Contact: March 14, 2012

Montclair Presbyterian Church

Dear Friends,

Around the world and in our community life it seems as if there is a real intensity to daily living these days. Some of the intensity is related to joy and some is related to sorrow. Last Saturday more than 60 women from our congregation gathered together for a day of connection and retreat. Gretchen Garlinghouse and Jan Stites did a marvelous job of putting it all together and Carrie McKiernan was fabulous as our leader. The sign of a great one day retreat is that you leave at the end of the day feeling as if you have been away all weekend! We did some wonderful reflecting and sharing together. What a joy that so many women made that time together a priority for that day.

On Sunday afternoon I saw Vern and Gloria Alexander at Alta Bates Hospital and Donna Robles at Kaiser Hospital. Vern is coming along slowly but surely and Gloria is a most amazing partner to Vern. What a privilege to walk alongside them at this time in their lives. Donna also had good news as she was being moved from critical care to a regular room as she continues her struggle with pneumonia. She is a strong woman emotionally and is quite vulnerable physically due to repeated cases of pneumonia. In the midst of it all she is still living a very active life!

On Monday I met with two of the school Principals who will be speaking to us this Sunday at our Congregational Gathering. Mel Stenger is the principal of Thornhill Elementary and Nancy Bloom is the principal of Montclair Elementary. We talked about their presentation and I wish you could see and hear how excited they are to be connecting with us. Seeing their excitement (even after having just had their major fundraiser of the year on Saturday night!) was another experience of deep joy for me.

At the Presbytery meeting last evening, we engaged in a World Cafe process to talk about the mission of the Presbytery. After almost two hours of small group discussion and then a worship service and dinner, we had a most difficult conversation about whether or not to receive Erwin Barron’s transfer of membership from his Presbytery in Minnesota to our Presbytery. Erwin has been ordained for almost 30 years and is a member in good standing in Minnesota. He is married to a man so the conservatives did their best to block his transfer. Fortunately, the vote was in his favor. Sadly, none of the people who voted against him stood to welcome him as is the custom in our Presbytery. They filed a protest with the Stated Clerk. I felt deep sorrow for him and I was embarrassed for those who remained seated. What could have been a hopeful meeting ended on a sad note.

A few minutes ago I received the news that Bob Stewart died at Salem Lutheran home this morning. Mary was moved to the Alzheimer’s unit at Salem Lutheran more than a month ago and Bob had a heart condition from years ago that seems to have resulted in his death today. Stan Stevens and I will lead a Celebration of Bob’s life on April 22nd at 2:00 pm. If any of you would be willing to organize and host a reception after the service, please talk to me. We will miss Bob dearly and will need to give Mary support in Bob’s absence.

Ebb and flow, yin and yang, sorrow and joy, Lent and Easter. The journey continues. Beth


Dear MPC Family,

The care packages to our college students are in-route and will be arriving any day now at destinations across the country. The boxes were lovingly packed by a well-fed crew of 26 last Sunday night in the family room. Items included peace pendants in a variety of languages (matched specially for each student), bags of pasta, granola bars, home-baked cookies, hand-written notes, inspirational poems, and a photo of the current youth group holding a “we miss you” sign. Special thanks goes out to Peggy Alter for initiating the event and donating many of the special treats. Special thanks also goes out to Jim Allardice and Bill Neely for another great meal and a wonderful job of cooking in a way that warmly involves ALL the youth in meal preparations. What a team! Please offer a heart blessing to Jessie Lett, Alison Mittelberger, Tyler Parrott, Lindsey Parrott, Kate Kelly, Kim Bowen, Suzanne Spencer, John Spencer, Emily Wheeler, Katie Miller, Dan Turner, and Atlacatl Chiguila as they receive their MPC care packages.

Together We Do Good Stuff,
Katie Morrison

FROM THE MISSION STUDY TEAM: Our next Congregational Gathering – THIS COMING SUNDAY, March 18, 11:30 to 1:00 – is different from prior ones. The question for the day is “Who is our Neighbor?” Based on work of a couple of our MST task forces, we will look closely at our very own neighborhood of Montclair. We will hear from principals of local schools talk about their situations, take a look at the Village business association, and consider the needs of the elderly. We will learn how the demographics of Montclair have changed over the last ten years. There will be time for Q&A and reflections from those present. What does it mean for MPC to be rooted in our Montclair neighborhood? WE ENCOURAGE THE ATTENDANCE OF FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN BECAUSE OF YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THE SCHOOLS. If you need childcare, contact Katie Morrison at the church office. Food? The MST will provide fruit, granola bars, and water. If you want more, please bring your own lunch.

Sunday, March 18th:
We will hear about Destiny Arts and Rev. Beth will be preaching.
Sunday, March 25th: Rev. Kathy Ray will be preaching in conversation with her daughter, Mariah, who attended the Youth Congress on the Environment in January. The choir will be singing.
Sunday, April 1st: Palm Sunday! Rev. Beth will preach. The choir will sing. One Great Hour of Sharing offering.

SHARING BRINGS JOY: Last year was a historic year for weather-related disasters. In March, we witnessed the destruction left in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan. In addition, there were close to 1,500 tornadoes across the U.S., as well as flooding, droughts, heat waves and wildfires causing unimaginable devastation. Yet, in the midst of all this upheaval, the Presbyterian Church (USA) was there for those in need because of our gifts to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering. This year, our church will take the offering on both Palm Sunday and Easter. Please give generously.

