Category Archives: Burney Presbyterian Church

Fall River Valley Community Choir performs Christmas Cantata

Fall River Valley Community Choir did four performances of a Christmas cantata. On Friday they sang at the Long Term Care facility at Mayer’s Memorial Hospital. On Saturday December 8 at 2 p.m., they sang for residents at the Burney Annex. Later that day at 4 p.m. they sang at Burney Presbyterian Church. Finally, on Sunday at 4 p.m. they gave a concert at the Intermountain Free Church of McArthur. At Burney Presbyterian Church and The Intermountain Free Church the Choir was joined by Fall River Valley Community Children’s Choir.

Fall River Valley Community Choir at Burney Presbyterian Church

The Children’s Choir sang a selection of six carols accompanied by pianist Linda Gulbransen and guitarist Jean Rodgers.

The Children’s Choir

After the Children’s Choir concluded the full choir came forward to sing  “The Glory of Christmas: Celebrating Christ’s Birth.” The cantata, with music by Lloyd Larson, was performed by 26 singers directed by Alison Maki. They sang eight selections. Each selection was introduced by narration from Michael Kerns and Penni Elaine Scarbrough.

The narration was poetic. The musical arrangement wove together alto, soprano, tenor and bass vocals into a tapestry of sacred music in which favorite Christmas carols such as O Come All Faithful and Hark the Herald Angels Sing were included. Through word and song, the Choir guided the audience toward the Perfect Light.

After the cantata was concluded, Director Alison Maki led the choir and audience in singing Silent Night.

Director Alison Maki leading the congregation singing Silent Night


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Reflections and Inspirations of Pastor Penny Scarbrough

The churches and their ministers play an important role in the life of Burney and the Intermountain area. In this video, Pastor Penni Scarbrough reflects on her experience and shares her vision and hope for her church and the community.

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2018 Burney High School Baccalaureate

Fifteen graduating seniors came to Burney Presbyterian Church Sunday evening May 27 for 2018 Burney High School Baccalaureate. The Baccalaureate was coordinated by graduating senior Hannah Pearson. Numerous parents and several teachers attended.

2018 graduates with Baccalaureate speakers and teachers

Hannah Pearson opens the ceremony

Ms. Pearson opened the ceremony and introduced the first speaker, Rev. Penni Elaine Scarbrough, Pastor of Burney Presbyterian Church. Rev. Scarbrough told the students that each one of them has a God-given purpose. She advised them to fulfill that purpose by discovering their passion, persevering, and being true to their principles.

Rev. Scarbrough speaks about passion, perseverance, and principle

The next speaker was Thomas Weber, a retired teacher who coaches at the high school. Mr. Weber counseled the students not to rush, but to take their time discovering work that they love that is of service to the world.

Community Guest Speaker Thomas Weber

Both speakers encouraged the students to never give up in pursuing their goals.

When the speakers had finished, English teacher and student advisor Melissa Madden hosted an open forum. Several parents, teachers and students shared reminiscences of their experiences through the years with members of the graduating class.

A teacher shares

A parent shares

Bailey Turner gives a student perspective

Melissa Maddn tells graduates not to fear but to be strong and courageous

Rev. Tim Scarbrough closed the baccalaureate with a prayer and everyone enjoyed refreshments in the foyer.

Celebrating the past and looking forward to the future

Here is a video of the whole baccalaureate. Best wishes to BHS class of 2018!

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Burney Presbyterian Church celebrates Grand Opening of new internet library

Numerous educational, civic, and religious leaders from the Burney and Intermountain community gathered at the Meeting Place at Burney Presbyterian Church to celebrate the Grand Opening of a new Internet Library.

Rev. Penni Elaine Scarbrough cuts the ribbon as Rev. Watkins, Rev. Scarbrough, and Superintendent Hawkins look on

The Internet Library will be open to the public on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 3 PM to 6 PM, with priority given to local students doing homework and research for school projects. Job seekers will also be encouraged to utilize the library’s services for creating resumes and researching employment opportunities.

Rev. Penni explaining the purpose of the internet library to Cindy Dodds and Laurie Jacobs

The program began at 3 p.m. with a reception and refreshments. The ribbon cutting ceremony was held at 4 p.m.

