monthly breeze

online newsletter

We update this page at the start of each month with articles and updates.

Pastor's Missive

November 2020 Breeze

Dear Members & Friends,


We’re roughly eight months into the pandemic, and in good church fashion, we have risen to the challenge.  We’ve made a smooth transition to virtual worship and created the Wednesday Joys and Concern zoom meeting, a phone buddy system, and a Tuesday morning Early Bird devotional—all virtual, of course. We’ve recently created an In-Person Worship Task Force to explore what coming back together will look like when it’s safe to do so.  Ethel Utter, our much-appreciated resident RN is advising us on what will be safe and when.  We’re also paying close attention to the 5 Phased Guidelines provided by the SW Conference.  Our next step will be to bring our worship team back into the sanctuary so we can return to a live-streamed worship experience.  Watch for that sometime this month (in November, God willing).  For Christmas Eve, we are working on a drive-in movie style worship service.  It’ll be live and outside, with everyone staying in their cars.  But at least we’ll get to hear silent night (lighting flashlights or electric candles inside our vehicles). 


We held our first of three zoom meetings on October 25th to brainstorm about the creation of a new Sunday School Coordinator position.  Thus far, the general thinking is that, while we cannot afford to hire another Associate Minister to replace Michael-Ann, we need someone in the role of Sunday School Coordinator.  The remaining two will be held on November 1 and 8th (see the update for the zoom information or go to the calendar on the church website).  Watch for a summary of the process in the December Breeze.


By now, most everyone will have heard the sad news that we lost a real prayer warrior in October, with the passing of Beverly Byington.  Beverly oversaw our prayer list and dutifully assigned names to those folks who volunteered to hold people in prayer.  There’s to be a viewing at the Lakeshore funeral home in Mesa this Thursday (October 29th from 4 pm to 6 pm) and a live-streamed memorial service this Friday at 11 am.


And so it is that fall is upon us, with All Saint’s Day and election day both fast approaching.  We’ll remember Beverly and the great cloud of witnesses as we pause to reflect on the season of grief encapsulated within 2020, a year destined to be etched in all of our memories.  And we’ll go to the polls (or vote by mail) in hopes of doing our part to create a better world.  No matter the outcome, my prayer is that someday we’ll all look back on 2020 as a tough year, but one in which Desert Palm birthed its ASU campus ministry and reached out creatively to connect its members to each other and the world.


Grace & Peace,

Pastor Tom    

Refugee Update

Carol, Larry, Brigitta, Bonny, and Dan helped sort clothes in the UPC clothing room last Tuesday. Thank you! We made great progress - over halfway - and have scheduled another sort and inventory day for Nov. 5th at 9am. Please text me if you can come. It shouldn't take past 10:30am to finish up. We work at separate tables with masks on and fans blowing.  Thank you to Linda for the boys' clothes! We will post a list of specific items needed after our Nov 5th inventory.

Dan will head to Ajo on Saturday and will deliver the truckload of children's clothing we compiled a couple of weeks ago along with more men's clothes and totes to the Ajo Samaritans.  They will transport across the border to the two refugee shelters. FYI, the Ajo Samaritans have been asked to provide transportation money to a man being released from the hospital after losing his leg in an accident on La Beastia (the train from southern Mexico). If you've read American Dirt by Jeanine Cummings, you'll have a sense of the danger that entails! Of course, they are helping with this.


Thank you to Faith, Luchi, Kathy, Joyce, and the anonymous donors for your grocery donations last week. A special thank you to Joyce who prepared two boxes of Halloween goodie bags for the kids.  This effort to feed about 15 families per week is difficult to maintain, so everyone who brings groceries is so, so, so appreciated. As a reminder, most requested items are:

  • rice
  • pinto and black beans
  • canned chicken/tuna
  • canned vegetables
  • cereal
  • spaghetti and sauce
  • soups
  • vegetable oil
  • salt/pepper/garlic
  • laundry/dish/hand soap
  • TP/paper towels
  • bread/tortillas
  • chicken bouillon
  • school lunch items
  • coffee
  • NEW ITEM pet food
  • NEW ITEM fruit or vegetables that don't have to be refrigerated in the short term (apples/oranges/melon/potatoes/onions) are also possible if you bring them Thursday afternoon or Friday morning. I can keep them in the house until I transport on Friday afternoon
  • Of course, anything you donate will be used and appreciated.  If YOU use it, likely they will, too!

Checks or $25 Walmart gift cards for Igl. Crist. 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. Groceries, or cash for supplemental groceries, can be delivered to my house by Thursday afternoon.  Call me if you need a Friday morning drop off or for a pick up.

Thank you for your continued compassion, energy, and generosity.

(480) 570-0450 
1701 W Lindner, Mesa, 85202 (near Baseline and Dobson)

University Presbyterian Church (UPC), 139 E Alameda, Tempe, AZ 85282

W.I.S.E. Reflection for november

By Ellen Colangelo 

As many of you know, I experienced severe health problems due to complications from having a pacemaker implant. The details aren’t necessary, but I’d like to share the psychological impact it has had on me. I went from being overly proud of my physical strength and prowess for a 75-year-old to feeling completely depleted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. So here I find myself searching for ideas for mental strength as I recuperate. The following ground rules from an internet site called LIVEKEN have some good ideas for life in general and crisis times in particular.


