The History of
The Holy Way Presbyterian Church
Past & Present
The Holy Way Presbyterian Church brings the good news of Jesus Christ to all God’s people and faithfully follows the Lord’s holy way. We live out our mission statement through:
Worship that proclaims God’s saving activity in our lives, that brings glory to God through prayer, proclamation and music, and that welcomes diverse people together in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Education that teaches the story of God’s living word in the Bible to children and adults.
Caring that demonstrates the commitment to follow Jesus’ commandments to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick and welcome the stranger.
Service that extends beyond the walls of the church.
We are a church with a vision for future growth and ministry in Christ's name. Our name, "The Holy Way," comes from Isaiah's vision of "Zion's Happy Future" in Isaiah 35.
We do hope to become a "place of gladness," where the "desert shall rejoice and blossom abundantly." We hope and pray that through an authentic ministry of reconciliation we can make our congregation a "family of God"-- that our lives will become more abundant.
We hope to be a place where we can see the "glory of the Lord" in our beautiful natural setting at the base of Cat Mountain. We hope to be a "place of healing"--a place where all can "obtain joy and gladness." And, as we become a Holy Way, perhaps we can realize that Christ goes with us wherever we are on and in our pilgrimage of life.
(From: A Report to Presbytery De Cristo, Annual Meeting January 1986)
History of The Holy Way Presbyterian Church
The Early Years
In 1983 the Presbytery de Cristo New Church Development Committee was interested in developing a PCUSA congregation on the southwest side of the Tucson Metropolitan area. A demographic study was done to evaluate the growth potential of this geographic area. The Committee located this piece of property and made arrangements for its purchase. The Presbytery called David Roop as the Organizing Pastor. It was Reverend Roop who suggested the name The Holy Way, and this name was approved by the charter members and by the Presbytery. The church was not formally known by any other name, although it was jokingly suggested that, with the barn so prominent, the church should be called St. Barnabas.
On July 5, 1983 a rental agreement was signed for the ranch house, barn and surrounding five acres. The Holy Way Presbyterian Church (HW) was officially organized on Palm Sunday 1985. The first service was October 2, 1983 on the Sunday during the 500-year flood. Approximately 15 people worshiped around the fireplace in the Ranch House for the first service. Services were generally held in the Ranch House, although some services were held outside, weather permitting. Before moving into the current Sanctuary, there were up to three services held each Sunday due to lack of space in the Ranch House for a single service.
Rev. David D. Roop was installed as Pastor on November 3, 1985. After several years of service, Rev. Roop resigned in 1991.
In 1992 Rev. Ed Parsil, an ordained pastor in the Reform Church in America, was asked to fill in every Sunday until a part-time pastor could be named. He could not fill the pulpit as Stated Supply, or temporary, but could continue a week-by-week basis as Pulpit Supply, as he was not a member of the Presbytery. Ed Parsil began calling in October 1992. He was subsequently asked to be Interim Pastor
The Presbytery Committee felt there were more than enough retired pastors locally without bringing one in from outside the denomination. Per his request, Rev. Parsil filled in in an unofficial capacity. Rev. Parsil was listed in the bulletin as “Foster Pastor” from October 1992 through January 1995. Ed Parsil was Parish Visitor in June 1996.
Rev. Raymond (Ray) Thomas reported on January 23, 1995, and was installed as Pastor on April 2, 1995, after receiving his call on January 1, 1995. Part of the criteria for hiring Rev. Ray Thomas was the goal to have a younger pastor with the hope of bringing in families with children. He was a full-time pastor until 2018 when he transitioned to three-fourths time.
On March 31, 1985, the church had 70 members and four affiliates. With the church name of The Holy Way, the goal was to realize that Christ goes with us wherever we are on and in our pilgrimage of life.
Under the leadership of Pastor Ray Thomas the new (and present) sanctuary was conceived and constructed, with the first church service held in December 1999. Ground breaking was May 23, 1999. The congregation all had shovels and lined up around the perimeter of the proposed building to ceremoniously dig a shovel full of dirt. Construction began June 1, 1999. The service on the dedication day began in the Ranch House.
