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Bible Study, 9 am

Contact Us

Phone: (909) 622-1144

Fax: (909) 622-5771

Email: fcc@fccpomona.org

1751 N. Park Ave
Pomona, CA 91768

Office Hours
Monday: 9am – 12pm
Tuesday: 9am – 12pm
Wednesday: 9am – 12pm
Thursday: 9am – 12pm
Friday: 9am – 12pm

If you'd like to meet someone before you walk through that door the first time, just give us a call or send us an email.

We'll arrange for one or two of our members have coffee or something with you and give you a chance to get to know someone, so you won’t be by yourself for your first visit.

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Pastor’s Blog

Why are we explicit? In our welcome….

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Because there are people who are explicit in their hating.

When I was 14, I had a crush on a boy in school: old story. What was unusual was his use of the swastika; he’d drawn it on his book covers and other various places. It never occurred to me to wonder deeply about this. It was not a topic of conversation among the adults in my circles: the Holocaust. In fact, I over heard jokes about Jewish people, and aspersions expressed in stereotyping. There was never an explicit expression about the horrors of the Holocaust and the lessons we need to learn.

A recent study indicated that 66% of US millennials did not know what the Auschwitz concentration camp was. (LA Times, 3-6-19) Allowing hate becomes easier when people are ignorant. Recently, in Newport Beach this was made apparent when it was discovered a group of high schoolers had posted on social media a picture of themselves in front of a swastika made out of red solo cups; they’d been drinking. What is frightening is the response of many: “Don’t make such a big deal.” and “I can say what I want: free speech.” What is hopeful is that parents, student and the community gathered to name the action for what it is: hate.

When people refrain from saying out loud, they disagree, it is a form of assent. Community members stood up to say together, “We do not agree with this expression of hate and intimidation toward a group of people.”

Every Sunday, Mike or I welcome people to church. We are explicit in our welcome that FCC Pomona is Open and Affirming. Sometimes we are more explicit and say we welcome people regardless of their sexual identity or orientation, because open and affirming is insider code language. Why are we explicit in our welcome? Because there are people who are explicit in their hating.

People find our congregation on the internet because they Google: gay friendly church, LGBTQ friendly, etc. They’ve been to or been part of church where hate is explicit toward the LGBTQ community. They want to experience the welcome of God, maybe for someone they love, maybe for themselves.

Jesus was explicit in his welcome, eating with people considered unclean, welcoming children who were considered in that time to not be fully human. Jesus was explicit in his welcome. In a society that can be stingy with kindness, we choose to uphold the welcome of God which we believe to be extravagant.

Julie’s Jar: Lent – It’s Not About Giving Up

What makes it possible for you to experience a sense of sacred presence? What makes God more real to you? When are the moments you have felt divine presence, even fleetingly? Seek out those moments more. Put yourself in experiences that make God’s presence palpable to you. Read the rest of this entry »

No Room…Still

1170x750xhomeless.jpg_qitok_crX5Ue5G.pagespeed.ic.PYpj5Zuy-iWe read about it in the papers. There is not enough housing available in California to meet the current need; there are roughly 600,000 units needed to meet current demand. We know people are being displaced by high rents and/or lack of availability. Our congregation helps support Our House Shelter, an emergency shelter for people who don’t have a home. It’s an important part of meeting the housing crisis. But what happens when people get back on their feet and cannot find a place to actually “set up house”?

There are many possible solutions to the housing crisis and all of them are needed. Is there something our congregation could do with other congregations to help mitigate the risk for people who are still sheltered but under threat of displacement? Our faith doesn’t happen in the vacuum of our sanctuary. It is meant to be lived in our lives, on our streets and in our communities. Just learning about the realities of the housing crisis in our state and in our region is an important first step to living our faith.

Our Organizing Team invites all of you to lunch and small group conversations about the work we are doing together and might do with others to make “more room at the Inn”. On January 13th after worship, we will gather for lunch and conversation. People have opinions about housing, but the urgency of the crisis calls for more than opinions.

Julie’s Jar for November 12, 2018 – Generation to Generation

The president of the congregation sent an email indicating 650 people attended the service. Mike, Tim Reed and I were in attendance Friday night at Temple Beth Israel for Shabbat. It was called Solidarity Shabbat and Jewish congregations around the nation gathered, inviting the communities in which they live and worship to join them.

We welcomed the Sabbath together early in the service, turning to the door where we’d all entered earlier. It is an ancient practice, to welcome the Sabbath in this way, like an honored guest entering the space. We read prayers together in both Hebrew and English and sang prayers together in Hebrew: prayers and songs that have been sung by the Jewish community for centuries. I watched as everyone who was part of the community participated in a dip and bow in unison wondering “How many centuries have people been doing that?”

