Oakland church

Archive for Community

“Our Democracy Hangs in the Balance”

We are living at an inflection point in the history of our country, and in the history of this planet. 

Michelle Alexander; a writer, civil rights advocate,  visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary, and author of The New Jim Crow; writes in the NY Times:

“Our democracy hangs in the balance. This is not an overstatement.

As protests, riots, and police violence roiled the nation last week, the president vowed to send the military to quell persistent rebellions and looting, whether governors wanted a military occupation or not. “

Is this the beginning or the end? Where lies our hope? Where do we begin? We must face our racial history and our racial present. We must re-imagine justice.

Michelle Alexander continues:

My hope lies in the movement that brings together people of all  ethnicities, genders and backgrounds as they rise up together, standing in solidarity for justice, protesting, marching and singing together, even as SWAT teams and tanks roll in.  — a reflection of the best of who we are and what we can become. It is a glimpse,  of a beautiful, courageous nation struggling to be born.

Let us, as people of faith, be inspired by this Spirit.  

Blessings, Pastor Laurie 

Take Action:

The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III is the senior pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. He has recently recorded and posted two video messages about the killings of African Americans that have been fueled by white supremacy. I hope you will make, over the next couple days, the forty minutes it will take to watch and listen to them both.

The Trinity UCC YouTube channel suggests watching “When Is Someday?” first.  The other video to watch, whatever order you watch them in, is “The Cross and the Lynching Tree: A Requiem for Ahmaud Arbery.” 

May these two messages to awaken your spirit, open your hearts, and inspire you to action.

P.S. The petition Dr. Moss refers to in “When Is Someday?” can be found here.

Poor People’s Campaign Town Hall: In the context of the uprisings across the country against police killings of Black people and the devastation of COVID-19, people will come together across movements at a virtual town hall entitled “Poor People’s Campaign 1968-2020: Everybody’s Got A Right to Live! We Won’t Be Silent Anymore,” which will be held on Saturday, June 13, at 11:00 a.m. (Pacific time). Rev. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will be the keynote speaker. RSVP to join the online town hall on Saturday, June 13, at 11:00 a.m.

Being Grateful in Difficult Times:  Theologian and historian Diana Butler Bass  is offering an online class on “Being Grateful in Difficult Times.” It includes mini-lectures, suggested practices, and conversations with other writers (including some surprise guests whose books you probably love!). It is a completely self-paced online course – you decide when you start and when you finish. The course goes live on June 22 and only costs $59 if you register by June 20. Learn more and register here.

Advocacy: For those of us who can’t take to the streets, we need to take to our phones and computers to make our opinions known to the politicians. Here are two ways you can do that:

  1. Sign up to be part of the Poor People’s Campaign.
  2. Become part of the United Church of Christ’s Justice and Peace Action Network.

Care for the Earth at Home: Undertake some (or all) of the environmental activities that can be done at home listed here. The list maker says they are activities kids can do; adults can do them, too.

Re-Opening Skyline – Safely and Inclusively

Can you believe it? It’s week 8 of SIP here in Alameda County.

So many of us in this country are engaged in the question, when will we open up again? How will we do so in a way that keeps us all safe?  As states begin to open again and restaurants welcome patrons, offices reopen, and churches begin holding in-person activities, the question we face is: Who will we leave behind?

COVID-19 is with us until we have a vaccine or cure. Some of us are more vulnerable to being killed by this virus if we contract it. As a nation, we are caught between the tension of restarting our economy and risking the spread of COVID 19, that has already killed over 80,000 people in our country, disproportionately poor people of color. How do we re-open in a way that keeps all of us safe and leaves no one behind?

It’s a particularly challenging question for Skyline as a faith community. The Skyline community, like many protestant churches, is older and most at risk. How do we open the church and carry on knowing that our oldest members, already struggling to engage new technology, will be left out of important moments of being a community together? Who will we leave behind? I’m reminded of how often Jesus promised: I will not abandon you, whether you’re a lost sheep, or an orphan. Let’s not leave anyone behind!

It’s also a particularly challenging question for Skyline as a small church, that also owns a preschool and offers our venue for rentals and weddings. The challenges of maintaining social distancing and sanitary conditions will be formidable in such gatherings. How do we plan to open up in a way that maximizes the safety of us all, and balance this with our economic reality that most of our revenues come from our preschool and weddings?

I don’t have an easy answer for us, as a country or as Skyline. We are continually monitoring the guidelines from the CDC and local Alameda County health department for both church and preschool openings.

