The Church at Litchfield Park
300 North Old Litchfield Road
Litchfield Park, AZ 85340
Page updated Sat Apr 30
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|Wed. Night Activities||
|Garden of Memories||Church
|Stained Glass Windows||Campus
Click here for a brief version of our history.
The faceted glass windows in the sanctuary were gifts from the congregation. Ken L. Toney, of Glassart Studios in Scottsdale, was commissioned to design and create the nine main faceted stained glass windows, the two praying hands windows, and the rose window over the altar. Rev. Plumlee and Mr. Toney collaborated in selecting symbolic Christian images for each of the nave windows. Members of the congregation funded the windows in memory of others. The nave windows cost $1,800 each, and the rose window cost $790, plus shipping and installation.
The cross was donated as a memorial by Thomas and Joan Heim; Joan was the church secretary at the time. Initially the cross was hung over the dorsal curtains. During the sanctuary renovation in 1984 the cross was attached to the wall but later was encased in wood by Joe Smith (left), church member, and made to stand on the altar (below, left).
The Deacons were established at a Special Congregational Meeting on April 30, 1978, to give the pastor dedicated, called, trained lay people to assist in the ministry and mission of the church. The deacons became the pastors’ right hands for various activities, both regular and unexpected. Their responsibilities include assisting with Holy Communion in church, at home, or hospital; visiting members and friends; participating in the Sunday service; ushering for funerals or memorial services; witnessing for Christ; and setting a personal example of Christianity. Thirteen members finished the 18 hours of training and were accepted by the church board, the council, and the congregation. Rev. Plumlee moved the resolution adopted by the church council, “That those who select to participate as Deacons, and satisfactorily complete the training programs, and are approved by the council and pastor, be ordained by The Church at Litchfield Park at a special meeting and be set apart to carry on the duties and functions of a Deacon.” The vote was 38 yes and one no, with five people abstaining. Today there are nearly 100 active Deacons who serve the needs of the church.
Judson Souers (right), eighth pastor, received his Elder’s Ordination in the United Methodist Church. He has a Bachelor of Science with majors in Social Science and Radio and Television Communication and a Master of Divinity from Garrett School of Theology of Northwestern University. Rev. Souers had been the pastor at Methodist churches in Illinois, each with membership growth, new facilities, and awards. He has also received two years of Clinical Pastoral Education. He has a scholarship in his name at the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois.
The first documentation of the church’s missions work is in 1961. At that time it was called the “Social Concerns Committee.” Its focus was local community welfare issues and organizations such as Esperança. In 1980 the Agua Fria Food Bank was officially organized, and the Social Concerns Committee became involved. Missions people were also providing drivers for the Red Cross. In 1981 the Board of Directors and Council on Ministries chose to organize a Missions Committee within the Council. Starting in 1982, ten percent of monies received quarterly went to missions. The Missions Committee selected Save-A-Child League, the United Church of Christ, Southwest Conference, the Agua Fria Food Bank, a Pastor’s Discretionary Fund, high school scholarships, and Esperança as their missions. Fran Grumbling was the first Mission Committee chairman. In 1983 the Missions Committee and Social Concerns combined. Over the years many organizations have been selected to receive mission funding. The photos show members on a Navajo Nation mission trip in October, 2008.
The Long Range Planning Committee came to the board with three specific areas of concern: sanctuary expansion, land acquisition, and promotion of an activities center and a columbarium. With a motion to move forward, the church launched a building campaign to fund expansion of the sanctuary with a columbarium, a Sunday school wing, and a social hall. Rev. Souers coined the project name “PAX: Preservation And EXpansion.” Over the next 15 years the congregation raised $1.5 million and donated time, expertise, and in-kind donations to create the buildings enjoyed today by this congregation. At no time has any loan been taken; this church is owned free and clear. The "PAX Tree of Appreciation" is located in Souers Hall.
Expanding the sanctuary to include 14 more pews, a choir room, a sacristy, and a utility room, the church could hold 300 (up from 192) for a single service. The original sanctuary design is shown, right. The Garden of Memories columbarium was created at the same time, along with a new parking lot. Both were dedicated in December 1985. The total cost was $565,000. The rose window over the altar was a gift from Sylvia Adams, charter member, in memory of her husband, William. Maureen McGuire created and crafted the music window in the bell tower, which was also done as a memorial. Tom Fishrup, church member, installed the air conditioner and created the stained glass window in the sacristy and the three windows in the choir room which read “Music is a fair and glorious gift of God.”
