Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Knights of Columbus announce the Antioch 2021 Free Throw Championship winners

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021

Will now advance to the district competition

By Allen Payton

Following are the winners for the #3265 Knights of Columbus Antioch 2021 Free Throw Championship held on January 30 and February 6 at Holy Rosary School:

Photo: Knights of Columbus

AGE   BOYS                          GIRLS

  9       Ryan Wisely

 10                                           Thalia Pham

 11      Thomas Burr

 12      Justin Uribarri           Lilyana Ponce

 13      Mekhi Reed                Kylie Wisely

 14      Eric Mendoza             Brigida Coria

“The event was held as a drive-through,” Committee Chairman Wayne Steffen shared. “The parents drove up and could watch from a distance. The child got out. Everyone wore masks. We used the same ball but sanitized it between participants.”

Competitor Anthony Burr prepares to shoot a free throw during the Antioch competition. Photo: KofC

“The winners will advance to the district competition,” he said. “But no date has been set for that, yet.”

“Congratulations to all the winners,” Steffen added.

Since 1972, councils have sponsored the Knights of Columbus Free Throw Championship for boys and girls from the ages of 9 to 14 to provide an athletic outlet and encourage the values of sportsmanship and healthy competition. Kids compete within their own gender and age and progress from local level to district, regional and state/province competitions.  International champions are announced by the Knights of Columbus international headquarters based on scores from the jurisdiction-level competitions.

The Knights of Columbus Council #3265 was instituted on August 8, 1950 and affiliated with Holy Rosary Church in Antioch. It is one of 17,000 Knights of Columbus councils that make up the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization. Founded in 1882 to assist working-class and immigrant Catholics in the United States, today the approximately two million members of the Knights put their faith into action through a broad range of charitable causes locally, nationally and internationally with financial contributions and hands-on service. Membership in the Knights of Columbus is open to practicing Catholic men age 18 and older.


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Contra Costa DA Becton marries minister and preaches at their Richmond church

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021

Rev. Dr. Alvin Bernstine introduces his wife, Rev. Diana Becton who then preaches at their Richmond church on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. Video screenshots.

A fourth-generation preacher, Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Bernstine introduces her as his “fellow colleague in the ministry”, says she faces the “yeast of Americanism…white supremacy”; during Martin Luther King Sunday sermon Rev. Diana Becton says attack on U.S. Capitol “fueled by the hate of white supremacists”; both teach theology at Oakland institute

By Allen Payton

Following news articles on Sunday that Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton held her wedding and reception in the backyard of her El Sobrante home, last August, in violation of COVID-19 restrictions, a YouTube video revealed that her new husband is Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Bernstine, MDiv, DMin. He has been the pastor of Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in Richmond since 2006.

According to his ministry website, he is a fourth-generation preacher, who has been preaching for over 40 years. Bernstine recently authored a book entitled, Hope Us, Lord. Among his previous publications are The Evening and The Morning Ministry, and In A Disaster Zone: The Seven Sayings of Jesus as Preached in an Urban African American Church.

He introduced Becton during a virtual service from their church on Sunday, Jan. 17 as “my incredible wife” and “my dear friend, and buddy, golf partner, book sharer reader, fellow colleague even in the ministry.”

“By the way, I have been married with her for 138 days…and I am grateful to God,” Bernstine added.

Becton can also be seen in a video on the church’s Facebook page introducing him during the service, this past Sunday, Feb. 7.

During Bernstine’s introduction of Becton on Jan. 17, which he labeled Martin Luther King Sunday, the day before the national holiday, he said, “One of the things we have to guard ourselves against is this whole notion of individualized salvation and individualized freedom. Because what is plaguing our nation, now is we got some folk, they are free, but they don’t want you to be free. And so, if I’m going to be free you need to be free, then we need to celebrate that we are free.”

“It is on that note that I want to do something special, today. The Lord laid it on my heart to invite the Rev. Diana Becton to speak to us,” Bernstine stated.

“Beware of the yeast of the Sadducees and the Pharisees…beware of their teaching,” he said. “Their teaching tends to be anthropocentric and ethnocentric. In other words, it’s so focused on who they were as people and who they were as a culture, that it literally displaced God. Whenever you do that, you’re in trouble. So, he said don’t focus, don’t give so much attention, don’t give so much of your life to their teaching.”

