Building Committee & Now is the Moment Update

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get a chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with people closest to us in the community of faith.” – Galatians 6:9

December 1st, 2016

Greetings Fountains folk,

Thank you to all who have contributed in so many ways to the initial success of our “Now is the Moment” capital campaign! We have already made significant inroads toward fulfilling our original vision of paying off our mortgage and realizing our dream of a new “connection center.”NITM keyfob logo

The generosity of our congregation has been demonstrated not only in the total of campaign pledges (totaling $874,500) but also in the sustained giving towards those pledges (currently having collected well over $475,000).

In May of 2015 we paid $66,232.80 toward our mortgage leaving a current principal balance of $231,872.49. Our monthly principal/interest payment is $3,187. The next opportunity to pay off the balance without a pre-payment penalty will be in July of 2018 ($194,395).

In the meantime, the Building Committee has been hard at work striving to meet the NITM vision of a new “connection center.” They have explored multiple options for floor-plans that include office space, education space, and community connection space. After considering various building plans, consulting with multiple builders, and reviewing initial cost estimates, the Building Committee is recommending that the ‘house’ be torn down and has a preliminary “Plan A” design as a replacement.

We Seek Your Feedback

More than likely, “Plan A” will require additional funds over and above what was initially pledged. So, the Building Committee, Church Council, and I seek your feedback on how to proceed. Our goal is to determine the congregation’s appetite for raising additional monies through:

  • inviting new members to contribute to the campaign
  • soliciting again from any current members who have yet to contribute
  • asking current contributors to extend their pledge for an additional year
  • borrowing the needed difference between the monies pledged and the final contract price
  • exploring other options (i.e. grants to support our Interfaith or LGBTQ outreach)
  • a combination of any and/or all of the above.

After a series of informational forums and feedback opportunities, our plan will then be to determine a consensus among the congregation. We intend to do this in a formal poll in January of 2017.

Come One, Come All!

In order to share with everyone where things stand currently and to generate the most relevant questions, three town-hall type meetings are being planned. Each will include a brief presentation about the vision of the Building Committee and an update of the NITM campaign financials. The bulk of the time will then be focused on answering your questions and documenting your suggestions and concerns.

  • Tuesday December 6th at 6:30pm
  • Sunday December 18th in between services (approximately 10:15am)
  • Sunday January 8th after second service (approximately 12:15pm)

All meetings will be in the Sanctuary.

Please join us as we hear from our Building Committee, receive an update on our “Now is the Moment” campaign progress, and share our ideas on how best to meet our collective vision for the future. Your prayerful consideration and participation in this process is much appreciated.

On behalf of the Building Committee and the “Now is the Moment” Campaign,

Rev. David Felten, Pastor

 

The Fountains’ Building Committee mission statement:

Our mission is to prayerfully lead in the design and delivery of a multipurpose space that better serves the diverse needs of our members and the community at large. Decisions will be made in the spirit of consensus and limited by the monies entrusted to us from the congregation. The results of our efforts will be a Connection Center that demonstrates from the outside, what we preach from the inside: ALL ARE WELCOME IN THIS PLACE.

The Fountains is Valley Interfaith Project’s Newest Member

vip logoWhat is Valley Interfaith Project?

In May of 2016, The Fountains’ Church Council voted to formally become a member of Valley Interfaith Project (VIP). VIP is a broad-based non-profit organization with a 16-year history in working to address community issues like homelessness, education, youth issues, healthcare, prison reform, and the environment. For a number of years, Pastor David has been involved with other VIP clergy leadership in a variety of efforts, most recently being an advocate to utilities to accommodate customers who are beneath the poverty line with a special reduced rate.

The Fountains joins two of the largest and most influential United Methodist churches in the valley – Dayspring and Paradise Valley – and forty other interfaith organizations as partners in moving from doing “charity” to doing justice – in other words, actively working to change the system, rather than just cleaning up the wreckage the system leaves behind.

What does Valley Interfaith DO?

Theologian Walter Brueggemann says, “I think church people are terribly naïve when it comes to systemic matters.”  We do a fairly good job at being generous and extending charity to poor people – all within a system that keeps chewing up and spitting out victims.

VIP helps us be intentional about asking the bigger, tougher questions: WHY are people hungry, homeless, and struggling? Could it be the system that we tacitly endorse by not questioning the values of our politicians and our community? We need to ask the questions that might make some people uncomfortable, but that further our call to work with people of all faiths to care for the widow, the stranger, and the orphan – and not just with charity.

