August 17, 2011

Montclair Presbyterian Church


Dear Friends,

Last evening the Mission Study Team met again after parting for the summer with a very ambitious reading assignment (3 books, 2 articles, both former mission studies from MPC, other sample mission studies online, and the Presbytery handbook for mission studies).  We had some great discussion about the various books and articles that were assigned and it appears as though some of what was read will be used at different points along the way.

The team was glad to be back together and there was a real sense of excitement about the possibilities for the mission study.  The concern was raised by the team that they have been getting some feedback about the timeline for the study and the feedback is mostly from people who are concerned that if the study takes too long, MPC could lose members or stagnate.  After discussing the issues related to timeline, the team affirmed that it is committed to creating a high quality mission study in as timely a fashion as possible.  As the plan is more developed, the mission study team will be able to give more specific information about a completion date.  One of the team members said there seems to be a rumor floating around that the mission study will take two years.  Groans were heard all around and it became clear fairly quickly that the team is hoping to be finished with the study itself by next April or May.  A decision has not been made yet as to the format of the final product so no specific time frame has been articulated but everyone agreed we would work on the final product as we go along.  One of the members also reminded the group that the fear of stagnation is not grounded.  MPC has not stopped or slowed down in any way during the transition period.  In fact, we have a great deal going on and seem to be sailing full steam ahead.  The group is hopeful that we will not lose members during this time, especially as we begin the mission study which can be an exciting process for the whole congregation.

One of the items on the agenda last night was to hear from Tom Davies and Debbie Fallehy (the two Session representatives on the team) about the discussion the Session had regarding what kind of planning it is asking the mission study team to do.  At the Session meeting last week, the Session talked about whether they wanted the mission study team to do problem planning (short-term), developmental planning (long term) or frame-bending planning (longer term and strategic).  Problem planning is done when there is a problem to be solved.  Developmental planning is done when there is a natural transition happening in an organization and frame-bending planning is done when radical change is occurring either inside or outside of an organization.  The Session was fairly even in the number of people who think we need to do developmental planning and the number of people who think we need to do frame-bending planning.  The mission study team talked about the fact that the study may need to include both kinds of planning since they, too, seemed to have even numbers of people who suggested developmental and frame-bending.  The mission study team will include the Session at various points along the way in decision making and discussion since the Session appointed them and has given them their charge.  The Session is also the primary group for implementing the results of the mission study so it makes sense that they would join in various discussion along the way.

A congregational meeting is being planned for late September or early October in order to elect our nominations committee (to nominate church officers).  At that meeting, the mission study team will report and will answer any questions you may have at that time.  In addition, they are in the process of scheduling dates for congregational events related to the mission study.  Keep your eyes open for those dates.  Beginning next week, the team members will rotate and each week a different team member will write an update on what is happening.  Look for the mission study updates in the Contact! 

Please join us for Celebration this Sunday, August 21st, as we commission the team:  Tom Davies, Janet Mulshine, David Siegenthaler, Nancy Murr, Dave Miller, Marge Nicholson, Earl Hamlin, Debbie Fallehy and Gretchen Garlinghouse.

Excited about this part of our journey together,



Update from Susan: Having made the announcement of my retirement during the coming program year, I am jumping into fall planning with enthusiasm.  I am very touched by the wonderful affirmation I am receiving for my 32 years of ministry in this church community and the congratulations on retirement.  However, it is a bittersweet time for me as I prepare to leave a job I have deeply loved.  I am doing some grieving so it is good for me to be involved in and excited about plans that we are making for the new year.

Our just-concluded Youth Group Mission Trip was a fascinating look at hunger justice issues and a very meaningful and enjoyable experience for all.  Through Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (in Portland), we heard speakers discuss issues, we toured farms and urban community gardens where we also worked as volunteers harvesting produce and delivering it to a food pantry, we pulled weeds, we spread compost, we built raised beds and planted vegetables in them.  We explored related programs in churches, served dinner at a homeless shelter, and helped needy clients shop for food in a food pantry subsidized by the Oregon Food Bank.  What a range of experiences we had together.  We served as ambassadors for teenagers everywhere as everyone we met complimented us on our hard work and interest in these serious issues and expressed appreciation for our church and its youth.  You will be hearing more soon about our experience and our plans to put what we have learned to use in our own community.

