The Rules Change This Sunday

We’re back this week! The CDC has lifted much of the protocols for in-person worship — we can return to what we know and love. I’m excited, nervous, and a little scared. Just when we figured out how to operate under the terms of a pandemic, the rules changed, and we’re needing to adjust our sails!

This Sunday, June 20, masks will not be required in worship for people who have been vaccinated. Singing out loud will be allowed, too. Social distancing is reduced. You can sit where you want to sit.

All along I have said that we will not follow what a president or governor says but rather we will listen to the CDC. Well, the CDC has spoken. It is written down. And vaccinated people can return to normal practices within worship.

So, come as you are this Sunday — even if you’re like me and are excited, nervous, and a little scared. If you feel that you need to continue to wear a mask, you’ll get no negative judgment. Do what makes you feel safe. The Palms is a no-judgment zone! Sing out loud! Be the church!

Shalom, Paul

P.S. Last week I mentioned my top ten plus three list. A couple of you reminded me of other big, big things that deserve mention: 

  1. Our 50th anniversary celebration
  2. Creation of our Labyrinths
  3. Our chiller (a/c unit for the sanctuary, narthex, and King Hall)

So now, I guess, it’s a top ten plus six! It is wonderful to be a part of a congregation where there is so much going on that it’s hard to recall everything!

In-Person worship: Next steps

By John Durbin, COTP Moderator

The team helping us navigate the road to as much normalcy as possible as the pandemic subsides met May 23 after Sunday worship. Here is what they are requesting:

  1. This is not a time to be complacent. Remain cautious in your interactions with people whose vaccination status is unknown.
  2. If you are not vaccinated, please consider doing so. Contact Judy Jondahl, Steve Meoli or Bobbie Chapman for assistance if needed.
  3. Worship service in the sanctuary:
  • You no longer need to preregister your attendance for Sunday service.
  • Continue to wear your mask.
  • Follow the directions of the ushers. The entrance and exit patterns have been slightly changed.
  • No more need to take temperatures.
  • Hand washing stations are now optional.
  • Responsive readings can be done. But please speak very softly.
  • No congregational singing yet. But that day is coming!
  • Follow the directions of the ushers. After service, please do not linger in the narthex.
  • Please no handshakes or hugs. But that day is coming!
  • There will be no fellowship hour in King Hall for the immediate future. But that day is coming!
  • Remember to follow the directions of the ushers!

As a church family we have done well throughout this unprecedented time in our lives. Thank you for your faithfulness, thoughtfulness, and patience. We are a stronger church now than we were seventeen months ago.

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

Going hybrid

I drive a hybrid vehicle. I have driven one since 2007. Hybrid vehicles combine at least one electric motor with a gasoline engine to move the car, and its system recaptures energy via regenerative braking. Sometimes the electric motor does all the work, sometimes it’s the gas engine, and sometimes they work together. The result is less gasoline burned and, therefore, better fuel economy. I confess that it took me a while to learn how to drive a hybrid vehicle to maximize the fuel economy. I had to relearn how to start the car — no turning the key — just push a button. But, with experience came knowledge, with knowledge came results.

The Church of the Palms is entering a hybrid time. We are going to be doing some in-person meetings, some online groups, and some gatherings that are both at the same time. We hope to get better spiritual fuel economy using the hybrid model. My guess is that it will take a while to learn how to drive a hybrid church to maximize spiritual economy. But with experience will come knowledge, with knowledge will hopefully come results.

What we are trying to do is adjust our sails and take advantage of every spiritual blessing we can as we go onward. When we can safely include people for in-person worship, classes, and fellowship, we will push that pedal. When our online bridges program can give us the mileage to reach people far away, we need to push those buttons. Hopefully, working together to create a hybrid church, learning what works and what does not, we will grow the church spiritually. Thanks for journeying onward with me.

Shalom,
Paul

“How long, O Lord?”

“How long, O Lord?” the Psalmist cried. 
 
We, too, ask that question: How long, O Lord? How long until this? How long until that? 
 
How long do we have to wear masks? Take temps? Register attendance? Use hand sanitizer? How long are we going to have a truncated worship service? What about singing? What about entering and exiting the building? What about handshakes, hugs, and passing the peace? Plus, I miss the cookies after worship!
 
It is out of abundance of caution that we act – protecting the most vulnerable within our group. It is out of abundance of caution that we are requesting that you continue to wear masks for worship; and we recommend using the hand sanitizing stations. We will no longer take temps or ask you to register your attendance.
 
We’ll continue to have a shortened worship service (don’t get used to it!) but will begin to expand our liturgy to include a liturgist, responsive readings, and such. Please refrain from singing at this point. We hope to be able to make a joyful noise soon, but not yet!
 
More changes and constants: We’re changing our exit point: we’ll enter exactly as we have but will exit through the back of the sanctuary – no more side exits (or as Snagglepuss used to say, “exit, stage left”). The constant is no formal fellowship time (cookie time) just yet. Handshakes, hugs, and passing the peace are on hold as well.
 