“Because one of the things that kind of teaching can do, because that’s what it has done in America, it can make you think you’re something you’re not. And the yeast of America is this, you all,” Bernstine continued, then getting political. “The yeast is a bad teaching because it will have you doing crazy things like storming the Capitol or have you doing crazy things by plotting to storm the capitols of fifty states. Because it got you thinking you’re something that you are not. I wish I can make it plain. Amen?”

“So, the yeast of Americanism is white supremacy, where white people, they believe they’re superior and then it makes black people inferior,” he said. “Beware of any yeast that makes you think that you are inferior. I wish I could make this plain, and that some other folk are superior.”

“So, it’s on that note that I want to introduce our preacher, for today,” said Bernstine. “She’s been experiencing the yeast, because as an attorney, she experienced the yeast. As one of the first judges in our county she experienced the yeast. And Lord knows she’s been experiencing the yeast as the first woman and the first person of color to be elected as District Attorney of Contra Costa County. The yeast is still out there, ya’ll.”

“But we are excited that in the midst of all that, as an attorney, a retired judge, District Attorney,” he shared. “But we celebrate her, here. But she wears that tag…of the First Lady of the Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church.”

“She’s my first lady, my only lady because I don’t have no firsts and seconds. Amen,” Bernstine continued. “My mama was my first, but she’s gone. So, she’s my first…my only.”

Becton then preached a sermon entitled “A Maladjusted Jesus” and opened in prayer, thanking God for the life and example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (See the 37:38 mark of the video) Her message was from Matthew 9:36-38 and she spoke of “the full-blown insurrection, that attempted coup that took place in our capitol…the violence, the crazy madness fueled by the hatred of white supremacists and even the words of the President of the United States. That stuff is not normal. What we see is a national tragedy, and in this abnormal moment, I share the words of Dr. Martin Luther King. ‘God grant that we be so maladjusted that we will never be able to go out and feel that all of this is normal.’”

Becton then quoted from a speech by Dr. King, that “he argues that there are some things in this world, in our society to which we ought to never become adjusted” including “the viciousness of a mob rule…the evils of segregation and the crippling effects of discrimination…the inequalities of an economic system that takes the necessities of the masses to give luxuries to the classes.”

“We have adjusted to what is truly abnormal,” she said.

Becton then brought her sermon back to the text, “because that’s where we find Jesus. He is seeing those who are sick, blind, stressed, grieving, with souls that are uncared for. And what Jesus saw broke his heart. Take note because you just walked into the space with a maladjusted Jesus. He’s a compassionate Jesus who demonstrates that He never intended to accept the inequalities of this world. Jesus was maladjusted.”

She then exhorted listeners to be like Jesus, to see the need, feel compassion, and be troubled by their pain.

“We are just not moved anymore. We have adjusted, accepting the things that are just not normal. Things that would have broken the heart of Jesus,” Becton said. “We have to shake off our lethargy, stop walking past human brokenness in our communities. We have to feel compassion for the people. We’ve got to stop normalizing these painful circumstances. For surely anything that broke the heart of Jesus should break our hearts, too.”

She shared a quote from Rev. Raphael Warnock, the new U.S. Senator from Georgia, and then encouraged people to help others with “basic things like food and they still need to feel safe. So, we can think about ways to fulfill those needs.”

“The hallmark of Jesus’ ministry was compassion,” Becton shared. “Jesus saw the need. Jesus felt the need and Jesus was moved to meet the need. So, if we’re going to be like Jesus, we too have to see, we have to feel and then we have to be moved by compassion to do something.”

She concluded with quotes by Dr. King.

“In the spirit of Martin Luther King, today, let us remember some of the words that were spoken by a man who changed the world. ‘I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great of a burden to bear.’” Becton said. “In the words of Martin Luther King I call upon all of you to be maladjusted, today. God grant that we will go. That we will be so maladjusted that we will be able to go out and change the world. See, feel, move and be maladjusted.”

Becton, Bernstine Also Teach Theology

As previously reported by the Herald, Becton earned a Master of Divinity degree from the Pacific School of Religion. (See related article) The school’s website includes the following description.

“Vision: Living a Radically Welcoming Gospel – Whether ministering to the local homeless community or participating in our MultiFaith Transgender Summit, PSR students embody a message of radical inclusivity. Our two centers, Ignite Institute @ PSR and Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion, share an expansive, hopeful message of spiritual and social transformation.”

