Voices of Children

When I peered around the door to the sanctuary at Gila Crossing Presbyterian Church on Saturday, Sept. 01 to watch the children practice for their Christmas musical, they greeted me with warm smiles and big hugs.  With childlike curiosity they dove into their packages of school supply gifts brought down from Desert Palms, and examined each item with care and appreciation.  I felt greatly blessed to watch these children embrace their gifts from Desert Palms.

After prayers for the church, Gloria Sachta, Youth Minister, played Christmas hymns from her CD player as the children listened intently in preparation to sing each hymn. Barbara Bostwick and I sat among the children to offer our love, support and assistance.  When they began to sing, I was amazed at their voices in harmony as they sang the ageless hymns of Christmas. Their soft voices filled the sanctuary, and reminded me of the scripture passage in 1st Corinthians, “…the Spirit, expressed spiritual truths in spiritual words” 2:13. Truly, spiritual truths were expressed in the voices of children who sang Christmas hymns on that day.

For Him,

Suzanne Burke, Mission Elder


Mission Priority Grant Workshop

Saturday, September 29th from 9am – 1pm.

First Presbyterian Church of Peoria – 10236 N 83rd Ave. Peoria, AZ 85345.

Park in parking lot on the SW corner of 83rd Ave & Monroe. Go through gate, will be inside the double doors, labeled ‘Fellowship Hall’, look for signs.

A continental breakfast and snacks will be provided, no lunch



September is National Preparedness Month

This information is relative to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance:
“September is National Preparedness Month and this year’s overall theme is: Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How. The theme empowers all of us to take an active role in preparing for disasters and emergencies.”

Navigating Life’s Journey- Women’s Retreat Sept 15

“Navigating Life’s Journey”, Women’s Fall Gathering, Saturday, September 15th, Orange Tree Resort, 9-4 pm, $35/$15 for students. Sign up online vpc.church/women  or email Kelly (kellyn@vpc.church). 

Transitions, adjustments, and disruptions are a part of our lives.  It is not always easy to work through these seasons and adjustments, the Women’s Fall Gathering is an opportunity to have a day “mini-retreat” with breakfast, lunch, snacks, door prizes, break-out sessions, and opportunities to hear from our speakers, Jess and Nissa, Christian Life Coaches, how to navigate these seasons effectively and in God’s strength.

In the day, we will also be hearing from Ashley Wollersheim, the Director of Young Lives for the state of Arizona.  Young Lives is a ministry of Young Life to young mothers, giving them opportunities to encounter Jesus at camp and to receive support during their difficult parenting journey.  Buy a pack of diapers (any size) to bring for our “diaper drive!” as we will send along these diapers for young moms attending camp with their babies!

What do you need to bring? Expectation for a rest-filled, inspiring day, a friend, a pack of diapers, and a yoga mat if you would like to participate in holy yoga!

Here is the schedule of events, and take a look at our speakers’ bios below!:

9-9:30 am- Register and Breakfast

9:30-10:15 am- Team-building and Icebreakers with our Speakers, Jess Parker and Nissa Moak.

10:15-10:30- Break

10:30-10:45- Worship

10:45-11:30- “Navigating Life’s Journey: Seasons, Transitions, and Mentoring” (Nissa Moak)

11:30-11:45- Break

11:45-12:45- Lunch and Service Project: “Young Lives” Director Ashley Wollersheim and Diaper Drive, with a time for questions (12:15-12:45 pm), Door Prizes.

12:45- 1 pm- Break, move to Break-Out Rooms.

1-1:45 pm- Break-Out Session One

                The Spiritual Journey (Pastor Kathy Oppenheizen)- What are the elements of developing a vital spiritual life, bringing you closer to Jesus and to others? Come and hear from Pastor Kathy how spiritual practices strengthen you from the inside out.

                Values, Part One of Two (Jess Parker)- Live a life filled with purpose, meaning, & excitement! Phoenix Life Coach Jess Parker will take you through a series of questions to get clear on the things that you value in life, and whether or not they are aligning currently with those values daily. Jess will give you a step by step process to help you reflect on the must-have’s in life and how those match up with reality. By the end of this workshop, you will have clarity on the Values that are most important to who you are and a plan for how to live them out!

