Category: Newsletter

125th Anniversary

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As we approach the church’s 125th Anniversary, I thought it might be appropriate to look at the ministers/pastors who have led this congregation through all these years.  As I researched, I found we have had several interim pastors,. As you look at the dates, you will notice several pastors within one year.  If you are really interested in the history of Peoria First Presbyterian Church, please see me. We have several copies of the history in the office. I would be glad to get a copy for your reading pleasure.  By the way, this church turns 125 years of fellowship and service to Peoria on April 10, 2017. 

Larry Cary

Peoria Presbyterian Church Ministers

Henry A. Thompson1893-1897
J. McS. Gardiner1897-1898
Richard T. Bell 1898-1899
John W. Quay 1900-1901/td>
Herman B. Mayo 1901-1902
Duncan Brown 1902-1902
Robert Ballough 1906-1909
W. A. Posey 1909-1910
C. L. Corwin 1910-1913
Elmer S. Chaffee 1913-1916
Cornelius Dugger 1917-1925
A. Harry Severson 1925-1929
J. Coad 1929-1931
D. L. Moffatt 1931-1931
Raymond L. Edie 1931-1935
George W. Thomas 1935-1936
Benjamin H. Freye 1936-1941
William C. Isett Jr 1941-1943
Anthony K. Locker 1943-1944
Earl M. Ward 1945-1946
Stewert R. Sheriff 1946-1947
Lucian T. Knotter 1947-1947
Leonard A. Marquardt 1947-1951
George Walker 1951-1952
Benjamin E. Bollman 1951-1957
Claude L. Morton 1957-1958
Thomas Schellingerhout 1958-1963
Harold M. Heath Jr 1964-1968
Marshall S. Pinkerton 1968-1968
Robert Lippincott 1969-1980
Christie Swain 1980-1981
Richard E. Penaluna 1981-1982
Samuel S. Logan 1982-1988
Jack H. Prichard 1989-1989
Paul Kohler 1989-2000
Harold Borhauer 2000-2000
Paul Soderquist 2000-2002
Helmi Fulton 2002-2002
Patricia A. Young 2002-2016
Categories: Newsletter

Happy Birthday Lester

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For the past year, Lester has been saying he hopes to make it to maturity on July 23, 2016. Well, he made it on his walker and worn out eyes, but with a good sound mind that outshines the sun. In the worship service on July 24th, we had special music dedicated to Lester and his late wife, Sybil. The church was full and Pastor Terry preached on staying active. Do not just sit idle, but use the life given to us for the glory of God. That is what Lester has done and continues to do.

On Sunday, July 17th and again on the 23rd, Lester played the piano before and during the worship service. He cannot read the fine print of the music, but he played be ear. The sanctuary was full. We need to have a “LESTER DAY” every Sunday. Following worship, we had a birthday party. The ladies hosting the party did not want to burn the place down, so instead of 100 candles on the cake, they had one “100”, candle on the cake. The tables had beautiful decorations that added to the occasion.

We heard about the Dray’s first Sunday at P.P.C. Unbeknown to the Drays, it was HAT DAY with the congregation wearing a “special” hat, some fancy and some old and ragged. Lester and Sybil wondered what is going on here as they entered the sanctuary, but they came back and joined in 1994. Both being ordained Elders from Houston, they have been good for P.P.C. Sybil has been gone a few years, but Lester still expresses concern about our financial situation and what we need to do. He is unable to drive or pull weeds at a work “party”, but he does his share of praying, planning and calling.

He served his country during WW II and in the Army for 16 years, and the Army Reserves. Upon his discharge, he worked for Shell Chemical. Shell retired him at age 60. The next day, he was hired as a professor at a college in Houston, then retired at age 75.

What a blessing to have Lester and Sybil in the P.P.C. family. Like the chorus goes, “GOD IS SO GOOD”. LESTER, WE LOVE YOU!

Your church family,

Ken Johnson

Categories: Newsletter

HART Pantry

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HART PANTRY needs your help to get 100 at-risk teens ready to return to or begin High School on August 10th. We will be serving Peoria High School, Raymond Kellis HS, FLEX Academy, Centennial HS, Ironwood HS; Peoria Accelerated HS and Wickenburg HS. Backpacks will be packed and delivered by August 5, 2016.

