This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week. Wow, what a tough couple of years it has been for our teachers, school administrators, and staff. I can’t express how grateful I am for all who serve our kids in education. Thank you for loving your students and families in some of the most difficult circumstances. You are making a difference! THANK YOU!
Our outreach team set a goal to reach as many schools as possible and let the staff know how much we appreciate them. On our website, we offered $200 of seed money to be used to bless a school. I’m blown away at the care, sacrifice, generosity, and service of our church. You fulfilled our mission and vision. Our mission and vision are connected directly to this project.
Mission: Loving people to Jesus, launching passionate people to make a difference.
Vision: Our vision is to be a catalytic force to bring God’s influence to Southern Arizona and strategic places in the world.
Pantano, you stepped up big time and responded to the We Love Our Schools project. You personally got involved and fulfilled our mission as we launched you to love people. Look what you provided!
You lived out our vision. Pantano is a catalyst. We don’t just do our mission. We model, invite and encourage other churches to do the same. We helped start Serve Our City, and now dozens of other churches have joined us. When we started We Love Our Schools, we hoped other churches would join in. They did. So let’s celebrate…
Finally, what’s not shown are all the ways our people gave extra funds to buy more food, gifts, or gift cards beyond what the $200 seed money could provide. Way to go, Pantano! I’m so proud of you! You took the challenge found in Galatians 6:9. And by taking the challenge, we’ll see the promise… Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Our Mission – Launching
Our mission is “Loving people to Jesus, launching passionate people to make a difference.” There are two phrases within that mission, and both are connected. In all we do, we want to love people to Jesus. One of the ways we love people to Jesus is to launch people in our church to engage and serve others. We have two new options to launch you to make a difference. One is far, and one is close.
Have You Ever Wanted to Go to Africa?
We want to launch you to serve in Ghana! We’ve got a short-term mission trip coming up that will take you to some amazing people and work that our church mission partner, Heartbeat for Africa, is hosting. Here are the details…
When: July 30th – Aug 13th
Activities: Working with Youth in an Orphanage, Conducting Development Training
Overview: Heartbeat for Africa (HBA), a Tucson non-profit, in connection with local churches, is leading a 10-12 person team for two weeks to Ghana to work with partner organizations (City of Refuge Ministries and African Internship Center). Experienced HBA team leaders will conduct all team training.
To Learn More: Attend an informational meeting at Pantano Christian Church on Sunday, 10 April @ 10:15 AM or 12:15 PM in the church office Conference Room
Questions: Contact Jeff Wesley at firstname.lastname@example.org or C: 520-370-5232
We Love Our Schools
National teacher appreciation week is the first week of May. We want to launch you to help us Love Our Schools and bless teachers and school support staff. With your help, our goal is to bless the entire staff at as many schools in the Tucson area as possible! We invite you to use the $200 seed money we will provide to bless the staff at your selected K-12 schools. Additionally, we encourage you to invite another family, small group, friends, and/or a surrounding business to join you to make an even bigger blessing – both to you, them, and the school!.
Sign up today! We have schools from all across the Tucson area to adopt. WE LOVE OUR SCHOOLS Signup
I find myself breaking out in tears all through the day. For those who know me well, I’m not one who cries easily. My heart is broken. I’ve been in contact with many I know who live in Ukraine. I feel so helpless living so far away. I’m so grateful for so many of you who are praying and have opened your heart to the people of Ukraine.
Our family served as missionaries in a city called Kherson, Ukraine. CNN put a correspondent in Kherson so I’ve watched the invasion of “my” city on television. Both of my children have an amazing tattoo of Ukraine as they spent some of their childhood there. Kherson (the same size as Tucson) is the first major city on the main road out of Russian-annexed Crimea. It has the main bridge across the Dnieper River from Crimea to Ukraine so it’s a strategic point. It appears that the Russians now control Kherson.
We went to Kherson when it was part of the Soviet Union. We helped start churches. We saw thousands come to faith. We helped start Tavriski Christian Institute in 1997 which is training church leaders in Ukraine and Muslim Central Asia. We watched Ukraine declare independence in August 1991 and were there when the Soviet Union broke up.
Here’s what I want you to know. Ukrainians are the most peaceful people I know. Let me be clear. There are good and bad people in every culture and society. There are really good Russians. But Ukrainian culture as a whole loves peace and cherishes freedom. Before this week, I would tell people that Ukraine was the freest country in the world! Ukrainian and Russian languages are similar but different (like Portuguese and Spanish). But even the language tells us about the culture. Ukrainian is much softer than the guttural sounds of Russian. It reflects the softness of the people who love to be hospitable and cherish relationships. Ukrainians are loyal and very spiritual. To this day, my best and closest friends are Ukrainian.
Ukraine’s independence has lasted 31 years. Now get this. That is the longest Ukraine has ever had independence. Ukraine has no natural borders to protect it (the name Ukraine means “borderland”). It has been conquered and ruled by the Mongols, Poles, the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and now an attempt by the Russian Federation. Ukrainians love their freedom and independence and they won’t stand for Russian occupation. Look at their recent history to keep their independence from Russia:
The cost of lives and property is immense. But there is another cost as well. It’s close to my heart. In 1997 we established the Tavriski Christian Institute (TCI). We were to celebrate its 25th anniversary this fall. It is the first Christian college in Ukraine that has received state accreditation. TCI is sponsoring Christian training for pastors and leaders in central Asian countries where believers there are under constant persecution. TCI professors and teachers can go to these restricted places because they hold Ukrainian passports. TCI is helping support church planting movements in Muslim countries where few can go.
Today, TCI has been evacuated. The TCI property is right on the Dnieper River and is just a mile or so from the main Turupinski Bridge. This bridge is the main way to cross the river from Crimea to the rest of Ukraine. 20 helicopters of Russian special forces landed right by TCI. They burned and cleared all the cattails and brush from the river to make sure they can protect the bridge so their tanks and military support can cross the river. Russian snipers are controlling the bridge currently. Will TCI students and staff ever be able to return? Will TCI have to become remote and relocate? The future is unknown for TCI and 40 million Ukrainians.
