Oakland church

Archive for Church in the World

Prayers for the Kurds and Leadership in this Country

This past Sunday we lifted up prayers for the Kurds in Northern Syria. Let us also pray for our personal and collective moral leadership in this country.  Who would dare to be a US ally, when the betrayal of allies has become our  hallmark? Our President has betrayed the Kurds in the most cynical way, giving a “green-light” to Turkey’s invasion of Northern Syria and thus betraying the Kurds who have been our allies in fighting ISIS.  

Why did he do this?  I’d like to share with you reflections from Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite  who is President and Professor Emerita of Chicago Theological Seminary. 

It is an abrupt reversal of years of U.S. policy. Israel, a key ally in the region, is said to be particularly shaken by this sudden move, about which they apparently had no notice. Headlines from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz tell the tale: “Trump’s Kurdish Treachery” and “Trump Roundly Slammed.”

The Middle East is a delicate web of international alliances and histories. The one thing this region hates is sudden moves without consulting allies. As The Washington Post reported: “The abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria and subsequent Turkish attacks on Kurdish fighters have badly rattled Israel’s national security experts, who decried President Trump’s action as a betrayal of loyal allies and evidence that Israel’s most vital supporter is a fickle friend at best.”

But maybe, as in many Trump actions, it has nothing very much to do with the interests of allies in the Middle East such as Israel, or even the best security interests of the people of the United States, and a lot to do with the interests of Donald Trump.

In 2015, Trump gave a radio interview in which he said, “I have a little conflict of interest ’cause I have a major, major building in Istanbul … It’s a tremendously successful job. It’s called Trump Towers — two towers, instead of one, not the usual one, it’s two.”

As it turns out, it’s more than a little conflict of interest. Trump doesn’t own these towers, he leases his name. And it’s been very lucrative, per reporting from Mother Jones: “According to personal financial disclosures filed by Trump, since he launched his bid for the presidency, he has earned somewhere between $3.2 million and $17 million in royalties from the deal. (The amounts are given in ranges; the precise figures are unclear.)” 

So Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his current supporter, Aydin Dogan, the wealthy owner of these glass towers with Trump’s name on them, have quite a hold on Donald Trump. Erdogan has actually threatened to remove Trump’s name from the towers in the past when he has done something Erdogan doesn’t like.

Maybe this betrayal of the Kurds is just as simple and terrible as keeping Trump’s name on two towers in Istanbul, and the security interests of the world be damned. Literally.

The world’s religions reserve a special scorn for those who betray their friends, especially for financial gain. In the Christian scriptures, Judas is said to have agreed to betray Jesus for “thirty pieces of silver.” (Matthew 26: 14-16)

In the climactic scene from the movie “A Man for All Seasons,” Sir Thomas More is betrayed by Richard Rich, who has been bribed to do it by being made attorney general of Wales. More tries one last time to get his former friend to repent, and he quotes Jesus of Nazareth on what it does to a person to betray another for money. “Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world (Matthew 16:26). But for Wales?”

Betrayal of a friend for a real estate deal, even one as big as the whole world, profits you nothing, Jesus argues. Thus, we might paraphrase Jesus words as follows:

“Donald, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. But for your name on two glass towers?”   

Let us pray, as a nation, for the restoration of our souls. 

 blessings, pastor Laurie 

Climate – a Global Grassroots Movement for Life

Days after global protests calling for climate change action, the United Nations held a special climate summit where world leaders and other officials gathered to hammer out specific pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.N. made science very visible in advance of this meeting.  https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/fiery-calls-to-action-at-un-climate-summit-dont-win-pledges-from-worst-emitters

Recently, the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank, measured the percentage of people in the US who believe that climate change is a threat to the well-being of the planet. The results were more telling than even I expected.  94% of liberal democrats believe it is a threat, but only 19% of conservative republicans do. Perhaps even more frightening is that only 57%  of all people in the US do. 

In Europe, the very question would illicit incredulity because they KNOW climate change is a threat, just like they know the earth is round and the sun is hot. How this became a matter of opinion in this country is a frightening tribute to politicians’ ability to use the media and the bible to manipulate our trust in the most basic science-based facts. 
 
