Friday, November 28, 2014

Advent Decorating Reminder

Remember, tomorrow is the day we decorate the church for the joyous Advent season.  We will start at 9:00 am in Swain Hall, but show up whenever you can.  Many of the jobs (unpacking decorations, straightening the ribbons on wreaths) can be done sitting down, so don't worry if you can't climb a ladder; we can use all the help we can get.  If you've participated before, you know that the day always includes a lot of fun and fellowship, plus a great lunch.  Please come and help us prepare the church for Christmas!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Chancel Flower Thanks

Thank you to everyone who signed up to provide flowers in the Sanctuary this year! Because of your generosity, the worship services for the rest of the year have all been provided for.

In addition to contributing to Sunday worship, these flowers are distributed to members of the congregation who are ill or shut-in. Your contributions to this important ministry are greatly appreciated.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Renting or Owning?

Slang – don’t you love it?  Sometimes it’s incomprehensible to everyone past their teens, but occasionally it expresses a concept better than a long, reasoned argument will.  Take the phrase “owning it.”  Until a few years ago, if you owned something – your house, your car, your dog –you possessed the item.  Now, though, the Urban Dictionary says that to own it is “[t]aking pride in what you got.”

Let’s pass over the fact that the definition should read “…in what you have” and think about the concept.  Owning it in this sense doesn’t just apply to real estate and personal property.  Students passing a difficult test with flying colors say they owned it.  Women trying an attractive new personal style are told to own it.  Psychologists exhort patients to own themselves.  To make a short story long, owning it in these contexts means something like: “You possess this [item, characteristic, personal triumph], and worked hard to do that, and because you did, you should be very proud of it and of yourself.”  (Whew.  Own it is a lot easier.)

What does this have to do with us?  Well, author Perry Noble lists this as one of the 10 most important characteristics of growing churches:

The people in the church are OWNERS, not merely “members.” Members have rights, owners have responsibilities. The people in these churches understand that it is not the pastor’s job to minister to the people but rather the body’s job to minister to the body! And as a result people serve Jesus by serving others ...

Last year our church held its first Appreciative Inquiry summit to talk about church growth.  During the planning sessions, however, our focus changed, and we talked instead about how to revitalize our church.

What’s the difference?  Well, growth is mainly about adding warm bodies.  Revitalization, on the other hand, includes growth, but also covers increased participation on every level by existing members.  It’s about MORE – more giving, more sharing, more excitement, more love.  More of the things that we appreciate about our church.  More ownership.

The church’s 50th anniversary celebration was the first step in this process.  The anniversary worship service, the ice cream social, and the gala dinner all exceeded our expectations and opened up new discussions about our future.  Hosting the Presbytery meeting this spring led to a renewed dedication to maintaining our physical plant.  The ongoing capital improvement project has lifted our spirits as the new paint has been applied, the plumbing and air conditioning issues have been resolved, and new plantings have gone in.  All these things demonstrate what Dr. Miki Kashtan calls “the long arc of commitment.” 

Let’s keep that arc on its trajectory.  This fall, attend a group meeting you wouldn’t ordinarily go to, buy an extra memorial brick for the courtyard, ask a neighbor or friend to come with you to a fellowship dinner or a worship service.  Let’s prove that we’re not just members of this church – we own it!
~Beth Mabee

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Prayer Shawl Ministry in November

This ministry appreciates the support of our congregation.  We thank you for your contributions for us to buy yarn.

This month we delivered 73 pieces to the Airman's Attic and 71 pieces to Hospice.  Now we are intent on increasing our supply for our own fellowship needs.

We are now meeting every Monday at 9:30 am in Annex 3. Come crochet or knit with us.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fireside Room Update

During the Appreciating our Campus summit this summer, a suggestion that the Fireside Room be updated was greeted with general applause, and changes to make it more comfortable and versatile are underway. So far the fireplace “bumpout” has been painted and our copy of Salvador Dali’s Crucifixion hung over the fireplace itself. Existing furniture has also been arranged in front of the fireplace in a conversational grouping

The next big change: adding groups of small tables and chairs that can be used for bridge, meetings, and social events The tables have been purchased new; the chairs will be moved from Annex 3 and reupholstered to increase their comfort. The beautiful large table already in place, donated by Evelyn Haas in memory of her husband, will anchor one end of the room and function as a serving or display area.

We are fortunate that the church already owned the artwork, brass accent pieces, and most of the furniture used in this transformation. Designated donations have enabled us to add the new tables, reupholster the chairs (fabric sample, right), and buy attractive accent greenery to finish everything off.

