Category Archives: Uncategorized

  1. A Note from Rev. Denny Silk

    Dear Friends,
    The Lenten season is one of the most important seasons of the church year for our spiritual growth as it inevitably leads us to Holy Week and Easter, the crown jewel expression of our faith. The following activities are intended to deepen our spiritual readiness.

    Pastor’s Lenten Bible Study, Mondays, March 2 – 30, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
    Session 1 and 2: We will study the scriptures from Leviticus and Romans that have been historically used as ruling out same-sex relationships. There will be a brief video of a United Methodist scholar’s presentation on the subject. Followed by plenty of time for reflection, small group discussion.

    The next three sessions will look at other scriptures that are often misinterpreted/misunderstood. We will use Adam Hamilton’s book, Half Truths to explore these topics:

    Session 3: Everything Happens for a Reason
    Session 4: God Helps Those Who Help Themselves
    Session 5: God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle

    Each of these sessions will include a video presentation from Adam Hamilton and ample opportunity to discuss with each other. It would be helpful if you contacted the church office to indicate your intention to attend. Also, even if you know you aren’t able or inclined to attend all the sessions, you are welcome at any of them.

    Lenten Devotional
    This is a traditional time for giving extra attention to our daily spiritual practice. The Lenten devotional booklet is provided by the generosity of the Library Committee, as has been their practice. The Upper Room devotional booklet is also available in the church office. If you don’t have a daily practice of devotion, this would be an appropriate time to explore a new discipline for your spiritual life.

    The blessing of Lent be upon us all,
    Denny Silk, Pastor

  2. A Note from Rev. Denny Silk

    Dear Friends,
    Ever since I was appointed to serve as your senior pastor, I’ve heard people, committees, and other groups talk about the need for more opportunities to connect and get better acquainted with persons we might not know. This is the reason the Church Council formed a Connections Committee to look at ways to do this. The Connections Committee, chaired by Tom and Cathy Rice, met recently and were enthused about several ideas that might be implemented.

    I’m calling this first venture COMMUNION AND CONNECTION SUNDAY. As you know, it is our practice at First Church to have the Sacrament of Holy Communion on the first Sunday of each month. The Connections Committee has decided that we will have a special time of fellowship (connection) in Wesley Lounge on those same Sundays between worship services. There will be light refreshments, but this is more than that. This will be a time to mix and meet with those we know but especially those we might not know. If we believe this is important to the health of our congregation, it will require commitment from all of us. Here are a few disciplines required.

    • Those who attend the first service will want to stop by Wesley Lounge unless there is some reason they can’t that Sunday.
    • Those who attend the second service will want to make a new habit of arriving at church a little earlier and stopping by the lounge.
    • Those who have other activities during the time between worship services, such as choir rehearsal or a Sunday School class, are encouraged to stop by for a few minutes, but we know you want to honor the connection you already have with a class or group.
    • We have to declare “amnesty” for all of us. Sometimes we think we can’t approach people and admit that we don’t know who they are. We have seen them in church and we don’t want to insult them or embarrass ourselves. Forget all that. There is no embarrassment in wanting to get acquainted with someone. It is a compliment. So, I declare “amnesty” for all of us (not sure that falls under my pastoral powers but…) just reach out.

    Let me share a word about the Sacrament of Communion. This sacrament is intended to bring us into an ever deeper relationship with God. It is to receive again the grace of God by which we spiritually thrive.  However, we never take communion by ourselves. It is a communal activity in which we come before God in the company of our brothers and sisters in Christ. The word “communion” literally mean “with union” or “as one.” Perhaps pairing COMMUNION AND CONNECTION makes sense, as in both, we seek the presence of the Holy Spirit in our togetherness. This isn’t an effort just to be friendly but an opportunity to strengthen our fellowship and ministry.

    WE HOPE TO SEE EACH OTHER ON COMMUNION AND CONNECTION SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 2, AT ONE OF OUR WORSHIP SERVICES AND ANYTIME BETWEEN SERVICES IN WESLEY LOUNGE.

    In Christ,
    Denny Silk, Pastor

  3. A Note from Rev. Denny Silk

    Dear Friends,
    As we enter a new year, I am excited about some upcoming events.

