COVID-19 Update for May 8

Dear Foothills Church Family,

“Beloved “we” pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” 1 John 2 This is a prayer written by the apostle John while he was in isolation and exile. It captures our prayers for all of you during these days of uncertainty and distancing.

We are overdue for an update to you regarding how and when we might reopen for public worship. Two weeks ago, the Whitehouse issued “Opening Up America Again,” guidelines based on satisfying a set of “gating criteria” through three phases. In the meantime, the Governor of Arizona has also announced reopening the state on a more “occasional” basis.

The Elder Team is working on a phased-in plan to reopen for Sunday worship. We will communicate that to you prior to Sunday, June 7. Until then, we will continue Church@Home through May 31.

In the meantime, thank you for your faithful engagement with Church@Home, as well as with our local mission partner, Rio Vista Center. Your gifts of groceries have served hundreds upon hundreds of families in need because of this crisis. The red barrels are still out at the facilities and we are delivering your gifts weekly.

Finally, beloved, Ephesians 4:8-11 teaches us that walking faithfully with Jesus, growing in maturity like Him and fighting sin is not something meant to be done in isolation from one another and the church. We need to gather again, not just because we miss seeing each other, which we do, but because God has designed that His sanctifying grace work through us to one another when we gather. Apart from gathering together for worship, prayer, observing the ordinances, and hearing the preaching of the scriptures, we are particularly vulnerable to the temptations that arise not only from within, but also from the Adversary. In the meantime, let’s be diligent to “…put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

With love,
The Elder Team

COVID-19 Update for March 31

Dear Foothills Church Family,

Grace and peace to all of you. It’s time to update our posture regarding the national and international crisis around the COVID-19 virus.

As of March 30, our church offices will be closed and staff who can will work from home. However, we are available, working and engaged in ministry. Today, we conducted our weekly staff meeting via Zoom. Our main phone number will continue to be answered during business hours by Penny Wilson, our Ministry Assistant. You can continue to reach any of the Ministry Staff via their email addresses and phones. You may also email The offices will remain closed through April.

In addition, we will extend the suspension of our public gatherings through April. However, we are excited about our plans for this Easter season. Our Palm Sunday message will be from Mark 4, and our Easter Sunday message will be from Mark 16. We have also planned a service for Good Friday. More details on that to come.

In the meantime, we encourage you to continue to walk with Jesus daily and participate in your Foothills Group via Zoom, and in worship each Sunday morning on our website,, on the Church@Home page.

Finally, as we prepare for Easter we encourage you to participate in these three steps to help us engage people to put Jesus first for the sake of others…

  1. Use the Foothills App to prayer walk your neighborhood (watch for it this week).
  2. Post a yard sign in your yard publicizing our Church@Home service for Easter Sunday (available now at the Student building on the church property. Simply pick up one sign per household).
  3. Download and post our Church@Home video invitation to your social media accounts (available now via our Foothills Baptist Church Facebook page).

We love you church and pray we will continue to grow in grace while we look forward to gathering again soon!

The Elder Team

Angel Tree at Foothills

We are once again partnering with Angel Tree to provide gifts to children who have a mom or dad in prison. Through Angel Tree, Foothills has the opportunity to help a child strengthen his/her relationship with a parent by providing a present on behalf of the prisoner.

When a parent is in prison, their children often suffer in silence, unseen by many. Through Angel Tree, we are able to answer the requests and prayers of an incarcerated parent for the sake of their children, in our community and beyond. We are also privileged to deliver those gifts to the family and have the opportunity to show and share the love of Christ with them!

Beginning Sunday, November 24, you can select a tag from the trees located in the foyer. Once you’ve selected a tag, complete the information on the tracking slip, and place it in one of the Angel Tree boxes. Then purchase the gift listed and return it to the church no later than December 8. All gifts should be returned unwrapped and cost between $20-$25.

To volunteer to deliver gifts, call the church office at 480-759-2118.

To volunteer to wrap gifts, join us for the Gift Wrapping party, Thursday, December 12 from 7:00-9:00 pm in the Fellowship Hall. Wrappers, please bring your own scissors and tape!

If you have questions, please email Penny Wilson.

Rio Vista Food Drive

Did you know… In Arizona, 46.5% of households receiving SNAP benefits have children. 1 in 4 children in Arizona lives in poverty and is at risk of going to bed hungry. Arizona ranks 47th out of 50 states in the number of children who may not know where their next meal is coming from. These statistics came from

Rio Vista Center in south Phoenix serves nearly 5,200 people every month who are in need of food. Foothills is proud to partner with Rio Vista, and over the next two weeks, we’re going to work hard to stock their pantry!

