Oakland church

Archive for Black History Month

Intentional Love in Polarizing Times

We’re living in polarizing times that tempt us to fall into patterns of violence, judgement, and “othering” in our words and actions.  What an opportunity to intentionally develop our capacities for love in its many forms. Here are just a few examples of what is being offered this month: 
 
Our latest offering in the Health and Happiness Series for the benefit of the health and well being of us all: 
  • Sun, Feb 9, 4-5:30 PM:  The Best and Worst of Popular Diets…How to Meet our Nutrition Needs and support Long term health for Body and Planet, Speaker: Catherine Kessler, RDN, CDE.
Our justice and witness team’s offerings during black history month: 
Love/ music/poetry in worship:
  • Music during and after church service with “TheSingerandtheSongwriter”,  Sun Feb 16th
  • Distribution of Skyline’s Love Poems in “Poetry Aplenty in 2020” Sun, Feb 16
Love of the most vulnerable, as evidenced in our justice work: 
  • Food of God, meals served to people in need, once a month (Nancy Taylor) 
  • Nueva Esperanza preschool education for children from Guatemala (Mirtha Ninayahuar)
Love of learning and growing in our faith with our spiritual life team: 
  • Learning to Pray, Rev Jerri Handy Feb 23 after service
  • Brian McLaren book study, March 1
Love  is at the core of who we are at Skyline. – it under-girds our extravagant welcome. This week we will celebrate the themes of salt, light, and righteousness… I leave you with a prayer reminding us of why we gather together. 
Let the Mystery of God draw us in:
Beautiful, Just, Merciful!
Let the Wisdom of God surprise us:
Vulnerable, Powerful, Searching!
Let the Glory of God shine through our work:
Salty, Bright and Good!
In the Mystery, the Wisdom, the Glory of God
Let us worship!

 

Everyone has a Place at the Table

Lately, I hear myself thinking, “The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer”, especially when I read some of the insights from the Poor People’s campaign, a revival of Dr King’s vision, from 50 years ago:  https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/demands/.  (The Justice and Witness Team shares this event – A Poor People’s Hearing – contact Nancy Taylor about going),

Did you know that while the U.S. economy has grown 18-fold in the past 50 years, wealth inequality has expanded, the costs of living have increased, and social programs have been restructured and cut dramatically?  It’s tempting to think that’s the way things are doomed to be. 

 I take comfort in our sacred scriptures that remind us of the way that God wants things to be,  and why God gave ancient Israel laws about how the poor are to be treated: “These rights and obligations are also rooted in the goodness and justice of the created order”.

Well, we look around, and things often don’t resemble that beautiful created order much at all. 

We are called to participate in the co-creation of a heavenly banquet, where everyone has a place at the table;  where everyone has a roof over their head, to live more fully, more intentionally, in the “already” part of “already but not yet” nature of the Reign of God.  “The shape of God’s future must shape our present.”

Here at Skyline, we’re involved in both charity and justice to bring good news to the poor.  To learn more, just click on our website: https://skylineucc.org/justice-witness/.

In a beautiful reflection on Jesus’s upside down kingdom, Frederick Buechner writes this:

“The world says, ‘Mind your own business,’

and Jesus says, ‘There is no such thing as your own business.’

The world says, ‘Follow the wisest course and be a success,’

and Jesus says, ‘Follow me and be crucified.’

The world says, ‘Drive carefully — the life you save may be your own’ —

and Jesus says, ‘Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’

The world says, ‘Law and order,’

and Jesus says, ‘Love.’

The world says, ‘Get’

and Jesus says, ‘Give.’ 

May it be so with us. Blessings upon your week, with love, Pastor Laurie 

Black History Month Events 2018

Sun, 2/11: Discussion/Conversation with Pastor Laurie:  Dr. King’s Last Sermon
In the sanctuary from 11:30 – 12 noon  Join Pastor Laurie for a discussion after worship about Dr King’s last sermon the night before he was assassinated.  Did he know? How did he provide comfort and vision and reassurance for the movement? Where do we go from here, 50 years later? 

Sun, 2/11: Where Do We Go From Here: Dr. Barber & the Poor Peoples Campaign,  Sunday, February 11, 4:30 to 6:30 at City of Refuge UCC.  Following Rev. Dr. William Barber’s visit to the Bay Area, join us for a community conversation on local struggles for racial and economic justice!  All are welcome to this FREE event. The Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy is honored to co-present this event with City of Refuge UCC.  RSVP: david@workingeastbay.org.  

