Parish Nurse Notes – Points to ponder this summer

From “Faith and Health in the Bible” by Reverend G. Scott Morris, MD, and Susan Martins Miller

Points to ponder:

  • Take to heart what Jesus thinks about healing.
  • Healing announces the kingdom of God.
  • Early church stories are full of healing.
  • Jesus calls us to care about what He cares about.
  • Wellness is a pursuit of the wholeness God wants for us.

Three questions to ask ourselves:

  • What paralyzes us or what keeps us from moving forward to better health?
  • How might lack of meaning in our lives show up in lifestyle choices?
  • How might comforting ourselves, masking our pain, and taking risks show upas threats to our health?

With summer approaching, it is time for a reminder to guard against sun damage to our skin. Remember the sun is most intense between 10:00am and 2:00
pm. Protect your skin with clothing, hats, sunscreen, or avoid going out then if you can. Be certain to apply sunscreen frequently to our little ones when they play outdoors or in the pool.

Stay healthy!

Pat Vest, RN
Faith Community Nurse

A Word from the Pastor – April 2016

With our session’s blessing, I was privileged to attend a presbytery training event in Dallas on March 6 through 11 with five other members of our presbytery’s Commission on Ministry. The training took place at King of Glory Lutheran Church in Dallas and was provided by the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center. It was superb training, and it was mentally exhausting! Sessions started at 8:30 in the morning and lasted until 5PM, and I found myself heading for bed by 8:30PM!

Having grown up in a heavily Mennonite community in Ohio, I was familiar with the Mennonite tradition of non-violence and peacemaking. In fact I was born into a religious tradition (The Apostolic Christian Church) which has much in common with Mennonite theology. The training event I attended focused on mediation skills, and our teacher, The Rev. Richard Blackburn, was excellent. He helped us understand conflict as it occurs interpersonally and in congregations, and he taught us invaluable skills in managing, intervening in, and resolving conflict.

One thing we were reminded of is that conflict is not necessarily destructive. Conflict can be constructive and can bring about healthy change and growth. For example, the first recorded instance of conflict in the New Testament church occurred in Acts 6:1-7 when the church was experiencing tremendous growth and the needs of some were being neglected because the leadership was overwhelmed. It was out of this conflict that deacons were appointed to share in ministry, and the passage ends by recording that the word of God continued to spread and their numbers continued to increase.

But we all know that conflict can have awful consequences if not managed well. Unfortunately that happens all too often in churches. Our mediation team will be available to pastors, sessions, and congregations who are experiencing conflict and need help in managing it constructively, and will be invited to work with them towards reconciliation. Thank you for the opportunity to attend the training and for your support as our team has opportunity to serve the presbytery.

Mary Saylor

A Word from the Pastor – March 2016

unspecifiedIf you had stopped by the church early on the morning of February 12 you would have seen a variety of vehicles loading up wheelbarrows, rakes, and shovels, as well as food, water, and snacks for our annual mission trip to Mexico. Once again this year a mission team from EPC and Palo Cristi Presbyterian Church, along with a few friends and relatives, headed off for Rocky Point, Mexico, to build a house over Presidents’ Day weekend.

Our team spent two- and-a-half days digging sand, mixing cement, nailing 2x4s, and troweling on stucco to create a home for 23- year-old Judith and her family. It wasn’t a large home (about 11 feet by 22 feet) and it wasn’t grand (no electricity or running water). But the home was solid and safe and secure, and a place to call her own for
a young mom who had been living with her children and her parents and her brother in an equally small dwelling.

Judith is a single mom with a four-year-old son and a nine-month-old daughter who works as a cashier at the local Sam’s Club and brings home just under $50 a week to support her family. She was there at the work site waiting for us the moment we arrived and worked with us mixing cement and driving nails. Judith’s little daughter Jenifer found two good friends in Annika Raub and Ethan Bintz who were just her age. And Judith’s little brother Jonathan and her son Axel quickly made friends with our own Claire Juby. It was a privilege to become acquainted with Judith and her family, including her mother Alma who was at the work site every day. Judith’s determination, her faith, and her commitment to providing for her family in very challenging circumstances was humbling for us to witness.

Included in this issue of “The Word” are several pictures from our trip to Mexico. They will give you a glimpse of our work there. Thank you to all of you who helped support this year’s mission trip with your finances, your prayers— and your cookies! And thanks to everyone who joined our 2016 mission trip. This was a very special opportunity to offer the labor of our hands and the love of our hearts in Jesus’ name, and it was a wonderful blessing to all of us who were privileged to participate.

