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 Among the items recommended were the replacement of several outdated inefficient HVAC heat pumps, changing out worn and damaged door seals, replacing exterior single-pane windows with high-performance windows, and conversion to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)

How we express our love of creation

Love of creation is part of the “3 Great Loves” that our denomination is focusing upon. Can you name the other two? Right: neighbor and children. Much of our efforts these last couple of years has focused on love of neighbor. We are to love thy black, poor, differently-abled, immigrant, Islamic, and atheist neighbor. Much of our social justice ministry has been designated to loving the diverse people around our church and in the surrounding metropolitan area. That love includes children with our ministry with the Hart Pantry and others. We hope to continue with our involvement in these important ministries.

This year, we’ll be paying attention to our love of creation. How can we be better stewards of our natural resources on our journey through life? That takes many forms—from recycling to walking the labyrinth to putting solar panels on our roof. If you’re interested in creation justice, we have a group that is challenging us to new and exciting ministry opportunities: Our Creation Justice Task Force. They’re always looking for new people to help turn dreams into action and honor creation.

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

Kairos Call to Action: The Fierce Urgency of Now

The Kairos Call to Action recently issued by the United Church of Christ’s Council for Climate Justice builds on what Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the fierce urgency of now,” and an understanding of Kairos time as time that is ripe, pregnant, and urgent time. The call to action urges congregations to begin a decade of focus on one of the UCC’s “3 Great Loves”: Care for Creation.

We, as the church, have the opportunity to assert that we are fully committed to our first calling as caretakers of God’s creation. In contrast to destructive theologies of dominion/domination over the Earth, we have the opportunity to manifest a theology of kinship with creation and a spiritual connection to Mother Nature.

As Pope Francis put it in his encyclical, Laudato Si’: On the Care for our Common Home, earth and human ecology are inextricably intertwined. That means that as we care for creation, we also care for the other two great loves to which we in the UCC are committed: neighbor and children. Climate science tells us that the next decade will be decisive if we are to interrupt the dangerous course of planetary warming that we are on. Now is the time.

In response to this call, the Social Justice Action Team at The Church of the Palms has initiated a Creation Justice task force which will build on the steps taken by COTP in the past, and intensify these efforts. We have shared our mission and goals with you on our page on the church website.

Over the next year and more we will be offering opportunities for learning and actions that you can take as households, and we will work with the trustees to examine and take action on ways that the church itself can reduce its carbon footprint. We will update you quarterly on our work together. If care for creation is something for which you have a passion, please consider joining the taskforce. You may contact Terry Starr at rstarr9982@aol.com to indicate your interest.

Let us covenant with one another to seize this moment and commit ourselves to this Kairos Call to Action, as a congregations as households, and as individuals; joining in the healing of our sacred earthly home.

—Beth Moore, Creation Justice Task Force

Note: I am indebted to the UCC’s national website and a speech by Rev. John Helt at the Wisconsin UCC’s annual conference gathering in June 2020 for much of this content.