Spiritual Life and Growth Group

Spiritual Life and Growth Group
With Rev. Stacy L. Thomas
Pastor, UCC in Simi Valley

Would you like to explore your faith in a small group setting, allowing for a deeper relationship with others and with God?

Are you interested in exploring different ways to grow spiritually?

Would you like to pray for a longer time than is possible during Sunday Worship Gatherings?  Would you like to explore various, alternative ways of praying and connecting with the Divine?

Are you open to hearing from our Still-Speaking God through a variety of spiritual practices, including such proven methods as the Examen, lectio divina, visio divina, journaling, prayer walks, creative work, self-care and visioning?  

Then, I invite you to spend some time with me and others who are seeking depth, centering, rejuvenation, and connection for a richer, more expansive spiritual life which encourages growth, awareness, attentiveness, and nourishment.  This is time for you to take for yourself, to reflect, listen, share, and practice the Presence of God that you may integrate the spiritual into the human experience, day by day.  

We gather once a month, on the second Wednesday of each month, from 7:30 to 9:00 pm, via Zoom. 


Want to register? Or find out more? Use this form, and we’ll be happy to get back to you!

Growth Group Inquiry
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Serving Those in Need During Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused us to look at our various ministries and adapt them to the realities of the time. We have had a longstanding relationship with The Samaritan Center in Simi Valley and have been active participants in their Community Dinner program. Gathering for meals at our church property posed a health risk, but we wanted to continue to serve the community during the current public health crisis.

Every month, the $65 we would have used to provide a Community Dinner is designated for the Center along with any new donations we receive for the Community Dinner Fund that month. A volunteer offered to be a buyer for items that The Samaritan Center need and have difficulty locating.
 
Let’s reach out with our compassion and actions.

Would You Like to Help?

Please visit our https://uccsimi.org/giving/ and select “Community Dinner” as your choice under “Designated Giving.”

Simi Valley Pride!

UCC Simi Valley was extremely blessed to be active participants in the very first Simi Valley Pride Festival on June 26, 2020. We have long been a voice for upholding the dignity and value of LGBTQ+ community, and it is amazing to see equality, love and affirmation emerge in this community.

Pride Day Prayer


Dear Holy One, we are all bonded as one. We know that you see us as one. We know that you love us as one. Help society recognize that you love all. Continue to pave these roads so that those roads traveled in the future are smoother. Ever-loving one, please guide us. Your Word says that you are love and where there is love there can only be peace. We thank you for the love that you have brought us today. We thank you for the love that you will bring us tomorrow. Amen.

Know Justice Know Peace

We cannot be silent as one more black person is murdered unjustly, and the nation erupts with both anger and deep sorrow. We are called to recognize once again systemic racism, especially in law enforcement, by evoking the names of murdered George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn.; Ahmaud Arbery in Glenn County, Ga; Breionna Taylor in Louisville, Ky.; Eric Garner in New York City; and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. … We cannot remain silent. God calls all of us to speak out. As Christians, Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. God created and loves people of every color. And yet we create economic, political, and social barriers that oppress African Americans in every sector from housing and education to healthcare and criminal justice. The COVID-19 pandemic magnifies these disparities. We know that black and brown people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. This moment calls us all together to speak up, stand up and show up.“And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness” (Acts 4:29)This is our time to show our solidarity with all who live at the margins of our country because of their identities. We are called now to build a strong anti-racist commitment in our church so that we can show that Black Lives Matter in the kingdom of God. It is time to see ourselves as God sees us.  Jesus is risen and alive in each one of us. May we use that strength to be agents of change.”   

~UCC National Board, Rev. Stacy Thomas (in bold)


Resources for Standing Against Racial Injustice

We have highlighted a few resources below. For a more complete list visit resources.uccsimi.org.

