Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Chapel Stained Glass

The three panels of stained glass in the Memorial Chapel were purchased from Wilmar Glass Fabrications of Flagstaff, AZ, in 1979.  The windows incorporate several familiar symbols of Christianity - the lamb and dove in the left lancet, for instance, and wheat and grapes for the bread and wine of Communion in the right.

The focus of the center window is Jesus as the Light of the World.  It eloquently celebrates the joy of the Resurrection and the transforming power of our Savior.

These windows perfectly reflect the positive and inclusive spirit of our church, and we are privileged to enjoy them every Sunday during our summer worship services.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Joash Chest

I was intrigued and inspired by the beautiful chest into which we deposited our fish banks for our recent One Great Hour of Sharing.  With Norma Mack's help, I decided to find out what the Joash Chest was all about.  The computer sent me to many websites, but the best information was in the Bible (where else!) at Chronicles Two, Chapter 24, verses 1-16 which tells the story of Joash, the very young king of Jerusalem.

Joash became king when he was seven years old and reigned for forty years.  He was upset over the shambles he saw at the "House of the Lord" but had no money for its repair.  Since no tax money was available he had a chest built and set it outside the Temple.  He proclaimed throughout Judah and Jerusalem that people were to bring to the Lord the tax that Moses had laid on Israel in the wilderness.

The people, knowing where their tax money would be going, rejoiced and daily filled the chest with money.  The box, emptied nightly, was refilled during each day again and again.  The "House of the Lord" was completely restored to its original beauty and with the money left over they created worship utensils of gold and silver for their Temple.

Our beautiful Joash Chest was handcrafted in November of 2001 by Kenneth Lipp with walnut wood contributed by Wayne Parker and is used to receive our pledge cards every November.  Knowing about young king Joash gives me a better appreciation for it than I've ever had before.  Televangelist Joel Osteen thinks that we all should have a personal Joash Chest in our lives "to receive our time, our gifts, our hopes and our dreams so that we might become the person that God can do amazing things through."  That is something for me to work on.
~Donna Roth

Monday, July 29, 2013

Our Synod and Presbytery

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has over 11,000 congregations which are organized into 173 presbyteries (district governing bodies) and 16 synods (regional governing bodies).

The First Presbyterian Church of Sun City belongs to the Synod of the Southwest and the Presbytery of Grand Canyon.

For more information about our Synod, visit:

To learn more about our Presbytery, visit:

To find out what synod and presbytery govern your part of the country, see the interactive map at:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Chapel Carvings - South Wall

St. Paul's Shield.  This was carved to match, as closely as possible, the shield of St. Paul.  The original hangs in the display of the Upper Room, located in Nashville, Tennessee.

Descending dove, chi rho.  Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22, and John 1:32.  It is a very rare thing for all four of the Gospels to describe the same event in similar words.  In reporting the Holy Spirit's descent upon Jesus, all four say that it came like, or as, a dove from Heaven.  Therefore, the dove has become the most widely recognized symbol of the Holy Spirit.  As mentioned before, the letters chi rho are an abbreviation for Christ.

Hand of God.  Joshua 4:24.  There are more than 100 references to the Hand of God in the Bible, in almost every book, at least once.  This is one of the oldest, and main, symbols of God the Father.  The Hand is almost always shown surrounded by the "Cruciform Nimbus," indicating that the symbol is one of the members of the Trinity.

The Phoenix bird.  This legendary bird is not mentioned in scripture.  One of the first accounts is that written by Herodotus about the fifth century B.C.  Subsequent authors who have written about the Phoenix in general agree that it was a large bird with gorgeous plumage, and was the only one of its kind.  It was always male, and lived to be about 500 years old.  At the end of that time, it built a nest of spice twigs, and burned itself alive by setting the nest on fire.  Then it would rise again with renewed youth from its own ashes.  It is another symbol of the Resurrection.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Chapel Carvings - North Wall

Ship - symbolizing the Church.  Clement of Alexandria said, "Let our Seals be a Ship, scudding before the wind."  Clement of Rome helped explain this by saying, "For the whole business of the Church is like unto a Ship, bearing through a violent storm; men who are of many places, and who desire to inhabit the city of the Good Kingdom."  It is interesting to note that the main part of the church is called "the nave" from the Latin word Navis meaning ship, thus "navy."

