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.

Wednesday

Wednesday evenings, from 7 :00 to 8:00 PM, grab a beer, glass of wine, or cup of coffee, and join Eileen Kelly for some socializing, and casual conversation.

Friday

Pastor Stacy is hosting Get-Togethers in the Midst on Friday evenings from 7:00 – 8:00 PM.  Bring your favorite beverage and settle on the sofa for connection and conversation.  No agenda, no schedule.


Request Access

Prayer Shawl Ministry

Do you enjoy knitting or crocheting? Would you like to use your skills to create prayer shawls to bring peace, comfort, and warmth to sustain those in our community who need a mantle of safe haven in times of challenge? During this time of lock-down and isolation, your talents are especially desired. Completed shawls will be blessed by our faith community during Worship Gatherings and taken by one of our Deacons to anyone who requests them.

If you are interested in serving the community in this way please contact us here.

Worship Guide 9/20/2020



Worship Gathering in the Midst
Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost (September 20, 2020)
Scripture Reading:  Exodus 15:22-25, 27; 16:1-15

Sunday’s sermon reflection could be titled, “The One With the Complaining Israelites.”
  And they have a lot to complain about!  They’re dying of thirst, they’re dying of hunger, they’re exhausted from traveling in the desert, they’re filled with uncertainties, doubts, and fears, and they’re not too keen on their leaders.

Sound familiar?  Any time two or more are gathered together, there is bound to be some complaining.  Differences of opinion.  Expressions of doubts. 
“I don’t know if this is right.” “I don’t know where we’re going!” “Are we going in the right direction?”  “This isn’t what I bargained for.”  “This is not what I was expecting!” 
“Why are we going there?”  “Why are you doing that?”  

But, what if we changed it around?  “I’m going to trust that this is the right thing to do.” 
“I’m going to trust that the path will reveal itself, and that this journey we’re on together is what matters right now.”  “I’m going to trust that this is the right direction.” 
“This is the Way.  Walk in it.”  “This may not be what I was envisioning or expecting, but I’m going to embrace it and go with the flow!” 
It’s a difficult thing to do, to trust.  Yet, God provided for the Israelites, even in the midst of their griping and grumbling.  

On Sunday, we’ll be exploring with the Israelites what it means to exercise trust as a community.  I look forward to seeing you in our Worship Gathering!

~ With Peace, Grace, and Love in the Time of Coronavirus,
   Rev. Stacy

Worship Gathering In The Midst Access information

Join us at 9:30 AM for Coffee and Conversation.

Worship begins at 10:00 AM.

Here is the Zoom Information:

 Topic: Sunday Morning Worship Gathering in the Midst

Time: Sundays 9:30 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89787692192?pwd=dUZ2NkU1MGY4K3Y2L1B4TGtkSUgyZz09

 
Meeting ID: 897 8769 2192

Password: 417855

 
One tap mobile

+16699009128,,89787692192#,,1#,417855# US (San Jose)

Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kc3bO3M3P7



Order of Worship


Still Have a Question? Contact Us!

Connecting Through UCC Online Devotionals

While we practice physically distancing ourselves from others for everyone’s health and safety, we invite you to explore different ways of connecting socially, emotionally, and spiritually, with one another and with God. One option is to start reading the Daily Devotional provided by the United Church of Christ. Every day, a clergy person or lay leader in the UCC connects a verse of Scripture with a short devotion. In these challenging times, keeping your spirit connected with Spirit will help center you, calm you, redirect you, comfort you, motivate you, restore you, and deepen your faith. You may even want to make a phone “visit” with a church friend to read the devotion together and talk about it!

https://www.ucc.org/daily_devotional

Zoom Virtual Worship Instructions

In anticipation of our Virtual Worship Gatherings beginning on Sunday, March 22, we are sending out this message to help you navigate the virtual meeting platform, called ZOOM, that we will be using. ZOOM is very easy to use, and anyone can join the meetings (Worship Gatherings, or any other meeting, such as Council, Deacons, Mutual Ministry, Transition Team, Beyonders, Women’s Gathering, or other small groups which we anticipate creating during this time).

