Worship Guide 2-23-2020

Our celebration and recognition of Black History Month continues on Sunday with a jubilee of song in the life and history of African-Americans. We will be singing a variety of spirituals, especially those which come from the time of slavery and the antebellum South. Anyone who wishes to join the singing and piano-playing with drums, tambourines, and/or guitars is welcome to do so!  

For our Scripture reading this week, we will sing four spirituals (“When Israel Was in Egypt’s Land” [“Go Down Moses”]), “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning,” “It’s the Old Ship of Zion,” and “Wade in the Water”), and in my message, I will be sharing some of the ways in which these songs were used as communication devices, particularly in the escape to freedom and the usage of the Underground Railroad.  The songs are thoughtful, clever, faith-based, and God-focused.  

As Black History Month comes to an end, I hope you are filled with inspiration, wisdom, knowledge, and a new appreciation and reverence for the religious world, the strong sense of identity, the theology of liberation, the protest tradition, the struggles of racial and economic oppression, the joy and spontaneity in worship, and the connection to the biblical narratives and peoples expressed through the Black faith experience.  Come ready to worship and praise God for the beauty of the earth and the diversity and variety in all of God’s amazing creations!  Come to learn, to grow, and to honor those whose lives and history are woven into the wounded history of the United States.  May God send us healing power, strength, and courage to continue the fight to end racism and bring reconciliation with one another and with God.

Looking forward to gathering in worship with you on Sunday ,

~Rev. Stacy

Order of Worship

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Worship Guide 2-16-2020

In celebration of African American History Month, we will be learning about at least two – possibly even three! – amazing, strong, intelligent women and how their faith encouraged and sustained them in their lives and journeys.  We will discover their paths of exploring and experiencing God, and how they answered God’s call on their lives, even in the midst of dangerous, frightening, demanding circumstances. How did their lives change, and how did they bring about change in other’s lives?  What can we learn from them?  I’m looking forward to learning and sharing with you on Sunday!


Worship Guide

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Worship Guide 2-9-2020

The Scripture reading for Sunday continues the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel According to Matthew 5:13-20. Our focus is on two of the most well-known verses, “You are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world.” To us they are familiar, for they have been taken out of context and misapplied, becoming the foundational text for the fledgling United States, promoting the idea of our country as “the city on a hill” and forging the way for Manifest Destiny. These verses have become standard in American politics – former President Ronald Reagan often referred to them in his speeches. But, whereas the American government promotes the idea of the Empire of America with this Scripture – at least, the first part of it – Jesus uses it to speak to those to whom he refers in the preceding verses of the Beatitudes, which we discussed last week. Jesus tells the “rag-tag hordes of hungry people” (Pulpit Fiction Podcast, Episode 364 for February 9, 2020, Epiphany 5A) that they are special, important, valuable, just as salt and light are! They are not useless; rather, they are blessed! How does it feel to be told that you are as valuable as salt, as necessary as light? Is there such a thing as too much salt, or too much light? I invite you to consider these questions in preparation for Sunday’s message, which will tie in with the Clergy Letter Project’s Evolution Sunday, “designed to demonstrate that religion and science can be compatible and to elevate the quality of the debate of this issue” (http://www.theclergyletterproject.org/rel_evol_sun.htm).

Order of Worship

The Order of Worship is available below. It may take a moment to load (these are large files). You may download the file by using the button at the bottom (may need to use your Google Chrome browser).

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February Dinner Site Schedule

The Simi Valley Community has come together in order to provide meals, seven nights a week, to those who need them. UCC Simi Valley is honored to participate in this valuable program. The schedule we receive monthly also include “PADS” shelters. These are places where people who need a place to sleep can go for the night throughout the colder months.

If you know someone who could use this information, please pass along the copy of the dinner sites provided below.

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Meet Rev. Stacy Thomas

Rev. Stacy Thomas
Rev. Stacy Thomas will be installed as Pastor Feb. 23.

The Rev. Stacy L. Thomas will be installed as the settled minister at the United Church of Christ in Simi Valley, 370 Royal Ave., on Sunday, Feb. 23, at 4:00 p.m. This service represents the mutual commitment between Rev. Thomas and the congregation as she accepts the call to serve the church and community.


