Happy New Year, Friends! Welcome to our fifth issue of “FCCSJ—Keeping You Informed” updating you on what has been going on with our church community.
Annual Meeting on Saturday, January 29 will be held via Zoom
Charles Weidmann, Moderator
The Annual Meeting of the FCCSJ Church Membership will begin at 6:00 PM on Saturday, January 29, and will be held virtually via Zoom. Plans to hold a communal dinner prior to the beginning of the meeting have been cancelled.
This decision to move to a virtual Annual Meeting is based on the COVID-19 Risk Assessment sent to the congregation on December 29 and was approved at the January 4 Church Council meeting. That assessment recommends that all church meetings be held remotely via Zoom to reduce the risk of exposing congregants to the highly infectious Omicron variant of COVID-19. We will now follow the same procedures established for the January 2021 (Virtual) Annual Meeting.
We were all looking forward to gathering together in-person to share a group meal, celebrate the many church accomplishments of 2021, and discuss our plans for the coming year. But our highest calling is to care for each other and to preserve the health and wellbeing of our church family and our surrounding community. So instead, we invite you all to gather around your preferred computer or tablet, bring your own dinner, and help us to carry out the important business of the church.
Blessings to you all as we continue our faith journey together through the surprising twists and turns of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s a New Year! We Made It!!
People have undergone unprecedented loss in 2021. Some have lost friends who have died, some have lost economic security, and some have lost their entire homes and businesses. Many of us have been affected by COVID in various ways. Most of us have lost beloved rhythms of life that felt familiar. And so much has been lost to hatred and violence. Advent has proclaimed for us hope, love, joy, and peace in the midst of difficulty, in the midst of grieving.
As we look back on 2021 all at once, we are in danger of being overwhelmed by the tragedies. And yet, we know that in all of this, there is the possibility of more light. If we are to be overwhelmed, let it be that we are overwhelmed with the assurance that we are not alone, that nothing will overcome the light. There is room for both grieving AND celebrating. We need to do both. Solomon knew that when he wrote in Ecclesiastes (3:1) “For everything there is a season.” It’s important to pay our respects, or at least our attention, to the things we are leaving behind. It’s also important to say hello to all the new that awaits us, with anticipation and even a bit of excitement.
Let this be a New Year of reenergizing our reaching out to others in love and in light, confident of God’s presence even in these dark moments of grief. Let us be kind to ourselves, gentle with our feelings. Let us not shy away from our grieving but embrace it, respect it, and then give it up to God. Let gratitude be our mantra.
“Keeping Us Connected”
A revealing conversation with a church leader got us thinking about a pressing need. The word we volleyed back and forth is “connection.” It’s not necessary to point out the obvious lack of connection the world has experienced since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is necessary to give it some attention.
Connections, community, caring are succinct ways to begin this discussion. Those three c’s are not complicated and yet immensely vital to the life of the church. FCCSJ is not the only church experiencing a lack of connection, but maybe it’s something to be dealt with one specific church at a time. We’re in new territory, like blind possums looking for a way out of a ground hole, longing to break the cycle of loneliness, fear and isolation.
Connection to one another as a regular routine is as necessary to human flourishing as air, food, and water. We need one another. Jesus said it this way: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7) If it is true that we could continue to live with ongoing pandemic variants, as some scientists predict, then it is even more important to stay connected in new ways, ways that keep each other safe and healthy.
Here’s an interesting idea, “Five Ways to Keep College Kids Connected to Church.” (Adapted from Thom Rainer). Most of us are way past college age but it’s equally (maybe more) important for us.
- Choose a Local Church — where the Body of Christ gathers to hear the Scriptures, progressively
- Pray Every Day
- Find People to Serve
- Surround Yourself with True Friends
- Practice Time Management
This is a terrific local church! It is well funded and in the beginning stages of a renewal to invite and include more people, supported by you. In the worship space, the scriptures we study help us make sense of the world. They aren’t force-fed. Scriptures are the guides, not the oppressor.
Praying every day is a total no-brainer. Talk to God. Get on your knees or don’t get on your knees, it doesn’t matter. Pray in bed or pray in the car while stuck in traffic. Pray something you know by heart (Serenity Prayer, Lord’s Prayer) or just talk your thoughts out loud. It’s okay; everybody talks to themselves under those masks anyway. Prayer is an amazing way to clear out the cobwebs of your connection void so you can be in community. Put your thoughts and prayers out there. Be vulnerable.
Find people to serve? There are plenty. The number of people who have no shelter is staggering. Which church mission activity or group do you want to affiliate with? Jump in! If you don’t want to risk COVID exposure, make phone calls, send emails, post on social media or fold communication materials and letters for contributions. Volunteers are beloved at church. See the list of FCCSJ Active Groups.
