by Pastor Jim Alexander
There’s always a rainbow after the rain.
The Church of the Palms has been encouraged to focus on some aspect of mental health each month for the past several months. Our areas of focus have been: Self Esteem (February), Developmental Disabilities Awareness (March), The Warning Signs of Mental Illness (April), and Mental Health Awareness Month/WISE Congregation for Mental Health Survey (May). We have provided tips and tools along with hotlines and websites to support our community along the way.
As we continue on our quest to become a WISE Congregation for Mental Health, our WISE Steering Committee has been very busy developing their plans and drafting the WISE Covenant that will be presented to the Church for adoption. The results from the congregational survey and input from across the membership of The Palms as we develop the content of The WISE Covenant. Please continue to pray that we may draw the circle wider as a welcoming, inclusive, supportive and engaged congregation for all people. Our Mental Health Focus for the month of June is twofold. June is LGBTQ Pride Month and it is also National Hunger Awareness Month. These two go very well together and here’s why.
The coronavirus pandemic has had unexpected effects for LGBTQ people around the world: forcing some LGBTQ citizens who may not be accepted by their family and friends to face hostile living environments. The pandemic is also placing vulnerable people of all walks of life at risk of homelessness and employment insecurity. It has also become very apparent with the financial and social destruction being leveled by the pandemic, that certain government agencies are stalling progress on potential legal changes that could grant LGBTQ and other marginalized people greater rights.
In an ordinary year, Pride celebrations would offer a chance to gather together, celebrate the achievements of the community and reflect on the future for social change.
But four months ago, more than 220 Pride celebrations scheduled worldwide were cancelled or delayed, including Phoenix Pride. The Palms has participated in this event for the past three years.
“LGBT people around the world are insanely resilient, but they face isolation every day in their life,” says J. Andrew Baker, co-President of Interpride, the international association of Pride organizers. “One of the challenges we find today is that LGBT people are even more isolated.” To overcome that isolation, the world’s biggest international Pride networks, Interpride and the European Pride Organizers Association, are organizing a “Global Pride” to be celebrated online on June 27. Global Pride organizers are planning a 24-hour live streamed event, including remote contributions from international Prides, speeches from human-rights activists, workshops with activists and high-profile performers yet to be confirmed.
Be sure to check out the Interpride website and make your plans to participate! The Palms will provide reminders and additional information about this event.
As a church, let us look for ways to make The Palms a safe place for those who may be experiencing abuse in their homes and communities due to their sexual orientation. Whether you are a part of the LGBTQ community or not, if you feel that you are not safe in your home, remember: you are not alone, you are loved and we will provide help to you. Call Pastor Jim or Pastor Paul at 623.977.8359.
Because there are so many people unemployed/underemployed, homeless, or displaced due to the pandemic, we also want to focus on the ways in which we might address the issue of hunger during this month. The People of The Palms have been consistently generous in providing food for I-Help, HART Pantry, and various food banks within the Sun City area. We are meeting the urgent needs of those who would otherwise be going without.
There are mental health concerns associated with food deprivation. Nearly 15 % of all households in the United States did not have enough to eat daily and suffered from recurring hunger before the pandemic, and that percentage has increased dramatically. The emotional and psychological tension associated with hunger can be devastating to individuals and whole families. Here are some ways to ensure that we are doing our part.
Donating, whether money or food, is a great way to help local food banks. Most donations to food banks are made between Thanksgiving and Christmas — which is great — but donations are needed year-round. Monetary donations allow the food banks to buy food during the less popular months for giving. You can drop your donation off in the church office. Make sure you mark it HUNGER RELIEF.
Volunteer with a Food Bank
It doesn’t always take a big financial investment to make a big impact. Volunteering is a great way to spend your time making a difference. By volunteering, you give families the opportunity to use the money they have towards bills and other living expenses while being able to have food on the table. In addition, volunteering can be a great family gathering, team bonding or employee engagement event. Witness firsthand how your presence and support are affecting those in your community!
To find a food bank in Arizona, visit the website of the Arizona Food Bank Network.
Continue to Bring Food and Fill the Shopping Cart
Food drives help stock shelves and play a vital role in encouraging community participation. Continue bringing your non-perishable food items to the church and fill the shopping cart. If you are not able to bring it yourself, please call the church office at 623.977.8359 and we will arrange to have your items picked up.