Special Offerings – October 2018

The October Special Offering will be split between two denominational offerings that focus on social justice and the legacies of racism. The Reconciliation offering of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) funds the Reconciliation Ministry, helping congregations address racism. One-third of the Neighbors In Need offering of the United Church of Christ supports the Council for American Indian Ministry, and the other two-thirds of the offering is used by the UCC’s Justice and Witness Ministries to support a variety of justice initiatives, advocacy efforts, and direct service projects through grants. You can learn more about these ministries of the wider church at http://reconciliationministry.org/ and http://www.ucc.org/nin.

The offering will be formally received on Sunday, October 14. 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, our September Special Offering for Heifer International raised $2,538. The Sunday School children will be reporting to us what animals they decided to purchase with these funds.

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Film offers hope about addressing climate change

The Rev. Jeffrey Spencer, Senior Pastor at Niles Discovery Church, says, “Climate change is the moral issue of our day. We must address climate change if we want to address hunger and starvation, mass human migration, and even war.”

With the burning of fossil fuels being the leading cause of global warming, a clean energy revolution is needed to address climate change. Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution explores what is happening to address the dangers. A free screening of the documentary will be held at Niles Discovery Church, 36600 Niles Blvd., Fremont, on Saturday, October 13, at 1:30 p.m. as part of the Second Saturday Documentary Series. It will be followed by a discussion led by Pastor Jeff.

Film maker James Redford says that it’s easy to feel despair when one considers how dangerous climate change is. It can be so overwhelming that one falls into an indifference. He said he made Happening to “get back on board and fix the situation.”

“The solution is here, and clean energy is inevitable,” Redford said. “The right thing will happen. The question is, what kind of world will we be living in when it does?”

“Only a tiny fraction of people know they can [go green],” he said. “A lot of it is education and awareness. In California you’re talking about one million people that aren’t on renewable [energy] that could be.”

His journey to explore clean energy took him across California and beyond, from deserts in Nevada to the outskirts of Buffalo, New York. The going wasn’t always easy. “I was struggling with hypocrisy,” he said, and he found it difficult to document carbon neutrality without attempting it himself. “I thought, why don’t I document my own journey? People would relate more if they could relate to somebody making sense of all this. Documenting my own journey was a way of trying to be a conduit for a general audience, to ask the dumb questions that people were afraid to ask.”

Come to this screening to find out what answers Redford found.

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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Green Tips – October 2018

Fremont issues new rules for recycling – at home and at church

The world of recycling is changing. Fremont homes and businesses are throwing too much garbage into their recycling bins, and it’s a big problem. Sometimes there may be confusion about what is recyclable, or even trying to do too much with the best of intentions. When we do a better job of recycling, we help the environment and avoid unnecessary processing costs that can increase our garbage bills.

Contamination is the technical term for non-recyclable materials or garbage in the recycling. New guidelines enforced by China, the world’s leading importer of recyclables require clean materials. This is a very serious issue and everyone must recycle correctly to ensure our recyclables are accepted and given a second chance for reuse.

New Rule: No plastic bags. Put them in the trash from now on. Loose bags are getting tangled in the recycling equipment, and are contaminating much of the good mixed paper. Plastic bags do more harm than good when they ruin our recyclable paper.

New Rule: Rinse bottles and jars clean. To be recycled, your containers must be empty, with no liquids or food residue. A few tablespoons of peanut butter or pasta sauce can contaminate paper, making it unrecyclable and destined for the landfill. Dirty containers go in the trash.

New Rule: Stop wishing for a miracle! The recycling program is no place for “wishful” recycling. Trying to recycle improper items and simply hoping that they’ll get recycled is hurting the success of our program. Stick to the basic items shown above.

New Rule: Food-soiled paper goes in the green organics bin. This is actually an old rule, but any waxed paper, food-contaminated paper, greasy or wet paper should be placed in the green bin for composting.

New Rule: When in doubt – throw it out! Keep it simple. Bottles, cans, jars, paper and cardboard – that’s it! These materials should be the primary items you recycle at home, work and school.

Grants offered for electric vehicle purchases

If you’ve thought about buying a hybrid or battery electric vehicle (including a used vehicle), but have found the costs to be too high, there is a grant program that might make the difference for you. You can learn about it at cleanvehiclegrants.org – things like income eligibility requirements, the types of vehicles that are eligible for $2500 and $5000 grants, and even the possibility of getting a free Level 2 charging station for your home.

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Jeff’s Jottings – October 2018


So much of life is presented as either/or. Either you’re for this or you’re against it; you can’t have mixed feelings about it. Either you’re female or male; you can’t be something else.

