Kris Coates, our landscape designer
Appreciating Our Campus Through Capital Improvements
March 2015 Update
Spring is just around the corner, and with it the planting season. That must mean it’s time for an update on the Capital Campaign projects, right? Here’s a brief recap:
We recently received the gift of some variegated iris that will be planted around the Memorial Garden, and also more cactus to be sited on the 103rd Avenue side the church. Kris Coates, our landscape designer, estimates that the danger of cold snaps will be past by the end of March, and these items will be planted then. That’s also when some of the larger bushes remaining will be “stumped back” to regrow into more natural shapes. In the meantime, Bill Wentling is working on weed control, Kris is researching fountains for the Memorial Garden, and the Blue Stake work has been done so our landscaper can begin installing the new permanent irrigation piping on the north and west sides of the lot.
The Celtic Cross
Some of you have been asking when the cross will finally be completed. The bad news: the manufacturer of the bricks we are using recently went out of business, leaving us without enough bricks in our possession to complete the cross. The good news: a stockpile of 1500 bricks still exists, so we are in the process of negotiating the purchase of the remaining bricks we need plus spares. More good news: because of the delay, if you had meant to have a brick engraved and didn’t get around to ordering it before, you can order it now. Call or stop by the church office with your information. Remember, text for each brick is limited to three lines, with 15 characters (including spaces) on each line. Take a look at the engraved bricks in the corner of the courtyard if you need inspiration.
The other missing piece of the cross is the center medallion. After examining the costs and durability of various options, the Capital Campaign Task Force is recommending that we choose one of these possibilities:
- A solid concrete circle filling the entire 7-foot diameter hole, with a design stenciled in the middle;
- A patterned granite circle approximately 4 feet in diameter, surrounded by a ring of concrete 18 inches wide; or
- A plain granite circle, 4 feet wide and surrounded by an 18-inch concrete ring, with a Bible verse engraved on the granite.
Examples of how these options would look are on display in Swain Hall; take a look and vote for your choice!
The Fireside Room
The “missing link” in the Fireside Room is the new upholstery. Due to the size of our order (18 chairs!), the fabric had to be special ordered, and when it arrived, it contained weaving flaws. The fabric was returned and reordered and should arrive within the next few weeks, when the upholstery work will begin. Until then, admire the new paint job on the west wall of the room; the nice blue fireplace bump-out made the rest of that wall look so much worse that Carol Davis repainted it herself. Thank you, Carol!
Of course, the walls in the south entrance to the Sanctuary and the connecting rooms still badly need new paint, and the Sanctuary itself was last painted in 1997. If you haven't contributed to the capital campaign yet, there’s still time to make a pledge and help spruce up those areas, too!
Giving Thanks in a New Way
Thank you to those who have contributed or those who have pledged contributions for 2015 and 2016 to the Capital Improvement Campaign. As of November 24, 2014, we had deposited $58,474.88 for improvements and $4820.00 for bricks. Capital Improvement contributions have been in amounts of $100 to $15,000. Thank you to the following: Lloyd and Ruth Baumgartner, Donald Berg, Harrell and Carol Davis, Frances Gehm, Evelyn Haas, Vonda and Gwynn Hagen (for part of the Fireside Room), Dean and Carol Hilst, Earl and Frances Kittredge, Gene Klatte and Mary Lou Pancy, Max Littlejohn, Beth Mabee, Darrell and Norma Mack, Wanda Morrill, Zane and Martha Porter, Donna Roth, George and Joyce Saltsman, Fred and Doris Stainbrook, Jane Whaley, and Harry and Nancy Wilson.
Bricks have been ordered by: Hazel Bacon, Nita Cinquina, Cheryl Davis, Harrell and Carol Davis, Sharon Gearhart, Frances Gehm, Ham and Bunny Geisbert, Judy Goss, Evelyn Haas, Vonda Hagen, Dean and Carol Hilst, Jane Hundley, Earl and Fran Kittredge, Max Littlejohn, Jim and Janet MacDonald, Craig and Mary Lou McCoy, Pat and Rosie Mills, Marilyn Olney, Wayne and Claribel Parker, Charlotte Pooley, Donna Roth, Charles Sedgwick, Chesley Sikkema, Fred and Doris Stainbrook, David and Shirley Walker, Bill Wentling, Jane Whaley, and Dick and Karen Zabriskie.
