Another year of COVID has come and gone, yet we are still God’s Church in the world.
Your session has been hard at work this year in prayer and discernment about the future of OPC, and while there is still no clear answer, we trust in God’s perfect timing and provision.
This year I have been blessed by your faithfulness and support. I have been able to start my Doctor of Ministry degree in Reformed theology. Though my classes have been over zoom so far, I have already grown in knowledge and understanding of my ministry and call. I was also able to participate in CREDO, a conference on sabbath hosted by the PCUSA.
This past year has also been on filled with transitions and needed flexibility. We have had to go from online to in-person worship more than once. I know this is frustrating, but I am also glad we are doing what we can to keep each other safe. I pray we will be back in-person again soon.
Your session will continue to be hard at work in prayer and discernment this year. Please take time to read in this packet ways we have been at work for God.
Grace and peace be with you all,
OPC opened its doors to the Shady Grove Academy Saturday, December 18. This faith-based elementary school need a larger space for their Christmas program. We were happy to help.
The Academy was started by Shady Grove Baptist Church. OPC donated a year-long scholarship to the Academy in 2020.
It was a beautiful event, and a spiritually moving one. During the closing anthem, an invitation went out those in need of prayer to come forward -- and they did.
I'm glad I attended. It was definitely the right way to start the weekend!
- Clerk of Session
To the Orange Presbyterian Church congregation -
In 2017, May Saxton decided to put together a History Committee to prepare for Orange Presbyterian Church’s 175th Anniversary that would be on November 8, 2020. It was a wonderful group that came together: May and Mike Saxton, Lulu Sherman, Winnie Higgins, Carol Couch, Anne Somerville, and myself, Jennie Hill Robinson.
We spent two years gathering historical documents including photos, recording what historical documents we had, making plans for the anniversary and putting together a guest list for the big day.
May Saxton kept us organized, focused and on schedule. Then the Coronavirus arrived in 2020 and all came to a halt. OPC shut her doors and all the committees adjusted with meeting by Zoom. With sadness we decided in August to cancel the plans for a celebration in November.
Winnie Higgins and Carol Couch had been working on selecting highlights of interest from the Session minutes and were reporting them in the monthly newsletter. Covid-19 prevented them from meeting anymore. There was talk of writing something each week about OPC history as a way to celebrate and I agreed to do it. I also kept up with sharing Session minutes highlights once a month in the Newsletter.
It has been a quite an adventure. I started from the beginning, 1854, and quickly was enthralled, even though the handwriting of the Session minutes was difficult to read. I read Deacon minutes, Men of the Church minutes and Women’s Auxiliary minutes. I was reading about my great grandmother, my grandmother, my great aunt and my cousin Lelia Sanford. I learned things I did not know about them…but was not surprised by what I learned. These women were just a few of the saints of this church. In 1911, we were moving in to our new church on the corner of Main and Caroline.
In 1968 we were hiring architects to design a new church and it was dedicated in 1971.
The body of the church has been rich with families. The membership made up of doctors, lawyers, teachers, farmers, pharmacists, bankers, architects, businessmen and their spouses and children. Some families becoming 3 and 4 generations strong. They have been dedicated, involved, inspiring, and leaders. The young people formed youth groups and benefited and grew from the activities selected by the adults involved.
I joined the FB page, “You are from Orange if you remember…” to see if I could learn more about our church and ended up connecting with one of Rev. Dick Taylor’s daughters, Martha and son, George. There have been other connections made while researching and I am grateful.
I am moved by what I have learned about our congregation and have enjoyed my opportunities to share with all of you. As I write this, I am reminded that today is our 176th Anniversary. I am honored to have been a part of this past year and hope you have enjoyed what I chose to do to celebrate.
I go back to what Robert Jones said in 1995 during our 150th anniversary…I think he said it best: “… it is a vital part of the Orange Presbyterian Church to remind ourselves of the saints of this congregation. And to thankfully celebrate their lives and their example, by bringing up the memories of the part they have played in the continuity of who we are and who we strive to be.”
