Oakland church

Let Justice Roll Down: Skyline and NCNC bringing Green New Deal Resolution to Conference

Hi dear ones,

Was it hot enough for you earlier this week? Yikes! 98 degrees here in San Leandro as I type this!    Inevitably we’re all talking about the weather this week.    On Monday I had a chance to sit outside in the 95 degree heat with my friend Matthew Hobbie, visiting from Alaska, who proclaimed, “This Alaska snowman is melting”. We discussed the heat and global warming, and how the evidence of climate change is indisputable in Alaska, even with the heavy influence of the petrol industry! 

I shared stories about our recent trip to Paradise, and what a terrifying experience it was to see this beautiful town still reeling from the Camp Fire devastation from last year.  Global warming is real, and our denomination is taking a bold stance to support the Green New Deal (GND) this week at our annual conference meeting. 

Thank you Skyline for voting to endorse this resolution! 

LET JUSTICE ROLL DOWN — DECLARING SUPPORT FOR THE GREEN NEW DEAL AND AFFIRMING THE INTERSECTIONALITY OF CLIMATE JUSTICE WITH ALL JUSTICE ISSUES

Thanks to Rev Jim Antol, recently retired conference minister from MA who serves as special advisor on climate justice to GM and is President of UCC, who wrote this UCC resolution.  It certainly gets the award for the longest title of any resolution passed by the UCC!  It’s been submitted by 4 conferences within UCC:  Vermont, Pacific Northwest, New York, and New Haven Association of Connecticut.  Other conferences like ours are seeking to endorse this.  Before we get into the UCC resolution – I want to clarify what the GND, HR 109 is and is not.

What the congressional GND isn’t:

  • It is not legislation – it’s a resolution, but people tend to mix those up
  • It is not a proposal for laws to be passed

What the congressional GND is:

  • It marks the 1st time that Congress has been presented with an opportunity to act on climate change by taking a vote that recognizes the scope of the challenge , the urgency of the crisis,  the intersectionality of the numerous justice issues that are amplified by climate change
  • It is the opportunity to act on climate in a way that also addresses racial injustice, economic injustice,  and the need to create clean healthful, and family supporting jobs that our planet needs,
  • It is the opportunity to deploy solutions that address all of these moral challenges
  • Again, just be clear while the green deal resolution is a declaration of aspirational equipment it’s not legislation.

Here are 3 reasons why the UCC should endorse the GND.

  1. GND addresses the most important justice issues that the UCC has been committed to for decades. It demands that the federal government address injustice of climate change in a way that also tackles the systemic injustices that disproportionately affect vulnerable and front-line communities including racial injustice, economic injustice and the need to create clean helpful and family supporting jobs that our planet needs.  
  2. The second reason is that the GND acknowledges the necessity of assuming moral responsibility for intergenerational harm caused by the failure to act on climate change and the urgency of acting on a comprehensive scale to reduce the catastrophic future that the next generations will inherit.
  3.  GND offers tangible hope in the face of threats that are becoming more and more real to more people in the US and throughout the world.  Or, to put it another way, it’s up to us to transform these threats into opportunities; to create fair paying jobs, secure clean air and water, redress manifestations of environmental racism, and pursue a just transition to clean and renewable energy. And we can do this!

So how will the UCC act on this enforcement? Here I’m essentially explicating what are the “be it resolved” portions of resolution.  The resolution declares that the whole of the church accepts the moral responsibility that comes with living at such time as this, and we accept that moral responsibility by undertaking the following actions:

  1. standing up for science and continuing to learn from new science
  2. discussing climate change with increasing frequency at church, home and in social encounters
  3. telling others that we already have all the technology we need to achieve the goals of the GND
  4. incorporating into our worship life and community leadership an awareness of climate change, its consequences especially for vulnerable and front-line communities, and make the changes science says we must and technology says we can
  5. helping our communities to be more prepared for extreme weather events and to become a resource
  6. lifting up the reality of millions of people, regardless of their political affiliation or resolve to support the GND
  7. paying attention and engaging federal state and local agencies as advocates for policies and legislation that advance the goals of green new deal including its commitment to address systemic injustice, that disproportionately affects front-line vulnerable communities.
  8. and finally advocating for a just transition for all those workers and communities most dependent on fossil fuel energy so that they also have opportunities for clean, healthful, family supporting jobs that heal our planet.

