Saturday, May 30, 2015

Back to School Projects

Last year’s Back to School project that provided backpacks and other supplies to children at the El Mirage Elementary School was a huge success which we hope to repeat this summer. Once again, PW will sponsor the drive but everyone is welcome to contribute. We will publish details of what the children need and how we will collect the items when we are closer to the start of the fall semester.

You are also invited to participate in the Agua Fria Food Bank’s Back to School Uniform Program. This program targets families residing in the Southwest Valley. The objective is to give assistance to families who don’t have the financial means to provide new uniforms for their children for the upcoming school year. New uniforms are important for the children’s self-esteem and to promote education and learning. In 2014, providing two sets of uniforms per child cost $35. The goal this year is to provide 350 children with two sets of brand-new uniforms. For information and donations (preferably before July), write to:

Agua Fria Food Bank People to People Project
PO Box 845
Avondale, AZ 85323

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Results of the Survey

Thank you to everyone who filled out the Fellowship Dinner questionnaire! We received 38 responses (22 on paper and 16 online), which will definitely allow us to plan our 2015-2016 events with more confidence. We thought you’d be interested in the results, too, so here’s a brief summary.

Three respondents didn’t attend our 2014-2015 dinners. One doesn’t drive at night; one has a restrictive diet; and the spouse of the third doesn’t want to participate. We can’t do anything about that last one, but if you aren’t coming due to food or transportation issues, let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you.

By far the favorite meals were the turkey and the ham. The least favorite was the burritos. The pancakes also trailed in the ratings, but one comment echoed what others have told us before: “If we had pancakes for brunch or lunch I would rate them much higher!” As a result, we’re dropping the burritos and moving the pancakes earlier in the day; next Shrove Tuesday, we will combine the fellow-ship event and the Men’s Breakfast Fellowship meeting into a pancake breakfast open to everyone. We will also look for ways to work some of the other food suggestions we received (pulled pork, subs, soup and sandwich, etc.) into future events.

The three highest ranking programs were the Desert Belles, the handbell choir, and Ed Dawson on the organ. Overall, entertainment programs rated better than informative ones. Suggestions for the future included a mixer, a game night, and more music. We will take these results into account when finalizing the next group of programs.

The preferred time for our dinners was overwhelm-ingly 5:00 pm. People seem to be equally open to Wednesday and Thursday evenings, but more workers are available on Thursdays; for this reason, we will be scheduling most of next season’s dinners at 5:00 on the third Thursday of the month.

Miscellaneous suggestions that we will also be implementing included always having name tags available; publicizing the events outside the church; and serving a meal at the Justa Center as a combined fellowship/mission project.

We are very grateful for the positive feedback we received, and for the willing volunteers who have contributed to the success of our fellowship events. Thank you all! We couldn’t do it without you.

~Carol, Tina, and Beth

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Trinity Sunday 2015

This Sunday - May 31, the Sunday after Pentecost - is Trinity Sunday.  According to the Presbyterian Mission Agency, "On Trinity Sunday we proclaim the mystery of our faith in the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One-in-Three and Three-in-One."

Here is a prayer they suggest for Trinity Sunday:
Holy, triune God,
all that is,
all that was,
and all that ever will be
belongs to you alone.
You have spoken to us
through your Word made flesh.
Now guide us into the truth
by the gift of your Holy Spirit,
so that we may glorify you
forever and ever.
John 16:12-15
For more information about the history and meaning of Trinity Sunday, visit .

Monday, May 25, 2015

Thanks to the Choir

Yesterday was the choir's last performance before their summer break.  We appreciate all they do to make our services more beautiful and worshipful experiences.

During the summer, individuals and small groups from the choir and the bell choir will provide special music in lieu of the usual anthem.  Next week, our talented pianist and organist Kelsey McKee will be in the spotlight.  If you can't be there in person, remember to check out the recordings of our services on our website under About Us -> Listen to Recorded Services.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

More on Email

Over the past two years, our church has collected the email addresses of members and regular attendees and invested in Constant Contact software to send out event reminders and death notices.  This month, for the first time, we sent out an email survey - the electronic version of our Fellowship Dinner questionnaire.  The response was so good that we are gearing up to do more.

