We update this page at the start of each month with articles and updates.
A special Council meeting was called on Tuesday, March 30th, to discuss the possibility of allowing in-person attendance at church. After much discussion and deliberation, and consultation with Ethel Utter, the Council has decided to hold off opening the church to the congregation until it can be determined how many in the congregation and staff are completely vaccinated. Council will review this decision at the May 11th Council meeting. An email has been sent out asking for people to respond to the vaccine question if they feel comfortable doing so.
With warming temperatures, widespread access to the vaccine and a general feeling of hopefulness regarding the prospect of worshipping together, we've naturally begun a vigorous discussion as to how best to do that. As you might expect, we're not all of one mind on this. Given all the considerations, desires, needs, risks, etc., that's hardly surprising.
Thankfully we are well-positioned to deal with just such a crises as we have long since practiced a democratic process of decision making, with most of the actual power to make those decisions residing with the Council. Our Moderator, Bob Carver (who's doing an amazing job by the way), has shared information about the process in an email. I will just say by way of summary there will be no in person worship at this time, the council will revisit the question at its May meeting.
Today as I write this on April 1st, the number of new cases has spiked, presumably a reaction to easing mask mandates and a general sense that we're passed the worst and can resume to normal. So these are loaded, life and death decisions.
Meanwhile the life of the church surges forward. We've concluded our Lenten book study of Timothy Snyder's powerful little book, On Tyranny: 20 Lessons from the 20th Century. We've also celebrated the start of Holy Week with Andrew's powerful message this past Palm Sunday (now available on the Desert Palm website for those of you who missed it). Tonight (at 7PM) we'll be celebrating Maundy Thursday (virtually). And then of course on Sunday (at 9AM) we'll be live streaming our Easter morning service.
I know this isn't easy for anyone. I can only point to the light and dark energies of the season, our theme of suffering and healing, and the hope and promise of our tradition that love is greater than hate and fear, and that when we allow ourselves to trust God and open to the ongoing mystery of God's emergence into history and the world, life does indeed return.
Grace & Peace,
Thursday, April 1st
Maunday-Thursday Online Worship ( 7 PM live streaming on the DPUCC website)
Sunday, April 4th
Easter Sunday Worship (9 am live streaming on the DPUCC website)
One of the
great loves of the United Church of Christ is the love of children and youth.
Supporting our one week of summer camp is one of the primary expressions of that great love that we do together as a conference. Year after year church camp experiences have developed life long memories for our youth and children.
In the last two years, 2020, and now 2021, church camp has had to be canceled due to COVID19. We want our children and staff to be safe, so it is necessary to wait until all can become vaccinated before we return to camp.
In the meantime, we have the opportunity to participate in the Sow the Seed Offering.
This SW offering, and one that is a part of the 7-for-7 offerings, is an offering to provide scholarships for youth to attend youth retreats and camp. Our youth programs are the best and we want all children to be able to participate. Scholarships can help families with the cost, when the fees are challenging.
This April, we are collecting monies for the Sow the Seed Offering and it will help to support next year’s campers.
Desert Palm can send in their contributions in one of two ways:
1). You can write a check payable to Desert Palm and made a note on the memo line for Sow the Seed.
2). Or, you can use the new ‘Give’ feature on the DPCC website. There will be a Donation options and a drop-down box where you can select Sow the Seed.
Thank you, Desert Palm, for supporting our children and youth!
Marie Parsey, Community and World Offerings
For many years, I knew Sylvia Plath only as an author who ended her life at age 30 after producing an excellent but depressing book called The Bell Jar. That understanding changed after I read Heather Clark’s Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath. This biography celebrates Plath as a disciplined and prolific artist who helped to reform modern poetry and posthumously earned the Pulitzer Prize for her Collected Poems. The book also contains a sobering history of Plath’s struggle with mental health issues.