First, you will receive an e-mail from the person “hosting” (creating, facilitating) the particular meeting.

Open your e-mail message, and read it to make sure you know the date and time of the specific meeting (for example, for Sunday Worship, the meeting date will be March 22, and the time will be 10:00 AM).

There will be a link for you to click on, taking you right into the ZOOM meeting. Alternatively, there will also be a list of phone numbers for you to use if you prefer to join the meeting by calling in. You will need to have the password handy, so that you can enter it, so that you join the right meeting.

Request Your Zoom Link !

You can call in or participate online!

The wonderful thing about using ZOOM is that you don’t need a computer or a smartphone, you can use your landline! Everyone will be able to participate.

Approximately at 9:50 AM, on Sunday morning, open your e-mail message with the invitation to Worship, and click on the provided link (or call in by using one of the provided phone numbers).

If you click on the link, you will automatically join the meeting.

If you call in, you will need to provide the given password.

I encourage you to start early, in case one of the phone numbers doesn’t work and you need to try a different one.

Likewise, sometimes it can take a little time to access ZOOM via computer or smartphone, and we want everyone to be able to join the meeting in a timely manner.

We’ll see you in Worship! Watch your e-mail inbox for up-to-date information, and please share it with those who do not have internet access or an e-mail address. Thank you in advance!

diverstiy
Now, more than ever, we need one another, and we need God.

Remember, we are all in this together. Even though we may be scattered throughout the county, the state, the country, or the globe, we are still the Church, united together through our love, our compassion, our commitment, and our faith. We are still God’s family. Now, more than ever, we need one another, and we need God. God is always with us, connecting us heart to heart, spirit to spirit. Know that you may contact Rev. Stacy for pastoral care, support, and counseling to help you through this challenging wilderness of the unexpected. Council members are also available to provide their assistance. We ask for your continued patience as we continue to learn to be the Church in new, exciting ways. We are encouraged by the many ideas we have, and the many opportunities this forced physical distance will bring us all. To God be the glory, now and forever. Amen.

With Peace, Grace, Comfort, and Love in the Time of Coronavirus,

Rev. Stacy

Letter to the UCC Community on Coronavirus

Dear Beloved Community of the UCC in Simi Valley,

We are in the wilderness, an unknown, unfamiliar experience with regards to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).  Moment by moment we are learning new information. Please know, however, that you are our greatest concern, and we would like you to know that we are implementing health and safety precautions and measures to ensure the highest standards are in place in order to allow us to continue meeting, worshiping, and fellowshipping together.

As we continue to monitor and plan for the evolving situation with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact upon our church, we will continue to provide you updates.  We appreciate your continued effort to read these e-mails so that we can best support congregants and visitors. We ask that you please make the necessary phone calls to those who don’t have e-mail access, so that they may receive the information as well.  We also appreciate your staying in touch with us directly with your questions or concerns.

We are trying to anticipate COVID-19 scenarios so that we are prepared and your input is helpful.

The Department of Health recommends those who are most vulnerable to the virus, namely older people, e.g. over age 65, or those with diabetes, asthma, or immune system compromises, to stay home. There is currently no such directive from LA County or Ventura County for mandatory closures.  

Council Meetings

Council met on Saturday, March 14, to discuss alternatives and recommendations pertaining to various mandates concerning the COVID-19, and have determined that our Worship Gathering on Sunday, March 15, will be our last in-person Worship Gathering until further notice.  As of Monday, March 16, the church building will be closed with certain exceptions (namely, Rev. Stacy and Wendy, our Administrative Assistant). If you need access to the building, you must make pre-arrangements with Chris White, our Trustee (she can be reached at (805) 750-5781 (cell) or (805) 499-5110 (home).  