The Grand Opening was hosted by Rev. Penni Elaine Scarbrough, pastor of the Burney Presbyterian Church and her husband Rev. Tim Scarbrough who serves as Administrative Director. Rev. Rob Watkins, Presbyter of the Presbytery of Sacramento came to speak. Rev. Leon Thompson, retired Presbyterian minister from Weed, also attended with his wife Betty.

Community leaders listening to speakers

Amongst educational leaders who came for the opening were Greg Hawkins, Superintendent for the Fall River Joint Unified School District, Burney Junior-Senior High Principal Ray Guerrero, Burney Elementary Principal Marcy Schmidt, elementary teacher Shelly Myers and her husband Rev. Bill Myers from Glen Burn Church. Rev. Myers also serves as a volunteer in the Fall River and Burney elementary schools. Former Superintendent of Schools Larry Snelling and his wife Peggy also attended.

Other civic leaders who came included Cindy Dodds and Laurie Jacobs from the Tri Counties Community Center; Burney Chamber of Commerce President Sandra McCullar; former President of the Burney-Fall River Rotary Club Bill Campbell, and Michael Kerns. Several community volunteers including Lou Hawk also attended.

Rev. Tim Scarbrough welcomed the people and began the ribbon cutting ceremony with a prayer.

Rev. Penni Scarbrough gave a brief talk in which she said the mission of the new internet library is “to enable, enlighten, and encourage people to grow through learning.”

She emphasized that the library is not just for the congregation of the Burney Presbyterian Church but is open for all students and job seekers in the community.

Superintendent Hawkins spoke of the changes that had taken place in education since he began teaching in the 1980’s. He emphasized the increasing importance of technology and told the audience that all junior and senior high school students now have Google Chrome notebooks as also do elementary school students from the second grade up.

He also said that many of the students do not have internet access in their homes and therefore stressed the value of a facility such as this where they can not only use the available computers, but also access the Internet with their notebooks using the library’s Wi-Fi.

The final speaker was Rev. Watkins. He gave a touching talk stressing two points. The first was that the Meeting Place was there to serve the whole community. The Burney Presbyterian Church is the most northern church in the Sacramento Presbytery which consists of 7,000 members throughout Northern California. Those churches that are most effective are those that are engaged in serving their communities. The Presbytery is happy that the church in Burney is striving to serve as a Meeting Place and supports that effort.

In the second point, he said that Jesus may never have talked about the Internet, but he did talk a lot of about the importance of children. Quoting from the Book of Proverbs he stressed the importance of children seeking wisdom and understanding. He spoke of these in terms of understanding oneself and the world. Rev. Watkins told how his son has now worked on five continents and hopes to work in all seven. He said that the Internet Library would be a “safe place” where children can use the Internet to “awaken to the wonders of the world” in a healthy educational environment.

Reverend Watkins affirmed his conviction that “every person is an unique act of God’s creative will.”

God is good and gracious and every child is precious. Every child, indeed every person, deserves the opportunity to develop their talents and abilities in a healthy loving environment in order to improve themselves and make a better world, perhaps even to help create the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

The Meeting Place is located at 20435 Marquette St. in Burney, CA. For more information about the Internet Library call (530) 335-2271.

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Bible study embellished by Israeli folk dancing

On Sunday December 18, 2016, four member of the International Folk Dancers of Redding performed 3 Israeli folk dances at the Burney Presbyterian Church.

Redding International Folk Dancers at Burney Presbyterian Church

Redding International Folk Dancers at Burney Presbyterian Church

The dancers were Sarah Clark, Cheryl Brannan, Pamela Larson, and Suzanne Wall.

The first dance was T’filat.

The Second was Jacob’s Ladder

The third dance was Hineh Ma Tov

Burney members of the Redding International Folk Dancers meet every Wednesday afternoon at Burney Presbyterian Church at 4:30 p.m. to learn and practice folk dances from all over the world. Classes are open to everyone: men, women, and children.

Several of the members have gone to study at the Stockton Folk Dance Camp directed by Enka Goldmun.

The Israeli dancing was a fitting prologue to the week’s Sunday afternoon Bible study led by Rev. Penni Elaine.

