Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Support Your Local Theater

Carolyn McBurney, from the Presbytery of Grand Canyon, will be appearing during July in the Brelby Theatre Company production of Beyond Musketeers: Utopia Lost. The theatre is located at 6835 N 58th Ave in historic downtown Glendale. For more information about the Brelby Theatre Company or to buy tickets to this show, go to: http://brelby.com/

Monday, June 29, 2015

Love One Another

On Sunday, just a few days after the latest horrific outburst of violence in Charleston SC, I made these comments.
You know when something gets completely out of whack, like your DVR or your thermostat, or your cell phone, you can hit the reset button and everything goes back to “normal.” The reset button wipes out errors and gives you a fresh new start. We need to activate the reset button; we need to reframe; we need a start over because racism, and sexism, and violence continues to traumatize us. We’re out of whack as a nation. We cannot, especially as people of faith, continue to witness events like Charleston or Sandy Hook or Aurora CO and act as if they were somehow unconnected to us.
Violence hurts us too. If you no longer feel the pain of the families who’ve lost loved ones or the suffering of the refugees in the Middle East or Africa or Malaysia, it’s because all that pain has made us numb. But just because we’re numb to pain does not mean it cannot still hurt us. The psychic toll of violence makes all of us its post trauma victims.
I also quoted from a Facebook post by the mother of a little girl who had been killed at Sandy Hook elementary school. Nelba Marquez-Greene, whose daughter Ana Grace was killed along with other first grade classmates wrote on behalf of the families who lost loved ones in Charleston SC. She said:
It’s time for every American to decide which side of history they will be on. It’s time for communities of faith to take a stand against gun violence. Be courageous. Be strong. Let your voice be heard. We cannot afford to wait for our leaders in Washington to lead courageously. Many have refused. If you were waiting for a hero, look in the mirror. The time is now.
As a leader of a community of faith I agree that the time to take a stand is now. We know what we’re called to be and do. Jesus entrusted the ministry he began on this earth to the church, to us. And while there may be dubious confusion about what motivated the Charleston gunman, there is no doubt about what Jesus intends for his followers: “I give you a new commandment,” he said, “that you love one another.” And by saying “when you do this for the least of these who are my brothers and sisters, you do this for me,” Jesus left no doubt that God’s love includes all people.

We’re called by Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be the church. To make a difference; to be courageous; to be strong; to use our voice so that all people may know the saving and transforming love of Jesus Christ. The time is now! So that all the people may live, let it be so.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Guest Preacher in July

During July Rev. Davis will be taking a well-earned vacation and study break.  In his absence we will be enjoying sermons by guest preacher Robert Felix, a documentary filmmaker and ordination candidate.  To learn more about Robert and the inspiring films he has worked on, go to http://dixiletta.com/

Friday, June 26, 2015

Ecumenical Update

Next January, our church will again take part in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, this time as one of the host churches. First Presbyterian and our co-host, Shepherd of the Desert, will be responsible for the worship service and lunch for the week’s kickoff on Monday, January 18. Debbie Thompson and Beth Mabee will be heading up the team to work on this project; they will be looking for helpers as we get closer to the date, both for the worship service (which is run by lay people from the congregation) and for the lunch that follows. For more information about the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, go to the World Council of Churches website at http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/week-of-prayer/.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Meet Dee Henderson!

In the July edition of The SPIRE you’ll read that the Session has agreed to hire an additional part-time staff person for the church office. Dee Henderson is an experienced Presbyterian church administrator who will be taking over much of our publication and scheduling work, freeing Beth and Norma to concentrate on their church growth and financial responsibilities. Here’s what Dee has to say about herself:
In October of 2010 I purchased a home in the Festival Ranch Retirement Community in Buckeye, AZ. I utilized it as a vacation home until March of 2015. Then I moved from my home in San Diego, CA, where I worked as Administrative Assistant at the Southeast Community Presbyterian Church, Pastor Deborah Mitchell.