Between now and November 3, pick up some extra items while you do your own grocery shopping and bring them to the church!

Here’s the shopping list:

  • Canned Non-Perishable Proteins
  • Canned Non-Perishable Fruits and Vegetables
  • Rice
  • Pastas
  • Cereals

On Grumbling

On Sunday, September 8, Rick Burress, one of our Elders, led us in prayer during worship. Prior to praying, Rick shared some scriptures and an exhortation with us about Grumbling. We’ve had lots of requests for his message, so we’re posting it here on our blog.

Thanks, Rick, for your loving and scriptural admonishment!

Vacation Bible School 2019 Recap

This year’s Vacation Bible School was wild! After five days full of fun activities and sharing the Gospel, VBS 2019 is one for the books. Many families were blessed as we were able to introduce Jesus to children and families who do not yet know and trust Him.

Our Children’s Minister, Jeanne Nation, is here to give you a rundown of the impact this annual tradition has made at Foothills.

What a great time we had at Vacation Bible School last week! Our theme was In the Wild. We looked at real life encounters with Jesus in the Scripture through the stories of Jesus in the Temple, the Baptism of Jesus, Jesus Walking on Water, Jesus Rose from the Dead, and Jesus appeared on the road to Emmaus.

We had an average of 260 kids each day (babies-5th grade). I want to say a huge “Thank You!” to the approximate 100 volunteers who helped make VBS a success.

Our leaders were able to have Gospel conversations with 34 kids during the week; 13 of the kids prayed to trust Christ for forgiveness of their sins! That’s what VBS is all about! We took up a mission offering to raise money to help some of our partners who run a mobile pregnancy center in Southeast Asia.

During the week, the kids collected a total of $1,146! We had a friendly Kiss the Pig competition to help raise the funds. As a result of the kids reaching their goal, Mrs. Stacey, Mr. Dustin, Mr. Logan, Mrs. Mindy, and I all had to kiss the pig during Friday night’s Family Night. To see pictures/videos from the Kiss the Pig – and the rest of Vacation Bible School, click here.

Thank you to all the leaders who served in VBS, especially those who took vacation time or rearranged their work schedules.

Thank you to the students – without your help, VBS would not be possible.

Thank you to those who could not be here during the week but supported us in prayer!

New Elder Candidate

Foothills Church Family,

The Elder Team is happy to announce that during our last Family Meeting on May 19, we presented Mario Paniagua as a candidate to serve as our 5th Lay Elder. The congregation will be asked to affirm Mario for this role by secret ballot in a special called Family Meeting on Sunday, June 9 at 4pm.

We believe that elders/pastors are men who lead the church to carry out her mission in the world, preach/teach the Scripture, care for the church family and protect them from error. They are accountable to God for the way in which they serve, and should be of such integrity and faith that if the church follows them, she will be healthier for it. We believe Mario is this sort of person.

Between now and Sunday, June 9, the congregation will hear from Mario on Sunday morning, June 2nd, in both worship hours. You can also learn more about him by reading his profile posted here. Finally, we encourage you to connect with Mario personally and ask him questions or raise any concerns you may have with gentleness and respect. He is committed to be available to you on Sunday mornings and looks forward to your conversations.

Thank you for continually praying for your Elder Team as we seek to faithfully and carefully lead the church. Please pray that God would be glorified and His church built up as we take this next step.

Elder Candidate Profile – Mario Paniagua

Mario Paniagua was presented as a candidate to serve as Foothills Baptist Church 5th Lay Elder. Below you will find his Elder Candidate Profile.

Where do you work and for how long?

City of Phoenix, for the last 21 years.

How long have you been married? When is your anniversary?

On May 29, 2019, Kris and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage.

How many children do you have? Their ages?

Maya, 19; Adam, 17; Jacob, 15

Personal Testimony of Faith in Jesus

I gave my life to Christ at the age of 33, when my previously hard heart was overcome by God’s amazing grace and love. When I was three, I lost my father. A couple years later, my mom began a severe and long-lasting drug addiction that devastated our family. I did not know God, but I often cried to whoever I knew to be God to take away my mother’s addiction and drug dealing. Growing up was a hard road full of shame and pain.

