Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rev. Clarke's Retirement Party

These photos are from the party held to celebrate Dr. Clarke's retirement as head pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Sun City:

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Sun City Herald and Blowhard

This spoof newspaper was printed as part of the "roast" for Rev. Dennis Clarke on his retirement as Head Pastor of the church:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Presbyterians and the Civil Rights Movement

 By now, if you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of First Presbyterian Church of Sun City, but did you know that yesterday (August 28, 2013) was the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom? The March was a pivotal event in the Civil Rights Movement and where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. Many Presbyterians were part of the struggle for equality. In honor of this special anniversary, the Presbyterian Historical Society is offering a variety of resources demonstrating the dynamic role Presbyterians played.  For readings, videos, and more, go to:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Courtyard Doors

Each of the church building doors opening onto the central courtyard of the campus is composed of carved wooden panels displaying a different type of cross:

Monday, August 19, 2013

Presbyterian Women

Reprinted from

Presbyterian Women (PW) is an independent organization within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) of more than 300,000 women. The programming and resource options for the organization offer a variety of ways for women to live out their faith in an inclusive, caring community.

Presbyterian Women (PW) offers women in the church meaningful ways to live out their faith in the midst of a caring community of women. For more than 200 years Presbyterian women’s groups have strengthened the Presbyterian Church and played a major role in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and witnessing to the promise of God’s kingdom. And in 2013, Presbyterian Women celebrates 25 years of praying and working together as “Presbyterian Women,” the organization created with the reunited Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).


Forgiven and freed by God in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves:

  • to nurture our faith through prayer and Bible study,
  • to support the mission of the church worldwide,
  • to work for justice and peace,
  • and to build an inclusive, caring community of women that strengthens the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and witnesses to the promise of God’s kingdom.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Dedicatory Recital

From the bulletin for November 11, 1990:

You are cordially invited to attend a dedicatory organ recital today at 3:00 P.M. in the Sanctuary, presented by Carlo Curley.  Mr. Curley performs both in this country and abroad, having appeared in Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, Europe and England.  In this country he has enjoyed hugely successful concerts including Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, and a "Command Performance" by the President to appear in concert in the White House.  A Reception follows in Swain Hall.

To hear Carlo Curley's Guided Organ Tour, visit YouTube at

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Organ Dedication

This is the litany of dedication from the November 11, 1990, dedication service for the new Sanctuary organ.

Pastor O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt God's name together.
People Let us enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.
Pastor Eternal Spirit, from whom stream all things excellent, and in whose sanctuary strength and beauty dwell, we worship You. Lift up our hearts above the harsh confusions of our time, above its din and clamor, and here refresh our souls with harmony and praise.
People Praise God in the sanctuary, praise God with stringed instruments and organ.
Pastor For all makers of melody, who have taught us to rejoice in song and have lifted our spirits in hymns of gratitude and praise, we thank You. Here in this sanctuary may music give our spirits wing, until above life's discords we hear the voices of the heavenly host, singing "Hallelujah. The Lord God Omnipotent reigns."
People Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
Pastor God of grace, grant that this instrument for Your praise, which we now dedicate, may minister to the strengthening of our faith. Here in this sanctuary may we be reassured that life is not all dissonance and turmoil. Here may the beauty of the Lord, our God, be upon us.
People O sing unto the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord, all the earth.
Pastor Upon this congregation of Your people we ask Your blessing. May the outward harmony, with which we worship You, be reflected in our daily lives, in the loveliness of friendship, in the burden bearing community, the Church, and in good will that heals the hurts of men and women and quiets their hostilities.
People In psalms and hymns and spiritual songs may we sing, making melody in our hearts to the Lord.
Pastor Here may the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, until we serve the Lord with gladness and come before God's presence with singing. So comfort the sorrowful, lift up the discouraged, renew the faint-hearted, and teach us to say: The Lord is our strength and our song.
People O come, let us sing unto the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before God's presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise to God with psalms.
Pastor As we remember our Master and His first disciples, of whom it is written, "When they had sung a hymn, they went out into Mount of Olives," we too, being strengthened by Your Spirit, would be made ready for our difficult tomorrows. Let not our worship here be an escape from life, but a preparation for life. Here may we be so compassed about with songs of deliverance that tomorrow we may be able to do what we ought to do and to stand what we must endure.
People Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and God will strengthen your heart. Wait on the Lord. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Sanctuary Organ

