Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Why Wear a Hat?

The history of headcoverings in Christian churches

The tradition of veils or other headcoverings for women in church is very old.  According to Wikipedia, “Genesis 24:65, Numbers 5:18 and Isaiah 47:2 are references in the Old Testament...to a headcovering for women.  Although there is no positive command for women to cover their heads in the Old Testament, there are non-canonical rabbinical writings on tzniut, meaning ‘modesty.’”
In the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 11:4-16 is a lengthy (and fairly sexist) passage that says in part, “4 Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, 5 but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head—it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved.”  Perhaps in response to this scripture, a long line of prominent clerics from Clement of Alexandria and Augustine of Hippo to Martin Luther, John Knox, and John Calvin called for women to veil themselves or wear headcoverings during worship.
The Roman Catholic Church formally required women to cover their heads in church in 1917 in its first Code of Canon law.  Some other sects went even further; Anabaptist, Amish, and Mennonite women were expected to wear headcoverings at all times just in case they felt moved to pray or prophesy during the course of an ordinary day.
Later in the 20th century, the idea that women should cover their heads during worship started to lose ground.  In most Western countries the original veils and shawls turned into decorative bonnets and hats and then gradually disappeared.  The 1983 revision of the Catholic Code of Canon Law left out the earlier headcovering requirement, which most people interpreted as repealing it.  However, many women continue to wear hats during services, for scriptural reasons, as a sign of humility, or to glorify God by looking their best in His house.
Quite a few women who don’t ordinarily wear hats to church still do so on special occasions such as Easter or Mother’s Day.  We saw several lovely examples in our Sanctuary on Easter Sunday this year.  Mother’s Day is May 11; if you own a nice hat you haven’t put on in a while, consider wearing it then.  Why wear a hat in church?  Why not!

Monday, April 28, 2014

May Fellowship Dinner

Wednesday, May 21 at 5:00 pm in Swain Hall

It’s a Fellowship Fiesta!

We’re not actually celebrating Cinco de Mayo, but our May Fellowship Dinner will have a definite Hispanic flair. Build your own dinner tacos and stay to watch the children’s group from Ballet Folklorico Esperanza perform traditional Mexican dances. Be sure to sign up early for this special evening!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Looking to the Future

At the end of May, I’ll have been your Associate for Congregational Life for an entire year. That almost doesn’t seem possible. Time flies when you’re really busy.

During that year, at the behest of the Appreciative Inquiry Task Force, I concentrated on working with others to improve our church’s communications. We printed and distributed new brochures and windshield decals, revamped The SPIRE, and greatly expanded our online presence. We installed a new printer to improve the quality and efficiency of our in-house printing while cutting costs. We cut back on traditional newspaper advertising, but the local papers have printed many stories (most with photos) about our activities – and we will run ads this fall, when the winter visitors return and the message will be most effective. We’ve also improved some of the church signage and put up more posters and other information on our bulletin boards. As a result of these efforts, we’ve received inquiries from around the Valley about everything from the Christmas cantata to the handbell group, contributions to the Prayer Shawl Ministry are up, and people all over the planet are checking out our website, our Facebook page, and our Pinterest boards.

However, in marketing, communications are known as “sizzle” – they only attract attention. In order to grow our congregation, we also have to be able to offer a top-quality “steak” – the ministry, mission, and fellowship activities at which we excel. This was a big year on that front, too, with our 50th anniversary celebrations, several great additions to our music program, and hosting the March Presbytery meeting. Organizations like University of Life and Men’s Breakfast Fellowship have continued to deliver quality content and fellowship opportunities, and new programs like the SCAN Health Plan t’ai chi classes and our handbell choir benefit members and guests alike.

