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Connections: February 7, 2024

Greetings, Church!

I hope that you, your homes, and businesses are doing o.k. following this weekend’s storms! I know some of you are still without power, and I pray it gets restored soon. If you need assistance or support during this time, please let us know.

I must say that trying to land at SFO during the storm was certainly a flight I’ll never forget. I kept reminding myself that the pilots want a clean and safe landing, probably even more than the passengers, and to trust their training and experience.

As we circled SFO for an hour, it was a good opportunity for me to use the mindful breathing techniques I learned on my wellness retreat last week- tapping the center of my chest, just under my collar bone, as I slowly breathed in for 3 counts and then out for 3 counts. Not only did it help calm my nerves (and my stomach) focusing on my breath always reminds me that God is with me.  As I sat there breathing (and praying) as we looped around and around the airport, I recalled a prayer I learned several years ago; one I used to start every day with, but haven’t recited in quite some time:


You are closer to me than my own breath.

May each breath I take deepen my awareness of your presence.

You are as real as the sounds around me.

May each sound I hear deepen my awareness of your reality.

You are as present and life-giving as my own heart.

May each heartbeat I experience deepen my awareness of your slowness to anger.

You embrace as certainly as the clothes I wear.

May each sensation I feel deepen my awareness of your loving embrace.

Glory to you, source of all being, eternal light and Holy Spirit.



When the storms of life get overwhelming, I invite you to stop, breathe, and remember that God is closer to you than your own breath. May this prayer help center your morning, calm you in the evening, or bring peace throughout the day.

With gratitude and love,


PS The photo shows the path I took for walking meditation during my time in Costa Rica.


CCSM website

United Church of Christ





CLICK HERE for Rev. Dr. Kibbie Ruth's sermon,

"Open to Healing"


February 14, 7:15pm, Sanctuary

Join us for this special service that marks the beginning of the Lenten season; a time of reflection and turning back to God, and who God is calling us to be. Rev. Álvaro Durán will offer a reflection and we’ll share in communion and the imposition of ashes as we embark on this sacred journey. Following worship, we’ll hope you’ll stay for our weekly Wednesday potluck dinner. 

Latino Ministry Update!

The Latino Ministry is stepping into 2024 with lots of good news, leadership stability, and much work ahead. We couldn’t do it without the support of the wider church body. For those who have a particular interest in getting an update and being part of our community circle (“Nuestro Círculo”) please join us for a Zoom update on Feb. 8 from 7 – 8 pm.

To join the email list and receive the Zoom link for the call (or if you have any questions), please email westcoastalicia@gmail.com. Thank you!

Music and Art will meet on Friday, February 16 at noon in the Buckham Room. As usual, bring your own lunch; beverages and dessert are provided.  

We are privileged to have a program on calligraphy presented by Ms. Billy Hutchinson (friend of Tina Lowrie Schulkamp). She has a BFA degree from the San Francisco Art Institute. She is primarily a calligrapher for special occasions and a lettering instructor at San Francisco Center for the Book.  

Please RSVP to Don Harper at donaldgharper@yahoo.com or phone 650-553-1800. Our presenter will need to know how many supplies to provide for our practice to assist in our creative experiences.

New Coffee Hour Coordinator Needed


CCSM’s Coffee Hour is an important component of CCSM's community, ensuring that people have a place to connect and talk.

Tasks include:

• Monitoring the sign-up list, then confirming with that Sunday's volunteer;

• Being available as helper on Sunday mornings (when necessary with a new volunteer) or asking someone else to be (Robert Leung and Melodie Lew are often available and enjoy doing this);

• Occasionally sending out an email with the signup link to ask folks to fill empty slots.

Please contact either Lin Fenn or Melodie Lew. Thank you!


Bring your honey to Casavant Love on Saturday, February 10, 4pm. Angela will play our beloved Casavant organ in a concert to celebrate Valentine’s Day, with finger food, wine, drinks and chocolate truffles available in the Buckham Room afterwards. This is a Pick-A-Party event so contact Diane Kalliam (415-279-1359 or dkalliam@gmail.com) to reserve a spot. 

Looking for some other Third Chance Pick-A-Party opportunities? Check these out!

Contact Sandy McNabb (sandra.j.mcnabb@gmail.com, 650 678 5650) for sign-up details.

Cook the Part – Dinner in Athens • Sat., Feb 10, 7pm at the Florescas’ home

Create and enjoy a fabulous Greek dinner with Renato and Lauri Floresca.

Brunch and Hike for All Ages • March 16, 9 am at Laura Peterhans’ home

Enjoy a traditional German brunch at Laura’s house, featuring fruit compote, cold cuts, German breads, croissants, Italian breakfast Strata, coffees and teas.  Afterwards, guests can discuss options:  a tour of the nearby Notre Dame de Namur campus, including a Bufano sculpture and William Ralston’s mansion; and/or a drive to Water Dog Lake Park in Belmont for hiking; or remaining at Laura’s to enjoy more German pastries and conversation.  

Rock Hounder’s Delight – Pebble Pups Welcome • April 20, 5 pm at Betsy and Phil’s home

Betsy and Phil invite guests to pick a geode from their "stock", watch it be sliced open with a rock saw, and then have it returned later, polished for you to treasure. Dinner is included, along with an opportunity to learn about rocks, fossils, and agates. All children will get a simple "rock journal."


