On Sunday, June 27, 2021 we will celebrate “Open and Affirming Sunday” as part of our month-long LGBTQIA+ Pride celebration. We have invited long-time friend Celia Sandhya Daniels to be our guest speaker during our morning Worship Service.
Celia is an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, D&I champion, blogger, composer, musician, photographer, hiker and a filmmaker. She currently resides in southern California with her family. She is an Asian Indian who identifies as Gender Non-Binary and Non-Op trans person of color. Celia brings an intersectional blend of ethnicity, creativity, culture, religion and corporate experience in her “trans-evangelism”, as she likes to call it. She is currently focused on educating and building allies with local communities, business, churches, police dept., therapists, doctors and organizations that fight for civil rights and economic empowerment.
“Open and Affirming (ONA) is the United Church of Christ’s (UCC) designation for congregations, campus ministries, and other bodies in the UCC which make a public covenant of welcome into their full life and ministry to persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.”
We have a cool new booth in the crafts aisle at the Farmers Market, to last throughout the spring! All proceeds go to charity: Sales of facemasks, potholders, and microwave bowl cozies (our hot new item) benefit our church, and sales of pillowcases benefit People Pillowcases, providing pillowcases for foster kids. There are also some fresh vegetable stands in the the food and produce section. The market is open every Friday, 11:00 to 3:30, on Tapo Canyon Road, in the shopping center directly north of the 118 freeway, between the Regal Theater and TGIFridays. Just look for all the white canopies at the north end of the mall.
Put on your mask (I know where you can get one!) and come and visit!
An invitation to heal racism by talking about it. That is what author Emmanuel Acho believes is the only way to cure our nation’s oldest disease, talking, ”Until it gets uncomfortable…and then some.” We will use Mr. Acho’s book “Uncomfortable Conversations With A Black Man” as our guide. We’ll discuss topics like implicit bias, the N-word, reverse and systemic racism, black family struggles, interracial relationships and how to be an ally. The segments are short, so I will send out excerpts ahead of our conversations and share some to open the meeting. I’m not requiring, but highly recommend that you purchase the book as a valuable resource, especially as you may want (hopefully) to start conversations of your own.
We will meet on Zoom every 2nd and 4th Tues. of the month from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Topics and intro will be sent out the week before along with the Zoom link. If you are interested in joining these conversations at any time, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you on the list to receive notices. Feel free to forward invites to family and friends. The more people talking, the greater the impact.
Here’s an excerpt from Mr. Acho’s introduction, “Consider this book an invitation to the table. It’s a special table- but don’t worry, this isn’t one of those uptight, where’s-your-VIP-reservation places, rather a come-as-you-are joint for my white brothers and sisters and anyone else inclined to join us. The room where this table sits is a safe space, by which I mean a space to learn things you’ve always wondered about, a place where questions you may have been afraid to ask get answered. For all of you who lack an honest black friend in your life, consider me that friend.”
He also has a you tube channel and has created other content. I encourage you to check him out in advance of our first meeting.
I think of God as a Presence that I can be in relationship with, one that I can draw wisdom from, who guides me, and fills me with peace and love. The spiritual practice of meditation helps bring me into that presence. Meditation reduces stress, cultivates a sense of inner peace, helps us to find clarity of purpose, and can produce healing, as some in our medical profession have been finding out.
Each Thursday evening for 20 to 30 minutes I lead a guided meditation, followed by a short time of sharing. The meditations draw from Christian, Buddhist, and Inter-spiritual traditions i.e. Loving Kindness Meditations, Tonglen, Relaxation Meditation, Examen, Lectio Divina, Centering Prayer and meditations focused on themes of Gratitude, Peace and Love.
All are welcome to join us on ZOOM. Just fill out the contact form below, and I will send you the link to join.
The book jacket reads: “How do we labor for the world we want when the labor feels endless? Valarie Kaur — renowned Sikh activist, filmmaker, and civil rights lawyer — declares revolutionary love as the call of our time, a radical, joyful practice that extends in three directions; to others, to our opponents and to ourselves. It enjoins us to see no stranger but instead look at others and say: You are part of me I do not yet know. Starting from the place of wonder, the world begins to change: It is a practice that can transform a relationship, a community, a culture, even a nation.
Kaur takes readers through her own riveting journey — as a brown girl growing up in California farmland finding her place in the world; as a young adult galvanized by the murders of Sikhs after 9/11; as a law student fighting injustices in American prisons and on Guantanamo Bay; as an activist working with communities recovering from xenophobic attacks; and as a woman trying to heal from her own experiences with sexual assault and police violence.
Drawing from the wisdom of sages, scientists, and activists, Kaur reclaims love as an active, public, and revolutionary force that creates new possibilities for ourselves, our communities, and our world. See No Stranger helps us imagine new ways of being with each other —and with ourselves – so that together we can begin to build the world we want to see.”
This is a book for the time we live in. I invite anyone who would like to join us to contact us using the form below.
I look forward to hearing from you. Rev. Susan Brecht
We observe Holy Week and celebrate Easter Sunday together “in the midst” this year while practicing “holy distancing” out of concern for the health of our community. Through these virtual services, we continue to stay connected during this important season in the life of the church.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!”
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)526-6001or contact us here.