Oakland church

Archive for Church in the World

Gifts For The Children

ANNOUNCEMENT:
December Gift Giving!
Gifts for the Unhoused Children of East Oakland Community Project

Once again, Skyline Church and Preschool have an opportunity for gift-giving to the homeless children of the East Oakland Community Project.

In 2019, Alameda County reported the biggest increase of 43% since its last tally in 2017, with a total of 8,022 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people counted during a single day.  Deaths in Alameda County’s unhoused communities increased 40% during the first nine months of 2020, compared to the same period the previous year. 

We are grateful for our planned generosity to EOCP.

This year, because of COVID, we will be signing up to give gift cards rather than wrapped presents. The Church is taking 27 names and the Preschool is taking 26 names of the total 53 children in the EOCP programs.

Because we don’t have the list of children’s names yet, we ask that you sign up anyhow – with a name to be assigned later.

We’re recommending that you purchase a gift card with a value of $30 from either Target or Walmart, and place the card inside an envelope with a Christmas card, with the child’s name on the outside of the envelope (if we get names by 12/15), signed with your name(s) on the inside.  Please do not seal the envelope.  We haven’t received a date to deliver the cards yet; but please plan on dropping these off at the Preschool, no later than December 15.  A box will be provided at the bottom of the stairs during school hours for this purpose. As an alternative, feel free to drop at Nancy Taylor’s: 4207 Knoll Ave., Oakland 94619.  Finally, if you are unable to go out and purchase a gift card, you may write a check made out to Skyline Church with “EOCP” in the note field, mail it to the church.  Nancy T will use the funds to purchase gift cards and Christmas cards and sign for you.

To sign up, please email Nancy Montier 510-531-8212  office@skylineucc.org

Photo by olia danilevich from Pexels

Leveling the Uneven Ground

What does it mean to pave a way for God through a planet groaning from exploitation, through societies plagued by inequity, and through religious and political systems corrupted by power and privilege? 

How does the wisdom of the prophets speak to these questions?

The prophet Isaiah, 40:1-11 lifts up these words:

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s h& double for all her sins. A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” 
 
If paying attention to the prophets aligns our dreams with the dreams of God and drives us to prophetic action, then the cries of Isaiah today are a reminder that sometimes this means getting in the demolition businessSometimes this means flattening the mountains of privilege and power, clearing away the obstructions of legalism, and leveling the uneven ground of racial, economic, and religious inequity. 
 
Join us, this Sunday, in God’s work in the world, preparing the way, in the work of leveling the uneven ground.
Love,
Pastor Laurie   

Advent Reading Party: Moving Towards the Light

Monday, Nov. 16, 7PM by Zoom

What a joy it will be to receive the timeless gift of Christmas in this strange and troubling year.  With so many distractions, we are going to need to give careful attention to the things that matter; that nourish and restore our hearts and minds.

You are invited to a heart-warming Skyline online party.  No sermons, no lessons, no liturgy, no music. Just reading aloud to one another and chatting about the beautiful words of Old and New Testaments that have graced every Advent  and Christmas season….just because they are dear to us, and we love the sound of them. 

Bring a cup of tea and a Bible, and a heart ready to hear once again.

 

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Virtual Food Drive for Alameda County Community Food Bank

Results – November Food Drive
For the Alameda County Community Food Bank

Dear Skyline Church and Preschool,

With an initial goal of $800 surpassed, the goal was expanded to $1500. Our virtual food drive is over, and you’ve donated $1,751 to supply 3,502 meals to Alameda County residents! Well done!

Here’s a thank you from the Alameda County Community Food Bank:

Even though 2020 has been a challenging year, we still found some bright spots: YOU.

Your compassion, support, and dedication to ending hunger in our community is something all of us at ACCFB are grateful for. You’ve donated, volunteered, shared our messages, and so much more. 

You may not always get to see the impact you’ve had – but we want you to know just how important you are to our community. We made this short video to say thank you.

From all of us at Alameda County Community Food Bank, we wish you a happy Thanksgiving.

Gratefully,
The ACCFB Team

 

While our food drive is over, if you’re inspired to give on your own, you can learn more on ways to give here.  And, here’s the direct link to the donation page – https://donate.accfb.org/

Thank you for your huge generosity and love!

