Author: AJ Langston

I’m Gonna Sing When the Spirit Says Sing

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I’m Gonna Sing When the Spirit Says SingJanuary 29, 2017

 ​A little fellow was visiting his grandparent’s church. At the door the pastor asked him how he liked the service. With the brutal honesty of a four year old the kid answered: “I liked the music but the commercial was tooo long.”

​The Christian faith is a singing faith. Historians have claimed that Martin Luther won more converts through his hymns than through his preaching.

 There’s something about a fine old hymn

That can stir the heart of a man

That can reach to the goal of his inmost soul

As no mere preaching can

 So we thank thee Lord for the fine old hymns

May we use them again and again

That we may save from a hopeless grave

The souls of our fellow men.

 It’s an old poem and maybe a little hackneyed, but it has at its core the truth that St Augustine expressed, that when we sing, we pray twice.

 ​My mother and father took me to church from the time I was an infant. And after I was old enough to graduate from the nursery, I sat through church services yes the whole thing, from the time I was three or four. So after several years I knew all the great hymns by heart

​When I begain working as a parish associate at Pinnacle Presbyterian Church in Scottsdale in 2012 the custom was for the ministers to process with the choir. We would walk down the aisle of that magnificent sanctuary hymn books in hand, singing our hearts out. Except I usually didn’t carry a hymn book in because there was so much to do just before the service that I often forgot. My boss, the senior pastor, would remind me during staff meetings not to forget my hymn book. I protested I know most of the hymns heart. But, he replied it’s a good example to the congregation to encourage them to sing when we have our hymn books and a bad example when we don’t. So to appease him I would carry my hymn book not turning to the correct page, not ever glancing down, and singing what I had known since I was six years old.  

  • Hannahs Song I Samuel
  • The Song of the Sea Exodus 15
  • The Song of Moses Deut 32
  • The Song of Deborah Judges 5
  • David s Thanksgiving II Sam 22
  • Hezekiah’s Song Isa 38
  • Jonah’s Song Jonah 2
  • Daniel s Praise Daniel 2

 In the NT the gospel of Luke opens with is Mary’s song, the Magnificat, Zechariah’s song, called the Benedictus and Simeon’s song, called the Nunc Dimmitis. Probably the most famous hymn in the NT, and this will surprise you is Philippians 2–let this mind be among you that was in Christ Jesus.

 And Jesus and his disciples concluded the Passover meal–the Last Supper– by singing a hymn and then going out to the Mt of Olives, where Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.  

 People tell me they love the OLD hymns, like the Old Rugged Cross and I Come to the Garden alone. But they aren’t really old at all. The Old Rugged Cross was written in 1913. And I Come to the Garden also in 1913.

 If you really love old hymns you should sing All Creatures of our God and King, written by St. Francis of Assisi in the 12th century, or a Mighty Fortress is our God, written by Martin Luther as the national anthem of the Reformation in 1527.

One last word. There have been more Christian hymns and songs written in the past quarter century than in all the years of Christendom before. If you’ve been in a church with bands and contemporary Christian music, you’ve sung some of them. There are a several I really like: “You are my King”: and two of Bill Gather’s songs “He Touched Me” and my favorite Christian song: “The King is Coming.”

Featured article

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For those who didn’t see, the church was featured in the paper.

Categories: Newsletter

Preschool News

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We hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and we are looking forward to a wonderful New Year. Thank you, to everyone who attended the Children’s Christmas Program.  They all worked very hard to make it special for you and were of course, so excited to have you there.

We will be so busy the next five months.  We will be having a lot of fun and have planned many educational topics to discuss and learn about.  January will be all about life in the winter, snow, the color white and animals that hibernate.  We will also talk about health and nutrition.  Keep your eye out for the calendar and notes on your sign in/out sheets, for additional details.


Thank you for a wonderful fist half of the school year.  I am confident, the second half will be just as great.

God Bless you for all your prayers and support. 

Ms. Lynn, Ms. Sunshine, Ms. Sally and Ms. Jessica

Categories: Newsletter

Note from Joy Foster

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Pastor Terry and Deacon Joy have visited nineteen (19) of our church family members, who for various reasons, are unable to physically attend services, from mid May through mid December., 2016. 

They have provided comfort and sacrament to each and in doing so, received so much more.       

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Church History 1960-1980

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The first women Elders were elected by the congregation in 1963.  During the summer of 1964 the congregation voted to undertake the construction of Christian Education building.  The building was to provide additional classrooms, a fellowship hall and modern equipped kitchen.  The ground-breaking took place on June 5, 1964.   The concrete block building was completed and formally dedicated in the fall of 1964 at a cost of $33,355. Including refrigeration.

constructionIn order to provide more room for the pastor and family, another bedroom, half-bath, family room and covered patio were added to the manse.  This project was completed at a cost of $7,189.70 including refrigeration.

In October 1966 the loan on the Christian Ed building was paid off.  This was made possible by funds for the rental of the facility by the Peoria Public Schools for classrooms.

