Special offering for April

The April Special Offering will be split between Pacific School of Religion and Chapman University. Pacific School of Religion is the nearest seminary that trains future United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ pastors. Chapman University is our “local” UCC- and DOC- related college. Your support of these two educational institutions helps train the future leaders of our church and our world.

This offering will be officially received on Sunday, April 9. As with all our special offerings, you are welcome to give at any time (always make checks payable to Niles Discovery Church). You can also give online: go to our church webpage and click the “donate” button at the top of the page.

Niles Discovery Church receives a special offering each month. With that many possibilities for special giving, you may need to choose which ones are most important to you. You can see the schedule of special offerings at http://bit.ly/speoff2017 or call the church office we will mail you one.

Thanks to your generosity, the March special offering (to be split between the UCC’s One Great Hour of Sharing and the DOC’s Week of Compassion special offerings) raised $1310 for disaster response and development grants. We are making lives better, thanks to your generosity!



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Holocaust Remembrance Service Planned


The Tri-City Interfaith Council invites the public to attend their annual Holocaust Remembrance Service on Sunday, April 23, at 7:30 p.m. The service is held at Temple Beth Torah, 42000 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont.

The special speaker will be Fremont resident Abe Mazliach. The Abe Mazliachtheme is, “Finding Hope in the Shadow of the Shoah.” Abe’s parents survived the Shoah (the Hebrew word that refers to the Holocaust). He was born in a displaced persons camp soon after World War II ended.

The service is free and open to everyone from all religious backgrounds, and no religious background. A free will offering will be received.

Rehearse”I Believe” for Yom HaShoah service on April 20, 7 p.m.

choir rehearsalThe Niles Discovery Church choir, hopefully augmented with additional community members (and maybe you) will be singing “I Believe” at the Holocaust Remembrance Service. “I Believe” was sung a couple months ago in one of our worship services. The text is was found written on a cellar wall where Jews had hidden in Cologne, Germany, during World War II.

A special rehearsal will be held on Thursday, April 20, starting at 7:00, in the sanctuary. Everyone is welcome to help share this special music.


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Worship Trainings Planned

worship leaders 2 (3)Pastor Jeff and Pastor Brenda are offering training session for people who are interested in becoming or continuing to serve as

  • Liturgists
  • Leaders of the Time with the Children
  • Communion Elders

For people who are interested in becoming or continuing to serve as liturgists will be held on Sunday, April 30, at the conclusion of the worship service, in the sanctuary.

Training for new and continuing Time with the Children leaders will be held on Sunday, May 21, immediately following worship, in the sanctuary.

People who are interested in seeing if they feel called to be a Communion Elder should plan to attend two Straining sessions – on Saturday, May 27, 10:00-noon, and Saturday, June 3, 2:00-4:00 p.m.

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Welcome Sandra Lange, our new Office Administrator

sandra langeAfter a lengthy search, we welcome Sandra Lange as our Office Administrator beginning this month. Sandra is the part-time office administrator for Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation, so she has some familiarity with churches.

Sandra lives in Castro Valley and is an avid traveler. She is pleased to have a job that will be so compatible with her other one.

To help Sandra with the steep learning curve of starting at new church, please include be detailed when filling out forms or emails (like your full names). Her work schedule will be worked out in the first few weeks of the month, and will be post once it solidifies. If you happen by the church while she’s here, drop by and introduce yourself.

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Preserving a World We Know is Top of Second Saturday Documentary


Actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio interviews world leaders and scientists as he tours the globe in the climate change documentary “Before the Flood,” to be screened at 1:30 pm, April 8, at Niles Discovery Church. The Second Saturday Documentary Series is free and open to the public.

Moving from Florida to Greenland to inundated island nations to the Paris Climate Change Conference, the film was directed by Fisher Stevens for the National Geographic Channel where it first aired last fall.

While there are some low-lying Pacific islands that are no longer habitable because of more frequent king tides and increasingly powerful ocean storm surges, the film also shows us the problems of Miami Beach, Florida, which is experiencing “sunny day flooding.” The ocean rises with little warning, spilling up through storm drains to flood roads and ocean-side properties.

Miami Beach is spending an estimated $500 million on short-term solutions that include raising roads and sidewalks and building powerful pumping stations. The film also discusses long-term solutions to rising temperatures while noting that the window to keep a world that we might recognize in 50 years is closing rapidly.

A discussion will follow the film led by local environmentalist Dr. Richard Godfrey.

The Second Saturday Documentary Series is co-sponsored by Niles Discovery Church and the San Jose Peace & Justice Center.

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Holy-week 3This will be my thirtieth Easter as an ordained minister. This will be the thirtieth time I’ve led a community through the drama of Holy Week and I don’t want it to be rote. I’m hungry to make it spiritually meaningful – for me and for you.

I know that for me, the surest way for Holy Week to be spiritually meaningful is to enter the story. The fewer appointments I have, the fewer distractions, especially as the week moves on, the better. Making time for worship is important. And having time for prayer (preferable in several forms) is important.

So I’m going to get as much done ahead of time as possible. And then I’m going to let go (as much as I can when I have leadership responsibilities) and enter into the story.

