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:

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 (

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)


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!

this-changes-everything_final-2Friday, October 7,

6:30 Dinner – Vegetarian – RSVP, see below

7:30 Movie & Discussion * Paul Rockwell, local journalist will be facilitating our discussion.*

All are Welcome.

Our Green Team is hosting this film based on Naomi Klein’s book of the same title. From the website: “Filmed over 211 shoot days in nine countries and five continents over four years, [the film] is an epic attempt to re-imagine the vast challenge of climate change. Klein builds to her most controversial and exciting idea: that we can seize the existential crisis of climate change to transform our failed economic system into something radically better. “

Skyline will provide the main course including beer and wine,suggested donation $10 or bring salad, dessert, appetizer to share. PLEASE RSVP to Catherine Kessler for dinner by Oct 5!  Thank you! (510-531-8212;

joy-nature-sunsetIt certainly is hot these days!

Were you one of the 81 million people who watched the presidential debates live on Monday?

I watched it, along with about 200 other people at Everett and Jones BBQ in Jack London square. The location was sweltering hot given Monday’s 90 degree temp; the crowd of rowdy, emotional people; and the huge portions of steaming hot BB chicken and ribs. It was surreal- a bit like watching a Warriors game during the playoffs with a bunch of Warriors fans.

I imagined during the evening the millions of other viewers and voters watching with other like- minded people, and I was thinking about how polarized our country has become. More than ever, we need to learn ways to open up conversations with people very different from us in order to find common ground;  from our most intimate relationships, to our global geo-political relationships, to our relationship with the earth and with all of creation.

This Sunday we celebrate World Communion and the feast of one of my favorite saints, St Francis, lover of the poor, and lover of all creatures.

I invite you on this World Communion Sunday, to join us as we seek to bring forth a truer sense of communion within ourselves, with all people, and with all of life. Join us for our annual Blessing of the Animals on Sunday at 3 pm! And like us on Facebook!

I leave you with the refrain from St Francis’s Canticle of the Sun:

The heavens are telling the glory of God, 
And all creation is shouting for joy! 
Come, dance in the forest, come, play in the field, 
And sing, sing to the glory of the Lord! 

Listen here!
Blessings,  Pastor Laurie,   (421-2646)

9-27-15-bofa-dg-rhea-dog-pink-bow-owner-2 9-27-15-bofa-dg-nila-rhea-and-dogCome and celebrate the animal companions in our lives on Sunday, October 2 at 3:00 PM!

This is our 17th annual special ceremony to honor our animal companions and acknowledge the blessings they bring to our lives. Bring your pet(s) or a picture of your pet (or even a stuffed animal) – this is a family event!  Refreshments provided for both pets & humans.

Afterwards, come and walk your pet through our unique labyrinth!

Watch a video from a previous blessing! And last year’s ABC News coverage!

All over the world lively and sacred ceremonies to bless our animal companions and honor the blessings they bring to our lives are held in the fall.  Churches of all denominations honor beloved pets around the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi (Oct 4) the patron saint of animals.

Reverend Laurie Manning and Rhea Babbit of Skyline Community Church, affiliated with United Church of Christ,  bless your dog, cat, goat, parakeet, fish, horse or whatever you bring (safely) with you.  You can also bring photos of beloved pets who cannot make the journey or have passed on to receive a blessing.

The ceremony is at 3:00 PM, with registration at 2:45, in the beautiful courtyard at:9-27-15-bofa-dg-laure-and-dog-owner-blue-dress

Skyline Community Church
 12540 Skyline Blvd., Oakland, Ca. 94619

(½ mile S. of Redwood)

Come one and all, with dogs, cats, hamsters, goats, parakeets, horses and more to celebrate and enjoy our animal companions.

9-20-15-catherine-picnicSeptember 18, 10:00 AM and after Service

Great worship & fellowship celebration!
No matter who you are, where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here!

Invite your friends, neighbors and family Sunday!

Bring a picnic game, a musical instrument, and be ready to play!

Highlights include:  
* Family friendly service!
* Great music!

* Fun & dancing!
* Picnic after services, open to all!
* Bring your own games – including:
– hula hoops

 – water balloon toss
     – ring toss
     – 3 legged race
     – find someone who…
– Nature scavenger hunt
Want to help plan the service or kids games? Contact Pastor Laurie:

Remember, invite your family, friends, and neighbors to the service and the fun!
Contact Suzie Harris at 510-500-3083, or 

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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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