Oakland church

Skyline Community Church – Reaching for the Sky!

Article by Reverend Laurie Manning

Last Sunday, September 25th, on behalf of Skyline, I was invited to speak as part of the Alameda County Community Food Bank’s (ACCFB’s) annual “Savor the Season” fundraiser, held at Wente Vineyards in Livermore. It was the Food Bank’s largest annual fundraiser, and is critical in this current economy, where so many people are in need.

The 400-person audience included representatives from the Food Bank’s major corporate and non- profit sponsors, from Chevron to Clorox, volunteers and major donors who took part in live and silent auctions. Dave Clark, morning news anchor from KTVU, MC’d the event (…and, I am shamelessly sharing with you, that Dave Clark publically declared three times, “I love Pastor Laurie!”)

Joining me were some of Skyline’s leadership, including Paula and Dave Byrens, Suzie Harris, and Kay Gilliland.

In my talk, I presented Skyline as the little church (with the little pastor) in the big city of Oakland, wanting to make a big difference, especially now in this tough economy – where one in six people don’t have enough money to buy healthy food. I invited people to picture them: families with children (one in four are below the CA poverty level, disproportionately people of color),  working people whose paychecks just don’t stretch to the end of the week, elderly folks on fixed incomes. I explained how much we love the work of the Food Bank and for years have made a difference through volunteering, hosting food drives and preparing and serving meals in many affiliated soup pantries. I explained how we had recently been blessed with a generous bequest of a donor with simple instructions: Contribute to a cause that’s making a big difference in Alameda County, especially now. I explained how the choice was easy and obvious for us – to support the Food Bank. Here is an excerpt from my speech:

“We didn’t want it to be that easy.  Simply providing the gift was not enough for us: We hoped for a bigger miracle. We realized that the gift itself was meaningful, but had the potential to inspire others, and make an even bigger impact.  So, we decided we would try to double it – through you.  We decided we wanted to multiply the loaves of bread, fish, fresh carrots and broccoli the gift would provide.

So instead of simply handing over a check, we set out to inspire and challenge you, the wider community:  For every dollar you contribute through Savor the Season, Skyline will match that dollar, up to $25,000.  That’s at least $50,000 — the equivalent of one quarter of a million dollars’ worth of food distributed, thanks to the Food Bank’s purchasing power.   That’s the miracle we’re hoping for.

Especially in these tough times, we can become discouraged, and doubt that we can make a difference, to make things better. I’m here to tell you that you can. Each one of us can make a difference, One person at a time… our actions have power. Our actions have a rippling effect. We’re hoping to multiply that effect by acting together.  Together, we can end hunger, here in Alameda County. Together, we can change lives for the better, especially for children.

Join us, in widening the circle of all those who can savor this season together. Join us in being part of this little story about making a big difference. Join us in being of this miracle.”

And join us, they did! Let me continue with my shameless sharing: My talk was scheduled before the live auction. As the live auction began, the auctioneer asked, “Is Pastor Laurie still here?” I was of course, so I raised my hand. She then read the following note from an anonymous donor at the event: “Based on Pastor Laurie’s presence and powerful message, we are adding another $10,000 to Skyline’s challenge. So bid generously and bid often.”

In effect, this grew our initial matching pledge of $25,000, to $35,000 in a matter of a moment. I am pleased to tell you, that not only was this matching challenge met – it was far exceeded. When the event was over, we were informed that the Savor the Season Campaign, of which Skyline Community Church’s matching challenge, was a central piece, netted a lot!

Are you ready for the drum roll? The campaign netted $293,000, or the equivalent of almost $1.5 million worth of food distribution, thanks to the Food Bank’s purchasing power.

Kathryn Weber, Corporate Partnerships and events coordinator for ACCFB wrote to me, “While the actual dollar amount that was generated by the match is hard to quantify, we believe that all of those paddles (bids) that were raised during the Hunger Fighter portion of the auction were a direct result of your presence and powerful message!  Your initial $25,000 challenge (and the additional $10,000 challenge you inspired) have been matched. It was a wonderfully powerful afternoon and I know that everyone in the audience felt inspired by the “little pastor from the little church” and the BIG impact that you have made in our community!”

As your pastor, I’m pleased to tell you that each one of us is a part of this miracle. We are a small church making a big difference, right here in Oakland, widening the circle of care, because there is enough for all of us!

Thank you, Skyline Community Church!

Pastor Laurie

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