The first step will be to allow people to register to attend and/or work at our dinners and other fellowship events via email rather than by calling the office or signing a paper list.  If this proves to be successful, we will consider other possibilities as well.

If you are hesitant about publishing your email address in the church directory but would like to receive emails from the church staff, please send a note to that effect to Beth Mabee at and she will see that you are added to the email list but not the directory.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Meaning of Love

Have you visited our Pinterest site?  We have four different boards: Our Church Campus, Church Events, Our Church's History, and From Around the Web.  That last board contains inspirational and thought-provoking pins from other pinners.

Our most popular pin so far is this one, which has been repinned by 90 people:

Check out today!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

This Sunday is Pentecost

This information is reprinted from the Presbyterian Mission Agency website:

Day of Pentecost

On the Day of Pentecost we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit descending in a mighty rush of wind and flame to inspire the church’s proclamation of Christ’s rising and to empower its mission and ministry to the world. (See Acts 2:1-13; see also Joel 2:28-32.)

The notion of Easter as a season of 50 days ending at Pentecost is patterned after the ancient Jewish festival of seven weeks that extended from the beginning of the barley harvest (on the second day after the beginning of Passover) to the end of the wheat harvest at the Festival of Weeks or Shavuot (see Deuteronomy 16:9-12). The Festival of Weeks later came to be called Pentecost (“50th day”) by Greek speaking Jews. In Jewish tradition, Shavuot also marks the giving of the law to Moses at Sinai; this liturgical link may inform Paul’s discussions of the law and the Spirit (see Romans 8, 2 Corinthians 3 and Galatians 3).

Pentecost is new creation

An excerpt from the Companion to the Book of Common Worship (Geneva Press, 2003, 117-119)

According to the Day of Pentecost story in Acts 2:1-13, God gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower witnesses to the resurrection. Sounds from heaven, cosmic language, the rush of a mighty ruach (wind, spirit, breath) invaded the house in which the apostles gathered, and appeared to them as a burning fire. Tongues of fire touched their nerve centers. A power — the unseen power of God — moved among them and gripped them. The Holy Spirit is unseen, like the wind, which is why the Old Testament calls it ruach YHWH, “the wind, or breath, of God” (cf. John 3:8). The Spirit is the “unseenness of God” working among us.
According to Joel (2:28-29) the ruach is to open everybody to God’s future. People young and old will dream and will have visions of hope; they will be able to loose themselves from the way things are now, because God is establishing a whole new economy of creation. The Holy Spirit breaks us out of our preoccupation with ourselves and frees us to serve neighbors, loosens our grasp on possessions, and sets us to loving people. New creation is what Joel is talking about. Pentecost is new creation.

The book of Acts tells the story of the outcome of Pentecost’s new creation: people witness in word and in deed to the risen Christ. At the outset, the newborn church immediately tumbled out into the streets to witness to God’s mighty works in the languages of people all over the world. By the end of the story, a tiny, Spirit-filled community of faith that broke from its present order has spread across the continents with incredible power to bring new things into being. With the gift of the Spirit, all things are possible. …

Therefore, on the Day of Pentecost, we celebrate God’s gift of Holy Spirit which draws us together as one people, helps us to comprehend what God is doing in the world, and empowers us to proclaim, in word and in deed, God’s plan of reconciling all people in the name of Christ (Ephesians 1:10).

Without the gift of the Spirit, Christ’s church dries up and withers away, and we are left with only our broken selves. With the gift of the Spirit, all things are possible. A spirit-filled community of faith opens eyes to needs in the world and sees its missing as God’s new people. The Day of Pentecost is the climax of the Great Fifty Days of Easter, celebrating as it does the gift of the Spirit to the body of Christ — the church.
Wear red (or orange) to church on Pentecost to celebrate the fire of the Holy Spirit!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Heritage Sunday 2015

The following information courtesy of the Presbyterian Historical Society:

Faith in God: Abraham Lincoln's Funeral Sermon


150 years ago, on April 19, 1865, Reverend Phineas Densmore Gurley (1816-1868), Chaplain of the United States Senate and first pastor of the prestigious New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., delivered the funeral sermon for President Abraham Lincoln in the East Room of the White House. Many orations marked the occasion of Lincoln’s death on April 14, 1865, but Gurley’s “Faith in God” is among the most famous. The original manuscript sermon, handwritten by Gurley, is preserved at the Presbyterian Historical Society.