Butterfly - symbolizing resurrection.  This often-seen symbol is not scriptural, but expresses the Christian's belief in the resurrection.  The stages of development of a butterfly show a distinct parallel to the life of a Christian.  It goes from the crawling larva stage to the chrysalis, so dormant it appears lifeless; then it comes forth as a beautiful butterfly.  So the Christian first, as a mortal man, lives a lowly life, enters death, appearing to be the end, but is raised into eternal life through his faith in Christ.  This plaque also features alpha and omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, symbolizing our eternal need of Christ.  Revelations 23:13 & 1:8, 21:6.

Lamb - from John 1:29 and 36, Revelations 5:1.  When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God."  This symbol in Latin is "Agnus Dei."  The banner held by the lamb symbolizes Christ's victory over death.

Ship with Chi Rho - symbolizing the Church, powered by Christ.  When the name CHRIST is written in Greek uncials, it appears as XPICTOC.  The first two letters (XP, or chi rho) are used as an abbreviation.  A Dutch carver combined them with the ship (discussed above) using the chi rho symbols as the sail, or motive force for the Church.  The original carving was presented to Dr. Douglas Wright by a personal friend who was a resident of Holland.  This carving was copied for our chapel with Dr. Wright's permission.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Chapel Carvings - Entrance

The plaque in the entrance to the Memorial Chapel is a composite composed of 9 symbols:
  • Descending dove - Matthew 3:16.  "It came as a dove from Heaven."  The dove is the most widely recognized symbol of the Holy Spirit.
  • Grapes and the vine - Matthew26:27-29, Luke 22:18.  Holy Communion, "the fruit of the vine" in the account of the last supper.  Also, in John 15:5, Jesus said "I am the vine, you are the branches."  This often symbolizes the unity of the church.
  • Fleur-de-lis - no scriptural basis.  However, this is an old emblem symbolizing the Trinity, because of the three-fold division.  It is also emblematic of the Virgin Mary.
  • Chalice - Matthew 26:27.  One of the first Christian symbols.  In addition to Holy Communion, it stands for faith and worship.
  • Wheat - Matthew 26:27-28.  Stands for the "Bread of Life," or Holy Communion.
  • Bible superimposed on the cross - this is a composite that speaks for itself.
  • Burning bush -  Acts 2:14. "The seven-tongued flame."  From the story of Pentecost, this is used frequently in Presbyterian symbols to represent the Holy Spirit.
  •  Fish - Luke 24:42.  This symbol arises from the story of Jesus eating a piece of fish after the resurrection.  It was used by persecuted Christians as a method of conveying a message to other Christians.
  • Crown - James 1:12.  Represents Christ's kingship and our reward.  "The Crown of Life" is a symbol borrowed directly from scripture.  "Eternal Life to those who follow Christ, the King of Kings."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Lipp Plaques

Kenneth Lipp took up woodcarving following his retirement.

A lifetime commitment to the Christian Faith inspired these carvings and others throughout the Chapel, Sanctuary and offices.

 A nonagenarian, Ken was commissioned by a former associate to radiate faith and artistic skill in these carvings to enhance the building in memory of Frances Rowlan. The Dove, the Burning Bush, the Vine, and the Ship are not merely beautiful works of art, but remind us all of the symbols of the Christian Faith.

 Easter 2000

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Our 35th Anniversary

Reprinted from First Presbyterian Church of Sun City 1963-1998, Thirty-Five Years of Spiritual Life:

A banquet on October 17 [1998] was the culmination of the year-long celebration of the 35th Anniversary Year of First Church.  Dr. David Steele of Sun City, a retired Presbyterian minister, was the guest speaker.  He also delivered the sermon at both services the following Sunday.

