Oakland church

Holy Week Begins

Well, here we go. It’s Palm Sunday. And so Holy Week begins.

Palm Sunday used to be just Palm Sunday in many progressive churches. But now it’s Palm/Passion Sunday. People weren’t showing up for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services. They were going from the triumphant “Hosanna” of Palm Sunday to the glorious “He is Risen” of Easter Sunday without going through the horrifying “Crucify him!” of Good Friday. Sure, it was kind of sneaky. But we had to do something!

I understand the impulse. Who doesn’t want to go from glory to glory and just skip the frightening, painful, anguishing, condemning stuff in the middle?  But we can’t. It’s part of life. And how much better to go through it together; and go through it aware of God’s presence through it all.

See you this Sunday! With love, Pastor Laurie

Cantori Performs Benefit Concert: Thank You for Your Love

Sunday, March 18, we were blessed by the uplifting voices of the Pacific BoyChoir Academy’s Cantori, in a service of worship to advocate for the record breaking numbers of homeless people in Oakland. We raised over $1300 to support the charity and advocacy work of St Vincent de Paul and St Mary’s.

Beyond the fund raising, we raised awareness. One of Cantori’s choir members has asked me to serve as his mentor for a school project at Bentley advocating for the homeless. Another choir member asked me if he could join us to make sandwiches this Sunday for the homeless. Blase Bova, the Executive Director of St Vincent De Paul for Alameda County, shared with me, “I was so moved and impressed by the warmth and kindness of your congregation, and by your inclusive, uplifting, and affirming message. It was my first visit to your church but I’m sure it won’t be my last. Thanks again on behalf of St. Vincent de Paul and those we serve”.

I extend my deepest appreciation and thanks to the following people/groups:

Charles Holmes, for being the catalyst for this event.

Aiden Elenteny, his mom Adrienne

, and his grandmother Barbara, for supporting Aiden as a dedicated member of Cantori.

For the team of volunteers handing out carnations and welcoming people.

For the support of our partner organizations, St Vincent de Paul, St Mary’s, and the Interfaith Council of Alameda County.

For our “Good Samaritan” drama team!

For our amazing staff team effort, CYF director, Sheryl, organizing the drama group, Office Manager, Nancy Montier, for her publicity and outreach efforts, and Music Director Benjamin Mertz, for the joy of his amazing musical gifts, for our ushers, greeters, counters, and food preparers.

Enjoy the photos and videos below! with love, Pastor Laurie

Singing Jesus Loves the Little Children

Memorial for Don Grove

Dear Ones,
I wanted to let you know that our dear Don Grove passed away on earlier this month.

I visited with Don on Sunday after church, at the Mercy Center. He was in good spirits, joking even then, that he felt that a 600 pound gorilla had been sitting on his chest, and he was relieved that it was only a 200 pound gorilla now.  I had a chance to thank him, on behalf of all of us, for his kindness, and dedication to us at Skyline, as a loving member,  and as a talented member of our Green team. 

Don was calm, and at peace. He had just seen a grandson that had been estranged from the family for 10 years. My sense is that Don was ready.  My sense is also that his family, while sad, were prepared for his passing, and are at peace. 

Don and his family shared a “sweet tooth.”   I shared Bee Frank’s cookies from Sunday hospitality with him and his daughter and granddaughter, who in turn shared these with the care team at the Mercy Center. It was a bit like communion. 

Don was an extraordinarily kind, intelligent, curious, hardworking,  fun loving, authentic, and loving husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, friend and human being. 

I give thanks to God for his life, and for the gift of having him in our lives. On a personal note,  I will always love him. 

Cards may be sent to his daughter Barbara Grove at 353 Crestmont Drive, Oakland CA 94619. 

We will be celebrating his life here at Skyline, Saturday, April 7 at 2 PM.

with love, Pastor Laurie 

Sandwich Making for Oakland Homeless

Sunday, March 25, 12-1 PM: Sandwich making for homeless people in Oakland.  Join Pastor Laurie, Shaun Bernhardt, music director Benjamin & his boys here at Skyline in the preschool classroom area for sandwich making for people who are hungry.  A group of us will deliver these to a local encampment from 1 – 2 pm. All ages & all are welcome to join us for one or both activities. Bring your sandwich making supplies!  Contact Pastor Laurie.

High School Children Take a Stand for Safety

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Today, Wednesday, at 10 am local time across the US, students are pouring out of their classrooms into the streets for 17 minutes, holding assemblies, writing, performing and more to take a stand against gun violence. No longer will they remain silent. No longer will they wait for the adults to “do something”. Thirty thousand people a year are killed through gun violence in this country, through mass shootings, domestic violence, accidents, suicides, and other senseless violence. They know that more could be done to end the senseless violence if there were simply the moral will to do so.

I am inspired by their prophetic witness, their courage, and their brilliant organizing. May we, too, be inspired to strengthen our own resolve to work for justice.