The school is a member of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), an interreligious consortium of seminaries and institutes in the Bay Area. That includes the Berkeley School of Theology affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA, of which Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland is a member.

Both Becton and Bernstine teach at the Leadership Institute at Allen Temple in Oakland. She is Professor of Theological Studies and he is Professor of Homelitics/Preaching and Christian Ministry Cohort Leader.

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Annual Antioch youth Free Throw Championship to be drive-thru, this year on Jan. 30 & Feb 6

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

Local Knights of Columbus Council contest part of state-wide competition

All boys and girls ages 8 to 14 are invited to participate in the local level of competition for 2021 Knights of Columbus Free Throw Championship.  The local competition will be held on January 30 and February 6 at Holy Rosary School, 25 East 15th Street in Antioch from 1-4 pm.  The event will be held outdoors, one contestant at a time.  In the event of inclement weather, a rain date is set for February 13.

The Free Throw Championship is sponsored annually by the Knights of Columbus, with winners progressing through local, district, and jurisdictional competitions. International champions are announced by the Knights of Columbus international headquarters based on scores from the jurisdiction-level competitions.   All boys and girls ages 8 to 14 are eligible to participate and will compete in respective age divisions.  Participants are required to furnish proof of age and written parental consent.

For entry forms and to make an appointment contact: Wayne Steffen 925.890.0119 or Mike Hayes 925.565.4482

Due to COVID restrictions, drop-ins may not be able to compete.

Please Spread the Word!

Council #3265 in Antioch, CA is one of 17,000 Knights of Columbus councils that make up the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization. Founded in 1882 to assist working-class and immigrant Catholics in the United States, today the approximately two million members of the Knights put their faith into action through a broad range of charitable causes locally, nationally and internationally with financial contributions and hands-on service.

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Pres. Trump issues proclamation honoring Religious Freedom Day, 2021

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

This year marks the 235th anniversary of the signing of Virginia’s Statute for Religious Freedom. The statute would eventually become a foundational principle in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which preserves an individual’s right to belief and to choose and exercise faith without government coercion or reprisal. Since 1993, every U.S President has issued a proclamation on January 16 to commemorate National Religious Freedom and celebrate America’s first freedom.

Proclamation on Religious Freedom Day, 2021

Issued on January 15, 2021

Faith inspires hope.  Deeply embedded in the heart and soul of our Nation, this transcendent truth has compelled men and women of uncompromising conscience to give glory to God by worshiping both openly and privately, lifting up themselves and others in prayer.  On Religious Freedom Day, we pledge to always protect and cherish this fundamental human right.

When the Pilgrims first crossed the Atlantic Ocean more than 400 years ago in pursuit of religious freedom, their dedication to this first freedom shaped the character and purpose of our Nation.  Later, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, their deep desire to practice their religion unfettered from government intrusion was realized.  Since then, the United States has set an example for the world in permitting believers to live out their faith in freedom.

Over the past 4 years, my Administration has worked tirelessly to honor the vision of our Founders and defend our proud history of religious liberty.  From day one, we have taken action to restore the foundational link between faith and freedom and promote a culture of religious liberty.  My Administration has protected the rights of individual religious believers, communities of faith, and faith-based organizations.  We have defended religious liberty domestically and around the world.  For example, I signed an Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty to ensure that faith-based organizations would not be forced to compromise their religious beliefs as they serve their communities.  This includes defending the rights of religious orders to care for the infirm and elderly without being fined out of existence for refusing to facilitate access to services that violate their faith.

We have also protected healthcare providers’ rights not to be forced to perform procedures that violate their most deeply-held convictions.  Additionally, we have ended the misguided policies of denying access to educational funding to historically black colleges and universities because of their religious character and of denying loan forgiveness to those who perform public services at religious organizations.  Throughout this difficult year, we have continued these efforts, cutting red tape to ensure houses of worship and other faith-based organizations could receive Paycheck Protection Program loans on the same grounds and with the same parameters as any other entity.  We have also aggressively defended faith communities against overreach by State and local governments that have tried to shut down communal worship.  Together, we have honored the sanctity of every life, protected the rights of Americans to follow their conscience, and preserved the historical tradition of religious freedom in our country.

