God’s Love in Action
Paradise Valley United Methodist Church’s Scriptural Foundation for our Mission and Vision Comes from Romans 8:9-14:
But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!
So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! (The Message)
We are a people alive in the Spirit. Romans 8 describes life in the Spirit and God’s immense work in us. Paul says “If the alive and present God who raised Jesus from dead moves into your life, he’ll do same thing in you he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself.” We all want God to live and breathe in us. One of principal claims in scripture is that God is love and God’s love is visible and active. The New Testament says plainly: “Don’t merely say that we love each other; let us show truth by our actions.” We put love into action as we: ignite faith, transform lives and create community.
We believe God calls us to ignite faith in people’s lives. We help God’s spark to burn, and keep it alight. As a church, we are called to fan the flames of faith.
When John was baptizing people down at the Jordan River, he told them that when Jesus “comes he will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out.” (Matthew 3:11-12) God is the match and we help faith to ignite by the way we live, including the way we treat others, help others, work with others, do mission, extend mercy and practice justice. Helping people notice their spiritual hunger and providing ways to fill it is part of our calling.
Faith can start in many ways within us: as a longing for meaning, or for a desire for that intangible spiritual strength that overcomes life’s most insurmountable obstacles. Faith can grow from a longing to latch on to something that seems right when the world behaves in such abysmal ways.
God’s gift of faith transforms lives. This is God’s best work. The old in us becomes new. Dead places come alive. Muddled places get clarity. The weak become strong. When we are alive in the Spirit, God begins to change us. For some of us this is sudden. For many of us it is slow and steady. Maybe transformation begins quietly, with a question working on us. We know we cannot transform ourselves. It takes God’s power and initiative to bring real change.
Our world is desperate & lonely for healthy community. We want a place to belong and to become what God desires. We long for it. People who call the Valley of the Sun home may not be here year-round, or they may have come from somewhere else. Our mission is to create an authentic community at PVUMC where people can walk a pathway of faith, without fear or judgment, and become alive to God with the support of others.
Our Vision Is: Love That Crosses All barriers and Embraces All People.
Our vision grows out of our mission. We aspire to live out this love as God’s people. The world is full of barriers that divide and separate. We encounter these regularly, the problems and categories that divide us so painfully across political lines, socio-economic and class status, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, those who have faith and those who are fearful or distant from faith and the church. The biblical story and the witness of Jesus Christ is to bring God’s saving love into the world, embracing all, crossing any human boundary. The love from God we are called to live and carry into the world is active, merciful, faithful and courageous. It takes us to new places and people. It takes us to difficulties, problems and circumstances where God is desperately needed. God’s love unlocks the barriers we have created inside and outside of ourselves. It sets us free.
We’ve all encountered barriers to love. We humans have this way of setting limits, passing judgments, restricting love or making it conditional and transactional. All of us have met such limited versions of love at one time or another, but God’s love is different. Jesus redefined God’s concern for the world. We follow that example in our vision as we share the grace of Jesus Christ. God’s suffering and forgiving love that was crucified did in fact rise again. God’s love can even move across the barrier of death itself!
Our Strategic Plan 2013-2016
We trust and believe God has a great future ahead for Paradise Valley and these plans will help us to focus our ministries and resources, build on the strengths of our church and draw people to God’s great gift of love in Jesus Christ. Our plan foresees:
1. PVUMC as a “Pathways Church”: Pathways is our discipleship model to foster spiritual growth and formation. Our goal is to develop relational connections across all ages and lifestyles, from youth, young adults, and families to seniors, to build faith and overcome isolation and loneliness. We will foster faith formation that will be inviting, welcoming and nourishing to persons, both inside and outside the church.
2. PVUMC as “Partner Church”: We are called by God to go out into the world, partnering with struggling or dying neighborhood UMC churches in the Valley, assisting with revitalizing these church communities, or ultimately even creating satellite churches of PVUMC in the greater community.
3. PVUMC as “Renaissance Church”: PVUMC has always strived to be a center of community learning and culture, service and social justice. As we build bridges, we are transformed and reborn. “Renaissance” is a rich word, metaphorically and historically. Its root meaning is “rebirth,” and it has been associated with resurgence, new beginnings, revitalization and even reawakening. As a “Renaissance Church” we are engaged with the world around us. We look outward. We listen to and respond to the needs of our community. We are open to learning and being re-formed in ways that will revitalize our own faith and our own faith community.
PVUMC is not a “neighborhood church,” but rather a regional institution, and serves as a catalyst for culture, music, leadership and advocacy. We can bring new life to a variety of significant issues affecting our region, including: poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, isolation and loneliness. In addition, PVUMC is a strong voice for mission, service and social justice in the community, and provides greater community leadership in this important sphere of Christian concern. One component of this initiative is to develop meaningful partnerships with institutions and groups, taking advantage of PVUMC facilities, congregational assets and the synergy that might surface from such partnerships. John Wesley said, “I look on all the world as my parish.” PVUMC embraces this idea in its mission, vision and strategic plan.