On the current liturgical art

Titled “God Is Still Speaking In Flowing Waters and The Eyes Have It,” the liturgical art that has been up in the sanctuary since January 14 was designed by Cindy Sojourner to complement the “Patriarchy and Sexualized Violence” sermon series. Created by the Liturgical Art Special Ministry Team, the work is still in process – but more about that in a moment.

The “Flowing Waters” art in the front of the sanctuary represents waters of baptism, justice flowing like a river, and waves of commas for God Is Still Speaking. The United Church of Christ (UCC) uses the comma to say, “Don’t place a period where God has placed a comma, God Is Still Speaking.” The comma says that the Bible isn’t God’s last word, death is not the end, and listen for what God is saying in all creation everyday. This is a Cindy Sojourner design with creative design and technical assistance from Joy Barnitz, Barbara King, Marilyn Singer, and Sandy Thomas. Barbara King, Marilyn Singer, Doug and Nathan Sojourner, and Mark Twist installed this art.

“The Eyes Have It” art on the side walls uses eyes with water flowing through tears to express God’s, individual, and universal sorrow and pain caused by patriarchy’s injustices, including sexualized violence. Individually and collectively pouring out tears and breaking the silence about the pain and injustices of patriarchy can help people transform from victims to survivors, activists and lovers of life capable of creating great beauty, compassion, peace, joy and justice in this world with great strength and wisdom. The #MeToo movement does this. We’ve included some diversity because the damaging effects of patriarchy has no age, race, sexuality, cultural, or economic boundaries. “The Eyes Have It” art is created by Cecilia Church, Denise Church, Carrie King, Scarlet King, Michele McConville, Lynn Miller, Grace Rankin, Cindy Sojourner, Becky Taliaferro Z. Tanner, and Sandra Thomas. In addition to these artists, Joy Barnitz, Barbara King, Karen Moody, Carrie Williams, Grace Rankin, Marilyn Singer, Cindy Sojourner, and Mark Twist assisted in the mounting, framing and installation design.

You are invited to continue the creation of this art. In both the sanctuary and the fellowship hall, paper tears and paper commas are available for you to add reflections that will be added to the art on the side walls. Please use the paper tears to write a statistic, fact, or personal expression of sadness, anger, hurt, etc., caused by patriarchy. Please use the paper commas to write a statistic, fact, or personal expression of healing, triumph, joy, miracle, etc., that has occurred, despite patriarchy’s evil.

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Special Offering in February for SAVE, Inc.

SAVE logoThe February Special Offering will be for the wonderful work done by SAVE (Safe Alternatives for Violent Environments). SAVE runs domestic violence safety programs (like the emergency shelter) and prevention programs (like their healthy teen dating program). To learn more about SAVE’s programs, see www.save-dv.org.

In addition to the monetary offering that will be officially received on Sunday, February 11, we will be dedicating ditty bags filled with personal hygiene products for the women who come to the shelter, often with nothing more than the clothing they’re wearing. 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, click the “donate” button at the top of the page, and select the appropriate special offering.

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. Tri-City-Volunteers-logo
You can see the schedule of special offerings at
http://j.mp/speoff2018 or call the church office and we will mail you one. 
Thanks to your generosity, Tri-City Volunteers received  January’s special offering. Thank you.



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Second Saturday Documentary focuses on Ferguson Uprising

whose streetsWhose Streets?  will be shown February 10 at 1:30 p.m. as part of the Second Saturday Documentary Series at Niles Discovery Church. The screening is free and open to the public. 

Told by the activists and leaders who live and breathe the Black Lives Matter movement for justice, Whose Streets? is an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police officer Darren Wilson and left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of St. Louis, Missouri. Grief, long-standing racial tensions and renewed anger bring residents together to hold vigils and protest this latest tragedy. Empowered parents, artists, and teachers from around the country come together as freedom fighters.

As the national guard descends on Ferguson with military grade weaponry, these young community members become the torchbearers of a new resistance. Filmmakers Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis know this story because they are part of the story.

There will be a moderated discussion after the screening.

The Second Saturday Documentary Series is co-sponsored by Niles Discovery Church and the San Jose Peace and Justice Center. Learn more about the series at http://bit.ly/nilesssds.

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Niles Discovery Church hosts local Interfaith Harmony Day event



World Interfaith Harmony Week was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2010, in a resolution that states, “mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace” and so they “established World Interfaith Harmony Week as a way to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith.”

The Tri-City Interfaith Council is holding a local Interfaith Harmony Day event on Saturday, February 3, 1:00-3:30, at Niles Discovery Church. The afternoon event will give space for many different faith traditions to be represented by their local communities in small group guided conversations. Participants from local communities of Atheist, Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist, and more will have booths showcasing their beliefs, traditions and sacred objects.

Everyone is encouraged to attend.


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Jeff’s Jottings

“The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”  – Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963.

