Archive for Community

Skyline Celebrates Black History Month

Here are just a few opportunities to join us throughout February

#1 – Join us after church Sunday, February 7th @11:15am
for discussions on Rev. William Barber’s sermons:

NC’s Rev. Barber at Biden’s inaugural prayer service: The nation must ‘repair the breach’

Is There a Word in the Wilderness? | A Sermon by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II
Click on the image to view Rev. Barber’s sermon below: 34:00 – 1:16:30
Please view these beforehand, and join us this Sunday!
11:15AM
via Special Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83384891002
Rev. William Barber is terrific!

Nancy Taylor, The Justice & Witness Team



#2 – Please mark your calendars for

Ministry Teams Film Night – Friday, February 26, 7pm
(NOTE: This was previously announced for the preceding Friday but has moved to this day/time)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sing


This is a a well-done adaptation of Maya Angelou’s book of the same name,
starring Diahann Caroll & Ruby Dee. We will be viewing this movie together via
zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/716026467
Discussion will follow at approx. 8:30pm
If you wish to watch the movie on your own, then join us afterwards for the discussion,
here’s the link to the movie

Nancy Taylor, The Justice & Witness Team



#3 – Some suggestions for your own viewing enjoyment:

One Night in Miami (2020) – IMDb
This is an excellent movie on Amazon Prime that is receiving acclaim.

A fictional account of one incredible night where icons
Muhammad AliMalcolm XSam Cooke, and Jim Brown
gathered discussing their roles in the Civil Rights Movement
and cultural upheaval of the 60s.

Directed by Regina King. With Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge

Nancy Taylor, The Justice & Witness Ministry Team



#4 – You may also enjoy these activities presented on the theme of Black History Month
“The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity”
(click the link or image below to learn more)

Nancy Taylor, The Justice & Witness Ministry Team



#5 – It’s happening!

Join us this Sunday, Feb 7 @ 4pm PST, for the 1st in this series!
via Special Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83384891002

Benjamin Mertz will be leading a
Black History Month Series the entire month of February
All 4 Sundays in February, starting Feb 7th
Sponsored by the Joyful Noise! Gospel Singers

Feb 7th at 4pm – The Underground Railroad, Music of Freedom and Escape:
profiles on Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass

Feb 14th at 4pm – The Harlem Renaissance, the Fisk Jubilee Singers,
and the poetry of James Weldon Johnson and Langston Hughes

Feb 21st  at 4pm – Jim Crow, Work Songs, and the Blues:
profiles on Fannie Lou Hamer and Bessie Smith

Feb 28th  at 4pm – the Civil Rights Movement – Freedom Songs,
profiles on Bernice Johnson Reagon and Harry Belafonte

Special Zoom Link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83384891002

Nancy Taylor, The Justice & Witness Team

Skyline Polity: Self Determination and Choice

One of the many aspects that I love about Skyline is our polity, rooted in a foundational tenet of Congregationalism: the priesthood of believers. That includes YOU!  Together, we as a local church, have the right to decide what our faith community’s forms of worship and confessional statements are, who are officers are, how we administer our affairs, and what our ministries are.  Given the insistence on independent local bodies, our structure continues to be important in many grassroots, social reform movements, abolition, temperance, women’s suffrage, LGBTQ rights, climate justice and the sanctuary movement. Skyline has, over these past fifty years, has been a powerful force, locally, and nationally, in these efforts as a progressive faith community.
 
This Sunday, after worship, we will hold our quarterly congregational meeting on zoom, to share highlights of our planned ministries, and to listen to our collective hopes, dreams, and longings for them. Please plan to join us for this powerful co-creative process together, in all of our glorious diversity.
.
This Sunday in worship, we will explore the powerful healing story in Mark’s gospel, about a man in the synagogue possessed by an unclean spirit. I look forward to wondering with you, about this “unclean spirit”. What are you longing for Jesus to name, to silence, and to call forth from you? From this faith community? From this country? What is It that needs healing, and forgiveness, to restore us to wholeness?
 
We will also be hearing Skyline stories from our history, with Tony and Philippia,  who have been members for over 40 years!

Care of Your Soul in these Trying Times

How ARE you? 
 
Increasingly we are all experiencing the fatigue not only of this emotional time of year, but of the pandemic. 
 
The SIP ( shelter in place) orders we’ve been living with have gotten more restrictive. It’s in our best health interests collectively to switch to more restrictive rules. And at the same time, the changing of the rules, the unknown future, and the general stress and worry of the pandemic is exhausting.
 
In the midst of the darkness, self-care is important. Diet and exercise are important. Paying attention to what you’re feeling is important. Finding a spiritual practice that feeds your soul is important.
 
One of the chronic ongoing impacts of the pandemic on mental health has been an increase in feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. If you’re feeling any of these, I know it can be really hard to reach out and ask for help. Still, I encourage you to do so. It is honestly the only way your family and friends can know that you need extra attention. It is the only way your pastor and your beloved community can know that you need some pastoral care.
 
