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Bringing Back the Natives Tour

Sunday, May 7

Walter Jones and Nancy Taylor will be attending this year’s Tour after church on

Sunday, May 7th and invite you to join them.   You can register at http://www.bringingbackthenatives.net/

The self-guided tour is free.  Contact Nancy to coordinate.

People’s Climate March in Oakland

April 29, 11 AM, Lake Merritt Amphitheater, Lake Merritt Blvd.

Join the Skyline contingent going to the Oakland March under the People’s Climate March on Saturday, 4/29.  We will meet at Lincoln Square in front of the liquor store at 10:00 am and carpool to Lake Merritt.  Contact Catherine Kessler for more info and Nancy Taylor and click here  for the full schedule of 4/29 in Oakland.

From the website:

On the 100th Day of the Trump Administration, we will be in the streets of Washington D.C. to show the world and our leaders that we will resist attacks on our people, our communities and our planet.

We will come together from across the United States to strengthen our movement. We will demonstrate our power and resistance at the gates of the White House. We will bring our solutions to the climate crisis, the problems that affect our communities and the threats to peace to our leaders in Congress to demand action.

We invite you to join the Peoples Climate Movement on Saturday, April 29th as we march to:

  • Advance solutions to the climate crisis rooted in racial, social and economic justice, and committed to protecting front-line communities and workers.
  • Protect our right to clean air, water, land, healthy communities and a world at peace.
  • Immediately stop attacks on immigrants, communities of color, indigenous and tribal people and lands and workers.
  • Ensure public funds and investments create good paying jobs that provide a family-sustaining wage and benefits and preserve workers’ rights, including the right to unionize.
  • Fund investments in our communities, people and environment to transition to a new clean and renewable energy economy that works for all, not an economy that feeds the machinery of war.
  • Protect our basic rights to a free press, protest and free speech.

March with us on April 29th as we come together to resist and march for our families, our communities and our planet.

Palm & Passion Week at Skyline

Adult education study – Triumphal entry, Passion Week:  Wed April 5, 7 – 8 pm Friendship room,  Co –led by Pastor Laurie and Cheryl Jones .  This is an opportunity to learn the Easter story.

Good Friday Tenebrae service of readings, psalms, and songs, while candles are gradually extinguished
Friday, April 14th 7-8 pm sanctuary,  
Co- led by Pastor Laurie and Music Director Benjamin Mertz

Palm Passion Sunday April 9, 10:00 AM, depicting the triumphant procession into Jerusalem, to the Crucifixion of Jesus.

Jesus: the “New Moses” and the Suffering Servant

The Jewish Passover and the Christian celebration of Holy Week that evolved from it, begin this week.   During this sacred time let us remember Jesus, whom Matthew saw as the fulfillment of the Hebrew prophets – the new Moses, the Prince of Peace, and yes, the suffering servant. 

This week, we remember a man.  A man…
who had dreams,
who had those dreams shattered,
who needed time to think and pray,
who knew he was likely to die for what he believed…

A man of extraordinary religious insight.  A man who did die – a cruel death.

This week,  we look at the cross, and we remember…
the betrayal of friendship and its consequences,
the casual cruelty of Roman authority and execution,
and how unreliable others proved to be in a crisis. 

This week, may we also remember that religious bigotry, cruelty and unreliability are still a part of our everyday lives.

This week then, may we learn some new precepts for living…
do not avoid contact with suffering, or close your eyes before suffering;
do not maintain anger or hatred;
do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest, or to impress people;
do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature…

This week we remember, as we journey through death into new life.

See you on Easter Sunday! Blessings, Pastor Laurie 

Palm Sunday: Upbeat turns Downbeat

Dear Ones,

When I was a child Palm Sunday was, well, Palm Sunday. Palms, hosannas, joyous music, a sort of mini-Easter.

But somewhere along the way Palm Sunday became Palm/ Passion Sunday. We began with the palms, hosanna and children singing cheerful songs to Jesus, but before long we were into betrayal and Christ’s death on the cross.

That made Palm Sunday seem like a Trojan Horse, a bait and switch device, which looked like fun and games until you unpacked it. When you did, the upbeat turned  downbeat, and the major key broke into minor. Instead of being part of the cheering crowd that was on Jesus’ side, shouting, “Go Jesus! Ride ’em!” — we found ourselves part of the crowd that shouted, “Crucify him, Crucify him.”

This was confusing.

But it was something besides confusing. It was true. We aren’t just the virtuous heroes, the good guys cheering Jesus on. We have a part in the mess,  in the awful event.  But seeing that painful truth — our part in the mess and owning it — helps us to see something else — that God’s mercy and forgiveness are poured out for all of us.

When the hosannas of Palm Sunday have faded, praise for God’s unending love and mercy is the song that keeps on singing.