Improvements made to date are:
- Iron fence (in front of office to Annex 2)
- Security system
- Six new toilets
- Nine occupancy sensors (restrooms)
- Exterior painting
- Steel security gates/fence behind Swain Hall
- Celtic cross in courtyard repaved
- Tuff shed for property/maintenance equipment
- Thermostat and a/c updates
- Cracked window in Narthex replaced
Total costs have been covered for these items.
Still to come:
- New upholstery for the chairs in the Fireside Room
- Interior paint for the Sanctuary and adjoining areas
- Additional landscaping and irrigation
- Permanent repairs to the ceiling of Swain Hall
Wish list – these are “nice to have” items that won’t be done unless donors specifically adopt them:
- New upholstery for the chairs in the south entry to the Sanctuary
- Outdoor shade structure/umbrellas for the courtyard
- New gutters around the office/annex
Want to be added to the list of donors? It’s not too late. No contribution is too small; every dollar helps. Thank you for showing your love for God’s house in this very visible way!
Fireside Room Update
During the Appreciating our Campus summit this summer, a suggestion that the Fireside Room be updated was greeted with general applause, and changes to make it more comfortable and versatile are underway. So far the fireplace “bumpout” has been painted and our copy of Salvador Dali’s Crucifixion hung over the fireplace itself. Existing furniture has also been arranged in front of the fireplace in a conversational grouping.
The next big change: adding groups of small tables and chairs that can be used for bridge, meetings, and social events. The tables will be purchased new; the chairs will be moved from Annex 3 and reupholstered to increase their comfort. The beautiful large table already in place, donated by Evelyn Haas in memory of her husband, will anchor one end of the room and function as a serving or display area.
We are fortunate that the church already owned the artwork, brass accent pieces, and most of the furniture used in this transformation. Designated donations have enabled us to add the new tables, reupholster the chairs (fabric sample, right), and buy attractive accent greenery to finish everything off.
We hope these changes will trigger increased use of the room for small group meetings of all kinds. The work will not be 100% done until the interior painting is completed this spring, but the upholstery work should be finished and the room ready for use well before that!
Caring for God’s House
Saturday, July 12, over 40 people came together in Swain Hall to celebrate the ways in which our building and grounds support our mission as the First Presbyterian Church of Sun City.
The day opened with a clip from an Adam Hamilton DVD about the importance of an appealing and well-kept premises in attracting and maintaining members, followed by small group interviews on how our own church property has served us as individuals and as a community of faith.
Out of the stories we told each other, these appreciative themes emerged:
- The flexible spaces in our campus and the beautiful designs of our Sanctuary, Chapel, and stained glass fulfill the church’s physical needs and also contribute to our spiritual growth.
- The courtyard and Memorial Garden are the heart of the campus, central to its nurturing functions.
- Our church is not just a building; it’s God’s house and as such deserves to be maintained with love and respect.
When asked what we want more of, we requested an updated Fireside Room, better internal signage (where, for instance, is the Westminster Room?), state-of-the-art IT and communications, and landscaping that is less expensive to maintain. Suggestions for additional activities at the campus included social occasions utilizing the Fireside Room and courtyard; concerts in the Sanctuary; vacation bible school; and renting the premises for weddings and similar functions.
Lunch followed presentations on the capital improvements already in the works; the landscaping changes proposed by the Certified Desert Landscaper who is working with us; and the plans to replace the brick in the courtyard’s Celtic cross (heavily damaged by splashing from the fountain). Participants then voted on their preferred paint colors for the wood and metal portions of the church’s exterior and for the Sanctuary and adjoining interior spaces. You can find the details below.
