This coming Sunday is special. We have many lay leaders participating in the design and leadership of worship – the Creation Justice Team will be leading our Love of Creation Sunday as we begin the week of Earth Day celebrations.
Rev. Doug Bland, a long-time friend, will be our speaker. Doug is a gifted storyteller who is known for blending humor and insight into his sermons. It’s a “Can’t Miss” kind of Sunday.
Speaking of love of creation, now is the time to get your gift in for our solar panel / greening the church capital campaign. We will complete this campaign this April. The overage will go to other green projects at The Palms to reduce our carbon footprint.
The sun is beginning to shine more and more these days. As our temperatures rise, so do our electric bills for cooling down the building. But this year will be different at The Palms.
It is the right thing to do.
We started with just a dream – to lower our carbon footprint not only as individuals but as a church. Folks gathered to discuss how we could bring into action one of our three great loves: love of creation. After inspecting the building, having an energy audit, and conversations on the topic, a plan began to emerge. It was just a dream – a dream blessed by God – seed money was donated to be able to put the dream into action: $50,000. That gift will cover approximately one-half of the costs. Now, the light shines on the rest of us to finish the dream. We’re off to a good start. As of this writing, we have raised $12,000 bringing the total to $62,000.
It is the right thing to do.
Whether your gift is large or small, it is going to take all of us doing our part to make this happen. I hope you can join us in this ministry.
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.
To embody our faith in our relationships with God’s creation
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
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.
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.
The Social Justice Action Team adopted the action items recently approved by the Southwest Conference:
Church of the PalmsAwakening to Racial InjusticeAction 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, 
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 forMaricopa County Attorney’s Office, the third largest such office in the US! You can view the interviews at:
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/
We need your help. Church of the Palms is one of many faith communities partnering with Arizona Interfaith Power and Light (AZPL) and other organizations to protect and preserve our precious, but increasingly fragile, environment. The goal of AZPL is to have 3,000 Faith Climate Voter Campaign Pledges before the November election. Check out the Faith Climate Voter Campaign Pledge at this link and ask family and friends to join you in this pledge.
Equally important is the distribution of the Faith Values Voters Guides. The voters’ guide covers important issues besides the climate crisis, including income inequality, health care, immigration, LGBTQ rights, restorative justice and more. The guide includes questions for personal reflection and small group discussion and questions to ask candidates for public office. You can download it here.
—Thank you from The Palms’ Creation Justice Task Force and Social Justice Action Team.