Rev. Elaine gave a short synopsis of the history of ancient Israel and Judea from the time of the Babylonian captivity up to the advent of Christ. Her survey included the return of the captives and rebuilding of the temple under the Achaemenid Empire founded by Cyrus the Great, the conquest of the Levant by Alexander, the succeeding rule by the Ptolomiac dynasty of Egypt and the Seleucid Empire, the Maccabean Revolt and the Hasmonean dynasty, and finally the establishment  of Herodian Kingdom as a client state of Rome.

This brief but brilliant survey provided an historical backdrop for the birth of Jesus. The last book of the Hebrew Prophets is Malachi. From the time of Malachi to the ministry of John the Baptist there were no prophets. This Intertestamental Period lasted approximately 400 years and is often referred to by Protestant scholars as the 400 Silent Years. Much of it is concurrent with the Second Temple Period in Jewish history.

During this period of “silence” God did not speak through prophets to major political leaders. Rev. Elaine, however, affirmed that if we listen during periods of silence, God may reveal his Word and guide us personally.

The text of the Bible study was Luke 1: 26-38, in which the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and revealed the coming birth of Jesus. One can say that this is a prime example of private personal revelation.

The study group explored what it must have been like for young Mary to have had an angel appear and tell her that she would conceive and give birth to the Messiah.

Afterwards, we all enjoyed a delicious potato soup prepared by Kevin Fletcher. I think I can safely say that this was a profound and joyful love feast.

The Bible study at Burney Presbetyrian Church will resume on the first day of the new year at 4 p.m. Everyone is welcome.

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The Fall River Valley Community Choir performs “Go Sing It on the Mountain” at Burney Presbyterian Church

The Fall River Valley Community Choir gave a wonderful performance of the Christmas cantata, “Go Tell It on the Mountain” at the Burney Presbyterian Church on Sunday afternoon, December 11.

The Fall River Valley Community Choir singing to a full congregation at the Burney Presbyterian Church

The Fall River Valley Community Choir singing to a full congregation at the Burney Presbyterian Church

The church was full with more than 100 people present. The program began at 3 p.m. Reverend Penni Elaine and her two grandchildren, Ashlynn and Jason Carl, welcomed the community to the church and Rev. Elaine said an opening prayer.

She then introduced Alison Maki, the director of the Choir, who led the congregation in singing “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

Go Sing It on the Mountain

Go Sing It on the Mountain

Maki then directed the choir in a perfect performance. Linda Gulbranson accompanied the singers on the piano. Rev. Elaine and Mike Kerns provided the narration as the singers sang nine selections that took the listeners on a devotional musical journey proceeding from the messianic prophecies of Isaiah, though the annunciation, to the nativity, and finally to the proclamation of the joyful news of the birth of Christ to the world.

The Christmas cantata “Go Tell it on the Mountain” was composed by Pepper Choplin incorporating mountain melodies, folk hymns, spirituals, familiar carols, and original music.

The concert included the following solo, duet, and trio performances:

Michal Martin: “A Child Is Gonna Come,”

Melanie Kerns and Bill Johnson:  “Call His Name Jesus,”

Melanie Kerns and Bill Johnson singing Call His Name Jesus

Melanie Kerns and Bill Johnson singing Call His Name Jesus

Karen Adams and Jean Rodgers:  “Hush Little Baby,”

Karen Adam singing Hush Little Baby

Karen Adams singing Hush Little Baby

Jean Rogers singing Hush Little Baby

Jean Rogers singing Hush Little Baby

Jean Rodgers, Penny Rodgers, Melanie Kerns (trio):  “Angel Band,”

and A.J. Weinhold:  “Star Eternal.”

A. J. Weinhold singing Star Eternal

A. J. Weinhold singing Star Eternal

At the conclusion of the cantata, the entire congregation joined their voices together to sing “Silent Night.”

Uplifted by the wonderful music, the people were then treated to delicious cookies prepared by Katharine Ann Campbell as they shared fellowship in the foyer.

Fellowship after the performance

Fellowship after the performance

The Fall River Choir worked very hard for months to learn and practice this wonderful Christmas composition. They had performed it the day before at Intermountain Evangelical Free Church in McArthur. Rev. Maki said that they aspire to achieve the highest level of performance that they can. She said that she hopes that those with open hearts can feel God’s spirit through the music.