                Holy Yoga (Nissa Moak)- Holy Yoga exists to take the gospel to the ends of the earth through the modality of yoga.  Come join us as we move our bodies, meditate on scripture and focus on Jesus. Yoga isn’t for the flexible, its for the willing. Modifications can be made for all, come and worship as we move together.  Be sure to bring your yoga mat with you!

1:45-2 pm- Break

2-2:45 pm- Break-Out Session Two

                The Spiritual Journey (Kathy Oppenhuizen)

                Priorities, Part Two of Two (Jess Parker) This workshop will build on the Values Workshop by taking it a step further! Jes will walk you through a tangible way to see if the places in your life that you place high priority on are being honored and fulfilled in your life. You will get to see in a very clear way whether the things you prioritize in life are taking a front seat, or if they are getting shoved to the back. By the end of the workshop, you will be clear on next steps and some goals to achieve to make sure you’re prioritizing your life in a healthy and fulfilling way!

                Holy Yoga (Nissa Moak)

2:45-4 pm- Drinks and Appetizers


Jessica Parker is an Arizona native who live with her husband, Luke, their 2 1/2 year old, Matthew, their 6 month old son, Sam, and their 12 year old Black Lab, Bella. Luke and Jess are planting a church in Midtown Phoenix, sent out from the Spring Church in Tempe. She has been a Life Coach for the past 7 years and loves to see people live into their purpose and calling. She loves lattes, being outdoors, spending time with family and friends and calligraphy when she has a spare moment (which is rare these days).

Nissa Moak was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ. She has a heart for the local church and is passionate to see the Church be a place of hope and sanctuary to others. Nissa has a Masters in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and served for ten years pastoring in the local church. She considers herself a lifelong learner and is continually seeking opportunities for growth and healing. Nissa lives in Chandler, Arizona with her husband Dan and toddler son, Miles. Nissa currently enjoys coming alongside her husband in the ministry of Young Life—introducing adolescents to Jesus.

GCP to welcome International Peacemaker in October

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program makes it possible for leaders from our partner denominations and partner organizations around the world to visit the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) each year to interpret issues of peace and justice. Since 1984 approximately 300 International Peacemakers from 60 countries have been hosted by Presbyterians. In the Presbytery of the Grand Canyon we have hosted an International Peacemaker for the past 7 years.

This year we will welcome Mary Mikhael from October 9 – October 15.  Join any or all of these events:

  • October 10 Noon – Lunch meeting with S.A.G.E. at Pinnacle Presbyterian
  • October 10 7 pm – Meeting at Pinnacle Presbyterian
  • October 13, 8:30 am – PW Women’s Fall Gathering – Mesa First
  • October 13, 6:30 pm – Panel on refugee issues with Georges Bitar and IRC – Orangewood Presbyterian
  • October 14, 10 am – Faith Presbyterian- Worship, followed by a
    Brunch at 11:30 for $6-
           Reservations need to be made by noon on Oct. 11 by calling Faith Church at 623-974-3611

    A class will follow at 1:30. (You are welcome to come to the class only if desired)

Watch E Focus for details and additional opportunities to hear her speak.

      Mary Mikhael , Syria

Mary Mikhael is the first woman to become President of a seminary in the Middle East, having served as President of Near East School of Theology (NEST) in Beirut Lebanon from 1994-2011. In 2012, she was appointed by the Presbyterian Synod of Syria and Lebanon to interpret the church’s ministry among the Syrian displaced people and refugees. In this capacity she serves as the communicator with partner churches in the United States and Europe. She is a lecturer and writer of countless articles related to theology and the position of women in the church. Mary has served on many boards and committees, including the Theological Committee of the Fellowship of the Middle East Evangelical Churches, the World Day of Prayer and the Fellowship of the Least Coin.

A message from Rev. Ed Spence and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

Dear Presbytery Friends:

        Those of you who know me, know that I am connected to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and through that, I am related to Arizona VOAD, and agency that helps with different kinds of emergency needs in AZ.  Because of that connection, I am sending to all of you the attached letter from Emily Uline, from Hands On Greater Phoenix, which is about an opportunity to serve others on the anniversary of 9/11.  I hope you, members of your congregation, or members of your community might join in this significant event.  No, this is not a disaster, but it is a chance to serve, and thus, send a different message to the world besides hatred and suspicion of others.  How about community and love!

