Community UCC eNews
Oct. 29, 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.

Virtual worship for now. Limited office hours. See below.

SO MUCH GOOD NEWS! — If it says "[Message clipped]" at the bottom of your eNews, that means you're not seeing everything. Click the link next to that to view the entire newsletter.
Sunday Worship — Zoom and YouTube

On Sunday, Nov. 1, Pastor Julia Penner-Zook will give a sermon titled "They Went Through Some Stuff" based on Psalm 78:1-7. Julia writes: "In keeping with our observance of All Saints Day, a time in which we remember those who've gone before us, the sermon will also draw our attention to our ancestors — that cloud of witnesses, as they are mentioned elsewhere in Scripture. We will remember those who've been important on our journey." See below for how we "do church" now.
Don't forget to set your clocks back an hour before you go to bed Saturday night!

Worship on YouTube begins at 10:30 a.m.

Thursday evening worship is canceled until further notice.
Instructions for Zoom worship

For now, we will continue to provide worship live on our YouTube channel ( on Sundays at 10:35 a.m. Doors "open" around 10:15-10:20 for a few minutes of fellowship before worship begins.

Links to the Zoom worships go out each Wednesday in a separate email just to church members. Look for "Zoom links" in that email subject line.
Aloha, folks at CUCC! Check out this quilt!

A Hawaiian-themed award-winning quilt – featuring floral designs and depictions of classic beach scenes – is the centerpiece of a raffle put together by the Finance Team. Proceeds will go to the church’s general fund.

Seventy postcard-size rectangles depicting tropical flowers fill one side of the 60-inch by 66-inch quilt. The other side is a montage of Woodie station wagons from the 1960s, palm trees, beach shacks, and surf boards. The quilt will fit a twin bed or can serve as a topper for full and queen size beds.

Local quilter Becci Zaninovich donated the quilt for the raffle. Becci won a second-place ribbon at the Big Fresno Fair for the quilt.

In addition to the quilt, the Finance Team is including a bottle of Malibu Caribbean Rum, dry roasted macadamia nuts, a Coastal Cocktail Mixer collection in a cardboard Woodie, and Air Wick's Hawaii Essential Oils with electric diffuser.

Tickets are $10 each and the drawing will be held on Sunday, Nov. 15.
Millennial/Xennial Happy Hour 

Grab your drink of choice and join us on Zoom. Let’s chat, laugh and just have a good time, social distancing style! 6:30 p.m. Friday Oct. 30. Contact Felicia for more info:
A note from Robin
Dear friends,

I have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called myasthenia gravis. Though there is no cure, it can be controlled with medication.

Unfortunately we have not found the right cocktail. But we will be trying a new med in the next couple of weeks. I want to thank you for all your prayers and if possible keep them coming.

My hope is that I will be back someday soon.

Peace, Robin
Adult Education

Adult Education via Zoom is at 9 a.m. Sundays. Ann Scott will send Zoom links to those who have been participating. Here is the schedule:

Sunday, Nov. 1: Continue study of "The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World" by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.
We want to see and share your Halloween costume photos!

With Halloween looking different this year, Faith Education wants to see everyone's costumes, kids and adults!

Please share your photos with us for a slide show that we will share on our social media platforms. Email photos to Karri @ by Nov. 1.

By submitting photos of you or your children for this project, you are consenting to the photos being shared on our public social media channels.
Remembering those we miss on All Saints' Day

We will honor All Saints' Day together during our worship on Sunday, Nov. 1.
The Christian celebration of All Saints' Day stems from a belief that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven and the living. We hope you will join us for this meaningful worship experience.
Election night virtual gathering

Some of us will gather virtually for a bit after the polls close on Election Night. All are welcome. If you would like to join us from 8 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, for fellowship, prayers, hopes, fears, etc., please check this week's Zoom links email for the link.

Given many complicating factors in this unprecedented time — large numbers of early and mail-in votes, high voter turnout, long lines for in-person voting, the ever-present pandemic, etc. — this could be a very different kind of Election Night, and there may not be clear-cut answers about how things will go for days or weeks after the polls close. Here's a good Washington Post article that talks about how different this year might be:

"While many Americans are accustomed to voting on Election Day and learning results that night, Election Day 2020 in fact marks the end of a lengthy voting period and the start of a potentially lengthy counting period. Some states plan to report results the night of Nov. 3, but others expect their counting process to take longer, depending on when they begin counting mail-in ballots."
Join the discussion about fighting racism

The Missions and Social Justice Team invites CUCC members and friends to join in another important conversation about systemic racism. The goal is to learn what we can do – as individuals and a church – to address this deep-seated problem.

  • When: 7-8:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9
  • Who: Our guest will be be Reza Nekumanesh, executive director of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno.
  • Where: Zoom. If you wish to attend, please email Felicia Rocha – She will send you a Zoom invitation.