HELLO, MPC THINKERS!! SIGN UP THIS SUNDAY – during the Family Hour – for what will be a fascinating seminar in April focused on the Gospel of Mark (four Sunday mornings, 8:30 to 9:45, on April 1, 15, 22, and 29). Led by Dr. Anne Wire – retired professor of New Testament at San Francisco Theological Seminary – slides of Roman, Jewish, and Christian art will be featured, along with discussions of the who, when, why and where of Mark’s Gospel, the earliest of the four Gospels in the New Testament.

DO YOU SEW? The Children & Youth Committee is looking for a volunteer or two who might be willing to sew child-size cloth napkins for the feast time during our Godly Play program (about 10 per classroom). We’re looking to go green AND napkins hand-made with the blessing of loving hands would be a wonderful gift to our kids. Rev. Katie has already committed to the laundering! Please contact Katie or at the church office if you would like to learn more about this wish.

LOOKING FOR NEWSPAPER: Rev. Katie is looking to gather up a mighty stack of newspaper for an upcoming special newspaper party with the youth group. When will this take place? When I have a big enough stack. Neat stacks with the glossy advertisements taken out are especially appreciated. Office drop-off is great. Thank you for helping to supply the supply closet.

NEXT TAIZÉ MEDITATION SERVICE ON WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21: A perfect way to observe the Spring Equinox – Save 7:00-8:00 p.m. on March 21 for the monthly (3rd Wednesday) candlelit Taizé meditation service in the sanctuary consisting of music, Scripture reading, prayer, and silence. The meditative songs will help you achieve an altered state (the natural way!) and a refreshed perspective. For child care (available upon request), contact the office by March 16.

OAKLAND MARATHON RETURNS! The Oakland Marathon returns Sunday, March 25. The course will come through Montclair once again with runners along Mountain cutting off access to Thornhill from 8:00am to 10:15am. To turn onto Thornhill, you will need to approach Thornhill from the south side of Montclair Village on Mountain Blvd. From the Piedmont side of Highway 13: Take Moraga and head up toward Highway 13. Take Highway 13 southbound, exit at Joaquin Miller/Lincoln, left over 13, left on Mountain to return through Montclair Village, take a right on Thornhill. Note: Park Blvd. will be closed to through traffic past Estates due to runners crossing at Trafalgar at the top of Park Blvd.
From north of Shepherd Canyon: Come down Shepherd Canyon or Snake, take a right on Mountain through Montclair Village, and take a right on Thornhill.
For full marathon details and complete city detours:

WONDERFUL TIME HAD BY ALL! BIG SHOUT-OUT TO CARRIE MCKIERNAN for leading a fabulous women’s retreat with some sixty participants. The overwhelmingly enthusiastic response is a testimony to Carrie’s preparation and leadership and to the willingness of MPC women to listen, reflect and share. Lots of connections made with the possibility of several ongoing spin-off groups. Thanks, too, to Sherrill for all her cheerful and efficient work helping with so many tasks leading up to Saturday. Thanks to Marge Nicholson and Brenda Vallenas for stepping in to help with music. Thanks to Peggy Alter and Beth for their beautiful prayers. And thanks to all those who helped with clean-up. What remarkable women we have at MPC! All of the women who had signed-up but weren’t able to make it, please see Gretchen. She has a “we missed you” gift for each of you. Keep the dates of Oct. 19-21 open for this year’s autumn retreat, an opportunity to further develop our community of women. Gretchen and Jan

STORYTELLING FESTIVAL: Join the MPC storytellers at the Bay Area Storytelling Festival! The festival runs May 19-20, 2012 at Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, and features some of the best tellers in the country, as well as workshops, story swaps and a story slam. Ticket prices range from $40 for one day to $70 for the whole weekend. Mark your calendar, check it out online at, and see Cynthia Cudaback for more information.

EASTER AZALEAS: You may purchase an Easter Azalea to honor a special person, to recognize a birthday, an anniversary, an important occasion, or simply to add to the Easter splendor in the Sanctuary. To purchase an azalea, return the order form that will be in this week’s bulletin with your check to the Sunday offering plate or to the Church Office no later than Friday, March 30th. You may also mail them to MPC. Plants are $15.00 each. Recognition for those you’ve honored or the special occasions of your life will be printed in the Bulletin on Easter Sunday, April 8th. If you would prefer not to purchase an azalea, you are welcome to bring flowers or plants to the sanctuary, Saturday, April 7th at 10:00 a.m.

WANTED-MEMORIES: Anyone with old photos of my mom, Serin Eggling, or some sweet memories to share, please know they are such a treasured gift for me to receive at any time. And hopefully a nice remembrance for those healing from the loss of her as well. Vanessa Hammack

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

• Vern and Gloria Alexander as Vern recovers from surgery.
• Marjorie Moser as she faces surgery in a week and a half.
• Peace.
• Tom Debley’s sister who has recently transitioned out of the hospital into a care facility.
• Eloise Gilland who just marked the 7th anniversary of her husband’s death.
• Dusty, Eloise’s son, who decided to quit smoking.

• The capacity for joy.
• Ann Fisher’s healing through the help of this community.
• The community of women.
• The women leading the retreat.
• New home in San Ramon for Elsa Wollenweber.
• A beautiful Celebration of Life for Tom Debley’s other sister.
• Good news about Bonnie McNamara’s brother.

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