Thursday, December 31, 2015

Welcome, David!

We are extremely fortunate to have our interim pastor starting at the beginning of January!

According to the Office of the General Assembly,
Interim Pastors offer to the congregations they serve:
  • Worship leadership and preaching
  • Pastoral care
  • Work with the session to provide for the life and ministry of the congregation
  • Administrative work including supervision of other staff persons
  • Staff support for programs and committees of the congregation
In addition, an Interim Pastor leads a congregation during the transition time after an installed pastor has departed, helping the congregation prepare to welcome the leadership of a new installed pastor. Interim Pastors understand the dynamics of a congregation in transition, including feelings of grief, loss, and, sometimes, relief or anger.

Interim pastors will help the session provide for continuity of essential programs, and may assist the session in assessing needs for changes in programs and ministries of the congregation….

A good interim pastor will “hit the ground running," beginning his/her time with the congregation with intensity and energy, and will leave with intentionality, engaging in a “good goodbye” with the congregation and its staff. A good interim pastor is fully present with the congregation from the beginning, and really leaves when she/he leaves.*
The Reverend Doctor David Hodgson is a retired Presbyterian minister with 47 years’ experience as a church or interim pastor. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and his Doctor of Ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife Deanne live in Phoenix; most recently he has been serving as Interim Head of Staff at Chandler Presbyterian Church in Chandler, Arizona.

David is definitely “hitting the ground running;” his first Message was our last blog post, and he will be preaching his first sermon for us on January 3rd.

The members of the selection committee are very happy to have David on board; please join them in giving him a warm First Presbyterian welcome!

*Quoted from: http://oga.pcusa.org/section/mid-council-ministries/ministers/interim-pastors/

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Getting to Know You

I am excited about being your interim pastor, and am grateful to God for bringing us together. I expect to hit the ground running in the New Year, and I want to meet my new church family as quickly as possible. I ask for your help in creating opportunities for that to happen.

Surely you remember the delightful musical The King and I by Rogers and Hammerstein in which a school teacher introduced herself to her students by singing Getting To Know You. Let the words of the chorus be our theme for January as we introduce ourselves to each other and share the unique journeys that brought us together.
Getting to know you
Getting to know all about you
Getting to like you
Getting to hope you like me
I am grateful for the way Harrell finished his ministry with a ritual of gratitude and of closure in worship, and for the way he encouraged you and me to continue the ministry of Christ in the New Year. Transitions are a time of sadness that comes with parting, and also of adventure that comes with starting something new. In the interim season, I will be meeting with the leadership of the church in retreat in January to set goals for the interim season so we can work together to accomplish all that our Lord inspires us to do.

Interim seasons are fun, and I trust that we will enjoy the time that God grants us to be together. The interim search committee and the Session have already made me feel very much at home among you, and I look forward to experiencing the welcoming spirit of the congregation. Thank you for inviting me to share your ministry.

With every blessing,
David Hodgson

Monday, December 28, 2015

Join the Community Rewards Program

The Congregational Care and Outreach Commission has enrolled the church in Fry’s Community Rewards (FCR) Program. All proceeds derived from FCR must be used for charitable purposes within the community Fry’s serves. The Commission has chosen to use the money received to support the Agua Fria Food Bank. You can participate in the program at no cost to yourself; simply link your Fry’s V.I.P. card to it and from then on whenever you swipe the card to buy groceries at a local Fry’s store, a portion of the money you spend will go toward this important mission.

According to the Fry’s website,
Fry's is committed to helping our communities grow and prosper. Year after year, local schools, churches, synagogues and other nonprofit organizations will earn millions of dollars through Fry's Community Rewards. Our program was designed to make your fund-raising the easiest in town…all you have to do is shop at Fry's and swipe your V.I.P Card! Enroll now for the Fry's Community Rewards Program. And remember…all participants must re-enroll each year to continue earning rewards for their chosen organization.

If you have a Fry’s card and an email address, you can link your card to the program yourself by following the steps below.
  1. Go to https://www.frysfood.com
  2. Click on Register (top right corner of the page). 
  3. Fill out all the fields under Create an Account; be sure to complete the Your Location field and click the Find button to find your preferred store. 
  4. Click the orange Create Account button at the bottom left corner of the screen. 
  5. Now you should be on the Add V.I.P. Card screen. Fill out the fields for your card number and your last name and click the Save button at the bottom left. 
  6. At this point, you will be at the Account Summary page. Scroll down until you see Community Rewards and click on the orange Enroll button beneath. 
  7. When the Find Your Organization screen comes up, type 41034 into the field and click on the orange Search button. 
  8. When the church’s information appears, click on the radio button to the left of the church’s name and then on the Enroll button.
And that’s it!

If you already have an online Fry’s account, you can link your card to the program by signing in to the Fry’s website. Click on Community in the menu in the website header, and then on Community Rewards. When the Fry's Community Rewards Program screen comes up, click on the orange Enroll Now button and follow steps 7 and 8 above.

Thank you for your participation!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Week of Prayer Involvement

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is coming up fast!

