Contact: April 25, 2012

Montclair Presbyterian Church

Dear Friends,

Last week in the Contact, I gave you some information about why our pledges have decreased related to people who have moved and died. After I wrote the letter I received more detailed information from the finance committee and the figure I gave you was actually a bit low. If you go back two and a half years and calculate the losses due to moves and deaths, the figure is closer to $50,000. Before you feel too discouraged about the numbers, I would like to say more about why I am raising the issue with you.

When I went through the stewardship season here last spring for the first time, I was struck by how the majority of the pledges were on the lower end. (NOTE: As the pastor, I do not know who pledges or how much!) Please understand there was no judgment in my perspective, it was simply a matter of being surprised at the figures. The churches I have served in the past have been far more traditional in their stewardship approach which means many of them were very clear about each family trying to reach the goal of giving 10% of their gross income to the church. Three out of the four churches were fairly wealthy so you can imagine how much higher the average pledges were in those churches. In this congregation, there has been some reliance on a few very generous givers over the years. Here are some interesting figures from the stewardship brochure: Last year out of 132 pledges we had 9 people who contributed $5000 (2 of those gave $12,000 or more) or more. We had 113 people who contributed between $1 and $3000. From the survey taken in the Fall for the Mission Study Report, we learned that our average household income is $88,000. Our average pledge last year (including highest and lowest and everything in between) was $1,872. That works out to be close to 2 percent of an annual income of $88,000.

After being here for a year and a half and now going through my second stewardship season, I have come to a deeper understanding of why the average pledge is lower overall than in many other churches of our socioeconomic status. In conversation after conversation with so many of you, I have heard about the variety of ways in which you give financially in your work for human and environmental justice. I would love to take a poll of each family to get a sense of how many different organizations you support along with your support of MPC. We would probably all be surprised at how many organizations are being supported! A number of you have talked about giving to MPC and other organizations similarly.

What if you were to take a slightly different approach to your overall charitable giving? What if you were to list each organization you currently support financially and then rate them in terms of importance to you/your family? Where would MPC fall in the ratings? Would it be near the top? In the middle? Next, look at how much you are giving to each organization and then determine whether or not the giving matches the rating you have assigned. In other words, does your giving reflect the value this community holds for you as compared to other organizations? What is important to realize about all of the other organizations is that they all are supported by a variety of people, some who are part of faith communities and many who are not.

All we have here at MPC is each one of you. If you are already doing what you think reflects your value of and commitment to this church and coincides with your ability, then don’t spend any more time thinking about this perspective! If not, then maybe it’s worth thinking about it. Either way I want to be clear that my hope is not to pressure you in any way or add to any guilt you may be feeling. My hope is simply to give you a new perspective on how to think about making decisions related to charitable giving.

As always, if I have upset or offended you in any way by offering this perspective, please contact me and let’s talk about it.

In gratitude for each one of you,

FROM THE MISSION STUDY TEAM: Our next congregational gathering is Sunday, May 6, 11:30 to 1:00. Pastor Beth will lead us in a discernment exercise, a different way of gathering wisdom from what we have done in prior gatherings. We will sit for periods of silence with the questions, “Who is God calling us to be?” and “What is God calling us to do?” We will engage in small group reflection about the kind of church we want to be in coming years. Bring your own lunch. The MST will provide fruit, granola bars, and beverages. Let Katie Morrison know by Wednesday, May 2 if you need childcare.


