Contact: February 8, 2012

Montclair Presbyterian Church

Dear Friends,

Yesterday we had our first staff meeting with Katie on board. It felt good to welcome her and to once again have a full staff meeting. Many of you were able to meet Katie on Sunday morning or by coming by the office. Katie’s office is the one next to mine and I invite you to poke your head in, say hi and admire her space! This coming Sunday we will do a brief covenanting liturgy in the service to acknowledge the beginning of our relationship with her. Katie’s spouse and daughter will be with her in the service and Katie’s parents will be in town from L.A. as well. Following the brief congregational meeting to elect elders and auditors, you will have a chance to greet Katie and meet her family at a reception in the family room. There are many other activities happening that day but I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity and meet her family.

As Katie begins her ministry with us, I want to remind you of some of the things for which she will be responsible. Katie has been hired as our Coordinator for Children, Youth and Family Life. The committees she will staff are Children and Youth, Family Life and the Tech Working Group. In addition, she will staff the Education Cluster (made up of Children and Youth committee, Adult Ed, Women’s Retreat, Book Depot, Prime Time). Katie is responsible for overseeing the education programs and youth groups. She will work on our social media and some of our community outreach. Katie will work with me on providing pastoral care. We will look to Katie and to the Family Life committee to be working on ways to bring us together for intergenerational events and activities. On Sunday mornings, Katie will divide her time between being in Celebration to greet new people, connect with families, and at times assist in Celebration, and being present in the nursery and Godly Play programs to observe, learn and move forward.

Preaching is not in Katie’s job description and she is not being paid to preach so if and when she preaches, we will pay her like we would a guest preacher. We did the same with Talitha last year. Katie’s first Sunday to preach will be February 19th. Preaching is a good way for her to experience all of you and for you to experience her. Part of what the Session and the Children and Youth Committee are hoping for is that there will be a much closer relationship between the congregation and the youth ministry. For many years the two seemed quite separate and we look forward to re-integration.

On February 19th, I will be in Texas with JE, and with the Rev. Janie Spahr and a number of other couples who were married by Janie. Janie was accused of violating the Book of Order when she performed our legal marriage ceremonies during the window in 2008. The General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission will hear her case and make a final ruling on Feb. 17th in Texas. Katie and her spouse were also married by Janie during the legal window but were unable to make the trip to Texas so we’ll miss them but I am sure glad Katie is willing to preach in my absence!

Thanks for your celebratory emails yesterday regarding the ruling that Proposition 8 violates the civil rights of lgbt people! Every step of progress feels good, though we have a long way to go.

This week I am feeling grateful for your time, your energy, your gifts, your passion and your care. Thanks for continuing to show up and give of yourselves. If you are not involved as much as you would like to be, let me know. There are many places where we could use your gifts.

In gratitude,

I have been eagerly anticipating the official beginning of this call to join the ministry at MPC and the day finally arrived last Wednesday, February 1st. I was greeted in the office by Sherrill and a beautiful potted mum of happy yellow flowers given on behalf of the congregation. In this first full week with you, I have felt continually greeted by beautiful, happy flowers. What joy there is here at MPC. It feels like God is in the meeting of my joy with your joy and I pray the Spirit will work marvelous wonders among us during our time in ministry together.

Starting out is both exhilarating and hard. As we talked about it in youth group, I shared how it can be hard to know how to start from the very beginning in a relationship and the tendency to want to instantly share a meaningful history together. I said how I WISH that we already had our beloved stories and jokes and favorite games together, because that would make starting out new a lot easier, but we don’t yet have that. On the flip side, we get to discover together what those will be, and I emphasized with them how excited I am to be able to join them in the journey and that we are on the same team. I want youth group and their experiences within the MPC family to be great, just as they do. With those words and with sharing of our “smiles of the week” and the playing of some games and the breaking of bread together (well, in this case, cupcakes made by Megan McKiernan), we did it… we started.

I want to thank all of the parents of youth who helped in making sure there was a positive turnout for my first Sunday with the youth. There were 20 in attendance on this Super Bowl evening. I also want to thank our two substitute adult advisors, Janet Mulshine and Carrie McKiernan. Another joy was being able to welcome a young woman to youth group who had visited the church for the first time that morning. She moved to the area three months ago from Portland, Oregon. I loved seeing the excitement in our youth’s eyes when they happily declared to her, “That’s where we just did out mission trip last summer!” A new connection made… May God bless these new connections and the many that I believe are to follow.

Your Partner In Ministry,
Rev. Katie Morrison

REMINDER FOR PARENTS & YOUTH: Special note: Youth Group will be meeting this SATURDAY, February 11th from 5-7 p.m. (instead of the usual Sunday night time). We will gather in the family room (church kitchen) and make dinner together and then share in games and a program up in the youth room following dinner. If you would like to contribute $3-$5 toward groceries, that would be appreciated, but is not required. All youth participants are invited to bring a special object or some other imaginative creation that says something about you. We will be sharing our objects during the program.

