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.

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

Service Project Craft Group update

Seat belt covers, baby blankets, shawls, adult bibs, children’s quilts, walker bags, aprons with a butterfly on the bib, and lap size afghans/quilts. These are just some of the items on our tables in King Hall. ‘Twiddle Mitts’ for those with dementia to keep their hands busy, are still a popular item. Our inventory changes weekly. If there is an item or color or design you prefer, let us know, we can probably accommodate your request.

Why shop at a big box store for that special gift when you can give a one of a kind treasure? Beautiful gifts for anyone are available on the Service Project Craft Group tables in King Hall. All gift items are beautifully handmade and one of a kind. If you simply can’t decide, we have gift certificates available.

If you’re looking for items to decorate your home, this is a great place to start. You can find table runners, refrigerator towels and more.

Whether for as a gift for a friend or a gift to yourself, consider the Service Project Craft Group tables in King Hall as your first shopping stop, We offer reasonable prices and abundant stock.

Whatever sort of crafts you do, whether at home or here at church, we’d love to have you join us on Wednesday mornings from 9 -11 in the board room!

Carol Reynolds, team coordinator

I-HELP: Church of the Palms Provides Relief to the Homeless

Over a year ago our Social Justice Action Team was exploring ways to address the growing homeless population in our corner of Maricopa County. We learned of a program that was being used in Avondale and four of our members went to see the program in action at the First Baptist Church.

The program was I-HELP run by Lutheran Social Services and it was having success, twelve homeless people at a time. LSS provided the staff and resources for the program; churches provided housing and food for the guests for up to 90 days until they were settled in their own housing. It was not a short term solution, like a soup kitchen or a shelter, but an intentional effort, focused on adults who had lost their housing through some bad fortune and needed temporary help to get back on their feet.

With the blessing of the COTP staff and the church council, members of the Social Justice Action Team began conversations with LSS and the city of Surprise, offering to be a host church should an I-HELP program be developed in the North West Valley. LSS acquired the grant money needed to staff the program, other churches were recruited to host and the program was launched on Sunday, October 27, 2019.

A twenty member I-HELP Committee at COTP has been working for several months planning and preparing to host I-HELP every Monday evening beginning 10/28/’19. Many volunteers have already committed to drive the bus, provide food and stay overnight in addition to financial support.

Church of the Palms will make a difference in the lives of our neighbors who ‘need a hand up, not a hand out’. It will also be a blessing to our volunteers who show generosity and hospitality to our guests, a win-win endeavor.

Grief Share

Fridays, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
September 6 through November 29

Expressing sympathy is always difficult, but all we can say is how sorry we are and want you to know we care. The journey of grief is a painful process, and you do not need to walk it alone. We would like to encourage you to come to the special seminar and support group offered here at Church of the Palms called GriefShare.

The materials in the support group specifically address topics and issues for those who are grieving the death of a loved one, be they spouse, child, sibling, parent or friend. GriefShare meets weekly for 13 sessions. You will find this to be a place where you can be around people who understand the pain of your loss. You will be prayed for and learn valuable information that will help you through this difficult season of your life.

If you are not experiencing the loss of someone special but know someone who would benefit from this support group, they are welcome no matter their religious beliefs or whether they attend services at Church of the Palms.

Our next GriefShare group resumes Friday, Sept 6, at 1:30 in the boardroom at Church of the Palms. We hope you or someone you know will consider joining us.

Homeless Ministry in Sun City and the West Valley

Most of us take a lot for granted, including a permanent address, a place to lay our head at night, a place we call home. But an increasing number of people are homeless across the United States, in Arizona, in Maricopa County and in our own communities. A recent newspaper article reported the number of homeless in Glendale doubled over the previous year and Surprise, that counted no homeless as recent as 2014, is identifying a homeless population, albeit small, but very visible and of concern to many residents.

What is the face of the homeless? From data gathered in January of 2017, single adults account for 72% of the homeless population; men make up 64% of that number. Families represent 27% of the population. In Maricopa County 35% of the homeless were over 45 years of age; 6% were over 62, up from 4% in 2015.

