Office Dogs

Andrea Farley is Dayspring’s Administrative Coordinator, welcoming people who come in to the front office. Often, she brings a foster dog with her to work, to be spoiled better socialized. The comfy pillow and water bowl in the corner by her desk have seen many occupants, and some have even found their forever homes with Dayspring people.

Below, in her own words, is the story of Andrea’s commitment to dog rescue:

When I was growing up, I had three dogs that I loved dearly. Bear, was a German shepherd puppy that my dad bought for us when I was three years old. A couple of years later, we found a black lab mix on the side of the road. It was the middle of winter in Chicago, and he had been hit by a car, left for dead and frozen to the road. We found him and took him to the vet and thankfully he made a complete recovery. No one claimed him so we adopted him and named him Boots because he had white on his paws. Shortly after that, we got Buster. He was a smaller, older dog and his owners could no longer keep him so we took him in too.

Bear, Boots, and Buster were my very best friends. They were my constant companions through my parents’ divorce, my mom’s remarriage, moving, changing schools and all the other challenges that come with growing up. They were loving, loyal, and always there for me even when it felt like no one else was.

When I was 11, my mom got divorced again and we had to move from our house into a tiny apartment. My mom told me the devastating news: we could not take our dogs with us. As heartbroken as I was, I made up my mind to find new homes for my best friends. I asked friends, teachers, family members, whoever I could talk to, if they could take at least one of my dogs. But one day I came home from school and my dogs were already gone. Without warning, my mom brought all three dogs to the pound. I never got to say goodbye and I never saw them again. My most loyal companions who never let me down were gone for good. I had let them down in the worst possible way.

That was a defining moment in my life and is why animal rescue is so near and dear to my heart. I will never get over what happened to Bear, Boots and Buster. But I can help other animals who still have a chance.

I have been involved with animal rescue in some capacity for my entire adult life. Over the past two decades, I have volunteered, donated, adopted and fostered. I’m sure it will continue to be a personal mission of mine. That is why I often have a foster dog with me in the church office

I am so thankful to work at Dayspring, where my mission and love of animals is completely welcomed and supported. If you have room in your heart and home for an animal in need of a second chance, please let me know.

Andrea can be reached in the church office at (480) 838-1446 Monday through Thursday between 9-2 or by email.


Moving Forward

In the spring of 2019, Dayspring and Aldersgate UMC voted to move into a cooperative parish agreement with the dream of transforming the two separate churches into one Dayspring with two campuses, Tempe and Arcadia. This partnership has the opportunity for both campuses to live out our mission to transform the church and the world into a full expression of Christ’s inclusive love in ways that are contextualized for each unique neighborhood. Over the past 9 months, we’ve been at work building relationships between the two churches, assessing the myriad logistics of becoming one church, and getting to know the neighborhood around Aldersgate.

Aldersgate United Methodist Church just celebrated the 69th anniversary of their founding in February. We were able to celebrate this milestone with two of the charter members, now in their late 80s and 90s, sharing stories of being teen-aged leaders in starting the church. They reminisced about the church’s start in a local school before they built their first sanctuary, which is now the fellowship named for the founding pastor, Rev. Strivings. The anniversary service was followed by a luncheon well attended by current members, former members and their families. The people of Aldersgate have an incredibly rich legacy of care, concern for their neighbors near and far and abiding love for their church. It has been a pleasure to be welcomed into their community and be part of the work to continue that legacy in partnership with Dayspring.

Our relationship with the congregation at Aldersgate continues to strengthen. As we head into a period of intentional planning for the launch of Dayspring Arcadia this fall, I’d like to encourage anyone with interest to visit their 11:00am Sunday service and fellowship time after service at least once. It’s a great chance to meet the wonderful people with whom we’re partnering, hear the stories of the legacy of the church.

With regard to logistics, we are continuing to do due diligence. Our district superintendent is working with the conference chancellor (legal advisor) on considerations from property transfers to contract liability. We have completed a building inspection and are awaiting the report from that to understand any potential maintenance needs. From there, we will formalize a more complete financial plan in partnership with the Conference New Faith team who is highly supportive of the work we have been, and plan to do.

The work ahead can best be described as two distinct but related workstreams. One is to go through the exciting process of transitioning Aldersgate to be part of Dayspring with a “launch” process. We need to go outside our walls in both Tempe and Arcadia/Phoenix in order to reach new people. With the support of the Conference New Faith team, we recently engaged the services of a multi-site church consultant to help advise on what steps would be necessary for a smooth transition including timelines, readiness assessments and lay leadership development. If you feel that you are called to be part of this process, please let Joel or myself know!

