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Annual Blessing of the Animals – Virtual

Sunday, October 4, 3:00 PM PST  

Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/716026467

Meeting ID: 716 026 467  or call: 510 421 2646 

On this day, Sunday Oct 4th,  we come together to acknowledge the sacred importance of all living creatures, honoring the wisdom of St Francis. 

Come and celebrate with us LIVE ON ZOOM, the animal companions in our lives with internationally renowned musician Ken Medema and Pastor Laurie Manning in a spirited, creative, joyous and spiritual ceremony.  

Especially now, as we are sheltering in place, this is a time to honor and give thanks for these beloved companions who are part of our families, that are a blessing to us all. This is an event for the entire family, so please bring not only your children, but also brother dog and sister cat, as well as your beloved gerbils, geckos, goats, hamsters, mice, rabbits, parrots, turtles, mini-horses, etc. All are welcome! 

Together we will:  

  • Honor the wisdom of St Francis, as well as indigenous traditions, Buddhism, and other faiths. 
  • Meet each other’s extended families!
  • Celebrate your pets -so bring them if you can on zoom, or bring your photos, and be ready to share your stories! 
  • Remember our beloved pets who have died, so bring your photos and your stories!
  • Sing and enjoy with Ken’s magical, gifted, improvisations!

Here’s an article by Oakland North from a few years ago when they covered our ceremony a few years ago:  “Dogs, mini-horses and a leopard gecko received blessings at Skyline Community Church [at the annual blessing ceremony], along with a cat, goat and photos of animals ‘with us in spirit.’ On a hot, summery afternoon, pastor Laurie Manning and church member Rhea Babbitt kneeled before some 40 furry, four-legged creatures and their owners, and blessed them. …Churches worldwide honor animals on the first Sunday of October, the feast day for the patron saint of animals St. Francis of Assisi….In the back were two mini-horses, their eyes like baseballs, their summer coats shedding. Some dogs sat on their owners’ laps while others lazed on the cool floor, perhaps tired from sniffing and circling other dogs before the service. One church member said he would have brought his cat, if not for his arm being in a sling, and his cat’s grumpiness that morning. Babbitt, who organized the ceremony, led the congregation in a reading. ‘On this day we come together to acknowledge,” they read aloud, “the sacred importance of all living creatures…. ‘”

And another article from even earlier!

Reverend Laurie Manning is available to bless your dog, cat, goat, parakeet, fish, horse or whatever your and your camera can bring to Zoom!  You can also bring photos of beloved pets who cannot handle a Zoom meeting (can you blame them?)  or have passed on to receive a blessing.

About Ken Medema – For four decades, Ken Medema has inspired people through storytelling and music. Though blind from birth, Ken sees and hears with heart and mind.  His ability to capture spirit in word and song is unparalleled. One of the most creative and authentic artists performing today, Ken custom designs every musical moment of his performance with brilliant improvisation that defies description. With an ever-growing circle of friends around the world, Ken’s vocal and piano artistry and imagination have reached audiences of 50 to 50,000 people in 49 United States and in more than 15 countries on four continents.

About Pastor Laurie – The Reverend Laurie J. Manning joined Skyline Church in 2006. She holds respective Master’s degrees from Union Theological Seminary (Columbia U), Harvard University, and the University of Michigan. Prior to becoming a minister Laurie worked in various management capacities for Hewlett Packard  and then as a consultant with high technology and medical clients. Laurie brings a solid understanding of the psychological and organizational complexities of living as a Christian in today’s pluralistic and scientific world.  She has a passion for the spiritual well-being of people, for social and environmental justice, and lives life with gusto!

“Belong Circle” – Friday Film Night and Discussion

Friday Ministry Team Film Night and Discussion

Friday, September 18th, 7 pm  
Join us!  We’ll be viewing the final episode of #bringtheheat’s Belong Circle,  an excellent presentation, a faith-based look at “defund the police” and “abolition” presented by Revs. Ben and Michael McBride, each distinguished Oakland and Berkeley pastors in their own right, Black Lives Matter activists, and much more! 
Zoom link:  https://zoom.us/j/901784352
Meeting ID: 901 784 352 One tap mobile
Dial in by phone 1-669-900-9128
Dial in by phone: 1-346-248-7799
Nancy Taylor, contact via office@skylineucc.org

A Benefit Plant Sale to support PLANTING JUSTICE

Saturday & Sunday, August 15th & 16th  9 am – 3 PM
404 Cornell Ave. Albany

There will be many beautiful plants, some pretty garden/landscape greeting cards, jars of local honey, a representative from Planting Justice who will speak about the organization. All proceeds go to Planting Justice, and the sponsors are setting it up to be a careful as we can around social distancing. Masks required. It’s an outdoor event.

Planting Justice is a grassroots organization with a mission to empower people impacted by mass incarceration and other social inequities, with the skills and resources to cultivate food sovereignty, economic justice, and community healing.