Related to inspiration, this Sunday, March 18, we are thrilled to have with us the boy’s choir, Cantori.  Cantori is the advanced, after school choir from the award winning Pacific Boychoir Academy. They will sing beautiful selections of music in a child friendly service.  Proceeds from the service will support advocacy for homeless people in Oakland.

A friend of mine shared a poem,“School Prayer” by Diane Ackerman, with me last week and I offer to you in the spirit of our youth and of hope for our future.

                 With love, Pastor Laurie 


Faith in the Promise of New Life

This Sunday we spring forward into daylight savings time! Rise and shine! 

I’m grateful for the gentle rains, and the deep green hills, which I promise never to take for granted.   May the miraculous growth of this season inspire us in our journeys, to never lose hope in the promise of new life   This Sunday in worship we focus on the essence of this faith, love, and hope.  Enjoy this beautiful seasonal poem entitled “A Prayer for the World”, by Rabbi Harold Kushner.

with love, Pastor Laurie 

A Prayer for the World

Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations
Let the rain wash away
the memory of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out
and fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog
so that we can see each other clearly.
Let the warmth and brightness of the sun
melt our selfishness.
And let the light of the sun be so strong
that we will see all people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven. Amen.

—Rabbi Harold S. Kushner

Easter Events 2018

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.

Good Friday Service: March 30, 7:00 PM:

Our Music Director, Benjamin Mertz, and Reverend Laurie Manning lead an empowering, spiritually expansive candlelight, meditation and music service.  All are welcome.

Easter Sunrise Service: April 1, 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 1, 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 1, 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

Email Skyline Office

Movie: “Berta Didn’t Die, She Multiplied” 3-2 at 5 PM

The Center for Latin American Studies, U C Berkeley presents:

The legacy of a slain activist 

Join CLAS for a screening of a documentary on the legacy of Berta Cáceres, the indigenous Honduran environmental activist whose defense of her people’s lands successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam at the Río Gualcarque. After winning the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015, she was assassinated on March 3, 2016. 

Contact Mirtha – she can take 3 in her car, or meet at Kroeber Hall.

After the screening, there will be a discussion featuring:

· Silvio Carillo, a filmmaker, producer, and the nephew of Berta Cáceres, and

· Roxana Altholz, an international human rights lawyer, and author of the recent Dam Violence: The Plan That Killed Berta Cáceres.

All CLAS screenings are free and open to the public. No ticket required.

Friday, March 2, 5:00 pm

160 Kroeber Hall

“Time to Choose” Movie & Potluck, March 9, 7-9 PM

Skyline’s Green Team is sponsoring a movie and potluck evening here at Skyline to watch and discuss “Time to Choose”.   Oscar-winning director Charles Ferguson takes us through the challenges and opportunities of climate change. 

Bring a friend and bring some food to share! Most importantly, bring your passion for working towards local solutions here in Alameda County. 

Here are some quotes about the film:

Roger Ebert:  “Time to Choose” isn’t so much an advocacy documentary as it is an activism one, encouraging you to do something about the problem.

Stephen Holden in New York Times:  “Time to Choose” is a sobering polemic about global warming that balances familiar predictions of planetary doom with a survey of innovations that hold out some hope for the future. Full review

Here’ are some reviews: 

‘Time to Choose’ Extols Renewable Energy to Combat Global Warming

Review in Variety for ‘Time to Choose’.

Roger Ebert Reviews Time to Choose


Put on those Crash Helmets

The scene of Jesus cleansing the temple has always been more than a little bit scary for me. I think the reason is that my “turn the other cheek” version of Jesus doesn’t allow for this kind of radical behavior. This is over-the-top and scary Jesus sort of stuff. Angry Jesus, the one who turns over tables and scatters sheep or who curses fig trees,  is an unpredictable and fearsome Lord,  one who will not be tampered with, placated, or pandered to.

This is the Lord author Annie Dillard images, saying, “On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.”

She’s right!

Just in case you think this week’s gospel reading has nothing to do with us in 21st century western Christendom,  consider what moneychangers exist in our modern congregational edifices. Consider what  currency must be exchanged in order to “rightly” worship and enter the community today. We may not have doves, sheep, and cattle in the sanctuary, but what about the worship battles between organ and piano lovers, or competing capital improvement project plans that so many faith communities struggle with?  We are still at risk of falling into the trap of a currency exchange of faith.

What are we to do?  I believe that it’s about falling wholly in love,  being swept off our feet by the risen Christ and fully focused on following him.

Branding, innovating, reframing, and reimagining church is not necessarily a bad thing; in fact, it is necessary to measure how we’re doing in communicating the good news and equipping God’s people, but being church is not so much about marketing and metrics as it is about faithful discipleship. You can bet your last goat or turtledove that when we do get sidetracked, the all-consuming Jesus will start turning over a few tables and discomforting the comfortable.

Be ready. Be prepared. Put on those crash helmets and expect a miracle.