    New Member Orientation
    If you’ve decided that you would like to become a member of First Church, or if you simply want more information about membership and the church, you are invited to attend.
    • Sundays, January 12 and 26, 10:10 – 10:50 a.m. (between worship services)
    • Please let us know for planning purposes by contacting the church office.

    Scout News
    • Boy Scout Sunday will be celebrated at First Church on Sunday, February 9 at both services. To prepare, the scouts will be collecting food for our food pantry. Our Troop #41 Scoutmaster, Brian Cook, is being awarded the Silver Beaver Award by the Boy Scouts of America. This award is given to adult leaders who have made an impact on the lives of youth through service given to the Council. It is an award given to those who implement the Scouting program and perform community service through hard work, self-sacrifice, dedication and many years of service. Congratulations Brian!
    • Girl Scout Troop #2495 is collecting books for Sunshine Acres, a Christian non-profit home for children. This is part of their Girl Scout Silver Award program. Books may be left in the church office.

    Congratulations Jesse Ary
    Jesse Ary, a member of First Church for over fifty years, will receive a most prestigious award on January 16. He will be given the D r. Martin Luther King, Jr. – Calvin C. Goode Lifetime Achievement Award. We want to congratulate Jesse on this award. On this MLK weekend we are particularly grateful to those who have helped our society grow in terms of civil rights and who continue to lead in ways that address our current challenges.

    In Christ,
    Denny Silk, Pastor

  4. A Note from Rev. Denny Silk

    Dear Friends,
    This is an important holiday season for all of us. The concept of holidays often originated in connection with religious observances. The word holiday comes from an Old English word meaning holy day. The purpose of the holiday was typically to allow persons to tend to religious duties associated with their particular faith tradition.

    Obviously, the word holiday is used to describe many days that are recognized as special in the traditions of a particular society or culture. When I lived in London, I noticed that Europeans don’t go on vacations but rather they go on holiday. As people of faith we don’t begrudge the expanding use of the word holiday and celebrate the fact that we and others have time off for relaxation and recreation.

    However, it might be good for us as Christians to recall and reclaim the upcoming holiday season as a holy (day) season. Often, we think of this holiday season as beginning with Thanksgiving Day which is a national holiday, but the very concept of thanksgiving is so integral to all faith traditions that we are glad to incorporate it into our holy days.

    How might we renew/reclaim the rest of our holy days known as Advent and Christmas? Going on a harangue about the commercialism of Christmas, etc., doesn’t seem predictable and not particularly helpful. To reclaim the spiritual nature of these holy days we might:

    • Remember the gift that gives us cause to celebrate. The birth of Jesus is a gift to the world.
    • Teach our children and grandchildren about this gift. Yes, give them their toys but they need to know about Jesus’ birth as the cause for all this celebration and gift giving.
    • Commit to attend worship and other special activities at the church throughout these holy days so that we understand not just the gift that is Jesus but the gifts of music and fellowship.
    • Commit ourselves to more time in prayer and devotion. It will help with this hectic time of year.
    • Be generous with yourselves, your families, your neighbors, and yes, your church. These holy days are a season of gratitude upon gratitude.

    In Christ, Denny Silk, Pastor

  5. A note from Rev. Denny Silk

    Dear Friends,
    Here are a few notes to keep in mind during November.

    All Saints Sunday, November 3 – This is a meaningful service for us because it gives us a chance as a community to support each other in remembering our members and other loved ones who have passed away in the last year. Even though these folks are in the minds and hearts of family and friends daily, this Sunday gives us an opportunity to remember them in a worship setting, to sound a chime to each name, and to feel their presence in the sacrament of Holy Communion.

    Veterans Day Remembrance, Sunday, November 10 – Though not a religious holiday, we will make a grateful acknowledgment of those who have served in the military as a sacrifice on behalf of all our citizens. If you are a veteran, I hope you will be present on the 10th so that we can thank you.

    Thanksgiving Sunday, November 24 – Though Thanksgiving is on Thursday, Nov. 28, we will celebrate as a congregation on Nov. 24. Every time we worship we express our gratitude to God for all of God’s gifts but especially we are grateful for God’s grace in Jesus Christ. This is a national holiday that picks up on the spiritual practice of giving thanks which is an essential practice of all faiths.

