Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

School Board to vote on expanding Eastern religion-based meditation into more Antioch classrooms, Wednesday night

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Screenshot of the Home Page of the Mindful Life Project website.

Mindfulness training at Belshaw, Niroga Dynamic Mindfulness Yoga at Park Middle

By Allen Payton

During their meeting on Wednesday night, March 22, the Antioch School Board will be asked to vote on a contract to bring The Mindfulness Project into Antioch schools to teach Eastern religion-based meditation at Belshaw Elementary School. The Consent Calendar Item V on the meeting agenda is listed as “Vendor Agreement with Mindful Life Project/YMCA of the East Bay.”

The description of the agenda item reads as follows:

Screenshot of a photo on the Mindful Life Project website.

“The Mindful Life Project empowers students with mindfulness and other transformational skills that build self-awareness, development of natural confict resolution skills, self-regulation, perseverance, resilience, and social-emotional intelligence that enable them to thrive in their classrooms, their schools, and their community. Belshaw Elementary teachers will receive a two-hour training regarding mindfulness for educators. The training will involve teachers learning what mindfulness is, the brain science research, and ways to create an individual practice for personal well-being, as well as simple ways to bring mindfulness into their classrooms. A whole school assembly will be held three weeks after the training.”

According to Wikipedia “Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training. The term ‘mindfulness’ is a translation of the Pali term sati, which is a significant element of some Buddhist traditions.”

The Psychology Today website defines the term as “a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

That website then provides links to six articles under “Live in the Moment,” including “5 Meditation Tips for Beginners.”

The Mindful Life Project

Screenshot of a photo on the Mindful Life Project website.

In addition, on the website for The Mindful Life Project at www.mindfullifeproject.org it shows photos of children in classrooms, with their eyes closed, sometimes with hands out stretched, in what appears to be states of meditation.

The website claims “Mindfulness is a secular, science-based approach that takes advantage of our brain’s plasticity (ability to change throughout life). Mindfulness is proven to strengthen physiological responses to stress, negative emotions, anxiety and depression, and improve happiness, openness and self-awareness.

Mindfulness enables us to be present, moment to moment, in our increasingly distracted lives. Mindfulness improves social relationships with people and family and can even strengthen the immune system. It cultivates an openness to one’s life experience and a (sic) leads to a happier and more compassionate life.”

Photo collage on the Niroga Educational Services page of the Niroga Institute website.

Niroga Dynamic Mindful Yoga at Park Middle School

The proposed program at Belshaw is in addition to a program run by the Niroga Institute, that’s been implemented at Park Middle School, using grant money, to help with anger management.

On the Niroga website under Educational Services, it explains what they do in the classroom.

“We bring Dynamic Mindfulness to thousands of students every week in K-12 schools and alternative schools, helping children with academic, social and emotional learning. We have developed a comprehensive Transformative Life Skills (TLS) curriculum with 48 brief in-class lessons, systematically building stress resilience, self-awareness, emotion regulation and healthy relationships.”

Last November, the website provided the following background of the founder, Bidyut Bose, PhD, Executive Director of Niroga Institute. However, it has since been edited with portions deleted.

“Bidyut (BK) learned yoga from his father as a child, and later with monks in the Himalayas. A master Yoga Therapist in the Raja Yoga tradition, he is a long time student of Indian Philosophy and world religions. Inspired by Swami Vivekananda, he founded Niroga Institute, a non-profit dedicated to providing affordable, high-quality Yoga instruction and Yoga Therapy to underserved individuals and families. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT).”

Swami means a Hindu male religious teacher.

Niroga Dynamic Mindfulness meditation in the classroom. From Niroga.com

Regarding the use of meditation and on what the students are meditating, Park Middle School Principal Jimno in a November interview stated, “from the experiences I’ve had with the organization, there’s never been a particular theme or word that they focus on.”

“They use a chime to bring focus in the room,” he explained. “Right now we currently have maybe 10 teachers that the trainers are going into the rooms for 15 minutes, twice a week. It’s not just breathing and teaching them, but how stress occurs in the body and implementing a coping mechanism…to be in control of their actions before they act on them. Getting their attention back in a positive way, rather than in anger.”

“They don’t call it meditation,” Jimno added. “I’m Christian and there’s lots of researched based practices. Lots of inner cities, Richmond is using this in their schools. We’re not utilizing the religious aspects of that. We’re using their techniques to calm students down.”

“No time have I even put those two together,” he stated. “At no time has there been an integration of the religion. As a Christian man, there have been things that have inspired me to bring back to teach students differently.”

When asked has the school brought in a Christian organization to teach biblical principles in a secular way, he responded “I wouldn’t be opposed to it.”

Speaking of Bose, the founder of the Niroga Institute, Jimno said, “I’ve met him personally. I’ve been to his house for a meeting. Never once has religion been brought in to any conversation that I’ve had with him or in the trainings we’ve had here.”

Asked about the photos of students with hands folded and eyes closed in prayer and who are they praying to, he said, “It’s a centering posture, not necessarily a prayer posture.”