Happy 176th Anniversary,
November 8, 2021
Jennie Hill Robinson
At the September Session meeting, we had a great discussion about what to do with the church's Memorial Funds. The funds total $19,500. Yes, $19,500!
We talked about the wonderful people who were no longer with us, and the gifts they had given us and our community. We considered ways we could honor our friends and loved ones.
The Memorial Garden
Everyone loves and admires the memorial garden. Jennie Hill Robinson, Ann Somerville, Shirley Newman, and Nancy Crowder used their talents to turn a small piece of lawn into a beautiful sanctuary. The central stone was given in honor of Dot Browning. The benches were given in memory of Fred Sherman, Leroy Crowder, and Joyce Palmer.
Jennie and Ann continue to maintain and nurture the garden. They do this in memory of all our church friends and family who are no longer with us.
Occasionally, you can see flowers left in memory of someone.
Improving the sanctuary
A few years ago, we used memorial funds for a different purpose. They purchased and paid for the installation of a new sound system in the sanctuary. We dedicated the system to the memory of Fred Sherman. What a perfect gift to honor Fred, who faithfully operated the old system for decades.
Improving our physical plant
Memorial funds paid for a replacement door to the Sunday School wing. It was in memory of Cheryl Lewis' father. The funds also turned the men’s room in the East Room into a handicapped bathroom. Cheryl’s dad was in the hardware business, and she thought this was a perfect gift.
A scholarship was been given to the OPC preschool in honor of Eleanor Vasquez and Jean Berkman. These two ladies were the founding members of the preschool.
In our discussion, we realized that we wanted to do more. We wanted to reach out to our community in honor of church members. In keeping with Matthew 25, we decided to move out into the community. Each month we want to memorialize church members with gifts to local organizations or groups.
In September, we voted to give a scholarship to Shady Grove Academy, in downtown Orange. This was in memory of Pat Stewart. Pat loved giving all people a helping hand.
In October, we voted to honor Joyce and Syd Palmer by donating to the Orange Art Center. The donation supports their outreach programs, which include children and handicapped adults.
Let us know what you think. We have many more people to honor. Do you have a suggestion? Come to the Session meeting and pray with us. We would love to talk to you. Please let the Clerk of Session know you will be coming, so you can be on the agenda.
- Diane Haberland
In this part, Pastor Rebekah and Chelsea continue their discussion on faith. Rebekah shares some perspectives on the Book of James. You'll hear both ladies share some deeply personal views about a meaningful service and one of the pros of smaller congregations.
West Virginia to Virginia via Germany
Alan and Ophelia (Fedie) McClung grew up in West Virginia. Alan was a member of the Special Forces of the U.S. Army. After their marriage, the couple moved to Bavaria, Germany. When they returned, they moved to Charlottesville. Alan earned a Master’s Degree in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia.
In 1973, Alan and Fedie moved to Orange. They joined the Orange Presbyterian Church with their three children; Chad, Jill, and Amy. At that time, Alan was the Coordinator of Special Education for Culpeper County.
Service in the church
Alan joined our choir. He was reared as a Presbyterian and had sung in various church choirs. He was selected to the Board of Deacons in 1974 and became Chairman of the Deacons in 1976. In 1985, Alan joined the Session.
In 1974, their son, Chad, was vice-president of the Young People’s Fellowship (YPF) Senior Highs. Jill was secretary and Amy was secretary of the Junior Highs.
The CROPS Hunger Walks
Alan participated in the Hunger Walk in Orange on October 24, 1974. It was a project of the Community Hunger Appeal of Church World Service (CROP).
Alan was the Adult Arrangements Chairman for the project. Jill was the Youth General Chairman, and called the walk a “great success." More than 90 people completed the 20-mile walking route thru rural Orange County.
There was another “Hunger Walk” in 1975. Jill, as the Youth Chairman, said the event was an even greater success than the previous year’s. Alan led the group with Fred Floyd, Adult Chairman, and Rev. William Peters of OPC. The event raised about $4000.
Jill’s mother Fedie, her sister Amy, and her brother Chad, also participated in the Hunger Walks.
