“Abby Normal”

I’ve seen the future and it’s going to be “Abby Normal.” That line comes from the comedy movie, “Young Frankenstein.” In that movie, Igor (pronounced Eye-Gore), is instructed to get a brain from the laboratory that comes from a famous intellect. Instead, having dropped the correct brain, he grabs the next one available which is labelled “Abnormal.” He then tells Dr. Frankenstein that he took not the correct brain but the brain of “Abby someone.” “Abby who?” “Abby Normal.”

Normal means different things to different people. Culture, age, gender, position, experience all flavor what we see as normal. Your normal may be totally different than mine. And that’s okay. It has felt normal to me to be back in person for worship. Singing in worship, live congregations laughing, smiling, and crying, are all things that feel normal to me. Meetings and classes are returning to in-person and online; the hybrid nature, which is not normal, is of comfort to me.

Summertime is normally the time when we take a look at the fall and Advent in our planning at the church – what are we going to do and when are we going to do it. As we plan for the future, I wanted to share some upcoming news:

  • In August, we will be begin a vocal ensemble called “Ah”gust “Ah”nsemble. We will practice together and sing in worship. Talk with Pastor Jim if you are interested. Practice will happen on Sundays at 9:00 a.m.
  • Our fellowship time (coffee hour) after worship will begin in September! Stick around after worship and reconnect with long-time friends and/or meet a new friend. Thank you to our kitchen angels!
  • Our Ecumenical / Inter-religious retreat will happen September 7-9 in Prescott. Talk with John Durbin if you are interested. Awakening to Racial Injustice is the theme. Sign up in the church office by August 15.
  • October 10th brings an organ dedication and recital.
  • November has us gearing up for a return to an in-person Thanksgiving meal! Wahoo!
  • December will be filled with hope, peace, joy, and love and an in-person Christmas Eve Service.
  • All the while our Social Justice Ministry will be active outside of the walls of the church helping prisoners, homeless, children, and environmental issues.

Many more things will be happening, as well. It’s a great time to be the church — whether it feels normal or not. In any-and-all cases, I hope you can laugh with me and join us as we adjust our sails on this “Abby Normal” journey onward.

Shalom, Paul

The Palms Receives $5K Hybrid Church Grant

By John Durbin, Moderator

A team consisting of representatives from the Boards of Worship and Fine Arts, Lifelong Learning, the Digital & Technical Team, and Pastors and Moderators recently wrote and received a grant of $5,000 from the UCC’s Southwest Conference to expand our hybrid church activities. Hybrid church activities include those actions we were compelled to take because of Covid-19. They include online worship services and our Bridges programs. What we learned during this time of being on healthy hiatus is that, through technology, we can stay connected visually and auditorily, in large and small groups, even though we are separated physically.

Our grant provides the opportunity to purchase a stand-alone laptop computer dedicated to facilitating classes, board, committee, team meetings, and various other small group gatherings. In addition to the stand-alone laptop, we will be purchasing several Chromebook tablets to be preloaded with the applications and links needed to participate in the gatherings listed above. This will provide opportunities for members of our church family who have been unable to participate in our programs because of technological disadvantages to become more fully engaged.

Watch for additional information on the Hybrid Church as we roll it out.

Elaine Klauser is retiring

During all of my tenure here at The Palms, we’ve been gifted with a talented accompanist. It is with mixed emotions that we announce that Elaine Klauser is retiring. She has served the church almost seven years and worked with Pastor Jim 20 years.

Elaine Klauser

It’s bittersweet because we are so happy for her and her husband, Jim, that they can get out of this heat in the warm months. Yet, we are saddened to lose a talented member of the staff upon whom we could depend.

Although her job has been to play for us and accompany our singers and choirs, an added blessing has been that she is just a nice, kind-hearted person. Finding someone to play is hard; finding someone who also embodies our mission of “Sharing God’s Unconditional Love, Justice, and Extravagant Welcome” will be harder!

Elaine, we salute you and thank you for your service. 

She is technically with us through the end of the month but with vacation, her last Sunday with us is July 11. We will have a proper celebration of her ministry with us this fall where we will be able to express our gratitude.

I hope you can communicate your respect, love, and appreciation to Elaine.

Shalom, Paul

Update from the MOD(erator) Squad

You may recall that in our first Mod Squad Palm Leaf article, we promised to use this space to keep you posted on our church leadership priorities for the year. They are:

  • Planning and implementing in-person worship services.
  • Fully implementing the WISE Congregation for Mental Wellness Program.
  • Supporting and expanding the work of the Social Justice Action Team.
  • Finishing a complete rewrite of the Church Constitution and Bylaws.

Praise God, priority number one has been accomplished! Thanks again to our pastors and the team that planned and prepared for that glorious day with our safety and well-being foremost in their minds. See article on IN-PERSON WORSHIP Next Steps.

Our WISE Congregation for Mental Wellness Program is building momentum. We are sure you’ve seen our Tools2Thrive for Mental Wellness section in the Sunday bulletins.

Our WISE team is meeting and planning programs to provide support for those of us impacted directly or indirectly with mental wellness challenges.