When I was 14, my mom was sentenced to jail for several years. (Looking back, it is clear God protected me from the many dangers and influences that were all around me.) He gave me incredible grandparents who took care of me until I turned 18 when I joined the Air Force (AF). I did very well and promoted quickly. While in the AF, I also attended college and earned a Business Management degree. When I left the AF after seven years, I was hired by the City of Phoenix, which is where I met Kris, who at that time was also not a believer.

We got married and had three great kids and were doing well. I was successful in my career. Life was good, and in my naïve and prideful mind, I was making it all happen myself. I thought, all of my hard work, my self-discipline, my good judgment, my smarts, my grit all brought me out of that difficult life. I didn’t feel I needed God in my life. When the kids were still very young, Kris and I decided we wanted to expose our kids to more moral structure. Church sounded like a good idea, for their sake and not our own, and we went to Arizona Community Church in Tempe. But my heart was hard.

Satan used my arrogance and independent spirit to keep me blinded to the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). Soon after, at a church women’s group, God reached my wife and she turned in faith to Christ, while I still had not. I continued to be skeptical of the pastor’s teachings. I felt I knew better. At one point, with a posture of pride, I decided to read through the Bible so I could come to church at least knowing what it said. I started in Genesis and kept going. Initially, so much of it didn’t make sense, which affirmed my skepticism at that time. But I kept reading. Midway through the book of Isaiah, I started to piece together the prophecies of Christ and who God was, along with the preaching I was hearing each week.

One day, I realized my heart had changed. It was gradual, so I didn’t notice it right away, but I came to see I was believing everything I read in His Word. And not only did I believe it was true, I realized I loved what I was reading! I couldn’t explain it, and I know it was purely a miracle of God. God had made His light shine in my heart to give me “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). I had been reborn (John 3:3) and have joyfully never looked back. By His grace, I love Jesus Christ and always will.

How do you practice personal worship?

Each day, the first thing I do is pray with my wife. Almost every day, before we do anything else, we read from the Psalms and pray together. We pray thanks and praise to God, for one another, for our family, for Foothills and for the people and issues in our lives. I also often pray during my commute to or from work and listen to audio versions of the Word or to teachings and messages from other pastors. Throughout my day I pray, as I depend on God as my source of wisdom, strength and ability. Most nights, before I go to sleep, I am in God’s Word, and listen to His voice through Scripture, meditating on its meaning and how I need to respond.

How long have you been a member at Foothills?

We have been attending and been members of Foothills since 2013. Prior to coming to Foothills, we were members of Arizona Community Church (ACC) in Tempe for about 7 years. It was through ACC that Kris and I were led to Christ.

How do you currently serve at Foothills?

For the last three years or so, I have led a Growth Group each week- I love digging deep into the Word, teaching and facilitating discussion to disciple and help members grow closer to God through a deeper understanding of Scripture.

I also serve on the Welcoming Committee. I enjoy meeting and getting to know my Foothills family. I often serve during service to assist with the offering collection and the Lord’s Supper.

At Foothills, I have:

  • led prayer during service and a prayer and “sermonette” at Family meeting,
  • served in Family Promise for homeless families,
  • delivered Angel Tree gifts and prayed with families,
  • filled in for weekend facilities maintenance/set up,
  • assisted with the new member class check-in,
  • and served as chaperone during youth camp.

For the last 5 years, along with other government officials, I have led a public prayer at the National Day of Prayer event at the Arizona State Capitol representing City government. In my workplace, I serve as the Executive Sponsor for the City of Phoenix Employees for Christ employee organization and regularly speak at their luncheons.

Previously while at ACC, I led a weekly growth group, taught adult Sunday school, helped lead the “Salt and Light” children’s ministry, assisted with VBS, and served as a mentor/disciple to other men.

1 Timothy 3:1 says, “…if anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” What is the “noble task” of an elder, and why do you believe you are called to serve as a lay Elder at Foothills?

I was approached by other leaders at Foothills about serving as an elder, to work alongside other godly elders and help shepherd God’s flock. Since then, for more than year, I have been praying about this with my wife and others. After much prayer and consideration, I believe God is calling me and set me upon this path. Acts 20:28 stirs my heart deeply as it says to “…be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”

When I read the description of the elder in 1 Timothy 3, I am drawn to the job. The calling to me is persistent and clear. As I examine myself, it does not come from my flesh, yet I still desire it. In my prayers, I feel God leading me to the role. In my contemplation, I consider my Spirit-empowered gifting and abilities to be well-suited for this role. In my conversations with other godly people I trust, I have been encouraged by their support. God has given me a love for deeper understanding of His Word in order to help others know Him more.