Dear Church Family,

I have two out-of-town events coming up that I would love to share about with you. As many of you know, although I was raised (happily) and ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA)… about six years ago, I transferred my standing to the United Church of Christ. It was an exciting experience for me of being “called to,” more than “called from,” and a decision that I continue to feel good about today. The United Church of Christ has been in the process of extending full welcome to out gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered members and ministers since the early 70s and not only did my transfer of ordination standing open up new opportunities for me for service within church congregations as a pastor, but the shift in culture has also been extremely healing for me. I continue to maintain relationships with my brothers and sisters in the Presbyterian Church and now, in the opportunity to serve side by side with you (yea!), I am back in ministry within the Presbyterian Church. It is good! And, maintaining standing in the United Church of Christ is important to me. In the Northern California and Nevada Conference of the UCC (similar to a Presbytery, although a little bigger in geographical scope), we have what we call “Annual Meeting.” My wife Curran, daughter Ellis Jane and I will be attending the annual meeting this weekend, beginning on Thursday at a hotel in Redwood City and returning on Saturday. The theme this year is “WE ARE: Gathering, United, Venturing.” I look forward to the gathering and uniting part and am interested to learn more about the venturing piece. All good tidbits will be shared with you! The second out-of-town trip is a bigger one. I will be traveling without my family to North Carolina, May 5-12, to attend the Annual Recreation Workshop at the Montreat Conference Center just outside of Ashville. This is a wonderful continuing education event for pastors, Christian educators, and youth workers to continue to develop creative leadership skills for working with groups of all ages in ministry settings. ARW is also a wonderful opportunity for personal, spiritual renewal and re-creation (and long-term youth group planning!). And, having attended for many years in the past, I know it is also an opportunity for staying up really late and playing all of those favorite youth ministry games with eager “adult kids” who finally get the chance to play them, not just lead them! I am thankful to MPC for the privilege of being able to benefit from this continuing education opportunity. Let me close with the vision statement of Annual Recreation Workshop: To know God’s contagious joy and share it faithfully in the world. I promise to share any joy that I “catch” with you. Thanks, y’all! (as folks say in the Carolinas…)

~Rev. Katie Morrison

A month ago, the youth group and several adults, under the inspiration of Peggy Alter, created and sent care packages for MPC related students who are away at college. We want to share with you excerpts from the wonderful thank you notes they have written.

Dear MPC (through a note to Peggy Alter),
I just got the package in the mail and it warmed my heart. The necklace is beautiful! It made me miss Telegraph Avenue and everyone back at home. To answer [your question about my studies], I am double majoring in Psychology and Community Health. I’m not sure what I want to do when I graduate. Recently I’m considering the field of teaching, as I like to work with younger people and I’ve found that I really enjoy teaching. But furthering my education in psychology/becoming a psychologist is still something I am absolutely considering. Mostly, I am interested in working directly with people in a way that is helpful and real and rewarding. Another recent interest of mine is food sustainability — after watching Food, Inc. and taking a course here called ‘Sustenance and Sustainability’ (which I love), making changes in the global food system is definitely a cause I could see myself getting involved with. But specifically, after I graduate, I would love to be able to take some time off and become fluent in Spanish, live simply and backpack for a little while. So we’ll see where all of this goes! I want to thank you and the Montclair Presbyterian Church community for these lovely care packages. What a sweet idea — the picture of the youth group is so great, and all of these items are so tasty and useful! The dried pasta is perfect. It was so nice of you to think of me and I hope all is well over there! With love, Ali (Jean Mudge’s granddaughter)

Dear Rev. Katie and the Youth Group,
I would like to thank you guys so much for the package! It was a wonderful surprise. I really like the necklace and wear it every day. Thanks also for the photo- looks like a great group! It makes me miss all the great times I had at youth group. Long live MPC! Best, John Spencer (Linda and Bob Spencer’s son)

Dear Youth Group,
Thank you so much for your thoughtful care package. It made me so happy to receive it. Thank you for sending me your warmth, kindness, and love. I hope you are all doing very well. Sincerely, Kate Kelly (Shelley and Arnold Kelly’s daughter)

Dear MPC Youth Group,
Thank you so much for the lovely care package! It arrived at the perfect time- just before finals- and I really appreciated the food, picture, cards, and especially the necklace! I used it as a good luck talisman of sorts to get me though all my exams. I am so thankful to each of you for reaching out to those of us in college, who are often far away from our homes and families. Your package reminded me of the loving, supportive family I have in MPC. Thank you again! Much Love, Kim Bowen (Leslie Louie’s daughter at UCLA)