At the October 21 congregational meeting, members of the Church Extension Committee gave a comprehensive explanation of the proposed building plan, also explaining the recommended plan of financing through bonds.

On December 16 a congregational meeting was held following the Fellowship Dinner for the purpose of voting on the proposed building extension plan and the recommended plan of financing through a bond issue.  Bonds would be made available to First Church members only on January 1, 1999, in a minimum of $1,000.00.  A great majority voted in favor!

The bonding issue was again very successful and the required $300,000.00 was subscribed by year's end.  The architect estimates that the new building plans will be ready for tender by Easter 1999.

To end the Anniversary Year on a beautiful note, on Sunday December 20 the congregation sang a beautiful Christmas hymn written by our own Dr. Rick Myers.

(To the tune of "Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates")
(Words by Rick Myers)

Born in a stable, Christ the Lord;
The angels sang their heavenly chords.
The wisemen came to Bethlehem,
To offer praises to the Great I Am!

Joy filled their hearts that glorious day;
For in a manger their Savior lay.
Led by the Star which [shone] so bright,
They saw the child, God's Holy Light!

So, when your world seems dark and drear;
Remember stable-times when Christ appeared.
Lift up your hearts and glad song raise,
Rejoice dear friends and give God praise!

Thus the story of the first 35 years draws to an end on an optimistic note.  The decision to build again has ended the 20-year "drought," and enthusiasm marks the growing membership.  When Presbyterians stay together they can accomplish much as this ongoing story amply illustrates, as always...To God be the Glory...

As always, the future belongs to Him.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What Else Happened in 1998?

In 1998 we celebrated the 35th anniversary of our church, but here are some of the other things that were happening:
  • Bill Clinton was impeached.
  • The U.S. embassies in Nariobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania were bombed by terrorists. 
  • Pakistan tested an atomic bomb, becoming the world's seventh nuclear power.
  • The U.S. bombed Iraq in operation Desert Fox.
  • Microsoft was sued for antitrust violations.
  • Google was founded.
  • The first portable MP3 player was marketed.
  • The Holocaust History Project was founded.
  • The FDA approved Viagra.
  • The Winter Olympics were held in Nagano, Japan.
  • Frank Sinatra died.
  • "Titanic" won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
  • The average cost of a gallon of gas was $1.15.
For more information, see:

Monday, July 22, 2013

1998 - The Thirty-Fifth Anniversary Year

Reprinted from First Presbyterian Church of Sun City 1963-1998, Thirty-Five Years of Spiritual Life:

During January and February photographs were taken for a new pictorial directory.

Also during this time the pews in the Sanctuary and choir loft were upholstered, seat and back, which was an innovation.  Interior painting was completed.

"Dinners for Six," promoting fellowship in small groups, were begun.

An Arts and Crafts Show was held on a weekend in February to showcase the talents of members.  This was a big success, with neighbors and friends joining members to view the products of their labors.

On Easter the choir appeared in beautiful new eggshell robes with eggshell and blue stoles, coordinated with the new blue upholstery and carpeting.

The upcoming graduation of Rick Myers from Austin Theological Seminary was celebrated April 19 following both services.  a new robe was presented to him by Jane and Fred Bell.

A golf tournament with 40+ participating was held at the North Course on April 24.  A light supper was served afterward and prizes were awarded.

A churchwide luncheon was held April 29 to honor the "First" Ladies, wives of pastors past and present, senior and associate, who have served First Church since its beginning.  Of the 12 wives, 2 are deceased, and 7 were able to attend.  They were serenaded with a terrific musical program.

May 14 - A red-letter day for Pastor Rick!  He was awarded a Doctor of Ministry degree from Austin Theological Seminary.  A contingent of well-wishers was in Austin, Texas, to celebrate with him and Gracie.

At the October 15 meeting of Session, the Church Extension committee, which had been appointed by Session on April 16 to assess the need for additional meeting space at First Church including size, location and financing, presented its report.  Session voted unanimously to present Option 3, constructing an addition to the office complex which would provide meeting rooms and rest rooms, at a cost of $300,000.00, to the congregation at the annual meeting on October 21.

