current news & Events

In-Person for SunDay Worship

Masks are strongly encouraged. We'll continue to live stream so folks with special vulnerabilities or concerns can watch from home. Thank you Marc Gaston, Emilio Grajales, along with Al, Ben, and Jacob Bravo, for helping with the technical side of all that!

Summer Sermons

The DPUCC "Banned Books" Summer Sermon Series

Join us as we come to an end of banned books for the summer. This Sunday, we will explore The Confessions of Frannie Langton, by Sarah CollinsFrom the review on Amazon: "This breathtaking debut, winner of the Costa First Novel Award, is a murder mystery that travels across the Atlantic and through the darkest channels of history. A brilliant, searing depiction of race, class, and oppression that penetrates the skin and sears the soul, it is the story of a woman of her own making in a world that would see her unmade."

New Staff Hires!!!

We are excited to announce the hiring of two new staff members: Sonja Haller (Christian Education & Social Media) and Donavan Bailey (our new Youth Coordinator for Middle and High School Youth)!! Sonja and Donavan will be officially introduced to the congregation in their respective roles on Sunday, August 7th. 

We are looking for musicians and artists for the following:

  • Chancel Choir - Rehearsals begin August 10th and will be every Wednesday from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM. It's time to raise our voices in song. (Open to high school and adults)
  • Bells of Peace will start in October - However, in September, on Wednesday night from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM, anyone interested in playing bells can come to practice and learn how to play the bells. (Open to high school and adults)
  • Instrumentalists - If you play any instruments, you are welcome and would love the opportunity to incorporate your talents. Please let Marc Gaston know what instrument(s) you play.
  • We seek youth and adults interested in dramatically acting out our scripture readings. Please let us use your talents if you have a passion for acting or dramatic reading.
  • Sound Techs - to run the sound board for our services. 
  • Camera/Video/Video Editing Techs

If you have any questions, please call Marc Gaston at 602-228-5587.

Pastor Tom's August 2022 Missive

Dear Members & Friends,

It's my great pleasure to announce we've got two new staff members starting up this month. Sonja Haller, who many of you know is studying to become an ordained minister/chaplain, will be heading up our Christian Ed and Social Media efforts. And Donavan Bailey will be our new Youth Coordinator, working with our Middle and High School Youth. Donavan is working on a doctorate in Education to supplement his Master of Social Work. Both Sonja and Donavan are excited to hit the ground running, so parents please to be on the alert to communication regarding the need for Sunday School volunteers, youth chaperones, and upcoming events and gatherings (like the pool party for youth at my house on Saturday, August 6th at 3 pm, at 1660 E. Flint St. in Chandler, just off Chandler Blvd. between McQueen and Cooper).
I also want to highlight the Friday night (August 19th) family-friendly game night Pat Riemer and the Fellowship Committee are organizing. It seems we could use a bit of in-person fellowship about now, so please mark your calendars and make a point of stopping by. I extend that invitation knowing full-well that we've got some folks who, due to pre-existing health concerns, won't be able to attend. Our hope is to try and strike a balance between opportunities for virtual fellowship (live-streaming the worship, virtual coffee hour, Monday evening Supportive Conversations, Wednesday afternoon Joys & Concerns, our book groups, etc.) and some in-person activities for those who are comfortable meeting in-person (Sunday morning church, the men's Wednesday lunch at Bogey's, my hybrid book study Thursday's in August, etc.).
I want to close this month's missive with an affirmation of some of our recent losses.  Eunice Fairbanks of course passed away. We celebrated her life and are so grateful that she has been such a vital member of our community. We also celebrated Audrey Penner's life of service to the church. As I mentioned in her celebration of life, everyone is feeling Audrey's loss, as she was so integral to our Sunday School program. Somehow it feels part of a larger plan, that as we are grieving her loss and celebrating her life, we are turning to the future with Sonja and Donavan. We all give and do what we can, and then we pass the baton on to the next generation. And somehow, God weaves it all together as the story unfolds. So my proverbial hat is off to Audrey, even as I turn to welcome Sonja and Donavan and step into the future together, along with all of you.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor Tom


Youth Group Pool Party at Pastor Tom's house this Saturday, 1660 E. Flint St., Chandler

(Middle & High School Youth)
3 PM, at Pastor Tom's House

Youth are invited to Pastor Tom's house (1660 E. Flint St., Chandler, AZ, just off Chandler Blvd. between McQueen and Cooper) for a pool party. This is an excellent opportunity for everyone to meet our new Youth Coordinator, Donavan Bailey, and have some burgers and hot dogs. Don't forget to bring your swimsuit and a  towel! 