The second, but equally important part is to develop new expressions of our faith community. We are already starting to bring a Dayspring presence into the Arcadia community. The Dayspring Tempe Wednesday Evening Fellowship class on Compassion is going on the road! It’s being offered both at Aldersgate and also at the Starbucks at 28th St. and Indian School for 4 weeks starting March 2 at 6:30pm (all are welcome to attend!). This will be our first official class venture out into the community and we’re excited to see what else may follow. For those of you who lead other Dayspring events/ meetings/classes, please consider if you may be able to host an event in the Arcadia neighborhood or develop duplicate offerings, one Tempe-based and one Arcadia-based!

As many of you have rightly mentioned, the neighborhood around Aldersgate is incredibly diverse with respect to ethnicity, socio-economic levels, education, language and the list goes on! If we hope to be a thriving neighborhood church, our work must rely heavily on getting to know the neighborhood and the people who live there. We have begun outreach with local community organizations and churches to start that process. If anyone lives or works in the area around Aldersgate or has friends or colleagues that do, I’d love to talk to you or take advantage of an introduction. Getting to know people will help us learn more so that we can ensure our church is community focused and considered the diversity of the neighborhood.

The excitement around this effort has been amazing. Although there are still many questions to answer, it seems that our movement into this new work, though not always steady continues to move us into new relationships and new possibilities for the future. One of our Dayspring friends shared the wisdom with me about the importance of prayer in our work. It’s easy to get caught up in the project management/logistics of this major endeavor, but we cannot lose track that God is guiding us to be in relationship in new ways with a world in need in this process. I would ask that each of us consider this Dayspring/Aldersgate work in our prayer-life or meditation. That may mean prayers for the people of Aldersgate, Dayspring, or the people in our respective neighborhoods. It may mean prayers for guidance on where we as a people, or each of us as individuals, may be lead. It may be contemplating a map of Phoenix or a picture of one of either church’s stained glass and listening for direction. All prayers are needed!


As we move into the next months, we will host additional information sessions as we move towards another charge conference on March 22 to vote on continuing to move forward with this exciting work.

– Amy Notbohm

Learn More:

DAYSPRING ARCADIA UPDATES:

  • MARCH 1: 11:30am, Palo Verde Room
  • MARCH 4: 6pm, Palo Verde Room
  • MARCH 11: 6pm, Palo Verde Room

CHURCH CONFERENCE: the opportunity to vote on if and how to move forward with the Arcadia neighborhood is March 22 at 2pm in the Palo Verde Room


Living the Questions in Lent

How can I deepen my Christian faith? Where can I meet others interested in spiritual formation? What does a meaningful faith look like today? How can I learn different spiritual practices and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Bible?

As you may know, my good friend and colleague in ministry, Rev. David Felten, and I have written a book called Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity. We also produced the video resource upon which it is based that explores what a vital Christian faith can look like in the 21st century. For seven Tuesdays, beginning February 25, 5:30-7pm, I will be facilitating the first section* of Living the Questions in the Palo Verde Room (see below). It’s called “An Invitation to Journey.” We’ll begin with a light supper and fellowship. We’ll have fun and learn a lot about ourselves and each other! You’ll make new friends and grow in the faith.

The suggested $35 per person donation will also include a copy of the book. Childcare will be available upon request. Space is limited, so register soon here.

Let this serve as an invitation to see your life as a journey of faith where the questions can be as rich and meaningful as any answers — indeed, perhaps more so. I hope you’ll join us!

-Pastor Jeff

*The second and third sections, “Honoring Creation” and “A Call to Covenant,” will be offered retreat-style for those who complete “An Invitation to Journey” on April 17 & 18 and May 15 & 16 (Fri. 6-9pm & Sat. 9am-2pm).


An Invitation to Journey
Living the Questions is an open-minded alternative to studies that attempt to give participants all the answers and instead strives to create a safe environment where participants can interact and explore what’s next for Christianity. The video features 35 acclaimed scholars, theologians and other experts, and ample time is provided for lively conversation.

Feb. 25: An Invitation to Journey
March 3: Taking the Bible Seriously
March 10: Thinking Theologically
March 17: Stories of Creation
March 24: Lives of Jesus
March 31: Passion for Christ: Paul
April 7: Out into the World: Challenges Facing Progressive Christians



Looking Back at 2019

Please click here to read a review of 2019.