Hope to see you on Nov. 9.
Be part of this year's Hanging of the Greens on Dec. 6

Hanging of the Greens is another annual tradition of our church. On a Sunday in early December, we dedicate a service to the decorating of our church Sanctuary for the Advent/Christmas season, decorating our Christmas tree, and bringing in wreaths of greens and poinsettia plants placed in honor of loved ones.

Like so many things this year, we have to find a new way to honor that tradition. That’s where you can help!

Like our recent “Words from the Congregation” sermon, we would like to have members share their personal traditions of how you decorate your home for the holidays. It could be a story about your tree, a treasured ornament, your own Advent candle, a special creche, a handmade item passed down from generations, or some other memory of how you made the Advent/Christmas season special in your family.

If you would like to participate, you can help in one of two ways:

1) Record a brief horizontal video (no more than 3 minutes) of yourself telling your personal “Hanging of the Greens” story. You can do this with a smartphone, either recording video in selfie mode or have someone take it of you. Email, text or AirDrop (via iPhone) the finished video to Lisa (she can arrange contactless housecalls to locals for AirDrop, and talk you through the process).

2) If you find doing the recording yourself too daunting, you can schedule a short Zoom meeting with Lisa to tell your story, and she can record it. 

If you have two or three photos to supplement your story, either from this year, if you are an early decorator, or years past, those can be woven into your story by Lisa. Just get your photos to Lisa along with your video. 

Lisa will need to have your videos and photos no later than Nov. 25 — the day before Thanksgiving — to allow time to edit the project together for the Hanging of the Greens service on Dec. 6. 
Saturday in the park with Tower String Quartet

Our music director EJ Hinojosa has arranged an opportunity for CUCC members and friends to enjoy – in person – the sounds of the Tower String Quartet, a Fresno group.

  • When: 4 p.m. on Nov. 7 (Saturday). Folks can begin arriving at 3:30 p.m.
  • Where: Robinson Park – next to the church
  • How: Bring your own chairs or blankets to sit on. 
  • Program: Selections will include classical music by Mozart and Haydn as well as American classics by Richard Rodgers and Harold Arlen. The Tower String Quartet will play other selections, as well.
  • Really important: Everyone must wear masks and maintain a 6-foot distance from those outside their family. This is for your protection as well as other folks in our church family. (We’ll have monitors to ensure everyone’s safety.)
  • A big IF: Should the state return Fresno County to the most restrictive COVID safety tier (purple) next Tuesday (Nov. 3), we will NOT gather for the concert. Next week’s eNews will have updated information.
  • One more thing: The church’s bathrooms will not be open

In the meantime, we can thank EJ for his efforts and giving us something to look forward to.
 Women's Book Discussion Group

The Women's Book Discussion Group will take the next two Tuesdays off, then start a new book study at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, reading Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." For the first week, which will be led by Sharon Powers, please read the first six chapters of the book.

From GoodReads: Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local "powhitetrash." At 8 years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age — and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors ("I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare") will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

As we enter what can be a busy time of year for many, we will shorten our meetings a little for this book study, meeting from 6-7 p.m. each week, instead of 90 minutes. Discussions will be led by members of the group, as Robin continues to heal. Pastor Julia will send out the Zoom link each week to participants.

If you have never attended before and are interested in participating, contact Pastor Julia to be added to the email list.
Helping feed the children of Fresno

CUCC members and friends have an opportunity in November to help distribute food at Cooper Middle School in Fresno Unified from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13. Some members of the Missions and Social Justice Team are signed up to help on that date.

Every Neighborhood Partnership a faith-based nonprofit in Fresno has organized churches and organizations to help with this effort. Distributions are drive-by so there is limited contact.

If you have questions or want to volunteer, please contact Elizabeth Davis-Russell at or 559.862.6914
On Oct. 26, CUCC members helped distribute food at Hidalgo Elementary School in Fresno Unified. They are, from left, Thomas Russell, Felicia Rocha, Kathy Lukan, and Elizabeth Davis-Russell. Not pictured: Doug Hoagland
A Blessing is an Act of Stubborn Hope
by Pastor Julia Penner-Zook
Today, this week, this month, this season where we have landed is demanding so much from us. Where is our hope?

Is hope actually responsible when so much evidence seems to militate against it? Aren’t we confronted with evidence that our anxiety is warranted wherever we turn? 

Maybe you can imagine how intrigued I was by the phrase, “a blessing is an act of stubborn hope.” It comes from a podcast I stumbled upon on Twitter this afternoon.

Dr. Kate Bowler, Duke professor of Divinity, Stage 4 cancer “survivor,” and down-to-earth, honest communicator, speaks with Rev. Jan Richardson who unexpectedly lost her husband a number of years ago.