If your youth wants to attend but you haven't confirmed, please notify Pastor Tom (718-915-2600) by text as the food will be purchased soon!

Confirmation Post-Church

                                                                  Sunday after church, August 7th,10:15-11:15

We'll be taking a walk through the Bible, learning some basics about this compilation of many different sacred writings collected and translated over the centuries. Looking forward, we'll meet Sundays in August except for August 7th (when Marc will meet with some of you for an audio-visual tutorial). Watch for an announcement of Confirmation Sunday coming up in September!

Book Group: Richard Rohr's, Falling Upward: a Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

                             Hybrid, Thursdays in August at 7 PM: 18th, and 25th.
Participants are encouraged to read the first two chapters prior to the first session as our goal is to get through the book in a month of Thursdays (Thursdays in August). Pastor Tom will facilitate a hybrid discussion of the book (zoom and in person) starting Thursday, August 4th, at 7 pm. We'll take two chapters per session:
Table of Contents:

  • The two halves of life.
  • The hero and heroine's journey.
  • The first half of life.
  • The tragic sense of life.
  • Stumbling over the stumbling stone.
  • Necessary suffering.
  • Home and homesickness.
  • Amnesia and the big picture.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 868 5021 2483

‘Spread the Word’

Desert Palm will be highlighting and collecting funds for the ‘Spread the Word’ Southwest Conference offering on August 14th, 2022.

This special conference offering is used to support new and revitalizing churches.   With some new churches beginning and several churches active in renewal efforts, there is a great demand for funds for a variety of reasons – salary supplements, supplies, advertising, insurance, training and more.

We hope you are able to make a contribution to this vital offering helping churches in our local conference.

You can make a donation in one of two ways:
          1).   You can write a check payable to Desert Palm UCC.   Make a note on the memo line for
                 Spread the Word and send to the church office.
          2).   You can use the ‘Give’ feature on the DPUCC website.   Go to the ‘Donation option’, and
                 from the drop-down box you will be able to select Spread the Word to make your contribution.

Your contributions are greatly appreciated.
Marie Parsey, Mission Offering Coordinator                                                                                                                                                                   *

Family Friendly Game Night
Friday, August 19th, at 7 PM at Desert Palm

Justice & Witness

                                                         Wednesday, September 1st, 7 PM zoom.
Join the DPUCC Justice & Witness Committee members for an update on upcoming events and a debriefing on what issues our various members are involved in. We'll also discuss the following day's press conference at First Church Phoenix (see below).
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 837 9227 8353


September 18, 2022, following Sunday Worship

Are you looking for a new realization in your spiritual and emotional life? Would you like to try a different method of contemplation and prayer? Come hear Dr. Jill Bormann, Ph.D., RN, a nurse, and research scientist, who will present:

A MIND-BODY-SPIRITUAL STRESS BUSTER: PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS FOR DAILY LIVING - MANTRAM REPETITION PROGRAM                                                                                             *

Save the date-2022 Phoenix Pride Parade

The Phoenix Pride Parade will be on Sunday, October 16, 2022.
Step off is at 10:00 AM. Please let Gary Gephart know if you'd like to participate at

Bells of Peace

Will officially start in October 2022. If you have any questions, you may email or call 602-228-5587.


Anti-Racism Storytelling Group:

 Sundays in September

                                         Hybrid (in-person and via zoom) post-church 10:30-11:30
                                                          September 4th, 11th, (skipping the 18th) 25th, October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
What stories come to mind when you think about race and your personal experience? Are you ready to explore them in a small group setting? If so, join Pastor Tom in this anti-racism storytelling group after church for four Sundays in September (4th, 11th, 18th, 25th).