Next: The 35th Anniversary Celebration

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The First 35 Years

The Preface from First Presbyterian Church of Sun City 1963-1998, Thirty-Five Years of Spiritual Life:

While reading this updated history of First Presbyterian Church, Sun City, I was struck and impressed by the quality of the people represented by this history.  We who have come after such a distinguished and dedicated group only enjoy the vision of those early Presbyterians, but we can be strengthened by the example of their faith, courage and determination to make a difference in Sun City!  When we examine what our daughter church, Faith Presbyterian Church, has accomplished in twenty-five years with their magnificent vision and the construction of Royal Oaks, we can be justly proud to be Presbyterians.

We are all indebted to Dr. Douglas P. Wright and Grace Haas for writing the history of the first twenty-five years.  I naturally turned for an update to yet another Haas, this time Evelyn Haas, whose dedication and attention to detail as Personnel Chairman left a lasting impression on me.  She has come through with humour, sincerity and a 'historical sense' that will add greatly in the coming years to the story behind the people of First Church, Sun City.  Appreciation to Fran Kittredge our "computer" copier, and to Fran and Roda Wright for their proofreading skills.  We have incorporated, by choice, the "First Twenty-Five Years" updating the details where necessary and complimenting them by calling this the "First Thirty-Five Years"!!

To everyone who played important roles through the thirty-five years and especially to the historians among us; including Evelyn Haas, my thanks, appreciation and admiration.  It has been my privilege to live and minister among your since 1995.  Eileen and I are both enjoying our experiences; we see you as people illustrating the zeal of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

Virens...sed tamen...Consumebatur

Burning but never consumed!!!

Congratulations in achieving thirty-five wonderful years.
~ Dennis W. Clarke
December 1998

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Late 1990's (concluded)

Reprinted from First Presbyterian Church of Sun City 1963-1998, Thirty-Five Years of Spiritual Life:

To insure that spiritual care is provided to every member of our congregation, the Board of Deacons will be doubled from its present 39 members to 78 members over the next three years.  Pastor Myers designed and implemented the plan to accomplish this by adding 13 new deacons every year through the year 2000.  Included in this project is the restructure of districts with the end goal in the year 2000 being that each deacon will have to care for no more than 8 to 12 family units.

A number of new celebrations were begun this year.  Bobbi Hoover organized parties for those couples married 50 years and longer, and for members over the ages of 80 and 90.  Joan Moore organized parties for new members and another for winter residents.  Weekly Bridge games were started.

A Thirty-fourth Anniversary Dinner was held honoring past and present Associate Pastors on October 18 [1997].

On November 22, 1997, the congregation mourned the death of long-time organist Evelyn Sillars.

Several projects were undertaken during 1997 in preparation for the celebration in 1998 of our Thirty-fifth Anniversary.  New curtains were hung in the Narthex and Swain Hall a new stage curtain, a much needed dishwasher was installed, and new lights added in the Sanctuary.  "Action" doors were installed at the entrances to Swain Hall and the courtyard entrance to the Sanctuary.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Late 1990's (continued)

Reprinted from First Presbyterian Church of Sun City 1963-1998, Thirty-Five Years of Spiritual Life:

In June [1996] an Audio-Video Station was built in the rear of the Sanctuary, with video cameras being placed in strategic positions.

With the coming of Rick in 1993 and Gracie in 1996 to First Church, the office computer network was expanded, even to the point of adding a Church Web Site on the Internet.  The church e-mail address [was]

The Memorial Garden was expanded with the addition of the second unit of the Columbarium.

On October 19 the Thirty-third Anniversary Celebration honored past senior pastors with a banquet at which the guest speaker was George McPherson Docherty.

On December 31 Martha Cross, Music Director since December 1981, and Evelyn Sillars, Organist since November 1983, resigned.

 The year 1997 brought some staff changes and additions.  In January Byron Blackmore was hired as organist/choirmaster.  He arrived in May.

