Stirring Ancient Fires for Ash Wednesday

IMG_4848Get 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 10th at The Fountains. The weather forecast promises us a beautiful evening. 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!

Saving Jesus Redux

savingjesusA “Living the Questions” Study at The Fountains 

Ever feel like Jesus has been kidnapped by the Christian Right and discarded by the Secular Left? Saving Jesus Redux is total revision of Living the Question’s popular 12-session DVD-based small group exploration of a credible Jesus for the third millennium. New contributors including Brian McLaren, Diana Butler Bass, and Robin Meyers join Marcus Borg, Walter Brueggemann, John Dominic Crossan, Matthew Fox, Amy-Jill Levine, and a host of others for a conversation around the relevance of Jesus for today.

The aim of the LtQ studies are to enhance religious literacy by exposing lay people to what has been taught in seminaries and Bible colleges for generations but that clergy either avoid or are downright afraid of sharing from the pulpit or in Bible studies. If you have a suspicion that what you’ve grown up learning in church is not the whole story, then “Saving Jesus” is for you. Facilitated by series co-creator, Pastor David Felten, “Saving Jesus” discussions introduce participants to ways of thinking about Jesus in ways that make sense in the 21st century.

Classes will be on Wednesday mornings at 10am at The Fountains. Suggested tuition for this twelve (12) week series is $20. Those who register ahead (call 480.837.7627) will receive a participant guide via email so they can prepare for the first session. The basic format for each two-hour session includes conversation around the readings, a 30-minute video segment and guided discussion.

Don’t miss out on your chance to be a part of a series that is now in use by over 6,000 churches around the globe (and whose ads the legal department at Sports Illustrated rejected as being “too jarring.” True story.)  A video trailer of the series can be seen here (or click on the YouTube image below).

Saving Jesus Redux

  • Feb. 10th         Jesus Through the Ages
  • Feb. 17th         Who was Jesus?
  • Feb. 24th         What Can We Know About Jesus (and How)?
  • Mar. 2nd          The World into Which Jesus Was Born
  • Mar. 9th           Jesus’ Birth: Incarnation
  • Mar. 16th         Teachings of Jesus: Wisdom Tradition
  • Mar. 23rd         Jesus’ Program: The Kingdom of God
  • Mar. 30th         Jesus’ Ministry of Compassion
  • April 6th           Who Killed Jesus?
  • April 13th         The Atonement
  • April 20th         The Resurrection of Christ
  • April 27th         Why Jesus Is Worth Saving


Find Your Center

Find Your CenterUnplug & Tune In for Your Well-Being

Six Week Study of Meditation and Mindfulness 

FOUNTAIN HILLS — Everyone is talking about Mindfulness and Meditation but talk is cheap. It is nearly a radical act of civil disobedience these days to unplug, power down, and log-off for a period of time each day. And our collective techno-focus is to our collective detriment. We are all wildly distracted, more depressed than ever and our cognitive abilities are suffering mightily due in part to technology overload.

A 2012 study led by Harvard-affiliated researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital showed that participating in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress.  This was affirmed in a follow up study released in 2015 in which these same researchers found that long-term meditators have an increased amount of gray matter in the insula and sensory regions, the auditory and sensory cortex.

Join certified yoga instructor and trained meditation coach, Elizabeth Cabalka, for this six- session Mindfulness and Meditation program designed to provide an understanding of, and experience with, various forms of Mindfulness & Meditation.  This course is designed for all ages and you need not have any previous experience to participate.

During this six session program, participants will receive information about the profound physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits of Mindfulness & Meditation. Perhaps more importantly, participants will experience various forms of Meditation and Mindfulness designed to support well-being in their daily life.

The course fee is $20 per person. No advance registration is necessary.

Event: Meditation and Mindfulness  

Date: Monday evenings, February 15-March 21, 2016

Time:  7:00-8:30PM

Location: The Fountains United Methodist Church

More Info: 480.837.7627


Sustainability Solutions

Sustainability Solutions

sustainblogMary Evelyn Tucker

Co-Director, Yale Forum for Religion and Ecology
Senior Lecturer and Research Scholar, 
School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the Divinity School, Yale University

Mary Evelyn Tucker is a leader in the emerging field of religion and ecology, having organized 10 conferences at Harvard on the world religions and the environment. Based at Yale, she has written or edited many books on this topic, most recently Ecology and Religion with co-author John Grim.

