Statement from Presbyterian Clergy re: Attack on Progressive Christianity

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Banner in front of Fountain Hills Presbyterian Church

One of the churches in what John Shore has called the Fountain Hills “Gang of 8” is Presbyterian, pastored by Bill Good. A number of fellow Presbyterian pastors in the Grand Canyon Presbytery (PCUSA) have not taken kindly to being associated with what they call views that “do not represent our views, the views of the Christian congregations we serve, nor the views of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).”  They’ve released a statement that is already gaining national attention and signatures from around the world.

For more info on this campaign against “progressive Christianity” and neighboring church, The Fountains United Methodist, see local stories about it here and here; along with national coverage: Christianity Today, and The Huffington Post).

Below is the statement of the Presbyterian pastors (who invite others to sign on). Presbyterian pastors can contact Eric Lederman directly through his website to add your name.

A RESPONSE TO REV. BILL GOOD AND THE CHURCHES OF FOUNTAIN HILLS
ATTACKING PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANS

Recently eight churches in Fountain Hills, Arizona, posted banners announcing a collective sermon series entitled “’Progressive’ Christianity: Fact or Fiction.” The Rev. Bill Good of Fountain Hills Presbyterian Church, and president of the local clergy association, mischaracterized in his first sermon a distinction between “Progressive Christianity” and what he called “Biblical Christianity,” insinuating that Progressive Christianity is not Biblical nor a valid expression of Christian faith. We respectfully reject this false dichotomy and claim what is often labeled as Progressive Christianity to be a faithful expression of Christian faith in the spirit of Jesus Christ who crossed cultural boundaries and challenged traditional norms for the sake of God’s love, especially for the poor, oppressed, and socially marginalized. The entire spirit of this campaign is not in keeping with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

As clergy members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the same denomination as Rev. Good, we, the undersigned of this statement, celebrate the vast diversity of expressions of Christian faith present in the Body of Christ—the Church universal—and further state that Rev. Good’s views do not represent our views, the views of the Christian congregations we serve, nor the views of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is a Christian denomination and has been, and continues to be, a classically liberal denomination of Christian faith that attempts to honor diversity of opinion and faith, even protecting the voices of minority positions, while still keeping to the essentials of Christian faith. We are hesitant to define these essentials, understanding that we will make mistakes and are still growing in our understanding of God’s will. We tend to be cautious around any dogmatic statements or claims of absolute truth because God is infinite and cannot be contained by the limits of human understanding and language. Each statement that is made, however, combined with the many statements and understandings offered throughout our historical tradition, offer glimpses of truth that help us discern God’s will for our lives today and for the positive and faithful transformation of the world according to God’s creative love and grace, as revealed through Jesus Christ.

The Hebrew Scriptures teach us to “not bear false witness against our neighbor” (Exodus 20.16). We believe Rev. Good and his colleagues are preaching a distorted view of progressive Christianity to serve their own purposes rather than God’s. In our Gospels, Jesus teaches us to “do to others as you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7.12). A major thread that runs throughout the Bible, and summarized by Jesus, is that we are called to love God and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. An important aspect of this love is the respect of self and others, especially those with whom we might disagree (Matthew 5.44). We believe Rev. Good’s intentions violate God’s standards of love and seek to tear down rather than build up the Body of Christ.

We celebrate and appreciate a healthy tension between conservative, progressive, and other understandings of God, Jesus, and the Bible, even though we may disagree on many things. We believe we are all better together than apart, and seek to build bridges of understanding and mutual respect. Each perspective presents opportunities and challenges that hold us all accountable to the Spirit of God and the central Biblical call to healthy, mutual and faithful relationships. But we cannot support, condone, nor keep silent about anyone who claims Christian identity and then openly attacks the peace, unity, and purity of the Body of Christ by calling some within it “not really Christian.”

We consider Rev. Good a colleague and a brother in Christ, along with the other clergy participating in this action. We are deeply saddened by the tone and language being used in this campaign, and are especially concerned as the campaign seems to be directed at one particular neighboring congregation: The Fountains United Methodist Church and its pastor, the Rev. David Felten. We believe Rev. Good’s actions are not in keeping with Jesus’ teachings, nor the teachings of our Scriptures. We implore Rev. Good and his colleagues to stop this divisive behavior. We stand in solidarity with Rev. Felten and our sisters and brothers at The Fountains, and hold them all in prayer. We also hold in prayer Rev. Good, our sisters and brothers in the congregation he serves, and the other clergy and congregations participating, trusting that somehow God’s love will win in the end for all of our sakes.