But I do have faith that we can do this if we engage in this process together. You’re invited to consider the gifts that you have in this important conversation. Get involved!

As we begin reopening, let us do so with deep compassion and measured patience. We have much to learn about how to be together right now. Let’s make sure we discern the way forward together.

 

Ways to Support for Our Immigrant Communities

Dear Skyline Family,

The immigrant communities are facing an especially hard time during the pandemic but there are many community organizations coming together to help. As Skyline Church is a Sanctuary Church, the Justice and Witness team would like to offer ways to support the communities that we have been accompanying. Thank you for sharing with those among us who are in so much need.

The Maya Mam in Oakland organization is helping coordinate food distribution to the Mam community, including the Nueva Esperanza Preschool families. The Mandela Partners and the Alameda Food Bank have been providing food for distribution at Iglesia de Dios, Mam Church at 4500 International Blvd. Henry Sales, organizer, says they haven’t been able to get fruits, chicken, rice, beans, eggs, and milk. He’s working to partner with other organizations, as well  as getting a nonprofit designation. Monetary donations will be used to buy food for distribution and  materials (masks, gloves, and sanitizer) for volunteers. On-line donations can be made HERE.

If you prefer to write a check, please contact Mirtha through the church office, office@skylineucc.org.

The Centro Legal de La Raza, along with six community partners, created the Oakland Undocumented Relief Fund for Oakland immigrant workers who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Donations can be by check or online HERE.

Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity has set up a Migrant Emergency Fund which helps recently arrived immigrants, formerly detained and incarcerated folks, and other immigrants encountering urgent survival needs due to the severe economic impact of COVID-1.   

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant continues to support clients by phone, providing up-to-date information about their legal cases and social services. Action items to support the immigrant population are listed on their website.  

Save the date for a zoom discussion on Monday, May 18th at 7 pm with Pastor Laurie,  Nancy Taylor and myself! More details to follow!

Join Zoom Meetinghttps://zoom.us/j/241524878  Meeting ID: 241 524 878, or call 510 421 2646

Thank you! Mirtha N., co-chair, Justice & Witness

God is with us through this Storm

These are days in which we feel tossed about by the rough winds and waves, like boats at sea. These are times of change, loss and confusion. And times of living with so many unanswered questions: When do we open?  Do we stay home? Will my job be there when this is over? Will my child be going to school in the fall? Will I run out of money this month? Can my family help me if I should need it? What will I do if I get sick and don’t have insurance?

It’s hard to find our bearings, hard to predict the winds, and hard to see the shore.  Life feels adrift, and while we are sharing the experience of disorientation, we are not all experiencing the same vulnerabilities. We are in this together, but our journeys are uniquely our own.

I am grateful to ride out the winds and waves together. My comfort comes not in an expectation that God will perform some great miracle, but that God is with us through it all. We can trust this journey because we are not alone.

I recently read a piece that conveyed this sense of isolated connection that I’ve been experiencing: 

I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked, and mine might not be.

Or vice versa.

For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflections, of re-connection, easy in flip-flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial and family crisis.

For some that live alone, they’re facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest, and time with their mother, father, sons and daughters.

With the $600 (US) weekly increase in unemployment, some are bringing in more money to their households than they were working.

Others are working more hours for less money, due to pay cuts or loss in commissioned sales.

Some families of four just received $3400 from the stimulus package, while other families of four saw $0.

Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter, while others were concerned if there would be enough bread, milk, and eggs for the weekend.

Some want to go back to work because they don’t qualify for unemployment and are running out of money. Others want to kill those who break quarantine.

Some are at home spending two to three hours a day, helping their child with online schooling, while others are doing the same on top of a 10–12 hour work day.

Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it, and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it.

 

Others don’t believe this is a big deal.


Others say the worst is yet to come.
Some have faith in God and expect miracles this year.

We are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.

Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, actually seeing.

We are all on different ships during this storm, experiencing a very different journey. — Unknown Author

Connecting, Updates, Prayer and Palm/Passion Sunday

Here we are, in April, beginning  another month of sheltering in place. What a time we are living through! 

Even in the midst of this there are blessings. Among them has been the blessing of communicating with you through social media: worshiping, studying, praying and yes, even sharing birthday celebrations and happy hours together.

I am grateful to the virtual teams within our faith community, rising up to offer all kinds of support within and beyond us. I hope you were able to join the zoom crowd who worshiped online this week. If you missed it, you can find it here on our website.  Many of us are using zoom for the first time, and here’s a helpful tutorial to get started.  You can always call me on my cell phone! All of our computers are facing buffering challenges due to the overload on various platforms and the internet in general, please be patient.  

