Are you helping The Palms through Amazon Smile? It’s easy!

Here’s a reminder that there is an additional way to support your church: shopping through Amazon Smile. Many of you probably shop through Amazon, and you can continue shopping as normal while raising money for The Palms via Amazon Smile. Nothing changes for you and your account; it works exactly the same. Through Amazon Smile, however, when you purchase an item(s), a percent of the purchase price goes to the church. How awesome is that? To get started, click on this link, log in, type “Church of The Palms United Church of Christ” in the search tab and start shopping!

—The Board of Stewards

Thanksgiving: Not Just a Meal

As was announced earlier, it has been decided for safety reasons that The Church of the Palms will not serve a meal this year for Thanksgiving. However, we do feel that some of the goals of the activity can still be met.

The goals of The Annual Joyce Spaulding Memorial Thanksgiving Feast:
• Opportunity for ministry
• Provide extravagant welcome
• Remember Joyce and Roy Spaulding
• Have fun

As an opportunity for ministry, we are asking those who are able to consider donating what they would have spent on their Thanksgiving dinner food donation to the church. In turn, the church will give that money to church ministries that feed people. This would include feeding the homeless in our part of the I-Help program and to the HART Pantry which, among other things, feeds at-risk teens.

To make it fun, we will track the donations on a board that represents King Hall. We have calculated that our normal dinner costs about four dollars per person. For each four dollars we receive, we will put a token on the board to represent a diner. Our goal is to fill our imaginary King Hall with imaginary diners. The wonderful part comes later when actual people are fed with these donations.

Though this is not the same as gathering together and enjoying a meal of Thanksgiving, those of us who are able can have the opportunity to give thanks for our blessings by sharing with others. I cannot think of anything that would please the Spauldings more than knowing that hungry people are being fed. Bless you all as we enter the holiday season.

–Wendy Whitlock

The shower trailer is here!

The Church of the Palms’ shower trailer was delivered on October 20!

Once it’s ready, we’ll invite their I-HELP guests to be the first to use it. In time we’ll use the shower trailer around the NW Valley, offering showers to the homeless on regular schedules.

The shower trailer has three private compartments, each containing a 32-inch-by-32-inch shower, a lavatory, and a bench. The trailer is air-conditioned and has an on-demand, liquid-propane water heater. A gasoline generator will provide the electricity, a water hose will provide the water, and a 300-gallon holding tank will contain the gray water from the showers. The trailer can provide 12 showers per hour.

In addition to servicing I-HELP host churches without showers, The Palms plans to contract with communities in the NW Valley to provide showers to the homeless, beginning with the city of Surprise and expanding to others as time and volunteers allow.

Mental Wellness Education Month at The Palms

October 2020 is Mental Wellness Education Month at The Palms. Each week this month, you will be provided with information you can use to become aware of the stigma associated with mental health. There are significant gaps that exist within our society making it difficult for individuals to receive proper care, support and treatment. From our faith communities to our insurance companies, retirement communities to our criminal justice system, attention must be given to the dismantling of this stigma and the tearing down of barriers so that journeys of resiliency and recovery can take place. Here is a list of the items to look for as the month progresses in the weekly Order of Worship and on the Tools2Thrive page.

Tackling Mental Health Stigma—Strength Over Silence

National Alliance on Mental Illness Ambassador Chris Hubbard

Discovering My Superpower—Strength Over Silence

National Alliance on Mental Illness Ambassador A.J. Mendez

You Are Not Alone—On The Road to Recovery

Listen to two stories from people with one or more mental conditions and how they are helping to break the stigma associated with mental wellness issues.

You Are Not Alone—Write Your Own Story Through the Psalms

Kay Klinkenborg will guide us to write our stories of healing, resiliency, and journeys to wholeness not matter where we are on the pendulum of mental wellness.

As a part of Mental Wellness Education Month, a group of 11 Church of the Palms members will be attending a virtual Mental Wellness First Aid Training Seminar on October 19th. Upon successful completion of the seminar, this group will be certified in Mental Wellness First Aid. They will understand what to look for and how to provide comfort, reduce distress related to stressful situations, and to call for proper professional assistance for the person experiencing a mental-health crisis. This training can be likened to using a first aid kit: they will learn how to be present, apply the ointment of comfort, the band-aid of protection against further stress, call for the professionals, and remain on the scene until that help arrives. The training could also be thought of in light of taking a CPR class. They are equipped to spot the signs of a person in distress and apply life-giving techniques until help arrives. Upon successful completion of the training, they will be available as resources on campus should the need for mental wellness assistance arise.