“There is no such thing as being non-political. Everything we say or do either affirms or critiques the status quo. Even to say nothing is to say something.”  – Fr. Richard Rohr

“For all people of faith, the question is not whether to be ‘political’ but how to do so with faithfulness to the vision and love that has claimed and called us.”  – Rev. Wesley Granberg Michaelson

barber and theoharis for jottings50 years ago last December, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., issued a public call for a “Poor People’s Campaign.” King recognized the triple threats to democracy in the United States from racism, militarism, and poverty. He argued that the three overlapped and needed to be addressed together. He argued that they needed to be addressed as moral issues, and the way to do this was with a Poor People’s Campaign. Yes, this moral approach would include political action and solutions; it could not do otherwise. But because these triplets posed a moral threat, then needed to be address morally.

I have argued that the three threats King identified still threaten democracy and morality in the United States, and that they are joined by sexism and environmental degradation. In fact, I have argued that human-caused climate change is the most important moral issue of our day. It is time for a new Poor People’s Campaign. And two prominent faith leaders – the Rev. Liz Theoharis and the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II – have issued such a call. They are calling for a new “Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call to Moral Revival.”

The ground work for the campaign has already begun. Training are being held across the country. This spring, thousands of disenfranchised people, members of the clergy, and moral leaders will engage in protests and direct actions at statehouses and the U.S. Capitol. The leaders hope the six weeks of protest will be one of the largest waves of civil disobedience in the U.S. The actions will take place across at least 25 states (including California), as well as the District of Columbia. Its leaders hope that the weeks of action will lead to mass mobilization at the U.S. Capitol on June 21.

This all this makes me think that the time is right for me to update and preach a sermon series I offered several years ago on Sabbath Economics. This series will provide some theological underpinning of the Poor People’s Campaign. So that’s what I’m going to do this Lent (which starts on February 14; see article about Ash Wednesday ).

I will also be joining the Poor People’s Campaign more directly, for I feel I must join in calling our nation to a moral revival. I will attend a training this month at Zaytuna College in Berkeley. And I will be joining rallies and marches in Sacramento this spring. I will probably join in some of the acts of civil disobedience and face arrest.

I hope you will join the Poor People’s Campaign, too. If you are not already convinced that the nation needs a moral revival, I hope my Lenten sermon series will convince you. And then I hope you will find ways to be involved, ways that are faithful to your circumstance and calling.

If you do email, I recommend going to the campaign’s webpage at poorpeoplescampaign.org and signing up for emails. If you do Facebook, I encourage you to “like” the Poor People’s Campaign and California Poor People’s Campaign pages and to check them regularly for inspiration and information.

Jeffs Jottings

And I ask that you pray. Pray for me as I prepare my sermons. Pray for our church as we seek to faithfully fulfill our mission. Pray for the leadership of the Poor People’s Campaign and for all those involved in the Campaign. And pray for a moral revival in our nation.


Pastor Jeff

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Church will take ashes to the streets

ash wednesday 2018 art

Several members of our church will join our pastors as we take ashes to the streets on Ash Wednesday, February 14. The plan (as this edition of The Bell goes to press) is to take ashes to the Union City BART station and to make them available to anyone who wishes to receive them during the afternoon commute. If you would like to help with this effort, please contact either of our pastors.

Because Ash Wednesday is also Valentine’s Day, rather than reminding people that they are dust and to dust they shall return, our Pastors plan to say, “Remember you are love and to love you shall return,” as they trace hearts on people’s foreheads.

Our pastors will also offer a simple, meditative service at the church at 7:30 p.m. for all who would like to participate.


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Summer 2018 Camp Dates Announced

 School Year UCC Camps
Feb Camp (for grades 9-12) – Feb 17-19 (register online now)
Youth Spiritual Retreat (for grades 6-12) – March 10
Annual Gathering Youth Program (for grades 7-12) – June 14-17

School Year DOC Camps
Feb Camp (grades 9-12) – Feb 17-19 (register online now)
Adult Camp (ages 18-118) – May 31-June 3

Summer UCC Camps at Caz
You and Me Camp (for kids entering grades 1-3 and an adult) – July 6-8
Senior High Camp (entering grades 10-12) – July 8-14
Counselor In Training Camp (entering grade 12 or graduate) – July 15-21
Junior Camp (entering grades 4-6) – July 15-21
Junior High Camp (entering grades 7-9) – July 22-28
Community Camp (all ages) – August 3-5

Summer UCC/DOC Camps at Tam
Counselor In Training (entering grade 12 or graduate) – July 12-14
Junior Camp (entering grades 4-6) – July 15-21
Junior High Camp (entering grades 7-9) – July 22-28
Senior High Camp (entering grades 10-12) – July 19-August 4

Summer DOC Camps at Community of the Great Commission
Grandparents and Me Camp (kids and an adult) – June 20-July 2
Junior Camp (entering grades 4-6) – June 24-30
Chi Rho Camp (entering grades 7-9) – June 24-30
CYF Camp (entering grades 7-12) – July 1-7

Registration information will be shared as it becomes available.

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