The Palms’ shower ministry is named ‘FEET-N-MORE’

By Max Klinkenborg

A seven-member shower trailer committee has been meeting weekly for the last two months to establish protocols for use of the trailer, decide on the “wrapping” for the trailer, to pick a name for the shower ministry, and much more. The name comes from the Biblical story of Jesus taking on the role of a servant and washing the disciples feet. The Church of the Palms is offering a shower trailer to be used by the homeless and needy of the northwest valley, following the pattern of service of Jesus.

In partnership with city governments, churches and non-profit service providers, we will provide showers that preserve human dignity, contribute to health and prepare them for employment. We are currently working with the City of Surprise, the Salvation Army and are in communications with the cities of Peoria and El Mirage. We will be taking the trailer to sites in the NW Valley beginning in January. We will be approaching other NW Valley cities with the shower trailer in 2021, particularly as it becomes safer for guests and volunteers to be together.

“FEET-N-MORE” will be focused on offering showers, but we are inviting other service providers to be present with us when we are serving the homeless. Trevor’s Vision is preparing a haircutting trailer and they want to be with us when we offer showers. Chance Shelter provides for the pets of the homeless while they are showering. We hope to provide medical and dental services on occasion and to distribute food and clothes on an emergency basis. We will be inviting Social Service Agencies that are focused on helping the homeless to be present. It is only limited by our imagination.

We will be dedicating the shower trailer for ministry and commissioning our volunteers on Sunday, January 3rd, at 11:30 a.m. The service will be in the parking lot with the shower trailer in the background.

Volunteers to work with the shower trailer are always welcome. We will need three to four volunteers for 4-6 hours each time the trailer goes out. A variety of jobs need to be done each time and there will be training for your job. Contact the church office (623.977.8359) or Max Klinkenborg (816.377.4618) if you are interested.

I-HELP Needs Overnight Volunteer Monitors

Are you a night owl or a morning dove? Here is an Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program (I-HELP) late-night or early-morning volunteer opportunity for you: I-HELP needs overnight monitors.

Volunteer time-slots are 10:00 p.m.-3:00 a.m. or 3:00-7:00 am. The I-HELP guests are usually weary and sleep soundly during these hours. Usually, there are 12 guests. There are 2 monitors for each shift.

Worried about COVID? We are limited to 7 guests during this time. All I-HELP participants have tested negative for COVID to enter the 90-day program, are retested when needed, and they are temperature screened when they enter COTP. There is almost no interaction with the guests between 10:00 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.

You must obtain a State of Arizona Level One Fingerprint Clearance card, which requires a bit of paperwork. Registration is easy, and the $65 cost will be paid by COTP. I-HELP has just celebrated its first year. Over 25 people have found housing. You can help make a difference in the lives of others in Year 2.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact Nancy Mueller or Vickie Ashenbrenner.

The Shower Trailer is Here; Now What?

by Max Klinkenborg

The shower trailer arrived at Church of the Palms on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, after a 1,534-mile trip from Elkhart, Indiana, where it was manufactured. It came with a notebook full of instructions and manuals for the air conditioner, water heater, controls, etc. To provide the electrical power for the trailer, we have a 7,500-watt portable generator. We had it all operational by that Friday noon and were able to offer showers to three of our I-HELP guests that afternoon.

Seth Dyson, Director of Human Services and Community Vitality for the City of Surprise, invited community leaders from the NW Valley to a “show and tell” on Oct. 28 at COTP, to see the trailer and talk about how it can be used with the homeless population in their communities. Seth has been a supporter of I-HELP from the beginning and is now an advocate for our shower trailer.

We have been in conversations with Capt. Mark Merritt of the Salvation Army on Avenue of the Arts regarding the use of the shower trailer in partnership with their ongoing ministries to the homeless. We want to honor that partnership by making our trailer available there as one of our first locations for regular showers.

Through Seth, we have also had conversations with the City of Surprise regarding the use of the trailer. We have scouted some preliminary locations in Surprise that are easily accessible to the homeless. Again, with Seth’s assistance, the City of Surprise has offered us the opportunity to dump our holding tank into their sewage system. As far as community utilization, we will probably begin with Surprise, developing our protocols and contractual arrangements. Once again, we are partnering with others to meet needs. Beyond Surprise, we anticipate reaching out to other communities with the shower trailer for regularly scheduled times and/or special events.

As part of our ministry to the homeless, we want to provide toiletries, clean socks and underwear, and haircuts. We will invite other social-service providers to be present with medical and dental services, inoculations for COVID-19 and Influenza, etc. We do not know where this will lead us, but we want to be ready, creative and generous in what we do.