Our church is hosting the first worship service and lunch on Monday, January 18, from noon to 1:00 pm. Please call Donna Roth, Marilee Marshall, or Beth Mabee to volunteer to take part in the service or help with the food, or sign up in the church office or Swain Hall.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Farewell to the Davises

Sunday, December 27, at 10:00 am in Swain Hall

Come to Swain Hall this Sunday following the worship service to participate in a program celebrating the Davises and thanking them for their work here. Carol Maxwell is coordinating the festivities—give her a call if you have questions or would like to help her with the preparations.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Saying Goodbye

Now the time really has come to say goodbye. In the office, I’ve packed away books and knickknacks. I’ve taken down artwork, pictures, and diplomas. It’s easy to clean out a room. But it will be difficult to see you all for the last time. That will occur on December 27th. At that last worship service we’ll observe a ritual of separation. The Book of Common Worship very helpfully provides a liturgy for saying goodbye. It’s important to mark transition. However, it’s equally important to remember that the church is both visible and invisible. The visible part is what we see every Sunday. It’s the community in worship, celebration, fellowship. It’s the buildings we occupy and the programs we support. All that we can see, touch and enjoy.

The invisible part is what we mean when we refer to the church universal. When we celebrate World Communion, we’re acknowledging the church universal. By observing communion together, we demonstrate that the church is one, in body and in spirit.

So the church is both what we can see and what we know. We know that we are one body in Christ Jesus our Lord. We know that we are sisters and brothers together through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. We are one. And it will be that way for all time because that’s what God intends.

Even though Carol and I are moving away, we are not breaking our essential communion with you. Wherever we go, when you celebrate communion, we’ll celebrate communion because the sacrament is the same. Wherever we go, when you think of us, and pray for us, and remember us, we’ll remember and pray for you because in Jesus Christ, we are members of one family.

Our time here in Sun City is one point on the continuum of First Presbyterian Church’s history. I rejoice and give thanks for the opportunity you gave Carol and me. You welcomed us into your family. You will always be part of our lives.

Scripture tells us that there is a time for every matter under heaven. So now is the time for saying goodbye. Thank God this is not the end, but merely a transition. Grace and Peace and our love to you all, always….

~Harrell

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Gift Suggestions

  • “Just Coffee” is again for sale as a Presbyterian Women’s mission project after worship services in the Swain Hall entrance. The Grand Canyon Presbytery partners with Fontera deCristo, a Presbyterian Bi-National Border Ministry (one of five with Mexico) to provide 93 coffee-farming families with a better life from the sale of their coffee beans, grown in Chiapas, Mexico, and roasted at the Arizona border. Each bag sells for $9.00; regular and decaf are both available.
  • Our church cookbooks are still available on the table under the PW bulletin board in Swain Hall. The books are packed with delicious recipes and an incredible bargain at only $5.00 each.

Monday, December 14, 2015

December Fellowship Dinner

Thursday, December 17, 5:00 pm in Swain Hall

You are invited to the Fellowship Christmas Dinner! Plan to come enjoy a delicious meal followed by a musical program presented by our very own choir.

The Christmas Fellowship Dinner will again be hosted by the Rev Harrell and Carol Davis. And this year as a gift to the faithful Fellowship Dinner volunteers, who have helped set tables, prepare food and clean up, Chef George Garnache will be preparing the meal! Chef George has 30+ years of making delicious meals for many clients, friends and family. George and his wife, Sally, are dear friends of the Davis family and reside in Rio Rancho, NM.

Your freewill offering will be donated to The Justa Center.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Presbyterian Women in December

Waiters at last year's High Tea
Friday, November 6, First Presbyterian Church had five women attend the NW unit of Church Women United at “New Song United Methodist Church” on West Bell Road to witness Kathie Mittelsteadt, who has been facilitator for six years, pass leadership to Sally Dorrell of New Song.

OUR ANNUAL HIGH TEA IS SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12, AT 1:00 PM.

Tickets are still available from a table hostess, Gail (815-7290), or the church office. Opportunities for table hostesses may still be available, for either creating your own table or hosting an already prepared table. Those that would like to help prepare for the High Tea, please sign-up in Swain Hall. Help is needed on Friday to prepare sandwiches; we will begin at 9:00 am, and then rest our busy hands and enjoy the provided lunch and fellowship. On Saturday beginning at 9:00 am we will be preparing tables. Plan to join in the fun!

Looking forward to 2016:

  • January 6, Wednesday, 9:30 am—C.T. Meeting for the officers in the Annex. We will be preparing for the Gathering on January 27.

