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June 21–3rd Sunday After Pentecost

Pastor Curtis led the worship service with his sermon titled “More Valuable Than Many Sparrows.” based on Scripture from Matthew 10:24-31. Pastor Emily offered prayers and assurances of pardon. Angie Jenkins played the hymns — “God of the Sparrow” and “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” — on the pipe organ, as well as the Postlude, “Voluntary on Engelberg” by Charles V. Stanford. The beautiful flowers were brought and arranged by Sally Copeland, in honor of Linda and Michael Lancaster’s 42nd wedding anniversary on June 23rd.

Scott McDuff recorded the service for YouTube, incorporating prerecorded music with accompanying photos from past services. Since we still are unable to gather together for worship, we must continue to make every effort to keep in touch with our church family members while keeping a respectful physical distance. And we look forward to a time in the not-too-distant-future when we may loosen these precautions and greet each other with hugs once again.


Dear FPCH Friends,

Below you will find a robust list of books, articles, short videos, movies, documentaries, and podcasts. These resources are offered to help us dig deeper into the nuances of systemic racism, understand our own part in it, and do the hard work dismantling racist structures in ourselves. I am grateful to my colleague in ministry, the Rev. Steve Lindsley, Sr. Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC, for his help in compiling this list.

This is a long list. It’s a lot to take in. I hope you will hold this list close by, and return to it often. For the kind of engagement we need, I suggest reading or watching one or two resources a week. I also suggest a few reflection options:

•What 1-3 things did the resource teach you that you didn’t already know? What made you uncomfortable?

•What 1 or 2 things are actionable steps you can take to confront racism in yourself and in the world?
•Keep a journal of some sort to capture your thoughts/feelings/learnings.

•Consider pairing with another person for weekly check-in conversations to process what you’ve read/watched/listened to, what you’ve learned about yourself, how you’ve grown, where you’ve struggled, etc.

•Pray. Often. Trust that God is with you as you work through these resources and this process. Trust that God’s justice, God’s love, God’s grace are for you as you seek to grow deeper in love for your neighbor!

With enduring hope and in Christ’s peace,



Consider ordering books from black-owned bookstores.  You can discover online options HERE.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
This book guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to “model minorities” in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life.

How To Be An Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
“Kendi dissects why in a society where so few people consider themselves to be racist the divisions and inequalities of racism remain so prevalent. Punctures the myths of a post-racial America, examining what racism really is—and what we should do about it.”

The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias by Dolly Chugh
Reveals the surprising causes of inequality, grounded in the “psychology of good people”. Offers practical tools to respectfully and effectively talk politics with family, to be a better colleague to people who don’t look like you, and to avoid being a well-intentioned barrier to equality.

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
This “powerful and disturbing history” exposes how American governments deliberately imposed racial segregation on metropolitan areas nationwide.

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity In A World Made For Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
From a powerful new voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female in middle-class white America.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
A stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement.

There’s A Storm Comin’: How The American Church Can Lead Through Times of Racial Crisis by Harold Dorrell Briscoe
Provides insights that are synthesized with biblical data to create a framework that gives churches practical steps to prepare for and respond to racialized crises that inflict trauma to the social fabric of America.

The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap by Mehrsa Baradaran
“Baradaran’s point is to show how white and Black Americans effectively live in two separate economies. A must read for anyone interested in closing America’s racial wealth gap.”

Good White Racist? Confronting Your Role In Racial Injustice by Kerry Connelly
Exposes the ways white people participate in, benefit from, and unknowingly perpetuate racism—despite their best “good person” intentions.


Reflections from a Token Black Friend   by Ramesh A. Nagarajah
I am a token black friend. The black one in the group of white people.

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh
“I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious.”

Being Antiracist from the National Museum of African American History and Culture
“To create an equal society, we must commit to making unbiased choices and being antiracist in all aspect of our lives.

Ahmaud Arbery Holds Us Accountable by Jim Barger, Jr.
“I and all of the other people in my community and in this nation failed to protect our neighbor, Ahmaud Arbery. In short, we loved ourselves more than we loved him..”

For Our White Friends Desiring To Be Allies by Courtney Ariel
Listen more, talk less.  Resist the need to respond to a person of color’s opinion with a better or different insight.  Educate yourself about systemic racism in this country.

75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice by Corrine Shutack
Read it. Try doing a few things each week.

Witness Now, Before It Is Too Late by Dr. Brian K. Blount
“White Christians are not witnessing. Not enough.”

Performance Allyship Is Deadly (Here’s What To Do Instead) by Holiday Philips
Activism can’t begin and end with a hashtag.

The Long History of Racism Against Asian Americans in the U.S.

African Americans are not the only ethnicity to suffer from systemic racism in America.

What Does It Mean To Be Antiracist? by Anneliese A. Singh
“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist – we must be anti-racist.” – Angela Davis

We Have To Stop Thinking About Racism As Someone Who Says The N-Word’

“Racism is a white problem. It was constructed and created by white people and the ultimate responsibility lies with white people.”

