Contact: March 21, 2012

Montclair Presbyterian Church

Dear Friends,

Last Sunday we had our 5th Congregational Gathering for our Mission Study process. The purpose of the meeting was to engage the question “Who Is Our Neighbor?” Unlike the other gatherings in which we have elicited your thoughts, feedback, and ideas, this gathering was for giving you information on the neighborhood in which the church is located, Montclair. One of the many working subgroups of the Mission Study Team was tasked with interviewing various people in Montclair to get a feel for the issues that people and businesses are facing right here in this neighborhood. At the meeting on Sunday we heard from that subgroup and then we heard from two elementary school principals on the issues they are facing with their families and students as well as within their institutions. Mel Stenger, Principal at Thornhill Elementary School and Nancy Bloom, Principal at Montclair Elementary School, both spoke passionately and articulately about a variety of issues they are facing and how we might be able to partner with them. After they both spoke, we allowed time for a Question and Answer period and many questions were asked. Following that, we had time for people to reflect together on what they heard and then as a large group we heard some of those reflections. The time was rich and we heard from many of those who attended that they learned a great deal and were glad they had attended.

The Mission Study Team was somewhat awed by the energy in the room and the passion around the plight of the schools. Though we might assume that what is happening in the schools is mostly of concern to our younger families, that was not the case on Sunday. Across generations we are very concerned about what is happening in education and what is happening with families. Our Global Vision Statement lists “Human Rights” as one of our values and within those rights we have articulated that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for their health and well-being, including food, clothing, housing and medical attention.” We heard loudly and clearly on Sunday from the two school principals as well as the Montclair working subgroup that there are people right here in our community, including the elderly, who do not have enough food and adequate clothing. On Monday, the subgroup met with Russom Mesfun, the Principal of Monterra Middle School and heard that one of the greatest needs at his school is for students to be fed breakfast. All of this information we have received has been a lot to take in and we will need to be careful and intentional about what we do with the information. Barbara Peters and I met last week with Rev. Scott Denman, the Rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church up the street from us and he and his congregation are eager to partner with us in addressing the needs of the Montclair community.

One of the concerns raised on Sunday was that many of you don’t live in Montclair but drive from outer areas to come to church here. The concern was that we have been a “magnet” church and if we focus on Montclair we might become a “neighborhood” church. Part of what we heard as a concern about being a neighborhood church is that we would lose people from the broader community. The response to that concern from the Mission Study Team was that despite where everyone lives, the church is located here in this community and there has been very little attention given over the years to how we can partner with other groups and organizations to implement our global vision right outside our doors. The Mission Study Team is raising the issues and giving information to see how or if any of it fits with where we are headed in the future. Stay tuned for our next meeting to discern “Who is God calling us to be and What is God calling us to do?”

What an exciting time in this journey together,


INTERGENERATIONAL EASTER CHOIR at MPC: All children and youth are warmly invited to sing with the adult choir on Easter Sunday. Kim will be teaching “O Sifuni Mungu,” which is a high-energy, rhythmic, joyful piece of music that appeals to all ages. On March 25, and April 1, Godly Play will be extended until 11:30am so the children can learn the music together. At 11:00, the Godly Play teachers will walk the children to the Thornhill Room to meet up with Kim who will lead us in an inspiring musical experience until 11:30.

UPDATE FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN K-6: Although we typically have Family Sunday every first Sunday of the month, we would like to invite all families to be in Celebration together on Easter morning, April 8th. Godly Play will be offered on April 1st, which is Palm Sunday. At the beginning of the service, the children are invited to be a part of a palm procession and will then be invited to their Godly Play Room after the Children’s Time.

UPDATE FOR PARENTS OF YOUTH, grades 7-12: We will be having our first parent gathering on Tuesday, March 27, 7-8:30 p.m. at Montclair Presbyterian Church in the Youth Room (room 1 in the Ed Building). I am eager for us to get to know one another better as we partner in the task of spiritual nurture in your youths’ lives. How wonderful it would be to meet you all face to face! This will be an opportunity for you to get to know me a little better and to get a sense for the youth group program plans through the rest of the school year and into the summer. (Please bring your calendars!) This will also be an opportunity for me to hear from you what you value about the program and any hopes you may have for the future. Thank you in advance for your support and your effort to be at our first parent gathering.

