1. A note from Rev. Denny Silk


    All Saints Sunday is a wonderful time to remember all who’ve gone before us in faith. Their lives are a witness to God’s grace and its power to change the world. Many of us learned the faith at the feet of these saints. They were our parents, grandparents, Sunday School teachers, and others in the church who were an example of Christian living and had an effect on us that may not have been recognized by us until years later. Saints then!

    Sunday, October 28, was Laity Commitment Sunday. We were privileged to have more than twenty people share their experiences in the ministry and mission at First Church. We were impressed with the effort these servants put forward to serve the church and the world and are inspired by the joy they find in serving Christ. Saints now!

    “Saints” has the New Testament meaning of all Christian people of every time and place. Let us remember that each of us is a saint, and let us have the resolve to be one- for the sake of Christ’s Church in the world. Saints forever!!

    In Christ, Denny

  2. A note from Rev. Mike Pearson

    Dear Friends,

    Let me begin by offering a sincere word of thanks for the shared ministry we have had during the past six years. You have been a wonderful church home for my sister, Kathy; my wife, Bethyl; and me. We will miss you dearly. As a United Methodist minister, I am part of a group of clergy (in the Desert Southwest Annual Conference) who are bound to support each other. Part of that support includes not returning to a church that one has previously served in order to officiate at funerals or weddings. Those of you who have a history with our denomination already know this. To others, this may sound harsh, but in my six years as a Superintendent, I came to see the wisdom in this policy. Your new pastor needs to be the one you look to for pastoral care. We have enjoyed wonderful relationships. It is now time to allow those relationships to grow with the new pastor. Let me offer a couple of important suggestions regarding your new pastor. First, please include your pastor in your prayers, and second, to help your pastor get to know you, please wear your name badges every Sunday!

    Mike Pearson

  3. A note from Rev. Mike Pearson

    Dear Friends,

    April was a month full of activities at First Church. Easter fell on the first day of April and it was a wonderful day. I often comment on how beautiful the day is–the weather is always a delight, the music is awe-inspiring, and many people are wearing something new for Easter. We also had some new flowers. Barbara Zippel arranged for us to get begonias for the sanctuary as the lilies bloomed late this year; they were a wonderful addition.

    As I mentioned, the music was fantastic. Joshua Elder, our music minister, put together two wonderful services. The 11 a.m. service featured nine musicians accompanying our chancel choir. In addition, Cathy Rice helped us celebrate with a ‘Taste of Easter’ between services. We had deviled eggs, cupcakes – compliments of Stevi Shearer – and other snacks. Thanks to Stephanie Wallace for her help on this. At the same time, our children were enjoying an Easter egg hunt and a chance to take family photos. A special thanks to Jen Heffington for her great work on this.
    The next Sunday the Grand Canyon University Chorale brought special music to both services. They were an uplifting treat. Later that same day our church hosted a concert by the Phoenix Orpheus Choir. It was indeed a feast day for our music lovers.

    Jen Heffington and Tanya Pinkerton also put together a movie night for the church. Our Junior High youth sold popcorn, drinks, and pizza. Our Staff Parish Relations Committee has been looking for ways to offer fellowship activities that all ages might be attracted to and this was our kick-off event. Look for more in the future.

    Robin Spencer, our parish nurse, had a great idea to collect unused and outdated medications and render them harmless. We invited members to bring these meds to church on Sunday Morning, April 8. To say we were pleasantly surprised with the outcome would be an understatement. We collected over 14,000 pills, patches, and similar meds. This way of disposing of the medicine assures they don’t enter the water system nor find their way into the hands of others. Robin also arranged for a bake sale to offset some of the expense of the fall women’s retreat.

    Our Junior High Youth once again hosted a Flapjack Fundraiser at our neighboring Applebee’s, to raise money for their summer mission trip to San Diego. I am always impressed by the way our youth handle themselves in these various settings. Rachel Amorin, our Junior High youth Leader, has been giving good leadership to these activities.

    A special thanks to all of these leaders and participants!

    Mike Pearson

  4. A note from Rev. Mike Pearson

    Dear Friends,

    We have had a busy February at First United Methodist Church. There have been mission trips, special services, and exciting events. But the biggest news was a change for Reverend Scott. An opportunity opened for her to take a sabbatical leave until the end of June and pursue advanced training in Clinical Pastoral Education. The program is at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa. She is in a small cohort of eight pastors who are expanding their counseling skills and pastoral care experiences. Pastor Scott has already dealt with a grieving mother whose two-year-old died.

    We are fortunate that Kimberly had raised a couple of adult counselors/leaders in the Junior High Youth Group, one of whom, Rachel Amorin, has agreed to serve as an interim youth leader. She will be able to offer continuity at least through the summer. This means that the junior youth mission trip to San Diego in June will continue as planned as well as other programming. We are also blessed that Jen Heffngton has been able to pick up the Children’s Education Ministry work from Kimberly. Jen has been the director of our very successful Summer Arts Camp for the past two years and has been regularly involved with our Sunday School. She will give oversight to Sunday mornings, among other things.

