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Fold Yourself into the Dough that is Skyline with your Stewardship

Photo by Nadya Spetnitskaya on Unsplash

What a busy week at Skyline! It was full of life! 

On Saturday, our Preschool held the Annual Spring Fling to raise funds for scholarships for families; and one of the highlights was “Magic Dan” (check out his video). 


On Sunday, we honored and celebrated our children’s program director, Rev Sheryl, on her last Sunday with us, and then a group of us attended the 20th anniversary of the Oakland Gay Men’s Chorus, which includes several of our beloved members.

 (check out the videos)  




I give thanks for each one of you, and what happens with our synergy, our collective efforts, which God expands, exponentially. 

These are difficult times that we are living in – difficult for the world, for our country, and for many progressive faith communities, and the best time to give is during such times.  

I give thanks for our leaders, particularly our church council members, who are chosen by us, from among us to lead the church. 

I give thanks for what happens in Sunday worship: 

  • Will is still filling the candlestick holders
  • Sheila cuts our communion loaf
  • David Guerra adorns the communion table for the theme for worship
  • Benjamin and the choir practices
  • Greeters, like Paula, open the doors and welcome us
  • Ushers,  take up the collection and others, distribute communion
  • Karl take photos
  • Someone hosts
  • Someone volunteers to teach church school with the children 

As our moderator Steve Kilgore mentioned last Sunday, that as a congregational church we are self-governing.  This means we decide who we (as a church) want to be and what we want to do.  There is no hierarchy outside of this congregation telling us how to manifest God’s love.  We have the freedom to:

  • Reach out to the extended community with an annual  Blessing of the Animals, visits to nearby homeless shelters, bike ride fundraisers, vigils to advocate for human rights 
  • Welcome those who have been marginalized by organized religion by holding an annual LGBTQ Pride service 
  • Help those in need by supporting the Nueva Esperanza Preschool or by donating money to the local food bank
  • Advocate to keep coal out of Oakland, and fossil fuels in the ground. 

In this church, every one of us has the freedom to put forth ideas about how this church should be and proceed.  But with freedom comes responsibility.  Just as there is no authoritative power defining us, there is no benefactor supporting us. It is up to us to pay the utility bills, maintain our church property, promote our church, and help our light shine.

Ruby Bridges, civil rights leader, once said, “Don’t follow the path. Go where there is no path and start a trail.”

  • Over the next few weeks,  as you consider the stewardship you can offer this congregation, think about the trails we have cut, and those we should start together.
  • Some of us are trailblazers, others help shore up the trail. Both are needed.
  • Some of us have money,  some of us have skills, some of us have time. All are needed.
  • Especially in this year, as we honor our 50th anniversary, think about who and what YOU want this church to be, and then fold yourself in to the dough that is Skyline Community Church.
  • Your contribution is the yeast and fiber that defines this church.

Here’s the link to Skyline’s stewardship opportunities this year!  



Graduation Sunday 2019

May and June are the seasons for graduation, and so this Sunday we honor our graduates including our Children’s program director Sheryl on her last Sunday with us. 
It’s a day of sending forth, a day of mixed emotions, of joy and sadness, of holding on & letting go. A  day of recognizing, as in the beautiful words of Kahlil Gibran,   “your children are not your children, they are the sons and daughter’s of life’s longing for itself.”  http://www.katsandogz.com/onchildren.html
At the same time, it’s a recognition of the tremendous pressures on children these days, in our culture, and how it truly takes a village to raise our children.   https://rightforeducation.org/2016/07/it-takes-a-whole-village/
I give thanks to this faith community, for sharing in making these dreams a reality. 
Join us this Sunday, as we celebrate honor and support our graduates, of all ages, from our preschoolers, to our PHD students!  Bring your graduates! 
peace, Pastor Laurie 

Spring Fling Preschool Dinner and Fundraiser 2019

The Skyline Preschool Fundraiser is this coming Saturday, May 18th. There are so many great prizes this year that we are raffling off to raise funds for the school’s scholarship fund as well as general improvements to the school. Below is a listing of the prizes we have so far. 
Grand Prize # 1: Seven(7) Nights in Hawaii ($10 Blue Tickets):
Grand Prize # 2: $3,500 Disney Gift Card ($10 Red Tickets):
Grand Prize # 3: Weekend Stay in Sea Ranch ($10 Green Tickets):
In addition to the grand prize drawings, there will be several other raffle ticket items ($5 Yellow Tickets):
  • Dinner for a party of six (6) at MarketBar in San Francisco ($350 Value)
  • Dinner for a part of four (4) at Florio Bar & Cafe in San Francisco ($250 Value)
  • Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary “Cedar Enzyme Bath for Two” Gift Certificate ($178 Value)
  • Gilroy Gardens – Two (2) Single Day Admissions ($116 value)
  • Viscera Private Shopping Appointment & $100 Gift Card
  • Tutu School – One (1) Month of Classes ($100 Value)
  • AMC Movie Theater $100 Gift Card
  • Family Day Pass to the Oakland Zoo ($98 Value)
  • Trader Joes Bag of Nut-Free Snacks ($50 Value)
  • Custom Encaustic Painting by Jenn Leighton Parker ($ Value TBD)
  • Hipline Dance Classes ($ Value TBD)
  • Leather Suspenders ($ Value TBD)
  • Essential Oils Gift Basket ($ Value TBD)
  • Knudsen’s Ice Creamery $20 Gift Card
  • MOD Pizza $50 Gift Card

