Contact: July 18, 2012

Montclair Presbyterian Church

Rev. Beth is on Study Leave but will be in Celebration Sunday, July 22nd.


Dear Companions in Ministry,

As I prepare to depart for my first mission trip in service with Montclair Presbyterian Church, I am filled with deep gratitude for the many ways in which members have expressed their excitement about the trip, offered help, given generously and freely, and seem to share in a general sense about the importance of taking youth on a mission trip. Not one person has challenged me (as I had actually expected), saying something like, “Why would you travel all the way to Denver to learn about the root causes of poverty, when we certainly have plenty of opportunity to learn those things here in our own backyard?” I expected the question because I believe it’s a worthy one.

As I have wrestled with that question for myself, there are some truths that continue to float to the surface for me. While in High School, I had the opportunity and privilege of participating in two short term mission trip experiences. Both trips and topics of focus continue to have reverberations in my life today. I remember fondly the bonding that took place among our group during those weeks, including the silly moments as well as the more challenging and tense moments. We definitely grew through both. There was also the reflection piece. At the end of our days of working harder than we had individually ever worked at home, we would ask of God and of ourselves and of the group really hard questions about why our society is ordered the way it is. We would wrestle with the scripture about the poor being with us always, and circle back with guesses about how Jesus wasn’t communicating that it is good and right to have people in poverty. I remember talking one-on-one with my youth minister while walking down a sidewalk in Wapato, Washington, asking earnestly about the proper, faithful response to a stranger asking for money, to which I was introduced to the nuance that there is no one, proper faithful response. I remember having my first experience of being called out for identifying someone based on the color of their skin, while on a mission trip, and having my eyes opened to another level in which I could work against racism by describing people based on features not related to race. These were life changing, and really, life long discussion starters, the seeds of which were planted for me during these trips. But still, why couldn’t I have had those experiences with my youth group at home? I could have, and probably did. But, there’s something about a unique openness that emerges when one is out of their home town, or the “knowns” of their comfort zone.

I am thinking about the road to Emmaus. Cleopus and his companion have an interaction with Jesus that for me encapsulates our hoped for transformation when we travel as a group on a mission trip, in the name of God. At the beginning of the story (Luke 24:13-35), as they “were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” They were caught up in their grief, and did not see who was right before them. By the end of their journey, after arriving at the village where they were going, they asked this stranger to please stay with them. They offered basic hospitality. Then the Scripture says, “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’” A shift in awareness took place for them that I truly believe happened because they were out of their ordinary, daily experience. They were out on the road. They are penetrable in new ways because they are out of their own context.

We are more vulnerable, somehow more able to see and to reflect, when we are out of our usual contexts. I also believe that when we are away, it is sometimes safer to be a true learner. Really, nobody wants to mess up and not have all the answers about their home turf. Sometimes you need a chance to take a risk in being a learner. When you travel away from home, I believe there are equalizing factors where everyone gets to be a learner. And then of course, when you come back, you’ve made a step toward greater understanding and then you are able to look at your own current circumstances more objectively than if you have never left them. We all need to have an initiation process into the conversation and I know of no better initiation process, through my own experiences as a young person and the seven previous youth mission trips I’ve led, than the learning-service mission trip experience.

So, as we prepare to depart for Denver, Colorado this Saturday morning, I invite you to join me in praying the prayer that I have been praying in preparation on behalf of our youth: May this experience be for us a WINDOW, through which to see the world and God’s vision for it in new ways. May this trip be a MIRROR, in which to see ourselves, our church, and our culture more clearly. May this mission effort be a DOORWAY, through which we enter into deeper fellowship with God and our neighbor. And during our week of travel together, may we encounter VOICES through which we hear God’s call for us in our lives in new and exciting ways. And God, please keep us and those we meet and pass along the way, safe and in your loving care. Amen.

Together We Serve, at home and out on the road…
Rev. Katie Morrison

Mission Trip Budget Update: We still have a remaining need of $478 to reach our budget goal. Thank you to those of you who have already responded to our call for help.

