The Spire (Newsletter)


May Spire 2019

May Calendar 2019

The Spire

Newsletter of First Presbyterian Church of Garner


Letter From the Pastor

“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert”–Isaiah 43:19


Dear FPCOG Friends and Neighbors,

In early April your Session and Board of Deacons met together for a day-long session to begin conversations about God’s vision for First Presbyterian of Garner. Our time was fun and fruitful.

We shared stories of our history together and experiences where we have shared God’s presence. We named the church’s greatest resource– the caring hearts of our people–that can be used to accomplish the work God calls us to do. And, rather than grieving what we lack, we thought creatively about how we might build on our many strengths as a church.

In the process, we studied biblical passages relating to “lifelong discipleship” and Incarnational mission” 2 of the 7 marks identified by our denomination, PC(USA), as key to church vitality. At the end of the day, all present agreed these two marks would be helpful focal points for developing a vision for what God is calling us to do over the next 12-18 months.

Allow me to say a bit more about what these two marks mean:

Life-Long Discipleship embraces the idea that, no matter our age, we are always capable of learning more about who God is and who we are. Since the Holy Spirit is always forming and re-forming us, we commit to offering opportunities that can foster spiritual growth for every age. Further, this kind of discipleship is a responsibility for every ministry—from worship to finance and stewardship.

Incarnational Mission prompts us to see where Christ’s presence is at work not only inside our church but also in the community and world around us. Since Christ is bound to no one single time and place, we seek to connect more and more with partners in the community in the hopes that Christ’s light shines brightly for all people.

Our Session and Deacon Ministry Teams are now in process of crafting goals for the year ahead that embrace and reflect these marks of vitality so that we can share this new work with the whole of our family of faith.

To that same end, I will preach a sermon series in July and August exploring these two marks and am hopeful we can schedule a time for a church wide forum (perhaps over a pot luck meal!) to further this discussion and offer opportunities for others to get involved.

In other words, be ready to hear more about “lifelong discipleship” and “incarnational mission” and what they mean for our life together—and feel free to share even now any questions, concerns, or insights these ideas prompt in you.


May the Lord Bless and Keep You Always,

Rev. Ben



Earth Care Corner

This month we have some ideas you can use to help our planet at home and at work or school. These ideas come from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and are presented on the website Fact Monster (
· Keep your neighborhood or work site clean. If you see trash on the ground, toss it in a trash can.
· Recycle cans, bottles, plastic, and paper. Save them at home and work or school and dispose of them in designated recycling bins. Plastic shopping bags can be recycled at Target.
· Save paper. Use both sides of your paper at home and school or work. To clean up messes, use sponges or washable cloths instead of paper towels.
· Save water. Don’t leave water running while brushing your teeth or rinsing dishes.
· Save energy. Turn off lights when no one is using the room. Turn off the TV if no one is watching it. Don’t leave the refrigerator door open. Get what you want quickly and close the door firmly.
· Encourage others to do what you’re doing.
And remember…
You may think that as one person, you don’t make a difference to our earth. You do!
Next month: Composting as an earth-friendly way to recycle waste.


Worship News

May (and June 2!) Worship Notes:
During May, we wind down our current journey with the “Narrative Lectionary” as we live into a “post-Easter” world. Drawing on lessons and experiences of the early church, our worship will focus us again on God’s continuing call to go forth in courage and to be open to the leading of the Spirit as we serve others in Christ’s name.

