The book of Isaiah, complex as it is, is framed by poetry. The poems of Isaiah envision the future God will yet give.

In this season, as the days grows shorter and chillier, hear these timeless words of hope for us (below):

Also, I encourage you to consider the many opportunities we are offering this month for prayer and reflection, for worship, for justice, and for fellowship. My deepest thanks to all of you in creating this beloved community and welcoming the wider community to take part.

isaiah-11A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples;
the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

taize-flyer-dec-2016

As Thanksgiving approaches consider that we are not, after all, only what we eat. We are also with whom we eat.  In Jesus’s kingdom and at his table everyone, especially all those considered “the least of these”,  is welcome. This social healing was as profound and transformative as any medical miracle Jesus was said to have performed. It challenged the prevailing social order then and now. The gentle shepherd, the Prince of Peace, it turns out, was and still is a troublemaker and a revolutionary. He is working through us to bring forth the new kingdom, the heavenly realm here on earth.  He is working through us when we realize that Caesar is not our Lord, that Pharaoh is not our father, that CEOs and military leaders are not our ultimate guide. God is passionately in love with us, with all of us, and more than anything is yearning for us to live as sisters and brothers, united in love.  

This Sunday, we welcome everyone to the table! Join us as we welcome our newest members, as we share from our abundance with the local food pantries of ACCFB, and we honor Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Here’s UCC’s Pastoral Letter to a United Church in a Divided Country.

Blessings, Pastor Laurie

 On the day of this historic election I would like to share with you a reflection from UCC minister, Maren Tirabassi:

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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.

meditation-prayer-introduction-flyer

img_4583Dear Skyline..

Thank you so much, everyone, for celebrating our 10 years together; with me in all my Laurie Manning-ness, serving as your pastor here at Skyline. I must confess that I had some trepidation about this celebration, imagining that it would be a roast since you certainly have a lot of material to draw from! My sisters also offered to provide additional information for the roast, but I assured them that you had more than enough stories to draw from. 

Instead, I was showered with love, affirmation, celebration, and even a mayoral decree – that Oct 23rd 2016, is “Rev Laurie J Manning Day, in the City of Oakland.  I now have one helluva feast day! I share it with James of Jerusalem.  Not bad!img_4588

Special thanks to the organizers of this celebration – Marilyn Shaw, Susie Harris, Nancy Taylor, Becky Taylor (not sisters), and our office manager, Nancy Montier! 

Thank you each & everyone of you, because without you, & without your love, I couldn’t do this!

10 years…our diamond anniversary.  As you know, diamonds begin as rough ugly pieces of coal forged by heat & pressure deep within the earth. We’ve been through a lot of heat & pressure together: the challenges of the great recession, and the wind & fire of the ever reforming Great Holy Spirit to name just a couple!  And what is emerging is a uniquely precious & brilliant gem, Skyline,  that radiates such beautiful color & light.

I’m remembering so well the lofty language of our covenant together when you  called me as your pastor…

“We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, inspired to run with perseverance the race that is set before us, guided by the Holy Spirit… You called me as your pastor and teacher, in this covenantal relationship, in a mutual ministry, to serve with diligence, faithfulness, & courage…”

Together we ran, through the many challenges of ministry:

  • Together we solved the great mysteries… mysteries like why ARE we losing so much water here at Skyline?  Together, guided by the keen analysis of our green team, we discovered, one Friday evening, that hose draped over the preschool fence, that led down, down, down, into the ravine, & over to a stream, & deeper into the forest to the pot farm, watering 1800 thirsty marijuana plants!
  • Together we performed miracles, surviving 10 Christmas & Easter services, with an organ that had been put on the Do Not Resuscitate list many years ago.

I have so many memories with you:

  • Of very challenging times:  Doing all we could to keep our little boat afloat in the great recession
  • Of sad & painful times: Memories of loved ones who have moved, & memories of loved ones who have died, & who are forever with us in spirit.

img_4593And I have some hysterically funny memories. of what can happen when a Pastor forgets to turn off the microphone  before the end of a service… as happened to me one fateful Sunday:

Just after I had finished the solemn Passion Sunday service, finishing in silence with the words, “and they laid him in his tomb, and rolled the stone in front of the tomb”..

.. ever so quietly I carried the Christ candle out of the sanctuary.. leaving the congregation in utter silence, inviting the congregation to meditate on these words in the sanctuary of their hearts and minds.. … when suddenly, as I stepped outside, & looked into the courtyard, there I spotted Steve, the dove guy, who had recently suffered a concussion, with his many cages with 20 squawking homing pigeons, there a week early, ready to release them for Easter Sunday. .. but it’s Passion week..

