Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Season of Growth

Church growth. According to the media, except for a few mega-churches, that phrase is almost an oxymoron. Many recent articles imply—or come right out and say—that mainline churches are doomed to wither and die.

Not all hope is lost, however. In his January 22 eFocus message, Presbytery Pastor Brad Munroe summarized the findings of a new Hartford Seminary longitudinal study on congregational growth like this:
  • There is a clear correlation between growth and the sense that a congregation is spiritually vital and alive along with a clear mission and purpose. 
  • Where a worship service is considered joyful, a congregation is more likely to experience substantial growth. And congregations that involve children in worship were more likely to experience substantial growth. 
  • Growth in predominantly white congregations is less likely, in part because this population has zero growth demographically. The members tend to be older as well and less likely to have contemporary worship services. 
  • Congregations whose members are heavily involved in recruiting new people have a definite growth advantage, as do congregations that use multiple methods to make follow-up contacts with visitors, that regularly invest in special events or programs to attract people from the community, and whose senior clergy spent priority time in evangelism and recruitment.
  • Congregations that saw themselves as not that different from other congregations in their area tended to decline.

What do these findings mean to our church?

Over the past several years we’ve made considerable progress toward becoming a “growth-prone” congregation. We’ve reviewed and revised our mission statement. We’ve agreed that we want to work toward more diversity, inclusion, involvement, and education. Our efforts to contact new residents in our area and follow up with visitors to our church have increased. Under David’s leadership, we’re experimenting with additional ways to add joy to our worship services and fellowship events. The enthusiastic response to our new “Wish List” has also demonstrated that the people sitting in our pews believe we are “spiritually vital and alive.”

So, in terms of growth, we are at the “bud” stage—planted, green, and ready to flower—and each of us can help to make that flowering happen. Think about volunteering to help with summer worship services; we can always use greeters, ushers, sound booth help, and musical talent. Take another look at the Wish List to see whether you would like to adopt all or part of one of the projects on it. And most critical of all, invite your friends and relatives to visit us on Sunday or for a social event. (Yes, we mean the kids and grandkids, too. Fathers Day is this month!) Tell them why they should come—what makes First Presbyterian special. If we believe we are different from other congregations in our area, it’s up to each of us to spread the word!
~Beth Mabee

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Lost and Found

The “left behind” items are really accumulating in the Lost and Found drawer. If you are missing any of these things, stop by the church office to claim your property:
  • Gray cardigan sweater 
  • 3 pairs of reading glasses 
  • Blue water bottle with cozy 
  • 1 pair sunglasses 
  • White visored cap with gray puma applique 
  • Timex watch with black band 
  • Small sock monkey doll 
  • Gold-colored beaded glasses chain 
  • Card case 
  • Kokopelli charm 
  • Small CVS Extra Care card 
  • Several single earrings 

Monday, June 20, 2016

In Short

Snowbirds—Have you given us your summer address? If not, please let Norma know where to send your mail until you return this fall.

Volunteer wanted—Craig McCoy needs assistance power washing the courtyard and Memorial Garden areas of the campus. If you can help, please call him at 623.680.3443.

The last pew—The final pew left over after the bell choir area remodel has been donated to the Praise Chapel in Phoenix. According to their Priscilla Walton, “It looks really nice in our fellowship hall. The color matches great! I believe it was meant to be ... Thank you so much for the pew, we really do love it!!!”

Electronics recycling—Our third annual electronics recycling pickup was a great success. According to eGreen IT Solutions, we sent them a total of 739 pounds of recyclable materials. Thank you to everyone who brought their dead electronics to the church for recycling, rather than sending them to a landfill.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Summer Vacations

  • The Stephen Ministers will hold their next meeting in Annex 3 at 10:00 am on Tuesday, September 6. For more information, contact David Glenn Walker at 623.977.0930. 
  • The bridge players will begin playing in the Fireside Room again on September 7. To learn more about the group, call Hazel Bacon at 623.974.3438. 
  • The Prayer Shawl Ministry will meet once in June, and then take Mondays off until September 19. 
  • There will be no formal meeting of Prayer Partners to be held at the church during the month of June, but, members of the team will continue to receive the updated list weekly, allowing them to continue to pray for each request received. Prayer requests should be sent to Helen Petersen, who coordinates the list, at booknook4hrp@gmail.com. 
  • “Just Coffee” sales are finished for now. Presbyterian Women sell the coffee as a Mission Project and all the money is sent to support the Mexican farmers and their families who grow the beans and grind them at the Border in Douglas. Thanks to everyone who purchased coffee for themselves, the church, the Justa Center, or gifts. PW appreciates your support, and will resume sales this fall. 
  • Our voice and handbell choirs are officially on vacation until October. Members of both groups and occasional guests will provide special music for our worship services during the summer. If you would like to offer your musical services, please contact Bill Gleason at 623.535.4496 or billg@firstpressuncity.org, or Beth Mabee in the church office. 
  • We have been renting space to the West Valley Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America in the Annex from 1:30-3:30 pm on the second Tuesday of every month. They are now on hiatus until October, when their meetings will begin again. The Hearing Loss Association of America is the nation’s foremost membership and advocacy organization for people with hearing loss. The West Valley Chapter is a local chapter to provide education, information, support, and advocacy for people with hearing loss, and they welcome visitors. For more information, contact Melanie O’Rourke at melanie.orourke@gmail.com or 623.882.5554. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Presbyterian Women in June

We miss our winter visitors! We hope you’ll keep in touch; here are some good reasons:

“Who Is Jesus?”

To receive copies of the Horizons Bible Study book for 2016-2017, PW members are asked to contact Sherry Gearhart (602) 509-2684, and send a check payable to First Presbyterian Church of Sun City AZ to the church office, Attention: Norma. This year’s Bible study, Who is Jesus?, will be the focus for the PW Synod of the Southwest Fall Gathering, to be held at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, October 28-30. If you’ve never experienced being at the Renewal Center, you should consider attending for one or two days, or all three (overnight accommodations available). Deadline to register is July 25th. (See your circle leader or one of the moderators for a registration form, which has complete details of the planned activities.)

Back-to-School Supplies

We will want to be thinking about donating supplies again this year, starting in July. Billie Lewis contacted the Dysart School District last week, inquiring about their needs. The high school and elementary school are both Title 1 schools. Officials say they would be “thrilled to receive anything.” We can do all grades—everything from tissues to pencils, pens, erasers, notebooks, scissors, backpacks, etc. Monetary donations are also welcome. So watch for specific instructions in the July issue of The SPIRE regarding this worthwhile effort.

Circle Membership

PW members: How many of us know a congregation member or frequent church attender who has never visited one of our circles? Why not invite her to attend one of our Bible study groups when we start up in September:
  • Rachel Circle meets in Annex 3 on the second Tuesday of each month. The new meeting time will be 1:30 pm. 
  • Lydia Circle meets in Annex 2 on the second Wednesdays at 9:00 am.

Blessings,
~Marge Hagerman, Co-Moderator