May 5 (Holy Communion)
The love of Christ frees us but that doesn’t mean sharing that love is always easy for us. Like Peter, our arms often need twisting to trust God actually means what God proclaims.
Text: Acts 10:1-17, 34-35
Sermon Title:
Freed To Serve: God Is Serious
268 Crown Him With many Crowns
265 Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun

May 12
“Success” is often our goal, but failure—like the one Paul experiences in today’s reading– can also teach us something valuable about our mission to serve.
Text: Acts 13:1-3, 14:8-18
Sermon Title:
Freed To Serve: Mission Failure
667 When Morning Guilds The Skies
236 The Strife Is O’er
697 Take My Life

May 19
The Holy Spirit is often the least spoken about person of the Trinity. In the first week of this series, we celebrate the Spirit’s work of energizing our discipleship in God’s name.
Text: John 20, Genesis 2:4b-7, 15, John 20:19-23
Sermon title :
In the Spirit’s Tether: Inspired to Act
248 Christ Is Risen Shout Hosanna
69 Here I am Lord
286 Breath On Me Breath of God

May 26
We continue exploring the person of the Hoy Spirit, paying close attention to the consolation and deep sighs the Spirit offers us in times of crisis and distress.
Text: Romans 8: 18-27
Sermon title :
In the Spirit’s Tether: Our Tears Are Our Truth
2 Come Thou Almighty King
408 There’s a Sweet Sweet Spirit
388 Spirit of the Living God

June 2 (Holy Communion)
Our focus on the work of the Spirit shifts this week to the way the Spirit calls us to be open to new possibilities and faithful risk for the sake of God’s glory, grace, and love
Text: Acts 8:26-40
Sermon title :
In the Spirit’s Tether: Yes And…
664 Morning Has Broken
157 I Danced In The Morning


May Flowers

5th Given to the Glory of God in memory of their grandparents by Karen & Gary Lovering.
12th Given to the Glory of God in honor of Presbyterian Women Lifetime Award.
19th Given to the Glory of God in memory of Donald Miller by Ruby Miller-Ousley
26th Given to the Glory of God by Carrie Dixon in honor of her and Chris’ wedding.

Congregational Care

Prayer Concerns

Members: Carson & Rosemary Carmichael, Joan Young, Georgia Morrison, Stan & Edith Conyers, Martha Harris, John & Elaine Watkins, Olive Safrit, Tammy Oelke, Diane Turner & Jeff Cadwallader, Ann & Curtis Hopkins

Members’ Families: Thelma Pleasant (Rose’s mother), Martha Morgan (Emily Lee’s sister), Michael Regester (Losada’s grandson), Annette Hill (Lorrie Icenhour’s sister), Ann Gould (Gould family), Karen Safrit (Olive Safrit), Amanda Miller (Ruby Miller-Ousley’s daughter-in-law), Tonya Boykin, Susan (Georgia Morrison’s daughter), Donna Smith (Sandy Lee), Jacquie Glover (Rosemary Carmichael), Debbie Carmichael (Rosemary Carmichael), Walter Worden (Nancy Waldrop’s brother), Cheryl Weber (Jeanne Conner’s sister), Schuyler Tolbert (Nancy Waldrop), Rick Slack (Debra Wallace’s brother), Jim Cole (Trish Holmes), Glen & Gail Schue (aunt & uncle of Carrie Dixon), Michael Gurkin (Rose’s husband), Aleena Conner (Dick Conner), Lisa George (Karen Lovering’s sister-in-law) Charlye & Doyle Harrington (Marsha Whittington’s parents), Don Gould (Kathy Blue’s brother-in-law)

Members’ Friends: Dennis and Janie Eldridge and family, Marjorie Cassada, John Beckley, David Myhre, Joann Overby, Nicole Watson, Fran Tocci (Sandy Lee), Dr. Sherri Edwards (Sandy Lee), Shawn Collier (Debra McHenry), Jeanne Kujawski Schmitz (Sandy Lee), Vanessa Tart (Donna Gould), Mike Brannon (Donna Gould), Chris Woodall (Peggy Wilkins), Maddox Cottle (3 month old friend of Sandra Hodge), Don Niemann (Donna Gould), Cheryl Arnold (Kathy Henderson), Laura Gould-White (Melissa Miley), Dixon Earley (Nancy Waldrop), Gwen Newcomber (Jane Knabe)

May Birthdays and Anniversaries

2nd Sam Blue
6th Diane Turner
9th Rob Whittington
12th Shane Whittington & Heather Lee
19th Carson Carmichael & Kian Miley
21st Nancy Waldrop
26th David Pease
27th Debra Wallace
29th Virginia Sommese

