. Of course, maybe that’s bound to happen if you start working somewhere as a young man—he joined the staff here on April 30, 1973—and are still going strong 46 years later.

Willie first came to Charlotte from Estill, SC, to visit his brothers and sisters. “They invited me up here. So I came up and I liked it. Now I love it.” Willie’s first job in Charlotte was working for a bagging company off Brevard Street. Through his mother-in-law, he learned about a facilities maintenance job at First Presbyterian Church. “Right away, I loved the people here and I loved working for the church,” Willie said. “We got attached to each other.” Pastor Emeritus Bill Wood said the feelings are mutual. “Willie is deeply loved by all of us who worked with him on the staff and in the congregation. He’s one of the finest people I know.” Willie operates his own lawn service business in addition to his afternoon and evening work here at First Presbyterian. One of his clients is Bill Wood. “For 15 years or more, he’s helped me with my lawn work,” Bill said. “Neighbors saw how hard he was working and signed him on. Willie has six paying customers just on my block alone.” Two of the people Willie has been closest to during his years at First Presbyterian Church were the late Henry and Daisy Bridges. Henry, who died in 2018, was instrumental in founding the Community School of the Arts (now Arts Plus) as an outgrowth of his work as the organist and choir director here. For decades, Willie did lawn work for the Bridges family and ultimately became part of the family. Willie was among those invited to an event at the Duke Mansion to honor the legacy of Henry Bridges as the organization he founded took on a new name to acknowledge how broad its scope has become.

10 • tapestry • spring 2019

“Mr. Bridges saw me as a person,” Willie said. “About eight hours every week, I would go out to their house and work with them. Miss Daisy loved to garden and we worked together in her garden for decades, until they moved to Sharon Towers. It was like a family connection.” Member Ward McKeithen said Willie’s relationship with the Bridges family went well beyond caretaking their lawn and garden. “He certainly did that devotedly for a number of years. But he also visited Daisy and Henry regularly and continued to be a friend and visitor to Henry at Sharon Towers after Daisy passed. He has a glad spirit and is a lovely example of Christian fellowship in our midst. He has a kindness that brightens our church.” continues on next page ....


Would you like to serve? We serve each other, our community and the world in many ways through our Ministry Teams. We teach and mentor, we greet or offer hospitality, we visit the homebound or we support worship. Look for immediate opportunities on the website’s Now@First page, under Tickets & Signups or News & Announcements.

Camp Grier Summer camp in the NC mountains for children from high-poverty neighborhoods. How can you help? Make a donation. Drive the van. Be a camp parent, who answers questions and helps children and their families connect to the church and make sure they have the supplies they need. Heather Herring, 704.927.0284 Charlotte Rescue Mission Encourages men suffering from addiction. Chuck Williamson, 704.927.0253 Children’s Fellowship Team Organizing and leading seasonal fellowship opportunities to build community among our K-5 children and families. Tammy Winchip, 704.927.0265 Children’s Formation Team Lead elementary classes, help organize trainings and K-5 kickoff. Tammy Winchip, 704.927.0265 Children’s Outreach Help with overnight mission events and Sunday morning service opportunities. Tammy Winchip, 704.927.0265 Children’s Formation Team Lead elementary classes, help organize trainings and K-5 kickoff. Tammy Winchip, 704.927.0265

... continued from previous page Staff members stress Willie’s loyalty to the church and its members. Bill Wood has a memory that he feels epitomizes Willie’s caring nature. “I was at the church late one night getting ready for a funeral the next day,” Bill recalled. “Willie worked until 9 p.m. and when it came to be time to lock up the church and grounds, Willie came up to check with me. I told him I would be there for quite a while and that I would lock up when I left, that he should go home. I stayed until about 10:30 and when I walked down, I saw that Willie was still there. He wouldn’t leave until I left. “That’s the kind of loyal church person he is.” Willie doesn’t like a fuss made over him and wants it to be clear that he feels he has gained more from being part of the First Presbyterian family than he has contributed.

continues on page 21 ....

“I grew into this job each and every “ the people. day, every week, every the work you do. month, every year,” the place you’re working.” Willie said. “I do Willie Atkins sometimes think about retiring, but as long as they want to keep me here, I’ll stay.”

Love

Love Love

If the time comes for WiIlie to retire, he has some advice for whoever comes behind him to keep the church in good working order. “What I’d say is, love the people. Love the work you do. Love the place you’re working.” CHURCH PRESBYTERIAN FIRST FO R C HRI S T I N T HE HE A RT O F C HA RLOT T E

spring 2019 • tapestry • 11


member profile

Finishing a Decades-Old Visit

“My job is to help them out”

I

f you strike up a conversation with Kenneth Archie about the people who are our guests at Room in the Inn, who visit our Loaves and Fishes food pantry or who enjoy lunch courtesy of our Saturday morning sandwich kitchen, one of the first things he is likely to say is, “I know exactly what they are going through.”