They talk about blessing, hope, and the gritty reality we all live. 
Here are a few succinct quotes from the podcast: 

• We’re not always doing mountain-top yoga!
• Life is a chronic condition!
• There’s no cure for being human!
• Let’s be human together!

In contrast to how we hear the word, blessing, used so flimsily in our culture, Rev. Richardson states, “there’s a toughness to blessing in the Jewish and Christian traditions.” Just as Jesus said: 
... blessed are the weak;
... blessed are the vulnerable;
... blessed are the grieving.

Blessing is so much more mysterious than glib promises to reward exactly the right behaviors, words, or attitudes. 

A blessing invites us into a space—a space in which God is somehow present.

Instead of me simply telling you more about this comforting and challenging exchange, here’s the link to the podcast.

It’s about 35 minutes long, and worth every minute of your time. The conversation is an invitation to blessing itself.
Photo Credit: Thomas Bormans via (open source) 
Oct. 25 guest sermon: 'Words from our Congregation'

Last Sunday’s guest sermon is called “Words from the Congregation.” The Worship Team invited four members of our congregation — Sue Hipp, Gary Walker, Felicia Rocha and Doug Hoagland — to speak about their thoughts during this challenging time. Many of us are looking for those things in our lives that give us hope, perspective, and inspiration. We may also be using this time to think through what is important to us and to reaffirm what we believe and about which we are passionate. Click here to watch the sermon.
Limited office hours have resumed

Marilyn is now in the office part of each week for limited office hours. Generally she will be there from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, but please call before stopping by (559.435.2690), both to ensure that she is there (her hours may be a little flexible) and to limit the number of people in the office at one time for social distancing. If you plan to stop by, please wear a mask or facial covering.
Office hours for Pastor Julia
Next week Pastor Julia will be in the office Wednesday morning, instead of Tuesday (Election Day). Please feel free to call or text her or Marilyn to let them know you'd like to come in -- masks and physical distancing are important. Of course, she’s still available for phone or Zoom appointments on Mondays and Wednesdays, so please don’t hesitate to text or e-mail her at
If you have a prayer (of joy, for healing, gratitude, love) for someone or someplace that you would like lifted up during worship on Sunday mornings please send them to Pastor Julia at You can also submit prayer request via our web page at
Jesus, UCC, and mental health

CUCC member Janet Capella invites others to join her in virtually attending an important event sponsored by the United Church of Christ Mental Health Network.

  • What: UCC Congregations for Mental Health Fall 2020 Webinar
  • When: Nov. 13 and 14 (Friday and Saturday)
  • Information: or Janet (

Janet says: “In March 2019, UCC friends and I attended a national workshop in the Bay area about our churches ministering to people with mental health issues. Since then, CUCC has started the process of becoming a WISE congregation. WISE stands for our churches being Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive and Engaged. The webinar on Nov. 13 and 14 is a chance for us to learn more about showing the love of Christ so healing can continue for our sisters and brothers who have mental health issues.”
In each week's eNews, we include a news article from our larger denomination, the United Church of Christ, to show the faithful work being done in other places.
Vote, stay vigilant in this election season,
UCC leaders urge

Nov. 3 is two weeks away, and Americans are already turning out in record numbers to vote in the fall election. By mail, or early in-person, state election officials across the United States are reporting long lines at the local board of elections and hordes of ballots in hand.

As of Saturday, Oct. 17, more than 26 million people had voted, according to the U.S. Elections Project. That's more than six times the number of votes cast by the same time in 2016. Advocates in the United Church of Christ are hopeful that voters will remain patient and vigilant through the process. Continue reading at
Happy Birthday to all who are celebrating this month!

October Birthdays

1 David Contreras and Jess Garcia
2 Lauren Booker
3 Adrian Ramirez and Nayele Wall
5 Joe Mack
6 Dena Reynolds
8 Cristi Newport and Chad Hayden
12 Sarah LeBeau
25 Nancy Pressley and Dru Ramirez
27 Debra Westhaver-Church
28 Nanete Maki-Dearsan and Boone Watkins
31 Lynn Samuelian, Maddie Kilburn, and Claire and William Knapp

October Anniversaries

2 Lynn Samuelian and Ruben Fernandez
6 Charlene Toews and Michael Dillahunty
8 Annie and Jack Van Patten
26 Kelli and Alan Chaffin

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 in-person events after things get back to normal. For now, events have either been cancelled, will be rescheduled or will be held virtually.
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 Bell (, 559.244.9502) is the volunteer communications liaison for our church.

Lisa and Doug Hoagland ( alternate working on eNews. Send your announcements to both of them. Emails: and
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.

Due to COVID-19, worship will remain virtual for now. Limited office hours have resumed.

Phone: 559.435.2690