Debby Stinton’s fantabulous news

We celebrate that Debby Stinton has been called to be pastor of West Liberty UCC in West Liberty, Ohio. While we are saddened to see her leave our community, we celebrate with her this new adventure. We will host an ordination (over Zoom) for her on January 24 at 3:00 p.m. 

Register here.

In the meantime, pray for Debby and Russ and for that congregation during this transition.

And don’t miss the goodbye parade on January 17: From the inside of our cars, we’ll share our heartfelt well wishes, thanks, and goodbyes as we drive by Debby before she departs for Ohio.

The Palms’ shower ministry is named ‘FEET-N-MORE’

By Max Klinkenborg

A seven-member shower trailer committee has been meeting weekly for the last two months to establish protocols for use of the trailer, decide on the “wrapping” for the trailer, to pick a name for the shower ministry, and much more. The name comes from the Biblical story of Jesus taking on the role of a servant and washing the disciples feet. The Church of the Palms is offering a shower trailer to be used by the homeless and needy of the northwest valley, following the pattern of service of Jesus.

In partnership with city governments, churches and non-profit service providers, we will provide showers that preserve human dignity, contribute to health and prepare them for employment. We are currently working with the City of Surprise, the Salvation Army and are in communications with the cities of Peoria and El Mirage. We will be taking the trailer to sites in the NW Valley beginning in January. We will be approaching other NW Valley cities with the shower trailer in 2021, particularly as it becomes safer for guests and volunteers to be together.

“FEET-N-MORE” will be focused on offering showers, but we are inviting other service providers to be present with us when we are serving the homeless. Trevor’s Vision is preparing a haircutting trailer and they want to be with us when we offer showers. Chance Shelter provides for the pets of the homeless while they are showering. We hope to provide medical and dental services on occasion and to distribute food and clothes on an emergency basis. We will be inviting Social Service Agencies that are focused on helping the homeless to be present. It is only limited by our imagination.

We will be dedicating the shower trailer for ministry and commissioning our volunteers on Sunday, January 3rd, at 11:30 a.m. The service will be in the parking lot with the shower trailer in the background.

Volunteers to work with the shower trailer are always welcome. We will need three to four volunteers for 4-6 hours each time the trailer goes out. A variety of jobs need to be done each time and there will be training for your job. Contact the church office (623.977.8359) or Max Klinkenborg (816.377.4618) if you are interested.

If we’re going to worry…

Is 2020 over yet? Please make it stop!

For just about everyone, this year brought a shroud of uncertainty with no job being recession-proof, and budgets shrinking with demands expanding. Often these times bring on a sense of worry. The gospels tell us not to worry. Yet, it is hard to expect anyone not to worry at least some during this time; So, if we’re going to worry, I suggest we just worry about worthy things.

Things not to worry about:

  • Perfect plans (or trying to be perfect for that matter)
  • Wrinkled clothes or faces
  • Scratches in the paint
  • Scores (especially if you’re a Cardinal fan)
  • Burnt stuff (tell folks that’s really Cajun, not burnt)
  • Enough time (there never is)
  • Newsletter / Paul at the Palms / annual report deadlines
  • Speling

Things to worry about:

  • Did I say a least one kind thing to the people at home, work, or the marketplace?
  • Does everyone in the family (including those not related by blood) know that I love them?
  • Is there gentleness, forgiveness, and patience (or at least one of the three) in my heart?
  • What am I doing to help the poor and the marginalized in this community?

As you read this, know that I love you and wish for you a less worrisome new year (it can’t be worse, right?). Time to flush 2020 goodbye. Just check your TP supply first! God bless you. 

Shalom, Paul

Mental Wellness Tips for 2021

Important Phone Numbers:
National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline 1-800-950-6264
Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800.273.TALK
Veterans’ Crisis Line 800.273.8255 press 1
Pastoral Care—Pastor Jim Alexander 623.792.5295

With each new year comes the opportunity to do things differently. I am not talking about making resolutions that we all know will go by the wayside by January 31! I am talking about doing things that will help you remain calm, focused, and set for 2021.