The Social Justice Action Team continues to grow and do amazing work, including Feet-N-More, the Solar Panel/Going Green project, and the launching of the Matthew 25 Prison Ministry Pen Pal program. Watch the Palm Leaf and Sunday Bulletins for more.

Our church constitution and bylaws are under revision. The team on this project will make its recommendations to the Church Council in the Fall and present them to our congregation at the January 2022 annual meeting. Our constitution will have a whole new look! It will be streamlined and provide more flexibility to meet the changing needs of members and the community. With technology and the never-ending stream of social and environmental crises, churches are challenged to stay relevant and to be the hands and feet of Jesus to bring love, justice and welcome to the marginalized, the mainstream and beyond. Our church constitution — the way we organize our ministerial functions and operational structure — will help us set a clear path to be the church we want to become.

Our goal is to make our constitution and bylaws more simplified and strategic. We have been discussing how we can best use the talents of our members: Is it serving as an elected board member or working as part of project team? Is it committing to a 3-year responsibility or a shorter opportunity for service? How do we best tap into the talents and interests of our members? Is it the operational/governance side (finances, buildings, personnel) of “church work”? Or is it the ministerial functions (worship, evangelism, ministry) of our church that captures members’ hearts and desire to get involved? We have some exciting ideas on these questions and will be talking to board members and gladly welcome your input as we continue to move forward. Stay tuned!

With love,
Jerry, Suzanne, John

‘Hope Still Rises’ — Daoud Nassar, Tent of Nations

Friday, May 7th at 9:00 a.m. on “Bridges”

By Beth Moore

Those of you who read our virtual Order of Sunday Service may notice in the weekly prayer list the name of the Nassar family. If you did not meet and listen to the story of Daoud Nassar when he visited us in person in 2018, this is an opportunity to be with him virtually on “Bridges”: to learn of his witness and work, and to offer your encouragement for him and the family.

The Nassars are Palestinian Christians farming their family’s ancestral lands — a 100-acre hilltop site situated between Bethlehem and Hebron in the West Bank. The Nassar family land, purchased in 1916 by Daoud Nassar’s grandfather, is surrounded by Jewish settlements on three sides and the Palestinian village of Nahalin on the fourth. It is on the site of the family farm, called Daher’s Vineyard (named for Daoud’s grandfather), that the family decided to establish The Tent of Nations in 2001: an international center for peace and for building bridges between people and the land.

The farm, located in the West Bank in what is called Area C, (and under Israeli Military control) has no access to running water or electricity. Permits to build on or develop the land in area C are seldom, if ever, granted by the Israeli military authorities. The family has been in the Israeli courts since 1991, resisting attempts by the Israeli government to take their land for which they have documents from the Ottoman period proving their ownership.

Approximately 10,000 international visitors come to the Tent of Nations annually, often as part of a Holy Land Pilgrimage. They listen to the witness of this family, their non-violent resistance to the Occupation, and observe their hope in actions which steward their land in sustainable and life giving ways. Longer term volunteers are also welcomed throughout the year to participate in tree planting, harvest camps, a children’s summer camp, and ongoing farm maintenance activities.

Volunteers and visitors to the Tent of Nations have been a strong support for the family’s work and spiritual sustenance. Since the pandemic, these sources of support are no longer present, and physical attacks on the land have been increasing. Whether you have heard the story before, or are not familiar with the journey of this family, we hope you will join us. We will share a brief video visit to the farm, after which Daoud will share a few remarks. The remainder of the time will be an opportunity for you to voice your questions. Sign in by going to “Bridges” here on our website, and scroll down to the area where the classes are listed with their date and time, and then click on the link.

Solar Panels and Beyond

Members of the Church of the Palms have expressed their love of Creation through their generous support for the plans to reduce our carbon footprint by adding solar panels to our facility. After receiving an anonymous $50,000 matching grant, members of our wonderful church family have matched and surpassed the required matching amount, donating to date $80,000 for a total of $130,000. What a wonder that the church can continue with our eco-friendly pursuit!

Solar panels are just the beginning on this marvelous journey. Solar panels up high, visible for all to see, is a statement from the church body. This commitment expands to the other areas of need, with a building approaching 55 years young. In a recent, expansive APS energy assessment of our facility, several items were identified that could improve our energy efficiency and save funds. Among the items recommended were the replacement of several outdated inefficient HVAC heat pumps, changing out worn and damaged door seals, replacing exterior single-pane windows with high-performance windows, and conversion to LED lighting.

The Board of Trustees and the Creation Justice Team have a responsibility to research the needs of the church, for now and in the future. Additional donations to support Church of the Palms “going green” are gratefully appreciated! Thank you and God bless you.

—Ronn Enzweiler (Trustees) and Beth Moore (Creation Justice)

Scrip Gift Card Program

Have you heard about our Gift Card Program? Scrip is a wonderful way to purchase gift cards for family, friends (and yourself!) while supporting The Church of the Palms. When you purchase gift cards through Scrip, The Palms receives a kickback percentage from the sales once the cards are used. And there is a huge selection of gift cards to choose from.

