A Pastoral Word – July 26, 2021

This Week’s Prayer

Glory be to you
Great Creating Spirit
who shines in distant stars beyond numbering.
And on earth peace.

Glory be to you
Great Creating Spirit
who sings and wings in birds on high.
And on earth peace.

Glory be to you
Great Creating Spirit
whose thunder shakes the shining firmament.
And on earth peace.

Glory, glory, glory
and on earth peace.

~ by John Philip Newell, from Praying with the Earth: A Prayerbook for Peace

A Pastoral Word

Oh my goodness, but did we have technical difficulties on Sunday! As Sandy Thomas said, Murphy was in charge that day because it sure did see like whatever could go wrong did.

If you were in Zoom, you may have been wondering why you were seeing my computer bounce around the sanctuary – twice – when it was time for worship to begin. If you were in the sanctuary, you may have wondered why you weren’t hearing the prelude or seeing the worshippers on Zoom.

I can tell you why, but I can’t tell you the “why” behind the why. For some reason (that’s the why I can’t tell you), when we turned on the AV system in the sanctuary Sunday morning, the signal from my computer wasn’t going into the AV system the way did during Saturday’s rehearsal. We tried rebooting the AV system twice, and still had problems. So we moved the table that has my computers (we call that the “bus driving table” because we call running the PowerPoint “driving the bus”) to the other side of the chancel, where the video worked, but the audio didn’t. So we moved the bus driving table to the back corner of the sanctuary. And at that point, we could get both audio and video into both the sanctuary and Zoom. Relief!

We still didn’t have a way to bring the part of the congregation worshipping on Zoom into the sanctuary and we didn’t have a camera facing the part of the congregation in the sanctuary to bring them into Zoom. But at least we had music working in both venues along with the worship videos we had arranged to use. This meant that when Sandy read the scripture lesson and when Joy Barnitz led her part of the communion liturgy, the people in the sanctuary heard their voices without seeing their faces. A strange experience.

I am so grateful for the unflappable Jim Thomas (who does a ton of stuff from the AV closet when we have hybrid worship) and the steady and helpful hands of John Smith and Mark Twist that helped move the bus driving table – twice!

I mentioned at Bible Study this morning that at least this coming Sunday (August 1) will be simple because it’s a Zoom-only worship service. I was reminded by Bible Study participants that 16 months ago I wouldn’t have called a Zoom-only worship service simple. Our hybrid worship services will get easier to lead as we get more experience doing it. And during the first week of August, we’ll have someone come in a look at our sanctuary AV system.

Thanks be to God for the leaders in our church who are making things work, as bumpy as they may be, and for each of you who bring your patience and understanding as we navigate these bumpy roads.

Working for a positive peace,
Pastor Jeff


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Funding Our Youth with a Smile

Over the last 18 months things have changed and, for many of us, COVID-19 has altered our purchasing patterns greatly. Amazon.com has become a major source for buying almost anything with the convenience and safety of ordering online and having it delivered to your front door.

Niles Discovery Church participates in a charitable giving program called AmazonSmile. Through this program you can support our youth campership program every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you choose Niles Discovery Church as your charitable organization the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of your purchase.

Thank you to those who have already designated Niles Discovery Church as your AmazonSmile charity. You are making a difference. If you would like to sign-up for AmazonSmile with Niles Discovery Church as your charity, please visit bit.ly/SmileNDC. This opportunity is available to everyone, not just NDC members. Tell your family. Tell your Friends.

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Nelson Mandela, Former President of South Africa

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August’s Special Offering

School Supply and Backpack Drive

“Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.”

Proverbs 4:13

For many children who come from families struggling with poverty, getting new school supplies is a luxury beyond their reach. These tools can make all the difference in the world to their future success. How can a child be expected to excel in the classroom without the basic tools to learn? Studies show that when kids have new supplies, that belong to them, grades, behavior, and engagement improve. Their self-esteem increases. And, most importantly, their attitude towards school and learning improves.

We are asking that you purchase typical school supplies – backpacks, binders, pens, pencils, etc. – and bring them to the church office no later than Thursday, August 5. If you are uncomfortable shopping or unsure of what to purchase, you are welcome to donate money and the Ministry of Christian Education Team will do the shopping.

These supplies will be dedicated during worship on Sunday, August 8, and immediately delivered to the Fremont Family Resource Center for distribution. Children and teachers in the congregation are encouraged to have their personal supplies for worship on August 8, whether in-person or via Zoom, for the blessing of the backpacks and supplies.

