Oakland church

Archive for Uncategorized

Legislative Action Day

Sunday, September 22, after services at 11 AM

The Green Team and Justice and Withness Team are sponsoring a Legislative Action Day with a focus on upcoming legislation related to immigration, criminal justice reform, and enviornmental protection.  Nancy Taylor,  Catherine Kessler .

Laurie and Friends in Nepal and Bhutan – potluck and program

Friday, Sept 20, 6-7 potluck; 7-9 program

Come join our gathering in the Friendship Room. Laurie and some of her traveling companions will be telling tales and sharing pictures of  their adventures in Bhutan and Nepal. Also joining us is Jim Schubert, former professor of Southeast Asian studies at UC Berkeley.

Please RSVP to Paula via the church office  (510-531-8212   office@skylineucc.org).

 

 

 

Blessing of the Animals 2019

Come and celebrate the animal companions in our lives on Sunday, October 6 at 3:00-4 PM!

This is our 20th annual special time of recognizing how these beloved companions are integral parts of our families, and that they are a blessing to us all. We will draw from the wisdom of many faith traditions, including St Francis, as well as indigenous traditions, Buddhism, and other faiths. We will have a time of remembering beloved pets who have died, and a time of sharing best practices, and of course, meeting one another’s extended families! A time of music, reflection, remembering and celebrating. 

Reverend Laurie Manning is available to bless your dog, cat, goat, parakeet, fish, horse or whatever you bring (safely) with you.  You can also bring photos of beloved pets who cannot make the journey or have passed on to receive a blessing.9-27-15-bofa-dg-laure-and-dog-owner-blue-dress

Skyline Community Church
 12540 Skyline Blvd., Oakland, Ca. 94619

(½ mile S. of Redwood)

Here’s a Blessing of the Animals Blessing of Animals 2019 flier to share with your vet or pet store, if you wish – thanks!

Pride Sunday – Sept 15, 2019

Our annual Pride Service is September 15 at 10 AM.  Child-friendly!  Come join us for an uplifting, positive message and music; and a creative, unique drama, “The Parable of the Last Dancing Queen”, written and produced by Tim Carter (award winning executive producer from Sesame Street) and David G. (award winning costume designer) and their amazing cast!   

Dance, jive and have the time of your life!

(Here’s a recent article by a member who found his spiritual home here.)

All are welcome.

Pastor Laurie Returns from Nepal and Bhutan!

I’ve just returned from an extraordinary adventure, exploring the beauty and wisdom of two small nations, Nepal and Bhutan, tucked between China and India.  Nepal is predominantly Hindu, and Bhutan is predominantly Buddhist. 

Our adventure began in Nepal, most famous for being the primary home of the tallest mountain range in the world, the Himalayas! But the country is so much more than the staggering beauty of earth’s highest reaching limbs. A densely packed culture has been formed here over the millennia with powerful kingdoms, dedicated spiritual seekers and institutions, amazing food, and real life epics that no one could believe if they weren’t actually true! Many don’t even realize, but Nepal has a subtropical jungle home to tigers, rhinoceros, and 68 other majestic mammal species!

Just to the east, separated only by a thin state in India, is what the locals claim is the happiest country on earth, Bhutan! And so, we hopped across the border to the magic that is Bhutan.

This Buddhist nation lies on the Himalayas’ eastern edge and is chock full of stunning mountains, towering monasteries, and foreboding fortresses. “Shangri-la” like valleys rest below the country’s high peaks creating heaven on earth higher and lower.

Years ago, Gross National Happiness was identified by the nation as being more important than Gross National Product (GNP).

I look forward to sharing my experiences with you! Here are just a few photos! See you in worship!!

Bhutan photos

Nepal Photos

Five Years of Acceptance

Original LGBT Pride Flag on display at the Queer California exhibit. Photo by David G


by David G.
August 10th was my five-year anniversary of attending Skyline Community Church. What drew me to Skyline were the words “open and affirming congregation”, something I didn’t understand coming from a fundamentalist denomination.

I quickly learned what it meant.

From the moment I stepped up to the door, I was welcomed and accepted for who I was. People didn’t flinch when I told them my name. No one sneered at my suit and tie. I was treated with love and respect. I felt like I mattered.