Sunday, July 22nd:
Rev. Beth will be in Celebration as we welcome back the Revs. Karen and Chandler Stokes. Karen will be preaching and Karen and Chandler will both be providing music.
Sunday, July 29th: Rev. Beth will be preaching and there will be special music.
Sunday, August 5: Family Celebration begins at 5:00 pm followed by a potluck! Family Sunday and Rev. Beth will be preaching.
Sunday, August 12: Celebration continues at 5:00 pm with a Leonard Nielson preaching.
Sunday, August 19: Celebration continues at 5:00 pm and the Youth will present their Mission Trip Experience in Denver, CO, on “The Root Causes of Poverty.”
Sunday, August 26: Celebration continues at 5:00 pm, followed by a potluck dinner. Rev. Beth will be preaching.


You are Invited to come, experience it. Yes, you!
The children and Youth Committee at MPC is offering an in-house Godly Play training on Saturday, August 4, from 9a.m.-12p.m. While we are encouraging all of our storytellers and greeters to participate in this training, including those who may want to explore participating in the future, it is equally important to us that everyone in the congregation be invited to attend the training. We believe in the power of Godly Play as a spiritual practice and would like you to know that you are welcome to attend without any further commitment. Maybe you’re a parent or a grandparent with a younger child, not yet a part of the Godly Play program and you’re curious to come and experience it for yourself? Or maybe, you’ve sat in wonder on a Sunday morning as our young ones are dismissed and you’d like the chance to see what goes on upstairs? Maybe you’ve taught in a more traditional Church School program before or attended one growing up and are curious to see how teaching philosophies around Christian nurture have grown and changed since “back in the day?” We invite you to come… curiosity, wonder, or a simple willingness to be opened to an experience of intentional time with God… all are welcome.

What is Godly Play?
Godly Play teaches children the art of using Christian language—parable, sacred story, silence and liturgical action—helping children become more fully aware of the mystery of God’s presence in their lives. When Christian language is learned by the Godly Play approach, it is learned as a means to know God and to make meaning of our lives. This approach is quite different from the traditional model in which a teacher tells children what they need to know. Godly Play is not about things that are simple or about learning lessons or keeping children entertained. Godly Play is about locating each lesson in the whole of the Christian story and involving the creative process to discover the depths of meaning for individuals. Godly Play is about learning how each of the stories of God’s people connects with the child’s own experience and relationship with God. The goal of Godly Play is to show how to be open to the Holy Spirit, the Creator and the Redeemer all at once and all the time in every place.

Discover Godly Play from the inside out.
There are a lot of things you can learn from a lecture, but Godly Play is best learned from the inside out. And this is what takes place at Godly Play training events. You will experience and learn Godly Play stories in the collegial, prayerful setting of The Circle. Godly Play Foundation’s talented Trainer will deepen your understanding of children’s spirituality while guiding you on a personal journey of wonder that will inspire first-timers and experienced teachers alike. By exploring the fundamental foundations of a Godly Play classroom with us, you will improve teaching skills, learn more about what we are providing our children at MPC, and leave spiritually refreshed. Prior experience with Godly Play is helpful but not necessary—all that is absolutely required is a sense of wonder and play. For the benefit of the entire Circle, we ask participants to attend the full training.

Please join us! There is no charge. To register, simply email Rev. Katie ( to let her know you are planning on being there.