In 1990 the Session approved the purchase of a Model MDS 75 Allen organ for the sanctuary.  Clarence Gunckel was appointed chairman of the special organ fund-raising group. The other members of the committee were:
  • Art Comer
  • Gene Cross
  • Martha Cross (Director of Music)
  • Betty Gunckel
  • Harold Jordan
  • Clint Kimpel
  • Charles Malody
  • Tom Maxwell
  • George Nebesar
  • Helen Randall
  • Evelyn Sillars (Organist)
  • John Yousling (Organist)
Approximately 350 individuals and groups made contributions toward the purchase of the organ, many under $100; so much money was donated that after the bills were all paid, $2274.01 remained in the organ fund.  This money was segregated in the Memorial fund to be used in the church's musical program.

The organ was dedicated in a special worship service on November 11, 1990.  The cover of the bulletin read, "Sing the glory of his praise."  John Yousling played the organ at the 8am service and Evelyn Sillars played at the 10am service.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

More On The Stained Glass

When the Memorial Chapel was dedicated, the bulletin gave the following explanation of the stained glass windows:

The stained glass windows have been created as a testimony to the Resurrection of our Lord, and as a visible reminder of the promise that because He lives we also shall live.  The three windows, when viewed together, present differing theological aspects of this one central conviction of Presbyterian and Reformed faith.

The enter window is dominated by the unmistakable suggestion of our ascended and triumphant Lord.  The cross to His left is an empty cross.  The grave has been transcended.  He is looking down.  His hands are extended in benediction and blessing.  Beneath the holy figure may be seen the representation of the vine and the branches, symbolizing the union of the people of God with their Lord, and their dependence on His redeeming and life-giving love.

The side windows are designed to extend this concept of the Resurrection.  The window to the left, with its upward flowing movement, makes use of one of the most meaningful symbols of our Lord.  Here Jesus is portrayed, not only as "The Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world," but also as one who has power over dath.  For the banner He is carrying is known as "The Resurrection Banner."  The white pennant represents the body of Christ.  This is attached to the cruciform staff, representing the cross on which the Lamb of God died.

The window to the right, once again with its remarkable upward movement, has at its center the stalks of wheat and the grapes of the vine, symbolic of the bread and wine of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper.  For at the table of the Lord the believer is made one with the Lord in His life, His death, and His Resurrection.  For we are the children of the Resurrection.  Praise God!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Anniversary Banners are Back!

The church symbol banners created for our 35th anniversary have been located in the attic and will be dusted off for the 50th anniversary celebration!

To see how the banners looked in the Sanctuary on our 35th anniversary, click here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Prayer Shawl Ministry


We are a family of faith, called to celebrate God's message of love and forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

We are guided by the living word of God.

We nurture one another through prayer, teaching and fellowship.

We are led by the Holy Spirit, we reach out with our hands to those in need, seeking to inspire hope.


Several years ago women in our Church started a Prayer Shawl Ministry.  The ministry is dedicated to making shawls to wrap those in need and other items as the need arises to bring comfort in God's love.  The individual making the shawl begins the process with a prayer and blessing.  This prayer is continued throughout the creation of the article she is making.  Upon the completion a final blessing is given by our Pastor or Teaching Elder before the article is given.

When women start a new project they are never sure who will receive their work of art, knitted or crocheted in love and prayer.  All they know is that someone will be blessed by it and hopefully God's healing love will flow into their lives through what they have created.  Our ministry has changed the lives of many.


To hand-knit or crochet shawls or other items brings compassion and love into spiritual practice which reaches out to those in need of comfort and solace as well as celebration and joy.  Blessings are prayed into everything that is made by the ministry.


If you would like to join our Prayer Shawl Ministry please call Nancy Childress at 623-974-3882 for more information.  The pattern is up to you and the most important part is beginning and the end is creating something infused with prayer and blessings.

If you do not knit or crochet but would like to support this worthwhile ministry, you can sponsor the making of a gift of love by providing funds to purchase yarn.  The average cost of a shawl or lap robe is about $20.00.  Also, a donation can always be used for shipping costs for items sent to the Wounded Warrior Project and similar causes.  If you would care to make a donation, please submit a check payable to First Presbyterian Church with Prayer Shawl Ministry on the memo line of the check.