If you need something new to feed your soul, you might want to consider these:
  • Even though Advent has already started, it’s not too late to make a daily practice of sitting in reflection and prayer. You can download this free Advent Devotional for your personal use. It was written by members of the Sequoia Association of the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ.
  • Join us on Fridays at 1 pm for our prayer and care check ins. It’s a time to be present to our souls. 
And, please, remember that we have a special service on Monday, December 21, at 7 pm  This Longest Night Service” is simple, meditative, and healing. 
 
peace, Laurie 
 
 

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

From Gratitude to Service

Our guest preacher last Sunday, Mr. Benjamin Mertz, lifted up some powerful challenges to us, on the eve of this 400th anniversary of the first “Thanksgiving”, shared between the Pilgrims and the Wampanaugs.

He asked,
What do we do with this fantasy story of this Thanksgiving of the big meal, shared among people who are different getting together? How do we square it with the rest of the story?

What do we do instead? All of these gifts, given to us justly, or taken through the spoils of conquest & slavery? What do the prophets say? They are calling us, to agape love, to loving our neighbors, to loving those as the parable of the Good Samaritan taught us, those we view as enemy, as other. To love them, not as an intellectual exercise –but as active, alive, agape love, in service to others. .
  
Let us remember, on this 400th anniversary of that feast shared between Pilgrims and the Wampanaugs that this is not our land. Let us remember, that for many of us, too much of our money is in the bank, not much has gone to our neighbors right here, from the Ohlone tribe.

 


 
Here is another great piece for us to reflect upon this Thanksgiving:
 
Yes we are in the middle of a pandemic, yes, Corona has taken so much away from us., and many of us are mourning. But, despite it all, we are so blessed, there is so much abundance, food, housing, clothing, bank accounts, internet.
 
Let us transform Thanksgiving into a day of justice,
Let us transform Thanksgiving into a day of agape love
That doesn’t mean just sitting around the table with our families & friends, it means being active in the community, lifting up the oppressed & the poor.
Let us transform the fantasy of Pilgrims and Indians from the past ..  into the dream & strategy for the future of racial and economic of justice for all.
 
Let us transform the fantasy of giving thanks into giving help.
Let us transform the gratitude of what we’ve been given into service of others.


 
Here are some opportunities to do so, safely, even now, in this pandemic:

1.    Donating to land reparations to the Ohlone people in the Bay Area:
 
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/dec/31/native-american-land-taxes-reparations
https://sogoreate-landtrust.org/shuumi-land-tax/
 
2.    Offering support for the children and families of East Oakland Community Project, the largest transitional homeless shelter in Alameda County. Our chair of justice and Witness,  Nancy Taylor, encourages you to reach out and contact her, if you are interested and able to help provide a meal (boxed food or gift card) for families who have found permanent shelter from East Oakland Community Project (homeless shelter). 

Together, may we transform the gratitude of what we’ve been given into service of others. 

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 Can Change Everything

 
Our theme for November is gratitude. 

Why? Because we need it, especially now. Seeing the world through the eyes of gratitude changes us. Gratitude can change everything. 

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians 4:6-7, he writes,   Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Diana Butler Bass, bestselling author of “Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks,” writes,  The capacity for collective joy is encoded into us….We can live without it, as most of us do, but only at the risk of succumbing to the solitary nightmare of depression.  Why not reclaim our distinctly human heritage as creatures who can generate their own ecstatic pleasures out of music, color, feasting, and dance?  Why not?  Why not rediscover gratitude through play? 

November Calendar Highlights

Month – long initiatives:

  1. Virtual food drive with Alameda County Community Food Bank 
  2.  Journaling about gratitude. we invite you to: 
    1. keep a gratitude journal for the month of November. (Feel free to download and use)
    2. share your prayers of gratitude during our prayer time in worship. 

Key dates in November:  (for more details see below)  

Sunday, Nov 1, during service: All Saints and all Soul’s Day (remember to set your clocks back Saturday night, the 31st) (Here’s the facebook event to share)

Monday Nov. 2, 7 pm, Calm in the Storm –Gratitude on the Eve of the election;   Laurie, Ken, Benjamin and Gabrielle, and here’s the facebook event to share.

Thurs, Nov 12, 7PM   Green team: climate discussion, Zoom Link Meeting ID: 716 026 467

Sunday, Nov 15, Rev. Jim Antal guest speaker – Gratitude for the Earth – the Earth is God’s, discussion after the service (w/Green team) Zoom Link Meeting ID: 716 026 467

Thurs, Nov 19, 7PM:   Justice &Witness:  400th anniversary discussion of First People, Zoom Link Meeting ID: 716 026 467

Sunday, Nov 22,  Benjamin Mertz – 400th Gratitude for First People. Anniversary of Plymouth – Thanksgiving, Zoom Link Meeting ID: 716 026 467, https://www.facebook.com/SkylineCommunityChurch

Here are slides from last Sunday’s  quarterly meeting, describing more of our mission highlights for the fall. 

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