Turning Leaf Community, a Church of the Nazarene, started on May 6, 2007, as a church plant sponsored by the Orangewood Church of the Nazarene in Phoenix, Arizona. Pastor Jeff Fillis was on staff at the Orangewood Church as Worship Pastor for 10 years. As time went by, Pastor Jeff began to sense that God was calling him to take a leap of faith and begin a church in the west valley of the Phoenix area. He began working with the leadership of the Orangewood Church to develop a core group of people who joined with him to start Turning Leaf.
On the inaugural Sunday, the first message that Pastor Jeff preached was from Joshua chapters 4 and 5 where the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River on dry ground into the land that God had promised them. After they crossed over, Joshua commanded the head of each of the 12 tribes to go back into the Jordan River and bring a stone to a place where they were to build an altar or memorial. The memorial was to remind the Israelites of their generation as well as future generations of the great things God had done on their behalf. So on Turning Leaf’s first Sunday, everyone in attendance was handed a stone that had “Turning Leaf Community” written on it, as well as the start date, “5/6/07”. Since then, everyone who has become a member of Turning Leaf has received the same kind of stone. We asked the people on that first Sunday, and all who have joined since, to take the stone and display it somewhere that is noticeable to others. When someone asks about the stone each person can tell the story of how God has blessed Turning Leaf and how they fit into the story. Some day, and that day is getting nearer all the time, when we build on our land, we will ask for those stones back in order to build a memorial of our own on our church property. The memorial will be there for all to see and be reminded of the good things God has done on our behalf.
From the beginning of Turning Leaf in 2007, we have had a team of people working to find a permanent location for our church. We have looked at both existing buildings and bare land, asking God to lead us to the location that He had in mind for Turning Leaf to minister from. For several years, nothing that we looked at seemed at all to be God’s answer. However, from time to time Pastor Jeff would drive by what is now the property that we own. The land was originally owned by another church plant. As he drove by the property, he would ask God to give us a piece of land that had all the qualities of this land; near where we are currently worshipping, highly visible, a minimum of 8 acres and at a price that would lead us to believe God was in it.
Eventually, we heard this exact piece of property was potentially for sale. We saw God perform several miracles on our behalf as we took steps toward purchasing the land:
- Miracle #1
- We made a verbal offer on the land. After consideration, the owners of the land sold it to us for $20,000 less than we offered.
- Miracle #2
- We challenged our congregation to pay off the mortgage on the land in one year. Our people rose to the challenge and paid it off in nine months.
- Miracle #3
- The very same week we raised enough money to pay off the mortgage, the church we bought the land from, who had decided to disband, gave Turning Leaf some of their building fund - $80,000!
- Miracle #4
- In April of 2015, a family connected to Turning Leaf Church gave a gift to the church of $100,000.
- Miracle #5
- The people of Turning Leaf have sacrificially pledged $1,055,000 over the next three years.
- Miracle #6
- An anonymous donor, gave $1,000,000 toward our building plans.
- Miracle #7
- A sister church, Sun City Nazarene Church, gave $100,000 to help us build.
Seeing these miracles take place has certainly raised the faith level of the people at Turning Leaf Church to the degree that we are moving forward to build, claiming the promise in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Turning Leaf Community is currently meeting at Heritage Elementary School, with whom we have entered into a great partnership. This is evidenced by:
- Turning Leaf offers an annual Halloween alternative event, 31st Xtreme, for the school and surrounding community with over 1,000 in attendance.
- Many volunteers from Turning Leaf help serve meals at their Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts.
- Eggstreme Family Fun is a community Easter egg hunt for all children. The event takes place on the school property. An invitation to our Easter services is given to everyone that participates.
- Our church offers the school the use of our media equipment and operators for their Christmas and Spring Musical performances, as well as Graduations.
- Pastor Jeff was the keynote speaker at the schools 8th grade graduation ceremony in 2016 and 2017
- We provide Christmas gifts and food for families of students in need.
The ministry team at Turning Leaf believes strongly that the church is not in existence for the sole reason of bringing people to the church, but that the church has a responsibility to go out into the community. Some ways we accomplish this are as follows:
- Adopt A Street - helping keep the neighborhood beautiful.
- Andy’s Pantry - offering food and other immediate needs to struggling families both within the church and around the west valley. See http://westvalleyview.com/articles/2013/07/23/food-pantry-opens-west-valley’s-needy
- Ministry To Others fund - helping meet financial needs for families both inside and outside of Turning Leaf.
- A weekly outreach to the homeless at Bonsall park in Glendale.
- Even though TLC does not have it’s own building, we have still made it a priority to help build churches around he world; having sent ten mission teams during our ten year history. The congregations we have worked with are always amazed that we would send people to help build a church building when we do not have a building of our own.
We are constantly looking for new ways to help the community we were called to serve, being the Love of Christ to people who are hurting and need hope. Beyond what we are currently doing as a portable church, once we are on our land we hope to implement some of the following ministries
- Soccer and flag football children’s leagues on our sports field
- Basketball and volleyball leagues and camps within our worship center/gymnasium
- Prayer room that can be accessed, with permission 24 hours a day
Although our history is not long, it is rich. We have already seen God move in the lives of our members and in those to whom we minister. The future of our church is not yet written but we know that it is filled with joy and hope that is found in Jesus Christ. The Lord will continue to use this church to minister to people who are in desperate need of hope because the Church is not a building and our ministry is not confined to walls, but reaches wherever our people are. And wherever the people of Turning Leaf are, the Love of Christ is transforming lives.
We are asking everyone in and around Turning Leaf to tell our story and help write the future chapters by participating in raising the money it will take to build on our property. It is with great faith and anticipation that we move forward, not in our own resources or strength, but in God’s miraculous provision for our future. We hope you will join us as we, together, write our story.