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.

Join us for the Rainbow Pride Parade

Gay Pride Parade

Join us for the 28th annual Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade & Festival Saturday, June 2, in the Tower District. The Parade starts at 10 a.m., and everyone is welcome to come march with us! The more the merrier!

We will be meeting at 930 a.m. by the dirt lot on the northeast corner of Palm and Olive avenues. The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and we also need a couple people to help with the informational booth we will have at the festival.

For more information or if you would like to help, please contact Felicia Rocha 5592849921 or flearocha82@gmail.com

Community UCC moves endowment funds to a fossil-fuel free investment fund

The Charitable Gifts and Endowments Committee is pleased to announce that Community UCC has moved its endowment funds to better mirror the mission of our church with environmental and socially responsible investing.

Six of our endowment funds are now invested in the United Church Fund’s Beyond Fossil Fuel Balanced Fund, created after passage of the UCC General Synod 2013 Resolution that addressed climate change through all available methods.

Performance of the fund has been positive compared to its benchmark for the past three years.

We are pleased to make this change so that Community UCC addresses the urgency of healing the earth’s climate, our home, and God’s gift for all life. What a great way to celebrate Earth Day.

Henry H. Hayden: Great-grandfather, Civil Rights advocate, pastor, university chaplain

From left, Pastors Chris Breedlove and Henry Hayden
Henry Hayden’s daughter Deirdre Hayden Clausen shared with us her father’s obituary, which ran in the Claremont Courier:
The Rev. Henry Hayden, of Claremont’s Pilgrim Place, died after a brief illness on Feb. 17, 2018, at the age of 99.

He led a distinguished life both as a parish minister and university chaplain, his family shared. Ordained as a Protestant minister with the Congregational Church (now the United Church of Christ), Rev. Hayden served God and his fellow man with dedication and distinction for over 70 years. He was active throughout his life, filling it with art, music, family, ministry, friendships and a passion for social justice and inclusion.

Rev. Hayden was born October 9, 1918, in West Hartford, Connecticut, to William Hoyt Hayden and Bernice Leah Hayden (King). He attended Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, graduating cum laude in 1939, and receiving the college’s Van Zile Prize for original poetry. In 1944 he received his bachelor of divinity degree from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. In 1966 he earned his doctor of divinity from the same institution.

While on staff at Plymouth Church in Syracuse, New York, Rev. Hayden met his beloved wife, Betty Jane. They were married August 20, 1942. Following Rev. Hayden’s graduation from PSR in 1944, the couple moved to Guerneville, California, where he became pastor at the Community Congregational Church. While serving this parish he was instrumental in persuading the state conference to buy and develop a large tract of land as Camp Cazadero, now a noteworthy church camp of the UCC.

Rev. Hayden served as pastor at College Community Congregational Church in Fresno, California, from 1956 to 1970, and then the Community United Church of Christ in San Carlos, California, until 1984. Prior to his parish ministry in Fresno, Rev. Hayden also served as the Protestant chaplain at the University of New Mexico and the University of New Hampshire.

Rev. Hayden focused his faith and ministry on areas of social justice, believing that Christ’s message was as much political as it was spiritual, his family related. He openly spoke from the pulpit against the government’s policy of relocating Japanese-Americans to internment camps during WWII; he met with and spoke to Dr. Martin Luther King when he came to California to lend support to Proposition 4, which was one of the first “fair housing” acts to pass the California legislature; he walked a portion of the route from Delano to Sacramento with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers on behalf of migrant workers’ rights; and, in 1972 he worked to support the ordination of the first openly gay individual in a “mainstream” American denomination.

Rev. Hayden retired in 1984. In his retirement sermon that year, he noted the struggle to advance racial equality, inclusion and social justice “has continued for all the years of my ministry, and I have tried never to speak without calling attention to these, and often it has been unpopular among some and even dangerous among others.” After retiring, Rev. Hayden served interim ministries in Kapaau, Hawaii; Arlington, Massachusetts; and Los Altos, California. In later years he gave monthly sermons at Pilgrim Place and returned often to Community UCC in Fresno to reiterate his message. The Social Hall at Community UCC was dedicated in his name on one of those visits.

Rev. Hayden remained active until just a few days before his death; corresponding regularly with a wide circle of friends and colleagues, creating and cheerfully sharing thousands of watercolor paintings, and keeping in constant loving contact with his children and extended family.

Rev. Hayden was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Betty Jane.

He is survived by his children, David (Robin) of Duncan, South Carolina, Deirdre (Larry) of Beaverton, Oregon, and Jeremy (Nicky) of North Royalton, Ohio; seven grandchildren, Lisa Carey, Emily (Benson), Jeff and Andrew Clausen, Blaire (Bartish), Max and Dylan Hayden; eight great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews, all who loved him dearly. Moreover, he is survived by the positive messages of faith he instilled in the minds of all who knew him.