Many of you, though, are eager for even more, and during the next year we will deliver. I’ve been asked, for instance, when we’re having the next tea for the over-90 members of our congregation, and others have suggested it’s time for another educational bus trip. The tea will probably be in August, and we’re looking into the logistics of a visit to the new Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale, the largest butterfly pavilion in America – more details on both to follow. The church is also reaching out to other congregations to see which of their programs and procedures we might want to adopt. We’ve already implemented some new ideas that have made our pancake supper and other fellowship dinners flow more smoothly (thanks to Tina Trowbridge for her research!), and we’re looking into other improvements to make everyone’s experiences at and with the church more enjoyable, memorable, and worshipful. And, of course, we will continue to spread the word about our church and its offerings.

“Honoring the Past and Looking to the Future” wasn’t just an empty slogan we made up for the anniversary celebrations. During the coming year – and for many years after that – First Presbyterian Church will be living those words. The best is yet to come!

~Beth Mabee

Thursday, April 24, 2014

New Sun Screens!

Thanks to "the Saturday crew" for getting the damaged sun screens on the windows of the Agua Fria room repaired.  Here are the before and after photos:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Different Donations

The beautiful amaryllis featured in yesterday's post are located in the church  courtyard next to the Agua Fria Room and in our Memorial Garden.  We have enjoyed the blooms throughout this Lenten season.  The plants were donated to the church by a member of the congregation whose original bulbs had multiplied over the years.

Similar donations could help us replace other plantings around the church which have reached the end of their lifespans.  We would prefer native, drought-resistant plants in order to conserve water.  Do you have succulents that are overrunning your flower beds, or cactus (like prickly pear) that can easily be propagated by cuttings?  If so, consider giving some of them to the church to take the place of an overgrown shrub.

If you have plants you would like to contribute, don't dig or cut yet - contact Bill Wentling or the church office and let us know what you have available, and we will discuss the best way to proceed with the donation.

Thank you!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter Sunday Service

We have a special service planned for tomorrow in celebration of our Lord's resurrection.  The handbell choir will play the introit, and the One Great Hour of Sharing fish boxes will be collected in the Joash box carved by Ken Lipp for that purpose.  Please join us if you can at 9:00 am, 12225 N. 103rd Avenue in Sun City, AZ.

The Presbyterian Mission Agency has this to say about One Great Hour of Sharing:

"Presbyterians have joined with millions of other Christians through One Great Hour of Sharing to share God's love with people experiencing need. Our gifts support ministries of disaster response, refugee assistance and resettlement, and community development that help people find safe refuge, start new lives and work together to strengthen their families and communities. The Presbyterian Hunger Program receives 36 percent of undesignated gifts, while Self-Development of People and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance each receives 32 percent."

If you are not able to deliver your One Great Hour of Sharing offering in person, you can also make an online gift by going to https://www.presbyterianmission.org/donate/make-a-gift/gift-info/OG999999/.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Photos from the April 16 Fellowship Dinner

This was a special evening! We invited our new tenants, the members of the Emmanuel Baptist Church, to join us for pasta salad and an Earth Day-themed program about the importance of trees. The evening ended with the blessing of a new tree in the church courtyard.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

More on Recycling

Last month we went green in a different way for St. Patrick's Day by hosting our first electronics recycling pickup.  Here are a few more photos of the items people brought in to be processed by eGreen-IT Solutions, Arizona's only certified eStewards green recycler.

We have just received word that we sent them a total of 1485 pounds of recyclable material.  Way to go, everyone!   We will be holding another recycling event next year, so be sure to hang on to any of your obsolete electronics that quit working so you can dispose of them responsibly then.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Making a Clean Sweep

My sister, two of our cousins and I who all live in the greater Phoenix area take turns hosting our extended family for Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas dinners.  This year I’m in charge of Thanksgiving.

One of the many reasons I look forward to my turn as host for these occasions is that entertaining others forces me to take care of all the cleaning and repair jobs I’ve been putting off—tightening the loose knobs on the kitchen cabinets, washing the windows, shampooing the carpet, etc.  When I have a firm deadline to meet (this year, that’s November 26), I can no longer tell myself that I’ll wait to replace the dead rosebush out front until I have some spare time.

Hosting the recent Presbytery meeting had the same effect on many of us in the church.  First Bill Wentling, Tina Trowbridge and I toured the premises together, making a list of things that needed to be fixed or cleaned; then the congregation mobilized to deal with the most immediate items in order to make a good impression on March 29.