The Lincoln family attended services at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church for four years between 1861 and 1865. The pews they rented were located six rows from the pulpit, on the right center aisle. Reverend Gurley quickly became a friend and confidant of the Lincoln family. Desiring privacy during midweek prayer services, Abraham Lincoln arranged with Gurley to access his private study, where he could slip in through a side door and listen in on services. The President came to admire Gurley’s rhetorical gifts as a preacher, and on occasion, Lincoln would call Gurley to the White House, seeking his advice on matters as pivotal as the writing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

When Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre, Gurley was among the few summoned to the President’s bedside, remaining with him until his death the following morning. Four days later, Gurley delivered “Faith in God” to six hundred guests at the President’s funeral. The sermon takes its name from what Gurley described as Lincoln’s “abiding confidence in God.” He wrote: “Never shall I forget the emphatic and deep emotion with which he said, in this very room … ‘My hope and success in this struggle rests on that immutable foundation, the justness and goodness of God.’” The sermon also reveals how Lincoln’s pastor viewed his place in history. Gurley writes that no man since George Washington was “so deeply and firmly enshrined in the very hearts of the people.” Above all, he sought to bring meaning to Lincoln’s death, stating: “Where reason fails, with all her powers, There faith prevails, and love adores.”

Read a printed version of "Faith in God" transcribed from the original manuscript and published by the Presbyterian Historical Society in 1940. [Available on Internet Archive.] See more at:

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Celebrating our Loved Ones on Memorial Day

Did you know that Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day, and that it was started to honor servicemen who died in the Civil War?

The Civil War was the largest conflict ever fought on American soil and resulted in the establishment of the first national cemeteries. In 1862 General John Logan, representative of a veteran’s organization, called for the establishment of May 30 as a day “designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”1

Over time Decoration Day became known as Memorial Day instead, and expanded to include first the fatalities of other wars and then friends and relatives who had not died in military service. Moina Michael suggested the wearing of red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of WWI casualties in 1915, and the VFW began selling artificial “remembrance” poppies shortly before Memorial Day in 1922.

Memorial Day became an official federal holiday celebrated on the last Monday in May in 1971 as a result of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The “National Moment of Remembrance Act,” passed in December of 2000, asks that all Americans at 3:00 pm local time on Memorial Day “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.’”2

Today Memorial Day is considered to be the start of summer, and is celebrated with picnics and parades. Join us at noon on Monday, May 25, to honor both traditions with the first of our summer cookouts, and with a short blessing to celebrate the completion of our courtyard cross with bricks commemorating those we remember with love.

Monday, May 25, 2015, Noon 
Memorial Day Cookout and Courtyard Blessing

1 Quoted by at
2 Quoted by US Memorial Day at

Friday, May 8, 2015

Guest Preacher This Sunday

Rev. Davis is on vacation this week, so documentary filmmaker and preacher Robert Felix will be speaking in his place.  The title of the sermon is "God's Dear Love;" don't miss this special occasion!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Getting Together

The Fellowship Dinner subcommittee of the Congregational Care and Outreach Commission is planning the schedule, food, and entertainment for our 2015-2016 gatherings, and they need your help.  Please take a few minutes to print this questionnaire, complete it, and mail it back, drop it in the collection plate on Sunday, or leave it  in the church office during regular business hours.  The more people who respond, the better our events will be!