The training of this group is one of the last remaining steps in the process of The Palms becoming a W.I.S.E. Congregation for Mental Wellness. The W.I.S.E. Steering Committee has just completed and forwarded the W.I.S.E. for Mental Wellness Covenant Statement and W.I.S.E. for Mental Wellness Confidentiality Statement to our Church Council for approval. These statements along with the group of Certified Mental Wellness First Aid participants will be presented at our Annual Meeting in January 2021 for adoption by the Church. Once the Church adopts these items, we will apply to The United Church Of Christ Mental Health Network to be recognized as a W.I.S.E. Congregation for Mental Wellness.

Shower Trailer Ministry Moves Forward

by Max Klinkenborg

It began with a need and a desire to help. In mid-2019, as Church of the Palms members planned for hosting the homeless at our church as part of the NW Valley I-HELP program, we realized that personal hygiene was a big need of our guests.

Cleanliness is a basic right of everyone; everyone deserves to feel their best. Being clean and feeling good about yourself is vital to a job interview, a key to getting out of homelessness. Poor hygiene is also a significant cause of health problems in people who experience homelessness. Cleanliness involves everything from clean clothes to toothpaste and, especially, a shower.

The Trustees at COTP hit the wall, pun intended, when we sought a place to build a shower within our facility. We knew that the majority of I-HELP host churches would not have showers, either.

Two things came together at this time that were more than just coincidence: a vision on the part of those ministering to the homeless to provide a shower trailer and a bequest given to the church designated for social ministries. The Board of Missions and Outreach was to be the steward of the bequest, making sure it was spent as designated. A presentation was made to the Board of Missions and Outreach before the pandemic brought everything to a screeching halt. On Aug. 10, the M&O Board met on Bridges and approved a $45,000 line of credit to purchase a shower trailer; the Church Council affirmed this action on Aug. 15. Three bids from three different manufacturers were discussed by a leadership committee, and an order to purchase was made on Aug. 17.

The shower trailer has three private compartments, each containing a 32-inch-by-32-inch shower, a lavatory and a bench. The trailer is air conditioned and has an on demand, liquid-propane water heater. A gasoline generator will provide the electricity, a water hose will provide the water, and a 300-gallon holding tank will contain the gray water from the showers. The trailer can provide 12 showers per hour.

In addition to servicing I-HELP host churches without showers, we plan to contract with communities in the NW Valley to provide showers to the homeless. We will begin with the city of Surprise and expand to others as time and volunteers allow.

We will begin to offer showers only when it is safe for our volunteers and the guests.

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.

Love of Creation: Faith Climate Voter Campaign

We need your help. Church of the Palms is one of many faith communities partnering with Arizona Interfaith Power and Light (AZPL) and other organizations to protect and preserve our precious, but increasingly fragile, environment. The goal of AZPL is to have 3,000 Faith Climate Voter Campaign Pledges before the November election. Check out the Faith Climate Voter Campaign Pledge at this link and ask family and friends to join you in this pledge.

Equally important is the distribution of the Faith Values Voters Guides. The voters’ guide covers important issues besides the climate crisis, including income inequality, health care, immigration, LGBTQ rights, restorative justice and more. The guide includes questions for personal reflection and small group discussion and questions to ask candidates for public office. You can download it here.

—Thank you from The Palms’ Creation Justice Task Force and Social Justice Action Team.

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.

Black Lives Matter Quiz: Testing Assumptions

By Pastor Paul

Q: “Protestors” and “Protesting” is synonymous with “Looting,” “Rioting” and “destruction of property.”

A: FALSE! Therefore, don’t use them as if they are the same thing. They are totally different. If you missed that question, go back and answer again. This time, with the correct answer, “False.” Then, implement it in your life.

Q: Looting, rioting, and destruction of property come from one ethnicity.

A: FALSE! Evidence is showing that all races are destroying property – white, black, brown. And those who are looting are mostly not the protestors but groups who want to sow chaos, including white supremacy groups. Learn facts before spreading false rumors.

Q: Protesting is in our roots as a nation.

A: TRUE! The history of the United States shows that whenever a group felt persecuted and unheard, we protested. Our veterans, sworn to defend the constitution, have protested. Take the Continental Army of the 1780s who protested demanding back pay. The Bonus Army of the early 1930s marched on Washington with their families and protested. And the Vietnam War certainly saw its protestors.

