Category: 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

We Stay

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“There were … women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome; who, when [Jesus] was in Galilee, followed him, and ministered to him; and also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.” (Mark 15:40-41)

There is a phenomenon in nursing training, I am told, called the discipline of staying. The doctors may come and go, fleeing if need be from what they cannot control or alleviate; but the nurses stay. They are taught this business of “staying” to look on that which others cannot bear: the suppurating wound; the face horribly disfigured by burns; the gangrenous limb which awaits amputation; the agony of death itself.

The synoptic gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke – all agree that only the women stayed when Jesus was dying. Standing at a distance, to be sure, possibly pushed a distance away from the spectacle of torture and death by the Roman centurions. Crucifixion was politically necessary, for it reminded everyone that the pax Romana came at a price.

We note that the male followers of Jesus were not at Golgotha, or if they were they cowered so far the distance that they are not mentioned in the gospels. Instead it is a few women who stayed, women who were last at the cross and first at the tomb. To watch helplessly as someone suffers and dies is beyond the heart to bear. Yet they stayed,– being present with all the love and devotion they could muster.

In my mother’s last hours she was in hospice care at the Woodmark in Sun City. We visited her every day. There was very little to do or to say. She mostly slept, the sleep that comes from blessed morphine that makes the last hours more bearable.

I wanted to be with her when she died. She wasn’t a perfect mom, but she did all she could to be a good mother, and I hoped that she knew that I was there, sitting quietly by her bedside.

On the last day of her life I sat with her all afternoon. I think I was there four hours in all. She was breathing peacefully; she didn’t have “death rattles” which is a sign that the end is near.

So I went home, had dinner with our family, and went to bed. The phone call from the hospice nurse came at 9:30 p.m.

My wife, my daughter (here from Holland), and I drove up to Sun City to see her with our final goodbyes.

I am to this day sorry that I didn’t stay on a few more hours.

I know a woman from Lake Forest who stayed around the clock for three weeks in the care center where her husband lived out his last days. I know a man from Sun City who visited his wife, an Alzheimer’s patient, every day, all day, for years. I know many couples who stay together for the sake of their children. (So many experts say this isn’t a good idea, but looking back I am thankful that my parents stayed together despite a rocky relationship.)

The first and pressing question on Good Friday, then, is whether we are willing and able to “stay” – to stay in awful situations when our love and devotion is summoned forth. To stay with the horror of Jesus’ death— like the women followers of Jesus, like the nurses who train themselves not to look away – and accompany him through the darkness of his three final hours of suffering.

We stay with him not only as a sign of our love and devotion. We stay with him also to reflect on our complicity in his death. Isaac Watts asks, “Was it for sins I have done, he suffered on the tree.” (“Alas and Did My Saviour Bleed”) I Peter declares, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”

The women stayed. The nurses stay. Looking upon that which others cannot bear–the awful evil of the world, the evil that infects even our own hearts.

Categories: Newsletter