We hope these changes will trigger increased use of the room for small group meetings of all kinds. The work will not be 100% done until the interior painting is completed this spring, but the upholstery work should be finished and the room ready for use well before that!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Journey

Two books arrived on my desk last week reminding me that faith is always and foremost a journey. It’s a journey with a destination. We all have a vivid picture of the journey’s end. The mansion with many rooms Jesus described (John 14: 1-7) is a lovely image. It’s a peaceful and hopeful vision for people who live in a world that’s anything but.

The real task of faith is living and traveling this journey, in the “meantime.” The church exists primarily as a community of travelers sharing each other’s hopes and fears, encouraging and helping one another to live. The church created rituals and symbols to mark the cycles of our lives.

Advent marks the beginning of the church year and lays before us the pathway of faith for the year ahead. Advent initiates once again remembering, retelling, and celebrating the whole drama of God’s revelation. From the book: The Uncluttered Heart, Making Room for God During Advent and Christmas, Beth A. Richardson, Upper Room Books, Nashville TN.

Richardson’s book is a series of spiritual exercises and devotions designed to take readers on the journey through Advent, leading up to Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Richardson writes:

We come hungry to this season of preparation—hungry for words of life, for rituals of preparation, for disciplines to help us on our way……Advent is often the busiest time of the year. And yet, we are called to make time and space to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ…..No matter how busy we may become, God is waiting to break through our endless tasks and distractions to remind us that we are not alone; indeed, God is present with us in every moment.
The other book is a spiritual and literary biography of Fredrick Buechner. Buechner is one of the more important voices in contemporary theology and literature. Buechner’s heroes and heroines are on the same spiritual journey. In their hopes and dreams, triumphs and tragedies, we find encouragement to live our own lives. Buechner and Richardson have discovered what ancient sages and monks learned. Everywhere and always God is with us, near to us and in us…..

In Advent we continue the journey, with authors like Richardson and Buechner. And with one another as we prepare to celebrate God’s presence in the world and in our lives. Remember, retell, celebrate, open your heart; make room for God’s transforming presence. Christ is coming. Christ is coming. Christ is coming! Thanks be to God!


Monday, November 10, 2014

Mission in November

Valley View Food Bank

This year for Thanksgiving, consider sharing your blessings with others through a gift of food to Valley View Community Food Bank. Founded in March 2007, the food bank’s mission “is to serve those in need with compassion and respect while providing the resources for wholesome nutritious food.” Unfortunately, with the holidays approaching, supplies at the food bank are critically low.

According to a recent announcement by founder Jesse Ramirez, Valley View Community Food Bank is two weeks away from running out of canned goods. The food bank serves approximately 300 people a day, so their food stocks may be exhausted before Thanksgiving. Their website reports that their client intake has seen an increase of almost 65% new families and individuals looking for resources and assistance. Ramirez was quoted in the Daily News-Sun as saying, “I’ve had to stop helping out agencies with food since we are running so low on certain items.”

As usual we will be collecting food for Valley View on the first Sunday of the month (November 2), and a box will also be available in Swain Hall for food donations through November 18, the night of this month’s Fellowship Dinner. Any type of canned goods would be helpful; other items the food bank always welcomes include:
  • Peanut butter, jelly, jams, pancake syrup
  • Cereal, hot and cold
  • Bread mixes: pancake, biscuit, cornbread, cake
  • Fruit juice
  • Baby food, formula, diapers, wipes
  • Toiletries: toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, etc.
You can also drop off holiday food donations such as turkeys and mashed potatoes at the food bank yourself; it’s located at 10615 W. Peoria Avenue.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Giving Thanks in a New Way

Paint, plants, irrigation, new brickwork—our love for God’s house is becoming visible!

If you’ve been here for the last month or so, you’ve seen a lot of activity in the courtyard and Memorial Garden. If you haven’t been here, you’re in for a treat when you arrive!

During October, our landscape designer, Kris Coates, worked with donors who designated their gifts for landscaping to finalize the plan for the interior areas of the church grounds. Most of the plants were then purchased at the Desert Botanical Garden’s plant sale or from the Mountain States Wholesale Nursery. Planting and irrigation system changes followed. When the new plants are established, they will require much less water and maintenance than those they replaced while providing more color, fragrance, and textural interest.

While the plants were going in, the fountain and the bricks from the Celtic cross were coming out. Our bricklaying crew carefully removed the old bricks without damaging the concrete on which they were set. The next step is to lay the new pavement, starting with concrete around the perimeter and then the memorial bricks.

Which brings us to an important question: have you purchased your memorial brick(s) yet? If not, this November is a great time to give thanks for your blessings with more than just another turkey dinner.

