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Our weekly newsletter filled with news, updates, and inspiring stories of how God is working in the Bay Area.

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Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love.

Hebrews 10:24 TPT

The Bible tells us that encouraging and motivating other people takes creativity. That’s why Super Bowl Sunday is one of my favorite sporting events. Tremendous creativity and care go into inspiring people to watch, get involved, and be invested. The commercials and halftime show motivate people who have no interest in football to go to parties and watch the entire broadcast. Creativity is a big reason why 100 million people tune in every year.

One of the spiritual lessons I take away from the Super Bowl is that people are looking for inspiration and connection wherever they can find it. 

A study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine notes that “social support and feeling connected can help people maintain a healthy body mass index, control blood sugar, improve cancer survival, decrease cardiovascular mortality, decrease depressive symptoms and improve overall mental health. [Social isolation] can increase depressive symptoms and overall mortality.”

Connection is essential to our health, and we believe that the greatest connection we can have in this life is our connection with God. He fills us with joy and purpose, and surrounds us with deep relationships.

This is why we bake cupcakes, have Super Bowl parties, and take every opportunity to serve our community. It is why we work to lay out the best spread for the game and host “Souper” Sunday canned food drives … because we know that every creative effort we make to connect can change someone’s life for the better.

Last weekend, this creativity was on display at our church services around the Bay Area. Tenea and I want to share with you just a few of the inspiring ways you motivated us and other people to connect!

Super serving (and creative) Sundays

Erik and Heather Nelson are members of our church in San Francisco and they help run the Turn 180 SF support group. This group helps those with past addictions turn their lives around by doing good in the community. This Sunday, Turn 180 partnered with the San Francisco church service to host a “Souper” Sunday canned goods drive. For an extra dose of motivation, people who brought cans to church could put them on a table representing which team they thought would win the Super Bowl (props to those who went for the Kansas City Chiefs). 

The Souper Sunday drive collected 166 lbs of canned food, and the Nelsons delivered them to the SF Marin Food Bank on Monday.

Our Palo Alto service hosted a food drive to provide food for the Silicon Valley Food Bank in San Carlos, and our Common Ground services in Sunnyvale held a “Super Serving Sunday” food and clothing drive for the Lo-Debar Project. 

Founded by Mike Martinez, a member of our church in Silicon Valley, the Lo-Debar Project regularly collects needed items for the unhoused in Santa Clara County. The food, clothing, and other items donated on Sunday will be donated this weekend to those in need in our community. 

In addition to all the inspiring community service this weekend, we also love seeing pictures of the fun and creative festivities that happened at each of our church services around the Bay. In Contra Costa North, bakers volunteered their time and resources to make incredible football-themed cupcakes for everyone who came to service. In Alameda, people showed their team spirit by wearing their favorite jersey to church, doing sports trivia, and enjoying refreshments together. 

On top of all that, we have heard story after story about people opening their homes for the game, enjoying the opportunity to give their friends and family a fun afternoon of friendship, food, and of course football. 

We are inspired by all of you and look forward to many more inspirational weekends this year!

‘Til next time,

Sam and Tenea Manuel

East Bay Lead Ministers

Written by

Sam Manuel

Sam is a former outside linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers. Since retiring from the NFL, Sam has worked in the ministry serving communities in the Bay Area.