We implore Rev. Good and his colleagues to stop these attacks, take down their banners, and, in the spirit of Jesus Christ, seek to be in conversation and dialogue to seek deeper understanding and respect, rather than resorting to overly simplistic attacks that further drive a wedge into the heart of the Body of Christ—seeking understanding over division; seeking to love rather than hate; seeking to build up rather than tear down.

Sincerely, your sisters and brothers in Christ,

  1. The Rev. Eric O. Ledermann, University Presbyterian Church, Tempe, Arizona
  2. The Rev. Peggy Roberts, Presbytery of Grand Canyon at-large, Phoenix, Arizona
  3. The Rev. Linda Worsnop, Palo Christi Presbyterian Church, Paradise Valley, Arizona
  4. The Rev. Leslie Vogel, Presbytery of Grand Canyon, Mission Co-worker, Phoenix, Arizona/Guatemala
  5. The Rev. José Olagues, Presbytery of Grand Canyon, Honorably Retried, Phoenix, Arizona
  6. The Rev. Cynthia A. Jennison, Memorial Presbyterian Church, Phoenix, Arizona
  7. The Rev. Sue Wintz, Presbytery of Grand Canyon, Board Certified Chaplain, Mesa, Arizona
  8. The Rev. Dr. Arthur J. Campbell, Presbytery of Grand Canyon, Honorably Retired, Chandler, Arizona
  9. The Rev. Larry Corbett, Presbytery of Grand Canyon, at-large Interim, Estes Park, Colorado
  10. The Rev. Deanne Hodgson, Presbytery of Grand Canyon, Honorably Retired, Phoenix, Arizona
  11. The Rev. Ken Moe, Presbytery of Grand Canyon, Honorably Retired, Mesa, Arizona
  12. The Rev. Shelly Moe, Celebration of Life Presbyterian Church, Mesa, Arizona
  13. The Rev. Martha Sadongei, Central Presbyterian Church, Phoenix, Arizona
  14. The Rev. Doug Baer, Presbytery of Grand Canyon, Honorably Retired, Phoenix, Arizona
  15. The Rev. Tully M. Fletcher IV, Orangewood Presbyterian Church, Phoenix, Arizona
  16. The Rev. Terry Palmer, Gilbert Presbyterian Church, Gilbert, Arizona
  17. The Rev. Richard Nielsen, Presbytery of Grand Canyon, Honorably Retired, Scottsdale, Arizona
  18. The Rev. David Hicks, First Presbyterian Church, Yuma, Arizona
  19. The Rev. Janet Arbesman, Presbytery of Grand Canyon, Member at Large, Carefree, Arizona
  20. The Rev. Mae Hicks, Presbytery of Grand Canyon, Honorably Retired, Phoenix, Arizona
  21. The Rev. Stan Martin, Mission del Sol Presbyterian Church, Tempe, Arizona
  22. The Rev. Joe Keesecker, Presbytery of Grand Canyon, Honorably Retired, Phoenix, Arizona

Other Signatories from outside the Presbytery of Grand Canyon:

  1. The Rev. Kristina Hine, Presbytery of Riverside, Member at Large (serving in Ayr, Scotland)
  2. The Rev. Rob Smith, Spirit of Life Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of the Twin Cities, Apple Valley, MN
  3. The Rev. Ben Daniel, Montclair Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of San Francisco, Oakland, CA
  4. The Rev. Beth Appel, Presbytery of Southern New England, Providence, RI
  5. The Rev. Dr. Antonio (Tony) Aja, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Santa Fe Presbytery, Santa Fe, NM
  6. The Rev. Deborah Matthews, Presbytery of Chicago, Westmont, IL
  7. Sr. Therese Parkin, COS, Guardian of the Community of Solitude, Rotora, New Zealand
  8. The Rev. Dr. Tom Eggebeen, Presbytery the Pacific, Honorably Retired, Los Angeles, CA
  9. The Rev. Eliana Maxim, Presbytery of Seattle, Seattle, WA
  10. The Rev. David Choate, Presbytery of Cincinnati, Member at Large, Cincinnati, OH
  11. The Rev. Pete Jones, Pisgah Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of the Peaks, Versailles, KY
  12. The Rev. Dwain Lee, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse, Auburn, NY
  13. The Rev. Mark Sandlin, Presbytery of Salem, Greensboro, NC
  14. The Rev. Timothy Blodgett, Connecting Point Presbyterian Church, Indian Nations Presbytery, Oklahoma City, OK
  15. The Rev. Landon Whitsitt, Synod of Mid-America, Kansas City, MO
  16. Reed Miller, State College Presbyterian Church, State College, PA
  17. The Rev. Elaine Murray Dreeben, Canyon Lake Presbyterian Church, Mission Presbytery, San Antonio, TX
  18. CRE John Harrison, Fairfield Highlands Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley, Midfield, AL
  19. The Rev. Dr. Joanne C. Sizoo, Grace Presbyterian Church, Providence Presbytery, Fort Mill, SC
  20. RE Diana R. Sanderson, Warren Wilson Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Western North Carolina, Swannanoa, NC
  21. RE Clancy Cherry, First Presbyterian Church, Albany Presbytery, Albany, NY
  22. The Rev. Tom Paine, Parkway Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of South Louisiana, Metairie, LA
  23. The Rev. Alice Geils Nord, New Hope Presbytery, Honorably Retired, Mebane, NC
  24. The Rev. Benie Nord, New Hope Presbytery, Honorably Retired, Mebane, NC
  25. The Rev. Dr. Paul Alcorn, Bedford Presbyterian Church, Hudson River Presbytery, Bedford, NY
  26. The Rev. Adam Walker Cleaveland, Winnetka Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Chicago, Winnetka, IL
  27. The Rev. John Edward Harris, Presbyterian Church of Cadiz, Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery, Cadiz, OH
  28. Michael Demeule, Seriously considering joining the PC(USA), Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  29. The Rev. Julie A. Jensen, Cherokee Presbytery, Cartersville, GA
  30. The Rev. Elizabeth Kanerva, Glendale Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy, St. Louis, MO
  31. Commissioned Ruling Elder Barbara Vaughan, Berkley-Hillside Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Chicago, Hillside, IL
  32. The Rev. Kim Trimboli, West Berlin Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Scioto Valley, Hillard, OH
  33. The Rev. Dr. Sydney V. ‘Skip’ Jackson, Indianola Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Scioto Valley, Columbus, OH
  34. The Rev. Zachary Morton, New Church Development, Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, Suwanee, GA
  35. Charles Toy, co-found of “The Christian Left,” Portland, OR
  36. The Rev. Brian Shivers, Second Presbyterian Church, White Water Valley Presbytery, Indianapolis, IN
  37. The Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer Oget, PhD, Assoc. Professor of New Testament, The Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, GA, soon to be at Austin Theological Seminary, Austin, TX
  38. The Rev. Frances Hayes, Littlefield Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Detroit, Dearborn, MI
  39. The Rev. Lucus Levy Keppel, Ancho and Corona Presbyterian Churches, Presbytery of Sierra Lanca, Corona, NM
  40. RE Keith Barber, First Presbyterian Church, Albany Presbytery, Albany, NY
  41. The Rev. Dr. Charles R. Traylor, Transitional Executive Pastor, Presbytery of Central Nebraska, Kearney, NE
  42. Matt Bowman, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky, Louisville, KY
  43. RE John Hannan, Presbytery of West Virginia, Winfield, WV
  44. RE Ken Whitehurst, Moderator-elect, Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, Atlanta, GA
  45. RE Brenda Crespo, First Presbyterian Church of Perth Amboy, Presbytery of Elizabeth, Metuchen, NJ
  46. The Rev. Dr. Judye Pistole, First Presbyterian Church, Cimarron Presbytery, Alva, OK
  47. The Rev. Dr. Timothy J. Luoma, First Presbyterian Church, Vice Moderator of Presbytery of Scioto Valley, Gallipolis, OH
  48. David Silcox, The Southeast Project, Indianapolis, IN
  49. The Rev. Dr. Donald Blosser, PhD, Professor of New Testament (retired), Goshen College, Mennonite Church, Goshen, IN
  50. The Rev. Alisa Secrest, First Presbyterian Church of Deerfield, Chicago Presbytery, Deerfield, IL
  51. The Rev. Sam Hamilton-Poore, Collegiate Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of North Central Iowa, Ames, IA