Russia also invaded the south of Ukraine to get water. Their first main target was the hydroelectric dam in Kahovka (some 40 miles from Kherson). They needed to open up a water canal that is the main source of freshwater for the entire Crimean peninsula. When Putin illegally invaded Crimea and took it from Ukraine, the Ukrainians cut off their water supply in response.
Yes, in some ways there are two Ukraines. Western Ukraine (basically from the Dnieper river west) is predominantly Ukrainian-speaking. Eastern Ukraine is predominantly Russian speaking – however, almost all can speak and understand each other’s language. But even Eastern Ukraine is split also. Many who speak Russian identify culturally as Ukrainian and love their country. There are those who speak Russian who watch only Russian propaganda television and side with the Russian Federation. That’s why there have been the breakaway regions (instigated by Russian operatives). In general, there’s been peace between Ukrainian and Russian-speaking Ukrainians, until the Russian operatives began their work of disunity.
When Putin invaded Crimea in 2014, he sent Russian operatives into Kherson. They were driven out by a united city. Part of the unity in that city developed through the faith community. For decades, the Protestant churches and the Orthodox churches have worked for unity. Every Sunday, leaders, and congregants would meet in the central square where the statue of Lenin used to stand. They would pray together for their city and country.
So what can you and I do? We can pray. Like believers for the last 2000 years who have faced persecution, it seems so little. But do we really believe in a God who is greater than an invading army? I do. I’m praying daily that Putin repents and surrenders to Jesus. I’m praying for the Russian and Belarusian people to stand up and revolt against this tyranny. I’m praying the Russian oligarchs will take a stand against Putin (even if only for selfish reasons). I’m praying for a miracle of resilience on the part of the Ukrainian people. I’m praying that the West fully support and supply the Ukrainian people. I’m praying that the believers still in Ukraine will stand strong in their faith as they love and serve all and be a witness to the life-giving Jesus. I’m praying for peace as other bad actors in the world might be tempted to use this to further aggression in other parts of the world. Pray for peace. Pray that in the midst of chaos and conflict that the kingdom and influence of God will advance.
Many of you have asked how you can help financially. We’ve been able to set up a way to get the funds into Ukraine! The funds you give will go to help Ukrainian refugees and the churches and Christians who remain in Ukraine to serve their people and advance the love of Christ. You can give at https://pantano.church/give/. Select the Ukraine fund.
I’m now in daily contact with Ukrainians (thank God for the internet) and we have ways to ensure that help gets to those who need it. Thank you for your love, prayer, and support. Please keep praying. I’m confident that God will not ignore the prayers of tens of thousands of believers.
Super Bowl Sunday
This Sunday, February 13th, folks will be partying all around the United States as we celebrate one of our biggest unofficial holidays – the Super Bowl. And yes, I’m pretty excited that my Bengals no longer carry the “Bungles” label. Feel free to wear your favorite team’s jersey this Sunday. You bet I’ll be wearing my orange and black Bengals shirt.
We’re also going to have a party at church as we celebrate the completion of our auditorium remodel and reopening. Aren’t the new seats great?! By the way, every other row has seat arms that can raise to give you more room. And yes, the cup holders are coming. We’ll have our regular services at 9 am and 11 am.
We’ll have lots of food and fun after each service. There’ll be regular meals for purchase and free Krispy Kreme donuts and kettle corn after the 9 am service and free hot dogs and pretzels after the 11 am service.
There will be lots for the kids to do. The rock wall will be open for climbing. We’ll have inflatable obstacle courses, slides, and yes, an inflatable axe and football throwing option along with 9 Square and a kids train.
A Service Opportunity
We can use some help to make this party special! Sign up here to serve after one of the services.
This month, our Kids Team is hosting a food drive for our city as they put compassion into action. Please bring non-perishable food items to our Kids tent in the outside courtyard.
Trevor DeVage Speaking
And to top it all off, Trevor DeVage, our new Lead Pastor, will be teaching as we continue our series Playbook. Trevor will be unpacking the Beatitude – “Blessed are the meek.”
See you this Sunday!
Below is the latest report on the church plant Pantano funded through our Christmas Eve offering in 2020. We received this report at the end of last year.
Thank you, Pantano Christian Church! Your gift to plant Iglesia Cristiana Verbo de Guabo in Ecuador is currently impacting 787 children and their families. These families now have a safe space to go where they can learn, grow, develop, and be encouraged in their faith.
The gift by Pantano allowed the church to do the following:
View the full report here.
Not only are 787 children receiving holistic care in partnership with Compassion International, but the church has also been able to reach many adults in the community. Thank you, Pantano, for your amazing generosity that is touching and changing lives!
Merry Christmas, everyone! It’s my hope that this Christmas, you’ll remember how God sent light into a dark world. His name is Jesus. This Christmas Eve, we’ll celebrate the light of the world! We’ve got an excellent Christmas Eve service planned. Here’s what to look forward to…
The service starts at 6 pm at the Tucson Convention Center arena. Doors open at 5 pm.
All the info you need to know is under the Common Questions section on our Christmas Eve page on our website.
Parking is free, but might be limited, as other activities are happening simultaneously. If possible, carpool, use public transportation, and for sure, arrive early. Check out the Christmas webpage for maps of onsite and offsite parking. Just inform any onsite parking attendant that you are there for the Christmas Eve Experience!
Come a bit early and take pictures at the photo booths. We’ll also have some fun entertainment to amaze the kids and adults alike! There will be cookies and water available in the breezeway, and our pre-show will include some fun surprises and giveaways. Don’t be late!
COVID and Security
The City of Tucson requires masks to enter the arena, and all those attending will pass through security. TCC prohibits bags that are larger than 14″ x 16″ through the security zone, and please note, there is a Clear Bag Policy. There is a clear bag exception for a guest if it’s a diaper bag or needed for medical purposes.