 We will continue to meet as needed in order to reassess our decisions, reevaluate our recommendations, and make new considerations based upon new information as released from the Department of Health. 

Communications 

We will continue to utilize e-mail for more routine updates. We may institute a phone-tree, to allow for people who do not use e-mail to stay informed.   It is therefore of the utmost importance that you check your e-mail inbox regularly, and read carefully messages sent from Rev. Stacy, Rebecca Lirette, Wendy Sengpiehl (administrator; admin@uccsimi.org), and UCC Simi Valley (via MailChimp).  

Upcoming Events

It is always a difficult, sometimes painful, decision to cancel an event or activity, especially when that event has been heavily advertised and is valuable for the spiritual, emotional, mental, and intellectual health and growth of our community.  However, as of last week, nearly every organization, including faith congregations, have cancelled, postponed, or rescheduled events which have been planned for the months of March through May.  

Church Service

  • Please be aware that a number of churches in the U.S. have enacted coronavirus-related closures.
  • Please be mindful of the travel parameters and quarantine recommendations delineated by the World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/travel-advice).  Please notify us if you will be needing to quarantine yourself as a result of any traveling, by emailing Rev. Stacy.
  • We are especially concerned for our higher risk folks and ask that you create “physical  distancing” when possible.
  • We have been prayerfully considering the benefits of cancelling over the benefits of holding an event.  Please note that as of March 15, all in-person gatherings at the church building have been suspended until further notice. Such gatherings include worship, Beyonders, Women’s Gathering (second Saturday of the month), FFLUID, and Narcotics Anonymous.  Worship, FFLUID, Narcotics Anonymous, and all meetings (Council, Deacons, Mutual Ministry, Transition Team, and other meetings) will be conducted virtually.  Council is exploring various platforms to determine which one will best serve all the members of UCC-Simi. We will contact you as soon as we know how we will convene virtually, with all of the necessary details and information on joining us.  Again, we ask that you advise anyone who does not have access to the internet so that they will not be left isolated and alone.  

When any part of these plans change, we will notify you with as much advance notice as possible.   Remember, with this particular virus, changes can occur rapidly. Be on the alert for communication from us!  We don’t know what the coming days and weeks will bring.  

Other

Rather than practicing “social distancing,” it’s been suggested that we practice “physical distancing.”  In this way, we can remain socially, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually connected with one another, with our friends, and with our family members.  Phone calls, e-mails, text messages, and other communication forms will become even more vital in the days and weeks ahead. Stay connected! 

While it is important to be kept informed and updated, it can become overwhelming and terrifying.  If you are prone to excess worry, anxiety, or depression, take care of yourself and limit your news-watching and social media scrolling.  There is a lot of misinformation out there, and panic is widespread. Take time to breathe deeply, and to pray.  

I invite you to pray with me right now.  


Loving God, 
May your healing power flow
into a world consumed by fear
of sickness,
of powerlessness,
of pandemics,
of incompetence.
You hold all our times precious.  
Now we submit to you our 
seasons of despair and our seasons of hope 
for your safe-keeping and blessing.  
We ask your presence with us
and within us,
Now and forever.
Amen. *

Thank you for your support in helping our community navigate and plan for the novel coronavirus situation.

With grace and peace,
Rev. Stacy, Pastor
Rebecca Lirette, Moderator

PS:  Now, go wash your hands!  

