April’s Special Offering

The April Special Offering will be split between Pacific School of Religion and Chapman University. Pacific School of Religion is the nearest seminary that trains future United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ pastors. Chapman University is our “local” UCC- and DOC- related college. Your support of these two educational institutions helps train the future leaders of our church and our world.

This offering will be officially received on Sunday, April 8. 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 http://j.mp/speoff2018 or call the church office we will mail you one.

Thanks to your generosity, the March special offering (to be split between the UCC’s One Great Hour of Sharing and the DOC’s Week of Compassion special offerings) raised an impressive $2,649 for disaster response and development grants. We are making lives better, thanks to your generosity!

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Holocaust Remembrance Service planned

The Tri-City Interfaith Council invites the public to attend their annual Holocaust Remembrance Service on Sunday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m. The service is held at Temple Beth Torah, 42000 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont.

Fr. Bruce Bramlett

The special speaker will be Episcopal Priest Bruce Bramlett who will speak on the role of a religious person in addressing our genocidal society after the Holocaust. Fr. Bramlett says he will “highlight the specific history of the Jewish-Christian encounter over our two thousand year history and how the Holocaust is simply the logical and understandable result of Christian understandings of Jews and its deep integration into western cultural history.”

The service is free and open to everyone from all religious backgrounds, and no religious background. A free will offering will be received.

Choir to provide music at Yom HaShoah service

The Niles Discovery Church choir, hopefully augmented with additional community members (and maybe you) will be singing during the Holocaust Remembrance Service. There will be two rehearsals – on Thursdays, April 5 and 12, 7:30-8:30 p.m. at Niles Discovery Church – prior to singing at the service on April 15 at Temple Beth Torah.

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Town Hall Meeting explores new service project possibilities

Join us after worship on April 15.

At the Town Hall Meeting on March 11, Pastor Brenda reviewed how we came up with our Strategic Plan and the plans two big goals:

  • Goal One: Start at least two our intergenerational, multicultural, hands-on mission and service projects each year.
  • Goal Two: Encourage the faith journeys of all members and visitors by increasing participation in programs by 10% annually.

In the past year, we’ve met Goal One by beginning three projects – the Mobile Food Van, the Habitat for Humanity build in Central Fremont, and Pathways to Beloved Community – and the Ministry Teams have each been working on ways to meet Goal Two. You will read about the progress of meeting these goals in the Annual Report that will be published in May, and we will celebrate our successes at our Annual Meeting on May 6.

Because our Strategic Plan continues for another year, and it’s time for us to start thinking about new projects for the 2018-19 program year.

On April 15, following worship, we’ll have a Town Hall Meeting to share the projects currently being considered with a little pitch by a project “champion,” followed by an opportunity for people to register their support for one or more projects. These are people the “champions” will contact to help formalize the project to explain it to the Cabinet in the coming months.

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Congregation adopts budget, amends bylaws

In what was a surprisingly fast meeting, the Niles Discovery Church congregation adopted a budget for 2018 and approved three sets of bylaw amendments on February 4. The budget anticipates a deficit of just over $21,000, down significantly from the 2017 budgeted deficit of $54,500.

The bylaw amendments established a Nominating Committee, created a new option for contributions to the Endowment Fund, and cleaned up other portions of the bylaws that were inaccurate, no longer our practice, or confusing.

Copies of the Annual Budget Report, which includes the financial report, the adopted budget, and the adopted Bylaw Amendments, are still available in the fellowship hall.

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The magic disappearing Facebook page

Facebook has announced changes to what will show up in your news feed, putting more of what your friends post and less from Pages. If you have “liked” Niles Discovery Church’s Facebook page, you won’t see it as much as you used to. They say this is to increase the satisfaction of the user experience. Many think it’s really to get Pages like ours to pay Facebook money to get our posts into your news feed. Whether or not that is the case, here’s a workaround:

  • On your computer, go to the Niles Discovery Church page.
  • If you haven’t liked it already, click the “Like” button.
  • Hover your mouse over the “Following” button; a menu will pop up.
  • Notice where it says notifications, then look to the right of that word and click on the pencil icon.
  • Click the little boxes next to “Posts” and “Events,” then click the blue “Done” button.

