The Palm Leaf
Celebrating the Past; Embracing the Future - Church of the Palms 50th Anniversary
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Rev. Paul A. WhitlockA Letter from Paul

Rev. Paul Whitlock, Senior Minister

We are in the heart of the Lenten season. During Lent, the lectionary passages have Jesus moving toward the cross, following in the direction he felt God was calling him. In what direction are you moving with your life? What is God calling you to do and be? 

To me, Lent is all about self-examination. So, what is your life saying about you? Death is a topic often associated with Lent. I’ve found most folks are not afraid of dying. It’s something more unsettling and more tragic than dying that frightens us. We’re afraid of never having lived, of coming to the end of our days with the sense that we were never really alive, that we never figured out what life was for.

During Lent, especially, the pursuit of happiness is the wrong goal. You don’t become happy by pursuing happiness. You become happy by living a life that means something. That’s why our self-examination in Lent is so crucial. In the end, it helps us live life.

This season also reveals that God’s love is not destroyed at Golgotha, nor diminished by our unclear reflection of its saving power. God reaches out to heal and revive us, and to reveal again the love that will not let us go. We are invited to know the One beyond all knowing and to accept the gifts God offers us. Answer God’s love with your praise, devotion, and service—and you will know you are alive!

Thanks be to God!

Shalom, Paul

Moderator Jeff ScruggsEverything in Moderation

Jeff Scruggs, Moderator

What a joy it was to bestow the title of Pastor Emeritus upon Reverend Len Silvester. It is an honor well deserved. The term “onward” continues to be used by many in the church. It became the closer for all of Len’s messages.

We also mourned the passing of several members this month. In celebrating their lives, we reflect on their contributions to the church and the lasting impact they will have. The church moves onward even though Len is not physically present, and neither are the members we have lost. 

COTP will continue to move onward because of its foundation and because of the efforts of this wonderful, and growing, congregation and friends. Even though we are an older group, we get things done. Things range from putting out cookies to creating wondrous works of legacy art installations; both equally important.

We are so very blessed to have members that volunteer on a regular basis and step up when there is an unusual need or special project. If you are one of the volunteers or have ever been, the church appreciates you beyond measure. If you are unable to volunteer for whatever reason, just coming to church and supporting those that do is just as important. Remember, “Everything in Moderation.” Please don’t over extend yourself. Onward is a very long time, and the COTP relies on you to keep the momentum.

Jeff Scruggs

Hi. I’m Farrell Ford, your new Office Assistant. Farrell Ford

I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon but have lived and traveled the world due to my career in HR and Consulting with major Fortune 100 firms. I retired as faculty at the University of Oregon where I taught business development to graduate physicists and chemists—it really was the Big Bang Theory. 

My hobbies are photography, pottery, and travel. My family consists of two doxies and a cat named Patches that rules the house. I have two brothers and my 90-year old mother lives in Portland, Oregon. The thing most people don’t know about me is that I really am an introvert, but cover it well.

HART Pantry needs for April:

  • instant lunch cups
  • tuna (or chicken) salad packs
  • canned pasta with pop tops
  • fruit cups
  • applesauce cups

Partnering with Dysart Community Center

Thanks to all who brought more than 300 pairs of socks and 300 pairs of underwear for children in the after school and summer school program at Dysart. Vickie Ashenbrenner created the Valentine “Giving Tree” and the Palms generously responded. Here she is packing the first box.

It’s a Long Road

Volunteers from Church of the Palms and Dove of the Desert UMC ( 14 thus far) are continuing to travel weekly to the host church in Tolleson (about 20 minutes away) where 150 asylum seekers are dropped off each Monday and Tuesday.  We sort clothing to provide a clean set of clothes after the visitors have had a shower – usually their first in several days.  We also package snack items for onward travel which are given to each traveler.  On occasion, we will help serve a meal.  Drivers from our church use the church bus to take groups to the bus depot or airport for their onward travel.  We do whatever is needed.  