SESSION NOTES FROM SUSANNE LEA, CLERK OF SESSION: Here are the highlights from the February 6, 2012 session meeting:
Finances are on track: At the mid-year of our fiscal year, we are on budget for pledges and have not had to draw down on the Associate Pastor reserve fund. This is good news!
Giving to the World: Sari Kulberg reported that this past Christmas season MPC folks donated $8,870 to over 15 organizations through our Giving to the World 2011 program. Giving to the World is a way to honor a special person with a donation to an outstanding nonprofit. Our donees included Alameda County Community Food Bank; Amnesty International; Bread for the World; Children’s Food Basket; Corporate Accountability International; Earthjustice; ECPAT-USA: El Porvenir, Nicaragua; Habitat for Humanity; Heifer International; Janie Spahr Defense of Marriage Fund; Joining Hands Against Hunger; Orphanage at Prattachisuk; Presbyterian Disaster Assistance; San Francisco Network Ministries; and Virginia Hadsell Scholarship Fund.
Redwood Tree: A contractor has been selected to remove the redwood tree that is leaning on the office building. Work will begin once a permit is secured.
Mission Study Team Update: Thus far Our Mission Study Team has had 23 meetings!! Attendance at mission study/congregational meetings has exceeded expectations – we are averaging over 70 people. Way to go Mission Study Team! Current co-chairs are David Siegenthaler and Debbie Fallehy.

Sunday, February 12th:
Rev. Beth will be preaching and we will have a service of welcome and covenanting for Rev. Katie Morrison, followed by a brief Congregational meeting and a reception for Katie and her family.
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.

CONGREGATIONAL MEETING: There will be a brief congregational meeting and annual meeting of the corporation this Sunday, February 12 following Celebration for the purposes of (1) electing the new class of session members; (2) electing two auditors; and (3) receiving the auditors’ report for the period July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011.

OPEN MIC IS COMING! Join us this Sunday, February 12, for a brunch and a memorable feast of original writings (under 6 minutes) by children and adults of all ages. “What Touches Your Heart?” You are welcome to read on this or any theme, or to sit back and enjoy this event in our Thornhill Room, 11:30 AM. For the Anthology 2012 contributions, bring on 8 ½ X 11” copy-ready, signed, white paper.

WOMEN’S RETREAT ALMOST FULL: We’ve had huge response to our registration Sundays and are filling up. We will take registration this Sunday after the congregational meeting. Remember: having a form doesn’t hold your spot. You must pay to guarantee participation. When we reach the limit, we will start a wait list. To be on the wait list, you just need to hand in a form.
Thanks, Sherrill and Jan.

THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT AND THE CHURCH: Is This Real Change and Should the Church Be a Part of it?

The Occupy Movement in Oakland has commanded headlines and generated much controversy. We continue to see disturbing images of riot police, reticent protesters, and beleaguered city officials. But the drama of media headlines often polarizes the conversation and obscures important issues at hand. We invite you to a community forum with religious leaders to dialogue about the purpose and implications of the Occupy Movement, and its role and impact for Oakland.

The Building a Moral Economy Speaker Series presents, for its third session, a conversation on:
The Occupy Movement and The Church
Is This Real Change and Should the Church Be a Part of it?

Join us, listen, and share your opinions with our panel:
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
10am to Noon

First African Methodist Episcopal Church
3701 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland CA – parking available

Please RSVP to Kristi Laughlin:
For more information, speakers list, and a downloadable flyer, please visit

“PER CAPITA”: The Per Capita apportionment (what it costs to be Presbyterian!) per person is $32 this year. The money that we contribute is divided between General Assembly, Synod of the Pacific and the San Francisco Presbytery. If you would like to contribute toward our cost per member, please do so by writing a check to the church and designating it “Per Capita” on the memo line. Thank you!

FEEDBACK ON PALESTINIAN GOODS: Thanks to everyone who purchased the beautiful ceramics and tasty olive oil from Palestine. We took in $1429 and provided a market for the Palestinians. In addition, we were able to send $331 in profits to Keep Hope Alive, the initiative of the YMCA of Bethlehem and YWCA of Jerusalem. Our thanks to Nona Hungate for coordinating & to Paula Moseley and Margaretha Derasary for helping. –Peacemakers

PRIME TIME: “WILDLIFE AND THE HUMAN EQUATION” – SNOW GEESE, BISON, BALD EAGLES, SANDHILL CRANES, BROWN PELICANS, AND POLAR BEARS. Let’s look at what is right and what are the challenges ahead in protecting wildlife on our planet and in our communities. Tom Debley will honor the 59th Anniversary of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. Tom’s photographs also celebrate the wildlife photography of his first year of “Prime Time’ a.k.a “Retirement.” Join us on Wednesday, February 15 at 10:00 am in the Thornhill Room.

NEXT TAIZÉ MEDITATION SERVICE FEBRUARY 15: Treat yourself to a refreshing break in your week, amidst the slings, arrows, clanging, clamor, traffic jams, repulsive politics, and general frenzy of urban life! Mark your calendar and save 7:00-8:00 p.m. on February 15 in the sanctuary for the monthly (3rd Wednesday) candlelight Taizé meditation service consisting of music, scripture reading, prayer, and silence. The meditative songs will help you access the inner peace and serenity that may sometimes be in hiding. For child care (available upon request), contact the office by January 13.

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.

LEARN CPR: For those interested in being better prepared for the “eventual” Bay Area earthquake, the Oakland Fire Dept offers a number of CPR and First Aid courses for free. If you are interested in the schedules for 2012, please email Bill Neely at: and he will email you the schedules. He has taken the CPR course and it was great!

Front Row, left to right: Minda Lucero, Wyatt Black.
Back Row, left to right: Gloria Alexander, Laurel McCoy, Pat Schwinn.

• The Charles’ family (known to Pat Schwinn) as they grieve the sudden loss of their father.
• 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.
• For Bill Neely’s friend Tom and his family and friends as they grieve the death of Tom’s partner, Bob.
• Brad Hestir’s work team as they struggle with issues with their supervisor.
• Jean Mudge’s brother-in-law, Hunter, as he deals with his wife Carol’s diagnosis of a brain tumor.
• Jean Roggenkamp and Todd Miller’s son, Noah, who is moving to Japan next week.
• 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.

• Don Alter’s return home.

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