Category: Newsletter

HART Pantry winds up another successful school year

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It is with a thankful heart that we graduate 15 of our senior HART kiddos

this year. We have been helping about 90 -110 teens in area schools in the 2016-2017 school year. The number varies widely because the food challenged and at-risk population is so transient; however these teens have been in our program and are graduating, under less than easy circumstances in their lives, and we are proud of them. Each will be given a gift card from HART PANTRY and this year one of our church donors is matching our gifts.

HART PANTRY has been named under the Arizona Tax Credit statute as a participating charity; this provided us with an addition of $ 4000.00 in donations.

We have grown not only in the schools we now serve, but also have new volunteers. Jan Eckstein has joined the Board of Directors. Jan comes to us from Church of the Palms, Sun City. New weekly volunteers include Cheryl Whitman, BJ Laing, Judy Barber and Anna Moore (Anna Moore works on fund raising projects).

As to schools, we have added the Dysart High School to the list of schools we serve. There are several other area schools waiting in the wings and setting up their end of the program so as to begin with HART in the fall.

The Peoria Unified School District named Ruth Langford and HART PANTRY as SENIOR VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR FOR 2016-2017. We were nominated by Kellis High School.

HART PANTRY will continue to offer weekend food bags to students throughout the summer recess at the Peoria Community Center.

 HAPPY SUMMER, Ruth Langford

Categories: Newsletter

Deacons update

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The Deacons of Peoria Presbyterian Church provide a variety of services.  We visit the homebound and those that are sick or in the hospital.  We provide a fellowship time for families after funeral services.  We mail bulletins and sermons to the homebound.  We also send birthday and anniversary cards to members.

Your donation or contribution to our “Deacon’s Offering” will help to enable us to continue to do these things and so much more, for the congregation.  It is not only essential to us, it provides positive and loving support to those who it is so meaningful to, in many ways. Your kindness, generosity and understanding is greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much!

Katrina Guy

Categories: Newsletter

Immigration and the Gospel

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How did I get here?  I mean, “How did I arrive in the USA?”  Well, like most of you I was born here, to be precise in Winston-Salem, NC a long, long time ago.

There’s more to my story.  I actually got here because two brothers, named Schweissguth, arrived in Philadelphia from Austria in 1755.

They came to escape the awful conditions in Austria then.  In those days you could just come over and live here.  It wasn’t until after the civil war that congress decided that controlling immigration was a federal responsibility.

My daughter married a Dutch citizen, and getting him here and getting him a green card was a bureaucratic nightmare.  We had help from a friend  who was our congressperson from Charlotte.  She told me, “The immigration system has a million person back log.  It appears to be broken without a solution.”

Immigration is big on our president’s agenda.  I don’t need to repeat the particulars.  You already know them.

When I was the pastor of the Myers Park Presbyterian in Charlotte I got to know two extraordinary people. Leighton Ford and his wife Jeanne Graham Ford attended our church. Leighton is a world-renowned preacher and evangelist and his wife the sister of Billy Graham. Not long ago I received an email from him.

“I am an immigrant. A documented one. And a grateful one.

“When I was in high school my future brother-in-law Billy Graham came to speak in my home town in Canada. He recommended that I apply to his alma mater, Wheaton College in Illinois.

“Once accepted I applied for a student visa. Instead I got a green card to be a permanent resident. The Immigration Service was more than generous!

“Later this immigrant married a North Carolina girl and moved to Charlotte. On a special day, in a large hall on the north side, I raised my hand to pledge allegiance to my new country. I was and am proud to be a US citizen.

“Immigration is a controversial topic now.

Who should or should not be admitted? How should they be vetted? Of course we need clear and humane laws. But in the controversy we may miss a larger issue: what does it mean to be an immigrant? And aren’t we all immigrants?

“Migration is an ongoing part of creation. The birds in our back yard are migratory birds, moving north and south with the seasons.

“Human history is the story of great migrant movements. Streams of human population flowed from Africa north and west and east into Europe and Asia. Our first nations migrated across a land bridge from Asia into North America. Native Americans had to absorb religious refugees and traders from Europe who came here seeking freedom and fortune.

“Migrations have brought conflicts but also have been enriching. The respected historian William McNeill writes “that the principal factor promoting historically significant social change is contact with strangers possessing new and unfamiliar skills.” Our time is no different, except the contacts and conflicts are now global.

“The Bible is full of immigrant stories. Abraham is called to leave home and go to an unknown land. Joseph is sold to slave traders to captivity in Egypt where he became a powerful leader. The people of Israeli escape Egypt to settle in the Holy Land. A Moabite woman Ruth marries a Jewish man. When he dies she could have returned home but in famous words she says to her mother-in-law Naomi, “Your people shall be my people.” Jews taken in captivity to Babylon, are told by God to seek the peace of the city where they would now live.

“And, significantly for us Christians, the parents of Jesus are refugees who take their infant son to Egypt to escape being killed by the paranoid King Herod.

