‘Love Beyond Belief’ book study ongoing

UPDATE: The Thursday evening book study has been canceled. The Women’s Book Club Discussion will continue at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Modified original post: Community UCC will study “Love Beyond Belief: Finding the Access Point to Spiritual,” by the Rev. Dr. Thandeka, a Unitarian Universalist theologian, journalist, and congregational consultant. Dr. 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.

Books are also available on Amazon for $24 (paperback) and for $9.99 (Kindle).

Recommended reading and viewing for Black History Month

The following is a bibliography of recommended reading for Black History Month. There are two copies of each title available for us provided by the Faith Education team.

  • “Why We Can’t Wait” by Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • “The Souls of Black Folk” by W. E. B. DuBois
  • “Tears We Cannot Stop” by Michael Eric Dyson
  • “The Grace of Silence” by Michele Norris
  • “White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism” by Robin Diangelo
  • “The Lonely African” by Colin M. Turnbull
  • “Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home” by Anita Hill
  • “Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal” by Andrew Hacker

Filmography (from 2018)

  • Green Book

Here are some recommended films available through your streaming service or in theaters is Fresno. 2018 was quite a year for movies directed, written and performed by people of color.

  • Blackkklansman
  • Black Panther
  • Blindspotting
  • Sorry to Bother You
  • The Hate U Give
  • If Beale Street Could Talk

(from 2017 and earlier)

  • Get Out
  • Fruitvale
  • Fences
  • Straight Outta Compton
  • Barbershop
  • Boyz in the Hood
  • Purple Rain
  • Do the Right Thing
  • 4 School Girls

Pastoral search — next step

Since Pastor Ara started as our Interim Pastor in September, we are now ready for the next step — selecting a search committee to embark on the process of looking for our next settled pastor.

At Sunday’s mid-year congregational meeting (Jan. 27), a quorum of our congregation approved a slate of members for that committee:

  • Nancy Pressley
  • Amy Kilburn
  • Chad Hayden
  • Linda Baird
  • Vicky Wall
  • Bonita Earl
  • Sean Carlson

The goal is to include a diverse group that represents different aspects of our congregation — longtime and newer members, younger and more mature, and diverse in other ways as well.

The search committee will now begin the process of considering candidates “authorized to circulate a ministerial profile within the United Church of Christ.” Additional information about how the search process works within our congregation can be found in Article X, Sections 3 and 4 of our Church By-Laws.

Our previous moderator Nancy Pressley wrote about the transition process last year, after Pastor Chris announced that he would be leaving to take a call at another congregation:

“Change and transition have always been a part of the life of our church.  Please take a look at the timeline below that has been prepared for the 60th Anniversary Celebration as a way of seeing the transitions that have occurred since our church was formed 60 years ago. In our church’s history, we have had 10 settled pastors and six interim pastors” [now seven with Pastor Ara].

We appreciate the deliberation and prayerful consideration that this search committee will invest into choosing our next pastoral candidate. The process is confidential, and will happen on God’s timeline, not ours.

February birthdays

Each month we recognize the birthdays and anniversaries of our church members. Here are the ones for the month of February:


7 — Michelle Williams

10 — John Comegys, Bonita Earl, Tiffany Horton, Beryl Weinschenk

12 — Alexandra FitzGibbon

14 — Cathie Moseley

15 — Christian Fazio

16 — Bob Garcia, Ruben Fernandez

17 — Rose Rowe

19 — Charlene Toews

22 — Vhuso Sukuta

26 — Cheryl Jones

27 — Anne Simone

A New Hope

We having been praying for our neighbor, Hope Lutheran Church, for the past few months, as they studied, prepared and voted on taking the faithful step of becoming in word and deed a Reconciling in Christ [their version of Open and Affirming] congregation within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA).

The congregation voted overwhelmingly in favor of Reconciling in Christ (72% for). Now the work begins for them. There was the expected loss of some congregants. There is the challenge of maintaining the ministry and mission of the church that remains unchanged: reflecting the love of God now even more fully and faithfully.

Hope Lutheran is a strong and faithful congregation. They have an excellent hunger ministry. We take our contributions of food for our narthex to their pantry for distribution to those in need.

We had the great opportunity and privilege of contributing testimony of our experience at an informational session at Hope a couple of months ago. We hope to be an encouragement to our sibling congregation through prayer and anything else they need during this moment of transition. Please pray for them ceaselessly.

Note: We of Community United Church of Christ will be celebrating our 21st anniversary of our faithful response to God’s call to be Open and Affirming at our COMING OF AGE banquet on Friday, April 26, 2019 beginning at 6 p.m. in Hayden Hall.


Pastor Ara