Social Justice Team update

Seeking JUSTICE through Prayer, Action, Love, Ministry & Support
P. A. L. M. S.

The Church of the Palms Social Justice Team, which is part of the Board of Mission & Outreach, is moving forward by addressing major social justice issues of our times.

Using the scripture passage from Micah 6:8, “And what does the LORD require of us but to DO JUSTICE, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.” As its admonition and inspiration, the team is working hard on being the hands and feet of Jesus in our community and beyond.

Following is a partial list of accomplishments and plans of our team this past year.

LGBTQ Equity

  • Purchased and displayed the rainbow flag.
  • Participated in the Gay Pride Parade. Our Church was very well received, with our “Jesus didn’t reject anyone, neither do we,” banner. It was commented on and cheered for by many parade participants and watchers.
  • Supports, encourages and helps the efforts of Ronn Enzweiler and the Sun City LGBTQ Club to produce tote bags for agencies to distribute to the homeless.
  • Investigating whether gay married couples in AZ can become foster parents.
  • Reached out to United Church of Sun City which recently voted to become an Open & Affirming Church.

Immigration/Refugees

  • Members of the team established a working relationship with Shadow Rock UCC in support of its Sanctuary Program.
  • Developed a long-term relationship with Lutheran Social Services Southwest (LSS-SW) to support its ministry to immigrants including refugees.
  • Kurt & Linda Hofmann assisted in the assimilation process for a non-English speaking refugee Afghan family.
  • Nancy and Richard Mueller provided instruction in sewing and computer programs for refugees.
  • Suzanne Boisclair participated in a training program for the purpose of tutoring youth refugees.
  • Beth Malmgren connected with Arizona Immigration & Refugee Services to see how our church could be of support.
  • Representatives of Church of the Palms are participating with the UCC Southwest Conference in the “Faithful Witness at the Border” program to call attention to the humanitarian crisis of separating refugee children from their parents.
  • Through the Board of Mission & Outreach our church supports the ministries of Solutions Church serving refugees from South Africa.

Palestinian – Israeli Issue

  • Beth Moore, with the help of several team members, organized a fellowship breakfast and, “meet & greet,” dinner. Daoud Nassar from the Tent of Nations outside Bethlehem shared the challenges of seeking to maintain their family farm in the occupied West Bank.
  • The purpose of this project, undertaken by the Nassar family, along with inter-national volunteers from around the world, is to develop and protect the land and create a center for people from different countries, cultures, and religions to come together and build bridges of trust – and hope – and peace. Through their work with women, youth and families from the nearby village of Nahalin and refugee camps in and around Bethlehem, non-violent approaches to peace are put into practice and their motto “We refuse to be enemies” is lived out.
  • The Church of the Palms is planning to purchase trees for the Farm. The team discussed launching a fund-raising program in September/October to purchase trees for the Tent of Nations Farm and generating scholarship funds to assist a representative from our church to assist in planting trees on the farm. Joyce Stoffers mentioned that the purchase and planting of trees also has benefit for environmental issues.

Homelessness

  • Members of the team met with Robert Sanders, Regional Director with LSS-SW, and other City of Surprise community leaders in March regarding IHELP – Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program. It was proposed to the Church Council in June that Church of the Palms consider being a major player in this program.
  • Our church continues to support ministry to the homeless population through the HART Pantry program and supporting Children First Academy, a school for the homeless in the Phoenix metro area.