1. How many of the 2014-2015 Fellowship Dinners did you attend?
o None     o 1-3     o 4-6     o more than 6

If “None,” please explain why: 

2. Here are the main dishes served at this year’s Fellowship Dinners, plus the Good Friday Fish Fry.  Please number them from 1-9, with 1 as the menu you liked best and 9 as the menu you liked least.
__ Hot Dogs & Burgers     __ Holiday Ham                __ Loaded Baked Potatoes
__ Pizza Buffet                    __ Homemade Soup        __ Fried Fish
__ Thanksgiving Turkey     __ Pancake Supper          __ Build Your Own Burrito

What other kind(s) of food would you like to see served? 

3. These were the programs for this year’s Fellowship Dinners.  (No programs at the fish fry and most of the cookouts.)  Please number them from 1-8, with 1 as the program you liked best and 8 as the program you liked least.
__ Flag history, retirement     __ Desert Belle singers     __ The Labyrinth
__ John Leo, harmonica          __ Humane Society           __ eGreen Recycling
__ Handbell concert                __ Ed Dawson, organist

 What other type(s) of programs would you enjoy? 

4. Which day(s) are you able to attend the Fellowship Dinners?  (Check all that apply.)
o Wednesday     o Thursday     o holidays     o None of those

If “None,” please explain why: 

5. Which starting time(s) can you attend?  (Check all that apply.)
o Noonish     o 5:00 pm     o 6:00 pm     o None of these

If “None,” please explain why: 

6. Any other comments that would be helpful to the event planners:

Thank you for your response!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Called into Relationship

God has no hands but ours, no bread but the bread we bake, no prayers but the ones we make, whether we know what we are doing or not. When Christians speak of the mystery of incarnation, this is what they mean: for reasons beyond anyone’s understanding, God has decided to be made known in flesh. Matter matters to God. The most ordinary things are drenched in divine possibility. Pronouncing blessings upon them is the least we can do…. Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World. HarperCollins. New York. 2009.
What you seek is seeking you…. Jalal al-Din Rumi, ca.1200.
Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing…. Jesus, John: 15:4-5.
Long before Jesus arrived, the wisdom of the prophets declared the mystery and abundance of God’s love, God’s presence, God’s saving grace. About the time Jesus began his ministry, John the Baptist declared: “prepare the way.” Some thought he might be Elijah, the Old Testament prophet come back to life. Others thought he might be the Messiah. But John said:
I am not the Messiah … I baptize with water … the one who is coming after me … I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal … he will baptize with the Holy Spirit.
The revolution in thinking Jesus unleashed transformed humanity’s understanding of God’s will and our purpose on earth. Jesus manifested in his own life a relationship with the divine. Jesus taught us that relationship was God’s intention for all humanity. Jesus showed us that relationship made all other considerations secondary.

“Love God, love your neighbor” was Jesus’ summary of the law. According to common wisdom no law was less important than any other law, which made people’s lives a burdensome and tedious exercise. Jesus summarized all laws by establishing relationship as the context for our connection with God and the purpose of religion.

If you are ever asked the question: what is the purpose of it all? This is the answer:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
God calls us into relationship. To be bread for the world, to pray whether we know what we’re doing or not, to bear fruit … to be Christ’s Church.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Presbyterian Women in May

Fashion show coordinator and models
What a wonderful spring we have had at PW. It has been a busy time and we are winding up our Bible Studies in our Circles.

We had a great Gathering on April 22nd. The salad lunch was so good (thank you ladies for the delicious salads). We had 8 guests from Faith Presbyterian Church. We all enjoyed the Style Show by Drapers and Damons. The models were Beth Mabee, Dawn Nolan, Fran Gehm, Betty Hanneld and Diane Nestlebush. Thank you to everyone who participated making this an enjoyable event for all.

Good News. Five ladies from our church attended the Overview of our next Bible Study, “Come to the Waters.” It was held at Faith Presbyterian Church and presented by Rev. Bev Phillips and Christine Casanova. We are excited. It promises to be interesting to teach and understandable. It will allow for some very good conversations relating to the scriptures.

Do you have any old Bible Study Books you would like to give away? You can give them to Diane Nestlebush. Just put them in the PW Box in the office or give them to me directly. They will be given to a prison ministry.

At the Gathering on April 22nd the following slate of Officers and Coordinators was voted on and approved.