In May, Adele Browning began work as Parish Coordinator of Visitation, with Bobbi Hoover now Parish Coordinator of Church Care.

 A new custodial service was hired in May and Carl and Tina Abramsen began their work as our caretakers.

In June Roda Wright was hired as Administrative Assistant to Gracie Myers, Office Specialist.

To be continued.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Late 1990's

Reprinted from First Presbyterian Church of Sun City 1963-1998, Thirty-Five Years of Spiritual Life:

On February 5, 1995, Dennis W. Clarke was installed as Senior Pastor.  After Dennis arrived we not only saw changes in the office (staff and structural!) but we HEARD a change - a delightful Irish brogue!  Dennis was ordained by the Presbytery of Magherahoghill!

In 1995 the number of ruling Elders on Session was reduced to 21.

The year 1996 was a very busy one.  In January Gracie Myers (wife of Pastor Rick) started work as Office Specialist, Dr. Richard Jaynes as Director of Parish Care, Roberta (Bobbi) Hoover as Director of Parish Visitation and Harvey Moore as Parish Associate.

The office area was rearranged with the conference room becoming the office specialist's office and the secretarial area being transformed into a conference room complete with new table and chairs, and draperies for privacy when needed.  New carpet and tile were laid throughout the office, kitchen, Swain Hall, and all areas of [the] main church building.

A festive celebration was held on February 18 to honor our pastoral staff.  Dennis, Rick and Harvey, along with their wives, were feted.  Parodies were sung, plaques were presented, speeches made, punch and cookies enjoyed.

In April the untimely death of Dr. Jaynes was met with great sorrow.  As an avid supporter of First Church, Session Member, Choir Member, member of various committees and as Director of Parish Care, he will be sorely missed.

To be continued.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is dedicated to mission as a way of spreading God's love.  The Presbyterian Mission Agency is one of the church's six General Assembly agencies and is specifically charged with leading and coordinating its total mission program.  That includes Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the church's emergency and refugee program.

Between the storms in the Northeast and Oklahoma and the recent fires in our own state of Arizona, this has been a bad year for natural disasters.  If you would like to learn more about what Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is doing to help affected communities, or support their work, please visit

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Sanctuary Banners

This photo is from First Presbyterian Church of Sun City 1963-1998, Thirty-Five Years of Spiritual Life. We would like to locate and use these banners as part of our 50th anniversary celebration. If you have any information about what happened to these banners or where they are stored, please contact the church office so we can have them cleaned or restored if necessary in time for this fall's festivities.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Early 1990's (continued)

From First Presbyterian Church of Sun City 1963-1998, Thirty-Five Years of Spiritual Life:

Pastor Beanland announced his wish to retire as of October 31, 1991, and in October Alan Sorem came on board as Interim Associate.  Pastors Jack Becker, Dick Zabriskie and Gayle Beanland had developed a visitation program and initiated the Deacon District System.

A new Lenten Program was begun with eight groups of people formed for Bible Study for five weekly meetings, gathering in pastors' and members' homes, rotating to different homes each week.

Pastor Martz and wife Shirley led 15 participants in a work camp at Ghost Ranch, with the members enjoying the area and accomplishing much.

The year 1992 was busy with the Columbarium program
under way, a new Chapel roof added and new signs
erected on church grounds.  The Evangelism Committee
was created by the Session and our congregation gave special assistance to the West Valley New Church Development by making over 1,600 phone calls.

Forty members participated in the Mission tour to the San Francisco area led by the Zabriskies, under the direction of the Mission and Fellowship committees.

Several changes in the pastoral staff occurred in 1993 and 1994.  Rick L. Myers was installed as Associate Pastor on February 21, 1993.  Upon Pastor Martz' retirement November 1, 1993, Lawrence R. DeLong was installed as Interim Senior Pastor on January 5, 1994.  Annaline Drake joined us as Pastoral Associate on April 17 and on November 20, 1994, was ordained in our Sanctuary.  On October 31, 1994, Dick Zabriskie retired after eight years of service.  Harvey L. Moore was installed January 3, 1995,
as Interim Associate.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Early 1990's

From First Presbyterian Church of Sun City 1963-1998, Thirty-Five Years of Spiritual Life:

Dr. Wright retired on January 31, 1989, and on May 7, 1989, the Reverend Robert V. Martz was installed as Senior Pastor.