Since 2009 Planting Justice has built over 450 edible permaculture gardens in the San Francisco Bay Area, worked with five high-schools to develop food justice curricula and created 40 green jobs in the food justice movement for folks transitioning from prison

Nurseries & Greenhouses, Non-Profit Organization, at 319 105th Ave, Oakland, CA · (510) 756-6965.


World Without Walls – Black Lives Matter and Palestinian Rights

Friday, August 28, 10 AM Pacific time – online

The Skyline Church Justice and Witness Team invites you to the August 28th Bay Area World Without Walls event—A conversation with Angela Davis and Jamal Juma’ moderated by Kristian Davis Bailey. The conversation will be an international discussion of the connections between Black Lives Matter calls to defund the police and abolish the prison industrial complex, and Palestinian calls to tear down all apartheid walls and work for Palestinian human rights. Join these iconic grassroots organizers for an important reflection on the nature of global struggle in this precarious moment of history.

  • For more details and for webinar registration, please go to the Facebook event page HERE.
  • If you don’t use Facebook, register for Zoom event HERE.
Nancy Taylor, 510-325-4957, ngtaylor94619@yahoo.com

For a New Day to Dawn…

This Sunday, I am going to talk about the Canaanite woman’s encounter with Jesus. I remember hearing it for the first time when I was a kid. In the middle of church, I wanted to turn to my parents and say, “Did Jesus just call her a dog?” I didn’t dare, of course, because silence was the order of the day for kids in my very formal faith upbringing.

Do you remember your first experience hearing this story? How do you hear it now?  How does it speak to you about change, growth, new vision, new life, love? 

Brian McLaren, in his book, the Great Spiritual Migration, describes these parables as “bottomless wells of meaning”, springing up within us, like living water, like love, like a new day. We will continue with our journey and book study after worship this Sunday.

For a new day to dawn, WE must be open to hearing and seeing new things, even when the road is long and dark, and we are so far from home.

I leave you with the comforting words and music of Enya


Senator John Lewis

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Last Friday we bid farewell to two Great Titans in the civil rights movement in this country: Congressman John Lewis and the Rev CT Vivian, two men who dedicated their lives to freedom, equality and basic human rights.  

Across two generations, beginning in 1960, John Lewis and the Rev. C.T. Vivian battled for justice and equality. They fought together for civil rights for 60 years and died on the same day in 2020. In honor of their memory, we must pause to remember and reflect on their resilience, their commitment to nonviolence, their understanding of the centrality of the vote, and, perhaps, just as important, their personal humility. Here’s a Smithsonian article about John Lewis.  

Walter Jones recently shared this with me:  In memory of John Lewis, I reminisce about his leadership role as Chairman of the  Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; a key organization in the Civil Rights Movement and in the Freedom Riders, during the summer of 1961.

Walter continued,  Remembering Rev. John Lewis and his alma mater, Fisk University, last Sunday in our zoom discussion took me back to the protest period during my college years. John Lewis was a student and graduate of Fisk University, Nashville TN, and was trained by Rev James Lawson in nonviolent resistance

James Lawson made a critical contribution to the civil rights movement. In his 1968 speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” Martin Luther King spoke of Lawson as one of the “noble men” who had influenced the black freedom struggle: “He’s been going to jail for struggling; he’s been kicked out of Vanderbilt University for this struggling; but he’s still going on, fighting for the rights of his people”.

Fisk University, was among a number of outstanding academic institutions, complemented by rich spiritual and religious orientation, founded by agents of the American Missionary Association (the AMA), in partnership with abolitionist Congregationalists, out of which our denomination, the United Church of Christ (UCC), emerged.  The overt intentions of the religious founders were to provide African-Americans with an outstanding academic education that would be complemented by an equally rich spiritual and religious orientation. The AMA and it’s assets were given to the UCC which continued to annually fund several HBCU’s. 

Walter added, I am so proud of our small but mighty denomination, the United Church of Christ,  in supporting the education that produced such leaders as John Lewis. Walter also added, I am so proud of our little church on the hill, Skyline UCC, for our leadership in the civil rights movement that is continuing now, right here in Alameda County.  

In reflecting upon John Lewis, author John Pavolovitz writes,

After eight decades braving taunts and threats and bruises and broken bones, trying to make the world that could be out the world that was, this very good troublemaker has slipped from here to hereafter—and he has departed, he has bequeathed something to us:

He has left us America.

It is our unearned inheritance, entrusted to us to fully steward in these days that he can no longer, whether we feel capable of or qualified for or ready to.

You and I awake today with a fragile, fractured nation in our hands, and the eyes of a world upon us waiting to see what we’ll do with it.

May we be faithful servants of our better selves.

May we be steadfast in making the America that could be.

May we be worthy caretakers of the struggle.

May we be the good troublemakers now.