At the risk of overlooking someone who helped, I would like to thank:
  • Bill Wentling, Gabe Conwell, Harry Wilson, Don Berg, and Max McVicker—the “Saturday crew”—for painting and fiberglassing the fountain; hanging signs and pictures all over the campus; working with the plumber to get our bathrooms in shape; and handling many other painting and repair jobs both inside the church and out.  They also set up the courtyard for the day of the Presbytery meeting and formed the core of the group that took everything down on Sunday.
  • Tina Trowbridge, who personally deep-cleaned bathrooms, windows, mopboards, carpets, and much more, and supervised the Church Campus Cleanup activities on March 22.  Tina is our very own “white tornado.”
  • Everyone who showed up on March 22 for the cleanup day.  In addition to the Saturday crew and Tina, that group included Donna Roth, Dawn Nolan, John and Barbara Szantho, Marilyn Uithoven, Gene and Anita Downing, Sharyl Moen, Vonda Hagen, Rod Beale, Charles Sedgwick, Gloria Bouckenooghe, Diane Nestlebush, and Martha Porter.  Among other things, those present dusted and vacuumed the Sanctuary pews and restocked the pew racks with fresh materials; washed windows; cleaned the tables and dusted and vacuumed the chairs in Swain Hall; oiled the interior and exterior wooden doors; vacuumed carpets and upholstered chairs in the hallways and Fireside Room; and knocked down cobwebs from the corners of the rooms.
Everyone involved did an amazing job; I think that reflects the pride we all take in our beautiful church.  However, during the three weeks or so that all this activity took place, about half the workers who helped said variations of the same two things to me: “I didn’t know the church had gotten this dirty,” and “We should do this at least twice a year so it never gets this bad again.”

Amen to that!  I will be scheduling another cleanup day this fall to help get the campus ready for the annual influx of winter visitors (think “potential new members”!) and the holiday season.

Cleanliness may not actually be next to godliness in importance, but why take that chance?

  ~Beth Mabee

“Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.” 
 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Photos from Our First T'ai Chi Class

Twenty-one people showed up for our first FREE Easy T'ai Chi class, but we have room for more participants and nine more sessions to go - please join us!  You don't have to sign up in advance or be a member of First Presbyterian.

Classes are sponsored by SCAN Health Plan Arizona and our Parish Nurse, Carol Arseth, R.N.  Instructor Peggy Burger focuses on movements to help increase balance and flexibility and reduce stress.  We will not meet on Good Friday, but after that classes will be held at the church in Swain Hall every Friday at 11:00 am until the end of June.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Citrus Alert

In case you've never noticed, we have two types of benches in our courtyard. Several are concrete, but the three benches closest to the gate are laminated wood mounted on concrete blocks, and they are starting to show signs of damage from leaking bags of citrus.

If you bring fruit for others to enjoy, please be sure to leave it on a bench in the inner courtyard (the one nearest the Sanctuary door, for instance) rather than on one of the wooden benches. Repairing or replacing those if they start to delaminate would be very expensive.

Thank you!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Answers to the Foundation Fund Quiz

Here are the answers to yesterday's quiz:

TRUE – On December 27, 1979, Session established the Foundation Fund and its governing committee.  Dr. Douglas Wright began his ministry on December 1, 1979.
FALSEThe Fund for the First Presbyterian Church, Sun City, is to maintain and expand the mission of our church.  Over the years, funds were withdrawn at a faster pace than earnings warranted.   At the recommendation of The Fund Committee, the Session is taking steps to maintain the principle and the intent of T426he Fund so the financial and physical foundation of our congregation and campus will flourish now and over time.
TRUE – All gifts designated for The Fund are gratefully received.  Watch for Spire articles about donors who are making Legacy Gifts for the future of our church.
FALSE In addition to cash gifts, appreciated stocks and bonds, real estate and even life insurance policies - when First Presbyterian Church, Sun City is the owner or beneficiary of the policy – are gratefully accepted and acknowledged.
FALSE – Gifts, whether cash or other types of assets, are tax deductible.  Please check with your tax advisor when deciding what type of gift best suits your estate planning.
TRUE – The Fund Committee members are Ruth Pruett and Dean Hilst, session members, and Gene Klatte, Marilee Marshall, and Charlotte Pooley, members at large.  Pastor Davis, Norma Mack and Carol Davis serve as advisors.
FALSE – The overriding objective of endowment funds is to grow the aggregate portfolio value.  With historic earnings at seven to eight percent, capping earning disbursements at four to five percent allows endowments to reinvest each year – growing the portfolio with long term investments while increasing the amount of funds available for disbursement.
If your answer to No 7 was earning disbursements from endowment funds are capped at 4% to 5% annually, please contact Carol Davis to collect your prize!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Foundation Fund Quiz

What is the Foundation Fund for the First Presbyterian Church, Sun City?  Take this True/False quiz to find out how much you really know about it.  (The answers will be printed tomorrow!)

1. T or F ________
The Foundation Fund, also known as The Fund, was started in December, 1979 – shortly after Dr. Douglas Wright began his ministry at our church.
2. T or F ________
The Fund was established to supplement the annual operating budget, for major repairs and maintenance for the campus.
3. T or F ________
The objectives of The Fund are realized through gifts and bequests.
4. T or F ________
Cash gifts, pledges, and bequests are the only accepted donations.
5. T or F ________
Gifts do not qualify for a federal tax deduction.
6. T or F ________
The Fund is overseen by The Fund Committee of two (2) Session members and three (3) members at large.
7. T or F ________
Generally accepted endowment fund policies allow for 7% to 8% of earnings to be withdrawn on annual basis and principal as needed.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Practical Theology

In the Spring edition of the Journal for Preachers, editor Walter Bruggemann makes a case for the urgency of resurrection preaching. He writes: “the preacher of resurrection is doing practical theology that in the most concrete way asserts that the future is not closed in hopelessness because the Lord of life keeps opening futures that we cannot ourselves generate….” Easter, Journal for Preachers, vol. 32, p. 1.

What that means is the resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate “glass half-full” story. We all know that observing whether the glass is half-full or half-empty is an indication of optimism (half-full) versus pessimism (half-empty), hopefulness or despair, trust in the future or fear of the future. The resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate story of optimism because it asserts that the “future is not closed in hopelessness….”

The Apostle Paul wrote: “…I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul’s conviction is an optimistic view despite all evidence to the contrary.

If the Apostle Paul were writing today he could easily make his case by borrowing from the daily newspaper or cable broadcast. Stories about violence and threats to peace in places like Ukraine or the Middle East, gun violence and politicians’ feckless efforts to create alternatives, pollution, racism, classism, the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots, unemployment—and in my world—the dwindling size and influence of the Christian Church, all testify against hope. All the bad news today challenges any notion of Good News.

Paul would say that all those fear-producing, fear-based, fear-focused things are not able to overcome the power of God that continues to open the future. We have hope because the God of hope, the God of the future, continues to unfold and open new possibilities, new options, new realities. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God—even when the night is darkest. Because we know God causes the morning to dawn. Light will shine. The birds will sing! And so can we!

Bruggemann’s idea of practical theology is a powerful thing because it puts in our hands an answer to any fear producing challenge. We are able to see the world optimistically, hopefully, joyfully because God in Jesus Christ makes all things new. We are able to live each day with hope because the God of hope continues to unfold the future for us and all people. Hope lives because he lives. We live because he lives. Christ is alive! And so are we. Thanks be to God!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Appreciating our Sound Guys

Don Berg and Max McVicker are retiring from our sound committee after 28 years and 12 years, respectively, of recording worship services for the homebound. (You can also listen to services they've recorded on our website, http://firstpressuncity.org./) Bill Wentling, current chair of the sound committee, presented them with certificates of appreciation at the March 30 service. We will miss their dedication and reliability.

Photo courtesy of Debra Pruett