Category: Newsletter

Note from Pastor Terry

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An interim pastor has one overriding responsibility–to prepare the church for the coming of the next pastor. From the very beginning I have understood that I was not called here to be your permanent pastor I was here for the interim, to help strengthen the church and secure it for the immediate future. I think that’s happened. Finances have stabilized. Attendance is good. The staff is competent. The congregation, as far as I can tell, is content. We do have two looming issues. How do we grow or at least replace those who leave by inactivity, mobility or death? Ten years from now many of those sitting in the pews be worshiping in the church in heaven. And the second issue is the viability of the preschool. The Session has discussed these issues at some length.

At the December Session meeting I told the Session that as I contemplated my future here I had some thoughts. I felt “called”. What began as a “job” had developed into a “call.” A “call” means what the Lord requires of me. I asked Session just to hold on to that thought and we would have a fuller discussion about what that meant in the spring when it came time to renew my contract. At the March Session meeting with our presbytery representative Mary Lynn Walters attending, we had a good discussion about my ministry, about the church, and its future. The upshot of it all was that Session voted unanimously to extend my contract for another year. So I will begin my third year here in May. Let me say again that, as much as I love our church, I have never wanted to be your permanent pastor. I like the fact that you can give me sixty days notice and vice versa. It reminds everyone of my fundamental role–that I am an interim and together we are preparing for the coming of your next pastor.

So how long will I stay and when will the church begin the process of seeking a new pastor? The Session and I have had frank discussions about that. For now we have no time-table. I trust that you will know and that I will know when it’s “time.” I have always wanted to leave a church while I was still wanted. That’s healthy. Right now I feel energized, engaged, and very fortunate to be here. I believe God will reveal to us what’s next.

Categories: Newsletter


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Maybe I wrote about the Pepper tree some time back. If you read about the downed Pepper tree, skip over this and read better articles. If you have not heard about the Pepper tree, stay tuned.

Back, maybe 15 or 20 years ago, we had a Pepper tree in the church yard in front of the older part of the sanctuary and east of the railing and the flower bed.

I do not know where the name Pepper came from, whether the bark or the leaves were ground up for pepper. As far as I was concerned, the whole tree should have been ground up because it was dirty by constantly dropping leaves and causing me to work on the Sabbath. Sometimes we hear the excuse of working on Sabbath, “The ox got in the ditch”. Well, there was no ditch in the front yard for the tree to fall in but it still fell. Read on.

The Pepper tree was old and rotten to the core. It maybe was a transplant from Adam and Eve’s Garden of Eden.

The time was the first part of April. I happened to pass by the church on a Saturday evening about 9pm. The area had a windstorm earlier in the day and old faithful Pepper tree was not so faithful that day. As a matter of fact, Pepper turned out to be faithless. A majority of old faithful fell onto and broke the railing and covered the walkway to the front door. Even Tarzan would have had trouble to get through the downed timber. Even if Jane was inside waiting for Tarzan to join her for worship.

In April the sun is up by 6am or it is light enough to see. I loaded my gasoline powered chain saw and headed for the “woods”. The chain saw is LOUD. Across the street to the east where the garden plots are today, there were four small apartments. I was busy lumberjacking and a lazy sleepyhead yelled out, “Cut the noise out. We are trying to sleep.” I yelled back, “I need to clear the limbs so people can get to church after while.” The sleepyhead mumbled something. I was finished anyway. I hurried to load my saw, axe, gas, and got in the car before I had two black eyes. I did not dare invite him to worship or else I might have been responsible for his bad language, maybe. Anyway the timber is gone, the rail has been repaired, and the worshippers were able to get to the front door. I made it home in one piece and everyone lived happily ever after, except the sleepyhead across the street.

Categories: Newsletter

Billy Graham

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Leighton and Jeanne Ford were members of my church in Charlotte. Jeanne is the sister of Billy Graham and was an elder while I moderated Session. Leighton himself is a wonderful preacher, mentor to young pastors, and internationally known evangelist. Here is the article he wrote for “The Charlotte Observer” upon the death of his brother-in-law.

The Billy I Knew By Leighton Ford

In the early days of Youth for Christ all of us young preachers wanted to be like Billy– the star preacher with the stylish double-breasted gabardine suits, the flowery ties, the piercing blue eyes, the stabbing finger, the voice with a touch of Carolina thunder.

When he preached there was such power and passion and when he gave his invitation to come to Jesus always so many came forward. Almost always.

But not when he came to my home town in Canada to speak at our youth rally. The place was packed. His message was powerful. But when he invited people to the front no one moved.

I was so disappointed. We were sure all of our friends would respond. Billy saw my emotion, came over, put his arm around me, and said, “I am going to pray for you and if you stay humble God will use you.”

