Strategic Planning Team seeks project ideas

Deadline for project ideas:  April 2

A big “Thank You!” to all who participated in our Town Hall Meeting on March 12 to hear all about the Strategic Plan and our two Goals: 1) Start at least two intergenerational, multicultural, hands-on mission and service projects per year; and 2) Encourage the faith journeys of all members and visitors by increasing participation in programs by 10% annually.

Although the Strategic Plan will not be officially adopted until our Annual Congregational Meeting on May 7, we are getting the ball rolling so we can winnow down the number of Goal One projects to a manageable number and be ready to start working on them as soon as the new program year starts in June. Our next Town Hall Meeting, on April 9, will focus on this winnowing process.
Below you’ll find a list of possible projects that have already been brainstormed by members of the congregation. If you have another possibility to add, please do so by emailing the Strategic Planning Team by Monday April 2 at 9 a.m. (see email address below). Projects should be as intergenerational, multicultural, and hands-on as possible, and help us live out our mission: Following the example of Jesus, Niles Discovery Church welcomes all people, grows in our relationship with God and each other, and serves our neighbors near and far.

If we are to implement any of the projects, each one needs a “Champion,” a person (or pair) who will lead a team of people to get the project accomplished. At the next Town Hall Meeting, people who have already identified themselves as project Champions will have the opportunity to give a 30-second promo about their project. This will be followed by time for congregation members to circulate and sign up for the projects they are most passionate about. Projects that do not have Champions or any congregational interest or passion at this point will be eliminated from consideration this year (but may certainly be considered again in the future).

If you want to Champion one of these projects, or one that you will suggest, please let us know by Monday April 2 at 9 a.m.
To suggest projects, volunteer as a Champion, or to ask questions,
please email the Strategic Planning Team ( or Pastor Brenda (

Here is a list of brainstormed projects we know about now.  Add your ideas by April 2!

Potential Goal One Projects:

1.1        Homeless ministry: Shower and laundry facility for homeless persons
1.2        Homeless ministry: Storage unit for furniture & household items need to rehouse homeless person/family
1.3        Join on projects with other spiritual communities
1.4        Backpack distribution center
1.5        Dismantling racism ministry: Black Lives Matter, Showing up for Racial Justice (SURJ) or other racial justice group forum to exchange ideas/information on how our predominantly white church can engage and help
1.6        Human trafficking ministry
1.7        Prison ministry
1.8        Fostering Hope and Change event (promote action instead of talk)
1.9        Training about non-violence and non-violent methods of organizing for change
1.10    Assist a refugee family with resettlement
1.11    Mobile food van – distribute food with Tri-City Volunteers

PLUS, the following brainstormed projects that happen to address both Goal One and Goal Two:

BG.1       Dismantling Racism: Sponsor session of “Meet a Muslim,” or Sikh, or Atheist
BG.2       Butterfly garden
BG.3       Tri-City Area Fair for newcomers
BG.4       Singing program for kids.
BG.5     Autism ministry – (offering accessible worship and fellowship for members and/or community support)

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A Project In Need Of Support

Was there a time during your school days when you only received one meal and it was hard to concentrate on books? Perhaps you didn’t have books, a table, or a chair to sit on? These kids from Mfangano Island, Kenya have experienced these conditions. Most are orphans who lost their parents due to the HIV/AIDs epidemic on the island and are now living with surviving family.

Since 2012, much progress toward improvement has been made and now there are desks, chairs, and three classrooms. But there is currently a problem keeping teachers. Four of the seven teachers have left due to inadequate salaries. The island is suffering a very intense drought and food costs have increased.  Teachers earn $80 a month—not enough to cover travel and food expenses. They are reaching out for help.

Come learn more about this fascinating community school and island on Lake Victoria and how you can help.  Rich Godfrey will be presenting “St. James Community School – An Orphanage Project in need of Support” on March 19, from noon to 2 p.m. in the Niles Discovery Church Fellowship Hall.  He’ll discuss the objectives of the school,  the services they wish to provide and how you can help.

Please join Richard on March 19 from noon to 2 p.m. to learn more.  Swahili Stew and Tea will be served.

Objectives Of The Institution

  1. Empower the children for sustainable development through education
  2. Increase educational opportunities for vulnerable youth.
  3. Groom the youth for the service of God and community.
  4. Foster local solutions for sustainable development.