Last Sunday, the 29th of March, I lifted up the theme of grief, so I want to offer a helpful article for you to better understand your own experience of grief. 

Please continue to check our weekly email, our  Facebook  page, and our website for updates.    

This Sunday is Palm/Passion Sunday— please find a palm, or a leafy branch, or a symbol of gratitude for praising the heroes of our time, and bring it with you for our service.  And, before you sit down to participate in the Zoom service (here’s the link), please have ready nearby elements of food and drink to share in our agape meal, remembering Jesus and all those we love that we wish were here with us, and all those in need, especially during the pandemic.  Finally, David G. is leading a Zoom Children’s time at 11:30 – read more here.

Prayer for today:

You have been our strength, O God.
At the beginning of the day you brought us from darkness into light.
At the ending of the day you lead us from busyness into stillness.
In earth’s cycles and seasons you offer us new life and fresh beginnings.
Be our strength this day and the strength of new beginnings in our world.
Be our help, O God, and the help of those who cry out in need.
~ by John Philip Newell, excerpt from Celtic Treasure: Daily Scriptures and Prayer

Prayer in music & videos:

Inspiration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter at Skyline – Virtual Services 2020

Palm Sunday Virtual Service:  April 5, 10:00 – 11:00 AM

Our virtual service: a readers theater, journeying from the entrance into Jerusalem, into the Garden of Gethsemane, with the inspiring music of Ken Medema, Gabrielle Lochard and Benjamin Mertz.  Hear the stories of Jesus’s journey to Jerusalem, listen to music of God’s love, peace, grace, sorrow and beauty.

Meeting ID: 716 026 467
Dial in by phone 1-669-900-9128

Maundy Thursday Virtual Service:  April 9, 12:30 PM

Worship with the United Church of Christ. The leaders from across the life of the denomination will be leading a streamed worship service.  Register for the webinar here.  Click here for more details.  Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash
 

Good Friday Virtual Service: April 10, 2:00-3:00 PM  **Note time change**

On the most somber day of the Christian year, we gather in prayer and song to hear the Seven Last Words of Jesus, and mourn the death that changed the world.  Our talented musical team, Ken Medema, Benjamin Mertz, Gabrielle Lochard, join with Pastor Laurie and others in this solemn and beautiful service. All are welcome.

Zoom Meeting Link:  https://zoom.us/j/716026467
Meeting ID: 716 026 467
One tap mobile +16699009128
phone # +13462487799

Easter Sunday Virtual Service: April 12, 10:00-11:15 AM

The promise of the resurrection is proclaimed, even in the midst of  pandemic.There is nothing traditional about a zoom Easter Service, but we have a beautiful service planned for our expanded, loving progressive and inclusive faith community meeting via zoom. Rev. Laurie Manning, and our talented musical team of  Ken Medema,  Benjamin Mertz, and Gabrielle Lochard will be leading the service from their homes.  We are creating a special experience.  

Meeting ID: 716 026 467
Dial in by phone 1-669-900-9128

Children’s Time Easter Sunday 11:30 AM

Come along for an adventure with David G and Pastor Laurie! Here’s what’s in store: 

  • Story Time:  Have you ever had a friend who went away? Best friends Enriquita Kittycat and Edmund Caterpillar have a story to show you! Discover the meaning of friendship and reunions as we watch the tale unfold.  

  • Brain Teasers: Get ready to put on your thinking cap!

  • Art Sharing Time: Parents, print off these coloring pages for kids to color or decorate, or kids can create their own art. We will share our art at the meeting!

  • After Service Family Chat: We’ll have a time of sharing to catch up and connect with children and families.

Zoom Link 

 

Shelter-in-Place Resources

Updates from Government and Medical Leaders

Resources for Parents

Here are some helpful resources for talking with your children about the coronavirus and things to do with them.
Resources for Shopping Hours, Pharmacies for Seniors
 
Susan J. with the support of the wellness team, compiled a list of  resources that will help seniors/pregnant and the immune compromised community know which stores they can shop at exclusively during certain times or using special lines.  Anyone can access this resource list in view only mode.  If you  have difficulty opening this link in google docs for the first time, here’s some help.   To open the links that are in the resource spreadsheet, hover your mouse arrow over the link.  A little box will open with a symbol in the right hand corner with an arrow pointing upwards to the right.  Click on that symbol and you’ll be taken to the url’s website.