Sat, 2/17:  Skyline folks will be going to AAMLO (African American Museum and Library) on Saturday, February 17, 2 pm, to hear a presentation by a National Park Service Ranger on the subject of “Buffalo Soldiers at the Presidio.”   This is in keeping with the Black History Month theme this year of “African Americans in Times of War.”  This is a chance to see one of the more beautiful historic buildings of Oakland, as well as an interesting and informative presentation.  If timing is right, we can go together for a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants. Contact Nancy T.

Sun, 2/18:  Rev Robert Wilkins preaching 10 AM; see bio below. 

Fri, 2/23, Time to Be Determined:  Black Panther Movie:  Join us on Friday night, February 23rd at Grand Lake Theatre for evening showing of “Black Panther” the Marvel superhero action movie.  Contact Nancy Taylor.  Black Panther touches on black identity and the fantasy of a people unburdened.  There is an interesting argument with Blaxploitation films. The movies, predominantly made during the 1970s, are usually characterized by having a predominantly African-American cast, with the lead character having to deal with some endemic problem affecting their community, while also having to fight “The Man,” who’s in the form of corrupt cops, corrupt city officials, corrupt business officials, or any other aspect of society associated with white assholes…..”  Read More of this review.

Here are a few reviews: “Black Panther Poised to Shatter Hollywood Myth“;      “‘Black Panther’ Shakes Up the Marvel Universe”

Review: ‘Black Panther’ Shakes Up the Marvel Universe

Sun, 2/25:  Join Nancy Taylor to carpool to City of Refuge UCC after church to attend their 1 pm service.  

See the display on bulletin board in Friendship Room 

Rev Robert Wilkins:  Rev. Wilkins is the Managing Director of Encounter Alliance, a consulting firm which advises churches and faith-inspired organizations on all aspects of organizational development and mission fulfillment. Wilkins serves a host of community and professional organizations including the One Pacific Coast Foundation (Board of Directors), the Lake Merritt Uptown District Association (Corporate Secretary), the California YMCA State Alliance (Public Policy Committee), American Baptist Seminary of the West (Trustee) and the Graduate Theological Union (Trustee, Library Committee Chair) among others.  

Rev. Wilkins is a graduate of the University of Southern California (Religion – Biblical Studies) and earned Master of Divinity degrees from both Fuller Theological Seminary and American Baptist Seminary of the West. He has completed class studies in the Doctor of Ministry program at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Rev. Wilkins is a graduate of the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and is an alumnus Fellow at the Center for Social Innovation (also at Stanford). Wilkins holds a Certificate in Strategic Marketing from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.

Black History Month Movie Night & Potluck

black history monthFriday, February 26, 6:00 PM Potluck, 7:00 PM Movie & Discussion

Skyline’s Justice & Witness team is hosting a film and potluck for Black History Month.  All are welcome for an evening of community, awareness, growth, and honoring the story of African Americans.

We are holding two movies which we will choose from that night.

“The documentary “Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues,”  tells the story of the blues, a uniquely American music form. Born out of the economic and social transformation of African American life early in the 20th century, the blues eloquently capture both suffering and resilience.  The film features many of the often overlooked women who were pioneers of the blues, including Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Ida Cox, Alberta Hunter, and Ethel Waters.”

The documentary, “The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow” “offers the first comprehensive look at race relations in America between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. This definitive four-part series documents the context in which the laws of segregation known as the “Jim Crow” system originated and developed.

Program 1. Promises betrayed (1865-1896): Whites pass laws to segregate and disenfranchise African Americans; Ida B. Wells and Booker T. Washington lead struggles for justice — Program 2. Fighting back (1896-1917): Black America’s new middle class faces increasing white violence; W.E.B. DuBois joins the NAACP — Program 3. Don’t shout too soon (1917-1940): Returning Black WWI soldiers intensify calls for justice; Charles Hamilton Houston wins the first Supreme Court victory — Program 4. Terror and triumph (1940-1954): Intense white violence will not stop triumphant freedom fighters; The Brown v. Board of Education launches the civil rights movement.”

Love’s Fullest Dimensions

 KingPhoto

“Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, “Beyond Vietnam”

This Sunday, Feb 14th is a time to honor love. And lest we forget, the ads are everywhere reminding us of many ways we can purchase special gifts for that special someone in our lives. 

But Feb 14th is also a chance to honor love in it’s fullest dimensions. Love in the form of courage, of the willingness to follow a dream; love kindled in the fire of God’s love for all of humanity despite the dangers of the wilderness. 

