Community UCC eNews
September 12, 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, Sept. 15, Pastor Ara will deliver a sermon titled " The Chief Offender ."

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.
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Editor's Note: We are making some design changes to eNews, streamlining it and going with a more unified color palette to give it a more cohesive look. Changes will be coming to our website in the weeks ahead as well. Take a look and let me or the church office know what you think of the changes. ~ Lisa Boyles
Doug Hoagland, a longtime Fresno Bee reporter, interviews members of our congregation so we can get to know each other better. New profiles run every month or so.

Lee and Virginia Virag , have attended Community UCC sin ce 1966; Virginia joined in December 2013

Tell us about yourselves:
Virginia: We were both born in San Francisco and raised there. After high school, I worked as a dental nurse – it’s similar to a hygienist today. I was a stay-at-home mom when our children were growing up. We have three children, Joyce, John and Wayne; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Lee: I went into the Army in 1945 after high school, and I served in the occupational force in Japan in 1946 and 1947. After the Army, I graduated in agricultural economics from the University of Nevada in Reno. We came to Fresno in 1966 when I was assigned to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Inspection Service for Processed Fruits and Vegetables.

How did you two meet?
Lee: We went to the same Sunday school in San Francisco, but we didn’t know each other. I’m three years older.

Virginia: In high school, my best friend was Lee’s sister. When she got married, I was her bridesmaid, and Lee was in the wedding party, too. We eventually started dating and were married in 1954. We lived in Sacramento and Fremont before coming to Fresno.

Virginia, tell us about your business:
Other than my family, that was the highlight of my life. I started Fresno Care Home Finding Service in 1985 and did it for 30 years. I helped place the elderly in assisted living facilities, board and care homes, nursing homes and other arrangements. It was something God sent me. I didn’t do it for the money but because I loved helping people.

What brought you to Community UCC?
Virginia: We bought a h ouse near what was then College Community Congregational Church. In the beginning, I was very lonely so I went to the church, and Henry Hayden (pastor at the time) welcomed me and made me feel so good. I became very active in the women’s fellowship.

Lee: Our children liked attending Sunday school, and the church had a bunch of nice people. It was the way it was supposed to be.

What church activities have you been involved with?
Lee: I spent a lot of time cleaning two big, old stoves in the kitchen. (Laughter). They’ve since been replaced. We also had a dishwasher that didn’t work so we had to do all the dishes in a deep sink. 

Virginia: And he painted the church. I did, too. We all painted the outside one year. We’ve both helped keep up the grounds and served at Poverello House. I’m also on the Extravagant Welcome Team, and I’ve done lay care (visiting people at home) for many years.

What do you find special or different about Community UCC?
Virginia: We like that it’s open and everybody’s welcome. We also like that members make the decisions in Congregational churches.

What’s your vision for the church?
Virginia: My biggest wish is that it would grow. We also want the church to continue helping the community. We try so hard to do that now. 

Is there anything about you two that might surprise people?
Virginia: My maternal grandfather came to the United States from Germany when he was 16. He worked at first in New York City and then went by ship to San Francisco. Both of our grandparents were in the 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco. After the earthquake, my grandfather set up a little stand on Market Street and sold frankfurters for five cents. 

In 1910, my grandfather moved his family of five children to a house he built on the beach in San Francisco. He later bought a bigger house but lost it during Prohibition. He was a bartender and a real character.

Lee: My paternal grandfather came to the United States from Hungary. In Hungarian, virag means flower. In New York, my grandfather worked sanding table tops. When he came to San Francisco, he got a job making models for the molds used to make big water wheels in hydroelectric projects. One of my father’s jobs as a boy w as lighting the street lamps in San Francisco. My father taught his parents to speak English. They were very much Americans – they loved this country.

Any other surprises?
Virginia: We have a pet desert tortoise, Freddie, named after the friend who gave him to us 62 years ago. Freddie was about 13 when he came to us. During the winter, he hibernates in a box in our garage.
Virginia, tell us about your connection to the Golden Gate Bridge:
The bridge opened in 1937, and my mother, aunt, sister and I went to the opening ceremony and walked across the Golden Gate. I was 7, and I remember what I wore. In 2012, my sister and I were invited to the 75th anniversary celebration of the bridge. Lee and my brother-in-law went, too. We were so excited, and my sister and I walked part of the way across the bridge that day. We were on TV in San Francisco, and The Bee wrote a front page article about me (pictured above).

Mission Moment

Monique Jackson from Every Neighborhood Partnership spoke during Sunday's Mission Moment:

"Thank you for allowing me to share with you an opportunity to serve your community, and the local elementary school right behind your church.

"With only 38% of students in Fresno County reading proficiently by the end of third grade, we have a huge literacy gap to close, and you can help. 

"Every Neighborhood Partnership has developed a Literacy Mentoring program that only requires 1 hour a week (invest 1 hour and watch it multiply!!!). You will be trained and equipped to work one-on-one with kindergartners, first-graders or second graders. You will build relationships and see students' progress through the year.

"Our students and teachers in Fresno Unified School District need your support. If you have a heart to love, eyes to read, and a voice to speak truth, and life into a child's life, then join our Robinson Elementary School Literacy Team."