  52. Mary Beth Buffum, Cedar Hills United Church of Christ, Portland, OR
  53. The Rev. Tricia Dykers Koenig, National Organizer, Covenant Network of Presbyterians, Presbytery of the Western Reserve, Cleveland Heights, OH
  54. RE Myra Joyce, Riverdale Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of New York City, Bronx, NY
  55. The Rev. Eslianne Adkins Braunstein, Western Presbyterian Church, National Capitol Presbytery, Washington, DC
  56. CRE Gary Smith, Presbytery of Central Nebraska, Kearny, NE
  57. The Rev. Constance McIntosh, First Presbyterian Church of Welsh, Presbytery of South Louisiana, Welsh, LA
  58. The Rev. C. Michael Kuner, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, presbytery of Northern Kansas, Topeka, KS
  59. The Rev. Bill Schram, Albany Presbytery, Northville, NY
  60. The Rev. Matt Curry, Central Presbyterian Church, Grace Presbytery, Waxahachie, TX
  61. The Rev. Rachael Whaley Pate, Rehoboth Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, Decatur, GA
  62. The Rev. Susan Joseph Rack, Christ Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Elizabeth, Martinsville, NJ
  63. The Rev. Bart Smith, St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of de Cristo, Tucson, AZ
  64. The Rev. W. Scott Harbison, St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of New Covenant, Houston, TX
  65. The Rev. Sarah Ross, First Presbyterian Church, Maumee Valley Presbytery, Adiran, MI
  66. The Rev. Loretta F. Ross, The Sanctuary Foundation for Prayer, Presbytery of Northern Kansas, Topeka, KS
  67. The Rev. Kimberly P. Chastain, United Presbyterian Church of Binghamton, Susquehanna Valley Presbytery, Binghamton, NY
  68. The Rev. Paul F. Rack, Stated Clerk, Presbytery of Elizabeth, Plainfield, NJ
  69. The Rev. Dr. Kyle M. Walker, Faith Presbyterian Church, Mission Presbytery, Austin, TX
  70. The Rev. Norma Prina Murphy, Hammond Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Northern New York, Hammond, NY
  71. RE Kathryn Quickert, Bethany Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of San Francisco, San Bruno, CA
  72. RE Kelly M. Godfrey, Trinity Presbyterian Church, John Calvin Presbytery, Shell Knob, MO
  73. The Rev. Charles Freeman, Grace Presbyterian Church, St. Augustine Presbytery, Gainesville, FL
  74. The Rev. Betsy Turner, Luther Hays Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, Mansfield, GA
  75. The Rev. Reford B. Nash, Eastminster Presbytery, Honorably Retired, Mineral Ridge, OH
  76. The Rev. John Caster, Presbytery of Cincinnati, Honorably Retired, Cincinnati, OH
  77. The Rev. Karen G. Bear Ride, Presbytery of the Pacific, Claremont, CA
  78. The Rev. Dr. Kim L. Nelson, First Presbyterian Church, Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery, Cape Girardeau, MO
  79. The Rev. Jennifer McCann Spivey, Chaplain, Presbytery of Eastern Virginia, Virginia Beach, VA
  80. Jeanne Lowrey, Connecting Point Presbyterian Church, Indian Nations Presbytery, Oklahoma City, OK
  81. The Rev. René Brandt, Presbytery of Chicago, Chicago, IL
  82. The Rev. Tom Barnicott, First Bethel United Methodist Church, Bethel Park, PA
  83. Steven Gilbert, Calvary Presbyterian Church, West Jersey Presbytery, Riverton, NJ
  84. The Rev. Michael Moore, First Presbyterian Church, Florida Presbytery, DeFuniak Springs, FL
  85. The Rev. Susan Carter Wiggins, First Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Arkansas, Pine Bluff, AR
  86. The Rev. Ruth Billington, Presbytery of Plains and Peaks, Honorably Retired, Fort Collins, CO
  87. The Rev. Michael Hafele, Riverdale Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of New York City, Bronx, NY
  88. The Rev. Kate McGee, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Grace Presbytery, Arlington, TX
  89. RE Kathy Randall, First Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Southern Kansas, Newton, KS
  90. The Rev. Dennie Carcelli, Presbytery of Seattle, Honorably Retired, Seattle, WA
  91. RE Pete H. Wells, First Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Eastern Oregon, Pendleton, OR
  92. RE Stacy Clopton Yates, St. Luke Presbyterian Church, Palo Duro Presbytery, Amarillo, TX
  93. The Rev. Dr. Marsha Cutting, PhD, Madrona Grace Presbyterian Church, Seattle Presbytery, Honorably Retired, Seattle, WA
  94. Sharon Dowling, First Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Northern New England, Antrim, NH
  95. The Rev. Dr. Andrew L. Cullen, Heartland Presbytery, Honorably Retired, Kansas City, MO
  96. Roberta Henry, Bethany Presbyterian Church, San Francisco Presbytery, San Bruno, CA
  97. The Rev. Dr. Deana J. Reed, Covenant Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of the Redwoods, Napa, CA
  98. The Rev. William Norman, St. John’s United Church of Christ, Presbytery of Sacramento, Woodland, CA
  99. The Rev. Marsha McFadden Quick, United Church of Christ, Southern California Nevada Conference, Los Angeles, CA
  100. The Rev. Mari Lyn Jones, Butler Presbyterian Church, Heartland Presbytery, Butler, MO
  101. The Rev. Carla Libby Gentry, Belton Presbyterian Church, Heartland Presbytery, Belton, MO
  102. The Rev. Lorelei Kay, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Santa Fe Presbytery, Gallup, NM