The theme of our service is “Light,” and it’s family-friendly, fast-moving, and will last about an hour and 15 minutes. We’ll be doing some regular favorite Christmas songs plus additional songs that connect to the overall message. In addition to an amazing video, we have a couple of other surprises that I don’t want to spoil for you! We can’t do live candles, so bring your phone for our Convention Center version of candle lighting. And yes, we will stream the service live on our website, Facebook or YouTube!
Sign Language Section
We’ll have a section for sign language interpretation on the main floor! If you would like to utilize this service, just ask one of our greeters for directions to that area.
We give our entire Christmas Eve offering away. This year, the Tucson Homeless Work Project will be the recipient of our gifts. My prayer and goal is that we together can collect and give them $100,000, which will provide funding for almost an entire year. Let’s help those who need help and hope to get back on their feet. Go to pantano.church/give and select the Christmas Eve Offering. Thank you!
See you at the TCC, and again, Merry Christmas!
With Christmas, the auditorium remodel nearing completion, and a new Lead Pastor confirmed, we’ve got quite a few new things coming. I know change is challenging for many. But these changes are leading us to an exciting great beginning for 2022 and beyond. Here’s what’s coming so you can keep track…
THIS Sunday (12/19) – Our volleyball court, used for our overflow during our auditorium renewal, will be closed to complete the remodeling. Our overflow is moved to the Student Union for this Sunday only.
6 pm Christmas Eve Service at the Tucson Convention Center. Things to remember:
Sunday, December 26 – No Sunday Services
There will be no Sunday services the day after Christmas. To give our staff and volunteers a break from this busy season and allow them to rest and spend time with their families, we’ll be closing our offices from December 27 to December 31, 2021.
Sunday, January 2 – Special Prayer Service
Sunday, January 9 – First Sunday Service in the Remodeled Auditorium
This will be our first regular service in our newly renovated auditorium. We’ll kick off the new year with our focus as a church for 2022, and our new Lead Pastor, Trevor DeVage, will be with us on campus!
Sunday, January 16 – Auditorium Remodel Celebration and Trevor DeVage Preaching
Today, we’ll formally celebrate our auditorium remodel! We’ll have Eegee’s, Krispy Kreme donuts, and the rock wall will be open for the adventure-seekers! We’ll officially pass the torch to our new Lead Pastor, and Trevor will give his first message.
One of my favorite Sundays of the year is the Serve Our City Sunday. This year, eleven churches will also be taking “church” to the street, joining us to make a difference in Pima County.
In place of our normally scheduled services, you can join us on Sunday, November 14th, between 9:00-11:00 AM and 1:00-3:00 PM, as we serve our city. You can serve with your friends, family, or group. Every year the families of the life group I’m a part of serve together. It’s a blast. Many of our serving opportunities are kid-friendly!
There will be serving opportunities across five different areas of town to allow you to choose a project near your location, or you will be able to serve within your neighborhood by listing a serving project of your own design. For those who are only online, think of a way to serve in your area and let us know!
We’ll be serving our first responders, schools, various non-profit service organizations, and more.
Childcare is available on our East Campus for kids from birth through 4 years old. Please RSVP by [clicking this link].
Don’t wait. Sign up now. Select an area of town or serve your neighborhood. We’ll also be providing Free t-shirts.
If you have questions or need more information, contact Lisa Flowers at 520.298.5395
Remember – no regular Sunday services (in person or online) on Sunday, November 14th.
One of the key characteristics and core to our DNA as a church is to be externally focused. That means that while we care for and disciple our own folks who regularly attend, we also make sure that we are engaged in serving our city and beyond. We will never lose sight of reaching those who are not connected to Jesus or a church, one at a time. We’ll keep looking for ways to serve our city. Here are some updates from Pastor Michael, who leads our Outreach Team.
Compassion International, Santa Rosa, Ecuador
We have received an update from Compassion International about the church and Compassion Center we are helping build in Santa Rosa, Ecuador, with last year’s Christmas Eve offering. In their update, we learned that this church is actively engaged in evangelism, and they recently saw 300 people come to Jesus within 60 days! A revival is breaking out! This news blows us away, and we’re excited to be partnered with a group of people so committed to Jesus and the community they are called to serve.
You can read all about this update and see some pictures by [CLICKING HERE].
We’ll start sponsoring the kids at this church on August 29th. Start praying now about being a sponsor to a child in Santa Rosa, Ecuador.
J. B. Wright Elementary, Amphi Middle School, and Craycroft Elementary
For the past year, we partnered with J.B. Wright Elementary in a variety of ways. We helped clean their campus, assisted families and children during Thanksgiving and Christmas, and did a large shoe and school shirt donation drive at the beginning of this year. They were so grateful. Pantano delivered in a huge way! Thank you! This was possible because our Mighty Mentor team, led by Faye Chandler, and Deanna Campos, the school principal, opened the doors wide to us.
Deanna is now the principal at Amphi Middle School and has asked the Mighty Mentors and Pantano to follow her there. We go where the doors are open! We have already started our partnership by providing over 250 backpacks for this school.
J. B. Wright Elementary has not been abandoned. Elements City Church will continue to support J. B. Wright, so they will continue to be blessed!
We also delivered 150 backpacks to Craycroft Elementary school for their students.
Serve Our City – Sunday, November 14
Mark your calendars as our next Serve Our City is coming this November. Over a dozen other churches are joining us as we make a difference in Tucson.
Thank you Pantano for continually Loving People to Jesus – both in Tucson and around the world!
Glen ElliottSubscribe: https://pantano.church/blogsubscription
Our Christmas Eve offering of $73,149 was used to start a church and build a building in Ecuador to house a Compassion International project. Thank you, Pantano, for making that possible! We are expanding the reach of the gospel and bringing the hope of Jesus to children and families living in extreme poverty. Your amazing generosity allows us to partner with Compassion and a church in Ecuador to plant Christian Church Arco in El Oro Province, Ecuador.
This church plant is part of our vision to be a catalyst to help a local church create a permanent presence for their ministry. Having a safe new building to meet in gives the church room to grow and the capacity to offer Compassion’s holistic child development program.