Our last big gift of love was giving to the "Air Men's Attic" at Luke Air Force Base and to Hospice.

~Ladies of the Prayer Shawl Ministry

Monday, August 12, 2013

"The Second Half"

Reprinted from the November 2003 SPIRE, celebrating the 40th anniversary of our church:

Dear Friends:

In watching college and professional football this fall, I couldn't help but notice the difference between the first half and the second half.  As Gustav Nelson put it in an issue of Presbyterian Outlook, "sometimes the most important time for the teams is what happens at half-time, when the coach reviews the first half and determines the strategy for the second half.  Games can be turned around at half-time.
"At half-time, the congregation reviews the last week.  Some team players went through tough times.  They were tackled for losses at their homes and in their businesses; others made long gains, having completed an important deal.  Some team players were hurt on the playing field; others scored touchdowns.  Some failed an important test; others passed with flying colors.  One or two got sick; others found better health.  One or two of the players died; others came and found the team.  A husband and wife team split; another couple got back together."
We have a great past.  We have experienced 40 wonderful years at our church in Sun City.  But, new things must be put into place if we are going to win.  There is more to do in the years ahead.

Now we will be moving into our second half with many strategies in place.  "The past is finished and gone.  The future is fresh and new."  We will have an opportunity to put some new things in place.  The plays we put together in the first half allow us to venture into the second half with confidence, hope and excitement.  We will be inserting some new things into our lineup - and now we must depend on the team players to carry the ball into our future.

So, do not miss our 40-year celebration this Sunday, November 2nd, as we celebrate our past and our future.  Do not miss welcoming some of the team players into your home later this month to tell more of the story and the dreams for the future as we look to 2004 during the week of November 16th for our "Every Member Canvass."  Do not miss the fun dinner theatre on November 19th.  Do not miss the Advent Kirk Nights that begin on December 3rd.

Other things will be added during this second half.  We want you not only to stay tuned but also to take your part as we push toward our church's future.  We want you to report back next week when the coming week, the second half, will be the first half.  We want you to invite others to join in our second half festivities.  We will hear how you have done.  See what's worked and what hasn't.  We ill take time for a prayer and to sing, to study, to talk, and to eat together.  This next week is the beginning.  Let us move into it with faith, hope and love.  We can do it!  Let's go!  You see, "If it is to be, it is up to me!"

~John D. Barklind
Senior Pastor

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Peacemaking Offering

From the Presbyterian Mission Agency, the ministry and mission arm of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):

"The Peacemaking Offering supports the peacemaking efforts of the church at every governing body level and provides an opportunity to witness to God's gift of peace in the world. Gifts given to the Peacemaking Offering through a congregation are divided in the following manner - twenty-five percent retained by congregations for support of their own peacemaking ministry; 25 percent used to support presbytery and synod peacemaking efforts; and 50 percent forwarded to the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program of the Presbyterian Mission Agency so that it can continue to provide assistance and resources for congregations and other bodies of the PC(USA). Online gifts to the Peacemaking Offering are used on the General Assembly level."

The Peacemaking Offering will be collected on World Communion Sunday, October 6, 2013. Our pledge boxes contain an envelope for contributions. Other envelopes will be available in Swain Hall the last Sunday in September.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Presbyterian History

Here are some interesting facts about the history of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):
  • The word "Presbyterian is derived from "presbuteros," the Greek word for "elder."
  • The Father of Presbyterianism was John Calvin.  Calvin was born a French Catholic but became convinced of the truth of Reformation ideas and fled to Switzerland, where he wrote his theological masterpiece, Institutes of the Christian Religion.
  • The Netherlands adopted a Presbyterian constitution in 1563.  The Dutch Reformed Confessions of 1618 remained part of the Dutch constitution until the 20th century.
  • John Knox, a Scot who studied under Calvin, established the Presbyterian faith in Scotland in 1559.
  • A coalition of English, Irish, and Scottish Presbyterians created the Westminster Assembly, which developed many key Presbyterian documents between 1643 and 1649.
  • English Puritans, French Huguenots, and Presbyterians from the Netherlands, Germany, Scotland and Ireland emigrated to the New World and helped establish the Presbyterian Church here.
  • During the early 1800's, the issue of slavery split the Presbyterian Church in America into four separate branches; after the Civil War, they merged into one northern church (The Presbyterian Church in the United States of America) and one southern church (The Presbyterian Church in the United States).  After further splits and mergers, these two branches reunited in 1983 to form the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
For more information, including genealogy information, visit the Presbyterian Historical Society at:

Friday, August 9, 2013

What Else Was Happening in 2003?