An interfaith memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 10 at Decker Hall, Pilgrim Place, 625 Mayflower Rd., Claremont.

Donations in memory of Rev. Hayden may be made to Pilgrim Place at pilgrimplace.org, or by check mailed to Pilgrim Place, 625 Mayflower Rd., Claremont, CA 91711.

Community UCC to offer ‘Ashes To Go’ again, and Glitter+ Ash

~ Photo above by Silvia Flores/The Fresno Bee

Glitter_Ash_810_500_55_s_c1Community UCC will again offer Ashes to Go on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14 (Here is a link to a Fresno Bee article and video about our first ever Ashes To Go in 2017.). And for the first time, our church will also offer Glitter+ Ash, an inherently queer sign of Christian belief, blending symbols of mortality and hope, of penance and celebration.  (This 2017 LA Times article talks about the relatively new Glitter+ Ash tradition.)

Glitter+ Ash exquisitely captures the relationship between death and new life. We do not live in fear of ash — of death — we place it on our foreheads for the world to see. We know that fear will rise, cramping our hearts. We also know that God specifically calls us not to project that fear onto the Other, the alien, the stranger in our midst.

God insists that we look for the spark of life, of hope, in ourselves and one another. This Ash Wednesday, we will make that spark easier to see. We will stand witness to the gritty, glittery, scandalous hope that exists in the very marrow of our tradition.

Ashes to go and Glitter+ Ash will be available in the Community UCC parking lot from 7 to 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14, and then from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at United Japanese Christian Church, 136 N. Villa Ave. in Clovis.

Celebrate with an evening service at 7:30 p.m. that day at the United Japanese Christian Church with Rev. Akiko Miyake-Stoner and Pastor Chris Breedlove.

“Marked by Ashes” by Walter Brueggemann

Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day . . .
This day — a gift from you.
This day — like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received.
This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility.
This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home
     halfway back to committees and memos,
     halfway back to calls and appointments,
     halfway on to next Sunday,
     halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,
     half turned toward you, half rather not.

This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
   but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —
     we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
       of failed hope and broken promises,
       of forgotten children and frightened women,
     we ourselves are ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
     we can taste our mortality as we roll the ash around on our tongues.

We are able to ponder our ashness with
   some confidence, only because our every Wednesday of ashes
   anticipates your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.

On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you —
   you Easter parade of newness.
   Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,
     Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
     Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.
   Come here and Easter our Wednesday with
     mercy and justice and peace and generosity.

We pray as we wait for the Risen One who comes soon.

Fresno Women’s March — Jan. 20

Fresno Women's March 2017

~ Photo above by Terry Cole, from the 2017 Fresno Women’s March

A group of us are meeting at the church at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, to carpool to the Fresno Women’s Rally and March. The rally begins at 11 a.m. at Fresno and Nees, then marchers will circle the block after the speakers wrap up.

If we carpool and leave some cars in the church parking lot, PLEASE do not leave valuables in your car or visible. We don’t want to make our parking lot a target for vandalism. Thanks!

Weddings at Community United Church of Christ

Have your wedding at Community UCC

Community United Church of Christ is an open and affirming church that now permits serving alcoholic beverages and rents its Hayden Hall for weddings and receptions.

You are invited to call about having your wedding event at Community UCC. Call 559.435.2690. We are centrally located at 5550 N. Fresno St., Fresno, CA 93710.

See Map

Interfaith Scholar Weekend — ‘Just Sustainability: Religion, Pluralism, and Care for Our Common Home’

Interfaith Scholar Weekend with Dr. Christiana Peppard

Please mark your personal and congregational calendars for our upcoming Interfaith Scholar Weekend on Jan. 19-21.

Interfaith Scholar Weekend will feature scholar Dr. Christiana Peppard, assistant professor of theology, science and ethics at Fordham University in New York.

Dr. Peppard’s scholarship focuses on global environmental ethics and religion and science in a pluralistic era. She is the author of “Just Water” (Orbis Books, 2014) and co-editor of “Just Sustainability: Technology, Ecology and Resource Extraction” (Orbis, 2015). Dr. Peppard is from Fresno, CA.

Dr. Peppard’s engagements during the weekend will be:

  • Friday, Jan. 19, at the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno.
  • Three more lectures at Temple Beth Israel on the issue of water on Saturday, Jan. 20. Her lecture topics will be:
    • “Climate Change, Water and Religion: Questions of Justice?”
    • “Water: Human Right, Economic Commodity, Natural Resource, or … ?”
    • “The Agriculture-Water Nexus and Interfaith Imagination”

For more information, visit Interfaith Scholar website.