The local Compassion International staff members work closely with our church partner in Ecuador to help the church’s leadership grow strong through wise counsel and mentoring. Our three-way partnership values and encourages local resource mobilization and local ownership from the beginning. We aim for this not only in the initial construction of the church plant infrastructure you have helped fund but also in the child development center’s ongoing program implementation.
Pantano, because of you, the church in Ecuador is now mobilized to expand and help more children be known, loved, protected, and discipled for a hopeful future. Thank you again for investing in this opportunity for a new church to positively impact a community in Jesus’ name.
I’ll keep you updated on the progress of the new church. Later this year, we’ll start sponsoring the children in the program, and when international travel allows, we’ll start making visits. Stay tuned for more!
What was the best gift you ever got? What was the best gift you ever gave? Is there a special gift you are hoping for this year? Is there a gift you can’t wait to give? Christmas is all about giving. It was God who gave the most significant gift ever that first Christmas – the gift of Jesus. The Magi traveled over 500 miles to give their gifts to the new king of the Jews.
The heart of Christmas today is still found in giving, but not primarily in giving or getting the perfect, cool, well thought out Christmas presents. The best gift is when we give ourselves to others. Here are some options to give and serve this Christmas:
Wrap presents for Healthcare workers at TMC – Our healthcare workers are overworked right now. We can help them out! Tucson Medical Center has asked us to help wrap the presents of the healthcare workers who don’t have time to wrap them for Christmas. You can sign up for two-hour shifts (10 am – 12 pm) or (12 pm – 2 pm), Monday through Friday, December 14th-23rd. Sign up here!
Senior Santa – Here is an opportunity to bring a little joy to a senior this Christmas. This year has been especially hard on seniors, and Senior Santa provides Christmas gifts to low-income seniors in assisted living facilities. This year our Senior Santa program has moved online, and you can purchase a gift from Amazon, and it will be shipped directly to them. Sign up here!
Serving at our Christmas Services
We have opportunities to serve families at our Christmas services by helping out in our Kids Ministry or serving in our courtyard or cafe. Sign up here!
Christmas Eve Offering
Our Christmas Eve offering will help build a church that will host a new Compassion center for children and families that are struggling. Compassion International in Ecuador thoroughly investigated and identified a target area in need of a Christ-centered church that preaches God’s Word. Your gift will help build two classrooms, bathrooms, and a water system that will serve over 300 under-resourced kids.
The cost of the facilities to start a Compassion center in Santa Rosa, Ecuador will be $75,000. You can give online and choose the Christmas Eve giving fund in the drop-down menu. Everything collected on Christmas Eve will go to help build a church to host a Compassion program. What a great way to celebrate Christmas and make a difference for hundreds of kids and families!
Our Time to Shine
I know this may shock you, but I love the season we are in. I don’t like that people are dying. I don’t like that people are losing their jobs. In fact, the list of things I don’t like is rather long. But I love how we, the church, have the best opportunity, maybe in my lifetime, to fulfill our mission. Being the church is not about gathering in a building. Being the church is when we bring the love of Jesus to others and shine like a bright light in the darkness.
The Early Christians
Did you know that when the church first began, it was considered a dangerous cult by the Roman Empire and was severely persecuted? In the absence of our modern understanding of disease and proper sanitation, pandemics were common back then. And when the pandemics hit, it was the Christians who refused to flee the cities and stayed and served the sick, risking their own lives. That was a key turning point for the church. The Romans realized that Christians actually loved people and sacrificed to serve and gained the respect of many.
The mission God has given our church is more important than ever – loving people to Jesus, launching passionate people to make a difference. This is the time to be on mission. This is not a time for our church to hunker down in fear. This is our opportunity to rise up and serve our city in the name of Jesus. And this week, we are in full focus to do just that. Here’s how you can love people to Jesus:
If you have a need, or if you know of someone in need, we have an awesome team of volunteers that are willing to shop for folks and help with groceries & supplies. Fill out a request by going to pantano.church. On the front page, you’ll see a red section called “Loving Our City.” You can let us know if you or someone needs help or you can sign up to volunteer.
Collection and Distribution
We are also collecting items needed by the Department of Child Safety, the Gospel Rescue Mission, AZ Baptist Children’s Services and specific families in need. Go to the Loving Our City page at pantano.church/lovingourcity and you’ll find the list of items these groups need. Drop them off at the office curbside bins at the East Campus (1755 S. Houghton Rd.) Mon-Fri 9am-4pm.
Front Line Hospital Staff
Pantano Christian Church is the point of contact for TMC and St. Joseph’s hospitals. Here’s what they’ve asked the church for and what’s in the works:
There are hundreds of ways you can love people to Jesus. Folks in our church are mailing cards to those stuck at home. At last count, over 600 face masks have been made and delivered. Look for ways to serve folks in your neighborhood or network of relationships. Find a way to encourage, serve and lift up someone in this time of huge disruption. All of these things can be done in a safe way that respects physical distancing.
Now, more than ever is our opportunity to be Jesus to our city. Rise up church, and make a difference that not only affects life today but also for eternity.
Thanksgiving and Black Friday have passed. It’s Christmas time! Here’s a bit of what Christmas looks like here at Pantano:
Christmas Teaching Series
The Christmas series for all of our campuses is called Unexpected: The Story of Christmas. The story of Christmas found in the gospel is unexpected. God had been silent for 400 years. The people of God felt forgotten and yet, in the quiet, dark countryside, God remembered and came to them. But it wasn’t what they expected. He came in the form of a baby; not to the king or powerful leaders, but to the lowly, the poor, the young and the old. We’ll look at five people’s response to their unexpected encounter with God as the original Christmas story unfolded. In this series, we’ll see how God showed up in unexpected places and ways – then and now.
We’ve decorated Pantano East and we’re ready for December Nights. This public family event happens Friday and Saturday nights from 6-9 PM on December 6th, 7th, 13th, and 14th. The event is free!