SPRING RETREAT: Registration Flyers are in the mail for the upcoming Youth Group Spring Retreat, April 13-15, held at Zephyr Point Conference Center located on the beautiful granite shores of Lake Tahoe. Please encourage your youth to sign-up and come enjoy the marvelous setting and the equally marvelous community of friends, old and new. Feel free to contact our Coordinator for Children, Youth and Family Life to receive more information (

The Annual Pancake Breakfast youth fundraiser will be following Celebration on Sunday, April 1 (Pancakes & Palms!), from 11:30am- 12:30pm. Join us for a delicious pancake breakfast specially cooked up for you by our youth group members under the leadership of Kevin Fallehy, serving as head chef. Donations will be happily accepted and appreciated as we work toward creating as affordable a mission trip experience as possible.

The Annual Pasta Dinner youth fundraiser will be on Sunday, April 29 from 5:30-7:00pm. This is an excellent event to invite family and friends who might be interested in learning more about our youth ministry program, to hear about the mission trip destination in greater detail, or simply dining in fellowship with good neighbors and happy youth servers. Mark your calendars, make your plans… and we thank you in advance for your generous support. Diane Bessette will be serving as our chief parent volunteer. Yeah Diane!

Sunday, March 25th:
Rev. Kathy Ray will be preaching as Rev. Beth is on vacation. The choir will be singing.
Sunday, April 1st: Palm Sunday! Rev. Beth will preach. The service will include music by our choir, communion, and the ordination and installation of our new class of elders. One Great Hour of Sharing offering will be collected. Godly Play will take place in the classrooms this week. We will do Family Sunday next week on Easter Sunday.
Sunday, April 8: Easter Sunday! Family Sunday with the Barrelhouse Jazz Band, Rev. Beth preaching and the Adult and Children’s Choirs singing. Followed by an eco-friendly Easter Egg Hunt hosted by our Youth Group for the children.

SHARING RESOURCES – CHANGING LIVES: “One Great Hour of Sharing” is the special offering of the PCUSA which will be collected on Palm Sunday and Easter. It brings hope to people in more than eighty countries, including our city. The PCUSA works with international partners to provide sources of clean water and food, small business micro-loans, emergency relief, and advocacy and resettlement for refugees. The offering also supports ministries for disaster preparedness and response. Please give generously.

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:

“GREEN HOUSE CALL” SIGNUPS THIS SUNDAY: Want to save money? Help the environment? Support local youth? Get free light bulbs? Sign up THIS SUNDAY at Family Hour for a FREE “Green House Call”! For seven weeks each summer, Rising Sun Energy Center hires youth ages 15 to 22, and trains them to serve communities across the Bay Area with “Green House Calls” as part of the California Youth Energy Services program. At each Green House Call, they check the home for efficiency, install free energy and water-saving equipment, and provide personalized recommendations for further savings. To learn more or sign up online, visit Rising Sun is invited by the SPLASH team.

SWAP YOUR OLD HALOGEN FLOOR LAMP THIS SUNDAY: Halogen floor lamps waste electricity and are dangerous; they can overheat and start fires. Bring your old halogen lamp to our table at the Family Hour THIS SUNDAY and Rising Sun Energy Center will give you a new fluorescent version, of the same quality and brightness, for FREE! The lamp must have a 300 watt or greater halogen bulb, you must be a resident of Alameda, Contra Costa, or Marin Counties and you must bring your PG & E bill. For more information, visit the Rising Sun website, or call 510-665-1501, Ext.10.

HELLO AGAIN, MPC LEARNERS! 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, in the Thornhill Room). 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 Anne’s new perspectives on Mark…so, buy her new book on Mark – “The Case for Mark Composed in Performance” – at the Book Depot and read the first 30 pages for the first meeting.

REPORTS FROM BOLIVIA: You are invited to a Global Concerns brunch this Sunday, March 25th to hear about the Joining Hands Bolivia delegation trips in January and February. Six cities in 14 days! Farmers, miners, engineers! Photos, powerpoints, and magic walls! We’ll serve a Bolivian main dish. If you want to cook, bring sides or dessert, contact Jean Norris (510)535-0498 or Jean Gregory (510)635-8838 or take the day off and put a little cash in the expense basket.

