“Delivering Compassion & Making a Difference, One Survivor at a Time.”

Congratulations to Niles Discovery Church member Rich Godfrey (Surgical Oncologist – Associate Clinical Professor UCSF, and Beekeeper) who will be honored along with Scott Haggerty (Alameda County Board of Supervisors, District 1) at the Drivers for Survivors 6th Annual Black & White Ball, August 14. Both these wonderful human beings are members of the Honorary Board of the organization.

Drivers For Survivors provides free transportation service and supportive companionship for ambulatory cancer patients, from suspicious findings through completion of treatments. Learn more about the group and how you can help at driversforsurvivors.org.

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This Week at Niles Discovery Church – July 31, 2020

This Week’s Schedule: July 31 – August 6

(To enhance the safety of your Zoom experience, we are now requiring advanced registration for almost everything.)

Sunday, August 2
9:00-9:50 a.m. – Adult Sunday School. They are discussing of the book, Truth and Hope – Essays for a Perilous Age, by Walter Brueggemann. Register to join in the discussion by clicking here.

10:00 a.m. – Worship Service. We celebrate communion every week, so please have “bread” and “cup” available so you can participate with us. If you haven’t already registered for worship, do so now at bit.ly/reg4worship. Once you’re registered, you’ll get the link to join us on Sunday mornings for the worship of God, brought to you on the Zoom platform. Click here to preview the order of worship and to listen to the music ahead of time. If you would like to get a weekly email with links to pdfs of the sheet music, contact Mikele.

Monday, August 3
11:30-12:30 – Monday Morning Bible Study. Join us every Monday morning on Zoom for a discussion about the coming Sunday’s scripture lesson. Register for the Monday Morning Bible Study here.

7:30 p.m. – Ministry Team Meetings. Our Ministry Team (except the Ministry of Evangelism Team) meet on the first Monday of the month. Register for the Ministry Team Meetings here.

Wednesday, August 5
9:00-9:30 a.m. – Pray with Terri Hord Owens. The General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) – one of our denominations – invite you to pray with her when she livestreams on her Facebook page. You do not need to have a Facebook account to join her.

3:00-3:30 p.m. – Zoom with the Kids. The kids of our church are invited to join Pastor Brenda this month (while Pastor Jeff is on vacation) on Zoom for conversation and sharing. You must register for this event. To register, just go to bit.ly/zwtk; once you’re registered, you don’t need to register again. We’ll be following up on the “Sunday School” materials each family received via email last Thursday. If you have any art from that, please bring it to share. (Of course, parents and grandparents and other interested adults are welcome to listen to what the kids have to share, too.)

3:30-4:30 p.m. – Green Team meeting. You’re welcome to join the Green Team, a group leading our congregation to address the climate crisis. Join the meeting by clicking here.

Thursday, August 6
10:00 a.m.-noon – Retirement Reinvention Group. During the Shelter In Place order, contact John Zlatnik for information about joining this Zoom gathering of retirees who are supporting one another during this time of physical distancing and as they dive into new ways of being retired people.

10:00 a.m. – START meeting. The Strategic Taskforce to Assess Returning Team meets each Thursday. If you would like to attend, click here.

7:15-8:15 p.m. – Community Drop-In. A simple a time to chat, hang-out, and pray. One of our Pastors will be present. Bring your own coffee; no agenda; just a time to be together. Register here and drop on by when you can; leave when you must.


Registration Now Required:  To enhance the safety of your Zoom experience, we are now requiring advanced registration for Zoom meetings held on the church’s Zoom account. You only need to register once for a repeating event. Find the registration links in the schedule above.

Pastor Jeff on Leave:  Pastor Jeff is on leave through August 31. Contact Pastor Brenda if you have a pastoral need during that time. And remember that you can easily schedule an appointment with our pastors on their Calendly sites: calendly.com/pastorbrenda and calendly.com/revjss.