The Watt House was expanded to include the Thrift Shop, which was then moved from the closet in Zieske Hall.
The Sunday school wing was dedicated September 13, 1992. It included three classrooms, a nursery, and a kindergarten room. The Palm Court was included in this phase. The total cost was $324,068.
In 1992 the congregation voted to build a social hall but only when sufficient funds were on hand. By 1995 the bid was increasing; with a shortfall of $105,000, the church voted to start building. This phase was dedicated March 31,1996, named in honor of Rev. Judson Souers for his vision and leadership during the PAX project. This phase included the social hall, the breezeway, and the stage at the south end of the Palm Court. The total cost was $589,433. Souers Hall is shown under construction above, right, and the entry breezeway is shown above, left.
The church established an endowment fund designed to secure the future of the church. The fund focuses on church campus maintenance and development, spiritual development, and will increase the outreach of our congregation. The fund is grown through donations and managed by the Board of Directors. At $250,000 the fund will be declared to have achieved its full operating level. By 2012 the fund had reached $357,113.38 with $29,950 available for major repairs to the church property in 2013. The photo, right, is from the Endowment benefit auction in April, 2009.
Terry Swicegood (left), ninth pastor, was ordained by the Connecticut Valley Presbytery and a member of the Presbytery of Mississippi. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Pfeiffer College, his Bachelor of Divinity from Drew Theological School, and his Doctor of Ministry from Princeton Theological Seminary. Prior to coming to this church Rev. Swicegood was called to large Presbyterian churches in Mississippi, North Carolina, Illinois, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.
Dale Hopely (right), tenth pastor, was ordained by the Swedish Baptist Church of the Baptist General Conference. He received his undergraduate degree in World Religions from Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia (Canada), and his Master of Divinity from Fuller Seminary. During his seminary education, Rev. Hopely worked as an associate minister at a Baptist church in Bellingham, WA. Following graduation he was called to serve as senior pastor at the Twin Harbor Baptist Church, Westport, Washington.
The Garden of Memories was expanded to include about 350 additional interment sites and a Veteran’s Memorial Fountain. It was dedicated on September 27, 2009, in memory of Col. Walter A. Douglass and John Petty. The expansion was made possible thanks to financial gifts by Virginia “Ginny” Douglass and Susan Petty Adams in memory of their husbands. At the same ceremony, the Veteran’s Memorial Fountain (right) was dedicated in memory of Col. Douglass as a place of remembrance and reflection to honor those men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
On October 28, 2012, Rev. Kerri Sandusky, Associate Pastor of Children and Youth, became the first ministry candidate to be ordained by The Church at Litchfield Park, marking a historic occasion in the life of the 75-year-old congregation. On June 19, the board and council took the first step in licensing Pastor Kerri for ministry and recommending her for ordination. Her calling had been examined by the ordination committee, her fitness for ministry publicly validated through testimony, and her candidacy for ordination was ratified unanimously by the approval of 177 church members on October 21. Rev. Dr. Bruce Merton, executive director of the International Council of Community Churches, and Rev. Don Ashmall, executive minister of ICCC, participated in the ordination process. In the photo, Rev. Sandusky receives her clergy cross from Rev. Gary Hess, pastor of Spirit of Grace Lutheran Church in Surprise.
|1938-1941||Rev. Robert Clark Sell||1961-1970||Rev. James K. Ord|
|1941-1943||Rev. John W. Cyrus||1970-1980||Rev. Ray Plumlee|
|1944-1947||Rev. Myron C. Settle||1981-2001||Rev. Judson A. Souers|
|1947-1958||Rev. Rev. James B. Ostergren||2001-2008||Rev. Terry A. Swicegood|
|1958-1960||Rev. C. Arnold Dockery||2008-2017||Rev. Dale L. Hopely, Jr.|
History compiled and written by Meredeth Stucky, church historian.
Original graphic design for print by Chris Martin.
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