Here’s what you’ll be able to enjoy and experience at December Nights: The Road to Bethlehem, an amazing winter wonderland (my favorite), cookie decorating, family portraits, crafts, horse-drawn hayrides and carols ($6 per person), bingo, campfires and marshmallows, hot chocolate, live music and more.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Services
This year we’ll have 5 Christmas Eve services on Tuesday, December 24th at 11 AM, 1, 3, 5, and 7 PM. Each service is an identical family-friendly one-hour service. We do have childcare for kids birth to five years old if that would be helpful to you.
Pantano Southeast will be joining us at the East Campus this year, so we added the 11 AM service to make room for all. If you can, please consider attending the 11 AM service to make room at each of our services.
For more details about the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, check out ChristmasAtPantano.com. If you will be out of town or unable to join us, you can watch each service online at pantano.online. I hope to see you there!
Over the years, many folks have ended up being a part of our church after experiencing our December Nights or Christmas Eve services. Use these opportunities to invite folks who normally won’t step onto a church property. Who might you invite to join you this Christmas?
Like most of us, I love the Christmas season. But it’s a bit more challenging to get into the Christmas spirit when it’s sunny, dry, and 75 degrees outside for most of December! And the fact is there really isn’t much to do in Tucson that is uniquely Christmas. There’s Winterhaven! There’s going to the mall to look at decorations! But that’s about it!
That’s why I’m so grateful for our staff and volunteers who decorate our campus so we can create a bit of winter for an amazing Christmas celebration. We even have a winter wonderland with snow and snowballs. We call it December Nights. It is a gift to both our church and our community.
December Nights happens on Friday and Saturday nights from 6-9 PM on December 6, 7, 13, 14. The event is free!
Here’s what you’ll be able to enjoy and experience at December Nights…
This Sunday we’ll have invite cards available for you to take and give to others. This is one of the very best ways to invite people to join you and come to our campus. Over the years, many folks have ended up being a part of our church after experiencing a December Nights event. It’s our chance to welcome and serve folks who normally won’t step onto a church property. Who might you invite?
This Sunday we will dismiss our regular services at both our East Campus and Southeast Campus in order to Serve Our City! There will be NO REGULAR SERVICES this Sunday, November 17th. However, there are some projects being done at the East Campus (1755 Houghton Road) for those who are physically not able to travel or do some of the other projects.
You can pick up a Serve Our City t-shirt at the East Campus during regular business hours (8 am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday) and Sunday morning November 17th. If you signed up last year, wear your Serve Our City t-shirt!
If you haven’t yet signed up there are still openings, or, you can choose your own service option. Maybe there is someone in your neighborhood that needs help with their yard? Maybe you’ve met someone at work, school, or at a retail store that you know needs some help. Be creative! List your service project at https://mypantano.church/serveourcity. After clicking the “Sign Up” button, you’ll find a tab at the top labeled “Serve Your Neighborhood”.
But why? Why are we canceling services to work all across Tucson? Because that’s what the church should be doing. For too long, many in our culture have seen the church as a non-property tax paying leach on society. Okay, there’s a lot of other issues behind those views like a general disdain for any faith. However, we believe God has called our church to invest and make a difference in our city. Our mission is to love people to Jesus, launching passionate people to make a difference!
If all of a sudden, Pantano Christian were not here, I would hope that our community would miss our positive influence. We’ve committed to helping the Department of Child Safety be able to provide more foster families and reunite families through Care Portal and more. We’ve helped start and support numerous community organizations that serve our city, like Haven Totes, that provide food for low-income kids on the weekends. We regularly serve our schools, like our team at Mary Meredith that mentors and serves kids with learning disabilities. God has called us to help make life better here in this world and guide people to Jesus to find life that never ends in the next world.
But there’s another reason why we Serve Our City; as we leave the walls of the church, we enter into the lives of real people with real needs. On Sunday, don’t miss the opportunity to connect with and encourage those you are serving. Don’t get so engrossed in doing the work that you forget to engage the people you are serving with side by side. It’s not just about getting work done. It’s about connecting with people and serving people as well. Use this Sunday to be generous with your words, your actions, and your resources as you attempt to bless all those involved.
I like to use a lot of abbreviations. One of my favorites is MAD which is short for Making A Difference. That is part of our mission – Loving people to Jesus, launching passionate people to make a difference. I believe we are saved not just from hell but saved to make a difference in this life, too.
Thanks to the generosity of our church, we helped fund an evangelism and discipleship school in Ecuador. God is doing incredible things through our partnership with Compassion and the local church Plenitud de Dios. Here’s some of what’s happening…
In this community, many families are broken and hurting. Families are in conflict, abuse is common, and alcoholism and drug abuse is evident in many young people and parents. Teaching the gospel is important, as the community typically practices idolatry. Additionally, families are in need of hygiene training to promote health and reduce the spread of disease.
Achieving Positive Outcomes
Our partnership with a church in Ecuador has created two centers to conduct a program for parents of children in the Compassion program. Over 700 people have been affected by our generosity, and many more will continue to be educated in the future.
The discipleship school has implemented 3 main programs. First, they have hosted events for the parents of children in the center, such as a couples dinner, parents retreat, and other community-centered events. Workshops have included teaching on topics like health, abortion, family, violence, God’s purpose for marriage and family, and vocational skills. Second, the staff members at the center have been monitoring and evaluating the families in their development. Finally, the center staff has been discipling, giving spiritual guidance and sharing the good news of Jesus with the parents.
The gospel has changed this community. Many parents have accepted Christ and have been baptized. Parents are taking a more active role in raising their children to know Jesus. The church community is growing and becoming more known in the area, and the church staff is committed to continuing to disciple and guide these new believers.
The Compassion project in Ecuador recently wrote us these words: “We are so grateful for your support of parents and children in Ecuador. Join us in celebrating what God has done to provide for the practical needs of this community, and most of all celebrating the ways that he has drawn them to a saving relationship with Jesus. Thank you for your partnership, and may God bless the ministry of Pantano Christian Church!”