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

Social Justice Action Team: October update

Creation Justice

Mission statement:  

To embody our faith in our relationships with God’s creation

Goals:

  • To educate and encourage congregational members to take concrete actions that express their stewardship of creation
  • To strive for significant reductions in the church’s energy and water consumption and waste in order to offset our carbon footprint
  • To advocate for policy change that will slow climate change and mitigate its impacts

Homeless

I-HELP AT COTP

One Year Anniversary.  We first hosted I-HELP guest on October 28-29, 2019 on a Monday night.  Within a few months we committed to a second night each week to provide the full 7 nights of coverage for our guests that we wanted.  Since then we have held forth on Monday and Friday nights, asking our volunteers to step up their involvement. We have over 55 volunteers working with the program, including bus drivers, cooks, shoppers, monitors and laundry.  Each time we host, our volunteers give 45-55 hours of time for 100 hours each week.  What a tremendous gift in service to others. The ultimate measure of success is the number of guests that have found permanent housing.  This is the work of the LSS staff and we celebrate the 24 guests that are now housed.  This represents about half of the people that have been enrolled in the program.  Despite the Covid 19 virus and the fact that our churches were closed we were able to provide full coverage for our guests, 7 nights each and every week.  Testing each guest before enrolled, with disinfecting protocol in place, practicing social distancing and taking the temperature of volunteers and guests each time, we have been able to minimize the risk of infection. We have made our program more green by using plates, bowls and glasses that we run through the dishwasher and cloth napkins and rags that we wash with bedding in our washer/dryer.

I-HELP Guests First to use Shower Trailer.  The new shower trailer of COTP will be here by mid-October, and once ready we will invite our I-HELP guest to be the first to use it.  In time we plan to use the shower trailer around the NW Valley, offering showers to the homeless on regular schedules.

Palestinian-Israeli Issue

Beth Moore provided an update on what is happening with the Nassar’s farm. The last month has been very difficult with vandals damaging the property, a neighboring group calling for re-registration of the land and the ongoing court case related to land ownership. Ongoing prayers and support are needed.

Antiracism

The Social Justice Action Team adopted the action items recently approved by the Southwest Conference:

Church of the Palms Awakening to Racial Injustice Action Steps
Learning with White friends and family about White privilege, White fragility, and White supremacy,
Regularly reading books, watching performing arts events, and drawing on theological resources featuring Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to deepen understanding and appreciation of the history, contributions, and culture of these groups of people.
Learning with our children through children’s stories about racism in age-appropriate ways,
Centering the stories of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and their rich and diverse heritage in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas,
Forming partnerships with congregations of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color,
Learning about and supporting organizations in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas that make it a mission to be Interrupters, [1]
Speaking up whenever you hear a comment or joke that marginalizes Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color,
Writing op-eds or letters to the editor about issues of bigotry, White supremacy, or racism in your communities,
Making a public witness like putting a Black Lives Matter sign at your church or on your lawn and prepare yourselves to welcome Black, Indigenous, and People of Color who may come to our churches, and for conversations with people who demonstrate White fragility because you take this step.
Inviting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color into leadership roles and explore governance structures that reflect their experience.
Asking Black, Indigenous, and People of Color what their needs are.
Assessing your congregation’s racial diversity, equity and inclusion. Participate in the UCC’s racial diversity, equity, and inclusion assessment of the National setting of the United Church of Christ.
Including elements in worship services that reflect the needs and experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color present in your congregation and in your community
Using your money to support businesses and ministries of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color,
Inviting a Sacred Conversations to End Racism facilitator of the Southwest Conference to present a program in your congregation. The program could include many options from a selected movie with reflection to a programmed discussion or guest sermon.  

Criminal Justice Reform

Prosecutors have a significant role in Criminal Justice Reform.  They can decide whether or not to prosecute minor offenses or possibly send the accused to a diversion program, especially for people with substance abuse issues.  We have an opportunity to watch interviews with the candidates for Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, the third largest such office in the US!  You can view the interviews at:

Julie Gunnigle at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tk_UaG0jmfE

 Allister Adel at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2Kt4n5Jux0

Criminal Justice Reform Presentation from Grace Cathedral in San Francisco

Each year the cathedral chooses a theme for inspiration. In 2020 our theme is bridges. We are challenging ourselves to explore and reflect upon reconciliation in this very divisive time in our country.  Join us to hear from San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who, in conversation with Dean Malcolm Clemens Young, will talk about his work building bridges that promote justice and safety in our community.  About the guest  Chesa Boudin is the recently elected District Attorney of San Francisco. Personally, impacted by parental incarceration and the failings of the criminal justice system, DA Boudin was inspired to become a public defender, and now, decarceral prosecutor. He is focused on reforming the criminal justice system and making our communities safer by developing data-driven policies to expand alternatives to incarceration and treat the root causes of crime. In his first few months in office, DA Boudin ended the office’s practice of asking for cash bail, eliminated status enhancements, implemented California’s first diversion program for primary caregivers, and ended the prosecution of charges resulting from racist pre-textual traffic stops. He has also implemented numerous police reforms, started an innovative Economic Crimes Against Workers Unit to protect workers from exploitation, and has succeeded in reducing the jail population in San Francisco even as crime rates declined. He remains committed to additional reforms that promote justice and protect public safety.  Check out DA Boudin’s podcast, Chasing Justice: https://www.chasingjusticepodcast.com/