As you may recall, from last month’s article, the hosting church has a very small space in which to welcome 100 people.  One of the things on their “wish list” was a large tent in which they could feed the visitors, and offer some protection from extreme heat and cold.  We wrote a grant to the national United Church of Christ offices for assistance in paying for such a purchase.  The grant was funded and a 30’x50’ tent has now been erected in back of the smaller building. 

There is no sign that we are at the end of this journey.  So, If you’d like to travel with us, please come.  We guarantee you will meet inspiring, and faith-filled people.  We carpool from our church in groups of three to six each Monday and Tuesday.  Our current schedule is  Mondays,  10:00 – 1:30   and Tuesdays,  9:30 – 2:00.  If we can place you on a regular schedule (weekly, bi-monthly, monthly etc.) that helps us to  let the host church know how many will be coming to assist.  Please contact Kurt or Linda Hoffman (  to indicate your interest) 

In addition, there is a box in the narthex labeled “Donations for Asylum Seekers.” If you wish to contribute, any of the items listed below are welcome:

Clothing for men, women, children, and infants in sizes small and medium ONLY:
  • Tops (t-shirts, short sleeve tops, sweaters, jackets, shoes, pants / slacks    
  • New underwear and socks for men, women, and children (again, smaller sizes)
  • Please NO large or extra large sizes, no dresses or skirts     
  • toilet paper
  • paper plates
  • utensils
  • styrofoam cups
Hygiene items:
  • toothbrushes
  • toothpaste
  • soap
  • shampoo
Food items: Snack items individually wrapped:
  • cheese or peanut butter crackers
  • applesauce cups
  • bottled water

As our friend Daoud Nassar from Tent of Nations outside of Bethlehem in the West Bank of Palestine says: “The road seeking justice for all is a long one.”  There is no guarantee that we will see the end of the road, only that God will walk with us.

Good Friday service to be on the Labyrinth

The "Labyrinths at the Palms" will host the church’s Good Friday service this year. There will be a self-directed walk on the larger labyrinth from 12:00 – 3:00 pm on Friday, April 19th. The Bell Choir of Church of the Palms will play at 12:30 p.m. The smaller labyrinth will also be available to accommodate those using wheelchairs and walkers.

The walk into the center of the labyrinth will have the 14 Stations of the Cross marked on the path. Each walker will be given a guide that provides a scripture reading and prayer corresponding to each of the stations, following Jesus from the Garden of Gethsemane to the Tomb.

Once at the center, walkers will be able to linger in prayer/meditation, and then walk directly off the labyrinth or return to the entrance by the path. There will be chairs available under the tree for journaling or a time of prayer.

Labyrinth volunteers will be available to assist as needed. The guides will be available throughout the afternoon and evening in the literature box near the sidewalk.

Labyrinth Speaks: A Story of My Becoming

By Shea Darian January 14, 2019

Dedicated to all those who helped create Labyrinths at the Palms, especially our joyous and fearless leader, Max Klinkenborg, and to all those who walk these sacred paths.

I am Labyrinth. Born eons ago.
Exactly where and when I cannot say.
This is part of my Mystery.
I am Labyrinth. Spanning continents of time.
I am art painted on Bronze-age pottery.
Carved into Neolithic walls.
Stamped on coins in ancient Crete.
Woven into life-or-death myths of God and Goddess
Bearing stories of transformation and redemption
Not unlike your own.
In Egypt, I was built into a temple of burial grounds
So intricate I was said to rival any wonder of the ancient world.
I served as Tomb-and-Womb of Spiritual Rebirth
In Italy, Russia, Britain, Ireland, Scotland:
An Entryway to a Life-Beyond-Life.
During the Roman Empire
I was laid out as protection in mosaic floors,
Built as playgrounds for children,
Used as a test of skill for riders on horseback.
To the Hopi people I am the bond between Mother Earth and her Children.
I am the Maze of Life you walk bravely to overcome, change, become One-With-All.
In 4th century Algeria I came to you, Earth Travelers,
In my first-known Christian form: Words written
At my center: Sancta Ecclesia, “Holy Church.”
In Europe during Medieval times, I graced the floors of great cathedrals – Chartres among
In Britain and Germany I was used as a dancing ground.
I was cut into the turf of town commons.
I resided as Sacred Ground on Scandinavian islands, like a
Prayer of Protection for the fisherfolk who built me there.
My aching remains can be found
In India, Spain, Turkey, Greece
In the Solovetsky Islands of the Russian White Sea
and in the ruins of Arizona.
Yes in ruins. Dying for centuries, when she came to me in Chartres:
The Priest and Healer who is my grandmother, as I am hers.