This week, our high school team leaves for Ecuador to continue to support and engage in our partnership in Ecuador. Check out more about our Empower Ecuador project.
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This year, we are hosting our 11th Global Leadership Summit (GLS). Over the last 10 years, I’ve learned so much from the GLS and applied so much of what I learned in my own life and leadership as well as how we do things here at Pantano. I think it was 2011 when I was at one of my lowest points in leadership and there was a particular Summit talk that ended up helping me develop my life motto – “Faithfulness, not success!” The GLS is powerful, inspirational, practical and always has something that I take away and use. You don’t want to miss the 2019 Global Leadership Summit. The theme this year is “Everyone has influence.” Join over 400,000 people who want to do better with their influence at home, at work, at church, or in the community.
We host the GLS for three main reasons:
Everyone has influence! Everyone can improve how they influence! More importantly, God has commissioned us to bring his kingdom influence to our world. So, come sharpen your skills with us. Sign up now for the rock-bottom price.
Here are the details:
Date and Time: Thursday, August 8 & Friday, August 9, 8:30 AM – 4 PM (both days)
Pantano Christian Church – 1755 S Houghton Rd, Tucson, AZ
Desert Hills Lutheran Church – 2150 S Camino del Sol, Green Valley, AZ
Price: The Pantano rate is $89 until 6/25 (9:59 pm), then $119 thereafter. You’ll need a discount code to get this price. We can’t give this code out to the general public, so it will be posted before and after services or you can call the church office at 520.298.5395 and ask for the code.
The PARTNER rate through 4Tucson, or our other GLS Partners, is $109 until 6/25 (9:59 pm), then $139 thereafter.
Student/Faculty/Active Duty Military pricing is $89 (with no cutoff dates.)
Registration Link: Pantano GLS Registration Link
Check out the speaker lineup link here. See you at the Summit!
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God commanded a Sabbath for physical rest but also because we need to pause at least weekly to reflect back and see all that God has done. Otherwise, we just keep running ahead and forget all the big and small ways God has guided, provided, blessed, and protected. In our work and effort, we easily miss his amazing grace. Now, Jesus and his apostles made it clear that we don’t have to legalistically keep a Saturday or Sunday or any particular day as the Sabbath. But, the principle is still important to observe. And here’s why – we need to slow down, quiet our frenetic agenda, and be still so we can practice and experience gratitude. Gratitude is a vital path to experience the fullness of God’s grace.
So as I write, it’s the Monday after Easter. I put in over 40,000 steps, climbed over 30 floors, walked more than 18 miles on Saturday and Sunday and burned almost 7,000 calories in those two days! Gotta love the Fitbit! So it’s time to slow down and take some time to reflect. Here are a few of the many things I’m grateful for:
I’m grateful for the man baptized on Sunday who decided he had his last drink. And an older gentleman was baptized Sunday who came to our church deeply wounded by the ugliness of religion and found grace and a renewed relationship with God. And a man came up at the last minute to be baptized who had been fighting surrendering to Jesus for months. I’m deeply grateful for the 94 people baptized and for the life change and new beginnings for each precious soul loved by God and the people in their lives.
I’m grateful for all of you who invited people to join you at our Family Fun Fest and Easter services. I spent a good part of both days meeting the people who were your guests. That is one of the best parts of Easter for me. I love it! Thank you all for caring enough about people to invite them and to love them to Jesus.
It’s amazing that we gave away 50,000 Easter eggs filled with scripture verses, candy, and small toys. But, what blows me away are all of the folks who spent hours filling them and taping them shut! Folks also donated water, soda, candy, and all the supplies so we could make the Family Fun Fest a free event. Wow! And how great are the hundreds of people both Saturday and Sunday who volunteered and put in long hours to serve the 5000 people who came on our campus for the Family Fun Fest and the 6780 people who attended Easter services… Wow!
I’m so grateful for our staff and volunteers who put in long hours preparing, long before Saturday and Sunday. I’m grateful for our leaders who love people and will do what it takes to make every experience the best it can be and be done with excellence. On Saturday and Sunday, I was overwhelmed by the creative gifts exercised and used by so many of our artistic folks. I’m just so proud of our whole church. I love our church!
Don’t forget to join us and invite folks to hear our new teaching series that starts Sunday – Upcycle. In Upcycle, we’ll learn how to move past our past to start again with God. We’ll tap into the transforming power of God that makes beautiful things from the ruined, used, old, or worn out pieces of our lives.
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This Sunday we will celebrate that God raised Jesus from the dead. It is a big deal! The resurrection changes everything, in every way, for everyone who believes. There are two passages from the Bible that I love to reflect on at Easter time; each has a special meaning to me and I want to share them with you. The first is found in Matthew 28:5-6 (NIV) – The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” Because Jesus is alive and because Jesus conquered death there is nothing we have to fear in the present, for he is with us, and nothing to fear at the end, for death is only a door to life that never ends. As God raised Jesus from the dead, we too share that same hope. If we really believe in a risen savior, fear no longer has to rule in our lives.
Last Sunday I read from Romans 10:9 (NIV) – If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Paul describes our salvation as based on surrendering to Jesus and making him “large and in charge” of our lives as Lord. It is also based on the deeply-held belief that Jesus is alive. God raised him from the dead. He is our living Lord who guides us in our daily lives. But that hope is based on the fact Jesus is alive!
Join us Easter Sunday as we celebrate the risen Jesus. Services are at 7 am, 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm. Children’s ministry is at all services except the 7 am. We’ll have free breakfast and lunch between services. Our team has created an amazing service to celebrate the resurrection, including baptisms. We’ll have two baptisteries on stage this year!
On Saturday, from 8 am to 2 pm, we’ll have our Family Fun Fest on campus. It’s a FREE event that features family-friendly activities and a 50,000 Easter egg hunt. There will also be a petting zoo (the largest we’ve ever had at an event), an illusionist, train ride, crafts, games, inflatables, a slip ‘n slide (if you want to get wet, come prepared!) and more! It’s not too late to sign up to help us serve either Saturday and/or Sunday.
