Oakland church

Author Archive for Nancy Montier – Page 2

“Won’t you be my Neighbor?”

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?   Mr. Rogers

This Sunday at 10 am, come and experience the Parable of the Good Samaritan, not only in a sermon but also in a fabulous children’s skit based on the gospel according to Fred Rogers! 

The skit is written and performed by our talented,  Emmy award winning, Tim Carter who is a former Senior Producer with Sesame Street  http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Tim_Carter, and David Guerra, an artist and award winning costumer who is creating special props and puppets.  Join us for a wonderful day in the neighborhood, filled with inspiring music, delicious food, wonderful people, child-friendly programs, and an interesting discussion about our local and global neighbors.

It’s also a time to join us later in the afternoon as we celebrate the end of the ICE contract with the West County Detention Facility, and as we continue to support undocumented men, women, and children, as our neighbors. We will also be receiving a special collection for the UCC’s justice ministries supporting our local and global neighbors in need. 

Come join us, neighbors!!   

Blessing of the Animals Oct 14, 2018

Come and celebrate the animal companions in our lives on Sunday, October 14 at 3:00-4 PM!

This is our 19th annual special ceremony to honor our animal companions and acknowledge the blessings they bring to our lives. Bring your pet(s) or a picture of your pet (or even a stuffed animal).

This is is a family event!  Refreshments provided for both pets & humans.

Afterwards, come and walk your pet through our unique labyrinth!

Watch a video from a previous blessing! 

All over the world lively and sacred ceremonies to bless our animal companions and honor the blessings they bring to our lives are held in the fall.  Churches of all denominations honor beloved pets around the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (Oct 4) the patron saint of animals.

Reverend Laurie Manning and Rev. Sheryl Johnson of Skyline Community Church, affiliated with United Church of Christ,  bless your dog, cat, goat, parakeet, fish, horse or whatever you bring (safely) with you.  You can also bring photos of beloved pets who cannot make the journey or have passed on to receive a blessing.

The ceremony is at 3:00 PM, with registration at 2:45, in the beautiful courtyard at:9-27-15-bofa-dg-laure-and-dog-owner-blue-dress

Skyline Community Church
 12540 Skyline Blvd., Oakland, Ca. 94619

(½ mile S. of Redwood)

Come one and all, with dogs, cats, hamsters, goats, parakeets, horses and more to celebrate and enjoy our animal companions.

Here’s a blessing of the animals flyer to share with your vet or pet store, if you wish – thanks!

From Detention fo Freedom: Celebrating 7 Years of Prayer Vigil at WC Detention Facility

Staying Grounded while Living on the Fault Line


Dear Friends,

I’m back from sabbatical! 

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday!

I invite you to join me in the spiritual revolution!

This spiritual revolution rests upon a simple insight: God is the ground, the grounding, that which grounds us. We experience this when we understand that the soil is holy, water gives life, the sky opens the imagination, my roots matter, home is a divine place, and our lives are linked with our neighbors and with those around the globe. This world, not heaven, is the sacred stage of our times. (from “Grounded”, By Diana Butler Bass)

Have your views of God evolved over time? Mine have!  I “believe” less, but have more faith. I bet I’m not alone.

Do you find yourself seeking to stay grounded, while living on the fault line? Literally, as well as spiritually? Me too!

This fall, come believing as you do.  Find God, not in a far- away heaven, but here and now, within, between, and everywhere, more present than you ever imagined. 

Together, let’s open to the spirit of love and justice that shines within & around our sanctuary and radiates out into the world. Together, let’s co-create new things– new ways of talking about God, new ways of worshipping, new ways of connecting. 

Come, be inspired, be uplifted, and share your inspiration with others. Your presence matters. Being together matters.



P.S. It’s Homecoming Sunday– time to reconnect, and enjoy a celebration lunch after the service!

