Independent Presbyterian Church


Auburn and Columbia Seminary Grad The Rev. Patrick Harley leaves pastor position at Ottawa Presbyterian Church in Ohio to return to Alabama. He'll lead the presbytery's Birmingham area college campus ministry starting this month. 

Q: Why did you decide to become a minister?

A: Revs. Lillian Daniel and Martin Copenhaver wrote a book titled, This Odd and Wondrous Calling, and I can't think of a better description of the joyful and unpredictable work of ministry. Most days, being a minister doesn't make sense, especially to people who describe the church as "not my cup of tea." But I simply couldn't imagine doing

I don't mean that in a "Well, I flunked out of culinary school and then tried being a tattoo artist and it didn't go too well so it appears I'm out of options," sort of way. What I mean is I'm sure I could have found a niche somewhere else, but I don't want to imagine living a life and that life not include being in vocational ministry. I'd like to hope that human beings, at our core, want to offer something beautiful to the world. I find that the most meaningful way for me offer such is through using my energy, creativity, and spiritual gifts as a minister alongside God's people.

Q: How did you sense God calling you to UKirk Birmingham?

A: It began as curiosity. I'd like to think I was minding my own business up in Ohio where I was serving a Ottawa Presbyterian Church when one of my best friends mentioned this "new thing in Birmingham" to me. I thought to myself, "There's no way this is as good as it sounds." Well, sure enough, the more text messages I sent and phone calls I made, I realized it wasn't as good- it was better. Sure, the challenges for this ministry are many, but anyone who has been involved in this new endeavor can tell you, "God is up to something." At the end of the day, I discerned this call the way it's meant to be discerned in the Presbyterian tradition: through community. In conversations with the many faithful committee members here in Birmingham, the students, and close friends and family and colleagues, it became clear to me that if this sense of call was mutual and an opportunity was extended to me, I just couldn't say no.

Q: You’ve worked with youth at First Presbyterian Church in Auburn and in Belfast, Ireland through PC(USA) as a Young Adult Volunteer. What is the most rewarding part of working with young people?

A: Young people have so much that the Church needs to tap into, right here and right now. The energy and imagination and passion is not only powerful, but infectious. And getting to walk alongside young people as they grow spiritually and discern their futures is a Holy honor.

Q: What do you look forward to the most about returning to Alabama?

A: In addition to the many close friends in Alabama, the answer has to be (proper) sweet tea! I've missed that divine nectar while living north of the Mason-Dixon Line. Oh, and getting to say, "y'all" without getting funny looks.

Q: Share a fun fact about yourself.

A: I dabbled in Stand Up Comedy while in Atlanta. In fact, I did an independent study my last year at Columbia Theological Seminary on Stand Up Comedy, Preaching, and Ethical Rhetoric. It was a blast, especially because so much of my research involved watching hysterical comedians and cheesy sermons on YouTube! 


Highland Hall is our family room where many visitors are welcomed to Independent Presbyterian Church for the first time. It’s a gathering place for 300 people every week to fellowship, to learn and to worship. In this space, people laugh, celebrate and grow.

To continue growing where people gather, Highland Hall will undergo a $1 million dollar renovation. Session approved some funding for the project. Now, IPC members Houston and Sheri will help the church raise an additional $545,000 as fundraising co-chairs of the Highland Hall campaign. They want everyone to get involved and nd ways to contribute to IPC’s future. Here’s a note from Houston:

"Highland Hall has become an integral part of the church, especially how we connect with the community. The space is used on a weekly basis by many key IPC groups, like the youth, IPC Day School, Boy Scouts and the 5 pm Sunday worship service. In addition, we welcome many community groups. In the future, we will be welcoming the new Birmingham area college ministry UKirk to our space.
While the original plan focused on making the building safer and more useful, the amended plan that we are now supporting through this campaign also takes into account many of IPC’s strategic priorities, including our focus on youth/young adult ministries and expanding our community outreach. More specifically, there will be a new coffee house and patio area that will expand our less formal spaces and support youth ministries and other community engagement. We will be adding a catering kitchen that will make food service for these many community events much easier to support. We will also be adding a new sound system and acoustics which can be leveraged for many events and functions.
IPC members should support this campaign because it is well aligned with our overall strategic priorities that were developed for the IPC Strategic Plan for Witness of ‘Joining God in the world by sharing the Gospel in both evangelism and social justice ministry,’ Engagement’s ‘Engaging the entire congregation to nd opportunities to connect and serve’ and Youth & Young Adults’ ‘Making young people a crucial part of IPC ministry to grow membership and engagement.’ This project touches all three of these key strategies and will enhance the life of the church. I hope that you will join Sheri and I in this transformative project to leverage our assets for our mission.”
The general contractor is Brasfield & Gorrie. Architect Andrew Hicks of Architecture Works and landscaper Norman Johnson are also part of this project."

As Houston mentioned, we need your help to continue growing! There are several open houses starting March 5 to give you a chance to tour Highland Hall and learn more about the project. 


Their daytime bosses are high school teachers. At night, they report to mom and dad. Many of them can't vote in U.S. elections yet. But they're already quite accomplished athletes, scholars, musicians, artists and leaders. These 12 ambitious high school students will soon be sharing their insight into church activities and helping to shape IPC's future.  
Several of these teenagers impressed a roomful of parents and church leaders at a November Youth Grant Team presentation. They were told, "you're touching people and making an incredible difference in their lives." They also touched Senior Pastor Dr. William J. Carl III who saw how they could make an incredible difference in the church by bringing the idea of Youth Advisory Delegates (YADs) who are used at the General Assembly to IPC.
Youth Ministry leaders put their heads together and appointed the following youth to teams:
  • Emma Grace Jones and Vann Walthall for Christian Education
  • Catherine Walthall and Conner Sorrells for Worship
  • Marion Dukes and Adelaide Burton for Witness
  • Spence Hutchinson and Hunt Cochrane for House and Properties
  • Annie Norris and Lakin Coulter for Music and Fine Arts
  • John Darby and Banks Walston for Stewardship 
"I'm very honored the church sees us this way and that our opinions matter," says Annie.

"Youth are respected and involved at IPC. But now there is an opportunity for youth to work with church leaders and have a say," explains Vann.

The addition of YADs also fits within 14-month plan created by Ministry Architects to help grow the Youth Ministry at IPC and build youth leaders. The goal is for them to better understand the church, enable them to make an impact and hopefully continue to remain an active Presbyterian in college and later in life. Read more about these youth in the February Window.


A letter from Verna Lyons

It has been an honor to serve as your president. 2016 has been a year of planning, organizing and restructuring. The year was full of wonderful change and one of moving forward for IPC.  As we look to the future, here are some of the highlights of the past year. 

We had several major personnel changes in 2016.  Bobbie Epting announced her retirement (effective July 2016) in January 2016 and Mary Ann Morrow announced her retirement (effective May 2016) in February of 2016.  Lucy Turner requested moving from Congregational Ministries to Stewardship and Development. The congregation approved Lucy’s request and an Associate Pastor Nominating Committee was formed for the Congregational Ministries position.  Brian Lays was approved by the congregation to fill the Congregational Ministries position.  Honora Gathings was hired in April as our Director of Communications.  Ryan Hamilton resigned as of July as Director of Youth Ministries and we rehired Catherine Goudreau as Director of Youth Ministries and hired Gann Wright as Assistant Director of Youth Ministries. CLICK HERE to read full report about Strategic Planning, finances, Christian Education, Worship, Music & Fine Arts, Highland Hall, Witness, and Congregational Care.


ISlideshowndependent Presbyterian Church is home to 2,300 people. They give the church 2,300 hearts and bodies to continue carrying out Jesus Christ's ministry. IPC's strength is not just in numbers. It's also the capacity to spur positive change. 

