Enjoy Food and Music at World Interfaith Harmony Celebration

World Interfaith Harmony Day will be celebrated on Saturday, February 1, 2020, 1:00-4:00 p.m.. at Niles Discovery Church, 36600 Niles Blvd., Fremont, CA, 94536. This Tri-City Interfaith Council (TCIC) event is co-sponsored with the Human Relations Commissions of Alameda County, Fremont, and Union City. It is free and open to the public. Enjoy food, music, 12 faith tables, and small group conversations facilitated by Jessy Zapanta of the Oakland Peace Center.

In 2010 the United Nations established World Interfaith Harmony Week “to promote harmony between all people regardless of their faith.” The Rev. Jeffrey Spencer, current TCIC president and senior pastor of Niles Discovery Church says, “TCIC has sponsored events to create harmony, understanding, appreciation, and respect for all people from all faiths and no faiths for over 30 years. At this event people may ask questions to gain knowledge and appreciation of religious practices and beliefs. They can also gain skills for having difficult conversations. Our theme is ‘Braving Harmony Across Those Divides,’ and we’ll focus on the divides that have caused families communities to fall apart. Many people wish they knew how to have these conversations effectively, and we think this event will help.”

At the event, people can visit information tables on many faith traditions and enjoy food that people bring to share. The faiths include Baha’i, Thai Buddhist, Christian Science, Episcopal, Muslim, Jewish, Roman Catholic, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist, and Protestant.

Beginning at 1:30 p.m., Jessy Zapanta, Director of Programs and Partnerships at the Oakland Peace Center and co-founder of Dharma in Motion Sangha at East Bay Meditation Center, will teach ways to create a safe space for listening, compassion, harmony, and justice making. Jessy will offer paths for engaging in conversations that allow conflicting perspectives on race, religion, homelessness, immigration, gender, sexuality, politics, violence, and climate change. There will be time to identify and explore communication and conflict styles, common ground, and areas to stretch and grow.

Born in the Bay area, Jessy is an experienced community builder, advocate for youth, and workshop facilitator in meditation, movement, counseling, and community building.

During a break, there will be time to eat, visit information tables, or learn music with guest musicians:  Rabbi Tsvi Bar-David, Rashid Patch, Soni Kaur, and Manjeev Singh. At 3:30 pm, the closing Harmony Celebration will lift up the day’s highlights and feature music led by our guest musicians from the Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh traditions.

The public is encouraged to come, whether this is the first interfaith experience or their hundredth. Participants are encouraged to bring food to share so that all may enjoy the rich religious and cultural diversity of the Tri-Cities. Children are welcome and need to stay with their guardians.

Moina Shaiq, co-chairperson of this Interfaith Harmony Day event and founder of “Meet a Muslim,” says, “I wish every community had this kind of event with so many faith traditions; we are very fortunate. The world wouldn’t be at war if there were more communities like ours. We need to keep proving that we can all coexist. All major faiths teach us to live in harmony. It’s the golden rule: treat others the way you want to be treated.”

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Film Explores Mental Health – Silence, Shame Worsen Suffering

Psychiatrist turned filmmaker Kenneth Rosenberg examines a national health crisis in the film Bedlam, which will be shown Saturday, February 8 at 1:30 p.m. as part of the Second Saturday Documentary Series at Niles Discovery Church, 36600 Niles Boulevard (at the corner of Nursery Ave., Fremont). The screening is free and open to the public.

“For centuries, we, individuals and families living with serious mental illness, have suffered in silence and shame,” said Rosenberg. “We can no longer be ashamed, and we can no longer stay silent.”

An Official Selection in 2019 for the Sundance Film festival, Bedlam follows the emotional stories of people fighting severe mental illnesses as they are pushed into the paths of police officers, ER doctors and nurses, lawyers, and prison guards.

Haunted by the death of his mentally ill sister, Rosenberg takes us inside Los Angeles County’s overwhelmed and under-resourced psychiatric ER, a nearby jail – housing thousands of psychiatric patients – and the homes and homeless encampments of people suffering from extreme mental illness.

This film shines a light on the events that led to the closing of mental institutions from the 1950s to the 1980s and left a skeletal mental health support system in its wake. “The mentally ill are falling through the cracks of American society landing in jails, sleeping in parks or on sidewalks, or disappearing completely,” said the Rev. Jeffrey Spencer, senior pastor at Niles Discovery Church. “All while we wait for solutions from policy makers and Big Pharma.”