Rev. Thomas graduated from Claremont School of Theology in May 2011 with a Master of Divinity, and has worked primarily in hospice as a Spiritual Care Counselor, Bereavement Counselor, and Volunteer Coordinator.
In Rev. Thomas’s own words, “I love God and am passionate about helping others navigate their own personal spiritual journeys, both individually and communally. I am excited about what God will do, and where God will lead us! I love the United Church of Christ, and wholeheartedly believe in our messages: “God is still speaking,” and “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, You Are Welcome Here!” At UCC in Simi Valley, we strive to live out the teachings of Jesus through loving and serving our neighbors and our commitment to peace and social justice.


“I have been married to the love of my life since 2006, and became a step-mom to her amazing son. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working in hospice for 10 years. We support one another wholeheartedly in all of our endeavors. Our family is excited about relocating to the Simi Valley area very soon, and meeting our new neighbors and making new friends here!”

To learn more about the Installation service see this post.

The Installation of Rev. Stacy

Rev Stacy and Family
Rev. Stacy Thomas and Family

The Northern Association of the Southern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ, and the United Church of Christ in Simi Valley, invite you to celebrate the Installation of the Rev. Stacy L. Thomas as Pastor.

Sunday, February 23, 2020, at 4:00 p.m.

Simi Valley United Church of Christ.
370 Royal Avenue, Simi, California


Clergy are invited to dress or robe, according to their tradition, and arrive by 3:30 pm to process.  

The liturgical color is red.

Reception to follow after the service.

Please RSVP by February 9th, including any dietary restrictions, by calling (805)526-6001 or contact us here.


Installation Program

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Weekly Worship Bulletin 11-17-2019

Sing to God a new song!  Sing praises to God with the harp and the trumpet!  Sing to God with the drum and the guitar! Sing to God with melodious song!  

Let’s rejoice and express our gratitude for our ministry of music – during our Worship Gatherings and during concerts, dinner dances, and other events, celebrating this wonderful gift God has given.

There Rings a Melody is our theme for this Sunday’s Worship Gathering, as we connect with one another after another week, and seek to praise and worship God who is ever present in our midst.  The Scripture for Sunday is Psalm 98, a short psalm focusing on praising God with the music that we offer as well as the music that nature offers. This psalm is actually the inspiration for Isaac Watts’ beloved Christmas carol, Joy to the World!  It’s a rousing call to the human congregation and the natural world, all the earth, to sing, to praise, to rejoice, and make a joyful noise together.  

This week, our Opening Hymn is “Enter, Rejoice, and Come In,” from the New Century Hymnal (#73).  Our Closing Hymn is “To God Compose a Song of Joy,” also from the New Century Hymnal (#36). Our Choir, directed by John  Paton, will sing their Anthem, “Many Gifts, One Spirit.”  

Following Worship, we will have a Congregational Conversation about our Music Ministry.  We’ll discuss what we love, what we want, what changes we’d like to consider, and how we can renew, refresh, and revitalize our church music program.  Come ready to share with your ideas, suggestions, and questions! I’m looking forward to a rousing and robust discussion!

 ~Rev. Stacy L. Thomas


Sunday’s Order of Worship

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Remembering Borderline

The chill in the morning November air would remind most everyone of the onset of autumn and the busy holiday season. In Ventura and LA Counties, however, there are more painful memories. Last year, days before the annual California wildfires would cut their path of destruction in Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, there was an act of unspeakable terror that took place at the Borderline and Grill. On November 7, 2018, twelve lives were lost, including the life of first responder Sgt. Ron Helus, during a violent mass shooting attack.

There was a hush over the congregation the following Sunday. Everyone had trouble focusing, thinking…even speaking. The thoughts we had and words we tried to speak didn’t even come close to articulating our trauma, our feelings of anger and our grief for those who lost loved ones. Within shouting distance of Thanksgiving, it seemed as if everyone knew someone who had lost someone or something.

