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What’s New at FPC?

What’s New at FPC?

Church Updates Celebrating the great things happening at FPC


80 members of our FPC family travelled to Massanetta Springs from Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 11-14, for our annual All-Church Mission Trip. The weekend was full of service projects, fellowship, worship, and fun! We already have dates for next year, so mark your calendar for August 10-13, 2023! You won’t want to miss it!

Folks arrived on Thursday evening and the group departed after worship on Sunday morning. In the mid-mornings and afternoons, service teams worked at 6 locations, including the Gift & Thrift, Church of the Brethren Garden, the homeless shelter at JMU, two construction sites, and at a stoplight where youth collected over $500 for school supplies in a campaign called Stock the Rock (kind of like the firefighters’ Fill the Boot).

At the homeless shelter, folks cleaned and packed 250 lunches. The children and youth made cards to go in the lunches to encourage the recipients.

Over Friday and Saturday, teams also planted over 500 broccoli and cauliflower plants; rebuilt 2 porches; painted 3 wheelchair ramps; sorted and organized hundreds of pieces of clothing for the thrift store.

One of the most powerful times during the trip was the baptism of Mae and Blair Robertson, daughters of FPC members Scott and Lindsay Robertson. Jim baptized the two little girls using the water from the Massanetta Spring. Valena went to Michaels craft store to get shells, so we could use them as we do with our baptisms at the church.

The team also laid a special blessing on Eden Crumbly, who will be leaving for college this fall.

Each night ended with time together around the campfire, and of course, s’mores!

Our youth headed to Massanetta early, driving up on Tuesday, Aug. 9 to spend time together before the whole group arrived. They spent time tubing, doing a zip line, visiting the Grand Haven and touring a lavender farm. It was an awesome time of fun, fellowship, and worship.

When the rest of the group arrived on Thursday afternoon, the youth helped carry luggage and check folks in.

Valena’s high: Planting vegetable and pulling weeds in Bridgewater, VA with my Massanetta Mission teammates. A special thank you to Sarah Davidson (age 5) who was my most excellent assistant.

Scarlett’s high: Massanetta Trip with husband and good friend Carley. Loved going to the Grand Caverns and cleaning out the homeless shelter, as well as building new deck for older woman in need.


Since kicking off our annual Jacox Uniform Drive on Aug. 7, we raised over $11,500, more than doubling our goal of $5000!

This overwhelming generosity enabled us to purchase 100 girls’ uniforms and 100 boys’ uniforms for students at Jacox Elementary School.

In partnership with St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, we were also able to provide 150 uniforms for students at Ruffner Middle School. Thanks to all who gave!

This week, from Monday-Wednesday, Aug. 29-31, more than 10 folks came out to help the teachers at Jacox prepare their classrooms. This was all leading up to the Back to School Bash and Open House on Thursday, Sept. 1.

At the Back to School Bash and Open House 8 staff and volunteers from the URC presented the school administration with the uniforms, met and talked with teachers, and celebrated the start of a new school year.

In addition to the uniforms, we were also able to present Jacox with 336 new backpacks filled with school supplies, which were donated by the nonprofit group Focus and by the Greek Orthodox Church community.

On Monday, Sept. 19 we will have a training for the Jacox IMPACT Homework Club (also known as the Tutoring Program). If you are interested in tutoring and mentoring a student, please contact The IMPACT Homework Club will take place weekly Monday- Thursday from 5-6pm beginning October 3.

The commitment is only one hour a week, but it will make a huge difference in a child’s life! If you’re afraid of having to do math, don’t worry. Teachers will be on hand to help with questions. The most important thing you can offer is your presence and encouragement.


20 volunteers came out for the Park Place Refresh on Friday, Aug. 26 from 2-6 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 27 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to help get Park Place School settled in its new location and spruce things up for the school year.

Teams placed chairs and desks into classrooms, unpacked and organized supplies, painted the stair rail, cleaned hard-to-reach windows in the stairwell and front door, vacuumed classrooms and assembled new tables in 4 classrooms, painted 5 classrooms, and hung whiteboards in 6 classrooms. We are excited for the students starting at Park Place this fall!

Park Place School is an urban independent Christian school that educates through the lens of Christ and serves underserved children in our community. This unique school has been a partner of FPC’s for many years.


Fall is here and we have LOTS coming up! Check out all the events below and mark your calendar!

Our Fall Kickoff and Homecoming Picnic will be Sunday, Sept. 11. We’ll have worship services as usual at 8, 9, and 11 a.m. From 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. we’ll have food, games, music, a bounce house, and more in the parking lot as we celebrate coming back together after the summer (and a few crazy years). Community Groups will not meet.