Services To Be Provided By
St. James Orphanage School

  • Offer quality education to the needy kids
  • Give clothes and food to the vulnerable kids on Mfangano Island.
  • Arrange Christian camps for pupils
  • Organize exchange programs with youth from other areas
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  The March Special Offering will be split between One Great Hour of Sharing and Week of Compassion. Each offering is received throughout each of our denominations (United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ, respectively). Both denominations use the collected funds to provide disaster relief and development grants. Both have Facebook pages that are regularly updated with reports of how #YouAreThere through the money you give.


This offering will be officially received on Sunday, March 12. 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 or call the church office we will mail you

Thanks to your generosity, the February special offering raised $750.00  and ditty bags for the important work of S.A.V.E.

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Slavery by another name exposed in Second Saturday Documentary pick, “13th”

documentary-1Academy Award-nominated Director Ava DuVernay draws a line from the constitutional amendment that freed slaves to the disproportionate number of African-Americans in American prisons today in “13th,” to be screened at 1:30 pm, March 11, at Niles Discovery Church. The Second Saturday Documentary Series, is free and open to the public. A discussion will follow the screening.

Section 1 of the 13th Amendment states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

DuVernay, director of “Selma,” interviews historians, sociologists, and the formerly incarcerated who forward the thesis that the economic hardship faced by whites, particularly in the south, when slaves were freed in 1865 was mitigated by the loophole stating slavery could result as punishment for crime.

Using archival photographs and footage, the film documents the criminalization and intimidation of African Americans through lynchings, Jim Crow laws, and popular culture, especially the wildly popular film of 1915, “Birth of a Nation,” that lionized and reinvigorated the Ku Klux Klan.

documentary-2“13th” also looks at inequitable sentencing, particularly for drug offences, which has stuffed American prisons – where 25 percent of the entire world’s incarcerated are held.

The Second Saturday Documentary Series is co-sponsored by Niles Discovery Church and the San Jose Peace & Justice Center. For more information, call 510 797-0895 or visit

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Image result for giftcards

When we sell scrip (gift cards), a percentage of the face value goes in to the church’s Campership fund. That fund helps kids from our church go to church camp each summer. For instance, JoAnn Fabrics and TJMax/Homegoods both pay 7% on all scrip purchased.

And now, when you shop on Amazon, we can get a little for our scrip fund, too. In your Amazon account you have the option by logging onto to choose an organization to receive a percentage of your online purchases. At the top of the page, there is a Smile section where you can type in the name of your group and set it to the default organization. Type In Niles Discovery Church and set it as your default organization for us to receive additional funds for our camper program.

If you’re going to shop there anyway, why not use scrip?

Thank you everyone for your participation and helping make camp possible for the youth of our church. We raise over $2,000 in a typical year.

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leadershipThe Nominating Committee is inviting all members of the church to consider if they are called to serve in leadership in the coming program year. There are ten elected positions in the church:  the Moderator; the Vice Moderator; the Treasurer; the Clerk; the chairs of the Ministry of Spiritual Life Team, the Ministry of Christian Education Team, the Ministry of Property Team, the Ministry of Evangelism and Outreach Team, and the Ministry of Social Concerns Team; and the Auditor. The first nine of these positions make up the membership of the Cabinet (roughly equivalent to our church’s Board of Directors).

Each of the Ministry Teams has additional members and there are several Committees, but these positions are not elected by the congregation and (in most cases) non-members are welcome to serve on them as well as members.

If you would like to serve in one of the elected positions from May 2017 through April 2018, please contact Cathy West, Sandy Thomas, or Barbara Swint. Their hope is to have at least one nominee for each of the positions by the beginning of April, so now is the time to volunteer!

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Family Sunday Funday is March 5 at Cloverleaf Bowling

public-domain-images-free-stock-photos-alley-ball-bowlAll kids in church (and their families) are invited to join in the fun at a bowling party on Sunday, March 5! Bring a sack lunch to eat with your friends after worship. We will leave the church around 11:45 for bowling at 12:15. Bowling and shoes for kids are provided through a gift from Sumi Lampert. (Thanks Sumi!) Please contact Debbie Keesis,, with any questions.

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