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Healing, Wellness and Jesus’s Ways of Love

This Sunday, Nov 17, during worship we will focus on the themes of healing and wellness in the context of following in the ways of love, embodied by Jesus.  

The gospels are full of stories about Jesus healing. These healing stories are some of the most moving accounts in Scripture. They represent so many different things to different people:

  • the miracle stories used to convince the world that Jesus was the Son of God during the 1st 5 centuries ad.
  • the stories that “ higher level biblical criticism” challenged as being literally true.
  • the stories that have inspired generations of Christian healers.

No wonder scientists have wrestled with healing in a religious context. What we often dismiss as “faith healing” is contrary to almost everything that we usually place a lot of stock in: science, reason, and self-reliance. Most of us are willing to put ourselves in the hands of doctors and pharmacists when we are ill. Most of us have mostly good experience with the medical model of healing. We take whatever pills we are told to take and we see the doctor in the morning. Most of the time we feel better. Or we accept the surgery, and we see a whole lot of doctors for many mornings. Most of the time, we feel better.

But around the edges of our lives we are aware of the disease that doesn’t respond, the injury that won’t get better, the illness that can’t be cured. Whether it is AIDS or cancer, whether it is schizophrenia or depression, whether it is stroke or Alzheimer’s, we are aware of the limits of medicine. For some of us, the edges become the center, when disease or injury takes over our lives and leaves us with no hope for a cure. Finally, no matter if the edges ever move to the center, we remember at last that there is one condition we are absolutely sure will never be cured, and that is life itself. We are mortal. Our death is inevitable. Medicine may win a lot of battles, but it will always lose the war.

How, then, shall we be healed? What does it mean for us as religious liberals to talk of healing in a religious context? What does it mean to talk of healing in a world where illness and disease are understood more clearly than ever before, but where adequate health care for most of the world’s people remains inaccessible? What does it mean to talk of healing when medical and spiritual models of wellness don’t speak much to each other? What does it mean to talk of healing when all too often the best we can do with all our knowledge and power and technology is not enough? How shall we be healed?  Join us as we explore this topic. 

This Sunday, After fellowship time, from 11:30 – 12:30, we are offering what will become an ongoing series on wholistic wellness, reconnecting mind/body/spirit as part of wellness.  

We have a wealth of expertise within this faith community, and within the wider community. Sunday we begin this series with Susan Junfish, who is retired from Cal/EPA, Founder of Parents for a Safer Environment, and an environmental health scientist and public health educator trained at UC Berkeley.

Please join us for Susan’s talk after the fellowship time, entitled, Protecting Ourselves & Pets from Hidden Health Hazards at Home.  Share your specific topics of interest, like us on Facebook, and  invite others, thank you!

 Together, in this series we explore how our faith connects with and inspires wholistic health, wellness, and healing.  Please share it!

peace, Laurie 

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

Easter at Skyline, 2019

Skyline Community Church, United Church of Christ
Invites Oakland Community to Attend Easter Services

Come celebrate the Spirit of Easter where we welcome ALL of God’s people. Experience fabulous music and an
inspiring message with a spectacular view of the Oakland Hills.

Good Friday Service: Friday, April 19, 7:00 PM

Our Music Director, Benjamin Mertz, and Reverend Laurie Manning lead an empowering, spiritually expansive candlelight, meditation and music service, in the Taize tradition.  During the service, we will listen to and join in singing Taize chants, a form of meditative chant and silence, to quiet the mind, open the heart and feed the soul… time of quiet and solitude in the presence of God. A few words sung over and over again reinforce the meditative quality of prayer.  All are welcome.

Easter Sunrise Service: April 21, 6:30 AM with OEBGMC

Rise and shine to the uplifting music of the Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus! Experience sunrise from our Sanctuary which rests on the summit of the Oakland hills and has windows spanning 30 feet high! As you look out on a stunningly beautiful view listen to inspiring preaching, heavenly music and feel welcomed into the warmth of a loving progressive and inclusive faith community.

Rev. Laurie says, “The music in this service sings out about a God of love, of freedom, of liberation… and that the world is more wonderful with the great diversity of all of humanity. This is good news!”

Easter Sunday Traditional Service: April 21, 10 AM

Skyline’s sanctuary windows overlook Redwood Park to Mt. Diablo Here we have a traditional Easter Service as a loving progressive and inclusive faith community. Rev. Laurie Manning , the choir and orchestra (directed by Benjamin Mertz) and the people fill the sanctuary with joy, celebration and love. Today’s service will have drama, singing, prayer, and a special honor garden for loved ones. And to top it off, all are welcome (especially families) to a family service that includes an Easter egg hunt for children of all ages: 12:00 noon.

Family Easter Egg Hunt: April 1, 12:00PM

Join families from our church and the neighborhood for a fun hour of learning and celebrating! Families of all configurations (we are an LGBTQ+ affirming church!) are invited!

We’ll gather at noon in the sanctuary to sing Easter songs, learn a bit about the Easter story (and how eggs are connected to it!), do some art, and participate in a service project for Nueva Esperanza, a preschool for immigrant children that our church helps to support.

Kids will also be invited (by age group) to participate in a (small) Easter egg hunt. Please bring your own basket/bag!

We also welcome you to join our community Easter service at 10 AM before the hunt, if you wish. We offer a children’s program for your little ones.

_____________________________________________________

Skyline Church UCC is a community faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ. We acknowledge the worth of all beings, regardless of ability, age, ancestry, family or economic status, gender, sexual orientation, spiritual path, cultural origin, or any other visible or invisible difference. We invite all who wish to enter our Sanctuary and the full life of our church family. Ours is a God of justice and compassion, and our church lives in covenant with God to do its utmost to pursue justice and compassion, as an Open and Affirming congregation.

For more information please contact our office at:

Skyline Community Church,
United Church of Christ
12540 Skyline Boulevard
Oakland, CA 94619
510.531.8212

Email Skyline Office

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 

Celebration of Gratitude – Family Friendly Worship/Drama

Members Tim Carter and David Guerra will present a fun, creative puppet drama this Sunday. It features several Martians visiting planet earth trying to understand what Thanksgiving and gratitude are. They discover it includes not only “abundance,” “food,” “pumpkin pie,” “cranberry sauce”, “pilgrim,” and “Indian,” but also…“turkey!!!”
 
They encounter a very upset giant turkey (Mr Tim Turkey), who helps them understand the deeper meaning of giving thanks!
 
Join us as we explore the deeper meaning of gratitude and Thanksgiving as an inter-generational community.
 
Bring your children and friends and your appetite for fun!
 
Also, at the service we are collecting pies for the Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless and non-perishable food donations to Alameda County Community Food Bank, so please share whatever abundance you can. Thank you!

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!