By January 1995 three services were held each Sunday in the Ranch House. In December 1999, the last service began in the Ranch House. The congregation, as a group, walked from the Ranch House into the Sanctuary of the present building where the service was concluded. Two services were held each Sunday until approximately five years ago when the church began holding one service each Sunday. Current official membership is 101. There are a considerable number of “snow birds” in the congregation. As a result of the summer movement, the summer attendance can drop to the 50s (refer to Appendix A).
Vacation Bible School (VBS) for the children was started in July 1993.
Attendance included children from member and non-member families. Attendance in the past has been as high as 40 participants. The number of children has fluctuated throughout the years; however, due to a significant decrease in attendance, VBS was suspended in 2017.
In May 1998, The Holy Way Presbyterian Church took out two loans from the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program (PILP). Each loan was in the amount of $300,000. One of the loans was an Investment Loan, which was repaid in March 2015. The other loan, an Endowment Loan, was repaid in May 2018. The congregation came together with many fund-raisers and donations to help repay these loans. Mortgage burning ceremonies were held on March 29, 2015 and June 10, 2018, respectively.
A college scholarship was started in memory of C. E. Fitzgerald in 1996. Scholarships are awarded to graduating high school seniors.
The Holy Way Presbyterian Church supports Camp Montlure. This is a summer camp opportunity for children in the congregation. Due to a forest fire that destroyed most of the camp and surrounding area a few years later, the camp has been held in other locations.
In 2016 the Sunday School completed a Heifer International project of a $5,000 Gift Ark.
Pastor Thomas and Ellen LaCroix introduced the idea of establishing a Stephen Ministry. In early January 2016, they attended an extensive training session in California. The Stephen Ministry held its first training session the spring and summer of 2016. A third class of Stephen Ministry was held in 2019. Each member who becomes a Stephen Minister Caregiver is required to attend 50 hours of class time before receiving their first assignment. The Caregivers meet once or twice a month for on-going training and support in their care giving missions.
In keeping with the electronic age, The Holy Way Church developed a web site in 2017. The church also has a Facebook page and Instagram accounts. In addition to information about The Holy Way, the church calendar, bulletins, newsletter, and sermons can be located on the web site.
The church has always been able to meet its financial obligations, although there have been several shortfalls in recent years. See Appendix A for budget overview. See Appendix B for the most recent approved budget dated January 7, 2020.
Pastor for Growth and Development
Pastor Elizabeth Smith preached her first sermon on July 12, 2015 as a visiting pastor. She was approved as a Parish Associate for a trial period of six months. Part of her salary was comprised of miscellaneous funds and a Dream Grant. A few members of the congregation made several donations to her salary. The Commission on Ministry of the presbytery approved her relationship with The Holy Way. Pastor Smith was installed as part-time Pastor of Growth and Development in 2016. This position ended at the end of April 2020 due to financial constraints. Pastor Elizabeth was active with trips to Mexico, Vacation Bible School, pop-up Sunday school, intermittent adult education series, and the annual Women’s Retreat. She was involved with hospital and home visits as well as being in contact with the congregation through telephone and emails. She kept the church directory updated as well as managing Holy Way’s Facebook and web site. She also shared the Sunday sermons with Pastor Thomas and Pastor Cheek.
Pastor Ray Thomas resigned on February 19, 2019 to accept a call as Co- Executive Presbyter at the Presbytery of Middle Tennessee. Pastor John Cheek was hired with a yearly contract as Interim Pastor on June 17, 2019.
Due to COVID-19 virus, there have been major obstacles introduced to our church related to required “social distancing.” A task force of nurses was developed to make recommendations to the Session regarding face-to-face meetings, including church services. During the time of social distancing, Pastors John Cheek and Elizabeth Smith have made themselves available, and have used another church’s facilities to record and post services on the church’s web site. Pastor Cheek continues to hold office hours Tuesday through Friday. The church secretary is working from home to promote her health safety. Pastor Cheek routinely sends out emails and cards to the congregation to keep them informed of the status of church services. At this writing, the Task Force continues to meet and develop recommendations for reopening to the Session.