In this talk, Tucker will discuss the growing moral and religious arguments related to climate change and biodiversity. With publication of the Pope’s encyclical on the environment, this movement is gaining momentum as a field in academia and a force in society.

Light Refreshments will be provided.

This event is co-sponsored by ASU Lightworks and the ASU School for the Future of Innovation in Society

Thursday, February 18, 2016
Doors open 4:00 p.m.
Talk begins 4:30 p.m.

Memorial Union (Alumni Lounge)
301 Orange Mall
Tempe, AZ 85281

2nd Annual Interfaith Tribute: Dorchester Chaplains

immortal_chaplains_stamp-300x176Wednesday, 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 Second Annual Four Chaplains Memorial Service will be on Wednesday, February 3, 2016 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. 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 Wednesday, 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.

The Veterans Memorial is located on the South side of Fountain Park at the intersection of El Lago Blvd and Kiwanis Drive. 

Acclaimed Theologian Harvey Cox at The Fountains

harvey coxFOUNTAIN HILLS – Called one of the most important theologians in the last half century, Harvey Cox has made a career of exploring the many expressions of Christianity, their intersections with World Religions, and challenging the status quo all along the way. Cox will be preaching at both the 9am and 11:15 services at The Fountains, a United Methodist Church, on Sunday, January 31st. He’ll also be sharing his wisdom and insights during a Q&A session at 10:15.

Along with being a prolific and influential author, Cox occupies a place on the short list of preeminent American theologians. In 1965, the same year he began teaching at Harvard, his book, The Secular City, became a world-wide phenomenon, eventually selling over a million copies. In 1969, Time magazine placed the publishing of The Secular City on a short list of the most influential religious events of the 1960s (along with Vatican 2 and the Supreme Court prohibiting school prayer and Bible reading!).

During the Civil Rights movement, Cox worked actively with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference under Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., including being jailed on several occasions for participating in demonstrations. He was one of the founders of the Boston chapter of the SCLC, helped bring Buddhism’s teachings to a larger audience, and following his travels in Central America, returned to teach some of the first courses on “Liberation Theology” in North America.

Pastor David Felten says, “It’s an amazing privilege to have Dr. Cox with us at The Fountains – and he’s not only one of the great theologians of our time but also has the added credibility of being a saxophone player to boot.” At age 86, Cox continues to play in several jazz ensembles around the Boston area.

Cox has stirred his share of controversy over the years, including promoting secularization as a way to sweep away the superstitions of medieval religion still permeating many of our churches. He has critiqued the tendency of modern churches to slip into a fundamentalism that focuses on the private salvation of their members instead of being at the forefront of change in society, “stepping into God’s permanent revolution in history.”

The Fountains is located at 15300 N Fountain Hills Blvd in Fountain Hills. Dr. Cox will be speaking at 9am and 11:15 with a Q&A session at 10:15. All are welcome. Childcare will be provided throughout the morning. More information is available on the web:

A Response to Gun Violence

kingdomdreamsViolence is a human issue that affects all of us to one degree or another. A major part of that picture is the continued growth of gun violence in our communities. The Bishop of the Desert Southwest Conference, Robert Hoshibata, has challenged the churches of the Desert Southwest Conference to covenant with him in exploring a three-part series called “Kingdom Dreams, Violent Realities: Reflections on Gun Violence.”

Bishop Bob has expresses a concern that many of us share, that multiple instances of gun violence are now commonplace in our country and erupting all across the world. He worries that, “Throughout our global community, violent acts are taking the life of innocent persons, too often children and young persons.”

Bill Mefford, director of Civil & Human Rights for the General Board of Church and Society, emphasizes that “The desire to stop the impact of gun violence is felt among all people from many nations.” From weapons used in acts of domestic violence in our neighborhoods to boys being conscripted into rebel armies around the globe, guns are a part of an epidemic of violence around the globe.