Mary Saylor

EPC First Annual Women’s Retreat

What: EPC First Annual Women’s Retreat
When: Saturday, April 23, starting at 10:00am – Sunday, April 24 ending at noon
Where: Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center, Carefree, AZ (about a 20 mile drive from EPC)
Who: All EPC women are invited (friends are welcome, too!)
Cost: $100 includes overnight lodging and three meals (scholarships are available)

Please join us for a weekend of fun, faith, fellowship and relaxation. Our theme for the weekend will be “Our Spiritual Journey.” Come and hear inspiring speakers and engage in small group discussions and fun activities surrounded by the beautiful and peaceful landscape of the Carefree desert. There will be time to socialize, to grow in our faith, to laugh and play games, to relax and to just get away from it all. Watch for more information in our Sunday bulletins and in upcoming issues of “The Word.” Registration will begin in March so mark your calendars now and plan to attend this fun and faith-filled weekend.

A health class at church? What is that all about?

It’s about engaging with a fundamental dimension of the gospel. Jesus cares about making and keeping people well. Since the early centuries, the church has expressed compassion for the poor through health ministries. More recently, though, we have separated our health and our faith into distinct compartments that rarely intersect. Jesus said he came so we could have abundant life.

Wouldn’t we love that? For too many people, real life falls short of that ideal. Stress at work gets the best of us. Relationships suffer. Time with God turns into frantic prayers when we feel overwhelmed. We whiz through dinner without sitting down with our families. Exercise is something we feel guilty for not doing. Loss crushes us. Is it any wonder that aches and pains drive us to doctors looking for a fix? Just when do we get this abundant life we long for?

Despite what many might think, we do not have to die before we get to experience living in God’s kingdom. God created us as whole human beings, body and spirit, and God wants us to live in ways that nourish both body and spirit together. “Body & Spirit: Faith and Health ” explores the connection between spirituality and wellness. The Bible has a lot to say about that connection.

The above comes from “Body and Spirit: Faith and Health in the Bible” By Rev. G. Scott Morris, MD and Susan Martins Miller.

For the next several months, we will explore more of what these authors have to offer in the way of that connection. Stay tuned.

Pat Vest, RN, BSN, FCN

A word from the Pastor – February 2016

February promises to be a busy month at Emmanuel, and I invite your prayers for the following events that will be taking place:

Financial Peace University continues on Saturday mornings under the leadership of Dirk Van Dyke and George Saylor. Pray for the participants from our congregation and the community who are learning about handling money in ways that provide financial peace.

Lent arrives on Wednesday, February 10, and we will be observing Ash Wednesday with our friends from Crosswinds Presbyterian Church. I hope you will plan to participate in this special service as we enter the holy season of Lent.

Our Amor mission team will leave on Friday, February 12, for Puerto Penasco, Mexico, where they will be building a home for a family in desperate need of safe shelter. Please pray for safe travel, good health, and cooperative weather as our team undertakes this ministry of caring.

Confirmation classes will begin on February 21 for our youth in 7th grade and up. The confirmands will be meeting weekly with Pastor Mary to learn more about the Bible, our church, and what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

Thank you for your prayers and your participation in the life of our congregation as we seek to learn, worship, serve, and witness together to the love and justice of Jesus Christ.

Blessings— Mary

Ash Wednesday with our friends from Crosswinds Presbyterian Church

Join with members of Emmanuel and Crosswinds Presbyterian Churches in a special Ash Wednesday service at Crosswinds Presbyterian Church on Wednesday, February 10, at 7PM. The service will feature a combined choir, communion, and the imposition of ashes. Mary Saylor will be preaching. Please plan to include this service in your schedule as we enter the season of Lent.

Crosswinds Presbyterian Church is located at:
20125 N. 15th Ave., Phoenix.

Love Your Neighbor – Small Group

This fall EPC’s “Love Your Neighbor” small group has met regularly to reflect on how we can more faithfully fulfill Jesus’ command to love our neighbors. Since this command is for all Christians, we’d like to share a bit of what we’ve learned and challenge EPC in the ways that we’ve been challenged. Our approach is split into two basic areas: first, our daily decisions, and second, hands-on acts of service. We’ll begin with daily decisions.