Blessings, thanks, and love to each one of you, f continuing our part in being good troublemakers! 

Alternatives to Policing – East Bay Online Event

Sunday, July 26
4 PM – 5:30 PM

We are thrilled to invite YOU into a virtual (via zoom) open, creative sharing about how you are considering, dreaming, engaging, and employing alternatives to policing systems when you face threats to your security and safety.

While we have been learning and building together in the Bay Area, a national Black–led movement and uprising for the abolition of white supremacist policing systems is forcing a national conversation and shift in practice about how we will invest in community, neighborhood, and personal systems of community solidarity, mutual aid, and safety – rather than relying on violent and white supremacist policing systems when we are afraid, or need help. What amazing times, and openings! Such appreciation for courageous Black youth, in particular.

Alongside this powerful movement, we seek to continue to support one another in the East Bay, especially those of us in largely/majority white communities and institutions, to develop our tools, resources, and practices for engaging alternatives to policing systems when we face fear and crises. Let’s help each other not become #karens and #kens, while building a supportive and robust, caring network that holds our concerns. Please join us for a series of loving and courageous conversations in July to learn more, and to share our ideas and resources for community investments and alternatives to policing systems.

1) Please join with the “Alternatives to Policing Coalition” and community to listen and participate in this Town Hall on investments needed for community safety, hosted by the Anti Police-Terror Project and Defund OPD Coalition. Please RSVP and join here to listen and learn together:
2) Please BRING two friends from one of your communities (because we can’t do this work alone) for a follow up conversation, especially for those of us in white communities (neighborhoods, friends, organizations, faith communities). In this conversation, we will exchange ideas on who to call, and how to engage, and who to be so that we can rely on each other and community resources for help, rather than policing systems. This will be a creative, open source, small group & big group sharing and conversation
Share the event on Facebook here.

See All that Lies Within Us

This Sunday, July 19th, we are blessed to have with us my friend and colleague, Rev Davena Jones, Associate Conference Minister for the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ. Here’s a 44 second hello video Rev. Davena made for Skyline.

So much is being revealed to us in this great disruption, if we have the eyes to see it.

May we have the courage to see what has always been there before us, including what lies within us. Please join us on Monday July 20 as part of the Poor People’s Campaign in a nation-wide, Strike for our Lives (see info below)

The world’s sacred texts describe the journey of enlightenment as the development our capacities for seeing and hearing anew, especially those who are different from us. 

I’d like to share with you a quote from Thich Nhat Hahn,  Vietnamese Buddhist monk, who was nominated in 1967 for the Nobel peace prize by the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr.  This quote is about to developing the capacity to see all that lies within us, entitled, “Please Call Me by My True Names”.  Here is a context for his reflection.

Please Call Me by My True Names

By Thich Nhat Hanh

Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow— even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving to be a bud on a Spring branch, to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings, learning to sing in my new nest, to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower, to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry, to fear and to hope. The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that is alive.

I am a mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river. And I am the bird that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am a frog swimming happily in the clear water of a pond. And I am the grass-snake that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin as bamboo sticks. And I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate.

And I am also the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands. And I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to my people dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth. My pain is like a river of tears, so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up and the door of my heart could be left open, the door of compassion.

This gives me endless hope. Together, we help each other see our way through to a better, more beautiful world.

with love, Pastor Laurie 


Jubilee – a Full Stop

The Great Spiritual Migration Discussion

Sundays,  August 9th through Sunday, September 13th,   11:30 AM – 12:30 PM 

This Sunday after worship, the Spiritual Life Team will continue the discussion of  Brian McLaren’s book, The Great Spiritual Migration. Our leader will be facilitating the discussion focusing on the theological migration, from belief in a violent God of domination to a non-violent God of liberation.
For those of you new to this discussion, the book describes a movement of progressive congregations and leaders. With favorable reviews from such as Richard Rohr, Joan Chittister and Diana Butler Bass, McLaren offers three propositions. He believes that among Christians and people of other faiths there are three migrations:

  1. there is a spiritual migration from reliance on a system of beliefs to developing a way of life (the way of love) 
  2. there is a theological migration from belief in a violent God of domination to a non-violent God of liberation 
  3. there is a missional migration from organized religion to organizing religion. (the way of love and justice) 

We are looking forward to a lively discussion! 
Prior to this Sunday, please read/review Brian McLaren’s book, The Great Spiritual Migration

 If you’d like to order a copy, please do HERE!

We look forward to sharing the journey together. 
Pastor Laurie  and the Spiritual Life team
Pastor Laurie  (421-2646)  revlauriemanning@aol.com

Zoom link:  https://zoom.us/j/716026467
Meeting ID: 716 026 467
Dial in by phone 1-669-900-9128

Pastor Laurie  and the Spiritual Life team
Pastor Laurie  (contact via office 510-531-8212; office@skylineucc.org  – email is best during shutdown)