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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!

I See You – Passion Project for Oakland’s Homeless

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world [or Oakland].  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead 

Several months ago, challenged by the question, what more can Skyline church do about homelessness crisis in Oakland, we hosted the Pacific Boys Academy in a worship service/concert to benefit the homeless here in Oakland. We raised over $1300, and split the proceeds between St. Vincent de Paul and St. Mary’s. But even more, we raised awareness! Far more than we imagined!

One of the choir members, William, who’s also a 6th grader at Bentley school, was hugely inspired by this service. In particular, he was moved by  the video I created,   based on the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and set to the song, “What if God was One of Us?” William asked me that day to be his mentor on a Passion project for the homeless entitled, I See You.  I said yes. So, the following Saturday, a group of us made sandwiches, visited the encampment at 12th and E 23rd and had conversations with some of the folks living there.

I remember one conversation in particular.  We met a woman in her 60‘s, in a wheel chair because of her debilitating arthritis. She shared her story with us.  She was a cancer survivor, had a daughter, who was a drug user, with four kids.  With all the rains this past winter she came down with pneumonia and was hospitalized at Highland Hospital. She had been living in a tent with her husband for about a year. She and her husband became recipients of the first TuffShed on that encampment that very day.

Here’s what William is doing with his talents to help us to see this woman, and so many other men, women & children, here in Oakland.

He would like to have our support in investing wisely to support these families and in coordinating future visits to the encampment. Let me know if you’re interested in getting involved. 

Thank you to  William and his family, to the Bentley school, to Pacific Boy’s Academy, to Charlie and Aiden, and to Skyline,  for recognizing our common humanity. 

                                    with love, Pastor Laurie 

Here’s his email to me, which includes his Passion Project, video concert and request for support. 

Hi Reverend Manning!
I wanted to let you know that my Passion Project for the homeless, “I See You!” is complete and went very well. Although I did not spend as much time as I wanted with you (totally my fault), you had a VERY BIG impact on my project. Seeing your presentation, sharing your videos and research with me, making sandwiches, and going to the homeless camp were all things that helped shape my project.
 
Attached is the actual PowerPoint presentation I gave to an audience of 100 people (I was very nervous!). Below is the “virtual concert” email I used to solicit funds for my project.  I raised over $1,300 in cash and another $285 in gift cards to buy food and supplies for the homeless!
 
I promised those who gave me money that I would spend every dollar raised on food and supplies for the homeless.  Can you help me identify/confirm a date and organize a delivery of food to the place we went before?  I don’t think I can just show up with food 🤔. I also don’t think I can spend all of the money on one meal, so do you know of other homeless places that need food or supplies, or can I go back a few times?  
 
Thank you so much again!  I really appreciate your help and look forward to seeing you at church soon.  We are coming back. When we were doing research to make my PowerPoint presentation, my Mom saw that you used to be at Riverside Church in New York.  That is her old church and she is pretty sure she remembers your time there. That made her very happy 😊. 
 
From,
William
Here’s his fundraiser: 
Dear Friends and Family,
I am working on a passion project entitled, “I SEE YOU”. As part of our middle school curriculum, we are encouraged to explore issues that we are passionate about, and brainstorm ways that we can make a difference.  I am passionate about music, and I care about the homeless. Even as a kindergartener, when visiting places with my parents, I wanted to stop and talk to the people I would see laying on the street or sitting outside of restaurants with their children or pets.  When I did this, they would smile. 
 
Sometimes a problem seems so big that we can’t imagine we can do anything about it. But we can.  There is one thing that every person can do, and it doesn’t cost anything. If you don’t have a dollar to give, or food and clothes to donate, or time to volunteer, you can do the one thing that is completely within your power, but is so often overlooked. You can refuse to let homeless people be invisible to you. 
 
Homeless people have become so commonplace that we don’t even see them. Every day people walk by them without even acknowledging their existence. To not acknowledge another human being is inhumane. We need to be reminded that the homeless are like us—human—and could even be us. Maybe they lost their job, had serious medical bills they couldn’t pay, experienced stress or mental illness as a veteran — all things that could happen in our families. Sometimes what they need most is the very thing we have to give; a warm smile, a hello, a greeting, a gesture that says, “I SEE YOU!”
 
I am using my love of music to raise funds, via a virtual concert, for two purposes:
 
1) To donate a meal to the homeless camp at 12th and 24th in Oakland that I identified with the help of my mentor, Reverend Laurie Manning;
 
2) To purchase the “I See You” bands that I created and will share freely with my friends and family to remind us all to be kind to the homeless people we see on the streets. 
 
I do not have a “not for profit,” (hopefully one day I will!) so your donation is NOT tax deductible, but 100% of the proceeds will go to the meal for the homeless (the more money, the more food!) and the “I SEE YOU” bands.  
 
If you would like to view my online concert, please click here.
 
 
If you like it and wish to make a donation to “I SEE YOU”, please click here.
 
Please share my email with others you think will support my cause.
 
Gratefully,
William S.
Bentley School
6th Grade

“A song of peace for lands afar and mine…”

Photo by Matthew Huang on Unsplash


Next Monday we honor Memorial Day, a federal holiday set aside to remember the men and women who died while serving in our country’s armed forces.   I cannot help but lift up the beautiful words of Finlandia, which we will sing this Sunday: 
 
“This Is My Song”

Lloyd Stone and Georgia Harkness,  UM Hymnal, No. 437

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

This Sunday, join us as we lift up prayers not only for our country’s servicemen and women who have died, but all those who have died in the world because of war.  Here is a beautiful prayer, entitled  A Prayer for the World by Amy Petrie Shaw.