Hymn for Summer 2021

One of my favorite hymns is “I Am the Light of the World!” which is based on a Howard Thurman piece entitled, “When the Song of the Angels is Stilled.”

Here is my Summer 2021 version.

When the protocols have been stopped,
When the masks are taken down,
When family and friends can gather again,
The work of The Palms resounds:
          To welcome the refugee,
          To heal a broken planet,
          To feed the hungry,
          To build bridges of trust, not walls of fear,
          To share our gifts,
          To seek justice and peace for all people,
          To bring Christ’s light to the world.

Shalom, Paul      

Seeing the face of God

My favorite quote is, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” ―Victor Hugo, Les Misérables. I mentioned this fact at our annual meeting last week. My prayer this year in 2021 is for us to see the face of God in neighbor, children, and creation.

This coming year we’ll be doing some significant ministry. Among that list, here’s part of what’s going to happen in 2021:

  1. A return to in-person worship: It’s not going to be the same; it’s going to feel different. I’m not Nostradamus, but I know it’s not going to happen until at least Easter, and for it to happen, we need to love each other more than our own personal wants and needs. Be patient, as we want it to be safe for all. To love others and see the face of God, we’re going to need to be patient.
  2. Expansion of our Social Justice Ministry including our Feet-n-More Shower Trailer ministry: That will require our loving others. We need volunteers. Here’s an opportunity to donate time. If you volunteer for this, I-Help, or any other helping ministry, you will see the face of God.
  3. Improved security: We need to protect the people who come to our buildings – staff, members, and community. Soon, we will have cameras and the face of God will be seen as people enter.
  4. Being affirmed as a WISE congregation: A Welcoming, Including, Supporting, and Engaging congregation. As difficult as that paperwork was, that was the easy part. Now we have to do it. That process is an evolving process. It’s not stagnant. It’s a living breathing covenant where the face of God will be seen.
  5. Hearing the phrase “Creation Justice” a lot in 2021: Part of our Three Great Loves is our love of creation. And let me announce that we’ve received a significant challenge gift towards this endeavor. An anonymous donor has given $50,000 to The Palms for Creation Justice, for reducing our carbon footprint, which will be dedicated towards solar panels. A challenge gift means it is up to us – the rest of us – to match it. Think of it this way, you donate a dollar, it is matched. You donate $1,000, it is matched. It’s probably going to take around $100,000 to do this project. Why do this? Because it is the right thing to do. And if any group needs to be the model, needs to do the right thing and lead by example it is the church. A side benefit is the money that it can save off of our electric bill. But that’s not the impetus; Loving neighbor, children, and creation is the driving force behind it.

Finally, MLK, Jr., talks about a staircase and that faith is taking that step even when we can’t see the top of the stairs. 2021 stands before us as a staircase. We can see some marvelous things. Let me be so bold as to say, there are even greater things that God is holding out for us than what we can see.

Amanda Gorman would tell us:

For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. 
If only we’re brave enough to be it. 

Shalom, Paul

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!