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June NCNC News

News from Our Wider Church
Northern California-Nevada Conference (NCNC)
United Church of Christ

Vandalism in the Murphys Church
Our prayers go out to the people of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Murphys. A vandal threw a concrete block through a stained-glass widow in the sanctuary. As Pastor Bonnie Hollinger reports, “ It just breaks my heart to see this beautiful window so devastated. I do not understand people who do these sort of things, but I do know that Jesus requires a response of  a response of mercy and grace. While indeed our anger at such an incident is appropriate, it is my prayer that we will be generous in our forgiveness and mercy.” Our Murphys church is part of the Mountain-Valley Association of six congregations, which includes our own church.

NCNC Annual Gathering
The Annual Gathering of churches in our regional Conference will take place at Sonoma State University on June 16-19. The gathering includes workshops, worship, and fellowship. Pastor Michael will be attending Annual Gathering through June 18. The Conference includes 118 local churches and about 383 ministers, from Eureka to Tulare, from Monterey to Reno, and everywhere in between.

Your Help Needed
The Executive Council of our six-church Mountain Valley Association needs an at-large representative from our church. The Executive Council coordinates Association gatherings, guides the ordination process of ministers in our Association, and oversees the calling of ministers in our churches. In addition to our own church, the Mountain Valley Association includes the following churches: United Congregational Christian Church, Lodi; First Congregational Church, Stockton; First Congregational Church, Ripon (seeking full standing in the MVA); Union Congregational Church, Angels Camp, and First Congregational Church, Murphys.

Save the Date! MVA Meeting at First Congregational, Murphys
Our Association’s Annual Meeting will take place at First Congregational Church, Murphys on Sunday, September 18. The meeting includes worship, a meal, and fellowship. In attendance will be Conference Minister Diane Weible and Associate Conference Minister Davina Jones. The members of all six churches in our Association are encouraged to attend. Please join Pastor Michael in representing our own church. More information TBA.

Rummage Sale

Rummage Sale

Saturday, June 4, 8am – 2pm

College Avenue front lawn and Fellowship Hall

A fundraiser to support church ministries.

Enneagram Workshop

Introduction to the Enneagram: A Two-part Class

May 18 & 25, 7pm, Youth Building

What is the Enneagram?

• A mirror of the soul as it manifests itself in nine different personality types.

• A signpost that names the real sin that drives each type so that the special virtue of each type can shine forth.

• A tool that combines good psychology with good spirituality to help us find a deeper and more authentic relationship with God and ourselves.

• A map of the soul drawn from Christian spirituality and other spiritual traditions.


Five Wishes Class

Five Wishes Class

Sundays, April 10 and 17, 3pm – 4:30pm

April 16th is “National Decision Day.” We are inviting people to talk among themselves as family and friends about what would they want for their medical care if they could no longer make decisions for themselves.

For many people this conversation is a challenging one, yet it is a necessary one. One way of looking at it is what would you want done if you were in a car accident, severely injured and unconscious and not able to tell anyone what you want? Do you want CPR done if your heart stops? If you are in a coma, who would you want to make decisions for you? If you have a massive stoke, would you want to be artificially fed? For some people, these questions bring up spiritual and ethical questions.

Chaplain Erin King from Community Hospice will facilitate discussions about what is involved to make these decisions. Using the “5 Wishes” booklet, we will explore:

  1. Who do I want to make care decisions for me when I can’t.
  2. What kind of medical treatment do I want or don’t want.
  3. How comfortable do I want to be in regards to pain control.
  4. How do I want people to treat me.
  5. What do I want my loved ones to know.

By the end of the April 17th session, you will have a completed legal document expressing who and what you want.

These 2 sessions are open to the community. Contact Chaplain Erin for more information at [email protected].

Serve at Love Modesto!

LOVE MODESTO is getting super excited for this Saturday preparing for over 4000 volunteers, but we can still use your help!

