Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Contribution Envelopes

The 2014 contribution envelopes are on a table in the narthex to be picked up. Please discard the 2013 envelopes and use the new 2014 envelopes—your number has probably changed.

We would like to take this opportunity to say Thank You to everyone that has pledged. It helps the Session to know what the income will be to generate a workable budget. If you have not made a pledge, there are pledge cards in some of the sanctuary pews, or you can call the church at 623-974-3605 and we will send you one. It is never too late to submit a pledge.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Contribution Deadline

Charitable Deductions for 2013

Donors must deliver checks on or have them postmarked by December 31, 2013 in order to claim a charitable contribution deduction for 2013.

Checks that are placed in the church offering during the first worship service in 2014 will not qualify for a charitable contribution deduction in 2013, even if the check is predated to 2013 or was actually written in 2013.

However, under the so-called “mailbox exception,” checks that are written, mailed, and postmarked in 2013 will be deductible in 2013, even though they are not received by the church until 2014.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Mission Corner for January

This month The Mission Corner takes us to Habitat for Humanity International. Actually, it is about the founders of the organization and its beginnings.

Millard and Linda Fuller were a prosperous couple from the South. A self-made millionaire, Millard’s business prospered but his health, integrity, and marriage suffered.

A change was needed; he and his wife had a renewal of Christian commitment. They sold all their belongings, gave the money to charity, and began a new focus on life.

In 1965 they visited at Koinonia Farm, a Christian community near Americus, Georgia. At Koinonia they developed the concept of “Partnership Housing,” paving the way for Habitat for Humanity International in 1978.

For more on this intriguing story, go to www.habitat.org/how/history.

~Gene Downing

Saturday, December 28, 2013

More Christmas Joy

Every year the staff of First Presbyterian, as part of our personal charitable giving, jointly make a donation to Heifer International.  Here is a quotation from their literature about their history and purpose:
Heifer International's mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth.
Dan West was a farmer from the American Midwest and member of the Church of the Brethren who went to the front lines of the Spanish Civil War as an aid worker.  His mission was to provide relief, but he soon discovered the meager single cup of milk rationed to the weary soldiers once a day was not enough.
And then he had a thought: What if they had not a cup, but a cow?
That "teach a man to fish" philosophy is what drove West to found Heifer International.  And now, nearly 70 years later, that philosophy still inspires our work to end hunger and poverty throughout the world once and for all…
The goal of every Heifer project is to help families achieve self-reliance.  We do this by providing them the tools they need to sustain themselves, and it's thanks to the generosity of donors like you.
You have the power to give a hungry family the training it takes to feed themselves and their children; to give a young girl a chance at an education; to empower a woman to have a voice in her community.  Together, we can change the world, one family, one community, at a time.  And it all starts with a gift.
Last Christmas and the one before, the staff contributed enough to buy a water buffalo for a needy family.  This year we are sending a girl to school.
If you would like to learn more about Heifer International and its work, visit http://www.heifer.org.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Annual Calendar Now Available!

Confused about the schedule of church events?

We have loaded the entire church calendar for 2014 on our website.  To see it, go to http://firstpressuncity.org and click on "Calendar."  You will have the option to view an interactive online calendar or to download or print a paper copy.

We've tried to include all the major holidays, regularly scheduled meetings, and fellowship events for your information so you can look at the calendar and know in advance (for instance) what day next year we'll be holding the Shrove Tuesday pancake supper, or when we'll be decorating the church for Christmas 2014.  If you are one of our committee chairs and one of your events has been incorrectly scheduled, please let the church office know so we can correct it.

We also have a paper copy of the master calendar that you can consult in the church office, and we will continue to mail the monthly calendar with our newsletter, The SPIRE.

Happy scheduling!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Good News!

The Advent/Christmas season is a time for words. From “glad tidings of great joy,” to “…let us go to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place…,” to “Joy to the World!,” this time of year declares Good News of great joy for all the people.

Here’s the thing about words. After much repetition words can lose some of their capacity to communicate. They can become so domesticated we simply take them for granted. “Joy to the World” becomes another greeting card slogan rather than the astonishing proclamation that God changed everything with the birth of the baby Jesus.