The Youth Group: We, along with a couple of families, will spend a day on a Sacramento farm this Saturday, August 20, 2011.  The Youth will top off the day with a trip to the water park in Roseville.  Please contact Susan or Talitha for a last minute sign-up for this trip.



Taizé Services: Talitha’s job description includes some extra activities such as occasional Taizé services.  With the help of Spiritual Activists and particularly Eloise Gilland, MPC will have a trial run of monthly Taizé prayers, September through December, to be evaluated afterward and possibly continued into 2012.  We’re getting stuck on a particular question though: WHEN should we have Taizé Services?  On Sundays at 5:30 pm or Wednesdays at 7:30 pm?  Lend us just 90 seconds of your time and click on the link here: to give us your feedback. We’d like 50 people to respond.  If you’re not on the internet, call Sherrill and she can enter your vote. THANKS!

ANNOUNCEMENT OF EXTERNAL GIVING GRANTS, 2011-12: At the beginning of our Capital Fund Drive several years ago, our congregation decided that 10% of the money raised for renovation of the church would be used as a tithe to help others.  The tithe is $150,000.00 divided into $30,000.00 per year for five years.  Each year the congregation is asked for suggestions for recipient groups.  Final selections are made based on a number of criteria, including focus areas of our Global Vision Statement (GVS), attention to both local and international needs, and other priorities.  Members of this year’s External Giving Committee were: Betsy King (Chairperson), Cynthia Blumgart, Carol Ekberg, Eloise Gilland and Art Paull.  Copies of the grant proposals, minutes of committee meetings as well as selection criteria and final reports from last year’s recipients are available in the church office.  The third year process of choosing recipients for MPC’s External Giving grants is now complete.  The six recipient groups, each receiving $5,000.00, are:

* Destiny Arts Center — Growing Peaceful Warriors/Project Destiny
* Solar Mosaic — Ella Baker Center: Oakland Community Solar Project
* Harbor House Ministries: Supporting Families in the San Antonio Neighborhood of Oakland
* Rebuild Southern Africa Association — Tugela Ferry AIDS Orphan Project
* Measure Y Violence Prevention Project (Oakland)
* Children of Uganda, 2012 Tour of Light

In coming editions of Contact we’ll be describing each of these projects in detail.  In the meantime, let’s be sure to thank our External Giving Committee members for an excellent job.  Also, thanks to all of the applicant groups for presenting such worthy proposals.  Selecting from among them was a real challenge.

GLOBAL CONCERNS BRUNCH:  What’s a Big Tent?  What’s next for Joining Hands?  Come hear Jay Gregory’s report on the Presbyterian Big Tent meeting in Indianapolis, get an update on the Joining Hands US-Bolivia photo-journalism contest, and talk with the Joining Hands Team about preliminary plans for a February delegation to Bolivia.  Global Concerns Committee is hosting a brunch on Sunday, August 21st, 11:30 to 1.  We’ll provide Latin-American flavors (vegetarian, too) in main dishes and bread.  We welcome salads, fruit or desserts, and/or drop a donation in the expense basket. Please invite anyone who may be interested in transformative mission, Joining Hands or going to Bolivia.  Contact Jean Norris, (510) 535-0498.

THANKS TO ALL OF YOU: Our thanks to members of the Saturday gardening class who stayed afterwards to spruce up our front garden.  They filled 4 green waste bins!  Bouquets to Betsy King, Carol Ekberg, Meta McAulay, Paula Moseley, Jean Norris & Barbara Peters.