He has risen! Indeed! And that changes everything.
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I love Easter! It isn’t the trapping of the holiday that much interests me; I’m not an Easter egg or chocolate fan. I’ve never been much amused by the Easter bunny. But I love Easter because of the reason for the special day. Jesus rose from dead and he’s alive. That’s huge. That changes everything! That is THE basis of our faith. That is the basis of ALL hope! Put in the negative, if he’s still in the grave, then we are hopeless. But, we have a hope that death can’t shake; and that’s the message of our Easter services this year.
We’ll have four Easter Sunday services at 7 am, 9 am, 11 am and 1 pm. We’ll have children’s ministry at all services except the 7 am service (it’s hard to get kids up, in their Easter best and arrive to service that early!). Our middle school and high school students will be with their families at all four adult services.
May I ask you a huge favor? Given the history I’ve followed for years, I can pretty much predict that the 9 am and 11 am services will be full. If you can, would you please consider attending the 7 am or 1 pm services? You’ll have a much easier time finding a seat and parking at those services, which also makes room for our guests at 9 am and 11 am. Thank you in advance.
We’ll be having baptisms at all four services. This year, we are upgrading that experience. We are going to have two baptisteries on stage. It will be amazing! The view and video will be so much better. If you or your friends or family have been thinking about being baptized, this will be a great day to make your promise to follow the living Jesus.
We’ll continue our tradition of a free Easter breakfast and lunch. We’ll serve pancakes and sausage for breakfast between the morning services (8 – 9 am, 10 – 11 am) and free hot dogs and chips for lunch (12 – 1 pm). The free meals and beverages will be available in the outdoor covered court area.
And, don’t miss our annual Family Fun Fest (formerly called the New Life Celebration). We are extending the hours from 8 am – 2 pm and have increased the fun things to do as well. We’ve added a water “slip and slide,” expanded the petting zoo, and more.
The Family Fun Fest and Easter Sunday service are great events to invite your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors to attend with you. We have invitation cards available at Guest Services.
Jesus is risen…indeed! And our living Savior is THE game changer! Join us in celebrating the most important event that ever happened!
Hospitality! It’s an interesting word. There are many words related such as hospital, hospice, host, hotel, and hostel. They all come from the Latin root word “hospes” which means host, guest or stranger. The core idea is welcoming a stranger and offering food, shelter, and safety.
There are many scriptures that encourage hospitality like Romans 12:13b – Practice hospitality. 1 Peter 4:9 – Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Then there’s the fascinating instruction found in Hebrews 13:2 – Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. When this was written some 2000 years ago, there were few motels and restaurants. So when people traveled, they relied on others, often strangers, to provide food and housing.
Let’s dig a bit deeper. Who is a stranger? It’s someone you don’t know, for sure. 2000 years ago, they were from somewhere other than your village and even from a different culture and background. The stranger was usually different!
In our day, a stranger can be someone we simply don’t know. But they could be someone very different from us. They may be “strange” to us because they are from a different racial, cultural, economic, political, religious or educational background. Why would we be guided by the Bible to open our lives to someone very different from us? Could it be that as we open ourselves to those who are different, God might be teaching us how to love our neighbor who is different? Could it be the Spirit might be opening us up to ideas, values, and insights that are “foreign” to us? Maybe the practice of true hospitality could help us learn to be open to others and welcome differences, welcome the dreams of others, be hospitable and generous with grace, and be a host to something surprising that God has for us and our “guests.” We don’t have to agree with or even like all that a stranger brings, but we can learn to welcome them and expand our perspectives.
Did you catch the end of Hebrews 13:2 – some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. I believe in literal angelic beings and I’ve assumed this passage was asking me to entertain anyone because the guest just might be an actual angel. However, could there be a second meaning to entertaining angels we are unaware of? The word “angel” means messenger and that’s the role of some angels like Gabriel. Could Hebrews 13:2 suggest that these “strangers” could be real human beings who bring us a message from God? Could this different kind of person we welcome into our lives open a door of understanding? Maybe if we intentionally connected with the stranger, someone different from us, we might learn something new about ourselves, about God and about faith and grace that we would never learn anywhere else. Just maybe….
Here’s a chance to enter the world of someone different. Our mission partner, Heartbeat for Africa is having a short-term trip to West Africa on July 15 -27, 2019. There’s an information meeting THIS Sunday (3/17) at 10:15 am in Discover (room 2 off the courtyard). Go and check out this opportunity to show hospitality to a stranger and see what God might do!
I am so proud of our church. Pantano is a generous church! Literally, a thousand of us at Pantano serve in some way at our church, in our community or globally over the course of the year. We couldn’t do what we do and make the difference we are making without you. THANK YOU!
As a church, we give away about half a million dollars every year to local and global organizations and missions. These organizations have been vetted as trustworthy and are making a difference in their communities. And, that dollar amount doesn’t include the service time we provide. THANK YOU for making that possible.
Christmas Eve Offering – The Center of Opportunity
Every year we give our Christmas Eve offering away. Sometimes we’ve given that to international projects and sometimes we’ve given it locally. Often we’ve split it between groups. This year, I’m excited to announce that our Christmas Eve offering will go to the Center of Opportunity. This is a one-stop center run by the Gospel Rescue Mission. A generous family in Tucson bought the old “Holidome” (the Holiday Inn Conference Center on Park, south of Ajo), and gave it to the Gospel Rescue Mission for $1 a year for 99 years!
Hoping to open in the Spring of 2019, the Center of Opportunity will provide about 300 emergency beds and over 30 Christian social service and government agencies will be serving our homeless population in Tucson in this one location. These agencies will help the homeless move toward self-sufficiency by providing emergency housing and meals, job training and placement, health and dental services, government and veteran assistance and so much more. And, the Gospel Rescue Mission will make sure that each person is introduced to Jesus and will disciple those who are ready to follow him.