Sometimes we need a visual to help jar our attention. And certainly, the Good News is a jarring announcement! Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus the Psalmist wrote these words: “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers….” Ps 24: 1,2.

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” which is why what we see is so important. Jesus said: “Why are you worried about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?...Consider, (look) that the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these….”

Jesus urged us to look at the world, but also consider—think—about what God has already done for us. The Good News is all around us. Proclamation is everywhere. God’s love for us is plainly visible. What we see makes a difference.

This year our family Christmas card includes a typical greeting: Merry Christmas, blessing, joy, peace, etc. But as you look at it, you’ll see the card is anything but typical. It’s a photograph taken by a young, up-and-coming artist. Christopher Garnache is the son of long-time friends Sally and George Garnache. Carol “commissioned” him to take a picture she could use in her business, but when we saw it, we both knew it was a fantastic proclamation of Good News: God’s love for the earth and all who dwell in it.

Christopher helps us to see, not only the beauty of the earth, but also the possibilities, creativity, opportunity and vision God is creating in each one of us. In Jesus Christ: all things are new; all things are possible; everything has changed. Joy to the world! Thanks be to God! Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Prayer Shawl Ministry Update

On December 22, at our monthly Fellowship Dinner, the ladies of the Prayer Shawl Ministry displayed the beautiful knitted and crocheted items they had completed to donate to Hospice and the Airman's Attic at Luke Air Force Base for Christmas.  Rev. Davis blessed their work and donations to continue it were solicited.  Nancy Childress had this to say on behalf of the Prayer Shawl ladies:

The Prayer Shawl Ministry was blessed with the congregation's most generous donations at the open house hosted by the Davises. We received a total of $342.55. Now we can buy yarn to keep our hands busy making items for the needy. Our most recent items (68 items) went to Airman’s Attic at Luke AFB and Hospice. They were very grateful. Through the year we appreciate monetary donations, yarn, and coupons from Jo-Anns and Michaels. If you would like to join us in our knitting and crocheting group, we meet the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month.

Monday, December 23, 2013

December 22 Service & Christmas Cantata

The centerpiece of the December 22 worship service was "And Glory Shone Around," a Christmas cantata by Lloyd Larson and Douglas E. Wagner, performed by the First Presbyterian voice choir under Dr. William Gleason, with Wanda Morrill and Zane Porter as narrators.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December 22 Bell Choir Performance

First Presbyterian's "Great Bells of Fire" Handbell Choir opened the December 22 worship service with a bell peal.  They performed "O Come All Ye Faithful" as the introit and closed the service accompanying the congregation on "Silent Night."  The bell choir is currently playing three octaves of bells, but would welcome additional members to extend their range.  The church owns two five-octave sets of handbells plus some hand chimes!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Week Schedule

Just a reminder:

Sunday, December 22 - The fourth Sunday in Advent.  Join us at 9:00 am worship services for special music from the "Great Bells of Fire" bell choir, directed by Sherrill Tyacke, and for "And Glory Shone Around," a Christmas cantata by Lloyd Larson and Douglas E. Wagner, directed by Dr. William Gleason.  The Christmas Joy Offering will also be received.  Coffee, cookies, and fellowship follow in Swain Hall at 10:00 am.

Tuesday, December 24 - Christmas Eve.  We will hold our traditional service of Lessons and Carols at 5:00 pm.  Don't miss the lighting of our recently discovered candelabra during the final singing of "Silent Night!"

We wish everyone a safe and joyous Christmas!

Friday, December 20, 2013

An Evening of Carols

The December Fellowship Dinner was a Christmas ham and all the trimmings hosted by Rev. and Mrs. Davis.  After dinner, Betty Hanneld talked about the work of the Prayer Shawl Ministry and Rev. Davis blessed the knitted and crocheted items that will be sent to Hospice and the Airmen's Attic at Luke Air Force Base this week.  Finally, choir director Bill Gleason and pianist Kelsey McKee led us in a program of carols.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The 2013 PW Holiday High Tea

Once again, the women of the church outdid themselves with the food and decorations for the annual Holiday High Tea, and the men who served as waiters looked very dapper in their red bow ties. The entertainment was provided by "Big Al and Sweetie," and a good time was had by all.