That night he also pointed me to Wheaton College where I met and fell in love with his sister Jean. On a cold December night in the old, old Calvary Church, he married us – with one slip of the tongue: he said we had exchanged “wings”! And I literally took “wings” as I preached around the world with him for thirty years.

He was as commanding a presence in person as in the pulpit. After one of his crusades he would come to the family home on Park Road. Mother Graham would serve her special Russian tea. And he would captivate us with his stories of where he had been and who he had met.

For years he was named as one of the world’s most admired men. Yet when he namedropped about famous people he’d been with he was like a farm boy in awe of where he had been and who he had met.

Now I think more now of the personal Billy, than the public one. To his family he was son and big brother Billy, and he showed in so many ways that he cared.

Jeanie was stricken with life-threatening polio in the epidemic summer of 194? Billy and Ruth had just arrived in Chicago for his first pastorate when he learned she was seriously ill. He immediately turned around and made the same long drive back to Charlotte to be with her

Our Debbie had a recurrence of breast cancer (from which she has fully recovered). At Mayo Clinic in Florida she was walking down a hall toward a test she feared might show the cancer had spread. Ahead she saw an old man sitting in a wheel chair. It was her uncle Billy. He was there for a checkup and had found out exactly where she would be. She ran to him, they hugged and cried, and he prayed. Later at his Montreal home she sat on his bed and said, “Uncle Billy, for me that was the best sermon you ever preached. It wasn’t you on a platform, me in the audience. It was you in a wheelchair. I in my fear. Both of us on the same level, with our needs.”

And he was human! Over the years he had many health problems, and he could be a bit of a hypochondriac. We joked that if he had a hangnail it could be a major threat! It was I suspect one way a public man could allow himself to be ordinary.

It’s been poignant to see this man who touched the world, spending his days in bed or in a wheelchair, unable to see or hear much. Yet when we stood by him and sang one of his crusade songs his lips would move in time with our song.

Some time ago I asked if, when God calls him home, he would like his sister to say something at his service. “I would be honored,” he slowly replied.

What would he like her to say? He paused, then slowly said, “He tried to do what he thought he should.” And what was that? In that subdued, aging voice, he said, “Preach the gospel.”

That is the Billy I knew. That is what he did. And that is what he lived.

Categories: Newsletter

Easter Breakfast

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Annual Easter Breakfast served by the youth, to support the youth programs. Join us for breakfast on Easter Sunday from 8:30-10:30am. Don’t worry – there will be plenty of bacon!

We will be raffling off 3 – $25 gift cards and 1 – $50 gift card as well! Raffle tickets are $1 a piece of 6 for $5. Put in as many tickets as you want to up your chances!

Pre-sale tickets will start March 4th – if you can’t make it, you can still support by purchasing a ticket. IF you don’t get a ticket – DO not worry, you are still welcome to join us and pay at the door! There will be plenty to go around!

Categories: Newsletter

Preschool news

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February was a busy month for our kiddos. We talked all about community help, transportation and of course friendship and love for Valentine’s. For Valentines we made Valentine hearts and talked about how much God loves us, and our love for family and friends.

March is another busy month. Spring is on the way and we will be doing a lot of science in the way of planting seeds to watch them grow along with more outdoor activities and enjoy this great weather. We will have wacky and crazy days with Dr. Seuss’s Birthday in March, so please keep a look out for information.

We are in the process of signing up with DES (Department of Economic Security) to start accepting children through DES. This is a great way to get some new enrollments and to get the word out about the preschool. Myself and Mrs. J have filled out all the paperwork, and took a couple of online training classes. We have worked with DES before and are familiar with the process.

Believe it or not we are planning for graduation and our summer program. We have families already singed up for our summer program, we are looking forward to another full fun summer. We had a new kiddo start this month, that now brings us up to 17 enrolled.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers for our preschool. A special thank you to Lynn Schell for her donations to the preschool. Every little bit helps to keep the preschool going and cost down.

Best Regards

Sunshine Tinker, Director

Categories: Newsletter

Annual egg hunt

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Please donate plastic Easter eggs and non-chocolate candy by 2pm on Saturday, 3/24 for our annual Easter Egg Hunt after church on Palm Sunday – March 25th. Note: we will Not be dyeing hard boiled eggs this year, so no need to donate any.

On Saturday, 3/24 at 2pm the youth and anyone who wants to join will be filling the plastic eggs with candy. Bring your tape! We’ll have some extra too! Kids will be practicing for the Palm Sunday palm processional Saturday as well, so make sure they’re there.