The year 2003 saw the 40th anniversary of First Presbyterian Church of Sun City and... 
  • The new United States Department of Homeland Security officially began operation. 
  • The invasion of Iraq by an American and British led coalition began without United Nations support.
  • The space shuttle Columbia blew up over Texas.
  • The Spirit Rover was launched, beginning NASA's Mars Exploration Rover mission.
  • Arnold Schwartzenegger was elected governor of California.
  • The first deer and the first horse were cloned.
  • The Human Genome Project was completed with 99% of the human genome sequenced to an accuracy of 99.99%.
  • The Concorde made its last commercial flight.
  • The "Do Not Call" anti-telemarketing list was implemented.
  • The journal "Nature" reported that 350,000-year-old footprints of an upright-walking human had been found in Italy.
  • Apple launched iTunes.
  • "Chicago" won the Academy Award for best film.
  • "Come Away With Me" by Norah Jones was album of the year.
  •  The average cost of a gallon of gas was $1.83.
For more 2003 trivia, see:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The 40th Anniversary Invitation

Come Sing, O Church, in Joy!

Come join in celebration of

The 40th Anniversary
of First Presbyterian Church of Sun City

Sunday, November 2, 2003
10:00 A.M. Joint Celebration Service
11:00 A.M. Anniversary Luncheon in Swain Hall

Remembering our history

Celebrating 40 years of fellowship

Thanking God for His steadfast love

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Did You Know (Part 3)?

Here are some of the things we did during 2003, the year of the church's 40th anniversary:
  • The "A Year with the Bible" group met the first Friday of every month to read and discuss Psalms and Proverbs.
  • The church had 11 active women's circles and a Singles Fellowship group.
  • Carol Arseth started her job as church nurse.
  • Associate Pastor Rev. Gary Kush operated a Visually Impaired Person Center on Wednesday mornings; services included counseling, support groups, training, referrals, and equipment demonstrations.
  • Mission activities included volunteers in the Dysart school system, participation in the national Crop Walk, and workers for Habitat for Humanity.
  • The church sponsored several "FPC Travelers" trips, including a bus trip to Algadonas, Mexico, so people could buy prescription drugs there.
  • Recipes were solicited for a church cookbook to be published at Christmas 2004.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Our Mission Statement

This Mission Statement was developed by the Mission Task Force Committee, adopted by Session on January 20, 2000, and approved by the Congregation on February 13, 2005.

The mission of First Presbyterian Church of Sun City is to celebrate, enjoy and share God's gifts in an active mature adult community growing in the Christian faith through worship, education, mission, evangelism, fellowship, and member support in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Upcoming Handbell Performance

Because our handbells have not been used recently, they had become sadly tarnished. Last week several volunteers polished four cases of the bells to get them performance-ready. We are especially grateful for their work because handbell virtuosos Sherrill Tyacke and her daughter Staci Downing will be playing handbell duets at our August 11 services.

Sherrill started ringing handbells in 1983. She has rung consistently since then and started teaching chimes to children in 1998. She was adult Bell Director at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Washington from 1999 until 2009, when she and her husband moved to Arizona. She was hired as the Bell Director at Faith Presbyterian a few months after arriving here and joined the Sun City Community Handbell Choir in 2011. She has been commissioned since then as Assistant Director for some of their pieces for each of their twice-yearly concerts. Sherrill says, “I strongly believe in the bells as part of enhancing the worship service and bringing part of a team together in ringing praises to our God through music!”

We are very excited to have Sherrill with us. If you have handbell or handchime experience or would like to learn to play handbells or chimes, please call the church office and let us know.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Foundation Fund

"Honor the Lord with your wealth…” Proverbs 3:9 (NIV)

What is the First Presbyterian Church
Foundation Fund?

On December 27, 1979, Session established The Foundation Fund and its governing committee. The purpose of The Foundation Fund, also known as The Fund for First Presbyterian Church, Sun City, is to maintain and expand the mission of the church.

The Fund committee, comprised of two (2) members of Session and three (3) members at large, promotes this important objective by providing opportunities to make gifts and bequests to The Fund.

