Fountain Hills’ 7th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving

Interfaith T-day Insert 2014The 7th Annual Fountain Hills Interfaith Thanksgiving service will be at Ascension Catholic Church, 12615 N. Fountain Hills Blvd, on Sunday, November 23rd at 2pm. The theme of this year’s celebration is Peace and will once again feature an Interfaith Community Choir made up last year of over 50 singers from the various faith groups participating. Those joining together in the celebration include Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, Buddhists, Baha’i, Religious Science, and practitioners of other faiths living in and around Fountain Hills. Latter Day Saints Bishop Jerry Olson says, “I have been impressed by the cooperation and sincere concern for others demonstrated by all that have been involved.”

Rev. David Felten of The Fountains United Methodist recently interviewed Muslim scholar and author Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core. “Patel said that his ‘favorite line from the Qur’an is from Surah 49:13, which says that God made us different nations and tribes that we may come to know one another, in the sense that diversity is holy and it was created by God. What we humans are meant to do with that diversity is engage in positive interaction with each other and to come to know one another.’ Felten says that it’s just that kind of conviction that inspires the Fountain Hills’ Interfaith Alliance to embrace diversity, pluralism, and positive interaction with others as holy pursuits. “Our diversity is a wonderful gift,” adds New Journey Lutheran’s Rev. Jerry Ebbinga.

This year, those attending are encouraged to bring an offering to help support the work of the international aid organization, Doctors Without Borders. Attendees are encouraged to make a cash offering or to make their check out to Ascension Catholic with “Interfaith” in the memo line. Immediately following the service, refreshments will be served to provide a time for fellowship and conversation.

Thanksgiving is a unique opportunity to come together and acknowledge the richness of America’s religious diversity. Those who have attended in past years have called it an “amazing experience.”

If you are interested in singing in the Interfaith Community Choir, rehearsals are on Wednesday, November 19th at 6:30pm and Saturday, November 22nd at 1:00pm at Church of the Ascension (12615 N. Fountain Hills Blvd). For more information on the choir or the service call 480.837.7627 – or CLICK HERE to find out more on Facebook

Vernon Meyer Series: The Battle for God

“The Battle for God: Religion and Spirituality and the struggle to understand the Divine” with Dr. Vernon Meyer

 

Vern Meyer FALL 2014This Fall’s annual three-part series in contemporary theology with the Rev. Dr. Vern Meyer will be hosted at The Fountains, a United Methodist Church beginning this Thursday morning, October 30th from 10am to 11:30 and continue on Thursday mornings November 6th and November 13th. In this series, Dr. Meyer will explore the beliefs of the major world religions and, especially as they have bearing on the conflict in the Middle East, where areas of agreement can lead to dialogue, co-existence, and a non-confrontational stance.

October 30: What Religion tells us about God

Judaism tells us about the God who creates, liberates, vanquishes our enemies and instructs us to kill those who violate the law. Christianity tells us about a divine trinity, and depending on what side of the ideological divide you fall on, God is either one who demands blood atonement or who invites compassionate love. Islam has 99 names for God and Hinduism has multiple entry points for the divine. The earth based religions center God in the earth and the environment. All of these describe God and many times the “surety” of religion is ready to die for their definitions and dogmas.

November 6: What Spirituality tells us about God

While not necessarily different from religion, spiritual insights into God invite us to consider the deeper realities of creation, liberation, compassion, the practice of justice, the mindfulness of life, the separation of the Atman from Brahman, the submission of individual will to the divine will; openness and inclusivity, the feminine and the environment. Spirituality invites us to consider the living questions of the day to day struggle to find meaning and purpose.

November 13: What are our Choices?

The enlightenment brought us a deistic perspective that sees God disinterested in the world leaving us to our own rational investigation into meaning. Fundamentalism responds with a God that demands absolute, timeless truths leaving no room for honest, critical thinking. Is there a middle path, as the Buddha invites us to consider, between the free-wheeling world of prosperity and success where anything goes and the closed, narrow world of fundamentalism and extremism? Our future would seem to depend on our ability to find that middle path!

All the sessions will be at The Fountains United Methodist 15300 N Fountain Hills Blvd?in Fountain Hills. There is no cost but donations will be accepted. For more Info, call 480.837.7627 OR email welcome@thefountainsumc.org

Welcome to our New Staff!

The Fountains is thrilled to welcome two outstanding additions to our staff: Jamy Culp and Cecilia Obrien. We look forward to their leadership in the areas of music and youth!

