Oakland church

Archive for Community

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

Sandwich Making for Oakland Homeless

Sunday, March 25, 12-1 PM: Sandwich making for homeless people in Oakland.  Join Pastor Laurie, Shaun Bernhardt, music director Benjamin & his boys here at Skyline in the preschool classroom area for sandwich making for people who are hungry.  A group of us will deliver these to a local encampment from 1 – 2 pm. All ages & all are welcome to join us for one or both activities. Bring your sandwich making supplies!  Contact Pastor Laurie.

Invitation to Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy’s Retreat at Skyline

Dear Friends, Colleagues and Collaborators,

Good afternoon!  I’m writing to invite you to join us for the Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy’s annual retreat, scheduled for Thursday, March 1, 9am to 12noon at Skyline UCC (12540 Skyline Blvd in Oakland).

We welcome our extended family of faith leaders to this morning session, whose featured speakers will focus on where we stand a year into the present national crisis, and what lies ahead in our work for 2018 and beyond.

This session will also be an opportunity to learn about FAME’s work in collaboration with the national Poor Peoples’ Campaign (PPC) called for by Rev. Dr. William Barber, and how you and your communities can connect with the Campaign’s call for Forty Days of Direct Action beginning in May.

We also encourage you to bring colleagues, congregants and friends to this morning session, so that we can continue to share more broadly the crucial connections between our faith traditions and the call to economic and racial justice.

Please RSVP directly to me, David Brazil, so we can be sure and include you in the count for lunch!  And of course please let me know if you have any questions.

With blessings and best wishes — David

David Brazil,  Program Coordinator, Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy

office : 510.893.7106, extension 315

cell: 510.508.7104

email: david@workingeastbay.org

 

Benefit Concert to Support Oakland’s Homeless

Featuring: Cantori, a an acclaimed after-school training choir for the Grammy Award winning Pacific Boychoir Academy Troubadours –http://www.pacificboychoir.org/choir.

 

Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 10 a.m. 

At Skyline Community Church, UCC

Come to listen to these young people’s beautiful music with a soaring view of the Oakland Hills to Mt. Diablo as a backdrop. The concert is in the midst of and following a special abbreviated service. Chocolate protein bars given to singers and the first 20 children in attendance. The first 80 adults receive a novelty mini-carnation.  

Would you let a friend know about this?

Free will offering to support the homeless in Oakland, including St Vincent de Paul & St Mary’s.

Co- sponsored by the Interfaith Council of Alameda County (ICAC)

If you can help by donating food or money, please contact the office (510-531-8212   office@skylineucc.org)

See you there and bring a friend!

Donors:  Trader Joe’s,  Skyline Church UCC

Ash Wednesday Service: Create in Me a Clean Heart

Dust and Ashes 

Create in me, a clean heart, that I may live, aware of the gift.

Feb 14th at 7 – 7:30 pm @skylineucc.org

A brief service with Pastor Laurie and Music Director Benjamin Mertz.

 

 

 

 The Gift of Mortality

   

 

 

 

 

Meditation, Taize music, prayers, ashes, candlelight

 

Black History Month Events 2018

Sun, 2/11: Discussion/Conversation with Pastor Laurie:  Dr. King’s Last Sermon
In the sanctuary from 11:30 – 12 noon  Join Pastor Laurie for a discussion after worship about Dr King’s last sermon the night before he was assassinated.  Did he know? How did he provide comfort and vision and reassurance for the movement? Where do we go from here, 50 years later? 

Sun, 2/11: Where Do We Go From Here: Dr. Barber & the Poor Peoples Campaign,  Sunday, February 11, 4:30 to 6:30 at City of Refuge UCC.  Following Rev. Dr. William Barber’s visit to the Bay Area, join us for a community conversation on local struggles for racial and economic justice!  All are welcome to this FREE event. The Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy is honored to co-present this event with City of Refuge UCC.  RSVP: david@workingeastbay.org.  

Sat, 2/17:  Skyline folks will be going to AAMLO (African American Museum and Library) on Saturday, February 17, 2 pm, to hear a presentation by a National Park Service Ranger on the subject of “Buffalo Soldiers at the Presidio.”   This is in keeping with the Black History Month theme this year of “African Americans in Times of War.”  This is a chance to see one of the more beautiful historic buildings of Oakland, as well as an interesting and informative presentation.  If timing is right, we can go together for a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants. Contact Nancy T.

