Observations of Easter

I confess to having many sleepless nights leading up to Easter morn. The “what if” detail questions kept bubbling to the surface. What if this…what if that? Then there were the “will the” questions. Will the set up go smoothly? Will people actually show up willing to sit outside in the sun? Will the visitors find a welcome place to gather? The answers were clearly: Yes! Yes! And Yes! It was a wonderful day to be on the church grounds.
Because we are a resurrection people, quarantine didn’t break our church, but it taught us (again) to lose our fear and go up on the roof and out into the streets with our ministry and mission.
It taught us…Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed!
Shalom, Paul

Shea Darian passed her ordination interview!

Congratulations to Shea Darian! She unanimously passed her ordination interview with the Southwest Conference (SWC) Committee on Church and Ministry. Wahoo!

The next step is her Ecclesiastical Council. It will be online Sunday, May 2, at 3:00 p.m. That group is composed of representatives of congregations from across the SWC. You are welcome to join that group – register here. Shea will present her ordination paper and defend it at the Ecclesiastical Council. After the quiz time, it will be their time to affirm Shea. Once that happens and she gets a job, she can be ordained.

Shea is a gifted person and has blessed this congregation in more ways than we can count. We hope you can join us online to celebrate her ministry Sunday, May 2, at 3:00 p.m.

—Pastor Paul

Dispatches from ‘FEET-N-MORE’ Shower Ministry

By Max Klinkenborg
Shower Trailer Ministry

The shower trailer of “FEET-N-MORE” of Church of the Palms has been in the city of Surprise on 2/23 and 3/9, providing hot showers for the homeless. On our first outing, we provided 9 showers, and it grew to 12 our second time. In addition to the showers, we are giving guests a bag of toiletries and a hand towel. We are also providing a charging station for cell phones, tablets, etc. Each time, we have had 8 volunteers who are friends or members of COTP.

We are hosted by the Salvation Army Church on Avenue of the Arts in Surprise. They provide lunches for our volunteers and guests in addition to offering clean clothes. We will be at this location on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month in 2021, sponsored by the City of Surprise.

Joining us each time has been Circle the City, providing a portable doctor’s office. On the fourth Tuesday of each month, we will be joined by Chance Shelter, which provides pet care. The City of Surprise is present, offering the services of the city to the homeless, including a city police officer dedicated to serving the homeless population. The Phoenix Rescue Mission is also present, as well as Lutheran Social Services.

If you are interested in volunteering with the shower trailer, contact John Durbin at 623.693.8866 or Max Klinkenborg at 816.377.4618.

Prison Ministry Introduces Pen Pal Program

By Nancy Nonini
Social Justice Action Team-Prison Ministry

Do you know why 4:15 p.m. is the most exciting time of day at Perryville Prison for Women (ASPC – Perryville)? It’s Mail Call. Women rush to see if they get a letter. Others never come out because they don’t want to face yet another day without a letter. A letter in prison is an “envelope of hope,” according to Sue Ellen Allen in her book, The Slumber Party from Hell.

Women who have pen pals are less likely to go back to prison after re-entering society. Matthew 25 Prison Ministry (originated through Red Mountain United Methodist Church in Mesa) has provided pen pals for 264 inmates at Perryville; 128 have become “returning citizens” and only four have returned to prison, giving Matthew 25 a return rate of 3.1%, as opposed to the national recidivism rate of over 50%.

Since our Arouet Foundation Storytellers Breakfast in Your PJs, we have filled 5 Starter Kits for women being released from Perryville, and at least 2 people have expressed interest in becoming pen pals. Luckily for us, Matthew 25 Prison Ministry will provide a Zoom Pen Pal training on Friday, April 9 at 10:00 a.m. You can access this presentation on the Bridges page under Social Justice Action Team/Prison Ministry. This event will be recorded if you want to view it but are not available at the scheduled time. Please email Nancy Nonini at nnonini19@gmail.com with any questions or for a Zoom invitation.

The stone is rolling away!

I have literally been waiting for this moment for a year! It broke my heart to have to go from in-person worship to video; I know you join me in missing our in-person gatherings. I truly believe that I will never, ever, take for granted the blessing of being able to gather in our sanctuary! The good news is that we are almost at the end of our extended stay of being locked in the tomb. The stone is rolling away this Easter!

I am so excited to be able to gather for in-person worship on Easter Sunday. We will gather for worship outside on the patio by the fountain for a 9 a.m. worship, which will be less than 45 minutes in length.