There is still a big need for more volunteers for these following projects:

  • Beautify Modesto Parks
  • Clean Up Modesto
  • Airport Neighborhood – Oregon Park
  • Needham Neighborhood Clean Up
  • Orchard Park Neighborhood Clean Up
  • Tobacco Litter Clean Up
  • Tuolumne River Clean Up
  • Delta Blood Bank
  • Love All Our Kids
  • Pajama Program
  • Downey High School
  • El Vista Elementary School
  • Garrison Elementary School
  • Hanshaw Middle School
  • Johansen High School
  • Modesto High School

People can sign up at and click on “Projects.”

April 18 Festivities begin at 8am on I & 10th Streets, right in front of the Gallo Center.

  • Lots of music, free giveaways including Modesto Nuts tickets for all!
  • Free food and refreshments (SaveMart, Starbucks, Pepsi, Blue Diamond Growers, Del Monte, Buffalo Wild Wings, Frito Lay, Gold N Fresh Bakery, etc.)!
  • Free Kid’s Zone featuring jump houses, face painting, super heroes, games, etc.!
  • Free back massages by Armstrong Chiropractic!
  • Free family/friend photos by Platinum Photo Booth!
  • Fire trucks, ambulances, CHP, Sheriff and MPD patrol cars, motor bikes, swat truck, K9 and horses!
  • And LOTS more!

It’s going to be an incredible family-friendly atmosphere before we all go out to volunteer in 90+ projects!

How Will the Labyrinth be Built

There are two threads to the “how” of the labyrinth. The first has to do with the desire to build a labyrinth at College Avenue. The interest in labyrinths and the seed of a desire for one at our church started in the 1990s, with several members of the church learning about labyrinths, visiting several together and even building a “guerilla” labyrinth at Downey High School.

Two of those members, Sandy Sample and Ken Schroeder are now on the Labyrinth Committee which also includes Melinda Kopp (Committee Chair), Erin King, Tami Bennett, Samantha Bennett, Pastor Michael, Mitchell Mesimer, Rickie Jean Langerman and Robert Nicholas. We are all focused on using Memorial Funds designated for this purpose to build a labyrinth that is well-suited for our property, incorporates a design we are drawn to and will be used by the congregation as well as the community.

The other “how” is the actual construction of the labyrinth. We have, after visiting and experiencing a good number of labyrinths in proximity, settled on the design and materials that we feel will work best for our site and will accommodate constant use by a variety of mobilities. We have made contact with one of the best known and respected labyrinth facilitators, Lars Howlett, who happens to be based in the Bay Area. Our hope is to have his invaluable, expert guidance and assistance as we plan for construction.

We have also connected with a well-regarded landscape architect (and former member), Dennis Dahlin, who will also be available to advise us. Committee member Samantha Bennett has professional knowledge that will lend itself to proper preparation of the site to support the construction.
The funds that have been earmarked for the Labyrinth will also help with landscaping and other features such as explanatory/descriptive signage and other enhancements. We feel we are well-positioned to move forward with construction occurring in mid to late Spring 2015.

Q&A With the Labyrinth Team

The Labyrinth Committee responds to questions you may be wondering about:

Where will our labyrinth be located?
Our plan is to build the labyrinth near our beloved cork oak tree, 
which many of us already experience as having its own sacred spirit.

Why there instead of someplace else?
It is on the corner of College and Orangeburg that our church is most 
visible to the community.  That has been “our corner” since the 
original grape vineyard and farmhouse were
developed into our church campus.

Won’t people driving by wonder why people are walking in a strange 
circuitous pattern?
Our labyrinth will be what is called an “urban style” labyrinth, open 
to the world and visible to the community: to cars passing through the 
intersection and to families picking up school children. If those we 
don’t know see someone walking the winding path, they might wonder 
what it’s all about, and stop to try it out another day.

Won’t those who are walking the labyrinth feel uncomfortable being so 
exposed  to anyone going by?  It is a noisy, busy  corner!
Those who are walking the labyrinth may be aware of the noise of “the 
world around us” at first. But as the path winds them toward the 
center,  they’ll find it possible to lay aside
distractions and preoccupations, and allow the sacredness of the 
space to connect them to their own quiet center, where God awaits.