Birds

“One chief idea of my life is the idea of taking things with gratitude and not taking things for granted.”
— G. K. Chesterton

Charles Hartshorne is one of my heroes. He died about twenty years ago at the age of 103. He earned his PhD in philosophy at Harvard and served as assistant to his teacher, the great mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead. It was Whitehead who described God as “the fellow sufferer who understands.” Like his teacher, Hartshorne influenced many 20th & 21st century religious thinkers to see God as deeply involved and affected by Creation, suffering and exulting with all of Creation, including human beings. One of his books is deliciously titled Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes. In it, he argues that God’s power is persuasive, not coercive; God’s power is relational, inviting a response from Creation.

Author of some 20 books and 500 articles, Hartshorne was not simply a brilliant theologian. He became an expert ornithologist in the last third of his life. One of his claims about birds is that some, like some people, sing for the pure joy of it: they take delight simply in being alive. Do you hear the theological overtones? Throughout the Bible, and especially in the Psalms, we read how all of Creation sings God’s praises. Even the birds of the air and whales in the sea! And what is praise? Simply a way of saying “Thanks, God!” Taking things with gratitude instead of for granted, as Chesterton says.

With the birds of the air, let’s remember to give thanks for the gift of life and the abundance we share – and not just on Thanksgiving, but everyday!

Blessings,
Jeff


Seasons of Creation

“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it …” Psalm 24:1

Some thirty folks attended the recent “Kingdom Dinners,” sponsored by our Church & Society Team. Over the two weekly dinners we viewed and discussed the National Geographic Society documentary “From Paris to Pittsburgh,” learning how Americans are developing innovative ways to respond to the climate crisis.

As Christians, we recognize our responsibility to care for God’s creation. Individually, many of us are reexamining our lifestyles and making changes with this in mind. Collectively as a church, we hope to move toward carbon neutrality: we laid conduits under the new parking lot for solar covered parking and electric vehicle charging stations down the road. Our Giving Garden is helping many reconnect with the earth and appreciate its bounty. One of the Girl Scout troops that Dayspring sponsors has led our recycling efforts, placing recycle bins throughout the campus. The children and
youth are leading us.

On the world stage, Swedish teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg has mobilized hundreds of thousands of young people to challenge those in power to act before it is too late. Some seven million people across the globe recently participated in “climate strikes” that she initiated. “And a child shall lead them …”

We will be considering in worship this month and next aspects of Creation and our role as faithful stewards. I also hope you’ll join us on October 20th, when we will hold our 4th annual Blessing of the Animals, to honor the four-legged (and clawed, winged, and finned) companions with whom we share this planet

Blessings,
Pastor Jeff


  1. Oct 20: Animals
  2. Oct 27: Ocean
  3. Nov 3: Storm
  4. Nov 10: Cosmos

The Use and Misuse of the Bible 

            “Most folks use the bible the way a drunk uses a lamppost:
            more for support than for illumination.” 

                                                                        – William Sloan Coffin

The late, great Methodist mystic, philosopher and Civil Rights leader, Howard Thurman, who as a boy read the bible to his illiterate grandmother, once asked her why she wouldn’t let him read from Paul’s letters. “What she told me I shall never forget,” he writes. Grandma Nancy said the master’s minister would conduct services for the slaves and invariably quote from Ephesians: “Slaves be obedient to them that are your masters . . . as unto Christ.” She continued,

Then he would go on to show how, if we were good and happy slaves, God would bless us. I promised my Maker that if I ever learned to read and if freedom ever came, I would never read that part of the bible.

The master’s minister was preaching from the bible, yes? But Grandma Nancy wasn’t having any of it. Born into slavery, Nancy Ambrose had a hunch that the God of love who created all human beings equal wouldn’t stand for it either. Parts of the bible simply are wrong. The bible has been used as a tool to enslave Africans and sanction witch-hunts (where literally thousands of innocent women were slaughtered in the name of God). The bible is at the root of apartheid, anti-Semitism, the oppression of women and LGBTQ+ persons, and divine sanction of the exploitation of the natural world.       

Written by many individuals over many centuries, the bible is bound by cultural norms. So it must be read with caution and care. Yet the bible also transcends the times and places in which it was written. It is the bedrock of our faith tradition and the primary way of learning about Jesus Christ.

Author Frederick Buechner uses the metaphor of a window to illustrate how we can maintain the importance of scripture along with our ability to read it carefully and critically. The bible is like a window through which we can glimpse the Divine. Buechner notes that we look through the window, we don’t worship the window. And just because there are smudges, swatted flies, and hairline cracks obstructing our view, we don’t throw out the window! We learn to distinguish between the window with its flaws and what lies beyond. Although a flawed and imperfect window, the bible is a source of inspired (not dictated) guidance and wisdom, fashioned by people of faith who have helped generations of seekers catch a glimpse of the mystery beyond. 