One of FPC’s new deacons installed in January, Kenny knows about the lives of these neighbors because he serves with all these ministries, and others. He also knows because he rides the bus from the Hidden Valley neighborhood, which gives him a chance to talk and befriend neighbors with whom everyone might not rub elbows on a daily basis. continues on next page .... 12 • tapestry • spring 2019


... continued from previous page Equally important, when Kenny first walked into a Wednesday Worship service at FPC a dozen years ago, he had recently lost his job in security at Burlington Coat Factory. He knew firsthand the fear of not knowing how he was going to keep a roof over his head or food on his table. “For anybody that hasn’t struggled to try to make ends meet and doesn’t know where the next meal is going to come from, it might be hard to understand how people’s lives end up this bad,” Kenny said. “There are a lot of sheltered people who have never had this kind of experience. But when you have been exposed to something, you get it.”

see his mother and stopped for a drink at the first water fountain he passed. Within minutes, he had been handcuffed by store security guards. Oblivious to race, he had used the fountain clearly marked “Whites Only.”

When you have been exposed

When Kenny walks from the bus stop to the church or when he serves dinner to neighbors at the Men’s Shelter on Statesville Avenue, he gets to know the names of these neighbors. And his outreach to them is not limited to opportunities through First Presbyterian. Because he knows them by name and they know him by name, Kenny is comfortable offering a few dollars when they ask. He treats them to a meal at neighborhood restaurants.

to something,

you get it.

Attending desegregated West Charlotte High School was also Kenneth Archie an eye-opener for Kenny, as were the three years he spent at Appalachian State University in Boone—especially when he worshipped in a local church on Sunday mornings. No one spoke to him, no one welcomed him—an experience that was not unfamiliar to his mother, who on one Sunday morning had attended an all-white church in center city Charlotte. A church that, decades later, would ordain her son as a deacon.

T K “Sometimes people tell me they don’t want to give money to people on the street because they might not do what they say they’re going to do with it,” Kenny said. “But my job is to help them out. What they do with what I give them is not the part God wants me to worry about. God says if you help them, you help them.”

enny had never seen a new book until the tenth grade, when he was transferred into a desegregated school. Kenny’s dad, J.C., was a laborer who never went past the third grade in school. His mother, Mary Elizabeth, worked at Belk Department Store for more than 25 years.

He grew up in a shotgun house in the historic black neighborhood of Brooklyn just off the streetcar line near what today is McDowell Street. In that house, the bathroom was on the back porch. The house was built over a creek. “A strong enough wind could probably blow it down,” he said. “But even though we didn’t have much, there never was a time when we weren’t eating or didn’t have a warm house.” Despite those things, Kenny never thought of himself as poor. He understands things differently today. “We weren’t middle class because back then, there wasn’t a middle class,” Kenny said. “You were poor or you were rich. Black-owned businesses didn’t even compare to what the white ones owned.” The first event that revealed how the laws of the day impacted Kenny’s experiences in the world took place at Belk’s department store in center city. Barely school age, Kenny had dropped by to

“I didn’t even understand what was the big deal,” Kenny said. “From that time on, I started seeing things.”

hinking Charlotte could do better in its response to affordable housing, Kenny studied city planning and urban development at App State. After three years, he decided to join the Navy before returning to Charlotte to work for a company that made plastic bottles, a business that was bought out and downsized. After having both knees replaced, Kenny has been classified as permanently disabled.

One day, walking through the heart of Charlotte, he noticed that the big church on the corner of Trade and Church streets was open for a mid-week service at noon. He went in and listened to the Reverend Katie Crowe preach. After the service, she welcomed him. Kenny went back, more than once. Sometimes, he and Katie went to lunch. “She made sure she got to see me every week, tried to straighten me up,” Kenny said. “If she hadn’t done that, I would never have straightened up.” At the Wednesday services, Kenny began to understand that outreach and mission were a big part of life at First Presbyterian Church. He told Katie that’s what he wanted to do, and he started to volunteer with Loaves and Fishes before he even joined the church. continues on next page .... spring 2019 • tapestry • 13


... continued from previous page Kenny was on First Presbyterian’s first mission trip to Haiti. He was hooked on serving others on behalf of God and the church. He’s been with groups to Texas, New York, South Carolina, across North Carolina and to Haiti in 2007 and 2009. Now that he receives dialysis, he has to limit his mission work to domestic trips. “To me the best feeling in the world is when you worked on someone’s house and at the end of the week you can see what has been accomplished and you can see people with tears in their eyes because you’ve done something they never thought was going to get done,” Kenny said. “You just have to see their faces. I’m happy and they’re happy—it’s being filled with the Holy Spirit.”

F

rom the first time he walked into First Presbyterian Church, Kenny felt his mother’s presence, could see her walking around in the church. Sometimes he was certain he could hear her saying, You better not sit in that balcony. You need to be sitting down here.

