We had an inspiring annual meeting last Sunday, June 28.  We thanked last year’s officers, celebrated our many accomplishments, and covenanted with this year’s newly elected council members and officers.

6-29-15 Walter Jones 6-29-15 new council 2
6-29-15 old council with certificatesSpecial thanks to our dedicated council members for their many contributions, and let’s welcome our new officers!

Our next council meeting is Thursday, July 16th at 7 pm, and all are welcome!

For more information about annual meeting, please click here: http://w ww.skylineucc.org/community/church-members/6-29-15  annual meeting slide 

Here’s the new Skyline Community Church Council and Service Team Chairs!

 6-29-15  counting votes

Dear Ones,

May our hearts be broken open with care and prayers the people of Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Violence is a tragedy anywhere, but to have it happen within a church while people are gathered to pray and study the bible is horrifying. And to know that this historic African American church was targeted because of it’s racial composition should cause us all to fall to our knees and pray, God have mercy on our nation. We may not see ourselves as being actively responsible for such a crime, however we do have to acknowledge that we participate in a culture that has created a climate where racism, hatred and the means to do violence are everywhere present.

The apostle Paul describes the church as the Body of Christ. As a body we are connected. When one part suffers, we all suffer. Already grieved by the news of the nine who lost their lives, I later found out that one of the people who died is a relative of our UCC National Minister for Youth Advocacy and Leadership, Rev. Waltrina Middleton. Below is her letter to her UCC church family which includes us. Let us hold Rev. Middleton and her family and all the people who lost loves ones and are directly affected by this terrible tragedy in our love and in our prayers. And let us commit ourselves to doing our part to be the change we wish to see in the world.

A Letter from Rev. Waltrina Middleton  

18 June 2015  

Dear Sisters and Brothers: My heart experienced the unimaginable late last night as the sun began to set in some places, and before the moon could peak through weary cloud-cast skies in others.

The very thing I fight and organize against-a deeply masked and far reaching culture of violence in our society has descended upon the steps of my family and matriculated its way into the sanctuary of the church. Last night during bible study and prayer service, a gunman entered the historical Mother Emmanuel AME church of Charleston, SC and opened fire on the 11 persons gathered there. There were only two survivors. With deep sorrow, I write to share that my beloved first cousin was among the 9 fatalities. Her death was confirmed this morning and the unspeakable grief of this loss has knocked me and my family off kilter.  

C.S. Lewis wrote that “it is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box…” But suppose your life depended on that invisible rope that is your faith? Today, the weight of that invisible rope tugs at my trembling heart and such invisible faith is tested as we walk through the valleys of the shadows of death all around us. We are reassured to fear not evil, but to trust in the rod and the staff for comfort, protection, guidance and perhaps understanding when the morning comes. Please keep my family, Mother Emmanuel congregation, and all those impacted by this rampant culture of violence in the center of your prayers. Let us come together for such a time as this to the sacred clearing-no matter our faith or practice, and be on one accord in the spirit of love, hope, and healing to seek justice and peace for these and other victims of hatred and violence.

Let us put our faith to action and be more than empty drums that have long lost their melodies or arrangements. Let us remove our instruments from the poplar trees and call the people, the public officials, and yes, the church to action to address the festering sores of racism, classism and militarism-as they intersect this culture of violence. How can we begin to eradicate this evil without acknowledging the realities of racialized policing, hate crimes, and the disproportionate acts of violence against Black and Brown bodies?   

Alas, it is morning and tear filled dew drops fall fresh upon my face, with eyes watching God and a soulful lament. Our hearts are troubled, but our faith remains steadfast, trusting and believing in the reconciling power of God for the brokenhearted and the oppressed.

Yours in faith & justice,

Rev. Waltrina Middleton, United Church of Christ National Minister for Youth Advocacy and Leadership   

I would also like to share the following prayer lifted up from the National Office of the United Church of Christ in Cleveland, Ohio:

Dear God of many Names, we come to you in our time of grief.  Help us dear God to understand how such tragedy occurs in the midst of your beloved family.  Because you have made us One Body, help us dear God to reach across the lines which divide us.  At this time, we ask for special prayers for our beloved family in Charleston, South Carolina and all who connect to them in life and spirit.  Keep them close to your heart dear One and protect them with power of your Holy Spirit.  We pray all this in the blessed name of Jesus the Christ, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen

Many Blessings,

Pastor Laurie

Last weekend I joined with over 350 UCC church delegates from Northern California and Nevada to take part in our UCC Conference Annual Meeting, held at Sonoma State University.