The Social Justice Action Team is seeking ways for our church to be a leader in addressing this growing concern in Sun City and the West Valley. Members of the committee have been in conversation with Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, the sponsors of IHELP (Interfaith Housing Emergency Lodging Program). Team members have visited an active IHELP church and have shared information and a timeline with the Church Council.

IHELP is a working program that provides case management, life planning, finance counseling, job search and preparation, employment services, health care referrals, vital documentation assistance and enrollment in public benefits through LSS staff supervision and guidance. Individuals in the program have 90 days of shelter and meals at no charge. The goal of the program is to move persons from homelessness to self-sufficiency. Multiple churches provide places of shelter and a meal; a Lutheran Social Services case worker implements the IHELP program and provides the services.

At this point the SJAT has more questions than answers. As we continue to develop a plan of action and work in cooperation with other churches to address the needs of the homeless, be in prayer for the homeless and those who provide shelter/food to meet their daily needs. For more information on this project please contact: Max Klinkenborg maxklink@yahoo.com.

Sew what?

Do you sew?

If you enjoy using a sewing machine, the Service Project Craft Group would love to have your help. There are several items that those who come to our church use regularly including walker bags, neck cooling wraps, and adult bibs. We have the patterns and material – we need someone to sew them!

Come on in from 9 a.m.. to 11 a.m. Wednesday mornings to pick up supplies, sew at your leisure at home, and bring the projects back whenever you they are ready. If you can’t come in on Wednesday a.m., call Carol Reynolds and we will make arrangements for other times.

Thanks for your help!

Women’s Discussion Group

From Debby Stinton:

I am delighted to host a “Women’s Discussion Group” on Wednesday, December 6th at 10:30 am to chat about what we want as a group going forward. In the past, the group has been a Bible study, but I have been in conversation with some women here in the church, and we were thinking we could expand the discussions to current topics and issues that we have specifically as women. Plus, it is a great opportunity to make new women friends here at the Church.

Social Justice Team update

Seeking justice through Prayer, Action, Love, Ministry & Support!

The Church of the Palms Social Justice Team is a vital ministry in and of our church. The very nature of seeking justice infers advocating on behalf of those individuals and classes of individuals that have been marginalized and oppressed. We keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open to the needs in our church, our community, and our world.

We have several action items that we are participating in to become more informed about how we can prayerfully support others and how we can help in other ministries across our community, the state, and beyond. Keep your antenna up for information on issues of interest to members of our church and community such as the genocide in South Sudan, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and the topic of “White Privilege”.

If you are interested in justice issues and feel a call to contribute, please come – you are always welcome.

Social Justice team members with full tummies after good food and fellowship at First Watch on field trip to Lutheran Social Services in Phoenix.
Social Justice team members with full tummies after good food and fellowship at First Watch on field trip to Lutheran Social Services in Phoenix.

The Church of the Palms Social Justice Team Launched

At the March 18th, 2017 Church Council meeting, unanimous approval was given to establish the Church of the Palms Social Justice Team. The work of this team will include the following activities:

P (Prayer)
A (Action)
L (Love)
M (Ministry)
S (Support)

Each of these activities is an important as the next. So there is a place for anyone interested in social justice on this team.

According to Chris Marshall, author of the book Biblical Justice, “Social justice doesn’t happen by accident. It requires focus, dedication, and commitment. Because of God’s commitment to justice, there is always hope for positive change.”

As an extension of the Board of Mission and Outreach, the Church of the Palms Social Justice Team recognizes that the obligation of social justice falls upon the individual, but that individuals cannot fulfill the obligation alone. Rather, they must work in concert with others, through organized bodies, as a member of a group whose purpose is to identify the needs of society, and, by the use of appropriate means, to meet these needs locally, regionally, nationally, and even globally.

At its initial meeting on April 12th, a number of potential social justice issues were identified by the team for further investigation and possible
action planning. A Social Justice Team planning retreat will be held on Saturday, May 20th at the home of Pam & Paul Clark from 12:30 to 4:30 PM.

Look for further announcements in Sunday Bulletins regarding potential social justice issues and further details on the May 20th planning retreat. Or feel free to talk to Pat or John Durbin, Pam or Paul Clark, Jan Hutchins or Amy Alves, Kurt Hofmann, Debby Stinton, Eona Schulz, or Pastor Paul.