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Today in the Mission Yearbook

Putting feet to faith


Arizona’s Pinnacle Presbyterian Church connects community to Christ through mission service

October 22, 2019

Pinnacle Presbyterian Church member Stephanie Webster helps prepare the evening meal at André House, an inner-city soup kitchen in Phoenix that feeds an average of 600 homeless and low-income individuals six nights a week. (Photo by Kelsy Brown)

Nearly 30 years ago, 25 residents of North Scottsdale, Arizona, attended a worship service at what would grow to become Pinnacle Presbyterian Church, a congregation of more than 1,400 in the Presbytery of Grand Canyon.

Members of Pinnacle Presbyterian say they find Christ standing the soup kitchen line, while worshiping with friends in Haiti or sitting alongside a family in Texas soon after a devastating hurricane destroyed their home. “More often than not, we are ministered to by those we seek to serve,” said the Rev. Dr. Wesley D. Avram, the church’s senior pastor.

Pinnacle Presbyterian’s compassionate outreach begins in the heart of the Sonoran Desert and extends around the world, particularly through efforts to share life and ministry with those in need. An initiative called “Pinnacle Promise” goes beyond the normal mission budget of the church through congregation-wide initiatives to meet the needs of people in Haiti, as well as those experiencing homelessness at home and abroad.

“In the Gospel of John, Jesus says that streams of living water will flow from a faithful heart,” Avram said. “At Pinnacle, we know how refreshing these streams of living water can be. We express our faithfulness through excellence in worship, the arts, serving meals, building homes, crossing borders and nurturing children and youth.”

In 2014, Pinnacle produced a creative mission video, “Small Steps That Make A Big Difference,” to literally put feet to faith in describing a few of the congregation’s many opportunities to serve in mission and ministry.

Three times each month, volunteers from Pinnacle Presbyterian prepare and serve meals through the soup kitchen at André House, a ministry of hospitality in the Capital Mall District of Phoenix. Founded in 1984, André House assists people who are currently experiencing homelessness and poverty. Over the years, André House has grown to provide modest housing, free clothing, laundry service and showers.

Members of the congregation tutor young students at Create Academy, a public, tuition-free charter school led by a former Pinnacle staff member in an underserved neighborhood of Phoenix. Create Academy teachers incorporate creative arts into learning to make education interesting and meaningful for more than 130 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. The church also provides educational and financial support, such as hosting a drive to collect new backpacks and school supplies.

Staff at Vista del Camino community center in Scottsdale received a supply of new backpacks and school supplies for children and teens in need, many collected during Pinnacle’s annual Vacation Bible School. (Photo by Judy Krieger)

In addition, Pinnacle members support Vista del Camino, a community center offering a variety of services such as a food bank, a career center, utility assistance, counseling and youth programs to assist Scottsdale residents in meeting basic needs, relieving economic and emotional stress, maintaining self-sufficiency and preventing homelessness. Members donate nonperishable food monthly, participate in a backpack drive for Scottsdale students in need and participate in the center’s Christmas angel tree program.

Since January 2011, approximately 85 members of Pinnacle Presbyterian have worked to assist families returning to self-sufficiency through Open Table, a nonprofit licensed model that uses a team approach and regular meetings to provide guidance and support for homeless families such as returning veterans, survivors of human trafficking, individuals re-entering the community from incarceration and young adults and children aging out of foster care.

Last year, two teams from Pinnacle donated around 1,300 hours of service through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to help families in Houston adjust to a new normal after Hurricane Harvey. Pinnacle leads a youth mission trip each summer and an adult mission trip each winter. This year, 37 students served in Nassau, Bahamas, installing a tile floor in a church, repairing a playground and hosting Vacation Bible School. In November, an adult mission team will travel to Wilmington, North Carolina, to help rebuild homes after Hurricanes Florence and Michael.

In response to a pilgrimage and study tour to the Holy Land last year, Pinnacle endowed a scholarship for a student at the Lutheran-supported Dar al Kalima University in Bethlehem —and hopes to do more. “We’re also excited to be seeing our first young adult join the PC(USA)’s Young Adult Volunteer program for a year of service in Peru in 2019–20,” Avram said. “We see our relatively young congregation growing into a sense that mission is part of our identity and not just a responsibility.”

Tammy Warren, Communications Associate, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus:  Mission Service

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Demetria Hurnton, Board of Pensions
Danny Hutchins, Administrative Services Group (A Corp)

Let us pray:

God, your compassion for all your children is reflected in the lives of so many people in you church. We thank you for their quiet faithfulness as they minister, each in his and her own way, to those around them. Amen.