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Blessing of the Animals, 10-1-17

9-27-15-bofa-dg-rhea-dog-pink-bow-owner-2 Come and celebrate the animal companions in our lives on Sunday, October 1 at 3:00 PM!

This is our 18th annual special ceremony to honor our animal companions and acknowledge the blessings they bring to our lives. Bring your pet(s) or a picture of your pet (or even a stuffed animal) – th


is is a family event!  Refreshments provided for both pets & humans.

Afterwards, come and walk your pet through our unique labyrinth!

Watch a video from a previous blessing! And a previous year’s ABC News coverage!

All over the world lively and sacred ceremonies to bless our animal companions and honor the blessings they bring to our lives are held in the fall.  Churches of all denominations honor beloved pets around the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (Oct 4) the patron saint of animals.

Reverend Laurie Manning and Rhea Babbit of Skyline Community Church, affiliated with United Church of Christ,  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.

The ceremony is at 3:00 PM, with registration at 2:45, in the beautiful courtyard at: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)

Come one and all, with dogs, cats, hamsters, goats, parakeets, horses and more to celebrate and enjoy our animal companions.

Coming Out Sunday – Oct 15, 2017

God is still speaking,

On Oct 15 at 10 AM we are celebrating “Coming Out Sunday”.  As part of the service members of our congregation will share stories about their experience of coming out and the liberating power of love and the support of their faith communities in supporting them on the journey.  This is a warm, intimate, beautiful place of love for our community.  You are invited if you are looking for a place of spiritual belonging.

Skyline Church voted several years ago to become an open and affirming congregation.  Here’s what our national website says about this choice.

We hope to see you here to see if this is what you’re looking for.

We’ll be in the Oakland Pride parade! 2017

We’re celebrating unity with and for the LGBTQ community! It’s our annual Pride event!  Suzie will drive her great little convertible once again, decked out in style and carrying Skyline’s own “Queen Rhea”!  We have many members and friends taking part, so come visit!  The excitement is starting to build!  Here’s a map of the parade route!

Parade –  begins 10:30 AM at Broadway & 14th Street and goes to Broadway & 20th.  

Enter Festival  (see map) at these locations:  (we’re not having a booth this year)

Main Entrance: Broadway & 20th Street (exit 19th St BART Station)

Webster Entrance: Webster & 21st Street

There is almost NO PARKING at the event. It is recommended that you take BART in. You may drive (carpooling is good, too) to Rockridge BART or another BART station,  park your car there, and BART to the 19th ST. BART station the festival is right there as you exit BART.  BART back out when you leave.  BART parking is free on weekends.   Most lines go through the 19th St. station. Check a map if you’re not sure which train to take to get you to 19th St. BART station: http://www.bart.gov/tickets/calculator

Invitation to you:  On October 15, 2017 we’ll be having our annual Coming Out Sunday at our 10 AM church service.  We are an open and affirming church, and welcome you if you are looking for a place of spiritual belonging.  

The Investigation

© Nikolai Sorokin  ID 4033093

By David Guerra

I love a mystery.  

One came my way a week ago Tuesday in the form of a frightened nanny and her young charge.  She came tapping on my door just after my first cup of java.

“I’m sorry to bother you,” she said.  “But I didn’t know who else to tell.  I found something at the stop sign and I think it’s a crime scene.”

Intrigued, I followed her to the corner of our street.  There in a neat pile was a stack of photographs, financial documents, home-burned CDs, a gym membership card and an expensive-looking leather wallet, empty.  I recognized the items as something I’d seen the day before scattered on the other side of the road.  

“Looks like someone dumped it out of a car window,” I said.  “It happens all the time up here.  Thieves steal mail or parcels and then toss out what they don’t want.”

“But these are someone’s photos,” she said.  “I didn’t want to touch them, in case… well, you know.”

I picked through the pile, saturated from the neighbor’s sprinkler.  “I’ll take these home and see if I can find the owner,” I said, scooping them up.  

Soon, the hodge-podge of belongings were laid out on newspapers on my livingroom floor.  I looked at each, piecing together my investigation.  

Photographs of family members, grandpa with a grandchild.  A trip to the Sierras with teenage friends.  Records of rent collection for a property in Berkeley.  Banking statements from Wells Fargo, but no name.  

The only clue to identity was a membership to a gym franchise.  It was a long shot, but I googled the name on the card.  There was a Facebook account, with a man of color like many of the photos.  He owned a local business, so I googled that.  After bouncing around the internet for a while, I found a number his company.  I reached an answering machine.

