Being The Palms: Supporting the Homeless Among Us

From the Social Justice Action Team at The Church of the Palms UCC:

One of the positive things about being hunkered down in our homes during the COVID19 pandemic is that it provides opportunities to do something special for those who have it so much worse than we do. Take, for example, our growing homeless population. The Palms provides several programs for this growing population in Phoenix and communities in the Northwest Valley.

HART Pantry: Helping At Risk Teens. The HART Pantry provides weekend food bags to teens who do not have enough food when they are not in school. But the HART Pantry is so much more. It is a community outreach program which began in 2011 as a mission of faith-based organizations in Peoria. The HART Pantry also partners with Eve’s Place, a 501(c)(3) charity that helps victims of domestic abuse and teen violence in the West Valley. The HART Pantry also enjoys the support of individual community members and corporate partners. Church of the Palms members serve on the Board of Directors for HART Pantry and have played a significant role in the annual backpack and graduation gift card programs as well as with monthly food donations. Sadly, the number of teens needing support from the HART Pantry continues to grow, with consideration now being given to expand and serve those at the middle school level.

Children First Academy: Church of the Palms, through the Board of Mission and Outreach, has made contributions of books, electronic devices, and water to Children First Academy for several years. This academy is a charter school near downtown Phoenix which serves homeless elementary age school children in the region.

I-HELP: Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program. I-HELP a program of Lutheran Social Services, is designed to help the growing numbers of working people who have lost access to affordable housing. The 90-day program helps the men and women in the program develop a life plan that restores them to permanent housing. They are assisted by a full-time case worker from LSS, to locate the resources needed and keep them on task for the 90 days or less. As a supporting church, The Palms provides housing, food, and laundry every Monday and Friday night to as many as 12 women and men in the program. The program is for adults over the age of 18, not for families with children. Five other churches in the Surprise, El Mirage and Sun City communities are also hosting churches The COTP Service Committee purchased sheets and prepared them to fit the sleeping mats and have provided additional support supplies for program participants. The program runs with volunteers: the costs of a host church includes food, toiletries, laundry soap and cash gifts designated for I-HELP. Volunteers also serve as overnight monitors, preparing meals, doing laundry, and providing transportation to and from the day programs. There is also additional cost to the Church for utilities and bus operations.

Shower Trailer Program: One of the most requested needs of the homeless population is the opportunity to take a shower. For general health and to be prepared for employment, job interviews, and/or social service agency interviews, a shower provides increased self-esteem and opportunity for success. With this in mind, the COTP Board of Mission and Outreach has explored the possibility of purchasing a shower trailer and recruiting individuals to carry out this ministry. The shower trailer operation would initially serve participants in the I-HELP program but would eventually serve nearby communities with a homeless population, including those in homeless camps near and around riverbeds and under bridges. Volunteers will transport the trailer to various locations on a predetermined schedule and conduct necessary maintenance and upkeep. The City of Surprise has been very supportive of this ministry.

FAITH Program: Financial Assistance Into Transitional Housing. This proposed program, which is still under construction and yet to be reviewed by the church council, would partner with Lutheran Social Services and include a source of funds to qualifying graduates of the Northwest I-HELP Program. I-HELP graduates need between $3,500 – $4,500 to cover first and last month’s rent, damage deposit, and utility deposits. This program would explore ways we could assist them with this need. This proposed FAITH program would be managed by church leadership. Our church council will need to review it all and vote on it before anything happens. Individuals wishing to support any of these programs through a donation of time, talent, and/or treasure are encouraged to contact one of the following: chair of the Board of Mission and Outreach (Suzanne Boisclair), chair of the I-HELP Team (Max Klinkenborg), or chair of the Social Justice Action Team (John Durbin).

Meet the Church of the Palms Social Justice Champions: Pam & Paul Clark

Each year, the Social Justice Action Team selects an individual(s) to receive the Social Justice Champion Award. The person(s) chosen best exemplifies our guiding scripture “And what does the LORD require of us but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God” Micah 6:8. Selection criteria includes: History of being active in social justice ministries, personal actions challenging injustices and effecting change though education, advocacy, activism. Pam and Paul clearly meet these criteria.

