The Crazy Chile Farm was formed in 2014 to support the food relief programs of Transfiguration Episcopal Church. We live in a State where hunger is endemic. In Arizona 1 in 4 children, 1 in 5 adults, and 1 in 6 seniors are at risk for adequate daily food. Our response was to create an all-volunteer non-profit farm growing a 400 year-old un-hybridized landrace chile pepper. Chile was selected because spicy foods are a trending item in high demand in the gourmet market and, fortunately, grows quite well in our low desert climate.
Since its inception, profits from the sale of our chile powder have been used to support our local community, by funding food distribution agencies of the Feeding America Food Bank system. We also fund programs in our local public school systems to support underfunded students, food support for a large women’s shelter, and other outreach programs at Transfiguration and in The Episcopal Diocese of Arizona. In 2016 over $5600 was provided for outreach. Likewise, the 2017 crop got off to an exceptional start, and in March and April we were able to provide over $1000 in grants to Million Meals, Project Help, and Lutheran Social Service’s Refugee Focus Program. But then we hit a “speed bump”.
In early May, we picked over 150 pounds of ripe chiles—a record for that month. Yet by the end of the month it had become apparent that about 80% of our only field was inexplicably near death. After examination of our fields by U. of A. Cooperative Extension and an independent agricultural laboratory, our crop was diagnosed with Verticillium wilt, a fungal infection causing irreversible vascular failure in chile peppers and other members of the Solenacea family (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants).
Nevertheless, while the harvest was down, it did not disappear. We continued to produce enough revenue to cover our operational expenses (including our water bill!) for 2017. And by working with our sister program, A Million Meals for our Neighbors and our summer parishioners, we were able to provide funding for 27,500 pounds of food for Hurricane Harvey relief—an extraordinary project that gained us national recognition!
Our current objective is to recover our revenue base, to enable us to provide even more food support in our local community, and additional funding for disaster relief food. To that end, we recently opened a second growing field. This will enable crop rotation between Field #1 and Field #2 to reduce pathogen build-up in our soil, give us the space to diversify our product offering with different crops, and increase the size of our harvest. If you haven’t seen it yet, Field #2 is located behind the Parish Hall on what used to be a dirt parking area. “Ripping” the new field was a project. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Bob DeSpiegelaere and Liz Farmer for renting a John Deere Tractor and doing the initial plowing. We also are indebted to Laura Ward and her manager Todd for initial disc and plow work in the new field with her team of Clydesdales, and continuing to bring the horses back for additional work.
In November, The Farm was invited to participate in an agricultural funding program called “Seed Money”. We subsequently earned $800, which will permit us to buy a greenhouse to enable our farmers to start our own seedlings in an "all-weather" facility. This will give us better control of our seedling production, higher volume, and better quality seedlings. Currently seed flats are sent home with individual farmers in January, with sometimes disappointing results. Having our own greenhouse will also allow us to recover more rapidly if we are afflicted with transplant failure or pathogen attacks. If this project is successful it will allow us to gain at least a month on our growing season, lengthen our harvest time, and hopefully enable a 20% to 25% increase in annual revenue.
As we move into the first quarter of 2018 we give thanks to all those who have encouraged and supported our “sometimes fumbling” efforts. The love, patience and enthusiasm extended to us by the clergy and people of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona and of The Church of the Transfiguration in Mesa has been extraordinary. We are also especially thankful for the help and information provided by U. 0f A. Cooperative Extension, the Arizona Dept. of Agriculture Advisory Council on Food and Agriculture, the Association of Community Gardeners of Maricopa County, A&P Nursery, Native Seeds/Search, Tenth Generation Farm in Apache Junction, and David Archuleta, the Farm and Ranch Mgr. at the New Mexico State University Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Alcalde NM. But, most especially, we thank our own volunteer chile farmers for their tireless energy, extraordinary insights, and constant efforts to improve our processes, our service, and the quality of our products. Our hearts have been truly touched!