Sun, 2/18:  Rev Robert Wilkins preaching 10 AM; see bio below. 

Fri, 2/23, Time to Be Determined:  Black Panther Movie:  Join us on Friday night, February 23rd at Grand Lake Theatre for evening showing of “Black Panther” the Marvel superhero action movie.  Contact Nancy Taylor.  Black Panther touches on black identity and the fantasy of a people unburdened.  There is an interesting argument with Blaxploitation films. The movies, predominantly made during the 1970s, are usually characterized by having a predominantly African-American cast, with the lead character having to deal with some endemic problem affecting their community, while also having to fight “The Man,” who’s in the form of corrupt cops, corrupt city officials, corrupt business officials, or any other aspect of society associated with white assholes…..”  Read More of this review.

Here are a few reviews: “Black Panther Poised to Shatter Hollywood Myth“;      “‘Black Panther’ Shakes Up the Marvel Universe”

Review: ‘Black Panther’ Shakes Up the Marvel Universe

Sun, 2/25:  Join Nancy Taylor to carpool to City of Refuge UCC after church to attend their 1 pm service.  

See the display on bulletin board in Friendship Room 

Rev Robert Wilkins:  Rev. Wilkins is the Managing Director of Encounter Alliance, a consulting firm which advises churches and faith-inspired organizations on all aspects of organizational development and mission fulfillment. Wilkins serves a host of community and professional organizations including the One Pacific Coast Foundation (Board of Directors), the Lake Merritt Uptown District Association (Corporate Secretary), the California YMCA State Alliance (Public Policy Committee), American Baptist Seminary of the West (Trustee) and the Graduate Theological Union (Trustee, Library Committee Chair) among others.  

Rev. Wilkins is a graduate of the University of Southern California (Religion – Biblical Studies) and earned Master of Divinity degrees from both Fuller Theological Seminary and American Baptist Seminary of the West. He has completed class studies in the Doctor of Ministry program at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Rev. Wilkins is a graduate of the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and is an alumnus Fellow at the Center for Social Innovation (also at Stanford). Wilkins holds a Certificate in Strategic Marketing from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.

Guns, Action, Vigil

Last Sunday while we were in worship, another horrible and senseless mass shooting was happening.  

It angers me that people are feeling vulnerable and scared about coming to their sacred space, their spiritual oasis, their refuge from the world.

It angers me that preschool parents worry about the safety of their children, because of our maniacal gun culture.

It angers me that so little has changed since the Las Vegas massacre, and since the Newtown massacre almost five years ago. 

The reason that we have such high rates of gun violence and so many mass shootings in this country is simple. We have too many guns. Please read this informative article from the NY Times

As Christians we are called to pray after the tragic shooting in Texas, but our prayers should also be accompanied by deep introspection about whether and how we are complicit in the evils we deplore.

In a statement, Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a group representing more than 70 Episcopal bishops, stated,  

In the wake of the heartbreaking shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, we find ourselves both calling people to prayer, and wishing that the word did not come so readily to the lips of elected leaders who are quick to speak, but take no action on behalf of public safety,” the bishops said. “Each of us has a role to play in our repentance. Elected representatives bear the responsibility of passing legislation that protects our citizenry. If our representatives are not up to this responsibility, we must replace them. In the meantime, however, we ask that in honor of our many murdered dead, elected leaders who behave as though successive episode of mass slaughter are simply the price our nation pays for freedom stop the reflexive and corrosive repetition of the phrase ‘thoughts and prayers.’”

“One does not offer prayers in lieu of demonstrating political courage, but rather in preparation.”

In response,  Skyline will host an Interfaith Vigil  in remembrance of all those killed and injured in all of the mass shootings in this country on the 5th anniversary since the Newtown,  Connecticut shootings.  It is on Saturday, Dec 9th at 4 pm. We will sing, pray, light candles, and walk the labyrinth, aligned with UCC’s national vigil.  It is an official ICAN (Interfaith Council of Alameda County) event. 

