Baking bread in Lent

On Sunday, March 10, congregation members baked dozens of loaves of bread. Some of the loaves tantalized us with their comforting aroma during worship as bread machine timers punctuated the service.

Each participating baker took one loaf home, one loaf to give to someone within 24 hours. Dozens of loaves will remain refrigerated/frozen at the church for Week 2’s activity and for communion throughout the Lenten season and Holy Week.

Thanks to all who participated!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

A letter to the UCC Family of Faith: We can’t let evil prevail

This call to action comes from the Conference Minister of the Penn Northeast Conference UCC, with the affirmation of the denomination’s National Officers and the Rev. David Ackerman, Conference Minister of the Penn West Conference UCC:

The news over the past weeks has revealed an undercurrent of hate within our culture and our country. Between the assumption that immigrants walking nearly 2,000 miles seeking asylum are seen as a threat to our security; the pipe bombs mailed to those who oppose our current political administration; the massacre of 11 Jewish citizens during services at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh; and the shooting of an African American man and woman in a grocery store after a failed attempt to enter a church of Black worshippers, it is hard to find cause for hope in our nation.

The rhetoric of hate and divisiveness calls for a response from the faith community. While we should not advocate for candidates or political parties, we must advocate for justice, humanitarian treatment of our neighbors, and for safety in our places of worship. We are a diverse nation and until recently that diversity has been seen as a strength. We, in the Church, must stand as moral authorities proclaiming peace and hope, compassion and justice.

Wherever and whenever you have the opportunity to provide wisdom and comfort, inspiration and compassion, I urge you to do so. To be silent is to let evil prevail and we, as people of faith, cannot do that, any more than Jesus could do it in his time and culture. Find a way to bring peace and hope to your faith communities, your communities, our state and our nations.

Today we are asking our members to write prayer notes or notes of compassion to our siblings at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Mail them from your local church to them at 5898 Wilkins Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15217.

Participate in a vigil or a peaceful worship process in any one of your communities and if there isn’t one, please plan one.

If you are able, this would be a wonderful way to demonstrate solidarity with our Jewish siblings.

By all means, pray but above all do not fail to speak out or to act. As Martin Niemöller wrote:

“First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”[1]

We are called to be people of prayer, but we are also called to remember that “The Spirit of the LORD is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18). May we each and all do our part to make our communities, state and nation places of hope and peace.

Faithfully,

The Rev. Bonnie Bates, Conference Minister

Penn. Northeast Conference United Church of Christ

Vote Common Good’s final stop before election will be at Community UCC

The Vote Common Good national tour is coming to town. It’s final rally stop before the critical midterm election will be at Community United Church of Christ in Fresno.

  • What: Vote Common Good Rally
  • When: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2
  • Where: Community United Church of Christ, 5550 N. Fresno St., Fresno, CA 93710

Volunteers are needed! Contact Felicia Rocha (flearocha82@gmail.com) if you can help with this event.

Vote Common Good is a group of religious leaders, authors, speakers, and musicians who are part of a bus tour traveling across the U.S. Vote Common Good hopes to share the good news of God, which should be good news for all people, and to shift the national conversation from fear to faith.

Christian speakers, musicians and thought leaders are inviting fellow believers to flip Congress for the Common Good in 2018. Nationally renowned speakers will lead a lively event giving reasons why evangelicals should switch their votes this year.

Come out to hear John Pavlovitz, Frank Schaeffer, Doug Pagitt, Christy Berghoef and other speakers accompanied by awesome music from the Rev. Vince Anderson.

Behind the fun, Vote Common Good sends a message: In the 2018 election a follower of Jesus can’t help but know that Congress must change. The Trump administration’s practices go against the biblical Jesus.

Doug Pagitt explains: “The way they treat children; the way they treat refugees and immigrants; the way they treat the disadvantaged; the way they treat our overall sense of kindness and goodness; their seeming total commitment to cruelty, crassness, and corruption” stand in contradiction to Jesus’s teachings.

It is an opportunity to come together and try to live out the teachings of Jesus, not just in our everyday lives, but in the voting booth as well.

For more information: https://www.votecommongood.com/events/fresno-california/

 

Last day to register to vote is Oct. 22!

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States

Monday, Oct. 22, is the California deadline, the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 6 midterm election.

You can click here to check your voter registration. And talk to your friends and family, urging them to take part in our basic civic responsibility of self-government by electing leaders. And it all starts with registering to vote.

Every election matters, from local issues to selecting leaders who will decide our national issues. During our recent community conversations, a recurring theme of ways our congregation can take action came back to voting — helping educate ourselves and others and to lead education efforts among those around us.

Help serve lunch at Poverello House

The Missions and Social Justice team invites our congregation to join them to help prep and serve lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, at Poverello House. Children ages 7 and up are welcome to help.

The team hopes to make this a quarterly event. Contact Felicia Rocha for additional information.

Immigrant children separated from parents

Immigrant children separated from families at border

Photo above reprinted from United Church of Christ News

Shocking as it is, proponents of Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy dare to use biblical references to justify cruel treatment of men, women, and children. But this new awareness is not so new. The recent blitz of news is just scratching the surface in terms of the history and human condition of U.S. immigration.

During these trying times, it may also be difficult for us to stay true to our Judeo-Christian faith. Here are some biblical quotes that refer to this age-old issue of migration.

  • Exodus 22:21 – Moses gives God’s law: “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”
  • Romans 12:13 – “Mark of the true Christian: “…Extend hospitality to strangers…”
  • Ephesians 2:11-22 – “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.”
  • James 2:14-17 – “What good is it…if you say you have faith but do not have works?”
  • I John 4:7-21 – “Beloved, let us love one another because love is from God…” We love because God first loved us.”

You may also visit UCC.org for more on UCC’s position on this tragedy:

For further action, you can also join our Missions and Social Justice Team here at Community United Church of Christ.