Contact Monique to learn more ( ).
WORSHIP THEME: Coercion vs. Freedom

We have been considering Acts of Community throughout the summer, inspired by the Acts of the Apostles. An open and welcoming community was established with a big bang, an outpouring of Spirit, and it took years to work itself into the daily life of the community of faith.

The work continues in our time and place, meeting resistance for within and without. The general 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!
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.
Join us for the CUCC Oktoberfest Fall Fundraiser!
Beer, brats, live music and more beer!

Saturday, Oct. 12

5-8:30 p.m.; Community United Church of Christ
5550 N. Fresno Street, Fresno, CA            
Call 435-2690 for tickets or buy at the door

Fun for the entire family!
Carnival games for kids: bounce house, face painting, corn hole and more! $5 for unlimited access to games!

Raffle tables filled with lots of great prizes for sale!

SPECIAL:   16 oz. glass beer stein etched with CUCC logo : $20
Dinner at 6 p.m. with dancing after to the terrific CUCC Band!

Dinner tickets:
Presale price by Oct. 6: $20 Adults; $7 Kids 12 & younger
After Oct. 6: $25 Adults; $10 Kids 12 & younger

A portion of the proceeds go to the Syrian Refugee Project

Coming Soon -- The Oktoberfest Raffle

In addition to the wonderful food, beer, music and fellowship, there will be a raffle at the Oktoberfest set for Saturday, Oct. 12. The raffle will be available in Hayden Hall Sunday, Oct. 6, as well as at the Oktoberfest. This will give everyone an expanded opportunity to purchase tickets, with the possibility of winning amazing items,
whether or not you are able to attend the actual event! The drawings will take place on Oct. 12.
We are asking for donations of raffle items - we plan to offer items for $1, $5 or $10 tickets, depending on the items. We have a few things that were donated prior to our last event and need lots more.

Many of you are very talented crafters, artists, woodworkers, cooks, etc. We would love to have homemade raffle items which can include food items to be prepared on request at a later date, preserved foods, wine, crocheted or knitted items, artwork, household items that are in new or good condition, gift cards, and get the idea!

Your talents and generosity are sincerely welcomed and appreciated! We need the items no later than Wednesday, Oct. 2. You can deliver them to the church office any time up until that time. Please contact Nancy Pressley at 559.312.8621 with any questions.
Saturday Morning Breakfast Group
Saturday, Oct. 5 , Conference Room
Breakfast at 8:45 a.m., talk begins at 9 a.m.

Helmut Kloos will discuss his work in Ethiopia from 1972 to 2019, trying to make a difference. He was an associate professor in geography, with specialization in medical geography, at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia from 1983-1991. Since 1972 Helmut has been a research associate in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics with UC San Francisco Medical Center. Between the 1970s and 1990s, he served as a consultant to the ministries of health in Ethiopia, Kenya, Egypt and Brazil. Helmut will bring breakfast for his talk.
FOR SALE: John Deere riding lawnmower model LT 180

Community UCC is selling its John Deere riding lawnmower, model LT 180 for $200. The engine turns over, but the mower needs servicing. Contact Marilyn in the church office at 559.435.2690 to schedule an appointment to see the mower.
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.
Pajamas outside D.C. area church bring attention to plight of migrant children

A United Church of Christ congregation in Arlington, Va., is provoking thought with a visible call to action exhibited on the church lawn. Hundreds of children's pajamas are hanging on clothes lines above photos of migrant children who died in the custody of the U.S. immigration system.

The display, "All God's Children," underscores the plight of migrant children separated from their parents at the border by problematic government policies.

"The pajamas represent the way that we believe unaccompanied minors should be with families in communities, not in detention," said the Rev. Laura Martin, associate pastor of Rock Spring Congregational Church. "They represent the way that private operators are profiting from children being detained. They represent the increased criminalization of migrants and refugees, the families separated in ICE raids at workplaces." Continue reading at the website.
Congratulations to Rossi Rocha , the new elected president of the student body of Robinson Elementary School! Prayers for leadership with integrity, passion and compassion.
Happy Birthday and Anniversary to all who are celebrating this month!

September Birthdays
7 -- Gretchen Choate
10 -- Jaidyn Ramirez, Serenity Shea
11 -- Mike R Smith
12 -- Ann Scott
14 -- Elizabeth Davis-Russell, Gary Walker, Keithie Earl
16 -- Rachel Van Patten
17 -- Sommer Earl
21 -- Janet Capella
25 -- Philip Dutton 
26 -- Phil Fullerton
27 -- Spencer Parks, Selena Wall

September Anniversaries
1 -- Jacque & Bob Garcia
4 -- Tim & Laurie Tidyman-Jones, Seth & Michelle Tilley
9 -- Bryan Clark & Brian Isbell

Work Anniversary
7 -- Marilyn Wall 26 years!
Upcoming Church Events

  • Sundays at 9 a.m. - Adult Education in the Conference Room
  • Tuesdays - Women's Book Club Discussion began "The Universal Christ" by Richard Rohr
  • Oct. 5 - Saturday Morning Breakfast Group, Helmut Kloos will speak and bring breakfast
  • Oct. 12 - Oktoberfest fall fundraiser, fun for the entire family! (See article above)
  • 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.
  • 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 calend ar !
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