Are you looking for some inspiring Christmas music to listen to, or to give to your loved ones?

Skyline’s music director, Benjamin Mertz, has just released his first Christmas carol album, entitled, “Christmas at the Crossroads”, under his Benjasoul project.

Benjamin is a gospel choir director, jazz pianist, flutist, and music educator. BenjaSoul is his R&B/hip-hop project and is dedicated to moral, socially conscious, intelligent, compassionate, challenging art & music.

To hear and to order some of his music, click here.

Here are some of his reflections about this project:

What began as a simple Christmas album became a deep journey into my roots as a black, bi-racial man in America – and as I recorded these songs, the sounds and emotions of Africa continued to pull on me. At first I resisted, but then slowly let each song become what it needed to be.

This humble offering is a flawed, paradoxical, emotional album. It is Christmas and it is jazz, and it is African and New Age. It is meditational and it is ecstatic. In its way, it is the sum of my life, my race, my history, my yearnings, my weaknesses, my prayers for the world, and my deep Christian faith.
Contact Benjamin Mertz:

thanksgiving-images-free-768x432Last Sunday we gave thanks for the glorious diversity not only of the world but also of our  faith community, as we welcomed five new members!

Please extend a special welcome to Anna Quandt, Becky Taylor, Bee Franks-Walker, David Guerra & David McGuinness! 

If you haven’t had a chance to get to know these five unique, brilliant, authentic, compassionate, fair-minded, creative, amazing human beings, please be sure to say hi!  

We invite you to join us this Saturday from 10 am – 12 noon to prepare the advent wreaths, and to decorate the Christmas trees for advent. Pastor Laurie will be providing delicious chicken soup, bread and hot apple cider and festive advent music!  

During this season of giving thanks for the abundance of our lives, we remember  all of those who do not have enough, who are afraid, who are lonely, and who suffer. We wish for the abundance of this world to be shared, for fear to become love, for the lonely to feel welcomed, and for the suffering to know rest and joy. 

I leave you with a Thanksgiving prayer, by Walter  Rauchenbach..

O God, we thank you for the beauty of this earth, our home;

For the wide sky and the blessed sun,
For the salt sea and the running water,
For the everlasting hills
And the never-resting winds,
For trees and the common grass underfoot.
We thank you for our senses
By which we hear the songs of birds,
And see the splendor of the summer fields,
And taste of the autumn fruits,
And rejoice in the feel of the snow,
And smell the breath of the spring.
Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty;
And save our souls from being so blind
That we pass unseeing
When even the common thornbush
Is aflame with your glory,
O God our creator,
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

gingerbread-houseThe children of Skyline church and preschool are invited to come together for a play date while parents take a few hours off to rest, shop, or use the time in any way you like!  If you have older siblings under ten they are welcome as well.

  • Eli’jah Carroll, Children Youth and Families Director
  • 920-650-1225

You’re invited to write cards that will be attached to the gifts that we purchase for the children at the East Oakland Community Project, a homeless shelter.  Please RSVP to this very special opportunity to connect to our greater Oakland community.

This Christmas Eve, come experience the wonder of our candlelight service celebrating the birth of Jesus with carols, anthems, scripture lessons, a Christmas choir performance, children’s choir and instrumental music.

The service will be followed by delicious Christmas treats, hot apple cider, and fellowship.

This is a beautiful way to celebrate the season with your entire family. ALL are welcome!

Saturday, December 24th at 7:00 pm

For more information please contact the office at 510.531.8212

This holiday season will see us greening and decorating our beautiful sanctuary on Saturday, Nov 26 from 10 AM to noon.  We’ll have a beautiful tree to decorate thanks to Dorothy, and holiday cheer to spread around the sanctuary.  Families, children, grown-ups are welcome to be part of the fun and festivities!  If you have evergreens in your yard and can spare some branches, please bring them!  Contact Pastor Laurie with ideas, suggestions!

