Community UCC eNews
October 17, 2019
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  

On Sunday, Oct. 20, Moderator Ann Scott will deliver the sermon titled "Who Are We?" .

Worship Service Each Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
NOTE: We broadcast our Sunday Worship service on Facebook Live beginning at 10:30 a.m. We want to make service accessible to members or friends who can't be with us on Sunday mornings. The camera captures the front of the Sanctuary and the first couple of rows of seats.
Help us be a JUST PEACE Church
Part of our congregation’s commitment to A JUST PEACE is better stewardship of our environment. One implication is using our church China and flatware regularly, particularly during Fellowship time following Sunday worship.

A sign-up sheet will circulate during worship so you may volunteer to wash and dry dishes after fellowship on a Sunday (using the great dishwasher and waiting for a quick drying time).
Church family,

Neil, Gavin, and I have really felt the love poured out on us after our accident in July. Thanks so much for the loan of medical equipment, delicious meals, visits, beautiful cards, gifts, words of encouragement, and especially for the prayer support. We even got a surprise visit from Pastor Ara in Las Vegas — be sure to ask him about the halo joke he shared with me there. 

It has been a long road to healing and wholeness, but we are all making progress. My halo brace came off a few days ago and Neil is preparing to get his prosthetic hand. I hope to be back in church soon. Gavin has a new job with Google and is moving to Washington, D.C. in a few weeks and Neil and I hope to go home in the next week or so. Neither of us will be driving for awhile, but we are working on getting our car replaced so we can be ready when our doctors and therapists give us the go-ahead. Fortunately I have a daughter and son-in-law who can get me to church.

We feel blessed to be alive and are getting better every day. I miss you and can't wait to worship, grow, and serve with you soon. 
Linda Baird
We have a recurring feature in eNews, "Meet Our Members." Doug Hoagland, a longtime Fresno Bee reporter, interviews members of our congregation so we can get to know each other better. New profiles run at least once a month. To read previous Meet Our Members profiles, visit our website .

Bryan Clark, member since 2008

Tell us about yourself:
I was born in Boston and lived there until I was 5, when my family (mom, dad, six brothers and one sister) moved to Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. My dad was in the Navy. After he got out of the military, we lived in San Francisco and then Stockton, where I went to high school and San Joaquin Delta College. I came to Fresno in 1990 for a promotion as an investigator in the California Department of Corrections. I worked for the CDC for 27 years and retired in 2014 on my 50th birthday. My husband is Brian Isbell. We met the summer after graduating from high school, and our friendship developed into love. We’ve been together for 35 years, and we married at CUCC in 2008.

You have a second career as a writer. Tell us about that:
In the last six years, I’ve written and published five novels: “Come to the Oaks,” “Ancient House of Cards,” “Diego’s Secret,” “Before Sunrise” and my latest, “Escaping Camp Roosevelt.” My genre is romantic suspense, and my main characters are gay men. My books deal with a moral dilemma the characters must overcome. I feel I’m creating something that other writers haven’t. I publish a new book every May, and they’re available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Target and Walmart. My next book is entitled “Far Away” and it’s about two lovers who reunite after many years. 

What brought you to Community UCC?
I was raised as a Catholic and had lots of questions about the Bible and the church, but it wasn’t OK to ask those questions. When I realized I was gay, I left the church because it didn’t feel like a safe place. I didn’t go to church for many years. But after we moved to Fresno, I felt I needed something more. Trying to be spiritual on my own wasn’t enough – I needed a church family. I belonged to First Congregational for 10 years. Then one Sunday, I visited our church and was so taken by people’s genuine greeting and hospitality that I decided this is where I should be.

What church activities have you been involved with?
I’ve served on Pastoral Relations, Elders and their successor, Extravagant Welcome, and I’ve also chaired several of those committees. I got the most satisfaction out of Pastoral Relations, a small committee that meets with the pastor quarterly. It’s a place where the pastor can be completely honest, and the committee members can be completely honest with him or her about what’s being said in the pews and the parking lot. We can give the pastor advice and, if necessary, we can talk to a person the pastor is having trouble with and try to smooth things out.

What do you find special or different about Community UCC?
Without question, the friendliness. You’re just not going to get that anywhere else. Our hospitality is unbelievable, and it’s real and not just designed to get new members. It’s also special that you can sit next to someone in church who has a completely different spiritual belief, but we’ve come to an understanding that we all have our own journeys.

What’s your vision for the church?
My answer is a little selfish. There was a time when I was very active in the church, and I saw the behind-the-scenes politics. I pulled back when Pastor Chris [Breedlove] left. When the day comes that I’m able to get more involved, I’ll do that. But right now, I just have to let the church feed me. My vision is for the church to understand that some people need to get fed, and that’s OK. Not everyone has to be a worker bee all the time.