         The letter is pretty self-explanatory.  I would ask that besides reporting to Emily about any commitments or needs your church is participating in,  that you also copy me on how many people might go from your church, if you are going to ask for some of the meals, etc.  Just shoot me a brief report about how your folks participated.

         I hope I will see you there!  Thanks for remembering those in need at this time.


Ed Spence, PDA Liaison, Grand Canyon Presbytery

Letter for 9-11 Special Event .

New Church in East Valley Seeking Partnership

May 29, 2018

Grace and Peace,

I am writing to let you know about an exciting opportunity within our Presbytery. After prayer and careful discernment we are working towards starting a New Worshipping Community in Queen Creek, AZ. The 1001 New Worshipping Communities initiative through the PCUSA hopes to begin 1001 New Worshiping Communities “using new and varied forms of church for our diverse and changing culture for the purpose of forming new disciples of Jesus, transforming our denomination, and impacting our world.”

We are pleased to announce that the Queen Creek NWC has recently received a Seed Grant of $7500 from the PCUSA. These funds will help us move forward in establishing our New Worshipping Community by covering the cost of supplies and other necessary expenses.

While we covet your prayers and any other support you can give we are also looking for faithful people to join us on this exciting journey. At this stage in the process we are looking for people to serve on the Queen Creek NWC discernment team. A discernment team is typically comprised of 8-10 people who have a passion or interest in evangelism, discipleship, and creative new expressions of church and worship. The team will meet monthly for prayer, discernment, and will work together to envision the future of this community. We look forward to including people with diverse knowledge, backgrounds, gifts, and experiences on this team.

If you are interested in partnering with us by joining the discernment team or would like to contribute to the Queen Creek NWC in any way please reach out to Emily Hook or the Presbytery office. We hope to begin discerning together as soon as possible.


Rev. Emily B. Hook


All this from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:18

Time’s Up Advent Devotional by Brad Munroe

Grand Canyon and de Cristo Presbytery Pastor Brad Munroe has written an advent devotional that helps disciples explore Biblical text around the birth of Jesus and offers ways to take the message into the world.

Permission is given for anyone to copy, duplicate, and transmit this devotional book, either electronically or as hard copy. The author asks that any funds collected from such distribution, if applicable, go to support local mission efforts in one’s community.

BOOKLET VERSION of Time’s Up Devotional
Time’s Up – Reading Version

Children at the Border



Prayer for children coming across our border

Rev. Leslie Vogel to Visit in August

Rev. Leslie Vogel, mission co-worker in Guatemala since 2013 and appointed regional liaison for Mexico and Guatemala this year, will be visiting our Presbytery August 22nd through September 2.  Her schedule includes giving a workshop at the Big Event at the August Presbytery Meeting in Tucson, preaching at Orangewood Presbyterian on August 26th, a dinner and talk at Faith Presbyterian Sun City on Tuesday, August 28th, and preaching at Guadalupe on Sunday, September 2nd.  Leslie is adding meetings and gatherings to her schedule during the upcoming weeks.  If you would like to schedule a visit with her or want more information about the events already scheduled, contact her at leslie.rev.vogel@gmail.com. For specific information about the dinner and talk at Faith PC, contact Betty Forsberg at b4sberg@gmail.com.

As regional liaison for Mexico and Guatemala, Leslie Vogel helps Presbyterian World Mission in discerning how to minister in Mexico, and in establishing new partnerships there. She also supports Presbyterian World Mission involvement in Guatemala. She serves as a facilitator of PC(USA) support for partner programs, relationships and activities, and as an implementer of regional strategies. Leslie supports PC(USA) mission personnel through communications, information sharing, mentoring/guiding, and encouraging missiological reflection. In addition, she serves as a resource for sharing connections and information between partner and PC(USA) entities in conjunction with World Mission. Leslie facilitates and seeks to strengthen healthy, effective and missiologically appropriate relationships between PC(USA) congregations, presbyteries and partners in Mexico and Guatemala.

Leslie’s work has focused on challenges related to poverty and violence and to transformative education for church leadership, work that aligns with the three critical global issues identifed by Presbyterian World Mission as priorities: addressing the root causes of poverty, especially as they impact women and children; sharing the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ; and engaging in reconciliation amidst cultures of violence in the U.S. as well as in Latin America.