11-28-15-decorating-3 11-28-15-decorating-6 img_3294 img_3302

Alameda County Community Food Bank Donations 11-8-15-donation-in-accfb-barrel
Nov 6-20

We’ll have the ACCFB barrels are in the church sanctuary and in the preschool from 11/6 through 11/20.  Please donate non-perishable, healthy food such as:

  • canned meats and fish
  • low-salt soups, stews, chili
  • pasta and sauce
  • beans and rice
  • peanut butter
  • low-sugar cereal & oatmeal

The food bank serves 1 in 5 residents in Alameda County.  Thank you for making this happen!  Pastor Laurie (510) 421- 2646,



MAK_Poster Making a KillingWill you join your fellow Californians to learn more about what you can do to fight for gun safety in our state?

Pastor Laurie is hosting a viewing of “Making a Killing”:

Wednesday, October 26, 7:00 PM

652 Woodland Ave
San Leandro, CA 94577

Welcome…please visit my home at 7 pm on Wed Oct 26 to view “Making a Killing”, and to support passing Prop 63 on Nov 8. We will have light refreshments and pizza. Feel free to bring food to share. Show time starts at 7 pm. There’s plenty of street parking on a nice, quiet road.

Making a Killing is a new film by Brave New Films and Robert Greenwald. It reveals how the NRA made billions off of guns and gun-related tragedies. The screenings are intended to help educate voters on how we can stop gun violence from plaguing our country by passing Proposition 63 — the Safety for All initiative. If Prop 63 passes, California can help set the gold standard for meaningful reforms to stop gun violence and create a model that could be applied nationwide. But we can’t do this alone. Even if we are already supportive of limiting gun access, we all have a lot to learn about how to disarm the NRA and the powerful gun industry.

Click here to host your own viewing – especially before Nov 8 election day.


diamondThis weekend we celebrate our 10th anniversary together with me serving as your pastor and laurie-close-upteacher!

It’s traditionally considered a tin or aluminum anniversary, but in modern times it’s considered a diamond anniversary. For many reasons, I prefer the diamond image.  🙂

The name diamond is derived from the ancient Greek αδάμας (adámas), which means “proper”, “unalterable”, “unbreakable”, “untamed”. Diamonds are forged within the crucible of high temperature and pressure in the deep darkness of the earth. What emerges is a uniquely precious and brilliant gem that radiates a spectrum of beautiful colors.

We’ve been through a lot together over these past ten years. We’ve been forged through the challenges of the great recession and through the great ongoing reformation of Christianity in this ever increasingly pluralistic world, this new Spirit –led emergence.

I give thanks to all that I have learned and witnessed of our love, respect, diligence, faithfulness, joy and courage on this journey together. It is a time to reflect upon and to celebrate all that we have accomplished together through the grace of God. I am so grateful to so many of you.

I look forward to celebrating this weekend, and even more to open ourselves to the Spirit so that our light may shine ever more brightly.



© Mira Janacek | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Over the past few weeks, especially in my conversations with newcomers, the topic of prayer has come up.

So, the next few Sundays in worship we will be talking about prayer, as understood throughout all the world’s religions, and through psychology and science. What it is, how effective it is, how to pray, individually as well as collectively, with or without words, with music, with our bodies as well as our minds.

In these days of lingering summer even now, in October, I leave you with a poem about prayer, from one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver.

THE SUMMER DAY, By Poet Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

imgres.30Our Justice and Witness team has gathered information on State Measures from California Church Impact, League of Women Voters, and Ella Baker Center, and on Local measures by Oakland Community Organizations and League of Women Voters.  Below are links to these organizations and their recommendations.

Attend the voter forum at Kehila Community Synagogue 

Here is a BALLOT MEASURE GUIDE that summarizes the suggestions from the organizations below.  Please share this with your friends and colleagues and VOTE on 11/8!

Note: As a church we cannot support any candidate over another, but we can offer education and recommendations about ballot initiatives.

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

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