Church marks centennial with gift of water - East Valley Tribune: News

Church marks centennial with gift of water

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Posted: Saturday, October 3, 2009 6:52 pm | Updated: 2:29 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A church celebrating 100 years in arid Mesa gathered Saturday for a centennial prayer breakfast, in which one of the chief desires on their hearts was bringing water to a barren land. Their prayers were not for the desert of Arizona, but Africa.

A church celebrating 100 years in arid Mesa gathered Saturday for a centennial prayer breakfast, in which one of the chief desires on their hearts was bringing water to a barren land.

Their prayers were not for the desert of Arizona, but Africa.

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At least three dozen people gathered for the centennial prayer breakfast at First Christian Church of Mesa in a rear hall behind the sanctuary at 805 N. Country Club Drive.

Although the church first opened its doors a century ago at a different site near First Street and Macdonald, out in front of the church’s current home, three large crosses stand as a welcoming testament to all those who enter the newer structure, which had its cornerstone placed in 1959.

Marking the date of the church’s genesis, the Rev. Bill Jacobs said his congregation had been busy during the weeks leading up to the centennial event by participating in community service, such as cleaning housing used by displaced mothers and children, and collecting donations for the mission to bring clean water to the people of an African nation.

Jacobs said the mission was called “The Kenya Water Project,” aimed at providing the clean, life-sustaining gift to people in need by helping to dig wells and creating irrigation for farming.

Church member and centennial coordinator Janis Brown said the church had already raised hundreds of dollars to be donated to the clean water mission. The centennial prayer breakfast was another means of raising money for that and other missions supported by the church, Brown said.

The church invited a leader from their denomination, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) , to speak about the mission being undertaken, especially at a time when water signifies both life and death.

The Rev. Amy Gopp of Ohio, who works with the relief, refugee and development ministry for the church, said recent floods in Asia, as well as droughts in Africa, made the date a significant time for the small church in Mesa to contribute to the greater good.

“There were floods in the Philippines and Samoa ... Cambodia, Vietnam,” Gopp listed. “And there are droughts in Africa at the same time.”

Gopp said she traveled to the centennial celebration to speak about the duality of water.

“Water gives life; water takes life away,” she said. “We cannot live without it; sometimes it destroys us.”

Gopp’s talk was an effort to bolster the church’s mission to bring water to people in need in Africa, and she said other churches within the denomination have taken on other missions, such as helping refugees in Asia cope with the aftermath of flooding.

Brown said along with celebrating 100 years in Mesa, church leaders felt a large part of their legacy lay in the broader community.

Jacobs said whether his church is at its present location for a century to come, or three, for now it just felt right.

“We don’t know where we will be,” he said. “But we feel well-placed in this neighborhood, helping its residents, as well as people from far away.”

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