“My name is David.  I’m trying to find Don.  This is going to sound crazy but I found a bunch of photos and a wallet which may be his on the side of the road.  I want to get them to the rightful owner.  If you know Don, please have him contact me.”

Al came into the room and examined the drying photographs. “Why is someone’s life on our living room floor?  These are analog photos.”

“I know.  They are important to someone.  They were on the side of the road.  I’m trying to find the owner.”

Three hours later, Don stood on my front deck, looking at the collection of dried photos.  He told me his sad tale.

His business van had been stolen, along with his tablet and a bunch of personal belongings.  He’d been trying to work with the police to find the van, but to no avail.  He’d lost hope of ever retrieving any of his belongings, especially the photos.  I asked him about them.

He told me the story of the teen trip to Mono Lake with his mentor, the picture of his best friend from childhood, the special car a family member purchased, over a decade ago.  He wiped his eyes and hugged me.  He showed his girlfriend the pictures.  He was especially touched that a stranger would pick up the pile, dry them and then go through the effort to find the owner.

“You’re a guardian angel,” he said as he gave me another hug.

“You had three guardian angels,” I said.  “One who collected your things and put them by the corner.  The nanny who found them and got me.  And me, who found you.”  

Mystery solved.  And to a man named Don, that was an act of kindness that he will remember for a long time.  


A time to Dream and Awaken to God’s Calling

© Maksim Shmeljov ID 2452913 | Dreamstime

It’s summer… the season of vacations, rest, and recreation.

  • A time for doing less, and for be-ing more.  
  • A time of sabbath, of sanctuary. 
  • A time to dream. 
  • A time to awaken to God’s calling within our unconsciousness. 

Join us this Sunday as we listen to the powerful stories of dreams that illuminate our lives. 

 I leave you with these beautiful quotes: 

Blessings upon your week! 

Pastor Laurie 

C.G. Jung, 20th century:  “Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” 

Pico Iyer, Falling Off the Map: Some Lonely Places of The World, 21st century:  “Finding a sanctuary, a place apart from time, is not so different from finding a faith.” 

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 19th century:  “People only see what they are prepared to see.”

Rachel Naomi Remen, 21st century:  “Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.”

“I Would Rather Be Ashes than Dust”

© Steve Baroch ID 960131 | Dreamstime

Our congregation is full of amazingly talented and multifaceted individuals. One of them, Rod Repke, known to many as “Brother Rod”, recently shared with me a beautiful tribute that he wrote in honor of a beloved friend Fred, who recently died. With Rod’s permission, I am sharing an excerpt of his reflections, because they have universal meaning for all of us about how we live our lives and how we consciously use our precious time.

Blessings and see you on Sunday! Pastor Laurie  
You know folks…

If you go down to Jack London Square, there is a life size bronze statue of Jack London there down near the water, just across from Scott’s.  It’s a very dynamic statue—right hand in the air—necktie flapping—he’s almost jumping off the pedestal!  And if you stand in the right spot, his eyes will directly connect with yours  almost as tho’ he’s looking into your soul—or maybe you are looking into his…\
On the base of this statue are the words :

I would rather be ashes than dust.
 I would rather that my spark should burn out 
    in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
 I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom 
    of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
 The function of man is to live, not to exist.
 I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.

Well…I wouldn’t call Fred a “superb meteor”  but  he always kept active irrespective of his medical problems.  He did a lot of stuff that would never even cross my mind—like kayaking on the upper Sacramento once—or more recently snorkeling somewhere in the Caribbean Sea where, as fate would have it, his meteor splashed down—you might say “He died with his boots on”.

Yes indeed…I would rather be ashes than dust


I’ve known Fred and Kathy for a long time—maybe 30 years?  I think we both came to work for Cal/OSHA about 1980 or so.  Sometimes we worked together—other times we worked in different units in Cal/OSHA.  We never went on trips or anything like that together but we’ve spent many a pleasant evening at that old Victorian on Yosemite Street or going to dinner on Piedmont Avenue or someplace—or Freight & Salvage for Bluegrass—and Golden Gate Park once I remember—and of course the occasional office party…

Fred wasn’t born in Colorado but he was raised there and considered it his home turf:

Like Paradise upon this Earth 
Its Wonders to behold…
A  Gateway to the Wilderness
Where all my Dreams unfold…
The changing of its colors
As the clouds go floating by…
Above the Rocky Mountains in 
The Colorado Sky.