1st Christopher & Christine Turpin
21st Rob & Marsha Whittington
22nd Mike & Cynthia Koenig

Christian Education

Adult Sunday School Classes

New Beginnings Sunday School
The New Beginnings Sunday School group will be reading about a celebration of God’s deliverance by examining the books of Ruth and Ester. These books are the only two books out of the bible that are named after women. Both books have had an impact on the Jewish people and are often studied together because of their sticking similarities even though they were written about seven hundred years apart. We will explore some common themes of foreignness and divine providence as we get to know these two heroines as the story displays the bonding of family relationships based on the idea of covenant.

Ogburn Sunday School
If you are not currently attending Sunday School, please consider joining the Ogburn class each Sunday morning. We are currently using the Adult Bible Studies series from Cokesbury. This spring, our lessons survey several calls to ministry and the expectations of those called. Several of the lessons highlight calls to service as recorded in the Gospels of Mark and Luke. We explore Paul’s call to ministry, with special attention to the Roman church. Join us each Sunday at 9:45am for wonderful discussion and fellowship.


Bible Study Groups

Thursday Morning Bible Study
Our Thursday morning study will have it’s last series in May and early June before taking a Summer break! Our series will focus on biblical passages from the Old and New testament that relate to “discipleship” and “incarnational mission”—two marks of church vitality that relate to the developing visson of our church.

Wednesday Night Bible Study
The Wednesday Night Bible Study Group start our next study on Wednesday, May 1. We will be studying the book of Acts, using Max Lucado’s Lessons from Acts. In the book of Acts, you’ll see that the men you read about in the Gospels have been transformed. They may still look the same and have the same mannerisms, but with the Holy Spirit indwelling them, they are not the same and because they are different, so is the world. They founded the early Church and gave us a legacy of faith. Join us for fellowship and lively discussion each Wednesday night, beginning at 7:30pm, in the New Beginnings Classroom. For more information, please contact Karen Lovering (919-418-3568).
Ida-Joy Bible Study
The Ida-Joy Bible Study members will meet on Tuesday, May 14th at 10am in the church library. The lessons will continue in the book Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur. These are in-depth studies of the twelve disciples. We welcome anyone who is interested to attend our study group meetings.



Presbyterian General Meeting – Annual Birthday Offering
We’re having a party and you are invited!
We hope you can come! We’re all so excited!
Presbyterian Women’s Annual Birthday Offering Party!
Sunday, the 19th of May
Immediately following the Morning Service
Fellowship Hall
As part of the PW General meeting, we will be celebrating and collecting the annual Birthday Offering! The Birthday Offering is one of Presbyterian Women’s two offerings. Received in the spring each year, it gives women a tangible way to celebrate the blessings in their lives. The Birthday Offering funds up to five projects each year, in amounts of $75,000 to $150,000 each. Join us for a light lunch, Bible study, and fun & games!

The Men of the Church are invited to keep an eye out this summer for some Sunday morning gathering times of prayer along with coffee and doughnuts. These “Holey Moments” will be held around 9:15am under the Rev. Acton’s leadership on some TBD dates in June, July, and August. This time of fellowship and devotion will offer opportunities to gather while the monthly Men of the Church breakfast is on its summer break which is from May-August. Monthly breakfasts will start up again in September when we’ll also begin a discussion on the relationship between Faith and Science.

Prayer is Key: The prayer group meets on Thursday mornings at 9am. We welcome new members. This group is an opportunity to learn how to pray, to strengthen your relationship to God and to see God at work in a personal way.

The Alzheimer’s Support Group will meet Thursday, May 16th at 6:30pm in the Faith Formation Classroom. The support group welcomes anyone who is a caregiver, a family member or friend of someone who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, or someone who wants to simply know more about Alzheimer’s Disease. For further information contact Donna Gould at 919 772-0018.

