Churchof the Palms Social Justice Action Team - United Church of Christ, Sun City

Social Justice Team update

Seeking JUSTICE through Prayer, Action, Love, Ministry & Support
P. A. L. M. S.

The Church of the Palms Social Justice Team, which is part of the Board of Mission & Outreach, is moving forward by addressing major social justice issues of our times.

Using the scripture passage from 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 its admonition and inspiration, the team is working hard on being the hands and feet of Jesus in our community and beyond.

Following is a partial list of accomplishments and plans of our team this past year.

LGBTQ Equity

  • Purchased and displayed the rainbow flag.
  • Participated in the Gay Pride Parade. Our Church was very well received, with our “Jesus didn’t reject anyone, neither do we,” banner. It was commented on and cheered for by many parade participants and watchers.
  • Supports, encourages and helps the efforts of Ronn Enzweiler and the Sun City LGBTQ Club to produce tote bags for agencies to distribute to the homeless.
  • Investigating whether gay married couples in AZ can become foster parents.
  • Reached out to United Church of Sun City which recently voted to become an Open & Affirming Church.

Immigration/Refugees

  • Members of the team established a working relationship with Shadow Rock UCC in support of its Sanctuary Program.
  • Developed a long-term relationship with Lutheran Social Services Southwest (LSS-SW) to support its ministry to immigrants including refugees.
  • Kurt & Linda Hofmann assisted in the assimilation process for a non-English speaking refugee Afghan family.
  • Nancy and Richard Mueller provided instruction in sewing and computer programs for refugees.
  • Suzanne Boisclair participated in a training program for the purpose of tutoring youth refugees.
  • Beth Malmgren connected with Arizona Immigration & Refugee Services to see how our church could be of support.
  • Representatives of Church of the Palms are participating with the UCC Southwest Conference in the “Faithful Witness at the Border” program to call attention to the humanitarian crisis of separating refugee children from their parents.
  • Through the Board of Mission & Outreach our church supports the ministries of Solutions Church serving refugees from South Africa.

Palestinian – Israeli Issue

  • Beth Moore, with the help of several team members, organized a fellowship breakfast and, “meet & greet,” dinner. Daoud Nassar from the Tent of Nations outside Bethlehem shared the challenges of seeking to maintain their family farm in the occupied West Bank.
  • The purpose of this project, undertaken by the Nassar family, along with inter-national volunteers from around the world, is to develop and protect the land and create a center for people from different countries, cultures, and religions to come together and build bridges of trust – and hope – and peace. Through their work with women, youth and families from the nearby village of Nahalin and refugee camps in and around Bethlehem, non-violent approaches to peace are put into practice and their motto “We refuse to be enemies” is lived out.
  • The Church of the Palms is planning to purchase trees for the Farm. The team discussed launching a fund-raising program in September/October to purchase trees for the Tent of Nations Farm and generating scholarship funds to assist a representative from our church to assist in planting trees on the farm. Joyce Stoffers mentioned that the purchase and planting of trees also has benefit for environmental issues.

Homelessness

  • Members of the team met with Robert Sanders, Regional Director with LSS-SW, and other City of Surprise community leaders in March regarding IHELP – Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program. It was proposed to the Church Council in June that Church of the Palms consider being a major player in this program.
  • Our church continues to support ministry to the homeless population through the HART Pantry program and supporting Children First Academy, a school for the homeless in the Phoenix metro area.

Religious & Racial Appreciation

  • Debby Stinton leads the White Privilege Program, Part 1 & Part II.
  • Barbara Arnold presented information on the Code of the Underground Railroad Quilt and the need for the quilt to be protectively encased in order to preserve it and so that it can be permanently hung at Church of the Palms.
  • Plans are underway to establish a relationship with Arizona Interfaith Movement to determine what they are doing to promote religious and racial tolerance and how our team could be part of this effort.
  • The annual Ecumenical Retreat was held in early September and focused on “Time, Eternity and the Importance of Religious Holidays in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”

Environmental Issues

  • Nancy Tsuchiya and Joyce Stoffers organized a visit to a local recycling company to determine how our church could more fully participate in such a program. A proposal will be going to the Church Council to purchase more ecofriendly materials to be used for social functions in King Hall.
  • George Wall made a presentation to the team on the impact of global warming and how we need to be a voice for this concern.
  • Plans are underway to contact Doug Bland, Executive Director of Arizona Interfaith Power & Light, to make a presentation to our church leadership on how we could become a partner in this effort.

Gun Violence

  • A letter to the editor written and edited by the team was published in the Sun City Independent regarding stopping gun violence.
  • Members of the team participated in non-violent protests in Sun City and Phoenix to stop gun violence.

There are currently 28 members of our church and community participating to one degree or another in our Social Justice Team. The team meets the second Friday of the month at 9:30AM. Our next meeting is Friday, September 14th. Please plan to attend if you have an interest in any of projects being undertaken by our social justice team.