Thank you everyone for a wonderful congregational meeting yesterday! It was a delightful treat to see everyone on Zoom and to hear a chorus of praise from our community!
In our meeting we elected Rey Lambatin, Judith Steger, Daniel Thomas, Sarah Janigian, Sarah Erickson, and Chuck Witschorik Jr. to the nominating committee. After Christmas they will start the process of finding our new council persons for election in May.
We also elected to send Bob Blough and Jean Herriges to the Sierra Pacific Synod Assembly as voting members. They'll attend the synod assembly in May of 2021 from the comfort of their living room computers.
Delightfully, we approved a mission plan for 2021 in the form of a budget. To see the high level financial reports and budget presentation, you can click here.
In case you missed it, our council also announced that CGS will be seeking a new staff position in 2021. At the same time we will be ending our Office Manager staff position. Our new staff position will be Community Coordinator. This person will work with all the members of CGS to carry out their ministry and mission in the world. They will also work with our partners and friends as part of our call to serve the community with this property.
We also announced that worship this Christmas Eve will be online due to the Tier 1 restrictions of the county. Worship will be at 2pm (in German) at 5pm and at 11pm as usual. Keep your eyes on these newsletters for more information as it develops.
A huge thank you to our council for all their hard work preparing this meeting as well as to our President, Vice President, and Secretary for preparing thoughtfully and making it run so smoothly. Thank you also to our personnel chair & team, property committee, staff, and especially our treasurer and finance team for all their hard work preparing our budget.
Immigrants know what it means to be a stranger in a new land. Many Chinese immigrants coming into America began their new life in Monterey Park, a suburb of Los Angeles. As they arrived, scores of them received critical support from a small but active group of Chinese Christians living in the area. By the 1960s, the time was ripe to develop a mission responsive to the needs of these new arrivals. In 1968, Pastor Wilson Wu and about 30 other Mandarin-speaking members of the community organized as Faith Lutheran Church, the ELCA's first established Asian congregation. "The ministry here identified itself through the work of the community," says Pastor Wu. "Even before our church was organized, new immigrants were already being helped. But we wanted to have a place that everyone would call home and a place where people would come when they needed help."
From Stories To Tell: Multicultural Ministry in Action. ELCA, 1991.
This year has put us all in the position of having to know what we are without a building as our central meeting place. I'm struck by the fact that there have been Christians who have been church in exactly this way long before any of us were displaced by a pandemic. I'm grateful for the pandemic in this regard. I'm grateful that there was a force that was powerful enough to shake us out of our complacency and strip away our reservations.
I've been delighted to be church with you all in 2020. If I had to choose a place to experience a dumpster fire of a year, I couldn't have imagined a better one. With you, I have found people who would not be made submissive by fear, but who stepped out in faith to risk themselves for the sake of serving the most vulnerable in our county. In the past year, we have grown in our generosity. Our financial stewardship is more faithful than ever. Our ministry of service to the houseless people of our city is greater. Our capacity to care for one another has multiplied. We are doing all the things God has called us to do and while it might not be easy, we have seen life abundant made manifest!
I'm very excited for our Congregational Meeting this weekend. Not only will I get to see all your faces on a Sunday morning in worship, but we will also get to dream and scheme about the year ahead. I've been impressed and blessed by what our council has prepared for us. There has been deep thoughtfulness in their discernment and they have taken great care to illicit your involvement. I have no doubt even if we find ourselves in a foreign place as 2021 rolls in, that we will find a faithful way to build a home for God's Spirit among us.
by Rey Lambatin, Choir Director
President-elect, Joe Biden, quoted part of this in his victory speech on Saturday night, November 7:
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
As much as I’m tempted to talk more about politics, I want to dwell more about this season, the time to give thanks. As we know, it is Thanksgiving month, a season when we remind ourselves of the beautiful and wonderful things that fill our lives, and to be grateful for these things. So, I’m sharing with you some of the things for which I’m thankful. I give thanks for my husband, Mike, who is always a source of love and joy, and a big support in all I do. I’m grateful for my family, friends, and the CGS church members whom I consider as an extended family. I’m thankful that I live in a state and community where the weather is awesome, and that I can be gay and a person of color and feel safe. I give thanks for technology that, despite the circumstances, we can continue to worship, minister, and practice our faith. I give thanks for the gift of music, and the beautiful things it brings to my life. I’m thankful for my health and the health of my loved ones. I’m grateful for having Baxter, our beagle companion, who fills our house with constant amusement. I am very thankful that we’re going to have a new president and vice president. And I give thanks that I serve a God who is good and faithful.
My list can go on, and I encourage everyone to also make their own. I believe it’s a great way to be reminded of the positive things in our lives that we sometimes miss because of, well, life happening. We had times when things are not great and are challenging, but for this season, let’s think of the beautiful and wonderful things that we have. Happy Thanksgiving!
Hello, my fellow CGSers!
This has been an extraordinary year for sure, full of changes and lots of new normals. The property committee has done repairs and improvements to the church while we worship and communicate online.
We repaired the irrigation systems throughout the garden, orchard, front and side areas, put new faucets in the kitchen, and tackled some other necessary repairs.
The next major project is getting the parsonage ready for Pastor Manda to be able to move in January 2021. There are lots of moving parts to achieve that goal. With God’s help, we will be able to complete this major project by 1/1/21. If you have any questions about completed or ongoing projects please let one of your property committee members know.
I am continually amazed by our community’s generosity both financially and emotionally. My God bless you all.
