Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Among the most eloquent chroniclers of racial discord in the United States was James Baldwin. I was first introduced to his writings while attending seminary and studying with Professor James Cone.
Though Baldwin died in 1987 his observations from 50 yrs ago still ring powerfully, and depressingly, true as evidenced by the trailer to the new documentary, I Am Not Your Negro.
It is a timely memoir, meditation, and study of the lives of three slain civil-rights leaders—Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr., based on the writings of James Baldwin.
The documentary provides an exploration of many issues including race in America, what this country stands for, and the topic of righteous indignation to resist injustice and to bring forth greater equality.
I’d like to share with you a preview of the film (follow the link and scroll down the page for the trailer). Be forewarned.. This piece includes quotes from James Baldwin in which he uses a racial slur.
“If any white man in the world says, ‘Give me liberty or give me death,’ (Patrick Henrys words) the entire white world applauds,” Baldwin tells talk show host Dick Cavett, in a scene from the documentary. “When a black man says exactly the same thing, he is judged a criminal and treated like one and everything possible is done to make an example of this bad nigger so there won’t be any more like him.”
The film has received rave reviews from the NY Times, A. O. Scott, and Rotten Tomatoes.
Join us this Sunday as we explore constructive uses of anger that have not only fueled liberation movements throughout time, but have also improved the quality of our most intimate relationships.
Blessings, Pastor Laurie
Posted: Wednesday, February 1, 2017
You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord,
“My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2
In light of President Trump’s recent executive order banning immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries, we are once again confronted with the question: who is my neighbor?
Join us this Sunday as we explore the ethics and biblical teachings about sanctuary. Joining us to share his experiences with the sanctuary movement is Bob Lane. In addition to working with the justice task forces in his home church, the Mt. Diablo, UU Church, Bob is an active member of the Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy (FAME). FAME is a coalition of clergy, lay leaders and congregations that works in solidarity with marginalized groups toward the Beloved Community where all persons have their basic needs met, where every person’s worth is recognized and affirmed, and where the dignity of labor and of all those who perform it is honored. FAME is currently a part of the New Sanctuary Movement providing accompaniment and protection for those targeted for displacement and dispossession.
This Sunday we will also be collecting donations, food & clothing for those most vulnerable here in Oakland, including undocumented families. (please read the announcement about “Souperbowl Sunday“)
Also, speaking about sanctuary is our very own Mirtha Ninayahuar, who’s advocacy work over the past few years has been life-changing, not only for the families she has supported, but also for her.
According to a Jan 31st New York Times article, the children around the world who most need emergency international assistance come mainly from the countries singled out in President Trump’s order barring entry to the US, according to a United Nations assessment.
“This shows who the ban really impacts: the world’s most vulnerable, women and children who are fleeing terror,” said Jennifer Sime, a senior vice president at the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian organization focused on refugees. “America is turning away from its leadership role on refugee resettlement, and it is refugees who are paying the price.”
Blessings and peace, Pastor Laurie
Posted: Wednesday, February 1, 2017
by Mirtha Ninayahuar
The news of unaccompanied minors fleeing their countries due to poverty, violence, and displacement from their land had saddened me but it wasn’t until Pastor Laurie showed me a brochure with a picture of a little boy caught by a Border Patrol Officer that I was moved to act. Pastor Laurie has been working with Reverend Deborah Lee, Director of Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity (IM4HI) over the years on the sanctuary movement, and felt called to invite her to come and preach at Skyline, in light of the heartbreaking deportation experiences happening throughout this country and the call, as people of faith, to welcome the stranger, to love one another, to remember that we were once aliens in a foreign land. When Reverend Deborah Lee spoke at our church a few years ago, she inspired me to get involved with the Sanctuary Movement & Immigrant Justice. Included below is an IM4HI information page with links to sites explaining the Sanctuary Movement and what Sanctuary means today. The link to the short video is an excellent history of the movement. The link to the handout “Sanctuary Today” explains four ways Congregations are demonstrating their commitment to Sanctuary. There are also opportunities to volunteer, and national resources. I hope this information will inspire you to heed the call for a commitment to Sanctuary & Immigrant Justice. I’m very grateful for Skyline Church ‘s support of the immigrants with ongoing food, clothing and toy donations. The following are some of my experiences with Sanctuary work. All the work is done with the support of many unnamed angelic souls.
Part of Sanctuary is the accompaniment of an immigrant family or youth. After receiving accompaniment training, I was paired with young Guatemalan mother and 6-year old daughter. We’ve been together for almost 2 years. Building a relationship of trust was very slow. After sharing some of the hardships in getting special dental care for her daughter, we became close. Our relationship has helped me in ways that are difficult to explain. I get a lump in my throat just trying to find the right words. To see their resilience, strength and hard work gives me strength. The child’s progress in school and upbeat attitude gives me so much joy. Our relationship has nourished me immensely.