Covid-19 Fueling Anti-Asian Racism and Xenophobia Worldwide

“Racism and physical attacks on Asians and people of Asian descent have spread with the Covid-19 pandemic, and government leaders need to act decisively to address the trend.” 

Who Gets to Be Afraid in America? by Ibram X. Kendi
” All Americans seem to be thinking about is their fear of us—not our fear of their fear.”


Deconstructing White Privilege by Dr. Robin DiAngelo
This video focuses on the oppressive behavior that is born out of white privilege. Dr. DiAngelo describes the most obvious and explicit aspects of racism and white privilege, while going beyond the surface of racism.

Systemic Racism Explained
Systemic racism affects every area of life in the US. From incarceration rates to predatory loans, and trying to solve these problems requires changes in major parts of our system. Here’s a closer look at what systemic racism is, and how we can solve it.

How to Deconstruct Racism, One Headline At A Time by Baratunde Thurston
Baratunde Thurston explores the phenomenon of white Americans calling the police on black Americans who have committed the crimes of … eating, walking or generally “living while black.”

Slavery To Mass Incarceration in Five Minutes

Slavery did not end in 1865.  It evolved.

What do racism and poverty have to do with pollution and climate change?

We already know that pollution and climate change negative affect people’s health and quality of life.  But we’re not always clear about which people are most exposed and impacted.

Being Anti-Racist: A Primer by Landon Whitsitt
“Being racist” is not simply a personal behavior thing. It’s about the water we swim in, and if racism is going to be eradicated it’s a lesson people need to learn.”

Seeing White Fragility
This video provides a crash course in how to identify and overcome white fragility in order to a) improve our racial literacy, b) become better allies, and c) amplify black and brown voices in the interest of achieving equality and justice for people of color.

The Little Problem I Had Renting A House – James A. White, Sr.
A powerful story about the lived experience of “everyday racism” — and how it echoes today in the way he’s had to teach his grandchildren to interact with police.


The 1619 Project
An ongoing project developed by The New York Times Magazine with the goal of re-examining the legacy of slavery in the United States and timed for the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia.

Code Switch
Hosted by journalists of color, this podcast tackles the subject of race head-on.  It explores how it impacts every part of society — from politics and pop culture to history, sports and everything in between.

Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast
Co-hosts Chevon and Hiba give their unique takes on race and pop culture, and uplift narratives of hope, struggle, and joy, as we continue to build the momentum needed to advance racial justice in our policies, institutions, and culture.

Intersectionality Matters!
Intersectionality Matters! is a podcast hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American civil rights advocate and a leading scholar of critical race theory.


Colorblind: Rethinking Race
For years, we have talked about racism and healing, but until we understand the root of racism, examine its origins and confront the history, we can never get to a place of healing.

13th (Netflix)
Ava DuVernay’s Netflix film ’13th’ reveals how mass incarceration is an extension of slavery. Slavery technically ended over 150 years ago. But Ava DuVernay wants you to take another look at the amendment that abolished it. … The title refers to the 13th amendment, which formally abolished slavery.

The Central Park Five (Amazon)
The Central Park Five, a film from award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, tells the story of the five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park in 1989.

Stevenson encounters racism and legal and political maneuverings as he tirelessly fights for the life of Walter McMillian, wrongly sentenced to die for the murder of an 18-year old girl.


31 Children’s Resources To Support Conversations on Race, Racism, and Resistance

Your Kids Aren’t Too Young To Talk About Race

A comprehensive list of various resources including books, articles, podcasts, and more.

The Conscious Kid (Instagram)
Parenting and Education through a Critical Race Lens.

May 31 — Day of Pentecost:

Regrettably, with news of increasing cases of COVID-19 in Highlands and Macon County, we are finding it necessary to take greater precautions in our church activities. We are using even wider distancing protocols, having fewer people participate in the services, and wearing masks up until the time the actual recording begins. Pastor Emily read Scripture and delivered the sermon on the gifts of the Spirit. Pastor Curtis led the viewers in prayer, confession of sins and assurance of pardon. Angie Jenkins played the hymns on pipe organ, and we continued with adding in pre-recorded music and photos from services in the past. Our videographer Scott McDuff contributed a beautiful flower arrangement.

Elder Scott McDuff brought flowers from home.
All participants wore masks until the recording began.
Scott McDuff continued to record the service for YouTube.
Rev. Dr. Curtis Fussell offered prayers and assurance of pardon.
The morning’s Scripture reading was from 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Rev. Emily Wilmarth’s message for the Day of Pentecost was titled, “God has Nothing to do with Who We Are?”

May 24–The 7th Sunday of Easter

The day opened with bright and beautiful sunlight, offering a welcome respite from days of rain. John Barrow brought a lovely vase of flowers arranged by Sandy. Pastor Curtis read scripture and gave the sermon based on the ascension of Jesus, and Pastor Emily offered prayers and assurance of the good news that in Christ we are forgiven. Michael Lancaster led the singing of hymns. Two selections of special music from past services when we could meet as a congregation, with accompanying photos, were added. The Prelude was “Arioso” by J.S. Bach; the anthem was Philip Stopford’s “Do Not Be Afraid.”

