Richmond First United Methodist News and Events
Jean Reynolds’ message from last Sunday: Go Deeper
Last Friday I attended a breakfast meeting to hear the State of the Schools annual report for the West Contra Costa County Unified School District. Right off the bat, Superintendent Bruce Harter acknowledged the current legal investigation and said no charges have been made and the district is complying with all requests during the investigation. He said the district will make corrections if the investigation reveals impropriety. On the plus side, the district has funds to set up a full day kindergarten program. Since it is not fully funded yet, the first 11 elementary schools on the list “according to need” have the program first. Next year, the next 11 schools will be brought in, until all are served. (Karen Bianchini says, “but what is the student to teacher ratio?”) More students who start in our high schools as freshmen graduate now compared to three years ago, although the graduation rate still needs to improve.
I was sorry Dr. Harter did not mention Writer Coach Connection, now active in 11 high schools and middle schools in Richmond, El Cerrito, Albany, Oakland, and Berkeley. Dr. Mary Lee Cole started it in the East Bay in 2001. I am one of 700 volunteers, due to start my third year volunteering with the program. Over 2000 East Bay students have an hour with a coach one-on-one, once or twice a month. The fall coach orientation last month included material to help coaches understand the new Common Core Curriculum. Its goal is to equip students to go deeper as they read and write. Students learn to analyze the text by going beyond the questions who/what/when/ where/why to the more sophisticated: What does the author believe? What was the turning point? What are the inconsistencies of the argument? Who will gain and who will lose? Contact with students at Richmond High has given me insight into what students experience and think about. I have developed a stronger sense of community connection. As I encourage students to think more deeply, it is a message I must hear and incorporate in my life. I appreciate being here during worship with a set time each week to ask some of those deeper questions about my life and to consider how I can best relate to others.
We saw a play last Friday night at LaVal’s underground in Berkeley. The Year of the Rooster. Upstairs is a pizza parlor and pool hall. Downstairs is a small, dark, box theater. Close quarters, it makes the Masquers’ theater in Point Richmond seem huge. Karen Bianchini was afraid the show would be too violent for her so I suggested we sit in the second row – it’s about as far away from the stage as you can get. The play was an edgy telling of a man and his fighting cock: an actor effectively portrayed the rooster. The two characters talked all the time, but did not ever communicate with each other. At no time did either know anything about how the other one felt. Both chose destructive patterns of behavior that kept them from living their lives in full connection with others. It was easy to justify why they failed to communicate with each other – one being a man and the other a rooster – but they faced more subtle barriers as they tried to connect positively to other people and chickens.
Today my focus is the Bible story in Matthew 21:33-46. If you want to look at the passage in Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20, on your own, be sure to note the parts that the lectionary leaves out of the reading. It gives me hope that the church is evolving on what message to include in our prescribed readings. We didn’t read the verses that say God will punish even your offspring if you disobey him. Our spiritual practice does not have to be rooted in fear of retribution. My personal opinion is that the Psalms we recite on Sunday mornings should also be redacted. I find it hard to wish for the death of enemies or say that all is good in my life because God is on my side. It makes it harder to explain if life turns sour.
One more story that I promise is related to the scripture: My friend Russ from high school studied at WSU with me. He had an essay about Benito Mussolini first written by his older brother. Russ (and his cousin!) reworked that paper every time their various social science classes required an essay. They would just edit it so Benito Mussolini’s life story became an example (more or less) to reflect the purpose of their current assignment. Jesus and the gospel writers did the same thing and drew on familiar stories to convey new thoughts. Isaiah 5 tells a story of a vineyard. It starts just like this reading in Matthew, but the story in Isaiah clearly identifies God is the owner of the vineyard and the people of Israel are the ones tending it. Jesus and his audience knew the Isaiah story by heart; when they heard him start to tell about the vineyard, they would have reflexively identified the players the way Isaiah assigned who represented whom. Jesus added a twist, though. Jesus said that a man owned the vineyard, and that the workers owed a portion of the fruit to the owner. We call that sharecropping. It was prevalent in this country during the dust bowl days in the 1930’s, and is the norm in the Philippines and other places now. It was common in Jesus’ day but is not just a practice found “in those days.” In a sharecropping society, only wealthy people can own land, and the ones who do all of the backbreaking work barely make enough to eke out a living. Laws protect the rights of the wealthy, absentee landlords. Jesus may have been saying that those people working the land would prevail over the people in power who kept them from thriving and who exacted unfair payments. In Matthew, the passage ends as the church/government leaders realize the bad actor in the story is supposed to represent them. This same story is told in the gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Each of the gospel writers had a different reason to use it, and tailored the story accordingly. Matthew had a specific message he wanted the story to convey. Matthew’s telling of the story is interpreted by some Christians to mean that Jesus’ followers would assume power over society instead of the Jewish traditional leaders because the Pharisees and chief priests had misused their power.