ART GANG RECEPTION: An Art Gang reception for a new exhibit in Room 10 of Wildlife Photographs by Tom Debley will be held at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, March 25. Enjoy snacks and photographs of Brown Pelicans from the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Greater Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese from the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, and Polar Bears from Hudson Bay. Tom is past president and Honorary Fellow of the Northern California Council of Camera Clubs and past president of the Alameda Photographic Society.

MEET OAKLAND’S POLICE CHIEF: Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan will be at Montclair Elementary School, 1757 Mountain Blvd., on Wednesday, March 28 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. to discuss issues of concern to Montclair, including the recent rash of robberies. This is a good opportunity for MPC to learn the concerns of its neighbors.

PALMS: The Celebration Committee needs volunteers to help decorate the sanctuary with palms for Palm Sunday. Meet in the sanctuary at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 31. Many hands make light work!

GET YOUR MOVE ON! Destiny Arts Center Move-a-thon. Master classes – all ages, all day long. On Saturday, March 31, 2012 from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (2 classes hourly). For more information and a full schedule of classes check out their website at and get your move on!

MAUNDY THURSDAY: Join us at 6:00 p.m. on April 5 in the Family Room for a soup and salad dinner. Then we will proceed to the sanctuary at 7:00 for our Maundy Thursday service.

TASK FORCE MEETING: The Bylaws Task Force will meet for the second time on Monday, April 2 at 7 p.m. in the Thornhill Room. If you have questions or would like to participate, please contact Susanne Lea or Tom Davies.

OCCUPY GOOD FRIDAY: Proclaim Good News to the Poor! Nichola Torbett wil be preaching. She is the Founding Director, Seminary of the Street & Member of Interfaith Tent @ Oakland. There will be Liturgical Dance led by Carla DeSola. This is on April 6, 6:45a.m., at the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Laboratory on Vasco Road & Patterson Pass Road in Livermore.

ATTN. KIDS, MUSIC LOVERS, PARENTS ETC.: East Bay Children’s Theatre is presenting “The Blue Grass Musicians of Bremen Flats” on Saturday, March 24 at 11:00 am or 1:30 pm at Montclair Elementary School, 1757 Mountain Blvd. For ticket information, call (510)428-4057 or go to

40 LETTERS IN 10 MINUTES! Thank you all for signing the Joining Hands letter to the Peruvian ambassador urging not reopening the Doe Run smelter without the promised environmental controls, and no violence toward local people who object to environmental poisoning. We put 40 of them in a big envelope on Monday morning and sent them on their way. Here is a video link with more information There is another Joining Hands action for Peru that we did not explain for lack of time – asking your Congress person (House) to sign on to a letter started by Grijalva urging the State department not to support an egregious investor-state suit by Doe Run against Peru. This link below takes you to a compilation of investor-state cases by Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. PCUSA is responsible for the listing on page 10. Can you call or write? Ask Jean Norris ( to send you the letter, or go to Thank you from Jay Gregory, Jean Gregory, Jean Norris, and Brad Hestir.

SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY: Come listen to the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choirs FREE Annual Spring Concert, Faiths in Harmony, at the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern CA, 1433 Madison St Oakland. They will be joined by the Jewish Folk Ensemble, Vocolot. When: Saturday, April 14th from 7:30-9pm. Price: FREE.

MPC DAY AT THE OAKLAND A’S: ACT NOW! Planning on attending MPC Day at the Oakland A’s on Friday, May 11th? If so, please see Steve McKiernan (and give him a check) as soon as possible — he has to turn in the ticket order forms by Monday, April 2nd. Tickets are $26 each, and half the proceeds go to Thornhill Elementary School (one of the schools you heard about last weekend). If you have any questions, please talk to Steve during the Family Hour or email him at Thanks!

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.

FAX MACHINE FOR SALE: HP 640 FAX plus one full extra ink cartridge; compact size; purchased 3/10. I have all parts and manuals, very little usage. It has a Protection plan (expires 3/31/12). It has a $160 value; will sale for $60. Please call Carol Wolleson, 658-6655.

• Vern Alexander as he continues to recover from surgery at home.
• Marjorie Moser as she faces surgery on Friday.
• Those who grieve.
• High School seniors receiving letters from colleges this week (and their families!).

• The Mission Study Team.
• Our new class of elders.
• Our outgoing elders.
• All those who serve our church in various capacities.
• Signs of hope in the world.

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