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What’s New at FPC?

What’s New at FPC?

Church Updates Celebrating the great things happening at FPC


Holy Week was AWESOME at FPC! From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, the church was alive with reflection and celebration on the love and sacrifice of our Lord. Read more below!

On Palm Sunday, it was a full house in our Sanctuary choir loft as our Chancel Choir was joined by 11 kids in our children’s choir as well as our organist Benjamin Garner’s father on the trumpet. It was so wonderful to welcome the children into our worship as part of the choir and join our voices together.

Valena said she is so thankful for our children on Palm Sunday leading our Hosannas!! Shout out as well to Joyce Brockhausen who worked with the children on their Palm Sunday music and got everyone in place on time at each service, on a very busy Sunday!

The adult choir also kicked off Holy Week by going mask-optional starting on Palm Sunday. It was wonderful to hear the fullness of their beautiful voices! Our choir director Joanne said it was “an unexpected gift and such wonderful timing for such a transition.”

197 people came together to share a meal, worship, and celebrate communion at our Maundy Thursday service. This was the first inside, sit-down meal service since before COVID, and we were thrilled that so many folks attended.

Our kids and youth helped lead the service by portraying some of the apostles and reading scripture. Special thanks to Peter (Noah Crumbly), James (Zach Farrell) and John (Mackenzie Farrell) for leading worship and also to Peggy Mackey, Eli Sheppard and Jonah Whitaker. WOW! The choir also performed a spiritual during this service.

The Chancel Choir led us in a music-filled worship service for Good Friday, which included musicians from the Ambrosia Quartet. Over 73 people joined us in person in the Sanctuary, and 32 worshipped online. Joanne noted it was a pleasure to work and worship with our friends from the Ambrosia Quartet for Good Friday. I believe this is the 19th year they have played for special services with us.

Joanne said “Good Friday was a highlight for me as the choir rose to achieve a new level of musicianship and worship in their ministry. I told them afterward that the achievement was threefold:

  1. To be able to master all of the difficult music we sang and sing it well and, in some instances, a cappella (which is really, really hard!),

  2. To be able to do this with a new level of mastery over their vocal production and apply what we’ve been learning about vocal technique in the moment and while presenting difficult music.

  3. The most important and beautiful of all, that they were fully worshipping and praying and ministering to our congregation at the same time. The passion and expression and experience they had of singing and provided for those listening was phenomenal. They rose far beyond my expectations, and I am so very thankful and happy that each member of the choir was able to give the gift of this experience but also take ownership of the experience. My cup runneth over!”

Shout out as well to choir member Pam Tubbs for arranging several of the powerful anthems the choir sang for Good Friday.

On Saturday, volunteers joined Hunter to hide Easter eggs in the Preschool wing for our Easter Sunday Egg Hunt. We had to wait to hide the other eggs after the worship services on Sunday in the Sanctuary and First Hall.

Easter Sunday! This our was our first in-person Easter in two years. We had 800 people worship in the church and nearly 200 connections online for well over 1000 people with us for Resurrection Sunday!

Once again, our choir led us with beautiful music. Joanne said of their Holy Week efforts, “It was so wonderfully exhausting! Overall, I am in awe of how hard every member of the choir worked and the enthusiasm and dedication they showed throughout. Easter Sunday was complete joy. We had just shy of 30 singers in the choir loft and food to spare in the choir room between services. The whole morning was one big Hallelujah both in our fellowship time and in worship through our raise-the-roof anthem and Hallelujah Chorus with the help of two fantastic brass players. Just what Easter Sunday should be!”

Valena said, “Jesus was glorified in big and small ways throughout the Lenten Season, especially this Holy Week. Our choir was hands down the busies group of people rehearsing and leading worship from Wednesday through the last Alleluia on Sunday. So thankful for the brilliant brass and the leadership of Benjamin Garner and our amazing Joanne Whitaker!”