From Saturday, Sept. 10 through Sunday, Sept. 11 we will usher the new season in with 24 Hours of Prayer. Choose an hour, or more, to pray for our church, city, and world. Sign up here.

Come out on Thursday, Sept. 8 from 1-6 p.m. to donate blood at the Ghent Area Churches’ Red Cross Blood Drive. Appointments are required, so please visit here to sign up!

Guys! This Sunday, Sept. 4 is the last day to purchase your tickets for the FPC Men’s Baseball Outing, which will be Wednesday, Sept. 14. Join the FPC men for a fun evening out as the Norfolk Tides play the Charlotte Knights. Game time is 6:35pm. Meet at the park and the tickets will be at the Will Call window. Click here to purchase your ticket for $17.00 or you can pay by check with Men’s Baseball Outing in the memo line.

The fabulous FPC Chancel Choir will hold an Open House on Wednesday, Sept. 21 from 7:00-9:30 p.m. Anyone interested in joining is encouraged to attend!

Every Saturday, we serve 50-70 of our homeless neighbors at the FPC Soup Kitchen. This is one of our most quietly impactful ministry, serving faithfully every Saturday, even on the holidays. During COVID, ours was one of the very few Soup Kitchens that stayed open and didn’t miss a beat. In fact, we even prepared take out meals for people to take with them after having lunch on Saturday afternoon. And you can help! The Soup Kitchen is in need of volunteers. Volunteers arrive around 9 a.m to prepare the food and set the tables, we serve our guests around noon, and then clear and clean up, usually wrapping up by 1 p.m. If you can help, even for a portion of the day, please contact Craig Campbell at

Registration is open for our Men’s Retreat! From Oct. 21-23, we will return to the OBX (Corolla, NC) for worship, study, and a great time together. This year’s theme is the 5 Marks of Manhood: Biblical Masculinity in a gender confused society. Click here for more information and to sign up.

Keep these other October dates on your radar as well: Oct. 3-15: Tree of Lives’ Kenya Pilgrimage

Oct. 18: URC and Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s Evening of Hope, honoring victims of gun violence and recognizing those in the continuum of care who seek to save lives. More information coming soon!

Oct. 26: Harvest Festival

While most of the church staff was at Massanetta, we were blessed to have Antipas Harris preach and Elder Brian Collins lead worship on Sunday, Aug. 14.

During worship on Sunday, Aug. 21 we celebrated and said goodbye to our beloved Children’s Music Coordinator Joyce Brockhauasen. She is moving on to take a full time position at St. John’s Catholic School to lead their music program. Joyce, you will be missed and we are so grateful for you!

We had 11folks attend FPC 101 on Sunday, Aug. 28. All of them plan on joining the church in the near future!

On Kickoff Sunday, Sept. 11 we will have our annual Blessing of the Backpacks at the 9 a.m. service. Kids are encouraged to bring their backpacks as we pray over them for the upcoming school year. Kids will also receive a Micah 6:8 sticker to put on their water bottle, binder, pencil case, or anywhere else to carry with them each day.

Our 10 Cents a Meal Offering is back! Previously 5 Cents a Meal, we’ve gone up by $0.05 to keep pace with inflation and the overwhelming need. Kids will receive cans to collect coins in September and we will have our first offering during worship in October. These funds go to support food programs such as the FPC Soup Kitchen, Thanksgiving Turkey Drive, and Tree of Live’s Allamano School Meal Program.

The large cross on the wall behind the Welcome Desk holds many smaller crosses, meant to represent our count of first-time visitors. Hunter is working to redesign the tokens that we will hang. Rather than crosses, we will move to using hearts. With COVID and online worship, it has been difficult to keep track of theses numbers, but we are excited to get back into the habit and grow our church family!

Remember to take a Welcome to the Neighborhood bag to welcome a new neighbor to the area. There are bags for each city in Hampton Roads. Be sure to fill out the list inside to share your favorite restaurants, parks, and more!

If you have the gift of hospitality, please consider volunteering at the Welcome Desk on Sunday mornings, helping to greet visitors and provide information. If you are interested, please contact Allison Bough at

Valena’s high: Watching Brian Collins lead worship while we were away on Mission. He did a great job and his is an amazing elder serving on our Session. So grateful!

Below is a chart showing worship attendance. Please remember that online numbers are for all three services and include both website and Facebook connections. Also, each connection could have multiple people, so it is likely that the online numbers are slightly higher than reported.