His awareness of his mother being with him persisted and one day he mentioned it to his aunt, Emma Beatty. That’s when Emma reminded her nephew of story that he had heard when he was just a child—the story of the day his mother’s mother didn’t have enough money in the house to ride the bus to church with her three daughters, 16-year-old Mary Elizabeth, 10-yearold Emma and 8-year-old Melinda. So they walked to the closest church, First Presbyterian Church at the top of the hill on Trade Street. When they arrived, they were told to go to the balcony. Just as the service was closing, they were ushered out. This was the mid-1940s. More than 50 years later, without knowing he had a connection, Kenny came back to that big church in center city. “When my aunt reminded me of that story, everything came together,” Kenny said. “I realized what Mom was trying to tell me. And that’s why I’ll never leave this church.” The other thing that keeps Kenny at First Presbyterian Church is the opportunity to be a part of mission and outreach.

14 • tapestry • spring 2019

The Reverend Pen Peery and Kenny greet each other after Sunday worship.

“When my aunt reminded me of that story, everything came together. I realized what Mom was trying to tell me. And that’s why

I’ll never leave this church.” Kenneth Archie

“I would tell people it would be worth their time and sometimes it changes your life. I know it did for me,” he said. “It made me be thankful for what I’ve got and made me realize how good I have it. All that hit me when I came back from that first trip to Haiti in 2007. It changed my life.” CHURCH PRESBYTERIAN FIRST FO R C HRI S T I N T HE HE A RT O F C HA RLOT T E


member profile

When Mission Work Becomes

Loving someone on God’s behalf On the final day of her first mission trip to Haiti in 2014, Glenna Cook found herself in the small clinic First Presbyterian Church helped establish in Bayonnais. “I was doing what passed for helping—checking blood pressures,” Glenna said. “A lot of patients were waiting, including a man whose face was mostly hidden behind a hat.”

Glenna Cook (right) and Brenda McKay(middle) overlapped on mission trips to Haiti a few years ago. Together, they formed an initiative to help expectant mothers in Haiti.

The quiet voice whispered to her again. You’re oldest person in the room. You’re a nurse. You can say something. It’s okay. Glenna sat down close to Francois and tapped him on the shoulder. When he looked at her, she said, “I’m Glenna. I’m sorry this has happened to you. I’m an American nurse. I don’t know if we can, but we want to help you if we can.”

At the end of the day, a young Haitian doctor invited Glenna and other nurses into the exam room, where the young man wearing the hat was seated. His name was Francois. Glenna realized his hat served to hide a large, disfiguring tumor on his face. “Something clicked inside me,” Glenna said. “A little voice said, You must speak to this man.”

Francois said he knew no English. Glenna responded that she knew no Creole. They both laughed.

As the doctor began to tell the nurses about Francois’s diagnosis, Glenna’s heart began to beat a little harder. She didn’t want to step out of line, culturally.

The simple encounter with Francois began to change her life.

“But just for that moment of laughter, I felt the grace of God between the two of us,” Glenna said. “I knew there wasn’t much I could do to help Francois. But because of him, I decided to go back to Haiti.”

continues on next page .... spring 2019 • tapestry • 15


... continued from previous page

Glenna comes from a long line of teachers and farmers and business people and, according to family lore, one circuit-riding preacher. She grew up in Atlanta and attended nursing school in Charlotte. In the early 1970s, she spent her first years in nursing in the remote coal mining district of rural Kentucky. She completed graduate work in public health nursing in Chapel Hill and married Tom Cook, who was from Charlotte. In the mid-1980s, friends invited the young Cook family to visit First Presbyterian Church. “I walked into the sanctuary and thought, This is where I want to be. I felt enveloped by the sense of history and the beauty of the sanctuary. I also thought I could be myself here.” At that time, the Cook family included two sons, Thomas, who was four, and the baby, Trevor. Not long after the family joined First Pres, another baby, Coleman, was born. Today, Trevor coordinates FPC’s handbell choirs; his wife, Susannah, is a member. Thomas, Jr., currently serves the church as a deacon; his wife Elizabeth is the administrative assistant for Formation. Granddaughters Lila and Evans attend the Child Development Center. Coleman rang handbells for seven years and was part of a praise band when First Presbyterian had a contemporary service. He travels for his work as a musician and periodically hangs his hat in Charlotte. “I consider First Presbyterian Church to be the great blessing of my family’s life,” Glenna said. “Acknowledging a blessing is important to receiving it.”