No word or gesture could erase the evil of the attack or the pain of the fires, but in the wake of such tragedy arose an act of friendship, love and support. Our dear sisters and brothers at First Congregational Church in Santa Barbara took on a labor of love in order to show us that they stood with us in our hour of need. On Sunday, December 18, two representatives brought us a “tree” made of 1000 expertly folded peace cranes and a carefully crocheted prayer shawl.


It’s true, this single act didn’t fix everything…or even anything. But it allowed a seed of peace to be planted in a time of unimaginable pain. It’s a reminder for us, one year after experiencing such tragedy, that there are acts of loving kindness that can be as small as folding a tiny crane that can grow and multiply into an acts of peace. It’s not everything, but it’s something in a world that needs some seeds of peace right now.


The letter accompanying the cranes and prayer shawl follows in its entirety:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ of Simi Valley United Church of Christ,
“Peace I leave with you, my friends.
Shalom, my peace in all you do.
Peace I leave with you, my friends. I give to you so you can give to others too.”
Every Sunday morning we leave our worship singing these words directly to each other. Today we offer them to you.
We were heartbroken to hear about the act of violence that occurred at the Borderline in Thousand Oaks on November 8. We want you to know that our church is holding you in our hearts. We pray that God’s comfort will surround you and that you may find hope in this dark time. Since we heard about this tragedy, our church has been diligently putting together a flock of 1,000 peace cranes to hopefully bless and help you heal during this time.
As a community that has gone through its own journey of pain and sorrow after the shooting in Isla Vista near UCSB in May 2014, we stand with you in this difficult time. We know that God’s peace “that surpasses understanding” is within our reach as we hold each other close and lift each other high.
We send you this flock as a sign and testament to our hope for peace in our world and believe that violence does not have the last word. These cranes were folded by our church family over the past few weeks and carry on a legacy that started some years ago. After the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, a flock of cranes from Pilgrim Christian Church, UCC, in Chardon, Ohio, arrived at the Newtown Congregational Church. The Chardon community had been through its own tragedy, and during those dark days received cranes from Saron UCC in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Newtown sent the flock off to Old South Church in Boston after the 2013 marathon bombing and then folded a new flock of 1,000 cranes that were sent to Santa Barbara after the Isla Vista shootings.

We have blessed this flock in worship and now send it to you. We pray these cranes will nest with you as long as needed, but also trust that you will let them fly away when another congregation or community faces an act of gun violence. As we send our flock to you, we continue our ministry of folding peace cranes. Together we hope that one day these cranes will no longer have to migrate for the cause of peace. Finally, “may the peace of that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge of God.” May God protect you, watch over you, and sustain you on your journey toward healing. May you be the face of HOPE to your community, sustained by the Advent promises of HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE.


Holding you close and lifting you high!
Rev. Greg Davis, Acting Pastor On Behalf of Members and Friends of First Congregational Church, UCC, Santa Barbara

A Very Special Turtle

a very special turtle

from Ellen H. and Joyce S.
 Edith Miller was a member of our congregation until she died.   She had a second bout with cancer and did not make it through that one.   When she was unable to drive anymore, Ellen asked her what could she do to lessen her suffering in any way. Edith said that going to church and being among her church family was what she longed for and that doing that gave her a sense of peace.   She was the self- appointed social director of the congregation at that time.   She even planned her memorial service and made provisions for a champagne celebration.

She had a large collection of turtle figurines and anything else turtle which she treasured.  She felt a deep connection to turtles.   After she passed, she requested that her ashes be scattered at church.   We held an ashes scattering ceremony at which tine her family came down from northern California to attend.   They brought the turtle.  She also loved the color purple so a collection was made to buy and plant a Jacaranda tree.  Unfortunately, the tree died.

The plaque that goes with the turtle says,

      “And the turtles, of course
       all the turtles are free
       as turtles and, maybe
       all creatures should be.”

Turtles are highly respected by Native American and even play a part in some of their creation stories.  Having the turtle in the sanctuary not only honors the memory of Edith Miller but also reminds us of our deep connection to the Earth Mother as well, much as using the rain stick in our services does.