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Becoming a Congregational Sustainer

As part of our commitment to being a Sanctuary Congregation, the Justice & Witness Ministry Team made a proposal to Church Council recently that Skyline become a Congregational Sustainer by having a special offering over several weeks in January, with a goal of raising $2,000 for Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (IM4HI).

As we mark our Third Anniversary as a Sanctuary Congregation, please consider sharing some of your stimulus money (past and forthcoming) and savings throughout the Pandemic, for this offering. Please indicate “sanctuary” or “IM4HI” on your payment. It would be wonderful if we could exceed our goal!  It is a privilege to be a part of this justice-loving, compassionate and generous congregation! Read more about being a Congregational Sustainer here, from Rev. Deborah Lee…

Thank you for all the ways that Skyline UCC has been an incredible partner to IM4HI— supporting newcomer families,  advocacy, being a witness and sanctuary congregation.  I am reaching out to request one more way that Skyline can support our partnership.

IM4HI began a Congregational Sustainers program in 2019.  We currently have 40 congregations who in addition to engaging and partnering with us around the collective work of supporting newcomer immigrants, freeing folks from detention and advocating for new social policies which center people, dignity and liberation, support through the making of an annual gift or an amount that is generous to them.   This gift helps support the wider networking, training and capacity building that has really grown in the Bay Area to support congregations.  Today we have over 50 sanctuary congregations.

Congregational sustainers make a collective gift on behalf of the congregation to support the ongoing partnership and engagement supporting training, capacity building, support to directly impacted people and public advocacy.  Some congregations take a special offering, others may have an event where I or one of my staff comes to speak, others may have a budget for missions or partnerships.

Next year, we have the potential for some new political terrain.  But it is going to take a lot to make it happen. With all the damage that has been done, this is not going to be a quick fix, and it will require strong and consistent pressure. The immigrant community is going to need the faith community standing with them even stronger to stop the ongoing harms of detention and deportation.

We will meet with legislators, elevate the stories of those most impacted, organize public witness with families, undo all the harms Trump and those before him have done, until we have humane and compassionate policies towards immigrants.

Our key policy priorities are:  a) Re-opening our borders and restoration of  US and international asylum law.  b) Bringing to an end the practice of immigration detention which is an unnecessary, an ineffective deterrent and costly, to human rights and human trauma. c) Defunding ICE and protecting communities from deportation.  d) Creating a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million+ undocumented, TPS and DACA holders, so millions are not continuously vulnerable to deportation and can become full members of our society.

We will continue to advocate for those in ICE detention and state prisons during the pandemic and to elevate public health and judicial recommendations for a drastic reduction of those incarcerated by allowing people deemed safe to return to society to come home to their loved ones. We will continue to partner with and advocate for greater resources to support successful re-entry and alternatives to incarceration.

Thanks for considering this request! Thank you, though we miss being in community with you during the pandemic. We appreciate your prayers and walking with us on this journey.

I’m attaching a colorful flyer with more information about our Cong. Sustainers.  Let me know if you need any more information!

Blessings, Peace and Joy,

Deborah

Sanctuary, Solidarity, and Epiphany

It’s the season of Epiphany! I’m searching for the light of that star, especially this year, how about you?

What is epiphany? An “epiphany” is a moment of understanding, a moment of consciousness. In last Sunday’s gospel, Matthew tells us the Magi (who were gentiles [that is, non-Jews]) know something is up. They’ve been watching the night skies and a star suggests to them that something is happening in Judea, something to do with royalty. So they travel Judea and check in with King Herod. They get sent off to Bethlehem to find the child and when they find him, they have an epiphany. They realize that this non-royal, peasant child carries God’s love in a special, perhaps even unique way. Thus, Epiphany (the holiday) celebrates the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles.

But that one paragraph summary fails to capture the drama of the story. During their visit to King Herod, the Magi were ordered to report back to the king the location of the child. “And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road,” Matthew tells us.

Theology professor Dr. Serene Jones tweeted, Civil disobedience lies at the heart of the Epiphany story: The magi receive an unjust order from a vindictive tyrant. Instead, they defy him. May we do likewise.”

Our sacred stories remind us that Jesus came to stand up to the principalities and powers that abuse and neglect. Time and again, Jesus calls us to participate in this holy work. Regardless of the outcome of the elections in Georgia, regardless of the outcome of Wednesday’s certification of the Electoral College vote, that holy work will not end. The principalities and powers – in the halls of government and the halls of corporations – that abuse and neglect will continue their ugly work. And so, our Christ-like work of pursuing justice, compassion, and love will continue.

Join us this Sunday, as we continue in this season of Epiphany, with Jesus’s baptism. We are invited to remember that each one of us is God’s beloved child, and that together, as Skyline community church, we are a beloved family, building the beloved community. As part of this service, we will remember our calling as a sanctuary congregation – a renewing of our sanctuary vows, and the power of solidarity in this season of Epiphany.

We are also pleased to have with us this Sunday, my/our friend and colleague, Rev Deborah Lee, https://www.im4humanintegrity.org/our-staff/, Executive Director of the Interfaith Center For Human Integrity. https://www.im4humanintegrity.org/who-we-are/. We will learn more, during and after the service about their work and how we can be of support.

Please be sure to bring with you, a bowl of water for the renewal of our baptismal vows.

Blessings, Pastor Laurie

Still Thankful: Vespers with Skyline Church

Wednesday, November 25, 7-8 PM by Zoom

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

Meeting ID: 716 026 467

An evening of meditative songs and prayers.

On the day before Thanksgiving, in this season of separation, sadness and strife; rest in a moment of slow, beautiful gratitude, community, and hope.

An hour of interfaith readings, prayers, music, and silence.

 

Music: Ken Medema

Host and Speaker: Pastor Laurie

 

 

 

Shelter-in-Place Virtual Worship 3-22-20

IMPORTANT MESSAGE:

Out of an abundance of caution and care for our more vulnerable members, SKYLINE WILL NOT HAVE IN-PERSON WORSHIP SERVICES until further notice.

 Services are broadcast live on zoom , Sundays at 10 am

Join Zoom Meeting
https://zoom.us/j/716026467
Meeting ID: 716 026 467

links to our worship team!

Gabrielle Lochard, https://www.groupmuse.com/musicians/6295-gabrielle-lochard

Pastor Laurie Manning https://skylineucc.org/staff/ 

If you’ve never zoomed before, try logging in at 9:50 am.  

 

“The vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have”

Since last week, I have been wearing my “I voted” sticker on my Nike  “just do it” cap!
 
The “I voted” sticker reminds me of the prophetic words of John Lewis:  
 
“The vote is precious. It is almost sacred.
The vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have.”
 
Let’s exercise our faith by voting:
  • If you’re eligible to vote and aren’t registered yet to vote, you will need to do same-day voter registration. For more info, click here.
  • If you’re registered to vote and did not receive your ballot in the mail, call the Alameda County Registrar of Voters asap at 510-272-6973.
  • If you have your ballot, you can drop it by an official Alameda County Ballot Drop Box (or mail it). You can find the closest official drop box to you at this link.
 
I encourage you to review the resources shared by our Justice and Witness team chair, Nancy Taylor, and also review these sources California Council of Churches, the League of Women Voters of California, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California).
 
If you’re eligible to vote, please vote. Encourage others to vote. Pray for each other and the nation. Vote with your heart, your mind, your soul, your courage, and your faith. Voting is a civic sacrament.
 
“The vote is precious. It is almost sacred.
The vote is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have.”
 
Just do it!

“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.
https://plantingjustice.org/

 

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!