Since becoming a Christian as a teenager, Glenna has sensed God calling her to a more intentional spiritual journey but she wasn’t sure what that meant. A few years ago, with her children grown, she heard a devotion in a diaconate meeting from the writings of Father Thomas Keating, the 16 • tapestry • Summer 2018

Clockwise from top left: Trevor, Thomas, Elizabeth, Evans, Glenna, Lila and Susannah Cook. founder of a contemplative Glenna and son Coleman practice called Centering most challenging part of mission work Prayer. She heard a voice telling her that can be to stay open to God’s leading. Her she needed the book. She began to practice constant prayer, she said, has become silence each morning. “Show me more. “Through silence, I gradually opened myself to the Holy Spirit and to God’s guidance and paid attention to his taps on the shoulder,” Glenna said. “Before that I was just a busy mom balancing all the stuff you do. It wasn’t that I didn’t love my church. But I was more Martha than Mary. It was time to become more Mary.” When she recognized God was calling her to a different kind of spiritual journey, Glenna said it terrified her. She said the

“Trusting God is a lifelong journey.” Glenna had a keen sense of adventure and curiosity about other countries and other cultures. She had been part of mission trips to Mexico and Venezuela. So when FPC member Amy Hockett invited Glenna to join the group going to Haiti at a time that fit Glenna’s schedule, she went, never expecting how central Haiti would become to her faith journey. continues on next page ....


... continued from previous page Glenna loves farm communities and was immediately attracted to Bayonnais, Haiti, an agrarian valley inhabited by about 80,000 friendly Haitian people. First Presbyterian Church serves the small village of Cathor, where the school, the church, a small bank, a guest house, a gift shop and a mercantile are all located in an area of about 100 yards. “There is a palpable gentle feeling in Bayonnais,” Glenna said. “The valley, the mango trees, the water—it is vibrant as well as isolated, very much off the beaten path. In the village of Cathor is a lively culture in a society so far removed from everything else. The sum of that felt so natural to me, like a perfect little utopia.” On that first trip, Glenna worked on trying to build relationships with people who spoke a different language, as well as taking supplies and medicines to the clinic. She met another nurse, Brenda McKay, who was there from Charlotte’s Sardis Presbyterian Church. Yet Glenna didn’t feel the service connection she was hoping to find. “Yes, we were providing and they were receiving, but were we really working together on behalf of God and the patients?” she asked herself. The answer, it seemed to her, was “no.”

Baby steps

Haiti’s infant death rate is among the highest in the world—10 times the rate in the U.S. About 95% of the births in the remote area of Bayonnais happen at home, where women aren’t always well-prepared to handle complications. Despite the new health clinic in Bayonnais, babies and mothers in their rural area continued to die at a very high rate. Most young mothers were not accustomed to thinking of childbirth as a situation that required going to the clinic for medical care. “Glenna and I had been interested in doing more than we were doing,” said Brenda McKay, a nurse who bonded with Glenna a few years ago when their mission trips overlapped. Brenda is a member at Sardis Presbyterian Church in Charlotte. When they spoke with ministry partners Actionnel and Yolande Fleurisma, a plan began to come together. Perhaps they could do simple things to attract prospective mothers to the clinic for prenatal care. They interviewed young mothers and identified the need for better nutrition, as well as baby blankets and towels for babies. Those initiatives were launched. This also led to the creation of clean birth kits, based on World Health Organization standards, for mothers-to-be. After the interviews in 2017, Brenda and Glenna spent three weeks in Haiti last year, going out into the community to visit with mothers who were not coming to the clinic. Since then, a nurse has been hired at the clinic to focus on prenatal care. “These are tiny baby steps that we hope will impact overall health,” Glenna said. “It’s like giving two CCs of formula to a preemie. They aren’t ready for a full meal of the kind of medical care we are accustomed to here.”

Then came the last day of the trip, and the connection Glenna made with Francois. Something clicked. She went back to Haiti the next opportunity she had. And she kept asking questions of herself and God. What is the best place for us to focus our work when there are so many needs? Where do I start? How do we know that where we want to start is where they want to start? How do we get people interested in coming to a clinic when they think of health care as something they need when there’s a problem? Does what we are doing as nurses serve that purpose? Mission Partner Actionnel Fluerisma,

Brenda McKay and Glenna talked over questions like that time and time again. “Brenda and I both seemed to have some of the same frustrations,” Glenna said. “We had to keep stepping back to ask ourselves if our American nursing ideals were unrealistic for this population.” “We started to discuss the fact that infant and maternal deaths could be preventable with minimal interventions,” Glenna said. “This was a way that our work could have

an impact—if we could get the mothers to visit the clinic. We believed that if we could improve conditions for expectant mothers, it could improve the health of the overall population. If we could improve the birth rate, we might be able to model health care in other ways—and this makes good public health sense. “This is where our particular gifts as continues on next page .... spring 2019 • tapestry • 17


... continued from previous page nurses come in and why God tapped us on the shoulders.” Glenna couldn’t make the next trip, but Brenda McKay and another group interviewed 20 young mothers about their needs and how this partnership could address those needs. One of the questions asked during the interview was what these new mothers had eaten in the last 24 hours. They validated concerns that none of them had enough to eat—nutrition was borderline. The women also said they wanted blankets and towels for their babies.

“It’s easy for me to think that loving

God is trying to show me it is entirely enough to love someone on his behalf.

someone is not enough.

