united church of christ certifications

our ucc witness

Through our United Church of Christ denomination we have made special commitments as a congregation to live out God's unconditional love in bold ways.

Learn more about our commitments through the United Church of Christ by clicking on the blue titles of the boxes below.

Desert Palm has been dedicated to fully integrating LGBTQ individuals into our church community since 1999, and we continue to uphold this commitment to inclusivity and affirmation.

We warmly welcome and extend our support to individuals who are facing mental health challenges, in partnership with the UCC and National Alliance on Mental Illness. We strive to create an inclusive and supportive environment for everyone and remain engaged in providing compassionate assistance to those in need.

We are dedicated to upholding our beliefs on climate justice and have a church committee actively working to combat climate change.

justice and witness

As a UCC congregation located in a southern border state, the Desert Palm Justice and Witness Team focuses most of its efforts on immigration.  We participate with East Valley churches and community organizations assisting immigrant families resettling in Phoenix, and families who have been released by ICE to join sponsors in the U.S.  The justice and Witness Team supports our church missions: feeding and housing the homeless, respecting our environment, being attentive to the stress it is under, committing our support to the LGBTQI community, those living with mental health challenges, and lifting the lives of children in need.

Justice and Witness at Desert Palm is also revealed through the compassionate and quiet deeds performed by our church family members every day.

Our liberal understanding of Jesus' compassion guides us as we Help Out, Reach Out, and Speak Out.  We collect and distribute donations for the marginalized, host events supporting causes of justice, and raise our voices attending protests, parades, and prayer services.  We sign petitions, we share information, and we join with other congregations to impact policy decisions by our local and national governments.

Desert Palm works with a host of Justice organizations, including:

UCC Justice and Witness Ministries

East Valley Church Network

Faith communities providing immigrants released by ICE, who are in need of short-term housing and meals, before departing the Phoenix area to live with their sponsors.


Assisting our church family and friends with medical needs, meals, and visits.

Humane Borders

Providing water to stations on the southern border.

Meals on Wheels

Delivering meals to homebound seniors. 

Rebel and Divine

Congregation at First UCC Phoenix providing a safe space for at-risk youth and young adults.

Southwest Human Development

Local agency providing for foster care for children. 

Empty Bowls

Annual charity event in Tempe helping to feed the hungry. 

our commitment to the overlooked and to our city

Our organization serves as a host site for I-Help, in collaboration with the Tempe Community Action Agency. We provide food and shelter for homeless individuals on two Saturday nights every month. We are currently seeking additional volunteers to join our host teams.

adult education

Desert Palm takes the intersection of science, justice, and spirituality seriously. In recent years, we have watched the documentary film series "On Sacred Ground," which sheds light on the struggles of Indigenous people across the world. We also held a workshop to explore gender and sexual orientation, featuring a speaker from One Community. Additionally, we organized an Indigenous People's Day celebration in partnership with the Arizona Faith Network and participated in various actions, including those in Texas and near Nogales.

Desert Palm was the first church in the SW Conference of the United Church of Christ to become WISE, an acronym that stands for Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Empowered in relation to persons suffering from mental illness. As part of our Adult Ed process, we had four presentations and a book group that read "Blessed Are the Crazy" by Sarah Lund, a UCC Minister and one of the national leaders of the WISE movement affiliated with the UCC's Mental Health Network.

In this current moment of heightened awareness of systemic racism, we are focusing on the theme of systemic racism as a part of our education process. Pastor Tom is currently participating in the UCC's national anti-racism training, Sacred Conversations, along with our SW Conference Associate Minister, the Rev. Dr. Barbara Doerrer-Peacock. We often incorporate material from this training into our Sunday worship. Two powerful books we've read together as a congregation are "The End of White Christian America" by Robert Jones, who visited Desert Palm during his national book tour, and "Tears We Cannot Stop" by Michael Eric Dyson. Dyson, an ordained minister, academic, and public theologian, offers powerful insights that challenge us to confront our own biases and become anti-racist.

Fall/Winter/Spring 2020-2021

Our community at Desert Palm has been actively encouraging participation in the lectures offered through ASU's Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. We host Zoom discussions after the lectures to facilitate further conversation and engagement. These lectures cover a range of topics, including racism, climate change, and the importance of truth. To join our post-event discussions, sign up for our monthly newsletter and weekly updates by contacting our Office Manager, Maria Deleon (admin@desertpalmucc.org).

One of the major educational themes for 2021 is the power of storytelling. Pastor Tom is currently pursuing his doctoral degree in Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, where he is focusing on the topic of storytelling. Pacifica is known for its scholarship in psychology and religion, as well as its commitment to social justice. Pastor Tom's project will explore the role of storytelling in community mental health, drawing from the fields of Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, Indigenous Psychology, and Ecopsychology.

arizona faith network

The Arizona Faith Network (AFN) aims to foster meaningful relationships, shared prayer, and dialogue that are rooted in our faith traditions. We also strive to take actions that influence public awareness, engagement, and policy. The Social Justice Commission offers various opportunities for involvement in these efforts. 

The Mission Focus Team is currently focused on Criminal Legal Reform, while other issue teams tackle Environmental Justice, Race and Economic Equity, and the Asylum Seeker Crisis. The Theological Dialogue Commission has working topics that include Faith 101, Next Steps, Know Your Neighbor Dialogue and Consensus Statement Team. Additionally, there is a Rapid Response Team and Youth Council.

Our motto is "Being Together, Talking Together, and Acting Together." Jo Vedenburg represents Desert Palm and serves on the Social Justice Commission and many of the issue teams. For more information, please contact Jo at jimjovred@gmail.com or reach out to AFN at www.arizonafaithnetwork.org or via email at ContactUs@AzFaithNetwork.org. The Executive Director is the Rev. Katie Sexton.

What leland & eunice have to say about desert palm

We were attracted to the "Golden Rule" type of mutual respect shown for all at Desert Palm UCC as sisters and brothers in life, seeking social justice for ALL.