This was to be my retirement. However, I found that I was just not ready to retire.

A few weeks ago on my morning walk, I asked God to guide me and direct me to find employment and where I could serve Him. He answered my prayer and now I find myself here at the First Presbyterian Church of Sun City, AZ. What a blessing! I am delighted to be here!
You will find Dee in Carol Arseth’s former office Monday-Wednesday afternoons and Thursday mornings. (Items for the Justa Center should now be placed in the Agua Fria Room instead.) She will be responsible for editing our weekly bulletins, scheduling volunteers for participation in worship services, and publishing future editions of The SPIRE, among other duties. We are extremely fortunate to have her join us—please give her a warm First Presbyterian welcome!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Upcoming Northwest Valley Connect Group Trips

Northwest Valley Connect (NVC), a non-profit transportation coordination service that directs community residents to available public, private and volunteer transportation resources based on individual needs, is pleased to announce the following "Group Connect" trips!

Leaving from Bell Rec Center in Sun City:
  • Arrowhead Mall - Wednesdays, July 8 & September 11
  • Tanger Outlet Stores - Thursdays, July 16, August 20 & September 17
  • Arrowhead Crossings (Target & Hobby Lobby)- Wednesday, August 12
  • Riverboat Bingo - Thursdays, July 23, August 27 & September 24
Reservations are required, and a nominal fee is charged for each trip. Call 623-282-9300 Monday-Friday between 1-5pm for departure times and to reserve your ride today, or email to NVCCallCenter@NorthwestValleyConnect.org.

Other transportation solutions available from NVC can be found by calling 623-282-9300 or by visiting NorthwestValleyConnect.org online.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Presbyterian Women for July

As I write this, we are being represented at the Church-wide Gathering of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, by Diane Nestlebush and Ida Borhauer. We look forward to hearing their reports during the fall.

During the summer months it’s a quiet time for PW here at First Church. Monthly gatherings with special programs will resume in September. The new directory will bring us up to date.

The Grand Canyon Presbytery PW Fall Gathering is planned for Saturday, October 24, 2015, 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., with registration at 8:30. First Presbyterian of Mesa is host for this meeting. The theme is Mission matters because God’s people matter. Please plan to attend. A car pool will be organized for the trip.

Also, we are awaiting the details about a Synod-wide PW Gathering to be held in at a Renewal Center in Scottsdale. Remember our recommended PW summer reading. Be sure to have a look at the available books on the shelf in the PW Book Corner. It’s just inside the entrance to Swain Hall.

This year’s Horizon Bible Study promises to be one of the best ever: Come to the Waters takes us through the many instances in the Bible where water has special significance. Copies of the Bible study booklet are being ordered this summer. If you have not yet indicated that you need a copy, please have Sherry Gearhart, coordinator (602)509-2684, add your name to the list.

We need to grow our Circles! Ask any member of our two Bible study Circles to tell you how much belonging means. I remember joining my Circle back in 2004. Our meetings were in the early evening because many of us were still employed or involved in volunteer work during the day. It would take a special effort to leave home after dinner to join the group. It would have been tempting to just stay home and rest! But without fail, during the meeting (devotions, business, and a member-led Bible study) the energy level came back and I was so glad I came! Many lasting friendships have resulted from these meetings and shared PW projects/responsibilities.

We hope more of our ladies will consider belonging to a Circle. Meetings, starting again in the fall in the Annex:
  • Rachel Circle meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 2:30 p.m.
  • Lydia Circle meets on the second Wednesday at 9:00 a.m.
Blessings and Peace,
Marge Hagerman, Co-Moderator (with Lois Rotenberger and Gail Bickel)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Happy Birthday!