LOOKING FOR HELPERS IN THE NURSERY: The Children and Youth Committee is seeking four or five adult volunteers in the church who would be willing to be with our littlest ones in the nursery once a month. Representatives from the C&Y and Personnel committees are in the process of interviewing for a new Head Nursery Teacher and Caregiver and, in order to fulfill our safe church policy guidelines, we are looking for one additional adult volunteer each week. If this interests you, please contact me by emailing ( or calling the church office. I still reflect back fondly on the church members who met me first as a baby in my home church’s nursery. As I grew older, some of them would remind me each week, “I held you as a baby.” That made such an impact on my understanding of church as a true intergenerational family. Thank you for your consideration. -Katie

WELCOME NEW MEMBERS: Wow, what a Sunday I missed! It was such a joy to know that Anita, Marilee, and Cynthia were formally joining our MPC family. I know that all present warmly welcomed our newest members, but do take a moment to read the introductory bios that Anita, Marilee, and Cynthia have written. I think of them as “conversation starters” for the next time that you see them at church or shopping. Bill Neely, Chair of Membership and Outreach.
Marilee Niemi:
I grew up in the Presbyterian Church in upstate New York (Honeoye Falls to be exact) and I have lived in the Oakland area for the last 14 years. I work for Peet’s Coffee & Tea and although I am not a barista I have learned to make a mean mocha. Emilio attends preschool at Beacon Day. He loves the “kids room” at MPC and can be seen running top speed through the courtyard on Sunday mornings to get there. As a family we love to swim, read and build forts out of blankets and pillows in our living room. I hope you will see both of us singing and/or playing instruments during family choir.
Anita Aragon Bowers:
Anita is delighted to be welcomed as an active member of the Montclair Presbyterian Church community again after a long absence. Anita, her late husband, Darl, and grandniece, Allyson, were MPC members from 1989 – 1997. A Montclair resident, Anita grew up in the Bay Area, but has family roots in southern Colorado. Her marriage to Darl brought her three stepdaughters and subsequently five granddaughters. She is also blessed with several wonderful nieces and nephews.
Anita thoroughly enjoyed a thirty-five year career teaching Spanish and Spanish literature (Mills College and San Francisco University High) and history and ESL at Oakland High School. She retired as an Assistant Principal from Oakland High. She is pleased that retirement gives her a lot of quality time to spend with family and friends and to pursue her passions of reading, walking and travelling. She visits Mexico annually, loves Italy and treasures the memories and photos of her journeys to the Galapagos Islands and Peru and Machu Picchu.
Anita volunteers at the Alumnae Association of Mills College and is pleased to be a recent member of the MPC Social Justice and Global Concerns committees.
Cynthia Cudaback:
I first came to MPC when I was in second grade, in 1971. Walter Wink, the liberal theologian, was living on our street at the time, and his daughter Rebecca was about my age. Walter inspired my parents, an atheist and a believer, to come to MPC so I could be raised in a church community. Thus, I grew up as an unbaptized agnostic, but deeply involved in a faith-related community. It was really more like a Unitarian church in those days – lots of liberal intellectual aging hippies creating their own funky way of relating to the world. There were probably a lot of agnostics in the church, but dad was the official Village Atheist. The important thing was this – I grew up knowing that there are lots of ways to approach faith and religion. As an adult, I knew so many people who’d had to divorce themselves from the faiths of their childhood, because they could see no middle road. It made me sad.
During the 25 years I’ve been away from MPC, I have looked for a place that felt like home. I did some exploratory churchgoing and had two sacred experiences (ask me about these in person). In each case, someone gave me the gift of his faith. Similarly, it was the gift of faith that I received on Sunday. I’m still an agnostic, but I am glad to have been baptized into the MPC community.
I am a scientist, educator and storyteller, very happily married to Andrew Newell, with a wonderful 9 year old son, Kevin, and living quite close to my mother, Dot Cudaback. Some of the interesting things that have led up to this happy condition include: hiking, skiing and flying small planes with my parents, several summers spent bumming around on my own in Europe; an undergraduate degree in physics from Berkeley; 5 years operating research vessels and conducting oceanographic research with the NOAA Corps of commissioned officers; graduate studies at the University of Washington; post docs at UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara; and a faculty position at North Carolina State University. Off work, I love all the arts, both as an observer and a participant, and am discovering the joy of the family road trip.