The beauty of the parables and other Bible stories is that you can hear them and identify with every person in the story in some way, depending on your mood, experience, and how deeply you take time to consider. As we listen, we can feel like the landlord with ungrateful tenants; the hard working tenants with an unreasonable boss; or one of the messengers who gets beat up, disrespected, and killed just for doing his job or because of his family name or status. We can feel uneasy as we consider our complicity with injustice. The stories bear repeating: each retelling is a chance to experience some new insight into our own lives and can help us as we work for positive changes. All of these stories are meaningful now.
I try to find time to think deeply about my life. Through stories and questions, I challenge my current opinions and try to broaden my understanding.
I like to take time to explore the world from more than one perspective and value my time here as part of this congregation to do that.
I challenge you to consider the ways your power and your ability to connect with others can be used to make the world a better place so that you may be inspired to act accordingly.
Joys and Concerns
Lauren McLeod welcomes your prayers for healing.
Debbie Benko is asking for prayers for healing for her husband, Bill, who has been having a severe bout of back pain.
Sandra Kokoruda (Fran Smith’s daughter) is still anemic and unable to proceed with surgery as yet. Please remember her in your prayers.
Molly Smith is requesting prayers for her brother who has been treated for a brain tumor for several years and has recently entered the Hospice program. Prayers for his family and her brother as they go through this very difficult time.
Deby McFadyen is asking for prayers for her father, Jack McFadyen, who has lung cancer and has started chemotherapy She also requests prayers for a friend, Sara Talkington who has just been diagnosed with a brain tumor. She’s married with a 4 year old so
Pat Dornan and Linda Pereira continue to need your prayers of support and healing. Linda is walking with the use of a walker for stability. Pat has some help coming in five hours a day so she can continue her busy schedule and know that Linda is safe.
Robbie Robinson would appreciate your prayers.
Helen Wysham welcomes your prayers for healing as she undergoes chemotherapy.
I got a nice note of thanks today from Chett Pritchett, Executive Director,
Methodist Federation for Social Action. Maybe you saw it. The last paragraph
“When we sang Dan Damon’s “With the People We Have” before we left Zephyr
Cove, I looked around the room and knew in that space we had the resources,
the passion, and the commitment to make a difference in our Church and our
He wrote a p.s. in pen: Dan‹It was wonderful to work with you! Thank you for
sharing your gift! 🙂
Thank you all for helping me share my gift.
Love and Justice,
We have received a letter from missionaries Larry and Jane Kies in Zimbabwe working at the Africa University. Please see attached.
The Ad Board sent an email to wish Katherine Parker, our missionary, a Happy Birthday. We also told her the congregation supports the good work she is doing and that we remember her in prayer.
World Day Against the Death Penalty: The Iranian American Community of Northern California is holding a rally to protest the continuing executions by the Iranian Government on Sunday, Oct. 12, 2:30-4:40 pm in Palo Alto (corner of University and Emerson). All are welcome to add their voices.
Mark your calendar! 6th Annual Jean Eakle Silent Auction fundraiser is coming up on Saturday, October 25, 2014 from 4-7 p.m. at the Point San Pablo Yacht Club @ 700 W. Cutting Blvd., Richmond. There will be arts & crafts for bidding, door prizes, music, hors d’oeuvres, good people and good fun! Suggested donation at door $10.