Reverend Tina Salvaneschi
Pastor Tina joined the Holy Way as the permanent Senior Pastor May 1, 2021 to lead the church out of the pandemic and bring the Holy Way into a new season of life. With her background in church planting, outreach, missions, counseling and liturgical arts, pastor Tina brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and creativity to The Holy Way. Her heart is to nurture the people in the congregation, care for the outlying families and attend to those who are seeking a new warm and caring church home. Both Tina and her husband Stephen have a passion to see God’s hand at work in this church and hope that they are creating an environment where families of all ages feel welcomed and at home.
How do we encounter Christ? We understand Jesus the Christ to be the clearest and purest manifestation of God’s love for the world. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection show his overwhelming and overcoming love for us. This calls us to live a life which reflects that love to all we encounter.
The Holy Way Presbyterian Church gathers and scatters depending on the season. In our gathering, we support and nurture one another in the love of God. In our scattering, we will show and share the mercy and love of Jesus the Christ to all we meet, and particularly to those who feel left out. Whether together or apart, we are joined in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We encounter Christ in our worship. We seek to honor God in our gathering, in our prayers, in our singing, and in hearing the word of God proclaimed.
We encounter Christ in our church community. In our love, nurture, and support for one another, we encounter Christ in ourselves and in the others as well. We enjoy fellowship before and after worship, we call, we visit, we pray for one another, we provide transportation, we grieve when we say goodbye to part of our congregation for the summer, and we rejoice when we are reunited in the fall. The Men’s breakfast meets monthly at a local restaurant. There are monthly congregational outings to enrich fellowship opportunities.
We encounter Christ through a prayer chain. Anyone needing prayers for self, friends or family initiate a call to the leader of the prayer chain or the church office. This information is dispersed to others on the prayer chain to uplift th
We encounter Christ in those whom we meet through our missions, and we serve them in the name of Jesus the
-In our ministry to Altar Valley Middle School, we reach out to a population of students who, by and large, come out of an environment of poverty. This is a constituency which is near to the heart of Jesus, and near to our hearts. Our gifts to the students, school and to the teachers make it possible for the students to have wonderful learning experience more like that of the students in wealthier school districts. One of the aspects of this support is the purchase of Christmas gifts for students at the school.
-In our mission in support of Café Justo, we encounter Jesus in the person of coffee farmers who have been in the past, and continue to be, at risk of exploitation by unscrupulous (or at least unsympathetic) coffee brokers. By using and selling Café Justo at The Holy Way, we stand in solidarity with those coffee farmers and all who work for Café Justo, doing our part to assure that they can remain on their own land and that they can live with dignity.
-In our mission to the Southern Arizona Community Diaper Bank in Tucson: Although the Southern Arizona Community Diaper Bank provides diapers for all age groups, we support those who require adult diapers and whose financial situation makes it difficult for them to buy the supplies they need. As we seek to protect their dignity and their health, we encounter Jesus in them.
-In our mission to the Tohono O’Odham nation, through Papago United Presbyterian Church in Sells, Arizona, we encounter a community which has been historically marginalized and disadvantaged. We seek to bring warmth in a quite literal way with our drive for warm coats, sweaters, hats and jackets in the fall. We feel that our love is shared as these items are shared with those in need.
-By our participation in Interfaith Community Services, we join with Christians and others of good conscience providing food for those who are food insecure and comforting those in need. We encounter Jesus in our sisters and brothers in the ministry, as well as those who are the beneficiaries of our mission.
-In our support for Tucson Borderlands Young Adult Volunteers we encounter young women and men who are exploring their lives of faith and God’s call in this region. We encourage them and support them, understanding that they are our younger brothers and sisters in Christ.