CHILDREN’S FOOD BASKET: We’ve received good news that our Session’s grant application to the San Francisco Presbytery for money to support the Children’s Food Basket was approved. Although they could not give the entire requested $5000, they gave 2/3 of their remaining Hunger funds in the amount of $1000. Our program is currently funded entirely outside of the MPC General Fund budget, and it costs about $7500 to provide 64 bags of food per school year. Aside from a grant given in the first year of MPC’s External Giving (2008-2009), we have relied on the generosity of members and friends to donate the funds needed to buy food from the Alameda Food Bank and Costco. With this grant, our program will have a funding boost, plus we’ve been able to share within our Presbytery information about the important mission project we’ve conducted for so many years.

MOVIE NIGHT AT MPC: “FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX” is a 1965 film in color, 149 Minutes. James Stewart heads an impressive cast that includes Richard Attenborough, Peter Finch and Ernest Borgnine in this gripping tale of courage and suspense. When their cargo plan crashes in the Sahara Desert, the only hope for a crew of oilmen and military personnel is to try to rebuild the aircraft before they all perish from heat and deprivations. Based on Elleston Trevor’s popular novel of the same name, and artfully directed by Robert Aldrich, The Flight of the Phoenix is a riveting combination of finely honed character studies and an exciting story line. Saturday, July 21 at 6:30 in the Thornhill Room. Bring “movie” snacks or beverage. Jeanne Dunn, 510.834.7559.

INTERESTED IN LEARNING MEDITATION? Join us for meditation before the evening celebrations in August. It will be taught by Dolores Nice-Siegenthaler, who is a trained spiritual director and a graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary. The meditation instruction begins at 4:00 pm, just prior to Celebration at 5:00 pm. Sign-ups will be the next two Sundays, July 22 & 29.

STORYTELLERS’ SUMMER OPEN MIC BRUNCH IS COMING UP! This is a great way to share experiences, thoughts, or feelings in your own words. Stories, poems, vignettes or opinion pieces (under 6 minutes) may be included in our Anthology 2012 by submitting camera-ready copy on 8 ½ x 11’ white paper. Join us in the Thornhill Room on Sunday, July 29 at 11:30 AM. If you have any questions, call Margaret Irvin at (510)243-1114.

REMINDER OF SUMMER SCHEDULE FOR CONTACT: Contact is not being published weekly during the summer. The next date for it to be sent out is August 1st, and the deadline will be Tuesday, July 31, at 3pm. We will resume weekly publications on September 5th.

FAMILY CHOIR AUGUST 5: It’s that time again–time for Family Choir! All MPC members and friends are invited to sing in Family Choir during Celebration on August 5. All you have to do is show up at 4:15 to learn a couple of fun, easy songs. New singers, non-singers–all are welcome!
Percussion instruments will be available for the kids. Bring your whole family and join us on August 5!

Joining Together for Justice:
Jay Gregory, Brad Hestir and Jean Norris will be in Chicago from August 12-18th as delegates to the 2012 Joining Hands International Gathering. Anti-hunger and poverty advocates from around the world will address corporate globalization and its impacts, share global perspectives on food, land, water, trade and extractive industries. And we will learn practical skills for engaging in advocacy and campaigning. Anuradha Mittal, land grab expert and Director of the Oakland Institute, Sung Yeon Choi-Morrow, organizer and advocacy trainer with Interfaith Workers Justice, and Hunter Farrell, Director of World Mission of the PC (USA) are some of the speakers and trainers for the event.
Bolivians in the Bay Area! For a few days after we return from the International Gathering, we will have 3 delegates from our partner organization, UMAVIDA. There will be a meeting with EarthJustice, at least one family-style potluck, and wouldn’t YOU like to be part of the delegation excitement from Thursday, August 23rd through Sunday, August 26th? For more information, contact Jean Norris or Jean Gregory.
International Scholars: Summer is a great time to get to know our International Scholars, Adriana Dukabain and Izak Lattu. Why not invite one or both of these young families to do something your family enjoys? Think hot dogs at one of our local institutions, a movie at home, a stroll on the beach at Alameda or the Berkeley pier, a picnic in the park, or a back yard barbecue. Hint: Does your zoo membership include guests? Perhaps they could show you around the Berkeley Presbyterian Mission Homes – it is a gem to be cherished. The church office has contact information for them.

