“Today I come before you to address the happenings in and around Portland. My agenda is simple: to get us to be people who care about things that matter.” –Senior Minister Paul A. Whitlock
“Today I come before you to address the happenings in and around Portland. My agenda is simple: to get us to be people who care about things that matter.” –Senior Minister Paul A. Whitlock
Each year, the Social Justice Action Team selects an individual(s) to receive the Social Justice Champion Award. The person(s) chosen best exemplifies our guiding scripture “And what does the LORD require of us but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God” Micah 6:8. Selection criteria includes: History of being active in social justice ministries, personal actions challenging injustices and effecting change though education, advocacy, activism. Pam and Paul clearly meet these criteria.
Pam began her advocacy work while living in Douglas, AZ, on the border with Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico in the mid ‘60s. Her church helped a congregation in Agua Prieta, Mexico, to refurbish their own church and, working together across the border, they collected clothing for children living in poverty. It was while in Douglas that Pam’s passion for creation justice was born.
Douglas was controlled by the economic presence of Phelps Dodge copper mining in nearby Bisbee and smelting operations at the town smelter. Douglas also was the gateway to Mexico. When the first Earth Day was created in 1970, Pam became acutely aware that Phelps Dodge was a huge polluter in the area and also was the source of employment for most of the local residents. The smelter worked at peak levels at night because the nighttime winds carried the acrid sulfur dioxide smoke into Mexico, rather than Douglas. People who objected were told that the smoke represented dollars in paychecks.
From that early awakening to this day, Pam continues to work to protect the environment and advocate for those marginalized. She adopted a plant-based diet in 2013 and learned about the plight of animals in contemporary mass farming and slaughter operations, which has a direct and negative influence on global warming and climate change.
When Pam came to Church of the Palms, she joined the Mission and Outreach Board, where she and Paul worked to establish the original Social Justice Committee, which preceded the Social Justice Action Team. In 2012, they examined the issue of undocumented youth, now known as DACA students. Pam has worked with Shadow Rock UCC in its refugee/sanctuary program. In 2008, Pam while with Paul in Indonesia, worked with young women to help them better understand money, saving and planning their future. Finally, Pam has been involved with UMOM’s New Day Center in central Phoenix, as well as outreach programs for several churches along the Mexican border.
In 1957, while Paul served at Tenafly Presbyterian Church in New Jersey, he was invited to visit mission personnel in Hong Kong. The Head of Church World Service (an agency supported by Church of the Palms UCC) urged Paul to visit a large group of White Russian refugees (non-Communist Christians) who were stranded in Hong Kong. Paul had an opportunity to visit the refugees, an experience he found to be deeply moving.
When Paul returned to the Tenafly Church, he preached a sermon asking congregants to write to government officials urging them to act on behalf of the stranded refugees. As a result, Paul was invited to appear before U.S. Senate Sub-Committee on Refugees. He also secured an invitation for the local young Russian Orthodox priest to go to Washington with him. As a result, the U.S. Senate Sub-Committee on Refugees reassigned more than $60,000 to help relocate the refugee families, some to the U.S. and some to Brazil.
So began Paul’s journey in the world of social justice challenges and projects. While living near New York City, Paul served on the U. S. Committee for Refugees. In Ithaca, New York, Paul helped to assemble five busloads of Cornell students and staff, community clergy and others as they became part of the “March on Washington.” Paul led one of the committees of clergy traveling to Washington as “Clergy Concerned Regarding the Vietnam War.” In Tenafly, Ithaca, and San Diego, Paul secured housing for the poor or newcomers to those communities, including those from Vietnam, Central America and Cuba.
In 2012, Paul and Pam began the original Church of the Palms Social Justice Committee.
Despite some recent health challenges Pam and Paul Clark continue to be advocates for social justice. Congratulations for being this year’s Social Justice Champions.
Members of your social justice team have been exploring ways of offering support to immigrants who are seeking asylum and have been admitted to the country legally. These families have applied for asylum on entry (completing all necessary paperwork to do so) and are being allowed to travel to family members in the US who are here legally, and who will sponsor them.
They come with little or nothing, and are bussed by ICE (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to the Phoenix area and dropped at local churches who have the ability to provide a shower, clean clothes, food and a place to sleep, for usually 1 to 3 days at most. They will have tickets for the onward journey provided by their family/sponsor. The church also provides transportation to the bus depot.
There are a number of churches and nonprofits in the Valley actively welcoming and providing support. We recently visited a church in the West Valley that has been welcoming groups brought to them by ICE since Thanksgiving.They take as many as 200 people over the course of three days. They have very limited space which is used for sleeping at night, and gathering during the day. Meals are prepared and eaten outside.
We were inspired and humbled by the witness of this congregation and are committed to finding ways that Church of the Palms will support the work they are doing. We hope many of you will join us.
As of this writing, a group of us will be go to the host church on Monday mornings for about three hours (carpooling at 9:00 am from Church of the Palms). Please email Beth Moore firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to join us on any Monday. We encourage anyone to go with us just to meet the people, and witness the work being done. Please feel free to speak with John Durbin or Beth Moore to learn more of the details of this effort.
As we learn more and organize our efforts, we will begin asking you for specific things that are needed. The following are needs that have been expressed at this point. If you wish, you may bring donations and place them in the designated box in the narthex labeled “Asylum Seekers.”
