“Our Evolving Story: Integrating Religion and Science” Retreat at Church of the Palms

From Rev. Paul A. Whitlock, Senior Pastor, Church of the Palms, UCC: 

Dear Colleagues: 

It is confirmed: “Our Evolving Story: Integrating Religion and Science” Retreat is coming to the Northwest Valley and will be held at The Church of the Palms. It’s coordinated by the Lifelong Learning Board who has contracted with Sr. Sharon Zayac, OP for a February 22- 24, 2019  weekend presentation.  Sr. Sharon’s ministry has focused on the new Cosmic Spirituality and Eco-Spirituality. She is recognized nationally and internationally as a teacher and preacher on this topic.     

We’re reaching out to our ecumenical community in the Sun City area for co-sponsors of this event.  We’ve received inquiries from two churches regarding co-sponsorship (no fee).  Those who wish to be co-sponsors will be listed in all publicity.  We’re inviting your church to be a sponsor; free to have a representative on the planning committee. Deadline to be listed as a sponsor on publicity/flyers for this event is November 1, 2018.   

Program schedule: February 22, Friday 6-8 pm with reception to follow and Saturday 9 a.m. - 3:30 pm (lunch/breaks included).  Sunday morning Sr. Sharon will be speaking at Church of the Palms.  Publicity brochures/flyers and bulletin inserts will be sent to your church in mid-January. There is a $25 fee and Pre-registration is required as there is limited seating.   

Sharon has informed us that she is available to speak to other groups on Sunday evening, Monday or Tuesday.  That can be specifically arranged for a 1-2 hour presentation if you desire.  Love offering, or arranged fee can be coordinated through Kay Klinkenborg 816-377-2318, kayklink@yahoo.com. (Kay is co-chair of the LLL Board of Church of the Palms, is hosting Sharon, having known her for over 20 years). 

Sr. Sharon has shared an outline for the retreat: 

Title: “Our Evolving Story:  Integrating Religion and Science” 

We are in the midst of a cosmic shift in understanding who we are as persons, as people of faith, as a human species. What is this newly emerging consciousness? What does it teach us about who we are, how we are related to the whole, and how we image Holy Mystery? Using The Cosmic Story as our context, we will find inspiration and hope as we explore and reflect upon its deeper meaning. 

Friday evening: An introduction to the weekend, speaking about Story, its power and role in the evolution of our species.

Saturday: Two sessions with time for reflection and sharing (includes breaks/lunch)             

Part I  Evolutionary Consciousness (what it is, what characterizes it, what its implications are for understanding who we and where we are going).

Part II Exploring the two particular universal powers of cataclysm and emergence (where we find currently find ourselves embroiled) and the promise and hope they offer. 

Contact Pastor Paul Whitlock and/or Pastor Jim Alexander or Kay Klinkenborg  or call the church office, 623-977-8539, to confirm your desire to be a sponsor and if you wish to have a representative on the committee. We wish this to be a stellar interfaith program to the Northwest Valley.   

Below is the biographical information for Sr. Sharon Zayac, OP and URL sites to hear her speak and review her work as Founding Director of Jubilee Farm for the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, IL. 

Sr. Sharon Zayac – a Dominican Sister in Springfield, Illinois – was founding Director of Jubilee Farm, her congregation’s 164-acre center for ecology and spirituality located near Springfield, Illinois.  A writer and lecturer, she speaks on many ecological topics, but her passion is sharing the Universe Story and its implications for life and faith.  Her book – Earth Spirituality: In the Catholic and Dominican Traditions –  which compares Judeo-Christian traditions that cause a disregard for nature as well as those that support a respect for Earth. The book focuses on evolutionary consciousness as an emerging worldview. 

Jubilee Farm Center for Ecology and Spirituality is a sustainable farm developed under the leadership of Sr. Sharon.  The farm’s ministry is grounded with the philosophy of sustainability that is foundational to this ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois. The farm was purchased in 1999 to "honor the Year of Jubilee and its biblical injunction to let the land lie fallow, to honor Earth and support the delicate bioregion."  “Climate change isn't a political issue; it's a faith and moral issue,” states Sr. Sharon. 

The farm is a spirituality and ecology center where they raise llamas and alpacas, grow chemical-free fruit and vegetables, and offer walking trails, a labyrinth a retreat house, and education programs open to the public. 

She participates in The Climate Project, which has trained 2,500 volunteers in the United States, Australia, Canada, India, Spain and the United Kingdom to lead presentations about climate change. Sr. Sharon is a member of Sustainable Springfield Illinois Inc’s Board of Directors. She received the “2018 Outstanding Member Contribution to Sustainability Award” from this organization.  

She has presented across the United States and in Europe, New Zealand; and returned to Ireland this summer to continue presentations on this topic. 



Moral Compass: Responding to Climate Change video (45 min)


Thank you for your time and attention to this lengthy article. Church of the Palms is looking forward to this wonderful event and hope that many of our Ecumenical Friends will join in with us.