    Stewardship Alert
    • If you haven’t turned in your commitment card for support of our ministry in 2020, we hope you will do so soon.
    • We want to finish 2019 with strength. If you are behind on your giving intentions, we hope you might catch up and, of course, we will be asking for a special Thanksgiving Offering in November.

    Thanks for your continued faithful stewardship. It is making a difference in people’s lives.

    Personal Thanks – Your prayers and kind expressions of support on the tragic death of my nephew in Nebraska have meant so much to me.

    In Christ, Denny Silk, Pastor

  6. A note from Rev. Denny Silk

    First United Methodist Family and Friends,

    What happened at the Special Session of the Desert Southwest Annual Conference on September 14?
    Approximately 350 lay and clergy persons gathered at Gold Canyon United Methodist Church to consider 9 resolutions before the DSW Conference. All the resolutions addressed the issues facing our churches, conference and denomination related to ministries with LGBTQIA persons. All resolutions taking exception to actions of 2019 Special Session of General Conference were passed by a significant majority, including a resolution entitled “A Moratorium on Complaints, Investigations and Trials Against LGBTQIA+ Clergy and those Clergy Officiating Same – Gender Weddings.” First Church was represented at this conference by Marie Morais Garber, Tom Rice, Ron Wilson and myself.

    It must be October because it is Stewardship Emphasis
    October is the month in which we do several things to maintain the strength of our ministries and mission:

    1. We remind each other that if we are behind on our giving intentions, we are encouraged to catch up.
    2. The Finance Committee is busy putting together a budget for 2020. They do this carefully so as to be responsible and also challenging.
    3. You can expect mailings and worship emphasis on stewardship throughout October, concluding with Laity Commitment Sunday on October 27.

    Grace and Peace, Denny

  7. A note from Rev. Denny Silk

    First United Methodist Family and Friends,
    First Church has a long tradition of being an inclusive congregation but, as we all know, the legislation passed by the Special Session of General Conference in 2019 presents us, and many other congregations, with challenges to our commitment to be an inclusive fellowship and ministry.
    As you know we have established a task force we’re calling First Phoenix Forward. We have met twice and are enthusiastic about our work. One of our primary concerns is establishing a process that will keep the congregation informed as to what’s happening in the denomination and how that impacts local congregations such as ours. We also need to listen to all the voices of our congregation in a way that demonstrates our respect and affection for each other. We have decided to invite the congregation to attend two sessions (more will surely be planned for later).

    • Sunday, September 8, between services. To discuss and take questions regarding the process we are using and implications from Annual Conference and General Conference actions.
    • Sunday, September 29, between services. A forum to discuss “our stories.” Sharing and discussion around our experiences as LGBTQIA persons and family stories that have impacted our thoughts and the way we love each other.

    With no definite timeline at this point, it is clear our congregation will have to decide if we can effectively serve Christ in a just and bold way as part of the United Methodist denomination or do we need to separate ourselves from the denomination into a different kind of affiliation (yet to be determined).
    This process is not intended “to decide” whether we will continue to be an inclusive congregation. You have already settled that. The process, and any decisions we might make, are intended to discover the most effective way for us to be faithful to our calling as a loving, just, and inclusive community.
    This is a continuing conversation that requires commitment, patience, and prayer from all of us.

    Grace and Peace, Denny

  8. A note from Rev. Denny Silk

    A FEW THANKS

    To Joshua Elder and all the other musicians who gave First Church a wonderful gift of worshipful music at both services on Sunday, May 19. The children and youth sang and acted “The Story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” under the direction of Dr. Elizabeth Leyva at the first service and the “Saint Cecilia Mass” was offered under Joshua’s direction at the 11 a.m. service. Thanks to every child and adult who had any part in this wonderful Sunday of worship.

    To each of you who has contributed to our May Momentum emphasis this month. Through Sunday, May 19, you have given over $10,000 to this extra effort. Many have responded to the request for an extra gift of $200 during May and others have given as they are able. We hope to come into the fall with strength and confidence because you maintained our momentum through the summer.