The walks were directed by the YPF of OPC, along with St. Thomas Episcopal Church and other denominations in the county.
Fedie McClung is a nurse. She assisted in operating rooms, working at Martha Jefferson Hospital for years. She also taught certified nursing assistants and medical office assistants at Piedmont Tech in Culpeper County. Fedie did this day and night for 16 years.
She led the Senior High class at OPC with Anne Somerville in 1981. They explored the area of goals, choices, problems, and expectations. She led the Senior High class with Sharon Callahan in 1982.
She volunteered in the nursery with Thelma Sanford. It was quoted that, “the credit for a strong and growing nursery must go primarily to them.” Later, Fedie volunteered in the cradle nursery.
Fedie was elected to be an Elder in 1994. She sang in the choir, alongside Amy, for many years. They both volunteered many times at the Red Cross Blood Drive held at OPC’s Fellowship Hall. They were both active members of the Women of the Church. Amy also served as an Elder.
In 2003, Fedie McClung took a mission trip to Mexico on the Baja Peninsula. Her trip was to work with Operation Blessing, providing medical care to many who could net afford it. She assisted, working alongside surgeons providing cataract surgeries.
Fedie also traveled to Africa and Malawi for mission work at orphanages. She did all this wonderful work was after she had retired.
The McLung Legacy
Alan McClung sadly passed away in 2000. Chad and Jill moved away. Amy lives in Orange. Amy and Fedie continued to dedicate their time and support to OPC in many roles. It is wonderful how many ways this family contributed to Orange Presbyterian Church.
- Jennie Hill Robinson
OPC History Team
Last week, I saw it. I saw it in the faces around me. I heard it in the voices around me, and it was in the prayers surrounding me. After months of fear, worry, and heartache, I felt God’s presence, and He showed me Hope.
Can you guess where I saw it? It was at the Mission & Congregational Care meeting in the library at OPC.
Mission & Congregational Care has made a commitment to continue reaching out to help our neighbors and local communities. It is not just about writing a check either. It is about helping others.
Here are a few ways you can join us:
We even discussed the possibility of a joint mission trip with a local church.
This year, the Benevolence Endowment Funds will be designated for the Christian Emergency Council.
Come back. Come to our next meeting. Join us as we continue to search for Hope and God’s presence in our lives.
We will be praying for Hope. We hope you can too.
- Mission & Congregational Care Committee
In the spring of 1968, Shirley Newman was received into Orange Presbyterian Church. She was the wife of William Newman. The couple had two children, Sharon, and Michael Callahan. Shirley worked in the UVA Hospital Pediatric Department, and had to commute to Charlottesville daily.
Shirley started teaching the 4-5-year-olds in our church school in 1972. She didn't just use the material provided by the church. She also drew from her own knowledge and imagination.
Shirley continued to participate in the church school, teaching Kindergarten through 5th grade. She taught a summer class with her daughter, Sharon, in 1980.
Shirley also became involved with the Women of the Church. She coordinated a Christmas program in 1980. The Men of the Church served breakfast at the event.
There was a puppet show by one of the classes, and a horn duet by two church members. The audience enjoyed carol singing, and a Christmas skit by another class. The Senior Highs sang the Twelve Days of Christmas.
A free-will offering was collected. The proceeds were split between CROP (Christian Rural Overseas Program to end hunger) and the Christian Emergency Council (CEC).
In 1980, OPC organized Sessional Committees. Shirley was a member of Congregational Life. Their mission was to lift up the congregation and encourage fellowship through monthly social activities. Shirley served on the Session for many years.
Mission and Outreach
She was a member of the Mission and Outreach Committee and headed it up for some time. Shirley put her spin on the Christmas Bazaar and took it to new heights.
The money taken in was divided among different organizations. Habitat for Humanity, the CEC, Presbyterian Disaster Relief, and sometimes the Orange Presbyterian Weekday School Scholarship received funds.
In 2016, a handful of members formed the Memorial Garden Committee, eager to start such a garden. Shirley was a gentle guiding light as we worked to merge everyone’s ideas. We declared the garden “ A place to remember those in God’s care.”
