Oakland church

Archive for Green

Skyline’s New Climate Action Group

What is it? What are we doing? 

The Climate Crisis is an Environmental and Social Justice, Moral issue of our time.

WE must respond to this with action, even on a small scale.  We were motivated by our own Pastor Laurie’s call to action and by our guest UCC Pastor Jim Antal, who spoke November 15, 2020. 

Meeting about every other Wednesday at 3:30pm, we started working as a group on our own local environmental problems that we may be able to change.

We feel horrified by the amount of Styrofoam particles on our shorelines as well as the plastic in the ocean.  We have learned about the toxic life-cycle of plastic: Fossil fuel extraction, cancer in people who live where plastic is created, to the end of use microparticles in aquatic life, in our waterways, and in us! While we are trying to make wise food purchases we find it inevitable that we are buying foods packaged in Styrofoam and other non-compostable and likely non-recyclable plastic.

Therefore we are working on a campaign to encourage or convince local big food chains to use alternatives, starting with Costco.  We are also partnering with CalPIRG (California Public Interest Research Group) and EnronmentAmerica, on their campaign to reduce single use plastic at Whole Foods. Please click here to sign and submit their petition:

We have an excellent team of Skyline folks who are engaged in the scientific aspects of the harm from chemicals in plastic and polystyrofoam, and how we can encourage businesses to change their packaging practices.

If this topic interests you, please join us!  Send an email to cath.kessler@comcast.net to get on the email list for meeting dates and agendas.

For more information:  the local group As You Sow has graded many businesses on their packaging practices. Click here to see the reports.  And also from Greenpeace: click here to learn more about what Greenpeace is finding.

You will see that Whole Foods has a sustainability grade of F and Costco of D-

Add your voice to the action!

The Fierce Urgency of Now with the Climate Crisis; We are in Kairos Time

“The Fierce Urgency of Now” is a phrase that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. deployed in his address at New York’s Riverside Church when he articulated his opposition to the Vietnam War:

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The ‘tide in the affairs of men’ does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: “Too late.”

 

Kairos:  Jesus’s Understanding of Time

Jesus’ ministry begins in a time of turmoil following the arrest of John the Baptist. In the first chapter of Mark, Jesus declares, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” Theologians such as Paul Tillich have unpacked the nuance and significance of the Greek word for “time” in these opening words of Jesus.

Unlike English, Greek has two distinctly different words for “time”: chronos and kairos. Chronos is time that is measured and definite, as of a ticking clock. Kairos, by contrast, signifies the fulfillment of the right action at the right moment. In the New Testament, the coming of Jesus is what the apostle Paul describes as the fullness of time.
 
Tillich elaborated an understanding of kairos by situating it within moments of profound catastrophe which are paradoxically also moments of unique opportunity. For Tillich, such moments are charged with God as “the eternal breaks into the temporal, shaking and transforming it.”
 
I recently recalled a quote from the Russian author, Dostoyevsky, that moves me deeply about our climate crisis, “in the end perhaps it is the beauty of nature that will compel us to save it.” I also came across a poem that I fell in love with in my early 20’s, written by English poet and Jesuit Priest, Gerard Manley Hopkins, entitled Pied Beauty, which speaks of this sense of wonder about the glorious diversity of the earth: 
Pied Beauty
Glory be to God for dappled things —
For skies of couple-color as a brindled cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscapes plotted and pieced-fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
 
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.
    With gratitude for the beauty and the preciousness of this Earth! Love, Pastor Laurie 
 

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. 

Orange Sky in the Morning is a Call to Support the Green New Deal

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
On Wednesday morning, here in the Bay Area, we awoke to the strangest shared experience.  Even our cats were wondering… what’s going on? Why is the sky as orange as a pumpkin? Why is it getting darker rather than lighter? Why can’t I smell smoke? Will it get worse?   When will the locusts come?   As Marvin Gaye once sung it, “What’s going on?”
 
By now, many of you have read about what’s going on.
 