August Special Offering:  Shelter-in-Place is making our School Supply Drive a little different this year. Due to the unpredictability of the coming school year, the Ministry of Christian Education Team is encouraging monetary donations. This will allow the Team to wait to hear from districts regarding the education models being implemented and buy only the supplies most needed, potentially at a bulk discount, or to meet some other unexpected need. These offerings will be dedicated during worship on Sunday, August 2. Children and teachers in the congregation are invited to have some or all of their supplies for the new year with them during the worship service for dedication, too.

The Green Team Challenges You:  Our church community is invited to participate in the City of Fremont’s Green Challenge. Sandra Wong has created our own Niles Discovery Church team for the Challenge where you can learn how to implement practical ways to reduce your carbon footprint. You can join by clicking here.

Maintaining Resilience During the Pandemic:  Frishta Sharifi from the Family Caregiver Support Program of the City of Fremont will talk about proven ways to maintain your health and well-being during this time of pandemic in a workshop on August 12, 1:00-2:30 p.m. This online workshop is organized by our ministry partners at the Greater Niles Village. Register here.

Participate in Sunday School:  This summer the Ministry of Christian Education Team is offering a course called “Illustrated Earth” to the children of our congregation. This curriculum focuses on celebrating God’s creation while enjoying the outdoors and includes scripture lessons, reflective questions, and coloring pages. Some adults have decided that they want to participate in Sunday school also, because the lessons are beautifully built. If you are interested contact Mikele (admin@nilesdiscoverychurch.org) to be put on the email list.


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A Pastoral Word – August 3, 2020


A Pastoral Word

I generally like to take the bulk of my vacation in August because August is a beautiful time of the year to be resting in a cabin on a small lake in New Hampshire. My vacation (with a week of study leave thrown in) begins tomorrow. I will not be in New Hampshire.

A friend asked me last week what my plans were for my staycation. I said that I planned to have as few plans as possible. I actually only have one significant goal for the month: to purchase a new car. Though my Prius, “Jack,” is only eight years old, I have reason to purchase a new car. Let me explain.

During the past month, thanks to some special donations, the hard work of members of our Ministry of Property Team, and some coordination by our Moderator, the church has installed a solar photovoltaic system on the parsonage roof, an electric car charger in the parsonage garage, and a new HVAC system throughout the house, switching out the old gas furnace for an electric heat pump system. The parsonage suddenly has a much smaller carbon footprint. And the parsonage suddenly has a way to power a car from the sun.

That’s why I have the goal of purchasing a new car during this vacation. I’ve got a short list of electric vehicles to consider, but there is plenty of test driving and feature comparing to do. And (you might have picked up on this already) I am not worried about staying home in a California summer because the new HVAC system includes AC. Though I won’t travel east and won’t get to see my father and stepmother, I am not worried about staying home in a California summer.

I’ll introduce you to my new car in September (though I may post about it on Facebook once it’s in the garage). In the meantime, thank you to everyone who helped make the parsonage so much more fuel efficient.

Working for a positive peace,
Pastor Jeff


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Order of Worship for Sunday, August 2, 2020

Prelude:  “Sing Gently,” by Eric Whitacre, performed by his sixth virtual choir (17,572 singers from 129 countries)

Welcome, Zoom tips, announcements, order of worship review, credits

A Bell Calls Us to Quiet Meditation

Gathering Prayer
One:  Please join me in prayer:
All:  Loving and caring God, Holy One who gives rest to the weary, give us peace of mind and soul.  We cannot do our work alone.  Help us all to be gentle with ourselves.  Guide us to spend time with You.  Help us to be and stay healthy in mind, body, and soul that we may continue to experience rest, renewal, and resurrection, especially in Jesus.
(a time of quiet prayer)
One:  United in Christ’s love, we pray.  Amen.

Passing the Peace

Song:  “Come, Share the Lord,” hymn 408 in The Chalice Hymnal.

Scripture Lesson:  Matthew 14:13-21

Sermon:  “Jesus and Self-Care”

Quiet Reflection

Song:  “It Is Well with My Soul,” hymn 561 (verses 1 and 4) in The Chalice Hymnal, sung by the Rev. Wintley Phipps at the memorial service for Representative John Lewis.