The highlights for me included:

  • Welcoming  our new conference minister, Diane Weible, who most recently served with Skyline’s very own  Rev Charles Buck in the Hawaii Conference, and prior to that in Japan with her husband as a missionary.
  • Being inspired by the keynote address from the  Pacific School of Religion’s new president, David Velaquez- Levy,  on the theme of living as immigrants, a theme of particular relevance to faith communities  especially in the Bay Area.
  • Enjoying Taiko women drummers and Samoan dancers in worship.
  • Sharing the weekend with some of my favorite clergy friends.
  • Leading two workshops.
  • Passing the resolution to become a Jubilee Conference and join a bi-partisan, interfaith, global alliance to reduce the global debt crisis particularly in the world’s poorest nations.

For more information about the annual meeting, please click here:

https://ncncucc.org/news-events

https://ncncucc.org/annual-gathering-2015-slideshow/

For more information on Jubilee, and our latest letter writing campaign, to support debt relief for Nepal, please click here:

http://www.jubileeusa.org/home.html

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1wjUlNz9PamLMrjtOHpOnkJV6dZzEIplc7n9mrIiCwyQ/viewform

© Kutt Niinepuu | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Father’s Day and the summer solstice are upon us. 

In thinking of both Father’s Day and  the great diversity and beauty of creation, I am reminded of the poem, “Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

You might be wondering, what exactly is “Pied Beauty?”… is it an altered state of consciousness, brought about by gazing at your favorite homemade pie? 

“Pied”, in fact, means that which is odd, quirky, unique, eccentric, different. 

The poem celebrates God, the creator of all, and in particular all that is uniquely beautiful… which includes you and me! 

I leave you with these words from the poet and Jesuit priest, Gerard Manley Hopkins: 

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things –
 
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
   
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
 
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
   
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
 
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
   
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
       
Praise him.

Photo:© Kutt Niinepuu | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The latest volunteer schedule:

2015-06-23 Sunday Volunteer Sheet

We’re in the season of graduation, but not just for high school graduates venturing forth to college, but for all of us in this lifelong process of growth, evolution, and change. 

Throughout our lives we search for meaning, our vocation, and our life’s purpose.   

David Brooks, NY TImes journalist, writes:

So I’ve been thinking about the difference between the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the ones you put on your résumé, which are the skills you bring to the marketplace.The eulogy virtues are the ones that get mentioned in the eulogy, which are deeper: who are you, in your depth, what is the nature of your relationships, are you bold, loving, dependable, consistent? And most of us, including me, would say that the eulogy virtues are the more important of the virtues. But at least in my case, are they the ones that I think about the most? And the answer is no.”  Click here for his Ted Talk

Reinhold Niebuhr summed up the confrontation:

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by that final form of love, which is forgiveness.

Come and join us after the service for a conversation about how to live in this world, but not of this world, connected deeply with our deepest values. 

    Blessings, Laurie 

Pentecost is upon us.. a celebration of the life giving power of the Spirit, a gift from God promised to us all, not just once upon a time thousands of years ago, but now.

May we be all be kindled in the fire of  Divine love.

I leave you with a poem from the poet William Blake:

Unless the eye catch fire,
The God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catch fire
The God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catch fire
The God will not be named.
Unless the heart catch fire,
The God will not be loved.
Unless the mind catch fire,
The God will not be known.

William Blake (1757-1827) from Pentecost

2-8-15 flower 2 altarSermon Sharings with Pastor Laurie

Sundays after worship, 30 minutes, ongoing

Seeking a way to deepen your faith and your relationships with one another in a quick, simple way? 

After worship each Sunday you are invited to join Pastor Laurie in the sanctuary for 30 minutes for a discussion about the sermon and to share reflections with one another.

Lunch is provided!      Childcare is provided!      All are welcome!

Rev Laurie:  (421-2646) revlauriemanning@aol.com

What is the essence of the Easter experience? cross and light

A transformation occurred.

Jesus was reborn in the hearts of his followers. Death was the occasion, love the medium, & forgiveness the catalyst.

We all are children of God.

We all are sinners. We all can be forgiven if we will refrain from harsh judgment.

Love casts out fear. God is love & only love remains. Only the love we give away.

Join us this Sunday as we experience resurrection!

Bring your loved ones!

green cloverSt. Patrick’s Day should be a celebration, one that surpasses the kind of ecstasy reached with one too many green beers. This year may St. Patrick’s Day be an occasion to bless and be blessed and a moment to remember the Spirit that draws us to one another in celebration and in sorrow.

To bless someone, in the most literal sense of the word, is to confer your hopes to them. That’s why so many traditional blessings begin with the word “may.”

Take, for instance, what is perhaps the best-known Irish blessing (or toast, as the case may be this time of the year):

© Mircala | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Mircala | Dreamstime Stock Photos

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

“May” doesn’t mean “so be it.” May implies that something is possible, but not a done deal. May hopes that God puts it in play and that you get out of your own way and allow it to happen.

John O’Donohue, the great contemporary Irish poet/philosopher (and former Catholic priest), knew the power of “may”, and the power of blessing.

Here is a video montage accompanying John reading his poem called “Beannacht”, which means “Blessing” in Irish (from O’Donohue’s Echoes of Memory):

Beannacht

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

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

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