Surround yourself with like-minded people who practice a progressive, inclusive faith. We aren’t here to change people who come; we are here to love.
Come to a “Faith on Fridays” session, at noon every Friday beginning February 4th. We’ll start via Zoom for now. (If Tuesdays or Wednesdays at noon are better for you, let me know!) When we get a break from pandemic isolation, we can make it an in-person group out in the community for coffee/tea and conversation. Sometimes it will be Bible Study and other times, something else. I’ll have an activity or theme ready for you to start our time together for connection.
Time management sounds stuffy, but it’s for you and me. If you want to be in community, you and only you can create the time to do so. Ever notice how quickly a day can slip by? Prioritize connections with church community; attend a weekly session with us and a friend or two. Bring your ideas and your hearts to Zoom or, when safe for you, in person.
I hope to hear from you in 2022 because I am here for you, serving God together. With blessings, peace and grace.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to their pledge last year. We plan to have the annual tax and pledge progress statements sent out by the end of the month. Similar to last year, we will email everyone who has an email address listed with the church. Check your mail filters if you do not regularly see emails form the church, or contact the office to make sure they have your correct email address on file. For all others, we will send your statement via the US Postal Service. If you do not get your statement by Feb. 15th, please contact Jan Heymann or Mark Domnauer.
Doors Wide Open Capital Campaign
The campaign has raised $1,226,580 from 98 givers with over half the money already received. This will allow the Sanctuary Renewal work to start during the first year of the campaign without the need for any external financing, saving the congregation time, effort, and money. Thank you to everyone for your generous support.
Office Relocation Project
The City of Campbell Planning Department has completed their review of the plans with only minor adjustments. The next step is a public review with the Planning Commission, but no date has been set yet. Final schedules, costs, and planning will start once the project receives approval from the Planning Commission.
Sanctuary Renewal Project
The plans are being submitted to the City of Campbell Planning Department for their review and approval. The Design Team continues to work on interior furniture selection while the Construction Project Team will start working on contractor selection and pricing over the next few months. Based on the current timeframe for city review and permits, construction will most likely start in the fall, depending on contractor availability.
Are you getting FCCSJ emails?
If you are not receiving FCCSJ emails, please check your spam or junk folder. If you see our email there, then safelist our email address to ensure that emails sent from that specific address reach the Inbox. Emails from the church will have one of the following addresses:
First Congregational Church of San Jose [email protected]
Rev. Carla Dietz [email protected]
Rev. Penny Phillips [email protected]
Kristin Link [email protected]
Cindy Eckhardt [email protected]
Maryann Coole [email protected]
Mark Domnauer [email protected]
You Are Invited …
to join one or more of our Church’s many active groups
Welcome to an overview of the wide range of groups open to your participation at FCCSJ. It’s our hope that, in the coming year, each of you will explore and discover at least one group you’d like to become part of.
Activities with these groups offer a range of time commitments, so even those with challenging schedules can find ways to participate in a group’s efforts to help our church and wider community. It’s also a great way to make new friends within the church.
A few groups require specific skills, but most are open to anyone with a desire to get involved, learn something new, experience the joy of working together to help others, or receive personal support. Once you’ve read through the list, pick a few that appeal to you and call the contact person to learn how you can get connected.
Please save this list so you can refer to it in the future. At FCCSJ, there’s a place for everyone!
NOTE: As with many people-focused organizations, this list is not set in stone, especially in the time of COVID. Groups can sometimes go on pause, and then resume. And groups may meet via Zoom and then transition to in-person, often dictated by our Church’s COVID protocols. If we have learned nothing else from the past two years, it is to be flexible.
Contact the church office to get connected with one or more of these groups.
United Disciples Fellowship (UDF)
The United Disciples Fellowship is a house church affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). We worship in partnership with and participate fully in the life of FCCSJ. We meet once a month — all are welcome.
The team’s goal is to encourage everyone to be good stewards of our Church and its programs through giving. We help to answer the question, “What is pledging?” We plan and lead the annual Pledge Drive, which takes about three months.
This team reports to the Board of Trustees and is responsible for managing the property and facilities of FCCSJ in a way that maximizes the support of our Church’s Mission. This includes managing tenant relationships, developing and administering tenant leases, and evaluating creative ways of developing our property to better support the work of the Church. Membership requires some experience in business analysis and/or facilities maintenance and/or property development.
Our team provides hands-on information technology support for our Church staff in the areas of network and wifi support, hardware and software purchases and configuration, data storage, security updates and virus protection, and all around computer support. Team members have knowledge and experience in the various areas of information technology to support this effort.
