What is Awesome School?

Sundays during Church, 10 a.m.

Ages 4 to 11

UCC Simi is committed to progressive religious education and Sunday School is a chance talk about things that aren’t discussed in school while affirming teachings from home.  My hope is to have children build lifelong spiritual joy.

Rebecca Lirette

Rebecca Lirette
Teacher, ages 4-11

I love to teach. More importantly, I love having a trusting, nurturing classroom where the kids teach me.  A typical class may include anything from prayer, songs and music, games, lessons, time outside, sharing time, meditation, crafts, speaking, plays, to scriptures and bible stories.  Our classroom is a place to encourage faith (and doubt) with lessons that are heart-centered and experiential, engaging feelings and bodies and minds. It’s also a place for me to help kids discover their own superpowers and gifts.

Our theme this year is Asking for Forgiveness. Just imagine a world where everyone knew how to take responsibility for their wrong doings, to ask for forgiveness, and to build relationships?

Who knows what exciting lessons will happen?  I'll never forget my own Sunday School teacher, Mr. Johnson, giving us roses from his garden wrapped in wet paper towel and foil.  I want to create these happy memories for our kids, too.

 

Contact us for more information or to speak with me.  We’d love to have you and your kids visit!

rebecca sig

 

Affirmations Used

Awesome Blog

Find out what goes on every Sunday in Awesome School!

Plant Sale

Assorted succulents, geraniums, and houseplants available for donations ranging from $2-$5
Saturday August 26th 9 am to 2 pm and Sunday 12 pm to 2 pm.

Connect with us on Eventful!

FFLUID Forum – Julian Foley

FFLUID (Families and Friends Living United in Diversity) welcomes Julian Foley.

Julian is best known for his Ted Talks youth presentation:

Transcending the Binary: The Art of Becoming Me

Julian Foley is 19 years old and has identified as transgender since 2013. Growing up he went through phases of uncertainty and insecurity of who he was, especially in high school. Identity was a complete stranger. When he lived as female, he wasn't really living much at all. Who he was was nowhere to be seen.
When he became more educated on transgender people towards the end of his freshman year of high school at Newbury Park in 2013, a new door was opened into a life and way of thinking he never thought would ever be possible. In fact, he didn't see a life for him at all. There was no woman to grow up to be because he wasn't even a girl to begin with. Throughout that summer Julian struggled deeply with deciding whether or not he should proceed to transition or not. While he denied his realizations and disregarded his identity, he was also taunted by the thought of being someone he never could be. As his sophomore year began, he became more open to himself and the world about who he was, and soon enough, most of his peers were calling him Julian. In January 2014, he was able to start testosterone at the age of barely 16.

Today he is over 3 years on testosterone and has spoken at several events, including a Ted Talk during his junior year of high school, where he attended Century Academy, an independent study school in Thousand Oaks. In 2015, he received the Community Hero of the Year award from the Diversity Collective's annual Gala. He is now in his sophomore year of college where he is taking general education classes before he transfers somewhere to pursue art, activism, and writing. Julian has come a long way in the last 4 years but continues to change and learn everyday.
Please join us as Julian will discuss what progressing means to him and how we should all strive to progress every day. Julian will be giving a presentation on important transgender issues and topics and will be addressing common questions, concerns, and information that anyone should know in order to be a better ally to the transgender community. There will be a Q&A after the presentation, as well as spoken word throughout!

Refeshements Provided

 

Donations benefit UCC Simi Valley and FFLUID

Learn More and Register

(takes you to our Eventbrite registration page)

Liquid Time Workshop

Offered 2 Sundays, September 10 and 24, noon to 2 p.m., Fruit and Tea provided.

"I just don't have enough time!" "If only I had another day in the week."

"I'm just too busy to do what I really want to do."

Do you have a lousy relationship with time?

This hands on workshop will help us explore techniques that will create a shift to a more open, relaxed, and free approach to time!
Free Tickets, Donation Tickets available, $20 suggested donation for both days. (or Choose your own donation)

Learn More And Register

(Takes you to our Eventbrite registration page)

Dance of Diversity

Come as You are!

Be prepared to express yourself and have fun , Leave knowing you are appreciated for all that you have to offer.
All ages welcome. 
Fun Surprises

Dance the night away!!

Raffle Baskets 
Over 21 lounge –Beer and Wine (ID req’d)
Snacks/Beverages
for
Suggested donations
Suggested Donation $10*
Proceeds benefit Ffluid, Conejo Valley Interfaith , Southern Poverty Law Center , Simi Valley UCC

*If you cannot afford to donate at this time...no worries! We want you to join us anyway! Simply select the "free Ticket" option.

Learn More And Register

(Takes you to our Eventbrite registration page)

Nonviolent Communication Workshop

 

“What I want in my life is compassion, a flow between myself and others based on a mutual giving from the heart.” Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.