Year-End Giving – Room for More
It is normal for folks to evaluate their giving as we come to the end of the year. If you are planning to make a year-end gift, please focus your giving toward our Room for More project. We are just getting started with construction for the Student Union to provide room for our students and children. We must make Room for More. We took out a construction loan to get started, but I’d like to pay off the entire cost by the time we occupy in the spring of 2019. That will only be possible if we all give generously and sacrificially.
How To Give
The easiest way to give is to give online. You can give your regular gifts as well as your Christmas Eve offering and Room for More giving online – https://pantano.church/give/. Or, you can use our envelopes (they have a place to mark regular giving or Room for More) or use the special green Christmas Eve offering envelope that will be in the seat backs on Christmas Eve. Another option is to have your gift sent from your checking account; call us if you have questions and need help – 520.298.5395. THANK YOU again and in advance for your amazing generosity, which allows us to make a difference in the lives of people both now and for eternity.
Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed so at Pantano we are officially entering our Christmas season! Here’s an overview of what we have planned for Christmas this year. This Sunday we’ll start our three-week Christmas series called Bring Christmas Home. And that just kicks things off!
December Nights are back and we’ve expanded it one night and added some new things to make it even better. The event is free (except for the hayrides and food for purchase). We are adding a new live “Road to Bethlehem” experience. And of course, you’ll be able to roast marshmallows, sing Christmas carols on a horse-drawn carriage, get your free family Christmas portrait (those are often such a pain to schedule…right?!), or join us for a snowball fight. There will be crafts, cookie decorating and a whole lot more including live entertainment.
This year we’ll have the event on Friday and Saturday nights from 5:30-8:30PM on December 7, 8 and 14, 15.
Go to mypantano.church to sign up to serve as we still need volunteers and/or some of the supplies so we can keep this a free event. And, you can sign up and pay for hayride tickets. Just click here for all things December Nights! Don’t forget to invite family and friends to join you!
Serve Our City – December 23rd
I’m so excited about how we are going to bring Christmas home to our city in a unique way this year; on Sunday, December 23rd, instead of having our usual church services on our campus, we are going to “be” the church by going out and serving our community and neighborhoods. We’ll be doing some work projects (cleaning, painting, etc.) at both the new Gospel Rescue Mission Center of Opportunity and GAP Ministries. We’ll also have a variety of other ways you, your family (and yes, kids too!) and friends or small group can serve. We’ll also have a few projects on our campus if you are unable to drive to another location. We’ll have special Serve Our City t-shirts for anyone who signs up. You can sign up at mypantano.church. We’ll be talking about this all of December and more information will be coming soon. Plan to use that Sunday morning to bring the spirit of Christmas to your community.
Christmas Eve Services – December 24th
As you’ve come to expect, we put on a terrific one-hour Christmas Eve service for the whole family with a short, clear gospel message, singing, and candle lighting. This year we’ll have 4 services at 1, 3, 5, and 7PM. We’ll have children’s programming available for children up to 6 years of age. Invite others to join you at this great event!
Christmas Eve Offering
Our annual Christmas Eve offering will go in its entirety to support the new Center of Opportunity (4550 S. Palo Verde – south of Ajo Way); it will be a full service, one-stop location for those who are homeless or in crisis. The organization has been given the old Holiday Inn conference center that has over 300 rooms and a lot of space for all the critical services necessary to help the homeless become self-sufficient. We are excited to actually serve there for our Serve Our City Sunday and provide funds to help them convert the rooms and spaces to serve the homeless in our city. You can give online or at the service.
We hope you are able to join us at one or all of our Christmas season events, as we “Bring Christmas Home” this December!
Tucson – 5th Poorest City in America
I’m sure you’ve heard this by now, but Tucson is listed as one of the poorest metropolitan areas in the United States. That’s not the kind of notoriety we want. About 25% of our city is identified as living below the poverty rate. As Christians, we can’t just stop here and say, “Wow, that’s too bad!” and do nothing.
What the Bible Says About Poverty
Some Christians are tempted to quote our Savior at this point; after all, Jesus said, “You will always have the poor among you…” (John 12:8). Christians will causally take this to mean that Jesus said poverty can’t be overcome, so don’t bother. Actually, Jesus is saying the opposite; He’s quoting Deuteronomy 15:11. Jesus would often quote a part of an Old Testament text, knowing that his hearers would not only know the whole verse but the key ideas of the section of scripture around what was quoted. There is a “therefore” after what Jesus quoted; that “therefore” is how we are to respond to the poor around us.
Here’s the full text of Deut. 15:11 – There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. Then, go back to verse 4 of the same chapter – However, there need be no poor people among you! In fact, read the whole text of Deuteronomy 15:7-11 which states that it was God’s plan that generous, God-fearing people would respond to the poor. Flat out, the Bible commands that we be generous to the poor. Do an internet search and you’ll discover an overwhelming amount of Bible verses on helping the poor and needy (the words poor or poverty occur 446 times). So, what can we do?
Cost of Poverty Experience
Christians in Tucson through 4Tucson are committed to reducing poverty in our city. David Thoresen and J. Michael Davis on our staff are working with the Poverty Reduction Task Force of 4Tucson. Click here to read more about their work. The task force is promoting a Cost of Poverty Experience (COPE) simulation here at Pantano on Saturday, November 10, from 9am to 12pm. This is an opportunity where you’ll experience what it means to live below the poverty line. This will be eye opening! You don’t want to miss this. It’s a free event and you can register here.
Faith In Action
This Sunday, September 23, is our next Faith in Action event. After each of our three services, you’ll have an opportunity to see how you can be generous with your time, skills, effort and money to reduce poverty as you put your faith into action. We’ll have a number of our ministry partners whose focus is to make a difference in the lives of those who live in poverty near and far away. You can check out the local ministries like Haven Totes, Diaper Bank, Gospel Rescue Mission, Habitat for Humanity, Care Portal, and Interfaith Community Services. And, you can make a difference for a child in poverty through our work in Ecuador with Compassion International. Go to the Café after services on Sunday to see how you can do what God commanded when he said: Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to (Deut. 15:10).
Please join us in one of the various ways we can truly make a difference in our city and the world!