Poem: Resilience

                                                                                By Alex Elle, Author and Wellness Consultant

look at you.
still standing
after being
knocked down
and thrown out.

look at you.
still growing
after being
picked and plucked
and prodded out of
your home.

look at you.
still dancing
and singing
after being
defeated and disassembled.

look at you, love.
still here and hopeful
after it all.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              *

Coffee hour

Coffee Hour is a time after the church service for people to get together and talk about whatever is on their mind. Get to know people you may not know very well. You can talk or just listen; it’s up to you. Whether you’re in the Phoenix area or across the country, join us and share some good conversation and fellowship time. 

Topic: DPUCC Coffee Hour
Every Sunday 11:00 AM

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 897 3401 4493

Women’s Bible Study

Thursday Group

Please contact Sue Henderson at 480-734-0921 or

Sunday Group

Please contact Pat Speer at for more information.                                                                                                                *

Social justice

SW Conference Reproductive Rights Panel, "What Now?"

Panelists include:

  • Frank Fox, SWC Attorney
  • Rev. Dr. Cari Jackson, National Staff/Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
  • Joan Lamunyon Sanford, Executive Director/NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
  • Karen Richter, Our Whole Lives Educator
  • Rev. Dr. Barbara Doerrer-Peacock, Associate Conference Minister

 To watch the panel click on this linkpass code is: ++V0Kwtn

Panel was held on July 9th.  


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has about 200 call centers nationwide to receive these calls for suicide prevention and mental health crises. We have been waiting two years for this, and it has finally happened. As of this Saturday, July 16, 988 will be the new phone number for mental health emergencies.

Please No Glass containers

United Food Bank donation request by month

January: Soup   

February: Beans

March: Pasta & Sauce

April: Canned/Dry Milk

May: Canned Fruit

June: Canned Meat & Fish

July: Peanut Butter & Jelly

August: Fruit Juices

September: Rice

October: Whole Grain Cereal

November: Canned Chili
December: Canned Vegetables

15 years of

making a difference

This I-HELP program is celebrating 15 years of providing comprehensive emergency shelter in partnership with an array of faith organizations that provide nighttime facility access.

The I-HELP model serves as a cost-effective and scalable solution for ending homelessness. As the homeless population continues to rise, in turn, the volume of affected people unable to access services is also rising. 

The I-HELP shelter program provides a safe place to sleep and a spectrum of services to prepare men and women for employment, financial stability, and permanent housing. 

Today, you can sponsor one night of shelter and additional services for a man or woman in need for $35 and help us celebrate 15 years of making a difference. 

Click on the link provided to learn more


I really like volunteering at the WELCOME CENTER.  I get to serve people who have been in real danger. I get to welcome them to the United States. These are the people I feel called to identify as my “neighbors”.  And I get to be the Good Samaritan on your behalf.  I get to help take care of them for a moment by offering them a set of clothes, so they have clean clothes to travel.


The Welcome Center is an oasis for people seeking asylum.  They have just been detained and released by ICE.  And within 48 hours they will be on their way to their sponsors in the US.  While at the Welcome Center, non-profit agencies and volunteers will provide meals and snacks, a change of clean clothes, a medical assessment, something to sleep on, and some legal advice.   


Please keep these “migrating neighbors” in your prayers.


Many thanks for your donations. 


In addition to CLOTHES for people of all ages, we at Desert Palm are highlighting the following for the month of August for various migrating neighbors.

  • TOILET PAPER   for asylum seekers staying in shelters in Mexico waiting to come across legally.
  •  NEW UNDERWEAR for asylum seekers passing through Phoenix on their way to their sponsor – (Sizes for men: small, medium, or large   -   Sizes for women: sizes 5, 6, or 7)
  •  CLEANING SUPPLIES for refugees settling in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Remember:  “Whatever you’ve got, a little or a lot, put it in “The Box." 

The Box is by the gate going into the atrium.  Donations are distributed through the East Valley Network (see separate article), the Welcome Center, and an organization called Gathering Humanity. If you would like to “shadow” one of us volunteers from Desert Palm at the Welcome Center see me, Don or Pat Riemer, or Becky Klein when she returns.  We’d love to show you around and show you what we’re doing there.  It would take 2 to 4 hours of your time and some preliminary paperwork.