Thank you to everyone who helped CGS host the Silicon Valley Safe Parking this October. We know that reality did not always match our expectations, but with your openness and abundance approach we hosted 10 people safely overnight and shared 22 meals with those who needed it. This month we also added partnerships with Village House Showers and Veggielution to our Safe Parking program, growing our collective response to the world’s need. Praise be to God for the work she does through your hands!
"Hope for the best, but expect the worst.”
I became aware of this phrase in junior high school and was immediately drawn to the duality of it. My awkward, insecure teenage self fought the voices that always told me how I would fail, or how the world would mock and taunt me; but the optimistic, hopeful side of me could envision joy, happiness, and success. This phrase became a mantra for me, and I would find it running through my head throughout adolescence and into adulthood as I faced challenges or opportunities - SATs, telling a crush how I felt, going in for a job interview, auditioning for a show.
As a slightly older adult, I began to feel that the phrase really parsed out a little differently: set your expectations low and they’ll almost always be exceeded. Hope is fine, hope is nice, but what you really need to do is assume things will be terrible so you won’t be as disappointed or depressed when that becomes the reality. Hope was slowly working its way out of the equation. It didn’t sound as pleasant, but I chalked it up to the wisdom and experience of adulthood.
No matter what the outcome, a week from now there will be both joy and despair throughout the country. Perhaps never has there been an election that felt so much like an existential event. And this year - when the country has seen a pandemic and the resultant personal and economic upheavals, the rising voices against social injustice and the backlash against those voices, and decisions and legislation that feels like threats against the ideals and people we worry are already marginalized and threatened - it can be easy to move away from hope and veer towards despair, towards fear.
So at this point I turn to the words of a wise sage: Yoda.
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
Now while this is a very cinematic quote, there is, I believe, a simple truth here. Focusing on despair, on fear - this is what causes people to to run to the storm cellar, bar the door, and prepare for the zombie apocalypse. And while it’s one thing to be prepared, to have a plan; if you spend your whole life waiting for the zombies to come, then everyone starts to look like a zombie. And, you’ve spent your whole life in your basement.
How can we all be hopeful on November 4? Can there be hope on the large scale, or should there be hope for the small things? Do we focus on the journey of a thousand miles, or on the few steps we have to take today?
Jeremiah 29:11 says “'for surely I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.’”
And to me, the most important thing I can do with my hope is turn it into action. No matter who is in charge, my decisions and my actions are still my own. And I can use those decisions and actions to shine a light on the darkness, to raise those around me towards the light, to take my steps on the thousand-mile journey.
“We remember before our God your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” -1 Thessalonians 1:3
(don’t forget to vote!)=
The virtual Congregational Meeting will take place on Sunday, November 22 immediately after worship. Morning worship and this meeting will take place over Zoom, just as we did in May. If you have not used Zoom before, rest assured that Council members will be in contact with all voting members before November 22 to help you find a way to participate in the meeting. Details about how to join should be in your packet that was mailed, and will be distributed again as we get closer to the date.
This year we have three pieces of business to conduct at the Congregational Meeting. They are as follows:
The church’s Finance Ministry has been hard at work over these last several months drafting a budget that the Council feels will be a representation of our church living out its mission to proclaim, welcome, and serve over the next year. Following are links to the proposed budget, as well as current financial statements. We know there will be questions and discussions about the budget, so we will be holding a budget meeting on October 26th at 7pm.
But first, some words from our Treasurer:
Greetings! There are some things about our financial picture and our proposed budget that I would like to clarify. I know that some of this information is not interesting to all of us. However, I would like to provide you with some clarification of what you will see.
by REY LAMBATIN, Choir Director
It’s October, and our CGS leadership has started planning for Christmas in this pandemic. To be honest, I’m getting weary of talking about the pandemic. And I’m quite sure several of us share this feeling. Partly because of the frustration that this pandemic is still here due to the lack of action from our government and its leadership. And talking about it 7 months in is like poking a wound that won’t heal. It could be irritating or painful. But this is still our reality, and yes, now we have to prepare ourselves to celebrate Christmas in it. And we will have to expect that everything is going to be different, which will not be particularly easy for our fellowship-loving, tradition-honoring, hug-sharing CGS family. But sharing one of my favorite verses (in fact, it is the signature in my emails), Philippians 4:8 (NIV) says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” This verse always reminds me to dwell on things that are positive, that no matter how bad the situation may be, look for the beauty and good in it. This definitely has helped me and continues to help me get through some of my down moments. Developing this kind of mindset teaches me to have hope, no matter what, and encourages me to always have faith. So, I’m also encouraging everyone to prepare to celebrate the biggest holiday of the year with this perspective and try to look for the beauty and good in this approaching pandemic Christmas. Our CGS leadership is trying really hard to make our celebration joyful and meaningful for everyone, despite our current situation. Part of this year’s plan is having as many CGS members sing with the virtual choir for the carols and hymns we will be singing for the Christmas Eve worship. These will be familiar Christmas songs that we’ve sung in the past years, like “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “Angels We Have Heard on High”. In the following weeks, I will be sending out an email with detailed information regarding this, and I highly encourage everyone to participate. I’m hoping that in our own, different way of sharing music, we can still continue to spread the spirit of the season to everyone. A pandemic Christmas may be different, but with hope and faith, it can still be joyful, meaningful, beautiful, and good, with everyone’s help.
Save the date!
Make sure to join us on November 22nd for our congregational meeting online, preceded by interactive worship on Zoom
We start worship at 10am on Zoom (won't be on YouTube that day), immediately followed by our congregational meeting. Packets with all the relevant materials will be mailed out this week, so look for them soon.
Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.