While Americans enjoy the blessings of religious liberty, we must never forget others around the world who are denied this unalienable right.  Sadly, millions of people across the globe are persecuted and discriminated against for their faith.  My Administration has held foreign governments accountable for trampling — in many cases, egregiously so — on religious liberty.  In 2019, to shed light on this important issue, I welcomed survivors of religious persecution from 16 countries in the Oval Office, including Christians, Jews, and Muslims, and made history by standing before the United Nations General Assembly and calling on all nations of the world to stop persecuting people of faith.  The United States will never waver in these efforts to expand religious liberty around the world and calls on all nations to respect the rights of its citizens to live according to their beliefs and conscience.

On Religious Freedom Day, we honor the vision of our Founding Fathers for a Nation made strong and righteous by a people free to exercise their faith and follow their conscience.  As Americans united in unparalleled freedom, we recommit to safeguarding and preserving religious freedom across our land and around the world.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 16, 2021, as Religious Freedom Day.  I call on all Americans to commemorate this day with events and activities that remind us of our shared heritage of religious liberty and that teach us how to secure this blessing both at home and around the world.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.


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Christmas Day drive-thru gift giveaway and to go breakfast at Grace Bible Fellowship

Friday, December 18th, 2020

Register here – Giveaway | grace-bible (

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U.S. Supreme Court sides with California church overturns Newsom’s ban on indoor services, Bible studies

Friday, December 4th, 2020

Pastor Ché Ahn speaks at Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California in 2019 (left) and on Feb. 28, 2020. Photos: Harvest Rock Church Facebook page.

“This order frees up churches in all of California to have indoor services, again.” – Liberty Counsel

By Allen Payton

In the lawsuit by Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry against Governor Gavin Newsom over his ban on all worship services and Bible studies in California, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, yesterday, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020, in favor of the church. The decision vacates the September 2 order by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and directs that court to the Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 decision in favor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn in their lawsuit against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The U.S. Supreme Court granted cert and vacated the lower court orders involving the emergency petition of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry. The Court stated in its order:

“The application for injunctive relief, presented to Justice Kagan and by her referred to the Court, is treated as a petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment, and the petition is granted. The September 2 order of the United States District Court for the Central District of California is vacated, and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit with instructions to remand to the District Court for further consideration in light of Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, 592 U. S. ___ (2020).”

Tuesday, Liberty Counsel filed the final reply brief to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding its request for an injunction pending appeal in the churches’ federal lawsuit against California Governor Gavin Newsom’s unconstitutional worship ban and discriminatory treatment. The emergency petition also requested the extraordinary relief that the Court alternatively consider it as a petition for writ of cert before judgment. Today, the Supreme Court granted the petition, vacated the lower court orders, and remanded the case for further consideration in light of its ruling last week that granted an injunction pending appeal for churches and synagogues in New York.

According to the complaint by the church and ministry, referred to as the plaintiffs, “On July 17, 2020, Plaintiffs filed their complaint against Defendant California Governor Gavin Newsom. (“Complaint,” Dkt. No. 1.) The Complaint alleges six causes of action: (1) Violation of Free Exercise Clause of First Amendment to U.S. Constitution; (2) Violation of First Amendment Freedom of Assembly Clause; (3) Violation of Free Speech Clause of First Amendment to U.S. Constitution; (4) Violation of Establishment Clause of First Amendment to U.S. Constitution; (5) Violation of Equal Protection Clause of Fourteenth Amendment to U.S. Constitution; and (6) Violation of the Guarantee Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”

Then, “On July 18, 2020, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction.”

According to Liberty Counsel, the firm representing the church and ministry, they then appealed the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding Governor Gavin Newsom’s unconstitutional orders. The governor’s orders prohibit all indoor worship, including home Bible studies and fellowship with anyone who does not live in the home. Yet, Gov. Newsom continues to encourage mass gatherings of protestors throughout the state.

Following the argument on August 12, Judge Jesus G. Bernal orally denied the request for a preliminary injunction. However, he waited until September 2 to release the written order. The appeal was filed, but it could not be effective until a written order was issued.

Once the order had been issued, the appeal was able to proceed. Liberty Counsel also filed for an injunction pending appeal. That is what the Supreme Court granted.


On August 13, the Pasadena Assistant Prosecutor in the Criminal Division sent Harvest Rock Church and Pastor Che’ Ahn a letter demanding that all, indoor, in-person worship services cease. The letter threatens daily criminal charges and fines to Pastor Ahn, the church, staff, and parishioners. The letter states that each criminal charge is punishable by up to one year in prison.”