You’ve Been Like a Mother to Me

One of the most memorable Mother’s Day cards I’ve ever seen was one that my brother Steve gave to my mother, when he was in his early teens.  The card had a beautiful rose on the outside, and on the inside was printed these words,   “You’ve been like a mother to me”. We all laughed, especially my mother, saying, “well that’s good to know Steven, because I AM your mother”.. It’s easy to retell this story as an example of the confused thinking of a young teenager,  but I think that Steve was on to something profound..

You’ve been like a mother to me.  In other words, you’ve made space and time for me, you carry me in your heart, and you have never abandoned me. I believe in you. I trust in your love. 

Mother’s Day is complicated for so many reasons. We’ve all had, and have, such uniquely different experiences of our own mothers. And, women have all had such uniquely different experiences of being a mother, or not being a mother. Times have changed so much with respect to the roles of women, and also with respect to the understanding of what it means to “be fruitful and multiply”. Mother’s Day has become so commercialized.  And we lose sight of the amazing, life changing processes in nature that bring forth new life.  Processes  that so many of the world’s religions draw upon as a metaphor when trying to describe the experience of God creating new life within all of us. 

So this Sunday we will honor “You’ve Been Like a Mother to Me” Day.  We will seek to honor the life giving love that we’ve all experienced, and God’s creative loving energies working within all of us. 

Ee cummings writes a poem about this love, which I interpret as God’s love poem to each one of us:  

Ee cummings..  [i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Source: https://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/i-carry-your-heart-with-me-by-ee-cummings

Court Hearing Tagami Lawsuit- No Coal in Oakland

Thursday, April 25 at 3pm
Wear your No Coal in Oakland t-shirt and join us at next Thursday’s court hearing in developer Phil Tagami’s second lawsuit against the City.  

Where:  Alameda County Courthouse,  Department 18, 1221 Oak Street, Oakland. Click here for more inforation about the hearing to keep coal out of Oakland.
In November 2018, the City of Oakland terminated Tagami’s lease because he failed to meet critical deadlines for beginning construction of the rail-to-ship terminal at the former Oakland Army Base. In December, Tagami filed a second lawsuit in state court against the City asking the court to reinstate his lease, given him a two-year extension to fulfill his obligations, and for hundreds of millions in damages.  The City moved to dismiss his lawsuit and the hearing on the motion is set for Thursday, April 25 before Judge Jo-Lynne Q. Lee in Alameda Superior Court.
Please join us in the courtroom to show support for the City.  Wear your  t-shirt.  Come 15 minutes early to ensure you have a seat.  Please RSVP if you can join us.
For more information about the lawsuit, go to https://nocoalinoakland.info/tagami-sues-again/ 
or contact Catherine via the office (510-531-8212   office@skylineucc.org).

peace, Skyline Green team 

Green New Deal Support

With the unanimous support of our SCC Church Council and our UCC National Climate Justice Council, we are sharing with you a Resolution to support the Green New Deal.  It will be voted on during our NCNCC Annual Meeting in June,  with plans to send it to the UCC General Synod. The text of this Resolution can be found here.
Climate Change is a compelling moral and faith issue. The Green New Deal Resolution calls on multiple levels of our denomination to both advocate and take concrete action within and beyond our congregations for the sake of all Creation. You can read the FAQ’s for the General Synod Resolution here.
I am proud that our “brave little” church has an opportunity to be a proponent in something that matters so much. I urge you to read this resolution before church this Sunday.
We will have an opportunity to express our opinions about this after worship on Sunday, April 28th, and to discuss it after refreshments.  Please let me know right away if you would be interested in representing our congregation at the NCNCC Annual Meeting to vote on this resolution. 
Thank you!
Grace and peace,
Pastor Laurie, Skyline’s Green Team and Church Council!

The Cathedral, Jesus, and the People

Like many of you this week, I watched along with the world as the footage of flames enveloping the Cathedral of Notre Dame went viral over the internet.  At first, the images of the grand spire collapsing echoed memories of 9/11.  I couldn’t help but ask why?  Why did this happen to this Cathedral, that so embodies the confluence of beauty, majesty, faith, art, history, and human expression?  Why, on the eve of Holy week? Was it a sign? 

On the one hand, it is so heartwarming to see the universal outpouring of support and money from the world, to rebuild this church. But on the other hand, it raises more questions: 

Where is the lament,  the media attention, and the universal outpouring of support to rebuild the communities of poor people of color in this world,  whose lives are on fire? Where is the outpouring of support for the millions of black and brown people living as refugees throughout the world?  And for the millions who are being held in detention centers and prisons in this country?  And right here in Oakland, for the thousands living in tents on the streets of our cities, here, in one of the wealthiest areas in the world.  