This acceptance was reinforced with the announcement that Skyline was participating in Oakland Pride and having a Pride Service. Really, I thought. This church celebrates Pride? This would never happen at my old church!

Well, every year since then I’ve celebrated with Skyline. I’ve marched (and danced) in the Oakland Pride Parade wearing massive rainbow wings. Spoken about my experiences at Pride services. Risen at first light on Easter to sing the Sunrise Service with the Oakland Gay Men’s Chorus.

And last weekend, I attended a field trip organized by Nancy Taylor. A small group of us met at the Oakland Museum to see the Queer California exhibit, as a way to become more educated about LGBT history and the LGBT experience.

This, folks, is what acceptance is all about. When some places and people are downright unfriendly or mean, I know I have a community that is safe and understanding. This means so much to me.

On Sept. 8th, a small group from Skyline will be marching in Oakland Pride and handing out rainbow bracelets as an outreach, sharing the gift of acceptance and love that drew me in. You’re invited to join us!

View or share on website or facebook    

Swords into Plowshares

Last Sunday morning (Aug 4, 2019) we awoke to the horrible news of yet another mass shooting. Our faith calls us to  condemn the hateful climate that’s surfaced in our country. In the days between July 28 and August 4, 2019, thirty-two people were killed, and sixty people were wounded by gunfire from semi-automatic, assault style rifles in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. In 2019 there have been 255 mass shootings, resulting in 273 deaths in the United States of America.* 

In response to this evil, statements of denunciation have been issued, assurances of concern have been delivered, prayers for grief and petitions for comfort have been offered and policy suggestions have been made. Still, the killings continue. Still, families are ripped apart. Still, communities are torn asunder. Still, prayers of grief are offered. Still, petitions for comfort are lifted. Still, hateful rhetoric flows from the seats of power. Still, powerful guns and the bullets that they fire are readily available for purchase.
 
We once again raise our voices in outrage and lament. We are outraged by the notion that nothing can be done. We are outraged by the hateful language directed toward immigrants, people of color and adherents of religions not our own. We are broken by the loss of the life. We grieve with those who grieve. The river of tears that flows touches at the deepest of levels.
 
Yet, we are hopeful. We are hopeful that in the name of faith, hope and justice people will come together. We are hopeful that words of hate will be rejected and refuted. We are hopeful that legislation intended to reduce the gun violence will be enacted. Specifically, we urge the United States Senate to immediately join the House of Representatives in passing the 2019 Background Check Act and the President to reenact the 1994 assault weapons ban that will remove military style, high capacity semi-automatic weapons from civilian use.
 
We stand ready to work for all who work for the common good. May our faith help us build the Beloved Community.

Please join me in signing these petitions, and join us this Sunday in worship, as we pray for strength and courage, and we respond with conscious action to transform the weapons of war, into instruments of peace. 

Blessings, Pastor Laurie 

*According to Gun Violence Archive as reported by the Huffpost, Aug. 5, 2019. (The GVA defines a mass shooting as any incident in which at least four people were shot, excluding the shooter.  This puts 2019 on pace to be the first year since 2016 with an average of more than one mass shooting a day. (CBS News, Aug. 5)

*****************************************************************************

Articles and petitions for gun controls:

https://www.ucc.org/join_the_network

We need more than thoughts and prayers, congress needs to hear from you,  to support the consideration and passage of S.42, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. 

https://p2a.co/Odl2rJH

https://giffords.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Giffords-HR-8-Factsheet-FINAL.pdf

The Democratic majority in the House has sent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell TWO gun reform bills to close loopholes and establish universal background checks. But McConnell has refused a vote on either.

https://go.barbaraleeforcongress.org/page/s/sign-your-name-demand-senate-republicans-take-action-on-gun-control