“The Bible could almost be named “The Book of the Great Migrations”!

“The apostle Paul saw the hand of God in these movements. Addressing the philosophers in Athens he said that God allotted the times and boundaries and movements of the nations “so that they would search for God … and find him.”

“And that is happening here. When I met with student Christian leaders at the Harvard Club most of them were Asian-Americans. One of the largest churches in New York City started with immigrants from Nigeria. Koreans make up one of the largest student groups at Charlotte’s own Gordon-Conwell Seminary. 

One Assembly of God district in the southeast has more churches than many national denominations!

“Ed Stetzer, an astute observer of religion trends, notes that “predominantly white churches are declining. Yet Pew Research tells us that white churches are greying while growing churches are browning— in part because of the influx of immigrants.”

“I hope my fellow Christian believers will see immigration not through a lens of fear, but through the eyes of faith: as an opportunity to welcome and serve.

“Recently my wife Jeanie and I were on a crowded elevator in a Florida hotel with another guest whose name tag read “Donald Graham, Co-Founder THE DREAM, US”

“That’s a good name,” Jeanie said, “I’m a Graham too.” He asked where from and when she said North Carolina he asked if she knew the Rev. Billy Graham.

“He’s my brother,” she said. He broke out into smile, gave her a huge hug, and said, “I’m so honored to meet you. He’s a wonderful man.”

“What’s THE DREAM?” I asked. He explained it is a national scholarship fund for DREAMers, immigrant young people, building the American dream one student at a time.

“I think my brother would like that,” Jeanie said.

Categories: Newsletter

Preschool News

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WOW, I can’t believe we are already into May. I hope everyone had a great Easter. With that being said, the kids had a blast at their Easter Egg Hunt/Easter Party. We have some great pictures posted on our Facebook site, if you would like to check them out.​​

​Just a reminder, graduation is underway. The kids have ​​​been working really hard to prepare for their big ​​​day. Graduation will be on Wednesday, May 24, at ​​​​10:00am. We will celebrate with refreshments in the ​​​Fellowship Hall, following the graduation ceremony. All ​​​are welcome to attend.



We are looking for volunteers to help with chapel time on Wednesdays at 9:45am, for approximately 20 minutes of your time. It would consist of singing songs, saying prayers, talking about Jesus with a short bible story. If interested, please contact me.

Summer camp will be starting on June 5th – July 28, 2017. If anyone is interested in enrollment, please let us know. We have lots of fun activities planned, such as water day, cooking classes, movie day, science and art.

Best regards,

Sunshine Tinker


Categories: Newsletter

We miss you Jim Riley

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​If one is new to our church family, we need to have a short history lesson, so we understand the whole picture. When I say, if you are new, I mean within the last twenty or so years, here at P.P.C.​We (P.P.C.) had a man in our church family by the name of Dave Smith. David and our long standing member, Sonja (Cook) Harris, were the best of friends. Please do not ask any questions. Just be satisfied with my history lesson. David loved the youth at P.P.C. David was good at being the driver for Priscilla, Sonja’s mother, when they would all traveled together. Sonja and Dave motor homed along with James (Jim) and Gay Riley. Sonja and Gay went to Peoria High School together in the mid 1950’s. A few years ago, both Dave and Gay passed away. As a tribute to Dave, the church named the Sunday School classroom, located next to the church office, DAVE’S ROOM. Sometime passed and we stared seeing Jim and Sonja attending worship together, about every Sunday. Again, as I asked, NO questions.


​About a month ago, the word got our that Jim had lung cancer and was to start chemo. Jim did not have to suffer with pain or the unpleasant task of chemo for very long, because he passed awar suddenly on April 5th, of this year. This was shortly after Sonja’s mother, Priscilla passing away on April 3rd.

​Jim and Gay joined P.P.C. October 7, 2007. I give Sonja credit for having Jim and Gay in our church family. Jim and Gay lived on a “desert” ranch, south of Lake Pleasant, about 20 miles north of old town Peoria. They had chickens, but the important item was Jim’s horses, roping and riding them. He was in a horse club, a member of the Elks and the Moose.

​In Jim’s working years, he was an electrician for Banks Electric in Glendale and later Foley Electric, helping to build Sun City. Jim grew up in Glendale, went to Glendale High School and was in the F.F.A. (Future Farmers of America)

​Him was 81 years old and large man in size. No one tried messing with Gay or Sonja or they might have ended up in the E.R. But, there was no cause for that to happen, because all three lived clean lives.



​ For the church family, Ken Johnson



Categories: Newsletter

New Members

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On Easter Sunday (April 16th), Session met with and welcomed Ten New Members into the Congregation. They have all been in the church family for some time, but now they are members.