Those who went on the Massanetta trip were counted as present for in-person worship on Sunday, Aug. 14, as they worshipped together at the camp before leaving to come home.


Community Groups will not meet on Kickoff Sunday, Sept. 11, but will resume on Sunday, Sept. 18 with even more offerings! Valena will be hosting a training for over 20 class volunteer leaders and we are excited to build out these groups this fall!

Our Undistracted Summer Book Club Community Groups, both in- person and online, have wrapped up.

Please note that during the summer, several of our small groups have elected not to meet or have joined other regular classes, such as Faith Matters. Bible Seekers has also joined Basic Bible.

Children’s Sunday School

Our Children’s Sunday school structure changed for the summer. There are two children’s classes on Sunday morning: PreK/ Kindergarten and 1st-4th Grade. 5th Graders joined the Middle School Sunday school class for the summer.


Our Financial Review was finished early this month and we received a report detailing any changes or improvements we need to make to our records to make sure all of our files are in compliance with the IRS nomenclature and other requirements.

Lee Ann set up the URC to be able to receive recurring donations through their website.

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Peggy, Hunter, and Noel are working on finalizing the Milestones of Faith we plan to implement in the Sunday school rooms this year. These milestones will include levels of spiritual formation and understanding we hope each child will have an understanding of or achieve by the end of the academic Sunday school year. These milestones include components like Bible memorization, understanding the Gospel and foundations of faith, church symbols, participation in worship and church events, etc.

This year we are planning to use the Immerse Sunday school curriculum published by 21st century Christian publishers. This

curriculum looks like it will be easily adaptable to include our Milestones of Faith, while being Biblically sound and easy to follow. We hope it works well so we can stick with it as we move forward! As we restructured Sunday school last year, we learned a lot about what works well and what doesn’t and what different teachers are looking for. We hope this curriculum will work well so we can stop curriculum hopping as we search for the best option.

On Sunday, Aug. 28, we finished our beta-test for Lifeway’s new curriculum. It went really well! We had positive remarks from teachers and volunteers. On Aug. 21 we had a representative from Lifeway fly out to attend church and shadow our classes. This new curriculum will be published in September of 2023.

Noel has been recruiting Sunday school teachers and volunteers as we prepare for our fall kick-off. We have a lot of willing volunteers this year, which will be great!

We have also hired a few girls who will be church nursery workers only. This will be nice because then we won’t have to rely on the preschool staff for all our church needs, such as MOPS, Sunday nursery, Wednesday mornings, etc.

We were sad to say goodbye to Joyce, who has worked with our kids since 2017. She has taught our kids so many songs, many of which the have shared in worship. We love you, Joyce!


Our youth had a great time going to Massanetta a few days early to enjoy some outdoor activities and worship time together. We plan to do this pre-trip again next year with our youth!

We had 20 youth show up to cook and serve on the 5th Saturday in July for our Soup Kitchen.

On Saturday, Sept. 10, youth are invited to an end-of-summer pool party at the Barron’s house. Join us for food and games as well as just relaxation. All are invited! Let Jackson know you’re coming so he can send you the address, RSVP here!

The youth will be headed to Busch Gardens on Saturday, Sept. 17! Tickets are $30, or use your season’s pass if you have one! We will leave the church at 9am and leave Busch Gardens at 6pm. Teens and parents are responsible for paying for any food purchased at the park. Don’t miss this great time for fun and fellowship! RSVP here!


FPC will be hosting the USS Bush Family Readiness Group (FRG) monthly from September – December. We will be using our online ministry technology to have real-time calls with the families and the ship commander. FRGs provide support and serve the families while their loved ones are deployed. The Navy writes that “Commands are aware that operational readiness depends not only on a strong military, but also on the strong support of those who do not deploy with the command.”

Our AV team has begun creating promotional/upcoming event videos that run on the live stream during the week. These help keep the church informed and introduce FPC to anyone who happens to check into the live stream outside of worship.

The AV team also recently produced a high-quality back to school Open House video for our Preschool. This video was sent to parents ahead of the in-person Open House on Thursday, Sept. 1 and contained important information about the Preschool policies.

Joel’s high: It’s really cool to see how the church and preschool are working together evening in online ministry.


The month of August in the choir has been pretty quiet aside
from maintaining a surprisingly full choir loft in spite of many members Who are traveling. I’m making plans for where we can build more folder cubbies and when we’ll need to add chairs to the loft and order more robes!

We have our first-annual choir day-retreat scheduled for October 1 and are being graciously hosted at no expense by Williamsburg Presbyterian Church. It will be a day filled with music and singing and fun and fellowship, as well as, kicking off the start of our preparation for Advent Music Sunday. So far, all but 3 choir members will be able to go.