There were no Sunday school classes or Community Groups at the 10 a.m. hour. Instead, it was all hands on deck for an Easter Sunday Egg Hunt for our kids. This is the first year we have done the egg hunt on Sunday morning rather than on Saturday, and it was a HUGE success! The energy and community it created throughout the morning was amazing.

Volunteers stayed behind at the 8 and 9 a.m. services to help hide most of the 16,000 eggs. The kids were divided by ages to hunt for the eggs in the Sanctuary, First Hall, and the Preschool Wing. Hundreds of kids participated in the egg hunt.

Unrelated to the choir, Joanne also said that a highlight for her was wandering around the church building after most of the eggs had been collected and passing group after group of children and families camped out in every nook and cranny of the church emptying out their eggs and trading sweet and treats with their friends. Pure Joy!

The children’s ministry team also booked a petting farm that set up next to the Northminster House and brought joy to kids and parents alike throughout the morning. Special thanks as well to Bill Estes, who donned our Easter Bunny costume and spent the morning taking pictures with our kids and families.

And no Easter Sunday at FPC would be complete without pictures at the magnificent Flower Cross. Our exceptionally talented housekeeper Barbara Watson created the cross out of thousands of fresh flowers during the week. FPC member and photographer Rebecca Easter stayed outside all morning to take pictures of folks at the cross and our A/V team helped upload them all to Facebook by that afternoon. Beautiful!

The Easter Lillies that decorated the church building inside were also gorgeous. Diane Liedman, Lin Jones, Luana Hugel, and Mary Jo Baylor decorated our worship spaces meaningfully and beautifully from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.

Our Communications Director, Rebecca Topping, created a beautiful list of dedications for the Easter lilies that adorned the Sanctuary and First Hall. She also created the giveaway for this year based on Jim’s sermon about facing down the giant in our lives.

Six volunteers helped stuff and tie over 700 bags of the five smooth stones for the congregation to take home and be reminded of the power we have through God to overcome the bullies and challenges in our lives.

We are also so thankful for our fantastic Joel Phillips and A/V team for making the details of Holy Week seamless. And of course our Facilities Team for keeping us looking our Sunday best.

Ted and his catering crew provided breakfast biscuits and orange juice alongside our regular doughnuts, pastries, and coffee.

Valena’s high: Jesus!!!!! He’s the One to celebrate this Easter Season and always. And I am also thankful for Jim Wood who leads the way and preaches with faith, power and kingdom purpose.

Joel’s high: On Good Friday I had the privilege to be one of the readers, which meant I got to sit in the chancel with the choir for the evening. Joanne Whitaker did such an amazing job putting the service together. The movement of music and readings was deeply moving. The choir, along with Benjamin and the quartet did an outstanding job. We are so blessed to have such a gifted group of musicians at FPC.


This Sunday at 5 p.m. all youth are invited to participate in Paint Wars! Bring a change of clothes to ride home in and contact Jackson with any questions.

We are gearing up for Rise Against Hunger this Wednesday, May 4! Dinner is at 5:15 p.m. and then at 6 p.m. we will begin packing 40,000 meals! These meals will be distributed all over the world, helping refugees and others in need of food. The cost of the meals is $16,000, just $0.40/meal. We need tons of volunteers to help make this happen! If you can help pack meals, register here. If you can donate to help cover the cost, click here.

On May 12 and June 2, FPC and the URC will partner to provide meals for those in transitional housing at the Shelter. Help us prepare these home-cooked meals for our neighbors! Sign up here.

On Sunday, May 15, the URC will sponsor an Organ Concert featuring organist Anthony Olds, performances from the Governor’s School, our own organist Benjamin Garner, and others from FPC. The proceeds will go to support the URC’s Impact ARTS Camp, which seeks to empower our youth through the arts. More details coming soon.

On Sunday, June 5, we will have FPC 101 for anyone who is interested in membership or wants to know more about FPC, its mission and its ministries.

We’re gearing up for a great summer. Mark your calendars!

June 12: Lū’au-themed Parking Lot Party to welcome the summer!

