Community UCC eNews
April 9, 2020
Community UCC is an inclusive and progressive Christian Church doing social justice, environmental faithfulness, interfaith collaboration and spiritual formation to help ourselves and others grow in faith, hope and love.

The Church and Office will be closed until the City of Fresno's "Shelter in Place" advisory is lifted.
Sunday Sermon — Zoom and Facebook Live (not at church, for now)  

On Easter Sunday, April 12, Pastor Ara will deliver a sermon titled “Believing Is Seeing,” based on John 20:11-18. See below for details of how we will "do church" for now.

Worship on Facebook Live will begin at 10:30 a.m.
Instructions for Zoom worship

For upcoming worship services, we will do a Zoom meeting, so we can see each other's faces even as we are apart. Zoom is a videoconferencing interface available for video and audio conferencing, chat, webinars and more.

This allows more interaction in our service than Facebook Live, which is a one-way broadcast out to viewers.

Lisa will continue to provide Facebook Live on Sundays at 10:30 a.m., by capturing her computer screen during the Zoom worship.

Zoom can be used on a computer, via a website, or on smart mobile devices via an app. You can sign up for a free account. Go to from a computer or laptop or get the app in your phone's app store and create a free account. Make a note of how you signed up which email and password you used, or if you joined via your Facebook account.
Dear Congregation,

The Search Team and Council are very pleased to announce that we have selected a candidate to become our new pastor. We are presenting for your consideration and vote Julia Penner-Zook. As most of you know, Julia is currently under discernment in our church as she continues on her path to ordination. 

She can serve as our Lay Minister until she is ordained, at which time she will become our settled pastor. In the United Church of Christ the Lay Minister can perform all the sacraments that an ordained minister performs. Julia will be eligible for ordination at the end of December this year, contingent upon her completion of the required written papers and coursework. If approved, Julia will serve half-time until January 2021, then increase to three-quarter time. 
During this time of the COVID-19 Pandemic and our Shelter in Place Order, we cannot hold a traditional Congregational Meeting in our Sanctuary. Church is currently available on Facebook Live and on Zoom. Julia will preach on April 19th. Voting will be available on-line directly following church or you can mail in the tear-off attached to a letter nearly identical to this, which is being sent to all members. Instructions for using the tear-off are contained in the letter. 

If you are unable to access the service on the 19th, you can make your decision based on your knowledge of Julia who has been a member of our church for approximately three years. Julia has preached in the past and led us in our Journey into Advent in December 2019.

It is not possible to know how soon we can gather again in our sanctuary. We believe that it is especially important that we have our new pastor with us to guide and support us during this pandemic and to lead us into a more hopeful future. Julia knows us and loves us. The Search Team agrees wholeheartedly and joyfully that Julia is far and above the finest candidate among all those considered. 

In the One Love,
Ann Scott, Moderator
Nancy Pressley, Search Team Chairperson
Dear Friends of Community United Church of Christ,

As I think back to the first Sunday Rod and I were at Community United Church of Christ in January of 2017, we could never have anticipated how these years would unfold. Though we’ve gotten to know each other quite well, there are a few things that may surprise you. 

I grew up in a traditional church and family in rural Canada; both my parents were raised in immigrant families. My Dad was a quiet worker for justice; my Mom hosted guests / mission workers from around the globe. In them I saw people who loved and embraced others. 

Rod and I married young, had two children, and early on spent five years in pastoral ministry in rural Quebec in Canada. We drove thousands of miles to and from parishioners’ homes, some of whom were entrepreneurs with international businesses, others who were unable to read or write. 

We moved to Fresno, CA in the early 80s for both of us to do graduate work at Fresno Pacific Seminary. It was here that I was first encouraged and affirmed for pastoral ministry. The only hiccup was that the denomination we were a part of did not ordain women. After graduation we were invited to pastor a church in the Central Valley, but we didn’t see a future in that particular denomination because of the limitations they placed on women. 

Instead, we spent 10 years pastoring in Munich, Germany where I had a great deal of freedom for ministry. During those years preaching, teaching, pastoral care, participating on conference boards, providing leadership training for other pastors, and speaking at women’s conferences occupied a great deal of my time. 

We also had two young children at that time: Krista was 11 and Steven was 7 when we moved to Germany. We had some of our greatest and most difficult times there! Imagine being a middle-schooler (Krista) and being dropped into a classroom where instruction was in a language you didn’t understand! Imagine being a budding violinist (Steven) and performing with a city youth orchestra in some of the most prestigious concert halls in the city! One of the most memorable experiences during those years was a trip the four of us took to Sweden by train. We slept in youth hostels and lugged all of our supplies in our backpacks. It was magical! 

These two “children” are adults now: Krista lives in Minneapolis with her husband, Patrick. Their family consists of three girls and a boy, ages 12 to almost 2 years; Krista is expecting a second boy in May. Steven lives in Fresno with his wife, Natalie. They have a son and a daughter as well as a sweet foster daughter; their ages range from 9 to almost 2 years. We love every moment we get to spend with those who live close; we connect as much as possible (FaceTime, text, Zoom) with those farther away. 

After returning from the years in Munich, there was still no place for church ministry for me in North America. I regrouped and spent valuable years working in social services—work which included preparing parents to regain custody of their children, providing resources for at-risk kids in alternative schools, coming alongside staff and residents in domestic violence shelters, and exploring basic life skills with incarcerated populations. In addition, I taught workshops for active military service members, and spoke at women’s and youth conferences. 