Following is a list of the supplies needed by each student entering classes in these schools. HART PANTRY through the donations of our sponsors will try and equip each homeless and at-risk teen with the tools that all of their peers will have.

We are providing drop-off boxes in the social hall and the church office for your convenience. Anyone wishing receipts for their donations, please ask Dick Langford; HART PANTRY is a 501(c) 3 charitable organization and therefore your donations are tax deductible.

Thank you for helping us help our kids.  



  • BACKPACKS suitable for high school students
  • FILLER PAPER AND DIVIDERS   college rule
  • PENS
  • COMBINATION LOCKS suitable for lockers
  • MEN’S ANKLE SOCKS medium, large, extended sizes
  • WOMEN’S SOCKS   shoe sizes up to 10

Thank you for your support.   

Questions?   Call Lois Cary or Kathy Calderon

Categories: Newsletter

New Elders

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We are pleased to inform you of First Presbyterian Church of Peoria’s newly appointed Elders; Mr. Seth O’Kelly and Mrs. Shannon Langston.   Please read each of their biographies below and on the following page.  We look forward to and welcome their dedication and commitments as our Elders. 

Seth O’Kelly

Seth O’Kelly was born in Dallas and grew up in McAllen, Texas. There he became very active at First Presbyterian Church. He attended camps at Mo Ranch near Kerrville, and Summer Place in Port Aransas for several years and has many fond memories of his time at camp. In high school he was honored to be a Youth Advisory Delegate to the General Assembly in 1993.

He graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Industrial Distribution. He moved to Glendale in 1999 to begin working for Cameron Ashley Building Products which later was acquired by ABC Supply Co, an exterior building products distributor. He is an Outside Salesperson.

Seth and Lisa O’Kelly have been married since 2000. They have two children, Megan and Parker and they keep him very busy. In his spare time, Seth enjoys watching sports, especially college football and his beloved Texas Aggies. He also likes to experiment with foods on his smoker, which he bought for his birthday last year.

Shannon Langston

For those of you who may not already know me, my name is Shannon Langston.  This summer AJ & I will have been married 16 years. We have two great kids; Lizzie (almost 11), and Tommy (9 ½).  Family is important to me.  I’ve always felt that taking care of my family is my number one job.  God comes first of course, then family… Church, work, etc. comes next.

Because of some medical issues I don’t hold a full time job.  This allowed me to be with my kids and to help the church more!  I was baptized and raised Lutheran, but left the church in my late teens. AJ grew up coming here with Alan & Cathy on and off. When Alan had some of his surgeries about 13 years ago, I was introduced to First Presbyterian Church of Peoria. It was amazing to see how the people here had such an outpour of love and concern over him and his family.  At some point I felt God drawing me toward the church. The community and friendship here, is like nowhere I had seen.

I was asked to help with Sunday school as soon as they heard I had some teaching experience.  In 2006/2007, I became the Sunday School Superintendent. This allowed me to help choose and implement the children’s curriculum with the guidance and assistance of the Pastor. I had also agreed to direct VBS that year. Six years ago I sat with Pat and the chair of Christian Ed, and agreed to coordinate all the education, from youth to adults for the church and was given the title of Christian Education Coordinator. I now research, choose, train on and implement the kids Sunday school and youth group programs. Continue directing VBS, and work with the Pastor on choosing and teaching adult Bible & book studies, as well as adult Sunday school.

Being part of the education of this church and the community here as a whole has had a profound effect on who I am and what I want to be when I grow up; it is my passion!  In January 2015, I began taking classes for a Certificate in Ministry from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, TX online. Each class is 10 weeks long & I must have 7-8 classes to complete it. Once I am done, my goal is to eventually become a Commissioned Ruling Elder (used to be called a Commissioned Lay Pastor). This process can take a long time, and I am hoping to be done in about 2 years. This education and process really aligns with my passions.

I am also involved at the Presbytery level.  In August 2015, I was asked to sit on the Congregational Resources Team Committee for our Presbytery.  In short, this team helps to review grant applications, review recommendations for possible new worshipping communities (aka: new churches or outreach worshipping), leadership training in the Presbytery, and others.

My dream with all of this is to further assist in the life and growth of our church, the life and growth of the Presbytery and to spread the message of God by doing so.

Thank you for taking your time to learn more about me and your ongoing prayers and support!