On Sunday, September 15th, we will be presenting our third-graders with bibles. May we recommit ourselves to read this very human book that has revealed the Divine to countless generations with care and prayer, recognizing how it can be used and abused.

                                                                                Blessings, Pastor Jeff


Parables of the Kingdom

Parables of the Kingdom

What do you suppose the following have in common: a 9-volt battery, an onion, a life vest, newspaper, copy of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, candle, bubbles, sun block, children’s video game, laxative, telephone, map, hammer, microwave popcorn, baseball bat &
glove, coffee grinder, and a garage door opener?

These were items I placed on the Communion table when I began a sermon series on the Parables of Jesus at a previous church. “Jesus’ parables were drawn from everyday life,” I explained, before inviting worshippers to pick an item, ponder and share how it might serve as a parable of the kingdom of God for today. Needless to say, it made for an interesting worship
experience!

We’ve been considering the parables of Jesus this summer at Dayspring. I have found that folks are quite interested in learning how the historical and
cultural contexts inform their meaning. Did leaven have negative connotations in that world? What would it mean to leave 99 sheep to fend for themselves? What characteristics make mustard stand out in the botanical world? Are there other parables of Jesus found outside the Bible?

My mind has been blown reviewing some of the scholarship around Jesus’ parables; I hope serious reflection on them have helped us all recognize
what a provocative figure Jesus was and the challenge he presents to our lives.

New Testament scholar Brandon Scott has served as a guide for this series. He says that in his parables, Jesus re-imagines the world. “The reimagined
world, called the kingdom of God, presents his followers with a new option for living, one that contrasts with the default world of the everyday. The new world is both terrifying and liberating.” If you’ve been in and out of town this summer, feel free to catch up on our Livestream archive page here.

I hope to see you this Sunday as we continue the adventure …

– Aug. 4 The Hidden Treasure (Matthew 13.44)
– Aug. 11 The Prodigals (Luke 15.11-32)
– Aug. 18 The Samaritan (Luke 10.30-35)
– Aug. 25 Pastor Michael’s last Sunday / Choir Celebration
– Sept. 1 The Unforgiving Slave (Matthew 18.23-34)
– Sept. 8 The Dinner Party (Luke 14.16-24)

In the meantime, here’s a little homework: “The kingdom of God is like a garage door opener that stopped functioning ….”

Grace and peace,
Pastor Jeff


The United Methodist Church is in disarray.

In February, a special session of the General Conference (the legislative branch of the UMC) was convened in St. Louis to determine the role of LGBTQ people in the church. By a narrow margin, over 800 delegates from around the world voted for the so-called “Traditional Plan,” which disallows LGBTQ clergy and includes punitive measures for pastors who conduct same-gender weddings. That vote prompted this pastor to drape black cloth over the “United Methodist Church” portion of our sign, mourning the decision and grieving the continued harm perpetrated by the church on LGBTQ folk. Yet I had remained hopeful. Many of us believed the Judicial Council (kind of the Supreme Court of the UMC) would find the plan unconstitutional. Last Friday, the Judicial Council largely upheld the Traditional Plan, as well as a plan for churches to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. The petitions that were ruled constitutional – including no LGBTQ clergy and no samegender weddings – will go into effect in the U.S. on January 1, 2020. The petition on a “gracious exit” goes into effect immediately. You may review the Judicial Council’s decisions at http://bit.ly/JCR1378 and at http://bit.ly/JCR1379. An explanation of both rulings is at http://bit.ly/UMNSApr26.

Our bishop, Bob Hoshibata, writes:
This news is being received with joy by some and with deep despair by others. Clearly, we remain a deeply divided church about matters related to the inclusion of our LGBTQIA siblings in the church, the community, and the world. We are conflicted about how we hold each other accountable and how we move into the future, perhaps united and together or perhaps divided and apart…. I am also seeing and feeling the excitement and perhaps the inevitability of something new and exciting emerging from the rubble of The United Methodist Church.

We don’t know what the future holds. We are presently in a holding pattern. But rest assured your pastors (along with many others), your bishop (and many others), this annual conference (and many others), as well as the Western Jurisdiction, pledge to resist what we believe to be harmful and discriminatory language and practices. We journey in faith with these supportive words from our bishop:

So as we travel together into an uncertain future, I pray that we will not lose hope or faith in God. We are, you will remember, a people of resurrection faith! We hold fast in our trust that in all things, God will be with us.