In 1990 the Brunch Bunch program was started, bringing together, once a month after the 10:00 a.m. service, people who are alone, to eat lunch together at a local restaurant.  It was met with great success.

The Sunday Morning Bible Class continued with vigorous and exciting discussion, leadership given by an associate pastor.

At about this time, with the Session Finance Committee, Pastor Beanland discovered an opportunity to step into the electronic age.  Session voted $10,000 with which to purchase our first computer system.  The first computer purchased was graced with the name "Theodore" which translated from Greek is "God's Gift," and indeed it was.

With the help of nimble-fingered needlepointers new paraments for the sanctuary were created, along with new upholstery for the Pastors' chairs on the altar.  Each church season these beautiful designs are appreciated anew.

In 1991 a new Allen organ was purchased for the Sanctuary.  A Sunday afternoon recital to demonstrate the many features of the organ was given by an Allen Company representative.

With the many new members in our midst, a new pictorial directory was published at this time.

The Zabriskies hosted a mission tour to Greece and Turkey with 15 participants seeing many of the ruins of the communities of the early church.

To be continued.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

What Else Was Happening in 1996?

First Presbyterian Church celebrated the 30th anniversary of our building in 1996.  Here are a few other things that happened that year:
  • Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, and Benjamin Netanyahu were elected leaders of their countries.
  • Kofi Annan was named UN Secretary General.
  • Peace was declared in Bosnia.
  •  Madeleine Albright became the first female Secretary of State in US history.
  • The Unabomber suspect was arrested.
  • Great Britain had an outbreak of mad cow disease.
  • Prince Charles and Princess Diana divorced.
  • IBM's Deep Blue computer won a game against chess master Gary Kasparov.
  • Gene Kelly, George Burns, and Carl Sagan died.
  • Braveheart won the Academy Award for best picture.
  • Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes was a bestseller.
  • Seal's "Kiss from a Rose" won the Grammy awards for Song of the Year and Record of the Year.

 For more, go to:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Library

Our well-organized library is open any time of day, year round, for your use.  If you should find the door locked, stop at the office and get a key, but do plan on having enough time for browsing.  You'll have access to over 1000 books starting with an impressive Biblical Reference area in the entrance and encompassing fourteen color-coded subjects in the main library room.  The color code chart hangs, eye level, on the library wall by the entrance, easy to see and refer to.

You will find subjects such as Bible Study, Biographies, Christian Church and Life, Devotions, God/Jesus, Grief Support, Health and Aging, Holidays, Human Relationships, Reference Books, Women's Issues, World Religion, World Missions, and a huge selection of fiction for hot or rainy weather reading.  It's a variety of books that you won't always find in a public library.  There is also a good selection of large print books.  I was surprised to see autobiographies of our past clergy; their personal stories are all there for you to enjoy.  In the entrance to the library, from the court, are book shelves of free books; give them a glance, the very book you've been looking for may be there.

A cozy sitting area for reading a magazine article or skimming through a book is provided and on the table are recently donated books for you to check out.  Take time to review all of the book categories and find something that piques your interest or answers your questions.  Checking out a book is so easy.  Remove the card from the book, sign your name and the year, and place the card in the basket on the desk.  Enjoy the book for up to three weeks.  Return the book to the wooden box on the desk when you are through.  So simple!  No library card is required, no overdue book fees, no extra car trips.  This gratifying library experience is yours to enjoy thanks to a multitude of donated books and our three dedicated librarians -  Muffy Keen, Carolyn Bruno, and Helen Petersen.  What a deal!
~Donna Roth

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Church Building's 30th Anniversary - conclusion

From the "Lifestyles" section of the Friday, October 4, 1996 edition of the Daily News-Sun:

Presbyterians mark 30-year milestone

Celebration heralds ecumenical sharing

Senior staff writer
(Continued from yesterday.)

