Niles Discovery Church Daily – Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Today’s Prayer

In the Days Ahead

(Doing what we can to make your Zoom experience safe, we are now using “waiting rooms” for some of our meetings and require advanced registration or others.)


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.

2:00-3:00 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. This link,, will take you to the Community Drop In every time it’s held.

3:00-3:30 p.m. – Zoom with the Children. The kids of our church are invited to join Pastor Jeff on Zoom for conversation and sharing. You must register for this event. Click here to register. This week’s assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to bring a toy you deeply love and the story about how it came to be part of your life. (Of course, parents and grandparents and other interested adults are welcome to listen to what the kids have to share, too.)


10:00 a.m.-noon – Retirement Reinvention Group. During the Shelter In Place order, we need this time to offer each other support, and to receive it. Contact John Zlatnik for information about joining this Zoom gathering of retirees who are supporting one another as they live into new ways of being retired people.

See, also the Paschal Triduum and Easter section below.


A Pastoral Word

I admit to being a bit stunned by our worship attendance. We had over 100 people gathered for worship on Sunday, 25% more than our typical Sunday attendance. Granted, the commute was much easier than on a typical Sunday morning and there weren’t any sports events to compete with. Still, gathering online is not the simplest thing to do (especially if you’re not used to the technology).

Those attendance rates make me realize that we have an opportunity as a church to do some Progressive Christian evangelism. For most fundamentalist Christians, evangelism is about saving people from eternal damnation in the afterlife. If you believe that and you care about your neighbors, that creates a pretty good motivation to “save” them.

As a Progressive Christian, I don’t believe in a punitive God. I trust God’s grace and love to embrace all of us who are willing to be embraced when we move from this life into the next, so my motivation to invite people into the church is different. I want to share my church because I believe we are making a difference here and now, in our lives and in the lives of people and animals and plants around us. I want to invite people to be part of this caring, compassionate mission initiated by Jesus. So I want to invite people to be part of our community. That’s what Progressive Christian evangelism is to me.

And here we are, in a situation where the primary thing we do – worshiping God – is readily accessible. Someone who hasn’t been into a church building on a Sunday morning in decades (if ever) can join us for worship and still hold on to that record. If you want to invite people to worship, too, ask them to register for worship by going to

Of course, making worship that accessible means that people who simply want to disrupt and shock can come in, too. It’s called Zoombombing. I was in a meeting on Monday that got Zoombombed. It was handled swiftly and the offenders were kicked out. It was, nonetheless, annoying and offensive and, yes, upsetting. The fact is, the same sort of thing could happen in our worship service, too. That’s why we have people prepared to act to restore order and safety as quickly as possible. The reality is that we could just as easily have a disruptive person come to one of our worship services in our church building. It would be just as annoying, offensive, and upsetting – perhaps more so – than online. And we would deal with it.

So, yes, I do want you to evangelize. Do invite friends and family – near and far – to register for worship. And trust that we are doing what we can to keep our Zoom worship spaces as safe as possible.

Pastor Jeff

Paschal Triduum and Easter

The Paschal Triduum is the fancy name for the the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of Holy Week. Traditionally, worship over these three days is seen as one continuous worship service and then end with the Great Vigil of Easter (traditionally a late Saturday night). Here are some options available to you this year.

Maundy Thursday – April 9

9:00-9:30 a.m. – Maundy Thursday worship and assignment. Join Pastor Jeff and Pastor Brenda in a simple service of prayer, scripture reading, reflection, and assignment. (The assignment will also be emailed to everyone on this mailing list at about the same time.) Join this simple service by clicking here.

12:30 p.m. – Worship with the United Church of Christ. We don’t have the details yet. All we know is that the leaders from across the life of the denomination will be leading a streamed worship service. Watch here for more details as they emerge.

7:00-7:30 p.m. – Maundy Thursday assignment check in. This is simply a time to check in with each other about how you did with your Maundy Thursday assignment. Join this gathering by clicking here.

Good Friday – April 10

9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. – Meditations on the Seven Last Words of Christ. Every hour on the hour, we will repost one of the 7- to 8-minute meditations on the seven last words of Christ that were live streamed last year on our Facebook page.

9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. – The Northern California Nevada Conference’s virtual Chapel. Come in as you have time throughout the day to meditate, post prayer requests in the chatroom, and view meditative 5- to 7-minute looping videos based on the Stations of the Cross. The meditation on each Station will be up for half an hour and then change to the next station, moving through all 14 Stations of the Cross during this time period. Enter the chapel at any time while it is open by clicking here. Pastor Jeff contributed to this Conference-wide project.

Easter Sunday – April 12

10:00-11:00 a.m. – Easter Festival Service. Join us for our Easter Festival Service on Zoom. Registration is for our Sunday morning worship services is required. Go to to register.

Time to Be Announced – Worship with the Disciples of Christ. We don’t know what at what time, yet, but at some point during the day, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will be streaming an Easter Worship Celebration on their YouTube channel. We will update this announcement when we have more information.

5:00 p.m. – Great Vigil of Easter. Grace North Church in Berkeley is inviting us to join them as they celebrate the Great Vigil of Easter on Easter afternoon. Click here to join them. And download the liturgy (ahead of time) here.


Prayer List: Since we don’t have the green attendance sheet in our worship service currently, the only way to can share an update for the prayer list is by contacting Pastor Jeff. Email or phone him, please.

 Coffee Hour Tables:  It is great to see faces during our worship services over Zoom and it’s nice to give people a chance to say “Hi” to everyone during “Coffee Hour.” And it would be nice (at least for some of us) to connect with a smaller group of people. To that end, six volunteers have stepped forward to host “Coffee Hour Tables.” These are Zoom meetings that will start after “Coffee Hour” that are limited in size.

If you would like to join one of these “Tables,” please sign up by clicking here. This link will take you to a Google spreadsheet. Add your name and email address to list for one of the “Tables.” The “Tables” won’t be longer than 40 minutes (and probably shorter, and you can always leave if you need to). The “Table” that you join is also free to meet during the week if you want to.

Sometime on Saturday, the “Table” hosts will check this list. The host for your “Table” will send you an email with the link to you Table’s Zoom gathering.

If you have trouble opening the spreadsheet or adding your name and email, or if you’re having trouble getting Zoom set up on your computer, you can call B. Newell, Martin Williams, John Smith, or Jim Thomas.

Something You Can Do Now

Make (or help purchase) PPE:  The Tri-City Health Center contacted the church yesterday, asking for help with Personal Protective Equipment – things like gowns, masks, face shields, gloves for their medical staff. They are, of course, accepting monetary donations (click the donate button on their website). Pastor Jeff asked if they have specifications for making any of these items and he was referred to this website for information about making face shields.

Sign this letter:  While we Californians and Nevadans are sheltering in place, racism and hate crimes are still a powerful plague on our society. A member of the United Church of Christ and the Chinese-American community was recently kicked off a BART car, being blamed for COVID-19. Our Conference Ministers, in consultation with leaders from our PAAM (Pacific Islander, Asian American Ministries) community, have composed an Open Letter and are inviting all members and friends in our territory to:

  • Read this letter. If you want to add your name to the letter, click here. The letter’s signatories will be updated each afternoon.
  • Consider submitting letters of their own, using ours as an example, to local community newspapers and media outlets.

About Jeffrey Spencer

A lover of God and puns, Jeff Spencer is a pastor in the United Church of Christ (with standing in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)) and the author of a curriculum on the Death Penalty for adults (and older youth) in churches. More information at He serves as Senior Pastor at Niles Discovery Church in Fremont, CA.
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