God Bless, 

Shannon Langston

Categories: Newsletter

Preschool News

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sand-summer-outside-playingWe are starting our 6th week of summer camp.  The children are really enjoying all the water days, movie days, science and art days. 

When the weather cools off just a little more we will start walking to the library for story time and picking out books.

All of the staff is getting excited about school starting August 1st.  We had to say our goodbye’s to Ms. Joy, who decided to stay at home for a while.  We  welcome Ms. Sally as our 3 year olds new teacher.   We are starting lesson planning for the fall and will have an orientation day for all family members to attend.  We want everyone to have all the information to help make a successful school year for everyone.

We have a couple of families that could use a little help with tuition this year.  If you find it in your heart and budget to donate a little , it would be greatly beneficial to these children.

We currently have 15 children committed for the fall enrollment, with a capacity of 25.  I think this is a very good start.  If you know of any family who is looking for a preschool home, we would love for you to direct them our way. 

Thank you for all your prayers, donations and helping hands through-out last year and during the summer.

God bless.

Categories: Newsletter

Newsletter Correction

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New Members

June’s Newsletter announced our newest church members.  However, Cathy Calderon was not mentioned.  This error was of course, unintentional.  Cathy, please accept my personal apology and Welcome to First Presbyterian Church! We are so happy you’re here!

Categories: Newsletter

PW News

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The sewing Circle has made 40 book bags for Agua Fria School kids.  We need to fill them, as we do every year.  We already have all the scissors, crayon and pencils.

The following is a list of items we do need;

Glue Sticks, Spiral Notebooks – Wide Rule

Pocket Folders, Pencil Holders, Erasers, Pencil Sharpeners, Colored Pencil

School Supplies go on sale right after the 4th of July.  The School Bags will be given out to the children, near the end of July.

Your support is greatly appreciated

Categories: Newsletter

Memories from our church family

Sunday May 1st, in worship was the first time I had seen Marge Vowles since her husband, Earnest’s death on March 18th.  I got to thinking that I had not written an article about a life to be remembered…Ernie’s.  I could give several excuses for the delay of writing, but when I was in the army and had to report an action to my superior, the reply was to be, “NO EXCUSE SIR!”.  So, lets go on with the story.

I called Marge and she just wanted to talk.  The time of day was close to her appointment so she talked fast.  I wish that I knew shorthand.  I missed some of the   information, but I did get the important parts.  Marge named about four different health problems that Ernie had and I missed all four of them, so the safest thing to say is, Ernie was in poor health.  Ernie and Marge sat in the very northeast corner of the sanctuary.  Often during Ernie’s last days, Marge was by herself.  Ernie just did not feel like coming to worship, but he was there in spirit.

Born in Bristol, England, Ernie came stateside at the age of 12.  Later he served his country in the army, for four years.  As a civilian, he was a trucking company clerk for 25 years, listening to customers complaints about their damaged freight.

In his prime years, Ernie weighed over 200 pounds.  In the not so good years he withered to skin and bones.  For some time, he wanted God to take hi, and Marge even prayed the same message.  She began to doubt if there was even a God who would let Ernie suffer so.  Ernie passed away with no pain, so maybe God was waiting for a painless day for Ernie’s homecoming.

On March 17th, one of their daughters prepared corned beef and cabbage.  This is the same day that Ernie was admitted to the hospital E.R.  The following day, he went onto Hospice and passed on the 18th.

Marge had a stressful 2 years, 24 – 7.  Often death can be a blessing.  Sure, we miss Ernie, but not one of us want to go through as Ernie did the past couple of years.  My opinion from talking to Marge is, her faith has been restored and she plans on continuing holding down the corner pew on Sundays for worship.


                          From Your Church Family, We Love You!

      Ken Johnson


If you did not know Charles Dawson, after you read this at least you will know of him.  The family has been in our church gamily for maybe a couple of years.  The family that we know is Charlie’s wife, Sarah., their daughter, Debbie and her husband, Tome Gilchrist, and Tome and Debbie’s daughter, Emma who is of Jr. High age.

Charlie passed away April 27th, of this year.  Up until maybe a couple of months ago, the family held down a pew near the north wall of the sanctuary.  Emma is always anxious to sit up front for the children’s sermon and then our the door for Sunday School.  Due to poor health, Charlie was not able to attend worship, but the rest came.  As time went on, Sarah shared with us that the last days of Charlie’s life were difficult.  A sad thing to see is a person with a strong body and the mind failing.

