Quarantine, Schmorentine, Church of the Palms is Not Closed…We Are Deployed

Do you do any of these things: pray, take action, love, tend to others’ needs, support the work of our church? If you do, you are part of our church’s Social Justice Action Team, seeking justice through Prayer, Action, Love, Ministry & Support (PALMS). Using Micah 6:8,And what does the LORD require of us but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God” as our inspiration, our team is working hard in these challenging times to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our community and beyond. Thank you for being an important part of the team. We appreciate and need your involvement. Here is what you are helping to accomplish as reported at our most recent meeting:

Homelessness

  • Jan Eckstein expressed the gratitude of the HART / Helping At Risk Teen’s Pantry for our church’s donation to the Back to School Drive. 275 backpacks were filled and 150 have been delivered.
  • Max Klinkenborg reported that through our Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program (IHELP) over 20 individuals are off the street and in a home. A shower trailer for individuals not yet in housing has been ordered from the manufacturer and will be arriving soon. The Sun City Rotary Club and the City of Surprise have expressed interest in being partners in this project.

Immigration/Refugee

Suzanne Boisclair reported we have provided $450 to support food needs of the African Refugee Solutions Church members suffering from Covid 19. This will be combined with a donation from Shadow Rock UCC to purchase food in bulk to be distributed to those in need. Pastor Paul reported that our church made a $1,500 donation earlier in the year for the same cause.

Creation Justice

  • Terry Starr reported on the goal of Arizona Power and Light to have 3,000 Faith Climate Voter Campaign Pledges before the November election. The Faith Climate Voter Campaign Pledge can be found HERE.
  • Equally important is the distribution of the Faith Values Voters Guide.  The voters’ guide covers important issues besides the climate crisis, including income inequality, health care, immigration, LGBTQ rights, restorative justice and more.  The guide can be found HERE.
  • Andrea Stefanov reported on the work being done by her and Beth Moore to create a check sheet that individuals could use to help determine their carbon footprint.
  • Nancy Tsuchiya reported on changes being made in recycling efforts and a new aluminum can recycling project being launched with the help from IHELP guests.

Antiracism & Anti-Religious Intolerance

Debby Stinton reported on her partnership with the Southwest Conference on racism. She is currently in the “Sacred Conversations to End Racism Institute.” Debby will be trained as a trainer of trainers on racial justice issues. Debby and partners from the Southwest Conference will take an in-depth look at the subject of racial conciliation as a precursor to racial reconciliation. Debby is preparing a list of resources on this topic to be distributed to those interested in this timely topic.

Neighbors in Need

  • Suzanne Boisclair reported that because of Covid 19, operations at the Dysart Community Center have been limited. They are, however, providing 2 meals per day to the community. In April, our church brought clothes left for the asylum seekers to the Center.
  • John reported on the work of Kay Klinkenborg to provide water to either the White Mountain Apache or Navajo nations based on recent media coverage of the lack of drinking water for these tribes.

Palestinian-Israeli Issue

Beth Moore reported that the challenges for the Tent of Nations (TON) continue to grow. Three factors are contributing to the continuing struggle: Obtaining volunteers because of Covid 19, increasing tension in Bethlehem between Palestinian and Israeli citizens, continuing annexation of territory in the region and difficulty in obtaining supplies for the farm.

Criminal Justice and Prison Reform

  • Jane Zukowski requested assistance with the “Women of Perryville” Project. Each day women leave Perryville Prison after having served their time, often without clothes to reenter society. There is an urgent need for clothing of all sizes: shorts, pants, tops, and business attire for job interviews. No undergarments, sleepwear or shoes, please. Donations can be boxed or bagged (no hangers) and dropped off at church. For more information, leave a message for Jane Zukowski at the church office.
  • Nancy Nonini reported on the “Inside Out Network” led by Fred Nelson, a Lutheran pastor. The Inside Out Network is dedicated to crafting innovative solutions to connect returning citizens with service providers, churches, and ministries, as well as to connect those serving on the inside in prison ministry with those outside who are working on re-entry challenges. Inmates receive tablets to begin the process of re-entry while incarcerated and use their smartphones to continue the relationship when in the community. The Inside Out Network is always free for returning citizens.

LGBTQ Equity

Vickie Ashenbrenner reported on the Pride Parade in the church parking lot in June, the three-year anniversary of the ONA covenant celebrated during a Sunday worship service, and the anniversary of raising the rainbow flag.

Doing Grief in Real Life: Ministry Program at Church of the Palms UCC

A new ministry program is being offered by Palms member Shea Darian, a grief educator and spiritual director who teaches holistic grieving as a life-skill to help you heal your grief – past, present and future. Whoever you are and no matter what types of losses you harbor, Shea offers a new way to think about grief and grieving that will help you learn to use your grief as a life force for healing.

Initially, this ministry will be conducted primarily online due to Covid-19 and will be on a first-come first-served basis. Members and friends of Church of the Palms are invited to participate in one or all of the following offerings: 

The Healing Circle: Sacred Listening Small Groups

Healing Circles are confidential small group encounters to explore personal grief and healing by engaging in a contemplative conversation with three or four others. More than a support group, Healing Circles provide an opportunity for participants to share personal stories of loss, grief and healing. Interludes of quiet contemplation create a deep listening experience that a past participant describes as an “expanded form of listening” in which “the listening and sharing give each in the circle profound energy, joy, gratitude and an expanded connection with being human.”

Small groups meet weekly, biweekly or monthly. Participants commit to 4-5 sessions at a time. Dates and times depend on participants’ preferences and availability as groups are formed.

One-on-One Spiritual Care

For those who prefer one-on-one sharing, Shea is available as a listening companion – biweekly, monthly or on an occasional basis. If this seems like a better fit for you, contact Shea to schedule a time to ask questions and get more information.

Educational Offerings

This fall, Shea will offer a talk and workshop on holistic grieving – based on her Model of Adaptive Grieving Dynamics (Illness, Crisis & Loss, Vol. 22, 2014). Shea’s model illustrates four types of responses to grief that are essential for healing grief-related suffering. These dynamic four are Lamenting, Heartening, Tempering and Integrating. Together, they can serve as your compass to navigate all kinds of losses, and help you become more aware of your preferences, strengths and growing edges as a griever and a healer. Check back for dates and times.

Grief-striking losses come in many forms: death, illness, injury, family dysfunction, conflict, injustice, addiction, loneliness, trauma, social or political ills… Grief can descend in good times, too. It’s so mixed up with love and happiness, it can impact us even when it seems we have nothing to grieve. If you are interested in participating or have further questions, please contact Shea at info@sheadarian.com or 602.315.8480.

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.