Digital technology is based on either/or: either 1 or 0. And while the either/or of digital technology may help me write this column, layout this newsletter, and get it delivered to your email inbox, very little else in life is truly either/or. In fact, almost everything that is presented as a dichotomy by media or our own minds isn’t a dichotomy.

Take the challenge of addressing climate change. Many from our congregation took to the street at the beginning of September to pressure political leaders to make real progress on addressing climate change by adopting policies. Many others in our congregation held us and all the marchers in prayer. It would be easy to hear a dichotomy: either the political leaders take real action or we’re toast. It’s easy to hear it that way, because it’s almost true. Almost.

The truth is that we can’t deal with climate change by changing our lightbulbs. The issue is so large that it will take major, systemic change to address the issue. We will need to do things like move from a fossil fuel-based energy system to a renewables-based energy system. And to get there will take major policy actions.

And, those policy actions are not enough. The reality is that addressing climate change is a both/and. The individual choices we make make a difference. If we each make changes in the three highest impact areas of our lives – transportation, household and office energy use, and diet – it will have a real impact.

That’s why I’m inviting you to join the “Living the Change” personal commitment movement sponsored by Green Faith. I encourage you to go to livingthechange.net/my-commitment and, inspired by your faith and based on your personal motivation, choose your very own commitment and find out about the impact it will have.

I made my own commitment (see picture – the thing about taking public transportation to work is really a commitment to walk). I invite you to join me.

“What Shall We Bring”

Without a doubt, one of my favorite scriptures is Micah 6:1-8. I don’t want to say too much about it here; I’ll be preaching on it on it on Commitment Sunday, October 28. But I want to talk about our pledge campaign, and the theme, “What Shall We Bring?” comes from Micah 6:1-8.

If you look at the titles of this month’s sermons on page 1, you’ll see that the question isn’t only about money. In fact, Micah 6 says that our offerings of stuff (including money) are not as important to God as our offerings of relationship (but more on that on October 28).

Now, if our financial giving isn’t as important to God as is how we give our hearts, you may wonder why we spend a whole month on a pledge campaign. I can quickly think of two reasons, one theological and one practical.

The theological reason is that this season is not only about our stewardship of our money. This season is about our stewardship of our whole lives. That’s why we’ll be looking at issues in addition to the issue of money.

The practical reason is that we are moving toward a balanced budget and to do that we need to have some idea of how much money you plan to give during 2019. There are, of course, two ways to balance a budget that in the red: increase income; decrease expenses. Because we know that decreasing expenses means decreasing ministry, we do ask our members and friends to see if they can increase their giving to increase the church’s income.

As we examine our theme, “What Shall We Bring?” spending time on the theological issues, I hope you will also consider the practical issues, too.

Pastor Jeff

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Flea Market: A Smashing Success

Bringing in just under $10,000, this year’s flea market was deemed a smashing success. Some of the leaders also complained of coming near burnout.

In evaluating the flea market, the Cabinet (our congregation’s leadership) acknowledged that there were some leadership vacuums that need to be filled if we’re going to have a successful flea market next year. They also suggested we shorten how long we are collecting and displaying items before the big weekend to avoid burnout.

While the Finance Committee will assume that we will have a flea market next year as they develop the 2019 budget, they will not assume it will bring in as much money. John Hollowell reminded the other Cabinet members that our budget is really our best guesses about financing our ministry each year and if an income line isn’t reached it only means we guessed wrong.

Pastor Jeff noted after the Cabinet meeting that we guess wrong this year, too. The flea market raised almost $2500 more that we budgeted – and nobody’s complaining about that wrong guess.

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Special Offerings – September 2018

The September Special Offering is for Heifer International. Heifer International empowers families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity – but their approach offers more than just giving them a handout. Heifer links communities and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. You can learn more at www.heifer.org.

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

Thanks to your generosity, our August Special Offering of school supplies provided 76 backpacks (a record number), 21 lunchboxes, 2 boxes of binder paper and spiral notebooks, a bag of pens and pencils (49 dozen to be exact), a bag of glue and glue sticks (214), a bag of crayons, markers and colored pencils, a bag of erasers (66), and other miscellaneous supplies. The administrative staff at the Family Resource Center were delighted with everything, but then, we have a reputation to uphold. They were ready with three carts to bring in everything from the packed car, instead of the usual one!

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Interfaith Community gathers for International Day of Peace

The International Day of Peace, September 21, was established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution. Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.

The International Day of Peace will be marked once again in the Tri-Cities with events in Fremont’s Central Park. There will be a “Peace Walk” around Lake Elizabeth starting at 5:00. Then, at 6:00 p.m., the Interfaith Community will gather at the Peace Pole (near the Lake Elizabeth Boat House) for a simple prayer service that will include words from many different faith traditions. Everyone is encouraged to attend these events.

[updated: 10 Sept. 2018]

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