We’ll gather, but we still do need to observe some protocols. Mask up. Please refrain from hugging, etc. The church is also a “No Judgment Zone.” That is, we respect the decisions that individuals will be making for their own safety. Some may, for example, need to stay home for a while longer. We want people to make up their own minds on what best fits their health and safety needs – and then feel good about that decision. Whenever you make it back, I hope you can rejoice with me!

Check out these other Holy Week Worship Opportunities:

  • Maundy Thursday, April 1 on our Bridges platform on the webpage. Our sister congregations of Desert Garden UCC, Sun City Christian DOC, and United Church UCC will be joining us. It will be available starting at noon and be up for your watching anytime on Thursday.
  • Good Friday, April 2 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Labyrinth Walk. Outside at our labyrinths. Easter Sunday, April 4 at 9 a.m. In-person worship at the fountain patio. Call by April 1st for reservations at 623.748.3574. or click on this link.
  • What will the Sundays after Easter look like? I don’t know exactly. But I am glad to be journeying with you. See you soon!

Shalom, Paul

It is an exciting time for us at The Palms

It is an exciting time for us at The Palms. Before we rush head on into the joyous celebrations of Easter, let’s pause and reflect why we have Easter in the first place.

At the Last Supper, Jesus gave us a mandate to love one another. Then washed the feet of the disciples. Soon afterwards, he was broken. We will journey with him in our Maundy Thursday service in which we are honored to host Desert Garden UCC, Sun City Christian, DOC, and United Church UCC and their leadership. Today, April 1, at noon, a worship service will be available on our website. It will move from the Last Supper to Jesus’ praying, arrest, trial, and crucifixion. I hope you make a special effort to watch it.

Then, on Good Friday, April 2, from 1 to 3 p.m. we invite people to come and walk our labyrinths, meditate, reflect, and pray.

Easter Sunday will happen outside around the fountain patio at 9:00 a.m. Visit the website to register or call the church office and let us know that you are coming. While here, please wear your mask and observe social distancing.

It is an exciting time for us at The Palms.

Shalom, Paul

Spiritual Connections Offered by WISE

Beginning April 12, we will be offering “Spiritual Connections” weekly on Mondays at 1:00 p.m. This is a recovery group which will seek to offer a safe space for support of people who are suffering from addictions, abuse, or other traumatic events through a variety of techniques based on Spiritual Principles. Gordon Street, Commissioned Minister from First Phoenix UCC, will be facilitating.

We will also be offering a Spiritual Connections session on Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. for those in our community who are still working and would like to have opportunity to attend this type of support group.

Both groups will connect on our Bridges to Learning page. If you’re interested in attending, please email or call Pastor Jim to confirm.

Easter Morning In-Person Worship at The Church of the Palms

Have you reserved your spot for the in-person worship service at 9:00 a.m. on Easter Sunday? The deadline to register is April 1. Click this link or call 623.748.3574 so we can be prepared to welcome you.

This is an outdoor service, so make sure to wear your Easter bonnet! And sunscreen! And, of course, you must wear a mask. Social distancing will be enforced.

Click here for a full list of measures and precautions. And please don’t forget our Easter Blessings Fund in lieu of Easter Lilies this year.

Good Friday “Stations of the Cross” Labyrinth Walk

Friday, April 2, 2021 , 1–3 p.m.

Each person will receive a printed guide for their self-directed walk, for pausing at the “stations of the cross” to read a brief Biblical text and prayer. Volunteers will be available to assist walkers who are welcome to come anytime between 1 and 3 p.m.; the walk to the center of the Labyrinth will take about 30 minutes. Chairs and water will be available. Guides for self-directed walks in the morning or evening will be available in the literature box, as well.

It is the right thing to do

It is the right thing to do.

The sun is beginning to shine more and more these days. As our temperatures rise, so do our electric bills for cooling down the building. But this year will be different at The Palms.

It is the right thing to do.

We started with just a dream – to lower our carbon footprint not only as individuals but as a church. Folks gathered to discuss how we could bring into action one of our three great loves: love of creation. After inspecting the building, having an energy audit, and conversations on the topic, a plan began to emerge. It was just a dream – a dream blessed by God – seed money was donated to be able to put the dream into action: $50,000. That gift will cover approximately one-half of the costs. Now, the light shines on the rest of us to finish the dream. We’re off to a good start. As of this writing, we have raised $12,000 bringing the total to $62,000. 

It is the right thing to do.

Whether your gift is large or small, it is going to take all of us doing our part to make this happen. I hope you can join us in this ministry.

It is the right thing to do.

Shalom, Paul