Categories: Newsletter

Plaques and Memorials Policy

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Plaques for memorials and / or gifts will be placed on the wood wall just inside the Sanctuary from the Narthex. The plaques will be 2” high, 4” wide, polished brass, with black lettering that is 1/4” tall.

Memorials for the Johnson Memorial garden will be bricks that have the names, dates etc. water jetted into them.

Requests to place ashes into the Johnson Memorial Garden will follow the following rules:

  1. Ashes will be limited to no more than a tablespoon full
  2. Ashes will be placed into one of the large potted plants with the soil being lifted / pulled back for the deposit of ashes and then covered back up.
Categories: Newsletter

Annual Easter Breakfast

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Annual Easter Breakfast served by the youth, to support the youth programs. Join us for breakfast on Easter Sunday from 8:30-10:30am. Don’t worry – there will be plenty of bacon!

We will be raffling off 3 – $25 gift cards and 1 – $50 gift card as well! Raffle tickets are $1 a piece of 6 for $5. Put in as many tickets as you want to up your chances!

Pre-sale tickets will start March 4th – if you can’t make it, you can still support by purchasing a ticket. IF you don’t get a ticket – DO not worry, you are still welcome to join us and pay at the door! There will be plenty to go around!

Categories: Newsletter

Session news from January that didn’t make it into February’s newsletter

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The annual meeting was held January28, after worship. It went smoothly compared to some meetings in past years. We are blessed with our members and so far they do NOT make any waves. Also we have several new members with good ideas for the life of the congregation. End of sermon.

The election of Deacons to serve a term of three years included Dot Bell, Judy Colicelli, Faye Owens, Pat Henningsen, and Jean Salch. Dot, Jean, and Faye are serving their second term of three years each and Judy has served in the past and is coming back on. After serving for six years straight one must go off for at least one year. The same for a Session member, Nomination committee chairman, Seth O’Kelly is working to find two more Deacons to fill the slate of twelve. Going off after a term of three years is Lois Cary. A huge thank you Lois for serving three years.

For Elders to serve on Session we have some new “blood” with new ideas. That is Steve Burt. Steve and wife Sabrina have been in the church family going on maybe two years coming from a similar church near Lake Tahoe where Steve served on Session. Steve and Sabrina “We are glad you are here.” Larry Cary was reelected for another three year term. Having been off of Session for a year and dragging his heels, Ken Johnson was elected for a term of three years along with Steve and Larry.

Sheila Kyer and Pat Powles were elected to serve on the 2018 church nominating committee to seed Deacons and Elders for 2019. They represent the congregation. A Session member will chair the committee and one or two Deacons serve representing the Deacons.

The three new Elders were elected to serve as trustees of the Corporation as required by the State of Arizona. The Session members make up the board of trustees. It is the same people.

Ethel McCarty met with us to discuss some ways to make our financial bookwork more efficient. She left the meeting after a period of discussion. I was lost the whole time because I do not understand the computer or Servant Keeper as well as Quickbooks. Thank you Ethel for whatever you told us. That is not my cup of tea.

Pastor Terry received the resignation John Guy, as they have moved to Casa Grande (in Spanish it is Large House), about 65 miles south on I-10. Thank you John and Katrina for serving in our church family. John served on Session and Katrina served as a Deacon. You will be (are) missed and we wish you well.

Easter Sunday was discussed. The youth (and parents) are serving breakfast as a fund raiser for summer conference fees. The campers need about $3,100 for the group of campers that are going. Any donation of bills or pocket change is appreciated. Thank you!

Categories: Newsletter

Dr. Michael Hegeman Leads Lenten Study at FPC

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Dr. Michael Hegeman will be teaching a Lenten Course called “The Meaning of the Death of Jesus” on the four Tuesdays in March, March 6, 13, 20 and 27 at 12PM.

Michael Hegeman holds a PhD in Homiletics (Preaching) and New Testament Studies from Princeton Theological Seminary where he taught speech, preaching and liturgy courses for ten years. An Arizona resident since 1978, Michael graduated from Grand Canyon University (1990) with a degree in Music Education. Michael taught at the First Presbyterian Academy, formerly housed in the Historic First Presbyterian Church (Phoenix), where he served as an elder before going to Princeton Seminary in 1993. Michael has worked and taught in China and Israel/Palestine and is a composer of choral music, having just recently had new choral works premiered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and the Berlin Cathedral in Germany. Currently Michael teaches courses in Spiritual Studies and frequently lectures on diverse topics dealing with faith and religion around the Phoenix metropolitan area. Michael is currently managing director of the Pinnacle Concert Series and is on staff of the Frank Park Center for Faith and Life.

Pastor Terry Swicegood, in commenting on Hegeman, said, “He is one of the most gifted and interesting Biblical scholars I know.

Categories: Newsletter