The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice! Rainbow dreamstimefree_120296

I’m still basking in the glow of the many blessed decisions from the supreme court last week: from upholding health reform, marriage equality rights, fair housing, & although not the supreme court, a long-overdue recognition that fighting for slavery was wrong. These decisions uphold the inherent worth & dignity of all people, created in the image & likeness of God, and are so consistent with who we are as a faith community and as a denomination.

I am so happy to be part of this small, evolving, prophetic denomination – the UCC: the 1st mainline religious group to affirm equal marriage rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation, the 1st to ordain openly gay minister, the 1st to ordain an African American and a woman.

God IS still speaking!  rainbowcomma

    Blessings, Laurie

Hi, Friends,

In the spirit true congregationalism, from Thursday the 11th- Sunday the 14th , I will be meeting with over 300 delegates at our UCC Northern California Nevada Conference Annual Meeting in Sonoma.

Among the highlights, in addition to being in wine country, we will hear from PSR’s new president, David Vasquez-Levy, and Diane Weible, our new conference minister.

In addition, we will vote upon resolutions to be considered by our national denomination next month.

Among the topics we will be addressing are justice issues, and I will be presenting a resolution to strengthen our relationship with Jubilee USA.

To learn more, please see UCC’s justice programs and Jubilee USA.

Blessings and Peace, and see you next week!
Pastor Laurie

 

5-30-15 Catherine Work DayMichael retold the events of our May 30th Green Workday  during worship on the 31st:

We are caring for our Church gardens by beautifying without harming any living thing (except the weeds!).  Thanks to everyone who participated.

Because we want the Church to look cared for, as it is, in the labyrinth we removed weeds by uprooting with shovels and hoes and then laying down paper to prevent regrowth. We then put the pebbles back over the paper. We also used a fire torch remove weeds in the courtyard.

As a faith community, we are committed to not using chemical herbicides. It is now known that herbicides in frequent use today cause birth defects in humans. They are known to kill amphibians and insects. The salamanders on our church property are vulnerable.
Recently, the U.N. World Health Organization has issued a statement that these herbicides are probably cancer causing. We want to keep the Church property safe for children, pregnant women, all  people, and the wildlife that lives here.  Our church land is part of the watershed that drains into Redwood Creek, a habitat for native trout.

Finally, we installed 32 LED (light emmiting diode) lights in the sancurary. They are energy-saving and have a very long life, which is great because it is not so easy to changethose lights!

We hope you will join the next Workday and take part in our stewardship of our part of Mother Earth.

Catherine Kessler and Michael Armijo

A Christian evangelical social research company recently surveyed young adult non-Christians on their attitudes toward Christianity.

  • 91%  said Christians are anti-gayboy meditating and sun
  • 87 % said Christians are judgmental
  • 85%, said they’re hypocritical
  • 78 % said they’re old fashioned
  • 72% said they’re out of touch with reality
  • 70% said they’re insensitive to others
  • 75% said Christians are too involved in politics, but the politics they’re talking about are not the politics of peacemaking or justice-making.  They’re talking about the anti-politics: anti-abortion, anti-gay-rights, anti-science.

No wonder people are spiritual but not religious!

Presbyterian pastor and social worker N. Graham Standish observes that the spiritual but not religious—he calls them SBNR for short—share several attributes: 

  1. they are “skeptical of hard and fast theological constructs about God.”  …they “tend to be post-modern, and thus are extremely suspicious of any ultimate truth claims.”
  2. the SBNR are willing to listen to all sides . . . “they want to consider religious and theological beliefs from a variety of perspectives.”
  3. they want to experience what’s true rather than be told what is true. . . . “they want to learn truth by touching it, smelling it, and tasting it.” 
  4. “SBNR folks tend to be sensitive to any form of hypocrisy, especially moralizing hypocrisy. When they see priest or pastor scandals in the face of the church’s obsession with homosexuality, they get turned off.”
  5. they are cautious about being identified too much with a religion. They see the “practice of religion as inhibiting the pursuit of the spiritual . . . .”

Do you know anybody who fits this SBNR description? Sounds like us! Come join us, as the power of the Holy Spirit continues transforming us in the ways of life! 

Also, Sunday June 7th – we celebrate our grads of all ages, including a procession to pomp and circumstance! Let us know who you are! 

Anyone up for a summer barbecue and family picnic on an upcoming Sunday after church? Let me know!! 

       Peace, Pastor Laurie 

wisdom to survive

THURSDAY, MAY 5TH, POTLUCK7 PM- 8:30 PM

The Wisdom to Survive

Climate Change Capitalism & Community sponsored by our Green Team!

THE WISDOM TO SURVIVE accepts the consensus of scientists that climate change has already arrived, and asks, what is keeping us from action? The film explores how unlimited growth and greed are destroying the life support system of the planet, the social fabric of society, and the lives of billions of people.

Will we have the wisdom to survive? The film features thought leaders and activists in the realms of science, economics and spirituality discussing how we can evolve and take action in the face of climate disruption. They urge us to open ourselves to the beauty that surrounds us and get to work on ensuring it thrives.  See video preview here.

Among those featured are Bill McKibben, Joanna Macy, Nikki Cooley, Roger Payne, Richard Heinberg, Amy Seidl, Stephanie Kaza, Gus Speth, Jihan Gearan, and Ben Falk.