Relatedly, if we can be made to doubt something so obvious, what other things have we been made to believe that simply aren’t so? Well, a good portion of people in this country believe that tax cuts for the rich will help the poor and middle-class. Many people believe we went to war with Iraq because of 9/11.  Apparently, many people still believe that capital punishment deters crime and that guns make us a safer nation. 
 
I have been so moved by the clarity of Greta Thunberg, the voice of a young prophet of our times, challenging insatiable greed, at the expense of life itself.
 
I give thanks to Skyline for being a part of the movement, to reform our understanding and our ways of what it means to be good stewards of this precious planet, and embodying inclusive love of all people, especially the most vulnerable. I give thanks for advocating for the Green New Deal, as part of this global grass roots movement for life.  

Join us this Sunday as we deepen our connection to this global grass roots movement for life. We look forward to celebrating Yom Kippur with Rabbi David Cooper, a passionate advocate for social and environmental justice, and  founding rabbi of Kehilla synagogue in Oakland. Here’s some info about David

Pride Sunday – Welcome Home!

Last weekend Oakland celebrated LGBTQ+ Pride  in a tastefully, over -the -top way!

This Sunday, September 15th, we will bring LGBTQ+ Pride  to Skyline, in worship!

We will celebrate Pride with a family friendly service, featuring the Parable of the Dancing Queen, written by our very own Tim Carter, former Senior Producer at Sesame Street and winner of 14 Emmy awards!! Also featured are puppetry and costuming, from our very own David G. and Alegra Figeroid, artists extraordinaire!

After all, it’s a big year!  Fifty years ago, the Pride movement began in the US. on  June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in NYC. Just think of it….Skyline and Pride were both born out of the liberation and justice movements fifty years ago, as part of the evolving understanding of the equal rights of women, people of color, LGBTQ people, indigenous people, and the ecumenical interfaith movement, as well as the wisdom that with our evolving understanding of science and human development, so too must our faith evolve. Ours is a still speaking God! 

Have you ever felt left out? Excluded? Singled out for being different? How did you feel? Did you ever want to run away from home, from school, from church, your country, from it all? Have you ever yearned to find other people who really saw you and understood you and loved you for who you are? Have you ever yearned to be free to sing, dance, and  just be yourself?  I think of Jesus’s parable for this Sunday,  of the  lost and found coins, sheep, and people; and God’s love for each and every one of us: seeking, finding, loving, and welcoming us home, just as we are. 

When the UCC, Golden Gate Association in 1972, ordained Bill Johnson as the first openly gay minister in an historical protestant denomination and to become the first denomination to support equal marriage rights for same sex couples, we were saying welcome home! You are part of the family.

When, in 2008, at the height of the debate over the Prop 8 same-sex marriage legislation in California, Skyline hung a banner in front of the church entrance, proclaiming to every passerby “Support Marriage Equality. We do.” we were saying welcome home! You are part of the family.

And when I, Skyline’s pastor Laurie, blessed same sex couples for many years before it was a legal right, and urged all heterosexual couples I married to stand in solidarity with them, until the day that this became a legal right for all people, we were saying welcome home! You are part of the family.

Read more about UCC’s LGBTQ actions and programs.

Welcome home! It’s Pride Sunday! Children are especially welcome!!

Plant-Based Diet = PlanET-Based Diet

…by Catherine Kessler, Green Team Lead

I recently listened to Carl Sagan’s “The Pale Blue Dot,” a moving description of our planet written after Voyager 1 looked back at Earth as it left our solar system in 1990.  It reminded me of Earth’s fragility and the thin layer of atmosphere that makes our world livable.   We now have a little time left to save ourselves from devastation; the changes we have made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not keeping pace with the heating up of our atmosphere.  www.planetary.org/explore/space-topics/earth/pale-blue-dot.html

So, we all must do more.  I am addressing something every person can do, that is actually simple, no added cost, and is significant to a healthy you and a healthy planet.

The world’s food system is responsible for about ¼ of the planet-warming greenhouse gases, C02, methane (“natural gas”) that humans generate each year. That includes raising and harvesting all the plants, animals and animal products we eat, as well as processing, packaging and shipping food to markets all over the world.