So, are we becoming so numb to the continued death of so many that we are unwilling or unable to do anything to change this reality? Bishop Bob doesn’t think so – and neither do we! Hoshibata says, “As faithful Christians we must approach the issue of gun violence through a theological and biblical lens.”

In response, The Fountains is sponsoring a series of discussions, the components of which will include study, reflection, and a call to action. Facilitated by Michael T. Jones and Sharon Elrod, the sessions will be on Monday evenings, January 25th, February 1st, and February 8th at 6:30pm.

Approached as a collaborative effort, your participation in conversation is very important. Facilitator Jones says, “We believe taking a close look at the issue and then talking about what we can do is a good place to start as a community of the faithful We simply can’t do nothing. We have to do something!”

Kingdom Dreams…Violent Realities:
Monday nights, Jan. 25th, Feb. 1st, and Feb. 8th at 6:30pm



Michael T. Jones
Michael taught logic and philosophy for 35 years at a large midwestern university.  Among his areas of expertise are issues in moral philosophy and the philosophy of religion.  As a teacher, his constant goal was to help his students to engage with the material in such a way as to enhance their ability to make life-enhancing decisions.

Sharon Elrod
Sharon re-created her adult life every 10-12 years, which included secondary education teacher, social worker, teaching Social Work in two universities and educational administration/management of a behavioral health/child welfare program. In retirement, she became a gardener, professional volunteer and author. She majored in services and programs for women, children and families, maintaining her own individuality while being married to a United Methodist preacher.


Violence is our God


Open for Worship Workshop, January 31

We will never change the world by going to church. We will only change the world by being the church.

Please join us on January 31 from 2-4 PM at Ascension Lutheran Church, 7100 N Mockingbird Lane, Paradise Valley for an interactive experience of being the church! Using LGBT inclusion as the model we will engage across lines of difference experientially. People of faith are needed to help us build a community with room for all and we promise that this 2 hours will open your eyes and hearts to both the need and ways to work for change! This workshop is sponsored by One Community, creators of the Unity Pledge,  This will also be a chance to meet our team and learn of the important work we are doing across Arizona!  Please reach out with questions or to register,


Estate Planning Seminar at The Fountains

When:  January 23, 10:00 AM
Where: The sanctuary at The Fountains United Methodist Church,
15300 N Fountain Hills Blvd, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268

Who:  Guest speaker, Ron Wilson, from Morris, Hall, Kinghorn, P.L.L.C.

The Stewardship and Finance Committees are offering an opportunity to hear from a top estate planning attorney from a prestigious legal firm serving Az and NM.  Ron will discuss why estate planning is a critical step in protecting your assets and insuring your beneficiaries are provided for according to your wishes.

This free, no obligation, 1.5 hour meeting will highlight some unique estate laws in Az.  Ron will also discuss some recent changes to estate laws that you may benefit from.

There will be time for questions and answers.

To reserve your seat please phone the church office at 480-837-7627 or send your contact information to

The Longest Night: A Service of Hope and Healing

Longest Night 2015 Flyer ver 2For those experiencing grief or the many varieties of loss that weigh us down as people, the holidays can be an especially difficult time. The longer and longer nights can often add to a sense of sadness that make the joyful celebrations and holiday parties painful to endure.

For those longing for a touch of inner peace during the holiday season, a non-denominational and interfaith service of prayer and fellowship will be offered on Thursday, December 17th at 7pm at The Fountains, a United Methodist Church, 15300 N Fountain Hills Blvd.

This “Longest Night” service, named for the longest night of the year, the Winter Solstice, aims to offer support, hope, and a space for healing of the spirit for all those in attendance. Anyone experiencing grief or loss of any kind is encouraged to attend: the loss of a loved one to death, the loss of a home, the “loss” of a loved one to dementia or mental illness, homelessness or other difficult life circumstances – including seasonal affective disorder.

Although one’s circumstances may not be able to be changed, we can gather together to find hope and healing through the love and support of one another this holiday season. The community is invited to join us at 7pm in the sanctuary at The Fountains (on the corner of Fountain Hills Blvd and Glenbrook). Childcare will be provided.

This time of hope and healing is sponsored by the Stephen Ministers of The Fountains. More Info: Renee Montague 480.837.7627

CLICK HERE to visit our Facebook Event Page and invite others to attend with you.