COME JOIN US IN CHICAGO! All are welcome at the Together for Justice: 2012 International Gathering from August 13-15th at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, IL. This event will bring together anti-hunger and poverty advocates from around the world, to address corporate globalization and its impacts, share global perspectives on food, land, water, trade and the extractives, learn how the Church is engaging in this work, as well as learn practical skills for engaging in advocacy and campaigning. Individuals can now register online at and the deadline for registration is August 1st. The cost is $35.00 per day and you can register for one day, two days or all three depending upon your interest. Students showing a valid student ID will pay a reduced registration fee of $20 per day. The daily registration fee includes lunch and snacks. The gathering will begin daily at 8:30am with worship or meditation and will finish daily by 5pm. Click on the link above for a daily schedule for the gathering.

REGISTRATION FOR WOMEN’S RETREAT: We will begin registration on Sunday, September 2. Be sure to save the weekend of Oct 19-21 for our annual Fall Women’s Retreat. This year’s retreat will be held at the lovely Ralston White Retreat Center in Mill Valley. And if you think you might need a partial scholarship, PLEASE SPEAK WITH Jan or Gretchen. Thanks.

SAVE THE DATE! Storytellers present our annual Works In Progress program on Sunday, Sept 30 at 1:30 pm. Don’t miss the powerful writings of our own Jim Allardice, Cliff King & Carol Wolleson. You will be glad you took the time to hear these talented writers!

OAKLAND RESIDENTS: Bill Neely and Sari Kulberg picked up a rain barrel for the church and discovered that there has been an additional benefit for getting a rain barrel–we only paid the tax. It is possible that the program may end at the end of 2012. Questions call Bill Neely 510-501-2562, Sari Kulberg 510-653-6432 or Urban Farmer Store 510-524-1604. How can you go wrong?

ECO-ALERT: Recycle clean #5 plastics (yogurt, cottage cheese, roasted chicken containers, starbucks cups, etc) into toothbrushes and kitchen ware by dropping them in “Gimme 5” Bin at Whole Foods. To recycle Brita Filters check out link at Want more details? Go to

PAPER BAG ALERT! Please continue to bring brown paper bags to the Family Room for use in the Children’s Food Basket program. Although we are coming to the end of the school year, we are practically out of paper bags and we need to build up a good supply over the summer for the next year. Thank you for your continued support!

LOOKING FOR SUMMER WORK! Mariah Carray is looking for babysitting, catering, gardening, and other work to make a little extra money before she goes off to college next year. She can help serve, set up and/ or clean up at parties. She will babysit day or night, so you and your sweetheart can go on a well-deserved date-night. Mariah will do gardening work. Additionally, she would love to do other various tasks. Contact Mariah at: or (510)-299-9053.

Front Row, left to right: Linnea Gullikson, John Sutter, Jan Gervolstad
Back Row, left to right: Miles McKey, Janet Mulshine

• Our Denver Youth Mission Trip Participants as they travel July 21-29: Linnea Gullikson, Sam Starratt McCune, Oliver Palmer, Karen Bowen, Joe Bessette-Denwood, Elliot Starratt McCune, Chris Singer, Stacy Canzoneri, Emma Carray, Kevin Fallehy, Jim and Anita Allardice, and Katie Morrison.
• Gretchen Garlinghouse, healing from surgery.
• May Tong, healing from knee replacement surgery.
• Amy Bess, receiving chemotherapy for ovarian cancer.
• Friends who are going through a divorce.
• Jean Gregory, in 3rd round of chemotherapy.
• Shelley Kelly and family, grieving the loss of her father-in-law.

• Generosity in support of the mission trip effort
• A happy, growing church garden filled with the promise of much fruit!

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