Choir Director

Jamy CulpJamysu (Jamy) Culp has been involved with music for over 30 years. Growing up playing the piano and singing, she has participated in numerous vocal and musical ensembles from grade school through high school, performed with country and pop groups in Arizona and California, and acquired a minor in vocal jazz and classical piano from Arizona State University. Jamy has been a worship leader and part time choral director in churches around the valley and has shared her passion for music with husband Steve Culp for the past 17 years. Jamy and Steve have 2 boys, Ryan 5 and Ethan 7, enjoy playing tennis, ping pong and billiards and look forward to sharing our gift of music!

 

Youth Coordinator

Cecilia Obrien ver 2Cecilia Obrien and her husband Marc moved to Arizona in 1997. Two years later we settled in Gold Canyon where their daughter Allison was born. After volunteering for several years at Gold Canyon United Methodist, she accepted a position as youth director. She received a Masters in Education from ASU and taught special education for two years. As a family, the Obriens enjoy playing tennis, going to museums, road trips and local eateries. Cecilia enjoys listening to NPR while baking or drawing and watching independent movies (especially of the Wes Anderson variety!). Cecilia says she is inspired by and motivated to serve young people. Her mission is to guide and encourage young people to follow Gandhi’s lead: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

 

Sermon Series: “Everyday Chesed: The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness”

Everyday ChesedDrawn from The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness by Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Everyday Chesed: The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness, Pastor David Felten’s Fall series will explore the Hebrew concept of “Chesed” (or lovingkindness) that was at the heart of Jesus’ teachings and ministry. With author Rabbi Shapiro, we’ll be asking,

“Will you engage this moment in kindness or cruelty, with love or with fear, with generosity or scarcity, with a joyous heart or an embittered one? This is your choice and no one can make it for you.” 

Through story, practical exercises, and words of wisdom, this series will explore how each of us can practice the sacred art of lovingkindness in our everyday lives.

Sept. 7th  #1: The Image and Likeness of God (John 14.8-10a)

Sept. 14th #2: Cultivating Creativity (Gospel of Thomas 70)

Sept. 21st #3: Fearless Compassion & Relentless Grace (Jeremiah 31.31-34) 

Sept. 28th #4  Making Room for Reality (Job 28.12-20, 23-28)

Oct. 5th #5  Doing Right by Others (Psalm 104.24-30)

Oct. 12th #6  Midsentence Correction (James 1.26)

Oct. 19th #7  Better Than Revenge (Ecclesiasticus 28.2-7)

Oct. 26th #8  Be a Mensch (Colossians 3.12-14) 

Fountains to Screen Forgiveness Doc

Power of forgivenessOn Sunday, September 14th at 11am, The Fountains, a United Methodist Church, will continue it’s “Reel Faith” series with the screening of the award-winning documentary, The Power of Forgiveness. Exploring the role forgiveness holds in various faiths traditions, The Power of Forgiveness provides an honest look at the intensity of anger and grief that human nature is heir to. Combining character-driven stories of dramatic transgressions with those of more commonplace annoyances, this compelling film explores the role that forgiveness can play not only in alleviating anger and grief, but exploring the physical, mental and spiritual benefits that come through the practice of forgiveness.

Feature stories include the aftermath of the 2006 killing of five Amish girls in Pennsylvania, the 9/11 tragedy and peace-building in Northern Ireland. Interviews with renowned Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, best-selling authors Thomas Moore and Marianne Williamson and others testify to the healing power of the simplest, most difficult task some human beings may ever face.

Join us for this moving exploration of forgiveness on the big screen in the sanctuary. A brief discussion will follow the screening. Bring a lunch and meet in the Sanctuary at 11am. Drinks will be provided.  The Fountains is located at 15300 N. Fountain Hills Blvd. in Fountain Hills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3rd Annual 9/11 Multi-Faith Food Drive

9:11 food drive logoFor the 3rd year in a row, the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona is delighted to be partnering with churches, stakes, synagogues, and mosques across the valley to help transform the 9/11 commemoration narrative from one of sadness to one of service. The overwhelming success of previous years’ efforts is evidence of how diverse faith communities can be united in supporting the most needy among us.

Kim Bartman, coordinator of the food drive at The Fountains, says, “Prior to 2012, I watched the TV tributes and saw the images of the destruction of 9/11 and felt so helpless & depressed. Then the opportunity arose for my daughter and me to do something positive in our community in memory of those who died.  My daughter and I have met some wonderful people and made genuine friends among people of different faiths. I am grateful for the opportunity to teach her that there is a huge difference between terrorists & people of faith.”

