Jim's Blog June 2017

One thing we probably don't talk about enough at Orinda Community Church is what it means to be part of a larger body: that of the United Church of Christ. Our denomination is one of the denominations at the forefront of Progressive/Liberal Christianity, and seeks to be a leader in the ways of faith, love, justice, and mercy. In fact, our denomination was the first to ordain an African-American pastor, a woman, an openly gay person, and the first to affirm same gender marriage equality.

Just recently, the United Church of Christ leadership has been meeting, refining input from members of the denomination, in hopes of clarifying the U.C.C.'s purpose and mission.

The new UCC Purpose Statement comes from the Gospel of Matthew: To love God with all our heart, mind, soul,
and strength and our neighbor as ourselves, and the Mission Statement reads: United in Spirit and inspired by God's grace, we welcome all, love all, and seek justice for all.

And the vision of the U.C.C. is: United in Christ's love, a just world for all.

Rev. John Dorhauer, UCC general minister and president, said:

"We all bear responsibility for living out our shared mission. We will not achieve our full potential - nor maintain our full capacity for health, vitality, and relevance - without a clear sense of missional purpose and calling. This effort to identify that was a critical step in the direction of our future health and vitality - but it will only matter if we can all find common cause in this and commit fully, with passion, and without reserve to its undertaking." He also added that we must remember,
"That love in action envisions a just world for all."

We at Orinda Community Church share in the purpose, mission, and vision of the United Church of Christ. We are called to be a church of welcome and love; and to work
for a just world for all. Church staff and ministry leaders
will keep trying to lead us into ways to do this, but we also need your ideas and energy. So if you have dreams for
how we might do a better job of being the church, please reach out to me, or a member of church leadership. We want to empower you, and work with you, as we seek to be the church God calls us to be.

Excited to be the church with you,


Jim's Reflection September 2017
When reflecting on the last month - or when looking ahead - where should a person of faith start when writing a newsletter? Justice issues, political unrest, misuse of political power, environmental issues, misguided clergy and religious leaders, and sadly so much more. Reversal of DACA, white supremacy, Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, North Korea, Joe Arpaio, and the
Nashville Statement are just a few of the recent news items. So how are we, as Christians and as a church, to respond?

We start by showing up. On Sunday mornings, where we can be community, supporting one another, encouraging each other, and listening to what God might be calling us to. Or throughout our week, where we are the hands and feet of our God, caring for those close to us, and those
around our world.

We work to be models and voices of God's love, mercy, and justice. When a group of religious leaders write a statement that condemns those who are homosexual or transgendered, we are people and a church that models inclusion. When political leaders speak of deportation, we work to accompany and support. When a warming climate leads to destruction, we respond with generosity
and concern, and we work to care for our environment. One way we do this is through our Justice and Mercy Ministry. Over the next couple months, we will be introducing the different agencies we have chosen to work with this year, and determining as a church how much we should distribute to which agencies. [The agencies are IM4Human Integrity, Friendly Manor, Stand, Shelter Inc., Water 1st International, Common Hope, BAYC Youth, and Habitat for Humanity] Our Endowment
Board has elected to tithe a portion of our spendable income to Justice and Mercy programs, so we have a total of $7,500 to distribute in 2017.

Just this week, on behalf of the church, Justice and Mercy has put $1,000 of our money toward Hurricane Harvey has put $1,000 of our money toward Hurricane Harvey Relief - $500 to the Houston Food Bank, and $500 to UCC Disaster Relief. And we as a congregation
contributed another $850 to the UCC through personal donations.

Looking ahead
I am excited about the many things that are ahead of us as a church this year. Our fall is packed with fun events, meaningful programs, and new initiatives. And part of this will be monthly opportunities to live out our faith through service activities, sponsored by Justice & Mercy and Children & Youth.

Be sure to save time after church on Sundays, as we have a great assortment of programs for our 2nd Hour Forums - What is the UCC?, Sports and Religion, Conversation with our Muslim Neighbors (Oct. 15) - not to mention a Guatemala Luncheon and our Annual Auction (Nov.5).

The Neighbor points to the many other events that are starting back up this September, and there are even more on the horizon.

And lastly, this fall will offer our chance to discuss what is next for us as a congregation.
I look forward to the year that is ahead of us, and the chance to be the church with you.