Oakland church

Re-Opening Skyline – Safely and Inclusively

Can you believe it? It’s week 8 of SIP here in Alameda County.

So many of us in this country are engaged in the question, when will we open up again? How will we do so in a way that keeps us all safe?  As states begin to open again and restaurants welcome patrons, offices reopen, and churches begin holding in-person activities, the question we face is: Who will we leave behind?

COVID-19 is with us until we have a vaccine or cure. Some of us are more vulnerable to being killed by this virus if we contract it. As a nation, we are caught between the tension of restarting our economy and risking the spread of COVID 19, that has already killed over 80,000 people in our country, disproportionately poor people of color. How do we re-open in a way that keeps all of us safe and leaves no one behind?

It’s a particularly challenging question for Skyline as a faith community. The Skyline community, like many protestant churches, is older and most at risk. How do we open the church and carry on knowing that our oldest members, already struggling to engage new technology, will be left out of important moments of being a community together? Who will we leave behind? I’m reminded of how often Jesus promised: I will not abandon you, whether you’re a lost sheep, or an orphan. Let’s not leave anyone behind!

It’s also a particularly challenging question for Skyline as a small church, that also owns a preschool and offers our venue for rentals and weddings. The challenges of maintaining social distancing and sanitary conditions will be formidable in such gatherings. How do we plan to open up in a way that maximizes the safety of us all, and balance this with our economic reality that most of our revenues come from our preschool and weddings?

I don’t have an easy answer for us, as a country or as Skyline. We are continually monitoring the guidelines from the CDC and local Alameda County health department for both church and preschool openings.

But I do have faith that we can do this if we engage in this process together. You’re invited to consider the gifts that you have in this important conversation. Get involved!

As we begin reopening, let us do so with deep compassion and measured patience. We have much to learn about how to be together right now. Let’s make sure we discern the way forward together.

 

“Suppressed: the Fight to Vote” Film, Discussion by Zoom

Wednesday, June 17th at t 7 pm – Zoom movie night!
 
   Many of us have read about the ongoing chaos in the primaries in states like Georgia, which threaten to be a preview of what’s to come in the Nov elections.
 
Relatedly, we will watch an outstanding 40 minute film, entitled Suppressed: The Fight to Vote, the new documentary by Robert Greenwald (Director of Outfoxed, Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price, and Making A Killing: Guns, Greed, & the NRA) weaves together personal stories from voters across the state of Georgia to paint an undeniable picture of voter suppression in the 2018 midterm election where Stacey Abrams fought to become the first Black female governor in the U.S.  

Access to voting impacts justice for all people, and life itself on this planet, especially the most marginalized.
Meeting ID: 822 412 861
 
If you don’t have time to join us for this viewing, I encourage you to watch it on your own HERE.
 

We will then discuss ways that some of us at Skyline are fighting voter suppression including sending postcards to those who have possibly been dropped from the voting files.

Bible Study

Pastor Laurie’s virtual Bible Study
Tuesdays.  10:30 – 11:30 am.
Zoom link:  https://zoom.us/j/901784352
Meeting ID: 901 784 352 One tap mobile
Dial in by phone 1-669-900-9128

 

 

Ways to Support for Our Immigrant Communities

Dear Skyline Family,

The immigrant communities are facing an especially hard time during the pandemic but there are many community organizations coming together to help. As Skyline Church is a Sanctuary Church, the Justice and Witness team would like to offer ways to support the communities that we have been accompanying. Thank you for sharing with those among us who are in so much need.

The Maya Mam in Oakland organization is helping coordinate food distribution to the Mam community, including the Nueva Esperanza Preschool families. The Mandela Partners and the Alameda Food Bank have been providing food for distribution at Iglesia de Dios, Mam Church at 4500 International Blvd. Henry Sales, organizer, says they haven’t been able to get fruits, chicken, rice, beans, eggs, and milk. He’s working to partner with other organizations, as well  as getting a nonprofit designation. Monetary donations will be used to buy food for distribution and  materials (masks, gloves, and sanitizer) for volunteers. On-line donations can be made HERE.

