It’s a Long Road

Volunteers from Church of the Palms and Dove of the Desert UMC ( 14 thus far) are continuing to travel weekly to the host church in Tolleson (about 20 minutes away) where 150 asylum seekers are dropped off each Monday and Tuesday. We sort clothing to provide a clean set of clothes after the visitors have had a shower – usually their first in several days. We also package snack items for onward travel which are given to each traveler. On occasion, we will help serve a meal. Drivers from our church use the church bus to take groups to the bus depot or airport for their onward travel. We do whatever is needed.

As you may recall, from last month’s article, the hosting church has a very small space in which to welcome 100 people. One of the things on their “wish list” was a large tent in which they could feed the visitors, and offer some protection from extreme heat and cold. We wrote a grant to the national United Church of Christ offices for assistance in paying for such a purchase. The grant was funded and a 30’x50’ tent has now been erected in back of the smaller building.

There is no sign that we are at the end of this journey. So, If you’d like to travel with us, please come. We guarantee you will meet inspiring, and faith-filled people. We carpool from our church in groups of three to six each Monday and Tuesday. Our current schedule is Mondays, 10:00 – 1:30 and Tuesdays, 9:30 – 2:00. If we can place you on a regular schedule (weekly, bi-monthly, monthly etc.) that helps us to let the host church know how many will be coming to assist. Please contact Kurt or Linda Hoffman (KoH39@hotmail.com) to indicate your interest)

In addition, there is a box in the narthex labeled “Donations for Asylum Seekers.” If you wish to contribute, any of the items listed below are welcome:

Clothing for men, women, children, and infants in sizes small and medium ONLY:
Tops (t-shirts, short sleeve tops, sweaters, jackets, shoes, pants / slacks
New underwear and socks for men, women, and children (again, smaller sizes)
Please NO large or extra large sizes, no dresses or skirts

Staples:
toilet paper
paper plates
utensils
styrofoam cups

Hygiene items:
toothbrushes
toothpaste
soap
shampoo

Food / snack items individually wrapped:
cheese or peanut butter crackers
applesauce cups
bottled water

As our friend Daoud Nassar from Tent of Nations outside of Bethlehem in the West Bank of Palestine says: “The road seeking justice for all is a long one.” There is no guarantee that we will see the end of the road, only that God will walk with us.

The Church of the Palms Social Justice Team Report

Our Social Justice Team has been very active this summer with a number of activities. Following is a statement and prayer written by Michael Curry, our service leader July 16th, and read by members of Shadow Rock and Church of the Palms , pictured below, at the ICE Office, Phoenix on July 17th, 2017.

“Here we are in the sweltering heat of the Arizona summer standing together on the threshold of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office to offer a statement and prayer with the ongoing hope that we will one-day experience immigration reform for all of God’s beloved children.

Our heart is heavy this morning as there is no new information in the cases of Ismael Delgado and Sixto Paz who are still in sanctuary at Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix as they can only wait as with pray for them and their families that they may no longer be separated by the confines of the walls of Shadow Rock. We continue to pray for Marco Tulio and his family as we journey and join with them in the fight to bring him home to his wife and children.

We want to end by sharing a quote from the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In sharing this quote, we hope it inspires all of us as we continue to move forward in our efforts to ensure Immigration reform for all people. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shares, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort convenience, but where he stands in times of challenges and controversy.” As a people of faith and good conscious, we challenge to everyone to think about how we will stand with our neighbors as they face times of challenge and controversy as walls are built which separate them from a life of comfort and familiarity. When will the officials in the confines of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office raise their voice and speak up on behalf of those who have been treated unjustly as they await their fate in a broken immigration system?

Friends, I ask that you take a deep breath and join me in a time of prayer…

Loving God we come to you seeking your presence as we offer our heartfelt hope and prayers for those who are trapped in an unjust world. We continue to prayer for Misael, Marco, Ismael, Sixto, and Alfred as we journey with them so that they may no longer be bound by the confines of a broken immigration system. God, we ask that you show us as a people of faith and conscious how to be the light in the darkness of challenge and controversy in our world today. Go forth knowing that we are a people of hope fighting for justice in an unjust world. And All of God’s People say Amen!!”

Look for reports on other activities of our Social Justice Team in Sunday Bulletins and the Palm Leaf.

 

Social Justice Team

  

Photos contributed by Linda Rouches and Jan Hutchins

CHURCH OF THE PALMS
SOCIAL JUSTICE TEAM:
MOVING FORWARD

Working for JUSTICE through Prayer, Action, Love, Ministry & Support

The Church of the Palms Social Justice Team (CoPSJT) is moving forward by addressing two immediate issues of concern and three important issues to be addressed in the future.

The CoPSJT, consisting of 19 members, is zeroing in on LGBTQ Equality and Immigration/Refugee Assistance. Future issues to be addressed include: Religious / Racial Discrimination, Protecting the Environment, and Criminal Justice Reform.

The team has embraced the “Open and Affirming Congregation” statement adopted in 2015 which reads as follows:

The Church of the Palms, United Church of Christ, welcomes all people into the full life and ministry of our church, regardless of age, race, or gender; personal, mental or physical ability; gender identity or expression; sexual orientation; ethnic, cultural or religious background; marital, social, or economic status; or life history.  We believe that God loves all people and offers us gifts in our diversity.  We affirm families and relationships built on love, respect, responsibility, and trust. You are welcome here!”

In addition, the team has developed and will recommend to the Church Council an “Immigrant / Refugee Welcoming Congregation” statement which reads as follows:

We are followers of Jesus, who welcomed everyone and excluded no one. As members and friends of Church of the Palms, we are called to take action whenever lives are made vulnerable and whenever injustice occurs.  We are moved to stand together with our immigrant/refugee brothers & sisters and their families. Therefore, we declare ourselves an Immigrant/Refugee Welcoming Congregation.”

Specific action steps will be developed for each of the statements listed above in order to move the church and community forward in these issues. Watch for these action steps to be posted on the web page and included in the Palm Leaf.

Calendar of upcoming events:

ICE BREAKER

Thursday, August 17, 2017, 11 AM

2035 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004

Social Justice Team Meeting

Saturday September 9, 2017, 9:30 AM

Schulz’s

 

These links may also be of interest to you:

The Church of the Palms Open and Affirming Statement ,

UCC.org advocate for justice page

The Church of the Palms Social Justice Team Report