  • January 27, 2016—the third annual Chili Lunch with the men as our guests. This is one you do not want to miss. Not only is the chili outstanding, the program will be our own Zane Porter and Dick Zabriskie with “An Interesting Discussion” you will just have to come and see for yourselves. That is Wednesday, January 27, at 11:30 am. Oh and one more thing—please let us know if you will be there. There will be a sign-up sheet for you in Swain Hall. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas.
~Lois, Marge and Gail

Monday, December 7, 2015

Ladies’ Day at Men’s Breakfast Fellowship

Tuesday, December 15, 7:30 am in Swain Hall

Take part in one of our favorite holiday traditions—breakfast plus The Story of Christmas. All men and women of the church are invited to celebrate the birth of Christ with songs and scripture.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Stewardship Reminder

The monetary portion of your annual stewardship pledge helps pay our staff, maintain the church campus, support our ongoing programs, and defray other operating expenses. As of November 24, 68 pledge cards had been returned, pledging a total of $115,000. The Session will be meeting on December 10 to work on the budget, so if you have not yet sent in your Time, Talents, and Treasure pledge for 2016, please do so as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Giving Tuesday

From the Presbyterian Mission Agency:

You’ve heard of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, but have you heard about Giving Tuesday—a day designated to kick off the holiday charitable giving season? As part of this global charitable giving effort, the Presbyterian Mission Agency is inviting Presbyterians across the country to take part in this special day of giving, which takes place today, December 1, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

Every gift helps. Your contributions to the Mission Agency will help Presbyterian Disaster Assistance provide aid in times of national and international disasters; support mission co-workers as they proclaim Christ’s good news; empower vulnerable people; build bridges of reconciliation in some of the world’s most troubled places; help the Church in its mission to become more diverse and inclusive of racial, ethnic, cultural, and language groups; as well as equip women for leadership in all ministries of the Church.

We have a day for giving thanks. And now we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. It’s simple: go to the Presbyterian Mission Agency donation page to give your gift to support the important work of the Mission Agency. You may designate your gift to a specific ministry area by clicking on “change it here” and typing in the ministry area.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Holiday High Tea

Saturday, December 12, 1:30 pm in Swain Hall (doors open at 1:00)

Our annual PW extravaganza! Beautiful table settings, handsome waiters, and fabulous food—call the church office for ticket information and additional details.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wishful Thinking

Autumn is a busy time of year. When our children were still young enough for school, during autumn, our family spent time and money and energy getting ready. We got ready for school. We got ready for Fall activities. We got ready for recitals and assemblies and sports. When we lived in Minnesota, we got ready for hockey. When we moved to California, we got ready for basketball and track. We put youth orchestra and jazz band concerts on the calendar. It took a lot of planning and organizing in order to get ready.

Now that our kids are grown up and I see others going through the motions, I marvel at how much there is to get ready for. Parents (and grand-parents) have a lot to keep track of and it doesn’t seem to be any less stressful or urgent just because your kids have grown up. We’re all getting ready for something on a year-round schedule.

In a few weeks, Advent will be here. Advent is the season for getting ready. Advent is the four week period, beginning on November 29th, leading to Christmas. During Advent we prepare our hearts and minds for the promised Messiah. We duplicate the church’s tradition of preparation for the birth of Jesus through ritual (the lighting of the Advent candles) and celebration (with festive decorations and singing Christmas carols) and reflection on the incarnation of Christ.

It’s easy during the Christmas season with all the preparations, all the hustle and bustle and getting ready, to lose sight of what Christmas means. Above all else, Christmas means God came among us. Pleased in flesh with us to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.

Jesus is: God with us. It’s not the candles, the carols, the rituals, the decorations, the family gatherings and traditions. As wonderful as those are they are incidental to realization that Jesus’ birth means God is with us. And because God is with us, all things are possible.

The great Presbyterian author Frederick Buechner wrote: Evil evolves. Holiness happens. He was writing about the meaning of incarnation, not because it can be proven through doctrine or tradition, but rather because it is so not like us. A different author, a New Testament author, put it this way: For mortals it is impossible but for God, all things are possible.

Christmas is our deepest hopes and dreams fulfilled in the birth of a baby. Buechner says that Christianity is primarily wishful thinking. That’s probably true. But if we allow it, our wishful thinking, our hustling and bustling, our getting ready, can be a moment of breakthrough, that opens our eyes to the wonder and reality of God among us. May it be so and thanks be to God.
~Harrell

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"Just Coffee" is back!

“Just Coffee,” a project of Presbyterian Women, is available for sale in Swain Hall again. It is fresh roasted and this year’s crop. It is ground and packaged in Agua Prieta Sonora by cooperative members. Started in 2001, the coffee is sold in all 50 states and is owned and managed by the coffee growers. Frontera de Cristo is one of six bi-national border ministries of the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico and the Presbyterian Church (USA) that support this project to provide a fair income to farmers and their families in their home locales. If you do not drink coffee, you may wish to buy a bag for a present or donate it to the Justa Center.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Capital Campaign News

The good news:
  • On Sunday, September 20, Master Gardener Kris Coates presented the landscaping plan for the 103rd side of the church campus during Fellowship Hour following worship services. Kris is also working on a plan for the planting bed on the east (parking lot) side of the chapel. The small beds around the Clarke annex will be filled with maintenance-free rock. 
  • The new fountain has been installed in the Memorial Garden (above). The existing benches in this area have been repositioned so that visitors may sit facing inward, toward the fountain, or outward, toward the niches and Memorial Wall. 
  • The interior painting has made the public areas of the church look much cleaner and brighter, and the women’s bathroom in the narthex looks like an entirely different room. The dated wallpaper has also been removed from the Fireside Room and that wall painted. 
  • The memorial tree for Helen Woeller that her Circle paid for has been ordered, and some of Helen’s friends have purchased an engraved plaque to go next to the tree.
The bad news: Repairs to the Sanctuary air conditioning system mean that the landscaping work must be delayed due to cash flow issues.