Dedication of School Supplies and Offerings

Kairos Moment

A Time of Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer
All:  Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.

Communion Invitation

Communion Prayer

Words of Institution/Sharing the Elements

Prayer of Thanksgiving
Leader:  Please join with me in giving God thanks.
All:  Generous One, we thank you for welcoming us to your table just as we are.  We thank you for nourishing and empowering us with your gifts.  We thank you that you lead us forth transformed, renewed, and enriched for the journey that grows in your love.  Amen.


Joke of the Week

Coffee Hour Breakout Rooms

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A Pastoral Word – July 27, 2020


A Pastoral Word

Enhancing Zoom Security

Starting on Friday, we’re going to start making things on Zoom a tiny bit more complicated – and safer.

Up until now, we’ve made most of our Zoom gatherings pretty simple to join. You click a link in the “This Week at Niles Discovery Church” email and you’re there. The two big exceptions have been our worship services and “Zoom with the Kids,” both of which have required pre-registration. We will be moving to require registration for almost every meeting that is hosted on the church’s account. (There are a few meetings that are hosted on other accounts – the Adult Sunday School and the Green Team, for example. The hosts of those meetings will decide for themselves if they are going to require registration).

We are making this move because it makes the Zoom experience safer for everyone. Zoom announced some security changes that were going to start this month and have since been pushed back. Nonetheless, we are going forward with taking this step to make your Zoom experience safer. The big advantage for you is that you will get an email from Zoom when you register with your unique link for each meeting. You can figure out a way that works for you to file or flag those emails so you can find them easily to click to join the meetings when they happen. Also, the church will also be able to send out reminder emails through Zoom quite easily this way.

To roll out this change, the “This Week at Niles Discovery Church” email will be delayed a day. Look for it on Friday. It will have links to the registration sites. You can register immediately or at your convenience.

99 Days to the Election

There are only 99 days until the November general election, so now is the time to make sure you can vote.

The California Secretary of State sent out an email today to registered voters who shared their email addresses when they registered. He wrote, “All California voters will be sent a vote-by-mail ballot with prepaid postage for the General Election. To make sure you get your ballot, we are asking all California voters to double-check their voter registration at voterstatus.sos.ca.gov.” Making sure our mailing address is 100% accurate is especially vital this year.

I went to check my registration information this morning, including my mailing address, and everything was correct. That’s comforting. I encourage you to do it to.

Remember, voting is a civic sacrament and decisions are made by those who show up.

Working for a positive peace,
Pastor Jeff


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Poetry and Photograph Submissions

The Sunflower – By Mellicent Fraticelli

It starts as a seed
Planted in the earth
The sunflower grows
Tall and stately
Its face raised to the sky
Receiving the sun’s warmth
Its heat absorbed by the petals
Spreading to the leaves
Before it runs down the stem
And finally, to the roots

I am not alone
I am but one of many
Fans of this lovely flower

Bees, of many different types
Honeybees, bumble bees,
And carpenter bees
Butterflies, I don’t know their names
Many different colors
White, yellow and orange
All hover above the sunflower
Sucking its nectar
Collecting its pollen
The sunflower provides them with food
Yet even when
The petals are dried up
And the leaves wilted
It continues to give

Birds of different colors
And body types
Peck at the seeds
If there is anything left
After they’re done
I too enjoy the seeds
Sprinkled over a green salad
When even the seeds are gone
And the sunflower is all spent
Its old and shriveled body
Falls back down to the earth
It decomposes and returns its energy
To feed next year’s sunflower seeds

Thankful for Dancing – By Mellicent Fraticelli

In this continuing Shelter In Place
It is easy to get lost and out of touch
Remaining together and yet apart
Losing track of day, hour and minute
It is hard to remember
What it was like before
Effort must be made
To force thankful thoughts
Like music, oh the music
That makes me want to dance