The mighty river flowing 
In The Valley of the Pine…
The Shooting Star in meadows on
A summer’s day so fine…
The Forest is alive with Song—
I watch the Bluebirds fly, 
Above the rugged landscape in 
The Colorado Sky.

The seasons change so quickly 
Yet its precious soul remains
As Wind does bring the Snowfalls there
Upon the mighty Plains…
To see the Snow-capped Mountains
With their peaks that reach so high,
Beneath the Fiery Sunsets in
The Colorado Sky.

Good Morning Fred, wherever you are…

UCC Approves Resolution on Climate Change

The United Church of Christ General Synod 2017 has just overwhelmingly approved the Climate Resolution calling on clergy and congregations across the denomination to take action to protect the environment, and churches are lining up to stand behind it publicly.

 Thank you to  Skyline, to our  NCNCUCC conference,  and to our UCC General Synod, for their  full support for this resolution. We stand with the rest of the world and commit ourselves to protect and defend the earth for the generations to come, because we are called to be lovers of creation.

Rev. Laurie  Manning  is  the NCNCUCC  conference rep for climate justice,  and a member of the UCC Council on Climate Justice.  She has already planted a sign in front of her church in support of the resolution and the Paris Climate Accord. “This sign expresses who we are now and how we pledge to live.”

Churches interested in the sign can download it here.

Barack Obama Prayer for Unity, Compassion, Justice

In honor of July 4 weekend, I want to lift up an excerpt of a presentation given by former President Barack Obama at the 2016 national prayer breakfast.  It is a prayer for our country that I believe is particularly relevant now. 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  I pray that by His grace, we all find the courage to set such examples in our own lives —  not just in the public piety that we profess, but in those smaller moments when it’s difficult, when we’re challenged, when we’re angry, when we’re confronted with someone who doesn’t agree with us, when no one is watching.  I pray,  that our differences ultimately are bridged; that the God that is in each of us comes together, and we don’t divide.  

I pray that our leaders will always act with humility and generosity.  I pray that my failings are forgiven.  I pray that we will uphold our obligation to be good stewards of God’s creation — this beautiful planet.  I pray that we will see every single child as our own, each worthy of our love and of our compassion.  And I pray we answer Scripture’s call to lift up the vulnerable, and to stand up for justice, and ensure that every human being lives in dignity.

Blessings to all who love you, on this weekend when we’ll remember who we are called to be; as individuals and as a nation, at our best.

with love, Pastor Laurie

“There is a Crack”

Leonard Cohen, the legendary 82-year-old Canadian poet and singer, is well-known for a set of powerful lyrics from his song “Anthem”. The message of hope in darkness is particularly striking for many: in our personal lives, as communities of faith, and in the months following the US election:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

This Sunday we will reflect on the transformative and healing power of Divine love and the gift of being broken open so that the light can get in. Join us for an inspiring worship service, an engaging interactive annual meeting, and a delicious lunch; all within the context of allowing the Light to guide our way.

Our denomination’s Northern California Nevada conference, otherwise known as NCNCUCC unanimously passed Skyline’s emergency resolution on climate justice, which was written in response to Donald Trump pulling out of the Paris Accord. The resolution was presented by Pastor Laurie, the environmental justice rep for our conference.  

We will share more details this Sunday! Special thanks to our church Council, and to our Green team!

Skyline  Environmental Resolution Vote on 6/25

Last week President Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords.  In response, the UCC President, Rev. John C. Dorhauer, asked Rev Jim Antol, Massachusetts conference minister and environmental justice advocate, to write an emergency resolution, “The Earth is the Lord’s Not Ours to Wreck” , to take a stand as the UCC denomination. 

The resolution was the topic at the monthly National Environmental Justice conference call June 7  (that Pastor Laurie attended as the NCNCC Rep). Laurie was inspired by her role as the Environmental Justice Rep to bring this resolution to the NCNCC Regional Conference next weekend so Northern California could take an active, grass roots role in support of it at General Synod. In order to submit a resolution to a conference a church can sponsor it, so she sent her idea to Skyline’s Council this week, proposing that Skyline Church sponsor the resolution at the NCNCC Conference.  Since there’s not time for a congregational vote before the NCNCC Regional Conference, the church Council leaders voted to support the resolution and that we ratify this “after the fact” by a congregational vote at our annual meeting on 6/25.  It does not ask for any financial commitment.

Thank you Skyline, for your leadership in environmental justice.

Skyline Council