RE=Ruling Elder in the PC(USA)
CRE=Commissioned Ruling Elder in the PC(USA)

Since this first posted, we have received the above signatories. The response has been overwhelming.

Updated as of May 22, 2015 at 11:40 p.m. MST.

Our hope is to respond directly to the allegations made by the churches in Fountain Hills, stand in solidarity with Rev. Felten and his congregation, and, at the same time, express our deep hope for true dialogue and seeking understanding. These divisive tactics only tear us apart. God, in Christ, has sought to pull us together. I pray that may still be possible.

If you would like to be added to the list, whether or not you are a member of the Presbytery of Grand Canyon, CLICK HERE to go to a page with instructions on being included as a signatory.

Click HERE to go to Ledermann’s blog for an up-to-date list of the signers

Click HERE to read the statement of Brad Munroe, Presbytery Pastor

 

Bishop Bob’s Benediction at The Fountains 05/17/2015

Bishop Robert Hoshibata

Bishop Robert Hoshibata

“I just want to take a very short moment to let you know that I am here today with my wife, Greta, to let you know we support the good work that is being done — to let the world know that Christianity must move with the times and there are exciting things that happen when we put our trust in God.

So I am here today with Thanksgiving to you, Dave, and your good support Laura. For all of you I am grateful. I am here to let you know let’s not be afraid of what the future holds. But continue to go boldly into that future that God has with us.

Representing your annual conference, I say thank you for your good and faithful Christianity in the name of Jesus.”

~Bishop Bob,  May 17, 2015

Robert T. Hoshibata is the Episcopal Leader of the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church.

 

Campaign Against Progressive Christianity

anti-progressive xnity banner

Just one of eight banners posted at neighboring churches in Fountain Hills

As many of you know, ominous black banners went up at multiple churches in Fountains Hills this week asking:   “Progressive” Christianity: Fact or Fiction? On Wednesday, an article, an OpEd piece, and a half page ad appeared in our local FH Times (see below). It turns out that eight churches of the Fountain Hills Ministerial Association are joining together in a sermon series attacking “so-called” Progressive Christianity for the next six weeks.

As Pastor David has written a best-selling book on the “Wisdom of Progressive Christianity” and The Fountains is the only openly “Progressive” Christian Church in town, (welcoming of LGBTQ folks, embracing of science, in dialog with other religions, etc.), it’s clear who the series is aimed at.

Friends of The Fountains like nationally-known author Diana Butler Bass (and others who keep a finger on the pulse of the national religious scene) say that they’ve never seen anything like this before: a coordinated smear campaign/attack by a majority of the churches in one town against a single other church. It is an unusual enough event that Fox 10 News came out to do a story. If you didn’t see the report live the other night, CLICK HERE to VIEW

Far from being a bad thing, we believe that in the long run, this is a wonderful opportunity for The Fountains. The outpouring of support from literally around the world has already overwhelmed our office email and Facebook page.  Visits to our website have increased a thousand-fold and various organizations and bloggers are picking up our story. Plus, there are many, many allies and supporters who have indicated that they’re going to be with us at The Fountains on Sunday morning, May 17th – including our Bishop, Robert Hoshibata and his wife, Greta.