That is no small thing. “

“How like an American mother,” Glenna said. “They just wanted something for their babies.” These interviews sparked two ideas—food packets for new mothers and their families. The food is purchased in Haiti and the packets assembled there, as a way to support the local economy. The other initiative was to collect blankets and hooded infant towels, which will be given to pregnant women who come to the clinic for prenatal care. This small incentive, Glenna said, could encourage them to identify the clinic as a place to come for help, even if they didn’t feel there was a problem.

F

or Glenna, the experience of learning about the lives of these young mothers went beyond simply trying to provide for some of their physical needs in a life that was often harsh and challenging.

Bayonnais.”

“Having some sweetness in a relationship was important to me,” she said. “I felt a personal commitment to show love to the expectant mothers. It’s about walking spiritually with somebody and I have a strong desire to do that with the mothers in

Glenna Cook offering a prayer for every mother she meets, by offering a cold drink of water. “Haiti is a hot country and the people live hard scrabble lives. Many mothers and children have to walk a couple of hours a day just to get water,” she said. “I felt like every mother we saw should at least have a cold drink of water. Also I offer a hug and ask about how their family is today. What are you having at your house for supper? Who is eating with you today? Mother-to-mother, woman-to-woman questions. “Will it make a difference for them to know I care about their daily routine? I believe it will. I think that is God’s promise for all of us.” A book Glenna is reading as part of her daily spiritual practice has her thinking about the idea that loving others more releases us to help others more. “It’s easy for me to think that loving someone is not enough,” she said. “God is trying to show me it is entirely enough to love someone on his behalf. That is no small thing. What I’m beginning to understand better is that I am able to share blankets and food, but any transformation that happens is done by God, through us.” CHURCH PRESBYTERIAN FIRST FO R C HRI S T I N T HE HE A RT O F C HA RLOT T E

Glenna tries to establish that connection in simple ways—by

Perhaps, Glenna thinks, loving someone on God’s behalf is international mission work.

Want to share God’s love? Join a mission trip! Want to know more as plans for the next trip to Haiti unfold? Contact the Reverend Chuck Williamson (cwilliamson@firstpres-charlotte.org) to learn more. Our other trips are: • Mexico/Spring 2020: Contact Martha Eubank (meubank@bellsouth.net) to

18 • tapestry • Summer 2018

learn more about this trip. • Russia/Summer 2020: Begin making plans now to go on this mission trip to Russia to continue our support of the ministry of Hope Baptist Church in Ryazan. Mary Elizabeth Coley (maryelizabeth.coley@providenceday.org) can give you more information. • Intra-National Mission/Fall 2019: Each

year our church sends a mission team to an area in the US that is recovering from a natural disaster. Teams have gone to New York City to help with the recovery from Superstorm Sandy and to eastern North Carolina to help rebuild after the hurricanes of recent years. Contact David Burton (burtoncustombuilding@gmail. com) for more information. CHURCH P R ES BY T ERIAN FIRS T FO R C HRIS T IN T HE HE ART OF C HARLOT T E


Would you like to serve? ... continued from page 11 Crisis Assistance Ministry Moving Ministry Each month we deliver furniture from the Crisis Assistance Furniture Bank to those who are moving out of homelessness. Michael White, 260.249.7889 Disaster Response We witness to the healing power of God’s love by serving in local communities adversely affected by catastrophic events. Chuck Williamson, 704.927.0253 First Church Providing age-appropriate worship opportunities for our K-2 children during 9 and 11 a.m. services. Tammy Winchip, 704.927.0265 Flower Ministry Help create one of the most visible signs of welcome on Sunday mornings—the sanctuary flower arrangements. Julie Caldwell, 704.351.8610 Friendship Trays Packages & delivers hot lunches to the elderly, handicapped and others. Chuck Williamson, 704.927.0253 Funeral Guild Help families following the death of a family member. Provide ushers for funerals and organize receptions and luncheons following the funeral. Jean Cochrane, 704.527.0399. Habitat for Humanity Each fall during our build, volunteers are needed to organize the home build, raise funds, help with construction and provide food to workers. Marwen McDowell, 704.365.9314 HEART Tutoring at Westerly Hills Academy Math tutoring. Heather Herring, 704.927.028Homebound Visitation Stay in touch with homebound or ill members of our congregation. Monthly contact is recommended. Chuck Williamson, 704.927.0253.

Lemonade on the Lawn Greet people and serve lemonade following the 11 a.m. worship service from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekends. Sonya Snowden, 704.968.3921 Loaves & Fishes Stocking shelves and distributing bags of food to clients here at First Presbyterian Church. Chuck Williamson, 704.927.0253 Men’s Shelter of Charlotte Serve dinner at one of the two year-round emergency shelters for men experiencing homelessness. Chuck Williamson, 704.927.0253 Mission Trips Groups go to our partners in Mexico, Russia, Haiti and Cuba. Some trips are construction-based. Others have a focus of relationship building or health care. Trips typically last 5-10 days. Chuck Williamson, 704.927.0253 Missionary Correspondence & Awareness Write letters and pray for our missionaries. Chuck Williamson, 704.927.0253 PW (Presbyterian Women) Circles Open to all women of the church, these small group Bible studies meet monthly on a variety of days and at varying times from September through June.  Other large events are held each year. Sara Pressly, sbmjones@bellsouth.net New Members Help host or plan events for visitors, newcomers or new members. Lucy Caldwell, 704.927.0241. Prayer Ministry Team Commit to daily prayer for individuals and families or the church prayer list, and participate periodically in our post-worship prayer time. Katy Cochran, 704.516.2962. Prime Timers Social, educational, and caring opportunities for older adults. Chuck Williamson, 704.927.0253