“We asked several questions of them and asked how they can apply it in music and in stretching in P.E.,” Jimno added. “It builds grey matter in the brain when you implement these techniques.”

Photo on the Niroga Institute website. Niroga.com

“The people who are coming on campus are not Eastern religion people,” he explained. “It’s been very pure, centered around making the climate calmer and help the students. It’s very separate from the wellness room. It’s about counseling. This is about meditation. But, we want to incorporate the breathing techniques into the wellness room.”

“It’s new and very big, right now,” Jimno stated. “It’s big in Richmond and Oakland. It’s funded by the Youth Justice Initiative grant through the county.”

“Last year it was used for trauma training and how it affects student behavior,” he said. “This year it’s more about bringing services to the campus community, wellness room, to get help for an all-day fix, to give them an outlet, rather than a punishment based system, to integrate them back into the classroom.”

“We’re working with the Lincoln Center for mental health therapy and, incorporating the Dynamic Mindfulness,” Jimno continued.

“In the first quarter of our school year, compared to the first quarter of last school year, we saw a 78% reduction in our suspension rate,” he stated. “Most of that was due to the wellness room and the trauma training, and the fact we added a counseling component, of a non-consequence solution.”

The flyer promoting the event at Park Middle School on Dec. 6th.

Navarro Calls for Equal Treatment

A flyer was distributed in November stating “Park Middle School presents Niroga A Parent & Family Night of Meditation & Relaxation,” held in the Multipurpose Room and Wellness Center at the school on Tuesday, December 6th.

Superintendent Stephanie Anello and all five board members, at the time were asked if they were aware of the event, why the school was sponsoring an event promoting Eastern religion and on what those in attendance would be meditating.

Then-Trustee Fernando Navarro was the only board member to respond.

“If we’re going to be neutral and they’re not going to allow Christian or any other religious-based organizations from bringing their philosophies onto school campuses, then advocates of Eastern religion shouldn’t be allowed to, either,” he stated.

“Frankly, they’ve reopened a door that constitutionally allows you to pray in school,” Navarro continued. “Because it’s separation of state from church, not church from state, where the state bullies a church or prevents the practice of religion thereof.”

“I got a heads up when Mr. Jimno brought it up at the Board meeting, last night,” He explained.

“Maybe we should have Christian prayer groups, Bible study during lunch or after school,” Navarro added.

Anello Defends Program

Superintendent Stephanie Anello and three of the board members, at the time and who continue to serve on the board, were asked if there are any other organizations to provide such services, that aren’t based on Eastern religion, and if there was a competitive bidding process, such as an RFQ (Request For Quote) or RFP (Request For Proposal), for using the funds from the justice grant, Anello responded.

“My understanding is that all meditation was inspired by Eastern religion but is used for a myriad of purposes,” she replied. “Per Ed(ucation) Code, a competitive bidding process was not required. The practice was implemented at the beginning of the school year. Mr. Jimno credits the 78% drop in suspensions due, in part, to this practice.

She was then asked about the district’s policy with regards to bringing in a religious affiliated philosophy into Antioch public classrooms and schools, and for schools to sponsor such activities, even if they are after hours at the campuses.

“Park Middle School like many schools across the nation, are practicing mindfulness. Mediation is just a piece of Mindfulnes,” Anello responded. “Meditation, although inspired by Eastern religion is a practice that transcends religion.

None of the board members responded to the questions.

Pastors Speak Out

When asked for comment about the Dynamic Meditation program, Pastor Larry Adams of Golden Hills Community Church in Antioch and Brentwood said he wasn’t going to fight it. But, rather he wanted equal time to have representatives of the Christian faith to be able to also go into the classrooms to share with students meditation on the Bible and praying to God, “who created them and knows all about them.”

Antioch pastor Dr. Lamont Francies of the Delta Bay Church of Christ shared a similar viewpoint.

“After doing research on the program at PMS, I would not implement the program,” he said. “I believe that if this program is implemented in public schools using public dollars that there must be an equal opportunity given to Christian based interventions.”

“I do not believe that schools can be void of culture, values and various beliefs. In our public schools we have educators that represent a diversity of culture, values and beliefs,” Francies continued. “I personally believe that if Christian prayer was being implemented in a public school, that it would have made national headlines. If AUSD endorses this mindfulness program, I believe they should offer a Christian alternative and let parents and students choose.”

