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A Celebration of Love, Music and Poetry – Valentine’s Sunday: Feb 16, 2020

Join Skyline Community Church in worship on Sunday, Feb 16 in a celebration of love, music and poetry!

We’ll have Special Music during the 10 AM worship service and a 30 minute set at 11:30 after fellowship with Rachel Garcia and Thu Tran, known as  The Singer and the Songwriter.

from their website:  Rachel Garcia and Thu Tran create music as vibrant and diverse as their multiracial backgrounds. Rachel’s rich, nuanced vocal delivery and Thu’s dynamic guitar arrangements provide the backbone for the duo’s eclectic and heartfelt songs that tell emotionally honest and compelling stories. 

Their identities as mixed-race-Mexican-American and first-generation-Vietnamese-American (respectively) subtly inform the inclusionary, modernist perspective of their lyrics, which provide “smart commentary on social attitudes” (Pasadena Weekly), while their music and melodies cut across decades of classic American song forms, bending and blending genres to produce a unique sound with a fresh, clever and distinct approach to the classic traditions of American jazz, folk and blues.



Do You Love poetry? Please share your love poems with us for Valentines Day 

Submit Feb 11; Poetry Collection available Feb 16

Why?  Because, at the dawn of this new decade, we need love, we need poetry, we need your voice!  So, let’s have a poetry sharing on the theme of love! It can be a poem that you wrote, or one of your favorites!

Why would you want to take part? For many reasons!! 

  • it’s safe – it can be anonymous
  • poetry is alive, and personal
  • we need your voice of love 
  • special prizes – donated by Charlie Holmes, to be raffled off among participants!

 How Do I Write a Poem?   https://www.poetrynation.com/article-categories/improving-your-poetry/

Please submit your entries by Tuesday, Feb 11th, noon to to office@skylineucc.org , where we will compile them.  Contact Pastor Laurie with questions.  Enjoy your poetry experience!
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash


Ash Wednesday Service

Ash Wednesday Service

Wednesday, Feb 26, 7-8 PM
Music, Prayer, Meditation, Candlelight, Silence, and Labyrinth Walking

Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent for many in the Christian church. The forty days begins with the imposition of ashes on the foreheads of the faithful. For many, it is deeply moving to reclaim this powerful ancient ceremony.
Leaders for the Evening:
Rev Laurie Manning and Music Director Gabrielle Lochard
You are welcome, whoever you are and wherever you are on your life’s journey

Black History Month Events, Feb 2020

Racists Anonymous, Rev. Laurie Manning and Nancy Taylor

Today, Discussion 12-1 PM, after Fellowship (more discussion to follow)

Earlier this week I spoke with, my colleague, UCC minister, Rev Ron Buford, who started a program , entitled Racists Anonymous. (Racists Anonymous is a support group, based on the 12 step model. Ron, who is an African American gay man, created the program over his frustration with typical attempts to deal with race issues which merely either left him feeling angry, or white participates leaving feeling guilty. The first meeting was held in 2015 following various police shootings and the Dylann Roof mass murder.  Since this time, the program has been adopted in four countries. A basic dictum of the organization is that all people are racist to varying degrees, and that it is impossible not to be racist if raised in American culture, and that one can engage in self-improvement, as opposed to “fixing” oneself.  Particularly given the current climate of rising institutionalized, implicit and explicit racism in our country, we are more impacted than we are conscious of. All are welcome to this exploratory session. Pastor Laurie at (421-2646) revlauriemanning@aol.com.  http://rainternational.org/

Justice Jam and Homelessness

Wednesday, Feb 5, 6:30-8 pm

Join Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church to hear about the intersections of homelessness, housing insecurity, affordable housing and housing values. Find out how to get involved in addressing the Bay Area housing crisis. Doors will open at 6pm. Light Refreshments will be served before the meeting.  PastorLaurie (421-2646) revlauriemanning@gmail.com

Location: 3534 Lakeshore Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610

I Am Not Your Negro, Potluck and Movie

Friday, February 21,  potluck 6:30, movie 7:30.  

The film,  “I Am Not Your Negro”, is from James Baldwin’s unfinished book on the lives and assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.  It’s narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, beautifully done with photos, footage and music of the Civil Rights Movement era.  Contact Nancy T via the office.

Here are some reviews:

Here’s the trailer: 

Cry the Beloved Country, Potluck and Movie

Jim Schubert & Pastor Laurie invite you to join us for movie and potluck evening here at Skyline to watch and discuss the classic film,  Cry the Beloved County”.  Bring a friend and some food to share! Most importantly, bring your passion for ending white supremacy within our culture by learning from the history of Apartheid in South Africa. 

Proclaimed “a monument to the future” by no less a figure than Nelson Mandela, the movie, directed by Darrell James Roodt, is an exercise in solemn uplift that is touching despite an atmosphere that at moments becomes stiflingly reverential.