Contact:  Nancy Montier (510-531-8212  office@skylineucc.org)

Blessings

I’m writing this on Tuesday, the last day of voting in the 2020 election, and the health of American democracy is in crisis ( NTY Times opinion- “End Our National Crisis“). 

At the same time, in the midst of this  crisis, the strength of democracy also is on display. As Martin Luther King Jr. said in his final speech, “Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”

This week, I wish to offer you a prescription for happiness; a Greek word that can be translated as “blessed”, “fortunate”’ “greatly honored”’ or even “happy.”  Bear with me as a I nerd out a bit here with some different translations. In fact, there are two Hebrew words for blessing. First, A’shar means blessing but it can also translate as “to find the right road”. And, Barak – yes, it’s the same spelling – which also means blessing but translated literally means “to stoop or bow down”. Consider what these translations open up when we return to these familiar words from Jesus. “You are on the right road” when you are poor in spirit, or when you are merciful.

And forget for a moment about “happy” or even “blessed” are those who mourn, or “happy” are those who are persecuted.  Consider instead this far more poignant offering:

God bows down before those who mourn.
The Lord stoops before those who are meek.
God bends the knee to peacemakers and to those who are persecuted!

What a blessing, especially for this week. Join us for worship on Sunday as we explore more deeply these blessings from Matthew’s gospel.

Speaking of Blessing, I encourage you, if you weren’t able to join us Monday night, Nov 2, to enjoy our recording of  our interfaith vespers service, Calm in the Storm

My deepest thanks to our talented musicians: Gabrielle Lochard, Benjamin Mertz, Ken Medema and to you for joining us!  

Gratitude for Awakening: Remembering the 400th Anniversary of Plymouth Thanksgiving

Sunday, Nov 22, Benjamin Mertz, Guest Preacher in worship    

Discussion after the service with Benjamin

This year, Nov 22, 2020, marks the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth MA. We remember in fact, this was the Pilgrims’ invasion of the Wampanoag people which led to the enslavement of Indigenous Peoples on the East Coast and the removal of and genocide against Indigenous peoples across the continent;  we remember that many Christian churches have uncritically traced their origins to the Pilgrims’ “Free Church” tradition – a mythos that sanctifies white supremacy and depends upon erasure of Indigenous peoples. Benjamin Mertz, our former music director at Skyline, is also a composer, singer, songwriter, choir director, and social racial justice activist who builds interfaith and interracial alliances. 

Gratitude for the Earth

With The Rev. Dr. Jim Antal , guest preacher  in worship            

Special Advisor on Climate Justice to UCC General Minister and President

Author: Climate Church, Climate World  

  -Discussion after the service with Jim

Climate Change  is the greatest existential threat of our time. The Rev Dr Jim Antal is a denominational leader, climate activist, author and public theologian. He serves as Special Advisor on Climate Justice to the General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ. Antal’s book, CLIMATE CHURCH, CLIMATE WORLD, was featured on Earth Day in the Chicago Tribune (2018), in Christian Century Magazine (2019) and by the AAR (2020). From 2006-2018, Antal led the 350 UCC churches in Massachusetts as their Conference Minister and President. Antal is a graduate of Princeton University, Andover Newton Theological School, and Yale Divinity School, which recently honored him with the William Sloane Coffin Award for Peace and Justice. In 2019 Antal was honored as recipient of the UCC’s social justice prophet award. An environmental activist from the first Earth Day in 1970, Antal wrote and championed three groundbreaking national UCC resolutions: in 2013 the UCC became the first national body to vote to divest from fossil fuel companies; in 2017 the national UCC Synod voted to declare a new moral era in opposition to President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord; in 2019, the UCC national Synod became the first Christian denomination to endorse the Green New Deal

Debt Relief – Jubilee Weekend 2020

Our UCC conference, and our church, voted in 2015 to become Jubilee conferences, which honors the biblical concept of debt relief for the poorest. I encourage you to read these addresses from Eric LaCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA, addressing  the UN conference on Covid 19 crisis recovery and debt relief. 
 