-In our mission to the Friends of Robles Food and Clothing Bank, gift cards are donated at Christmas. We have partnered with the local Fire Department by donating toys at Christmas as well.
-In our mission to support the local community’s food needs, we maintain a small food closet in the Ranch House. People do not need to be church members to receive food donations. Church members bring nonperishable food for the food closet the first Sunday of the month. The overflow food is delivered to Friends of Robles Food Bank.
-In our mission to the community, Al- Anon usually meet weekly in the Ranch House. They have not been meeting recently due to the social distancing requirement from the COVID-19.
-In our mission to the community at large, special donations are collected throughout the year that go toward feeding the hungry and helping those affected by natural disasters.
-In our mission to support those in sorrow, the Prayer Shawl Ministry provides either hand-made shawls or lap robes to encircle with love, prayer and energy those who are going through trying times. These can also be given to those celebrating milestones in their lives.
-In addition to the above, we support the missions of our denomination through the Presbytery de Cristo, Synod of the Southwest, and the General Assembly.
-In our mission to honor deceased members, a memorial plaque is in the Narthex with the engraved names of each departed soul.
A definite strength is the location of the Holy Way Presbyterian Church. It is easily accessed from Ajo Highway. There are multiple housing areas with families, retirement neighborhoods, and an elementary school. As indicated above, there are many small businesses that support these neighborhoods.
Most people choose to live in this area as it is away from urban areas and congested traffic. Hospitals, fire departments, grocery stores, and shopping centers are easily reached within 15-20 minutes.
Opportunities are close by for those who choose to continue working and volunteering and partnering with what the Lord is doing as the church is now growing.
Questions asked of the Congregation during Pastoral Search:
The congregation was asked to answer some questions to assist with the future direction of The Holy Way Presbyterian Church. The following is a summary of those responses.
Who do we as a congregation believe God to be?
Descriptors to this question included: Supreme Being, Father, Triune God, Savior, Creator. God is our father, who created the heavens and all in the earth. He created each of us and gave us a path for salvation through his son, Jesus Christ. God is for everybody. God is God.
What difference does it make for us, as individuals, and as part of Holy Way, to live by faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord?
Living by faith lets us know that the Holy Spirit guides, counsels and directs our lives. By sacrificing his son, Jesus Christ, God gives us the gift of forgiveness, to have everlasting life with Him. God gives love and changes our hearts so we want to grow in Christ and practice Jesus’ examples of living in truth according to God’s word. We have salvation, regardless of what church we attend.
What do we at the Holy Way believe about the Bible as a resource for developing a living faith in God.
The Bible is God’s word. It is our reinforcement of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and our guide to follow in God’s footsteps. It describes the trials others have endured and triumphed. It lets us know that life is a struggle, but answers to these struggles can be found in the Word. It states how we should conduct ourselves in our daily lives. It reminds us to take our struggles to God in prayer, and that God will lovingly listen. The word of God is God’s love letter.
What motivates us to pursue the missions of The Holy Way?
Our missions help us follow the teachings of Jesus as his message speaks to us.
We have been blessed, and the mission activities are ways to give back to the community. Jesus Christ called upon us to serve our fellow man. We, as members of this church, recognize that we must provide outreach and help to those in need. Our missions spread the word of God to those in need.
How does the Holy Way demonstrate that it is a community which prays together?
One of the principal parts of our worship service is founded on the belief of prayer. Weekly needs are brought out by the Pastor during the service. We pray for each other, the sick, the afflicted, and the world. We pray as a church community for God’s continual presence in leading and guiding all our church activities and people. We pray for His Word to be the foundation of how we live our lives and practice in our church community. The Prayer Chain is active in praying for immediate concerns.
Prayer keeps us connected as a church family—God’s family. We join hands and sing in worship
Galatians 5:22 & 23 lists the fruit of the Spirit as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. In what ways are these fruits of the Spirit visible in the life of The Holy Way? In how we relate and care for each other; in how we practice our faith in the communities around us.