Tuesday, March 31, 2015

ASK Service Reminder

In December of 2013 we introduced a service designed to help members who no longer can perform small tasks around their homes, such as changing light bulbs or batteries in smoke detectors. This is not a handyman service; we do have to turn down requests for plumbing and electrical work. We are also restricted from offering transportation to and from church because of liability concerns and insurance costs.

In spite of these restrictions, we welcome new helpers and requests for help so that our service can be continued. To volunteer or ask for help, call me at 623.680.3443. 

~Craig McCoy

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Gift to be Lived

Isaiah 25: 6-9
It will be said on that day,
Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him,
So that he might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
John 20: 15-16
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher).
New Testament scholar and author Serene Jones writes:
We do not go to church simply to remind our conscious minds that God lives and we are called to follow Christ. We need to show up so that our bodies can be reminded of him too, and the unconscious recesses of our psyches can be moved anew, our dispositions toward grace rejuvenated, our anxieties quelled as the world shifts once again into place and Easter comes, and comes, and comes again. In this yearly event we enter into the … fullness of our embodied, uniquely personal lives—this is the shared space where Jesus meets us, calling our name, receiving our touch, calming our anxious worries, and reminding us again and again that grace is not an object to be known but a gift to be lived.
This prayer from the Book of Common Worship is both a summary and a challenge.
Almighty God, in raising Jesus from the grave, you shattered the power of sin and death. We confess that we remain captive to doubt and fear, bound by the ways that lead to death. We overlook the poor and the hungry, and pass by those who mourn; we are deaf to the cries of the oppressed, and indifferent to calls for peace; we despise the weak, and abuse the earth you made. Forgive us, God of mercy. Help us to trust your power to change our lives and make us new, that we may know the joy of life abundant given in Jesus Christ, the risen Lord.
The prayer calls us as the church to embody Good News. We are called to share grace not just as an “object to be known,” but “as a gift to be lived.” The Good News changes everything; Easter makes all things possible. May the gift of Easter once more open your whole being and rejuvenate you in body, mind and spirit! Thanks be to God!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Holy Week Worship Services

Palm Sunday
March 29 at 9:00 am
First Presbyterian Sanctuary
Coffee and Fellowship following in Swain Hall

Maunday Thursday
April 2 at 11:00 am
Faith Presbyterian Church
(shared service with Faith Presbyterian and Church of the Palms)

Good Friday
April 3 at 6:00 pm
First Presbyterian Sanctuary
(shared service with Faith Presbyterian and Church of the Palms)

Easter Sunday
April 5 at 9:00 am
First Presbyterian Sanctuary
Communion served
Coffee and fellowship following in Swain Hall

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Share Your Pet Story

The July/August 2015 issue of Presbyterian Today will be all about our bond with beloved animals, and they are looking for people willing to share their stories. Here’s what they’re asking for:
Tell us about a pet or service animal that changed your life. Have you trained or benefited from a therapy animal, such as in a hospital or nursing home? Does your congregation have any special ministries, such as a blessing of the animals? Do you have a funny pet story? Do you volunteer at an animal shelter, or have you helped with foster care and rescue? Do you work with animals—maybe at a zoo or in a wildlife sanctuary or on a farm? How have you experienced grief after a pet has died?

Responses should be no more than 350 words and include a high-resolution photo. Make your stories personal. Zero in on a specific moment or anecdote rather than trying to talk about everything.
Email your story and photo to editor@pcusa.org by April 6 to be considered.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Fine Kettle of Fish: Why Eat Fish on Good Friday?

By now you probably have heard that we will be hosting our first Holy Week Fish Fry this Good Friday. If we have a good crowd, we hope to make it an annual event. Be sure to sign up to attend and/or work as quickly as possible!

Before deciding to go ahead with the fish fry, we polled members of the congregation to see if they thought it was a good idea. Most people were excited about the possibility, but one expressed concern that the event wasn’t in keeping with the somber atmosphere of Lent.

Turns out we have centuries of tradition on our side. Because Christ was crucified on a Friday, people have been fasting on Fridays to commemorate that sacrifice since at least the first century AD. However, over time complete fasting evolved into abstaining from meat—the flesh of any warm-blooded animal "that, in a sense, sacrificed its life for us," according to Michael Foley, an associate professor at Baylor University and author of Why Do Catholics Eat Fish On Friday?