Like mother, like daughter
Sharon Elizabeth Callahan joined OPC in 1973. Her brother, Michael Rodney Callahan joined OPC in 1977. Michael, would later become a member of the Christian Education Committee.
Sharon attended the Synod of Virginias Youth Missions Convention in 1978. There was worship time, bible study, visits with missionaries, and group singing.
Sharon has followed in her mother’s footsteps. She taught the Senior High church class in 1982. The next year she led a small group and art workshop at Hanover Presbytery’s Spring Fling.
Serving the church
Sharon was selected as a Deacon in 1983 and served on the Finance committee. She was Chairman of one of the Women of the Church Night Circles in 1984.
Sharon served on the Pastor nominating Committee. Like her mother, Sharon continued to teach the 3-4-year-olds in church school. She also worked with the Young People's Fellowship.
Sharon also helped coordinate the CROP walks. She is presently President of the Orange Presbyterian Weekday School.
Pretty sure I am missing something to share with you, but you get the point. We are thankful this family are members of our church.
- Jennie Hill Robinson
OPC History Team
In the beginning
It all started in 1970 -- the Youth Club of Orange Presbyterian Church. It met every Wednesday afternoon at the church. And it gave young people (grades 3 through 9) some practical lessons in Christian living.
The weekly schedule included 50 minutes of Bible Study. Then came 50 minutes of supervised activities (sewing, knitting, woodworking, art, guitar). Dinner was served, with an elder or deacon presiding at each table. Recreation followed, and then Junior Choir practice.
In 1972, there were 40 children enrolled in the Club. Each Wednesday the enthusiasm of the children was heartwarming.
The Youth Club started in September and continued through April. Hours were from 4 until 7:30 pm for grades 3 through 8. There was a special class on theology for the 9th graders. The pastor taught this class immediately following supper hour.
Young People's Fellowship
The Junior and Senior High Fellowships were collectively known as the YPF (Young People's Fellowship). They met each Sunday evening at 6:15. The YPF was a combined venture of the St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church and Orange Presbyterian Church.
The Juniors studied the Gospel of Luke. And they discussed personal problems with their advisors. The Seniors met with Fred and Lulu Sherman. A “Coffee House” was opened, thanks to a large number of adults from several churches and the Junior Women’s Club. It was in the old Library Building next door to OPC.
The Juniors and Seniors took a trip to Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC. They participated in the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. Thanks to the local library, the YPF enjoyed “film fun” time.
The YPF went to movies in Charlottesville. The Senior Youth Group had a Halloween Party for the children of the church.
There were bake sales, visits to the nursing home, and the youth hired themselves out to do yard work. They prepared Thanksgiving baskets for needy families and went on camping trips. There were trips to retreats at Massanetta.
There were hunger walks. These raised money to fight hunger. The first one was 20 miles. Walkers were recruited from more than a dozen churches and several high school and community organizations. About this time, Lynn Clements was President/Advisor of the Senior Youth Group.
In 1976, the Senior YPF engaged in a CROP (Christian Rural Overseas Program) Hunger Fast. Sponsors pledged money for each hour they went without eating. Proceeds went to CROP to alleviate hunger in the world. March 28th, 1982, there was another CROP walk. This time the distance was shortened to 5 miles.
The group delivered 20 Christmas baskets full of fruit, nuts, cake, and candy to elderly and shut-in families on Christmas Eve.
Active in the 1980s
The YPF hosted the Hanover Presbyterian Youth Council in January for two days. Four members attended the Synod Youth Mission Convention at Massanetta in March.
In 1982, the YPF and friends enjoyed skiing on the slopes at Bryce Ski Resort. There was a gathering on Super Bowl Sunday with pizza and friendly wagers.
Sharon Callahan (Mohrmann) was appointed youth delegate to the General Assembly meeting in Columbus, GA. Several members, accompanied by Lynn Clements, attended the Senor High Fall Convention at Camp Hoover.