ART GANG MEMBERS: Mark the date, Saturday, August 27, for the Photo Shoot at Dillon Beach.  Contact Pat Schwinn or Elsa Wollenweber for details.

WOMEN’S FALL RETREAT: The Women’s Fall retreat will be Friday, October 28th through Sunday the 30th. This year it will be held at the Westminster Retreat Manor in Alamo. Rev. Beth will be our facilitator. Registration will begin August 28th.

GLOBAL CONCERNS:  Thailand Orphanage Fundraiser Coming Soon!!  Entertainment Books for 2012 are here and will be on sale starting Sunday, August 28.  The Entertainment Book is chock full of hundreds of coupons – you’ll have lots of choices for restaurants, theaters, travel, shopping, movies…Just all kinds of ways to save money, have some fun, and help Pastor Sirirat’s Orphanage.  Watch for the E-Books table in the Family Room.  If you’d like to reserve a book, call Bill Neely (Hm. 531-1361 or Cell. 510-501-2562).

MPC WRITERS: The deadline for submissions for this year’s anthology is Sunday, August 28. Contributions should be copy-ready, signed, and unstapled on 8 ½” x 11” white paper. Children who missed our writing Sunday are encouraged to send their drawings and writings as well. Submit to Margaret Irvin, 510-243-1114.


CREATE IN CLAY EVENT:  The Art Gang invites you to our annual Create in Clay event.  This year will be on 2 Saturdays, September 10th and 17th, 10:00AM to 1:30PM.  Return later for glazing when creations are fired.  Instructors are Ann Fisher, Jane VanderVeer and Dot Cudaback.  Dot Cudaback’s home, 6639 Longwalk Dr., Oakland.  Bring a lunch; we provide drinks, also coffee and sweets on arrival.  We have room for 13 people. Dress for outside.  NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED; BRING ONLY ENTHUSIASM.  Sign up and receive info. Flyer at coffee hour this Sunday and next or call Dot (510) 531-0757.

JUSTICE BEGINS WITH SEEDS:  On September 16 & 17, the California Biosafety Alliance is sponsoring an important conference about the future of seeds.  Speakers include Vandana Shiva and our Friend from the Oakland Institute, Annuradha Mittal. For information see: Several people from Montclair Presbyterian Church are beginning to plan attending the conference. If you are interested in the conference and would like to be part of this group, contact Brad Hestir to coordinate.

SAVE THE DATE: Be sure to save the date for one of the performances of our Storytellers’ Works In Progress for this year.  September 23, Friday evening and September 25, Sunday afternoon, two performances of our work “Timeskid” will be presented in the Thornhill Room.  There will be ten performers from our church family taking part.


  • Continued healing for Kini York.
  • Continued healing for Tracy Livezey.
  • Wisdom & guidance for the Mission Study Team.
  • For broad participation for the Sacramento March against Solitary Confinement next week.
  • Continued healing for Burt, Jan Stites’ husband, and for patience for both of them.
  • Joy & gratitude for the 50th Wedding anniversary for Wayne & Mary Smith.


DEADLINES: To submit announcements for the bulletin and Contact, please send them to  The deadline for Contact is every other Tuesday at 3 pm, starting June 28th, and the deadline for the bulletin is Wednesdays at 12 noon.  This is a change for all of us, so let’s try to remind each other!

MPC Calendar:




5701 Thornhill Drive, Oakland, California 94611, (510)339-1131

Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm

Rev. Beth Buckingham-Brown, Office hours Monday-Wednesday, 10:00-4:00 pm

Susan Hunn, Associate for Education: Office hours, Tuesday-Thursday, 9:30-2:30 pm

Sherrill Figuera: Administrative Assistant, Office hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30-4:30 pm

Talitha Phillips: Associate for Congregational Care and Life

Kim Rankin: Music Director

Marcia Roy: Organist

Gil & Maria Chiguila: Caretakers

Rev. John Hadsell: Theologian in Residence

Rev. Kathy Ray: Parish Associate