One of the ways VIP helps us to start asking those bigger, tougher questions are through “House Meetings.” These are small-group listening sessions intended to identify stories and issues that participants are concerned about.

House Meetings with neighbors also happen to be a “best practice” of new church starts. They help a church find out what makes a neighborhood tick so they can get engaged in making a difference. If you wonder how the church can be seen as relevant in the community, it makes sense that we need to understand what is relevant to our community.

House Meetings are not complaining or offering opinions or dictating solutions. They’re about sharing stories and really listening to one another – and many of us need to learn the art of listening! As Simon Sinek has said, “There’s a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak.” As with a spouse or partner, actually listening to one another can both build and strengthen deeper relationships — within the congregation and in the larger community.

 VIP at The Fountains

If you find yourself frustrated with the way the world is and at a loss as to how you can make a difference, then you’ll find VIP is a valuable partner in helping us work together for change.

We already have a VIP core team that’s been planning and training over the summer. We want to be intentional about empowering one another to take action, so VIP’s lead organizer, Joe Rubio, will be at The Fountains once again this Saturday, October 15th at 2pm to continue training Fountains folk in the art of facilitating House Meetings. Then on Sunday, October 16th, we’ll get to experience what a House Meeting is like in both services.

One thing to keep in mind: becoming a member of VIP is committing to playing the long game. Committing to work as a member of VIP is a commitment to changing a system that doesn’t like change. VIP’s current focus includes Education funding reform, Prison Reform, and Immigration reform – any one of which means years of organizing, setbacks, and grassroots work. It’s Jesus work, it’s “Kingdom” work – and work that is worth it in the long run!

For more information or to get involved, CLICK HERE to email Darlene Blackwell. 

A Note on Funding:

Since VIP is strictly non-partisan, it accepts no political contributions or government grants and depends on dues from its member organizations (recommended at 1% of an institution’s operating budget, and active leadership participation in the organization). The Fountains’ dues for our inaugural year is an introductory $2,000, $1,000 of which was generously provided by a committed donor. Members of the Church Council have already contributed toward the second thousand. If you’d like to help us get off to a good start, you can make your check out to The Fountains and note it as being for VIP.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor David to Receive “Local Heroes” Award

Spotlight on Success logo

The Fountains is proud to announce that Pastor David is being honored with the “Spotlight on Success” Local Heroes Award for 2016. The award will be presented by ONE Community at a luncheon ceremony recognizing community heroes for their commitment to diversity.

Among the award recipients are:

  • Executives from Uber
  • Vice President of GoDaddy
  • Director of Human Resources from Fry’s Food Stores

And…

  • Reverend David Felten, Pastor, The Fountains United Methodist Church

One Community says:

As pastor of The Fountains, Rev. Felten has been a singular faith voice for inclusion in Fountain Hills. In 1999, he was one of the founders of No Longer Silent: Clergy for Justice, a group advocating for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in both the church and the community. Since then, he and other colleagues have stood in the midst of the tension in the United Methodist Church which finds its Book of Discipline stating that gay and transgender people are of sacred worth and yet are somehow incompatible with Christian teaching.

Rev. Felten’s church has hosted monthly PFLAG meetings for many years, is a “Reconciling Congregation” in the United Methodist tradition, and has signed One Community’s Unity Pledge. The Fountains continues to engage the community in ongoing study to deepen awareness and transform barriers into opportunities. Outspoken against SB 1062, Rev. Felten has been a public voice for inclusion on both marriage equality and gay and transgender equality and inclusion. Standing for the sacred worth of all people has sometimes come with both a personal and professional cost.

So, Rev. Debra Peevy, Faith Director for One Community, says, “You have spoken out, shaken up, and helped to stir the hearts of many United Methodists to take a journey toward full inclusion. This journey has been taken in faith and the outcome remains unclear, but your voice, your leadership, and your standing up to be counted when it counts, has made you our first choice to receive the Spotlight on Success Heroes Award for Faith Leadership in 2016.”

