A Message from Pastor Ara: God Comes to Us — the Birth of Jesus

We need at least four weeks to unwrap the gift of Jesus. I have been unwrapping for 40-plus years, in a serious way, this gift of God in flesh appearing. It is a most wonderful endeavor.

This year Robin and I will be gathering with all who show up to consider the four Gospel ways that the gift is received. In our more efficient way, we have a fifth story of welcoming the Christ child, as witnessed in the Nativity scenes that include all the major characters at the same time and place, cows, sheep, shepherds, wise ones, Joseph, Mary, and the babe lying in a manger.

I am ready to hear the sixth story, your story. Join us on Sundays, Tuesday’s or Wednesday’s this Advent season, beginning this Sunday evening with dinner.

We have three locations, and three times and days for you to attend. We will be discussing the four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth/The Divine present with us.

Sign up for Sunday evenings at 5 p.m.; Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. at the Pressley’s home in the Tower District; or Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m. at Patty Parks’ in Sunnyside. Robin or Ara will be the facilitators. The Study begins on the first Sunday of Advent, Dec. 2.

I am also on the edge of my seat, as I await ‘the Hanging of the Greens’ on Sunday morning.

Another great way to hear a sixth story is by daily reading the Advent Devotional produced in partnership with First Congregational Church (Big Red). Paper copies will be available on Sunday and each day’s devotional will be posted on our website and Facebook page.

Pastor Ara

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Four weeks of Advent projects

Each year the Missions and Social Justice Team plans Advent projects for the four Sundays in Advent, beginning this year on Sunday, Dec. 2. The committee picks four organizations that will benefit, and the congregation can bring requested items for each week’s project.

Here are this year’s recipients:

  • Dec. 2 — Cash Donations or gift cards for teens in foster care through Uplift Family Services. Many younger children in foster care receive gifts from things similar to the snowflake tree, but there is usually an age limit and the teens get left out. For this Advent project, bring $10 gift card to anywhere a teen may want to shop — Jamba Juice, McDonald’s, Target, Walmart, Claire’s, stuff like that.
  • Dec. 9 — Snowflake tree to buy gifts for underprivileged elementary-aged children at Robinson Elementary, our neighborhood school. Students have been identified by their teachers. The tree will be up for people to pick a child’s name on Dec. 2, return gifts by the Dec. 9.
  • Dec. 16 — Collecting small gifts for senior residents of Twilight Haven retirement facility, like mittens, socks and scarves to help residents stay warm.
  • Dec. 23 — Cash donations to buy bus passes for residents of  Dakota EcoGarden, a transitional homeless shelter with an environmentally-friendly approach.

For more information, contact Felicia Rocha at flearocha82@gmail.com.


Services for Jerry Mulvihill set for Dec. 1

The Memorial service for longtime member Jerry Mulvihill will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, in the Community United Church of Christs Sanctuary. The service will be followed by a reception in Hayden Hall. Sandwiches will be provided, please bring cookies to share.

Margery’s Obituary:

Jerry was born March 15, 1953, and grew up in the greater Los Angeles area with his older brother Tom Mulvihill.

Jerry graduated from the University of California Davis with a Bachelor of Arts in Geology.  He loved his time at Davis, and he and Margery got married on the Davis Campus.

After graduation, Jerry spent one year as a geothermal exploration geologist traveling around the western states.  Wanting to settle down, he spent the next 35 years in various positions in the insurance industry.  His last position was as a property casualty agent for James G Parker Insurance.

Jerry and Margery have two children, Marty and Lynette.

Marty and his wife, Nilofar Gardezi, and daughter, Roshan, live in Oakland.  Marty is a founder of Safer Made, a company that invests in companies that use safer chemistry and promote sustainability.

Lynette and husband, Logan Talbott, and daughter, Maggie, live in Truckee.  Lynette works at a physical therapy clinic and enjoys living and playing outside in Lake Tahoe
Jerry enjoyed travel, camping, fishing, boating and the outdoors.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to the National Parks Foundation or to your favorite charity.

A Festival of Lessons and Carols

Community United Church of Christ presents “A Festival of Lessons and Carols,” a service of music, scripture and prayer featuring string quartet, organ, piano, soloists and the Community UCC Chorus. “A Festival of Lessons and Carols” will take place at 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, at Community UCC.

The “Nine Lessons and Carols” is a traditional service originating in the Church of England. The Festival comprises Nine Lessons (readings from the Bible) and Nine musical performances. Together, the readings and the music tell the story of Creation, Prophecies of the Messiah, and Jesus’ Birth.

We’ll be joined by several guest musicians, and many members of our choir will perform solos. Lessons will be read by members of the Congregation and the community.

No admission, a freewill offering will be taken.

Update on our Missions giving

Community United Church of Christ actively supports a wide variety of groups. Since our fiscal year began in July, our members have generously given the following to:

  • Break the Barriers: $389.55 plus an additional $50 made directly
  • CUCC Band CD Release: $1,990
  • Neighbors in Need: $545
  • OCWM (Our Church’s Wider Mission): $400, to date (CUCC donates $100.00 each month for a total of $1,200 per fiscal year.)
  • Tubman University: $1,130

On the third Sunday of each month, our church highlights a specific organization and asks members to donate as they are able. Your contributions during these special “Mission Moments,” above and beyond your pledge, allow us to continue supporting these very worthy groups!


Women’s Book group will discuss ‘Love Beyond Belief’ beginning Jan. 15

A new Women’s Book Discussion Group will begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15The book is “Love Beyond Belief: Finding the Access Point to Spiritual Awareness” by the Rev. Dr. Thandeka, a Unitarian Universalist theologian, journalist, and congregational consultant. Thandeka will be the guest speaker at the Interfaith Scholar Weekend, March 1-3.

She was given the Xhosa name Thandeka, which means “beloved,” by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1984. She is the founder of Affect Theology, which investigates the links between religion and emotions using insights from affective neuroscience.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said:

“’Love Beyond Belief’ is a hope-filled book reminding us in historical and contemporary terms that we are loved always, even when we feel lost and alone.”

“Love Beyond Belief” is available on Amazon: “Using insights from the brain science of emotions, “Love Beyond Belief: Finding the Access Point to Spiritual Awareness” narrates two millennia of lost-and-found stories about love beyond belief as the access point to the heart and soul of spiritual life. Many of today’s “spiritual but not religious” people — one in four U.S. adults — have found the access point to spiritual experience that Western Christianity lost: unconditional love. “Love Beyond Belief” tracks the history of this lost emotion.”

Robin Carlson, our commissioned minister of Christian education, will guide this discussion, which will go through Feb. 26. Reading assignments are one chapter per week.

If you would like to order a book for $20.75 from the church office, please call 559-435-2690 or email Marilyn (office@communityucc.com) before Nov. 20. Books are also available on Amazon for $24 (paperback) and for $9.99 (Kindle).