The Diaconate Ministry Team is responsible for “setting the space” for worship. We stock the pews with worship materials, organize communion servers, and prepare the elements of communion.
The Adult Learning Committee plans and presents adult learning forums on many Sundays after church. Topics vary widely, from social justice to Old Testament History, from social psychology to health and wellness.
Family Ministries plans, promotes, and executes our programs for children, youth and families. We nurture and support the Nursery, Church School, Youth and Young Adults connected to this Church.
Our team collaborates in reaching out to others in the South Bay, letting them know about our Church, which we believe to be a “best kept secret.” We use social media and are exploring other channels of communication to help get the word out. We encourage everyone to share your ideas about connecting with the wider community. You are welcome to join our team!
The Sacred Spaces Ministry Team creates altar arrangements reflecting the seasons of the church year, and for special occasions through the year.
The Usher Ministry Team is an important part of Sunday mornings, preparing the Sanctuary and Narthex for the church service and greeting and welcoming worshipers. In addition to possibly being your first “Hello” as you enter, you receive a warm smile and a Bulletin. All 14 ushers on the team offer you a warm and inviting welcome.
Fellowship brings the congregation together through celebratory events at church, through outreach via Zoom, in person, or other ways. Call or email us with your questions and ideas.
As part of our ministry to the wider community, the Outreach Team researches and recommends local partnerships with non-profit organizations for our Church’s potential involvement and funding. We look for ways to focus our energies that will uplift, engage and support the social, spiritual and economic needs of our world.
CSMT connects members of the congregation with service opportunities in our wider community. Throughout the year we ask for volunteers, collect donations of goods, and encourage everyone in the church to be the hands of compassion for our neighbors. We are focusing on the homeless, and on local institutions where we can make the greatest impact.
This group leads our Church in partnering with local faith-based communities and other organizations to create a safe, welcoming place where guests living in their cars can sleep, stabilize, recover, and gain access to social services. Our Church hosts guests one month each year. We encourage church members and friends to volunteer—providing hospitality, meals, friendship and more.
Silicon Valley Sponsoring Committee (SVSC)
This team leads and supports our Church as a member of SVSC, which is made up of local faith-based, civic, and non-profit organizations. The non-partisan network develops the leadership capacity of its member organizations. This enables us to effect change on a larger scale than we can achieve individually. Our Church’s team organizes small group discussions (house meetings) within the congregation and partners with other institutions to help us build relationships and have a stronger voice in our community.
Sanctuary Audio/Visual Team
Every Sunday our team operates cameras and microphones to provide weekly live streaming of our Church’s Worship Service. Two volunteers work together so that our members, friends, and others can experience worship from the comfort and safety of their homes and elsewhere. If you like using projectors or other camera equipment, consider joining our team. Help us provide good sound and video of our weekly Worship Service for all!
Faith on Fridays
Come to a Faith on Fridays session at noon every Friday beginning February 4. We’ll start by Zoom for now. (If Tuesdays or Wednesdays at noon are better for you, let me know). When we get a break from pandemic isolation, we can make it an in-person group out in the community for coffee/tea and conversation. Sometimes it will be Bible and something else. I’ll have an activity or theme ready for you to start the time together for connection.
Good Grief Support Group
The Good Grief Group meets via Zoom twice each month (one hour sessions) to share our grief journey and learn from each other. You can come as you are, wherever you are on your grief journey. All are welcome!
The purpose of Deborah Circle is to provide social and educational opportunities for the women of the church. It is a place to become acquainted with each other and gain a sense of belonging. We meet most months except in the summer.
The Dream Group welcomes people who believe dreams serve health and wholeness, with multiple meanings, symbols, and metaphors. We closely follow the guidelines of Rev. Jeremy Taylor’s “projective dreamwork.” Each dreamer is respected as the only person who can ultimately know what their dream means. Participants agree to be a circle of trust, respecting deep confidentiality of sensitive discussions.
Spiritual Exploration Group
Spiritual Exploration Group, currently on “pause,” meets monthly to discuss a book chosen by the group, on a spiritual, religious, or theological topic. In the past, we have discussed topics such as Celtic Spirituality, Christian Animism, etc.
Wake Up & Knit
Wake Up & Knit meets on Zoom from 3:30–5:00 pm on the first and third Tuesdays each month. People come to knit or do other kinds of handwork, or just to join the wide-ranging conversation. “Wake Up” is part of the name because each session ends with a brief period of meditation, a time to be quietly present for ourselves, each other, and all beings.
Women of Faith
Women of Faith meet monthly in an intimate setting to share their faith journeys and discuss how to live out Jesus’ vision for a just and loving world. We meet on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in one another’s homes.