Hi Peggy!
I just wanted to thank you and everyone else for sending the care package. I truly appreciated it and those snacks definitely helped me get through finals. I also wanted to say that the peace chain is very beautiful :) I was really excited to receive something from you all and that you all are still thinking of us. Thank you again and hope to see you soon when I return back home!
Sincerely, Atlacatl (Maria & Gil Chiguila’s son)

LOOKING FOR NEWSPAPER: Rev. Katie is STILL looking to gather up a mighty stack of newspaper for a special newspaper-themed party with the youth group. Neat stacks with the glossy advertisements taken out are especially appreciated. PLEASE drop them off to the church office. Thank you for helping to supply the supply closet!

ALL-CHURCH, INVITE THE WIDER COMMUNITY PASTA DINNER THIS SUNDAY, April 29 from 5:30-7:00pm. The youth are getting excited about providing this family-fun dinner party for all ages. We’ve selected a carnival theme and there will be popcorn, face painting, and other fun surprises. Check out the logo that was created by high school senior, Phoebe Lett, complete with Denver skyline meatballs! This is an excellent event to invite family and friends who might be interested in learning more about our youth ministry program, to hear about the mission trip destination in greater detail (there will be a presentation from 6-6:30), or to simply dine in fellowship with good neighbors and happy youth servers. Step right up… mark your calendars… make your plans… and we thank you in advance for your generous support of this life-transforming trip. Diane Bessette will be serving as our chief parent volunteer. Yeah Diane! ~Rev. Katie

P.S. to PARENTS & YOUTH: All youth, regardless of whether they are able to attend the trip, are invited (and encouraged) to participate in this youth group event. Youth will be working from 4-8pm. We are also asking families of youth to please provide a dessert for the dessert buffet table. Thank you!

Sunday, April 29:
One of the after-school performance groups from Destiny Arts will help us celebrate! Rev. Beth will be preaching a shorter sermon (hope is alive!) on 1 John 3 (the same text the performance will be based on). The Destiny Junior Company is a group of 9-12 year olds from Destiny Arts Center who perform dance/theater pieces about important personal, social and political issues. They will be performing excerpts from a show called Pacha’s Pajamas. Pacha’s Pajamas, a collaborative dance/theater production between Destiny Arts Center and Balance Edutainment, is an urban fairy tale about a little girl, who through her dreams, overcomes her struggles to become a Superhero for Nature.
Sunday, May 6: Rev. Beth will be preaching on Mark 1:14-15. We will celebrate a baptism and communion.
Sunday, May 13: Rev. Beth will be preaching on Mark 3:31-35, focusing on the redefinition of family. This will be a Sunday for Family Choir, which means all ages are invited to sing the special music. One of our External Giving Grant Recipients, Rebuild Southern Africa Association, will share with us.

STORYTELLERS BRUNCH THIS SUNDAY: Don’t miss the Storytellers Open Mic Brunch Sunday, April 29 at 11:30 in the Thornhill Room. Join us for delicious food, great writing, lots of laughter and poignancy. Read, tell or listen to original works on the theme of new beginnings or any other topic that engages you. Don’t miss this chance to share memories and hopes with members of MPC.

MPC FAMILY CAMP: Registration has begun for MPC’s 35th year at Camp Richardson on the shore of beautiful Lake Tahoe from June (16) 17-23. Details for the morning program are not yet final, but our most immediate deadline is for the cabins. We have tentative holds on Buick, Hallscott, Ford, Jaguar, Mack, Peerless, Marmon, and Dodge, but will have to release our holds in early May. If you are thinking about a cabin, you may view the site map and descriptions at It’s also possible other cabins not listed above may be available. To hold a cabin, please register and write a check for 50% of the cabin fee plus registration by May 1. You may download the information form here and the registration form here and visit the Family Camp table after Celebration on Sunday. Please contact registrar Cindy Gullikson ( with any questions about registration, camping, and accommodations.

