St. Paul in the Desert has many ministries that serve in support of the parish and promote the mission of the church in many ways.
The following list of ministries describes our pre-COVID-19 operations. COVID-19 protocols are noted below in bold where applicable.
Music is offered weekly at the 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. services including organ prelude and postlude, group singing of hymns with organ accompaniment, and adult choir at the 10:30 a.m. service. The choir is active from September to June, and rehearses on Wednesday evenings, and a pre-service warm-up and rehearsal each Sunday prior to the 10:30 a.m. service. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the organist and vocalists of varying sized groupings provide music for the recorded service each week.
The church hosts concerts throughout the year and is home to concerts of the Desert Baroque and other community groups. We have also held concerts as fundraisers for the music program, which include musicians who are parishioners. A mid-week Taizé service was held monthly, including song and meditation. The St. Paul in the Desert organ was recently replaced with an upgraded instrument funded by a parishioner endowment.
The music ministry is in a state of transition. The long-time director of music retired in February 2020, and the interim Director of Music has continued with a similar program.
Altar Guild/Altar Ministers
Altar Guild members prepare the Altar for worship, and the Altar Ministers serve during the service as acolytes, chalice bearers and worship coordinators. Members serve at all regular and special worship services. The ministry maintains vestments and altar linens and performs special activities according to the liturgical calendar. The ministry provides ongoing training and scheduling for its members and for Lectors. The ministry holds an organizational meeting on the first Sunday of the month. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a crucifer also acts as an altar minister for the recorded service.
The Greeter/Usher Ministry symbolizes the welcoming part of the St. Paul in the Desert mission statement. This ministry is present at every service, church activity, and event. There are 17 men and women who are trained prior to joining the ministry to bring awareness and confidence, and to prepare for unusual situations. Their responsibilities include distribution of the service bulletins, presenting the oblation, and taking the collection at the offertory. During communion, the ushers invite and guide the congregation to the altar. They maintain safety awareness and know the location of first-aid supplies, walkers, wheelchairs, and fire extinguishers.
Day-to-day functioning of St. Paul in the Desert is facilitated by a large cadre of office volunteers. Volunteers work on a full-time or part-time basis, maintaining a regular schedule in the church office. Activities include all scheduling of events, special services, clergy, and visitations. The volunteers support adult and newcomer programs, prepare the weekly service bulletin, maintain official records, count collected cash and checks, perform weekly bank deposits, and perform general clerical and reception activities.
Children and Family Ministry
The Children and Family Ministry at present includes Sunday School held once a month during the 10:30 a.m. service. In addition, young people serve as acolytes, lectors, and ushers at the service each month. The program also includes activities to involve families from the community such as a monthly Sunday supper held in the Parish Hall that includes arts and crafts. In October 2019, we initiated an annual “Fall Festival” that includes food, games, visits with members of the local fire and police departments, and training on bike and skateboard safety. The parish awarded two bicycles, helmets and other prizes.
Adult Faith Building
The Adult Faith Building Program is a community of worshippers who continue to grow in Christ through the study, practice and witness of the faith throughout their lives. Topics on theological, biblical, contemporary and spirituality issues are presented in courses, workshops, lectures, Episcopal Cafe chat sessions and discussion groups. The program offers Episcopal Cafe chat sessions at 9:15 am on Sunday (between services) and discussion groups on Tuesday evenings at 6:00 p.m. The weekly Sunday Episcopal Chat sessions are based on the Sunday lesson readings. We present the Tuesday evening sessions as a thematic series over several weeks, or as individual classes in discussion group format. Our Adult Faith Building team also conducts the ‘Accepting God’s Gift of Grace’ series, which is the parish’s annual program for Confirmation, Reception and Reaffirmation. There are 10 members of this teaching ministry. During COVID-19, Weekly Bible Sharing sessions with Rev. Canon Eric Law have been held on Zoom.