Our friend Marie Wasson is shown here celebrating 100 years with Gitta Opatz and Wanda Morrill.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Family and Friends Sunday on Father's Day

This Sunday, June 21, we will be holding our worship service in the Fellowship Hall rather than our Sanctuary, and an assortment of muffins and pastries plus coffee, water, and orange juice will be served.  (The service will be at 9:00 am, as usual.)  The scripture reading for the day is Psalm 148, Praise for God's Universal Glory, and the music-centered service will feature hymns on that theme.  If your family is visiting for Father's Day, be sure to bring them along; because we are meeting in Swain Hall, you will be able to get up and move around if necessary.  Bring your family; bring your friends; bring your appetite and your singing voice, and prepare to have a wonderful time as we praise God and all his works!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Congratulations, Ida!

On Wednesday, May 27, PW Moderator Diane Nestlebush presented Ida Borhauer with an Honorary Life Membership. An Honorary Life Membership in Presbyterian Women, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is conferred upon an individual in recognition of faithful service in church work. At Diane's prompting, Ida told some of the stories of her early days as a minister's wife. Thank you, Ida, for all you have done and still do for our church!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Food Bank Reminder

Summer vacation has started for Phoenix-area school children, so families who rely on the school lunch program during the rest of the year are now responsible for their children’s noon meals. When you are buying items to donate to the Valley View Food Bank for First Sundays this summer, please consider foods like peanut butter that are both nutritious and well-liked by children.

Valley View suggests donations of nonperishable foods which can include but are not limited to:
  • All soups, chili, tomato sauces and paste
  • Peanut butter, jelly and jam, pancake syrup
  • Baby food, baby wipes, diapers and formula
  • Dry mashed potatoes, pancakes, cornbread, biscuit mixes
  • Oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, healthy cereals (cold or hot)
  • Canned fruits and vegetables (reduced sugar)
  • Pasta, brown and white rice, canned and dry beans
  • High protein canned meats (tuna, chicken, salmon)
  • 100% fruit juice (canned, plastic or boxed) and bottled water

We are also continuing to collect items for Valley View’s thrift store. Appropriate articles include:
  • Gently used clothing, shoes, and outerwear
  • Housewares, including bedding, towels, small kitchen appliances, furniture and decorative items
  • Toys and baby items

These donations should be clean and in good repair; please leave them in the Agua Fria Room next to Swain Hall for pickup.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Moving Crew

Thanks to Stewart Porter for this photo of most of the workers who took Swain Hall apart May 31 before the ceiling and carpet work, and put it back together on June 6.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Capital Campaign News

Kris Coates, our Master Gardener, has been out of town, but she will return shortly to oversee the installation of a new tree purchased in memory of Helen Woeller by her Circle.

Other improvements that have brightened the campus recently: the upholstery for the Fireside Room chairs has been completed; the final bricks and the center granite medallion have been installed in the courtyard cross; we were given a new, larger propane grill in time for the Memorial Day cookout; and the new framing, rug, artwork, and slipcovers have been installed in the south entrance to the Sanctuary. Here are a few photos to enjoy:

Redecorated south entry to the Sanctuary

Memorial Day cooks with new equipment

Completed courtyard cross with memorial bricks

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

HIPAA Update

As you may remember, a HIPAA consent form signed by you is required in order for us to list your name in the bulletin when you are ill, add you to the Prayer Partner list of concerns, or have the pastor or a deacon visit you in the hospital or care center. The forms are only good for three years, and 2015 is the year most of the forms we have on file need to be renewed. That’s why we’ve included a new blank form as an insert in the June edition of The SPIRE. (You can also access it here.) Please fill it out and return it to the church office so that we may update your records and be sure that you receive the appropriate level of support from us.

And, of course, even if we have your consent form on file, someone needs to tell us when you are ill, in the hospital, or in need of a home visit. We want to be there for you without relying on rumors for information. Please call us yourself if you are able, or, if you have given a relative or friend a medical power of attorney, be sure to tell that person under what circumstances you would like the church to be notified of your condition.

Thank you!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Preparing the Way

Benjamin Franklin probably said it best: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Proper prep work, as anyone knows who has ever cooked a large meal or painted a room, can make a huge difference in the final results.