Have you contributed everything you can to the capital campaign? Help keep our church campus safe, comfortable, and beautiful!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Bell Ringers Needed!

The bell choir area in the Sanctuary has been reconfigured and repainted, so it’s time for the Great Bells of Fire to get their act together! Practice this year will be 4:30-5:30 pm on Wednesdays starting in November, with Mary Lou Pancy directing.

 If you’ve ever considered joining the bell choir, now is the time. You don’t need to read music as long as you can count to four! We will also take your hand and arm strength into consideration when assigning bells. The bell choir needs you—please join us this Wednesday! Call Carol Maxwell at 623.249.3005 if you have questions.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Presbyterian Women in November

This year’s Horizons Bible Study, Come to the Waters, is being well received. One reason may be that each chapter is a stand-alone topic based on a particular experience or occurrence in the Bible, where water is discussed from a different perspective. Before perusing your copy for the first time, how many stories would you have been able to recall from the past in which water was the theme? If you’ve had to miss one month’s meeting, no problem—there’ll be a whole new focus on water in the next lesson. Come—and bring a friend—“to the waters!”

October’s Gathering, featuring the receiving of our annual Thank Offering and a visit with Senator Debbie Lesko, was enjoyed by guests from Faith Presbyterian and Emmanuel Baptist.

There is no PW Gathering in November.

The NW Unit of Church Women United World Community Day will be Friday, November 6, at the New Song United Methodist Church, 16303 W. Bell Road in Surprise, 9:30 am to 11:30 pm. This will be a Celebration of Unity featuring Messianic Jewish traditions and Baha’i Faith messages.

Of course the highlight in December is always the Holiday High Tea—this year on Saturday, the 12th, at 1:30 pm. If you would like to set a table with your finest dinnerware and centerpiece for this major fundraiser in Swain Hall, please contact Gail Bickel at 623-815-7290. And kitchen help on Friday and Saturday is always welcome, preparing the special treats that are served—call Lois Rotenberger at 623.875.4423 to volunteer. To donate cookies, contact Beth Mabee at the church office (623.974.3605), and to volunteer as a waiter contact Diane Nestlebush at 623.972.3059.

On January 28th the annual chili feed will be at 11:30 am. The men of the congregation are guests. “An Interesting Conversation” will take place, with Dick Zabriskie and Zane Porter at the microphone!

Blessings, Peace
~Marge Hagerman, Co-Moderator

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

November 8 Mission Fair

On Sunday, November 8, some of the past recipients of our mission dollars will be available to talk with you about their work in Swain Hall during Fellowship Hour, and literature from other worthy causes will also be on display.  This is your chance to find out where your mission dollars go and how they help others.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

It's a Man's Thing!

Tuesday, October 6 kicked off the 2015-2016 year for the Men’s Fellowship breakfasts in Swain Hall—7:30 breakfast, 7:50 sharing our stories. This is a “man’s thing!” Join us for good food, fine fellowship, and getting to know each other better. See you at 7:30 am in Swain Hall!

~Fellowship Steering Committee

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Justa Center Update

Carol Maxwell (with director
Barbara Lewkowitz and a client)
took 125 pounds of clothing
to the Justa Center last week.
The Justa Center in downtown Phoenix is a resource for homeless seniors. In addition to providing a safe haven in which they can eat, get clean, and store their belongings, the Center helps them look for jobs, claim benefits due to them, and resettle them in homes. We are continuing to collect clothing, hygiene items, and housewares for them in the Agua Fria Room.

If you missed Director Barbara Lewkowitz’s talk about the Center’s work on October 25, you can hear it on our website. For information on how to send cash or other donations directly to the Center, go to their website.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

What Happened to the Extra Pews?

You may have wondered what happened to the extra pews that were removed from the bell choir area.

A nice gentleman named Jonathan Rojas from “Iglesias de Dios Pentecostal, M.I.” church came and picked up two of the pews and delivered them to “A Strong Rock-Roadway to Heaven” church. This is a very small church with few furnishings. They were very happy to receive them. We are happy that they are being utilized. Jonathan will come and pick up the third and final pew when he is able to.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Candle Recycling

You may have not been aware of the abundance of candles we had in our storeroom. After we decided to go with the “battery powered” versus open flame candles, we took inventory and found we had plenty.

We contacted Presbytery and asked to put the word out to those who may have need of these candles. Selena Keesecker responded and advised us that they would be used in various ways with the detention ministry in Guadalupe Iglesias. They would like to take some of them to Rocky Point, Sonora, MX, and others to use with their congregation.  Selena says Thank You for asking, and considering them for sharing the candles.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Get Your Free Books Here!