Blessings and peace,
Pastor Laurie  (421-2646) revlauriemanning@aol.com

Easter Sunday at Skyline April 16

Skyline Community Church, United Church of Christ Invites Oakland Community to Attend Easter Services

Come celebrate the Spirit of Easter where we welcome ALL of God’s people. Experience fabulous music and an inspiring message with a spectacular view of the Oakland Hills.

Easter Sunrise Service: April 16, 6:30 AM:

Rise and shine to the uplifting music of the Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus! Experience sunrise from our Sanctuary which rests on the summit of the Oakland hills and has windows spanning 30 feet high! As you look out on a stunningly beautiful view listen to inspiring preaching, heavenly music and feel welcomed into the warmth of a loving progressive and inclusive faith community.

Rev. Laurie says, “The music in this service sings out about a God of love, of freedom, of liberation… and that the world is more wonderful with the great diversity of all of humanity. This is good news!”

Easter Sunday Traditional Service: April 16, 10 AM:

Skyline’s sanctuary windows overlook Redwood Park to Mt. Diablo Here we have a traditional Easter Service as a loving progressive and inclusive faith community. Rev. Laurie Manning , the choir and orchestra (directed by Puja Soto) and the people fill the sanctuary with joy, celebration and love. Today’s service will have drama, singing, prayer, and a special honor garden for loved ones. And to top it off, an Easter Egg Hunt (following service) for children of all ages: 11:30 AM.

Easter Egg Hunt: April 16, 11:30 AM:

Skyline’s traditional Easter Egg Hunt is happening RAIN or SHINE. We welcome our neighborhood families and all who would love to come to join us! Stay for refreshments and conversation following the hunt. We also welcome you to join our community Easter service at 10 AM before the hunt, if you wish. We offer a children’s program for your little ones.

Skyline Church UCC is a community faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ. We acknowledge the worth of all beings, regardless of ability, age, ancestry, family or economic status, gender, sexual orientation, spiritual path, cultural origin, or any other visible or invisible difference. We invite all who wish to enter our Sanctuary and the full life of our church family. Ours is a God of justice and compassion, and our church lives in covenant with God to do its utmost to pursue justice and compassion, as an Open and Affirming congregation.

For more information please contact our office at:

Skyline Community Church,
United Church of Christ
12540 Skyline Boulevard
Oakland, CA 94619
510.531.8212

Email Skyline Office

Jesus Wept

We continue our journey through the season of Lent in the Gospel of John.

This Sunday’s gospel includes the phrase,  “When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  When Jesus saw her weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.  He said, “Where have you laid him?”  They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”  Jesus wept. – John 11:32-35

The above passage from John contains the shortest verse in the Bible, a sentence consisting of just two words: “Jesus wept.”  He wept for all the reasons mourners weep—because he had lost his friend Lazarus, because he felt helpless, because this is a stinging encounter with the fragility of life.

Some biblical commentators express puzzlement that Jesus would weep over the death of Lazarus when he is about to restore his friend to life.  But death is painful even when we know that eventually it will be swallowed up in victory.  Grief is baptized with tears even as it enters into the promise of new life.

The shortest of sentences—”Jesus wept”—is an arresting reminder of a very big truth:  Jesus was human.  He joins us in our grief so that we join him in his victory.

May we, in this season find ourselves walking ever more closely in the journey with Jesus. 

Reminder – Congregational meeting this Sunday, April 2nd, after worship.

For our Passion and Easter Services – see the announcements below.

Blessings upon your week,

Pastor Laurie

Sanctuary Church Vote April 2

Subject:     Informational Resource to Prepare

Members to Vote on April 2, 2017

On the Resolution to Become a Sanctuary Church

Dear Friends,

Your Skyline UCC Council has resolved that on Sunday, April 2, 2017, immediately following our 10:00 service, we hold a special meeting to vote on the Resolution below:

Proposed Resolution

That the Skyline Community Church declare itself a Sanctuary Church committed to protecting, supporting and advocating for those being targeted by the current administration such as immigrants, refugees, Muslims, women, Black Lives Matter activists, Native Americans and the LGBTQ community.

As such, we share the goals of the current Sanctuary Movement:

  1. Make Visible the Invisible – giving a voice to those who have no voice – and revealing the unjust suffering of millions of families (bearing the image of God) at the hands of the immigration system.
  2. Inspire members of congregations to raise their voices to call for public policy to address the needs of these families.
  3. Heal the trauma experienced by families facing the wave of anti-­immigrant sentiment.  We will support and/or actively engage in one or more of the following activities:

Physical Sanctuary for someone facing Final Deportation:

  • Discern if your congregation would be willing to offer Sanctuary for a person facing final deportation orders in a humanitarian emergency. Most often, these are people who have been long term residents, already have children, family and community ties to the area and have exhausted all other legal options to remain with their family here in the United States.
  • By offering Sanctuary, your congregation is willing to offer physical sanctuary on religious property, as a way to protect them from the reach of ICE.  Your congregation would be supported by other congregations and community groups committing to be part of a local network of Sanctuary by assisting with hospitality, protection, and advocacy.

