March 23, 2020
– Our online worship on Sunday, March 22 was viewed by 245 viewers, 123 of those were watching at the same time Sunday morning. We are looking at ways to expand the online worship experience and make improvements, so please continue to watch. Thank you all for your comments, text messages and emails telling us about your own personal and family experiences with worship on Sunday! If you haven’t watched yet, click here, scroll to Featured Service and tap the Watch Again button.
– Our tradition of Easter flowers will continue this year. Please consider ordering an Easter lily as you normally would. Easter lilies can be delivered to members of our congregation and friends not able to regularly attend worship with us. Please order online https://firstchurch.church/about/flower-order-form/ or call the church office to order an Easter lily at 602.263.5013.
– Joshua Elder has posted some music to YouTube that will appear on the upcoming album, Hymn Renewal Project – All Things New. Click on these links to watch these acoustic versions of the hymns, “Take My Life and Let It Be” and “After the Flood” .
– Peggy Ward Googled the pattern for face masks. Now she is busy sewing them for her pediatrician daughter’s office. They ran out of supplies just like many local offices. Peggy suggests you call locations first to verify the need before you mail or drop them off. If you have questions, call Robin at 602-263-5013, ext. 1107.
News Update – a letter from our Bishop
March 19, 2020
Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,
The Arizona judicatory leaders of the Disciples of Christ, Evangelical Church in America, The United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), and The Episcopal Church teleconferenced together and engaged in lively dialogue about the COVID-19 pandemic. We have jointly released the following statement that I would like to share with you. Here is our pastoral statement:
Church is not cancelled!!!
But in-person worship is. As leaders of our respective Christian denominations, we have all had to instruct our congregations to cease in person worship and meetings.
And yet, church is not cancelled. How is that so?
Church is not a building, and church is not just worship. Church is the gathering of faithful people through prayer, through love, and through caring for the vulnerable. Church is taking on new forms in light of COVID-19. Many congregations are worshiping via live-stream, or by other electronic means. They are using old fashioned phone calls to talk to members, meetings and Bible study are taking place over Zoom. Food pantries are distributing food as cars drive by, homeless dinner programs are offering meals to go, and the prayers of the faithful ascend to a loving God whose arms bind us together even when we cannot be face to face. Since we cannot be WITH one another, let us nonetheless be FOR each other.
These are faithful decisions, made out of our understanding of the great commandments to love God and love our neighbor. In this present moment, among other things, loving our neighbor means not being physically present with our neighbors, to protect them and us from potential infection.
It is more challenging to be church in a time such as this. Our pastors and leaders are having to develop new skills, and our members are having to extend more effort to stay connected. There are financial implications of not gathering in person, and as long as this continues it will grow ever harder to continue our basic outreach ministries caring to the poor, the sick, migrants, and the elderly.
The word “quarantine” comes from quaresima, the Italian word for Lent. Ships were “quarantined” for 40 days in port before they were able to dock and unload people and supplies. So of all seasons of the year to be experiencing quarantines, this present season of Lent is very appropriate. Just as Lent ends with Easter, so this season of quarantine will end with renewed faith in our Risen Lord—though it will likely not happen by April 12, 2020. Over the next few weeks, as the situation develops, we will discern what the right way to observe calendar Easter is; and what the right way to observe our eventual return to in-person congregational life, proclaiming “Alleluia” with shouts of joy. That day will be an Easter Day indeed, celebrating the restoration of new life, having passed through the valley of the shadow of death.
We, the leaders of our respective Christian denominations, hold you in prayer just as we ask you to hold us in prayer in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ!
Rev. Jay R. Hartley
Regional Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Arizona
The Rev. Deborah K. Hutterer
Bishop, Grand Canyon Synod
Evangelical Church in America
The Rev. Dr. Robert T. Hoshibata
The Desert Southwest Conference
The United Methodist Church
Rev. Dr. William M. Lyons, Conference Minister
Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ
Rev. Dr. Brad Munroe
Presbytery Pastor for the Presbyteries of Grand Canyon and de Cristo
Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA)
The Right Rev. Jennifer A. Reddall
Sixth Bishop of Arizona
The Episcopal Church
March 18, 2020
– Some new content has been added to our Facebook page by our Children’s Ministry Coordinator, Jen Heffington and by our Minister of Music, Joshua Elder. Stay connected with our social media and this Events page and watch for regular Enews udpates.