...[Rev.] Calhoun, who retired in 1979 and worships at First Presbyterian Church, said he has noticed a "deepening of the spiritual life" of the congregation as it marks 30 years of worship under the same roof. "There's a greater appreciation for the ministry that can be rendered to people who are mature," he said.

[Rev.] Wright described his nine years of ministering in First Presbyterian Church as a "tremendous experience."  He described the congregation as the "most spiritual, responsive and loving" group he had ever been associated with.

Wright, Calhoun and the Rev. Dennis Clarke, the current senior pastor of the church, all said anniversaries are important milestones in a church's life that should be celebrated.

"It lifts up the memory of people who have given so much to the life of the church - people who have been so much a vital part of the life of the church who are left only to the memorial books," Calhoun said.

"This day and age, it's good to check back on your roots," Clarke said.

Anniversaries serve as a reminder of the people who worked hard in establishing the church, and they inspire others to "capture the vision of reaching out and helping others," Clarke said.

Anniversaries are also a time to look to the future, Calhoun said.

Come visit us at First Presbyterian as we celebrate our 50th anniversary and shape our vision for the church's next 50 years! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Church Building's 30th Anniversary - continued

From the "Lifestyles" section of the Friday, October 4, 1996 edition of the Daily News-Sun:

Presbyterians mark 30-year milestone

Celebration heralds ecumenical sharing

Senior staff writer

(Continued from yesterday.)

...Since its humble beginnings, First Presbyterian Church members have continued the tradition of sharing with other ecumenical churches that dot the Sun City landscape.  They also have been successful at expanding the Presbyterian church's reach in the Northwest Valley.

It was First Presbyterian Church that purchased the site on Del Webb Boulevard for Faith Presbyterian Church at a cost of $70,000.  First and Faith Presbyterian later pooled resources to buy a $150,000 parcel in Sun City West for Desert Palms Presbyterian Church.  Now the three congregations are trying to buy land in Sun City Grand for about $600,000.

When it was dedicated, First Presbyterian Church boasted 223 members.  The congregation grew steadily over the years, as did the church structure.  Membership peaked at nearly 1,500 in the late 1970s and for years afterward, the vast church parking lot filled up for three Sunday services.

Membership has fallen off in recent years because, as former senior paster the Rev. Doug Wright put it, "people have a way of dying off and moving away."

Wright and another former senior pastor, the Rev. Paul Calhoun, stayed in Sun City after retiring from full-time ministry.  Both men characterized First Presbyterian Church as "mature" even though at 30 years old, it is nowhere near the age of some Presbyterian churches around the country.

See the rest of this article in tomorrow's post.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Church Building's 30th Anniversary

From the "Lifestyles" section of the Friday, October 4, 1996 edition of the Daily News-Sun:

Presbyterians mark 30-year milestone

Celebration heralds ecumenical sharing

Senior staff writer

The spirit of ecumenical sharing on which First Presbyterian Church was built will resound when one of Sun City's earliest congregations celebrates the 30th anniversary of their house of worship.  The anniversary marks the dedication of October 16, 1966, of the church at 12225 N. 103rd Ave., adjacent to Sun Valley Lodge.

Early church members borrowed space in Fairway Recreation Center for their first worship service in February 1963.  Lutherans and Episcopalians lent other necessities such as an organ and communion dishes.

Three and [a] half years later, the church with its signature weather-vane-topped steeple was dedicated.  The 5-acre church site is on 103rd Avenue adjacent to Sun Valley Lodge.

Ecumenical clergy from around the Valley have been invited to a First Presbyterian Church anniversary event Oct. 19 featuring a talk by the Rev. Dr. George Docherty, retired minister of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C.

Besides being influential in Washington D.C. political circles, Docherty was active in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements of the 1960s.  He will share with the ecumenical clergy and is slated to be the guest minister for both the 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. worship services in First Presbyterian Church on Oct. 20.