Here’s how to participate in our Scrip Gift Card Program:

1. Choose your gift cards by retailer and denomination. Click here for a current list of participating retailers.

2. Fill out a Scrip Order Form. Click the image for a printable version.

3. Please make checks payable to Church of the Palms, and be sure to write “Gift Card Order” in the memo line.

4. Deliver the Order Form and your payment to the church by the first Sunday of the month. Leave your order form and payment in the “Scrip” cubby in the church office.

5. Gift Card Orders will be placed that week and delivered by the third Sunday of the month.

Continuing our journey with the Nassar family and their work at the Tent of Nations

by Beth Moore

Gather with us at 9:00 a.m. on May 7th “on the Bridge” as we reconnect with Daoud Nassar, Palestinian Christian farmer. Daoud and his family farm their ancestral lands — a 100-acre hilltop site situated between Bethlehem and Hebron in the West Bank — and there began the Tent of Nations, an international peace center. Their non-violent resistance to the attempts of the Israeli military to take their land, and the decision to live from their faith stance of “refusing to be enemies” is inspiring.

For those who are new to the Tent of Nations, there will be a brief overview of the work. Daoud will also bring an update to us regarding the escalating pressures they are facing under COVID and the increasing physical attacks on their farm and its facilities. If you are not familiar with the Tent of Nations, please learn more here. Questions can be directed to Beth Moore, COTP member, at ebmoore1@live.com.

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.

Read Shea’s portfolio here.

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

Meet the 2020 Church of the Palms Social Justice Champions: Max and Kay Klinkenborg

By John Durbin

Each year, the Social Justice Action Team selects an individual or individuals 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. The criteria for the award include: being a member or friend of The Church of the Palms, being active in church leadership roles, a history of being active in social justice ministries, personal actions challenging injustices and affecting change through education, advocacy, activism, and demonstrating the belief that everyone deserves equal economic, political, and social rights and opportunities. Max and Kay meet all of these criteria and then some.

Rev. Max Klinkenborg (Retired)
Max was born on a farm in central Missouri and walked to a one-room schoolhouse. He graduated from the University of MO and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Here are a few of his social-justice efforts spanning his life so far:

  • Led church members of a small town church to establish a “Clothes Closet” to recycle used clothes for children and adults;
  • served free food along with Kay and son Erik in a small soup kitchen to poor and homeless in Columbia, MO;
  • made two work trips to Baton Rouge with Habitat for Humanity, post Katrina, for those displaced from their homes;
  • participated in the renovation of a church in Turrialba, Costa Rica sponsored by American Baptists;
  • organized and led 10 youth mission trips to Bacone College in Muskogee, OK, learning the true story of the relocation of the five civilized tribes along the Trail of Tears; worked monthly at the Micah Ministry of Independence Blvd. Christian Church to provide meals to the homeless and food insecure in the northeast area of Kansas City, MO;
  • worked weekly at Harvesters Food Bank in Kansas City that served 26 counties in Missouri and Kansas;
  • and shed blood for the sick, donating 320 pints of blood and counting.

And of course, since joining Church of the Palms, Max has launched two programs for the homeless: I-HELP and the Shower Trailer “Feet and More” ministry.

Kay Klinkenborg
Kay was born in Missouri as the oldest of three children. She worked as a nurse and hospital administrator prior to returning to school to obtain a graduate degree in marriage and family therapy. She has done training in the fields of domestic violence, sexual abuse and women’s counseling.

The following are some of Kay’s social-justice activities:

  • along with Max and son Erik, served monthly meals to the homeless in Columbia, MO;
  • co-led with Max “Clergy Response to Domestic Violence” and “Spouses Support Group” for men whose wives were victims of childhood or adult sexual-assault;
  • founded “Women of the Corn” in Jacksonville, IL (support group for building positive self-esteem and psychological development);
  • pro-bono counseling for Women’s Shelter in Jacksonville, IL.;
  • wrote and produced the video: “ACT: Communication Steps & Tools for Advocates Working with Elder Abuse”;
  • volunteered for PORA (Positive Options, Referrals and Alternatives) remodeling old houses for transitional housing to non-street living in Springfield, IL;
  • served as chair of “’VOICES in Action” (International Conference for Survivors of Sexual Assault); coordinated “Senior Tuesday Lunches” for Ray and Clay Counties (education, meal, B/P and foot care clinic) in Lawson, MO;
  • coordinated “Dresses for Africa” (dresses and boys shorts shipped to Africa, Haiti, Kenya);
  • volunteered for Project Linus (made over 280 blankets for children in hospitals, shelters or homeless), KC, MO;
  • coordinated public seminar (LGBTQ Issues & Faith”);
  • volunteered monthly at Harvester’s Food Bank and Micah Ministry, KC, MO. (prepared and served meals for 600- 800 people).

And since Kay has joined Church of the Palms, she has provided spiritual counseling to several church members, has led groups and taught marvelous education programs spanning a wide variety of social-justice topics.

Wow, we are blessed to have the Klinkenborgs as members of Church of the Palms.