A bit of background of your altar guild director: I was baptized, confirmed and married in the same church. During my youth the only time I ever saw a woman in the sanctuary was when I saw the altar guild preparing the altar. In those days, there were no girl acolytes, no female lay readers, no female chalice bearers or lectors, and no females were ordained as priests. When asked to be on the altar guild 25 – 30 years ago, to my mind I was following in my mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps. I was living out a legacy. This is what the women in my family did, they served on the altar guild. That heritage was my connection and my motivating force. It was a good time to be in the altar guild in the early 1970’s. It was a time of change; the church had a trial prayer book; the altar was moved from the wall; the priest began to face the people. The holy Eucharist became normative for worship. I learned a lot at the time, “I am lucky to be born when I was born! I’m having a really good time learning, something that my mother and grandmother didn’t”.
Our Altar guild has an annual bake sale, along with other get togethers and we love it. (and we don’t wear gloves and hats). There is not a business meeting at these sessions, though Fr. Bob will join us often. He may quite often have a request and we have never turned him down. He always tells us how very grateful he is for us.
In the early days of the church, the duty of caring for the altar and sanctuary was the concern of the priests and attendants. Nuns now do the work in certain parts of the world. Although the altar guild was primarily a women’s ministry, members today are of an age and gender.
The Altar Guild was an important element in the following celebrations during the course of 2017. Memorial services, some for our members or their family member, confirmation, memorial service for the Vietnam veterans (which we have many within our congregation), the usual services for Lent/Easter and four Christmas services; on Christmas eve 9:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m. and a morning service on Christmas day. We were so blessed this year, as there was a very special five year old young man, who wished to have his lego man given to baby Jesus as his gift to him. Needless to say, we were all so touched by this love for Jesus.
Altar guild is also the flower guild, being sure flowers are on the altar for those who request them for: anniversaries, thanksgivings, memorials, birthdays, etc. There is a flower chart on the bulletin board in the narthex that you can view at your leisure and select any date you wish. There can be more that one person on any given Sunday. Our meetings are held monthly, normally the first Saturday of the month at 11:00 a.m. in the church. Meetings last one hour. The meetings are informational and for preparations needed for our Sunday services. There are special church seasons that require us to come together for seasonal preparations.
Should you wish to join our ministry, you would be serving with a partner once a month at either the 8:00 or 10:00 whichever is your choice. We are a ministry that enjoys working together and lovingly preparing the Lord’s table for the Eucharist celebrations and other services. We look forward to having you be a part of our Altar Guild ministry. At our bake sale we cleared about $450 and these funds are used to purchase linens, wine, silver vessels and any other item needed.
Respectfully submtted, Ruby A. Seyffert, Altar Guild Director
The St. Teresa of Avila Chapter of the Daughters of the King was reestablished at the Church of the Transfiguration in 2014. The current officers are Lynn Whayne Graff, President, and Miriam Waddington, Secretary.
We usually meet monthly at 10 a.m. on the same Saturday that the Episcopal Church Women meet. Membership has been stable. The only change occurred when one person moved away. We now have 10 members.
Five of our members attended the annual Daughters of the King Province VIII Spring meeting at Litchfield Park. We learned about other Chapters and their work here in Arizona. The program centered on the Navajoland Area Mission, the churches there, their development, special projects and plans. The communion service was done with Native American influence in the processional, the readings, the sermon and the music.
The focus of the Daughters of the King is prayer, service, and evangelism. Prayer concerns for the church or individuals are discussed at each meeting. The Daughters pray for these needs throughout each month. Our service has centered on providing receptions, following funerals, memorial services or special events. There were seven such events during 2017. We also strive to support the minister in his work.
Our vision as Daughters is to know Christ, to make him known to others, and to reflect God’s love throughout the world. As an order we undertake a Rule of Life which includes a Rule of Prayer and a Rule of Service. We fulfill these vows by praying daily and seeking to do God’s will as service to Him each day.
Respectfully submitted, Lynn Whayne Graff, President
The Diocesan Search Committee wants to ensure that every member of the diocese has a chance to present their opinions for the search of the sixth Bishop of Arizona. If you wish to participate, an electronic version of the survey can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DioAZsurveyEng
We made it to Mt. Tabor and we are now on our way home. This is an ambitious route so we need your help. In fact we need your friend’s help, your neighbors help, and your dog’s help!
