SF Jazz Outing

Join your friends from Niles Discovery Church at the Monday, December 19, showcase concert presented by the SF Jazz Center Monday Night Band (a group that includes our own Ben Gunnarson). The venue is the Miner Auditorium, 201 Franklin Street in San Francisco. Show time is 7:30 pm. There is no cost for tickets, but they must be ordered in advance.

Now into its 12th season, the SFJAZZ Monday Night Band has become one of the most in-demand community groups in the Bay Area, attracting a range of talented musicians – from retired pros to emerging young artists. Directed by acclaimed Bay Area musician and bandleader Adam Theis, the Monday Night Band is open to intermediate and advanced level instrumentalists and vocalists.

To reserve your space, contact Amy Gunnarson at amygunnarsonRN@gmail.com or 301-693-6397 before November 30. She will order tickets. You are also invited for “pre-performance snacks and conversation” at Tom and Amy Gunnarson’s home from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. We will carpool from there to the event.

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Special Offerings

November’s special offering is for Homelessness Ministries. The Cabinet decided to adjust this offering so that it can be used to support the Home Warming program of Abode Services and for projects that our congregation’s homelessness study group may develop. If you’d like to be part of the homelessness study group, contact Jim Thomas.

The offering will be formally received on Sunday, November 11. 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://j.mp/speoff2018 or call the church office we will mail you one.

Thanks to your generosity, The October Special Offering raised $1,032 for the social justice ministries of our denominations through the Neighbors In Need and Reconciliation special offerings.

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Evangelism? Really?? In 2018???

by Mark McConville

The Ministry of Evangelism Team is the newest ministry team at Niles Discovery Church. It has the charge of finding ways to spread a progressive, 21st century faith in Jesus outside the walls of our church. Something of a tall order if you think about it.

Our first project is working on “elevator speeches”, one- or two-minute responses or conversation starters to situations we may find ourselves in.

For example, suppose you and an acquaintance overhear someone giving a heavy-handed “come to Jesus or go to hell” diatribe. Your acquaintance says, “I really dislike organized religion. How about you?” How would you respond?

Or suppose you are in a coffee shop, reading the Bible because you are the liturgist next week. Someone at another table says, “Pardon me, but can you tell me why you read that?” How would you respond. Having an elevator speech can be helpful in situations like this.

We’d love you to join us the second Monday of each month to help us wrassle with this and similar issues. The next meeting is November 12 at 7:00 p.m., at the church in Room 1. We need all the help we can get.

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Moderated Musings – November 2018

Jim Thomas

by Jim Thomas

Recently, we had a Town Hall Meeting where Christina Monkman presented information regarding the Gender Spectrum. There was a lot of information provided, and it generated a lot of questions. Although gender issues have been with us for a long time, the movement to break the chains of a gender-binary culture is relatively new, and with it comes new jargon and concepts that can conflict with one’s own understanding of gender and gender roles.

One result of this movement is that there are several terms floating about, some that mean the same thing as another, others with subtle differences in meaning. This may cause some confusion, so to become better aware of this movement and to better prepare oneself to help in this cause, the language should be mastered. Here is a list of terms I have come across in my research of the gender-nonbinary movement:

Gender Identity = Affirmed Gender = Internal Sense of Gender

Gender Expression = How we present our gender to the world

Biological Sex = The gender assigned at birth (Assigned Gender), based on observed anatomy primarily, but also chromosomes and hormones

Gender Dysphoria = a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify. People with gender dysphoria may be very uncomfortable with the gender they were assigned, sometimes described as being uncomfortable with their body (particularly developments during puberty) or being uncomfortable with the expected roles of their assigned gender.

Gender Blended = is more about comfort than identity

Gender non-conforming = denoting or relating to a person whose behavior or appearance does not conform to prevailing cultural and social expectations about what is appropriate to their gender.

Gender Fluid = of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity is not fixed.

Gender Queer (remains in the middle of the spectrum) = a person who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions but identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.

