Contact: February 15, 2012

Montclair Presbyterian Church

Dear Friends,

As I went from Celebration which felt very alive, to greeting people and celebrating Katie’s arrival with her family in attendance, to the Beacon’s meeting, and then to the Storytellers’ Open Mic and brunch, I was excited about the energy I felt in each gathering. When I left to drive home after it was all over, I was reflecting on how fortunate we are to have so much life in our midst and such quality programs. If you have never attended one of the Storytellers’ gatherings, you are missing out on some beautiful offerings of poetry, stories and heart to heart sharing.

As hard as it is to imagine, there can also be a downside to so much activity! Unfortunately, because there were so many things scheduled after Celebration, our annual congregational meeting was far too rushed. Most people were ready to move onto the next activity so we weren’t prepared to engage in the kind of conversation and reflection that is usually part of an annual meeting. I remember last year’s meeting just a few months after I arrived. We engaged in important conversation regarding the interim period and you all asked probing and excellent questions. I apologize for having “squeezed” this year’s meeting into a tight slot. In addition, I was remiss in not repeating the names of our nominees for Session just prior to voting. Hal said the names, but I should have repeated them when I asked for the vote. Our nominees are Lee Aurich, Karen Gibson, Jean Gregory, Susanne Lea and Bill Neely. They will be the class of 2014. Our outgoing elders are Tom Davies, Jean Roggenkamp, Hal Davis, Linda Benson and Sari Kulberg. Many thanks to those 5 who have served faithfully these past 3 years. If you see them, please thank them in person. Our two auditors for a two year term are Laura Hansen and Wes Blair. Thanks again to Don Rath who served for the past two years with Wes Blair.

The other dynamic that occurred on Sunday was that because we had a few things scheduled, the group that scheduled their event first (Storytellers) ended up feeling frustrated by the other events that seemed to take some of their audience away. I hear that frustration. The ideal situation is when we only have one event scheduled so that as many as possible may participate. In a church this size, there aren’t always enough Sundays in a month to do all the events we’d like to do and it isn’t always possible to plan months in advance. When the Storytellers planned their event, for example, we didn’t know that Katie’s whole family was going to be able to attend with her on the same Sunday. It was a unique opportunity that presented itself a few weeks ago and I wanted to embrace it. Currently we have our Congregational gatherings once each month and the Beacons are meeting once each month. Normally we try not to do committee meetings and “business” after church but sometimes it can’t be helped. This month was particularly challenging as this coming weekend is a holiday weekend. I am sorry for the frustration that occurs when more than one event is planned and I ask for your patience and understanding as we try to schedule a congregation that is overflowing with life and activity!

Speaking of activity, please read the description below about our upcoming Congregational Gathering on Feb. 26th. It will be an exciting experience for all of us. The Mission Study Team continues to work on ways to feedback to you the information we are getting from you. Stay tuned for updates.

Grateful to God for you and your energy and creativity and faith,

THE OFFICE WILL BE CLOSED ON FRIDAY, February 17, 2012. In case of a pastorial emergency, please call Rev. Katie at (510)684-8800.


Photos from our youth group gathering in the Family Room last Saturday evening. With wonderful prep, work and cheerleading by Jim Allardice and Bill Neely, we made dinner and enjoyed a meal together, sharing also our “smiles of the week,” some games, and an object that we brought that would tell the group something about who we are. Thanks to adult supporters Jim, Bill, Dave McEwan, and Jeremy Calhoun and to all our youth for creating an enjoyable evening. THIS COMING SUNDAY, Feb. 19th, youth group returns to the regular 7-9 p.m. time. We are looking for AWESOME, AWESOME TURNOUT as we will be doing a database information gathering project, including photo taking. Parents, please help in spreading the word to the youth: Katie’s looking for “AWESOME TURNOUT!” Thanks! ~Rev. Katie

FROM THE MISSION STUDY TEAM: Our next congregational gathering is Sunday, February 26. We will start promptly at 11:30 – and end at 1:00. In January we had a fascinating discussion on three questions related to “Who Are We (MPC)?” (Identity). This month we again use a World Café format, but we will all be in the Family Roomto probe deeply on one question, “What Is Our (MPC’s) Purpose?” A special treat: A professional World Café “graphic recorder” will be present to capture our ideas on a wall mural using text and graphics to illustrate the key patterns of our conversations. The responses to our Purpose question will feed into a new mission statement. Food? Bring your own lunch, or do your own ordering and pick-up at the Thornhill Coffee Shop (510-339-8187) or at the 7-11. The MST will provide fruit, granola bars, and water/cups.