On Thursday, August 24th, Joan Newton will lead an introductory/interactive workshop on Dr. Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication. This process, also called Compassionate Communication, guides us in thinking and speaking that is heart-connected, resulting in enhanced self-understanding and win-win resolutions in relationships. The workshop will be from 7-9 pm at UCC Simi, 370 Royal Ave., Simi Valley, CA 93065. Free donation: $0-$20.

Joan is a lifelong teacher who has studied and trained in Nonviolent Communication (NVC) for over 10 years. Sharing NVC with others fulfills her need to contribute to improving understanding between people, leading to compassionate living and giving.

“It is a great joy to have Joan Newton as my NVC teacher. Joan is an extremely knowledgeable and talented teacher. On many occasions she has helped me dissect my feelings into the four NVC parts of observation, feeling, need and request. It is because of her teaching that I am learning to do the same with everyday feelings and learning to connect to others with compassion. I am thankful to Joan every day.” M. Mansouri, Esq., Encino

Donations go to UCC Simi Valley and the speaker.

Free tickets and Donor tickets are available for this event. They are the same ticket

 

 

Learn More And Register

(Takes you to our Eventbrite registration page)
open to all

How I Came to Call this Wonderful Church my New Home

The following is the story of one person’s experience at UCC Simi Valley.

Thank you, Jamie for sharing your story with us!


Welcome To UCC – SimiValley

Or

How I came to call this wonderful church my new home

Hi. My name is Jamie. I’m that little odd ball that just loves to hug people and maybe at times can be just a bit overly affectionate. I do try to tone it down, but if you knew my history I think you’d understand (you can always read my book if you’re interested in how I got to be that way, but really, it’s not important). Amazingly, I don’t seem to have scared anybody off, and what’s more amazing is that I’ve been getting a whole lot of hugs back. Do you have a few minutes? There’s something I’d like to share.

 Having been raised Catholic and also having spent much of my adult life searching for answers to this great miracle, this mystery we call life, my education left me with more questions than explanations. What’s more, not only my Catholic upbringing but every Christian group I’d gotten involved with convinced me that I was pretty much doomed to an eternity of torment beyond my imagination, and I can imagine some pretty bad stuff. Damnation seemed to be the only afterlife that someone like me could look forward to. Not what I considered a very bright future. You see, not only was my questioning of this faith bad enough, but my most sincere sense of who I am was sure to be a one-way ticket to that awful place even though this is the way I was created. Oh dear, I just can’t believe that a loving god could be so cruel. A god that had had an eternity to figure things out expected me with my limited abilities to spend maybe 80 years searching for answers then put all of my chips on a single number on some cosmic roulette wheel, bet the farm on my answer and hope for the best. The picture of an evil Santa Clause that watched you go to the bathroom was the image that I had in my mind. There just had to be more to the story, more to this life and afterlife than I’d been told.

 So I searched and studied and at some point discovered the Buddhist philosophy which actually blended well with my basic Christian faith. Now I just needed to find others to worship with and grow spiritually while also having teachers to guide my intellectual understanding. Both are important.

I was discovering many churches that claimed all are loved, all are welcome. Typically the ministers and others in the group were very happy to see my enthusiasm and encouraged me to attend things like Bible study which I was all too happy to do. Unfortunately when I started asking questions they would quickly become annoyed. I said things like maybe Judas wasn’t really such a bad guy, he was after all very good pals with the one they called rabbi or savior. Since it was known even before Judas was born what he would do and since he was the rabbi’s best friend, maybe – just maybe, Judas was in on a secret, the secret was a

clandestine plan to get this rabbi arrested and fulfill prophesy. Judas had no idea of the full consequences but being a loyal friend went along with it. You know the rest of that story. I also questioned things like when Jesus went alone into the dessert, the story is that he was tempted by the devil. My issue was that if Jesus was alone and didn’t really share these experiences, who was there to tell the story? There were these and many more questions I had, and that wasn’t even getting to the big stuff yet. I would see stones being put on a pile near my car or maybe WD-40 being sprayed on what looked like thumb screws and decided it was best not to return.

On I went searching for answers to questions nobody seemed to have the answers to. I would hear or read terrible stories of gays, lesbians, or transgenders being ostracized and/or humiliated never to be allowed to say that this is the flower I was meant to be and perhaps there was a wonderful creator that just loved all of the infinite number of permutations and combinations being manifested – like a great artist painting a beautiful universe or maybe a composer inventing new notes to be played in the most exquisite symphony of life. No, this heresy would not be tolerated in their church – no way was that going to happen.

Then I heard about a church that supposedly really was open to everyone. We’ll see about that! I had some time on a Sunday morning so I decided to check this place out, UCC – Simi Valley was the name. Sounds pretty conservative to me, but what the heck, I’ll give them a chance.

I walked in and was warmly greeted and given a folder with information and a pot holder, pretty nice. I’d recognized this guy that was greeting people from the FFLUID meeting I’d attended, hmm. He remembered me too and seemed genuinely happy that I stopped in. Could there really be some truth to the line that everyone was welcome? All of the folks I was meeting did seem very friendly and all, but I’d been fooled before. I might be some small town kid from the Midwest and I may be some dumb but I’m not plumb dumb, they’ll have to do much better than that to convince me.