Fountains kids with just a few of the many bags already collected for the 9/11 Multi-Faith food drive

Fountains kids with just a few of the many bags already collected for the 9/11 Multi-Faith food drive

Pastor at The Fountains, Rev. David Felten, says, “There’s no better time than now, with the turmoil growing in the Middle East, that we do all we can to foster friendships across religious boundaries and witness to the positive work we can do together for our communities.” As a growing company of Mormons, Protestants, Muslims, Catholics, Jews, and various ethnic community groups take part, Jill Stoler, member of the Islamic Speakers Bureau, says, “This is a wonderful demonstration of how, when it comes to caring for those in need, there are no racial, religious, ethnic, cultural or age boundaries.”

Join with your neighbors and choose to make 9/11 a day of working together in service to those who are hungry in both Fountain Hills and around the valley. Last year, The Fountains alone collected over 600 pounds of non-perishable food items for the drive – and are hoping to top that this year!

Donations can be delivered to The Fountains, a United Methodist Church (15300 N Fountain Hills Blvd) by 3pm on Wednesday, September 10th. They will be picked up on 9/11 and delivered to The Cultural Cup Food Bank in Phoenix and The Extended Hands Food Bank in Fountain Hills.

For more information about the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona and the Multi-Faith Food Drive, visit: www.isb-az.org

Women’s Retreat–Mingus Mountain

mingusmtn

Register NOW for the Women’s Retreat, Gifts for the Soul, to be held September 26-28 at Mingus Mountain. The program will be facilitated by women from The Fountains, and will offer opportunities for friendship, hiking, learning, meditation, yoga/stretching, caring and sharing. Included are two nights in a beautiful retreat home in the mountains and five meals that YOU don’t have to cook! All The Fountains women are invited to share this fun-learning-relaxing weekend!  Register here.

Reel Faith Brown Bag Lunch & Conversation: “Romero”

On Sunday, August 24th at 11am, The Fountains will screen the feature film, “Romero,” starring Raul Julia as the El Salvadoran Archbishop who was converted from a bookish cleric into “the firebrand of Central America.” Father Ellwood Kieser described the film as the story of “a mouse of a man who became a tiger struggling for justice and defending the rights of his people. He knew his defiance of the military and denunciation of the oligarchy would cost him his life. Yet he chose to go ahead. His is a story of contemporary Christian heroism.”

As tens of thousands of Central American refugees, many of them children, seek asylum in the U.S., it’s important to look back into the not-so-distant past to try and grasp the complex political, economic, and religious causes that have led to today’s crisis. 35 years ago, as El Salvador was plunging into Civil War, one man, Archbishop Oscar Romero, became the “voice of the voiceless” and stood up publically for the rights of the poor and dispossessed in his country. His commitment to follow Jesus’ example was so threatening to the powers that be that he was assassinated. These powers are still at work in Central America — as they are in any setting where power and money are the primary motivating factors.

Released in 1989, “Romero” is the first Hollywood feature film ever financed by the Roman Catholic Church. Critic Randy Parker calls it “a compelling biography, a stirring drama, and, most importantly, an educational experience.”

If you’re interested in exploring some of the roots of our immigration crisis and understanding the complex realities of what following Jesus can lead to in a contemporary setting, mark your calendar to view “Romero” with us on the big screen in the sanctuary. A brief discussion will follow the screening. Bring a lunch and meet in the Sanctuary at 11am. Drinks will be provided.

Click here to see the “Romero” Trailer

Event: Screening of “Romero”
Date & Time:  Sunday, August 24th at 11am
Cost:  Free
Location: The Fountains, a United Methodist Church
15300 N. Fountain Hills Blvd. Fountain Hills, Arizona 85268

Families and Friends of LGBTQ Folks Meet this Friday

pflag phx logoThe monthly PFLAG meeting (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) for Fountain Hills and the surrounding communities meets at 7pm Friday, July 25th at The Fountains, a United Methodist Church.

The goal of PFLAG is to provide support and encouragement to the parents, families, and friends of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and “Questioning” (LGBTQ) individuals. Meetings are a safe and confidential place to discuss sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and be in dialogue with others on topics concerning LGBTQ people and their families. PFLAG is not only a support group for parents and friends of LGBTQ folks but includes the participation of LGBTQ folks themselves.

One of the Fountain Hills PFLAG participants shared that, “A friend wrote recently of their latest visit with a son and daughter-in-law in another state.” The couple’s son is gay, a realization that emerged over the previous year. It has been heartwarming to see their determination to make their home a “safe” place for their son. “What a super thing for home to be safe – and also a neat thing that PFLAG is a safe place,” he wrote.