Religious & Racial Appreciation

  • Debby Stinton leads the White Privilege Program, Part 1 & Part II.
  • Barbara Arnold presented information on the Code of the Underground Railroad Quilt and the need for the quilt to be protectively encased in order to preserve it and so that it can be permanently hung at Church of the Palms.
  • Plans are underway to establish a relationship with Arizona Interfaith Movement to determine what they are doing to promote religious and racial tolerance and how our team could be part of this effort.
  • The annual Ecumenical Retreat was held in early September and focused on “Time, Eternity and the Importance of Religious Holidays in Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”

Environmental Issues

  • Nancy Tsuchiya and Joyce Stoffers organized a visit to a local recycling company to determine how our church could more fully participate in such a program. A proposal will be going to the Church Council to purchase more ecofriendly materials to be used for social functions in King Hall.
  • George Wall made a presentation to the team on the impact of global warming and how we need to be a voice for this concern.
  • Plans are underway to contact Doug Bland, Executive Director of Arizona Interfaith Power & Light, to make a presentation to our church leadership on how we could become a partner in this effort.

Gun Violence

  • A letter to the editor written and edited by the team was published in the Sun City Independent regarding stopping gun violence.
  • Members of the team participated in non-violent protests in Sun City and Phoenix to stop gun violence.

There are currently 28 members of our church and community participating to one degree or another in our Social Justice Team. The team meets the second Friday of the month at 9:30AM. Our next meeting is Friday, September 14th. Please plan to attend if you have an interest in any of projects being undertaken by our social justice team.

“My Bag Project”

Our LGBTQ Equity sub-group of the Social Justice Team would like to introduce Ron Enzweiler, a new-ish member here at Church of the Palms, and his ministry “My Bag Project.” Ron is a member of the LGBTQ Club of Sun City and the Sun City Sewing Club. He was featured in an article in the November 2017 Sunviews Newspaper regarding the work that the Clubs are involved in with helping Eve’s Place for domestic violence victims. You can see the article and a sampling of his work on our bulletin board by King Hall.

In conversation with Ron, we found out that he has a wish list of items he needs for his “My Bag Project” ministry. Plus, he would love to have others, who love to sew, join him in this endeavor.

Here is his list:

  • Broadcloth, Seersucker, Corduroy (not too heavy a weight)
  • Duck (the kind of material that can be easily cut by senior arthritic hands) A little dirty is OK
  • NO upholstery material

Ron does have a contact in central Phoenix for crushed velvet, lace, trim items. If you would like to donate to Ron’s ministry or give him an hour of your time, he would love to have you contact him at 480-225-8231. Ron believes that those who are in transition, or homeless, need to have something of their own to carry their possessions in, besides a trash bag, and we believe the same.

Debby Stinton
Assistant Pastor

Ron Enzweiler "My Bags Project" for Eve's Place, Sun City, Arizona

 

The Church of the Palms Social Justice Team Launched

At the March 18th, 2017 Church Council meeting, unanimous approval was given to establish the Church of the Palms Social Justice Team. The work of this team will include the following activities:

P (Prayer)
A (Action)
L (Love)
M (Ministry)
S (Support)

Each of these activities is an important as the next. So there is a place for anyone interested in social justice on this team.

According to Chris Marshall, author of the book Biblical Justice, “Social justice doesn’t happen by accident. It requires focus, dedication, and commitment. Because of God’s commitment to justice, there is always hope for positive change.”

As an extension of the Board of Mission and Outreach, the Church of the Palms Social Justice Team recognizes that the obligation of social justice falls upon the individual, but that individuals cannot fulfill the obligation alone. Rather, they must work in concert with others, through organized bodies, as a member of a group whose purpose is to identify the needs of society, and, by the use of appropriate means, to meet these needs locally, regionally, nationally, and even globally.

At its initial meeting on April 12th, a number of potential social justice issues were identified by the team for further investigation and possible
action planning. A Social Justice Team planning retreat will be held on Saturday, May 20th at the home of Pam & Paul Clark from 12:30 to 4:30 PM.

Look for further announcements in Sunday Bulletins regarding potential social justice issues and further details on the May 20th planning retreat. Or feel free to talk to Pat or John Durbin, Pam or Paul Clark, Jan Hutchins or Amy Alves, Kurt Hofmann, Debby Stinton, Eona Schulz, or Pastor Paul.