MORE NEWS FROM THE MISSION STUDY TEAM: Did you know that in addition to the Mission Study Team’s regular meetings, there are 11 different sub-groups simultaneously working on various pieces of the Mission Study report? There is a sub-group developing the introductory written overview for the report and a sub-group working on the History of MPC. You’ve already contributed some of that information in one of our Sunday Congregational meetings. A research sub-group will be studying the statistical data from Montclair & the PCUSA, while another sub-group is compiling and analyzing the results from the survey you took in November. They are also comparing results with past surveys. Another research sub-group is compiling information about/from the Montclair community, including census data and conducting interviews with business owners, local schools & churches in the area. One sub-group will be interviewing Committee Chairs and another sub-group will interview some of our congregants. There is also a compare/contrast Montclair & Oakland sub-group, and a sub-group that will be working on getting information from other churches. The Budget sub-group will be looking at our budget information, and you have all experienced first hand the work of our Congregational meeting sub-group. Information collected from you during the Congregational meetings is intended to supplement various pieces of information gathered by all of these sub-groups. All the information collected is being or will be carefully compiled and analyzed by the full team and will become the basis of our written report. As you can tell, there’s more going on than the eye can see!

Sunday, February 19th: Rev. Katie Morrison will be preaching and the choir will be singing.
Sunday, February 26th: The first Sunday of Lent and Rev. Beth will be preaching. The choir will be singing.
Sunday, March 4th: Family Sunday with communion and Rev. Beth will be preaching. The choir will be singing.

THANK YOU FROM DON ALTER: Thank you for your great support throughout my illnesses. Your prayers, visit and cards have been a real source of strength and hope for me. I returned home from the hospital and Rehabilitation on January 27th, and am getting stronger each day. Actually, a couple of days ago when I awoke I realized that I was in recovery and would continue to recover and rejoin you as an active member of the MPC Family.

THE BEACONS’ PROGRAM BOARD: Everyone is invited to stop by The Beacon Program Board in the Family Room. Find out more about our Beacon Program which is composed of fourteen groups (pods) of persons sharing geographical areas. Each pod has a Beacon. Find your neighborhood or zip code and find your fellow pod members. If you have not already been contacted by your Beacon, if by chance your name has been accidentally omitted or is incorrect, please contact the Beacon in that area, the church office or Carrie McKiernan.

BOLIVIA DELEGATION TO DEPART SOON: Jay Gregory, Jean Norris, and Brad Hestir, our 2012 delegation to Bolivia will be departing in the wee hours of February 21 to meet with our partners in several Bolivian cities. They will be consulting with community leaders, and perhaps government officials concerning issues affecting poverty, health and hunger such as global warming, environmental pollution from mining, just trade, and land grabs. We have set up a web page so that you can learn more and follow their progress during the trip. Bookmark this web address and check back from time to time to learn what is happening.

ASH WEDNESDAY SERVICE: We will mark the beginning of Lent, a season of introspection and reflection, by joining together for our Ash Wednesday Service on February 22nd at 7:00 pm in the Sanctuary. We will participate in the ritual of the imposition of ashes. Children are welcome.

END CORPORATE PERSONHOOD! Jeff Clements, author of the new book, Corporations Are Not People with a foreword by Bill Moyers, is speaking at our church. Mark your calendar for Sunday, March 4 at 4:00 PM in the sanctuary and invite friends to join you! The Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate spending to influence elections at all levels of government, but we can amend the Constitution. This has been done many times in our history. Clements is the co-founder of Free Speech for People, a national non-partisan campaign to end corporate personhood. This event, which is open to the community, is co-sponsored by our Social Justice Committees and Free Speech for People. There is no admission charge. For more information contact Barbara Peters, or (510)654-9677.

TASK FORCE: Bylaws Task Force will meet for the first time on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Thornhill Room. If you have questions or would like to participate, please contact Susanne Lea or Tom Davies.

WOMEN’S RETREAT: The March 10 Women’s Retreat is currently full but taking names on a waiting list. If anyone drops out, we will notify the next person on the list (in order of registration). Also, IF YOU NEED TO CANCEL, YOU ONLY HAVE UNTIL FEB. 26 TO DROP OUT AND RECEIVE A REFUND. A list of attendees will be available Sunday at the registration table so that you can see whose attending and carpool with someone. Remember that parking is $9 for the day.

ECO-ALERT: The Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour is Sunday, May 6, this year. Go to to learn more and register.

• Vanessa Hammack, Serin Eggling’s daughter, as she continues to grieve her mom’s death and plan for her future without her mom.
• Laurel McCoy as she recovers from ankle surgery.
• Bunny Stevens as she continues to recover from knee surgery.
• Don Alter and Peggy as Don continues to recover at home and Peggy struggles with a bad cold.
• Tom Debley’s sister, Virginia as she deals with declining health.
• Ann Fisher who is at home recovering after a successful heart procedure.
• Dave and Cynthia Blumgart as Dave continues to go through chemotherapy for throat cancer.
• Jean Gregory’s grandson Ethan who recently moved to Louisiana, that he will be safe and well cared for at home and school.
• Anna Marie Schmidt and Bob Roat and Abby as they grieve the death of Anna Marie’s father.
• Tom Debley’s family, especially his niece & nephew, Kat and Chris, as they grieve the death of Tom’s sister, Rosemary.

• Katie’s father gives thanks for this congregation that is now “home” for Katie.
• Stan Stevens gives thanks for Bunny’s recovery from knee surgery and for her presence in Celebration!
• Peggy Alter gives thanks for Don’s continuing recovery.

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