We update this page at the start of each month with articles and updates.
Dear Members & Friends,
I hope you’ve marked your calendars for this coming Sunday’s, Advent event at the church. We’ll be doing some decorating in the sanctuary while children and youth enjoy some fun activities over in Mission Hall, then we’ll all enjoy a holiday meal! Thanks Pat Riemer and the Fellowship Committee for helping to organize this super event!
And the day before Gary Heath is coordinating a work and clean-up day at the church. Doesn’t that sound fun! But really it can be fun to see some of your friends and do a little something to beautify the space. So email or call Gary Heath if you’d like to get in on that or just show up this Saturday morning between 9-noon.
We’ve also got a few special services planned:
Thursday, December 21st is our Solstice/Jazz Extravaganza 7PM
(a mixture of readings and music tied to the season)
Sunday, December 24 at 9am will be our Family Friendly Charlie Brown Christmas service
(this will be our Sun. am service at the usual 9am)
Sunday, December 24th at 7PM will be our traditional Christmas Eve Service
If you’ve been tuning in or coming in person you know we’ve recently wrapped up our series titled, Bridging Heaven & Earth (with three related spiritual touchstones: myth, dreams and art). This coming Sunday marks the first Sunday in Advent. Our theme for this Sunday is love.
See you in Church,
Volunteers working with the East Valley Network and The Phoenix Welcome Center, are hosting their “Drive-Thru” Winter Collection for warm clothing and other needs (such as blankets) on December 9th, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the church parking lot. Clean, gently used blankets, coats, sweatshirts, sweaters, mittens, hats, socks and shoes for men, women and children are desperately needed at the border and the Welcome Center. Your donations are greatly appreciated by asylees arriving in Phoenix at the Center, and refugees waiting to cross the border who benefit from donations to the EV Network. Drop off your items near the atrium gates, where volunteers can assist you. Thank you so much! (Scroll down to see the flyer for this event. )
Monday, December 11th & 18th, at 7 pm
Let the DPUCC church family be your family during this holiday season and join the W.I.S.E. team for a couple of Zoom conversations on December 11 and 18. We will have an open discussion of both the good and the bad of holiday stress, including stories of how we capture the true Christmas spirit, while we also share feelings of loneliness and missing family members who are out of state or deceased.
Everyone is vulnerable to loneliness and nostalgia for holidays past. Some of us may also feel the stress of the busyness of the season, tight finances, and the potential for conflicts with relatives who have different values (political, religious, lifestyles) from your own. This will be a safe place to express both the light and the darkness of Christmas.
We will meet at 7pm on the second and third Mondays of December, the 11th and 18th . The Zoom link will appear in the Weekly Updates in December.
The Christmas Fund for the Veterans of the Cross and the Emergency Fund has been a tangible expression of God’s love and light in the world for over 115 years. One of the four Special Mission Offerings of the United Church of Christ, The Christmas Fund, provides UCC congregations and members an opportunity to reach out in compassion to those who have faithfully shepherded our Church and who now find themselves facing worrisome financial needs.
The United Church Board for Ministerial Assistance, the charitable arm of the Pension Boards, on behalf of the whole church, passes on this direct support so that these needs may be met and our support may be felt. This is done by providing pension supplementation, health premium supplementation, emergency grants and Christmas “Thank You” gift checks to individuals and families in need.
We will be collecting this offering on December 24th, 2023.. But, you can contribute anytime during the month of December in one of two ways:
- You can write a check payable to Desert Palm and make a note on the memo line for The Christmas Fund.
- Or, you can use the new ‘Give’ feature on the DPUCC website. There will be a Donation option and a drop-down box where you can select The Christmas Fund.
I encourage you to give generously to this fund, so that we may help those who have helped us. Please have your offering into the church by December 24, 2023.
May the light of Christ fill us with hope, peace, joy and love.