The Antioch School Board meets at 7:00 p.m. in the Antioch Unified School District Office Board Room located at 510 G Street in downtown Antioch. Members of the public will have the opportunity to speak on this and any other agenda item and during public comments. To see the entire meeting agenda, click here: http://www.boarddocs.com/ca/ausd/Board.nsf/Public

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Celebrity vegan chef Mark Anthony to peform live cookin show at Antioch church, Tuesday night, March 21

Friday, March 17th, 2017

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Antioch teen earns highest honor from American Heritage Girls

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Deirdre Ferrari at her Stars & Stripes Board of Review day. Photo courtesy of Jeanne Brickey

Antioch 18-year-old, Deirdre Ferrari has earned the highest recognition the American Heritage Girls (AHG) offers, the Stars & Stripes Award.  In addition to living out the AHG Creed and Oath, award recipients have completed a number of requirements to achieve this honor, including:

.  Earning a total of 16 Merit Badges

.  Earning the Religious Recognition associated with their denomination

.  Having held a leadership position in their troop for a minimum of six months

.  Planning, developing, and providing leadership to others in a 100+ hour service project

.  Writing a Life Ambition/Spiritual Walk Essay and mini-resume

.  Receiving at least 3 Letters of Reference

.  Passing a Board of Review   

Ferrari chose to serve the Salvation Army Antioch Corps by building a community garden to help promote healthy eating and to teach others in the community about gardening. 

She has served as the troop Skipper and has also received the Dolly Madison and God & Life Awards.

A member of American Heritage Girls Troop CA1334, Ferrari is just the 286th girl, nationally to earn the prestigious Stars & Stripes Award in AHG’s 21 year history. She will be recognized in a Court of Honor Ceremony on Saturday March 18th, 2017, 1:30 pm at the Salvation Army Antioch Corps on E. Tregallas Road.

Ferrari is a member of Golden Hills Community Church and is active at her church serving in Awana, Vacation Bible School, and playing guitar on the High School Worship Team.  She attends Visions in Education Charter School, where she is a senior.

She is the daughter of France Harrison of Antioch and John Ferrari of Tracy.  She is also the granddaughter of Frank and Jeanne Brickey of Antioch, CA.

American Heritage Girls, Inc., is the premier national character development organization for young women, ages 5-18, that embraces Christian values and encourages family involvement.  For more information on American Heritage Girls, visit www.ahgonline.org.

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The Church@Antioch to celebrate second anniversary with another car giveaway, Sunday, Jan. 8th

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

church-antioch-2nd-anniversary

Vehicle to be given to local, deserving family

Following their distribution of over 600 Christmas gifts to local children and youth, The Church at Antioch continues their season of sharing with it’s second car giveaway. With a commitment to impact the city, The Church at Antioch will celebrate their 2nd anniversary with a vehicle giveaway Sunday, January 8, 2017.

One deserving member will be selected from a pool of nominations that began pouring in over the fall. This will take place following the 10:00 a.m. worship service, held in the Antioch Community Center at Prewett Park, 4703 Lone Tree Way.

“I am thoroughly convinced that we are supposed to be in Antioch and by virtue of the fact that our church name contains the name of the City,” said Pastor Christopher Williams, Founder. “We can’t be satisfied with just being a church. We are here to be the Church, and the Church should make an impact on the City. We’re grateful to work alongside others throughout the city to make lasting impact on the lives of those that call Antioch home.”

The anniversary celebration will also include recording artist Amante Lacey.

Since their January 2015 ministry launch, The Church at Antioch has made community service and engagement an integral part of its purpose. With an engaging combination of ministry and technology, the rapidly expanding congregation draws the diversity of its community.

For more information about The Church at Antioch, stay connected via their website at www.ChurchatAntioch.orgFacebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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New Year’s Day worship celebration at Pittsburg’s historic Camp Stoneman Chapel

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016
camp-stoneman-chapel

The historic Camp Stoneman Chapel in Pittsburg, CA.

Sunday, January 1, 10 am

East County Shared Ministry

First Congregational Church of Antioch – Community Presbyterian Church of Pittsburg

200 E Leland Rd (between Railroad & Harbor), Pittsburg

The Historic Stoneman Chapel

www.eastcountysharedministry.org

925.439.9361 or 925.757.4094

Rev. Will McGarvey will ring in the New Year’s first worship celebration. Please join us as we learn about the Epiphany and share inspired scripture, songs of the season, fellowship and praise.

Whoever you are and wherever you are on life’s journey, all are welcome here. We recognize, celebrate and give thanks for the many diverse gifts of God among us. Everyone is invited to participate in community and worship including, but not limited to, believers, seekers, agnostics, women and men, those of all sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions, those of all races and cultures, those of all classes and abilities, those who hope for a better world and those who have lost hope.

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The True Meaning of Christmas

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

Jesus’ Birth Foretold

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings,favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.”

And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

From the Bible in the Book of Luke, Chapter 1, verses 26-38 NASB; and Chapter 2, verses 1-14, NIV.

 

 from the Herald.

from the Herald

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Celebrate Christmas at The Church@Antioch, Dec. 25

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

thechurchantioch-dec-25

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Six Christmas Eve Candlelight Services at Fellowship Church in Antioch, beginning tonight

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Mailer_Final

Experience one of six Christmas Eve Candlelight Services at Fellowship Church in Antioch, beginning tonight, Wednesday, December 21, 2016. Hope for your tomorrow, Healing from your yesterday. The church is located at 4873 Lone Tree Way between Staples and Walmart in Antioch.

For more information visit www.thefellowshipchurch.com or follow them on Facebook.

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