The prayers, scriptures and songs included a number of references to passing these on “so our children may know.” A mother and daughter sat in front of me, the daughter recently having had her Bat Mitzvah. I watched them speak, sing and move in unison to the parts of the service. I watched mom encourage daughter to go up front when Rabbi Kupetz invited the youth of the congregation to come forward and lead a prayer. After a number of persistent and gentle pushes, daughter went forward. It takes tenacity to raise children in any faith and I appreciated the mom’s persistence. It is so much easier to give in and give up using the excuse, “Well, they have to decide for themselves.” (As Anne Lamott pointed out, “We make them brush their teeth. Is the life of their spirit not at least equally of value?)

The generation to generation passing on of the faith is of high value in the Jewish community. In many ways, I think it is of higher value than it is for many Protestants, particularly in the United States. The history of Protestantism in the United States is rooted in personal salvation, making a decision for oneself. This individualist approach to Christian faith is comfortable being untethered to tradition. Protestants in the US tend to be preoccupied with numbers: number of people in the pews, numbers of dollars received and given to charity. Living a Christian life, what we call discipleship, is often an afterthought. Christian discipleship by necessity is rooted in spiritual traditions going back to Jewish community that gave birth to Jesus.

The organizing principle for the 30 plus years I’ve been in ministry has been, “How can we get more people to be part of the church?” Worship was blamed for being boring and keeping people away from church, so the worship wars broke out. Committees were blamed for being tedious and keeping people away from church, so gutting congregational infrastructure became vogue. Anything perceived traditional was and still is demonized in many circles. “It’s gotta be fresh, contemporary, culturally relevant.”

We window dress and leave behind the substance of the Christian tradition. The tradition which is ours is the good news of Jesus Christ. It is a future hope being born in our present in which the blind will see, the lame will walk, the lowly be lifted up and the mighty brought down. It is a tradition that has substance worth bequeathing, generation to generation.

Julie’s Jar – “Flight”

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moises Castillo/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9939602c) Central American migrants walking to the U.S. start their day departing Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, . Despite Mexican efforts to stop them at the border, about 5,000 Central American migrants resumed their advance toward the U.S. border early Sunday in southern Mexico. Their numbers swelled overnight and at first light they set out walking toward the Mexican town of Tapachula Central America Migrant Caravan, Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico - 21 Oct 2018

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moises Castillo/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9939602c)
Central American migrants walking to the U.S. start their day departing Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, . Despite Mexican efforts to stop them at the border, about 5,000 Central American migrants resumed their advance toward the U.S. border early Sunday in southern Mexico. Their numbers swelled overnight and at first light they set out walking toward the Mexican town of Tapachula
Central America Migrant Caravan, Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico – 21 Oct 2018

Southeast of downtown Los Angeles are five (now 6) small cities where blue collar/white collar middle class, mostly white families raised their children until the early 1970s. I grew up in this part of LA County. In a matter of one decade the neighborhoods changed due to countless sociological factors no one could anticipate or navigate.

A snapshot from that time might look something like this. Gangs had always been in the mix, but now they were connected to organized crime. Once they carried knives; now they had guns. Schools were among the best in the district; now they were overcrowded, students stuffed into non airconditioned, smelly bungalows for some classes. Drugs became more prevalent. One family I know left because a teenager was threatened after reporting drug activity in school. Violence inside schools was a daily occurrence. (I know; I was there.) Parents who thought they chose a safe place to raise their children feared for the children’s safety and moved out. Some moved to the Pacific Northwest; most moved 5 miles east to Downey.

Granted, racism played its part in the lack of capacity to address the real problems faced by all those cities. Fear of people “not like me” played its part. There was also genuine fear that the situation was beyond anyone’s ability to impact individually. The only sane option felt by many parents was to protect their children by leaving.

This is what I imagine approximates in some way what parents now fleeing Central American countries are feeling. When faced with daily violence, the violent death of family members, extortion by gangs, threats to their lives and their children’s lives, and so much more horror, the only sane option is to leave. Even if you don’t know if leaving will be better, flight is really the only sane option. It’s not much different from the moment a victim of domestic violence has when the realization comes, “If I don’t leave, I or my children will be killed.”

If you wonder why “those people” would come to the United States, perhaps you haven’t yet learned about the circumstances that would motivate them to walk thousands of uncertain miles in the company and safety of a large group of other motivated people to find sanctuary somewhere. The scale of their suffering and vulnerability is so much greater than what we experienced in southeast LA in the 1970s, but the genesis of both is the need to protect one’s children.

And now, a man has murdered 11 people in their house of worship for being Jews who welcomed the refugee. The man ranted on social media just before the attack about the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, an organization devoted to helping refugees of all faiths find their feet in a new country. One of the congregations meeting in the facility was a supporter of the refugee work.

There is a story told in the gospel of Matthew at the very beginning. Mary and Joseph were warned to not return home because the life of their child, Jesus, was in danger. They fled to Egypt becoming refugees in a foreign land. None of the other gospels tell this story. It makes me wonder who in Matthew’s community were refugees. Why would it be important for the community to whom Matthew told the Jesus story to know that their savior started life as a refugee?

The cause of God’s compassion in the world calls us to identify with people who are suffering. May we learn to follow this call on the way with Jesus.