For some reason, the death of cold-blooded fish didn’t fall under this stricture, possibly because pre-Christian worshippers of Venus regularly ate fish on Fridays, and converts just continued the tradition.

In any case, Catholics throughout the world observed “fish fasting” on Fridays until Pope Paul VI loosened fasting rules in the 1960s. Even then, the prohibition of meat on Fridays remained in force during Lent, which is why some Catholic churches continue to hold Lenten fish fries on one or more of the Fridays leading up to Easter, including Good Friday.

So, although we are Presbyterian, eating fish on Good Friday should be perfectly acceptable. As long as we don’t get too rowdy.

(And thanks to Debbie Thompson for proposing the idea and spearheading the arrangements!)

Good Friday Fish Fry 
Friday, April 3, 4:00-5:30 pm in Swain Hall 
Adults $8, children $5 
Guests are welcome

The joint Good Friday worship service with Church of the Palms and Faith Presbyterian will follow in the Sanctuary at 6:00 pm. This year’s service will feature the Great Bells of Fire and a Tenebrae (“Shadows”) piece involving the voice choir and the pastors of all three churches.

Monday, March 23, 2015

PW for April

Eight women from our church traveled to Desert Palms Presbyterian Church in Sun City West for the PW Spring Gathering. We had a great time of fellowship and enjoyed two motivational speakers. At the Gathering there was an installation of officers. Carole Jean Soine from Desert Palms was installed as the new PW Presbytery Moderator. Diane Nestlebush was installed as Justice and Peace Coordinator.

Recognition was given to women who read five or more books from the 2014/2015 PW Reading List. Those women recognized from our church are Gail Bickel and Nancy Wilson. The books are on the cart back by the PW bulletin board in Swain Hall. There are some very good books, so have a look and check one out.

If you have never attended a Spring or Fall PW Gathering, just ask one of us about it. I am sure you would enjoy the day. We have a continental breakfast and lunch. The speakers are top notch and the women friendly. We usually car pool from church. The next Gathering, The Fall Gathering, will be held October 24,2015 (Saturday) at First Presbyterian Church in Mesa. When the date is closer we will have more information. Mark your calendar!

We have some events coming up; they are as follows:

  • Wednesday, April 1st - Coordinating Team Meeting, 9:00 am in Annex 2. All officers, coordinators, and Circle Meeting Leaders please plan to attend. We have planning to do for our April 22nd Gathering.
  • Saturday, April 25th - Overview of 2015-2016 Horizons Bible Study. At Faith Presbyterian Church, Sun City. Registration at 8:30 am; Overview begins at 9:00 am and ends at 11:00 am. Leaders: Chris Casanova and Beverly Phillips. The theme is Biblical stories of water: creation, baptism, thirst and longing, God’s deliverance, stormy waters of faith, justice and righteousness, mercy and forgiveness and compassion.
  • Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - Gathering Salad Luncheon at 11:30 am. The program is a Style Show by Drapers and Damons. Models will be our own ladies. We will also have election of officers. This event is not to be missed. Look forward to seeing you all there!
  • Friday,  May 1st - Church Women United May Friendship Day. Willowbrook United Methodist Church, 19390 N. 99th Ave., Sun City. 9:30 am Sign in and 10:00 am Program: “Journey of the Caregiver.”

Let’s rejoice and be thankful for all God has done for us this past year in PW. He has given us leaders and most of all each other.

Blessings to all,

~Diane Nestlebush, Moderator

Thursday, March 19, 2015

April SPIRE Deadline

Monday, March 23, is the deadline to submit an article for the April edition of The SPIRE, our monthly newsletter.  Please drop off your information at the church office or email it to Beth Mabee at bethm@firstpressuncity.org on or before Monday.  Thank you!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

And the Winner Is...