Thankful I am for music, oh the music
Latin, hip hop, and old-fashioned soul
Rock and roll, salsa, and a bit of country too
And then there’s jazz and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker
Dancing was always a breeze
These days I’ve added Bollywood, belly dancing and hula
No mirrors needed or wanted
No corrections or preconceived perceptions
Feet thumping, hips swaying
Arms raised to the sky
My head is singing
My heart is lightened
My soul renewed
I feel the music, oh the music
I dance to the music all by myself
My two dogs asleep on the sofa
I’m sheltering in place
I am thankful for the music, oh the music
I am thankful to be dancing

God’s Laughter – By Joy Hurst

“Does God have a sense of humor?”
the little girl wants to know.
“Duh! Just look at creation,”
says her classmate.
But she can’t get there with her family’s garden—
the corn, the tomatoes, nor the swirls of porch ivy,
nor the downtown avenues with its oaks and walnuts,
and certainly not those pigeons, squirrels and ground hogs.
So where is it?
The garden of Eden was a sad place
and God got mad,
no laughter there at their frivolity.
So did it come from the tempter?
Is all of it wicked, as some call it?

School time now.
She seats herself at her desk
in the fifth row of Mrs. Goodwin’s second-grade class,
and the grammar session begins.
“Who can give me a sentence using the word ‘beans’?”
And her hand goes straight up.
Her teacher points to her.
“We’s all human beans,” she says proudly.
And God chuckles in the background —
“Yes, yes, that’s my sweet Bessy Faye,
I planted her well.”

Bottom Feeder – © Cindy Sojourner July 7, 2020

I sit on my bottom
On my side of the loveseat
To watch Hallmark
Make bullies make nice.
To edit flower photos
To share beauty exists.
To ZOOM with church
And Move My Spirit Poetry.
To discover Facebook posts
Making communities safer:
Demanding the defunding
Of police brutality, profiling,
School to prison pipeline,
To save Black lives.
I sit on my bottom
On my side of the loveseat
To hand sew a binding
On my quilt with joyful dancers.
To solve Sudoku puzzles
To prevent old age memory loss.
To write checks
To keep the lights, hot water,
Working in our home.
To be present with my love,
Massaging the soles of my feet.
I sit on my bottom
On my side of the loveseat
Too long. Too long
For my back, my neck,
To be properly aligned.
For wrist to shoulders
To avoid repetitive stress injury.
For brain to resist
Chronic migraines.
Long enough
For bowels to move
After morning cup of tea.
Long enough
For what I love
To summon joy, reason to live,
From the depths of my being
Rooted, routed, in holy, holy, holy.

Perpetuation of Belonging – © Cindy Sojourner June 30, 2020

New flower photos get me
With their finding ways to differ,
Yet belong beautifully.
Their petals posturing
Drift with winds and touch
In and out
Of sun and shading
To lighter, darker, reflections
Of self-celebration.
They dance
Like everyone is watching
And guaranteed
To join in the pollination.
Creation of new life.
Of belonging, beauty.
From buds to wilting,
Flowers get me, all of us,
All God’s creations.

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Noteworthy Items from the Green Team

Let’s Be a Cool Congregation

Across the country, people of faith are making changes in their homes and places of worship by participating in the Cool Congregations program of Interfaith Power and Light. Niles Discovery Church takes the commitment to be good stewards of the earth very seriously, so the Green Team has applied for Niles Discovery Church to be recognized as a Cool Congregation. We want to join the ranks of cool congregations across the nation.

Go to Interfaith Power & Light to see what other faith communities are doing. It’s pretty exciting. You can even learn how to donate a tree (for $5) that will offset a ton of your carbon footprint. How cool is that?  If you have questions, talk to Marilyn Singer and Bill Palleschi, our master carbon calculators. 

The Green Team Challenges You

Our church community is invited to participate in the City of Fremont’s Green Challenge.  Sandra Wong has created our own Niles Discovery Church team for the Challenge where you can learn how to implement practical ways to reduce your carbon footprint. If you are interested please join here.