If you prefer to write a check, please contact Mirtha through the church office, office@skylineucc.org.

The Centro Legal de La Raza, along with six community partners, created the Oakland Undocumented Relief Fund for Oakland immigrant workers who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Donations can be by check or online HERE.

Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity has set up a Migrant Emergency Fund which helps recently arrived immigrants, formerly detained and incarcerated folks, and other immigrants encountering urgent survival needs due to the severe economic impact of COVID-1.   

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant continues to support clients by phone, providing up-to-date information about their legal cases and social services. Action items to support the immigrant population are listed on their website.  

Save the date for a zoom discussion on Monday, May 18th at 7 pm with Pastor Laurie,  Nancy Taylor and myself! More details to follow!

Join Zoom Meetinghttps://zoom.us/j/241524878  Meeting ID: 241 524 878, or call 510 421 2646

Thank you! Mirtha N., co-chair, Justice & Witness

The Feminine Face of God

This Sunday we recall the feminine face of God, Sophia (wisdom), often missing in religion. We need wisdom in this liminal time. May we be blessed with the birth of a new collective consciousness in all of our relationships and our interdependence with all people, with all of life, including our mother, the earth.

We will hear stories from various traditions, including Matthew Fox’s scientific poetic re-telling of the Genesis story, and a MiWok poem about our home, told to us by local environmentalist and story teller, Mary Ellen Hill.
 
This will be a child friendly service! Join us!!

Becoming Something New

Photo by Andrew Claypool on Unsplash

The wondrous transformation from the caterpillar into the new life as a butterfly includes the cocooning season, where your body literally becomes mush. You disintegrate. You lose shape. You lose everything that defined you as a caterpillar. You become goo. In meaningful ways, you die to what you were.

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

But here is the miracle: inside that deathly mush are imaginal cells. These cells hold the vision of a future within them. When all seems lost and nothing that was known can be known as it was, the imaginal cells give us the vision for moving forward. They know that with the right conditions and a little time, a butterfly waits to be born.

Some of us these days, feel like mush right now. We are messy, fragile, unprotected, insecure, unrecognizable, disoriented, developing, transforming, imaginal beings. We are in that liminal space between what was and what can be. Our becoming something better on the other side of this is not guaranteed. But with the right conditions, with the awakening of people to the beauty of our planet and the intimacy of our connection to everyone and everything, we have the chance to become something new.

 If ever there was a time for us, to become the new creation that God is calling us into, it is now, and I am grateful that we are together on this journey into new life.

Photo by Doug Kelley on Unsplash

 

Children’s Time Zoom!

This Sunday, May 3 11:30 AM

Here’s what’s in store:

  • Story Time: Enriquita learns how to be kind to others — even though she can’t go outside  
  • Jokes Junction: Get ready to laugh (or groan!) at these corny jokes!
  • Art Sharing Time: Show us art that you’ve made this week or print and solve our a-MAZING pictures at our coloring pages. Click the link, print and get creative! 
  • After Service Family Chat: We’ll have a time of sharing to catch up and connect with children and families.

Children’s Time Zoom Meeting Sunday, at 11:30 a.m. (PST)
https://zoom.us/j/241524878

God is with us through this Storm

These are days in which we feel tossed about by the rough winds and waves, like boats at sea. These are times of change, loss and confusion. And times of living with so many unanswered questions: When do we open?  Do we stay home? Will my job be there when this is over? Will my child be going to school in the fall? Will I run out of money this month? Can my family help me if I should need it? What will I do if I get sick and don’t have insurance?

It’s hard to find our bearings, hard to predict the winds, and hard to see the shore.  Life feels adrift, and while we are sharing the experience of disorientation, we are not all experiencing the same vulnerabilities. We are in this together, but our journeys are uniquely our own.

I am grateful to ride out the winds and waves together. My comfort comes not in an expectation that God will perform some great miracle, but that God is with us through it all. We can trust this journey because we are not alone.

I recently read a piece that conveyed this sense of isolated connection that I’ve been experiencing: 

I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked, and mine might not be.

Or vice versa.