So, let’s keep engaging our congregation and our community in mission to touch hearts and souls and transform lives

Let’s share the love of Christ with all people

Let’s love one another even when we disagree

Let’s pray for each other as we discern what our future will be

And in the Wesleyan spirit, let’s do no harm, do good, and last but not least, let us stay in love with God.

~Bishop Robert Hoshibata

I remain convinced that a bolder, more inclusive, grace-filled expression of the faith will emerge — the kind that Dayspring already strives to embody. May we continue to be a church for all people

Pastor Jeff


Dayspring Arcadia

2020 VISION

Dayspring UMC is a church that aspires to live into God’s dream for the world. Through inspiring worship and social justice advocacy and action, we are a healthy church that seeks to fulfill our mission of creating disciples of Jesus Christ who touch and inspire people through an open and diverse community. In 2017, we celebrated 50 years of God’s work in our community and began to wonder what God might have in store for us for the next 50 years.

Dreaming Possibilities

Aldersgate UMC

At a staff meeting in March 2018, Pastor Joel shared a prayer concern that some of our United Methodist Churches were struggling and their future was uncertain. We prayed and asked for God’s direction and wisdom, especially for the pastors of these churches. Last April, staff members began to wonder how Dayspring might possibly adopt and revitalize an existing congregation in Phoenix. Many conversations with church leaders and conference staff ensued, and Dayspring leaders were excited to explore possibilities. Pastor Jeff shared the vision with our district superintendent, Rev. Susan Brims, who mentioned that Rev. Tom Kiracofe would be ending his part-time appointment at Aldersgate UMC in Phoenix and that they would need pastoral support. Pastor Jeff began to wonder if Aldersgate might serve as a satellite for Dayspring’s mission and message. Pastor Tom invited Pastors Jeff and Joel, along with SPRC chair David Barnhouse, to dream possibilities. Pastor Tom shared the story of Aldersgate and its current situation. We learned that the people of Aldersgate are a small but committed group of primarily 70-90 year-olds who desire to leave a legacy and want to be part of a greater vision.

Rev. Brims convened an “Elijah Team” with members from both churches to begin visioning in earnest. Dayspring Covenant Council chair Ed Johnson, along with outgoing lay leader Amy Notbohm and incoming lay leader Regina Walker, as well as David Barnhouse and Pastors Joel and Jeff have been meeting regularly (sometimes weekly) this year with leaders from Aldersgate and Rev. Brims. Like John Wesley’s Aldersgate  experience, our hearts have been strangely warmed and we are excited to share this vision with our congregations.

VISION: Dayspring Arcadia

To create a vibrant United Methodist presence in the Arcadia area by extending Dayspring’s ministry of radical hospitality, inspired worship and justice work to the Aldersgate campus.

LOGISTICS 

Multi-sites vary in pastoral and staffing strategies. We recognize that an existing faith community is present at Aldersgate and celebrate their willingness to welcome a new strategy for vitality. We would embrace this community using their gifts and talents and explore with them what this would be like in this new model of ministry. In this model, Dayspring clergy will be sharing the vision and mission in various ways, and the Dayspring clergy and lay leadership will have complete worship/missional/programming oversight. 

Aldersgate would retain trusteeship and responsibility of the Aldersgate campus and foundation for a transitional period (TBD) with Dayspring representation, and existing Aldersgate members would be welcome to serve on Dayspring’s administrative teams. The annual conference would provide significant financial support to ensure a smooth transition.

In order to be successful in this journey there will need to be a dedicated staff person who has the leadership skills to assist the clergy in “listening” to the Aldersgate community and the Arcadia neighborhood – and to develop a process that will help build relationships within the church and broader community. Moreover, we believe we have identified a person well suited for this role: Amy Notbohm. Amy has served as Dayspring’s lay leader for three years and co-chaired our last capital campaign. Before coming to Dayspring, she was part of the new church start in Chandler called Jacob’s Well. She brings a wealth of understanding and experience to this vision of ministry and will graduate from the Claremont School of Theology in May 2019 with an MDiv. Plus, she’s excited about the prospect!

We hope you will attend a congregational meeting to learn more. We have scheduled two informational meetings to take place on Sunday, March 31 at 11:45am in the fellowship hall and Monday at 6:30pm in the sanctuary. If you are unable to attend either of these meetings, Pastor Joel will be coordinating an additional informational meeting, please contact him at joel@dayspring-umc.org.

Pastors Jeff & Joel