Why risky? Because movies have become so invested in the unleashing of violent emotion and the escalation of hostility, that expressions of restraint, reconciliation and forgiveness can easily be read as corny cop-outs. “Cry, the Beloved Country” is not corny, and it doesn’t cop out.
Here are some reviews of the film:  



Dawn of a New Decade: I Resolve to…..

Here we are, in the dawn of a fresh new decade. 

What does this new year and new decade hold for us? Hope or despair? New life, or destruction?  How can we avert war with Iran? How can we restore representative government in our country? How can we save our planet from the unfolding climate crisis? 

We are in new territory as a civilization, living in a world that would have been considered wildly imaginative science fiction just a few decades ago—with revolutionary new technologies and global interconnections through the internet and global threats of nuclear war, threats to the environment and a global refugee crisis, to name only some of the changes.

At the same time an increasing percentage of our society has given up on institutionalized religion’s ability to  help us find our way through the new landscape of our lives. 

Yet we have as much reason to hope as any generation ever had. The prophetic words of  Isaiah echo through the ages:

“Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness…. See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare.”

Where do we begin, in the face of the enormity of these events, at the dawn of this new decade?  It begins by taking a new journey, of rebirth, beginning with our own souls, and recognizing that we are all connected. It means choosing  the road of hope tied to action. I resolve to live myself into hope, into a better year. 

What does that look like? For me, it starts within my own soul and a conscious commitment to really see people beyond the societal labels assigned to them. It means I am determined to work for equity and justice believing I can make a difference. It means more kindness in each interaction and more listening to those whose views are different than my own. It means not letting bitterness or cynicism take root in me. It means turning my anger into the power of radical love. It means believing that every single one of us is called by name, as God’s beloved.   

We are not Alone

Truth be told: this season is hard, for many reasons: 
  • Here in the Northern hemisphere it’s hard to keep our spirits up in the absence of much daylight, warmth, and sunlight. 
  • Then there are all of the expectations  that this season places upon us, to be generous, to purchase gifts for loved ones, and to be jolly.
  • The longer we live, the more memories we have of the past, and especially the memory of loved ones: our parents and grandparents, our spouses, and siblings, and best friends who have died.
  •  The more news we read, the easier it is to become overwhelmed with unrest and anxiety, about the state of the country and of the world, and of our planet. 
 For those of us who are in the midst of experiencing grief, loss, death, endings, in our personal lives, it can feel as if the sun and the moon have fallen from the sky… the world is forever changed…   It is harder still,  if we believe that we are alone. 
The truth is, that we are not alone in our struggles. All of us share these very human experiences at different times in our lives. All of hunger for a place where we can feel truly at home with ourselves and with others, in the presence of Love. I encourage you to join us for some meaningful experiences of community this week: 
On Tuesday, people from both the church and some of the preschool families visited the beautiful children of the Matilda Cleveland Center, part of East Oakland Community Project, the largest transitional homeless shelter in Alameda County, to share a meal, bring gifts, and sing songs, which reminds me so much of the promise of One who was born to poor refugees, in a manger, two thousand years ago. 
On Wednesday, at 4 pm and again at 7 pm, Ken Medema and I welcome you to join us for an interfaith service of healing, honoring the solstice, the longest night, a Blue  Welcome to a place where you can be yourself, and feel however you really feel. Tonight we honor the healing power of experiencing  & sharing our authentic experiences, in the context of prayers, songs, silence, sharing of stories, readings, in the context of safe community .
And of course, our upcoming services, this Sunday, featuring a child-friendly, fabulous puppet show about the Christmas story for children, created by David Guerra.
Finally, comes the timeless musical beauty of our Candlelight Christmas Eve Service, Dec 24 at 7 pm. 
My deepest gratitude to everyone within our little community of faith, our staff members, our council, and service team leaders, and our many volunteers, who together make all of this possible. 
Our best wishes to all of you who are traveling, and all who are far from home, and all of you who have moved. May you be filled with comfort and deep peace, through this season. 
with love, Pastor Laurie 

The Christmas Story – a Puppet Show

Join us for a wonderful child friendly puppet show, telling the Christmas story, created by David Guerra, featuring some of our favorite puppets.  David Guerra ( cardinalis7@gmail.com)

Sunday, December 22 during service at 10 AM




Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Come experience the wonder of our candlelight service and celebrate the birth of Jesus with

Carols and Singing
Scripture readings
Beautiful music performed by the Christmas Choir

The service will be followed by delicious Christmas treats, hot apple cider, and fellowship.

This is a beautiful way to celebrate the season with your entire family. ALL are welcome!