The church's 30th anniversary weekend also will feature a dinner banquet on Oct. 19...

To be continued.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Memorial Garden

From First Presbyterian Church of Sun City 1963-1998, Thirty-Five Years of Spiritual Life:

A Memorial Committee was formed October 30, 1975, to make decisions concerning memorials and to expend funds in consultation with the donor and minister.

In 1992 the Memorial Committee installed the first of the Columbarium units in the area to be called "The Memorial Garden."  The Garden is a lovely area conducive to meditation and reflection, with park benches, trees, shrubs and flowers.

The second Columbarium units were installed in 1996.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Did You Know (Part 2)?

  • In December 1963, the Minister of Visitation (Dr. Raymond L. Edie) suggested creating an "associate membership" for seasonal residents and others reluctant to cut their ties with their home churches.  Now known as "affiliates," these members are not able to vote or hold office but are otherwise a vital part of our congregation.
  • First Presbyterian is the "parent" church of Faith Presbyterian on Del Webb Avenue in the Phase II section of Sun City.  Their congregation used our facilities in the early 1970's while their building was being erected.
  • The University of Life educational programs started in 1976.  The programs are on hiatus for the summer but will continue this fall.
  • Our Dial-A-Prayer program began in 1978 and continues today.  Call  623-977-9211  to be led in a recorded prayer.
  • In 1988 a new sound system with hearing aid assistance was installed in the Sanctuary.  This system is scheduled to be upgraded as part of this year's anniversary celebration.
  • Also in 1988, the church landscaping was changed from grass to xeriscaping.
  • The church's first computer was purchased in 1990.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

"Presbyterianism in a wide sense is the system of church government by representative assemblies called presbyteries, in opposition to government by bishops (episcopal system), or by congregations (congregationalism). In its strict sense, Presbyterianism is the name given to one of the groups of ecclesiastical bodies that represent the features of Protestantism emphasized by French lawyer John Calvin (1509-1564), whose writings crystallized much of the Reformed thinking that came before him...The chief distinctive features...are Presbyterian church government, Calvinistic theology, and absence of prescribed forms of worship. Presbyterians trace their history to the 16th century and the Protestant Reformation...

"Presbyterian denominations in the United States have split and parts have reunited several times. Currently the largest group is the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which has its national offices in Louisville, KY. It was formed in 1983 as a result of reunion between the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (PCUS), the 'southern stream,' and the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA), the 'northern stream.'

"...As of 2006, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) had approximately 2.4 million members, 11,100 congregations, and 14,000 ordained and active ministers."

~From the Presbyterian Historical Society's  A Brief History of the Presbyterian Church in this Country

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Our Chrismons

Sanctuary tree with Chrismons
Last year, while a group of us were helping Cecelia Schenk decorate the 12-foot tree in the Sanctuary I was enthralled with the Chrismons used to decorate it.  Pastor Davis requested a Christmas tree for our Christmas morning service in Swain Hall this year so the tree was moved there for the season and we were all able to enjoy those very special decorations up close.

Martha Porter shared with me her research from a PW talk she had done several years ago.  Caroline Phelps and Beryl Wehlau, among others, were two who helped create Chrismons at a local church sale.  The Chrismons are all handmade and shaped like ancient Christian symbols.  The name Chrismon is a combination of the words Christ and monogram and is copyrighted by the Ascension Lutheran Church of Danville, Virginia, where they were first created by Mrs. Frances Kipps Spencer in 1957.

Chrismons are always white, gold, or crystal.  White represents the purity of Christ and is also the liturgical color of Christmas.  Gold represents the majesty and glory of God and crystal is for the Holy Spirit.  Their shapes are the familiar fish, stars, circles, triangles, crosses, doves, chalices, etc., and each has a very profound meaning in the Christian faith.  We share empathy with these antique shapes and their messages that have survived so many centuries and yet remain a part of our faith today, especially during the holy Christmas season.
~ Donna Roth