So you can get a sense of what’s going on, below you’ll find the FH Times article and ad. Above is a  picture of one of the banners. The whole series seems to be a continuation of the many recent letters in the OpEd section of the local paper with our neighboring pastors calling The Fountains an apostate church and Pastor David a vicious, intolerant hypocrite.

While this all may seem scary, it has already proven to be tremendous publicity for our church that “Prays Well With Others” with Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors. Our strategy is to not be defensive or argumentative, but to keep articulating the positive attributes of Progressive Christianity and always err on the side of grace as we move ahead. There are many who are hungry for the message The Fountains offers – we look forward to this situation helping us reach more and more of them!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us or Pastor David directly. We’re looking forward to an amazing Sunday with lots of new friends and supporters in attendance as we Reach, Touch, and Teach by living and sharing the stories of Jesus!

Peace,

Hunter Lott, Church Council Chair & Beth Dyer, Lay Delegate to Annual Conference

 

anti-progressive xnity banner FH Times Fact or Fiction Article 2015.05.13

 

FH Times Progressive Christianity Ad 2015.05.13

Dr. Vernon Meyer at The Fountains

Dr. Vernon Meyer at The Fountains: Widows, Orphans, & Aliens, Oh My!

Vern Meyer pointing croppedJoin the Rev. Dr. Vernon Meyer for this Spring’s annual three-part series on theology: Widows, Orphans, & Aliens, Oh My! The Political, Economic and Social Implications of the Biblical Vision. Hosted by The Fountains, the series will begin on Thursday morning, April 16th from 10am to 11:30 and continue on Thursday mornings April 23rd and 30th.
In this year’s sessions, Dr. Meyer will unpack three texts at the heart of not only ancient Israel’s prophetic tradition, but that served as the foundation of Jesus’ ministry of compassion and call for justice.

The Bible portrays God as having a “special place in God’s heart” for widows, orphans, and aliens – people who are particularly vulnerable to oppression, mistreatment, and abuse. In delving into Exodus 22:21-24, Deuteronomy 10:17-18, and Deuteronomy 24:17-22, Dr. Meyer will help us see what the texts tell us about ancient Israel and its world, and then bring them into the 21st century to consider the challenges these texts present to our current realities of budgets, political alliances, and social commitments.

 “A concern for and care of aliens, orphans, widows, the poor, the disadvantaged, the helpless, the disabled, etc., lies at the very heart of “true Christianity.” So what are the implications of the biblical tradition for our political, economic and social commitments and obligations today?”

The Rev. Dr. Vernon Myer is a former Catholic priest, who has an MA in Theology from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, an MA in Pastoral theology from the University of San Francisco, and a PhD in Theology from the University of Dayton. Dr. Meyer is currently the Director of the Arizona Center for Theological Studies (www.azcts.org) and a United Church of Christ minister in Sun Lakes.

All in the community are encouraged to attend. The classes are free, but donations are encouraged. The presentations will be in the sanctuary at The Fountains United Methodist, 15300 N Fountain Hills Blvd. Additional information may be obtained by calling The Fountains at 480-837-7627. Childcare is available upon request.

______________________________

“Widows, Orphans, & Aliens, Oh My!” Schedule:

April 16th  Exodus 22:21-24: “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. You shall not abuse any widow or orphan. If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry; my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children orphans.”

April 23rd  Deuteronomy 10:17-18: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who exercises justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing.”

April 30th Deuteronomy 24:17-22: “You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice; you shall not take a widow’s garment in pledge. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this. When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be left for the alien, the orphan, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all your undertakings. When you beat your olive trees, do not strip what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, do not glean what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this.”

Visit from AZ’s Largest Family Homeless Shelter CEO

Lots of people have heard of UMOM, the largest homeless shelter for families in Arizona. Many have even volunteered at the downtown Phoenix institution without knowing that UMOM stands for “United Methodist Outreach Ministries,” one of numerous ways United Methodists work to bring people of all persuasions together for the good of the community.

 

Darlene-Newsom-003The Fountains is proud to welcome UMOM’s Chief Executive Officer, Darlene Newsom, to Fountain Hills on Sunday, April 12th. Darlene has worked in the non-profit sector in Arizona for over 35 years and has been a tireless advocate for the prevention of and end to homelessness in Phoenix. Recognizing her commitment to serving the homeless in Arizona, Darlene has been honored with numerous awards, including the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce’s Public Sector Athena Award in 2011 and the Phoenix Business Journal‘s 28 Most Admired Leaders in 2013.

