Contact: January 11, 2012

Montclair Presbyterian Church

Dear Friends,

Remember the phrase used to describe this church that says we are “joyfully imperfect”? You have known since the moment I walked through the door that one of the reasons I have been a good match for this congregation is that I, too, am “joyfully imperfect.” Well, maybe sometimes I am less than “joyfully” so but I am certainly consistently imperfect.

I want to begin our new year together by apologizing to you for leaving for vacation without clearly communicating to you the dates of my vacation and how pastoral care was to be covered in my absence. The last week I was here prior to Christmas I was running on fumes and I simply dropped the ball on getting coverage. Normally what would happen is that I would publish ahead of time who is covering in my absence and how to get a hold of that person. In the past year I was covered at different times by Revs. Vince Mok, Kathy Ray, and Leonard Nielson and by Susan. The reason for getting coverage is so that I can go on vacation and disconnect from here and you can be assured that it’s okay for me to be on vacation as there is someone to call if the need arises. Please forgive me for dropping the ball and for not communicating a plan to you. Fortunately, we are blessed with many capable and caring folks so there was no lack of people able and willing to provide care in my absence. My apology is that I didn’t make clear the plan. Rev. Leonard Nielson made a couple of hospital visits while I was away and we all need to be sure to thank him the next time we see him! The next time I take vacation time, I will be sure to communicate clearly about dates and the plan in place for while I am away.

One of the encouraging aspects of being away and having some crises was realizing how comforting it is that our Beacons are fully functional and doing a fabulous job. Thank you to our Beacons for providing a necessary layer of ministry here at MPC.

On my return trip from vacation I was reflecting on all that is ahead of us this year. What an exciting year we will have together! The Mission Study Team is hard at work with almost 12 different working groups taking on pieces of the puzzle. We have 5 important Congregational Gatherings coming up, one each month, that will be critical to the shaping of the finished Mission Study report. We hope to finish the writing by fall and also hope our Pastor Nominating Committee will be selected by then as well. In the meantime, we are looking forward to welcoming the Rev. Katie Morrison to our staff when she begins on February 1st.

One of my goals for the coming year is to work a bit more on balance. It is not particularly healthy to run on fumes and I found myself doing it several times last year. Part of my job as the transitional pastor is to be and establish a healthy model in pastor/congregation relationships. I am committed to working on balance this year so that you will experience me and the pastor/congregation relationship as balanced. Please remind me of this goal if you see me getting out of balance!

Is there any better way to begin a new year than by participating in an MPC Yule Feast?! Thank you to all those who worked so hard to put on a wonderfully quirky event! We had a number of visiting families and it was truly intergenerational. If you invited a friend or family member or someone from your school, thank you for doing so! Kristin Nicholas and Debbie Fallehy and all of their minions did spectacular work. Thanks for the experience!

Peace and health to each of you in this New Year.

NOTE: Congregational Meetings with the Mission Study Team for the New Year are as follows:
January 22, 2012
February 26, 2012
March 18, 2012
April 15, 2012
May 6, 2012

COME TO THE CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF PAT UNDERHILL: On Saturday Jan. 14th, family and friends of Pat and Paul Underhill will gather to celebrate Pat and her amazingly wonderful life. The Celebration will be in the Sanctuary from 2-3:30 with a reception following in the Family Room. Bring thoughts and artist ideas to add to the Memory Book during the reception. Food donations are welcome if you wish. Call Mary Smith with questions at (925)943-4986.

FROM THE MISSION STUDY TEAM: The next congregational meeting will be Sunday, January 22 from 11:30 to 1:00. The Team will lead participants in a lively, creative exercise exploring the question, “Who Are We (MPC)?” LUNCH THAT DAY: SEE MARGE NICHOLSON AT A TABLE IN FAMILY HOUR TODAY TO PRE-ORDER AND PAY FOR SANDWICH OR SALAD AND EXTRAS. $8.00 PER PERSON. THIS IS THE LAST OPPORTUNITY TO PRE-ORDER LUNCH. (You can also bring your own lunch for the meeting on the 22nd.)

YULE FEAST: The 2012 Yule Feast is over, but the Silent Auction continues this Sunday, January 15th during Family Hour: This will be your last chance to bid on a wonderful variety of donations. Proceeds go to MPC’s general fund. Bid high & bid often!. Bid sheets will be closed at 12 noon on Sunday.

CHILDREN OF UGANDA: We are excited to welcome the Children of Uganda on Jan 15th at 7:00 pm. Children of Uganda is an organization that cares for hundreds of orphans and vulnerable children in Uganda, and the group performing will be their ambassadors, a select group of talented dancers, singers, and drummers from 10 years old through college age. They will perform traditional music and dance, and will sing Ugandan songs with our choir. A reception and party in the Family Room will follow the performance; we request that MPC folks bring snacks or finger food to share. The performance is free to all, thanks to MPC’s External Giving Grant which has supported Children of Uganda in the preparations for this tour.

FOOD DONATIONS NEEDED FOR CHILDREN OF UGANDA PERFORMANCE: Donations of loaf cake (plain, unfrosted), bananas, oranges, apples and other fruit are needed for the 20 children before their performance on Sunday, January 15. Please call or email Roberta Davis if you would like to donate, (510) 919-0037;

TAIZE: Save 7:00-8:00 p.m. January 18 in the sanctuary for the monthly (3rd Wednesday) candlelight Taizé meditation service consisting of music, scripture reading, prayer, and silence. The theme will be awe and wonder. The meditative Taizé songs open an inner door to peace and serenity. Come and enjoy! For child care (available upon request), contact the office by January 13.

Front Row, from left: Kurtz Gilligan, Cabrel Kapsiak, Gretchen Garlinghouse.
Back Row, from lett: Jim Allardice, Earl Hamlin, Hope Boije, Debbie Fallehy.

• Cathy Sharp and family as they care for Cathy’s mom.
• Ann Fisher as she recovers now at home from a mild heart attack.
• Don Alter who is still in the hospital and Peggy as she cares for him and herself.
• Paul Underhill and family as they grieve the death of Pat Underhill and gather to celebrate her life.
• Those who are lonely.
• Those struggling with addictions.
• Those who are missing family and friends who have died.
• The concerns of our hearts that don’t always get shared aloud.

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, 8:30am-4:30pm
Rev. Beth Buckingham-Brown, Office hours Monday-Wednesday, 10:00-4:00 pm
Sherrill Figuera: Administrative Assistant, Office hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30-4:30 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