This year’s Jubilee Weekend 2020: Curing Poverty, Inequality and the Coronavirus , will be held October 16th – 18th, the same weekend as the major IMF and World Bank meetings this year. We lift up our voices in defense of the world’s most vulnerable during this critical time, to help  expand debt relief for the 73 poorest countries and move forward more aid for developing countries.

This year is really important. The United Nations estimates that 265 million more people are facing famine due to the coronavirus crisis. The International Labor Organization says 400 million jobs will be wiped out and the IMF asserts the current economic crisis rivals the Great Depression.

During Jubilee Weekend 2020: Curing Poverty, Inequality and the Coronavirus, the IMF and World Bank will make decisions that will determine whether or not tens of millions of people will enter extreme poverty or if hundreds of millions of people in the US and around the world can exit poverty. As coronavirus wreaks havoc around the globe and induces a global economic crisis on par with the Great Depression, we need to make a strong call for debt cancellation, relief and increased aid to address the crisis in developing countries.

I close with this prayer of Jubilee:
 
O Great G-d of all creation, hear our plea
We pray for an end to broken systems, in a world beset by the ravages of poverty and debt
We pray for rightness, fairness, justice and grace
We pray for your light to guide us as we seek your will.
Bless us with an economy that is whole and right, where all can live in dignity and hope and your light shines brightly in every land
G-d Most High, Bless us with your Jubilee
 
 
 
 

Oct 12: Indigenous Peoples Day and Columbus Day

Monday, Oct 12, 2020, the holiday has traditionally been called “Columbus Day”.  Join us on Sunday, the 11th, as we honor the Indigenous people who were here long before us. 

As a child, I learned a pledge of allegiance that carried far more than loyalty to “one nation, under God.” I learned allegiance to the assumption that this nation was founded by my European forebears just a few centuries ago. I learned that Columbus “sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred nine-two.” I learned to draw  the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. I learned and memorized the “really important dates”—1492, 1620, 1776, 1789.  I didn’t bother asking or wondering or doubting, because I really didn’t have to.

Once a system of beliefs begins to crack, once what is held to be historic gospel begins to erode, once any of us becomes privy to another story, another history, another reality, we cling to the familiar only out of a need to be reassured, only out of a penchant to take our cues from loved and respected teachers and preachers and parents and grandparents and touted authorities on this and that because climbing into a boat guaranteed to rock is just way too scary.

“Every year as October 12 approaches, there is a certain sense of dread that can be felt in indigenous communities in the Americas,” writes Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, a historian, writer, and co-founder of the Indigenous World Association, which lobbies the United Nations on behalf of indigenous peoples’ rights. She continues:

“That it is a federal holiday in the United States is regarded as hideous, a celebration of genocide and colonization. However, beginning thirty years ago, indigenous peoples formed an international movement, demanding…that October 12 be commemorated as an international day of mourning for the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. Informally, the day has been appropriated as Indigenous Peoples Day. This year feels different in indigenous communities as they celebrate the great victory of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the General Assembly…”

We are part of this international day of mourning, we are part of this movement. Our NCNC UCC conference is considering a resolution of Amendments, which I encourage you to read HERE.  

Those of us whose ancestry is from other shores are newcomers. No matter that our ancestors go back to the 1600s; we’re newcomers. We’ve barely arrived here,  already we’ve forgotten why we set sail? Was it an escape from religious oppression? Was it a flight from famine? Was it a quest for gold to feed a hungry queen? Was it a crusade to appease a fragile god? And our arrival?

What is it that we hold sacred? What is it that we celebrate?

In the spirit of the late Alfred Arteaga:

Five hundred and (twenty eight) years of events
took place, we cannot change that.
We cannot stand up like Las Casas
and say this must stop; we cannot
tell Tainos, on first seeing the Spanish arrive,
to run, to run, and not stop running.
What was, was.
We cannot change the number of days, nor
can we change the events that happened.
We can, though, choose to remember or forget,
to celebrate, solemnize, recognize.

May it be so. Amen.

Calm in the Storm: Vespers with Skyline Church

 
 
 
An evening of meditative songs and prayers.
In this present moment, on the eve of the election, rest in a moment of slow, beautiful calm, and touch the center.
An hour of interfaith readings, prayers, music, and silence.
Our Musicians (above left to right):
Ken Medema
Benjamin Mertz
Gabrielle Lochard