To recognize and celebrate the work being done, IPC member Cathy DeLozier will write about the People of IPC in a blog. It's dedicated to the ministries and God-given talents of its members who are Joining God in the World, Welcoming our Neighbors

Here's an excerpt from her blog one the Youth Grant Team:
To see these youth in action is to be inspired. They are all involved in hours of other extracurricular activities including sports, choir and debate practice, STAIR Tutoring, AP courses and other homework, as well as Standardized Testing and college tours and applications. The amount of time and energy they put into the team and the seriousness with which they take their responsibility is moving.

Foundation Sunday, January 28

Every summer, grant applications start coming in to the IPC Foundation- requests for help sending children to school, for assistance purchasing medical equipment and building much-needed hospitals, and for support keeping programs that employ adults with special needs and centers that help people in times of crisis running. The Foundation received 94 applications from people around the world and in our neighborhood who are on the ground trying to make a difference.

The IPC Foundation will now help 79 of those ministries, organizations and mission agencies in 2017. The grants will cover scholarships at Spring Valley School- a special school in Birmingham for children with learning differences. The money will also go towards the construction of a new medical clinic in India designed by Samford students and a new mobile medical clinic in Sudan. A grant will also help pay for the YWCA's crisis line, which helps people here in the Birmingham area escape domestic violence. Those are just a few of the ways the Foundation is using its resources to help change lives and carry out Christ's ministry.

This grant selection process began in early June with a meeting of the IPC Foundation Grant Making Committee. The members of the committee made site visits throughout Birmingham and via phone. Each grant request was thoroughly researched and discussed before the final selections were made in mid-November. 

The Youth Grant Team underwent a similar process reviewing 50 grant applications and going on six site visits.

In December, the grant cycle for the IPC Foundation ended with the mailing of grant letters to the 79 ministries, organizations and mission agencies that were awarded grants for 2017.

The grants totaled $1,837,900; this amount was 60% of the amount requested in the 94 applications. As you can see, the needs in the community and in the world are great. The IPC Foundation has been blessed by many generous donors over the years. As the IPC Foundation continues to grow through contributions and bequests, even more people will be served in the years to come. Below is a breakdown of the grants.

You can make a difference in the world in the name of Jesus Christ through your support of the IPC Foundation.  If you would like to discuss ways in which you may contribute to the IPC Foundation, please call Rev. Lucy Turner, 933-3729.  


by Dr. William J. Carl III, IPC senior pastor

The presents are unwrapped. The Christmas decorations are stored. Most of the sweets lying around the house are already gone. No doubt many of you have turned your attention now to the New Year and your New Year's resolutions. I made one months ago. By the end of 2017, I want every IPC member and child to have updated pictures in the membership directory.

When I make birthday calls, I like to pull up your pictures in the directory. I want to make the connection between your voice, your face, and your story so I can recognize you when I see you at the church. But here's the problem- many of you don't have pictures in our directory! I really want to get to know you, but it's hard when I don't know what you look like. 

I know Christmas cards were sent out recently. Go ahead now before you forget and log into yourmembership directory account online and upload that picture. Or simply email any picture of yourself or your family to Marsha Harbin. Below you'll find more detailed directions for uploading a picture. We also plan on having a photographer here on some Sundays to take pictures, so look for dates in upcoming eUpdates. 

For those of you with January and February birthdays, please update your photos now. I want to see your smiling faces as I wish you a "Happy Birthday."

That's my New Year's resolution, and I will never be able to keep it unless you help me!

Quick Way to Access the IPC Website & Online Directory

Want a quick and easy way to access the new website and online directory?
Click here to follow these simple steps to create an app on your iPhone or iPad (this will work on Android, too)

Related Links

IPC Publications:

eUpdate weekly online news

Window monthly printed publication Window Archive

Update weekly printed
calendar & lectionary

Using Your Strengths in Service, a guide to spiritual growth and service opportunities at IPC.

Other Links:

The Daily Lectionary

Funeral Notices

Church Website Software from E-zekiel