Besides the Tools2Thrive page, the Daily Devotionals, our Bridges to Learning classes, and our weekly Online Worship services, here are several tips for Mental Wellness I highly encourage you to incorporate into your life. You may be thinking, “I have seen all this before.” While that may be true, have you been able to make any of these tips habits within your daily activities? You may find that just one or two might make all the difference in your outlook and mental wellness. Happy New Year!

  • I will commit myself to being physically active each day. Studies have shown there is a link between mental and physical health.
  • I will resolve to be mentally healthy in the upcoming year. Seeking the aid of one of the agencies listed above, you may be able to sort through the mental or emotional concerns you might be having. This is one of the healthiest things we can do.
  • Relax! Commit yourself to carving out some time each day to “shutting down” and doing something for yourself that helps you rest and recharge your mental and emotional batteries.
  • Diligently speak nicely about yourself and treat yourself with respect. All good things begin from within, and a positive outlook on ourselves is a key to attracting more positivity into our lives.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. Remind yourself daily that as a human, you will make mistakes or miss goals, and that is okay. What is important is going forward in these situations in a positive manner.
  • Stay mindful and in the moment. Don’t dwell too much on the past or spend too much time fixating on the future. Remember to live in the here and now and enjoy all that life has to offer.
  • Act instead of reacting. Rather than allowing yourself to get caught up in reacting to the actions of others that push your buttons, be prepared with a mental list of disarming statements to counteract the negative statements of others.
  • Do not allow yourself to be defined by a label. Instead of thinking and speaking of yourself as being overweight, anxious, depressed, etc. … say instead “I have depression and today I will exercise to help manage that.”
  • I will strive to become the person I want to be. View life as a journey full of adventures rather than a series of obstacles you have to overcome. Enjoy the ride that life is, rather than focusing on the bumps in the road.

The Work of Christmas

I will light candles this Christmas,
Candles of joy despite all the sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,
Candles of love to inspire all my living,
Candles that will burn all year long.
—Howard Thurman

The Season of Christmas is twelve days long—lasting December 25 to January 5. The Day of Epiphany (celebrating the arrival of the magi) is January 6. How are we to celebrate these holy days? A Baptist pastor, Howard Thurman, pondered just such a question. He led a delegation of African-Americans to India in 1935 to meet Mohandas Gandhi. Gandhi’s influence led Thurman to understand Jesus as liberator and bring together the gospel and non-violence resistance to combat white racism. This is what Thurman wrote concerning what we are do and be about after the Season of Christmas. It is our core ministry as a church.

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among others,
To make music in the heart.

How will we make music in the heart of our world when the work of Christmas actually begins? When the gifts are unwrapped, Christmas dinner is over and the company has gone home, how will we keep the candles burning? When the needles have fallen from the tree, how will we continue to offer the olive branch? When prisoners are released, how will we reach out and care?

I don’t have exact answers to the above questions. I am, however, grateful to be journeying with you as we explore the work of Christmas at The Palms.

Shalom, Paul

Kairos Call to Action: The Fierce Urgency of Now

The Kairos Call to Action recently issued by the United Church of Christ’s Council for Climate Justice builds on what Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the fierce urgency of now,” and an understanding of Kairos time as time that is ripe, pregnant, and urgent time. The call to action urges congregations to begin a decade of focus on one of the UCC’s “3 Great Loves”: Care for Creation.

We, as the church, have the opportunity to assert that we are fully committed to our first calling as caretakers of God’s creation. In contrast to destructive theologies of dominion/domination over the Earth, we have the opportunity to manifest a theology of kinship with creation and a spiritual connection to Mother Nature.

As Pope Francis put it in his encyclical, Laudato Si’: On the Care for our Common Home, earth and human ecology are inextricably intertwined. That means that as we care for creation, we also care for the other two great loves to which we in the UCC are committed: neighbor and children. Climate science tells us that the next decade will be decisive if we are to interrupt the dangerous course of planetary warming that we are on. Now is the time.

