751 Alameda de
las Pulgas
Belmont, CA 94002
(650) 593-4547
E-mail: belmontucc
@comcast.net

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Regular worship services are each Sunday
at 10:30 a.m.

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Northern California Nevada   Conference of the UCC

 

Ministries

Ministries of Care

Elizabeth Mye

The Congregational Church of Belmont is a community of faith that responds to the needs of its members and friends like the extended family that it is.  The early church was recognized for this distinctive characteristic:  “See how they love one another.”  Each of us has unique gifts to bring to this simple task of being there for each other.  Here are some of the services that Ministries of Care offer to each of us.

Programs

Adult Bible Study

Our Adult Bible Study meets every second and fourth Wednesday of the month at 6 PM. We gather for a simple potluck dinner and then dive into an informative and thought provoking study of the scriptures that includes historical/critical, sociological and technical examinations of the original Greek and Hebrew texts along with a lively discussion of the word at work in our lives. Newcomers are always welcome.

Book Study Groups

Currently we've formed a group that meets once a month after church to discuss Zander and Zander's The Art of Possibility, a transformative and throught provoking book. In the past we've looked at books on Celtic Spirituality and Biblical History. Our interest run the gamit and drive these groups.

Women's Spirituality Group

We gather every other Tuesday evening from 7:30 to 9 p.m. in the intimate setting of the church parlor to create a sacred space and to share our stories and our silences. We are committed to honoring one another's confidences, to speaking from our hearts and to avoid giving advice. Leadership rotates on a volunteer basis throughout the group. Scripture readings and favorite quotations often set the tone or theme for the evening. We almost always close with a circle of prayer and a choral "Amen!"

Hands on Healing

Several members of our congregation are trained in hands-on-healing. The last Sunday of each month our worship ends with a time of prayer and healing to which all are invited. God's healing power is central to the Gospel message and to our faith community in practice as well.

Blessing of the Animals October 3

Our annual Blessing of the Animals will once again take place on the Sunday closest to St. Francis of Assisi’s birthday, which is, as usual, also World Communion Sunday, Oct. 3. It is a fitting reminder that, for many of us, our animal companions are a very real part of our families and deserve to be blessed and welcomed into our midst on this occasion when the whole world is reminded that we are one communion family.

You are invited to bring your dogs (on leashes), your cats (in carrying cases), your birds, gerbils, rats, snakes and hamsters all in appropriate carriers. We will say a prayer and a blessing for each one during our Time with Children. If it is not possible to bring your pet, you are invited to bring a picture which we will also bless and place on the altar for this special Sunday service. If you forget your picture, we will still lift up your animal companion in our Joys and Concerns for special blessing.

Here's an essay about one of our most blessed animal companions.

GrandPa’s Gone Walkabout

By Lynne Benson-Colbert

Lynn and Sterling

The great moment, no, The Great Moment, had arrived. I was due to pick up my brand new puppy from the airport in a few minutes. I had been sitting outside the special cargo office for the last 30 minutes, perched rigidly atop the little railing of a nearby baggage carousel, staring fixedly at the door, willing it to open. Finally, the door opened, the attendant smiled at me and motioned me over. In no time at all I was rumbling through the crowd with my crated puppy atop a baggage cart, heading to the car. He looked cute and friendly and not scared and his tail went wiggy‐wag wiggy‐wag as he peered out at me through the crate door.

The plan was to introduce puppy to my older dog at a friend’s house. I arrived, puppy was pottied and petted and he met my friend’s puppy‐friendly adult poodles first. Then I slipped into the house while she waited outside with the puppy and her dogs. The plan had been to let Sterling smell the puppy on me, then to leash him and we would all go for a short walk while he investigated the newcomer. But, before any of that could happen, Sterling took a few whiffs of my clothes, paused and then barreled past me out the door and flew at the puppy. He didn’t use his mouth for anything but shouting, but he was a silver blur as he roared into the little pup’s face.

Surf, my new puppy, shrieked and fell over backwards, then began to scream as if he had been run over by my car. Yes, a “car” named Sterling. Screamed and howled and yodeled as my friend held him and comforted him. The three adult poodles were chagrined and upset and they all sat a short distance away, watching. Sterling huffed a lot and shot glances at me and then at Surf. Not an auspicious start but not a total disaster. No teeth were involved!

I had to bathe Surf since he had wet himself in‐flight, and then we headed home. And that is pretty much the end of the story of my new chapter of puppy‐mom. Surf was a great guy, very resilient and happy. Sterling was tense and unhappy, did not want to eat or look at the puppy or be anywhere in the same area of the house as the puppy. He had no interest in where Surf had peed, not even to mark over it. He was in “I Shall Endure” mode. I did not allow them to interact without a crate or expense or leash on or around Surf. That didn’t mean he stopped trying to charm Sterling. He play‐bowed, he wiggled, he barked, he played with toys. Sterling growled and turned his back, stomped off and hid in a room. It was the body tension that concerned me, and the sudden “sucking in” of his personality. I wasn’t sure what he was going to do next. It was very confusing. Maybe I was doing the wrong thing. I didn’t want to give up too soon, but this one fact became very clear to me: I had it DAMN EASY when Sterling was a puppy. Luna loved him after one day and Sterling was utterly charming and undemanding. This puppy was vocal, active, busy, and probably exhausted without knowing it. He was going to need all hands on deck for quite awhile, because he had such great interest in life. Even in the short time he lived here I spent much of it trying to keep up with him as he bounded from one toy or interesting object to another and sampled the world with his mouth. I found myself looking at Surf and then at Sterling and then at Surf and then at Sterling, and asking “how do I choose?” Somebody is going to have to get less attention.