NAACP- “We Are Done Dying ” Campaign


Anti-Racism Resources Document to Share with Family and Friends

This document is intended to serve as a resource to white people and parents to deepen our anti-racism work. If you haven’t engaged in anti-racism work in the past, start now. Feel free to circulate this document on social media and with your friends, family, and colleagues.


Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup

Podcast and additional resources for parents and caregivers.


26 Ways to Be in the Struggle Beyond the Streets

This list is designed to celebrate all the ways that our communities can engage in liberation. By and for those in our communities who can’t be in the streets, we offer a list of concrete ways that we are in the movement, and that we are supporting liberation every day


NY Times Magazine “1619 Project”

According to the NY Times: “The goal of The 1619 Project is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year. Doing so requires us to place the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country.”


75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice

Corinne Shutack wrote an article on the popular platform Medium, outlining steps to “work to fix what we broke and left broken isn’t done until Black folks tell us it’s done.”

A Just World for All

In 2016 the United Church of Christ spent a full year examining its purpose, vision and mission. The phrase that came out of the discussion was “a just world for all.” This simple phrase encompasses both a compassionate, Christ-like theology and worldview and is instructive on how to focus our energies as individuals and as a church body.

Purpose:
To love our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; and our neighbor as ourselves.

Vision:
United in Christ’s love, a just world for all.

Mission:
United in Spirit, inspired by God’s grace we welcome all, love all, and seek justice for all.

For more information visit: https://www.ucc.org/congregations_weekly_a_just_world_for_all

Women’s and Men’s Groups

Men’s Zooming Breakfast

Thanks to Zoom, we continue to uphold the tradition of Men’s Breakfast without leaving our homes. We eat just what we want, and at the same time we have a lively conversation about shopping and streaming, car care and Covid-19. We hope for others to join us on the next second Tuesday of the month.


Women’s Gathering “In The Midst”

10:00 am – 12:00 noon, second Saturday of the month

The theme of these gatherings is “Getting to Know You.” The women in our congregation share updates and friendship. 

For more information please contact us.

FFLUID Support Group

Family & Friends Living United In Diversity (FFLUID) is dedicated to offering “streams” of unconditional love, heartfelt support and quality resources to members of the LGBTQIA+ community, their families and friends. Our monthly support meetings give our members a safe space to discuss the unique challenges LGBTQIA+ persons face when forming friendships, seeking housing and employment, finding healthcare and navigating complicated family relationships.

During the Covid-19 Crisis

FFLUID will continue to meet virtually via Facebook Messenger.
from 7:00 until 8:30 pm on the 3rd Thursday of every month.

For information on attending the Virtual Support Group please reach out to FFLUID on Facebook or you can sign up via Eventbrite.

For more information about FFLUID please visit ffluid.org.

Book Study in the Midst

New Book Study Group 
‘Me and White Supremacy’
 by Layla Saad
 
Every Tuesday, 7PM
(except the first Tuesday of the month)


A Positive Challenge in These Challenging Times

 Rather than be disturbed or feeling helpless about all the social unrest
occurring around 
racial injustice, let’s take the opportunity
to do something about it and feel empowered.

 It’s not a new issue, we’ve been here before, but something about this time feels different. Do you agree? We are in a moment in history where we can actually be catalysts for long-lasting change when it comes to racial injustice in this country and the world. 

I’m referring to our Book Study Group on Tuesdays (except first Tuesday of the month) at 7 p.m. We will be discussing Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad. It is written for ALL people who are white or passing for white. We are all born into a system of white supremacy, not by our choosing, but it is our choice to do something about it. Her goal is to facilitate change and promote healing. Unless you’ve done the work already to be an ally, and that doesn’t include just having family or friends of color,
I want to challenge those of you who think you are
already “woke” enough that you don’t need this to join us.