(Rich Doerrer-Peacock)                                                                                                                                                                                                       *

Our Migrating Neighbors

A BIG thank you to everyone who donated items to "The Box" last week.  We received lots of clothes, bags, shoes, boots, school supplies, and travel-size shampoo, body wash, and body cream.

We are still in need of new underwear for men and women.  Men's sizes small, medium, and large.  Women's sizes 5, 6, 7.
Toilet paper, baby wipes, cleaning supplies, and school supplies are also needed.

Whatever you've got, a little or a lot, put it in "The Box".   "The Box" is located outside the gate on the right side as you approach the Atrium from the parking lot.


East Valley Network July Update

Desert Palm UCC is a member church of the East Valley Network, an organization helping refugees at the border, and for those who have crossed the border legally. Assistance includes donations of clothing, hygiene products, shoes, stuffed animals and tote bags for refugees staying in Mexico at three refugee centers associated with the  Sonoyta Center of Hope. Additionally, donations are shared with asylum seekers brought to Phoenix and dropped off at the IRC Welcome Center, or El Buen Pastor a partner church in the Network.


Holly Herman, a former member of Desert Palm, leads this organization, and shares these monthly updates.


If you wish to help, the following items can be dropped off at University Presbyterian Church or taken to Holly’s home (address at the end of this message.)


  •  Laundry Soap, Toilet Paper, Shampoo and Body Wash for the Sonoyta, Mexico Center of Hope, housing 20 families who have reached the border and are awaiting their opportunity to meet US officials requesting entry into the US.
  • Tote bags, stuffed animals, clothing, shoes (of all sizes, baby-adult) for the IRC Welcome Center.


University Presbyterian Church is hosting three asylum seeking families from Persia.

If you would be interested in helping the adults learn English, through general conversations at the church campus, please contact Holly. Conversation buddies will augment classes the six will be attending at Mesa Community College.


Holly Herman,              University Presbyterian Church

480-570-0450                                                            139 E. Alameda Drive

1701 W Lindner, Mesa 85202                                 Tempe   85282



Want to learn more about where your donations are going, read on!

Sonoyta Center of Hope

  •  The Center of Hope continues to provide basic resources for three refugee shelters in Sonoyta, MX as well as those area refugees not housed in shelters. Services include meals, clothing and other supplies, laundry, showers, medical care, childcare, and legal assistance.
  • Renovation continues at the Centre of Hope, now housing 20 refugees on site.  
  • Because of the relationship with Nogales’s Casa Center and their legal assistants, about 50 refugees from Sonoyta are transported to Nogales every 2-3 weeks.  Their asylum cases are reviewed by Casa staff and most have been able to cross into the US within a couple weeks, submit their claim, and travel on to their sponsors.
  •  Other groups have learned about the EV Network and are assisting the program. Scottsdale Bible Church, that also maintains a clothing bank, has given their excess clothing.  Women4Women is supplying sanitary supplies. IHELP is converting from sleeping mats to cots in their homeless program and has donated their sleeping mats. A generous member of Desert Palm is donating used shoes.  


Iglesia Cristiana el Buen Pastor

  •  El Buen Pastor continues to host up to 50 asylum seekers every Wednesday.  If you want to help transport folks to the airport/bus station or supply food, that would be much appreciated.  A load of clothing and hygiene products are taken to El Buen Pastor monthly from the East Valley Network.                                                                                                               *


THE IMPACT of the current SUPREME COURT RULING regarding ROE vs. WADE and the political rise of EXTREME CONSERVATISM upon or own INDIVIDUAL MENTAL HEALTH.

This was a key concern expressed at the “WISE” COMMITTEE meeting in July.   In thinking about what we can do, we asked Barb Doerrer-Peacock to write an article based on her presentation at the Southwest Conference Zoom gathering entitled, “Now What?..” DISCERNMENT is a key tool of our Christian Faith.  And discerning our own thoughts and feelings improves our mental health.  Connecting our faith and beliefs improves our mental health.  Asking questions and listening to God improves our mental health.  May this be of help to you.