Within a day I knew that Surf could not stay. I had waited too long to get a puppy. Sterling was too old and too fragile. Too fragile. My boy that I used to carry in a sling when he was a tiny puppy, who went on to be a big strong dog who could tow me back to the edge of the pool when we swam together, who went on seven hour searches in steep terrain and 100 degree heat and never faltered, was too fragile to deal with a busybody puppy. Sterling was old. This made my head spin and my heart break. It’s not like I was fooling myself into believing that he had his best years in front of him. Sterling had had cancer of the gum three years ago. The radiation treatment and surgery that seems to have cured (or at least beat back) his cancer took a great deal of the spizz out of him. He has some radiation side‐effects that can make life difficult for him. He sleeps alot and is often uninterested in food. Where once we ran together, he now takes some short walks and needs frequent water and rest breaks on longer excursions. His world has shrunk considerably and now his favorite thing to do is to go for rides in the car or to just sleep in it while I garden right outside. It’s just that, having a puppy here brought into sharp relief all that we have left behind us, never to be revisited together, ever again. Ever. I notified the puppy’s breeder and made plane reservations for Surf to return home. I felt guilty, exhausted, deeply disappoint-ed and unfathomably sad. I had so many dreams for Surf and I. I kept replaying a phrase I had heard myself using just before he arrived: This starts my new chapter in life.

On Surf’s last evening in my home, I took him outside on a long line and followed behind him as he ran from flower to tree to rock to potted plant, bouncing, grabbing items, wagging his whole body at Sterling who plodded past him without turning his head or acknowledging him in any way. I spent my time leaping around trying to grab up “things” (toadstools, plant leaves, horse manure) that I knew Surf should not get and which he seemed to have an uncanny knack for spotting. Everything was new to him and it all had great value as potential toys. I worked on his recall a bit but gauging by his high activity level and sudden onset of “hard of hearing”, this was not very fruitful. I ran after him a lot and redirected him to less lethal fascinating objects. I picked him up and carried him around while kissing his warm, round head. He kissed me back, breathing his sweet puppy breath on my face.

The next morning I brought him to the airport while it was still dark. I drove home in the early morning light, feeling like I had just abandoned a baby in a gas station. I went around the house packing up the ex‐pens, crates and puppy toys I had bought. I found the little collar I had bought for Surf, and that brought on a new downpour of tears. So many hopes and dreams, just gone. I washed the puppy dishes and threw the dog beds and towels he had used in the washer. I remembered how I had done the same thing right after Luna had died. I saved her two most loved dog toys because they had her smell deeply imbedded in them, but everything else went in the washer, to storage or to be given away. Again, with the memory came more crying. It was not even 7:00am and already I wanted a nap.

Instead, I took Sterling outside and let him lay in the car while I watered the plants in the front garden. I leave the car door open for him when I do this, and at some point he got out and started down the driveway. I didn’t hear him exit the car but I did see him walking resolutely towards the street. I called him but he is very hard of hearing. He kept walking. I ran after him, my short legs making impossibly huge strides down the long driveway as I raced to catch him before he wandered into the street. I redirected him gently towards a planted area away from the hazards of the road. I hurried over to his favorite dirt bed and smoothed it off for him, removing the things that might make laying down uncomfortable. He lay in the dirt for awhile but I had to keep my eye on him as he kept gravitating to the end of the driveway and the traffic was beginning to pick up. He is blind in one eye and can’t see cars coming down the hill from his right. At times like these he seems oblivious to everything and to have forgotten all those lessons and rules he used to know and obey unquestioningly. He’s become my blank slate.

It must have been around the sixth or seventh time I had to run after him that I stopped in mid‐jete, struck by a stunning realization: Sterling was my new puppy, only in reverse. A puppy knows very little and absorbs whatever you teach (or neglect to teach). Sterling knows many things but is discarding those behaviors and bits of knowledge that don’t suit him anymore or which I have neglected to refresh.

A puppy often has a poor recall to start with and reacts slowly if at all. Sterling often can’t hear his name or a recall and reacts slowly if at all. Puppies put everything into their mouths and you spend a lot of time fishing around in there, pulling stuff out. Sterling puts nothing into his mouth and I spend a lot of time stuffing food into it and making him chew. Puppies demand a lot of your attention and often want loads of petting, kisses and interaction, whether you are in the mood for that or not. Sterling wants most of my attention and soaks up petting, kisses and just being in proximity to me, whether I feel I have the time to dole out or not. Puppies need to be protected from themselves. Sterling needs to be protected from the outside world. I am my puppy’s bodyguard. I am Sterling’s bodyguard. I sat in the driveway, holding hands with Sterling and marveling over this epiphany. It still sucks wind that I am not embarking on a new training adventure, but I have Sterling and he has me. We are a team. Team New Puppy will have to wait. Team Old Puppy has started down this last, well-worn path, and I want to go with him, for as far as I am allowed, before he discards the Old Puppy trappings and becomes just pure Puppy.