Will there be some landscaping around the labyrinth to beautify the 
We hope to eventually develop some landscaping that can provide some 
soft separation from the busyness of that corner — but walking the 
labyrinth will always invite us to learn how to let the noise around 
us carry us to the center, not only of the labyrinth, but of the 
stillness of our own heart as well.

We hope you will allow our labyrinth to lead you deeper into God’s 
loving embrace.

The Chartres Labyrinth

The labyrinth committee researched and experienced walking different types of labyrinth designs. We decided to create our labyrinth based on the Christian Chartres Cathedral design found in the gothic cathedral of Chartres which is located outside of Paris, France. This classic design has 11 circuits—concentric circles—with the 12th circle being the center with the rosette pattern. This design was created in the 12 Century.

One of the commitments a Christian made at that time was to journey to Jerusalem and experience the path that Jesus walked. During this time, the Crusades were happening, making it almost impossible for the Christian to go to Jerusalem. The Bishops at that time, decided to create labyrinths in the major cathedrals in Europe. This would allow Christians to symbolically journey to the “New Jerusalem” which would be the center of the labyrinth.

From a contemporary perspective, this design’s energy causes one to calm, to focus inward as one walks the labyrinth as a meditative walk. Other design’s energy do the opposite—energize and “rev up”. The 11 circuit design welcomes us to experience an inner spiritual process of releasing and letting go of our every day “stuff;” receiving guidance, insight, inner peace; and then returning to the world.



Labyrinth Team Update


The Labyrinth Committee is meeting regularly and making definite progress on bringing a labyrinth to our campus by summer of 2015. In an effort to inform you of their work and purpose, committee member Erin King, who is especially knowledgeable about labyrinths, would like to share this information.

Why does the labyrinth attract people? Because it is a tool to guide healing, deepen self-knowledge, and empower creativity.

Walking the labyrinth clears the mind and gives insight into the spiritual journey. It urges action. It calms people in the throes of life transitions.

To those of us who feel we have untapped gifts to offer, it stirs the creative fires within. To others who are in deep sorrow, the walk gives solace and peace.

The experience is different for everyone.

1. The labyrinth is a tool for meditation. By following the path to the center, the seeker can use the labyrinth to quiet the mind and find peace and illumination at the center of his or her being. As soon as one enters the labyrinth, one realizes that the path serves as a metaphor for one’s spiritual journey.

2. The labyrinth is a path of prayer. seekers can go in, allow their minds to quiet, and then begin to pray for whatever they need in their lives.

3. The labyrinth is a place of release or renewal. A seeker can release the feelings as they arise and ask for guidance, forgiveness, or whatever is needed for healing.

Festival of Gifts: 2014

Sunday, December 7, 11:30am – 1:15pm, Fellowship Hall

We invite you to participate in College Avenue’s Festival of Gifts 2014–a seasonal event for children/youth ages 3 – 15 to create handmade gifts for people they love.

The Festival of Gifts will begin soon after worship with a simple lunch for children in a secret on-site location,  After all have eaten, Fellowship Hall will be open to children, offering a variety of gift projects geared to a variety of ages, as well as a gift-wrapping station.

How you can help:

Creative adults and older youth are needed to:

  • Set up and staff a gift project table with enough supplies for 20 children
  • Set up and help staff the gift-wrapping station
  • Help a child who needs assistance with gift projects, or be a “floater”
  • Help with set-up (during worship) or clean-up (after 1:15 pm)

To join the fun by volunteering, please sign up on November 23, or call Patti Canoles (521-1080) or Judy Brown (239-7011).

Parents will need to sign their children in and out, and provide a phone number at which they can be reached, and then make themselves scarce, so surprises can be kept secret.  Pick-up time is 1:15 pm — please be prompt! Advance registration by November 30 will help us plan for lunch.

Festival of Gifts is a long-standing College Avenue tradition, revived by Women of Wonder (WOW), with new participants each year.