FROM YOUR FRIENDS ON KMPC’S STEWARDSHIP (PLEDGE BREAK) COMMITTEE: A big thank you to you who have already responded to this year’s pledge drive! If you haven’t done it yet, can you decide this week? This Sunday, April 29, is the due date. Here are a couple of reminders or thoughts to consider.

• The pledge you’re making starts July 1. (MPC operates on a fiscal year from July 1 through June 30.)
• At MPC, responding to the pledge drive is one of the responsibilities of membership.
• MPC understands families are different, and there’s a place on the pledge form to check if there are personal or financial reasons why you can’t pledge at this time.
• But for other families – maybe now is the time to really re-think your giving and make a big increase in financial support. Look at MPC’s levels of pledging shown in the Guidelines for Pledging for ideas… are you really in the right “bucket”?

If you have questions, please contact Barbara Vaughn, Jeanne Dunn or Sloan White.

ARRIVAL OF EIGHTH GREAT-GRANDCHILD: We have 7 pounds of good news that was born last Wednesday, April 18. Her name is Carly Winterton. She is our eighth great grandchild. Charlie and Hope Boije.

ATTENTION MPC LEARNERS! Sign up this coming Sunday for a fascinating seminar focused on the New Testament Gospel of John, to be led by Professor Eugene Park of San Francisco Theological Seminary. The seminar will meet on the first two Sundays in May, the 6th and 13th from 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. in Room # 10.

CLOSE TO HOME PRESENTS: The Earth Shouts with Flowers: Their Incredible Diversity and Beauty with Dr. Chelsea Specht, UC Berkeley biologist (part 2) on Monday, May 7, 2012 at 7:30pm. Ever wonder why there are so many different varieties of flowers? Over 100 million years ago flowering plants (angiosperms) began to appear on planet Earth and quickly diversified. Once the flower evolved changes in shapes and colors, textures, patterns and symmetry increased the ability of a flower to interact with its environment. Chelsea Specht will discuss some of the flower patterns we see and how those patterns have contributed to the fantastic diversity we have today. For more information:

DRAMA DISCUSSION: ANATOL. Now playing at the Aurora Theater in Berkeley, Anatol, by Arthur Schnitzler, is a romantic and comedic tale of a turn-of the (last) century Don Juan and the society of Vienna. Dunbar Ogden, a long-time professor of Dramatic Art at U.C. Berkeley is our guide through this romp. At Montclair Presbyterian Church, Professor Ogden has led popular workshops on Sophocles and Shakespeare. Dates: Tuesday May 8, Discussion and Scene Readings 7:00 – 9:00, Thornhill Room at MPC. Sunday May 13 – Matinee performance at Aurora Theater, Berkeley 2 PM; followed by dinner at a local restaurant with the group. Cost: Tickets – $38.00, $3.50 for workshop materials. Hurry – tickets moving quickly!

• Those healing from surgery and hospitalizations.
• Those suffering from chronic illnesses.
• Those who are experiencing family turmoil.
• Our high school youth who have Advanced Placement exams coming up.

• Cathy Winterton, great granddaughter of Hope and Charlie Boije.
• Mother Earth.
• Solar Mosaic and the important work they are doing for Solar Energy.

DEADLINES: To submit announcements for the bulletin and Contact, please send them to The deadline for Contact is Tuesdays at 3 pm, and the deadline for the bulletin is Wednesdays at 12 noon.

MPC Calendar:

5701 Thornhill Drive, Oakland, California 94611, (510)339-1131
Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Rev. Beth Buckingham-Brown, Office hours Monday-Wednesday, 10:00 am-4:00 pm
Sherrill Figuera: Administrative Assistant, Office hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 am-4:30 pm
Rev. Katie Morrison: Coordinator for Children, Youth, & Family Life, Office hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 10:00 am-4:00 pm
Kim Rankin: Music Director
Marcia Roy: Organist
Gil & Maria Chiguila: Caretakers
Rev. John Hadsell: Theologian in Residence
Rev. Kathy Ray: Parish Associate
George Somers, Artist in Residence
Allen Todd & Lori Kendall, Sound Technicians