What’s something about you that might surprise people?
I’m an introvert. Once upon a time, I was an extrovert, but over a 27-year law enforcement career, you start to go inward on yourself. You offer less of yourself to people, especially to strangers, and you find that strangers take energy from you. To get that energy back, I have to be by myself, and that’s when I recharge.

How would classmates in high school have described you?
Goofy, funny and they probably would have said, “Here comes trouble.” Not trouble in a bad way, but he’s up to something.

What’s your favorite movie and book?
The movie I watch over and over is “Steel Magnolias.” I’ll watch anything with Julia Roberts. Another favorite movie is “Fried Green Tomatoes.” I lean toward comedies because I get to laugh in a world that is so serious. My favorite book, hands down, is “The Front Runner” by Patricia Nell Warren. It came out in the early ’70s, and I read it when I was 15. It has a gay character wrestling with his sexual identity, and I was going through the same thing. The book was pretty profound for me, and I’ve read it many times over the years.
Women's Book Discussion Group starting 'The Sparrow'

We will begin our next book discussion at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29 , in the Conference Room. The book is "The Sparrow" by Mary Doria Russell. We will read the Prologue and Chapters 1-4 for our first gathering. 

If you would like the office to order you a copy of the book please let me or Marilyn know ASAP. The books are $16. each.  
Rummage Sale/Boutique
at Community UCC

The rummage sale/boutique at Community UCC will return from  7 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2 , in the Church parking lot. Booth spaces are $20 each.

If you know a vendor who would like to display and sell their wares, let them know! Contact Donna Wright to reserve a space.

Come by that day to do a little holiday shopping!
Saturday Morning Breakfast Group
Saturday, Nov. 2 , Conference Room
Breakfast at 8:45 a.m., talk begins at 9 a.m.

Gary Walker will discuss " Three five-star heroes of World War ll: Generals Marshall, MacArthur and Eisenhower — their backgrounds and interactions with each other." Breakfast host to be determined.
At the Coming of Age event, a Tastee Burger feed was offered as a fundraiser. There were 40 spaces available and 18 folks signed up. The event will take place in Hayden Hall following church on Nov. 10 .

Tastee Burgers were a signature sandwich served at Nancy Pressley’s family’s restaurants in Nebraska. The meal will include side dishes, soft drinks, and dessert. The cost to attend is $15. The proceeds go to the CUCC operating budget.

Please contact Nancy Pressley (559.312.8621) or Vicky Wall (559.250.7544) if you would like to attend. Reservations are requested by Thursday, Nov. 7.
FIRM's Senior Fridays

One of the community programs that the Missions and Social Justice Team is engaging in is FIRM’s Senior Fridays. This is targeted to seniors in FIRM’s programs who are primarily Hmong, Cambodian, and a mixture of other ethnic groups.

Missions and Social Justice has selected Friday, Nov. 15 , for its service. We need volunteers to engage in activities/games with the seniors and volunteers to donate items.
Items needed are:
  • Games (Bingo, etc.)
  • Food:
  • Chicken
  • Salads
  • Dinner rolls
  • Rice
  • Cookies
  • Lemonade

Please contact Elizabeth Davis-Russell (559.862.6914) or Susan Chavez (559.269.0838) to donate your service and /or food.
Journey into Advent: "While it Was Yet Dark"
Nov. 22-24
Join us for Journey into Advent, our annual deeper exploration into our faith as we enter the Advent season of our spiritual calendar.

As we witness the encroaching darkness in our social, political, and spiritual environments, we can welcome the darkest time of the calendar year (the Winter Solstice) as a time to ponder new territory, which can be discovered "While It Was Yet Dark."

This year’s featured speaker, Julia Penner-Zook , member of Community United Church of Christ and member in discernment for ordination with the UCC, will collaborate with a musician and a photographer, inviting us to encounter the darkness from an entirely different angle.

Julia, a theologian and poet, has served in ministry and social services for over 30 years. She has lived and worked in Canada, the US, and Europe. She has an M.A. in Theology and works in areas of grief and loss, and professional and personal coaching. Julia’s prophetic poetry focuses on issues of social justice and spiritual wholeness. The desert, the darkness, and the divine provide the foundation for this weekend’s focus. 

Collaborating with Julia are Jenny Regehr and Stacey Rhoades. 

Jenny is a Canadian pianist, well-known for her solo recitals, duo and chamber music performances, and Lieder collaborations. Jenny served on the faculty of the Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, where she was a senior piano instructor for 15 years. She continues to provide master classes and adjudicates competitions and festivals in Canada and overseas. 

Stacey, a licensed clinical professional counselor who has worked with active duty military members and their families in the US and overseas for the past 12 years, says she feels most at home behind her camera. In 2016 she traveled to all 50 states, photographing 36 National Parks. Her photography has gained her a significant social media following, and she has been a finalist in photography competitions.   