An Unending Symphony- Farewell from Pastor Ruth

Wow!  What great weekends we had on the 8th, 9th and 16th with the Climate March, Pride Parade, and Pride Sunday.  But why am I surprised?  Skyline Community Church not only talks the talk about justice issues but also walks the walk, often literally!  My not being free to take part in the Pride Parade reminds me once again that it is impossible – for humans, anyway! – to be in more than one place at a time.
I’m sure you have all had the feeling that there is so much work to be done to help heal God’s world.  Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start, and sometimes it feels like you’ll never finish.  I received some good advice today (Thank you, Nancy M.!),  Instead of being overwhelmed by all the injustice, prejudice,  and poverty that calls for a response, we should think like members of an orchestra.  Just pick up YOUR instrument and start playing!  When we each do that, when we each do what we can, our combined efforts can create some beautiful music.
However, we are playing an unending symphony.  Life is an unfinished business.  I am very aware of the unfinished business that I leave with you at the end of this month.  For instance, a conversation that began in response to the defacing  of our Black Lives Matter sign must continue.  Hopefully, those of you who have been reading the book “White Fragility” will share with each other what you have gleaned from your reading.  And hopefully you will be joined by others who wish to work together, looking inward as well as outward to strengthen your effectiveness in righting the wrong of prejudice wherever its ugliness appears.
As I get ready to pass the baton back to Pastor Laurie on Sept 26, I want to thank you all for your kindness, your passion, and your faith.  I have no doubt that the path you are taking as a congregation is leading toward the vision which God inspires in you: a world that more fully experiences the love that God has for all God has created.


Skyline UCC is Supporting the Rise for Climate, Justice and Jobs March Sept 8

Photo by The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash

We will meet at Skyline Church, 12540 Skyline Blvd. at 9:30am and car-pool to Bart. 

The Climate, Justice and Jobs March is our voice for action before the Global Climate Summit in San Francisco, Sept.12 to 14th, led by Governor Jerry Brown.

We are marching with other East Bay UCC groups, starting at 11am in the Embarcadero Plaza to the Civic Center in San Francisco. Please wear bright yellow, red or orange. Signs will be provided that say, “Climate: the Moral Issue of Our Time”   Bring water and food, dress for cool to warm weather. No signs are allowed that have wooden sticks.

Why Is Global Warming An Issue Of Faith?

People of faith realize that global warming and climate change are issues of environmental justice. For humans, those who are poor or unable to adjust will lose their homes to rising seas and be unable to grow food for their families.

For plants and animals, global warming means that many will not adjust in time and will become extinct, thus reducing the diversity and beauty of God’s natural creation, as well as causing permanent damage to the ecology of the earth.

“We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am not sure that Dr.King was speaking about climate change, but the words from the great moral leader of our time are so relevant to our situation.   If we are people who strive to follow the words and actions of Jesus we must act now to turn this around.  How can we possibly justify not taking action?  What would we say to future generations that could possibly justify our inaction?   There are no good answers to that question.

The world has warmed more than one degree Celsius since the Industrial Revolution.  The Paris Climate Agreement hoped to restrict warming to two degrees.  The odds of succeeding, according to a recent study based on current emissions trends, are 1 in 20. The climate scientist James Hansen has called two-degree warming “a prescription for long-term disaster.”  Long-term disaster is now the best -case scenario.  [1]

The scientific predictions are that as ice melts on Antarctica and Greenland, sea levels will rise as much as four feet, thus displacing millions of persons who live and work and grow food near the coasts. Low-lying countries such as Bangladesh will lose most of their land mass, islands in the Pacific will disappear, and coastal marshes such as The Everglades in South Florida will be under sea water.  The number of refugees will multiply rapidly.

Photo by Boris Smokrovic on Unsplash

Our Earth home is a finite and fragile planet like no other.   Are we doing our best to be stewards of our Earth or are we the destroyers of our home? We are both.  We need to be leaders in this struggle, as caring loving people of faith, and be truly stewards.

Catherine Kessler, Skyline Church Green Team Chair.           

           From the UCC Website, here is a list of practices for individual action:

  • Calculate the carbon footprint of your family and your congregation to determine a baseline for energy savings.
  • Home: turn the thermostat down in winter and up in summer, insulate, get only the appliances you need and make them energy efficient, buy a smaller home or rent a smaller apartment, shade your windows, dry your clothes on the line.
  • Transportation: ride a bike or walk more and drive less, purchase fuel-efficient and smaller vehicles, commute by public transportation, limit flying.
  • Food: grow a garden for vegetables and herbs, support your local farmers through a CSA, limit packaging and waste, start a compost pile.  Eat less meat (it takes 15 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of meat)
  • Yard: plant native perennials rather than grass to limit mowing, buy an electric mower if you need to cut grass, recycle leaves and yard waste, plant trees for shade and heat reduction, start a worm farm, compost for soil enrichment.
  • Education: explore websites and community resources for more ways to save energy and cut your carbon footprint, join our congregational “Green Team” to plan for action.
  • Advocacy: write or call your elected officials at every level to inform them that global warming is an issue of faith and justice and that public policy decisions to address global warming are essential.