Moderator Team : Lois Rotenberger, Gail Bickel and Marge Hagerman
Vice Moderator: Fran Gehm
Secretary: Jan Partello
Treasurer: Norma Mack

Bible Study: Sherry Gearhart
Action and Fellowship: Billie Lewis
Mission: Karen Zabriskie
Music: Vonda Hagen
Search Committee: Diane Nestlebush and Billie Lewis; 1 Vacant Position

  • There will be an Installation of Officers on Wednesday, May 27th, at our Spring Tea Gathering at 1:30 pm. Please plan to attend if you can and support these new officers as they begin their new service to our PW. They need your prayers and good wishes as they plan activities for the next two years.
  • Friday, May 1st is Church Women United “Friendship Day” at Willowbrook United Methodist Church, 9:30 am. We will be taking our Least Coin Money to be dedicated at this meeting.
  • The PW Coordinating Team will meet on Wednesday, May 6th, at 9:00 am. Please plan to attend, Officers and Coordinators.
I am so happy to be attending the Churchwide Gathering in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 18, 19, 20 & 21. Ida Borhauer will also be attending. You have an opportunity to participate by purchasing $10 gift cards from Target. Give these to Diane or Ida to take to the Churchwide Gathering. The gift cards will be given to the American Indian Family Center in St. Paul. This program supports Native American families by valuing and strengthening the American Indian community and its culture. The AFIC runs the Wakanyeja Indian Pi (Our Children are Sacred) Program which provides direct services to Native American women during prenatal and postnatal periods. Classes are offered on parenting, nutrition and good health.

My two years as Moderator are coming to an end. The time has literally flown by. God has truly blessed me these last two years. I have gotten to know you better and have learned so much. My humble thanks to all of you for helping me in this task. You volunteered, listened to me, gave me your honest opinions and were always there.


I have agreed to be a Coordinator- Justice and Peace for Presbyterian Woman in the Presbytery. You will hear from me from time to time as I learn. I consider Churchwide Gathering to be my baptism into this new endeavor God has given me.

Peace and Blessings to all,
~Diane Nestlebush, Moderator

Monday, May 4, 2015

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance responds to earthquake disaster in Nepal

This article is reprinted from an email from The Presbyterian Outlook:

The death toll from the massive earthquake in Nepal continues to rise. Nearly 4,000 are known dead and more than 6,000 were injured when the 7.8 quake struck just west of the capital of Kathmandu on April 25. The quake, the worst in more than 80 years, along with many serious aftershocks has also caused damage in parts of India and Bangladesh.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is providing emergency relief and short–term recovery in the impacted areas through our partner, ACT Alliance and its members who are already on the ground. Immediate response will help provide needed food, water, supplies and medicine to the impacted towns and villages. As long term recovery plans are developed, PDA will accompany and further financially support our partners in the area to insure that a comprehensive recovery is sustained.

The needs for the response will be great. God’s people are once again called on to stand in the “GAP” – Give. Act. Pray.

Give: Financial support for relief efforts can be designated to DR999999 with reference to Nepal. Gifts can be made online, by phone (800) 872-3283 weekdays between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. (EST), or checks can be mailed 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.

Pray: Pray for those who suffered loss of family or those who are working tirelessly to provide rescue, humanitarian aid, and spiritual and psychological support.

For more information, visit

“And after the earthquake….the sound of sheer silence, and a Voice said: ‘what are you doing here?'” (1 Kings 19:12–13)

Be the presence of God with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance for the people of Nepal.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Busy Bee Break

The Busy Bees have done such a good job of cleaning around the church campus that they will be taking a well-earned rest until the fall. Tina will let us know when their activities will resume.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Small Electronics Recycling

The speaker from eGreen IT Solutions at the April Fellowship Dinner told us that any electronic item with a cord or a battery can be recycled. Throw your dead gadgets in the recycling can in the Agua Fria Room and we will see that they are properly disposed of!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Men's Breakfast Fellowship Vacation

Tuesday, April 28, was the last meeting of Men’s Breakfast Fellowship until next fall. Watch this space for the date that meetings will resume.