Skyline Community Church UCC
12540 Skyline Blvd, Oakland

For more information please contact the office at 510.531.8212, office@skylineucc.org

Six Tips for More Meaningful, Healthy Holiday Conversations

Special note from Pastor Laurie and the Wellness team:  
Among the discussions we’ve been having about integrative wellness we’ve been talking about how challenging the upcoming holidays can be, as we search for more effective ways to communicate; especially about our differences with others and with loved ones during stressful times. 
Here’s a helpful communication guide  on using the principals of Non Violent Communications,  for surviving the holidays: 
For many spending time with relatives over the holidays may be challenging. In addition to the love and care we may feel, family gatherings can bring up old hurts or expose painful differences. How many family meals have been marred by tense silence or devolved into harsh argument? For me, to find balance, authenticity and care in my conversations with family members and friends was a key turning point in my communication practice. Instead of dreading the holiday meal, gritting your teeth and sweating it out, here are six tips for more meaningful, healthy conversations during the holidays. 

How to Survive the Holidays: 6 Communication Tips With Oren Jay Sofer 

  1. Set intentions-One of the most transformative ingredients in a conversation is intention, the inclination or motivation that impels us to speak or act. When we come from healthy intentions like patience, kindness, or curiosity, we’re more likely to respond in a helpful way rather than react impulsively. Take some time reflect on your intentions before you get together with family or friends. How do you want to engage? How strongly are you committed to those values? Can you feel the strength of that in your body? 
  2. Stay grounded – Being mindful is a prerequisite for effective conversations. Without awareness, we’re just running on automatic! One way to stay mindful during conversation, and especially in challenging moments, is to feel the weight of your body. Sense your feet on the floor, the warmth in your hands, or the contact with the chair. Feeling the heaviness of our body and its contact with the floor can help us to stay grounded when things get heated.
  3. Practice key phrases – How many times have you thought of the perfect thing to say hours (or days) after an argument or tense moment? Instead of freezing or falling back on old habits when something challenging arises, practice a few key phrases ahead of time. Based on past experience, consider where you might get stuck and then write down some phrases you can use if something similar happens. For example: To buy more time: “Let me take a moment to think about that…” To decline to comment: “That’s important, and I’d prefer to talk about it some other time. How about we…?” To pause a conversation: “This feel pretty intense. Let’s take a break on this topic for a little while.” To change the subject: “I’d love to focus on enjoying one another’s company tonight. Let’s talk about…”
  4. Listen for what matters – Another key way to ease tensions and turn a conversation around is to get curious. Instead of focusing on the things you disagree with, try to get interested. NVC (and many forms of psychology and social science) teaches that at the core all humans share the same basic, fundamental needs. We all want to be happy, to be understood, to have meaning. Conflict happens at the level of our strategies—our ideas about how to meet our needs. When we identify what really matters, our commonalities outweigh our differences and we find shared humanity. Practice listening for this deeper layer of human meaning and experience. Underneath the views and opinions, what’s important to this person? Genuinely listening for another’s values can go a long way to bridging the gap.
  5. Set limits with care  – Keeping the peace has value, and it’s important to know your limits. Sometimes, speaking up is what’s most authentic or needed. We can call out ideas we believe to be dangerous, harsh speech or harmful actions without degrading anyone. Instead of blaming, diagnosing or labeling someone, speak from your heart about what matters to you. “I feel so upset by what you’re saying. Those kinds of generalizations can lead to terrible violence, and I want everyone to be seen for who they rather than be defined by their … (nationality, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, ability…).” By stating with your own feelings and needs, you can minimize conflict when it arises.
  6. Keep your aims modest – Last, let go of the outcome. There can be great value in critical conversation, but consider if this family gathering is the right time and place for a meaningful exchange! What’s more, trying to change the other person’s mind rarely supports real dialogue. Instead, focus on how you’re having the conversation. Are you embodying your values regardless of the other person’s behavior? While you’re unlikely to solve the world’s pressing issues over dinner, you might deepen your relationship with a relative if you can find a way to really listen and share ideas. When it comes down to it, our ability to engage with care and respect is often more effective than finding the right words. 

Annual Holiday Dinner








Sunday, December 8, 5:30 PM

Skyline invites you and your family and friends to join in our annual holiday celebration!

  • Enjoy a delicious meal (contact Bee for what to bring!)
  • Sing traditional Christmas carols and hymns
  • Special musical performances and guest Master of Ceremonies
  • And more!

Please RSVP to Bee no later than Dec 4 to select what you’ll bring to share with our community.  Contact Bee Franks-Walker via the office at 510-531-8212, office@skylineucc.org.  Coordinated by the Fun Team – Bee, Paula, & Walter


Greening of the Sanctuary – ALL Hands on Deck! Join us in Decking the Halls!!

Sunday, December 1, 12:00 to 3:00 after the service

Work off some of that extra Thanksgiving feast and join in the spirit of advent by helping us Green the sanctuary. Something for people of all ages. Please bring cut greens, industrial staple guns, gardening gloves and  garden cutting tools. Join your Skyline friends for a few hours of making wreaths, putting up and decorating trees, and bringing the holiday spirit here to Skyline. Wear or bring work clothes to church. 

HERE’S A LINK to let us know what you can do before Dec 1st and on Dec 1.  Thanks for filling it out!

 Green Team, Spiritual Life & Pastor Laurie