Accompaniment of Immigrant Families or Youth: 

Individuals and congregations can immediately help accompany immigrants in urgent situations and need of accompaniment.  This can include newly arrived migrant families, unaccompanied minors, people facing deportation crisis, those just released from detention centers.  Trained volunteers can help to provide courtroom accompaniment, access to services, and concrete and emotional support and/or transitional housing to help those in a period of crisis.

Advocacy:

  • Advocate at the Local, State and National level for policies which protect the due process of immigrants and promote their full dignity and integration into our local communities.
  • Advocating for policies which help to prevent mass deportation and fear by creating clear separation between ICE and local law enforcement and civic institutions, for example strong sanctuary city and county policies.
  • Engage in local public actions and activities to shift public discourse towards immigrants, Muslims, and refugees, and bring attention to our responsibility to address root causes.

Networks of Protection & Rapid Response

  • Join a Rapid Response Network to respond to ICE workplace raids, home raids or other enforcement activity.
  • Connect with targeted communities to help develop relationship and networks of protection.

Note:   It is not necessary to commit to or perform all of the four actions described above to fulfill the Sanctuary objectives.

In depth information has been identified by our Champions for Justice – Nancy Taylor and Mirtha Ninayahuar.   The links to this information are as follows:

This meeting is not intended to be “informational” and, therefore we are assuming that the congregation will have taken advantage of the various informational resources made available the two weeks preceding the meeting.  We will, of course, answer any lingering questions you might have.

We need to personally discern the admonition to act with compassion.

What does the Lord require of you?  But to do justice, and to love kindness, and to work humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8).

We prayerfully look forward to the April 2, 2017 Resolution Action Meeting.

David Byrens

Skyline UCC Moderator

Cultivating Balance in This Age of Unrest

Particularly now, in this age of unrest and uncertainty with the endless wave of inhumane executive orders, we can be tempted to give in to  the emotions of fear, rage, and despair.   It is so important to learn how to acknowledge all of our feelings so that we do not react, repress, or succumb to them.   It is so important to learn how to choose our response by cultivating a sense of peace within ourselves. 

We have much to learn from the great spiritual traditions of this season, especially the contemplative practices including prayer, yoga, and seated and walking meditation.  I invite you to join us for our weekly hikes, or get in touch with me about our ongoing prayer group and meditation sessions.  Also stay tuned for more Taize services coming up. 

© Kutt Niinepuu | Dreamstime Stock Photos

There are some who would dismiss these methods as passive,  escapism, and being too inwardly focused. Yet, consider the power of such leaders as Gandhi and Dr. King  who transformed society through peaceful, non violent civil resistance.  Cultivating balance is so important in this age of unrest. 

I’d like to share with you a short video to inspire you in these challenging times to cultivate mindfulness, understanding, clarity, and renewal:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/zen-and-the-art-of-activism_us_58a118b6e4b094a129ec59af?section=us_religion

Blessings upon your week. 

Immigration, Health Care, and Born Again

One of my favorite quotes is from Alexis de Tocqueville,  America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.  I believe that we are called to make America great, by making America good, by imagining what it would be like to be born again, as the most vulnerable in this world and in this country.

In religious circles there’s an overused phrase called being “born again.”   I believe that it’s time to reclaim it. I believe it’s time to ask ourselves, what would it would be like if I were born in Syria, or born in Honduras, or born into poverty in this country? What would it be like to be living in this country, as a Muslim? As an undocumented person? As a transgendered person? As a poor child of color, who’s family cannot afford health insurance or must choose between housing and education and health insurance?  

Over 65 million people are living displaced on this planet we call home; men, women and children fleeing from war, persecution, and poverty. What if we were born into such unimaginable realities?

Here in this country, the world’s wealthiest nation, prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act 47 million people were uninsured. With ACA, 20 million additional people were covered. What if we could not afford health insurance because of the circumstances we were born into? 

I am grateful to our denomination for taking an early stand in joining the ecumenical movement to safeguard the lives of immigrants and refugees. I am certain in the weeks and months to come our denomination will take a stand for affordable healthcare as well. 

I am also grateful to the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro for declaring themselves sanctuary cities; and to this congregation for entering a time of discernment about our call to advocate for those most vulnerable.

Join us this Thursday, at 7 pm at the Justice and Witness meeting to learn more about where we are in the process with the sanctuary movement.

Finally, here are a few articles about the UCC’s efforts to safeguard immigrants and refugees. 

UCC Joins Ecumenical Effort to Safeguard Immigrants and Refugees

UCC Leaders Condemn Revised White House Travel Ban