The new sign was shipped November 29 and will take 5 to 6 days to transport. The concrete base and metal frame are in place and waiting. A great big thank you to Bill Kaszetaa and Mark Klein for coordinating everything. The sidewalk on the playground pushed up by one big root has been replaced and the root removed. SRP has advised that they will be burying new electrical lines along Guadalupe Rd, starting this week. They advise they may be trenching in the easement in front of the church. They will replace any damaged landscape or infrastructure. I am looking to seeing all that are able for the All Church Workday this Saturday morning. All help is most appreciated. Gary H, facilities minion.
‘Tis the season of sharing – but in the case of asylees and refugees, the actuality is that there is no single season, Desert Palm has given throughout the year. For ALL your giving, the Justice and Witness volunteers are humbled; for ALL your gifts, the refugees and asylees are so grateful.
Desert Palm has been incredibly supportive of two local agencies that support those crossing legally into the US at the Arizona border with Mexico: the East Valley Network and the IRC Welcome Center. Your donations this past year have provided basic needs for refugees waiting in Mexico to cross the border and asylees arriving at the Phoenix Welcome Center from detention facilities in Southern Arizona .
For the month of December, we are asking for donations of warm clothes, all sizes, and sturdy pairs of kids tennis shoes. In addition, we will be hosting a Warm Winter Clothing/Blanket Drive December 9th in the Church Parking Lot. Be sure to read the second article in the Breeze for more information.
The urgent need of shoes for men, women and children continues. Gently used, comfortable walking shoes, or new shoes are very much appreciated.
Dear Desert Palm…from Holly Herman
Regarding the East Valley Refugee Network
It was wonderful seeing many of you recently at Jim’s service. Desert Palm always feels like coming home- and John and I still hold our membership there.
As you know, I manage the East Valley Refugee Network. It is not its own nonprofit, but is a mission of University Presbyterian Church (UPC) where John and I have attended for over 8 years. UPC has a separate bank account where all donations and expenses are paid and tracked. Although I manage the refugee programs, the expenses are overseen and approved by the Mission, Social Justice, and Peacekeeping chairperson and committee.
Because of our personal membership at Desert Palm, I was able to get permission from your Council to apply for a grant from the UCC Neighbors in Need special offering fund. Desert Palm has been a strong supporter of the Network and I am so grateful to the Council for endorsing the request. The grant request was for $3700 to purchase phones capable of using the CBPOne application. Each phone costs $370 and will be used at the refugee shelter and resource center in Sonoyta, MX, Centro de Esperanza (Center of Hope).
There are 6 phones and 100 people currently at the shelter. Each morning, another batch of appointments opens up, people start applying, trying to get legal appointments to enter the United States and claim asylum. Within a very short time, the appointments are filled and folks have to wait until the next day to try again. It can take several days to be successful. Until a family gets an appointment, the phone cannot be passed to the next family. Well, we were APPROVED for $3200! This will allow the purchase of 8 more phones. The more families that get appointments, the quicker they can be moved to Nogales, Mexico (the legal crossing location), and the more families that can then be taken into the shelter in Sonoyta. Centro has an arrangement with the UCC shelter in Nogales, La Casa de Misericordia. Centro families can house briefly at La Casa and a staff person from there will accompany them to the border for their appointment. Crossing legally to claim asylum gives the families a better chance for eventual approval.
So, thank you so much for your support and encouragement. I thought I’d also give you a few of the highlights from this past year that your support has helped.
- In January, Sara, one of the Iranian refugees staying at University Presbyterian, had extensive surgery at St Joseph’s. Their Foundation covered the cost.
- We continued to send shipments throughout the year every two weeks to Centro de Esperanza and the Welcome Center.
- In February, Temple Emanuel held a Mitzvah and collected toilet paper and baby wipes for us that supplied us with those items for 6 months.
- In March, we visited Desert Palm and your donations filled two cars!
- In April, Farshid and Soheila got married!