Sometimes the accompaniment work seems to be divinely supported. For example, a few weeks ago friends of Skyline Church sent an email asking if anyone at our Church could use a free bed. I forwarded that email to three different contacts serving immigrants/refugees and surprisingly none of them responded. Last week the child’s school teacher asked me to assist in translating during a home visit. The mother and child had recently moved, they have had to move 4 times since we’ve met, and when I arrived for the visit with the teacher, I saw their room had no bed. Their blankets were spread out on the floor. That evening I found out that the bed from the Skyline friends was still available. I worried about the bed fitting in our car. It turned out only the headboard needed to be tied to our car’s roof rack and the mattress with all the rest fit inside the car. The donating family also included bed sheets. Johan and I easily picked up the bed and delivered it. Mom and daughter are very thankful. Everything fell into place so easily and timely. Now I feel the bed was meant for that mother and child all along. Thank you, God!
Something similar happened a year ago when a call went out from the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant looking for youth beds. My neighborhood email group posted a free twin bed almost at the same time. My daughter and I were getting ready to walk to the address posted to look at the bed when she yelled out “Mom, look out the window, the bed is in the neighbor’s driveway!” That bed almost literally fell at our feet.
I also volunteer at Sunday preschool at the Guatemalan Church in the Fruitvale area. The First Congregational Church of Berkeley established the preschool and we are always looking for volunteers. The Oakland Public Library has supported the preschool by donating books and allowing me to use their story time materials. These kids amaze me because they are learning English as a third language, Mam, a Mayan language being their first and Spanish their second. Here is more preschool information.
I attend East Bay Interfaith Immigration Coalition (EBIIC) meetings on the second Wednesdays of every month from 9:00 -10:30 at University Lutheran Chapel in Berkeley. EBIIC is a group of faith leaders working for humane immigration reform.
The EBIIC’s purpose is:
- to seize the critical moment for national immigration reform
- to raise the religious voice and deliver a message of specific values and issues
- to specifically engage in legislative action, accompaniment of persons facing deportation, education of congregations and community, and relationship building among agencies and churches in the East Bay.
Advocacy work has lead me to engage in public actions such as vigils at West Contra Costa County Detention Center, San Francisco Immigration Building, Santa Rita Jail, San Francisco City Hall, and Alameda County Courthouse, with the purpose of showing support for the immigrants and refugees, as well as educating the public of the unjust policies and root causes of people fleeing their countries.
Recently Nancy Taylor and I have joined a Network of Protection & Rapid Response now called Bay Resistance to respond to immigration workplace raids, and any other mass action needed to support sectors targeted by the new administration.
Please feel free to ask me about any of the above. Thank you for your support.
Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2017
Sun, Feb 5, During Service
Along with a collection of financial donations, we are requesting donations of rice, beans and oil for the Central American immigrant families in Oakland with scant resources. Please bring these on Sunday the 5th and Mirtha and team will see that they get delivered.
The collection of money will go to “FOG”, (Food of God for the People of God), a program of Alameda County Community Food Bank. Skyline has a FOG team that prepares a meal and serves it to homeless people in Oakland the first Thursday of each month.
Contact Mirtha Langewis-Ninayahuar – 510-531-8212; email@example.com.
Posted: Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Last Friday, inauguration day, was a long and painful day for many of us in the Bay area.
But then Saturday came, with the women’s marches happening on every continent on this planet; millions of women and men, of every race and religion, of every age from babies to women in their 90s, all over the globe marched, including an estimated 100,000 people right here in Oakland. An empowering movement is happening now that so many of us are drawn to, and it gives me hope.
Today’s gospel is a story for our times. It’s the age old story of the ongoing grass roots movement of the people inspired by leaders who, throughout time, believed in the people and loved them, and had compassion and hope for them. Leaders who also had the courage to challenge systems that did not value all of the people equally, so before long the masses of people began to follow them. And they learned not only to follow, but also to lead.
I leave you with these words from Psalm 15 that remind us of the nature of true leadership:
Psalms 15 A Book of Psalms, translations by Stephen Mitchell)
Lord, who can be trusted with power,
and who may act in your place?
Those with a passion for justice,
who speak the truth from their hearts;
who have let go of selfish interests
and grown beyond their own lives;
who see the wretched as their family
and the poor as their flesh and blood.
They alone are impartial
and worthy of the people’s trust.