- Westminster Abbey
- Camino de Santiago (500 miles)
- Cairo to Cape (Includes Khartoum, Addis Ababa, Nairori, Dodoma, Lusaka, Gaborone) (7,731 miles)
- New Zealand
- Central America (Stopping to visit El Hogar)
February's Book Club Selection is The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. This work of historical fiction is set in South Carolina before the Civil War. The novel is told from the point of view of Sarah Grimke, the daughter of a prominent Southern family and a noted abolitionist and Handful a slave.
The novel focuses on issues like friendship, equality, slavery, belonging and religion. Please join us on February 16th at 10 am in the Parrish Hall.
“To remain silent in the face of evil is itself a form of evil.”
― Sue Monk Kidd, The Invention of Wings
Transfiguration has a new director of Children’s Ministry, Eileen Chandler. Eileen brings passion, enthusiasm and a great deal of experience to the job. Eileen has had a long history of supervisory and high level management roles in hospitals and business venues. Her career included 43 year in nursing. As part of her nursing training, she visited ill and special needs children. Eileen recalls one boy of around three or four who walked up to her, gazed into her eyes, and established an immediate connection. The other nurses were astounded as the boy had not reached out to anyone for months.
This special connection with children extended into her personal as well as professional life. She and her family took in a 15 month old foster child who lived with their family for almost 10 years.
In the area of Christian Children’s’ ministry Eileen became involved with St. Elisabeth’s Episcopal Church in Memphis, Tennessee when her son Christopher was not quite 5 and her daughter Carolyn was almost 2 ½. Eileen was soon appointed Christian Education Director. Eileen states of this experience, “It was like a part-time job as teachers were recruited, oriented and trained, not to mention my learning curve! I taught pre-school on up, having fun with the curriculum, and even leading an adult group (not my idea) for I am not a cradle Episcopalian having been raised Catholic. I had a lot of scriptural catching up to do.”
Eileen feels that her biggest challenge as Director of Children’s Ministries at Transfiguration will be to build a dedicated Sunday School teacher base. Two keys to sustain success in the building of the base will be instilling confidence in the teachers and offering fun training.
Recently Jana Sundin from the Diocesan Office came for a visit to offer ideas for building the Children’s Ministry. Her suggestion included that Eileen should write her own job description as director after consultation with Fr. Bob and Bobbie Lafford.
Summing up her plans Eileen stated, “There may be enough energy and resources surrounding nursery development for me to separate from those initiatives and focus on family faith formation through experiential learning and family worship. Specifically, I'd like to guide our efforts toward a lectionary based curriculum that transfers to home life and to enhance children/youth involvement in church worship. . . for example, the use of music and musicians.”
Transfiguration has updated its web page. You can view it at www.transfiguration-mesa.org. Some of the features include prayer requests, a daily devotional, our calendar, news, events, sermons, the Deacon’s Blog and basic information about our mission and services.
To help people learn to use the web page and our social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) I will be available on the second Friday of the month from 10-12 in the Parish Hall to answer questions. Along with questions concerning Transfiguration’s on line presence, I will be glad to answer simple questions about applications, photography, and how to manage your Facebook feed. If you have a non hardware question we can look for the answers together if nothing else and I unlike your grandchild will not roll my eyes.
A little over a year ago we began our Walking on Wednesday group. Throughout the year there have been changes as the hot weather and the exodus of our winter members for the summer necessitated a system where people reported their mileage or steps in lieu of actually walking together. We also set a goal of walking to Mt. Tabor, the home of the Basilica of the Transfiguration in Israel. The journey was over 7,000 miles but we made it.
We had twenty-five walkers and two dogs reporting mileage. Our walkers walked in Ontario, Washington, British Columbia, Kentucky and Arizona. Our congregation also got in on the action as the steps from the parking lot to communion and back to the parking lot were included.
Currently we are walking as a group starting at 8am on Wednesday mornings from the Parish Hall. However, we still want your mileage even if you cannot physically join us. Also just because we reached Mt. Tabor does not mean we are resting on our laurels. We need to get home. We may decide to take some side trips on the way. If you have a suggestion of someplace in the world we should visit, please email your idea to dpodhajsky @yahoo.com.