Reverend Laurie Manning
The Reverend Laurie J. Manning joined Skyline Church in 2006. She holds respective Master’s degrees from Union Theological Seminary (Columbia U), Harvard University, and the University of Michigan. Prior to serving Skyline church, Laurie also served on the staffs of:
- Hillcrest Congregational Church
- First Congregational Church in Berkeley
- Riverside Church in New York City
Laurie has also served on the University Religious Council of Churches at UC/Berkeley to foster greater support and understanding of religious differences within the student and faculty body. This position included Christianity in dialogue with other faith traditions, such as Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and other faiths.
Prior to her ordination, Laurie worked in various management capacities for Hewlett Packard’s Medical Products division, and then as a consultant with high technology and medical clients. Laurie brings a solid understanding of the psychological and organizational complexities of living as a Christian in today’s pluralistic and scientific world.
Learn more about Rev. Laurie officiating at your wedding, baptism or memorial.
Benjamin Mertz, Music Director
Benjamin is a native of New Jersey, where he grew up in the music of a multicultural church in the city of Paterson. Steeped in a culture of jazz, rhythm & blues, and gospel music, he also studied classical piano and began directing choirs at age seventeen.
By twenty he moved to California, became more deeply involved in church music, musical theater, and performance. He has showcased everything from Bach to Stevie Wonder, and over the last decade has made a particular study of the Negro Spiritual. His children Isaiah and Sammy are six and three years old, and their mother Alison is a lifelong social worker and currently an MSW student at UC Berkeley.
Benjamin joins us at Skyline following six years of teaching music at the high school level. As a choir director, Benjamin is interested in creating a fun, safe environment for choristers. He invites singers between the ages of ten and one hundred to join our choir, regardless of musical background or expertise. Music in a church setting is about helping us connect to God and one another. Excellence in music is created through passion, joy, and commitment, not with sight reading or music theory. More about our music program.
Feel free to join the choir during rehearsal at 8:30am every Sunday morning.
Learn more about Benjamin singing or playing at your wedding ceremony.
Children, Youth, & Family Director
Sheryl Johnson is an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada who moved to Berkeley in 2016 to begin a PhD in Theology and Ethics at Graduate Theological Union. Her research involves ethical analysis of economic decisions being made by mainline churches as they experience the pressure of decline. She has many years of experience primarily in children, youth, campus, and social justice ministries, mostly in Toronto, and served most recently at Fairlawn Avenue United Church where she was privileged to have the opportunity to completely re-design their program into Spirit Space, a multi-sensory, multi-age, choice-based program that kids and families both really loved! In her spare time, she loves exploring the beautiful Bay area with her spouse Kelly, also a minister and PhD student. She is excited to get to know the Skyline congregation and create a caring, dynamic ministry together!
Children, Youth, & Family Assistants
Alegra (Al) Figeroid
Melissa Vee has over ten years of experience in the hospitality industry. She has a degree in Business and a Meeting & Event Planning Certificate from San Francisco State University. She has worked in all aspects of the industry; for private clubs, venues, restaurants in and around Bay Area, as well as a number of private events. Prior to joining Skyline Church, she served as an Event Manager at a corporate company in Oakland. She has years of experience working at Hartmann Studios and was one of the main Wedding Coordinators for a popular wedding app in Silicon Valley. Melissa also planned many private weddings and events on her own. She often jests that the demands of these events have prepared her most for what she does today.
Melissa has strong communication skills geared towards both event leadership and providing outstanding customer service. She is passionate about her clients and building meaningful relationships. Melissa is a valuable team member. She works hard to ensure wonderful and memorable weddings and other special events.
Melissa resides in Oakland with her beautiful daughter. Melissa is also active in her church. When she’s not planning memorable weddings/events you can find her with her daughter, working out, reading, checking out great restaurants, researching, traveling, volunteering for a good cause or spending time with her large extended family.
Melissa is also available to be your wedding planner – from music to catering to flowers to day of.
Nancy is a certified life coach who’s lived in the East Bay for 30 years. To the office she brings her entrepreneurial business, marketing and technical skills as well as a loving, personal presence that makes people feel welcome, heard and supported. She escaped from high tech years ago, but brings technical skills with her. She loves bike riding, gardening, Qi Gong, yoga, swimming, walking in nature, great vegan food, and spending time with her family – Bill, Bill IV and Andrea. She is a member of Unity of Tri-Valley church, and enjoys progressive spirituality. Her passion is for people to find their true gifts and the ideal ways to express them.