Holy Week 2019 at Niles Discovery Church

Palm Sunday to bring a Progressive Christian look at the crucifixion

“We’re going to try something a little different this year on Palm Sunday,” Pastor Jeff explained at a recent meeting. Because we are between choir directors our choir won’t be presenting a cantata this Palm Sunday. “This gives us an opportunity to explore the Passion narrative, particularly the crucifixion,” Pastor Jeff said.

“While those who attend find the Holy Week Services on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday meaningful, attendance is typically low. That means that the church as a whole doesn’t spend time reflecting on the crucifixion, exploring its meaning from a Progressive Christian perspective,” he said. “That’s what I hope to do in my sermon this year.”

The service on April 14 will have an unusual beginning, we don’t want to give anything away here. Be on time to experience what’s planned. Then the service will move into a liturgy with which we are more familiar.

Maundy Thursday Dinner Church

On Maundy Thursday (April 18) we will remember the first Last Supper in a worship service that recalls how the first Christians worshipped: in the context of a meal together. We’ll gather in the fellowship hall and worship together through all aspects of the family meal—food preparation, setting the tables, eating together, reading scripture, conversation, sharing communion, clearing the tables, doing the dishes, and cleaning up. Dinner will include “stone salad,” a salad bar created by the veggies and salad toppings that people (i.e., you) bring, bread, and delicious homemade soup provided by our kitchen angels.

This is a family-friendly service, and people of all ages and abilities will be able to participate. Set-up and food preparation begins at 5:45, with dinner served at 6:15, and clean-up done by 7:45 (ish). Come when you can and leave when you have to.

Good Friday Goes Live (Streaming)

This year, we will be doing something completely new for Good Friday (April 19). Rather than holding one service in the evening, as we usually do, we will offer seven brief (10 minutes or less) prayer services throughout the day, and they will be broadcast in real-time using Facebook Live. You may either tune in virtually by going to the church’s Facebook page and watch each service at the appointed time or drop in to one or more of the services in person in the sanctuary. All the prayer service videos will be available on our Facebook page for later viewing.

Each of the prayer services will focus on one of the seven last words of Christ—a compilation of the words Jesus says from the cross in the four gospels—and will include an introduction, scripture, a question for reflection, time for quiet contemplation, and a closing prayer. We hope that these brief services will help those who are busy or working find time for prayer and contemplation on this important holy day.

Prayer Schedule:
8:00 a.m. The First Word: Luke 23:34
10:00 a.m. The Second Word: Luke 23:43
12:00 p.m. The Third Word: John 19:26
2:00 p.m. The Fourth Word: Mark 15:34
4:00 p.m. The Fifth Word: John 19:28
6:00 p.m. The Sixth Word: John 19:30
8:00 p.m. The Seventh Word: Luke 23:46

Two services offered on Easter

Once again, Niles Discovery Church will offer the wider community an Easter Sunrise Service in the Niles Town Plaza at the railroad station. The April 21 service will begin at 6:30 a.m. and will include singing and communion. Pastor Jeff plans to share a retelling of Oscar Wilde’s “The Selfish Giant” as the sermon. This service is BYOC (bring your own chair). As we have in the past couple years, we will head over to the Nile Café after the service for breakfast.

The celebration of the resurrection will continue at the 10:00 festival Easter service, held in the sanctuary. Joy abounds with choruses of “Alleluia,” special anthems from the choir, and communion. The sermon will be a logical follow-up to the Palm Sunday sermon, this Sunday offering “A Progressive Look at the Resurrection.”

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March pilgrimage will target bank with fossil fuel ties

Wells Fargo Bank has a dirty-energy secret: it’s a leading lender to the fossil-fuel industry. That’s why 350 Silicon Valley is ramping up a campaign to expose “Oily Wells” by organizing the March for Fossil Fuel Freedom, a 3-day, 34-mile march from Palo Alto to the bank’s San Francisco headquarters, March 16-18.

The pilgrimage will offer a chance to meet other concerned folks (from partners such as Idle No More SF Bay and the Sierra Club) and act as a human billboard attesting to the rapidly deepening climate crisis and the prospect for sustainable solutions. Marchers will spend two nights in church and community halls, with food and support vehicles for carrying gear provided. At “stagecoach stops” along the way, there will be educational presentations and performances (featuring Oily Wells himself). Learn more and register now at www.OilyWells.com.

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Special Offerings – February 2019

When an abused woman comes into our local safe house, probably carrying nothing but her purse, she is given a SAVE ditty bag. Maybe it will be the one you filled for her. It will help her begin her journey to safety and wellness. It will contain shampoo and conditioner, a hairbrush, a fluffy sponge or washcloth, soap, deodorant, a tooth brush and toothpaste, and other small items.

Now is the time to create these bags. You will find the list of items and a colorful bag (made by people in our church) on the table in the fellowship hall. They will be dedicated, along with this month’s special offering for SAVE (Safe Alternatives for Violent Environments) on February 10.

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 bit.ly/specofferings or call the church office we will mail you one.

We apologize that we don’t have a count for your January Special Offering generosity for Tri-City Volunteers by the press deadline.

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Film on Dolores Huerta explores the life of a tireless activist

The phrase “Sí se puede!” so often attributed to César Chávez, was actually coined by Dolores Huerta during the early struggles of the United Farm Workers (UFW) Union. Though a co-founder of the UFW with César Chávez, Dolores Huerta has long been under-recognized.