May 17– the Sixth Sunday of Easter

The Rev. Emily Wilmarth led the service with a moving sermon on Jesus’ commandment to “love one another.” The Rev. Dr. Curtis Fussell participated with the Prayer of Confession, Prayers of God’s People, and assurance of the forgiveness of sins. We incorporated music accompanied by photos from previous services, helping us to remember the joy of gathering for worship. We keep in our hearts the faith that empty pews will not forever be the fact of our church life, but that we will one day be able to return to our beloved sanctuary as a congregation.

This week’s music featured the 1831 Rowland Prichard composition, “Hyfrydol,” performed as the prelude by bagpiper Cameron Nixon and organist Angie Jenkins on May 27, 2018. The anthem was Jean Sibelius’ “Be Still My Soul,” arranged by Dan Bird and performed on March 19, 2018 by Andrew Parker, oboist, and Angie Jenkins. Dr. Michael Lancaster led the singing of hymns.

May 10 — The Fifth Sunday of Easter

Our Elder Scott McDuff continues to record the services for YouTube until we can meet again as a congregation. This Sunday we incorporated a trumpet and organ prelude by Larry Black and Angie Jenkins, taken from an earlier, pre-social-distancing service. Pastor Curtis Fussell preached on “A Matter of Trust” based on the Scripture passage from John 14:1-14, and Pastor Emily Wilmarth offered prayers and assurance of pardon. Michael Lancaster led at-home worshippers in the singing of hymns. The flowers this week were given by Hilda and Pat Patrick in loving memory of Elizabeth Parker McCloskey and Patrick Charles McCloskey.

May 3, 2020 — The Fourth Sunday of Easter

Parishioner Sandy Barrow brought flowers from her yard to brighten the sanctuary for the Sunday worship service.
Sandy Barrow with her bountiful bouquet
Sandy putting the finishing touches to her arrangement
During this time of stay-at-home mandates, our services continue to be recorded for parishioners to view on YouTube. First Presbyterian Church Elder Scott McDuff volunteers his services as cameraman.
The empty pews are a poignant testament to our observance of social
distancing during the pandemic.
Pat Mulherin runs the sound board for the audio CD of each service.
Dr. Michael Lancaster, Director of Worship/Music, opened the service with the Prelude on viola, along with Angie Jenkins, Director of
Music Ministry/Organist.
Rev. Emily Wilmarth led the service with prayer, sermon and
Scripture readings.
Michael Lancaster led at-home worshippers in the singing of hymns.
Rev. Dr. Curtis Fussell offered the Prayers of God’s People and assurance of pardon.
Pastor Curtis gave a rare guitar solo, singing “Seek Ye First
the Kingdom of God.”
The Table prepared for the Sacrament of Holy Communion
Pastors Emily and Curtis broke bread and poured wine, offering the
Sacrament of Communion to worshippers at home and encouraging all to partake in “virtual community.”
The service concluded with a benediction and singing of “God Be With Us Til We Meet Again.”


April 26, 2020 — The Third Sunday of Easter

Jill Wolfe has been bringing flowers from home to brighten up the
sanctuary for our online services.
Scott McDuff and Pat Mulherin work out details of recording the
Sunday services.
Pastors Emily Wilmarth, Curtis Fussell and Director of Worship and Music Dr. Michael Lancaster
Pastor Curtis Fussell gave the Scripture reading and sermon.
Dr. Michael Lancaster led the singing of hymns.
Pastor Emily Wilmarth offered prayer and assurance of pardon.

April 19, 2020 — The Second Sunday of Easter

The Rev. Emily Wilmarth led the worship service, with Rev. Dr. Curtis Fussell, Dr. Michael Lancaster, and Angie Jenkins participating. Until we can gather together again in our sanctuary, we continue offering online services as a way to share our worship experience.

Rev. Emily Wilmarth

Rev. Emily Wilmarth & Rev. Dr. Curtis Fussell
Dr. Michael Lancaster, Direcor of Worship and Music
Rev. Dr. Curtis Fussel
Angie Jenkins, Director of Music Ministry/Organist

Easter Sunday

Our Easter Sunday worship service, filmed for congregational viewing on YouTube, focused on meeting our risen Lord whenever and wherever we go out to serve. The Rev. Dr. Curtis Fussell and Rev. Emily Wilmarth
led the service with Scripture, prayer, sermon and the serving of Holy Communion. Michael Lancaster led the singing of hymns, accompanied by Angie Jenkins who also provided the Prelude, music during the
service of Communion, and Postlude on the pipe organ.

The coverings placed over the pulpit and baptismal font during the Passion Sunday service, were removed at the beginning of worship.
The pastors placed Easter Liles on the flower stands…
… and brought in bread and wine for the Sacrament of
Director of Worship and Music, Dr. Michael Lancaster
Director of Music Ministry/Organist Angie Jenkins
Pastor Curtis Fussell poured water at the font, offering assurance
of pardon.
Pastor Curtis brought the morning’s sermon.
The pastors offered the Prayer of Great Thanksgiving and Words of
Institution prior to serving Holy Communion, encouraging viewers to
participate in their own homes.
Michael Lancaster led he closing hymn.
The Charge and Benediction. Easter blessings to all!