New Education Class Coming

You are invited to join us for an interesting exchange of ideas, thoughts, questions, feelings and knowledge as we explore the Bible, including scriptures, stories, myths, and miracles. We will be meeting hybrid style, both in church and on Zoom from 9:30 am to 10:15 am Sunday mornings, starting September 5. Those who wish to meet at church will meet in the Fellowship Hall; those who prefer to meet on Zoom will use the same Zoom link used for worship.

We are going to begin our study with scripture. Each week 3 people will be asked to bring to our study a scripture — a favorite, one that is troublesome, one that is difficult to understand or one that is challenging in some other way. It may be a scripture you think would be interesting to explore. There will be no time limit; we may get thru only one scripture in a week, or we may get through 2 or 3. But we will plan to have 2 or preferably 3 people prepared each week with a scripture.

Through our discussions and sharing of scriptures, we will hopefully gain new knowledge and insight which will help us to understand not only scripture but also ourselves more fully.  When we have exhausted the scriptures we wish to discuss, we will move on to other stories in the Bible. We are excited to get started and look forward to  hearing and seeing scripture through you.

We're Back!

On July 25, twenty of us gathered for our first worship service in the sanctuary since last March. Another nine of us joined the hybrid service via Zoom. It was so nice to see this group in the sanctuary while also knowing that we had people from all over the country (including Texas, Minnesota, and Arkansas!) joining us online.

The process of getting us back to this point has been long. Moderator Sonya Blevins has worked with Pastor Christy Newton to lead discussions in various forums (congregational meetings, Admin Council, Ministry Council, etc.) of how best to re-open in a safe and meaningful way. On July 4th, we had a very nice in person service in our Peace Garden and on Zoom. We had two other “practice runs” with small groups working in the sanctuary to test out the technology for these hybrid services. Carl Cordes spearheaded this effort with new technology and worked with several others in the church to test out the camera and audio equipment to make sure the service could be enjoyed by everyone involved in the sanctuary and at home.

Overall, we were pleased with how the first sanctuary service went. There were definitely some hiccups and bugs that need to be worked out. This is going to be an ongoing process as we work with the technology and try new things so a meaningful worship experience can be had by everyone in the congregation.

A big Thank You! to everyone who worked to make this service possible. For many of us, it felt so good to be back home in our sanctuary. These last 16 months have been very hard and we are certainly not out of the pandemic yet. But, some sense of normalcy is so important for our mental, emotional and spiritual health. July 25th was a big first step in that process of getting back to “normal” in our life at First Christian Church.

In Person Worship Services Return July 25!

Our first in-person service since the shelter-at-home restrictions began will be July 4th. Another bit of freedom to celebrate! We will be meeting at 10:30 outdoors in the Peace Garden, and worship will also be live-streamed on Zoom. Some tents will be set up, but shady seating may be limited so please check the weather beforehand and come dressed for outdoor temperatures and sun. We’re following worship with a bring-your-own picnic lunch, to give us all a chance to get caught up with one another.

On July 11th and 18th, we are returning to Zoom-only worship while Pastor Christy is on vacation. Please join us for worship; you’ll see familiar faces in the virtual pulpit those Sundays.

On July 25th, we will resume worship together in the Sanctuary! Work has been done throughout the church in our absence; it will be wonderful to enjoy the updates. Planning for the service on the 25th is still in progress; we would like this service to be welcoming and meaningful, so please let Beth and/or Christy know what will help make the return to communal worship resonate for you. Our services will also continue to be on Zoom; the church recently purchased new video equipment to (hopefully) make that a seamless transition.

Global Holiday Faire is Here!

 “One Stop Shopping - Double Your Holiday Giving” is the slogan for the Ecumenical Global Holiday Faire. Usually, that one stop is the Fellowship Hall on the first Saturday of December. This year, we are doing things differently, and that one stop is our virtual marketplace at which is already up and running! Plus unlike our first 22 years, this year’s Faire will be going from October through December.

Visit the website now to shop at five non-profit organizations - SERRV International, Concern America, Global Mamas, Women’s Bean Project and Gifts for the Journey. You can find something for everyone on your list at these sites. And for the person who has everything? Think about an alternative gift through Heifer International or Arbor Day Foundation, which are also part of our marketplace. When you shop through any of them, your purchase helps someone in need - thus doubling your holiday giving. Plus, some of these organizations have given the Faire’s shoppers exclusive coupon codes which you can find on the website.

Every year, the Faire also supports several Vallejo charities. On the website, you will find information about them and ways to donate to them to help carry out their important work. On the site, you can also make a donation to the Faire itself. The money collected through those donations will be split between the Amador St. Hope Center, Genesis House and the dePaul Women’s Center.

Another way to help is to spread the word. Tell people about it. Post a link to the website on your social media. Email it out to everyone you know. There are people who can’t shop the Faire in person who now can participate for the first time. Soon, we will send out a flier which can be distributed electronically too, so keep an eye out for that. Getting the word out and encouraging as many people as possible to do their online holiday shopping through instead of commercial websites is key.