You should now get a notification every time some of the page administrators posts something or an event is created. You can then spread the word by “sharing” these posts and events.

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Jeff’s Jottings – March 2018

As I sit down to write this column, we have only just begun Lent and the sermon series on Sabbath Economics. It feels a bit premature, still this column is about the sermon series that will begin on April 8 and will run until Pentecost. I’m sharing it now because (as you’ll see if you read to its end), I have a favor to ask of you.

After two sermon series that focus on the gospel and society (the Patriarchy and Sexual Violence series and the Sabbath Economics series), we will turn inward. We will use a cup as the central image in a six-week reflection on our inward journeys.

We drink from cups, so they can remind us of our thirst for God and how that thirst is quenched. We also hold cups, we fill cups, we empty cups, we wash cups. Perhaps these activities can be metaphors for our spiritual lives. With a cup’s emptiness, fullness, brokenness, flaws, and blessings, perhaps we can see our own lives.

Joyce Rupp, whose The Cup of Our Life inspires this sermon series, writes about how rich these metaphors can be: “A cup is a container for holding something. Whatever it holds has to eventually be emptied out so that something more can be put into it. I have learned that I cannot always expect my life to be full. There has to be some emptying, some pouring out, if I am to make room for the new. The spiritual journey is like that – a constant process of emptying and filling, of giving and receiving, of accepting and letting go.

“The cup has taught me many valuable lessons for my spiritual growth. I have learned that my life holds stale things that need to be discarded and that sometimes my life feels as wounded as a broken cup. I have learned that I have flaws, chips, and stains, just as any well-used cup may have, but that these markings of a well-traveled life need not prevent me from being a valuable gift for others. I have learned that the contents of my life are meant to be constantly given and shared in a generous gesture of compassion, just as the main purpose of a cup is to give its contents given away. I have especially learned gratitude for all those moments when the unexpected has transformed my life into an abundant cup of blessings.”

There’s more, of course. We will have a whole sermon series where we will explore the simple cup. I hope it will be a fruitful vehicle for our spiritual reflection. You are invited to select one particular cup to use during these six weeks. It could be a coffee mug, a sippy cup, a wine glass – any cup, really, though you might want to think about using a favorite coffee mug, something that’s part of your daily life. And you might want it to be a cup you can bring to church each week.

I’d like you to pick a cup now, and here’s why. I would like to get some photos of the cups you will be suing as the tangible metaphor generators, photos that we can use once the series begins. (This is the favor I said I’d ask of you.) To get those photos, would you bring your cup to church with you on March 18? I’ll take photos during coffee hour (and maybe I’ll get some assistance from some other photographers – hint, hint). I think it will be fun to have photos of our cups and not just stock photos of generic cups during this series.

Thanks for your help.

Peace,
Pastor Jeff

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Strategic Plan Update: Time for some new projects

As our program year winds to a close, it’s time to evaluate this year’s progress and look ahead to next year’s potential. All year, we’ve been working on our two big Strategic Plan goals:

  • Goal One:  Start at least two our intergenerational, multicultural, hands-on mission and service each year.
  • Goal Two:  Encourage the faith journeys of all members and visitors by increasing participation in programs by 10% annually.

In the past year, we’ve met Goal One by beginning three projects—the Mobile Food Van, the Habitat for Humanity build in Central Fremont, and Pathways to Beloved Community—and the Ministry Teams have each been working on ways to meet Goal Two. You’ve read about the progress of meeting these goals in the Annual Report that will be published in May, and we’ll celebrate our successes at our Annual Meeting on May 6.

We definitely have achievements to celebrate, but our Strategic Plan work isn’t over yet. Our Plan continues for another year, and it’s time for us to choose at least two new projects to start in the 2018-19 program year.

On March 11, following worship, we’ll have a Town Hall Meeting to talk about our project plans for next year. Our current project champions will give a brief report on the progress they’ve made this year and what they’re planning for the coming year, and then we’ll have time to do some brainstorming for new project ideas to implement.

Do you have a service project that you’re passionate about? Do you have an idea for a new “intergenerational, multicultural, hands-on” project we should start in the coming year? If so, please send your ideas to Pastor Brenda, and plan to share them at the Town Hall Meeting March 11.

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