- In May, they had their immigration trial and were granted Asylum. They can now apply for green cards.
- In June, the 3 Iranian families moved into a house donated by a former member of Desert Palm.
- In July, Ramtin went to church camp.
- In August, Farshid passed his EILTS English test which allows him to study for the AZ nursing license test.
- In September we began hosting a family from Afghanistan with 3 little girls.
- In October, all the Iranians and the Afghans celebrated Halloween together at my house. The girls loved “Trick or Treating!” and Ramtin enjoyed teaching them the ropes (LOL)!
- In November we sent down a full truck of toys for Christmas and a second truck of winter clothes, jackets and blankets to Centro.
- In December, the second Iranian family will have its immigration trial.
Thank you, again, for your continued support. Contact me with any questions or if you would like to be more involved -or simply added to my monthly mailing list. I will need your email address.
For many years Desert Palm has assisted Humane Borders (HB) in its mission to deliver water to migrants crossing the border from Mexico. Desert Palm is one of several Tempe churches which are involved.
Humane Borders is based in Tucson and delivers water at the border south andeast of Tucson and near the border in Organ Pipe National Monument under agreements with the National Park Service and Border Patrol. Desert Palm assists with the latter region. The Organ Pipe water runs were done weekly, but with light migrant activity after construction of additional border wall near Lukeville were cut back to monthly in early 2023.
HB has placed water drums in various parts of Organ Pipe, mostly several miles from the border. After title 42 expired in May, there has been a massive surge in migrant crossings in Organ Pipe, which has not abated. At the request of the Park Service, six new “temporary” water stations were added next to the border wall in May. This is due to the large majority of migrants wanting to quickly contact Border Patrol at that Point.
HB volunteers assist with this. The water drums are placed about a mile apart along the wall and need to be checked every day to see if water needs to be added. The volunteers also pick up trash and make sure there are snacks and bottled water for those in need.
Currently, volunteers from Ajo are doing much of this daily servicing. However, more volunteers from the Phoenix area are needed.
HB has a truck which is used to transport water, food, and other necessaries to the border. Each volunteer group supplies a driver and 1 or 2 helpers. The trip from Tempe takes a day to complete. Volunteers need to drive to Ajo to pick up the truck. From Ajo it is about a 45 minute drive to the border. After all the stations have been serviced, volunteers return the truck in Ajo and head home. The trip normally takes about 8 hours to drive down and back and deliver the water, etc.
This has been a very hot summer and the Border Patrol with some assists from HB has saved the lives of many migrants who have been dropped across the border (often many miles from the water stations) by the drug and smuggling cartels. The migrants are always grateful for whatever help HB can give them. The volunteers from Ajo keep the truck in good condition.and make sure it has gas and water. The desert is always beautiful, and Ajo even has a restaurant or two for lunch.
If you are interested in helping with this work, please contact Tim Roberts or Judy O'Neill. Humane Borders does vet drivers and volunteers, so signups must ultimately be done through their Tucson office and a sign-up website. For more information on Humane Borders visit their website at:
Sunday, June 23- Thursday, June 27 at Chapman University in Orange, CA.
Planning for the Western Regional youth Event in Orange, Calif. is underway. The tentative date is June 23-27, 2024 at Chapman University. UCC Western Conference volunteers are planning cost, transportation and itinerary. Open to youth currently in 7th-12 grade. Youth can plan on gathering for music, activities, reflection, special speakers, games, local mission work and more. Watch for more information soon. Families are asked to fill out an “interest form” now so that organizers can know how many youth and parents/chaperones want to attend. To learn more about WYRE, please contact Desert Palm UCC Christian Education Coordinator: Sonja Haller, email@example.com or 480-560-4305.
Did you know that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration manages approximately 200 call centers across the country? These centers are designed to provide support for those experiencing mental health crises or struggling with thoughts of suicide. It's great news that there's now a new phone number to access mental health emergency services - simply dial 988.