Plath’s family was riddled with mental illness. Her immigrant father engaged in a slow-moving suicide by refusing treatment for diabetes for two years. He died in 1940 when Plath was eight. The book points out that young children who lose a parent run an increased risk of suicide later in life. Plath fit that pattern. Unknown to Plath, her paternal grandmother had died in an Oregon insane asylum years before. When Plath’s own depression surfaced at age 20, doctors repeatedly subjected her to a primitive form of electroshock therapy without anesthetic. According to Clark, Plath “was at the mercy of a patriarchal medical system that assumed that highly ambitious, strong-willed women were neurotic. As women, Plath and her mother had no power to defy the system.”
The absence of her father and family financial worries galvanized and haunted Plath. She was able to partially finance her education at Smith by selling her poems and stories to national magazines. Plath later won a Fulbright Fellowship to Cambridge. There she met and married Ted Hughes, who eventually became England’s Poet Laureate. Each contributed to the other’s professional growth; both were working toward an “unliterary” poetry “composed as much for the ear as for the eye.” Their relationship was progressive for its time, but also volatile. Plath seethed over the patriarchy and male humanist tradition that frequently denied her recognition while celebrating her husband’s accomplishments. In Daddy, Plath rages against her lost father, who also personifies “a bankrupt culture” and “patriarchal tormentors.” Linking her father and husband, Plath writes, “I made a model of you . . .and I said I do, I do” but by the end of the poem Plath declares: “I’m through.”
Following the birth of their second child and her husband’s departure, Plath entered a new level of depression while also taking her art to a new level. Plath’s own mental health crisis and her father’s immigrant struggles gave her insights into the life of the outcast, and her writings from this period explore the viewpoints of marginalized mothers, refugees, and Jews. She became one of the first poets to write about miscarriage and post-partum anxiety. More generally, her poems “open up new aesthetic possibilities that would change the direction of modern poetry.” The darkness also came through, as in Sheep in Fog: “My bones hold a stillness, the far/Fields melt my heart./They threaten/To let me through to a heaven/Starless and fatherless, a dark water.”
Plath would not live to see widespread critical acclaim or her works become best-sellers. As her depression deepened, Plath feared another round of botched electroshock therapy. She ended her life on the morning she was scheduled to enter a psychiatric hospital. But as Plath’s daughter later wrote, and Red Comet affirms, “The art was not to fall.”
The Thursday Women's Bible and Book study will be meeting the following dates. All are welcome to join. We will be discussing stories by the following authors in our book Listening for God.
No meeting on April 1
April 15 - Alice Walker - 107 - 114
April 28 - Garrison Keillor (both stories) 115 - 130
May 13 - Richard Rodriguez (both stories) 131 - 151
May 27 - end of the year celebration.
Then we will be taking a break for summer and returning in the fall.
Contact Maria in the church office or Sue Henderson at email@example.com for the zoom link or more information.
The Sunday Women’s Bible Study Group will meet via Zoom on April 28, 2021 at 3 pm. We will be discussing "Mary the mother of Jesus pages 399 to 404—All Their Words and Why They Matter.”
We enjoy a lively discussion sharing our thoughts and opinions that includes how events mirror our lives today. Please feel free to join us, even if you don’t have the book or have not read the chapter that we’ll be discussing.
On this Sunday we will be meeting at Pat Speer's house outside on her patio. You can still join by zoom. If you join us in person please either have both vaccines and/or wear your mask.
We are offering a special new program on Zoom for all our children on the second Sunday of each month at 10:00am. On the second Sunday all our kids of all ages will gather together for Children's Chapel with scripture, stories, and activities. On all other Sundays we continue to offer Sunday school at 10:00am for kids in grades 1-4 and at 10:45 for kids in Kindergarten and younger.
Our youth are meeting weekly at 3:30pm every Wednesday. All youth are welcome! Contact Andrew for the firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our youth will not meet on April 7 as Andrew will be getting his second dose of the vaccine during our usual zoom time.
We are using our Zoom youth group sessions to plan an intergenerational pilgrimage (for post pandemic) through the south for us all to learn more about civil rights and to commit our lives to dismantling racism. More soon! :)
We are in the midst of transition and preparation for Fall 2021!!
During this interim time Andrew is still available for supportive conversations and pastoral care for young adults.