COST: $40 (normally $100 each — underwritten by One Community and the Peg Beavis Scholarship Fund)  Contact the office for information on reserving your seat: 480.837.7627

WHERE: The Sheraton Downtown, 340 N. 3rd Street, Phoenix

WHEN: October 28th, 2016 — 11:00 Doors Open, 11:30 luncheon

Inclusivity Workshop

Open for Worship Workshop flyer 2016 v2The Fountains is partnering with New Journey Lutheran (ELCA) and ONE Community for an interactive “inclusivity workshop” that will engage participants with the real-life experiences of being an LGBT person. Although designed especially to empower allies and family members of LGBT persons, people of all sexual orientations and gender identities are encouraged to attend.

This free event will be on Sunday, October 23rd at 2pm at The Fountains, a United Methodist Church. The afternoon’s activities have been developed by ONE Community, a broad coalition of socially responsible businesses, organizations, and individuals who support diversity and are committed to creating the best possible future for Arizona.

“People of faith are needed to help build a community with room for all,” says facilitator Rev. Debra Peevey, Faith Director of the ONE Community Education Campaign. “These two hours will open your eyes and hearts to both the very real need for change and ways to work for change.”

Although 75% of Arizonans think that LGBT people are protected by both state and federal laws, they’re not. A majority of LGBT Arizonans can be fired, denied housing and refused service in restaurants and hotels because of their gender and have no legal recourse to address such discrimination. ONE Community is working to educate people and work toward creating an Arizona that respects, protects, and celebrates the diversity of our state.

“Nobody’s going to deny that equality is one of the fundamental values of our society,” says Rev. David Felten, Pastor of The Fountains. “But some people misrepresent religious liberty to justify discrimination and others are simply unaware of the many ways our system excludes our LGBT neighbors. This workshop is about the power of empathy and compassion to open people’s hearts and minds.”

Rev. Adele Resmer, Pastor of New Journey Lutheran, is encouraging her whole congregation to attend. She says, “We are going to get away from thinking of ‘Gay and Transgender People’ as a category and get in touch with the lived experience of what it’s like to be a Gay or Transgender person living in our state – and find out ways we can be more inclusive.”

This is a free event, but to help us plan for materials, please RSVP to: welcome@thefountainsumc.org  The Fountains is located at 15300 N Fountain Hills Blvd in Fountain Hills. All are welcome. For more information, call 480.837.7627

Endowment and Legacy Gifts

The Fountains UMC is now partnering with The Desert Southwest United Methodist Foundation (DSUMF) in efforts to promote legacy and endowment gifts. Members and friends can learn about gifting options, creating a will that includes endowments, making scholarships and reviewing the language that needs to be used when gifts are made.

The new church website page can be found here, and members and friends of The Fountains are encouraged to peruse the DSUMF site and learn about options for making lasting gifts to the church.

Volunteers Needed for Jurisdictional Conference

UMC WJC imageDid you know that the Western Jurisdictional Conference meets every four years, but only comes to our Conference once every 20 years and that the next times it will be here will be this coming July 13 and then not again until 2036?

What is the Western Jurisdictional Conference? It’s a gathering of our elected and appointed United Methodists from around the Western United States who meet every four years to provide leadership and especially to elect the next bishop in the West. If you have ever wondered how someone becomes a United Methodist bishop, this is your closest chance to witness the process! Could this be the year that one of our own clergy is elected bishop? Could this newly elected bishop one day be appointed to our conference? Come to Scottsdale, AZ, and experience it.

As the Desert Southwest Conference, it is our pleasure to not only host but to provide hospitality for the entire conference. Let’s show the West what extravagant hospitality really looks like!

Please click here to sign up as soon as possible.  www.bit.ly/WJ-Volunteers

The Western Jurisdiction Conference will be held July 13 to 16, 2016, at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton (5401 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, Arizona, 85250).

Aging out of Foster Care

fostrcareApproximately one out of every nine youth in foster care are aging out of the system. This represents hundreds of young adults throughout the communities in Arizona, Nevada, and California. These youth have very few resources and few support systems. While there are organizations that are helping, one area where there is no support is move-in costs like filling the pantry with groceries for the first time.

 

This year’s Annual Conference mission project is to fill these empty pantries with food.Churches are invited to buy $25 gift cards from their local grocery stores and to supply a favorite recipe with each gift card. Young adults aging out of the foster care system moving into their first homes will have their pantries filled with the UMC’s love and perhaps their first dinner will include that favorite recipe. We will work with foster care organizations to set up delivery in our local communities. An organization list for both local and regional drop off points will be published soon.