The Social Committee sponsors a Game Day every Wednesday at 10am in the Fellowship Hall. Please come and enjoy the morning playing your favorite games. Feel free to bring your own games or come and have fun learning new ones. We look forward to seeing you there!

Spire articles and pictures are due by 5pm the 3rd Tuesday of each month unless otherwise stated. Please submit articles to the office in writing or by e-mail to the Administrative Assistant at

Child care update: As we continue our search for a new childcare giver we are in need of volunteers to help in the nursery. If you are willing to assist with this very special task of watching our youngest members and visitors, please get in touch with Sandy Lee at 919-522-3416. For now we are going back to having a sign-up sheet in the Narthex for different tasks and events particular to the nursery. If you think Oh I could do that on Such and Such a date please sign up. We will monitor the form to put you in if we have little ones come. Thank you all for considering this precious service. We are all part of the village to help raise the next generation.

Staff Search Updates:
In November 2018, the session adopted a budget based on the church’s faithful contributions and pledges. That budget included monies for two staff positions: a Sunday Morning Childcare Worker and 1-2 college aged “Scholarship Singers.” Read below for updates on these positions.

Childcare Worker: The process to fill this position has been slower than anyone would like. Initial prospects from “word of mouth” referrals were strong candidate, but ultimately decided to pursue other opportunities.
Over recent days and weeks, a job posting on Facebook and Craigslist have resulted in a handful of applicants. Those applicants are credentials are being reviewed and interviews will soon be scheduled. The hope is we may have this position filled by June 2 at the latest.
Administrative Ministry Team and Christian Education/Spiritual Discernment Ministry Team members and elders, along with Rev. Acton will be involved in interviewing candidates.

Scholarship Singers: This kind of program—not unique to our church—is designed to both add voices to our choir that can deepen their choral contributions to our worship and to offer nurture, guidance, and mentoring to college students who may be pursuing a degree in voice and/or music.
Given the flow of the school year and the need to give careful attention to responsibilities and expectations for students who receive this opportunity, Rose Gurkin and Rev. Acton targeted the early fall as the time to fill this position.
Guidelines for the program should be completed by the end of May, so that the opportunity may be presented to college music departments and students (including rising freshmen) over the summer. The hope is that we will have a student in place by September.
Please continue to be in prayer for these exciting new additions to come to our FPCOG family of faith and for the ways they will expand our witness and deepen our commitment to serve Christ!



Presbyterian Women

Prayer Shawl Ministry continues to share God’s love by knitting and crocheting prayer shawls. If you would like to participate with this ministry and assist in making shawls or making a monetary contributions please contact Lynne Jackson (919-889-1227) or Martha Long (919-744-0751).

The Honorary Life Membership in Presbyterian Women will be presented to one of our own on Mother’s Day, May 12th.

The Friendship Circle extends a huge thank-you to the congregation for supporting the Souper Bowl luncheon. We raised $659.00 that has been targeted for the downstairs Sunday school classrooms refurbishing project. The final circle meeting before the summer break will be May 19th after church services. The circle is open to any woman who wants to join or just visit and share our hospitality and time of spiritual nourishment. Please contact Martha Long (919-744-0751) for more information.

Copies of the church cookbook, Feast of Goodness, are still available. If you are interested in purchasing one, contact June Christian, or any other Lillie Circle member. The cost is $12.00.

The Lillie Circle will be collecting pasta items, especially Hamburger Helper type things; soup and as always hygiene items for Garner Area Ministries during the month of May. Regular size items and cans work best with their shelving and they also work for families of any size. The donation box for non-perishable items is in the hall outside the Faith Formation classroom. As always, these donations are not in lieu of others for Garner Area Ministries but in addition to those donations. Please consider donating these items. The staff at GAM has asked that we relay how much they appreciate our ongoing support to First Presbyterian members. If you have questions, please contact June Christian at 919-271-7709. Thank you for your participation in this very worthwhile project!