July 10-12: Family Vacation Bible School
August 11-14: All-Church Massanetta Mission Trip Information and Registration is now available 

August 21: Pie Parking Lot Party SUNDAY WORSHIP & EVANGELISM

We have had 7 new members join the church recently! Bob and Bronwen Ashburn, Chuck Rucker, Noel Wallace, Elizabeth and Gordon Wolcott, and Jonathan Fermin Reyes. Please welcome them to our faith family when you see them.

We also had 13 Confirmands complete the Session Examination. They will be joining the church on Confirmation Sunday, May 15.

Our sermon series on the Beatitudes is in full swing. We are encouraging everyone to memorize these amazing promises from Jesus for his people. Hunter and Noel are also working with our kids on a contest to memorize these scriptures. The prize for learning all of them is a whole candy bar!

We are looking for folks to volunteer at the Welcome Desk on Sunday mornings, helping to greet visitors and provide information. If you are interested, please contact Allison Bough at

Valena is working on the summer sermon series, to incorporate Bob Goff’s newest book Undistracted. All the staff have been given the book to read and we are looking forward to a fun and powerful summer series!

Since it was announced in worship on March 20, we have raised over $20,000 to help Ukrainian refugees through the Outreach Foundation’s programs. You can still donate by writing a check with ‘Ukraine’ in the memo line, using the kiosk, or going online here.

Joel has compiled some data on the trends in worship (in person and online) over the last year. This data is from March 1, 2021 to March 30, 2022. Some of the highlighted numbers are:

  • In-person worship attendance has increased to an average of 146.5 people per Sunday.

  • Average combined worship attendance has trended upward from avg. 360 per Sunday in March 2021 to 452.5 per Sunday in March of 2022.

  • Highest combined (in person and online) average attendance: 554.2 (January 2022)

  • Lowest combined average attendance:350.75(April2021) Online Worship

  • Highest online average views:257.6(May2021)

  • Lowest online average views:141(October2021)

  • Highest in person average Sunday attendance:310(March2022)

  • Lowest in person average Sunday attendance:145.5(April2021)

    Valena’s high: Holding a baby while a mama watched her child sing at the 9am service. It was so great! Thank you Joyce, Noel and Hunter for your leadership of our sweet kiddos and their families.



On April 3, we broke our attendance record for Community Hour! 120 adults met in classes or Community Groups. Love to see this time of teaching and fellowship taking off!

We are challenging our Community Groups to gather as many people as possible to come help out for Rise Against Hunger on Wednesday, May 4! The group that brings the most people wins a major award!


Children’s Sunday School series for April is called Did You Know? and explores the Easter story. The overview for this month is, “Did you know that the largest Easter egg in the world lives in Vegreville, Canada? Did you know that the most popular Easter candy in the world are Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Eggs? There’s a ton of fun trivia around the theme of Easter but the best questions to ask kids are about Jesus. Did you know we can love Jesus more than anything? Did you know Jesus is king over everything? Did you know Jesus is alive? Did you know we can trust Jesus? Whatever their answer, invite kids to go beyond the facts and win the grand prize of knowing Jesus for themselves!” We learned about the anointing of Jesus, and Palm Sunday and Jesus entering Jerusalem, Easter Sunday, and, in the last week of April, we will learn about Jesus appearing to his disciples after the resurrection.

FPC updates


Over 200 folks came out to celebrate the longer days at our March 27 Happy (Hour) Meal parking lot party!

Kids are challenged to memorize all the Beatitudes during our spring series! Winner will get a whole candy bar!

Noel is working to get ahead in Sunday school curriculum planning since she will be mostly dedicated to the preschool over the summer.

Joyce has been working with nearly 30 families over the past season to prepare for Holy Week and other upcoming services. Songs include “He’s Got the Whole World” and “Spirit.”

Joyce’s high: Having one of the Preschool students “eat” the strawberry pattern off her shirt this week.

Valena’s high: The children in our midst and the ways they love Jesus.


