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Pastor Tom's December 2022 Missive

Dear Desert Palm,
First off, I want to thank everyone who helped decorate and celebrate the start of Advent last Sunday—yes, can you believe it, we’re already in Advent! That Fellowship Committee under Pat Riemer is doing such great work. And as often happens, people came out of the woodwork to help. Was that Andrew Fox on the ladder?!

I won’t bother listing all the exciting things going on, but I want to call attention to a few. I’m especially excited about the winter clothing drive that’s happening this coming Saturday, Dec. 3rd. That’s because some of the clothes will be going to the Center of Hope in Sonoyta (Mexico), a resource center doing great work (see Rich Doerrer-Peacock’s article on the Center’s one-year anniversary). The Council will soon be exploring a grant request (which, if approved, would come from DPUCC and be directed to the SW Conference) to cover a small construction project at the center. Historically the SW Conference has wisely asked for evidence of active church involvement when a grant recipient is another organization. So things like our winter clothing drive, our youth watching a video about the East Valley Network, and the dream of a youth group trip to actually visit the center in Mexico would all be steps in that direction. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or Rich Doerrer-Peacock, or Holly Herman for more information.

Grace & Peace,


for those seeking asylum in the US.

This Saturday, December 3rd, 10 am to 1 pm


Note:  We’ve expanded the drive to include all winter clothes: jackets, sweatshirts, hoodies, gloves, mittens, scarves, beanies, etc. in addition to coats.  And there is a need for everyone: men, women, and children.  The warm clothes that are donated will be divided up.  Some will go to the Welcome Center in Phoenix.  The others will go to the Center of Hope in Sonoyta.


You may drop off your donations…

  •       This Saturday, December 3rd.
  •       anytime from 10 am to 1 pm
  •       in the church parking lot.  Just look for our tables and signs as you turn off of Guadalupe. 


Many thanks to those who have been dropping off donations in THE BOX at church.

The Christmas Fund

For the Veterans of the Cross

and the Emergency Fund

For the Veterans of the Cross and the Emergency Fund

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 18th, 2022. But, you can contribute anytime during the month of December in one of two ways:

1.) You can write a check payable to Desert Palm and make a note on the memo line for The Christmas Fund.

2.) 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, 2022.

May the light of Christ fill us with hope, peace, joy and love.

Marie Parsey



                                                  Sacred Earth: Common Ground

                                                                January 18th7PM (at Temple Emmanuel)
This is a collaborative event we are helping to organize along with folks from the Arizona Interfaith Power and Light, Temple Emmanuel, and Valley UU. Part of our preparation for this event has involved a Tempe High student (who also happens to be Navajo) that will come speak with our youth about religion and climate. That was in preparation for this event. We’re hoping we can grow this beyond our Green Team and involve families and all people of goodwill who are concerned about the ecological crisis. So mark your calendars for Wed. evening, January 18th, at 7 PM. The basic idea is very basic and accessible. We’ll break into small groups and share a story about a time when we felt we were standing on holy ground (connecting with God, nature, etc.). Then we’ll have some refreshments and grow the community of folks who care about the Earth!

Adult Ed Event:

                                            Recovery, Pilgrimage, and Spirituality
                                                         Sunday, January 22, after church in Mission Hall
Join Gordon Street, a Commissioned Minister in the SW Conference (and member of First Church, Phoenix), who will be speaking briefly in church and then leading an Adult Ed event on recovery, spirituality, and pilgrimage. Grab a coffee and head for one of the back classrooms


Ray Littleford of the WISE COMMITTEE

“Everything I saw seemed to be a burden to me; the earth seemed accursed for my sake: all trees, plants, rocks, hills, and vales seemed to be dressed in mourning and groaning, under the weight of the curse, and everything around me seemed to be conspiring my ruin . . . I had now so great a sense of the vanity and emptiness of all things here below, that I knew the whole world could not possibly make me happy . . . When I waked in the morning, the first thought would be, Oh, my wretched soul, what shall I do, where shall I go? . . . when I have seen birds flying over my head, I have often thought within myself, Oh, that I could fly away from my danger and distress?  Oh, how happy should I be, if I were in their place!”  (from the diary of Henry Alline, an 18th C Congregational evangelist of Nova Scotia)

The above diary entry aptly describes how it feels to be depressed.  The Christmas season may be “the most wonderful time of the year,” but these types of episodes tend to be more common in winter when daylight hours are short.  While anyone can feel as despondent as Henry Alline for a few days, if these feelings last more than two weeks then it is definitely time to seek treatment.  Psychotherapy and antidepressant medications, used separately or together, can help 65-80% of those afflicted with an episode of depression.  Exercise and sunshine are also on the treatment plan.  The FDA has not approved any natural products for the treatment of depression.