In response to this call, the Social Justice Action Team at The Church of the Palms has initiated a Creation Justice task force which will build on the steps taken by COTP in the past, and intensify these efforts. We have shared our mission and goals with you on our page on the church website.

Over the next year and more we will be offering opportunities for learning and actions that you can take as households, and we will work with the trustees to examine and take action on ways that the church itself can reduce its carbon footprint. We will update you quarterly on our work together. If care for creation is something for which you have a passion, please consider joining the taskforce. You may contact Terry Starr at rstarr9982@aol.com to indicate your interest.

Let us covenant with one another to seize this moment and commit ourselves to this Kairos Call to Action, as a congregations as households, and as individuals; joining in the healing of our sacred earthly home.

—Beth Moore, Creation Justice Task Force

Note: I am indebted to the UCC’s national website and a speech by Rev. John Helt at the Wisconsin UCC’s annual conference gathering in June 2020 for much of this content.

I-HELP Needs Overnight Volunteer Monitors

Are you a night owl or a morning dove? Here is an Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program (I-HELP) late-night or early-morning volunteer opportunity for you: I-HELP needs overnight monitors.

Volunteer time-slots are 10:00 p.m.-3:00 a.m. or 3:00-7:00 am. The I-HELP guests are usually weary and sleep soundly during these hours. Usually, there are 12 guests. There are 2 monitors for each shift.

Worried about COVID? We are limited to 7 guests during this time. All I-HELP participants have tested negative for COVID to enter the 90-day program, are retested when needed, and they are temperature screened when they enter COTP. There is almost no interaction with the guests between 10:00 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.

You must obtain a State of Arizona Level One Fingerprint Clearance card, which requires a bit of paperwork. Registration is easy, and the $65 cost will be paid by COTP. I-HELP has just celebrated its first year. Over 25 people have found housing. You can help make a difference in the lives of others in Year 2.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact Nancy Mueller or Vickie Ashenbrenner.

Life Long Learning classes in December continue online

To connect to these online classes, visit our Bridges page!

Current Issues & Faith, Tuesdays, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Facilitated by Kay Klinkenborg.
Dec. 1-15: “J.E.S.U.S.A” DVD. An in-depth exploration of the relationship between Christianity and American nationalism and the violence that often emerges from it. Some featured speakers: Diana Butler Bass, Fr. John Dear, and Dwight Ford.
Dec. 22, 29: Will continue with DVDs and discussion regarding racism, white fragility, etc.

Jump Start, Tuesdays, 4:00-5:00 p.m.
Facilitated by John Durbin.
Prep for Sunday Sermon with Scripture/Discussion.

Spiritual Growth, Wednesdays, 10:30-11:30 a.m., except for the first Wednesday of the month, when class meets 11:00 a.m.-noon.
Facilitated by Kay Klinkenborg.
Dec. 2: “Reshaping Religious Imagination for Humanity” DVD. Applying the new science/cosmology to our understanding of God, the universe and its implications for worship, prayer and liturgy.
Dec. 9-30: “The Divine Feminine: Its Place in Our Lives” and “God, Women and the World: A New Way To Tell The Story,” by Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB. Part of a series: “The Human Spirit and the Times We Live In.” Chittister explores how owning the feminine can deepen our connection to all of life and all people, discovering we have new eyes with which to see and new ears to hear.

Cosmic Christians, Thursdays, 10:00-11:30 a.m.
Facilitated by Linette Stenberg. Discussion of the book “Begin Again” by Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr. The author examines the writings of James Baldwin and his impact on challenging racism in the USA.

Are you helping The Palms through Amazon Smile? It’s easy!

Here’s a reminder that there is an additional way to support your church: shopping through Amazon Smile. Many of you probably shop through Amazon, and you can continue shopping as normal while raising money for The Palms via Amazon Smile. Nothing changes for you and your account; it works exactly the same. Through Amazon Smile, however, when you purchase an item(s), a percent of the purchase price goes to the church. How awesome is that? To get started, click on this link, log in, type “Church of The Palms United Church of Christ” in the search tab and start shopping!

—The Board of Stewards