We are truly blessed by our church’s wonderful spaces and amazing people. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this AI session; if you couldn’t be there, be sure to keep reading!
In the Works
In the DVD clip that started our July 12 AI summit, Adam Hamilton said he had given his deacons digital cameras to capture the problem areas around their church campus. Bill Wentling and our Building Committee have also checked out our building and grounds. As a result of their efforts, these projects have already been successfully completed:
- A new fire/intrusion alarm system has replaced the old intrusion-only alarm, for a smaller monthly maintenance fee.
- Problem door locks have been repaired or replaced.
- Old A/C wiring and hard-to-use thermostats were replaced.
- Gabe Conwell has refinished the wooden exterior doors in the courtyard.
- The damaged sunscreens on the Agua Fria room were replaced.
- The overgrown landscaping on the north and east sides of the building and in the courtyard and Memorial Garden has been removed, and replanting has started.
- An energy audit has been completed and the remaining inefficient light fixtures identified for future replacement.
- Exterior painting of wood and metal surfaces has been completed.
- Existing bathroom light switches have been replaced with motion-detector versions.
- Replacement of all toilets with taller, more efficient models is ongoing.
Phase II of the improvements, which will probably take place next spring, will comprise interior painting (the Sanctuary, Fireside Room, Narthex, choir room, library, and adjoining spaces) and additional landscaping. And as we can, we’ll tackle the items identified on July 12, such as posting maps of the campus.
Our beautiful church campus shelters us, inspires us during worship, supports our mission and fellowship activities, and attracts new members to sustain the life of the congregation. These changes will ensure that God’s house will continue to serve our ministry for many years to come. If you would like to make a contribution toward these expenses, please fill out this form and drop it off at or send it to the church office.
Appreciating the Desert
When Del Webb built the first phase of Sun City, his target market was retirees from the upper Midwest, and he assumed they would want to buy houses that looked like transplanted bungalows from Minnesota or Wisconsin, complete with grass lawns and familiar shrubs.
Our church, too, was originally landscaped with grass that wasn’t removed until 1988. That year the congregation embraced the concept of xeriscaping. Merriam-Webster defines xeriscape as “a landscaping method developed especially for arid and semiarid climates that utilizes water-conserving techniques (as the use of drought-tolerant plants, mulch, and efficient irrigation),” and says the first known use of the word (if not the principle) was in 1985. We were pioneers in that regard, appreciating our desert 26 years ago.
However, once the desert flora was in place, we started treating it like the plants we were used to in colder climates – trimming bushes into hedges and frequently overwatering them. Some of this was necessary because the landscapers had planted many of the items in areas too small for the full-grown plants, too close together, or too close to the walkways. Over the years quite a few of our plantings have become woody, overgrown, and unattractive. It’s time to fix that.
Starting with a donation designated for landscaping, Master Gardener, Certified Arborist, and Certified Desert Landscaper Kris Coates is helping us to:
- Identify and remove the plants that have reached the end of their useful lives.
- “Stump back” salvageable plants that can regrow into more natural and attractive shapes.
- Replant with more eye-catching and appropriate types of foliage that will require less water and less maintenance.
- Train our Building Committee and the landscaper we use in how to care for the new plants.
Once the entire project is complete, we will save thousands of dollars in water and landscape maintenance costs every year, and our campus will be far more beautiful and desert-appropriate.
We are so fortunate that Zane and Martha Porter referred Kris to us; she is committing countless hours of her time and effort to this project free of charge, and with her help we will be able to buy most of the new plants we need at wholesale prices, almost 40% off retail. If you see her around the grounds, be sure to thank her. With her help, we will all be able to appreciate the desert in a whole new way.
Thanks to Royal Oaks
Royal Oaks is in the middle of removing the “islands” from their traffic circles due to fire department requirements, and they have graciously agreed to let us have (for only the cost of transplanting them) quite a few mature yucca plants and two cacti that would otherwise have been destroyed. Look for these new plants on the 103rd side of the campus.