– Plans are developing for a video conference meeting of our administrative leadership groups. Details will be sent to those groups as they become available.
– Read a message from our Bishop, Bob Hoshibata, of the Desert Southwest Annual Conference.
March 17, 2020
Updates about worship services, activities, events, meetings and other happenings at First Church will be published frequently as we move through the coming weeks. This Enews is the first of those updates.
Our staff met today and are working on the following items. Additional updates will be sent as more information is available.
– The church office will remain open M – F, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. This schedule may vary daily depending on staff availability. If you visit the campus for any reason, please check in at the office for assistance or call 602.263.5013.
– At-home activity suggestions for kids are being posted regularly on our Facebook page . Please share with your friends and family members with children. These activities include ideas for “Sunday School at Home” and other learning opportunities.
– The Weekday School will remain closed for classes and childcare through March 27 but the teachers and classroom aids are still hard at work with various deep-cleaning tasks and preparing for the return of children as soon as possible. The school staff continues to practice safe and healthy procedures so everyone will be ready for school to resume.
– The church custodians are working every day to maintain a safe and healthy campus. Special cleaning protocols are being followed in all rooms and areas of the church campus.
– The worship teams, led by Denny and Joshua, are developing special worship services for Livestream viewing. Stay tuned for more information about how to remain connected with worship.
– The Choral Concert with the Phoenix Youth Symphony, Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross, originally scheduled for Friday, March 27, has been delayed and will be rescheduled to a later date.
– Worship and activity plans for Holy Week (April 5 – 12), which includes Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday are tentative. Details will be available as we near Holy Week.
– Our tradition of Easter flowers will continue this year. Please consider ordering an Easter lily or begonia as you normally would. Easter flowers can be delivered to members of our congregation and friends not able to regularly attend worship with us. Please order online or call the church office to order an Easter flower at 602.263.5013.
– Plans are in development for administrative committee meetings. If you serve on one of our leadership groups, please watch your email inbox for meeting details.
– We will continue to exercise our good stewardship toward the church. Just because we have suspended activity doesn’t mean that most of our ministry and mission expenses go away Please give using our secure online resources, with our Give+ mobile app, by using your bank’s bill-pay services, or mailing your gifts to the church office at 5510 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ, 85012.
Please know that First Church and the staff is doing everything we can to think of ways to stay connected with each other during the coming weeks. The best way to stay connected is to share these updates with friends and people you know who may not have internet access and to guide those who do to the Events Page of our web site.
Worship Services and Activities Temporarily Suspended
March 16, 2020
Dear First United Methodist Church Family,
Obviously, we are all concerned about the Coronavirus threat to our community and our brothers and sisters around the world. We have reacted with measured restraint but we believe it is time to be proactive on behalf of each other, our congregation, and our neighbors.
It is a difficult decision but we have decided to temporarily suspend our regularly scheduled worship services and all other normally scheduled church activities. Also, by order of Gov. Ducey, all schools, including our Weekday School, are closed through March 27.
Other ministry concerns:
– Our parish nurse, the congregational care committee, and pastor will limit visitation in homes, hospitals, and other care facilities. We will use other means to communicate our prayerful support of our members. If you have prayer requests please click here to submit them online.
– Our staff will remain on duty and are available by means of email, text, or phone. They will be exploring ways that we can stay connected during this time of change.
– We will Livestream a worship activity/service each week and hope that you will join us.
– We will continue to exercise our good stewardship toward the church. Just because we have suspended activity doesn’t mean that most of our ministry and mission expenses go away. Please give using our secure online resources, with our Give+ mobile app, by using your bank’s bill-pay services, or mailing your gifts to the church office at 5510 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ, 85012.
– Other challenges or opportunities brought on by this decision may not have been identified yet but we will respond in a way that reflects our commitment to each other as the Body of Christ.
– We will continue to pray for those afflicted by this virus; health care providers; and those working to develop a vaccine.
We continue in the confidence that our God of love, healing, and comfort is with us always.
Are you looking for an easy way to make contributions to First Church? Do you want a simple and secure way to make your gifts? There are a few ways you can get started.
Use our Give+ mobile app to give from your mobile phone using your checking, savings or debit card bank account. Click here to learn more.
You may also give electronically using your bank’s “bill pay” service. Many banks offer this service as a feature with checking accounts.
*All of these methods of giving electronically are safe and secure.