PW (Presbyterian Women) All women of the church are members of PW and are invited to be part of a wide range of activities, including circle meetings, luncheons, welcoming new members, visitations to homebound members and more. Sara Pressly, sbmjones@bellsouth.net Receptionist/Reservations Allow our receptionist to take a lunch break while you get acquainted with dayto-day activities at the church. Jan Gaddis, 704.927. Small Group Bible Studies Many small groups meet for study and for fellowship. Garrell Keesler, 704.927.0244 Stephen Ministry Prepare yourself to minister to others in need. Stephen Ministers take part in 50 hours of training in Christian caring skills, including topics such as effective listening, dealing with feelings, using traditional Christian resources in caring, and helping people going through a crisis. After training, laypersons will be commissioned into active caring ministries to work with people experiencing situations such as grief, hospitalization, depression, loneliness, divorce, job loss and other life crises. Katherine Kerr, 704.927.0250 Sunday Morning Offerings for Adults Multiple classes on Sunday mornings offer opportunities to lead as well as to participate from 10-10:45 a.m. Garrell Keesler, 704.927.0244 Youth Formation Youth advisors, prayer partners, confirmation sponsors, teachers and other leaders help shape the faith of our high school and middle school youth. Natalie Raygor, 704.927.0236 Summer Camps (Camp Grier, BELL) Be a teacher, trip coordinator or a trip buddy for a camper attending our summer enrichment camps. Heather Herring, 704.927.0284

spring 2019 • tapestry • 19


r e a d y t o pa s s i t o n

A Success Story in All of Us

From Camper to MBA to Camp Parent

T

hirty-three years ago, 11-year-old Versie Massey met Judy and David Nichols.

Versie was the oldest of five children being raised in poverty by a single mother. David and Judy were First Presbyterian Church members who volunteered to be camp parents as part of the Camp Grier initiative. None of them had any idea that this connection would last decades and would transform the lives of everyone involved— Versie Massey (center), with Judy and David Nichols and Versie’s two grown sons. The not just Versie’s life, but the lives of her siblings, her own children, her nieces and Nichols’ encouragement and love for Versie continued during college, after she became a nephews. And the impact won’t stop there. mother, and continued as she began work on her MBA degree. Now a financial crimes analyst for Wells Fargo and the mother of two grown sons, Versie is ready to pass it on: She has volunteered to be a camp parent this summer.

G

rowing up, Versie’s family often wondered if they would have food for the day. As the oldest, Versie stepped in to help with her siblings. When she had the opportunity to attend Camp Grier in the North Carolina mountains, Versie soon realized this meant she could escape her adult responsibilities. Without Judy and David Nichols and First Presbyterian Church, Versie feels she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to just be a child for a while each summer. “Every year, starting when I was 11 until I aged out of the program at Camp Grier, Mr. and Mrs. Nichols would come out to the house, pack me up for camp, make sure had everything I needed to take with me,” Versie said.

That didn’t happen just one year. It happened until Versie aged out of the program in her late teens. It didn’t just happen during the summer, either. Versie formed a strong bond with the Nichols family. “To me, it felt like Mr. and Mrs. Nichols were my parents.”

20 • tapestry • spring 2019

continues on next page ....


... continued from previous David and Judy Nichols recognized from the first time they met her that Versie was smart, caring and well-mannered, despite her disadvantaged background.

Versie Massie now is a financial crimes analyst with a bank.

“It was not obvious that she would be able to overcome her disadvantages by herself,” Judy said. “We wanted to help her if we could. We didn’t really do that much for her. We did, however, provide a safety net for her and were there for her when she needed help.” As a result of their recognition that Versie needed a safety net, Judy and David made sure the relationship continued throughout her Camp Grier years and beyond. David and Judy encouraged Versie to attend college. Their loving support continued when Versie became a mother of two sons. It continued when she started working on her MBA, especially at times when Versie thought she didn’t have it in her to succeed. Throughout the years, the relationship has continued with birthday dinners and graduation celebrations and phone calls. “My dorm mates at Barber Scotia College thought the Nichols were my parents because they saw them so much,” Versie said. So when Judy and David suggested to Versie earlier this year that she might be ready to become a camp parent herself, Versie didn’t hesitate. She felt she was being called to offer love and support to children who were experiencing the kind of childhood hers had been.