Severe cases of depression that have not responded to psychotherapy and antidepressants may benefit from repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in which spinning magnets over the left temple area of the skull create an electrical field that stimulates the frontal lobe of the brain.  This is a non-invasive procedure that has very few side effects.  Electroconvulsive treatment is used for severe depression that also has features of psychosis.  For acutely suicidal patients, ketamine infusions are effective in quickly eliminating thoughts of self-harm.    

No two people are affected the same way by depression, and there is no "one-size-fits-all" treatment. It may take some trial and error to find the treatment that works best.

Do not hesitate to join the Supportive Conversations, which are held every Monday night via Zoom from 7-8 pm, if you are feeling depressed, anxious, lonely, grief-stricken, or “accursed.”  We offer hope, support, and encouragement. 

DPUCC is Connecting with the Center of Hope

an immigration resource center located in Sonoyta, Mexico

You may have heard about our effort to collect winter coats and children's winter clothing (the event to drop off clothing is scheduled for this coming Saturday, Dec. 3rd). Our youth watched a video about some of the work being done to support immigrants and asylum seekers, and they're excited about the possibility of going down to see the programs in person. Meanwhile, several of our members are actively involved in the local Welcome Center in Phoenix. The newer (Center of Hope) building represents an opportunity for us to expand our support. One way to do that is by sending a card congratulating them on their one-year anniversary (address is below).


A little over a year ago, the nonprofit Shelters for Hope completed the purchase of an old motel in Sonoyta, MX, with plans to convert it into a refugee resource center.  At the time, there were three separately operated refugee shelters in Sonoyta.  The Ajo Samaritans in the US, another nonprofit, were trying to provide humanitarian aid to all three and were taking clothing, food, hygiene products, and medical supplies several times a month to each shelter.  It was apparent that a central location to distribute items fairly to all three shelters was needed as well as a place where “un-sheltered” asylum seekers living in town or on the streets could obtain assistance.  
The Ajo Samaritans, along with Humane Borders, had earlier put together a coalition of donors to supply the items needed at the shelters.  One of those groups was the East Valley Network (EVN)  (East refers to the Phoenix metropolitan area).  The EVN, coordinated by Holly Herman, had formed in 2018 to host asylum seekers being brought to the Phoenix area.  It is a loose affiliation of faith communities and individuals committed to this work. We (Desert Palm) participated and participate currently in this network to help the Sonoyta shelters by providing clothing, shoes, hygiene products, and children’s books.
Major renovations to the motel, also funded by Shelters for Hope, were required to turn the motel into the Resource Center, now called  Centro de Esperanza (Center of Hope).  Much of the labor was performed by the shelter refugees. When the UCC SW Conference sold its building about that same time, over three truck and trailer loads of tables, chairs, desks, kitchen supplies, office supplies, and other items were transported to the Sonoyta Center of Hope.  These donations allowed the Center to accommodate people right from the very start and saved Shelters of Hope thousands of dollars.  They are forever grateful to the SWC for their generosity.
So the Center was officially opened last December 18th.  Centro de Esperanza now feeds about 80 people twice a day, offers vaccinations and other medical care, showers, laundry facilities, clothing for adults and children, initial legal assistance, holds special celebrations and events, and houses up to 24 people on-site at any one time.  
How about a Card Shower to help them celebrate their anniversary?  Many of you like to send cards.  I know because I’ve received many myself.  I think it might really add to their celebration, knowing that individuals with real names in the United States are celebrating with them. If you would like to send a card (English or Spanish), send it to:
            Centro de Esperanza (or Center of Hope)
            c/o Shelters for Hope
            PO Box 322
            Ajo, Az. 85321
Muchas gracias,
Rich Doerrer-Peacock
(Many thanks to Holly Herman for the information contained in this article.)

Global Ministries



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October 2022

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