Dear Friends

“And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1:5

I hope you are as filled with anticipation as I am. In the darkest moments of the last few weeks, I constantly felt the nearness of God. Here is my Advent testimony: Although we expect yet a new indwelling of God’s love on Christmas, everything we’re waiting for is already unfolding around us. Thanks again for prayers, texts, emails, candles lit, and songs sung.

Here are some examples of what I experienced while in the hospital. At sunset I answered a phone call (I don’t know why; I was more than a little fuzzy). It was Rabbi Corey from our neighboring temple in Foster City, who prayed and then sang a healing song to me, like a lullaby, that dispelled all my fear. A day later Rev. Todd – dressed as a full-size unicorn – came and stood down on the street (I was on the 10th floor; no visitors, of course) and danced to get my attention so that I would know I was not alone. This was not a hallucination. A nurse named Davina from an evangelical church not only provided great medical care but made sure I was prayed for. As 1000 people prayed, a medical puzzle became a solvable challenge. I am so grateful, trust me.

Love is on the way! Join us Sunday as our guest preacher Rev. Michael Cronin brings us a message from Luke 1:26-38 that with God all things are possible. More great music, more fervent prayer. Keep this promise close: God is near!

See you in Zoom church.
Rev. Jim Mitulski

Hate Has No Home in Foster City
Please send a note of support to our recently elected Vice Mayor Richa Awasthi. Her Foster City home was vandalized this past week when a large rock was thrown through one of her children’s bedroom windows. Although no one was injured and the incident is under investigation, it is still alarming when people who make themselves available in visible ways for public service are threatened and their families made to feel unsafe in their homes. I assured her that we are praying for the safety of her family. Email her your encouragement at.[email protected].

Dear Friends

Please join us this Sunday for our third Sunday of Advent. Thank you, Machiko, for lighting the Advent candles last week. It was such a sweet reminder of how we have lit candles every year. Thank you, Rowe, for delivering the bags with the ingredients for our church Chrismon Tea Party, which will take place this Thursday. In addition, we will have copies of the December reading group book (A Christmas Carol) at church to pick up starting Thursday. (See below for more details on the Chrismon Tea and the reading group.)

Just before we gathered last week for our service, Rev. Jim had to go to the ER for a possible infection. They ended up admitting him to the hospital to get a better handle on his medical situation. Rev. Jim posted on Facebook Tuesday to let people know what is going on with him and to ask for prayers. I know all of you have been praying. It has been heartwarming to see how hundreds of people from all over the country and all over the world are praying for him and are lighting candles. Love is infusing his heart and his body, helping him to recover. We will keep you updated on any developments. If you need to connect with Rev. Jim, please wait until he is out of the hospital, if possible, or connect with me or one of the Board members.

As we are nearing Christmas, I pray that we all find places of hope, of peace in the midst of unsettling times. I look forward to seeing you if not this Thursday then on Sunday morning.

As Rev. Jim says: With love as we wait in hope for Christmas,

Rev. Elisabeth Middelberg

Pray Their Names Recap

pray their names

At our church this afternoon. Thank You Ed, Paul, Denzel, Sophie, Elisabeth, Alexis, Doris, Machiko, , Brian, Huijun, for helping and attending. (Forgive me for leaving names out by mistake)

Thank you to the 40 or so who turned out in the heat and sun to bless the Pray Their Names installation at Island United Church of Foster City this afternoon artist Katie Morrison, church council president Alexis Lewis, Foster Vity vounbilor and diversity champion Sam Hindi, Rev’s Penny NixonMarlyn BusseyElisabeth Middelberg were among them thank you readers of the Names.

A highlight was Amaka Okobi, mother of Chinedu, who was remembered on one of the hearts. We made a strong statement; #blacklivesmatter. Many people walked the installation. I engaged one neighbor who didn’t like this display in our neighborhood because it was “Marxist” though she couldn’t say why exactly.

See a full photo gallery of the day on our Facebook page.

Rev. Jim.

Pray Their Names Dedication Ceremony

Sunday, October 11, 3-3:30 pm, Island United Church

You are invited to attend the dedication ceremony for the Pray Their Names exhibit. This is an installation of 160 hearts in our churchyard commemorating the lives of Black people who have been killed in the United States in recent years, many as a result of police brutality. Some are historical figures as well. Special thanks to the Ring family, Tim Luca, and Paul Bade for all their work installing the exhibit.

This is a socially distanced ceremony. Please wear a mask and observe social distancing of six feet. The ceremony will include a reading of the names, as well as a special acknowledgement of Chinedu Okobi who was killed by police using tasers in San Mateo County two years ago this week. Clergy will offer interfaith prayers, It is one way we say that Black Lives Matter You are welcome to visit the installation at any time this month. Walk among the hearts; say the names out loud. To learn the entire story of the Pray Their Names exhibit, visit .

Preparing for Lent, Holy Week and Easter

The season of Lent is approaching.  Our theme will be “Walking Through Troubled Times” – with hope, courage, and joy, of course!  Ash Wednesday is February 14, and there will be a short service of prayer with the imposition of ashes in our sanctuary that evening at 6:30 pm.

We will have a limited number of Lenten devotional booklets available (some the current UCC offering for 2018, and a few from last year, but just as wonderful).

Commemorating Jesus’ last meal with his disciples, we will have a Maundy Thursday service in our sanctuary on Thursday, March 29.  On Good Friday, March 30, there will be a joint service in which we are participating with several other UCC and MCC churches.  It will be held at the Congregational Church of San Mateo.  Time to be announced for both of these services.

Of course, Easter is Sunday, April 1 and we look forward to having your rejoicing presence with us that day for 10am worship.

More details on Lenten events coming soon.


It’s Coming…It’s Here!

Last week Pastor Carol wished us a happy New Year’s as we prepare to enter the season of Advent. And now it’s official. It’s here, and we’re in! It’s a complicated time as we look forward to celebrating the Christ Child’s birth with family, friends, and community, and exchanging gifts on Jesus’ birthday. But it is also a time of looking back and remembering the oppression of the Jewish people that began before their escape from slavery in Egypt, and arose again during the Babylonian Captivity, and their occupation by Rome. This makes their deep yearning and prophesying for a Messiah that would be a Savior and a Deliverer of the Jewish People all the more understandable.

It also helps us understand the Second Coming as a twin theme of Advent. Since Jesus’ death, the Jewish people have often been a nation without a home, suffering further oppression and unwelcome in country after country around the globe, through the Holocaust and into our modern age. Sadly, both pre- and particularly post-election they are also joined in this country by many marginalized populations that, like the historic Jewish people, now fear for their very existence. Now more than ever it is time, as Paul tells us, to wake from sleep and take positive action in whatever way we can.

Not to end on a downbeat, let me end as I began, with a hearty Happy New Year! May you find in reality, as we symbolize in the lighting of the Advent Candles, all the hope, peace, joy and love within you and both express them to those around you and share in those others. In these troubling times, the bonding of community, family (blood and chosen), and friendship become even more important. Prayers of blessing to you and yours this Advent season and beyond! May we leave our wanderings in the desert and enter a new Promised land together, with a promise of deep caring for all people, stewardship of its creatures, and tender preservation of the land and its resources.

Your intern, Lauren


What is Advent?

What is Advent? Is it just the Christmas Story and the countdown Jesus’ birthday, or is it something more? Come join Pastoral Intern Lauren Renée Hotchkiss as she unpacks this complex season from its origins in the Old Testament, through the New, and to the present day and beyond.

Lauren Renée Hotchkiss