Okay, sitting down in the back row near the door just in case this was some kind of a trap, I relaxed a little as the service began. A well-dressed gentleman stood up in front of the congregation, he appeared rather conservative and could easily fit the part of a preacher. He seemed to have a kind way about himself and started the service saying, “Whoever you are, wherever you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here.” I was becoming rather moved but quickly caught myself, I’d heard lines like this before and it’ll take more than talk to convince me, past experience had taught me to be skeptical, still one should always keep an open mind. Everyone seemed genuinely nice and I’d heard someone say something about cookies and coffee after the service. I wonder if they’ll have chocolate chip, ooooo, I love cookies.

Okay, I got through the service and really enjoyed it. In fact, that guy that I’d met at the FFLUID meeting was some kind of somebody that preached here. He was quite funny and very intelligent. My gosh, during his sermon (or whatever it’s called) he told a story about an experience he’d had as a gay man and explained how it related to faith. Not a rotten tomato was hurled at him. He wasn’t escorted out of the church. Maybe there is something about this place being open – but they hadn’t met the whole me yet.

I liked the service and stuck around, bribe me with a cookie and I’m helpless to resist. Oh and there were chocolate brownies! Well this is looking pretty good so far. I decided to get to know a few folks a little better. Now it’s time to see what this place is really about.

I started with the main guy that did most of the service, the guy that looked like he could be a preacher. “So you accept anybody, huh? Well I have a rather quirky view of Christianity, it’s kind of my own brand. I call it Zen – Christianity.” Without batting an eye he replied, “Yes, I have some rather quirky views too. Here at our church we use the Bible for guidance, not as hard fact.” I think my lips were moving but no words were coming out. That was too easy, time for the big guns.

There were a man and woman speaking to a few other people, I think the woman was the one playing the piano at the service, it was rather nice to hear something other than the standard revival rock bands I’d heard at other churches, this was actually rather soothing and I guess you’d say contemplative and I liked it. I walked up to the little group and started talking, they asked my name. I told them my preferred name is Jamie and that was what I like to be called. That’s easy enough, it is a rather androgynous name after all, but I had to find out if I could really be myself, gay is one thing but… here goes. After a bit more conversation I announced that I’m transgender and had just recently started hormone replacement therapy, actually for the second time now. I went on to explain that when I left Wisconsin I was living in my preferred gender as female. There wasn’t even an uncomfortable moment of silence. Someone asked, “Oh maybe you know some of our other members…” What? I’m not the first? This can’t be happening, maybe they didn’t hear me correctly. After a brief pause and allowing the conversation to move on a bit, I tried again, “yes, I’m male to female transgender. I’ve only been back on hormones for a couple of weeks now, but give it time. It’s a rather slow process.” Okay now there was no doubt they heard it. I wondered what the reaction would be. Here it comes, “Do you like gardening? If you decide to come back maybe you’d like to help in the garden.” I was taken aback! No big surprise or uncomfortable silence. No comments like, “That’s fine but keep it too yourself. Don’t start coming here wearing makeup and blah blah blah.”

The conversation went on from there. I was really getting to like this place. Not a single demand that I be baptized. No groups forming to pray for my blackened soul. Could it really be that I’d found a place of worship that actually does want to join together to experience the spirit in higher realms? Well you know I had to be certain, this could after all be some sort of once a year thing they do to lure in unsuspecting folks like me then in one Ninja-like move throw the net of so-called salvation over me and demand I repent. I would have to come back to find out. But I really think I’m going to like this place.

Well I had to be just a little tongue in cheek at times to keep things moving, I also had to ad lib a bit and take some liberties with the facts but it is all based on a very true story which is my experience here at UCC – Simi Valley. A story still unfolding since I did come back and have kept on coming back because of the wonderful people I’m meeting along with enjoying new friendships and activities. I never thought I’d find a church with folks like you all, or I really should say, all of us. I know I do tend to ramble on at times but I really can’t get over what a wonderful experience this is even as I have settled into to a regular routine of worship and socializing. Well I look forward to many good times ahead. Hugs and blessing to all.

-Jamie

giving-from-the-heart

What is a Refugee?

Refugee

What is a refugee?

We took our own short trek during Awesome School to find out.

What happens to refugee children? Can we help?

giving-from-the-heart

Mary Anoints Jesus

Mary Anoints Jesus

I knew I hit a home run after my lesson. We usually bring bible stories alive with dramatizations so I wore to black pillowcases to make my hair long enough to wipe Jesus’ feet. I also used a big jar of scented cotton balls for “oil”. The children took turns as the people from the story, Jesus, Mary, and the crowd around the table. Soon we were off to a craft activity when one of the younger kids asked, “Can we play Jesus again?” It brought back memories of the FUN of playing store, or restaurant, or family. Now I won’t be able to put on a mini-play from the bible without thinking that we’re “playing Jesus.”

rebecca sig