Special Offering for August

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The August Special Offering is for school supplies that will be distributed through the Family Resource Center. We are collecting backpacks, lunch boxes, general school supplies – and money (to do additional school supplies shopping). Please bring in school supplies by August 13.

While school supplies have been coming in since mid-July, the monetary offering will be formally received on Sunday, August 13. 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 and we will mail you one.

Thanks to your generosity, $2,970 was contributed to the Pastor’s Discretionary Fund in July.

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We Are One rally/vigil continues focus on Unity

we are oneThe monthly “We Are One” rally/vigil, sponsored by the Tri-City Interfaith Council and Compassionate Fremont will continue its focus on “Unity” in August. Held on the fourth Thursday of the month (August 24 this month), 5:00-6:00 p.m., at the corner of Walnut and Paseo Padre in Fremont, the “We Are One” rally/vigils bring people together to stand up for the common value of compassion and respect that is found in all religious traditions. You are invited to make and bring signs that are peaceful, compassionate, and non-partisan.

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Niles Discovery Church to Celebrate Anniversary

2739722993_2db4eb2471_z[1].jpgOn September 9, Niles Discovery Church will be five years old. Plans are underway for a festive celebration on Sunday, September 10 to mark this first milestone as a church “united in God’s love for everyone’s journey…no exceptions.” Our worship theme for the day is “Planted by the water…for the healing of the nations,” a reference to Revelation 22:1-6. We are pleased to welcome our UCC Northern California-Nevada Conference Minister, the Rev. Diane Weible to the pulpit as our guest preacher. The choir will be back on the chancel, and worship will include voices raised in song and celebratory music.

After worship, the celebration will continue with lunch provided by a taco truck, outdoor games for the kids, and art projects for all ages. This is a perfect day to invite friends and family to church—the more people who come, the more people who can experience our warm welcome and generous hospitality.

The Anniversary Committee is seeking donations to defray the cost of our celebration and make sure that all can participate no matter their means. Our monetary goal is $2500; thanks to some generous early contributions, we are already more than halfway there. Checks may be made out to Niles Discovery Church, with “Anniversary Celebration” in the memo line. We are hoping to meet or exceed our goal by Sunday, August 13. We are also asking for the bakers in the church to create cupcakes for our dessert table at the party; if you are able to provide cupcakes, please see Melissa Palleschi to confirm your commitment. Thank you for your generosity, and happy anniversary, church!

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Pastor Jeff Celebrates His Anniversary

Happy-Anniversary-of-Ordination-Card21472lg[1]On August 29, the Rev. Jeff Spencer will celebrate the 30th anniversary of his ordination to the ministry of word and sacrament. Niles Discovery Church will commemorate this milestone in worship on August 20. Come hear Pastor Jeff reflect on his 30 years in ministry, and enjoy cake (and some surprises) during coffee hour. Congratulations, Pastor Jeff!

 

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Inquirers Class planned for August 20

Inquirers.jpgPastor Jeff and Pastor Brenda will lead a simple gathering on Sunday, August 20, for those who are considering formally uniting with the congregation as members. This “Inquirers Class” will be held during coffee hour, following worship, in Room 3. It is an opportunity to learn more about how the church functions, what membership means, and whatever else is on your mind. Children are welcome or they can hang out in Room 4 during the meeting.

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Jeff’s Jottings

Jeffs Jottings

Pastor Jeff

During the first two weeks of July, I attended General Synod and General Assembly. What follows is edited from a three-page report. You can read the full version at http://wp.me/pBRG6-pH.

Assembly and Synod – background

ucc-docBoth the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ (which are commonly abbreviated as DOC and UCC respectively) are covenantally based. Each congregation to the other congregations and to the wider church in covenant.

Delegates to the UCC’s General Synod are selected by Conferences; I attended General Synod as a “visitor” and got to participate in banquets, worship, and workshops, but I didn’t get a voice or a vote on the resolutions that came before the Synod. Delegates to the DOC’s General Assembly are potentially all the pastors in the DOC plus delegates selected by congregations (typically two per congregation). We could have sent four delegates (me, Pastor Brenda, and two church members), but I was the only person representing the congregation at General Assembly.

Synod and Assembly – Themes

General Synod was held in Baltimore and happened first. The theme for General Synod was “Make Glad,” based on a verse from Psalm 46. Psalm 46 is a scripture that is very meaningful to me and I will be preaching on it on August 20 when we mark the thirtieth anniversary of my ordination.