By Rev. Dr. Barb Doerrer-Peacock

  • In these last weeks, since the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, many have been thrust even deeper into heart-wrenching confusions and quandaries over ethics, what we believe, where we stand, and what to do.  This is the stuff of faithful discernment, but it is not easy, especially when many of the dominant voices claim to be taking Christian stances and having Christian, or Bible-based, motivations and grounding.
  • Let me share with you five decision-making arenas to keep in mind when you are faced with discerning what may be deeply personal and complex issues for yourself, or for loved ones or friends, or what action you are called to take in the face of oppression or adversity.


Keep in mind also (as if we could forget!) that we are living through an era of a hurricane of

confusing messages, fallacies, misinformation, and reactionary language, all spinning messages to fit certain biases of all kinds. It can cause us to feel stuck in anxiety, fears and confusion.

The first two arenas help to address the challenges of this hyper-confused era we live in.


Become clear and define WHAT EXACTLY you are discerning and your role in the discernment     

  • What is the context of your discernment?

                                  -Are you making a reproductive choice for yourself?

                                  -Is it a situation with someone else that you are counseling/supporting? A family member?

                                 -Is it a societal justice issue you are working on? Is it discerning a stance for the church? 

  • What is your ROLE – and what is NOT?  What is within your power and what is not?

Clarity is important because our culture is filled with such chaotic messages that can cause us to “pinball” around, sapping our strength, energy and focus.

2.    PUSH DEEPER.  REMEMBER there are multiple layers of understanding and experience.  Push deeper to discern your most authentic truth and feeling. It is often hiding and hidden under layers of other rationalizations and reactive feelings. Your first thought or reaction is not often your truest motivation. Persist in being attentive to the deepest truth and most authentic feelings. Keep asking “why” questions…why do I think this way, why do I feel this? Is there something deeper? 

Progressive Christianity puts primary theological emphasis on the Great Commandment:


3.    LOVE OF GOD: Ask questions about your deepest belief and experience of loving and being loved by God.  

  • What do you believe about God’s love for you?

                            - Progressive Christianity’s understanding of God’s love and loving God is that it is supreme and unconditional. All human                                morality springs from the primary foundation of gracious, unconditional love, and it is not the prerequisite for God’s    

                              love. We discern moral choices because we are so loved by God and seek to reflect that love in our lives…we do not use

                             moral norms in order to gain God’s love or salvation. 

  •  How does my belief about God’s love connect with my situation?
  •   Note: There’s no scripture that specifically deals with abortion…but Jesus had a lot of actions and a lot to say to people who were living in the hard place between societal/religious moralities and their real-life experience.

4.    LOVE OF SELF:  (I switch the order on this because I believe we must love ourselves before we can love others.)

  • How do I love myself? Take care of myself?
  • If God loves me unconditionally – how do I respond to my situation?
  • How is my discernment impacting me and people I love?
  • What would it mean to trust God’s unconditional love for me in this situation?


  • Who is my neighbor in this situation, and how do I love them?
  • Am I being called to prioritize who my neighbor is? (i.e., unborn fetus over my living family members? My opinion over other people’s opinions?)
  • How does scripture talk about living in obedience to the law vs. living in obedience to God’s unconditional love and grace when they come into conflict?

When we grapple with these types of discernment questions, and prayerfully and earnestly keep love at the center…WE ARE BEING FAITHFUL regardless of what choice we end up making.  And that, I believe, is all God requires of us in doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly.                                                                                                


July 2022 Financial Secretary Report – As of August 4, 2022

Thanks again to all of you that have taken the time to send in your pledges.

Pledging is very important for your church’s budgeting and your program development.

As of July 2022 Total Received: $120,725.42

63 Pledgers

2022 Total Pledged: $208,866

58% of year has passed, 58% pledges received so far.

Breakdown of %pledge completion: Breakdown of Received to Date Pledge Dollars

% range                                                              #pledgers                                                     $ Range                                                #pledgers

      0%                                                                         10                                                             0-100                                                           10

    1-25%                                                                        0                                                            101-500                                                        7

   26%-50%                                                                  13                                                            501-1000                                                   13

     51%-75%                                                                 29                                                           1001-4000                                                 26

     76%-99%                                                                   2                                                            4001-8000                                                  4

      100% +                                                                      9                                                            8000+                                                         3