Q: Protesting is not only in our national blood, but in our church as well.

A: TRUE! The word, “Protestant” originates from the Latin word “protestari,” meaning “declare publicly, testify, protest,” which combines “pro” meaning “forth, before,” and “testari” meaning “testify.” If you are part of The Palms, you’re a protestor!

Q: Protesting, therefore is not inherently bad; it is part of our constitutional rights.

A: TRUE! The first Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” When you see protestors, don’t lump them into the groups that are stealing and burning. That is just morally, ethically and factually wrong.

Things I ponder… When we raised our 3 Great Loves banner – Love of Neighbor, Creation, and Children, where was the “We should love everyone” crowd? When there was a bombing at the Boston Marathon and we became, “Boston Strong,” where was the “But all cities matter” group? When we talk about supporting Breast Cancer research, do people insist on also saying, “All cancers should be researched?” No. But some people do add “All Lives Matter” when we say “Black Lives Matter.” Why? My answer is systemic racism.

Luke 15 is the gospel in a nutshell; that is, if you want to know about God and God’s love, read Luke 15. It really fits today’s Black Lives Matter movement. In the first part of that chapter, ninety-nine sheep are safe, but one sheep is not. The Good Shepherd leaves the 99 and goes out searching for the one sheep to provide safety for all. Do the 99 complain, “What about us? Don’t we matter?” No. At that moment, at that time, it is the one who needs protection that gets the shepherd’s attention. All of this is a building up to the last story in the chapter, which the focus is on the older brother’s response to the situation. The last story in the chapter centers around a prodigal child who is coming home and the parent upon seeing the child goes out to greet the prodigal and decides to throw a party. The resentful older sibling then, in essence, says, “What about me?” Or, in today’s lingo, “What about me…doesn’t my life matter? Because all lives matter.”

I have three children. There have been times when I have to say to two of them, “Mom and I need to help this one right now.” That doesn’t mean we lack love for the other two children. It just means one needs us at that time, at that moment. That’s the essence of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. It DOESN’T mean that other lives are inferior or lack meaning or simply just don’t matter. It just means, at this particular time in our history, and in this particular judicial system, we need to recognize that black people are not treated in the same way as white folks. It’s time we acknowledge systemic racism and change!

Please join me in saying, “Black Lives Matter.”

Shalom, Paul

Meditation on the Medicine Wheel: Prayers on the Sacred Circle

By Max Klinkenborg

Like the labyrinth, the most dominant geometric shape of the Sacred Circle is the circle.

“The circle acknowledges the connectedness of everything in life, such as the four seasons, the four stages of life and the four winds, and it represents the continuous cycle and relationship of the seen and the unseen, the physical and spiritual, birth and death and the daily sunrise and sunset.” —Kelly Beraulieu, an Ojibway woman.

As opposed to the linear view of life where we go from A to B to C, the circle goes from A to A; every beginning is an ending, and every ending is a beginning. The more we are in harmony with nature, the more aware we are of the cycles of life.

The second dominant geometric pattern that you see on the Sacred Circle is the two lines that bisect the circle and are at a right angle to each other. They are placed so that one is on a north-south axis and the other is on an east-west axis. The Sacred Circle is a giant compass that points to sunrise and sunset each day. Below the circle is Mother Earth and above is Father Sky; the Great Spirit is at the center where the axes cross. It is marked by a green rock that symbolizes the Spirit of Life.

The third pattern is the four quadrants of the circle that are created by the two bisecting lines. Each quadrant represents a season of the year: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. It also marks the four stages of life: childhood, youth, adult and elder. And it marks the four times of the day: sunrise, midday, sunset and midnight.

To use the Sacred Circle for Meditation and Prayer, one can move from quadrant to quadrant, beginning at the southeast quadrant for birth and move counterclockwise, praying for friends or family members at each stage of life from childhood, to youth, to adulthood and, finally, elder. One could also think about their own life at each stage and the people who were their spiritual teachers or mentors, praying for them, their memory and influence on our growth.

Focusing on the seasons of the year, one could move around the circle thanking God for the beauty of Spring flowers, the growth of plants in the Summer, the harvest of Fall and the earth resting in Winter.

Or one could mark the four times of day with a prayer of thanksgiving for the beauty of each time: the promise of sunrise, the labor of a midday sun, the beauty of a sunset, and the quiet and serenity of midnight.

There are limitless possibilities for using the Sacred Circle as a source of meditation and prayer. Everyone can make it fit their orientation to life and their appreciation of nature.