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What could possibly be good about the coming year? Well, for one thing, Andrew was unanimously approved for ordination pending call at his Ecclesiastical Council! The committee appointed by the DPUCC Council to explore Marc Gaston’s Commissioning has prepared a recommendation to be shared with Council at its January meeting (watch for more information about this exciting step in the life of the church). I’m happy to share again that my dissertation was approved! I’ll be giving a public presentation on Tuesday, January 18th at 1 PM our time. Watch for a zoom link if you’d like to watch. And did I mention that we had three new members join? Okay, that was technically in 2021, but still! So, despite all the challenges facing us, we continue to support each other as we gather our strength, share our concerns and celebrate our joys.
While it may feel like an odd time to be exploring our spiritual journeys, what with the pandemic and everything else going on in the world, I see this as a time for us to reflect on our experience of being the church, by sharing our journeys and intersecting with the pandemic and our response, we’ll be producing a document that will reflect how one faith community responded, individually and collectively. Stories are powerful and have long been a staple means of responding for people of faith. Let’s reflect on and share our stories so as to strengthen our community.
We’re all going through so much and have been for these past couple of years. Believe me when I say I’m right there with all of you who are feeling the weight of it all, wondering when it will end—if ever, and when we might return to some semblance of normalcy. As you all know, I contracted COVID a while back and had to quarantine. Since then, we’ve had a few other people come down with it, including some of our musicians from the Christmas Eve service. Amy and Nicky have both tested positive, as has Sharon Heath and Claudia. This, of course, reflects what’s going on in the nation and the world as the “viral hurricane” of Omicron spreads around the globe. In my conversations with Ethel, she has stressed the highly contagious nature of Omicron, the importance of wearing a high-quality mask, and the need to distance and maintain our vigilance.
It may help to know that many in the medical community feel this is an especially important time (on the heels of the holiday gatherings) to maintain our vigilance in hopes of flattening the curve. I know that sounds like Groundhog Day, but collective action (getting vaccinated and boosted) and the widespread dissemination of crucial information can make a difference. Ethel is stressing that Omicron is highly, highly contagious. But a good quality mask and/or staying at least six feet away from people can protect you from getting it. So as hard as it is to keep doing these things, I encourage you to hold out a bit longer.
Meanwhile, I continue to find inspiration in the way you all continue to be the church. I know it’s not easy, but we are managing reasonably well given all that we’ve been up against. So my prayer is that we’ll be able to keep on doing what we’ve been doing: reaching out to each other, following the guidelines of our medical experts and the CDC, while at the same time engaging the larger spiritual meaning of this moment in history. It’s no easy thing, but it’s what we do!
I pray the New Year brings us all some relief and that God’s still-speaking voice will find us, inspire us, and renew us. And so I end the way I began: Happy New Year, Desert Palm!
Your DP council has been hard at work creating the 2022 budget. There is a lot of good news to share - the new budget includes funds for the fellowship ministry group so we can have more events like the great family reunion we had a few weeks back and funds to support the Southwest Conference's regional welcome center for refugees, and funds to give all staff a (modest) salary increase.
To learn more about the budget, plan to attend an information meeting after the worship service on January 9. The budget will be shared at this meeting, along with details about our savings accounts and the status of FCC funds. There will be an opportunity to ask questions and make suggestions during this meeting.
We will hold our annual congregational meeting to approve the 2022 budget on January 30, right after the service.
We are currently reaching out to our families to learn about their hopes for this time as we navigate another variant. We are hoping to offer our big welcome back Sunday in late January or early February. During this in-between Andrew is offering Zoom story and sharing times with our families. To set one up please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Youth Outdoor Adventure Club
Look below for info. We continue to gather outdoors throughout these upcoming cooler seasons so that we can enjoy God's creation and be mindful of virus concerns. Masks required. We knew there would be ups and downs with the pandemic so we are grateful we planned all our events for youth to be outdoors and masked so we can be together.
All families with youth who are in the age range for confirmation have been invited to participate in Confirmation and we have had a great response.
We are currently coordinating with our sibling UCC congregations about when to begin Confirmation given recent challenges with the new variant.
We have now launched our new monthly dinner group for all young adults. We had a wonderful Christmas dinner in December and we are excited to continue to gather and grow together. We are keeping our groups small and eating outdoors as we are mindful of pandemic concerns.
Email email@example.com to find out how to get more involved and to be added to our group text.
Thursday Morning Women's book and bible study will resume on January 6 meeting the first and third Thursdays of the month from 9:30 - 11:00 via zoom.
We will be reading Girlfriends, Exploring Women’s Relationships in the Bible, by Barbara Essex
All women are welcome. Contact Sue Henderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 480-734-0921 if you have questions or would like a copy of the schedule and the zoom link sent directly to you.
Please contact Pat Speer at email@example.com for more information.
Thank you, Desert Palm, for your generous response to the financial support and ministry of the Christmas Fund. As of January 1, 2022, the Christmas Fund Offering contributions received were $3105.00.
The offering from our church along with many other UCC churches, gave congregations an opportunity to reach out in kindheartedness to those that have faithfully devoted themselves to the Church and now find themselves facing unexpected financial need.
May we continue to be mindful that our significant contributions assist in bringing hope to those who so faithfully and selflessly served to bring the gospel of “Good News” to all people.
