We will begin our Thanksgiving celebration on Wednesday evening, November 23, at 7:30PM when we gather with members of Crosswinds Presbyterian Church in the EPC sanctuary. The service will include the celebration of Holy Communion and music from a combined CWPC/EPC choir. Please plan to join us for this special service and for refreshments afterward.
Last month my husband George and I went on a grand adventure. We took a cruise up the Rhine River from Amsterdam to Basel, stopping at various places along the way to see the sights and sample the local culture and cuisine. The weather was cold, but not cold enough to prevent our exploring parts of Europe we’d never seen. The scenery was beautiful, and we visited dozens of windmills, castles, forts, and cathedrals. The food was spectacular, both onboard ship and in the local restaurants— where we dined on wiener schnitzel almost every day!
One of the things I most enjoyed about our trip was visiting the many places of worship included on our itinerary. It gives one pause to think that at one time in their history, the people of Europe were so committed to their Christian faith that they invested such enormous amounts of their time and energy and resources to erect those beautiful sacred buildings to the glory of God, not just in the cities of Cologne and Heidelberg and Strasbourg, but in every little village dotting the Rhine.
While it is lamentable from a faith perspective to realize that many of these places of worship are now attended by very few people or have been repurposed to house museums or shops, their existence still bears testimony to persistent faith of those who built them. The stonemasons who laid the foundation of the cathedral in Cologne in 1248 may not have known that that great church would not be completed until 1880, but they would certainly have been aware that their children and grandchildren, and even their great- grandchildren, would not see the completion of that great edifice. Yet they labored on with faith that what they were doing was to the glory of God and would someday reach completion, no matter who sat on the throne or what direction history would take.
As we head into November and anticipate the upcoming elections and the many changes that will be taking place amongst our local and national leadership, I am grateful for the witness of those who have gone before us in the faith, and for the testimony of Scripture, that no matter what changes happen we serve a God who is faithful and whose purpose for us is unfailing. As the psalmist says, we will not fear though the earth change or the mountains shake, for God is our refuge. Our security lies not in who holds office but in the One who holds history in his hands and calls us to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with him, no matter what.
I don’t remember much from my high school Latin classes, but I do remember learning the Latin word discere, which means to learn. And it’s from a related Latin word, discipulus, that we get our English word disciple, which means pupil, student, learner. Being a disciple of Jesus means that we are always in student mode. We never finish the course; we never graduate. The business of discipleship is a life- long learning enterprise.
As we get into the swing of the new academic year, I encourage you to consider ways in which you might grow in your own discipleship. Our congregation offers several small groups that meet regularly for study and growth together. Watch your Sunday bulletin for a complete listing or contact the church office to find out which group might fit your schedule. And during the fall we will be hearing from members of our congregation about what being a disciple of Jesus means for them not only in the context of our worship life together, but in the setting of our weekday lives away from our campus as well.
As disciples of Jesus, we follow Jesus, share the truth, and serve others. As disciples of Jesus we are called to a life of constant learning and growing so that, in the words of an ancient prayer, we may “know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, follow Thee more nearly.” And that is my prayer for us all as we learn together the Way of Jesus Christ.
Each year our food banks struggle to provide enough water to support the needs of the homeless in the valley. Our congregation will also conduct a water collection to help in this effort on August 14.
The generosity of each of you in these endeavors to support mission work in our community is very much appreciated!
This year we will be engaging in a summer food fight with Heritage Presbyterian Church. Our food (only) collection will begin on Sunday, July 10 and be completed three weeks later on Sunday, July 24. Food will be collected all three Sundays.
We are excited to offer a wonderful opportunity for growth in discipleship this summer! Adult education classes will be offered on Sunday mornings from 9:15 to 10:15AM in the fellowship hall. Please plan to join us as your summer schedule allows.
June 5: Ask a Theologian Shawn Bawulski
Join us for interesting and enlightening conversation as Dr. Shawn Bawulski responds to our questions.
June 12: Jesus and the Women Mary Saylor
Mary Saylor will lead us in a study from the gospel accounts of Jesus’ relationships with several significant women in his life.