11 Top Tips for Mental Strength

  1. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVES IN ANY SITUATION. Focus on the little things that are going right rather than the negatives, such as constant pain or other symptoms. Remember not to call yourself names; be positive about your abilities and achievements.
  2. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.Don’t push your limits too hard.
  4. EXPLORE NEW BOUNDARIES. DO WHATEVER IT TAKES. This can be related to recovery or reaching any goal. See the challenges, like chronic illness, as an opportunity for personal growth and explore new boundaries. Don’t take advice passively, even medical advice. Do your own research and be prepared. By doing this, you’ll be taking control of your illness and your life.
  5. FIND BALANCE. Be realistic about what you expect of yourself, but don’t limit yourself. Find a balance between taking care of yourself and exploring the things you want for yourself.
  6. BE PASSIONATE. Find things that you are passionate about and use those things to help them cope during bad times.
  7. ALLOW YOURSELF TO FAIL. Most people equate mental toughness with being strong and forging ahead no matter what. Make plans but forgive yourself if you don’t make the mark. Without the pressure of not being allowed to fail, you can come back and do even more, probably better than you would have originally, and still achieve your goal in the time frame you would like.
  8. BE THE REED AND NOT THE OAK. Reeds lie flat in strong winds and survive to stand up again. The Oak can only bend a little before it must break. Prepare to bend on the bad days and rest to stand up again the next day.
  9. PACE! This fits in with finding balance and allowing yourself to fail. It’s important to be aware of your limits and pace your activities, so you can achieve more without crashing and burning.
  10. FIND JOY. In whatever activity you are participating in, find something to be happy about. This fits well with being positive.
  11. JUST BREATHE THROUGH IT. Sometimes, that’s all you can do. Just breathe through it, and remember it will pass.


Sunday School news

A special word of thanks is due to all of our Sunday School volunteers. Audrey and Kathryn have assumed leadership positions, coordinating the many diverse voices and ideas streaming their way regarding Sunday School. For now, we’re offering two Sunday morning Zoom sessions (first through 5th graders meet at 10 am, pre-K through Kindergarten meet at 10:45). Eventually, we hope to hire a Minister of Christian Formation whose primary responsibilities will be fall under our religious education program (see the Five Year Plan update)

Women's bible study

Sunday Group

 The Sunday Women’s Bible study’s next meeting is November 22nd at 3:00pm. This group will be continuing on Zoom, meeting once or twice a month. We are reading Bible Women:  All their words and why they matter by Lindsay Hardin Freeman.  On November 22 we will be reading the New Testament, “The Syrophoenician Woman—aka The Canaanite Woman.”  We discuss not only the book and the bible passages, but how they relate to what is happening in our lives and the world we live in now.


The following meeting will be December 13th at 3:00pm and we will discuss, from the same book, “Salome, The Mother of the Sons of Zebedee.”

You do not need to have attended in the past to join us now!

Please contact Pat Speer ( if you wish to be added to the email list to receive the Zoom link.   



Thursday Morning Group


The Thursday Morning Women's Bible Study will continue to meet every other week by zoom. ALL ARE WELCOME TO JOIN. We are a friendly and welcoming group, and our discussion is free-flowing, covering current concerns and supportive dialogue. It is a great way to connect during these challenging times.


We will be using two books to facilitate our discussion. We will be reading Psalms for the Struggle, Edited by Martha Spong, as the meeting's introduction and conclusion. Purchasing this book is optional. Changing Hands can order it for you:, and it can also be purchased or from the publisher here:


Community & world Ministry

Neighbors in Need Special Mission Offering 2020

Thank You, Desert Palm!

Thank you, Desert Palm.   In a time of great flux and uncertainty, you came together as a congregation.    You demonstrated what Neighbors in Need embodies, with such generosity.  We surpassed any past NIN offering in the amount collected.

            This year we collected a total of $ 2055.18.

Neighbors in Need is one of the places in the UCC where issues of Justice and Witness are addressed in communities.   You can be well assured that two thirds of your contribution will be used in the areas of voting rights, immigration, health care, civil liberties and environmental justice.  The other third will be used by CAIM (Council for American Indian Ministries), helping the 20 UCC congregations on reservations and in the urban environment.  

Thank you for your commitment to our special offerings. 

monthly update from andrew ponder williams,

youth minister and campus minister for arizona state

andrew's ponderings

UCC@ASU Update

This is a time of great excitement as we engage many students from multiple ASU campuses.  Our student-led campus ministry is full steam ahead despite the current challenges.  In October we hosted special online events in collaboration with LGBTQ campus organizations for Pride Week and it helped us connect with another group of new students.  We will be hosting more events in November for Trans Awareness Week.

Out of the 12 students that have actively participated in something with us thus far, 11 of the 12 have joined us for multiple gatherings and become full involved.  We must be doing something meaningful considering this level of retention. 

We are meeting entirely on Zoom for this Fall.  Here is what we are offering.

All ASU students (graduate and undergraduate) are welcome.

Weekly Small Group-Every Thursday at 6:30pm

Monthly LGBTQ Interfaith Forum-Second Thursday Monthly at 7:30pm

Monthly Worship-Third Tuesday Monthly at 7:00pm

Andrew is also available for one-on-one supportive conversations.  Students are encouraged to contact Andrew to set-up a Zoom appointment.

For Zoom links and to learn more you can always contact Andrew at

ucc@asu swc annual meeting report

We encourage all in our congregation to check out this video report about UCC@ASU that will be shared at our Annual Meeting.  We have much to celebrate at Desert Palm about this new ministry and what our work with the conference means to the ASU community and to our shared UCC witness in the Southwest Conference.


ucc@asu campus ministry

latest podcast episodes

A podcast is an audio program series hosted by individuals or organizations.  We are excited to launch this program to share with students and with our Desert Palm UCC congregation and churches across our conference.  We have incredible students contributing content and their production skills.