Contact: January 25, 2012

Montclair Presbyterian Church

Dear Friends,

I consider myself fortunate to have had two dads while I was growing up. My step-dad, Paul, married my mom when I was 3 years old and I was reared by them. My dad, Brad, married Peg when I was 3 years old and I visited them once or twice a year over the years. Both of my dads loved me, supported me and helped me to grow into the person I am today.

Last Thursday evening I received a phone call from Virginia, Paul’s wife, telling me that he was actively dying. Paul has been suffering from late stage Parkinson’s disease for the past year. When we received the phone call, JE and I realized that there are times when family has to be the priority and this was one of those times. I was so torn because of the congregational gathering we had been planning for Sunday, but I knew that the Mission Study Team was more than capable.

JE and I drove to Cambria on Friday and that afternoon and evening Paul was more alert, though unable to communicate, and we had visits from the local priest who did the anointing of the sick, and from the Hospice chaplain who brought his guitar and sang with us for an hour and a half. My two younger sisters were there as well and it was a beautiful way to surround him. We thought he would go fairly quickly but he continued to hang on until late Tuesday afternoon. Fortunately, his death was very peaceful.

My gratitude goes to all of you for your understanding during this difficult time. I am sorry to have had to drop things so suddenly and I am overwhelmed by your ability to step in and take on the pieces that needed to be picked up. In particular, I want to thank Vince Mok for jumping right in and being willing to preach on such short notice and the Mission Study Team for capably leading the congregational gathering last Sunday. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be serving with such a capable and healthy congregation. Thank you!

I am hoping to go home for a couple of days and then I will return to Cambria in time to meet most of my siblings and a variety of other people as we do a service Saturday morning followed by a reception at the house. Our plan is to drive home Saturday night. I will see you all in church on Sunday morning.

Thanking God for you,

FROM THE MISSION STUDY TEAM: The Team extends a big thank-you to all who participated in the World Café congregational gathering last Sunday. The topic was Who Are We? Participants discussed three questions. How would you describe MPC to someone who doesn’t know us? What are the characteristics that are core to our identity? Who are we today as a community of faith? The questions stimulated lively conversation. If you have additional thoughts and insights, please email them to a Team-Member: Dave Miller, Debbie Fallehy, Janet Mulshine, David Siegenthaler, Earl Hamlin, Gretchen Garlinghouse, Nancy Murr, Tom Davies, Marge Nicholson, and Beth Buckingham-Brown. Watch for a report on the meeting which will be posted on the MPC website.

Sunday, January 29th:
Rev. Beth will be preaching and the Choir will be singing.
Sunday, February 5th: Family Sunday with children staying in Celebration. Rev. Beth will be preaching, Rev. Katie Morrison will be introduced and we will celebrate Communion.
Sunday, February 12th: Rev. Beth will be preaching and we will have a service of welcome and covenanting for Rev. Katie Morrison.

ATTENTION MUSICIANS AND SINGERS! The musicians and singers who have shared their gifts during the monthly Taizé services (3rd Wednesday evenings) report that they too find the services to be peaceful and calming. Do you have a strong-enough voice to be a lead singer (not a soloist), or skill in playing an instrument (especially piano) that you would like to share during Taizé services? The songs are lovely and easy to follow; you would be provided with sheet music well ahead of time. The Spiritual Activists Committee would welcome your participation. We are looking for a few singers and musicians who would like to volunteer occasionally. If you are interested or would like to know more, contact Eloise Gilland.

A CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF SERIN EGGLING: This Sunday, January 29, family and friends of Serin Eggling and daughter Vanessa Hammack will gather to celebrate Serin‘s life. The Celebration will be in the Sanctuary at 2:00 PM followed by a reception in the Family Room. All are invited. If you would like to provide help for the reception, please contact Barbara Peters, 510-654-9677 or

CALL TO CHESTNUT CHOIR FOR SERIN EGGLING’S CELEBRATION OF LIFE SERVICE: Vanessa Hammack, Serin’s daughter, has requested that the choir sing “Precious Lord” at her mother’s memorial service. All chestnut choir members who would like to sing are asked to gather to practice in the Sanctuary at 1:00 on Sunday, January 29, before the 2:00 service. The anthem will also be rehearsed at regular choir practice Thursday evening, January 26.