June 19: Jesus and the Fathers Mary Saylor
It’s Father’s Day, and Mary Saylor will guide us through the accounts of Jesus’ interaction with several fathers mentioned in the gospel.
June 26 through July 31: Body and Soul Tom Jenney and George Saylor
Tom Jenney and George Saylor will lead this six-week study exploring what it means to belong, body and soul, to God—based on the Heidelberg Catechism.
In July of 2013 our session voted to become part of the Acts 16:5 project, a nation-wide program designed to revitalize congregations and help them grow disciples. For the past three years Emmanuel Presbyterian Church has participated, along with about twenty of our sister churches, in the Acts 16:5 project sponsored by Grand Canyon Presbytery. Our Acts 16:5 Vision Team attended nine weekend workshops over the past three years led by Stan Ott, the director of Acts 16:5 Ministries. Our team (nine people including our parish associate) also met monthly, gathering on Friday nights in one of our member’s homes to share a meal and reflect on how to apply what we’ve learned. I have also been part of a pastors’ group that meets every month for lunch, mutual support, and prayer.
Acts 16:5 has helped us look at programs and evaluate if we were just doing the same things because we had always done them. We decided not to do some of the things we’d done for years (our annual fall Fun Fest and VBS, for instance) to move in other directions. And we’ve tried some new things that have been well received—Terrific Tuesdays, Motorcycle Sunday, a pulpit exchange among five Acts 16:5 churches, and our first annual women’s retreat, to name a few. Our participation in the Acts 16:5 project has been an enormous blessing not only for me and our team, but for our congregation and beyond. (See the article “Acts 16:5 at EPC” on page 7 for more examples.)
As our commitment to the presbytery program comes to an end in July, our vision team is considering continuing to meet together for fellowship, prayer, and reflection on how the Spirit might be moving us in new directions. The clergy group I am part of has already decided we enjoy each other’s company and companionship too much to stop our monthly meetings! I am grateful for the opportunity to have been part of this wonderful program offered by our presbytery. And I am grateful to our vision team (Jereme Bintz, Pat Hall, Dana Huether, George Saylor, Kristine Smith, Dirk Van Dyke, Laurie Van Dyke, and Valerie Zehr) for their enthusiastic participation. As our three-year commitment to the presbytery program comes to an end, we are grateful for the blessing of participating and excited to see where God will lead us going forward!
Blessings— Mary Saylor
On April 23 and 24, nineteen women from EPC gathered at Spirit in the Desert retreat center in Carefree for a wonderful weekend of beautiful scenery, inspiring speakers, and warm fellowship. The weather was Chamber-of-Commerce perfect as the women gathered around tables on the patio for delicious meals, strolled across the beautiful campus to enjoy the labyrinth, or assembled in the chapel for music and worship. The theme for the weekend was “Our Journey of Faith” and speakers from the group shared how God had guided their steps throughout their journey with Jesus. There was lots of laughter (and a few tears) as women shared their experiences of God’s faithfulness in their lives. All who attended the retreat had a great time and are looking forward to next year’s retreat!
Our congregation’s mission statement is: Following Christ, Sharing the Truth, Serving Others. In the upcoming weeks each of our Sunday worship services will include something special that highlights the various ministries and mission of Emmanuel Presbyterian Church.
On May 1 we will dedicate the purses collected as Mother’s Day gifts to be distributed to women living in Phoenix shelters through Shoebox Ministries.
On May 8, Mother’s Day, we will welcome several young people into church membership who have recently completed confirmation classes and will be making their own profession of faith. The confirmands have undertaken a mission project and will present it to the congregation.
On May 15 we will observe Pentecost, celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birthday of the church. (Remember to wear red, the symbolic color of Pentecost.) And we will be welcoming new members to our congregation.
On May 22 we will honor our 2016 graduates as well as those who have served in our Christian education and music ministries during the past program year.
May will be a busy and exciting time for us as a church family. We have much to celebrate and much to be grateful for.
Please plan to join us every Sunday in May as we thank God for all the blessings we have received and honor God with our worship and witness.