Holy-week 3 palm sundayI’m not sure if letting go is going to be easier or harder than usual this year. Pastor Brenda and I are planning some worship experimentation this year. To start, we won’t have a Palm Sunday procession this year. Wanting everyone to be able to participate, regardless of physical ability, we will have the whole worship service in the sanctuary. Be sure to pick up your palms as you arrive because we’re going to use them in the first part of the worship service, and we have a craft project for them during coffee hour.

Holy-week 3 Maundy ThursdayOur Maundy Thursday service will be an experiment with “dinner church.” Dinner church is an old way of worshipping – perhaps the oldest way the Christian church has worshiped – with some new twists. We know from the letters to the Corinthians that they gathered for a common meal when they met for worship. Some churches today are finding that, while some populations won’t come to worship on Sunday mornings, they will gather for an evening meal – and so the old becomes new again.

Maundy Thursday, when we especially focus on the last supper Jesus shared with his disciples, seems a logical time for Niles Discovery Church to have our own little experiment with dinner church. A small group will do the shopping ahead of time. We’ve identified a head chef and someone to supervise the set-up and clean-up. But the cooking and the setting up won’t happen until people start arriving (at 6:15 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall). During the dinner, there will be a time of reflection and table discussion. The offering will go to covering the dinner costs, with any extra going to the Tri-City Volunteers’ food bank. Clean-up should be finished by 8:15 (though if people need to leave earlier, like children or choir members [rehearsal will begin at 8:00] they will).

All of this will be different from what I’ve experienced before on Maundy Thursday, and I hope that newness offers me a new way to reflect on the Maundy Thursday portion of the Holy Week story.

Good Friday sHoly-week 3 Good Firdayervice will also be something new for me. Pastor Brenda has used the spiritual practice of labyrinth walking as a tool for reflecting on the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus, but I haven’t. This year, I get the chance. We will gather in the Fellowship Hall at 7:30 p.m. for some prayer and explanation. Joy Barnitz will be co-leading this service – it’s her canvas labyrinth we’ll be walking (no shoes, by the way). We will also have finger labyrinths for people to use.

I’ve walked labyrinths before (just not on Good Friday) and find they can be a profound tool for opening my heart and mind to the Spirit. I’m curious how it may help me connect to the Good Friday story. As we begin our planning, the theme that’s surfaced is, “Finding Your ‘Okay’,” with the question of how Jesus got to his ‘okay’ of “not my will, but yours be done,” and how he held on to it through Good Friday. I will probably bring my journal because in past labyrinth walks I’ve found journaling to be helpful in processing what the labyrinth walk has opened to and in me.

Holy-week 3 easterOf course, we know where the story is going. We know that death doesn’t have the final word, that in the end, love wins. And so, after sitting with whatever I learn on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, I will gather with some of you on Easter Sunday for the sunrise service at the Niles Town Plaza at 6:30. I’m still waiting for my sermon theme to come to me (you know, beside ‘He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!’). And though I am definitely not a morning person, I do find this service to be one of my favorites of the church year.

The choir is planning three anthems for our 10:00 service later that morning. Music, prayer, communion, and the Good News – what a wonderful cap to the drama of Holy Week!

As I said at the beginning of this column, I’m hungering for this Holy Week to be spiritual meaningful for you and for me. I hope you will join me in entering into the story with an open heart and mind, trusting that God will gift you in some way.

Peace, Pastor Jeff

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Holy Week service plans announced

easter-holy-week-clip-art-929455Pastor Jeff announced plans for marking the holiest week of the church year. You can learn more than these bare basics in his “Jottings” column.

The Palm Sunday worship service (April 9) will be held in the sanctuary, and will include a celebration of Palm Sunday before shifting to a remembrance of Holy Week in music. The choir will present the cantata, Lenten Canticles, by John Leavitt. Consisting of anthems (two of which the congregation will join in singing) and the passion story from John’s gospel (read by youth in our church), the cantata moves us through the drama of Holy Week to the crucifixion.

On Maundy Thursday (April 13), worshiping as the early Christians did, our worship will encompass all aspects of the meal:  cooking together, setting the tables, sharing the food, scripture, and communion, clearing the tables, doing the dishes, and cleaning up. This is a family-friendly event, and people of all ages and abilities will have a part to play. Set-up and cooking begin at 6:00, with dinner served by 6:45; clean-up starts by 7:30. Come when you can, and leave when you have to.

On Good Friday (April 14), we will gather at 7:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall for a service that will also be accessible for people of all generations. With the theme of “finding your ‘okay’,” we will remember Jesus’ prayer, “not my will, but yours be done,” as we consider ways for each of us to look for ways to open our hearts through the use of the labyrinth – we will have finger labyrinths and a walking labyrinth. You may want to bring a journal to help in your reflection on your experience. Some basic art supplies will also be available.

There will be two Easter services (April 16). The sunrise service will be held at the Niles Town Plaza at 6:30 a.m. The service will include singing, story, and communion. As we have in the past couple years, we will head over to the Nile Café after the service for breakfast. This service is BYOC (bring your own chair).

The celebration of the resurrection will continue at the 10:00 festival Easter service, held in the sanctuary. Joy abounds with choruses of “Alleluia,” special anthems from the choir, and communion.

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