Thank you, Desert Palm!
NEEDED! SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHERS
We are looking for three more volunteers to join Andrew, Kathryn Andrews (our Christian Education Chair), Denise Jurgens, and Pat Riemer to plan proper scheduling. Please consider volunteering! Join the dedicated “Teachers” that guide our little ones. Support and curriculum materials provided. Please reach out to Andrew or Kathryn if you are willing to volunteer or have any questions.
A Winter 2022 Adult Ed: Spiritual Autobiography
Sunday afternoons at 3 PM January 9, 16, 23 (skipping January 30th) and February 6, 13 (skipping the 20th) and 27th.
Writing a Spiritual Autobiographical Essay: join us for an adult Ed storytelling project. The goal will be to assist you in writing out and reflecting on your life story to date. What were the major events for you personally, and what was going on in the culture and the wider world? Beyond merely capturing the major events, we will reflect on what they have come to mean for you, what themes, joys, and concerns arise from your particular journey. In what ways did faith, the sense of God’s presence (or absence), healing, suffering, and forgiveness come into play? Pastor Tom will bring a depth psychological perspective to the group to help us enlarge the frame with which we hold our stories. You’re all living through this historical time of the global pandemic, so we’ll be sure to share how our individual stories intersect with the times in which we are living. Folks can share their experience of being vaccinated, having COVID (for those of us who had the misfortune of contracting it), along with the beautiful and inspiring ways in which you’ve all answered God’s call to be in the church in these challenging times!
What were the major events for you personally, and what was going on in the culture and the wider world? Beyond merely capturing the major events, we will reflect on what they have come to mean for you, what themes, joys, and concerns arise from your particular journey. In what ways did faith, the sense of God’s presence (or absence), healing, suffering, and forgiveness come into play? Pastor Tom will bring a depth psychological perspective to the group to help us enlarge the frame with which we hold our stories.
Why would I think my life story is worth telling? The growing popularity of storytelling has helped us appreciate that everyone has a story to tell. If you’ve ever listened to StoryCorps on NPR, you know that this can be as simple as having an adult child interview a parent or grandparent about their lives. “I’ve always wondered why you made this or that decision,” or “Tell me about your relationship with your dad.” Dismissing our lives as unremarkable or as unnoteworthy is to miss a great opportunity to capture a bit of history, to leave your mark, to celebrate those you admire and feel gratitude toward.
Where in the world would I begin? We’ll work with a few different approaches to this excellent question! But of course, one place to start is in the beginning. Where and when were you born? Someone born in Alaska in 1933 will have a different experience than someone born in Brooklyn, NY, in the 1980s. What was happening in the lives of your parents (or parent or guardians) when you came along? One grounding aspect of starting here, with your birth, is it locates the start of your journey in a specific place and time.
Beyond our birth, most of us can point to a handful of life-changing events (meeting our spouse or spouses, the loss of a loved one, our work, a natural disaster or two). This part isn’t rocket science. We’ve each lived a life with ups and downs, and these are profoundly influential in relation to the people we have become. How you integrate and understand these events becomes the trajectory of your journey and the meaning of your life. While no one can tell you what its meaning is, we can listen and support each other as we share what we’ve learned and what we find meaningful about our lives thus far.
How long is this supposed to be? Barb Nearing’s autobiographical essay was about five typed pages. Folks who are natural-born writers might find theirs flowing a bit longer. As a guideline, I would suggest between five and twenty pages for now. Those of you who find yourselves drawn to write more, can always consider turning your essay into a full-fledged memoir or spiritual autobiography. But for now, we’ll simply be trying to open a doorway for reflection and exploration.
Pacifica Dissertation Zoom Instructions for the Dissertation Defense of Thomas Neilson Martinez Virtual Storytelling in a Time of Pandemic: Building Bridges Across Social Distance Tuesday, January 18th, 2022 12:00 PM (PST) Join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/91946773074?pwd =MUJ4NE1oOU1OWWkwMjdZWVdxZVlMZz09Meeting ID: 919 4677 3074 Passcode: 853338
Please click the above link to join the live Zoom room. (You do not need to create or have an account for this.) *Please join TEN MINUTES before the start time
The Welcome Center in Phoenix is in need of winter wear, coats, sweaters, hats, scarves, and gloves, for babies, children and adults. If you can donate clean, gently used items of winter clothing, there will be a box inside the gate at church for those donations. Your help is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Pat Riemer and Rich Doerrer-Peacock
As the nation prepares for the anniversary of the Jan 6th insurrection, a coalition of non-partisan democracy defenders calls on the public to mobilize and stand with us for Peace at the Polls. This is not just in response to the Jan 6th insurrection and violence at the capitol, but against the growing call to violence against our democracy.
The survival of our democracy depends on Americans coming together—setting aside political, philosophical, social, economic, racial, ethnic, religious, regional and community differences. Together, we will assure that the right to vote is guaranteed, votes are counted and reported with integrity, and duly-elected officials and workers are free to serve the people in an atmosphere of peace.
Join the Arizona Faith Network, The African American Christian Clergy Coalition, Mi Familia Vota, The Services Employees International Union, AFL/CIO, RAZE (Rural Arizona Coalition), AAPINH Unity and Action and other Declaration For American Democracy organizations in Arizona as they prepare to embark on a year of action.
CLICK TO RSVP