Two years ago we started to talk about developing a major marketing campaign to grow the church, and realized that we needed to do some prep work first. We didn’t have a clear identity to communicate, our music program had collapsed on Mary Lou’s retirement, and our facilities were suffering from deferred maintenance. Since then, as a congregation, we’ve identified our strengths. We’ve upgraded our communication vehicles. Bill Gleason, Kelsey McKee, and Sherrill Tyacke have revitalized the musical portions of our worship services. We’ve made our facilities safer, more accessible, more water- and energy-efficient, and more attractive. Now the prep work is done, and we’re circling back to resume those conversations about growing our membership.

The participants in the May 13 brainstorming session confirmed that as we seek to expand, we want the church to be characterized by diversity, inclusion, involvement, and education. So, although our marketing efforts will continue to target church-going seniors in our immediate area, we want to welcome others, too.

Does this mean we expect the demographics of the church to change dramatically? Well, no. For one thing, our name is First Presbyterian Church of Sun City. That alone, as several people pointed out, should keep us from being overwhelmed by 20-something couples with preschoolers. On the other hand, we want to be more visible both inside and outside Sun City itself. After all, we already have church members who live in Wittmann, Surprise, and Tolleson; who says potential new members have to reside within walking distance?

We want to be open to whatever opportunities God offers us.

This summer we will be developing and implementing a formal marketing plan based on the most effective and efficient ways we can find to publicize the church. The brainstorming session, the recent Commission meetings, and the Memorial Day cookout all generated animated discussion and many suggestions as to how to accomplish this. We’ve had general support for amending the church’s mission statement. The Session has decided to keep the gates to the courtyard open during office hours to create a more welcoming atmosphere. We have agreed to try new ways to target potential members, including sending mailings to new residents, personally contacting regular attendees, and generating wider publicity for fellowship events. Additional suggestions continue to roll in—if you have any, please send them to me.

In the meantime, though, remember what I’ve told you before—THE most effective (and least expensive) way to grow a church is by word of mouth. A number of studies have confirmed this; here’s an example:
We found that almost four out of ten of the formerly unchurched indicated that family members were important in their choice of a church. Another one of four said that relationships other than family members brought them to church. That means that 73 percent (48 percent plus 25 percent) of those we interviewed told us about the importance of a relationship in their choice of a church. (Thom Ranier, Keys to Attracting the Unchurched)
Have you been spreading the word?
~Beth Mabee

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Presbyterian Tradition

With the recent modification of the Directory of Worship defining marriage as a union of two persons, The Presbyterian Church (USA) has moved one step closer to marriage equality. Our Ecclesiastical actions mirror the nation of Ireland that approved marriage equality in a referendum of all the people.

Some welcomed change; others have not. One of the classic distinctions of the Presbyterian Tradition is the tension built into a system based on the concept of continual change. Our motto is: Reformed and Always Reforming. What that means is we are committed to the processes of change. We’re committed to openness because we have faith that God is still leading us; God is still transforming us; God is still preparing a way for us to be the church that demonstrates God’s intention for all humanity.

We believe God loves us. Scripture affirms God loved the whole world and sent his Son Jesus to tell us. Jesus also showed us what God’s love looks like. He fed the hungry, healed diseases, broke bread with outcasts and welcomed those shunned by society. He taught us to love one another the way God loves us.

We know what love looks like because we caught a glimpse of it in ancient Palestine. But we live in the Twenty First Century. We live in a world of conflicting opinions and beliefs about all kinds of things. Marriage equality is just one of them. In a world of conflicting and confusing realities, our tradition helps us uncover clarity. Our commitment and openness to change enables us to embrace the options God is revealing to us. When we eliminate options because we’re certain we know the will of God, we’re no longer followers. We’re putting ourselves in the place of God.