Thank you for your patience and abundant caution. We will update you as things change.
 
Shalom, Paul

It was so wonderful…

It was so wonderful to be with you last Sunday. To be able to look into each other’s eyes, feel the energy, laugh, pray — words are poor tools in which to express the emotions of it all.
 
Thank you to everyone who worked behind the scenes to make things go smoothly — the safety team, ushers, Worship and Fine Arts Board, deacons, Mod Squad, digital technical committee, music people, Evangelism Board, the church staff, and so many, many more.
 
Thank you, also, for the patience you demonstrated. To help us on the logistics, please call our dedicated line:  623-748-3574 and register your attendance. Or go to the website and register. It is out of abundant caution we are following a strict protocol. We are learning as we go and I am glad that we journey together.
 
The proverbial icing on the cake for me was Shea Darian’s Ecclesiastical Council (E.C.) Sunday afternoon. All who attended witnessed her pastoral heart, the ability to think deeply, and articulate complex emotions in a clear and concise manner. Wow! She is gifted with the holy spirit! Now that Shea has passed her E.C., and once she finds a ministry position, she can be ordained. We look forward to that glorious day in her life and in the life of the church.
 
Shalom, Paul

We are dreamers who do

What is the church going to look like when we emerge from the tomb of quarantine? Jesus’ appearance had changed; will ours? The person, the church who emerges from quarantine doesn’t have to be the same old person or institution. And what better time for transformation than now, when we have this new opportunity to reinvent ourselves and the church! Let’s bring our best selves, our best imitation of Jesus and literally be The Palms of Jesus.

Changing a trait requires acting in ways that embody that trait, rather than simply thinking about it or expecting it to magically appear. Richard Wiseman, a psychology professor at the University of Hertfordshire, described it in “The As If Principle.” His thinking — you can behave “as if” you are the person you want to be. Pretty soon, you might find that it is you.

The church before the pandemic was seeing that some changes needed to be made to our organizational structure. Our constitution and bylaws had served the church well, but now it was time to look in new directions and build a structure that was more flexible and met the needs of the church today. Then the pandemic hit. That gave us the opportunity to think and pray and read and pray and work and pray.

Emerging from that is a proposed new constitution and bylaws that are simpler and designed to meet our ministry opportunities now and in future years. Adjusting our sails is a daily thing for us humans, and that is especially true when we assemble together.

My Easter sermon to you said, “Because we are a resurrection people, quarantine didn’t break your church! It taught us to lose our fear and go up on the roof (hear solar panels) and out into the streets (hear shower trailer ministry). When other churches struggled, we did not. The reason? It was not Pastor Jim or me. It wasn’t our Mod Squad or any other group. It was all of us working with God’s spirit to dream and do.” Sarah Ban Breathnach is a best-selling author who wrote, “The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”

Shalom,
Paul

Returning to in-person indoor worship 5/2/2021

I’ve been waiting for this Sunday for a long, long time. I confess I have a mixed bag of emotions surrounding it: excitement, anxiety, hope, fear, joy, worry, and gratitude all blended together. Maybe you are in a similar situation. In any case, this Sunday is the day! And together we will support one another with all of our ranges of emotions.
 
To help us on the logistics, please call our dedicated line: 623-748-3574 and register your attendance or register online here. Outside, we could set up as many chairs as we needed; inside, we need to go under different rules. Yes, we are being abundantly cautious. Thank you for your cooperation in keeping everyone safe. Remember: masks, temperatures, sanitizer, no hugging.
 
To help us navigate this Sunday, I’ve made a video on what you might experience on May 2 as you arrive — consider it a “how to return to in-person worship” video. It is at the end of this email. Look for it on the website and Facebook as well.  
 
This Sunday is also the first time the congregation will be able to hear the new organ live and in person! We are certainly grateful to everyone who gave to bring that new organ to us. The Palms will have organ music for another generation!
 
Also on May 2, at 3 p.m., we’re hosting Shea Darian’s Ecclesiastical Council along with the Southwest Conference. This will be online and is available by clicking here to register. Come and support Shea!
 
Shalom, Paul

Easter Morning In-Person Worship at The Church of the Palms

Have you reserved your spot for the in-person worship service at 9:00 a.m. on Easter Sunday? The deadline to register is April 1. Click this link or call 623.748.3574 so we can be prepared to welcome you.

This is an outdoor service, so make sure to wear your Easter bonnet! And sunscreen! And, of course, you must wear a mask. Social distancing will be enforced.

Click here for a full list of measures and precautions. And please don’t forget our Easter Blessings Fund in lieu of Easter Lilies this year.

Favorite Hymn Singing!

On June 7th we’ll begin our services with FAVORITE HYMN SINGING!! This will continue throughout the summer months.

Browse the hymnal by clicking here OR you can just provide the titles of your favorite hymns. Once you have decided what you would like to submit, click on this link, type in your titles and hit the submit button. You can do this as often as you like. We will include these links within every Order of Worship throughout the summer. Keep ‘em coming!