What’s really going on? Human induced climate change. Let’s do what we can in this upcoming election to support the Green New Deal! Thank you to our denomination, the UCC for being the first Christian body to endorse the Green New Deal!  Thank you to Skyline Church for initiating the resolution at our 2019 NCNC Annual Meeting, as it made it’s way up to the National UCC body.
 
Here are excerpts from my presentation at last year’s NCNCUCC Annual Meeting. I’d be happy to share more from my presentation, or from my climate change talk at Annual meeting.
 
What is it:

The Green New Deal (GND) marks the 1st time that Congress has been presented with an opportunity  to act on climate change by taking a vote that recognizes the scope of the challenge , the urgency of the crisis,  the intersectionality of the numerous justice issues that are amplified by climate change; the opportunity to act on climate in a way that also addresses racial injustice, economic injustice,  and the need to create clean, healthful, and family supporting jobs that our planet needs; and the opportunity to deploy solutions that address all of these moral challenges.

Here’s why it’s important: 

1. The GND addresses the most important justice issues that the UCC has been committed to for decades. It demands that the federal govt. address injustice of climate change in a way that also tackles the systemic injustices that disproportionately affect vulnerable and front-line communities, including racial injustice, economic injustice and the need to create clean, healthful, and family supporting jobs that our planet needs. 

2. The GND acknowledges the necessity of assuming moral responsibility for intergenerational harm caused by the failure to act on climate change and the urgency of acting on a comprehensive scale to reduce the catastrophic future generations will inherit.

3. The GND offers tangible hope in the face of threats that are becoming more and more real – in the US & world-wide- or to put it another way it’s up to us to transform these threats into opportunities. To create fair paying secure jobs,  secure clean air and water, redress manifestations of environmental racism, and pursue a just transition to clean and renewable energy.  

Here’s what we can do locally: 
 
1. standup for science & continuing to learn from new science

2. discuss climate change more often – at church, home & in social encounters

3. tell others that we already have all the tech. we need to achieve the goals of the GND

4. incorporate into our worship  & community leadership an awareness of climate change, its conseq. esp. for vulnerable & front-line communities, & make the changes science says we must & technology says we can

5.  help our communities prepare for extreme weather events & to become a resource

6. lift up this reality of millions of people, regardless of their political affiliation or resolve to support the GND

7. engaging federal state & local agencies as advocates for policies & legislation that advance the goals of GND including its commitment to address systemic injustice, that disproportionately affects front-line invulnerable communities.

8.  advocate for a just transition for all those workers & communities most dependent on fossil fuel energy so that they also have opportunities for clean healthful &: family supporting jobs that heal our planet. 

And here’s a resource from UCC – 10 Ways to Mobilize.

Plant of the Month at Skyline – August

Buckeye butterfly

Checkerspot butterfly

Red monkeyflower

Orange monkeyflower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sticky Monkeyflower (Diplacus aurantiacus, formerly Mimulus aurantiacus)

This perennial shrub, the monkeyflower, is a mainstay native of the East Bay Hills , with it’s orange trumpet-shaped flowers and sticky, aromatic, bright green leaves; growing on dry rocky slopes or in shady areas. Look closely to see the “monkey face” of the flower, and touch the leaves to feel the stickiness.  Medicinal, drought-tolerant, deer-resistant, it provides food for hummingbirds, bees, and for larval  buckeye and checkerspot butterflies.  At Skyline Church, we have orange and red- flowered Monkeyflowers in the Labyrinth, at the head of the Redwood trail, and near the Gazebo.

The Miwok people (Marin and Contra Costa counties) used the plant to treat minor ailments such as sores, burns, diarrhea, and eye irritation. They used the colorful flowers for decorative purposes. 

Earth Day Began 50 Years Ago – Video of Skyline’s Virtual Celebration

Here’s a video of our Earth Day Celebration!  Skyline honored this special Earth Day with music, stories, and tree planting on the beautiful campus of Skyline church in Oakland, using Zoom.   Skyline is a green congregation.  

We were honored to have Mary Ellen Hill, Storyteller and teacher, Pastor Laurie, Catherine Kessler, and more. 