We had our Session Examination Dinner on April 20. Elders and Confirmation Mentors joined our 13 Confirmands to discuss their Statements of Faith and prepare them to join the church. These 13 youth will become FPC members on Confirmation Sunday, May 15.

Paint Wars is this Sunday! Come prepared to get colorful and bring a change of clothes to ride home in.

The Monday night Young Adults group has taken a short break due to busy schedules. The Thursday night group is going strong, with average attendance of 8 people.


All staff had their pictures taken on Thursday to update the website.

Savannah Lindblad, the A/V team lead, is graduating this month from Regent University with her Bachelors degree. We are so proud of her accomplishments and her leadership on Sunday mornings. Savannah will continue to lead the A/V team on Sunday mornings and also take the lead on some multi-media projects which will greatly contribute to discipleship at FPC.


Many updates from Holy Week above!

We are again in search of an alto section leader. We auditioned someone, but it did not turn out to be a good fit. Please keep this in your prayers.


Henry Joseph Duley was born on Friday, March 25 to FPC members Katimae and Joe Duley.

Grayson Mesina, son of FPC members Armando and Eileen Mesina, was baptized on Sunday, April 24.

We also have many baptisms coming up in May!

On April 9, Valena officiated at a Service of Witness to the Resurrection for John Ramsey, a faithful member of our congregation and a dedicated volunteer at the FPC Soup Kitchen.

Valena continues to work on developing our summer series and looking into the plan for another summer book club. Stay tuned for details.

Valena has sent 110 emails and letters to follow up on prayer requests and to thank folks for all their help in leading our worship services during the Lent and Holy Week season.

Jim has sent 68 letters and notecards checking in and responding to prayer and pastoral needs. He has sent an article on how we respond when a task feels beyond our capability to 380 FPC parents.

In June, Jim and Sheryl will be traveling with the Outreach Foundation to Spain, Lithuania, and Poland to assist with the waves of refugees who are arriving there from the war in Ukraine. They are excited to be on the ground to help any way they can for those living through the unimaginable.


Hunter and Scarlett met with the Kindergarten teacher, Stacy Hildebrand, to begin getting ready for Kindergarten graduation, which is on Wednesday, June 8.

Scarlett has completed the Staff and Parent Handbooks for the 2022-2023 school year and has worked with Rebecca to create a flyer for preschool positions that need to be filled for afternoons currently and summer positions. These flyers can be picked up in the Preschool Office for any church staff to distribute in their neighborhood.

Scarlett has also contacted the Fire Marshall to schedule an inspection in May and will be contacting Health Inspectors next week to set up an appointment to meet with them in May.

Staff have already started completing Food Handlers Certifications. Preschool staff have begun submitting Health Forms required for our licensing packet, and Scarlett is currently working on completing that.


Due to schedule conflicts, the summer Tree of Lives pilgrimage has been cancelled, but we will be going back in the fall! The fall pilgrimage dates are Oct. 3-14. Anyone interested should contact Jim Wood.

Our International Outreach team has started working with a family of four from Kabul, Afghanistan who relocated to Norfolk two weeks ago. Many FPC folks have donated goods, but much is still needed as the family – with a daughter, 16, and a son, 10 – learn and adjust to their new life. Please contact Megan Padden at to see how you can help!


The URC welcomes Bishop Courtney McBath to its Board of Directors! Pastor of Calvary Revival Church, Bishop MCBath has a heart is to educate and encourage leaders globally. He’s a leader of leaders and brings a wealth of expertise to the next season of the URC.

The URC and FPC have partnered to provide meals to guests at the Shelter on May 12 and June 2. Sign up here to participate.

The URC Impact ARTS Camp began April 5 and is going great! Kids are participating in theater, hip hop dance, boat building, and jazz dance concepts. Many other churches have expressed interest in helping with the program by providing space and transportation for the kids.

On May 15, the URC will host an organ concert here at FPC to raise funds for the Impact ARTS camp. Organist Anthony Olds will play a selection of spirituals and Civil Rights songs. Our own Benjamin Garner will also perform, as will some students from the Governor’s School.