Thursday, August 7, 2014

The SPIRE Newsletter

If you are a winter visitor – or someone who has not been on our mailing list before – click here to send us your current mailing address and receive The SPIRE, our monthly newsletter.

You can view the current and past issues of The SPIRE on our website, http://firstpressuncity.org.  Just click on Contact Us and then The SPIRE Newsletter to pull up the list of links to pdf copies of The SPIRE and the calendar for the year.

Items to be included in the September 2014 edition of The SPIRE should be submitted to Beth Mabee in the church office or by email at bethm@firstpressuncity.org by Monday, August 25.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

In the Works

In the DVD clip that started our July 12 AI summit, Adam Hamilton said he had given his deacons digital cameras to capture the problem areas around their church campus. Bill Wentling and our Building Committee have also checked out our building and grounds (see right). As a result of their efforts, these projects have already been successfully completed:
  • A new fire/intrusion alarm system has replaced the old intrusion-only alarm, for a smaller monthly maintenance fee.
  • Problem door locks have been repaired or replaced.
  • Old A/C wiring and hard-to-use thermostats were replaced.
  • Gabe Conwell has refinished the wooden exterior doors in the courtyard.
  • The damaged sunscreens on the Agua Fria room were replaced.
  • The overgrown landscaping on the north side of the building has been removed.
  • An energy audit has been completed and the remaining inefficient light fixtures identified for future replacement.
Phase I of the future enhancements will start at the end of this month and include:
  • Exterior painting.
  • Additional plant removal and trimming, plus replanting on the north side.
  • Replacement of all toilets with taller, more efficient models.
  • Replacement of existing bathroom light switches with easier-to-use versions.
Phase II, which will probably take place next spring, will comprise interior painting (the Sanctuary, Fireside Room, Narthex, choir room, library, and adjoining spaces) and additional landscaping. And as we can, we’ll tackle the items identified on July 12, such as reconfiguring the Fireside Room and posting maps of the campus.

Our beautiful church campus shelters us, inspires us during worship, supports our mission and fellowship activities, and attracts new members to sustain the life of the congregation. These changes will ensure that God’s house will continue to serve our ministry for many years to come.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Caring for God's House

Appreciating our Campus through Capital Improvements

Saturday, July 12, over 40 people came together in Swain Hall to celebrate the ways in which our building and grounds support our mission as the First Presbyterian Church of Sun City.

The day opened with a clip from an Adam Hamilton DVD about the importance of an appealing and well-kept premises in attracting and maintaining members, followed by small group interviews on how our own church property has served us as individuals and as a community of faith. Out of the stories we told each other, these appreciative themes emerged:
  • The flexible spaces in our campus and the beautiful designs of our Sanctuary, Chapel, and stained glass fulfill the church’s physical needs and also contribute to our spiritual growth.
  • The courtyard and Memorial Garden are the heart of the campus, central to its nurturing functions.
  • Our church is not just a building; it’s God’s house and as such deserves to be maintained with love and respect.
When asked what we want more of, we requested an updated Fireside Room, better internal signage (where, for instance, is the Westminster Room?), state-of-the-art IT and communications, and landscaping that is less expensive to maintain. Suggestions for additional activities at the campus included social occasions utilizing the Fireside Room and courtyard; concerts in the Sanctuary; vacation bible school; and renting the premises for weddings and similar functions.

Lunch followed presentations on the capital improvements already in the works; the landscaping changes proposed by the Certified Desert Landscaper who is working with us; and the plans to replace the brick in the courtyard’s Celtic cross (heavily damaged by splashing from the fountain). Participants then voted on their preferred paint colors for the wood and metal portions of the church’s exterior and for the Sanctuary and adjoining interior spaces.

We are truly blessed by our church’s wonderful spaces and amazing people. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this AI session; if you couldn’t be there, be sure to keep reading this blog!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

August Mission Corner

West Side Food Bank

You may know the name as St. Mary's Food Bank, but it is the same food bank.  They joined together for better distribution to those in need.

St. Mary's is the largest food bank in the world.  It is a non-sectarian organization that alleviates hunger by efficiently gathering and distributing food to sites that serve the hungry.

St. Mary's Food Bank takes very seriously and with unmatched pride its commitment as a non-profit organization that is accountable to the community which it serves.

St. Mary's has tackled the problem of easing the hunger in Arizona through the vision of its founder John von Hengel in 1967, when while serving dinner at St. Vincent dePaul to those in need, he wanted to help the hungry.  He was able to obtain a $3000 grant and an old abandoned building where individuals and companies could "deposit" food and those in need could "withdraw."  Hence, the "food bank."