"While It Was Yet Dark" — a collaboration
  • 7-9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22 in the CUCC Sanctuary: we will gather for an inspiring evening of poetry, music, and photography, introducing three biblical women, each of whom experienced the Divine within profound darkness. (Drinks and snacks follow.)
  • 8 a.m.-noon Saturday, Nov. 23 in Hayden Hall and the Sanctuary: after a light breakfast, we will offer an interactive morning to consider how various mediums (music, visual, writing) can provide tools for us to encounter the Divine in the darkness or the desert of the Advent season.
  • 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 24 in the Sanctuary: worship with Julia as she continues to lead us in our Journey into Advent. Special music by Jenny Regehr; photography by Stacey Rhoades to underscore elements of worship .

*Childcare is provided on all 3 days.

Cost is $25 per person for this event. Full and partial scholarships available upon request. Or if you are able, please fund a scholarship.

To register or for more information, call Marilyn in the Church Office at 559.435.2690 .
Sunday school teachers needed for once a month

From the Faith Education Team: Do you enjoy working with children? If so, we have the perfect position for you. If you can volunteer one Sunday a month to teach our children in Sunday School, it would free up our teachers to be able to attend the church worship service. Please contact Eileen at 559.251.3357 if you would like to volunteer. Thank you.
CURRENT WORSHIP THEME: Coercion vs. Freedom

Our general worship focus for the fall will be Coercion vs. Freedom. We will be inspired by the minor prophets and the Pastoral epistles, as we struggle with the short term efficacy of coercion and threat, and the long view guided by a love ethic.

How do we mature as persons of faith and disciples of Christ? It is for freedom Christ set us free. How may we live this as fully and faithfully as possible? It captures and hopefully addresses our challenge of being an Open and Affirming congregation of welcoming each of us as we are. How to be our best self, individually and as a Body!
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.
As war in Syria escalates, UCC partners describe danger, express dismay at U.S. withdrawal

As war in Syria escalates, United Church of Christ partners are expressing concern for people and churches caught in the crossfire, and dismay at the floodgate of violence opened by a sudden U.S. military withdrawal.

"The latest invasion by Turkey to the Syrian territories (in) the northeast opened a new phase of the war in Syria," said the Rev. Joseph Kassab, general secretary of the  National Evangelical (Presbyterian) Synod of Syrian and Lebanon , in an Oct. 12  statement . The Synod is a partner of the UCC and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) through  Global Ministries .

Turkey's current advance started Oct. 9 after President Donald Trump's  abrupt Oct. 7 decision  to withdraw troops from northeast Syria, where they had been allied with a Kurdish militia. Continue reading at the website.
Happy Birthday and Anniversary to all who are celebrating this month!

October Birthdays
1 — David Contreras, Jess Garcia
3  — Adrian Ramirez, Nayele Wall
5  — Joe Mack
6  — Dena Reynolds
8  — Cristi Newport, Chad Hayden
12  — Sarah LeBeau
18  — Hayden Shea
25  — Nancy Pressley, Dru Ramirez
27  — Debra Westhaver-Church
28  — Nanete Maki-Dearsan, Boone Watkins
31  — Pat Gebs, Claire & William Knapp

October Anniversaries
2  — Ruben Fernandez & Lynn Samuelian
6  — Charlene Toews & Michael Dillahunty
8  — Annie & Jack Van Patten
26  — Kelli & Alan Chaffin
Upcoming Church Events

  • Sundays at 9 a.m. - Adult Education in the Conference Room
  • Tuesdays - Men's Book Study, Room 1, 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 20 - Fresno/Clovis CROP Hunger Walk, details at
  • Oct. 26 - Memorial Service for Margaret Fullerton, 11 a.m. at the Church. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to this church in her name.
  • Oct. 29 - Women's Book Discussion Group, Conference Room, 6 p. m.
  • Nov. 2 - Rummage Sale/Boutique, 7 a.m.- 1 p.m., watch for details
  • Nov. 2 - Saturday Morning Breakfast Group, Gary Walker will speak
  • Nov 15 - FIRM's Senior Fridays, see Elizabeth Davis-Russell
  • Nov. 22-24 - Journey into Advent, with Julia Penner-Zook, theme is "While it Was Yet Dark"

Keep up to date with our Church's online calendar!
Sunday, Oct. 20
First Congregational Church (Big Red), 2131 N. Van Ness Blvd.
1:30 pm Walker Registration, 2:30 Walk begins.

CROP Walk is a community walk event in support of local and global hunger and disaster relief. We need volunteer walkers! Sign-ups will be Sundays in the Breezeway of the church.
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 .
Phone: 559.435.2690