The lawsuit challenges both the total ban on indoor, in-person worship (including in private homes) in the counties on the “County Monitoring List,” and the ban on singing and chanting in the remaining counties. In addition to in-person worship at Harvest Rock Church, the church also has many “Life Groups,” which are home Bible studies and fellowship groups. These too are prohibited under Gov. Newsom’s July 6 (no singing and chanting) and July 13 (no worship) orders. Yet while he discriminates against churches, home Bible studies and fellowship meetings, the governor continues to encourage thousands of protestors to gather throughout the state. Like Gov. Newsom, Pasadena has allowed hundreds and thousands of protestors. Neither the Pasadena Public Health Department nor the Pasadena Prosecutor have attempted to stop the protests in which people are crowded together, many of them not wearing masks.

In Governor Newsom’s response to the motion for the temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, he argues that churches are not “essential.” Regarding feeding, counseling and housing people in the same building where worship services occur, Newsom argues that only the worship services should be prohibited while the other non-religious services should be allowed.

Concerning home Bible studies, Newsom argues that he has authority to prohibit home fellowship groups. As to protests, Newsom publicly encourages them, saying “God bless you. Keep doing it.”

The restrictions against places of worship in California are more severe than those in New York. Governor Gavin Newsom’s orders ban all indoor, in-person worship for 99.1 percent of Californians.

Harvest Rock Church has multiple campuses in California, including in Pasadena, Los Angeles, Irvine and Corona. Harvest International Ministries (HIM) has 162 member churches throughout the state. Irreparable harm is being suffered every day as the churches remain subject to the unconstitutional restrictions, coupled with daily criminal threats, fines, and closure.

The Code Enforcement Division for the City of Pasadena and the Criminal Prosecutor have threatened criminal charges, fines, and closure for being open for worship against the governor’s orders and local health orders. The letters threaten up to one year in prison, daily criminal charges and $1,000 fines against the pastors, staff, and parishioners.

The discrimination has become more obvious and severe in Gov. Newsom’s new “Blueprint” issued on August 28, 2020, which established a system of four Tiers. The “Blueprint” discriminates against religious meetings in churches and places of worship in every Tier. The chart attached to the petition makes this discrimination very clear. For example, the consequence of the sea of purple in the “color-coded executive edict” is that indoor worship services are completely prohibited for 99.1 percent of Californians, including most of Harvest Rock and HIM churches. However, warehouses, big box centers, shopping malls, liquors stores, family entertainment and destination centers, gyms, fitness centers, and museums receive preferential treatment with either no capacity limits or no numerical limits.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court provides great relief for churches and places of worship. The handwriting is now on the wall. The final days of Governor Gavin Newsom’s ‘color-coded executive edicts’ banning worship are numbered and coming to an end. It is past time to end these unconstitutional restrictions on places of worship.”

This order frees up churches in all of California to have indoor services, again.

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Antioch Chamber honors Fellowship Church as 2019 Non-Profit of the Year

Saturday, November 14th, 2020

Photos: left & right from, center from

This is part of a continued series on the Annual Awards by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce.

On Friday night, Sept. 24 the Antioch Chamber of Commerce held its Gala Dinner, this year virtually, and honored the city’s most outstanding residents and organizations with their annual awards.

Hope & Healing – these are the two words that Fellowship Church feels God has given to them as a church. Hope for tomorrow and healing from yesterday. Pastors Shaun and Dianna Nepstad started Fellowship Church in 2002 with 22 people and today the weekly attendance has grown to over 5,000 people in two campuses. They believe that Jesus is the answer for humanity and their goal is to use the platform God has given them to express, in practical ways, the love and the life-giving message of Jesus to the world. Through the preaching of the Bible, worship, and great relationships, their hope is to engage a culture far from God to bring them into a relationship with Jesus.

2019 was an incredible year at Fellowship Church! They served 3,000 people a Thanksgiving dinner, and provided 679 children Christmas presents and a Bible. Fellowship Church reached many people in our city, through outreaches, both big and small. Internationally, they spread the gospel to 80,000 people on their trip to Peru.

Fellowship is believing God for more, asking Him to expand their reach, and show them, in 2020, how to pray, love, give, and serve like never before. For more information about the church visit

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Drive-Thru Trick or Treat at Golden Hills Community Church Brentwood campus Saturday evening

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

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