    To all who help us minister to our families during their time of loss. We have had several memorial services recently and I am reminded how many of us are involved in planning the worship, receptions, and interments. Lynn Wurth and Harriett Granthen who serve as memorial service hostesses. The office staff who work with me to get the service bulletins organized and printed. Jonathan Rovetto in the sound and video booth. Ron Rhode and others at the organ. Our campus staff who set up rooms as needed for receptions and help prepare for interment in our columbarium. These persons help us minister to the families so that they can celebrate the life of their loved one and remember of faith.

    – Denny

  9. A note from Rev. Denny Silk

    Dear Friends,

    What a wonderful Holy Week/Easter celebration we have just concluded. In fact, the first four months of 2019 have been very positive at First Church. Our attendance compared to the same months in 2018 is up slightly and so is our giving compared to 2018. We feel as if we are building momentum and invite you to help First Church maintain that momentum in May which can carry us through the summer – therefore, MAY MOMENTUM.

    We are asking each person or family who already supports the church to give an extra $200 during this MAY MOMENTUM emphasis. Many of you will be able to do more and some may do less. According to the Bible we are to give as we have been blessed and we know that not all are in the same position financially. However, we know that all of us are committed to the ministry of First Church and will give this extra offering as able.

    What does maintaining ministry momentum this summer mean at First Church?
    • Jr. High Mission Trip to Kansas City (supported by registration fees and special fundraisers)
    • Sr. High Mission Trip to Denver (supported by registration fees and special fundraisers)
    • Creative Arts Camp (supported by registration fees)
    • Sunday School and its teachers
    • Worship and its leaders
    • Congregational Care and its callers
    • Missions across Arizona, USA, and around the world through our apportionment giving. Camps for young people, schools, hospitals and clinics, agricultural projects, fresh water projects, seminaries, leadership development, immigrant and refugee assistance, homeless ministries, and so much more. None of these ministries stop for the summer and some intensify their work during the summer months.

    What are the challenges to maintaining our ministry momentum?
    • More sporadic attendance and giving during the summer months. We would never begrudge you or your family the special opportunities that are summertime, but we ask that you maintain your giving intentions during these months even when you don’t attend.
    • Higher utilities. It’s part of being who we are here in Arizona, but it’s a surge that comes at a financially inconvenient time.
    If you are able to make this extra gift of $200 (or any amount) during the month of May, we will be able to accomplish the ministries that need to be done this summer and come into the fall with confidence and strength.

    *Please mark your special gift with a memo “May Momentum”.

    LET’S MAINTAIN THE MOMENTUM FOR MINISTRY IN MAY

    In Christ, Denny Silk
    Pastor

    Doug Dunipace
    Church Council Chair

    Ernie Shaver
    Finance Committee Chair

  10. A note from Rev. Denny Silk

    Dear Friends,

    I’m so excited to spend my first Holy Week and Easter with everyone here at First Church. Our schedule is as follows:

    April 14, Palm Sunday 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
    April 19, Good Friday at 7 p.m.
    April 21, Easter Sunday at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

    There are two important changes to note.
    1) The Friday service of Holy Week will incorporate the traditional elements of the Maundy Thursday service and Good Friday into one service. The flow of the service will be from TABLE (celebrating the Last Supper); COURTYARD (reviewing the desertion and the betrayal of Jesus); and HILL (remembering the crucifixion on Golgotha).

    2) The Easter service at 9 a.m. will be preceded by an Easter morning vigil at 8:30 a.m. in the chapel. We are assuming that most 9 a.m. worshipers will arrive as they usually do, just before 9, and take their place in the sanctuary. Those who are attending the vigil will then enter from the chapel to dress the sanctuary for Easter services.

    Excited as I am for Holy Week and Easter, I am equally enthused about the Sunday after Easter, April 28, because it will be Confirmation Sunday. The confirmands will be confirmed at the 9 a.m. service. Between services, they and their families will attend an informal reception. The confirmands will then return to the beginning of the 11 a.m.service, so they can be introduced and greeted. I want both services to experience the joy of receiving these wonderful young people as we join them in our continued spiritual journey.

    May the grace of God lead us through this penitential season of Lent, the passions of Holy Week, and the joys of Easter. Hope to see you in church!

    In Christ, Denny