Links and Resources

[1] NYTimes Magazine,Losing Earth:The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change, by Nathaniel Rich,August 1,2018.

Grant Awarded for Nueva Esperanza Preschool

Nueva Esperanza Preschool works to prepare immigrant and refugee children from the indigenous Guatemalan Mam culture, ages 3-5, to enter U.S. schools at the Kindergarten/First Grade level with at least average levels of expected knowledge that will enable them to receive and benefit from the curriculum in kindergarten.  The school was awarded one of sixteen grants for $1000 each, sponsored by the UCC Humanitarian & Development Ministries (One Great Hour of Sharing) and the UCC Keep Families Together Campaign.  

Mirtha Ninayahuar:Thank you very much for awarding the grant for our Nueva Esperanza Sunday Preschool. It’s such a blessing to receive the grant. Here (at left) are some of our preschool students with their Easter bags that Skyline Church assembled for them.  With the grant, the preschool volunteers will work with the children on the English language, early literacy concepts, early math concepts, and names of colors and shapes. Funds are used for healthful snacks, writing/coloring paper, toothbrush kits, books and book bags, and backpacks with school supplies for graduating children.  The funds will also purchase learning toys such as playdough and puzzles, and project materials such as folders. Also as volunteers are always needed, we are considering a small stipend for church teens to help during the 2 hour class.”

Founding of the preschool: In 2015 the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity Rev. Deborah Lee, Skyline Co-chair of Justice & Witness Mirtha Ninayahuar, First Congregational Church of Berkley (FCCB) member Dr. Victoria Purcell- Gates, and Iglesia de Dios Pastor Adolfo Gomez started the preschool with a grant from the Rainin Foundation.

Volunteers come from the three establishing entities and the secular community. Currently the preschool has $947 available from FCCB Justice & Service Ministry grant. Volunteers sometimes donate snacks and class materials. Currently we have 5 volunteers who come at least twice/month and about 5 who come less regularly.

Rev. Dr. Mary Schaller Blaufuss, Team Leader,UCC Humanitarian & Development Ministries:
 “Thank you so much for submitting the application for a UCC Keep Families Together grant.  We are pleased to award this and are grateful that the wider church can have at least a small role in your vital ministries with the Nueva Esperanza Sunday Preschool.   It sounds like you are engaged in ways that help children know they are loved and welcomed and that also provide leadership opportunities for your church teens. Thank you again for your important work.”

Pride at Skyline: Parade and Sunday Service

Lift Your Spirits with Us at Pride 2018

Oakland Pride March, Sunday, September 9, 2018, 10:00 am:  March Line-Up:  14th Street and Clay Street, Downtown Oakland

Pride Service, Sunday September 16, 2018, 10:00 am, Church Sanctuary, 12540 Skyline Boulevard, Oakland 

Many of us have felt discouraged and uneasy due to the words and actions of the current White House Administration.  Those of us in the LGBTQ communities, along with our allies, have particularly experienced concern about the increasingly divisive, bigoted, partisan rhetoric we hear on a daily basis. 

The Pride season offers up an opportunity to feel connected, supported, energized and uplifted. 

On September 9th, join us at 14th Street and Clay in Downtown Oakland, as we unite with our friends from the various United Church of Christ congregations in the Bay Area, for the 2018 Oakland Pride March.  Families, children, pets, those of differing abilities, races, religions and statuses…. all are encouraged and welcome at this event.

On September 16th, make your way up the hill to our sanctuary at 12540 Skyline Boulevard for our annual Pride Sunday Service.  We will celebrate the history of the resilient rainbow spirit and the unique gifts of the LGBTQ community and beyond, with special music and artistry from throughout our community. 

All are appreciated and welcome!

Rise for Climate March – Sept 8

Saturday, September 8, 9:15am – 2pm

The United Church of Christ Council for Climate Justice and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Green Chalice ministry are co-sponsoring the Rise for Climate marches taking place across the country on or near September 8th. The largest march is being planned for San Francisco ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit. The schedule for this march includes an interfaith worship service at 9 am before marchers line up by constituency at 10 am near Embarcadero Plaza.