We’ve been referring to “memorial bricks,” but that doesn’t mean you can only buy them to remember a loved one who has died. You can also have your bricks engraved to honor a living friend or mentor, or to celebrate your marriage, your children, or your grandchildren. Short quotations, favorite Bible verses, good wishes or thanks—Striking Stone can engrave them all. Just keep your message to three lines per brick with a maximum of 15 characters (including spaces) per line.

Each brick, in addition to serving as a lasting tribute to someone or something special, will help to defray the costs of keeping the church in good repair and to establish a maintenance fund for the future.

Honor your loved ones and God’s house at the same time!

Call or stop by the church office to place your order, and help us fill the courtyard cross with beautiful memories.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Presbyterian Women in November

Presbyterian Women are busy, back at Gatherings and enjoying fellowship with each other after the summer break. We had a luncheon and Gathering on October 22nd. The food was delicious and our speaker, Joan Fenton from PWP, gave an informative program on domestic violence and its effects on women and children. We welcomed three new guests and hope they will return.

A very special “thank you” to Marge Hagerman for putting together our PW Directory for 2014-2015. It is greatly appreciated by PW.

The Fall Gathering for Presbyterian Women of the Presbytery (Grand Canyon) was held on October 11th at Sunnyslope Presbyterian Church in Phoenix. It was attended by six women from our church. There were three workshops and the speaker was Patti Luttrell from Children’s Cancer Network.

Just Coffee:
Caffeine with a Conscience will be sold on Sundays during Fellowship Hour. Regular and decaffeinated will be available. Here is your opportunity to enjoy an exceptional cup of coffee and support the vision of the Café Justo Cooperative.

  • CT Meeting on Wednesday, November 12th, at 11:00 am. Officers, Coordinators, and Circle Leaders, please plan to attend. We will meet in Annex 2.
  • There is no Gathering in November.
  • Are you teaching a Lesson in our Bible Study on Paul? Are you interested in having more information on Paul and 1 & 2 Corinthians? Here is your chance. Meet with Pastor Harrell Davis on Thursday, November 6th, at 10:30 am. We did this last year and it was very valuable and we gained further insight. Come and see!!
  • November 7th is World Community Day for Church Women United. Rev. Beverly Phillips will be the speaker. The location will be the Salvation Army Church, 17420 N. Avenue of the Arts, Surprise (off 114th Avenue and Bell Road).

Please continue to keep each other in prayer. Especially pray for those who are ill at this time and for those with special needs.

Blessings to all,
~Diane Nestlebush, Moderator

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

November University of Life

Bible Study on the Book of Acts
The Birthday of the Church

During the month of November, the Rev. Dr. David Glenn Walker will be leading a study of the Book of Acts.  This will be held on Thursdays, November 6th , 13th and 20th from 1:30 - 3:00 pm in Swain Hall. (Thanksgiving is November 27 so there will not be a class .)  Please bring your own Bible so you can take notes.

The Book of Acts talks about the beginning of the Christian Church and who is responsible for its creation.  Acts is a continuation of the Gospel of Luke.  Luke  shows that what Jesus began he continued after the resurrection though the Holy  Spirit .  Acts begins with the followers of Jesus being filled with the power of God and preaching the Good News so effectively that thousands responded and the word was never the same.

Many in and outside the church today believe we are in "the last days" and the church is irrelevant.  Come to the University of Life and read in the Scriptures of the Good News about the church.

University of Life welcomes anyone interested in discovering more about God's word, yourself, and the challenges of living in today's world.  The time and day of University of Life has changed from Friday mornings to Thursday afternoon at 1:30, but the programs are still the same interesting, enlightening discussions meant to increase understanding and broaden your personal faith.  Come spend a relaxed, fulfilling hour at University of Life and bring a friend.


Monday, November 3, 2014

November in the Library

If you missed the open house in the church library on October 26, you also missed some great brownies - but it's not too late to meet new head librarian Carol Maxwell, or to browse through our wide selection of books.  In addition to after worship on Sundays, the library will now be open on Wednesday afternoons while the bridge club is meeting in the Fireside Room.  The side door closest to the library will be unlocked, so you won't have to disturb the card players to check out a book.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Celebrating Veterans Day

Veterans Day this year is Tuesday, November 11th, but we will celebrate it on Sunday, November 9th.  Please contact Tina Trowbridge if you have service memorabilia we can display.  She suggests wearing red, white, and blue to church in honor of the holiday.

We will also collect aged American flags that day and take them to the American Legion to be burned, so if you have a worn-out flag, bring it to Swain Hall on the 9th and we will see that it is honorably retired.