For more information, visit their website at http://www.firstfoodbank.org/.

Thanks for supporting the St. Mary's Food Bank.
~Gene Downing


Friday, August 1, 2014

The Best is Yet to Come

It has become a cliché.  “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  That philosophy holds currency in Sun City where the average age is beyond seventy.  In our congregation that average is above eighty.  But here’s what I’ve learned living here in Sun City.
Age isn’t a number as much as an attitude.  Some of the most “ageless” saints are people with the most years already lived.  None of us are physically able to do the things we could when we were younger.  But a visit to one of the rec centers will dispel any notion that older people are unable to be active.
Several years ago Carol and I were invited to attend a workshop at Ghost Ranch.  Ghost Ranch is one of three camp and conference centers affiliated with the Presbyterian Church.  We joined a broad cross-section of the church.  There were theologians, persons recovering from substance abuse and some whose relationships had ended.  Some were counselors to the recovering who needed self-care.  All of us were asking how the church’s traditional resources: theological, therapeutic, and relational were helping or missing the mark for people experiencing traumatic change. 
In our first session the group leader gave us an exercise designed to “break the ice.”  She invited each of us to answer the question: “What decade or year or moment would you say was the best time in your life?”  She asked us to describe that moment with as much detail as we felt comfortable sharing.  As we went around the circle the responses were typical.  Everyone described significant milestones.  Graduating from school, meeting a spouse or significant other, birth of a child, the date one entered a 12-step program, the date one “graduated” from a 12-step program, were some of the responses.  We learned a lot about one another, but I will never forget one person’s contribution.
She was sitting in the circle where she would be one of the last to comment.  And when it was her turn, there was silence.  All of us waited expectant, wondering what she would say, some maybe a little nervous.  When she finally opened her mouth she said, “Today is the best day of my life.”  She taught us with that comment that the best days of our lives aren’t over.  They are always in the moment or yet to be.
In theology we say that God’s timing is right now and not yet.  What that means is that God in Jesus Christ has changed everything and is changing all things until the end of time.  The human tendency looks back at significant events and concludes perhaps that the best has already occurred.  But God’s history, God’s timing, reveals the best is yet to come.  In our own lives, for the church, for the future, the best is yet to come…..thanks be to God!
~Harrell
 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Appreciating the Desert

When Del Webb built the first phase of Sun City, his target market was retirees from the upper Midwest, and he assumed they would want to buy houses that looked like transplanted bungalows from Minnesota or Wisconsin, complete with grass lawns and familiar shrubs.

Our church, too, was originally landscaped with grass that wasn’t removed until 1988.  That year the congregation embraced the concept of xeriscaping.  Merriam-Webster defines xeriscape as “a landscaping method developed especially for arid and semiarid climates that utilizes water-conserving techniques (as the use of drought-tolerant plants, mulch, and efficient irrigation),” and says the first known use of the word (if not the principle) was in 1985.  We were pioneers in that regard, appreciating our desert 26 years ago.

However, once the desert flora was in place, we started treating it like the plants we were used to in colder climates—trimming bushes into hedges and frequently overwatering them.  Some of this was necessary because the landscapers had planted many of the items in areas too small for the full-grown plants, too close together, or too close to the walkways.  Over the years quite a few of our plantings have become woody, over-grown, and unattractive.  It’s time to fix that.

Starting with a donation designated for landscaping, Master Gardener, Certified Arborist, and Certified Desert Landscaper Kris Coates is helping us to:

W Identify and remove the plants that have reached the end of their useful lives.

W “Stump back” salvageable plants that can regrow into more natural and attractive shapes.

W Replant with more eye-catching and appropriate types of foliage that will require less water and less maintenance.

W Train our Building Committee and the landscaper we use in how to care for the new plants.
Once the entire project is complete, we will save thousands of dollars in water and landscape maintenance costs every year, and our campus will be far more beautiful and desert-appropriate.

We are so fortunate that Zane and Martha Porter referred Kris to us; she is committing countless hours of her time and effort to this project free of charge, and with her help we will be able to buy most of the new plants we need at wholesale prices, almost 40% off retail.  If you see her around the grounds, be sure to thank her.  With her help, we will all be able to appreciate the desert in a whole new way.
“The desert, when the sun comes up...I couldn't tell where heaven stopped and the Earth began.” ~Tom Hanks