Gun Violence by the Numbers

  • Each year over 30,000 Americans are killed by guns. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) 
  • More U.S. citizens have died in the last 50 years by guns in our homes, streets and schools than have died in the history of all U.S. wars. (Congressional Research Service and CDC/National Center for Health Statistics)
  • Firearms are the second leading cause of death (after motor vehicle accidents) for young people age 19 and under in the U.S. (CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control)
  • 8 American children and teens age 19 and under are killed by guns every day. (CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control)
  • A child/teen is killed or injured by a gun every 30 minutes (Children’s Defense Fund)
  • Newtown Happens Every Week in America. More children die every 3 days in America by a gun than died in the December 14, 2012 Newtown massacre. (Children’s Defense Fund)
  • Nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths are suicides. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • More guns = more suicides. People in states with many guns have elevated rates of suicide, particularly firearm suicide. (Harvard School of Public Health Study)
  • For each time a gun in the home was used for a protective shooting, there were:
    • 4 unintentional shootings
    • 7 criminal assaults or homicides
    • 11 suicides (Journal of Trauma, 1998)
  • 60% of those who own a gun give personal safety/protection as top reason for ownership. (2013 Gallup Poll)
  • Gun violence costs the U.S. $229 billion annually. (Mother Jones and Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation)
  • There are more than 300 million guns in civilian hands in the United States today. (Congressional Research Service) 

 

 

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Remember and Pray to Walk the Path of Peace

On August 6, 1945, during World War II (1939-45), an American B-29 bomber dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The explosion wiped out 90% of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure.   Three days later, a second B-29 dropped another A-bomb on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 40,000 people.   Japan’s Emperor Hirohito announced his country’s unconditional surrender in World War II in a radio address on August 15, citing the devastating power of “a new and most cruel bomb.”

This week, we remember the events of  the bombing of  Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  In the decades since,   the world has lived with the threat of nuclear annihilation and many have worked and struggled for the abolition of nuclear weapons.   Join us as we pray to walk and live in the path of peace and justice. 

I leave you with this prayer. Blessings, Pastor Laurie  

O God, like a father who teaches his child to walk,

 like a mother who feeds and heals her children,

You desire to nourish all people and rescue them from injustice.

You call us into this work of justice-making and care.

Yet we follow other paths; we make choices that lead to violence and destruction

Meet us here and teach us how to put aside

all temptations that lead to violence,

from the smallest to the most global. 

Prayer and God

There is only one thing wrong with the traditional definition of prayer: it misrepresents God.  “Prayer,” the old teaching said, was “the raising of our hearts and minds to God.”  As if God were some regal, distant judge outside ourselves.  But science – with its new perception that matter and spirit are of a piece, sometimes particles, sometimes energy – suggests that God is not on a cloud somewhere, imperious and suspecting.  God is the very Energy that animates us.  God is not a white heterosexual male who lives in the US. God is the Spirit that leads us and drives us on.  God is the voice within us calling us to Life.  God is the Reality trying to come to fullness within us, both individually and together.  It is to that cosmic God, that personal inner, enkindling God, that we pray.

Join us this Sunday, as we explore prayer, contemplation, and meditation together, and have a conversation after worship about it.

A Lesson from God’s Creatures

What do you cherish?

What would it take for you to recognize it?

My epiphany came in the form of large, iridescent glossy black birds, ravens to be precise.

Over a year ago, a pair of ravens started visiting our back deck to snatch tidbits of food left for the jays. I called them Tristan and Isolde. I watched them, fascinated by their behavior. If one came, it waited for the other to arrive before eating. They spoke to each other in their corvid dialect and it wasn’t hard to see they were having a conversation as a couple. They seemed to cherish each other deeply.

Now most of you know we’ve had a tough time with my spouse’s cancer. Sometimes between all the medical visits, chemotherapy appointments, challenges and stresses the little things – like cherishing each other – get lost.

One afternoon I was helping my spouse get washed up, chatting with him, when I looked out the window. Tristan and Isolde sat on the branches of the redwood tree, snuggled close, chortling and whispering strange vocalization as they carefully preened each other. And it hit me: I could learn a lot about marital bliss from these birds.

I made a conscious effort to hug my spouse, to be kind and patient, to care for him like the birds did for each other. It has helped me to understand that in these days, every moment together is golden. Cherish those you love. Tell them you love them.

Post Note:

This past week Tristan and Isolde surprised us: they guided two fully-fledged raven chicks to our deck to visit. A family to cherish… and we have a whole new set of examples to follow. 

By David G.