Praise for Wisdom to Survive

This film is deeply moving and profoundly engaging. Indeed, it has the potential to transform lives because it provides visions of how we should live in the midst of massive environmental challenges. I cannot recommend it more highly!”—Mary Evelyn Tucker, Forum on Religion & Ecology at Yale

This is a starkly prophetic film. It combines the direst of warnings with deep love of life. Better than any other film I know, it makes clear that our profit-oriented growth economy has caused the climate catastrophe and cannot itself rescue us from disaster. We need new thinking and a new way of life.”—Tom F. Driver,  Paul Tillich Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology, Union Theological Seminary

Duration : 56 min.

Questions: Contact cath.kessler@comcast.net or ngtaylor94619@yahoo.com

Skyline Community Church is a member of Jubilee East Bay, a chapter of Jubilee USA Network, an alliance of 75 US organizations, 400 faith communities, and 50 global partners.  Jubilee is building an economy that serves, protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable.

Tuesday, May 5, Skyline is hosting a Jubilee Lunch & Learn from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.  Join us for a lunch, presentation of what Jubilee does, successes, and an action item to take home to your congregation.

Please RSVP to KateDoherty.ctk@gmail.com.  Thank you!  See you there!

Thanks to everyone who joined us to celebrate good weather, good food, and great company, last Sunday at our picnic potluck celebration. Special thanks to Marilyn Shaw for her leadership!

There’s something so beautiful, so biblical, so communal about sharing our food together, when we share so much more than just food together. We exchange recipes, and stories, we sit outside and behold the beauty of the earth, and appreciate the preciousness of springtime, we’re inspired to laugh and play, like children do. We share our common lives and our humanity.

Unlike the rest of the world’s democracies the United States doesn’t celebrate May Day as an official national holiday.

But outside the U.S., May 1 is International Workers’ Day, observed with speeches, rallies and demonstrations. This year, millions of workers in Europe, Asia and Latin America will be taking to the streets to demand higher wages, better benefits and improved working conditions. In Bangladesh, for example, protestors will be in the streets to demand that global companies like Walmart improve safety standards in local sweatshops.

Here in San Francisco and Oakland the local chapter of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has vowed to shut down the two ports this Friday, May 1, to protest police brutality.

May we each find ways to expand the vision of breaking bread together and to create a society in which the basic human rights of all workers, locally and globally, are honored for they are our sisters and brothers. 

I’d like to share with you a prayer in honor of all Immigrants:

 

A PRAYER FOR IMMIGRANTS

By Jessica Vazquez Torres

Source of Life who is known by many names;

Over-turner and illuminator of hearts; 

We gather with gratitude for the earth and all who journey in it.

We are give thanks for the interconnectedness of all creation.

Support for those without support;

Stronghold of those without protection; 

We declare openly the times we have fallen short

From living out the call to justice our sacred stories place upon us;

From recognizing the whole of creation as an extension of our being;

From hearing the plight of the creation yearning for justice;

From seeing the harm our way of life and our policies inflict upon the creation

Jesus, carpenter of Nazareth, asks: What is the greatest commandment?

To love your creator;

To love your neighbor;

To undermine oppressive powers with life-giving actions;

To be in solidarity with all who suffer;

To act for justice;

And to teach others to act for justice

Let us not forget.

Source of Justice who is known by many names; 

Let us not swerve from the path of righteousness that leads to just and equitable relationship.

Open our eyes that we may see the immigrant and undocumented; 

Whose labor enables and sustains our living;

The farm worker, the hotel maid, the line cook, the childcare provider; the healthcare worker;

Give us the courage to stand with those crossing our borders;

Escaping economic oppression and political persecution;

Seeking work to support their families;

Aspiring to participate in the bounty of the creation;

Give us the strength to confront the prejudice and intolerance of those who are fearful; 

And respond by closing our borders to those who sojourn seeking life and opportunity;

Give us the will to leave behind the safety of our sanctuaries and temples; 

And claim our place in the movement to transform the creation;

That our voice, our heart, our spirit will join the voice, heart and spirit of all who

demand to live with respect, justice and peace.

Source of Direction who is known by many names;

In our daily living let us be guided; 

By the highest estimate of the worth and dignity of every person regardless of their legal status;

And let us not forget;

That the creation is founded on justice;

And that we have the moral responsibility to bring forth justice into these times.

Amen.

 

Tribute  Fri, Feb 6 (6-9) and Teach-in, Sat, Feb 7 (9-4)

You are invited to join national and local justice seekers from 20th c. and 21st c. movements for human rights on Friday, Feb. 6 (6pm reception, 7-9 program) in a Tribute honoring the life of Dr. Vincent Harding and Saturday, Feb 7 for an Inter-generational Teach-in (9am registration; 10-4 program). We will engage in deep conversation about the protests against systemic violence against black and brown communities and how to create a movement for radical change. Register now! (Follow the links for Friday and Saturday events below) Space is limited!

Nancy Taylor invites us to attend this event for Black History Month.   She’ll be going to the Saturday event and will coordinate a group and carpool. Mirtha and Johan Langewis-Ninayahuar are joining her – how about you?

Friday’s Tribute (free):  St. Columba Church, 6401 San Pablo Ave., Oakland
To  RSVP Click Here

Saturday’s Teach-in:  Chapel at the Pacific School of Religion, 1798 Scenic Ave., Berkeley
(box lunch included scholarships available)
$15 – at the door;  $11 – online
To register online  Click Here

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 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.” 

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Skyline UCC
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12540 Skyline Boulevard
Oakland, CA 94619
(510) 531-8212

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