What legacy will you leave when you enter the Church Triumphant? Estate Planning gives you an opportunity to make an enduring statement of faith. You may be surprised that even small assets can be turned into a gift.--Presbyterian Foundation

All Fund gifts are gratefully received and the generosity of their givers acknowledged.

This post covers just a few of the choices for you to consider. Your legal and financial advisors should be instrumental in helping you finalize your plans.

What is Planned Giving?

Planned Giving includes current and future gifts, made in addition to annual pledges. Your Planned Gifts help assure mission outreach and the future ministry of First Presbyterian Church.


Current Gifts


Writing a Check: This is the easiest way to support the ministry of First Presbyterian Church and qualify for a charitable tax deduction.

Securities: Giving appreciated stocks and/or bonds may provide two-fold tax savings – no capital gains tax on the increased value plus a tax deduction equal to the fair market value of the security on the date of receipt.

Real Estate: Donating vacation home, acreage, investment property, or a farm owned for many years may be especially tax-advantageous.

An outright gift may avoid a sizable capital gains tax and realize a charitable deduction for the full fair market value of the property.

Life Insurance: By simply naming First Presbyterian Church the owner or beneficiary you may be able to take a charitable deduction equal to the policy’s cash surrender value at the time of the gift.

Life insurance policies can be used in a number of ways to assure the future of the church’s ministry. If an existing or new policy is contributed with premiums due, the premiums paid each year by the donor may be deductible as charitable gifts.


Deferred Gifts


Wills and Bequests: Your will and other estate planning provides the opportunity for you to proclaim your Christian faith and the importance of stewardship.

A Charitable Bequest, when included in your Will, can be designated as a stated amount, a percentage of your estate, or an amount after expenses.

Specific bequests are most common Planned Gifts. You leave a specific amount, such as:
“I bequeath to First Presbyterian Church, Sun City the amount of $15,000…” or a specific asset, or perhaps a specific percentage of your estate, such as, “I/We bequeath 10% to First Presbyterian Church, Sun City.”

Charitable Trust


You may also want to establish a Charitable Remainder Trust or Charitable Gift Annuity during your lifetime or in your will. Both of these gift plans will pay you, or a designated beneficiary, a lifetime income. These options may be appealing if you want the income now and would benefit from a tax deduction.

Charitable Gift Annuities offer many benefits, including the personal satisfaction of good stewardship.
  • The annuity income will be paid for your lifetime and never decrease. 
  • In most cases, part of each annuity payment is income tax-free. 
  • You may qualify for a federal income tax charitable contribution deduction, further reducing your income tax liability and the cost of your gift.

Example of a Gift Annuity
As a donor, age 80, you give $10,000 for a charitable gift annuity. The annuity rate based on your age is 6.8%. You will receive $680 annually, $573 of which will be tax-free for 9.4 years. In addition, you potentially can claim a charitable deduction of $4,606 for your gift.
Here’s what one couple in our church had to say about their gift to the Foundation Fund:
First Presbyterian Church of Sun City is our church family. We believe in its ministry and mission.

In response to God’s grace and abundance, we have made a legacy gift to the First Presbyterian Church of Sun City Foundation Fund.

We invite you join us.

Our directive divides the proceeds equally among our children and our church family.

This post gives you ideas and information about the many opportunities for making a Legacy Gift.
To find out more about Planned Giving or other gift opportunities, contact the church office at (623)974-3605.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Memorial Handbells

First Presbyterian has had handbell players almost since its founding; our handbell cases are still labeled “United Presbyterian Church.”  Whether played in small groups or by an entire choir, handbells and chimes are lovely additions to worship services.  We hope to revive handbell playing at our church as part of our 50th anniversary celebrations.

All of our handbells (93 total!) were memorial gifts.  In alphabetical order by last name, these are the names engraved on the brass memorial plaques inside the handbell cases:
  • Henry & Mary Brandes
  • Eva Craig
  • Bruce W. Dennis
  • Alta B. Hamlin
  • Charles & Anne Hitch
  • Benjamin P. Kramlich
  • Parmer B. Lindsay
  • Norman H. Mack
  • Edward & Mary McKenzie
  • Arial Mortredt
  • Gerald Queen
  • Esther Snow
  • Ora Walt
  • Lori Lynn Ward
  • Dorothy Warner