Mission accomplished. It was a heavenly experience that truly shared the message of Christmas.

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Darla and Isaac Willis share insights from their missionary work in Haiti

Darla and Isaac Willis have been working as missionaries for one year with the Mission of Grace in Carries, Haiti. On Sunday afternoon, they met with a group of people at the Burney Presbyterian Church to share about their work.

Isaac and Darla Willis

Darla and Isaac Willis at Burney Presbyterian Church, photo courtesy of Rev. Penni Elaine

Isaac and Darla met in 2011 while Isaac was studying at A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary  at Simpson University. In 2012, they got married.

Isaac received his Mdiv from Tozer in 2014. One of his fellow alumni is Rev. Penni Elaine, the new pastor at Burney Presbyterian Church.

Darla is an RN who had gone through discipleship training and worked for several months with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) in Mexico. YWAM is a global non-denominational Christian movement with over 1100 missions in more that 180 countries.

They both felt a calling to missionary work. Darla wanted to help provide medical care and Isaac was interested in developing a ministry for women and children at risk especially dealing with human trafficking.

When they researched and prayed about where they could go on mission, they heard “Togo” and “Haiti.” As it happened they went to both. The couple attended YWAM discipleship training in Hawaii where they could each receive training appropriate to their vocations.

After completing their training, they went for two months to Togo in West Africa. It was hot and sultry but they perservered. While there they witnessed many conversions and several miraculous healings.

Ms. Lynn and Pastor Jean Joseph photo courtesy of Mission of Grace

Ms. Lynn and Pastor Jean Joseph photo courtesy of Mission of Grace

After working in Togo, they went to Haiti where they became a part of the Mission of Grace, a non-denominational non-profit Christian organization founded by Ms. Lynn Joseph after a disastrous mudslide took many lives in 2009.

In 2011, a young Canadian woman, Kim O’Dwyer, came to Haiti and met Ms. Lynn. She has been helping to organize and oversee activities there since that time.

The mission has a church with a congregation of about 200 people and runs an orphanage with 76 children and a school for about 200 children. They also have a health clinic, a weekly soup kitchen, a girls’ home, a home for the elderly, and a men’s ministry.

Children at the orphanage photo courtesy of Mission of Grace

Children at the orphanage photo courtesy of Mission of Grace

The mission has 9 full time missionaries and employs more than 60 full-time Haitian staff. Many people come to help as short-term missionaries. Some stay to work for longer periods as interns.

Girls from the girls home photo courtesy of Mission of Grace

Girls from the girls home photo courtesy of Mission of Grace

Darla works in the clinic. Isaac ministers at the mission and in the community and gives a sermon in the church once a month.

Mission of Grace Church photo courtesy of Mission of Grace

Mission of Grace Church photo courtesy of Mission of Grace

Much of the conversation revolved around the situation of the people in Haiti. They said that many of the people are very poor and don’t know where their next meal will come from. The birth rate is high and family structure is very loose. Isaac said that many of the people are without hope. Children are badly in need of education.

Darla said that STD’s are one of the most treated health problems at the clinic.

One of the challenges for Isaac is the language barrier. The Haitians speak Creole with elements of French, Spanish, and some African terms. He hopes to be able to become fluent in the language.

Another aspect of the work they discussed was racial and cultural. Because Haiti was a French colony, there is a lingering resentment of colonialism and western paternalism. Many of the workers and interns are missionaries of European descent and they need to be humble and earn the trust of the Haitian people.

Darla also said that the people are very boisterous and passionate. She has learned to broaden her cultural horizons and expand her heart. Isaac said that the men are fighters with a strong  sense of injustice. He gave a sermon on the text from Ephesians 6:12

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

It appealed to the men’s fighting spirit and drew a warm response.

The Willises are planning to stay indefinitely in Haiti and have decided to adopt a beautiful little Haitian girl.

Isaac said that he is returning to the work in Haiti because he loves the people and he has seen hope. “I want to be a humble loving servant and I have seen hope.”

Darla said “You have to be careful about the people you give money to,” because much of the aid money to Haiti is siphoned off by the top 3%.

If you would like to learn more about Mission of Grace, their website is

To learn how you can support the work visit

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