I believe I am qualified for the role and that God has been preparing me and will continue to enable me to serve Him in this way. I trust Him. I love Him. I love this Church and want to serve in the way God calls me to.

How do you lead your family spiritually?

I have led my family spiritually in many ways. I have discipled my family in the Word, reading and teaching through books and passages of the Bible. My wife and I pray and read the Word together almost every day, and she works alongside me to lead our family in their spiritual growth. With my boys, I went through “Living by the Book” by Howard and William Hendricks, so they could learn how to study the Bible better on their own.

I (off and on) set aside daily times of prayer for us. We have all served others together in many ways over the years. I disciple and teach them often on the importance of our character and living reflecting the faith we have in Christ and His holiness. I discuss with them essential doctrine to ensure strong understanding and equipping for the challenges they will face.

Who are two or three people you’re praying to know Jesus, and with whom have you most recently had a Gospel conversation?

Corey is someone who we have been praying for some time to know Christ. I have had Gospel conversations with him in the past. He is now serving outside the state. Last week, I prayerfully sent him a letter to encourage him and in which I outlined the Gospel once again.

John is a coworker and friend who I have been praying for years to turn to Christ. I have been meeting with John for months to support him in recent difficult events in his life. As part of that, we have reading the Bible together, praying, and discussing the Gospel. I am praying for him to find and begin attending a solid church near him.

Sarah is a member of my family and for whom I’ve been praying for the whole time I’ve been a Christian. I have had Gospel conversations with her several times, which are not easy conversations, but I continue to show her the love and power of God as much as possible.

Lead Elder Search Team Nominees

Dear Foothills Church Family,

We are grateful for the grace we have received from the Lord in answer to your prayers for us this last month. Please do not grow weary in that good work, and ask God to give us the wisdom and faith necessary to serve Foothills in a way that honors Christ.

Our next Family Meeting is May 19 from 4-5:30pm. During that meeting, and per our Bylaws, we will ask you to affirm the Elder Team Officers and the Lead Elder Search Team. These two groups are related to the next steps in our transition.

Over the last month we have prayed through the process to nominate both of these groups to you, and do so without reservation. We hope you will pray over them and be prepared to affirm them on Sunday, May 19 at 4pm.

  1. The Elder Team Officers (Bylaws section 6.5.2).
    • Gary Plooster, Chair
    • Jon Tso, Vice-Chair
    • David Gantenbein, Secretary
  2. The Lead Elder Search Team (Bylaws section 6.2.2):
    • Kevin Allen, Chair (Lay Elder)
    • Craig Anderson, (Vocational Elder)
    • Jeanne Nation, (Ministry Staff)
    • Ken Boeckler, (Deacon)
    • Kelly Jodon, (Member at Large)
    • Kyle Macleish, (Member at Large)
    • Beth Shook, (Member at Large)

A short-bio on the nominees for the Lead Elder Search Team can be found here.

Because of the resurrection of Jesus let us continue to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Trusting Jesus with you,

The Elder Team

Introducing Dennis Newkirk, Interim Pastor for Preaching

Immediately after we learned that Pastor Nate would leave Foothills to take a role with NAMB in Indiana the Pastoral Team began to pray and plan for our next steps in transition as a church. Per step one, we considered possible men to serve as our Interim Pastor for Preaching. We reviewed their experience in ministry, had conversations, considered their availability and watched several sermons. Today, the Pastoral Team is pleased to announce that Dennis Newkirk will serve as our Interim Pastor for Preaching beginning Sunday, February 3, 2019.

Dennis is the recently retired Pastor of Henderson Hills Baptist Church, Edmund, OK, where he served for 25 years. Prior to that, he served as a Pastor in TN, MO and CA. He is a graduate of GCU, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and California Graduate School of Theology. Marcia is an RN, and over the last 25 years, she has mentored wives of Pastors.

Both Dennis and Marcia are Phoenicians, and enjoying “retirement” here as the Founders of the Pastor Support Network, where they provide mentoring, counseling and other support to Pastors, Ministry families and churches.

As the Interim Pastor for Preaching, Dennis will serve Foothills as the primary preacher in Worship. At the same time, having led Henderson Hills through their transition to become an Elder Led-Deacon Served-Congregationally Governed Church, his experience and insight will be an invaluable asset to the Pastors and Foothills as we move through our own transition.

The Pastoral Team is grateful for God’s providential provision of Dennis Newkirk at this time in the life of our church. Please pray for Dennis and Marcia as they begin their service with us.