“If I can help somebody pull themselves out of a bad environment,

“Mr. and Mrs. Nichols contributed to my success,” Versie said. “It touches my heart they have been so good to me. Sometimes when you’re young you just want somebody to listen. I want to be someone that can listen to them. I want to be able to motivate them, to let them know they can do something different with their lives. If I can help somebody pull themselves out of a bad environment, I want to do that.”

I want to do that” Versie Massey

Having been a single mother herself, Versie acknowledges what a difficult challenge her mother faced. She also recognizes the things her mother did well, given those circumstances.

Versie acknowledges that she was a strong individual, but believes she might never have graduated from college without the Nichols family.

“My mom saw the poverty we were in and incorporated other people in our lives, gave us other opportunities to make sure we’re able to adjust to society,” Versie said. “At camp, I was able to see a different environment, meet different people and learn how to socialize with others.”

“When First Presbyterian put Mr. and Mrs. Nichols in my life, that provided me with a stronger foundation than I would have had,” she said. “And because of that, I was able to give my sons and my nieces and nephews something I didn’t get as a child. Mr. and Mrs. Nichols made me a better person than I would have been. I learned from them how to be caring. When the younger people in my family see me their faces light up.”

After attending Camp Grier for a few years, Versie was asked to step into a leadership role with younger girls, making sure they stayed on schedule and knew what was expected of them. Leadership responsibilities helped give her the confidence she needed to become the first person in her family to attend college. “Versie achieved her success through her own hard work and determination,” said David Nichols. “We have loved knowing her and her two sons as they have made their way. Knowing them has given us the opportunity to see, first hand, what a difference a little help can make.”

Four of the five children in Versie’s family of origin went to college. Three graduated. Two of them, including Versie, have Master’s degrees. Versie’s son Ronald, 24, is an entrepreneur trying to get his own business off the ground; 22-year-old Sterling will graduate from North Carolina Central in May. Nieces and nephews don’t doubt their ability to attend college. CHURCH PRESBYTERIAN FIRST FO R C HRI S T I N T HE HE A RT O F C HA RLOT T E

“There’s a success story in all of us because First Presbyterian gave us Mr. and Mrs. Nichols.” spring 2019 • tapestry • 21


Danielle Ansaldi

Lee & Ashley Hardeea

Hank Griffin

Stuart Williams & John Hopkins and son Ramsey

Maria & Igor Karpovich and son Mark

Nancy & Larry Hughes

Marian Lomax

Erin & Stephen Kemp

David Powell

Allison Schaefer

Jennifer LomaxSelf

Oliver Short

Bryce Lapping

Tommy Mitchell

Missy & Tim Logan and sons Edward Boyd & Bennett Gilbert

Ashley & Lee Hardee

Laura & Cody Sundberg

Danielle Ansaldi Wilson & Lauren McCrory and son Bo.

• Danielle is a Charlotte native who currently lives in center city. • She is a graduate of Wake Forest University and works as a financial analyst at Duke Energy • Danielle can often be found running on the rail trail or in 4th ward when weather permits.

Hank Griffin

Cameron & Curtis Strubinger

• Originally from Shelby, NC, Hank moved to Charlotte in 2012 and currently lives in the Cotswold area. • He works for NBC Network News as a national news producer. • Hank attended UNC Greensboro and enjoys theater and music.

• Ashley is from Norfolk, VA, and Lee is from Greenville, NC. • Ashley went to Virginia Tech for undergrad and UNC Charlotte for MBA. Lee went to Davidson College for undergrad and UNC Chapel Hill for MBA. • Ashley and Lee recently had a baby boy, William. • They have been in Charlotte for 19 years and live in the First Ward Garden District.

John Hopkins & Stuart Williams and son Ramsey

• Stuart is originally from Laurel, MS, and John is from Rock Hill, SC. • Stuart is a General Dentist and John is in property management for CAMS. • Their son Ramsay, 12, is in the sixth grade. He was baptized at First Presbyterian. • The family lives in Raintree and enjoys traveling to their mountain house in Montreat. They lived in Charlotte before, then moved to Black Mountain for 7 years before returning to Charlotte last year.

continues on next page .... 22 • tapestry • spring 2019


... continued from previous page

Nancy & Larry Hughes

• Nancy and Larry both grew up in Hickory, NC, and have lived in Charlotte since 2009. • Nancy is the executive director of Smart Start of Mecklenburg County and Larry is a senior vice president and group manager at First Bank. They live in the SouthPark area of Charlotte. • Larry loves fly fishing and golf and they both enjoy traveling, reading, and hiking.

Maria & Igor Karpovich and son Mark

• Maria and Igor are originally from Russia; they moved to Charlotte last July and live in center city. • Igor attended Harvard and Maria attended Westminster College in London. • They have a son, Mark (5).

Erin & Stephen Kemp

• Erin is originally from Birmingham, AL, where she attended BirminghamSouthern College. Stephen is from Huntsville, AL, and attended the University of Alabama. • Erin works at the Levine Cancer Institute as a Nurse Practitioner and Stephen works at Atrium in Hospital Mergers and Acquisitions. • They love to hike and explore areas of North Carolina.