As someone who has read the whole book already, and considered herself fairly “woke,” it was eye opening. Hearing that progressive white Christians are some of the most challenging to deal with for people of color was hard to hear. It made me realize that I had a ways to go to learning how to be an ally. It is also true that if you are not actively seeking to be anti-racist, you are supporting the system of white supremacy that already exists by sitting idly by and benefiting from it. She intentionally chose the term White Supremacy knowing that it would be provocative, but she did it for a good reason.

 This is “heart”work. It will be personal, individual, deep, challenging, heart breaking and heart-opening. As Layla states, it will require Truth, Love and Commitment. I know many of us are stretched thin emotionally and psychologically in these pandemic times, and it may seem like too much to ask of ourselves. I am right there with you, but I feel this work is also too important to ignore. As Layla states, it will require self-care, support and sustainability. We will need to practice self-love and compassion for each other in every session. It must remain a safe judgement-free zone where listening to ourselves and others with an open mind is a priority. 

~Carla Ritter, Group Facilitator

For more information, or to join in on this study, please Contact Us or use the short form below.


Christian Education During Coronavirus Quarantine

Christian Education is still happening here at UCC-Simi Valley.  Awesome School in the Midst is for little ones through Grade 6.  Parents are welcome to participate as well.  We are meeting via Zoom every Sunday at 1 p.m. We are happy to share the link with you; just send us a message requesting an invitation to join us for Awesome School.  You can email Rev. Stacy Thomas at RevStacy@uccsimi.org or secretary@uccsimi.org for an invitation.
We have an active youth group for grades 7 through 12.  We will provide updates to Zoom get-togethers and chats as they are scheduled. 

Every week, our Youth Minister, Daniel DuBay, will create and post a video incorporating his current lesson.  Most videos will be for all children and youth, but sometimes there will be a special video just for youth (these videos will be specially indicated).  Videos will be posted on our church’s Facebook page (facebook.com/UCCSimi) by Sunday morning.  Be sure to “like” and “follow” us so you can see what we’re up to and be alerted to updates!  In addition, we will have the videos on our YouTube channel:


Awesome School In The Midst

Youth Gathering In The Midst


rainstick
Daniel DuBay assist in Rainstick moment.

Daniel’s videos and Zoom Christian Education lessons invite engaging discussions of critical questions which aim to connect Scripture with what is happening in our communities, locally and globally, both currently and historically.  The Lessons include check-in time, prayer, Scripture readings, and discussions.  Children and youth are encouraged to share what’s on their minds and offer one another support.  In a loving, gentle, kind, hope-filled and faithful environment, children and youth learn important values and fruits of the Spirit, such as empathy, hospitality, generosity, honesty, compassion, respect, courage, creativity, humor, forgiveness, kindness, patience, peace, and love.  We are tremendously proud of our commitment to children and teens, and desire for them to build relationships with one another as well as with the entire congregation and with our community neighbors.  

Daniel also encourages any teenager with a prayer need to reach out to him.  Teens can access the Prayer Request link via The Grapevine.  We respect and value privacy, and consider it a priority.  Prayer requests will remain private unless permission is granted to share with the congregation during Worship, so that all of us may pray with and for you.    

Please contact Rev. Stacy Thomas (revstacy@uccsimi.org) for more information and to request our Zoom links.  

Get-Togethers In The Midst

UCC Simi Valley has launched a series of weekly “Get-Together” times in order to stay connected.

While we follow “shelter in place” orders from public health and government officials, there can be a tendency to feel isolated. UCC Simi Valley is committed to finding ways to stay connected during this trying time. As a result we’ve introduced weekly virtual “Get-Togethers” via Zoom video conferencing. If you would like to participate, please request the access link through the form provided at the bottom of this page.

Sunday Coffee and Fellowship Time

Coffee & Fellowship on Sunday
immediately following Worship until 12:30 p.m. via Zoom.

Friday Family Game Nights

Rev. Stacy hosts Virtual Game Nights on the second and fourth Fridays of each month.

Grab a snack, open your laptop and gather the whole family for a evening of your favorite board games adapted to Zoom video conferencing.


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