Here’s an Eco-tip for you:

With COVID depriving us of the opportunity to bring our reusable shopping and produce bags into stores, simply ask the checkout clerk to return you items to the cart after scanning for payment, and then cart your items to bag them yourself at your car, or bike, or backpack, etc. It’s easy and eco-friendly.

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The Story of Plastic

The Second Saturday Documentary Series film for June was The Story of Plastic. Several Green Team members participated in the discussion of the film. This informative and moving documentary tells the story of the decades long elaborate hoax the fossil fuel industries and plastic producers pulled on the world, creating a worldwide crisis of plastic pollution. Plastic does not decompose. It breaks down into toxic micro plastics, permanent in the environment. Most plastic is not recyclable. Only about 8.4% of plastic is recycled.

The corporations, making all the profits, lay the cost of proper disposal on waste disposal companies and local jurisdictions. The worldwide pollution is an ecological disaster for the planet and health of every living species. Plastic, particularly single use plastic, isn’t recyclable and even plastic that is recycled causes pollution in the process of melting it for recycling. Most plastic ends up in landfills, in the oceans, on distant shores, and even in our atmosphere far from where it was produced and the profits were made. The documentary was aired on Discovery channel (US) Earth Day, April 22, 2020. To view the trailer and for information on how to watch the film or future airings, please visit https://www.storyofplastic.org/.

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A Climate Action Guide

From the Green Team

The Adult Education group recently finished reading Climate Church, Climate World, by Jim Antal. Lively discussions of how we can take action ensued, after we read each chapter. We encourage the whole congregation to read this very informative and easy to read book. It will help the congregation to understand some of the changes for which we as individuals need to strive, and as a congregation in the United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ. It is available electronically for e-readers, as an audiobook, and in paperback. If you would like to borrow the book, instead of purchasing, they are available at the church library, and can be borrowed by those who bought them for Adult Education.

While reading Climate Church, Climate World, Leonard Lloyd listed ten actions to address climate change. They are:

  1. Plant 1 trillion trees
  2. Close all coal-fired power plants and furnaces
  3. Add solar power generation to every roof and parking facility
  4. Electrify all vehicle fleets
  5. Hybridize retrofit kits for cars and trucks
  6. Electrify ships with solar and wind power and storage
  7. Replace local air transportation with high speed rail
  8. Create electric power directly from rotting tomatoes
  9. Convert diesel electric trains with natural gas fueled-electric. Start with forcing BART to replace diesel-powered trains in east Contra Costa County with electric shuttle pods.
  10. Require that all manufactured goods be designed and constructed with the ability to dismantle and recycle all components and materials. Require core charge deposit paid by purchaser to be repaid by the producer at the end of product life. The producers of products are responsible for recycling all components.

This book helps us explore our moral obligation to work for climate change. We can expand the Golden Rule to include future generations. We can shift our focus from personal salvation to collective salvation. Because climate change amplifies all forms of injustice – hunger, refugees, racism, poverty, inequality, deadly viruses, war – defense of creation is a campaign for justice.

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A Walking Solution

By Joy Barnitz

Solvitur ambulando is a Latin phrase means “it is solved by walking,” often attributed to Saint Augustine, as a person who meditates by walking, even if only by walking a finger labyrinth, my habit has become walking around my neighborhood every morning, in the cool hours.  I’ve met more neighbors, and dogs, than in “pre-pandemic” times.  A friend brings her dog over each Saturday morning and, together with my husband, we walk the route.

Over the past month, a new “bloom” of artwork has appeared on the sidewalk and on stones which get carefully placed in unexpected places. A free library appeared, along with water for dogs … on a placemat. A Black Lives Matter sign appeared and stands firmly in a carefully landscaped lawn.  A discarded mask lies in a gutter. And, life goes on as a car in a driveway proclaims, “Just Married.” Each day I have the opportunity to smile at people who I see frequently and look for the small changes. I “solve” my pandemic isolation by walking, noticing, photographing a selection of the things that make an appearance.

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