Charlie was raised in Portland, OR.  In 1950, he attended Eastern Oregon College in La Grande.  That is where he met the love of his life for 63 years, Sarah.

Charlie served his country in the US Navy during the Korean war.  After his discharge, he joined Traffic Safety Supply Company in Portland, where he served as president until retiring in 1989.  He testified before congress on highway and work zone safety as president of American Traffic Safety Services Association.  Charlie had a firm handshake and his smile proved it was his pleasure to meet someone.  This is one  of the reasons, that made him a successful business man.

Charlie’s greatest joy was his eight grandchildren, his wife, Sarah, a sister, three sons, and daughter, Debbie.  It is safe to say that Charlie was loving family man.  I missed Charlie’s services, but was told by several people what a good service it was and that his son gave such a good eulogy. 

Sarah and Charlie were ordained as Ruling Elders in Tucson.  His burial was at the National Cemetery with military honors.

P.P.C. is thankful for the time that Charlie worshipped with us, and he is now at peace with his Lord with a well deserved time of pace without having to worry about traffic safety.


Ken Johnson


Categories: Newsletter

From Session


The May Session meeting was good meeting with perfect attendance.  It was also the first meeting with our new interim pastor, the Dr. Terry Swicegood.  We are down to six Elders on session, and this number needs to increase in the future.  It is debatable at this time, as to how many should serve on session. 

I feel like I am expressing for all of the session, that we feel we have a good year ahead with Dr. Terry.  We, as a congregation are fortunate to have him so quickly.  Now, we can NOT leave out his wife, Barbara.  She is small, but perhaps she is powerful in getting him, “TO THE CHURCH ON TIME”.  Barbara and Terry, “WE ARE GLAD YOU BOTH ARE HERE!”.

We have  new financial secretary, Lisa O’Kelly.  Lisa has a degree in accounting, so if the shoe fits…  Lisa replaces Donna Davis who is now the Church Treasurer.  Lisa has joined the bell choir.  WELCOME LISA, but do not let us overload you.  Sunday, the 15th, was Lisa’s first Sunday with the bells.  Her son, Parker, was sitting in the back row of the south side.  He stood up while mom was playing, so he could see her.  Also, daughter, Megan had her eyes on mom.  After the choir played, Parker said, “mom”,  unfortunately, I was unable to hear what followed, but his actions made my day.  Thank you, O’Kelly’s for being a part of P.P.C.

Approval was given to participate in the CROP WALK on November 6, 2016.  Approval was also given to have a future fund raising event at Barros Pizza, as well as a Coupon Book Fundraiser Sale by our youths.  The books will sell for $25 each and the youth will receive $10, for each one that is sold. 

We have seven youths attending summer conference at Flagstaff as our own Montlure near Greer has not recovered from the forest fire a few years ago.  I think it is the vegetation that needs to grow.  Approval was given to send a check of $2,525 to cover the cost for the campers. 

The Moderator’s, Deacon’s Treasurer’s and all committee reports were all received.

Again, Swicegood, “We are glad you are here!

The next regular session meeting is June 13th at 5:00 PM.

Ken Johnson

Clerk of Session

Categories: Newsletter

Letters from the congregation

May 9, 2016 – Monday Morning

Dear P.P.C. Family,

This is just a note to bring you up to date with us.

We had a nice trip home and when we got to Sequim, the sky was a beautiful blue and wonderful warm sun – mid 70’s and it has been lovely ever since.

On Saturday with my chair and a rake, I was able to get out and do a little yard work (and does this yard need a lot of work).

Last Friday, my sister, John and I had an appointment with my new Dr. (an oncologist/hematologist) and the results of that is that I have an incurable blood disease named MDS.  I have had another blood transfusion and I hope to get away from these.  Also, this week, the Drs will put a port in so I will not have to have so many needles “stuck in me”.  I have been told that I will be much happier when I get this port.  I have good days and bad days, but Dr. Norman told me that he would het me to the point that I will be able to play golf and do other things that I enjoy doing.  So onto chemo., etc.

I have been overwhelmed with all of the cards and support from the Church members.  My thanks goes out to everyone for their wonderful cards, prayers and support for us.

Blessing to all,

          Karen Postma

Categories: Newsletter