If this resolution passes the UCC will be the first national denomination to endorse the GND.  In this way, this vote would become yet another example of our UC C motto, that many of us like to remind people of, “we’re not radical, we’re just early”.

Now is the time for our denomination to add to the long list of UCC firsts by signaling to the world, that:

  • the earth is God’s-it’s not ours to wreck.  
  • the urgency of this crisis demands immediate action
  • the scope of this challenge requires us to transform our economy on a scale with no historic precedent
  • that we can only solve the climate crisis if we also address racial justice, economic injustice and the need to create clean healthful and family supporting jobs that heal our planet.
  •  that we already have at our disposal all solutions we need to address all of these moral challenges

Yes, the GND is aspirational but who among us does not share the aspirations of our children and grandchildren to extinguish the fire that is now consuming the world into which we were born. We can do this and we will !

                                    Blessings, Laurie 

“Unless the heart catch fire…”

This Sunday we are celebrating Pentecost!  Early on in the service, to honor the diversity of people from all over the world, I will invite people to greet each other, speaking  in various “tongues” besides English.  Please, come and open us to new ways of saying, “Good morning!” “How are you?”  In anticipation of the power of this Sunday, I am reminded of the words of William Blake: 

Unless the eye catch fire, God will not be seen.

Unless the ear catch fire, God will not be heard.

 Unless the tongue catch fire, God will not be named.

 Unless the heart catch fire, God will not be loved.

 Unless the mind catch fire, God will not be known.

May we all be kindled in the fire of God’s love!  with love, Pastor Lauri

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). 

https://vimeo.com/337400196

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)  

https://vimeo.com/337396238

https://vimeo.com/337395463

https://vimeo.com/337396023

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

Labor Day and Immigrant Rights Day as a Sanctuary Community

When the alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:33-34

May is here. May 1st marks, for many people of the world, International Workers Day, also known as Labor Day, a time of honoring and advocating for laborers and working class people.  Relatedly, May 6th is Immigrant Rights Day to champion the rights and contributions of immigrants as a vital part of our country, especially here in California and in Oakland.  

Celebrations on May 1 have long had two, seemingly contradictory meanings. On one hand, May Day is known for maypoles, flowers and welcoming the spring. On the other hand, it’s a day of worker solidarity and protest. Though the U.S. observes its official Labor Day in September, many countries will celebrate Labor Day on Wednesday.   I’d like to share with you an article that reflects on the bloody history of this day.
 
Come and learn more about how we can become better friends and advocates as a sanctuary congregation and a justice faith community.  For example, supporting the children of Guatemala and their families through the Nueva Esperanza preschool; advocating for those held in detention centers and for children separated from their parents at the borders; and advocating for living wages, affordable housing, education and healthcare for all people.
 
with love, Pastor Laurie 

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!

Earth Day – “I come into the peace of wild things…”

It’s Monday, Earth Day, and it’s a glorious spring afternoon. I am sitting in the Garden of Eden which exists in my back yard; as the warm sun kisses my shoulders through the shade of graceful redwood and bay trees, and my senses are filled with the fragrance of roses and trees.

It was Wendell Berry who wrote: 

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

All of us who know that all is not as it should be in the world, and it is easy for despair to grow-yet today, Earth Day, we remember our interconnection with Earth and with one another, while pledging to make a difference in how we live, work, and worship.

I give thanks that I am part of a faith community and a denomination that embraces God’s calling to us as active participants in caring for this Garden of Eden.

Join us this Sunday as we are blessed by the music of the Pacific Boychoir Academy, and learn more about how we are advocating for the Green New Deal!