BOOK DISCUSSION GROUP FORMING: We are forming a new book discussion group and will have an organizational meeting Thursday, February 2, 2012 in the evening. Don’t feel excluded, choir members, it does not have to remain on Thursday. Please call if you are interested, Paula Moseley (510)339-8570.

STOP AND TAKE A BREATH: Spend Saturday, March 10, from 9:30 to 3:30, with other MPC women at First Presbyterian Church, Berkeley. Cost is only $25 for this retreat. Registration begins this Sunday, January 29, and closes on Sunday, February 26. There are lots of spaces, though not an infinite number. Register early to hold your space. Deadline for registration is Feb. 26. For partial scholarships, see Jan Stites or Gretchen Garlinghouse. Don’t miss this opportunity to pause and connect!


The Evolution of Flowers
Early Sex on Planet Earth
with Dr. Chelsea Specht

Monday, Feb 6, 2012 7:30 P.M.

Over 100 million years ago, during the age of the dinosaurs, there was an explosion in the number and kinds of insects on Earth. As the variety of insects increases, plants evolve gorgeous and overt sexual organs to attract them. We know these organs as flowers. Attracting insects, as well as birds and mammals, to cross-pollinate them is a good evolutionary strategy to promote genetic variety. Flowers make themselves irresistible to insects by way of colors, perfumes and nectars. Humans have been captivated as well. UC Berkeley biology professor Chelsea Specht will discuss some of the flower patterns we see and how those patterns have contributed to the fantastic diversity we have today.

WINTER OPEN MIC BRUNCH: Coming Sunday, February 12. Join us for a time to share and reflect on original writings about what touches your heart. Or, if you’d rather write about another theme, bring whatever piece you’d like to share. Save the date and join us in the Thornhill Room at 11:30 am for this Storytellers’ event. Hope to see you there.

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.

CONTACT INFORMATION FOR DON ALTER: Don is in Room 5110. You may talk to Don by calling Herrick Hospital, 204-4444 and asking for him. He welcomes visitors. Peggy is also happy to receive cards and emails at their home. She brings them to show Don on an almost daily basis.

Don Alter
Herrick Hospital, 5 East
2001 Dwight Way
Berkeley, CA 94704

ART ALERT: Opportunity to see Masters of Venice: Renaissance Painters of Passion and Power at the DeYoung with others from MPC. Group is carpooling from MPC lot at 9:00 am on Saturday, January 28 for 11:00 am tour. See details at If you are coming, please order your own tickets at or by calling 800.777.9996. If you are a member, remember to click “LOGIN HERE” (next to “My Cart Ticketing Main” on top right side of web page) to get FREE tickets.

• Rev. Beth and her family as they grieve the death of her step-father.
• Bunny Stevens who is recovering from knee replacement surgery and for Stan as he cares for her.
• Charlie Boije as he recovers from a “small” heart attack and then angioplasty, and Hope as she cares for him.
• Cathy Sharp’s mother, Margaret, who was just moved into assisted living and for Cathy as she helps her transition.
• Don Alter as he continues rebuilding his strength during rehabilitation at Herrick hospital.
• Tom Debley’s sister Rosemary, as she has suffered another decline recently.
• Rich and Tinka Larsen’s son, David, who is having complications from his kidney transplant a year ago.
• Mariah Carray as she attends the youth environmental symposium in Bolivia.
• Liam Gray’s cousin Susan and her three children who are grieving the suicide death of Susan’s husband.
• Ann Fisher who is still at home recovering from a heart attack and trying to regain strength in order to have surgery.
• Dave and Cynthia Blumgart as Dave begins chemotherapy this week to treat throat cancer.
• The Pattillos Family as Wendy Pattillos recovers from liver problems at Highland Hospital.

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