Following the film, there will be a discussion moderated by the Rev. Barbara Meyers, a community minister specializing in Mental Health.

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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Film Shows the Power of Restorative Justice

Second Saturday Documentary Series

Award-winning filmmaker Cassidy Friedman explores the journey of one man as his personal and professional worlds collide in Circles. The film will be shown Saturday, January 11, at 1:30 p.m. as part of the Second Saturday Documentary Series at Niles Discovery Church. The screening is free and open to the public.

Eric Butler, a Hurricane Katrina survivor and pioneer of the restorative justice movement, relocates and finds work at an Oakland, California, high school enforcing his no-nonsense approach to counseling vulnerable Black and Latino teenagers.  Shot over two years, the film follows Butler’s impassioned efforts to nurture troubled youth and keep them in school, fighting racial discrimination by replacing snap suspensions and expulsions with gritty, intimate and honest mentoring.

But when his own teenage son is arrested and beaten in jail, he begins to question his methods and ability—not just as a teacher, but also as a father.  With incredible access, Circles is an inspirational portrait of a father desperate to provide his son with the leadership and compassion he never received from his own.

A moderated discussion will follow the screening.

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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January Special Offering

January’s special offering is for Tri-City Volunteers. Tri-City Volunteers runs the largest client-direct food bank in southern Alameda County. This group provides emergency grocery assistance to almost 6,000 families and serves up to 16,000 individuals through their marketplace and bag lunch programs every month. Tri-City Volunteers began in 1970—started by Mary Hewitt and Grace Draper, members of our predecessor congregations. It has grown from the work of community members that believe in the need for food security in the tri-city area.

This offering will be formally received on Sunday, January 5. 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 http://nilesdiscoverychurch.org/ and click the “donate” button at the top of the page.

Niles Discovery Church receives a special offering each month. With so many opportunities for special giving, you may need to choose which ones are most important to you.

Thanks to your generosity, the December Special Offering raised $1,454 for Homeless Ministries.

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Thanks to All Sata Elves

By Beth Armstrong

You made the kids’ activities part of the Toy Party a big success. A big thanks to all of you! I really have no count of how many children came through our doors, but I would guess around 150 or 200? Next year maybe someone will need to stand at the door with a counter.

Thanks to:

  • ¨ Santa helpers: Sybil, Amy, and Iris
  • ¨ Popcorn poppers: Marilyn, Bob, Melissa, Bill, Julie, Ceci  A big thanks to Melissa for taking charge of the popcorn and kitchen!
  • ¨ Face painters: Alison, Gracie and Maddi (also a great mopper)
  • ¨ Check in and outters: Barbara PK, Riki, Diane, Barbara K and Christina
  • ¨ Runners: Bob, Ingert, Marilyn, Maddie, Aiden and Beth R
  • ¨ Craft table workers: Maria, B., Kristina, Laura, Tarrah, Amalira, Addie, Arin, Brooke, Blake, Mr. Westendorf (sorry I can’t remember your first name), Denise, Corina, Charlize, Scarlet, and Susie
  • ¨ General helper and chair placer: Jakob
  • ¨ Special thanks to kid engagement specialist: Brooke

Also thanks to MoPs members John, Mark, and Bill for coordinating with TCV so the event could be here.

Thanks again!

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Interfaith Harmony Day Event Scheduled for Saturday, February 1

The Tri-City Interfaith Council will hold a World Interfaith Harmony Day event at Niles Discovery Church on Saturday, February 1 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The theme for this year’s gathering is “Braving Harmony Across Those Divides.”

Because of a double booking, the keynoter that the TCIC organizers had planned on having had to cancel. This means that we don’t have all the details to share as of the press deadline. As there have been in previous years, there will be tables where a large variety of religious traditions will share information to increase interfaith awareness. People will bring food to share from their religious and/or ethnic heritage. There will be live music from several different faith traditions. And there will be a talk and discussions about the theme.

More information will be shared online and in the Sunday announcement folders as it develops.

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Town Hall Meeting Planned for February 2

Our Pastors will be leading a Town Hall Meeting on February 2, following worship and the conclusion of their sermon series on our Open and Affirming Covenant. The theme of the Town Hall Meeting is “Keeping the Covenant Alive.” Learn more about it by reading “Jeff’s Jottings.”

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