Their compassion lights up the whole earth,
and their kindness endures forever.
Blessings, pastor Laurie
Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2017
On Sunday, January 29, bring your lightly used clothes (especially warm coats) to the church or to the office by Jan 27 to be donated to local agencies, (like East Bay Switchboard and also to support immigrant families) – contact Mirtha or Nancy Taylor: (510-531-8212) firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted: Tuesday, November 8, 2016
On the day of this historic election I would like to share with you a reflection from UCC minister, Maren Tirabassi:
Photo credit: © Bridgephotography | Dreamstime.com
I vote the future
I vote my grandchild’s education
and my grandchild’s grandchild’s earth.
I vote the future.
I vote my faith in the gifts
to this country
of a child who is today
running from the wars of Syria,
eating frijoles con arroz in Guatemala.
I vote the future.
I vote for water protectors
in the cold winds of North Dakota,
and Racists Anonymous
meeting in a church basement
to take the first step
in recovery of the heart.
I vote the future.
I vote the memory of the gifts
of veterans and poets,
of the framers of constitution
and the people who walk
a long afternoon knocking
with a knob hanger in their hands
for even the slammed door.
I vote the future.
With my debate-tired ears
and my email petition red eyes
I choose one candidate and another,
a President of the United States,
a Sheriff and a City Clerk.
I say yes or no on a change
for my state or my town.
I buy a cookie
at the election day bake sale.
It doesn’t look glamorous.
It doesn’t feel brave,
I don’t expect the news media
of all the world
to watch my small act of faith.
But, for the sake
of my grandchild’s grandchild,
I vote the future.
Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Below is a note from a member, Adrienne Elenteny, who is being recognized for her humanitarian efforts at this project, “Progressive Transitions”, for young women who have been arrested for solicitations.
I’d love for a group of us from Skyline to go to the event to support her. Let me know if you’re interested!
Blessings – Laurie
I am reaching out to you regarding an upcoming event in November which supports an Alameda County Court Diversion Program called Progressive Transition(s). The program is available for 18+ year-olds, who have been arrested for solicitation.
On September 26, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed important legislation decriminalizing prostitution for minors. SB 1322 prohibits the arrest of people under the age of 18 for soliciting which effectively shields those young people from criminal penalties. Progressive Transition(s) offers an alternative to a criminal conviction to young women who are 18 or older, in recognition that these young people began as commercially exploited children.
Many of the participants and graduates of Progressive Transition(s) were “groomed” starting at an early age in what Ms. La Toya Gix, an advocate at the Alameda County District Attorney’s office described as the “Ho-ho’s to heels” pipeline. Meaning that Ms. Gix got gifts of sweets when she was a youngster and shoes as she grew older. She equated these gifts as her exploiter’s love for her. (KQED Radio: Forum, August 4, 2016)
Progressive Transition(s) offers these young people the opportunity to participate in a variety of programs including educational, vocational, mental health counseling and health services as a substitute to a criminal conviction. Please see this link to the program and watch the video on the webpage for more information.
The funding for Progressive Transition(s) has been donation based, so your help would be invaluable to offering a different path to this vulnerable population. The Gala includes great music, food and dancing and will make for a super fun Saturday night.
If you represent, or know of, an agency, organization, business or individual that you think might be interested in supporting the Gala or Progressive Transition(s) please let us know. There will be community leaders from the courts, city/county agencies and businesses. Sponsorship opportunities and organization recognition are available by contacting Alex Arteaga (email@example.com).
Look forward to seeing you there!
November 5, 2016, at 6:00 p.m.,
Temple Sinai, 2808 Summit Street,
Oakland, CA 94609
Ticket | Donation Information
Posted: Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Sunday, October 9, After Services:
Justice & Witness Team will have information on ballot measures that we can discuss after church and/or take home with us. We will have the recommendations on State measure by California Church Impact, League of Women Voters, and Ella Baker Center, and on Local measures by Oakland Community Organizations and League of Women Voters. We will also be registering voters – so if you haven’t registered to vote yet, you can do so here! Please join us! Nancy Taylor: (510-530-0814) firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: Wednesday, October 5, 2016
National Coming Out Day is Oct 11 and Skyline will honor the journeys of our LGBTQ family through personal sharing, songs, and sermon. We do this every year, along with churches throughout the country. Here is where all can find a home; where we can raise our awareness and compassion. We’ll have:
- Powerful personal reflections from members and friends
- Fabulous Music!
- Community love and awareness
Invite your friends, family and neighbors in your LGBTQ community to discover Skyline’s open and affirming welcome.
Spread the word – see our event on Facebook, share it with friends, and respond there if you are coming. Thank you!