The delivery ramp leading into the Kloss Hallway is closed for construction until further notice. We are working hard to get it back in service just as soon as possible. Anyone who accesses the church using the keyless entry system needs to make different arrangements, and can contact Chase to do so. We apologize for any inconvenience.  


Thanks to Julien Phillips of CCSM, we’ve recently learned that there are opportunities for aid from our national UCC denomination: scholarships of $1000 to 10,000 for rising sophomore, junior or senior undergraduate students. Applications are due March 1, and they require references (minister and academic adviser). Undergraduate students are encouraged to apply soon!

Requirements are membership in a UCC church, active participation and contribution to the church and answering questions in the application and a commitment to be active in a UCC church for at least five subsequent years. For info, see the link on the ucc.org site: app.smarterselect.com/programs/93776-United-Church-Of-Christ.  Contact Sheryl Johnson, sjohnson@ccsm-ucc.org or Warren Long, longlake15@sbcglobal.net for help.  

Youth and Family News

Sunday, February 11 - Mardi Gras/Carnaval/Pancake Tuesday! We will prepare for Lent by having a party - and learning about how various cultures around the world celebrate this special time leading up to Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. 

Wednesday, February 14 - Please join us at 7:15 for a special bilingual Ash Wednesday service. Special activities for kids to explore this season of reflection, prayer, simplicity, and spiritual growth. 

Wednesday, Feb 21 - Join us for a fun youth gathering for both our Sunday and Wednesday attending middle and high school youth! We will be planning a special youth group time about once a month on a Wednesday evening. This month we'll be doing an Escape Room! Please meet at the church at 5:45pm. After the escape room, we will get some food together and build community. After the Wednesday service finishes (about 8:45pm) we will have a time for both parents and youth to talk about attending the Western Regional Youth Event (see above). Please let Sheryl know if you can attend by Wednesday, Feb 14 so we can book enough spaces for the Escape Room. 

Middle and High Schoolers and Families: Interested in going with others from CCSM to the Western Regional UCC Youth Event this summer? We have two gatherings coming up to connect and start to make plans for our CCSM contingent! Please plan to attend one or both sessions as you are able! 

Sunday, Feb 18, noon

Wednesday, Feb 21, after Wednesday Service

Why use unnecessary chemicals when natural cleaners work just as well... if not better?

When cleaning your home, be sure to stay away from toxic cleansers that can harm your family. Instead, use natural substances such as vinegar, orange oil or green cleaning products such as Grove, Method or other products found in your supermarket.

CCSM Council of Ministries

Contact COM: COM@CCSM-UCC.org

Kay Harris, Council of Ministries Lead

Jim Schwandt, Building and Grounds

Kim Rey, Troy Grabow, Children, Youth and Families

Melodie Lew, Congregational Care

Sandy McNabb, Connect and Celebrate                       

Gary H. White, Environmental Justice

Alison Schwandt, Engagement/Communications 

Julien Phillips, Latino/a Ministry       

Pam Ridlehuber, Liturgical Arts

Sue Bell, Katie Bylander, Music        

Genel Morgan, Service and Justice

Dave Olsen, Spiritual Life/Adult Ed.

Ivan Raikov, Stewardship

You don't need to wait for the Ministry Fair to learn more, or join a ministry. Contact the Ministry Lead anytime!

CCSM Committee Chairs

Chris Yeh, Endowment

Martha Bronitsky, Finance

Frank Garritano, Governance

Chris Wuthmann, Pastoral Relations

Dave Goulden, Personnel

Phil Lind, Historian

Click HERE for CCSM's Governance Manual, and HERE for CCSM's Bylaws


Weekly on Wednesdays  • 9:30-10:00am on Zoom

In light of the recent events in Gaza, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories, we are invited to join Churches for Middle East Peace, an ecumenical partner of the United Church of Christ's Global Ministries, to join others across the world in praying weekly for peace. Registration is free, but required to receive the Zoom Link. 


Make a Gift

You can also make a financial gift to help with humanitarian aid for people in Gaza, Palestine, and Israel through the United Church of Christ’s Wider Church Ministries HERE.

Call for a Ceasefire

 Send a pre-written message to your elected officials through UCC’s “Just Peace Church” program HERE calling for a ceasefire and encouraging Congress to take immediate action for de-escalation in Israel and Gaza, and support steps towards a lasting peace.



The "Blessing Box" outside of the entrance of CCSM is a project of the Ministry of Service and Justice, responding to the need for families in our neighborhood to access food and an expression of our call to be the "hands, feet, and face of God" in our community. The container will be in the narthex to collect food (canned, dried and boxed, no fresh food please! donations must be full UNOPENED containers, no fruits, vegetables, or bread) on any Sunday of the month. 

Anyone who orders out for food and gets individually wrapped plasticware, please donate to the Blessing Box. We put plasticware in the BB for those who may need it.

Thank you for your continuing generosity!


If we get at least 1,000 subscribers, the YouTube algorithm bumps our CCSM site higher on people’s search engine. CCSM Media now has 451 subscribers. Let’s keep pumping it up! So, please go to youtube.com/@ccsmMediaChannel/featured and click the “Subscribe” button.  

Cost: Nothing.  Benefit: HUGE!

Regular CCSM office hours:

9:00am - 4:00pm

Monday - Thursday


225 Tilton Ave. • San Mateo, CA • 94401


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