Quilt Bee and Sewing Bee will meet on May 18th in the Fellowship Hall. The session will run from 10am until 2ish. If you have wanted to learn to quilt or sew now is your chance for free lessons or just come join us and work on a project you have. Please contact Lynne Jackson at or cell 919-889-1227 if you have any questions.

The Lillie Circle will hold their next meeting on Monday, May13, 2019 at 7:00 PM at the church in the New Beginnings classroom. Judy Pittman will be the hostess for the meeting. We will be continuing to plan our activities and projects for 2019. Women of the church who are not a member of a circle are welcome to attend. Lorrie Icenhour will be doing the lesson Chapter 7 – Prayers through Passages from the book. For further information about the circle or the meeting, contact June Christian.

The Presbyterian Woman General Meeting will be held in the Fellowship Hall at 12:30 following Sunday worship on May 19th. Light refreshments will be served. This meeting will be hosted by the Together in Service and Special Giving Committee. All women of the church are encouraged to attend. If you have any questions please contact Donna Gould at or Moderator Sandra Hodge at 919-801-8997.

Mission Ministry Team Announcements

Food Donations
We thank you for the generous amounts of food and hygiene supplies you have donated throughout the year but especially at this time of year there is even more of a demand for food supplies. We appreciate that so many of you have been remembering to bring items on the first Sunday of the month. Please keep your generosity coming!

Able to Serve
Able to Serve is a faith based nonprofit that helps adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They are located in the Buffaloe Road area so they are one of our neighbors. The program operates Monday through Friday from 9am to 3pm. Able to Serve emphasizes what their participants are able to do and help them continue to learn new skills such as computer skills, cleaning house, using a washer and dryer, shopping, helping others, making friends, exploring the community, and so on. This is a new organization we have reached out to help and want to continue to support in the future. Thank you for supporting one of our neighbors!

History and Purpose of the 2 cents a Meal Project
A number of years ago, Mrs. Catherine Lewis, a member of the Ida-Joy circle, suggested that the circle sponsor the 2-Cents a Meal program. Catherine was our choir director for many years as well as a choir member and a bell ringer. She was very active in the Ida-Joy circle. It was suggested that the church members set aside 2 cents for every meal they eat during the month and then the “penny money” is given during worship on the last Sunday of the month. The Ida-Joy Bible Study group then discusses the various needs and decides which organization will receive the money. Since the money collected is based on food consumed, they try to select an organization which provides food for the hungry. Over the years, the money has been given to a number of organizations. Donations have been made to the Salvation Army Food Distribution Center, Garner Area Ministries, Backpack Buddies, Presbyterian Disaster Agency, Family Promise, Meals on Wheels of Wake County, Hope Ministry at UMC, the Pastor Discretionary Fund, and the Interfaith Food Shuttle. Jesus gave us several examples of feeding the needy. As followers of Christ, when we give we are sharing our faith, and giving hope and love to the less fortunate.
Family Promise
We thank you for your continued support of Family Promise each year. Our week hosting Family Promise was a huge success again this year. We hosted four of the sweetest families! Our guests felt very welcome here and enjoyed our fellowship. The bedrooms were comfortable and our guests had everything they needed. Thank you to everyone for your help, we couldn’t do this without the continued support of this congregation. Thank you!!!

Youth News

May 5 – regular meeting
May 12 – Mother’s Day – No Youth Group
May 19 – regular meeting
May 26 – regular meeting

Youth Traveling To Montreat
Our young people will again be going to Montreat, NC for the annual High School Youth Conference on July 21-27. Rev Acton will be one of our adult leaders for the trip but we need another! If you are an adult who is interested in joining our group as a leader or if you know of a young person (High school class of 20223-class of 2019), contact rev. Acton for more details.

Mission Statement for First Presbyterian Church of Garner


Responding to God’s call, we challenge each other to grow in discipleship while embodying the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

We value:

  • Inspiring worship in Word and music
  • Inquiring study for adults, youth and children
  • Inclusive hospitality
  • Community outreach
  • Stewardship