1. A note from Rev. Mike Pearson

    Dear Friends,

    I trust this will find you well and overflowing with not only leftovers but gratitude as well. The month of November has given us many times to reflect on our countless blessings and to experience new ones as well. One of the new blessings for First Church, at least new within the last six years, was a meaningful Ecumenical Thanksgiving Prayer service. Five local congregations; Crossroads United Methodist Church, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, Orangewood Presbyterian, St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, and First Church joined together for a wonderful service at St. Thomas church. Joshua Elder, our Music Minister, directed a combined choir. Pastor Kimberly Scott and I participated by leading readings. It was a spiritual feast for many who attended.

    Another place of thanksgiving was the pledge campaign, which is running slightly ahead of last year. This is good news, both from a planning point of view and as an
    indication of a growing awareness of the spiritual benefits of being generous. The ministry of the church in God’s kingdom is financed by our gifts. Thank you!

    We began the month with All Saints’ Sunday. In the past 12 months, 17 of our members have died, and of course, many others who were relatives of our members. On All Saints’ Sunday we had an opportune moment to reflect on the contributions all these people have provided for us and our congregation.

    If you like pancakes, you had a good chance to indulge your appetite when our Junior Youth took over the Applebee’s just south of us on Camelback for a “Flapjack Fund Raiser.” Pastor Scott, her counselors, and most of the youth participated in this enjoyable event. The food was good, but the service was better. Thank you to all the helpers.

    The Saturday after Thanksgiving saw a good number of our congregation take to the trails at North Mountain Park. It was a good way to burn off a few extra calories, but moreover, a great way to meet some others from the church. Be on the lookout for details of the next hike, which will come after Christmas.

    Wishing You a Happy Thanksgiving,
    Mike Pearson

  2. A note from Rev. Mike Pearson

    Dear Friends,

    I trust you all have had a good October. It was nice to have a break in the high temperatures early in the month. We certainly had a busy October at First Church, busy and good! Our Weekday School held an open house in the beginning of October. Beckie Humphrey, our director, takes great pride in the school and it shows during events like the open house. The kids had made decorations for the rooms and walkways, which gave everything a festive atmosphere. There were also some very tasty cookies (and that is my expert opinion). The teachers and aides were on hand to welcome parents and grandparents.

    Our District Superintendent, Neil Leftwich, came mid-month to preside at our Church Conference. This is an annual event where we elect officers and committee members. Our United Methodist policy limits terms on some committees to three years. This ensures new people coming onto the Staff/Parish Relations Committee, Trustees and Leadership/Nominations Committee. We also vote on pastors’ salaries, look to the future, and hear reports on the year to date.

    Robin Spencer, our parish nurse, put together another season of SWAG (Second Wednesday Adult Group). She arranges for very interesting speakers. The kick-off was on how to avoid being a victim of scams. After the program, the attendees enjoyed a nice catered lunch. This one was catered by Pei Wei. Robin also began a Grief Recovery group this month. Many participants have told me how helpful these sessions are.

    As if that were not enough, Robin put together a women’s retreat that more than 55 in attendance. Dr. Katy Fielder and her partner, Dr. Laura Huser, were the facilitators, and they gave the participants very practical advice in ways to “Be Still and Know.”

    Marie Garber, our Lay Leader, Tom Rice, our Staff/Parish Relations Committee chair, and Doug Dunipace, put together a wonderful laity Sunday. We have an unbelievably talented church. The worship service featured the following members: Tom Rice, Doug Dunipace, Marie Garber, Patricia Rodriguez, Lydia Milowski, Mikayla Rogers, Kim Siebel, Sam Thumma, Paul Palmer, and Lyn Warder. Between services that Sunday Dr. Tom Wolf, president of Iliff Seminary in Denver, spoke to a sizeable group of adults with his observations on the state of theological education in the United States and United Methodism. His connection to First UMC is through Pastor Scott, who graduated from Iliff in 2016.

    The month ended on a fun note with our annual Trunk-or-Treat. Our church parking lots were turned into a fun festival for kids. There were tons of games, bounce houses, a dunk tank hosted by our senior high youth, and there were free snow cones for all. This event was organized by Pastor Scott. Kimberly was able to get a lot of help from the junior youth as well.

    Mike Pearson

  3. How Do We Measure a Life?

    The theme of our Extravagant Generosity Campaign for 2018 is “How Do We Measure a Life?” According to the Bible, the best measures of a life are: Who and What We Serve, Who and How We Love, and How and What We Give. During our worship in October we learned some strategies to grow in life’s most important areas and ways to measure that growth. Our first step is to find ways and places to be engaged in service through First Church: Who and What We Serve. If you haven’t participated in our annual WorKship Sunday, please sign up this year. If you have participated in the past, invite friends to join you that day. Watch for mission opportunities throughout the year in our newsletters and our worship bulletins, and become involved in one or more. Help us as we move toward a goal of every member in ministry. Please add at least one additional service activity to your schedule in the upcoming year. The second step will be to grow in giving: How and What We Give. For some this growth might be as simple as making a pledge. Or it might mean increasing your giving to First United Methodist Church. The third measure of life is simply, Who and What We Love. We show our love for God by keeping God first in our lives. Worship is an opportunity for us to demonstrate our devotion to God, to focus on God’s love and to draw near in faith. Make a commitment to be in worship more often in 2018. If you are not engaged in a Bible study we have six choices on Sunday morning. One is likely to be to your liking. Begin a devotional prayer time each day. Some growth happens naturally, but other growth takes effort and commitment.

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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!