Over the mike, the congregation overhead my voice… ..

OMG… what are you doing here? You’re not supposed to be here.. Quick.. hide.. before anyone sees you! come on … hurry up! We want this to be a surprise!

Immediately, several choir members, come running out, saying, “Pastor Laurie, shut off your mike”.. and I look down, still holding the Christ candle, and a lock of my long hair, touches the flame, & is set ablaze by the Christ candle..  and I exclaimed a few words to Jesus that I’m glad that no one heard over the PA system!

But above all, I remember and cherish the love and respect & positive difference we make, in so many ways, in the world.

Happy anniversary, to my dear sisters and brothers on the journey. I love you.

We’re a love puddle.. a small but mighty love puddle…The countless, daily miracles of love….from the banquet of delicious food prepared each Sunday by one of us, to visits to those who are in grief or recovering from surgeries,  to being part of saving 33 yr old mother, Elizabeth Hobbie’s life.

A love puddle..  a small but mighty love puddle… that pours out beyond the walls of our sanctuary into Oakland.. Much like the parable of the multiplication of the loaves & fishes, we transformed  a generous gift from the Jim Manley/Bruce Kahn fund, into a corporate matching challenge, w/ACCFB, amassing $75K for the food bank, & with their purchasing power, provided over $500K in fresh healthy food for local families in need.

A love puddle.. seeking to save our precious planet.. a powerful voice in seeking to end climate change, from embodying best practices here at Skyline in our grounds management, to our leadership in banning fracking and keeping coal out of the port of Oakland.

A love puddle in partnerships:  partnering in fellowship & justice with our preschool families, we sing carols to elderly seniors, & bring gifts to homeless children at EOCP.  And partnering with OEBGMC to rise & shine each Easter sunrise.

Our little love puddle has stood as powerful voice for LGBTQ people through Prop 8, through Marriage equality, & more recently, through our fabulous Parade contingent as part of Oakland Pride, through Coming out Sunday, and through a vigil for the victims of the Orlando massacre.

Our little  love puddle has spanned the oceans… Rebuilding hope in the hometown village of Sentho Kilgore, in Makrommray, Sierra Leone, after the destruction as a result of the civil war in that country. We built a school and a library, and every year we helped to fund 5-6 school teachers for over 400 children through our yearly bike fundraisers led by Marilyn Shaw.

Co-leading the movement w/in our denomination’s NCNCUCC conference to become a Jubilee conference to fight for global debt relief for the world’s poorest countries, and to reform unjust banking and tax laws.

How we have loved one another, in this love puddle, called Skyline Community Church, where all are welcome, ALL God’s creatures.. right Rhea??

  • I give thanks to God for each one of you.. your diligence, faithfulness and courage
  • Your sense of humor for all that we have learned together
  • For the positive difference we have made in the world.

So let us go forth, yes, in this time and place, & open ourselves to the transforming power of heavenly love,  that we may continue to let our light shine brightly..

Happy anniversary, to my dear sisters and brothers on the journey.. I love you.

Blessings, Pastor Laurie

costumeOctober 30th is a busy Sunday!  It’s the day before Halloween! A chance for you to have a dress rehearsal for your Halloween costume! In the spirit of All Saints and All Soul’s day, we encourage you to think about heroes that you admire, and want to embody!

Everyone, especially children, are invited to wear their Halloween costumes!! After the service,the children will have a Halloween costume procession with music like “Because I’m Happy”! 

Following the procession, we are happy to be celebrating with a BOUNCE HOUSE (rather than a haunted house!) for children. We will also provide other fun games for all ages! We encourage you to bring your friends and your favorite Halloween games for our celebration…Here are some ideas: 

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/halloween-ideas/g2618/halloween-games/?slide=1halloween-dance-at-church

Finally, parents with teens too old for trick or treating but love giving out candy to children on Halloween- I literally get hundreds of children at my home. You’re invited to come and join me between 6-8 pm to hand out candy to children! Contact me or the office for my address in San Leandro.

Blessings, Pastor Laurie 

 

Dear Ones,

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

Dear Friends,

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 (aarteaga@progressivetransitions.org).

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

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) ngtaylor94619@yahoo.com

9-11-16-pride-bt-gathered-by-car

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!

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10 a.m. Sunday Services

Skyline UCC
A United Church of Christ
12540 Skyline Boulevard
Oakland, CA 94619
(510) 531-8212

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