    Four of our young adults joined with several other United Methodists to travel to Rocky Point, Mexico to build a home for a family of five. Our four workers – Stephanie Shearer, Rachel Amorin, Brady Mayo, and Jared Wagoner – were able to represent both First Church and the United Methodist Church in this project.

    Ash Wednesday offered a great fellowship meal; the fare included soup, cornbread, jello salads and a great dessert smorgasboard. The money raised goes to help support our congregation’s mission team to the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s (UMCOR) depot in Salt Lake City. Robin Spencer, our parish nurse, provides excellent leadership to this annual event. After supper most of us moved to the sanctuary for an Ash Wednesday worship service. I was especially pleased that our District Superintendent, Neil Leftwich, was able to join me in leading worship and the imposition of ashes.

    Our big fun activity for the month was the Annual Spring Fling hosted by our Weekday School and Weekday School Board, and held in our church parking lot. There were food trucks, games and activities and bidding on gift baskets. The gift baskets were absolutely amazing, appealing to every taste and interest. Beckie Humphrey, the Weekday School Director, the assistants, the teachers, aides and all the Board members are to be commended for their great efforts.

    On a final note, February saw the kick-off of a financial campaign to replace the above-mentioned parking lot. We will work towards raising $60,000 between now and the beginning of April. That will allow us to begin paving the lot in early June. We ask for your support of this important project.

    Mike Pearson

  5. A note from Rev. Mike Pearson

    Dear Friends,

    As it says in the book of Ecclesiastes, “For everything, there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” There is new season coming for me. I want to share with you a personal decision that I have made. I will be retiring at the end of this Conference Year, June 30, 2018. I will turn 70 this year and will have spent 42 years in ministry, the last six of which I have been here with you. You have truly been a great church for us and for this community.

    I am very excited about this church’s future. You have a wonderful staff, wise and dedicated leadership, great resources, and a growing sense of Christ’s future for this church. Your Staff Parish Relations Committee will be working with our District Superintendent, Rev. Neil Leftwich, to identify the skills and talents First UMC needs in its new senior pastor.

    Bethyl and I intend to travel more, enjoy time together and with our grandsons, and as many of you know I’ll be devoting more time to pottery.

    I thank you for the wonderful years I have spent with you.

    Mike Pearson

  6. A note from Rev. Mike Pearson

    Dear Friends,

    I hope that you indeed had a Merry Christmas and for at least part of this season felt a special closeness to God and His wonderful gift to us: Jesus Christ. The month of December is probably the busiest time of year at First United Methodist Church. Let me share some of it with you.

    We got December off to a great start with a big group from First Church packing meals for Feed My Starving Children. Rev. Kimberly Scott and our parish nurse, Robin Spencer, made the arrangements for our congregation. We had a nice mix of youth and adults to be part of a three-day event that packed over 2,000,000 meals. Our group, being on the last shift, got to actually pack the meals that exceeded the 2,000,000 mark!

    The first Sunday in Advent our Chancel Choir presented its annual Christmas Cantata. They sang Vivaldi’s “Gloria,” and it was heavenly. The choir comprised almost 50 voices and was accompanied by a small but excellent orchestra. Ron Rhode, our organist, and Joshua Elder, our music minister, were superb in leading and directing the piece. It isn’t just beautiful music this time of year, either; the sanctuary takes on an added beauty with the addition of poinsettias, Christmas greens, decorations, our Chrismon tree, and a Christmas tree with ornaments made by our children.

    One of the nice holiday events during December is our Taste of Christmas, which serves up lots of treats between services. Our Office Manager Stephanie Wallace, Cathy Rice and Susan Crull put together a great morning with beautiful decorations, the above-mentioned donated treats, and a time of fellowship. Our District Superintendent, Rev. Neil Leftwich, preached that Sunday. I felt bad when I had to tell him the treats weren’t available every Sunday.

    Rev. Todd Rodgers and Rev. Kimberly Scott took our youth around to sing Christmas carols to many of our shut-ins. This is something that blesses everyone involved. We received several “thank-you’s” from those who were visited.

    Of course, all of this activity builds up to Christmas Eve, which was once again a wonderful time to worship. With Christmas Eve falling on a Sunday this year, we held just one service in the morning at 10 a.m. That evening we had four Christmas Eve services. The first of the evening was at 5 p.m. It is our family service, and it was a full sanctuary to be sure. After the service, the children attended a birthday party for Jesus. Rev. Scott put together a team to provide games, crafts, and great refreshments. The next two services at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. were more traditional services filling us with hope and joy. The last service of the evening was a first for us. We offered a jazz service featuring Blaise Lantana, who is a valley jazz mainstay. Someone commented that Christmas Eve in Phoenix got a whole lot cooler. Those last two services offered communion and all presented a variation of candle-lighting.

    Looking ahead, let me wish all of you a Happy New Year!

    Mike Pearson

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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