June Special Offering

Help Create A Just World By Investing In New Ministries

The June Special Offering is for the evangelism and church renewal ministries of our two denominations. The offerings we receive will be split between the UCC’s “Strengthen the Church” offering and the DOC’s “Pentecost” offering. You can learn more about these offerings by visiting www.ucc.org/stc and disciplesmissionfund.org/special-offerings/pentecost/

This offering will be officially received this Sunday, June 9. 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 nilesdiscoverychurch.org 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/2019specialoffering.

Thanks to your generosity, our May Special Offering for Church World Service’s Blankets+ program, raised $920.

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Climate Grief Support Group Offers a Safe Space

If you have been feeling grief, anxiety, or dread about climate change, you’re not alone. Renee Lertzman, a psychologist who studies the effects of environmental loss on mental health, affirms that “There is overwhelming research that distress and anxiety relating to climate is on the rise.”1

In its 2017 report, “Mental Health and Our Changing Climate,” the American Psychological Association found that climate change is causing many people to experience such issues as stress, anxiety, depression, and relationship strain. Those who feel the psychological weight of climate change may develop feelings of helplessness and fear, leading to a sense of climate disengagement.

Many who are experiencing these psychological effects may feel reluctant to talk about them. “If I bring up climate change in casual conversation, the topic is often met with awkward pauses and the polite introduction of new subjects,” notes Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist for NASA. “It’s as though the topic is impolite, even taboo.”

If we are feeling psychological impacts over climate change, it’s important to talk about it, psychologist Lertzman says. “The main thing is that we find ways to talk about what we are experiencing in a safe and nonjudgmental context, and to be open to listening. All too often, when anxiety or fear comes up, we all want to push it away and move into ‘solutions.’”

Beginning June 11, Niles Discovery Church will offer people experiencing climate grief a chance to talk with others about their feelings in a supportive, nonjudgmental environment. Our Climate Grief Support Group will meet on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. in Room 1, from June 11 through July 16. People of all faith traditions are welcome. Contact Pastor Brenda for more information.

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All About M.E.

Let’s Talk Church

“There is no such thing as bad publicity” ~ P.T. Barnum, 1915.

That may be true if I am running a circus, but since Exxon is still trying to recover from the publicity it got over the Valdez oil spill back in 1989, I think I want to think carefully about what publicity I give the church.

I want to publicize my church—but without sounding like I am trying to convert people. I will be asking of the Ministry of Evangelism (M.E.) Team how we all can do this as I move into leading this Ministry Team this month.

I will be asking M.E. Team to work with the Ministry of Social Concerns and their Special Ministry Teams to gather information about all the service and justice work we do as a Church. I will use this information combined with a list of ministry partners (from the Pathways to Beloved Community project) to prepare handouts so all of us can better understand how our church is involved in the wider community. This information will be reported in The Bell and placed on the information table in the fellowship hall. There will be a lot of information, and I won’t try to memorize it all. Instead, I will pick out a couple items that hold a special place in my heart and keep them in mind awaiting the time to bring them up in casual conversation.

The idea here is to let people know that I not only attend church, but that I am proud of the specific ministry I bring up without actually engaging in a conversation about church or religion. By keeping it casual, I open the doors for people to ask questions, should what I say resonate with them. For example, in a conversation about food and the hungry, I could easily drop in the phrase, “Yeah, my church manages a mobile food van that brings food to many who are home-bound.” And that’s it. In doing so, I am letting people know that I am involved with our community, and those who are looking for a place with pro-active ministries such as this, are likely to take notice. I have no need to expand any more on it, I just release it out to the universe and let it find its own way into the hearts of others.

That’s all about M.E. (for now). How about we make it all about YOU? Let’s talk church!

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Moderated Musings

Jim Thomas

I thank all the people whose work enables our spiritual journeys to a path of low resistance. The worship services, the artwork, the integrity of the building, the fellowship activities, the music, the Sunday school, the opportunities to serve, and much more make it easy for us to come to Church to pray, praise God, and find spiritual renewal among each other every week.

This path of low resistance on which we journey is very important for the life of the church, and yet, at times we come across a new path, a path less travelled because of its uncertainty and potential hazards. When that happens, we can be called to take this path in the hope that will bring about important change or provide important service to those in need. We have recently encountered such a path with the Housing Navigation Center.

One of our members found out that the City of Fremont was planning to open a Housing Navigation Center and he suggested that the City consider the west end of our church property as a location. The City staff examined this location, decided it was suitable, and came to the church to ask us if we would lease the land. Discussions in our congregation led to a vote to consider this possibility and the formation of the Negotiation Committee. The members of this team were keenly aware of the controversy this would stir up, but because of the importance of this project, were willing to take on the risk.

Our main motivation and passion are to help those who are homeless. Homelessness is an ever-growing problem, especially in our community, and although this project only scratches the surface of the problem, we all believe it could be the beginning of new ways for the City to address homelessness on a greater scale.

Once word got out to the community, misinformation filled the air. We attempted to correct this information with a neighborhood meeting on April 24. While many of the concerns expressed were the same as those we had and were addressing, there was a lot of vitriol and insults thrown at us. The City Council also got their fair share of this pushback, and without hearing much positive feedback, they have decided to slow down the process and consider other locations.