Carol Maxwell in the Library
Are you aware that our library has many free books available for the taking? From the courtyard entry, take the hallway to your left. There is a bookshelf unit facing the door to the little restroom just before you get to the library. On it are all the books that are free. They consist of duplicates of ones already in our library, ones deemed not appropriate for our library, and some that have been in our library for a long time but never read. From time to time these are gleaned to make room for new books coming into the library. Help yourself. These will be here through the end of October after which they will be donated to one of the thrift shops or shelters.

Also, for your information, all magazines that are donated to the library will be passed on to the Justa Center or Valley View Thrift Store. There seems to be no interest in checking these out of the library.

With October comes the thoughts of Bible Studies. I have come across what I consider to be excellent books for “teachers” or anyone leading a Bible study group. They are “Bread of Angels” and “The Luminous Web,” both by Barbara Brown Taylor. Another is “Leaders” (Learning Leadership from Some of Christianity's Best) by Harold Myra. These three may be found in the section with light blue tabs – Bible Study.

We also have a collection of books for group study. They are as follows:
  • Images of God (8 copies)
  •  Images of the Spirit (6 copies) 
  • Ecclesiastes – Chasing After Meaning (12 copies) 
  • Prayer – An Adventure with God (5 copies)
A new shelf has been designated as “Medical Books” These are from Carol Arseth's library. They are available for research or reading but only in the Library. They are not to be removed from the Library.

I would like to see more names showing up on the library cards. Come on in and give it a try. There is something for everyone. It is easier than going to a city library. Drop in after church or on Bridge Club Wednesday afternoons. Sit and browse a spell. If nothing else, come in and visit with me...

Your Satisfied Librarian,
CDM

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance responds to Southeast coastal flooding

This email was received today from the Presbyterian Mission Agency:
On either side of the river is the tree of life . . . and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Rev. 22:2)
The Southeast coast is experiencing severe and unprecedented flooding. At its height, more than 400 roads, 150 bridges and two major interstates (I-20 and I-95) were closed, isolating the communities that were most in need of comfort and assistance. South Carolina has borne the brunt of the devastation, enduring what has been described as a 1,000-year flood, and for some, more is still to come.

While South Carolina is the area most recently experiencing severe flooding, other parts of the country, including Texas, are still struggling to recover from massive floods that impacted multiple counties and left numerous Presbyterian churches damaged. As the rains finally subside in South Carolina and essential aid begins to arrive, we pray for a community of healing and hope for all those in the midst of this adversity.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is walking alongside impacted mid councils to bring God’s hope and healing to all affected by flooding. Gifts from One Great Hour of Sharing are helping Presbyterian congregations as they reach out to their affected communities to provide emergency provisions like water, food and other supplies to neighbors in need. Members of the PDA National Response Team have been helping with assessments, connecting with long-term recovery groups and serving as a present witness of the larger church during this difficult time.

You can join in the response and encourage those in need by standing in the “GAP”—Give. Act. Pray.

Give
Financial support for relief efforts can be designated to DR000191 to help address the needs of those impacted by the flooding. Gifts can be made online, by phone at 800-872-3283 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. (EST), or by check; mail to:
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
P.O. Box 643700
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700
Act
Learn how your congregation can help families who have lost everything in the devastation. Stay informed and like us on Facebook, download resources and share updates with your congregation.

Make Gift of the Heart kits.

Register your volunteer work team’s interest in assisting with cleanup and rebuilding efforts with the PDA Call Center by calling 866-732-6121.

Pray
Pray for families impacted by flooding through loss of property and livelihood; for first responders and all others who put themselves in harm’s way to care for those impacted; that communities will work together and build stronger relationships and connections; for God’s sustaining grace through it all.

For more information, visit www.presbyterianmission.org/pda.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Prayer Shawl Ministry Update for October

The Prayer Shawl Ministry Group is now meeting on the first and third Mondays of every month, at 9:30 am in Annex 3. Anyone who likes to knit or crochet is encouraged to attend.

Even though the ladies didn’t meet regularly over the summer, they were busy! Be sure to check out the fruits of their labors at the October Fellowship Dinner. They will have items there available for sale (Christmas is coming!) to fund the purchase of additional yarn. And yes, yarn, coupons, and money are still gratefully accepted. Drop them off in the church office or the designated basket in Swain Hall.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Presbyterian Women in October

Diane Nestlebush (r)
& Ida Borhauer (l)
In Matthew 3 we read that Jesus comes from Galilee to the Jordon River to be baptized by John. John tries to deter him, saying, rather, that Jesus should baptize him. Jesus explains that having John baptize him “fulfills all righteousness.” This is the beginning of Lesson Two of Come to the Waters, this year’s Horizons Bible Study. Baptism—life-giving water—is just one of the many references to water in the Bible.