Meat and dairy, particularly from cows, have an outsize impact, with livestock accounting for around 14.5 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases each year. That’s roughly the same amount as the emissions from all the cars, trucks, airplanes and ships combined in the world today.

What about all the talk about eating more animal protein and very low carb for good health?

More recent evidence unequivocally shows that the plant-based diet is the best.  When studies are continued for longer periods on large groups, the outcomes show lower blood fats and blood pressure, healthier weight maintenance, healthier gut bacteria which in turn maintain a healthy immune system. (very low animal fat, high fiber, increase of beneficial plant compounds and the omission of  harmful compounds produced from charred meat).

So, what is a Plant-Based Diet?

It means using the main plant proteins (see below) instead of animal proteins, but does not completely eliminate the foods that may be part of special cultural celebrations. And it also has a significant amount of your Calories coming from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and plant oils, to lower risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Try making a gradual shift to mostly plant-based eating:

  1. Reduce beef portion size (adult needs are met with 3 oz.or 21grams of protein at one time)
  2. Reduce frequency of beef gradually to monthly; substitute poultry, seafood, plant protein.
  3. Plan several days of meatless meals by making a large pot of beans, or lentil stew.

For YOUR health, don’t increase intake of fatty pork (even though its carbon footprint is lower than beef and lamb.

Gradually move to making your protein source plant-based: Beans, lentils, hummus, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, nuts, seeds are the highest in protein quantity and quality.

This link provides a guide for decision-making.

Here is a vegetarian guide for selecting foods.

Enjoy increasing health benefits for yourself as you join with others to give our thin layer of atmosphere a long life!

Contact me through the office  (510-531-8212, office@skylineucc.org)

Immigrant Rights and Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity Call to Action

Hi Rev Deb, (and IM4HI)

I hope that you are doing well, what a time to be alive, and advocating for the rights of undocumented people!   As you are well aware, the ongoing plight of immigrants at the border, especially children is heartbreaking and sickening, and is growing worse.  Then there’s also the upcoming ICE raids planned in a few weeks. We want to do something, and wanting to pool together ideas, resources, and responses.  You’ve probably seen this: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/24/opinion/border-kids-immigration-help.html

 What’s the Center for Human Integrity’s response, and how can we be of support, locally?

 peace, Laurie 

********************************************************

(From Rev. Deb)

Hi Rev. Laurie, and Skyline,

Here is our eblast where we are trying to direct people to act.  It would be good for congregations to get together – hold an event – to discuss and learn more, watch a film.  What is happening is not new, but is being exploited to an all new level.  Good for people to think about what they can do longterm – like support housing needs, creatively in the parking lot or congregations, or congregation members homes.
 
Also Donations are needed locally- as we are constantly getting requests for new arrivals – and have our emergency housing fund.  Once they are able to move out of the terrible camps at the border. They are coming to cities like ours across the country with little or no help and infrastructure.
 
 
Also we need help with Sergio’s bond fundraiser so he can come home.  Follow this link to donate-https://www.gofundme.com/help-us-reunite-sergio-with-his-fa…
Sent by
Rev. Deborah Lee
Executive Director
Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (IM4HumanIntegrity)
310 8th St. Suite 310
Oakland, CA  94607
o) 510 948-7899  
c) 415- 534-5620
 
 
All People are Sacred Across All Borders
Justice Not Jails
Compassion Has No Walls 
More on the border issue:
Dear Friends:  
 
We are all concerned about the deplorable detention of children, and the President’s threat of immigration raids. Once again, he has created a hostage crisis. Now threatening to resume immigration raids in two weeks unless Congress approves a spending bill of $4.5 billion that would worsen the crisis he has created. The harm is felt across our communities, so we invite you to breathe and remember the power and strength we’ve been building in the local community. This violence is not isolated only to immigrants, but it is also practiced on other communities by recent policies: Muslims, Jews, Women of Color, Transgendered folks, Indigenous, African American, and more.
 
We invite you to join us in acts that lift up our faith values:
  • We must practice collective responsibility by addressing the root causes of social problems.
  • We are interconnected and accountable for one another.
CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS
Congress is in the midst of negotiating the two versions of the spending bill. It is critical that you contact your U.S. Congressperson’s office immediately. Click here to find your congress representative.
 