It seems to me that General Synod focuses primarily on the resolutions they consider. The whole resolution process is very involved, with committees considering resolutions, modifying them, and bringing them to the full Synod – where there is more discussion, amending and (finally) voting on them. It’s quite an involved process and can get pretty messy.

william-barberI got to hear the truly inspirational Disciple of Christ minister the Rev. Dr. William Barber, II, preach at a Gala dinner (that’s right at the UCC meeting). Dr. Barber is helping to organize a new, nationwide Poor People’s Campaign here on the fiftieth anniversary of the original Poor People’s Campaign organized by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I will be preaching about this new Poor People’s Campaign in September.

General Assembly was held in Indianapolis. The theme for this General Assembly was “One” and the focus scripture was John 17:20-21, a line from the lengthy prayers Jesus prays in the Gospel of John before his arrest and crucifixion. “I ask not only on behalf of these [the disciples], but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one.  As you, Father are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Some of you may recognize that the official motto of the UCC comes from these two verses: “That they may all be one.” I was amused that it was the DOC that was focusing on this UCC motto verse.

GATeresaHordOwensThe really big thing that happened at General Assembly was the election of a new General Minister and President. Sharon Watkins completed two six-year terms so it was time for someone new. We elected Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens as the new GMP. Terri is the first African American woman to take a leadership role like this in any denomination in the USA.

Assembly has a higher emphasis on education and worship than does Synod (at least that’s my experience). Instead of spending so much time on wordsmithing resolutions, the Assembly either says, “Yes, this is the sense of the Assembly” or “No, this isn’t the sense of the Assembly” or “This needs more work before we will vote on it.” This allows the Assembly to talk about the issues rather than the wording.

Synod and Assembly – Resolutions

Both the Synod and the Assembly adopted resolutions on climate change, though their foci were different. The Synod resolution focused on the prophetic role of the church in addressing climate change. In addition to calling on the church to continue learning about and advocating for policies that address climate change, the Assembly resolution calls for members, congregations, and ministries of the denomination to become carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon positive by 2035. This is a bold invitation and I hope we will take it seriously. I think our biggest challenge as a congregation will be figuring out how to make up for the carbon we release by burning natural gas to heat the church.

The Assembly adopted the resolution endorsed by our congregation, repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery. I spoke in favor of this resolution, telling the Assembly of your endorsement of it. The UCC had adopted a repudiation a few Synods ago.

The Synod adopted a resolution that will change the way some of our denominational ministries do fundraising. I am not yet clear on the implications of this resolution for our congregation. It will be interesting to see how it is lived out. Meanwhile, the Assembly received and commended to the congregations a study document on “Stewardship as a Spiritual Discipline,” a document I hope we will engage with in the coming biennium.

Synod and Assembly – the non-meeting (the really good) stuff

The most important thing for me that comes from attending these meeting is the sense of connection attending brings. I am reminded how we, our congregation and each of us, are part of something bigger. I get to hear stories about what’s happening at other churches, what’s going well and what they’re struggling with. I am reminded that we are not alone.

I also treasure the opportunity to hear great preaching. Two of the best sermons I heard were at breakfast banquets. And even when there isn’t a speaker, the banquets are interesting. They are sponsored by one or two of the ministries or special interest groups of the denominations and they are one of the best ways to network with people in the denominations who are passionate about those issues and ministries.

I got to hear the Rev. Traci Blackmon preach at both gatherings. Her sermon at General Synod was built around an image that I may well use sometime in the future. Her sermon at General Assembly (at a breakfast meeting, really) is making me rethink protesting and nonviolent tactics.

There’s so much more to report, but you’ll have to go to http://wp.me/pBRG6-pH to read it.

Peace,
Pastor Jeff

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Food-Van Program Is Moving Right Along

Tri-City Volunteers Food VanParticipation in this work will involve teams of 2 from our church, to commit 2 hours, twice a month to assist in delivery of food to high need locales in the tri-city area. There are many who need assistance that lack transportation or have health limitations. TCV has developed an efficient system—only regular workers (us!) are needed. With more workers, the program can be expanded to provide food to other high need locations.

Marilyn Singer and John Zlatnik met with the Tri-City Volunteers director, Taylor Johnson, last week. He is excited at the prospect of our involvement with the project! We are too.

Marilyn and John have now visited 2 food delivery sites and they thought it was amazing to see the projects in action! The van was already filled at the Tri City Volunteers site—2 volunteers drove the van to the distribution location. In each case there were many “on site” people assisting. The food was taken to the tables where it is displayed. At least one member of our teams should be able to help  move the heavier boxes of food inside (there are dollies).

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