Pam Clark

Pam began her advocacy work while living in Douglas, AZ, on the border with Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico in the mid ‘60s. Her church helped a congregation in Agua Prieta, Mexico, to refurbish their own church and, working together across the border, they collected clothing for children living in poverty. It was while in Douglas that Pam’s passion for creation justice was born.

Douglas was controlled by the economic presence of Phelps Dodge copper mining in nearby Bisbee and smelting operations at the town smelter. Douglas also was the gateway to Mexico. When the first Earth Day was created in 1970, Pam became acutely aware that Phelps Dodge was a huge polluter in the area and also was the source of employment for most of the local residents. The smelter worked at peak levels at night because the nighttime winds carried the acrid sulfur dioxide smoke into Mexico, rather than Douglas. People who objected were told that the smoke represented dollars in paychecks.

From that early awakening to this day, Pam continues to work to protect the environment and advocate for those marginalized. She adopted a plant-based diet in 2013 and learned about the plight of animals in contemporary mass farming and slaughter operations, which has a direct and negative influence on global warming and climate change.

When Pam came to Church of the Palms, she joined the Mission and Outreach Board, where she and Paul worked to establish the original Social Justice Committee, which preceded the Social Justice Action Team. In 2012, they examined the issue of undocumented youth, now known as DACA students. Pam has worked with Shadow Rock UCC in its refugee/sanctuary program. In 2008, Pam while with Paul in Indonesia, worked with young women to help them better understand money, saving and planning their future. Finally, Pam has been involved with UMOM’s New Day Center in central Phoenix, as well as outreach programs for several churches along the Mexican border.

Rev. Paul Clark, retired

In 1957, while Paul served at Tenafly Presbyterian Church in New Jersey, he was invited to visit mission personnel in Hong Kong. The Head of Church World Service (an agency supported by Church of the Palms UCC) urged Paul to visit a large group of White Russian refugees (non-Communist Christians) who were stranded in Hong Kong. Paul had an opportunity to visit the refugees, an experience he found to be deeply moving.

When Paul returned to the Tenafly Church, he preached a sermon asking congregants to write to government officials urging them to act on behalf of the stranded refugees. As a result, Paul was invited to appear before U.S. Senate Sub-Committee on Refugees. He also secured an invitation for the local young Russian Orthodox priest to go to Washington with him. As a result, the U.S. Senate Sub-Committee on Refugees reassigned more than $60,000 to help relocate the refugee families, some to the U.S. and some to Brazil.

So began Paul’s journey in the world of social justice challenges and projects. While living near New York City, Paul served on the U. S. Committee for Refugees. In Ithaca, New York, Paul helped to assemble five busloads of Cornell students and staff, community clergy and others as they became part of the “March on Washington.” Paul led one of the committees of clergy traveling to Washington as “Clergy Concerned Regarding the Vietnam War.” In Tenafly, Ithaca, and San Diego, Paul secured housing for the poor or newcomers to those communities, including those from Vietnam, Central America and Cuba.

In 2012, Paul and Pam began the original Church of the Palms Social Justice Committee.

Despite some recent health challenges Pam and Paul Clark continue to be advocates for social justice. Congratulations for being this year’s Social Justice Champions.

We are taking a healthy hiatus from our regular style of worship at The Palms.

Worship Words of Wisdom: Adjusting our sails, pressing onward, we are exploring new ways to proclaim the love of God.

What we are doing:

On Thursdays at 10:00 a.m. we’ll be video-recording a worship service in the sanctuary to be broadcast on our website on Sunday morning. This will have most of the elements of our typical worship services including scripture, sermon, hymns, and prayers.

On Sunday mornings the sanctuary will be open from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. for personal prayer time, lighting a candle, prayers with a pastor, and quiet meditation. No program will be offered. Please keep the recommended social distance.

Our office remains open during the normal hours: Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. We are asking that if you need to come by the office that you knock on the office door. Please do not come into the office; remain in the hallway. We will come to you. Let Pastor Jim or I know of your pastoral needs. Call us on the telephone or email us.

Pastor Jim and I will be sharing daily devotionals with you. These will be brief audio statements, again, accessible online. Check here on our website and/or our Facebook page frequently for the posts.