September’s topic was the “Birthing Waters”—God’s creation of our world. Each lesson is independent; it’s possible to study them out of order if you happen to miss a session. If you haven’t yet joined one of our Bible Study Circles, please consider it.

For our September PW Gathering we enjoyed a continental breakfast and heard about Diane Nestlebush’s attendance at the Church-wide Gathering in Minneapolis in June. Thank you, Diane, for your involvement in PW activities, including those at the Presbytery level.

The October 28 gathering, a luncheon in Swain Hall, will include visitors from Faith Presbyterian as well as from our “in-house” congregation, Emmanuel Baptist Church. We will have as guest speaker Senator Debbie Lesko, sharing her experiences.

Other future Gatherings at our church will include the traditional chili feed, when the men are our guests (this year they provide the program); a program by Colleen Newell, who taught school for one year in Russia; and a video about Women of the Bible. We thank Gail Bickel, Co-Moderator, for making these arrangements. Of course the annual Holiday High Tea on December 12 will be a favorite festive occasion.

Remember to check the PW Library—a collection of recommended books, against the wall just inside the main entry to Swain Hall. There is an easy check-out system; ask someone to show you—i.e., Billie Lewis.

Blessings, and Peace,
Marge Hagerman, Co-Moderator

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Season of Strength

Growing in Discipleship and Faith

Now that we’ve reached October, even Arizona is starting to experience autumn. That means our “migratory” friends are beginning to return, and the church’s winter schedule is going into effect.

Starting Thursday, October 1, the church office will be open during the following hours:
  • Monday-Wednesday, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm 
  • Thursday, 8:00 am to 1:00 pm
The resumption of our winter schedule and the months leading up to our farewell to Harrell give us the opportunity to strengthen the ministry, mission, and fellowship of our church through the fourteen practices that Craig Dykstra identifies in Growing in the Life of Faith as supporting discipleship growth:
  • Worshipping God together 
  • Telling the Christian story to one another
  • Interpreting the Scriptures and history of church’s experience together 
  • Praying 
  • Confessing sins to one another 
  • Tolerating one another’s failures and encouraging one another 
  • Carrying out specific acts of service and witness 
  • Giving generously 
  • Suffering with and for one another and all our neighbors 
  • Providing hospitality and care 
  • Listening and talking attentively to one another 
  • Struggling together to become conscious of and to understand the world in which we live 
  • Criticizing and resisting powers and patterns that destroy people and corrode community 
  • Working together to maintain and create structures and institutions that sustain life
Let’s make this fall a season of renewal and strength. Let us worship God!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Fall Fellowship Fun

Thursday, October 15
5:00 pm in Swain Hall

This season’s Fellowship Dinners kick off with Pizza Night!  Those who attended last year’s event remember the great variety and high quality of the fresh-baked pizza buffet.  The entertainment for the evening will be stellar, too, featuring Dale Matthies on the accordion.  Dale performed at last year’s  Holiday High Tea, where his high energy and wide repertoire helped to make the afternoon memorable.

Signup sheets for diners and workers are available in Swain Hall or the church office, and an email version will go out the week before the event.  Since an outside vendor will provide the food, we need an accurate advance headcount; if you plan to come, please sign up, and if you sign up, be sure to show up. 

And mark your calendar for these holiday get-togethers:
  • Thursday, November 19 – Turkey Dinner with a Greek children’s dance group
  • Thursday, December 17 – Christmas Ham and the First Presbyterian choir
(Note that this year’s Fellowship Dinners will be held on Thursday evenings.)

See you in Swain Hall on the 15th!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Season of Change

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven….

I shared this letter with Session on September 17th. The Session voted to concur with my request. Now it’s the time for transition for all of us. Thank you for the opportunity to serve this congregation. Thank you for your friendships and support. You have blessed me. I will remember you always. Thanks be to God!

Session: First Presbyterian Church of Sun City
12225 N. 103rd Ave.
Sun City, AZ 85351

Friends:

After prayerful reflection and lengthy conversations with Carol and the rest of our family, I have decided to retire from full-time ministry effective January 1, 2016. Scripture tells us there is a time for every matter under heaven. Now is the time for transition for both the congregation and our family.

The past five years have been the most rewarding of all my years as an ordained minister. You have welcomed me and made our family part of your journey. You have gifted me with the privilege of serving as your pastor. Together we celebrated the first fifty years of this church’s ministry. We created a vision for the future and raised the funds to renovate the buildings and grounds. We restored the courtyard and memorial garden. The Celtic Cross will be a lasting legacy for generations to come. Along with the Session, we restructured policies and procedures to make the church more efficient and provide for the long-term. As a congregation, we have brought the best of the past with us while taking steps toward the future. First Presbyterian Church is strong and alive.

Every congregation develops skills and insights. Those assets will carry you forward as you move into the future. You have the gifts of talented staff and dedicated volunteers. You have a strong foundation upon which to build. Your future is bright and I’m excited for you.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the honor of being pastor to this church. I give glory to God for the opportunity you gave me to walk alongside you in ministry, dedication, and love.