If you need a home pick-up of your school supply donation, please contact Beth Armstrong at baarmstrong1@aol.com.

As with all our special offerings, you are welcome to give at any time. You can mail checks (always make checks payable to Niles Discovery Church; state the special offering in the memo line), and you can give online (go to nilesdiscoverychurch.org/give). Niles Discovery Church receives a special offering each month. With so many possibilities for special giving, you may need to choose which ones are most important to you. You can see the complete schedule of offerings at http://bit.ly/2021SpecialOffering.

Thank you everyone who so generously donated to July’s special offering to replenish the Pastors’ Discretionary Fund. At the time of press we had collected $1,785.

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No Kids Zooming in August

Zoom with the Kids, the Wednesday afternoon Zoom gathering for children in the church with Pastor Jeff (and sometimes Pastor Brenda) will take a break for the month of August and the first week of September. Zoom with the Kids will return on September 8.

Because this program was started in response to our Sunday School program pausing during the shelter in place orders and because we hope to restart our children’s Sunday School program in September, the Zoom with the kids program will be reassessed during September.

If your children would like to participate in Zoom with the Kids, they need to register (if they haven’t already) at bit.ly/zwtk.

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Donate Your “Fleas”

Do you have some treasures gathering dust? Is it time to clear things out during Niles’ Annual Flea Market? Niles Discovery Church will be participating in the Flea Market August 29,in a limited capacity this year. We would be offering space to sell for those that would like to donate to Niles Discovery Church by contributing their flea market profits. It was decided that that the church would accommodate them by providing space in the back parking lot or down the side of the church running along Niles Blvd.

Participants would need to arrive around 8:00 a.m. to set up their space and any items not sold would need to be hauled away by 4:00 p.m. during clean up by those that brought the treasurers. Sellers can stay for as long as they like or until they have sold all of their treasurers.  

If interested, please contact John Smith jsmith1152@aol.com or 510-207-9057 to sign up for space.

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Second Saturday Documentary Series Presents August’s Film

Kiss the Ground

Narrated by and featuring Woody Harrelson, August’s documentary Kiss the Ground is a groundbreaking and inspired film that reveals that by regenerating the world’s soils, we may have a viable solution to our climate crisis. This transformation of crop and ranchlands leads to clean water ways, a halt desertification, and ultimately draws carbon out of the atmosphere to store it in the Earth, a crucial step in reversing climate change.

As part of our Second Saturday Documentary Series, Kiss the Ground will be shown via Zoom Saturday, August 14 at 1:30 p.m. There will be a discussion immediately following the screening led by Rich Godfrey is a surgeon, beekeeper, and active member of the Niles Discovery Church Green Team. You can register for this film and upcoming documentaries in the series at bit.ly/SSDSZoom.

The main argument of the film is simple: modern agriculture is ruining the ground, depleting it of natural nutrients and its ability to store a planet’s worth of carbon and, as a result, carbon dioxide is escaping into the atmosphere. The filmmakers see the biggest issue with the ancient farming practice of tilling, which over time turns rich soil to useless dirt, leading eventually to desertification. Due to industrial agriculture soil erosion is accelerating almost beyond comprehension. According to the film, a third of the earth’s topsoil has been lost since the 1970s and, at current rates, the rest of it will be gone in 60 years.

However, it is not just possible to stop the degradation of our soil and endless release of atmospheric carbon dioxide.  It can be easy to reverse the process through a practice called regenerative farming. If we can get a majority of farms and ranches in the world on board then within a generation, we could not only bring global temperatures back down, but reverse lots of other problems associated with climate change. You can read more about the film and the soil advocacy movement here.

Kiss the Ground is positioned to catalyze a movement to accomplish the impossible – to solve humanity’s greatest challenge, to balance the climate and secure our species future. Whether you are a student, parent, business owner, chef, farmer, or a concerned citizen – you have a unique and powerful path in the movement to regenerate the planet.