Our new members are,

(Top Row, Left to Right)

Sandy Lunde, Rita McElwain, Johnnie Crawford, and

Rory and Sheila McKeown


(Bottom Row, Left to Right)

Keith Spiegelhoff, Dale Lunde, Bob and June Marvel, B.J. Laing

Categories: Newsletter

April session news

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​The April Session meeting had perfect attendance, again. There was not much action, but a lot of talk. Some of the concerns were/are to increase the number of our church family, both young and old. One item was/is, when the older people are gone (not vacationing), is our church going to keep going? Session is open to any suggestions for growth.​We lost two of our members the first week of April. Our oldest member in time, Priscilla Cook passed away on April 3rd and Jim Riley on April 5th. Jim was Priscilla’s daughter, Sonja’s best friend.  

​The church treasurer, Donna Davis, reported expenses from January 1st through April 7th.

​ It was approved for the youth to have a 50/50 raffle with 50% of the “sales” going to the youth programs and activities and 50% to the lucky ticket holder.  

​Much credit was given to the 125th Anniversary Committee. The committee worked hard on all of the activities. Thank you to everyone who served on the committee and to those who helped out, even though they were not on the committee.  

​The Pastor’s, Deacon’s, Treasurer’s, and all Committee reports were received. The report involving the recent meeting of the Presbytery, was also received. The next regular meeting of Session is Monday, May 8th at 5:30 PM.

Categories: Newsletter

If I could ask you a question

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A Publication of the First Presbyterian Church of Peoria, Arizona    
I led a Bible study when I was at Pinnacle Presbyterian Church. We always began with with introductions and then I posed a question to each member of the group. The question one day was, “If you could meet any figure in history, who would it be and what would you like to ask them?”
​The answers were interesting. Here’s a sample.

​“Abraham Lincoln–do you have any regrets?”

​“Adolf Hitler (my choice)–looking back from the perspective of history, are you remorseful?”

​“Condoleezza Rice–how did you become so accomplished in so many pursuits?”

​“Barbara Bush–where did you get your sense of humor?”

​“Charlemagne–where did you get your ideas for such military genius?”

​But my favorite was this one: “Vince Lombardi–what can we do to help the Cardinals win the Super Bowl? “

​In my life-time there were three people I wanted to meet. All were heroes to me in one way or another. They were Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul VI.  

​I have had the good fortune of having several meals with Desmond Tutu, and believe me, he is the real deal. This Nobel Prize winner has an impish sense of humor and does so many things right. On his long flights to Europe from South Africa when he was on speaking tours, he would write personal notes to the children of his clergy in the Anglican Province of South Africa.

​I met Pope John Paul VI in the Vatican in the summer of 1994. I was with a group of seminary leaders and we had an “audience” with the pope. We shook hands. He asked me in good English, “What do you do?” I told him I was a Presbyterian pastor in Chicago. He said, “Blessings on your community.”

​A picture of our shaking hands is in a prominent place in our living room.

​I never met Nelson Mandela but I sat 25 feet from him at a political rally in South Africa when he was running for state president. What I remember from his political stump speech is the promise of indoor plumbing and electricity in all homes in South Africa.

​Of course, there is one hero we all bow before, our Lord and Master. I have so many questions for him I don’t know where to begin, but one of them is: “Why didn’t your heavenly Father make me a better golfer.”


Categories: Newsletter

A Peoria Presbyterian is honored

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​For a better understanding of my article, The Presbytery of The Grand Canyon is the group of Presbyterian Churches from just north of Casa Grande (this includes the Indian churches on the Pima Reservation) to the southern Utah state line. From Yuma to the New Mexico west state line).​Every year, the Presbytery sponsors a recognition program and luncheon to honor a single person or a married couple, 70 years of age or older. This is the 33rd Senior Service event. Members are selected for the service in their church and community.

​This year, SENIOR SERVICE AWARD HONOREE FORM PEORIA PRESBYTERIAN IS; CLEO (HOLLY) BURKETT. Cleo joined Peoria Presbyterian as a young girl in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s. In 2010, after her husband passed away, Cleo moved back to Peoria from Youngstown, Ohio. In her early years, she helped in Bible School and was active in youth group. Cleo is an ordained Elder, has served on Session and has been a member of Session committees. Cleo was a member of our Hand Bell Choir and the Chancel Choir until recently, when she turned in her car keys, which some of should follow the same move. Cleo has now moved into Amathest Garden Independent Living facility, north of Bell Road.  

​For Cleo’s community service, in her younger years, she was the head drum majorette at Peoria High School. She volunteered for the Southwest Animal Shelter, caring for small animals. Cleo also helped ion a soup kitchen preparing ford to the needy.

​We are honored to have Cleo receive this award from Peoria Presbyterian. She was honed at a luncheon on March 30th, along with other honorees. Each honoree is singled out and recognized with a script of their accomplishments and read at the luncheon. This was held at Valley Presbyterian in Scottsdale.


 ​​​​​Your Church Family,

​​​​​Ken Johnson, Clerk of Session

Categories: Newsletter