Lauren Artress saw me, knew me
Moved the chairs that covered my massive form
Walked into my heart and out again
Told the church officials that something must be done
Invited others to recreate me hundreds of times
In 80 different countries of the world
Earth Travelers! I am thriving again in your Collective Imagination!
More prolific in the past thirty years than in the rest of my 4,000-year existence.
My Sacred Paths reborn for you five thousand times and more.
I am Labyrinth. Born eons ago.
Exactly where and when I cannot say.
This is part of my Mystery.
I am There and Then.
I am Here and Now. Times Two.
You name me Labyrinths at the Palms.
Set here in this earth prepared for me.
Set rock-by-rock by your own hands.
Set rock-by-rock as a Labor of Joy.
I am your Sacred Earth and Cosmic Playground.
I am not a maze.
I will not threaten to lose you.
Inside my welcome, you are safe.
There are no wrong turns.
I will hold you without worry,
without doubt, without question.
Make of me what you will:
A work of art
A symbol of redemption
A wonder of the world
A sacred pilgrimage
A tear catcher
A gathering place
A prayer walk
A mindful meditation
A dancing path
An expression of faith
A tomb and a womb
And a gateway to the Divine
Come as you are. Come as you will.
Believer. Doubter. Seeker.
I am Labyrinth.
Now tell me. What will I be to You?

Copyright 2019 by Shea Darian

The beautiful new peace pole, created by metal artist Dawn Delaney, is installed in our large labyrinth! Its solar panels will enable it to glow from within at night. 

Sunday Flowers

As you may know, the flowers on The Chancel every Sunday are paid for by members of the church. They are not funded by the church.

If you would like to order a vase arrangement in honor of or for any special occasion, there are forms available at the information desk in the Narthex. When you order flowers, please use the designated envelopes available for your cash or check. Make sure you complete the form on the envelope to indicate: the special occasion; in honor; in memory, along with your preference of donating the arrangement to one of our homebound or taking them home with you. If you use a check, please put “Sunday Flowers” in the subject line. Your special occasion will be included in the bulletin for that Sunday.

The minimum cost is $30.00 but you may certainly give more if you would like something on a grander scale. We will also try to accommodate special requests regarding the types of flowers you might like.

You are always welcome to donate to the flower fund to assure we have flowers every Sunday. We have had donations from members that have covered weeks at a time, and we thank you all for those and for your blessings to the church.

Your flower coordinator is Jeff Scruggs. Please don’t hesitate to contact him for questions or special requests at 623.810.8044.

Thank you,

Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth—Redux

Nick Nichols will be showing this six episode DVD with the interviews conducted by Bill Moyers starting on April 4, Thursday at 10:00 a.m. These will take place at the West Valley Center for Spiritual Living, 9745 W. Peoria Ave. Each session will feature one interview, followed by a 30-minute discussion. The center will ask for a freewill offering.

Board of Lifelong Learning

Living the QuestionsYour Board of Lifelong Learning is beginning a new class for those of you who are wondering what it is that we call “Progressive Christianity” and/or might be questioning the things you were taught as a youngster. What are we “supposed” to believe? Would you like to explore all those questions you have with others who are asking similar questions? If so, you are invited to attend our new class offering, “LIVING THE QUESTIONS.” 