They need to hear your faith values that upholds the sanctity of all!
  • No more funding for ICE, detention, and enforcement.
  • Divest from all programs that criminalize and incarcerate immigrants.
  • Release all those detained to their families and communities.
  • Invest in alternatives that focus on integration of immigrants.
  • End contracts with private corporations.
JOIN UPCOMING EVENTS at IM4H
In addition to participating in local actions to express outrage and concern; we invite you to join us over the next few weeks to strengthen your faith, deepen our connection to each other, and mend the past, in order to transform our future!
 
 
 
 
 
August 10th, 7pm, Faith Reflection on Reparations: Led by Kehilla Community Synagogue, Chochmat HaLev, and IM4HI. More details to come.
TURNING OUR ANGER AND FEAR INTO ACTION
With the announcement last week, that several major U.S. cities would be terrorized by the cruel machine known as ICE, our family was once again forced to imagine what it would be like if we were separated and what our plan of action would be if this actually happened.  READ FULL ARTICLE HERE
 
For resources about detention and deportation please click here

Labor Day and Immigrant Rights Day as a Sanctuary Community

When the alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:33-34

May is here. May 1st marks, for many people of the world, International Workers Day, also known as Labor Day, a time of honoring and advocating for laborers and working class people.  Relatedly, May 6th is Immigrant Rights Day to champion the rights and contributions of immigrants as a vital part of our country, especially here in California and in Oakland.  

Celebrations on May 1 have long had two, seemingly contradictory meanings. On one hand, May Day is known for maypoles, flowers and welcoming the spring. On the other hand, it’s a day of worker solidarity and protest. Though the U.S. observes its official Labor Day in September, many countries will celebrate Labor Day on Wednesday.   I’d like to share with you an article that reflects on the bloody history of this day.
 
Come and learn more about how we can become better friends and advocates as a sanctuary congregation and a justice faith community.  For example, supporting the children of Guatemala and their families through the Nueva Esperanza preschool; advocating for those held in detention centers and for children separated from their parents at the borders; and advocating for living wages, affordable housing, education and healthcare for all people.
 
with love, Pastor Laurie 

Volunteering Spring Summer 2019

Volunteers – St. Mary’s Center;  Learn more here


Teaching stories of faith to our children! Volunteer Opportunity! 

Rev. Sheryl Johnson will be leaving Skyline for a much larger children, youth director position at the San Mateo UCC Church in late May. She is very grateful for her time at Skyline and will miss the Skyline community a lot! 
 
Her last Sunday will be Sunday, May 19th and we will be celebrating her in worship. 
 
We are currently looking for volunteers to lead the sessions (with the amazing support of Alegra in the multi-age group and Lucy helping out with pre-school aged kids) on May 26 and June 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30. Curriculum materials, lesson plans, and training/support will be provided. If you have never tried this before, this could be a great opportunity for you – it’s a great chance to get to know the kids and for the kids to get to know you! 
 
We will also be providing a short orientation for both new and experienced volunteers on Sunday, May 19th after fellowship time, from 11:45 – 12:30 pm, to show you how to lead a typical session, how to adapt the curriculum to meet the needs of this multi-age group, to learn more about what Allegra and Lucy’s roles are, and to share ideas on best practices. 
 
For more info, Please contact Sheryl,  cyf.skyline@gmail.com or Pastor Laurie  office@skylineucc.org.

Volunteer Opportunities

Looking for Board Members- Alameda Health System Homeless Clinic
Many of you know I am a Director of Nursing at Alameda Health System (Highland Hospital and clinics). We provide many services to the homeless population of Alameda County. As part of our role in the county and with the federal government, we are required to have a board that specifically addresses the needs of the homeless. It is a volunteer position with a three year term.  If you are interested or have further questions, please let me know.
Steve Kilgore, MSN, RN, contact through office 510-531-8212,   office@skylineucc.org
Director of Nursing, Ambulatory
Alameda Health System

Volunteer to manage  the donations basket in Friendship Room
Skyline has a large drop-off basket for clothing donations from church & preschool in the Friendship Room.  J&W team is seeking a volunteer to monitor it and take donations periodically to East Oakland Switchboard, BACS, or other worthy recipient(s).  Contact Nancy Taylor:   Michael Armijo, through office 510-531-8212,   office@skylineucc.org

Support Immigrants, Refugees, Detainees
The Skyline Justice and Witness Team invites you to volunteer to support these groups and organizations. 

