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

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 contact our facilitator, Shirley  HERE.

For more information about FFLUID please visit ffluid.org.

Book Study in the Midst

“Finding Jesus at the Border” is a book that speaks to us about those who crossed borders, legally or illegally, to become our neighbors, our grocers, our gardeners, our doctors.  And about the borders that we must cross to support them as they live out their dreams of becoming Americans.  Prof. Julia Lambert Fogg of Cal Lutheran writes about CLUE-VC, Adelanto, and the dilemmas that we face when we work for a more just world.

This 2020 book will touch your heart and raise questions that we will want to talk over with each other.  Rev. Stacy and I will co-lead a conversation group that will meet three times a month. We will start out with Zoom, meeting at 7 pm on Tuesdays:  May 12, 19, 26; June 9, 16, 23; and July 14 and 21.

Please consider using your Amazon Smile account to order, so that the church receives a little donation.  The book is available in paperback and in Kindle e-book format.  


From Baker Publishing Group:

Immigration is an issue of major concern within the Christian community. As Christians, how should we respond to the current crisis?

Interweaving biblical narratives of border crossing and recent stories of immigrants at the US-Mexico border, this accessibly written book invites Christians to reconsider the plight of their neighbors and respond with compassion to the present immigration crisis. Julia Lambert Fogg, a pastor and New Testament scholar who is actively serving immigrant families in Southern California, interprets well-known biblical stories in a fresh way and puts a human face on the immigration debate.

Fogg argues that Christians must step out of their comfort zones and learn to cross social, ethnic, and religious borders–just as Jesus did–to become the body of Christ in the world. She encourages readers to welcome Christ by embracing DREAMers, the undocumented, asylum seekers, and immigrants, and she inspires Christians to advocate for immigrant justice in their communities.
 

Contents

1. Walk This Way: Approaching the Border

2. Fleeing without Papers: Matthew 2:1-23

3. Vantage Points and Borders–Where We Stand Affects How We See: Mark 12:41-44

4. Challenging Border Wall Mentalities: Ruth and Mark 7:24-30

5. Letters from Behind Prison Walls: Philippians 1:12-30

6. Seeking Asylum at the US Border: Philippians 2:5-11

7. Standing before ICE: John 11:1-34

8. Where Do We Go from Here? Border Crossing as Praxis: John 1:1-5, 14

(http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/finding-jesus-at-the-border/397630)

We’re excited to read and discuss this insightful, engaging book with you!  Stay tuned to find out the exact dates and times we will be meeting in the Midst for our first Book Study of 2020. 

Check out Baker Publishing Group’s website to learn more about Rev. Dr. Julia Lambert Fogg – click on the link above and scroll down the page to “The Author” (near the bottom of the page, after the Endorsements, which we encourage you to read as well). 

For more information, or to join in on this study, please Contact Us.

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 12 noon. 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 Cindy Speakman for some socializing, and casual conversation.

Friday

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

Saturday

Calvin Smith is hosting Get-Togethers in the Midst on Saturday evenings from 7:00 – 8:00 PM.  Connect with others, make new friends, engage in fascinating conversations.  Maybe even play a game! 


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.

Zoom Get-Together

UCC Simi Valley has introduced a Zoom “Chat/Get-Together” for Wednesdays, from 7 to 8 pm. So grab a beer, glass of wine, or cup of coffee, and join me for some socializing, and casual conversation.

Get the Zoom Invite

Worship Guide 5-24-2020


Reflection

Worship Gathering in the Midst
Seventh Sunday of Easter (May 24, 2020)
Scripture Focus:  The Acts of the Apostles 1:6-14


What is the Heart of the Matter for Sunday?  
“Open the Eyes of My Heart”

Sunday’s Scripture brings us to the Ascension of Jesus.  

The … what?

We don’t really talk about the Ascension in the United Church of Christ.  In fact, the only time I remember reading and hearing about it was when I was involved with the Episcopal Church.  

The Ascension refers to the day, 40 days after Easter, 40 days after the resurrection appearances of Jesus, when Jesus gives his final teachings in-person to his disciples, and then, departs from them:  “as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight” (Acts of the Apostles 1:9, NRSV).  Jesus ascends into heaven on a cloud!

What do you make of this miraculous event?  What do you think the disciples thought, watching as Jesus disappeared into the sky?  That must have been quite a sight!

What will they do now, without Jesus with them, teaching them, leading them, instructing them?  

What do we do with this story?

Let’s pray that God opens the eyes of our hearts to reveal the rest of the story, then and now, and our place in it, especially during these times of staying home. 

Join us on Sunday for our Worship Gathering in the Midst!

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

Downloads

Order of Worship

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