So, if you’re looking for a safe place to ask questions, be encouraged by others, and discover that you’re not the only one in the world who has ever experienced the feelings you’re going through, then PFLAG is for you. The gatherings are confidential and no one is expected to say or share anything if they don’t want to.

Anyone is welcome to attend: folks who have an LGBTQ family member or friend, LGBTQ individuals themselves, and straight allies who support LGBTQ individuals and the advancement of LGBTQ civil rights. The Fountain Hills support group is one of seven monthly support groups in the Phoenix metropolitan area operated by PFLAG Phoenix (www.pflagphoenix.org). The Fountain Hills meeting is held the fourth Friday of each month at The Fountains, a United Methodist Church, located at 15300 N. Fountain Hills Blvd. For questions about the Fountain Hills group email  info@pflagphoenix.org  or call 602.843.1404. All contacts are kept confidential.

PGLAG meets at The Fountains the fourth Friday of every month.

The Fountains, a United Methodist Church is located at 15300 N. Fountain Hills Blvd.

For more info, call the church office at: (480) 837.7627

TBD is “Honest to God” This Summer

Dare you to read it! Double dare you!honest-to-god cover

This summer, join the TBD group as it explores the radical ideas laid out in a book that rocked more than just the theological world in the 1960s: “Honest to God” sparked a revolution across both the religious and secular worlds. Its ideas were so sweeping and comprehensive that most Christians still have not only never heard of them, but have been warned to beware of anyone that even whispers of the possibility of a conversation about them. Over the years, “Honest to God” has not been “suppressed,” but it certainly hasn’t been recommended to lay people, despite the fact that, in many ways, the whole of contemporary progressive Christianity can claim “Honest to God” as the source and inspiration for its existence.

TBD will be discussing one chapter a month beginning Tuesday night, June 3rd at 7pm at the church. See Barbara Sudderth at church for your copy of the book (or contact her at 480-816-9570). The $20 registration includes a copy of the book and handouts. TBD is open to all who are interested in building bridges of understanding towards whatever is next in the development of what has been called “Christianity.”

Some background:

Just over 50 years ago, the Bishop of Woolwich, John A.T. Robinson, published a little book that caused a firestorm of controversy. Universally condemned by traditionalists, “Honest to God” was hailed as a breath of fresh air by those who could no longer check their brains at the door of the church. Synthesizing the work of some of the most influential theologians of the 20th century (Paul Tillich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Rudolf Bultmann), Robinson called for a revolution in Christian thinking and understanding about God. A British journal commented at the time: “It is not every day that a bishop goes on public record as apparently denying almost every Christian doctrine of the church in which he holds office”.
“Honest to God” makes a case for a reconfiguration of the sacred, a de-emphasis of the supernatural, and a new focus on the reality of our “being” and what lies underneath it. It argues that the belief in a “God-out there” who created the world and pulls our puppet strings is an outmoded and irrelevant creation of human efforts to contain the concept of the Divine.

LLoyd Geering has pointed out that “Honest to God” “sold more quickly and widely than any book of serious theology in the history of the world. I dare to suggest that this record may never be surpassed. Before long its publication had reached a million copies and it was available in 17 languages.” It’s unlikely that any theological book was read so widely in the whole of the twentieth century as this little volume.

So why haven’t you heard of this book? Partly because, while “Robinson’s revolutionary views found fertile soil and helped to cement a new culture of spiritual rediscovery in small segments of the Christian church, most of Christendom, including most of the church hierarchies and the fundamentalist wings of the church persisted with traditional Christian theology.” Isn’t it time that we revisit a book that Bishop John Shelby Spong credits with setting him on the path toward rethinking his beliefs? Are you intrigued by chapter titles like “Reluctant Revolution” and “The End of Theism?” Then get your copy of “Honest to God” and join TBD in great fellowship and good conversation on the first Tuesday of each month at 7pm.

From Robinson’s Preface:

“I am convinced that there is a growing gulf between the traditional orthodox suspernaturalism in which our Faith has been framed and the categories which the ‘lay’ world finds meaningful today. And by that I do not mean there is an increasing gap between Christianity and pagan society…but…many who are Christians find themselves on the same side as those who are not. And among one’s intelligent non-Christian friends one discovers many who are far nearer to the Kingdom of heaven than they themselves can credit. What dismays me is the vehemence–and at bottom the insecurity–of those who feel that the Faith can only be defended by branding as enemies within the camp those who do not [find the traditional framework of metaphysics and morals entirely acceptable].”