As of this writing, our church has not been removed from the possible location for the Housing Navigation Center, so the Negotiation Team is still working, hoping that we will be selected. Still, the effects of the vitriol and insults weigh heavy on our souls. We have reached the part of the road less traveled where our fortitude is challenged. At times, we receive an email from someone who recognizes our good work, and that helps to renew our spirit.

I ask that you keep us in your thoughts and prayers, so that we may have the strength and focus to continue to move forward. Share your appreciation of our work when you can and encourage us to stay the course. Whether we succeed or fail, knowing we have your support will enable us to have the strength to embark on the next road less traveled we encounter.

By Jim Thomas

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Jeff’s Jottings

How are you feeling?

To be honest, I’ve been feeling more anxious than I usually do. The church has been catching a lot of flack from some of our neighbors about the fact that we’re even negotiating with the City about possibly being the site for the City’s new Housing Navigation Center. There have been some things posted on some social media platforms that are pretty insulting of me personally and of our church in general and reading them has made the acid flow in my stomach. There is one platform that, given my study leave, a sudden surge in pastoral needs in our church, and how angry I feel when I read some of the comments – I’ve just stopped reading it.

One antidote to all that acid has been the church. Coming to worship and hearing our choir sing, listening to a sermon by Joy Barnitz or Pastor Brenda, and sitting together in prayer – these things calm me and feed me. Studying the Bible with church members opens my heart. Attending a committee meeting and listening as committed Christians work on one problem or another task, reminds me of what an exceptional community our church is.

The other thing that continually helps me deal with that stomach acid is a nightly practice of thanksgiving. Pausing to think about the day and what in it is moving me to offer my thanks, keeps me grounded. Writing that prayer out makes me focus on what is good, and focusing on what is good helps me let go of the bad. I am regularly grateful for the practice of gratitude itself.

I’m a little surprised to notice how hopeful I felt after a negotiators meeting in May. Yes, the City has put a hold on our negotiations as they consider other properties for the Housing Navigation Center. And, yes, the City may change its mind and no longer see our property as being the best option for the City, pulling the plug on the work we’ve done. It is also possible that, after reconsidering some locations and considering for the first time other locations, the City may conclude that the church’s property truly is the best location. We will have to wait and see.
Regardless of what choice the City makes, I know that I have learned so much more about homelessness and approaches to addressing homelessness in this process. I hope you have, too. And I hope we will continue to learn.

At the community meeting we hosted on April 24, I retold the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and shared an insight made by Martin Luther King, Jr. King said that the biggest difference between the religious leaders who walked by the man who had been robbed and beaten and left for dead at the side of the road and the Samaritan who stopped and helped the man at the side of the road was not their religion. It was not their social status, either. The biggest difference was the question they asked.

Seeing the man beaten at the side of the road, the first two who walked by realized how dangerous that section of the road was, and they asked, “If I do stop to help, what will happen to me?” The Samaritan saw the same dangers and asked, “If I don’t stop to help, what will happen to him?” Read those questions again and notice how they are different.

The Housing Navigation Center, whether it happens on our church property or somewhere else in Fremont, has invited me deeper into that parable and into the Samaritan’s question: If I don’t take a risk, what will happen to those who are in need?

Peace, Pastor Jeff

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Six Join Church

On Sunday, April 28, our congregation welcomed six new members.

Jim and Marilyn Vermazen retired in 2018 and moved to the Bay Area to be closer to their daughters and their families. They have both found Niles Discovery Church to be a very welcoming community.

Carrie Williams is one of those Vermazen daughters. She is an avid maker of things and is always up to something crafty. She has enjoyed getting to know other makers in the church. Carrie and her husband, Martin, were married by Pastor Brenda in 2017 and are expecting their first child in September. The whole family is looking forward to all the bonus family they’ll have in this community.

Some of you know Randy Fewel as the church’s Office Administrator during the construction of our building. Though she is officially retired, she continues to work as a substitute teacher, teaching incarcerated adults at Santa Rita Jail. She keeps herself busy as a member of the Fremont branch of the American Association of University Women and as a member of the Fremont Freewheelers Cycling Club (which is probably where she is if she’s not here on a Sunday morning – if she’s not off visiting her three grown children, her three lively and loving grandchildren, or one of her seven brothers and sisters scattered across the country). She is learning to play the violin and started taking quilling (not quilting) classes. Randy was attracted to Niles Discovery Church because we are an active community with a true Christian message: “Everyone is welcome, no exceptions.”

Tarrah Henrie lives in Fremont with her husband, three children, two cats, and five hens. As a Senior Scientist specializing in water treatment, she gets to use her skills to make sure drinking water meets all state and federal standards. She is passionate about social justice issues and is happy to have found Niles Discovery Church, a congregation that shares her vision for a more just world for all.

Amalira Henrie is a seventh grader who is obsessed with reading, petting cats, and listening to music her brother hates. Lira was baptized during the worship service, right before she joined the church.

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Call to Annual Meeting

Annual Meeting To Reconvene This Sunday, June 9

Because there wasn’t a quorum on May 5, the Annual Meeting was adjourned sine die (without a date). At their May 20 meeting, the Cabinet decided to reconvene the Annual Meeting this Sunday, June 9, in the sanctuary, following worship. Members are expected to attend; friends of the church are welcome.

Because the only agenda items are approval of minutes and the election of officers, Ministry Team chairs, and the Nominating Committee; the Cabinet expects this will be a brief meeting. Therefore, the teachers and children will be called back to the sanctuary as the worship service ends.

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