Grace and Peace.
Harrell

Monday, October 5, 2015

For Potential New Members

The Administrative Commission will sponsor a brief meeting in the Fireside Room after worship services on Sunday, October 18, for anyone who is considering becoming a member of the church. Attendees will have a chance to meet the members of Session, find out what it means to be Presbyterian, and learn more about our congregation. New members will be welcomed at a reception in Swain Hall on October 25 during Fellowship Hour.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

One Church, Many Voices

Presbyterians Today has launched a new blog. According to their announcement, "This exciting new forum is a place that welcomes Presbyterians of all stripes to share their ideas and their passions—all aimed at shining a light on the path to become better disciples of Jesus Christ." Check it out at http://www.pcusa.org/blogs/today/.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Come Pray with Us

To each and every one in our congregation:

You are invited to join us on Tuesday mornings each week at 9:00 am in the Clarke Annex.  Please come and join us as we pray for those that are in special need of Christ's help.  "Where two or more are gathered in my name, I am there also."

~Prayer Partners

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Driving Alternatives for Seniors

Did you know that the Uber and Lyft ride services are now available in the greater Phoenix area, including Sun City? For more information about how they work and why they may be good alternatives to driving yourself, visit this article on NextAvenue.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tell Us What You Think!

The Congregational Care and Outreach Commission is in charge of many of the church’s programs and special events, and they need your feedback to help with their planning for this fall. Please print and fill out this questionnaire—or complete the email version that will be sent out shortly—and return it to the church office.

Movies
We are considering screening Christian-themed movies (like last year’s showing of God is not Dead) on a regular basis. These would be films with a religious orientation rather than popular secular films.

Would you be interested in viewing Christian movies in Swain Hall?
o Yes o No

If yes, what days of the week and times would work for you?
o Monday o Tuesday o Wednesday o Thursday
o Mornings o Afternoons

Would you prefer to have refreshments served?
o Yes o No o Don’t care

If yes, what type of food/drink would you like to see available?
o Water, iced tea, popcorn          o Coffee and donuts or pastry

Any other comments?


Tai Chi Lessons
Tai chi is a gentle form of exercise that focuses on increasing strength and flexibility. During the summer of 2014, SCAN Health sponsored well-attended free tai chi lessons at our church. SCAN Health no longer has a sponsorship available, but we may be able to offer weekly classes again for a fee.

Would you like to take easy beginning tai chi lessons at the church?
o Yes o No

If yes, what would you be willing to pay per lesson?
o $10   o $5   o Can’t pay   o Other:

What days of the week and times would work for you?
o Monday o Tuesday o Wednesday o Thursday
o Mornings o Afternoons

Any other comments?


Thank you for your input!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Quote of the Day

"The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become."

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Choir Practice Starts Next Week

If you love to sing, please consider joining our choir!  You don't have to have a perfect voice, or even be able to read music; if you can follow a tune by ear, we'll be happy to have you.  It's all about joyfully praising God.

The choir rehearses on Wednesday evenings starting at 6:30 pm in the choir (Westminster) Room.  The first practice is September 23; our first performance this fall will be Sunday, October 4.

To learn about our choir director, Bill Gleason, and our accompanist, Kelsey McKee, visit our website and click on Programs -> Music Program.



Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Presbyterian Seal

According to Merriam-Webster, a logo is “a symbol that is used to identify a company and that appears on its products.” In the past, logos explicitly identified the entities to which they belonged, such as the Arm & Hammer baking soda logo, which featured both the company name in type and a picture of a muscular arm brandishing a hammer. Modern logos tend to be more abstract, like the Nike swoosh. Some graphic designers, however, still try to pack as much meaning as possible into a logo design, and that’s apparently what Malcolm Grear and Associates were doing in 1985 when they developed the logo we see on the front of the pulpit every Sunday — the seal of the Presbyterian Church.

Here’s what the website for the Office of the General Assembly has to say about the seal design:
The seal of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is a symbolic statement of the church's heritage, identity, and mission in contemporary form….

The basic symbols in the seal are the cross, Scripture, the dove, and flames. The dominant structural and theological element in the design is the cross — the universal and most ecumenical symbol of the Christian church. The cross represents the incarnate love of God in Jesus Christ and his passion and resurrection. Because of its association with Presbyterian history, the Celtic cross was chosen as a model for this contemporary rendering of the ancient symbol.

In experimenting with the basic lines and shapes of the cross, the contour of a book began to emerge in the horizontal section, and the two center lines of the cross became the representation of an open book. This integration of the horizontal dimensions of the cross with the book motif highlights the emphasis which the Reformed tradition has placed on the role of Scripture as a means of knowing God's word.

The slightly-flared shape of the Celtic cross also makes possible the trans-forming of the uppermost section into the shape of a descending dove. As a symbol of the Holy Spirit, the dove is intimately tied to the representation of the Bible, affirming the role of the Spirit in both inspiring and interpreting Scripture in the life of the church. The dove also symbolizes Christ's baptism by John and the peace and wholeness which his death and resurrection bring to a broken world.