Daughters of the King
The principal service of Daughters of the King (DOK) is to hold up to God our clergy, parish members and ministries through prayer. The group maintains a personal prayer list and prays weekly for each member of our parish. The group facilitates many offerings such as United Thank Offering and contributes to four funds of the order to assist the DOK national program, offer tuition help to women studying for church-related careers, assist junior DOK, and support missionary programs. The parish’s DOK are engaged with the Diocesan Board in implementing the national DOK’s six-year strategic plan. There are seven members in this ministry. During the COVID-19 pandemic, DOK conducts its meetings via ZOOM.
The Parish Life team seeks to enhance the mission of The Church of St. Paul in the Desert by enabling social, service and recreational opportunities for parishioners and their friends. Under the Parish Life umbrella are semi-annual parish potlucks, small group potlucks each month, funeral/memorial service receptions, after-service hospitality, a book club and a hiking group. Events are posted on the church website, the weekly service bulletin and sign-up forms positioned in the church narthex and parish hall.
This is the fourth year of enjoying small group potlucks known as “Circle Suppers.” The groups change each year in keeping with our goal of expanding the circle of friends within the parish. There are sixty participants in the six groups ranging in size from 8-12. Locations change each month depending on who can host. Gathering in small groups increases the level of understanding and caring for the individual needs of others. New friendships develop and some previous groups meet less often while individuals join other groups. The warmth of fellowship in Christ is found in these events, and throughout church services and other parish activities.
Community Events Ministry
The Community Events Ministry strives to follow Jesus into the streets by connecting the Church of St. Paul in the Desert to the wider community. Through participation in public events, we show our support for the diversity that is Palm Springs. The ministry’s work has facilitated the parish to take part in the Desert Aids Walk for over thirty years. Other events include Greater Palm Springs Pride Parade, Veteran’s Day Parade, Black History Month Parade, and the annual BBQ and Picnic of the Organized Neighborhoods of Palm Springs (ONE-PS).
Social Action Ministry
The Social Action Ministry seeks to be an instrument of God’s peace using information, advocacy, action and relief in order to non-violently address conflicts, unjust conditions/practices and inequality. The ministry sponsors clothing drives and fundraisers to help those in need. The ministry assists the Palm Springs Black Caucus in sponsoring the Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance Day, sponsors Gun Violence and Safety awareness programs, and administers special programs such as the Christmas Campaign and the “Emporium” for special needs populations. There are 12 members of this Ministry.
The Latino Ministry is a new ministry that seeks to increase the number of Latinos attending Church of St. Paul in the Desert and promotes greater cultural awareness. The ministry has led celebrations of the Day of the Dead, Cinco de Mayo, and 16th September, and sponsored a Memorial Altar/service in the memorial garden in honor of All Saints and Día de las Muertos. A painting of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a gift to the church by two members, was added to this altar. The ministry invited a San Diego Diocese Latino Missioner to speak on the Latino Ministry in the San Diego Diocese. The Latino Ministry currently has 11 members.
The Sacred Circle is a women’s group which meets each week to study and share experiences to deepen the members’ spiritual lives. The book “Bible Women, All Their Words, and Why they Matter” by Episcopal priest Lindsay Freeman inspired the group. From the book’s introduction: “Bible women speak through the centuries with their words and witness of their lives to guide and instruct our hearts. Their words are meant for us.” The Sacred Circle is open to women both inside and outside the parish and has 12 members. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the group conducts its meetings via Zoom.
Prayer Shawl Ministry
The Prayer Shawl Ministry provides a message of comfort and care as members create shawls and hats for others in celebration or need. The ministry enhances worship; shawls and hats are draped once a month on the altar rail, creating a prism of color as they are blessed by the priest and congregation.
The ministry also conducts community outreach by meeting Wednesdays when Well in the Desert serves lunch to the community in the Parish Hall. These meetings create an opportunity for lunch attendees to meet ministry members and knit and crochet together. This ministry has five members.