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In Memoriam

Dorletta Larsen

With sadness, we announce the death of Dorletta Larsen. Dorletta died on June 24, 2021, after living several years in a memory care facility. A celebration of Dorletta’s life will be held on Saturday, August 7:00 at noon at Niles Discovery Church, 36600 Niles Blvd., Fremont. To sign up to attend, please go to bit.ly/DLarsenMemorial

A reception will follow the service, and to make that happen, we need your assistance. Because of the pandemic, the reception will take place outside, on the church patio. Bill Palleschi is coordinating the set-up and take-down of pop-ups (tents without walls), tables, and chairs. If you have a pop-up you can loan and/or if you can help with the set-up on Saturday morning or the take-down Saturday afternoon, please contact Bill.

Shirley Dunlap

The church office has received word that, now that COVID restrictions have relaxed, the family of Shirley Dunlap, who died in March of 2020, will hold a memorial service on Saturday, August 21, at 11:00 a.m. at the church she attended with her daughter for almost 4 years at the end of her life: Valley Community Church, 4455 Del Valle Parkway, Pleasanton, CA 94566. A reception will be held at Diane’s (Shirley’s daughter) home following the service, 2744 Camino Casa Buena, Pleasanton, CA 94566. Diane would appreciate an RSVP (to dianedm8@gmail.com) to help her get a “head count” for the taco bar lunch.

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Flea Market Parking Planned for Flea Market Weekend

It wasn’t until June that the church’s Cabinet learned that a community Flea Market would be held in Niles this August. Because of our own safety restrictions, the Cabinet decided not to have the sale of previously owned items in our fellowship hall this year. Instead, we will limit our fundraising efforts on Flea Market weekend (August 28 and 29) to requesting donations from people who use our parking lot.

The parking lot fundraising efforts are being coordinated by Chris Keesis. If you would like to help out, please contact him at daddyck@gmail.com. The worship service on August 29, will be on Zoom only and will conclude our “Gifts of the Dark Wood” worship series.

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“Gifts of the Dark Wood” Worship Series Continues

In-Person Worship Option Offered Three Times in August

A big shift in our worship life started on July 11:  our Pastors start a new worship series, and we had our first experience with hybrid worship.

“In a dark time, the eye begins to see,” wrote American poet Theodore Roethke. This paradox – that often in our times of greatest turmoil or confusion, we can begin to see more clearly – is at the heart of the new “Gifts of the Dark Wood” worship series that started on July 11. The series continues through August.

The series acknowledges that sometimes periods of great bewilderment can reveal great insight; sometimes, by getting lost, we may actually find our way. The experiences what feel like darkness – desolation, failure, uncertainty – are unavoidable and they can be key to finding our way.

At the same time this new worship series launched, we had our first experience of hybrid worship. About two-thirds of the congregation were gathered on Zoom and the other third in the sanctuary. Some worship leaders were on Zoom and others were in the sanctuary. The assessment of this first time out is that it worked well.

Our Pastors and Jim Thomas continue to work on the technical logistics. Their goal is to make the experience as meaningful and seamless as possible – or at least to keep the technology from getting in the way. Because we want to have a 100% accurate listing of those who gather in-person for worship, we are asking that everyone register for each worship service they plan to attend by 1:00 on Saturday and then to check in when they arrive. Registration for the in-person option is at bit.ly/inpersonsignup. You can read more about signing up and other liturgical shifts in the July 5, “A Pastoral Word” email, available at bit.ly/July2021PW.

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A Pastoral Word – July 19, 2021

This Week’s Prayer

A Pastoral Word

You may be the key in helping us find our new employees.

Niles Discovery Church is now actively seeking two new employees: a Music Director and a Technology Director. You can read more about the positions at nilesdiscoverynews.wordpress.com/job-opportunities/, and I hope you will share that link with people you think may be right for either of these positions and with people you think might know people who might be right for these positions.

The Music Director will have more responsibilities than the Choir Director did. You may remember several weeks ago, Pastor Brenda wrote about the challenges of finding music to use in worship, needing to balance theology, copyright requirements, and performance permissions. This work will shift from Pastor Brenda to the Music Director. In addition, the Music Director will be leading our choir (when it’s safe for them to start rehearsing again).

The Technology Director position is new. We have learned through the pandemic how important technology is for the life and health of the church, and we are discovering, as we venture into hybrid worship, how the importance of technology is here to stay. That’s why we need someone to take on some of the technical work that volunteers have been doing (primarily Jim Thomas) and start the process of recruiting and training more volunteers.

While these positions are listed on our employment page and in several other places on the internet, I suspect that we will find the right people for these positions by word of mouth. That’s why I’m asking you to share these job listings far and wide.

Working for a positive peace,
Pastor Jeff


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