This month we celebrate Black History Month, and this Sunday we honor the ongoing march to freedom, inspired by this great cloud of witnesses. 

Prophetic Voices of Black Civil Rights Leaders

In honor of Black History Month I am sharing with you the timeless, prophetic voices of black civil rights leaders in this country.

I give thanks for the faith and courage of these great leaders, who’s voices echo the voices of the prophets, who stand with us forever on the mountaintop of  God, their eyes fixed upon the vision of the promised land. 

May we open ourselves to realize that we are standing with them, on Holy Ground. 

I encourage you to join us for the upcoming movies, outings, and discussions and  review the many resources and links listed below. 

   Blessings, Pastor Laurie 

Frederick Douglasshttp://www.azquotes.com/author/4104-Frederick_Douglass

http://www.azquotes.com/author/4104-Frederick_Douglass

This MLK Day We Honor the Radical Dr. King

mlk-marchonwashington-bannerThis weekend we celebrate the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,  his prophetic words and actions for our lives today, and the difference between what is and the vision of how things could be. 

Many of us find ourselves standing in a place of tension. Some may have experienced this tension in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement. The Rev. Dr. William Barber II implicitly evoked this tension in speaking recently of the prophetic grief and lament provoked by recent acts of violence and the decision not to bring charges against the police officers who shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice. In response to this present reality, Barber cites Isaiah’s call to be “the repairers of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.”

Commentators like Van Jones have recognized that environmental racism also relates to the Black Lives Matter movement. Some acts of violence are not of the kind that can be videotaped and shared on social media, but they nevertheless have a devastating impact on communities of color. The severe, and at times, deadly reality of environmental racism can be seen in relation to toxic dumpscoal plants and terminalsoil plants and refineriesfracked wells, and lead poisoning. There is much that necessitates a prophetic response.


To inspire the courage needed to speak out and to demonstrate how one can pull others closer to a vision of what could be, Dr. King’s oral and written works continue to be an invaluable resource. The UCC has developed a webpage to assist in exploring overlooked and under-appreciated sermons, speeches, and writings by Dr. King. Too often, the more radical messages of King become muted or silenced on his own holiday. Like the great prophets, however, King must be heard. His words are still vital and relevant today. They still possess the power to challenge and uplift. 

Join us this Sunday as we remember him.

Dr. Howard Thurman – an Enduring Sense of the Divine

This past week, I’ve been reading about the early life of Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman. An influential African American author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader, Thurman was considered one of the three greatest African-American preachers in the early 20th-century. I find a kindred spirit in his enduring sense of the Divine.

From his journal, he writes:

dreamstimefree_boat and river (1)As a child I was accustomed to spending many hours alone in my rowboat, fishing along the river, when there was no sound save the lapping of the waves against the boat. There were times when it seemed as if the earth and the river and the sky and I were one beat of the same pulse. It was a time of watching and waiting for what I did not know—yet I always knew. There would come a moment when beyond the single pulse beat there was a sense of Presence which seemed always to speak to me. My response to the sense of Presence always had the quality of personal communion. There was no voice. There was no image. There was no vision. There was God. 

I leave you with a blessing for this day, by Howard Thurman

I will lift up mine eyes to life,
lest I miss the turning in the road.
I will lift up mine eyes to love,
that I may not close the door of my heart.
I will lift up mine eyes to God,
that I may meet the divine in all things.

 

Black History and the UCC

black history monthFebruary we lift up Black History Month; we share stories from our own personal and collective histories and lift up the ongoing story of culture, courage, brilliance, faith, and heroism.

We will celebrate this rich legacy through worship, education and events. I encourage you to join us and share your ideas with us!

Our denomination, the United Church of Christ, has a long history of commitment to the ongoing story of liberation and equality in the black civil rights movement; from the Amistad, to ordaining the first black minister in the US, to the presidency. The UCC is forever entwined in the history of a people who stood with courage and pushed forward with faith. I encourage you to read more about our UCC history, in the links below.

http://cpcucc.org/blog/2087/black-history-and-the-united-church-of-christ
http://www.ucc.org/black-history/

I leave you with the inspiring words of Howard Thurman, an influential African American author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader, who writes:

“Whatever may be the tensions and the stresses of a particular day, there is always lurking close at hand the trailing beauty of forgotten joy or unremembered peace.” 

 “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” 

“There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.”