Gender Variant = a person whose gender identity or gender expression does not conform to socially defined male or female gender norms.

This is a starting point, a place where we can begin the discussion. I recommend doing You-Tube searches for gender-nonbinary topics, there are plenty out there. We have an opportunity (and a responsibility) to making our church a safe place for gender-nonbinary folk.

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Jeff’s Jottings – November 2018

Pastor Jeff

I had planned to buy a bottle of champagne for my 18th birthday. Shortly before that day arrived, the drinking age was raised to 21. So instead, to celebrate, I went to the Town Clerk’s office and registered to vote.

The first time I voted, I went with my parents. We went to our precinct’s polling place (at one of the town’s schools). In those days, Lexington, Massachusetts, had large, gray, mechanical voting machines. I stepped into the machine, pulled the large red handle across the machine, which closed the curtains hut behind me and make the machine ready to count my votes. I flicked a series of small, gray levers next to the names of the people I was voting for, and pulled the big red level back across the machine in the other direction. There was significant mechanical clanking as gears turned, counters clicked forward, and the curtain opened again.

That was 39 years ago. I don’t remember what the races were. I assume it was a primary or a local election, because it happened before I left for college, and because it was an odd numbered year. It’s interesting that I don’t remember the races. What I remember is the gray of the machines, the mustiness of the curtains, and the emotions. I remember feeling small – the machine was big, even to this six-foot tall young man. I remember feeling small – I was only one of thousands who would vote that day. And I remember feeling powerful – my action caused the counting devices for my candidates to click forward. I was an active participant (figuratively and literally) in moving the gears of government forward.

My niece turned 18 last month. Yes, she’s registered to vote. She was registered before she turned 18. In Washington State, citizens are allowed to register before they turn 18. (I think this is true in California, too.) She is looking forward to voting for the first time this month. Her experience will be quite different from mine. Still, I trust she will feel the power of participating. I am quite excited for her.

If you are eligible to vote, I hope you will experience the power of participating, too, this month. It’s easy to fall into despair. The loudest political voices are so polarized it’s depressing.* The dangers of climate change are so clearly real and threatening and our government is moving so resistantly (or even regressively). It is easy to fall into despair. Don’t. Don’t give in to despair. Exercise your civic muscles.

Warming up is an important part of exercise. Do your civic warm ups. Research the ballot propositions.** Get information about the candidates. Think about your values. Let your sense of Jesus help you decide which candidates and which propositions will best support his compassion. Make a cheat-sheet to bring with you to the polls (or, if your using a mail-in ballot and haven’t turned it in yet, carry it to your polling place and put it in the appropriate box).

Vote. It’s a civic sacrament.

Peace,
Pastor Jeff

*An interesting study on who the USA is actually divided politically finds seven political groups, with the loudest groups representing the extreme ends of the political spectrum. You can read the report at https://hiddentribes.us. By the way, I’m sufficiently self-aware to know that I’m part of the noisy extreme.
**You can read my take on the propositions on my blog or pick up a print out of the column in the Fellowship Hall.

“I was hungry, and you voted for the person who will take away my food stamps. I was thirsty, and you voted for the person who will repeal environmental regulations that keep my water clean. I was a stranger, and you voted for the person who says he will build a wall. I was sick, and you voted for the person who will make it so I can’t get health insurance.”

– a riff on Matthew 25 by Reuel Nash

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United Against Hate Week begins at Niles Discovery Church

Bay Area United Against Hate Week, November 10-19, will begin with the screening on the documentary Waking in Oak Creek and a discussion led by a Sikh man and a former skinhead who how work together against hate. See this article for more details. This is the first event in a week of events around the Bay Area designed to show and build our unity against hate.

There are three other events, co-sponsored by the Tri-City Interfaith Council (TCIC) that you may want to participate in during the week.