More Resources on the Virus – Anxiety, Disinfecting, Social Distancing, Masks…

 

Shelter-in-Place Virtual Worship Services and Gatherings

Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

Virtual Worship, Bible Study and Prayer

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven… Now is the time for “shelter in place” here in the greater Bay Area. It is a time to refrain from embracing, i.e. physical distancing. And more than ever, it is a time for social and emotional connection.

Skyline is utilizing Zoom.us for our virtual worship services and weekly gatherings. Zoom links and numbers are listed below for accessing the events on your computer, your smart phone, or a regular phone call.

  1. Sunday Services are being delivered by Zoom Meeting at 10 AM.   (You will access all Sunday Zoom calls at this link or number)
    Sundays, 10:00 – 11:00am
    https://zoom.us/j/716026467
    Meeting ID: 716 026 467
    Dial in by phone 1-669-900-9128
    Dial in by phone: 1-346-248-7799
    Video of past services will be available.  
    Here is a video of our Sunday, March 15 worship, recorded and edited by our very own Tom Manley!

  2. Pastor Laurie’s virtual bible study, Weekly on Tuesdays.  10:30 – 11:30 am.
    First meeting – Tuesday, March 24⋅10:30 – 11:30 am
    https://zoom.us/j/901784352
    Meeting ID: 901 784 352 One tap mobile
    Dial in by phone 1-669-900-9128
    Dial in by phone: 1-346-248-7799

  3. Pastor Laurie’s Prayer, Care, and Share time, every Friday from ⋅1:00 – 2:00 pm.    Join us for a time of praying, caring, and sharing!   If you’re at home, you’re invited to light your own candle, so we’ll all have our candles together.  We’ll gather with a little meditative music, then spend some time lifting up our prayers together.  In this stressful and uncertain moment, perhaps we need to turn to prayer even more than usual.  Join us, breathe deep, and trust that the Spirit will be with us wherever we are.  Whenever two or three are gathered in the name of God, even gathered digitally, the Spirit is in the space between, connecting our hearts and strengthening us.  Hope to see you for our collective prayer:
    https://zoom.us/j/910815155
    Meeting ID: 910 815 155
    Dial in by phone 1-669-900-9128
    Dial in by phone: 1-346-248-7799 
 
 

“As serious as I know the Coronavirus is, I wish…”

I’d like to share with you, especially in this season of searching  for leaders and policies that represent and protect all people, these words of the Executive Minister of Justice and Witness for the UCC, The Rev Traci Blackmon:

Dear God,

As serious as I know the Coronavirus is…

I wish Poverty was classified as a deadly virus so the world would respond to the deaths of the 2.6 million people who die annually in the US alone with precautions to contain its effect and protect the most vulnerable among us.

I wish Racism was classified as a deadly virus so the world would begin studying its origin and its mutations and investing adequate resources in developing a response to completely eradicate the effects of this disease on all citizens, globally.

I wish Sexism was classified as a deadly virus so that literally 50% of this world’s population might receive the attention, investment, and escalation of time and resources necessary to remove it from society.

I wish Homophobia was classified as a deadly virus so those showing symptoms could be effectively screened and, if infected, quarantined to protect the rest of us from getting sick.

I wish Transphobia was classified as a deadly virus so that we might actually work to save lives by stopping the spread of this disease.

I wish Xenophobia was classified as a deadly virus so that we would finally isolate the right people instead of those just seeking a safe place to lay their heads.

Basically…I wish the pain, silencing and marginalization of so many were enough to move us to panic mode…with daily updates…and urgent precautions…and monetary allocations…dedicated people at every level…working together like ALL of our lives depended on it…because they do.

I wish we were as ready and willing to wash our souls as we are our hands.

Hear my prayer, oh Lord.
And grant my request.

May we wash our hands, and our souls! 

Blessings upon your week, Pastor Laurie 

Love and Anger?

This Sunday we celebrate love and anger, featuring guest musicians Rachel Garcia and Thu Tran, known as The Singer and the Songwriter!!  Here’s more about their music and their background.    What a perfect way  to explore on Valentine’s day weekend the connections between love and anger, especially with those we are closest to!

In addition to this worship service, Rachel and Thu will perform a 30 minute set after fellowship time at 11:30, followed by a time of sharing Skyline’s love poetry.  Bring with you your favorite person to be angry with and to love!  Enjoy hearing Rachel and Thu’s  My Favorite Person.