Town Hall Meeting on Baptism and Membership scheduled

Town Hall Meeting

Should someone have to be baptized to be a member of our church? Our Bylaws currently require baptism, saying that “Uniting with the congregation [as a member] is an act of reaffirmation of baptism.” Should we keep that requirement?

On Sunday, January 14, Pastor Jeff will preach on “Baptism and Membership,” offering some of the history the theology behind this requirement and why this question is being raised now. Following worship that Sunday, there will be a Town Hall Meeting where you can share your thoughts and reflections on the subject. The members of the Cabinet will listen carefully to what people say as they consider a possible recrafting of this requirement.

Also at this meeting, the congregation will spend about 15 minutes going over the proposed Bylaw amendments. Almost all of the proposed amendments correct errors or clarify intent. There are two substantive proposed amendments, one establishing a Nominating Committee, and the other modifying the uses of the Endowment Fund. These amendments will be voted on at the Annual Budget Meeting on Sunday, February 4, following worship.

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Fremont rents are unaffordable for many

The average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in the city is more than $2,500. Forty two percent of renters pay more than 30% of their income on rent, making their families cost-burdened. It’s time to speak out against skyrocketing rents and unfair evictions in Fremont.

To address this issue, the City Council has changed the rent control laws in Fremont. Starting January 1, there will be a public rent review board of 5 members that will “hear” complaints of increases in rent of 5% or more.  The rent review board will consist of 5 members.  2 landlords in Fremont, 2 renters, and someone who is “neutral.”  Applications for these positions are available now at the City Clerks office and are due by December 22. Perhaps you would make a good board member.

You might also like to join RISE, Residents Insisting on Social Equity, a grassroots organization working to make sure affordable rentals exists in Fremont. I you would like to join, you can fill out the RISE Membership Pledge. You can also learn more on the Fremont RISE Facebook page.

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The Angel Angle — Brenda’s column

Brenda_Loreman_StaffWhen I was growing up, it didn’t feel like the house was ready for Christmas until Mom hung the angel mobile in the front window. It was a simple. home-made decoration, a gold-painted wooden hoop from which dangled small red felt angels. Mom had made it either before I was born, or early enough in my life that it felt like it had always existed. In its place over the front window seat, it would sparkle in the setting sun, and any small air movement—a breeze from an opened door, or the central heating coming up through the floor grate—would set the angels dancing.

I’ve always loved the idea of angels, perhaps encouraged by my early memories of my childhood home. Although angels appear in stories throughout the Bible and serve various functions, our understanding of what angels are and what they look like is probably rooted in the nativity stories and in their portrayal in western European art. Most often, they are portrayed in the form of a beautiful human figure in sumptuous robes, with enormous, feathered wings. Mary is often portrayed calmly reading as Gabriel shows up, which always strikes me as odd. Wouldn’t you freak out if a glittering supernatural being showed up in your bedroom? I know I would.

theannumciationOne of my favorite paintings puts a slightly different spin on Gabriel and Mary. In The Annunciation, by 19th-century African-American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner, the artist envisions Mary as a humble Middle Eastern teenager, and the angel Gabriel as a beam of light appearing in her bedroom. She looks like she just woke up, and she’s calm, but looks a little afraid. That fear is why the very first thing the angels say to the people they encounter is “Do not be afraid.”

In the nativity stories of the gospels according to Luke and Matthew, the angels are important messengers of God. They bring news that is life-changing (Gabriel’s message to Mary), joyful (the news of Jesus’s birth to the shepherds), just (the message to Joseph to take Mary as his wife), and dangerous (the message to the Magi to flee Herod’s wrath). Without the angels, the stories of Jesus’s birth would not have the drama and energy that they do.

This Advent season, we’ll be exploring the meaning and messages of the angels in the nativity stories. Each week from December 3-January 7, we’ll explore a different angel message from the nativity stories and what it means for our lives today. And on December 17, we’ll hear the angel stories told through song as the choir presents their cantata during morning worship.  For information about our Advent and Christmas services click here. I do hope you can join us, and encourage you to invite your family and friends.