For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflections, of re-connection, easy in flip-flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial and family crisis.

For some that live alone, they’re facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest, and time with their mother, father, sons and daughters.

With the $600 (US) weekly increase in unemployment, some are bringing in more money to their households than they were working.

Others are working more hours for less money, due to pay cuts or loss in commissioned sales.

Some families of four just received $3400 from the stimulus package, while other families of four saw $0.

Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter, while others were concerned if there would be enough bread, milk, and eggs for the weekend.

Some want to go back to work because they don’t qualify for unemployment and are running out of money. Others want to kill those who break quarantine.

Some are at home spending two to three hours a day, helping their child with online schooling, while others are doing the same on top of a 10–12 hour work day.

Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it, and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it.

 

Others don’t believe this is a big deal.


Others say the worst is yet to come.
Some have faith in God and expect miracles this year.

We are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.

Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, actually seeing.

We are all on different ships during this storm, experiencing a very different journey. — Unknown Author

Earth Day Began 50 Years Ago – Video of Skyline’s Virtual Celebration

Here’s a video of our Earth Day Celebration!  Skyline honored this special Earth Day with music, stories, and tree planting on the beautiful campus of Skyline church in Oakland, using Zoom.   Skyline is a green congregation.  

We were honored to have Mary Ellen Hill, Storyteller and teacher, Pastor Laurie, Catherine Kessler, and more. 

Earth Day at Skyline, Bay Area, and U.S.

The 50th anniversary of Earth Day is this Wednesday, April 22nd! It’s no coincidence that it coincides with the 50th anniversary of our beautiful sanctuary, high on the Skyline ridge overlooking the East Bay Regional Parks.  Please join us as we honor Earth day, this Wed at 12 noon, with storyteller Mary Ellen Hill.  

Here are more events, suggestions, and actions for our anniversary:

  1. Encourage your children to learn about Earthday in this video with Mirabelle the Fairy.
  2.  Enjoy the photos of our redwood tree planting! 
  3. Review this outstanding primer from the UCC on Love of Creation, Climate Change sabbath toolkit.
  4. Also join us for this 3 day “Earth Day Live” live stream, detailed below, and featuring Al Gore, Bill McKibben Rep AOC and so many others.

Back in the fall, plans were being made to pack Earth Day and the following two days with rallies, protest, and nonviolent direct action. With the pandemic, those plans have had to change. Gathering in groups is simply too dangerous for our communities. Now, the actions have gone online.

Here’s an overview of what’s happening each day:

  • April 22 – STRIKE: On the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we will demonstrate our collective power and unity through community building and storytelling. This first day will focus on amplifying the voice of Indigenous leaders and youth climate activists who are leading the movement to halt the climate crisis.
  • April 23 – DIVEST: The world’s largest banks have pumped $1.9 trillion into fossil fuels since the 2015 Paris Agreement. We can’t let fossil fuel companies use the pandemic to loot trillions more when people need relief so desperately. Led by the Stop the Money Pipeline Coalition, April 23 focuses on the role of money in driving the climate crisis.
  • April 24 – VOTE: We need leaders who will address the existential threat of climate change, and for this to happen, we need people to show up at the polls. Led by the US Youth Strike Coalition, April 24 will focus on the urgency of political change through a nationwide youth voter registration day.

This is all being done online. You can go to the Earth Day Live website to sign up for emails with details about this 3-day live stream and online mobilization. The live stream will include training sessions, performances, and appearances to keep people engaged, informed, and inspired, with speakers including celebrities, politicians, scientists, and youth activists.

Earth Day in California

There are also a whole series of online events happening in California. You can access a pretty comprehensive list of those here. And here is info about some Bay Area events:

April 22: Climate Strike – stories, indigenous voices

April 23: Divestment day – Stop the Money Pipeline

April 24: Political action & voter registration

Bonus Day – Saturday, April 25: Post-Earth-Day Virtual Party

I hope you’ll participate in some of these wonderful events designed to help us celebrate Earth Day and to encourage our continued commitment to caring for the earth.

May we continue to rise up in the Spirit of Easter!
Pastor Laurie