The results of the voting are in, and the Celtic Cross in our courtyard will be completed with a patterned granite circle in its center.  Thanks to everyone who made their preferences known!  The cross will be finished in the very near future.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March Fellowship Dinner Reminder

Tomorrow - Wednesday, March 18, 5:00 pm in Swain Hall 

Back by popular demand—baked potatoes with all the fixings! The program will be “Learning through the Labyrinth.” Labyrinths are rich symbols that have been used in many cultures throughout the world. Find out more about their history and meaning, and learn how to use a finger labyrinth.

The Chartres Labyrinth
And don’t miss these future fellowship dinners:
  • Wednesday, April 15, 5:00 pm—Burrito Bash with an Earth Day program on recycling
  • Monday, May 25 (Memorial Day), noon—Memorial Day cookout
  • Saturday, July 4 (Independence Day), noon—Fourth of July cookout
Your freewill offerings support these and our other fellowship events.

Call the church office at 623.974.3605 to RSVP. And for even more fellowship, consider signing up to be a greeter or to help with setup or cleanup. Many hands make light work!

Monday, March 16, 2015

More Cleaning Action

On Saturday, March 14, the windows at the church were professionally cleaned, including the stained glass windows in the chapel.  Since all the curtains had to be taken down for this to happen, they are being washed before being rehung.  Thanks to Vonda Hagen, who is spearheading the curtain project.

The cleaning activities will continue this Thursday from 9:00 to 11:00 when Tina Trowbridge's Busy Bees meet again.  If you are able to help with dusting, vacuuming, and other light cleaning, please join us then and help to keep the church looking beautiful!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Interior Updates

Good news!  After being held up in the dockworkers strike, the new fabric for the chairs in the Fireside Room has arrived and our upholsterer can begin working on them.

Changes are going on within other parts of the church building, too. The portraits of our senior pastors which hang in the south entry to the Sanctuary are being rematted and reframed so they all match, thanks to a designated donation; the photos of John Barklind and Harrell Davis will also be added to the group. In the meantime, the wall on which they hang has been repainted as an accent wall, making that room look much cleaner and fresher. Thanks to Lee Carlson for the beautiful paint job.

Additional changes to improve the appearance of that area are in the works; stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Don't Forget to Vote!

Thanks to Bill Wentling, we now have enough additional matching bricks to complete the courtyard cross. That means we will choose the central medallion in the very near future. If you haven't already made your preference known, vote for one of the three options in Swain Hall after church this Sunday, or send me an email.

Remember, the three options are:
  • Concrete with a stenciled design; 
  • Patterned granite circle set in concrete; or
  • Plain granite circle engraved with a Bible verse and set in concrete.
 Our central courtyard is well on its way to becoming an even more functional and attractive gathering space.

And it's not too late to contribute - or contribute more - to the capital campaign, and pay forward the blessing of this lovely church and grounds to those who will worship here for the next 50 years. Contact Norma in the church office for details.
~Beth Mabee

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The New Landscaping is in Bloom!

Here are some photos of the new landscaping on the north side of the church campus.  Although the plants have not yet reached full size, they are already looking great!


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Aluminum Can Pickup Discontinued

Please do NOT leave aluminum cans in the Agua Fria Room any longer. Since Harry Wilson has moved to California, we have no one to crush the cans, store them for a year, and take them to be recycled.

Anyone interested in taking over this job, please contact Rev. Davis. We will announce the resumption of recycling if a volunteer steps forward.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Handbells Ring This Sunday

Our Great Bells of Fire Handbell Choir rings at only one worship service every month.  This Sunday, March 8, they will be performing "As I Survey the Wondrous Cross" as the Prelude at the 9:00 am service, so don't miss them!

If you are unable to attend, you will be able to hear their performance - and the rest of Sunday's service - on our website.  The complete recording of each Sunday's service is normally available by the following Tuesday. Click on About Us -> Listen to Recorded Services -> the date of the service you wish to hear.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

One Great Hour of Sharing 2015

If you have not received a fish bank, call the church office at 623.974.3605.  For more information about the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, visit http://specialofferings.pcusa.org/oghs.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Out of Chaos, Hope

(This information is reprinted from a recent Presbyterian Disaster Assistance email.)

