First Presbyterian Church

Celebrating 125 years of worship service.


Crop Walk

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

2016 VBS helpers

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We really couldn’t put on the VBS program without our help.  Thank you to all who braved the heat to help out with VBS this year.


Categories: Youth

What does an Interim Pastor do?

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What does an Interim Pastor do? 

By Dr. Terry V. Swicegood

A pastor stands in the pulpit on a Sunday morning and tells the congregation, “Today I am announcing my resignation from First Church.” Depending on how this pastor’s ministry has been received, the congregation either breaks out in Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” or country music diva Lee Ann Rimes’ “How Do I Live Without You?”

Whether the ministry of a pastor has been good, bad, or somewhere in between, his or her leaving creates a critical vacuum in the life of the congregation. Immediate questions swarm in upon the lay leadership, “Who’s going to preach next Sunday?” “Who is going to call on our sick?” “Who is going to moderate our administrative board?”

In many mainline denominations these days those questions are answered by the calling of an interim pastor. The interim pastor is the glue which holds the congregation together before the next permanently installed pastor comes on board.

Research has indicated that the interim time in a congregation is a time of peril and promise. Many congregations experience a decline in worship attendance and financial giving during an interim. People withdraw, sit on the sidelines, waiting for the “real” minister to arrive.

Research has also indicated that the single most significant factor in combating this decline is good preaching by the interim pastor and inspiring worship each Sunday. Some churches have discovered that the interim pastor’s preaching and leadership skills are so remarkable that they want to call him or her as permanent pastor. For many reasons, I believe this is unwise both for the congregation and the interim. There is a specific clause in my contract with First Church, Peoria, declaring that I will not be a candidate for the permanent position.

For the past 35 years there has been a significant body of research and practice about interim ministry. Interim ministry “specialists” exist in many denominations. The PCUSA sponsors two tracks of interim training, beginning and advanced. Some Presbyteries require that before an interim minister can be called to a church, he or she should have at least one year of training. A few presbyteries require an interim minister to have taken both tracks.

My former Presbytery executive in Arizona, Ken Moe, has said, “All ministry is interim ministry.” In reflecting on his words, I think he’s on the mark I have experienced this truth in all my churches. Some of my interims have been longer than others. But in every case, my ministry has been an interim between what went on before I came and what would occur after I left. I was the middle-man, called during my own interim ministry to perform the tasks needed to build up the church. I have come to the conclusion that the real difference in pastoral ministry is the time element. When you are called as permanent pastor, you have more time to complete the “interim tasks.” When you are called as an interim pastor, that time is compressed.

There is a consensus these days that interim ministers have five process tasks. Although these tasks have been developed specifically for interim ministry, I believe, that for the most part, they apply as well to a permanently called pastor.

  1. An interim minister joins the “system”. The church is the body of Christ. It is like a human body, with interconnected parts and complex structures. Effective interim ministers have the ability to quickly join the “body of Christ” and to hit the ground running.
  2. An interim minister has the knack to analyze the church and its strengths and weaknesses. A church is very much like a family. We all know about the various interactions in our own family-how beautiful, painful and convoluted they can be. Gifted family therapists can analyze individual families, and when those families are malleable, help with their growth. In the same way, a good interim can come into a church, then listen, observe, and learn. He then can pass on to the leadership his insights and observations. The best interims can do so in such a winsome way that the church leadership uses those observations for making needed adjustments to strengthen the church.
  3. An interim helps the congregation connect with the denomination.
    The local congregation is not an island to itself, but part of a connectional system. The wise interim keeps in touch with the Committee on Ministry of the Presbytery, and participates in the functions of the Presbytery where the church is located. The wise interim tries to create and strengthen linkages which exist between the local church and the wider church.
  4. An interim must determine, with the Session, where to focus his time and gifts. There’s always more to do in the ministry than any pastor can competently do. That is certainly the case for interim ministry. I am convinced that the interim and the church should enter into a covenant of expectations, That covenant of expectations should include the major tasks expected of the interim. Ordinarily, those tasks include preaching, worship leadership, staff leadership, pastoral care, and administrative responsibilities (which should be broadly defined). Other tasks have to do with issues existing in the congregation when the interim comes on board. For example, issues might include: Works with Session in implementing the Long Range Plan; Works with the Nominating Committee to Identify New Leaders; Works with the Personnel Committee in evaluating current staff structure and the effectiveness of current staff.  These, of course, are just examples. The point is to have the church leadership decide early on how the interim pastor might best help the congregation. In this covenant of expectations, there should be an evaluative tool to measure the effectiveness of the interim minister and a similar tool to evaluate the effectiveness of the Session. It doesn’t have to be an extensive, time-consuming tool, but it’s good for everyone to know what is expected and whether they are on track. 
  5. The interim minister leaves in a helpful and graceful way. Interim ministers, if they have done their job well, have given the congregation two significant gifts. They have led in such a vibrant and competent way that the momentum of the congregation has been sustained. And second, they have helped the congregation to be ready to commit to a new pastor and new leadership. Good interim ministers know how to· say goodbye in a loving and professional way. They know exit strategies, and are able to articulate those strategies to the church leadership when it becomes apparent that the Pastor Nominating Committee completed its work and is ready to call a new pastor. 

Furthermore, most interim pastors seek an honest evaluation of their ministry. That evaluation normally comes from the session in consultation with the Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry. For myself, I want to know, “Did the church leadership and I accomplish what we set out to do in our covenant of expectations at the beginning of my call?” Being accountable to one another is at the heart of good ministry of any duration.

Categories: Pastor's Message