People are also needed:
This recognition is awarded to a person who is a member of our church, active in leadership roles, and active in social justice ministry. The individual demonstrates a long-term commitment to seek justice on local, regional, and global issues. Her/his actions challenge injustices and effect change through education, advocacy, activism, and fundraising. Finally, the individual demonstrates the belief that everyone deserves equal economic, political, and social rights and opportunities.
The first recipient of this recognition goes to Carolyn Modeen.
Carolyn, a member for over 20 years, has served as Church Moderator, Chair of the Board of Mission and Outreach, initiated sale of free trade items, helped with the monthly fellowship breakfasts and provided leadership for Ecumenical Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Carolyn’s community roles have included: volunteer with Central Arizona Shelter providing clothes for the homeless, participation in marches and rallies for peace and to stop wars. Twice a month she holds up “Peace” signs on Bell and 99th.
Carolyn has advocated for sensible gun legislation, marched for women’s reproductive health rights and has given speeches at Planned Parenthood gathering. She has participated in equal pay gatherings and efforts to correct worker pay disparity. She demonstrated for migrant rights as workers and participated in monthly meetings of domestic violence prevention program.
Carolyn has been an active participant with Grandmothers for Peace and has volunteer at Benevilla since 1984. She regularly gathers signatures to help political candidates have names placed on election ballots and get initiatives on ballots.
Carolyn lives the following scripture: 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.” Well done Carolyn! Thank you for your service!
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.
Palestinian – Israeli Issue
Religious & Racial Appreciation
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.
The Church of the Palms Social Justice Team has been very active. The team members working on the Immigration/Refugee issue have developed a working relationship with Refugee Focus, a division of Lutheran Social Services. For more than thirty years, this organization has served some of the world’s most persecuted people living right here in Phoenix. Violence and armed conflict chase millions of people from their homes, their families, and their countries, forcing them to seek safety in other countries around the world.
Honoring a proud identity as a nation of immigrants, the United States has welcomed refugees and asylees throughout its history. Every year, the State Department identifies global regions in which people have an exceptional need for protection outside of their home countries. These refugees and asylees are then invited to resettle in the “land of opportunity,” in a nation that has traditionally cherished the value of uplifting the oppressed. Refugee Focus services include:
And here is what Church of the Palms Social Justice Team members are doing to support this effort:
Beth Malmgren – tutoring in finances
Linda Hofmann – teaching English
Kurt Hofmann – mentoring families
Nancy & Richard Mueller – teaching English
Suzanne Boisclair – teaching English
Linda Rouches – working with children
Please feel free to speak to any of these Social Justice Team members to see how you could become involved. The Social Justice Team meets the second Friday of the month at 9:30 in the chapel. All are welcome.
Church of the PALMS Social Justice Team:
Seeking justice through Prayer, Action, Love, Ministry & Support
The rainbow flag represents affirmation of our Church’s commitment to be Open and Affirming and to show our support for the LGBTQ community.
The flag is commonly flown with the red stripe on top, as the colors appear in a natural rainbow. The colors were determined to symbolize: life (red), healing (orange), sunlight (yellow), nature (green), harmony/peace (blue), and spirit (purple/violet).
This flag is a statement of welcome. We welcome the LGBTQ community, friends, and family. But it is more than just that – it is a symbol of welcome to one and all.
Pastor Paul’s statement in worship:
The Social Justice Team raised a rainbow flag this morning. While some rejoiced with the raising of the flag, others raised a voice of worry and concern. I want you to know, I have heard both voices. No matter your opinion, I will listen.
A rainbow is a symbol that makes a powerful statement about who we are. Some, I am sure, will reject that openness and that affirming approach. Our own experience in hanging our rainbow banner, last summer, has been extremely well-received. The rainbow flowers around the fountain, while battered by the monsoon winds, remain spinning and showing all who enter of our extravagant welcome. Please know that the Social Justice Team and I are not naïve.
When considering this step in faith, we contacted other congregations to get their real life experiences. I contacted several clergy friends within the UCC and the Disciples. Most said, they have only received good comments. The worst that was reported was from our friend and former Interim Pastor, Jim Meadows. I had lunch with him this very week. While supporting our move, he reminded me of his experience: In 15 months, Shepherd of the Hills UCC has had three flags stolen. Each time Jim just put up a new one. We are not naïve. I expect ours, one day, to be stolen. And if that day happens, (maybe I should say, when that day happens), we will follow Jim’s lead, and put up a new one, again and again.
That fear that some have over this, is just a glimpse, a sliver, of what some people deal with 24/7, 365 days a year.
Because, I also know to be faithful to our call from God, we must have a heart, use our brains, and we must muster up some courage. Rather than living as though we are untouched by faith, let us be the citadel against bigotry. Let us be bold examples for our neighbors of what faithful living looks like. And let us not shrink and hide from our responsibility to be God’s palms reaching out with love and acceptance. Let us not let fear mongers frame the moment, but rather let us live these days and let us define the moment as an expression of what it is – the rainbow is God’s promise to one and all of love, grace, and acceptance.
PHOTOS FROM OUR CELEBRATION on August 6, 2017:
Thank you Dott M for sharing these photos with us!
Thank you Nancy T for sharing these photos with us!
Photos submitted by Janet H.
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.
Photos contributed by Linda Rouches and Jan Hutchins
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:
Thursday, August 17, 2017, 11 AM
2035 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85004
Saturday September 9, 2017, 9:30 AM
These links may also be of interest to you:
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:
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.