1. A note from Rev. Mike Pearson

    Dear Friends,

    I’d like to believe that fall is in the air and cool weather is on the way. I suppose one might say, “Hope falls eternal,” but there are sure signs of fall at First United Methodist Church. For the past four years, a team from First Church has spent part of a Saturday morning at the Phoenix Zoo, walking to raise money for the United Methodist Outreach Ministries (UMOM), whose ministry is directed to homeless families in Phoenix. Rev. Kimberly Scott has involved our youth in lots of mission projects and the Zoo Walk is one of them. We had a ton of kids there and lots of adults. This is something my wife, Bethyl, and I look forward to each year.

    Another sure sign of fall is our congregation’s annual trip to Salt Lake City to pack disaster relief supplies at the United Methodist Committee on Relief ’s warehouse. This year the work was particularly poignant as the cleaning supplies and health kits were going out the door to hurricane relief. Robin Spencer, our parish nurse, led this year’s team, which included 13 others.

    Another annual event is our youths’ Fall Fiesta. This is a gathering of all of our youth, parents, and counselors for a Mexican food potluck. The food, as usual, was fantastic as was the fun. They play a game each year that pits the parents against the kids in a trivia contest. Rev. Todd Rogers and Rev. Kimberly Scott give great leadership to our youth ministry. September is also about new things starting at the church. Let me share two. We are now hosting a very large Boy Scout Troop on Wednesday evenings. Many of our church families are either connected to the troop or have been. It is great that our Asbury Hall is large enough to accommodate them.

    Finally, let me share about a new afternoon knitting group that knits baby blankets. As you may know, we give a blanket to each baby that is baptized at First Church. But these new knitters have taken on another group to gift. They delivered nine blankets a couple weeks back to our infants in the Weekday School nursery. A special ‘Thank you’ to Carol Ayraud, Coral Ayraud, and Elizabeth Vick for getting this new group started.

    Mike Pearson

  2. A note from Rev. Mike Pearson

    Dear Friends,

    I am writing to you to introduce, or reintroduce, you to the Commission on a Way Forward and the important work they are doing on behalf of our United Methodist Church. They met again last month, July 19-21, to continue their work. That was the fourth meeting of the 32-member Commission, which was appointed by the Council of Bishops to assist the bishops in discerning a way forward.

    According to their official statement, “the Commission on a Way Forward was proposed by the Council of Bishops and approved by the 2016 General Conference to do a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph of the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church.”

    The Discipline, as many of you know, is the official book of church law of our denomination and is amended every four years when the United Methodist General Conference convenes. The General Conference is a global, legislative body of just over 800 persons, half clergy and half laity. Our bishops are the presiders at this quadrennial meeting. Delegates are elected by the Annual Conferences, such as our Desert Southwest Annual Conference. Our Annual Conference sends two delegates to the meeting.

    Since the 1970s, the United Methodist Church has upheld the statement regarding human sexuality that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” At the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon, lay and clergy delegates on both sides of this matter reached an impasse as they sought to discern the future of our United Methodist Church. To address that impasse, the delegates approved the Council of Bishops’ suggestion to create a Commission to address this divisive issue.

    As stated above, the General Conference created the Commission on a Way Forward. Second, the Council of Bishops has called for a special session of the General Conference to meet in February 2019, whose purpose will be “limited to receiving and acting on a report from the Council of Bishops based on the recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward.” The commission’s ultimate assignment is to present its report to the Council of Bishops for action at the Special Session of General Conference set for February 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri.

    After the last meeting in April in Washington, D.C., members indicated that they were leaning toward a simpler structure with clearer processes for decision-making and accountability for the UMC in its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Conversations at that meeting showed a commitment to finding a way forward that honors the complexity of the global denomination and the unity of a shared faith in Christ.

    You can learn much more about the Commission on a Way Forward at, and you can contact the Commission at During our just finished Annual Conference sessions we were shown a video capturing the commission at work. I hope that you will take advantage of these resources to aid in your understanding of this important, evolving process.

    Mike Pearson

  3. Jen and Stephanie’s Excellent Adventure

    This spring, Jen Heffington and Stephanie Wallace traveled to Chicago for the annual National PAUMCS conference, where they spent three days learning, worshipping and networking with other United Methodist Administrators from around the country. They returned energized and ready to utilize what they learned. This year’s conference theme was “Diversity,” and we covered topics specifcally tailored to what we deal with on a daily basis as church administrators. We tackled hospitality and exploring cultural differences, not just the ‘obvious’ cultural differences, but also in the way that we work, communicate, and collaborate with each other. The biggest news out of this year’s conference was a much needed name change for our organization, the acronym stayed the same, but now, PAUMCS stands for Professional Administrators of the United Methodist Connectional Structure, which is a far better reflection of our membership, which doesn’t include only administrators at the local church level, but also from District Offices and even assistants to our Bishops. Jen and I are incredibly grateful to the First Church Foundation and the Terry King Fund for allowing us to attend these conferences and grow in our jobs and in our faith.
    – Stephanie Wallace

    From the moment I entered the “First time attendees” orientation everyone was so welcoming. We were introduced to the board and encouraged to participate in meetings and events. From there we hit the ground running with a worship service, then lunch where we met our focus groups. Our focus groups consisted of administrative assistants from similar size churches. During our time at the conference we met with our focus groups intermittently and were able to discuss how the different speakers’ ideas related and could be implemented in our churches. Our speakers taught us new ways to engage in radical hospitality and how diversity in the work place can benefit us all. We were taken out of our comfort zone by doing an exercise where we wrote with our non-dominant hand to remind us how others may feel when out of their environment. We even learned about office ergonomics and how we were sitting all wrong! I am very grateful that I had this opportunity to grow and learn and make connections and friends for years to come!
    – Jen Heffington

  4. Jr. High Youth News

    Our students worked very hard all this year in order to finish and earn their “God and Family” award. We would like to honor them and present their award in the sanctuary during the 9 a.m. worship service on Sunday, July 23. What a blessing it was to have the children in our Sunday School class this past year! Caitlynn Pulley and I both consider it a great privilege to share Sunday mornings with the 4th and 5th graders in their walk toward God’s Light. Congratulations to our 5th graders moving onward and upward to the 6th grade. Pastor Kimberly will also celebrate our youths’ promotion to the 6th grade on Sunday, July 23 at the 9 a.m. service. We encourage incoming 6th graders to participate in every Jr. High opportunity next year, including the Jr. High Mission Trips, and especially the Jr. High Youth Group held on most every Sunday night. Thank you for letting Caitlynn and me help point the children toward God and the love of Jesus this past school year. We both look forward to teaching 4th and 5th grade Sunday school again next fall. We hope you all have a great summer!