Please continue to worship – just adjust your sails. You can join us by doing the following:

  • Pray for your church and your pastors each day.
  • Observe the sabbath; find a specific time and set it aside for prayer and meditation.
  • Continue to support your church financially by having your financial institution send your automatic giving. Or, simply mail a check to us.

During this protective postponement pause to our regular schedule, pray for personal and collective wisdom, strength, and courage. Thanks for being The Palms.

Rev. Paul A. Whitlock
Rev. Jim Alexander

Spring has sprung into the Service Project Craft Group

Our tables in King Hall are now filled with spring and Easter items we’ve made.

  • We have new shopping bags with our church logo on them!
  • We’ve made new cotton towels for your kitchen!
  • Also new are the baby wraps for infants in car seats.
  • The small hearts are always a welcome “I care about you” to give at any time.

And maybe the Easter Bunny will bring a child’s quilt to your little ones. Our creations change weekly as we make things, so check our tables often. If you knit or crochet at home, we need your help: we have requests for 400 hats and 250 soap holders! We’ll provide yarn and patterns.

Service Project Craft Group

Update from the I-HELP Meal Ministry

Thank you to all who have donated food and prepared meals for our I-Help (Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program) guests. We, once again, have been blessed by the generosity of our church family and friends, and our guests have been so very appreciative of all that has been contributed.

We have learned that our ministry greatly benefits from volunteers bringing an already prepared, ready-to-eat evening meal on our host nights, rather than foods that require preparation. If you would like to provide the evening meal, breakfast or sack lunches for our guests, please sign up on the whiteboard in the I-Help closet next to King Hall, and let Laurie Cathey know what you will bring. Questions? Call Laurie Cathey or Suzanne Boisclair.

I-Help meal-ministry volunteers are needed in March for the following dates:

Dinner: March 2, 6, 30
Breakfast: March 31
Lunch: March 17, 31

Treasures and Treats at our Spring Rummage & Bake Sale

*** POSTPONED DUE TO COVID-19 ***

NEW DATE TO BE ANNOUNCED IN MAY

Church of the Palms, 14808 N Boswell Boulevard, Sun City, Arizona 85351

Our church rummage sale is famous for its:

furniture at the rummage saleTreasures: furniture, housewares, books, clothes, DVDs, CDs, office items, linens, notions, shoes, electronics, and MORE

Bakery pop-up: cakes, pies, brownies, cookies…(we have the BEST bakers)

Lunch combos: Hot dog, chips, soda, and a cookie $4.00

Add 50 cents and swap out that hot dog for a coney dog, meatball hero, or a sloppy joe!

The hours are:

Thursday 7:30 AM to 2:00 PM
Friday 7:30 AM to 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Saturday 7:30 AM to 12:00 Noon

You can use a credit card for purchases of $100 or more.

Shop with a friend, or bring your family! It’s a great place to meet your neighbors, too. We look forward to seeing you.

Dysart Community Center and The Church of the Palms

The Church of the Palms has a partnership with the Dysart Community Center. Here are ways you can help:

February “Giving Tree” for After School Kids
Open your hearts for the kids. There are 200+ children in the After School Kids Club that are sometimes without socks and underwear. A giving tree will be in the narthex in February filled with suggestions of sizes on pink and blue hearts. Take one or as many hearts as you can to help. Bring the items back to the church.

English as a Second Language
Can you help teach English as a Second Language for adults? If you are interested in teaching a group, contact Joe Reyes or for one-to-one lessons contact Nancy Mueller. You can also contact Linda or Kurt Hofmann to assist with conversational English sessions.

Reading is FUNdamental
There are after school reading and game playing volunteer opportunities. They meet on Tuesdays from January through March. The bus leaves the church at 3:15 and returns by 5:00. Contact Jane Lane or Sharon Pitts.

Chili Cookoff!

Sunday, January 12 after worship

Mark your calendar and get ready for our next Church of the Palms mouthwatering epicurean event: another world-famous chili cookoff on Sunday, January 12th in King Hall following our Sunday service. You can find the sign-up sheets on the opportunity table in the narthex (or call the church office).

You may sign up to bring chili (limit 12 chefs) or just plan to attend and enjoy a wonderful chili lunch.

You may also sign up to bring cornbread or your favorite chili side dish.

Proceeds go to support the ministries of our church.