Wendy Greenfield, a long-time friend, activist, and supporter of Dolores Huerta, said, “She has overcome barriers of racism and sexism to lead grassroots organizing efforts.”

The Second Saturday Documentary Series offers a free screening the film Dolores (2017, 95 minutes) on Saturday, February 9, at Niles Discovery Church. A discussion after the screening will be led by Wendy Greenfield.

Peter Bratt, director of the film, chronicles Huerta’s life from her childhood in Stockton, California to her early years with the UFW, from her work with the national grape and lettuce boycotts launched in the 1960s and 1970s to her role in the feminist movement of the 1970s to her continuing work as one of the most defiant labor and feminist activists of our time.

Featuring interviews with Gloria Steinem, Luis Valdez, Angela Davis, and more, Dolores is an intimate and inspiring portrait of a passionate champion of the oppressed and an indomitable woman willing to accept the personal sacrifices involved in committing one’s life to social change. In interviews, several of her 11 children express admiration for their mother, yet recall the deep distress they felt when growing up often without her around.

Wendy Greenfield said of the film, “The many years of struggle have been fruitful and uplifting, but they have also taken a personal toll. The 2017 film Dolores shows her courage and leadership but also the many sacrifices she and her family went through in the course of these struggles. You will be inspired by the film and yet faced with the contradictions of what it means to be a totally dedicated human rights leader.”

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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Conference planned to help congregations better serve and include people with mental health conditions

Mental health conditions are common everywhere, including in our churches. People are dealing with a variety of mental health and substance use challenges every day. Due to stigma, many people may be reluctant to either seek help professionally or to speak about it with their pastor or other members of their church. This cant be changed. Congregations can become places of belonging, where truly everyone, including those with mental health challenges, is welcome, no matter where they are on life’s journey.

Congregations are invited to explore becoming “WISE” – Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged – for Mental Health by attending a conference on March 2 at City of Refuge Church in Oakland, offered by the United Church of Christ Mental Health Network. The conference is an opportunity for church members and leaders to learn about mental health, explore how our faith communities can support those among us with health challenges, attend workshops, and begin the steps to become certified as a WISE Congregation for Mental Health (following the UCC resolution passed at General Synod in 2015).

To learn more about the conference and to register, go to mhn-ucc.org. All are welcome and encouraged to attend. If you have further questions about the conference, contact Robin Kempster, member of the UCC Mental Health Network, at rkempster@fccb.org.

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Region plans mission trip to Puerto Rico this April

The 2019 Christian Church of Northern California-Nevada Regional Mission Trip will be to Puerto Rico, April 14-20. As most of us know, Puerto Rico sustained a direct hit by Hurricane Maria in September 2017, while they were still recovering from Hurricane Irma, which hit the previous month.

Because the island is much poorer than the mainland of the U.S., the residents have had a very difficult time rebuilding. Many people still live in damaged and substandard homes. Our hands-on labor and presence on the island provide evidence of our love and support to the people of Puerto Rico.

The basic cost, charged by the Disciples Office of Volunteering, is $300. There will some additional costs (still to be determined) charged by the Region. Participants are responsible for their own airfare and other incidental costs. The participants will be housed in the mountains, near Barranquitas, in bunkhouses at Camp Morton (an outdoor ministries site).

The Disciples of Christ have a very strong presence on the island, with more than 100 congregations. There is a need for people who have construction skills and those who can speak Spanish. All participants will meet at the San Juan International Airport, Puerto Rico, by 2:00 p.m. (local time) on Sunday, April 14. They will return to California on Saturday, April 20. Participants do not need a passport to go to Puerto Rico as it is part of the United States.

Registration forms were not available as of the press deadline, but you can check the mission trip page of the Region’s website, j.mp/ccncnMT19, for forms and lots (really, lots) more information. People interested in going should also contact the Regional office; a sort of group orientation meeting in being planned for March.

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Making Summer Plans? Consider attending a church meeting

Seriously. Consider attending a church meeting this summer.

Both the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ (which are commonly abbreviated as DOC and UCC respectively) are covenantally based. Each congregation lives in covenant with the other congregations and with the wider church.

Each denomination holds a general meeting every two years. The UCC holds a “General Synod” with representatives from the Conferences (the 37 geographic areas across the United States). The DOC holds a “General Assembly” with representatives from every congregation in the denomination. While the Northern California Nevada Conference selects just a handful delegates to represent us and the other UCC congregations in our Conference at General Synod, our church’s Cabinet selects our delegates to General Assembly. “Visitors” are also welcome at both General Synod and General Assembly. In addition to our two lay delegates to General Assembly, our pastors are automatically delegates – if they actually go.

Delegates and visitors participate in worship, workshops, and banquets. Only delegates get to speak and vote on the business items that come before the General Synod and General Assembly.

General Synod will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, June 21-25. You can learn more about it, registration, and costs at www.synod2019.org. General Assembly will be held in Des Moines, Iowa, July 20-24. You can learn more about it, registration, and costs at ga.disciples.org. If you decide to go to General Assembly, please let our Moderator or one of our pastors know. While we can’t help you pay for attending, we can officially appoint you a delegate, so you’ll get to vote.

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