This is a totally new way of doing our Faire and we hope we can have a similar impact to last year when we raised over $15,600. Look for more announcements about other ways that you can support the Faire in the upcoming weeks (and months). And again, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Johson Garden Re-Dedication

The Johnson Ranch Garden Re-dedication is now written into the noble history of First Christian Church Vallejo. Sultry, smoke-tainted air did not deter 25 enthusiastic FCC members and guests present at the August 22, 2020 event from delighting in the lush witness to faith, persistence and sweat-equity on beautiful display. The garden renewal project that has evolved over many months is the result of a partnership between First Christian Church Vallejo and Sustainable Solano, a garden-based community development organization in Solano County. 

Completion of the project, in the works for nearly two years, was complicated by cautions related to our current COVID situation. Work groups were limited in size and, therefore, the site prep and planting took longer than originally planned. The result is very gratifying. Already an abundant assortment of fresh organic produce has been donated to community food programs. The harvest is on-going. This garden is an essential element of the culture of First Christian Church.  

Pastor Christy opened the re-dedication program with a welcome and prayer. Carl Cordes related the history of the garden, the legacy of Lyston and Louise Johnson and their passion for alleviating hunger, and the 2009 Disciples Miracle Day volunteer effort that constructed the original garden boxes. Allison Mezzera reported on the partnership with Sustainable Solano. Shannon Kitchens lifted up the vision and mission of the garden as a source of community connection and nutrition support in our neighborhood and City. Gabriela Estrada, Sustainable Solano Project Manager, and Garden Designer Scott Dodson led a tour of the garden, describing the water-wise construction and purposeful plant selection. Suzanne Awalt invited those present to participate responsively in a Dedication Litany that focused on gratitude for the land, the toil, and the faithfulness to vision that brought the garden to life as a sustainable source of nutrition, and the daily work of farmers and agricultural workers who produce our food and care for the land.  Boxes and buckets bursting with freshly-harvested pumpkins, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, tomatoes and chard were set out for guests to take home with them. Amador Street Hope Center also received some of the produce.   

The Garden Committee members are Allison Mezzera, Carl Cordes, Shannon Kitchens, Glenda Goode, Jeanne Cordes, and Suzanne Awalt. We especially thank Allison and Carl for their leadership and faithfulness to the garden ministry. Come enjoy the garden! It’s harvest time!

Cross Chat

The Elders are planning to hold a few socially distanced gatherings over the next few months.  Our first gathering will be September 5th at 9:30 AM in the Peace Garden!  This will be a time to nurture our spirits and simply be in community with one another. Bring your masks, bring a chair, bring your hearts wide open. Anticipated duration of the gathering is 45 minutes to an hour.  Safety is our top priority! Only do what you are comfortable with. We will be socially distanced, masks on, and hope to see you at some point in coming months!

Worship Planning Retreat

On Saturday, September 12, from 10:00-12:00, we will have our next Worship Planning Retreat, which will be an opportunity for anyone—and everyone—to come together to help envision and chart a course for our worship services over the next 3 months, including Advent. We will read scripture together and brainstorm themes, songs, poems, prayers, and ways we might structure our worship time. Everyone is welcome! So, bring yourselves and any ideas you have. We will share a refreshing and life-giving time together, while doing the work of the church. We look forward to seeing you there!

Come to the Garden

The Sustainable Solano Garden Committee would like to invite you all to a Garden Tour and Dedication of the much improved Johnson Garden!  This will take place on 8/9/20 at a time TBD.  Gabriela with Sustainable Solano will present the new Garden Plan and show us what is newly planted.  Then we will have a small service to dedicate the garden and thank Sustainable Solano for all of their help.

This will be an in-person outdoor socially distanced event, so please bring your masks, and chairs if you need them.  We are also working on covering the event live on Facebook or recording for those of you who may not want to come out to the church.

What a great tie-in to our Pentecost season theme, Welcoming the Spirit, focusing on the various ways the Spirit manifests in a garden—digging, planting, watering, blooming, sharing. 

When Will We Be Back In Church?

That’s something probably all of you have wondered over the last few weeks. We get mixed messages: Sacramento says churches can meet in person (with restrictions), local health departments add criteria, the reopening of workplaces and shops has begun and the number of Covid-19 cases is rising. In the face of all the uncertainty, the Administrative Council voted to keep the church building closed through August to all building users. That doesn’t necessarily mean that in-person worship will resume in September; Admin will be reviewing the risks and benefits of reopening at their August meeting. Some churches have already resumed in-person worship; we hope to learn from them what a successful reopening will look like and what steps we need to take to keep everyone in our congregation safe. In the meantime, we are taking this opportunity to replace the well-worn carpet in the Sanctuary, parlor and stairs. When we get back together, it will be in a (finally!) completely refurbished Sanctuary.

Just because we won’t be in the building doesn’t mean we can’t meet, however. The Elders are planning a gathering in the courtyard. While it may not be a full-blown worship service, it will be an opportunity to connect, to pray together, to feed our spirits with much-needed community. Stay tuned for more information. Until then, see you on Zoom.