Blessings of the season,

Pastor Brenda

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Church Reform in Room Four

toys (2)On Reformation Sunday, Pastor Jeff asked folks to write ways they think the church still needs to reform on a stick note, and post it on the “church door” hanging in the fellowship hall. One of our youngsters said that the nursery classroom—Room Four—needed more toys, especially dolls.

dollsTwo reform-minded and creative congregation members decided to take on this reformation, and Room Four now has a collection of Cabbage Patch dolls and a whole trousseau of doll clothes for dress-up play. Many thanks to Marilyn Singer, who purchased the dolls, and Barb King, who sewed up the doll clothes. Stop by Room Four and meet our new friends.


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Women’s Fellowship News


Women’s Fellowship Group   The Daytime Women’s Fellowship group meets on the third Monday of the month – this month, December 18 – at 11:30 a.m. One of our pastors will lead us in Bible study (typically looking at a scripture for the coming Sunday’s worship service) and we will visit with one another as we eat our brown bag lunches and a provided dessert. Sometimes there is a little bit of business that needs to be taken care of. The meeting typically ends by 1:00. Everyone (whether you identify as a woman or not) is welcome.

Lap Robe Tying Group   The lap robe tying group will not be meeting in December. Please join them on the fourth Wednesday of January, 10:00 to 2:00, to share in fellowship and lunch as they tie off lap robes that have been stitched together during the month. The lap robes are then given to people who might enjoy them and to remind them that they are always wrapped in God’s love. If you know of someone who would like a lap robe, contact Alison Kieft or Judy Molander. If you plan to join in the fellowship and fun this month, please let Judy Molander know (since lunch is provided, it’s nice to get a head-count).


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Giving opportunities continue through the season

tis-the-season-of-givingAs announced in last month’s edition of The Bell, there are several opportunities to share the joy of the season through your special giving. Here’s a summary of how you can give during December.

90bed4df2ef36c8be3305a6e51991f57-christmas-shopping-bag-by-vexels[1]The Holiday Food Gift Bag drive wraps up on December 3. The Ministry of Social Concerns Team will be purchasing items for the residents of Laguna Commons, an affordable housing site sponsored by Abode Services and one of the locations the Food Van visits when it’s staffed by the Niles Discovery Church Mobile Food Van volunteers. Look for a “Holiday Food Bags” display board in the Fellowship Hall and offering envelopes in the sanctuary chairs.

Christmas stockingThe Stocking Stuffing for the Puente Posada and Christmas party for the children of immigrant families on the south San Mateo coast wraps up on Sunday, December 3. Puente’s specific requests for this year are stickers and socks for children and youth, sizes 3 to 12. Gift cards to Ross or Target are also welcome and the MSC Team will shop for socks and stickers for you.


puente logoEvery month Niles Discovery Church has a Special Offering on the second Sunday of the month. The Ministry of Social Concerns Team has picked Puente de la Costa del Sur for the December Special Offering (see “Special Offering” here).


Holiday-gift-basketsAbout a dozen church members create Gift Baskets for Seniors selected by the City of Fremont senior social workers. We receive a wish list from the senior and assemble a gift bag or basket to brighten the holidays of frail and needy seniors. Those of us who have participated find this a particularly heartwarming way to celebrate the season! Talk to John Smith if  you’d like to help with this effort.

dollsThe Ministry of Christian Education Team is organizing a contingent from our church to help out with the Tri-City Volunteers’ annual Toy Party on December 15. Read details about this here.


Not everyone can do everything, and we sure hope you will find a few ways to spread the joy of the


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Church helps run toy party at local charity

Holiday partyThe members and friends of Niles Discovery Church are invited to staff the Tri City Volunteers Toy Party on December 15, 4:00-6:00 p.m. We will be providing activities for children while their parents pick out holiday gifts. We will be assisting Santa, making popcorn, face painting, and providing and supervising crafts. Especially needed are people with know how to run our popcorn machine and people with craft ideas. Please also save your smaller, flat Amazon boxes for us to use to hold bags of popcorn. Contact Beth Armstrong for more information or to volunteer.

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