Bryce Lapping

• Bryce was born and raised in Pinehurst, NC. • He is the Assistant Director of Youth Ministries here at First Presbyterian Church, where he works with our middle school youth. • He attended UNC-Chapel Hill, where he played in the Marching Tar Heels while studying sports journalism, political science and music. • Bryce loves playing, watching and talking about sports and playing musical instruments.

Missy & Tim Logan and sons Edward Boyd & Bennett Gilbert

• Missy is from Pittsburgh, PA, and Tim is from Atlanta, GA (by way of Albemarle, NC) • They have two sons, Teddy, 2, Ben,

months. •Tim has been in Charlotte since 2006 and Missy has been in Charlotte since 2009. They live in the Elizabeth neighborhood.

David Powell

Jennifer Lomax-Self

Allison Schaefer

•Jennifer has been in Charlotte about six months, having been transferred here from Idaho by her company, POWER Engineers. • She is originally from Los Angeles and graduated from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, with a B.S. degree in Environmental Design. • She met her husband, Tom, in Idaho. Tom was from Austin, Texas, and built custom homes; he enjoys custom woodworking. • Jennifer and Tom enjoy being outside with their horses, and riding and competing in equestrian events.

Marian Lomax

• Marian is originally from California. • She attended Pepperdine University, then worked as an executive secretary in Los Angeles for 15 years before having a daughter and becoming a homemaker. • Marian is retired now and enjoys needle work, knitting, reading, football. She is a diehard University of South Carolina fan. She has two grand-horses who enjoy carrots and apples from their “Grandma.” • Marian moved to the Charlotte area with her daughter. They lived in Sun Valley, ID, for more than 15 years.

Lauren McCrory & her husband, Wilson, and son Bo

• Lauren is from Tampa, FL, and attended the University of Florida and Vanderbilt University. • Lauren and her husband, Wilson, have a 17-month-old son, Bo. They live in the Cherry neighborhood, near the Midtown Trader Joe’s, and enjoy going on walks.

Tommy Mitchell

• Tommy was born in Charlotte and grew up in Davidson, NC. He lived in WinstonSalem during college and for a couple of years after graduating. • Tommy has three children, Grady (17), John (16), and Carolina (11). • He enjoys hiking and fly fishing anyplace he can find trout. • He married Mary Elizabeth Coley in March of this year; they live in Davidson.

• David grew up in the Presbyterian Church, where his father is a well-known choral director and organist. • Allison is originally from Philadelphia, PA, and is still a big Philly sports fan. • UNC Chapel Hill is her alma mater and she loves being a Tar Heel. • Allison has lived in the Charlotte area for about 12 years.

Oliver Short

• Oliver is originally from Durham, NC, and has been in Charlotte almost 3 years. He lives in Wesley Heights. • A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he works in Online Banking Strategy for Bank of America. • Oliver’s favorite hobbies are cooking and playing music (saxophone).

Curtis & Cameron Strubinger

• Curtis grew up in St. Louis, MO, and Cameron is from Charlotte. • Curtis is an attorney at Robinson Bradshaw. Cameron is a CPA, currently a senior associate at Dixon Hughes. • Curtis attended the University of Missouri for his undergraduate/master degrees, and Duke University for law school. Cam went to Wake Forest for her undergrad and masters. • They have dog named Millie. The love walking around Dilworth with Millie, going to Panthers games and exploring restaurants.

Laura & Cody Sundberg and daughter Remi Rose

Cody is from Rockford, IL, but grew up mostly in Columbus, OH; Laura is from Westlake, OH. They moved to Charlotte around Thanksgiving, 2018, and currently live in Plaza Midwood. •Cody is Senior Vice President at Foundry Commercial and Laura is Director of Marketing at RGP Consulting. • Cody went to Miami University (Ohio), and Laura went to Ohio University (Athens). • Their daughter, Remi, is 18 months old. • Cody plays golf and loves snowboarding. They love to spend time with their three dogs and enjoy anything outdoors.

spring 2019 • tapestry • 23


Programs & Events Coming Soon 2019 Willard Lecture

May 7 Rise Above: Becoming a Healer in an Ailing World

Annual Birthday Dinner

By PW (Presbyterian Women) May 9

Music Sunday: Tune Our Hearts

May 19 With the Sanctuary Choir and guest musicians One service at 11 a.m.

Food Truck Lunch

May 19 On the front lawn, noon

God at the Movies

Sundays, June 2-July 28 Biblical lessons in our favorite films, Formation Hour Discussion, 10 a.m. Sermon series, 11 a.m.

Vacation Bible School June 24 - 27

BELL Summer Enrichment June 17 - July 24

Kickoff Sunday September 8

New to First Presbyterian Church? Contact Lucy Caldwell, Membership Development Coordinator 704-927-0241, lcaldwell@firstpres-charlotte.org

Profile for First Presbyterian - Charlotte

Tapestry Spring 2019  

Tapestry Spring 2019  

Advertisement