1983 was the year of a “Lock-In” at the Mechanicsville Presbyterian Church. There were games, music, and dancing. Also, ping pong and two movies. The next morning, everyone traveled home after doughnuts and a short church service.
Contributing to the life of the church
Without the generous gifts of time and talent from many volunteers, this kind of program could not have functioned. In the beginning, Elaine Gardner was the faithful director and administrator. Many wonderful people were involved at one time or another with the children and young people.
“It was a tremendous opportunity for our Church youngsters to be nurtured in the better ways of life.”
- Presbyterian Punch
- Jennie Hill Robinson
OPC History Team
Atwell serves his country
Atwell Wilson Somerville was born November 19, 1921, in Hillsville, Virginia. He was the son of Rev. Walter Gray and Hattie Nottingham Somerville, both of Culpeper County. Atwell grew up in South Carolina. He was a 1942 ROTC graduate of Clemson University.
In June he joined the 90th Bomb Group of the Army Air Corps, as a second lieutenant. This heavy bomber unit, the "Jolly Rogers," served in the southwest Pacific, from 1942 to 1945. Atwell, known as “Slim” in the service, rose to the rank of major.
Law school and marriage
After returning home from the war, Atwell entered U.Va Law School. In 1947, Atwell Somerville married Anne Carter Walker of Rosni Farm, Madison County. She was the eldest daughter of Margaret and Frank Walker. The couple settled in Orange.
Atwell completed his law degree in 1948. He joined his uncle, Severn Nottingham, in his Orange law firm.
Service to the community
Atwell was a devoted advocate of his family, community, and church. He loved sports. Atwell strongly supported his children's activities, including coaching summer youth baseball. He also helped to start the Orange Country Town Pool.
Atwell was president of the Piedmont Bar Association. He also was an organizing and honorary life member of the Orange County Rescue Squad. Atwell served on the Town of Orange Planning Commission as the attorney for Orange County, 1982-1995.
He received Scouting's Silver Beaver award. Atwell was president of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce. He was also a member of the Orange Economic Development Corporation. Atwell was an organizing member of the Orange County Historical Society.
He was also the first chair of the Germanna Community College board. He served as president of the college's educational foundation. Atwell was also was the first chair of the Montpelier Property Council.
Service to the church
Atwell was a dedicated member of the Orange Presbyterian Church. He served as deacon and elder, and Presbytery Moderator. He was a delegate to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A).
Atwell sang bass in the church choir and led youth and adult Sunday school classes. He also loved historical research.
Gardening and history
Anne Carter Somerville graduated from St. Margaret’s School in Tappahannock, Va.. She later received a degree from Sweetbriar College.
She was an active member of The Dolley Madison Garden Club, The Garden of Virginia, and The Garden Club of America. Anne Carter also was a member of the Colonial Dames of America. And she was a member of the Orange County Historical Society. Anne Carter was also active in the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Monticello Association.
Anne Carter serves the church
Anne Carter was an advisor for the Orange Presbyterian Youth Group in the 60s and 70s. Anne Carter accompanied them to Massanetta Springs on Labor Day weekends.
She was an Elder and an active member of the Women of the Church, serving as President at one time. Anne Carter served many years on the Flower Committee. She also helped Mrs. Jane Ober with landscaping on the church grounds.
In June of 1975, Anne Carter Somerville joined Orange Presbyterian Church. She did so by transferring her membership from St. Thomas Episcopal Church. It surprised many in the congregation. Because of her active participation over the years, they thought she had always been a member of OPC.
A legacy of service
Anne Carter Somerville passed away December 11, 1997. In 1999, Atwell married his high school sweetheart, Margaret Oates Goodman. Atwell Wilson Somerville, 92, died Sunday, February 23, 2014, at his home in Orange.
Atwell and Anne Carter Somerville are survived by a daughter, Anne Carter Somerville, and two sons, Atwell Wilson Somerville, Jr. and wife, Bebe and Frank Walker Somerville and wife, Laura Adair. There are also three grandchildren.
The Somervilles inspire us with their dedication and devotion to this church which their daughter Anne continues today.
- Jennie Hill Robinson
OPC History Team