This Sunday, she will not only be sharing some of the many success stories of UMOM over the last 50 years, but will also be bringing exciting news about plans for the future. Ms. Newsom will be speaking at both the 9am and 11:15 services at The Fountains, a United Methodist Church, 15300 N. Fountain Hills Blvd. For more information, call 480.837.7627

UMOM’s many programs and services include Family Homeless Shelters, Permanent Housing, Watkins Basic Needs Shelter, Veteran Programs, Child Care, Wellness and Educational programs. UMOM strives to keep families together, provide a continuum of care from emergency shelter to transitional housing and finally, permanent, affordable housing. Families at UMOM have the opportunity to gain the skills, medical care, quality childcare, and education they need to rebuild their lives and succeed when they leave. To find out more about UMOM, visit www.umom.org

FH Times UMOM 2015.04.08

Walking with Palestinian Christians

david-wildmanJoin guest speaker David Wildman for a discussion on the Biblical foundations for seeking the things that make for peace in Israel/Palestine today. “Walking with Palestinian Christians” will be in the sanctuary at The Fountains at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, March 24th.

David Widman is the executive secretary for Human Rights and Racial Justice with the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Global Ministries. He serves on the World Council of Churches Palestine-Israel Ecumenical Forum Core Group. David holds both an MDiv and MPhil (for doctoral work) in Social Ethics from Union Theological Seminary (NY).

Don’t miss this opportunity to dialog with one of our Board of Global Ministry’s Executive Secretaries in mission on behalf of United Methodists around the world!

Firing up a Dramatic Ash Wednesday

ash wednesday bonfire

Get your Ash On!

Lurking behind Ash Wednesday’s reputation of self-reflection and penance is a celebration of life. And fire. Yup, burning stuff. Palm branches in particular. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and kicks off the 40 days leading up to Easter. Ashes are smudged on our foreheads and we’re reminded that we’re going to die (like we need a reminder!).

But be careful about Ash Wednesday. Taken superficially, the gloomy “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” language can become a misguided downer of spiritual confessions of the “whoa is me” and “I’m such a worm” variety — used from time immemorial to convince earnest Christians of the need to spend 40 days in denial and self-loathing to prepare for Easter. But there’s another take on Ash Wednesday — one that goes back to its ancient roots in the early church.

At The Fountains, we celebrate as the ancient Christians may have done, outside around a bonfire. As participants take the dried palm branches used to celebrate Palm Sunday the previous year and place them on the fire to be consumed, they’re reminded how fleeting praise and glory is — and how quickly life can turn to ashes.

Dramatic and visceral, we’re reminded of the ultimate reality we struggle against, our mortality. We are reminded, both by the words we say and the burned palms imposed on our foreheads, that we will die. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. There’s no escape — so get crackin’! Every moment is precious before the looming fact that we only have so much time as short-lived expressions of the spirit tasked to love, serve, and live fully, before returning to dust.

Join us for this unique ritual that not only takes our mortal existence seriously but in a surprisingly hopeful way, celebrates the extraordinary and fleeting gift of being alive. Meet in the “olive grove” between the Church House and the Labyrinth at 7pm on February 18th at The Fountains, 15300 N Fountain Hills Blvd. While there won’t be a lot of reading, you might want to bring a flashlight to see lyrics and prayer responses. Just look for the bonfire!

Please, no pancakes.

10th Annual “Evolution Sunday” celebrates Darwin’s Birth

Jesus on DinosaurMore than 500 congregations across the country and around the world are marking this Sunday, February 15th, as a day to reflect on what it means to balance a religious world view with the knowledge gained from scientific progress. As the date closest to the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin (February 12th, 1809), we’ll be marking the 10th annual celebration of Evolution Sunday at The Fountains, a United Methodist Church at both the 9am and 11:15 services.

Pastor David Felten says, “Pitting creationism against evolution reveals a very narrow reading of the Bible that shows disrespect to both the Bible and science. Denying evolution demands the rejection of both reason and experience — two important guidelines our founder, John Wesley, urged all Methodists to bring to bear in both their faith and life.”

Not only does the United Methodist Church officially endorse evolution in its Book of Discipline, stating that “science’s descriptions of cosmological, geological and biological evolution are not in conflict with theology,” it has resolved to work to oppose “faith based theories such as creationism or intelligent design” in public school science curriculums.

