Community UCC eNews
March 26, 2020
Photo above by Roger Wall
Community UCC is an inclusive and progressive Christian Church doing social justice, environmental faithfulness, interfaith collaboration and and spiritual formation to help ourselves and others grow in faith, hope and love.

Sunday Sermon — Zoom and Facebook Live (not at church)  

On Sunday, March 29, Pastor Ara will deliver a sermon titled “The Miracle: Dying Twice,” based on John 11:1-44. 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 would like to try a Zoom meeting. Zoom is a videoconferencing interface available for video and audio conferencing, chat, webinars and more.

This should allow more interaction in our service than Facebook Live, which is a one-way broadcast. It will also eliminate the need to end one portion of the broadcast and resume from another house, which is disruptive.

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 sure to make a note of how you signed up -- which email and password you used, or if you joined via your Facebook account.

We will post the link to join worship through our various communication channels -- eNews, social media, on the website and in our private Facebook group for members. Each "meeting" will have its own link to join.

We will test this at 7 p.m. with our Thursday evening service March 26. Here is the link to join:

The link to join Sunday morning worship at 10:30 a.m. March 29 is:

If you aren't sure how this works, contact Lisa or Rod and they can try to help you or do a test.
From Julia Penner-Zook:

Believe it or not, today is a NEW day.

Today is not a canvas on which our “best paints” are fear, blame, hopelessness, or irresponsibility. Yes, it seems those paints are stored at the very front of our supply cabinet right now; our paint brushes may still have the residue of frustration on them from yesterday, ready to re-apply.

Today is it not a cavern — a gaping, open-mouthed dungeon waiting to suck unsuspecting travelers in, to imprison in panic. Yes, we may dread the minutes of loneliness, uncertainty, the sounds that ricochet through the corridors of an already over-extended mind.

Today is a call — a call to rest, to recover, to remember, to resist.

It’s a call to “show up,” even as we stay in our homes.

The moments that stretch before us today are an invitation to seize what can be—to walk through doors that open noiselessly if we dare approach them.

Choose a smile, even if only to your own reflection in the mirror.

Choose grace — with yourself; towards those with whom you share close quarters; with those whose faces pass through your thoughts.

Choose patience in this situation, laying neither blame, nor succumbing to dread.

Choose to breathe deeply, grateful for lungs that function.

Choose to offer a prayer — to lift yourself and another into the proximity of the Divine.

Choose to focus on beauty and hold space for wonder.

Choose the gold of a wildflower, the cerulean of the water, the verdant of the forests for today’s canvas.

Choose to hold up your torch into the gaping blackness — extend your unique gift to the world as a beacon that lights the unknown.

We are not alone.

We are together.

We are one human race — united by our humanity,
our hopes and our trauma,
our fear and our resiliency,
our losses and our gains.

Together, we are all equally sheltered in place
by the promise of Jesus the Christ who said:
“I am with you always.”

(Photo: southern Utah, 10/2019; Julia Penner-Zook)
Update from our Moderator

For those who missed the announcement in church on March 15, here is an update from our moderator, Ann Scott: Our interim minister, Pastor Ara, will end his time with CUCC soon. Easter Sunday will be his final service with us.

We are grateful for his time here. His gifts of joy, enthusiasm, energy and leadership have blessed us. It is with a happy heart that we release him and prepare to welcome a new settled pastor to our church.
Out of the sorrow of his sweet wife's passing come new determination to fully live each day

By Phil Fullerton

More than six months after the devastating death of my beloved wife, Margaret, and rising through the billowing clouds of the ensuing grief, I am slowly gaining increased insight into personal meaning of this shattering event.

Margaret, age 88, and I were married 66 years ago in 1953. After law school, during which she taught school to finance my legal education, we came to Fresno as I sought a career in law while she joined me in raising our four children while being active in the community. She died of complications from Alzheimer’s Disease after a prolonged illness.

Since her death I have been flooded with memories: her laugh, her smile, her wisdom. And, yes, our partnership facing the joys and sadnesses of life all those decades.