We must take care of our emotional and spiritual health after a tragedy like this, but we cannot be complacent and believe we are powerless to end gun violence. Therefore, in addition, we offer these resources and invite you to join us in advocating for sensible gun reform:

Stop Handgun Violence

the Brady Campaign

the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence,

the film, Making a Killing

UCC on Gun Violence

As members of the UCC, we are committed to the ethical principles affirming that every person has inherent worth and dignity and that we must work together for a world community of peace, liberty, and justice for all. We will pray for all those impacted by gun violence, and we will work to be peacemakers locally and nationally.

Coming Out Sunday

This Sunday, Oct 15, we celebrate “Coming Out Day”, which is really an invitation to all of us to let our own uniquely brilliant light shine.  And, in doing so, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. Please join us this Sunday as guest preacher, Nichola Torbett, shares her reflections on this theme. I will be away on the east coast visiting family, and then attending the Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership conference. I am with you in Spirit!

     With love, Pastor Laurie

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 

― Marianne WilliamsonA Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

Gun Violence and Las Vegas Attack

I am deeply saddened to write to you in the wake of another major national tragedy: the mass shooting at a Las Vegas outdoor concert that has already claimed nearly sixty lives, with five hundred more people injured.  

Though we will not forget the lives at risk from ongoing flooding, infrastructure damage, and insufficient government assistance across the Caribbean, Florida, and Texas, our hearts are broken whenever any individual unleashes such terrible violence. And, “whenever” is far too frequent in our country. Painful as it is, we keep all the victims of this violence in our hearts and pray for solace for the Las Vegas community.

In response,  Skyline will host a vigil in remembrance of all those killed and injured in Las Vegas here in our sanctuary on Thursday, Oct. 5, at 7pm. We will sing, pray, light candles, and walk the labyrinth.

We must take care of our emotional and spiritual health after a tragedy like this, but we cannot be complacent and believe we are powerless to end gun violence. United Church of Christ Andover-Newton graduate, Casey Guet, wrote this in righteous anger about our national ambivalence toward gun violence:

Why do guns grow from the ground, oh Lord?
Why did you make something, which kills so quickly?

Why do you allow these killing machines to be plucked
From our gardens?
And sold in our gun markets?

We will not take any responsibility. 
We never do.
In the beginning, God created the gun and the bullet.

There is nothing we can do, nothing to stop these tragedies.
Perhaps, if we created guns with our own hands,
Perhaps, if we could use our system of laws,

But there is nothing we can do.
The guns will keep cropping up.
The guns will keep growing.

I wonder, is there a way to destroy these flowers of death?
But cash crops are so hard to burn.

It’s true, “cash crops” like the gun industry are hard to burn — yet, we must not succumb to despair, we must keep trying. Here are a few resources:

As members of the UCC, we are committed to the ethical principles affirming that every person has inherent worth and dignity and that we must work together for a world community of peace, liberty, and justice for all. We will pray for all those impacted by gun violence, and we will work to be peacemakers locally and nationally.

 Blessings, Pastor Laurie 

To Oakland Fire Responders – Thank You

Yesterday the rising temperatures and the Santa Ana winds ignited a grass fire in the Oakland Hills, just below Campus Drive. Here we are, a church and a preschool with 34 children, perched on the crest of Skyline ridge, adjacent to EBRP.  Yet at first we were unaware because the winds and the smoke were blowing west, in the opposite direction from us.
 
However, we were protected because the firefighters, police officers, and park services were on their mission. Within minutes I received a text message from my friend Janet, a Park ranger, and I notified our preschool director, church members, friends and homeowners associations. They, in turn, spread the word and shared the live update links. 
 
Just as quickly as the wildfire spread, so too, did the alerts to the wider community; not only through twitter feeds from Oakland fire and police, but through citizens like you and me, through Nextdoor postings, text messages, and tweets.  Warnings spread almost as quickly as the fire!
 
Thank you firefighters, police, and park services, for keeping us safe.
 
Thank you concerned citizens, for spreading the word.
 
Thank you technology, for serving the greater good.
 
Thank you, our common humanity, reminding us of how interconnected we are.

Peace, Pastor Laurie