monthly breeze

online newsletter

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


Dear Desert Palm,

So it's official: Pastor Tom is away on sabbatical (June, July, August) and I'm covering for him. We have several guest preachers lined up  (including me). In addition to serving as co-worship leader along with Marc Gaston, my main role will be providing emergency pastoral care. Please feel free to call my cell phone (number) and my best email to alert me to a need or concern is (email).  Ray Littleford and Ellen Colangelo have also offered to provide consultation for me so I'm not having to handle this responsibility alone. And of course Marc Gaston will continue to work his magic in relation to putting together such beautiful and meaningful worship services. And then there's the Arts Camp! Please let me know ASAP if you've got little ones (ages...) who would like to participate.

I'm grateful for your trust and for this opportunity to gain valuable experience. I look forward to this Sunday's upcoming 44th Birthday celebration (of Desert Palm's founding). Try to make it if you can as we'll be showing the new video interview of our Minister Emeritus, Rev. Dr. Don (and Lois) Arey! Please keep me in your prayers and let's have a great summer!

For emergency pastoral concern please reach out to Sonja Haller at 480-560-4305 or

Grace & Peace,

Sunday, June 4, 4-6 pm

Church Anniversary Potluck

A celebration of Rev. Dr. Don and Lois Arey and the early days of Desert Palm. A Pot-Luck Dinner will follow in Mission Hall. (see flyer below)

Desert Palm Family Tree

Desert Palm United Church of Christ was chartered as a new church start by the Southwest Conference in June 1979.  It had been meeting since October 1978, so we will soon be approaching the 45th anniversary of worshipping together.  (See the article about how we will celebrate on June 4.)

We will be displaying our Family Tree banner. Every few years the Chancel Committee adds more leaves to the banner as new people become part of our congregation.  New leaves were last added in 2019.  If you have become active here at Desert Palm since then, you are invited to sign a leaf and it will be added to our tree.  The Chancel Committee will have leaves available for you to sign during coffee time after worship during the Sundays in May.

DPUCC June Arts Camp

June 12th - 16th, 9 am - 12 pm

Desert Palm’s Summer Art Camp: instead of a traditional VBS this year, we’re going try something new! June 12th through the 16th (Monday through Friday, 9 am through noon), Marc Gaston will be coaching the kids and rehearsing some musical numbers. More info to come. PLEASE RSVP with Sonja Haller if your child or youth will be participating. And for our older youth interested in jazz, our uber-talented jazz pianist Claudia Bloom will be offering a jazz music workshop in the afternoon (same dates).



June 12 - 16 , 1 - 3 PM

UPC Refugee Update

If you were in church or on Zoom or YouTube on Sunday, you would have heard that our Persian Village will be moving off our church campus over the next couple weeks. We are excited for them and sad to see them go! 
A couple that used to belong to Desert Palm UCC, John’s and my previous church, are moving to Denver for at least a couple years. Their oldest daughter just had a baby and they are moving in with the daughter and her husband to care for the baby so the young couple can return to work. Not sure if they will return to Tempe, they have decided not to sell their house. They heard about our Persian families through a co-worker that met the families when I recently visited Desert Palm and took the whole Persian Village with me.
The husband called me and offered the house to the Village- initially for the cost of the utilities. In a few months, as our Village moves up to better jobs, they can start contributing toward the cost of the mortgage. The rent will not exceed the owner’s out-of-pocket costs of around $2300. The house has 4 bedrooms, 3 full baths, a 3-car garage, about 3100 square feet, and will be mostly furnished. It even has a piano!  (Four of the Persian adults are taking lessons from Carol!). Located near Rural and Elliot, they will still be close and we will see them on Sundays. Ramtin will still attend McKemy up the street. They will also continue to volunteer for Meals on Wheels, Paz de Cristo, and be here for other activities at UPC. Of course, we will continue to be in close touch and support them throughout their asylum process.
What will happen to their rooms?

  1. If you donated items when we first furnished the rooms for our families and you want those items back, let me know.
  2. Room 4 will be set up to act as available space for Family Promise during the four weeks a year that we host.
  3. Rooms 5 and 6 will continue to be furnished as efficiency apartments to house asylum seekers or others as the need might arise.

And that need might have arrived….
Many of you know Joe and Selena Keesecker from Guadalupe Presbyterian Church. Joe is retired clergy and he and Selena have served all over the world in their ministry. They currently manage the Refugee Detention Ministry at Guadalupe Presbyterian and work with those detained at the Eloy detention center. They visit detainees on site and arrange visitation by others, send cards and letters, assist with communication with attorneys and sponsors, and occasionally provide “bail” to those being released. (It was the Keeseckers that introduced us to our Persian Village and UPC has contributed to their Revolving Bond Fund.)
Joe and Selena have been visiting a man from Nigeria for some time. He was an English teacher in Nigeria, is a Christian, and is gay. Being gay in Nigeria can be very dangerous. Jonathan has an attorney, but he has already been scheduled for deportation. One reason - he had no place to stay. UPC has agreed to provide housing and other support to Jonathan based on his relationship with the Keeseckers. The attorney filed an appeal and is asking for his release on “parole.” When Jonathan refused to sign his deportation papers, they put him in isolation. The appeal has about a 50/50 chance of succeeding. But if the detention center and immigration see that he has visible support, it often can make a difference.
So- here is the “ask!”  Please send cards and letters of support to Jonathan. Even if he eventually loses his appeal, he will know that he was wanted and cared about.  As he awaits a final disposition, the cards will give him comfort and a link to the outside.
There are rules:
It is considered contraband if a card/letter includes: stickers, glitz/glitter, stapled items, scotch taped items, postage stamps, post-it notes (unless the sticky part is cut off). Cards/letters can include: pictures of 8“ or less, bulletins, pages torn from daily prayer books, word/number puzzles. Selena has written HUGS on pieces of paper like confetti to fall out when opening and other words, i.e., SMILE, or positive drawings. She also decorates the envelope with hand drawn pictures or doodles saying that the envelope is also a gift. Below is a picture of her last note to Jonathan and the address where to send it.
Jonathan Obidike
A#  243-105-429
1705 E Hanna Rd.
Eloy, AZ 85131
Thank you all for your support of this ministry. It is a true manifestation of our Matthew 25 commitment. We are a church that “does stuff” and I am so proud to be part of it.
Holly Herman

Facilities Update

  • As most are aware, the City of Tempe has denied Crown Castle tower company’s request to place a cellular tower at Desert Palm. This will mean a loss of planned revenue. 
  • We are waiting for our sign company to review the engineering plan for our new sign. They will then submit to the City of Tempe for a permit. Once we have a permit we will be ordering the new sign. 
  • We currently are not in compliance with the Tempe landscaping requirements. We are submitting a new landscaping plan to the city. This will have to include 10-15 new trees, more shrubs and planting and irrigation adjustment. 
  • On a final positive note; for the past several years we have had a mama killdeer, a small bird that builds its nest in the rock area east of the parking lot. This year there are two, one on the East side and now one in the rock South and West of the sanctuary. Their eggs are spotted but hard to notice. The Killdeer will screech and hop around away from the nest to draw off predators. So please, if you walk in these areas be careful where you step. Strole out carefully and check them out

Congratulations to Gary Heath

Gary Heath received an award for his 50 years of service with the Chandler PD. Congratulations Gary!

Click on this link to view video of Gary Heath


Global Ministries