Donations needed! Do you craft, knit, crochet, make jewelry, sculpt, paint etc., or would like to donate cash or gift certificates? Please contact Debbie Benko @ 510-517-6724; DebBenko160@aol.com; or bring your tax deductible donations to the church on Sunday’s between 10 and 1 p.m.
How are we doing? The Ad Board met October 9 and Norm Reynolds gave the financial report to date. Collections are about the normal rate but since summer collections were low, it still leaves us behind $3000 in projected income. We have several fundraisers still to come this fall: Art Auction, Dinner/Theater and the Christmas Bake Sale where we hope to make up some of the deficit.
Sunday, Oct. 12 we will continue to collect donations for World Communion Sunday, one of the UMC’s special opportunities to give to help others. The moneys from this particular Sunday provide scholarships to national and international ethnic minorities who wouldn’t normally be able to afford an education. They often return to their communities to foster change. Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world” Consider a gift to make a positive change for others. Contributions can also be made any time.
Sunday, Oct. 12 after church the Art Auction Committee will be meeting.
Sunday, Oct. 12 after church the Lay Leadership Committee will be meeting. As a reminder members are: Diane Frary, Jean Reynolds, Alice Thompson, Fran Smith and Steve Aleshire and Molly Smith.
Sunday, October 12 at 5 pm the SF Munich Trio will be having a concert at our church. Rebecca Rust, cello, Friedrich Edelmann, bassoon and Miles Graber, piano We always look forward to their concerts. They have been playing in China and Italy with rave reviews. This is a don’t miss concert, their music is extraordinary. If you love classical music come and enjoy. Tickets are $15 at the door. If you would like to help with refreshments, let Barbara Haley know at firstname.lastname@example.org.Visit their website at http://www.edelmann-rust.com/ for information about them and their playing.
Saturday, October 18, United Methodist Women will be meeting 1-3 pm at Doreen Leighton’s home, 236 Castro St., Point Richmond to discuss refreshments for the auction and other upcoming fall events.
Beginning Sunday Oct. 19, Pastor Dan and Jean Reynolds will be presenting a course on the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church. This is a seven week course offered during Adult Sunday School, 10-10:45 am. Come and add to the discussion!
The Point Richmond Jazz Concert series begins Friday, October 24 at 7:30 pm. The season opens with Jason Anick and Rhythm Future. This quartet performs dynamic and fiery arrangements of Gypsy Jazz standards and original compositions. First United Methodist Church, 201 Martina St., Richmond. Season Tickets for 8 concerts, $100. For more information about the performers and tickets go to prjazz.org. Tickets $20 at the door, $15 on line.
Sat., Oct. 25, 11 am to 1 pm Point Richmond Jazz presents Meet the Artist– with Jason Anick
Point Richmond Jazz presents a workshop BOTH for musicians AND the general public to meet the violinist from the concert the evening before. Musicians will join Jason Anick for a workshop for the full 1 and a half hours. Other interested members of the public will join Kit Eakle in another room to listen to recorded music and join in a discussion of the origins and influences of Jason’s music, and then all will join the musicians in a ‘MEET THE artist” Q & A with the violinist, Jason Anick. Admission is $30 – but $10 for season ticket holders. Go to http://prjazz.org/for more info and advance tickets. Held at the First United Methodist Church, 201 Martina St., Richmond.
6th Annual Jean Eakle Silent Auction: Saturday, October 25, 2014, 4-7 pm, Point San Pablo Yacht Club, 700 W. Cutting Blvd, Richmond. Donation at door $10. We will have arts & crafts for bidding, door prizes, music and hors d’oeuvres to satisfy other senses and a good time!
Donations needed! Are you an artist who would like to donate your goods or maybe you have art in storage you have been meaning to donate? Please donate your tax deductible items by contacting Debbie Benko @ 510-517-6724 or DebBenko160@aol.com.
Sunday, Oct. 26, after church the Annual Thanksgiving Dinner Committee will be meeting as part of the planning for this special event.
Sunday, Nov. 9 our Annual Church Conference will be held in conjunction with Pinole and El Sobrante United Methodist Churches at the Pinole Methodist Church, 2000 San Pablo Ave., Pinole.
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- 14-2 Oct Kies newsletter