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance responds to record-setting storms in the Northeast

New Englanders are still digging out from a series of powerful winter storms that have dumped more than 100 inches of snow within a 30-day period. Coupled with frigid temperatures, the weather has created significant challenges for Presbyterian congregations in Boston and northern New England.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is responding to the Synod of the Northeast’s request for $300,000 and disaster support services to provide emergency relief and long-term recovery in the affected presbyteries. The support will help congregations remove snow from strained roofs and parking lots, seek alternative worship locations during the weather crisis, and support pastors and congregations to pay heating and utility bills.

Members of the PDA National Response Team will be sent to assess the damage to buildings, assist congregations with insurance questions, and determine how volunteers can contribute to long-term recovery.

In this season of Lent, when congregations throughout the denomination receive the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, it is an extraordinary blessing to leverage the collective power of our church’s generosity to respond to the urgent needs of affected congregations and the communities they serve.

Give: Your faithful and generous support of OGHS makes an immediate response possible. Supporting the 2015 offering is crucial. Additional gifts to DR000015 (Disaster Relief – USA Disasters & Emergencies) will help with the long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts.

Act: Learn about congregational care of vulnerable people in cold weather. Prepare now to assemble Gift of the Heart Cleanup Buckets that are often needed following flooding conditions. Like us on Facebook to stay informed and receive updates to share with your congregation.

Pray: Pray for the congregations, pastors, and families impacted by the storms and cold temperatures. Pray for strength for those offering assistance and those who will participate in the recovery efforts in days and months to come.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Capital Campaign Update for March

Spring is just around the corner, and with it the planting season. That must mean it’s time for an update on the Capital Campaign projects, right? Here’s a brief recap:


We recently received the gift of some variegated iris that will be planted around the Memorial Garden, and also more cactus to be sited on the 103rd Avenue side of the church. Kris Coates, our landscape designer, estimates that the danger of cold snaps will be past by the end of March, and these items will be planted then. That’s also when some of the larger bushes remaining will be “stumped back” to regrow into more natural shapes. In the meantime, Bill Wentling is working on weed control, Kris is researching fountains for the Memorial Garden, and the Blue Stake work has been done so our landscaper can begin installing the new permanent irrigation piping on the north and west sides of the lot.

The Celtic Cross

Some of you have been asking when the cross will finally be completed. The bad news: the manufacturer of the bricks we are using recently went out of business, leaving us without enough bricks in our possession to complete the cross. The good news: a stockpile of 1500 bricks still exists, so we are in the process of negotiating the purchase of the remaining bricks we need plus some spares. More good news: because of this delay, if you had meant to have a brick engraved and didn’t get around to ordering it before, you can order it now. Call or stop by the church office with your information. Remember, text for each brick is limited to three lines, with 15 characters (including spaces) on each line. Take a look at the engraved bricks in the corner of the courtyard if you need inspiration.

The other missing piece of the cross is the center medallion. After examining the costs and durability of various options, the Capital Campaign Task force is recommending that we choose one of three possibilities:
  • A solid concrete circle filling the entire 7-foot-diameter hole, with a design stenciled in the middle;
  •  A patterned granite circle approximately 4 feet in diameter, surrounded by a ring of concrete 18 inches wide; or 
  • A plain granite circle, 4 feet wide and surrounded by an 18 inch concrete ring, with a Bible verse engraved on the granite.
Examples of how these options would look are on display in Swain Hall; take a look and vote for your choice!

The Fireside Room

The “missing link” in the Fireside Room is the new upholstery. Due to the size of our order (18 chairs!), the fabric had to be special ordered, and when it arrived, it contained weaving flaws. The fabric was returned and reordered and should arrive within the next few weeks, when the upholstery work will begin. Until then, admire the new paint job on the west wall of the room; the nice blue fireplace bump-out made the rest of that wall look so much worse that Carol Davis repainted it herself. Thank you, Carol!

Of course, the walls in the south entrance to the Sanctuary and the connecting rooms still badly need new paint, and the Sanctuary itself was last painted in 1997. If you haven’t contributed to the capital campaign yet, there’s still time to make a pledge and help spruce up those areas, too!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

World Day of Prayer is March 6

The World Day of Prayer is "a global, ecumenical movement of Christian women joined together to observe a common day of prayer each year on the first Friday of March." 

For more information, visit http://www.worddayofprayer.net/.