‘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.

Introducing COTP’s new MOD(erator) Squad

By John Durbin, Moderator

Greetings. I’m not sure the size of Judy Jondahl’s feet, but these shoes left to be filled are very, very large. Thank you, Judy, for your wonderful leadership during the tumultuous year of 2020.

I am humbled and honored to be serving as Moderator for 2021 and excited to share with you that we have a terrific Moderator Team in place. Jerry Lovell and Suzanne Boisclair will be serving as Vice-moderators.

Jerry and husband Mike Witt joined the church in 2018. Jerry retired as the CPA and CFO of a small business in So Cal. He has competed and won in international bowling tournaments, enjoys Mah Jong, and loves to volunteer. Although he comes to “church stuff” later in life, he is drawn to Church of the Palms not by what we say but by what we do.

Suzanne Boisclair and husband Brian moved to Sun City in 2016, and Suzanne joined our church in 2017. Suzanne retired after a long career as an occupational therapist specializing in hand therapy. She enjoys hiking, running, playing golf and just being outdoors. She and Brian (Bo) have recently taken up RVing and they love it. Suzanne comes from a Catholic background but has found her new home at Church of the Palms.

Pat and I joined Church of the Palms in 1998; were married here and had grandkids baptized here. I retired a couple of times — once as a small school district superintendent and once as regional director of the Alzheimer’s Association. Church of the Palms has become a large part of Pat’s and my lives.

Jerry, Suzanne, and I will work as a team and look forward to working with the Pastors, Church Council and all of you in adjusting our sails and moving boldly into the future.

Here are our priorities:

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

We will be using this space in the Palm Leaf to keep you in the loop on our plans and actions moving forward. We take very seriously “Sharing God’s unconditional love, justice, and extravagant welcome.” Thank you for this opportunity!

Debby Stinton’s fantabulous news

UPDATE: Thanks to those who attended and supported Rev. Debby Stinton’s ordination ceremony on January 24. Watch a video of the virtual event HERE.

We celebrate that Debby Stinton has been called to be pastor of West Liberty UCC in West Liberty, Ohio. While we are saddened to see her leave our community, we celebrate with her this new adventure. We will host an ordination (over Zoom) for her on January 24 at 3:00 p.m. 

Register here.

In the meantime, pray for Debby and Russ and for that congregation during this transition.

And don’t miss the goodbye parade on January 17: From the inside of our cars, we’ll share our heartfelt well wishes, thanks, and goodbyes as we drive by Debby before she departs for Ohio.

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