 

In the meantime, we know the generous spirit of our churches will begin as we collect recipes and gift cards.Pray for the young people that are aging out of foster care. Pray for the facilities that are supporting them in their journey to become self sufficient. Then give to help stock their pantries.

Recommended Summer Reading

In his sermon Sunday April 17, The Greatest Story Never Read, Pastor David recommended four books for summer reading. If you didn’t get them written down and can’t remember the titles, here they are…

  • Misquoting Jesus, the Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why  by Bart D. Ehrman
  • The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus by Amy-Jill Levine

  • Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith by Marcus J. Borg

  • Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture by John Shelby Spong

Lay Servant Ministries-Leading Service as a Mission

layministriesDo you hear the call from God to serve your church in a position of service and leadership? Are you not sure you have the skills to do the best job? Do you wish there was some program that you could attend that would help you build the skills that would help you be a better Christian-based leader and servant? Then, the Lay Servant Ministries program may be for you.

Lay Servant Ministries (LSM) is a mission of the United Methodist Church. It is based on the principle that we are called to leadership and service. John Wesley was a strong proponent of using laity, members of the church, in key leader positions. But, to fill these roles, we need training, continued education and a support network.

LMS offers classes throughout the year that address the needs of new and long time leaders and servants through the course call “Basic–Lay Servant Ministries”. This course focuses on Leading, Communicating and Caring. After that course it taken, a large number of advanced courses are available that include a vast number of topics from how to lead prayer, how to teach Bible study, how to provide caregiving and how to enhance stewardship. The classes are offered in a weekend format, starting on Friday evening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To participate in “Basic”, an endorsement is required from your Pastor or Administrative Board.

The “Basic-Lay Servant Ministries” course is being offered in the Central East District on May 20-21, 2016 at Velda Rose UMC, Mesa and August 19-20, 2016 at Shepherd of the Pines UMC, Overgaard. To register, go to the Desert Southwest Conference website at http://desertsouthwestconference.org/lay-servant-ministries.

Cost is $30 per participant. Participants are responsible for purchasing and reading the text in advance of the class. For more information, contact Susan and John Bowers, Directors of Lay Servant Ministries, Central East District, at jandsbowers@yahoo.com.

Hear the call and answer!

Religious Literacy Series

CAUTION NO BRAINMany Americans believe:

  • Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife
  • The Sermon on the Mount was preached by Billy Graham
  • Wicca is a style of patio furniture

While the United States is one of the most religious places on earth, it’s also a nation of shocking religious illiteracy.

Only 10 percent of American teenagers can name all five major world religions and 15 percent cannot name any.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that the Bible holds the answers to all or most of life’s basic questions, yet only half of American adults can name even one of the four gospels and most Americans cannot name the first book of the Bible.

Despite this lack of basic knowledge, politicians and pundits continue to root public policy arguments in religious rhetoric whose meanings are missed—or misinterpreted—by the vast majority of Americans.

Join us as Pastor David explores the themes of Stephen Prothero’s best-selling book, Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know–And Doesn’t. Not a day goes by that both local and global stories involving obvious religious elements are misunderstood by the media and a majority of Americans. “We have a major civic problem on our hands,” says Prothero.  Pastor David’s Religious Literacy series will help you identify the basics that every American needs to know to help us all be more responsible in confronting the challenges facing us in our every day lives.

Religious Literacy Series 2016

  • April 3rd     Religious Literacy #1: At Your Own Risk  Proverbs 1:5
  • April 10th    Religious Literacy #2: A Nation of Illiterates  Proverbs 1.7
  • April 17th     Religious Literacy #3: The Greatest Story Never Read  Proverbs 16:22
  • April 24th    Religious Literacy #4: Religion Matters  Ecclesiastes 7:12
  • May 1st          ALL CHURCH CAMP
  • May 8th        Religious Literacy #5: What We Once Knew  Job 28:28
  • May 15th       Religious Literacy #6: How We Forgot  Hosea 4:6-7
  • May 22nd      Religious Literacy #7: Now What?!  James 3:13-18

Religious Literacy cover This series is based on the writings of best-selling author and Boston University Religion Professor, Stephen Prothero:

protheroStephen Prothero is the New York Times bestselling author of Religious Literacy and chair of the religion department at Boston University. His work has been featured on the cover of Time magazine, Oprah, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, National Public Radio, and other top national media outlets. He writes and reviews for The New York Times Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Salon, and other publications. He holds degrees in American Religion from Harvard and Yale.