A few years ago when Rod and I decided to return to Fresno, we were uncertain if or where we would find a church home. This was just after the 2016 election, and we, along with many others, were not sure whether we could “fit” into a Christian church again. We came to CUCC in January of 2017 as a result of a video I found of Pastor Chris Breedlove speaking at a downtown rally! We have never left! 

During the first year at CUCC, I met semi-regularly with Minister Robin Carlson, sharing who I was, where I’d been, what I’d done, and how we came to be in Fresno. When Pastor Chris left in the spring of 2018, Robin approached me about helping out in a pulpit supply rotation. Before leaving for sabbatical a few months later, she asked if I would be willing to help with pastoral care in her absence. 

During and since that time numerous people in this congregation have asked me if I would be open to pastoral ministry. My initial response was no! However, I believe in listening to the call of a faith community. I took this encouragement seriously, gradually became open to this idea, and embarked along the road to ordination. I simply took one step at a time, seeing which doors may open. All along this journey Rod and I have prayed for direction. I believe this is how the Spirit works. We ask for wisdom; then take a step. We listen to the community and see where its wisdom lines up with what we hear and feel personally. That has brought me here. 

Rod and I have grown to love Community United Church of Christ deeply, and I am humbled and honored to be considered to serve as your pastor. 

Julia Penner-Zook 
Our interim minister, Pastor Ara, will end his time with CUCC soon. Easter Sunday, April 12, will be his final service with us.  

It is the United Church of Christ policy that the outgoing pastor not participate in any church activities, or have contact with any church members or affiliates for a period of one to three years, and after that, only with permission of the current pastor.

Since we cannot have a farewell party for Pastor Ara because of the COVID-19 pandemic, please say goodbye to him by phone, email, or mail before Easter Sunday. We know that saying goodbye remotely, rather than in person, is not what we want, but there is no other choice.
Share your announcements with us

These are strange times in our world and we grieve the loss of being able to come together as a congregation to share special milestones. If we can announce your special news during our weekly announcements at the beginning of worship – a birthday, graduation or even more somber tidings – please contact Amy Kilburn to let her know.
Women's Book Discussion Group

Beginning on Tuesday, April 7, our next Women's Book Club Discussion group (via Zoom) will study "Bread and Wine" by Shauna Niequist . If you are interested in participating, contact Robin Carlson for the Zoom invitation. See below for info on our book choice. You will need to order the book on you own. 

'Bread and Wine' by Shauna Niequist

Author of the New York Times bestseller "Present Over Perfect," Shauna Niequist provides the perfect read for those who love food and value the community and connection of family and friends around the table.

"Bread and Wine" is a collection of essays about family relationships, friendships, and the meals that bring us together. This mix of Anne Lamott and Barefoot Contessa is a funny, honest, and vulnerable spiritual memoir. "Bread and Wine" is a celebration of food shared, reminding readers of the joy found in a life around the table. It’s about the ways God teaches and nourishes people as they nourish the people around them. It’s about hunger, both physical and otherwise, and the connections between the two.

With wonderful recipes included, from Bacon-Wrapped Dates to Mango Chicken Curry to Blueberry Crisp, readers will be able to recreate the comforting and satisfying meals that come to life in "Bread and Wine."
Happy Birthday and Anniversary to all who are celebrating this month!

April Birthdays
1 Sharon Powers
2  Elise LeBeau
4 Sierra LeBeau
5 Megan Fazio
7 David Wall
8 – Rosie Hinojosa
9 Niki Ruffin
10 Nancy Tackitt
11 Everette Newport
17 Katharine Chaffin
21 Leland Virag
24 EJ Hinojosa
25 Jake Tilley

April Anniversaries
3 Steve and Marie Edwards
16 Jeff and Cheryl Jones

Did we overlook someone's birthday or anniversary for this month? Please let Marilyn ( ) and Lisa ( ) know so we can get you in next week. We never intend to leave anyone out.
Passing of Ellie Bluestein

Peace Fresno joins family, friends, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and the Center for Nonviolence in grieving the passing this morning of Ellie Bluestein. Ellie founded Fresno WILPF more than 50 years ago and until recently remained active in the organization. She was an amazing activist, an advocate for peace and justice and an exceptionally warm and loving person.  

The following are messages her son, Jemmy Bluestein has shared. 
From Caring Bridge: “Our dear Ellie passed this morning. I was with her last night and we exchanged our love for each other. Such a sweetness. An amazing life of love and joy. The ancestors are welcoming her. “  

From Ellie's Facebook page: "Dears: This morning Ellie left us. The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens opened the quarantine gates a few days ago so that we could be with her. She was calm and clear and loving to the end. We celebrate her life and her gifts to us all and her sweet departure and journey! Our family will post further remembrances, and when touching returns to us all there will be a chance for all of us to come together again to sing her songs. Thank you for the love you have shared with her. Ellie's love endures in all of our hearts!"
Upcoming Church Events

  • We will resume listing events after things get back to normal. For now, events have either been cancelled or will be rescheduled.
eNews deadline is 10 a.m. Wednesdays

CUCC eNews is a weekly publication distributed every Thursday. Deadline for submitting announcements is 10 a.m. Wednesdays (and earlier is appreciated). Please send your announcements to Marilyn at . Lisa Boyles (, 559.244.9502) is the eNews editor and communications liaison for our church.
We've updated our Joyful Giving page to reflect the many ways members can help support our Church's missions and operations, especially needed in these critical and uncertain times.

The Church and Office will be closed until the City of Fresno's "Shelter in Place" advisory is lifted.

Phone: 559.435.2690