Palo Cristi is a congregation of the Presbyterian
Church (USA). We are also a diverse community of believers from all walks
of life. We are male and female, old and young, rich and poor, healthy and ill,
traditional and progressive, straight, lesbian, gay, White, Black, Latino, Asian,
dull, and funny. We are all bound together into one community by the love of God
and a desire to serve God in the way that Jesus showed us.
What we believe
We believe in God, who created and loves the world and all the creatures
in it. God's love was revealed in the birth, life, death, and resurrection
of Jesus. We call ourselves Christians because we seek to follow Jesus, the
Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, who was fully human and fully divine.
Our world needs what Christianity, at its best, has to offer, seeking to behave
like Jesus the Christ.
Palo Cristi strives to be the Church at its best -- speaking out against injustices,
welcoming the stranger, including the gifts of everyone in our work and worship.
We struggle to be an inclusive church, loving people because of who they are, not
in spite of who they are.
We believe that there are people searching for opportunities to have a relationship
with God through Jesus Christ who have difficulty finding a place that nourishes
them, and we want to be that place.
We are the hands and body of Christ. We believe in the truth of Matthew 5:9, as
spoken by the Prince of Peace: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall
be called the children of God."
Palo Cristi Presbyterian Church comes from a proud heritage. In 1953, Orangewood
Presbyterian Church was formed in the rapidly growing North Central Area of Phoenix.
On December 31, 1961, Camelback United Presbyterian Church was formed and in 1965
dedicated the beautiful desert facility used today by Palo Cristi in the Town of
Paradise Valley, a suburb between Phoenix and Scottsdale. In 1976, a group
of Orangewood members who wanted to explore contemporary worship formed Sunrise
Camelback was known for its mission trips to Alaska and Mexico, and for a "drop-in"
ministry known as "Hat full of peas". During its history, pastors
who served Camelback were Rev. Tom Fisher, Kent Organ, and Q. Gerald Roseberry.
Sunrise prided itself in its existance as a "nomad" church, never owning a building,
and adapting its high-energy worship to various locations. The only installed
pastor to serve in Sunrise's history was Gene Lefebre.
In 1983 Camelback and Sunrise Presbyterian Churches began to share facilities, program,
and staff. Though each congregation maintained its own worship service and identity,
the churches came together to do significant work, including outreach to Central
American refugees, construction of a medical clinic in Southern Mexico, the Christian
Education program, and shared fellowship events. One significant event occurred
in 1985, when an undercover government informant was present with a "body bug" at
an ecumenical service at our facility during an ecumenical worship service in solidarity
wih the Central American refugee "Sanctuary Movement," and took down license numbers
in the parking lot. The churches brought suit against the United States Government
and won a partial victory at the United States Supreme Court regarding this intrusion.
In the spring of 1987, a plan to dissolve Camelback and Sunrise Presbyterian Churches,
and to form a new church, was presented to the respective congregations. On Sunday,
June 21, 1987, at 10:00 AM, the Presbytery of Grand Canyon held a "Service
of Organization," and the new congregation was born: Palo Cristi Presbyterian
Over the last 26 years, we have been led by installed pastors Drew Travis, Peggy
Lindamood Roberts, and Debra Avery, and by interim pastors David Sholin, Harvey
Moore, David Strickland, Phil Reller, and Doug Baer. We are currently led
by the Rev. Linda Worsnop.
We have built houses with Habitat for Humanity and Amor Ministries, sponsored several
refugee families and a group of the "Lost Boys of Sudan", housed many homeless guests
in our facility as part of Family Promise, raised money for the CROP Walk and Heifer
International, and stood up for the rights of our brothers and sisters in the LGBT
community to participate fully in the life of the church as part of
More Light Presbyterians.
We have also been a family together in times of sorrow and joy, and a place for
folks of all ages to grow in faith. We have a history encouraging the difficult
faith questions. We also like each other.
Today, Palo Cristi is a vibrant church of almost 150 members that is dedicated to
mission around the world and in the Valley of the Sun. We are exploring what God
has for us next. Come be a part of the excitement!