Please allow me to introduce myself

I am Ara, Pastor Ara. I have served as a pastor for over 34 years, most recently as interim pastor/head of staff at First Congregational Church

Prior to Big Red, I was pastor/head of staff at Pilgrim Armenian Congregational Church, a multi-staffed ethnic and long-established congregation in Fresno, CA. I also serve part-time as the chaplain for Bright Horizon Hospice.

I love what I have been called to do. This is my second interim position, so although I will touch things, I am very aware of being gentle so I don’t break anything. Pray for me, please.

I am a YES person. I say yes, then do all I can to do it. “Can we, pastor?”  Sometimes I take a moment to think, if I or we haven’t done it before. Then “Sure,” say I.

Being a lifelong Presbyterian and a long-serving pastor in a congregational church, it is easier to say YES, for there is a council or session to say wait, … And a strong group to make the Yes talk a reality.

I am a Mission person. I talk a lot, a part of the job, sure. Ask my family, I am rarely at a loss for words.

Talk is easy, action is hard. I endeavor to match my deed to my word. By the grace and power of God, I have been able to live an integrated life.

I have been to many places, rarely as a tourist. There are always siblings to relate to and work with as we seek to reflect the love of Christ. I look forward to the places we will go in 2018 and 2019.

I serve on the board of directors of the Armenian Missionary Association of America, the mission arm of the Armenian Evangelical Union of (mostly UCC) congregations of the Americas. I have a couple of ongoing projects in Armenia and Buenos Aires, Argentina. I hope to visit South Korea again in 2019. This time to Daejeon, South Korea, where a friend and colleague is establishing a great work, I pray.

I am vice moderator and Stewardship Committee chair of the Presbytery of San Joaquin. There I am planning a local mission project and a week-long project in El Salvador. Again, I solicit your prayers.

Finally, some fun stuff. I am, along with Diane Wieble (our conference minister) and millions of others, a St. Louis Cardinal fan, have been since 1967.

I am a 58-year-old grandfather. I am not a rational, reasonable person around the grandson, Zekiel.

I wear interesting socks. No gifts of socks, please (unless you clear it with Vivy, my wife). My rather large sock drawer is overflowing.

The music here is exceptional. I appreciate most genres of music, but my personal non-worship playlist would include the Clash, Peter Gabriel, the Ramones, Rage Against the Machine and Radiohead.

I enjoy film. I go to the movies on my day off and I was able to attend the most recent Fresno Filmworks Festival for the first time this past year, Great Joy.

I am available. This call — as the four previous — is my priority (that is why no film festival before). Call, text or email me. My cell number is 559.862.3874. I put my phone on vibrate around 10 pm and back to ring around 7 am. Occasionally I forget, because I am a forgiven sinner, a broken creature, restored and occasionally put to good use by his creator, redeemer and sustainer.

Celebrate release of band’s CD, ‘Banner,’ Sept. 28

Community UCC will celebrate the release of our church band’s CD, titled “Banner,” with a dinner at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, in Hayden Hall. Dinner will be spaghetti with salad.  Gluten-free and vegan options will also be available.

Our band, led by music director E.J. Hinojosa, will perform songs from the CD, which was more than a year in the making.

“Banner” includes 12 original songs, written to provide nontraditional offerings with a more inclusive perspective. The band members performing on the album are:

  • Michael Bonner, Drums
  • Adam Elmore, Bass
  • David Heckman, Guitar and Album Engineer
  • EJ Hinojosa, Keyboards and Vocals
  • Crissy Martinez, Bass

“We owe everything to the church where this project is concerned,” said E.J. “Christian Ed, Robin, Nancy, Eileen, Marilyn, Pastor Chris. Without Community UCC, these songs wouldn’t exist in the first place. The original songs were written to serve our congregation’s commitment to inclusive language and progressive theology. I hope everyone will enjoy listening to it from time to time.”

This CD and a book which will be available later of the printed music and lyrics are a resource that could be used by other progressive churches.

Tickets to this event are $30, which includes dinner and a copy of the CD. Funds raised from the event will help repay the investment by Christian Ed in producing the CD.

shtvvst3sesiges6bshlsw.jpgJen Bloomer of RadiciStudios, whose artwork was featured in a recent worship service, designed a special image to help promote “Banner.” (shown below)

Those who order tickets in advance can have a special name tag created, incorporating Jen’s design.

Searchforsomething

 

Community Events: Gary Walker will lead Osher class

Gary Walker, a longtime member of our congregation, will be featured as a lecturer under the auspices of Fresno State’s Continuing and Global Education Osher Lifelong Learning Institute this fall. Osher is an educational program provided by several hundred universities throughout the nation for folks at least 50 years of age.

Gary will lead a class on “American Presidents in the 20th Century” from 9:30-11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, 11 and 18 in the building housing the Craig Business School, Peters Building Room 191.

Gary’s class will explore: “What were our presidents in the 20th Century really like? Why did some of the most intelligent and experienced fail while others, less qualified, succeed? This course examines the personalities and character of the eleven Republican and seven Democrats who served in our highest office for a century, for better or for worse.”

For additional information regarding membership information and enrollment fees, visit this web page, or call 559.278.0008.

Join us for Kick-Off Sunday Sept. 9!

Kick-Off Sunday means we celebrate new members and take part in a BBQ lunch following worship on Sunday, Sept. 9. Everyone is welcome to join in the fun!

The Fellowship Team is hosting a lunch following worship to celebrate Kick Off Sunday. Grilled hot dogs (meat and veggie options), picnic side dishes, desserts and root beer floats will be served. There is no charge, but a “free will offering” is requested to offset expenses. Please consider making a small donation.

Break the Barriers will perform and the Syrian family our church is befriending hopes to attend.