Beneath the image of the book is the suggestion of a lectern or pulpit, which captures the important role of preaching in the history of Presbyterian worship.

Integrated into the lower part of the design are flames which form an implied triangle, a traditional symbol of the Trinity. The flames themselves convey a double meaning: a symbol of revelation in the Old Testament when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush and a suggestion of the beginning of the Christian church when Christ manifested himself to his apostles at Pentecost and charged them to be messengers of the good news of God's love.
The triangle also suggests the nature of Presbyterian government, with its concern for balance and order, dividing authority between ministers of the Word and laypersons and between different governing bodies. This understanding of the church was based in part on an important idea in Reformed theology, the covenant, which God establishes with people to affirm God's enduring love and to call us to faith and obedience to Jesus Christ.

Looking more closely at some of the visual components of the design, viewers may discover elements that seem to fuse with some of the more obvious theological symbols. In the shape of the descending dove, for example, one might also discern in the body of the bird, the form of a fish, an early-Christian sign for Christ, recalling his ministry to those who hunger. For some, the overall design evokes the calligraphy of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Others have seen a baptismal font or a communion chalice (cup).

In 1 Corinthians, Paul described the church as a body with many members, illustrating the pluralism of the church and the many gifts which God gives to its members. So also the seal's individual parts, when taken together, form an encompassing visual and symbolic unity, while not exhausting the richness of possible interpretations….

Each congregation and governing body may use the seal without receiving prior permission. (From http://oga.pcusa.org/section/ecclesial-and-ecumenical-ministries/department-stated-clerk/seal/.)
Some commentators have also seen the overall shape of the design as an angel, a minister, or the embracing figure of Jesus.

The design of the Presbyterian seal, then, is full of symbolism that reflects the rich history of our church. The next time you are seated in the Sanctuary, take a look at the seal on the banner that hangs on the front of the pulpit. What do you see there?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Quote of the Day

"Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher." ~Oprah Winfrey

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Back to School 2016

Thank you to everyone who purchased school supplies and to the very generous members who made contributions for a total of $477.00 to be used to purchase supplies. Fifty-seven backpacks plus numerous other supplies have been purchased. The supplies were delivered to El Mirage Elementary School on Tuesday, August 25, 2015 by Marge Hagerman and Gail Bickel.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Choosing Joy

I lift up my eyes to the hills,
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord
who made the heavens and the earth.

In the ancient world, what people thought, what people said, what people did followed predictable patterns. More than simple habit behavior and attitudes became daily ritual. Blessings, prayers of thanksgiving, petitions to God were reduced to the kinds of statements one finds on bumper stickers these days.

Here’s how that worked. A person didn’t need to sit and pray for hours and hours. A person could simply say something like the sentences above while they were walking, doing housework, preparing a meal, working in the field. You could express communion and realize connection through the easiest and most commonplace activities in one’s day.

And the benefit was more than the feeling that one was doing what one ought to be doing. The benefit was the positive physical and mental impact of these seemingly simple exercises. Neuroscience has demonstrated the effect positive thinking has on the brain’s and body’s chemistry. Positive thoughts, positive feelings, positive beliefs release the kinds of hormones associated with joyfulness, happiness, peacefulness. The chemistry coursing through your bloodstream literally takes a turn for the better when you think positive thoughts.

This is true of course if you believe that something like joyfulness is preferred over anger or fearfulness. The body’s chemistry is equally affected by negative thoughts and the difference is measurable.

The people of the ancient world did not know anything about neuroscience. They just knew that happy thoughts were better for them than negative ones so they invented a way to practice joyfulness.

Today, we’re tempted to believe we’re living in the most cynical and depressing days of all. That’s true if we don’t have some kind of antidote. Here’s what I suggest. Turn off cable news. Start listening to the voice of the one who made the heavens and the earth. Start each day by answering this question:

What one thing could I do—think—believe—today, no matter how small, that would increase my joy?

Our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. Thanks be to God!

~Harrell

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Latest from the Library

Did you know that we have 1628 books in our library as of the end of June? We have added 15 more books during July and August. This is truly an astounding little library.

I just finished reading The Testament by John Grisham. It came out in 1999 and is one of the few of his books that I had not yet read. If you haven't read it, it is a thriller and takes you into the swamps and jungles of Brazil amid primitive Indian tribes. I read it in a day and a half because I couldn't put it down.

I am also reading Edgar Cayce on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He is the famous clairvoyant who predicted where the scrolls would be found 11 years before they actually were. He was a deeply religious man, thus most of his over 2500 Life Readings are steeped in religious history. It too is an absolutely fascinating read. I highly recommend it.

If you are anything like me, in these troubled times of controversy and fear of Islam and Muslims in general, you might want to read Islam Revealed – A Christian Arab's View of Islam by Dr. Anis A. Shorrosh. It is an eye opener and offers some real insight into not only the differences but also the sameness in all those, regardless of religion, who truly follow the precepts of peace and love.

Peace and Love to all of you from your happily engrossed Librarian,
Carol Maxwell