A Su Lado/ By Your Side is a one-day volunteer opportunity to accompany immigrants in need of community support at their immigration court hearings in San Francisco. Email Hugo at hlopez@im4humanintegrity.org to sign up.
 
Become a Sponsor for an Immigrant in a Detention Center
Interested in helping release an immigrant from ICE detention that has recently arrived with a caravan? Please consider being a sponsor. Contact Samantha Vazquez for more information: svazquez@im4humanintegrity.org.
 
LGBTQ+ Sponsors:  There’s a great need for sponsorship of LGBTQ+ individuals currently in ICE detention. Email Elaina Vermeulen, Transgender Detention Release Specialist for more information: elainavermeulen@gmail.com.
 
Friends Afuera (Outside)
Join our Friends Afuera letter-writing program to write to those in detention at ICE facilities and donate to their commissary account once a month. Email us at: friendsafuera@im4humanintegrity.org
 
Compassion has no Walls Interfaith Immigration Vigils: Join our monthly vigils every 2nd Friday at ICE building, 630 Sansome Street, San Francisco from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm.  Sponsored by Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity.

Urgent Need for Sponsors for Detained Transgender Asylum Seekers
The Santa Fe Dreamer’s Project and collaborators seek parole sponsors for detained transgender women seeking asylum in the US.  A sponsor provides financial support, space in home, help to obtain services, clothing etc., and community support.  Find out how to sign up at http://tinyurl.com/skytransdetain.  Contact Elaina Vermeulen, Transgender Detention Release Specialist, at elainavermeulen@gmail.com.
J&W contacts: Mirtha Langewis-Ninayahuar and Nancy Taylor: contact through office 510-531-8212,   office@skylineucc.org

Ecumenical Peace Institute – Annual Good Friday Event at Lawrence Livermore

Join members of Skyline’s Justice and Witness Team at the annual Good Friday peace event sponsored by the Ecumenical Peace Institute.  Our Music Director, Benjamin Mertz, will be participating as song leader. 

Contact Nancy Taylor via the office at office@skylineucc.org or 510-531-8212 for more information.

Everyone has a Place at the Table

Lately, I hear myself thinking, “The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer”, especially when I read some of the insights from the Poor People’s campaign, a revival of Dr King’s vision, from 50 years ago:  https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/demands/.  (The Justice and Witness Team shares this event – A Poor People’s Hearing – contact Nancy Taylor about going),

Did you know that while the U.S. economy has grown 18-fold in the past 50 years, wealth inequality has expanded, the costs of living have increased, and social programs have been restructured and cut dramatically?  It’s tempting to think that’s the way things are doomed to be. 

 I take comfort in our sacred scriptures that remind us of the way that God wants things to be,  and why God gave ancient Israel laws about how the poor are to be treated: “These rights and obligations are also rooted in the goodness and justice of the created order”.

Well, we look around, and things often don’t resemble that beautiful created order much at all. 

We are called to participate in the co-creation of a heavenly banquet, where everyone has a place at the table;  where everyone has a roof over their head, to live more fully, more intentionally, in the “already” part of “already but not yet” nature of the Reign of God.  “The shape of God’s future must shape our present.”

Here at Skyline, we’re involved in both charity and justice to bring good news to the poor.  To learn more, just click on our website: https://skylineucc.org/justice-witness/.

In a beautiful reflection on Jesus’s upside down kingdom, Frederick Buechner writes this:

“The world says, ‘Mind your own business,’

and Jesus says, ‘There is no such thing as your own business.’

The world says, ‘Follow the wisest course and be a success,’

and Jesus says, ‘Follow me and be crucified.’

The world says, ‘Drive carefully — the life you save may be your own’ —

and Jesus says, ‘Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’

The world says, ‘Law and order,’

and Jesus says, ‘Love.’

The world says, ‘Get’

and Jesus says, ‘Give.’ 

May it be so with us. Blessings upon your week, with love, Pastor Laurie 

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!