The Human Element, a Documentary about Global Warming- View and Discuss

View The Human Element free between April 17-26;  Discussion Sunday April 26 after service.

An arresting new documentary from the producers of Racing Extinction and Chasing Ice, environmental photographer James Balog captures the lives of everyday Americans on the front lines of climate change. With rare compassion and heart, The Human Element relays captivating stories from coast-to-coast, inspiring us to reevaluate our relationship with the natural world.

Thanks to a partnership with Earth Vision Film, Interfaith Power & Light is able to offer you this inspiring film. It’s a must see for people of faith concerned about the impact of climate change on human life in the United States.

To see a preview and to sign up to watch this film for free, click here.   Here is the link to The Human Element with Spanish subtitles!  (Password: THE-2020)

SIGN UP HERE to view the film April 17-26  

 
We will be discussing the film on 4/26 after worship. For more info, contact Catherine Kessler or Pastor Laurie

Oakland’s Draft 2030 Equitable Climate Action Plan – Town Halls

The Green Team and Justice and Witness Team request your attention and action:
 

To Oakland Residents:
  You are invited to either of these 2 TownHall Meetings, to review and give your comments on
                        Oakland’s Draft 2030 Equitable Climate Action Plan 
Visit this link to comment directly on the draft, and join us at a Town Hall to review and discuss the Plan as a community.
Town Hall 1: Saturday, November 2
Location: Rainbow Recreation Center
5800 International Blvd.
Time: 1-4 pm (lunch at 12pm)
RSVP: https://climatejusticetownhall1.eventbrite.com

Town Hall 2: Wednesday, November 13
Location: Lincoln Square Recreation Center
250 10th Street, in Chinatown
Time: 6-9 pm (dinner at 5:30)
RSVP: https://climatejusticetownhall2.eventbrite.com 

At the Town Hall meetings, Oaklanders will come together to dive further into the ECAP and the draft Actions, and vote on what needs to be kept, improved, or eliminated. Food and childcare will be provided. Simultaneous interpretation will be available with advanced request. Both Town Halls will cover the same material.
For more information or if you need a ride, contact Catherine Kessler via the office at 510-531-8212   office@skylineucc.org.

Climate – a Global Grassroots Movement for Life

Days after global protests calling for climate change action, the United Nations held a special climate summit where world leaders and other officials gathered to hammer out specific pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.N. made science very visible in advance of this meeting.  https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/fiery-calls-to-action-at-un-climate-summit-dont-win-pledges-from-worst-emitters

Recently, the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank, measured the percentage of people in the US who believe that climate change is a threat to the well-being of the planet. The results were more telling than even I expected.  94% of liberal democrats believe it is a threat, but only 19% of conservative republicans do. Perhaps even more frightening is that only 57%  of all people in the US do. 

In Europe, the very question would illicit incredulity because they KNOW climate change is a threat, just like they know the earth is round and the sun is hot. How this became a matter of opinion in this country is a frightening tribute to politicians’ ability to use the media and the bible to manipulate our trust in the most basic science-based facts. 
 
Relatedly, if we can be made to doubt something so obvious, what other things have we been made to believe that simply aren’t so? Well, a good portion of people in this country believe that tax cuts for the rich will help the poor and middle-class. Many people believe we went to war with Iraq because of 9/11.  Apparently, many people still believe that capital punishment deters crime and that guns make us a safer nation. 
 
I have been so moved by the clarity of Greta Thunberg, the voice of a young prophet of our times, challenging insatiable greed, at the expense of life itself.
 
I give thanks to Skyline for being a part of the movement, to reform our understanding and our ways of what it means to be good stewards of this precious planet, and embodying inclusive love of all people, especially the most vulnerable. I give thanks for advocating for the Green New Deal, as part of this global grass roots movement for life.  

Join us this Sunday as we deepen our connection to this global grass roots movement for life. We look forward to celebrating Yom Kippur with Rabbi David Cooper, a passionate advocate for social and environmental justice, and  founding rabbi of Kehilla synagogue in Oakland. Here’s some info about David

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)