Would there be such an outpouring of sadness, if we were remembering a young man of color, in an orange jumpsuit,  arrested for being an insurrectionist, a disturber of the peace? Whose church was not a building, but the people whom he loved and healed and to whom he brought hope: the sick, the poor, the women and children, the people of color, the outcasts, and those in prison.   A man who’s church was the ecclesia, the people, who gathered to be inspired by the stories of the prophets.  Who was executed on death row, by the military, industrial, superpower of his time?

Because this is the story of Jesus, and the Spirit of justice. It’s helpful to me to remember who and what it was that so inspired people hundreds of years ago to build such a cathedral.

On the eve of Holy Week, we remember the brutal public execution of a Palestinian Rabbi, who so embodied such beauty, majesty, faith, love and compassion for the poor and marginalized that many believed that he was the son of God. We remember a man whose life and stories, a thousand years later, inspired people to build Notre Dame Cathedral. Whose stories,  two thousand years later,  give us hope now. 

What do we do, in the face of such unanswerable questions? We remember him. We join together, and stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers, out in the streets, near the prisons, and in the homeless encampments  to pray, sing and support one another through the power of these Spirit inspired stories, to rebuild our lives and our world, bringing good news for all people. It’s what humans do, and have always done. It’s called the ecclesia, the gathered community of faith, the church. 

We invite the same Spirit that gave birth to Jesus,  inspired Jesus, and resurrected Jesus to inspire us now into the new life that God is bringing to us, and to all of Creation. Join us as we pray and sing together in this Holy Week, and as we open ourselves to the new life that God is inviting us to, even in the midst of destruction and death. 

I’m inspired that  #NotreDame has already raised almost $1 billion in pledges toward reconstruction.  I’m even more inspired to support churches  less equipped to rebuild, like the 3 Black Baptist churches destroyed by arson earlier this month.  Join me in making a donation to these congregations, today (if you haven’t already). They need to raise $1.9 million to rebuild, and so far they’ve reached just $70k.  Click here for their gofundme site. Thank you!

What Makes Your Heart Sing? All Church Retreat

Saturday May 4  10 AM – 3PM

Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church
3534 Lakeshore Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

rsvp by 4/28 with Tom Manley @  manley.tom@gmail.com so that we can plan ahead to order lunch.
Cost: Free!

What makes your heart sing? What makes you know?
That you’re in a space where you can flourish and grow?
Even if things are bad you know, it’s not really a bad thing
If you’re in a place where your heart can sing!  
(song created by Ken Medema)
click here for welcome video 
What makes our heart sing?   Scripture teaches about spiritual gifts. Discovering spiritual gifts includes creating a place, a space within and among us, where all that we are can flourish and grow.  Where each of us can be the all that we were created to be, and also be a great blessing to our community of faith, and to the world.
Internationally renowned singer songwriters Rev Dr Jim Manley, UCC pastor
and Ken Medema, founder of Brier Patch Music.
Rev. Laurie Manning, Pastor Skyline Community UCC Church
Sponsored By:
Ken Medema, The Interlude Foundation and Skyline UCC Spiritual Life Team

Volunteer at St. Mary’s Center

St. Mary’s Center

925 Brockhurst St., Oakland.  Driveway to off-street parking is on San Pablo Ave. (between 33rd & 32nd St.)

Skyline Church volunteers help provide a delicious meal for seniors and needy residents. This is part of the Food for all Ages program by Sister Marilyn Medau –enriching the giver as well as the receiver. Skyline Church has participated for many years — it’s always great fellowship, fun, and spiritually rewarding.
Participate in any of the following:

  • Meal Preparation 10:30 AM OR
  • Cleanup 2:30-3:30 PM
  • Serve Meal 1:30-2:30 PM OR
  • Provide a home-baked dessert (Apple crisp recipe available)

Contact:  Michael Armijo or  Catherine Kessler at the office – office@skylineucc.org or 510-531-8212

Palm/Passion Sunday: Emptying is Our Goal, in Order to be Filled with Life

This Sunday we enter the sacred time of Holy Week, beginning with Palm/Passion Sunday, set to Gabriel Faure’s Requiem, and a children’s drama of the Palm Procession!  The story challenges us  to choose what to hold onto and what to let go.
Buddhists talk of emptiness,  Taoists talk of emptiness, and Christian spiritual masters talk of emptiness. They mean the letting go of the selfish self,  letting go of attachment to things. The Apostle Paul said, “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who…emptied himself….to the point of death—even death on a cross.” The Passion story is all about the transforming, self-emptying that Christ calls us to undergo when he says, “ Take up your cross and follow me.”  It is not the noun, but the verb, that we need.  Not emptiness, but emptying that is our goal; letting go of one thing so another can take hold of us.  We empty of selfishness and fill with Spirit, we empty of fear and fill with love,  we empty of desire and find we have everything we need, we let go of our old narrow way of life and fill with the life that really is life.
May it be so with us, peace, Pastor Laurie