The reality of the inevitability of death loomed over me as never before. Sure, our parents had died, as well as many friends, but the stark reality that death hovered over all of us became clear and imminent.

Awareness of death is a unique human feature. My pet dogs, terriers and labs, had no idea that they were doomed. It is the stark presence of this awareness which struck me so hard. All living things around me would die, including me!

For over millenia our forebears, homo sapiens, tried to deal with this awareness with the belief in an afterlife. Their graves often contain gifts to accompany their deceased loved ones.  Most religions grew with a promise of personal eternity. Think of the Egyptian pyramids or the great stone structures of Central and South America. And of course, Christianity and the Muslim religion had an afterlife as central. 

But as the archeological record pushed religions further and further back in tangible reality, I find this belief, as a Christian, difficult: comforting but troublesome.

Other folks have gained immortality by monuments. Think of university buildings named after generous founders. Some have funded charitable institutions in their name. Think of the Ford Foundation or the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation.

Others have achieved immortality through their good works. Think of Maria Theresa. Or, indeed, Jesus of Nazareth.

So what are the lessons for me in all this history as I begin to deal with my grief? The grief counselors would say that acceptance is the final stage of grieving and I am now at that stage. My own mortality is now clearly etched in my mind as never before. Now what?

At age 88 this awareness leaves me in a hurry. I want to value each day. As one gets close to 90 years old, it takes more and more vitality to just keep going. Aristotle felt that we all had diminished vitality (heat, he would put it) as we aged and this is surely true. It takes courage to face each day. Yet, the dark cloud of imminent death looming over me spurs me to action.

And what I do with each day is also critically important. Here the Christian New Testament offers valuable, some would say divine instruction. Following as best and imperfectly as  I humbly can, I have vowed to try to reach out to others to help them with their suffering or any other needs; to give them comfort and support; to share their joys; to be part of the mainstream of humanity. 

As to immortality, I fear I must rely on Margaret’s and my family, now extended to 49 people including step-grandchildren and spouses. In many ways they are our main contribution to society, hopefully reflecting goals matching Margaret’s and mine. Perhaps they will recall our teaching, dreams and struggles.

So, now at peace with the idea that I will soon join my wife in our joint urn, I will strive each morning to get up, try to be affirmative, loving, and supportive, and turning the awareness of death so recently and tragically brought home to me into an asset.
A message of encouragement from Pastor Ara

Matthew 6.24: " No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."

These are the words I keep hearing as those given the authority and responsibility to lead as legislators and executives are speaking. Their allegiance is clear. 

Whether there is credit or not, producers will produce. Life will go on, even if the global economy collapses. It will not be easy, but it will be easier if we are not dead.

God is still speaking, because there is clearly many who need to hear. These words from the Sermon on the Mount need to be heard, so that we might live, freely.

Another word spoken, Galatians 5.1: "For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."

May the voice of a God overcome the foolish blathering of so many speaking today.

Peace, health, physical distance and unity in spirit be upon you,

Pastor Ara 
Help us stay connected

If you like to keep in touch with our Community, we are asking for 10 volunteers to call five people of a weekly basis. Please contact pastor Ara for your five very special names.
In each week's eNews, we include a news article from our larger denomination, United Church of Christ , to show the faithful work being done in other places.
From homeless shelter decisions to online worship, Denver church learning as it goes amid pandemic

With group meetings and sanctuary worship suspended due to the global coronavirus outbreak, the people of  Park Hill Congregational United Church of Christ , Denver, were doing much online during the week of March 16 -- and they had at least one hard mission decision to make.

Their turn to host 20 homeless women was coming up – every Tuesday night in April – as part of a hospitality program that rotates among several Denver ministries. They've been part of this ministry for years.

"On the one hand, the majority of our volunteers are in the affected group," said the Rev. David Bahr, Park Hill's pastor, noting advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that older adults are among those at risk for COVID-19 disease. "On the other hand, how do we leave 20 homeless women on the street? Our city has done a pathetic job of responding to this need. The homeless population is already so vulnerable. It's snowing right now." Continue reading at the website .
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
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.
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