April 14: Palm Sunday. Our Sanctuary Choir will share a musical presentation, Reflections on Holy Week.
April 18: Maundy Thursday 5:00 p.m. We’ll host a community service that will include our sister churches: United Church UCC and Sun City Christian. Communion will be served.
April 19: Good Friday self-directed labyrinth walk* 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. Bell choir plays at 12:30.
April 21: Easter. Communion will be available at both services:
Early Service at 8:00 a.m. Pastor Jim will be preaching from Luke 24:1-12. Our hope is in the risen Christ. Worship will be on the patio.
Regular Worship at 10:00 a.m. The story is familiar. Can you notice anything new in the resurrection story? Pastor Paul recently did. He’;ll reveal it during the sermon. Read John 20:1-18.
*More about the Good Friday labyrinth walk:
The “Labyrinths at the Palms” will host the church’s Good Friday service this year. There will be a self-directed walk on the larger labyrinth from 12:00 – 3:00 pm on Friday, April 19th. The Bell Choir of Church of the Palms will play at 12:30 p.m. The smaller labyrinth will also be available to accommodate those using wheelchairs and walkers.
The walk into the center of the labyrinth will have the 14 Stations of the Cross marked on the path. Each walker will be given a guide that provides a scripture reading and prayer corresponding to each of the stations, following Jesus from the Garden of Gethsemane to the Tomb.
Once at the center, walkers will be able to linger in prayer/meditation, and then walk directly off the labyrinth or return to the entrance by the path. There will be chairs available under the tree for journaling or a time of prayer.
Labyrinth volunteers will be available to assist as needed. The guides will be available throughout the afternoon and evening in the literature box near the sidewalk.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
On the morning of Tuesday, August 8, Debby Stinton, our pastoral assistant, learned that her son, Rick Woodford, had been hit by a car and suffered numerous internal and external injuries. Rick passed away on August 22.
A Go Fund Me page was set up for Rick’s medical fund, if you feel moved to contribute.
Please keep Rick, Debby, and their family and friends in your prayers.