This class will be taught by Linette Stenberg beginning May 6 and will have 12 sessions. It is scheduled for Monday afternoons from 1 to 2:30 pm. We will watch and discuss the presentations on the DVD “Living the Questions” You will receive a handout packet of information about the content of the DVD and a bibliography of books that might interest you.

If you have any questions, please contact Linette Stenberg at 623-594-3718 or

The Fellowship Breakfast on April 9 will feature a program about recycling by Nancy Tsuchiya. A continental breakfast will be served at 8 am, and the program will be from 8:20 until 9. Please sign up on the sheet in the narthex.

Monday morning Lifelong Learning will present a new class taught by Nick Nichols from April 1 through April 29. The topic is to be announced.

"From Jack's Private Stock" film series
Jack Evans returns on April 26 with the movie Sunrise as his April selection "From Jack’s Private Stock " . . . movie begins at 9 am.

Surprise Potluck: April 28!

If all goes well (keep your fingers crossed), we'll have a planned distribution of the new outstanding pictorial directories in King Hall after the Sunday service on April 28. Keep alert as more information on the distribution will be coming soon. 

Whether the pictorial directories arrive or not, the Evangelism and Growth Board would like this to be an old-fashioned church “Surprise Potluck”— meaning who knows what will show up. So mark your calendars and start planning your food contribution now.

If you make a casserole that will make us drool or can whip up a fabulous pasta salad—super. Even if you just need tasters for that unusual dish you’ve been dying to make or if only you and the local store know where your cookies or desserts really originate, plan on being present. You are all welcome to a warm and inviting potluck. See you there!!!


English Afternoon Tea

Saturday, April 13
2:00 p.m.

Tickets are now available for the English Afternoon Tea.
Adorn and wear a hat to the English Tea!
A $15.00 donation grants you delightful tea sandwiches, scones, and dessert plus entertainment and door prizes.  We'll also award those who exhibit their creativity wearing their adorned hats.

Make your donation by April 7th.

Worship Themes for April

April 7:  Pastor Paul will be preaching. Do we have a practical or extravagant faith? Read John 12:1-8.

April 14: Palm Sunday. Our Sanctuary Choir will share a musical presentation, Reflections on Holy Week.

April 18: Maundy Thursday. 5:00 p.m. We'll host a community service that will include our sister church - United Church UCC. Communion will be served.

April 19: Good Friday self-directed labyrinth walk 12:00 – 3:00 p.m. Bell choir plays at 12:30.

April 21: Easter. Communion will be available at both services:

  • Early Service at 8:00 a.m. Pastor Jim will be preaching from Luke 24:1-12. Our hope is in the risen Christ. Worship will be on the patio.
  • Easter Worship at 10:00 a.m. The story is familiar. Can you notice anything new in the resurrection story? Pastor Paul recently did. He will reveal it during the sermon. Read John 20:1-18

April 28: Pastor Paul will be preaching. Read John 20:19-31. What are the characteristics of Jesus that identify him as the Risen Christ?

April Birthdays

Margaret Carpenter  04/07
Joseph Comito  04/07
Pat Mochnick  04/07
Bob Urquhart  04/09
Pastor Paul Whitlock  04/09
Roderick Fensom  04/10
Bill Reeves  04/10
Ralph Williams  04/11
Mary Lou Pelletier  04/12
Jeff Scruggs  04/12
Janet Alexander  04/14
Bernice Fintelmann  04/15
Janet Hutchins  04/18
Wendy Whitlock  04/20
Marilou Soncrant  04/22
Chris Jensen  04/23
Shirley Fowks  04/24
David Princehouse  04/25
Bob Carlson  04/27
Viola Hustedt  04/28
Cernyw Kline  04/29
Deborah Lane  04/30
The Church of the Palms UCC
14808 N Boswell Boulevard, Sun City AZ 85351


Rev. Paul A. Whitlock, Senior Minister
Rev. Jim Alexander, Associate Pastor, Pastoral Care and Worship

Sunday worship service: 10 a.m.

office hours:
Monday–Thursday 8 a.m. to noon

Copyright © 2019 Church of the Palms UCC, All rights reserved.

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