Those who demand that their religion trumps scientific knowledge are driving thinking people from the church – especially young people, who according to recent studies have stopped attending church because they consider Christianity to be “anti-science.” Evolution Sunday is an expression of the sincere desire of those who seek to correct that impression, moving forward with an alternative to those who continue to attack science in the name of religion.

Every day, new scientific discoveries are creating amazing opportunities to learn and grow and be amazed. Evolution Sunday is a day to affirm the work of the Spirit in the process of evolution and embrace the diversity and complexity of life as a gift of God.

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A Resolution affirming Evolution will be part of legislation considered at the Desert Southwest Annual Conference meeting in June, 2015. To view the text of the resolution, click on: Evolution and Science 2015.

 

 

Bible Study for Thinking Christians

LtQ2Fountain Hills – Why do so many Christians still hang on to outdated myths like the Virgin Birth? How come Christianity can’t deal honestly with its outdated dogma and violent past? Why does the church get all bent out of shape over so many sexual issues but remain silent on global issues of war, economic injustice, and racial discrimination?

These and many other questions will be considered in the third module (Sessions 15-21) of Living the Questions 2.0 at The Fountains, a United Methodist Church. These daytime sessions will begin on Wednesday, February 11th from 10am to 12 noon and will continue on Wednesdays through March 25th. The overall theme is “Call to Covenant” and includes the topics of Social Justice: Realizing God’s Vision, A Kingdom without Walls, and Embracing Mystery.

Living the Questions (www.livingthequestions.com) is a program created by The Fountains’ pastor, Rev. David Felten, and colleague, Rev. Jeff Procter-Murphy as a progressive alternative to the pat answers of the evangelical “Alpha Course.” The DVD series, now in use by over 6,000 churches around the world, has also been published in book form by HarperOne, San Francisco.

Facilitated by Pastor David, these classes introduce participants to ways of thinking about the Bible, their faith, and how to interact with the world in ways that make sense in the 21st century.

Suggested tuition for this seven (7) week module is $20. Contact the office to register: 480.837.7627. Those who register ahead will receive a participant guide via email or mail so they can prepare for the first session. Many have already completed the first and second modules (Sessions 1 -7 and 8 – 14) of Living the Questions 2.0. This final module completes the program with Sessions 15 through 21.

 

Living the Questions 2.0: Call to Covenant      

Feb. 11th        15. A Kingdom without Walls

Feb. 18th        16. Social Justice: Realizing God’s Vision

Feb. 25th        17. Incarnation: Divinely Human

March 4th        18. Prayer: Intimacy with God

March 11th     19. Compassion: The Heart of Jesus’ Ministry

March 18th     20. Creative Transformation

March 25th     21. Embracing Mystery

 

Join us and plan for stimulating input, great conversation, and a liberating view of Christianity. Child care is available upon request – call the office (480.837.7627).

Four Chaplains Memorial Ceremony

immortal_chaplains_stamp-300x176Tuesday, Feb. 3rd, 5pm

A torpedo from a German submarine sliced into the USAT Dorchester shortly after midnight on Feb. 3, 1943. Of the 902 young men on board, only 230 survived. Many of the survivors owe their lives to the courage and leadership exhibited by the four heroic chaplains, who, in sacrificing their lives, created a unique legacy in celebrating the common human values embraced by all the world’s religions.

In honor of their sacrifice, the first annual Four Chaplains Memorial Service will be on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 5PM at the Veterans Memorial in Fountain Park. The ceremony will be hosted by the American Legion Post 58 and the Fountain Hills Interfaith Alliance (A group of Fountain Hills faith groups). We are privileged to join thousands of others across the country who will be gathering on or near February 3rd to honor the Four Chaplains who sacrificed their lives for the sake of others.

Chaplains Fox, Goode, Poling and Washington were posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart, and in 1948, Congress declared Feb. 3 to be Four Chaplains Day.  Since 1951, The Chapel of Four Chaplains in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has spread the message of interfaith cooperation and selfless service, touching the lives of thousands of people across the country.

Please join us on Tuesday, February 3rd at 5pm! Following the Service, all are invited to Fountain Hills American Legion Post 58 for Chili.

“It was the finest thing I have seen, or hope to see, this side of heaven.”

— Survivor John Ladd, who watched the chaplains distribute life jackets, and when they ran out, removed their own and gave them to four young men. As Dorchester sank, the chaplains were seen linked arm in arm, praying.

 

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