On April 19, 1967 the Diamond Jubilee (75 years) was celebrated with a congregation of 183 members.  A special cake to feed 200 people was made by Priscilla Cook.

The budget for 1967 was $19,477.00.   Again Pastors came and went thru this period of time.

In 1974 the church rented a bus and many attended the Billy Graham Crusade in Tempe.  The lot facing Monroe Street, south of the church property, was purchased for $9,000.  Average church attendance was 64.  In 1977 a new piano was  purchased for the Sanctuary.  A second lot, adjoining the first was purchased for $11,000.   In April 1979 a mortgage burning ceremony was held to burn the mortgage for the Christian Education building and the manse

Categories: Newsletter

By the numbers

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I write this shortly before Christmas so as you will see as you read on, this report is incomplete.  Nevertheless what I am about to report to you is a resounding confirmation of the health and vitality of the First Presbyterian Church of Peoria.

How does one judge the health and vitality of any particular congregation?  Well, I always figure that if there is conflict and acrimony it’s a sign of ill health.  None of that here   There is love and sweetness and caring and commitment throughout the congregation.

Numbers tell you a lot about a congregation’s vitality.  Here are attendance figures from September through December 13th:


9/6/2015: 69

9/4/2016: 59

9/13/2015: 68

9/11/2016: 65

9/20/2015: 68

9/18/2016: 69

9/27/2015: 57

9/25/2016: 64

10/4/2015: 57

10/2/2016: 71

10/11/2015: 59

10/9/2016: 70

10/18/2015: 65

10/16/2016: 78

10/25/2015: 62

10/23/2016: 81

11/1/2015: 73

10/30/2016: 56

11/8/2015: 69

11/6/2016: 78

11/15/2015: 61

11/13/2016: 85

11/22/2015: 79

11/20/2016: 58

11/29/2015: 76

11/27/2016: 72

12/6/2015: 77

12/4/2016: 106

11/29/2015: 76

11/27/2016: 72

12/13/2015: 75

12/11/2016: 107

12/20/2015: 78

12/18/2016: 118

12/24/2015: 67


12/27/2015: 65


As you can see from reviewing the figures, the overall trend is positive. Some would think that the figures are due to Terry’s groupies coming in droves from Litchfield Park and Scottsdale! No matter what, I’ll take it.

Finances also tell you a lot about a congregation’s vitality. As has been reported to you, we expect to end the year in the black. The positive trend was due to generous giving and having a pastor 2/3 time instead of full-time.

By every measure our stewardship campaign was a success. Here I want to quote from our finance committee.

“In 2016 we had 33 families pledge. Some of those that pledged have passed away which is why we are short. For the most part, everyone has taken care of their pledge.

“HOWEVER, (drum roll please), this year we had 34 families (an increase of 1) pledge! So folks really stepped it up!

“HOWEVER, (drum roll please), this year we had 38 families (an increase of 4 from last report) pledge!”

At the Session meeting on December 12th the Session approved the budget for 2017

Barbara and I thank you all for the royal welcome you have given us. My ministry here reminds me of the old saying, “Find something you love to do and you will never work a day in your life.”

A most blessed Christmas and joyous New Year!

Categories: Newsletter

Session News

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Thank you, Larry Cary for organizing a Pot Luck before this past meeting.  It was good.  Sometimes, it is more fun to eat other people’s food.

The church treasurer reported the income from January 1st through December 10th.  Yay, we are in the black.  However, we CANNOT let our guard down and go back into the red again.  Thank you, church family for all of your support!


Session approved a budget for 2017.  This is Session’s decision.  The congregation approved of the pastor’s salary at the annual meeting held the last of January, 2016.  The date of this year’s meeting is not yet scheduled.

Again, we are taking part in the One Great Hour of sharing, during Lent.  Funds will go to help the hungry.

Our Per Capita tax for 2017 is $34.00 per person, as it was for 2016.  It helps if people pay their own.  If not, the church picks up the tab.  The tax is divided between Presbytery, Synod, and General Assembly for Administrative Causes. 

The church roll is being received for member no longer active here at P.P.C.  The report will be in the clerk’s annual report in January.  I am waiting for decisions by members, at the time of writing this.

Thank you to a recent work “party” for putting up the Nativity Scene and trimming all the aloe vera plants.  It looks better in the front of the sanctuary.

Categories: Newsletter

Souper Bowl

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Souper Bowl Soup Potluck Sunday, February 5th. 


It is time, once again for the Youth’s Annual Souper Bowl event.  They need everyone’s help.  It will be Sunday, February 5th, following church service.

The sign up sheet will soon be available, so you will be able to list your favorite soup(s), that you will be bringing.

The charge to indulge in the variety of delicious soups that will be available is $5 for adults and $3 for kids, 10 and under.  Please bring any canned foods/soups, as well.

All money raised and canned foods collected will be donated to the Agua Fria Food Bank. 

Sign up and bring your favorite soup!

Categories: Newsletter