Writing about the supposed conflict between religion and science, Barbara Brown Taylor said:
...if God is one, then how can reality be two? If God is the origin of all that is – earth, moon, and stars, as well as spirit, soul, and consciousness, then how can science (which means to tell me the truth about physical reality) and religion (which means to tell me the truth about spiritual reality) be enemies?....If God is truly one and truly God of all, then how can truth be divided?
You could substitute any reality, conflict, or disagreement into Taylor’s formula. If God is love, how can marriage equality be wrong? Here’s what scripture tell us: “The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and all who are in it.” And thus we are open to change; we’re open to possibility. We’re open because it’s our tradition to follow where God leads!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Presbyterian Women in June


This will be the first PW message in The SPIRE since Moderator Diane Nestlebush turned over her leadership duties to a newly-installed “Trio of Moderators.” Beginning now, Lois Rotenberg, Gail Bickel, and Marge Hagerman will share the responsibilities. Lois and Gail will take turns officiating at PW Gatherings, and I will be responsible for communications such as this.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Diane, who not only led our local PW for two years, but became involved in Synod PW leadership as well. She now holds the office of Coordinator, Justice and Peace, for the Synod. Diane also attended Church Women United meetings hosted by various local churches.

It is our pleasure to have Diane represent us at the Churchwide Gathering in Minneapolis, June 18-21. Ida Borhauer will attend, as well. We look forward to hearing their reports in the fall. We are encouraged to purchase $10 Target gift cards for the American Indian Family Center in St. Paul. (Give to Diane or Ida.)

A new PW Directory will be prepared during the summer, listing all Circle members and activities for 2015-16, for distribution in September. The two Bible Study Circles are “Rachel,” meeting on second Tuesdays at 2:30 pm, and “Lydia,” meeting on second Wednesdays at 9:00 am. This year’s Horizon Bible Study promises to be really thought-provoking: “Come to the Waters” takes us through the Bible in its many life story situations—the Creation, Baptism, Absence of Water (Thirst and Longing), Stormy Water (Faith), to name a few topics where water plays an important part. Circle members take turns leading each month’s lesson.

A special appeal to those in our congregation who have not yet joined one of our Circles: Pick the day and time that works for you, and just show up!

Karen Zabriskie is to be congratulated on her “Just Coffee” mission project. She spent many pre-service and fellowship hours bringing and setting up for sale the bags of coffee from Mexico. And Pat Floyd, Diane’s spouse, was her faithful vendor next to the door each and every Sunday. That’s dedication.
~Marge Hagerman

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Justa Center Update

Thanks to Diane Nestlebush and Pat Floyd for delivering the items we’ve been collecting for the Justa Center. They report that the center is now in most need of summer clothing, bottled water, and personal hygiene items such as soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and toilet paper. Please leave your Justa Center donations in Carol Arseth’s old office.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Summer Scheduling

  • The Men’s Breakfast Fellowship has a new summer home. They are meeting at 8:00 on Tuesday mornings at George’s CafĂ©, 10502 W. Thunderbird Blvd.
  • The Bridge group is officially on vacation. A future edition of The SPIRE will announce the resumption of play this fall.
  • The Prayer Partners will not meet until further notice.
  • Invite your family to join us on Father’s Day! Our special worship service on Sunday, June 21, will be held in Swain Hall with refreshments available.

Monday, June 1, 2015

"Just Coffee" Thanks

THANK YOU to all who supported the “JUST COFFEE” project of P.W. by buying coffee.  We sold 100 pounds of coffee, which provides a fair income for the farmers in Chiapas, Mexico. About 22 other churches in Arizona also support this project.  I especially send a BIG thank you to Pat Floyd for manning the coffee table on Sundays and to Stewart and Tina Porter for their continuing assistance.  We were able to donate a few pounds of coffee for our own church’s use as well as to the “Justa Center” in Phoenix because of folks who don’t drink coffee but donated to the project.

  See you in the Fall!
  ~Karen Zabriskie