On Wednesday, November 14, 7:00-9:00 p.m., there will be a “Bystander Intervention Training.” The free, interactive training, led by people from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, will be held at Temple Beth Torah, 42000 Paseo Padre Pkwy, Fremont. During the training, participants will learn about the history and principles of nonviolence, and will practice specific de-escalation techniques that a bystander could use in a variety of scenarios. To register, go to j.mp/tcic-bit.

On Thursday, November 15, 7:00-8:00 p.m., along with Abode Services, St. James’ Episcopal Church, 37051 Cabrillo Terrace, Fremont, will be hosting the fifth annual Hunger and Homelessness Vigil. The evening includes a candlelit remembrance of those who have died due to homelessness this year. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served. Pre-registration is not required.

On Monday, November 19, 7:30-9:00 p.m., the Tri-City Interfaith Council will hold its annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. “I’ve lost count of how many of these TCIC has held, but we’re getting close to 30,” Pastor Jeff said. The service, which will be held at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 43148 Mission Blvd, Fremont, will include prayers, music, and dance from many faith traditions. This year’s theme is “We Are One: Building Community.” An offering for Tri-City Volunteers Food Bank will be received. Pre-registration is not required.

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Documentary and discussion kicks of “United Against Hate Week” in the Tri-Cities

The Second Saturday Documentary Series, in cooperation with Compassionate Fremont, the Tri-City Interfaith Council, and the Fremont Human Relations Commission, will present the documentary Waking in Oak Creek as the kickoff to “United Against Hate Week” in the Tri-Cities, the Bay Area, and beyond.

Waking in Oak Creek examines the impact of the 2012 mass shooting at the Gurdwara (Sikh temple) in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, impacts like the bond that developed between civic leaders and Gurdwara leaders, and the emergence of young Sikhs in the quest to end violence. “After six worshipers are killed by a white supremacist,” the film’s producers said, “the local community found inspiration in the Sikh tradition of forgiveness and faith.”

The film will be shown on Saturday, November 10, at 1:30 p.m., at Niles Discovery Church. The free screening will be followed by a discussion, led by Pardeep Kaleka and Arno Michaelis. Kaleka’s father was killed in the attack at the Oak Creek Gurdwara and Michaelis is a former white supremacist who now works with Pardeep on an anti-violence program.

Kaleka and Michaelis wrote the new book, The Gift of Our Wounds. It tells the powerful story of a friendship between two men – one Sikh and one skinhead – that resulted in an outpouring of love and a mission to fight against hate. They have appeared on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” the BBC, MSNBC, and “The View.” and in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and The Washington Post.

“United Against Hate Week” (November 11-18, 2018) is “a week of local civic action by people in every Bay Area community to stop the hate and implicit biases that are a dangerous threat to the safety and civility of our neighborhoods, towns, and cities,” the Rev. Jeffrey Spencer, senior pastor at Niles Discovery Church said. “This Second Saturday Documentary Series screening is going to get the week going by starting things a day early.”

Another event scheduled in Fremont that week is a “Bystander Intervention Training,” which will be held 7:00-9:00 p.m., on Wednesday, November 14, at Temple Beth Torah, 42000 Paseo Padre Pkwy, Fremont. More events around the bay area are listed on the United Against Hate Week website, www.unitedagainsthateweek.org.

It all started with a poster

Last fall, when members of white supremacist groups began a campaign to hold rallies in Berkeley and Oakland, California, a group of community leaders came up with a way to make a statement that neo-nazis, their hatred and their ideas were not welcome in the East Bay. The created a simple and clear sign that could be posted in businesses, civic centers, schools, faith communities – anywhere people gather – that simply said, “Berkeley Stands United Against Hate” and “Oakland Stands United Against Hate.”

Other cities followed suit. Last spring, “Fremont Stands United Against Hate” posters started springing up in the southern Alameda County city. The poster printing and distribution was spearheaded by Compassionate Fremont and the Fremont City Council even provided a grant for poster production.

“It is an honor to be part of this important week of unity and strength,” the Rev. Jeffrey Spencer, senior pastor at Niles Discovery Church, said. “We need each other. We need to stand up for each other. We need to stand united against hate.”

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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