To join the UCC-DOC contingent and receive helpful updates on the march and the worship service, sign-up at www.ucc.org/rise_for_climate

We will carpool to Bart, the march starts at the Embarcadero Plaza.

Contact Catherine Kessler or Pastor Ruth via office@skylineucc.org.

Beautiful Children at Nueva Esperanza helped by Angel Volunteers

Many times I’ve shared with you what the volunteer teachers teach the students at the Nueva Esperanza Preschool on Sunday afternoons. I’d like to share what I’ve learned from teaching at the preschool at the Guatemalan Mam Church, Iglesia de Dios.

First and foremost, the children are some of the best behaved children I’ve ever had the privilege of teaching. Only once did I have to tell one of the boys to get off the table which he did promptly. I’m not sure if my tone of voice scared him, but his behavior surprised me probably as much as my response surprised him. We both recovered and forged ahead to the next activity.

I’ve learned that the children are very caring and notice when a new child needs a welcoming buddy, especially when there isn’t a teacher available to give all the personal attention needed. For example, new children may arrive to preschool looking like they don’t want to be there. Typically, I’ll ask the parent to stay until the child feels comfortable or a teacher will encourage the new student to pick an activity at the different tables. It’s so sweet to see when an experienced student goes and takes the newbie by the hand and speaks to him/her in Mam, kindly making the new child feel at ease. I often wished I knew what was being said in Mam, a language that to me is very difficult to learn. Could it be that the older child is telling the new child to “suck it up, it’ll be fine” or “stay and you’ll have fun”? Maybe next time I’ll ask what was said.

It’s not hard to see where the caring and welcoming spirit comes from. The Guatemalan Mam people at the church have always made me feel welcome. Every Sunday when I arrive, the adults greet me with a handshake and a “Buenas tardes, hermana“ (Good afternoon, sister) and the adults and little ones whom I’ve grown close to over the last 3 years give me a hug.

A really big lesson I’ve learned in regards to running the preschool is not too worry so much because God, through many angels, has provided what the preschool needs. When the co-director, a Ph.D. in Literacy Education, moved to Colorado and volunteers were on the decline, I worried. But the preschool and I were blessed that she masterfully laid out how the preschool should function.

As far as the declining number of volunteers, I realize many people can’t sustain volunteering on Sundays as this is typically a day to spend with family and friends. I’ve been putting the word out about needing volunteers, but sometimes a volunteer seems to just appear unexpectedly. As in the story of the latest angel that appeared at a senior center, sitting next to me ready to watch a movie. We knew each other from work. She had recently retired and asked what I was doing. As soon as I described the preschool, she said she wanted to volunteer and she has been coming each Sunday. What a blessing!

Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity staff found another angel who is willing to commit to volunteering twice per month starting in September and perhaps step in if I can’t be there. Yet another angel is one of my best friends,Yvonne H., a gifted arts and crafts queen and animal lover. She organized a special lesson to celebrate the last day of preschool and graduation day. Her handsome pet, a hairless guinea pig, thrilled us all along with a beautiful photo display showing him in action at his comfortable pet condo. My friend provided folders with pictures of guinea pigs for coloring. The kids asked if they could keep the folders and they were so happy to know they could. My friend has agreed to come back to give more lessons.

                        Children coloring in their guinea pig coloring folders.

Another angel, Catherine K., provided a portable baby playpen that she found during the cleaning of the Church’s downstairs room. She asked me if the Guatemalan preschool church could use it and that very day I took it to the church and was surprised that it was just what we needed. You see, the ladies of the church prepare food in a corner of the preschool room to sell for church fundraisers. This one lady who was preparing food also had a toddler who she let loose in the preschool area which was not a good idea as there are so many small toys to choke on. The playpen is just what was needed. The mother gladly agreed to use it for her toddler where she could be safe while mom cooked.

I look forward to learning more among the angels, the big ones and little ones, when preschool resumes in September. One of the lessons that I have to learn over and over is not to worry and to have faith that everything will work out with the preschool. Thank you Skyline Church family for supporting the preschool, especially Nancy T., a consistent volunteer, and thank you volunteers from other churches and the secular community. All your love and support is a divine gift.

Mirtha Ninayahuar