We are going on two field trips in the month of September. One will be to see our section leader, Heather Sreves, in La Bohème with the Williamsburg Opera, and the other is to see the Broadway touring company of Wicked at Chrysler Hall. We may be doing a third to see the Virginia Chorale concert. Our soprano section leader, Ashlyn Gelman, is singing with them this year.

We have a new alto section leader, Kathryn Whitbeck. Kathryn has subbed with us on a couple of occasions and will be a wonderful addition to our choir family. Her little boy, Theo (aged 2), will be coming with her for the later service and be in the church nursery.

We will be hosting an open house on Wednesday, September 21st at 7:00 – 9:30 p.m. and are hoping to welcome many new members to the choir.


We are celebrating two babies born into the FPC family: Elise Morgan Guju was born on Aug. 11 to Mike and Liz Guju and Margaret Walters was welcomed by Jeremy and Sarah Ann Walters.

Valena, Jim, Hunter, and Joel sent over 100 personal invitations to our Fall Kickoff and Homecoming Picnic to folks. Not everyone is back into the rhythm of coming to worship on a regular basis. So excited to open wide the doors of the church for members and visitors alike. It is time to come home!

Valena has sent 36 emails and 3 letters, and made two phone calls to follow up on prayer requests and recruit for our Community Group leaders.

Valena has been working on recruiting leaders for community groups starting back up this fall. Also preparing for a training session at the end of August. It is a great joy to work along side Rachel Bender as we update materials, seek out new resources and pray over all the details.

She is also planning to train our newly elected elders and deacons. A highlight is the increase of excellent disciples on our diaconate. I can hardly wait to see what the Lord has in store for them and our church family.

Valena has been worship planning and dreaming. Our desire is to worship our great and awesome God and encourage engagement in ministry. May we all continue to seek Jesus with our whole heart and serve him and neighbor with steadfast love and compassion.

And finally, Valena just returned from a fabulous time away in California for renewal and retreat. Enjoyed San Diego for a day and then ventured to The Oaks, which is Bob Goff’s retreat center outside of Ramona, CA. It was exciting to see the place that Bob references in his book Undistracted. The retreat was amazingly led by Stefanie Boyce, the Oaks Director. The time was filled with reflection, creativity, rest, prayer and celebration. Please find me if you’d like to know more! Even got to see Bob Goff…on Zoom.

Jim has sent 26 letters in response to prayer requests, just checking in, welcoming new babies, and more. He also emailed 377 parents an article about youth and social media.

Valena’s highs: Working with Rachel Bender. She keeps me focused and brings encouragement to my days. So grateful! AND Working with Kristen Abney, the moderator of our deacons. So thankful for her partnership in ministry.

Valena’s other high: Doing yoga under the stars at The Oaks Center 🙂


The Preschool has been closed this past week as teachers and staff prepare for the upcoming year. On Thursday, Sept. 1 they held an Open House for parents to come and meet the teachers. On Friday, Sept. 2 there was a meet-and-greet for students and their teachers.

This year we will have 160 students at FPP in 15 classes.

On Monday, Aug. 29, FPP and FPC staff had a welcome breakfast. They got to know each other and Jim shared a devotional before teachers went through the policies and plans for the Preschool.

Staff took CPR training on Tuesday, Aug. 30 and teachers have been cleaning and decorating their classrooms all week.

Dee and our facilities team has been working overtime to get everything ready! We have new mulch and sand on the playgrounds, the classrooms have been painted, and Stanley Steamer came out to clean all the rugs.

We are still looking to hire for a few positions, so please let Scarlett know if you know anyone who is interested.

Scarlett is also working on scheduling an Active Shooter Training for the teachers.


The URC staff, interns, and volunteers attended the Jacox Back to School Bash and Open House, distributing the uniforms and backpacks that were collected. We are also excited to kick off the Jacox IMPACT Homework Club tutoring program on Oct. 3.

The URC’s research team has turned much of its attention to mapping gun violence in Hampton Roads, much like it did with housing information previously. On Tuesday, Oct. 18, the URC, in partnership with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, will present An Evening of Hope to honor victims of gun violence and recognize those in the continuum of care who seek to save lives. The event will be free and open to the public, but tickets may be required. More information coming soon.


Six people are headed to Kenya for our October pilgrimage from Oct. 3-15. These folks will get to meet our partners and see the work happening at Nazareth Hospital, Holy Family Center, and the Joy Village.

We also have dates for our January pilgrimage: January 9-19. If you are interested in going, please email Jim Wood at