Our everyday choices matter. Using the book Everyday Justice by Julie Clawson as a guide, we have considered ways that our choices effect others and how we can shape them to show love to our neighbor, even neighbors that live on the other side of the globe. Too often we compartmentalize our lives—are not church, bible study, shopping, and Starbucks unrelated things (except that Starbucks keeps us awake for church!)? Yet following Jesus is more than having certain beliefs; it is also about living an entirely new way in the world. In a world where we’re all interconnected, living every day with a view towards justice is an important part of loving our neighbors.

Consider coffee. Today some 25 million people make their living growing it, but many growers sweat and toil in their labor, only to remain in poverty. Christian Scriptures repeatedly call God’s people to care for economic justice (see Deut. 24:14-15; Mal. 3:5; James 5:4-5; Isa. 58:3-7). So how can Christians help bring safe working conditions, living wages, and fair practices to our neighbors who grow our coffee? While it’s not a perfect system, Fair Trade is a good start. Seek out coffee that is Fair Trade (there’s often a Fair Trade logo on the packaging), even if it costs a bit more. We’re doing this as a church: for EPC’s refreshment time after Sunday service, we’re transitioning to all Fair Trade coffee!

Similarly with chocolate: Americans eat more than 3.3 billion pounds of chocolate annually. Yet the majority of cocoa beans are grown in West Africa in places of poverty and instability. Hundreds of thousands of children are forced into harvesting cocoa beans, and slave labor is very common. There are many things you can do to combat this, including purchasing chocolate that is slave-free or Fair Trade— these options do exist in many grocery stores!

There are many other areas where our choices can make a difference. Driving less and using less energy can show love to our neighbors who live in areas most effected by climate change. Buying food that was grown sustainably, without harsh chemicals, and that was produced by workers who were treated fairly shows vulnerable food industry workers that we think they matter. We can show love for our neighbors by taking responsibility for the working conditions of those who make the clothing we buy (sweatshops are commonly used to produce many of the clothes we purchase, but alternative options exist that help ensure safe working conditions and fair pay). This list is just a start—there’s so much more we can do!

The values of the kingdom of God—Love your neighbor!—mean that we must strive to avoid being complicit in injustice. Christian discipleship means we must not only look at the sticker price when shopping, but also consider if every person involved in making that item was treated fairly, with dignity. Following Jesus means that we must ask if our food came from places of suffering and brokenness or from places of justice and wholeness. God’s people cannot tolerate economics without ethics. As Dr. Cornel West says, “Justice is what love looks like in public.”

Don’t panic! It may seem overwhelming, and many of these problems are immense, but we take one step at a time!

I’ll conclude with another avenue of loving our neighbors we’ve pursued: hands-on acts of service. This fall EPC canvassed local neighborhoods to gather food for the Paradise Valley Food Bank. We’ve also volunteered with an organization that helps refugee families, called the Welcome to America Project, distributing clothes to people in need. There will be more opportunities to come for all of us at EPC to serve and love our neighbors: be on the lookout for announcements and join us!

A word from the Pastor – January 2016

People celebrate the arrival of a new year in a variety of ways. Some stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve to mark the change in the calendar. Others spend New Year’s Day parked in front of the TV watching football. Many folks make a list of resolutions for the coming year.

One of the ways we mark the beginning of the new year at Emmanuel is by convening our annual meeting which is scheduled to take place at the close of worship on January 17. I want to extend an invitation to everyone in our church family to be in attendance. Two important items will be on the agenda.

The first is our church’s annual report. I encourage you to take a
copy of the report home with you (it will be available on January 10) to read through and reflect upon prior to the Annual Meeting. This report isn’t just a list of facts and figures from the previous twelve months. It is a living record of the good things God has done for us in the past year, and it is encouraging to be reminded of God’s faithfulness to us.

The second item on the agenda will be the presentation of the budget our session has approved for 2016. The session has worked hard to present a fiscal plan for the coming year that reflects the generosity of the congregation in terms of projected giving for 2016 as well as faithful efforts to serve the Lord well and care for our responsibilities in the coming year.

As we meet to consider God’s goodness to us over the past year, we have every reason to be hopeful and excited about the coming year. God has richly blessed us in the past, and those many blessings are reflected in our annual report. And God invites us to expect great things in the coming year.

As we step into the year ahead, I encourage you to keep these words of Scripture in mind: For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11).

Happy New Year!
Blessings— Mary