Andrew has also been preaching across our SWC for online worship services at our sibling UCC congregations. This is resulting in new forms of support to bolster our efforts at Desert Palm. What a joy to experience the way we at Desert Palm is bringing our Conference together around a new and exciting ministry.
The following newsletter was received from Holly Herman, who leads the East Valley Church Network, a group of churches assisting refugees coming across the border.
Twin sized blankets, towels, hygiene kit and food pack items, groceries.
Volunteer thrift store shoppers before next Tuesday, April 6.
Clothing room volunteers on Tuesday, April 6th at 10am
(Call or text me to volunteer)
Asylum Seekers: Sonoyta Shelters, Welcome Center, and Ajo Samaritans
ICE is dropping off asylum seekers in Ajo almost daily and the Samaritans have stepped up to assist with medical treatment, clothes, food, and transportation to Tucson. The Tucson refugee center, Casa Alitas, will complete their transportation arrangements with their sponsors. We are currently collecting hygiene kit and food pack items for both Ajo and the Welcome Center here in Phoenix.
The Phoenix Welcome Center receives 1-200 asylum seekers per day. They can accommodate up to 120 overnight, but are anticipating increased numbers, and are looking for overflow options. They also need volunteers for a variety of functions. Look for updates – as soon as more information is learned.
Hygiene kit items: small soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, chap stick, washcloths, combs, razors, brushes, toothpaste, and toothbrushes.
(Thank you to Carl for 100 pre-packed hygiene kits.)
Food pack items: soft granola bars, squeeze applesauces, Vienna sausages, trail mix, crackers with cheese or peanut butter, raisins, nuts, etc.
Get the most for your money by ordering items in bulk if possible. Contributions to the Refugee Fund will enable us to also order bulk supplies.
There are new people coming to both Sonoyta shelters daily, so there is a need for twin-sized, washable blankets and towels. Check your linen closets for extras. Thank you to Lewis and Roca for 100 coffee mugs for the Sonoyta shelters. And a huge thank you to Sue from Temple Emanuel for some gorgeous children's quilts.
ALWAYS a need for men's jeans, gym shorts, tshirts, flip flops, tennis shoes, and underwear. Also can always use women's leggings.
Checks to support the Sonoyta Refugee shelters, the Phoenix Welcome Center, and the Ajo Samaritan asylum seeker hosting can be mailed to University Presbyterian Church, 139 E. Alameda, Tempe, AZ 85282. Indicate "Refugee acct" on the memo line. Donations of "stuff" can be taken to Holly Herman’s house, or call for a pick up 480-570-0450.
Iglesia Cristiana El Buen Pastor
Thank you for groceries to members of University Presbyterian, Epiphany Episcopal, Temple Emanuel, Desert Palm UCC, Scottsdale UCC and extended Network individuals. There continue to be between 15 and 20 families coming weekly for a food box. You all make a difference for those that are food insecure. Thank you to those who donate cash to buy supplemental groceries and a big thank you to Desert Palm UCC for 35 Easter baskets.
Deliver to Holly Herman’s house by early afternoon on Thursdays
Most needed grocery items are rice, pinto/refried/black beans, canned chicken/tuna/beef, canned vegetables, cereal, spaghetti and sauce, soups, vegetable oil, salt/pepper/oregano/garlic, laundry/dish soap, TP/paper towels, bread/tortillas, chicken bouillon, jello/pudding, massa, green chilis, tomato sauce, chunky salsa (med), dog food, and coffee. We had a request that beans, rice, oil, etc be sent in smaller bags/bottles (2-5 lb bags are great). Fruit or vegetables that don't have to be refrigerated in the short term (apples/oranges/melon/onions/potatoes) are also possible. I can keep them in the house/garage until I transport. Of course, anything you donate will be used and appreciated!
Checks or $25 Walmart gift cards for el Buen Pastor can be mailed to UPC or dropped through the mail slot in the church office. Indicate "el Buen Pastor" on the envelope or memo line. Cash for supplemental groceries should be brought to my house.
Thank you all for your continued compassion, energy, and generosity. We appreciate all of you that help.
University Presbyterian Church (UPC)