*with thanks to Cameron Trimble and Walter Brueggemann

Installation Service Slideshow and Gratitude Letter

  Letter of Gratitude

 Dearest Beloved Community of UCC Simi,
 I am completely overwhelmed  with gratitude, joy, and amazing love out-poured from each and every one of you!  The Installation, Intermission, and Reception were absolutely beautiful. Even as I write this, I am welling up with tears – good tears.  The service went smoothly, the bagpiper was wonderful – and so much fun! What a treat that she played “Star Wars Fanfare” as we recessed – so awesome!  Joan, thank you so much for not giving up and for finding Chrisy, the Surf City Piper. John, you and the Choir outdid yourselves with your glorious singing combined with Joan’s and David’s musical gifts!  I heard so many compliments – it filled me with immense joy and pride, because I know how hard you worked. It was just beautiful – I hope you take a moment to watch the video that will be in this week’s issue of The Grapevine.  To all of the Deacons, the Transition Team, Mutual Ministry, and the Search Committee – a huge thank you for all of your hard work, dedication, excitement, and planning as well – your involvement every step of the way made for a perfect day/evening.  Your insight, ideas, questions, and suggestions combined with your hopes and inspiration truly infused the service with every good thing. I know that the majority of the work you accomplished was mostly behind the scenes, so I want to recognize everyone for all they did.  Ann, thank you so much for acquiring the Guest Book – it’s beautiful! (It’s in my office, so if anyone didn’t have an opportunity to sign it on Sunday, please see me, because I want you to sign it). To everyone who participated in the service, whether “up front” or behind the scenes, thank you!  You all helped to make it so special and rewarding. To Cindy and Rev. Susan, thank you for taking all of the photos and the videos of our terrific choir singing their hearts out! Photos and video will be on the website for all to view.

Rev. Stacy stands beside the “Star Wars” themed cake.

To Carla, the Kitchen Elves (Jedis?) and everyone who helped with the Reception, from making, buying, and bringing food, and beverages, to setting out and arranging the food and beverages, to transforming the Sanctuary into the Dining Room – setting up tables and chairs, decorating the tables and the space, getting everything organized and ready for the Intermission on the Patio, and cleaning up afterward – a huge thank you is in order!   Carla, for the Star Wars Welcome banners and delicious Star Wars cake – the Force is strong with you! All of the food was scrumptious!! “Thank you” seems so inadequate to say. I am truly grateful for everything.  

Rev. Stacy is presented with gifts in celebration of her Installation.

Carla et al – Thank you for the stunning green stole – I can’t wait to wear it during Ordinary Time (after Pentecost)!  It reminds me of Hawaii, and is blessed with the love of UCC Simi, which I felt as you placed it over my shoulders.  
Joan – Thank you for the fantastic Star Wars potholders!   What a fabulous gift. They will have a high honor in our new house.  I hope you are willing to replace them when they become stained and worn from usage, because we will be using them every day.  
Susan – Thank you for the gift of your stoles.  What a treasure to receive them, as Elijah received the mantel from Elisha.  I’m looking forward to wearing them with honor.  
Cindy – Thank you for the Star Wars stole and communion set!  The time will soon come when everyone will be able to see them displayed and in full use/force <giggle>.  

If I forgot anyone, I apologize in advance.  It was definitely a whirlwind experience!  

Rev. Stacy and Cindy welcome you to UCC Simi Valley.

All of you worked together in concert to make a fantastic experience and event even better than what I could have imagined!   Cindy is right – we are truly blessed that God has brought us all together. I know that what we have here is extra special, and that it is only just beginning!  I love – and echo – what Carla said – that all of you working together, united for a common purpose, bringing your best selves in a loving and helpful way, reconfirms what is in her heart – that we are ready and able to do great  things!  

UCC Simi is a remarkable, wonderful, glorious community of faith!  I have a good feeling about this! 

My deepest gratitude to each and every one of you!  I love you all and, in case I haven’t told you enough, I am – we are – beyond thrilled to be here!  We are truly one community, united in serving and loving God, and bringing the Good News of God’s love and extravagant welcome to the City of Simi Valley!  

Peace and Grace, Beloved Ones!

~ Rev. Stacy

Photos from Installation

Thank you for all the wonderful photos from the touching Installation service. Enjoy!

Choir Video

The UCC Simi Valley Choir sings “Order My Steps”

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

Rev-Stacy-Installation-02-23-2020