Contact: May 3, 2012

Montclair Presbyterian Church

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your willingness to join me in wrestling about how we can consider and be creative about our giving. Everywhere we are hearing about how the church is changing and the old forms and ways of doing things aren’t fitting the new ways of being church. One of the areas identified in that conversation is financial stewardship. There are many faith communities who are creatively funding their ministries and I find it exciting to explore those possibilities. You are a congregation that is creative, generous, and able to think beyond what you have known and experienced and I am confident that you will be one of the communities who will live into new ways of being financial stewards.

Often in the conversation about stewardship, the other aspects are left out or given a slight nod. The other aspects of stewardship are time and talents. Just as I have encouraged you to consider your monetary giving and how much you value the church in relationship to how you value other organizations to which you give, I want to encourage you to consider how you are spending your time. How much time are you spending within this church community? How does that amount of time compare with other organizations to which you give time? Is it in balance according to the value you have placed on it? Is it out of balance? If it is out of balance, what can you do to gain some balance? Here is one way to consider the time you are spending with the MPC community: If you are not here much and yet place the value it holds for you high, I guarantee that you are missed when you are not here. If you are here way too much according to the value you have placed on it, chances are good you might be preventing someone else from being able to give of their time. The reason this is important is that when we get unbalanced, often we tend to resent whatever or whoever it is we think we are giving to unproportionately. Even though we are “volunteering,” we tend to somehow think we don’t have much choice. Let me assure you, how you spend your time in relationship to this church community is your choice. Isn’t our hope that each of us would be intentional and glad about how we spend our time?

One of the concerns that has been voiced while I have been here is that some Sundays the sanctuary seems fairly full and other Sundays it seems half full. While I don’t expect many of you to pay attention to attendance numbers, we do keep track in order to look at yearly trends. If we have a Sunday that seems lower than usual (last Sunday, for example, we had fewer than 100 people in attendance which is definitely on the low side for us), we can look back at the past few years and see if the same was true at this time of year. If it has not historically been a low Sunday, then I begin ask “Why were we so low last week? Was it the sermon title? Was it the Destiny Arts performance? Was there something happening in the community? Was it the fact that the choir didn’t sing?” Of course, somewhere in the list of questions is why so many people in the congregation decided not to come that day. Last summer, many people voiced concerns about how low the attendance was during July and parts of August. When you try to get below the surface of concern, there are several issues that arise. What if visitors come and experience a service that is low in attendance and sometimes lower in energy because of the lack of voices and interaction and then they don’t want to return? What if people are not coming because they are unhappy with something? What if people are not coming because they are distancing themselves and are preparing to leave? What if people aren’t coming because they are sick or in the hospital and we don’t know about it? What if we are shrinking in size? As you can “hear” there is a great deal of fear that arises when attendance gets low at various times.

What are your thoughts about attendance? Are there concerns we should discuss? Should we not pay particular attention to it? Does it have anything to say other than that we have busy and involved people in our congregation? Share your thoughts with me and each other so we can take the fear out of the Sundays we have when there are fewer people.

Appreciative of who you are as a congregation,

“Happy 40th Birthday to Rev. Katie Morrison! Katie’s birthday is on Friday, May 4th, and I know you join with me in celebrating her birth! Katie will be in North Carolina when we celebrate birthdays this Sunday.”

SESSION NOTES FROM SUSANNE LEA, CLERK OF SESSION: Here are the highlights from the May 1, 2012 session meeting:
Guidance from our Committee on Ministry (COM) Liaison: Rev. Monte McClain, pastor of College Avenue Presbyterian Church and our Presbytery COM liaison to the Mission Study Team and Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) [to be elected], met with Session last night. He gave an excellent overview of the process to elect a PNC, the qualities we should look for in potential PNC members, and pastoral options when looking for and calling a new pastor. We are very fortunate to have Monte as our liaison! He is accessible, knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with.
Finances in Good Shape: Al Peters, Chair of Finance Committee, presented our third quarter financial statements and a draft budget for FY 2012-2013. Al reported that at this point we are ahead of budget – in other words, we have brought in more income than anticipated. The increased revenue is from rental of the sanctuary, fundraisers and office efficiencies. Good news!
Membership: Bill Neely, chair of Membership Committee, related that there have been two recent membership exploration meetings, with more to be scheduled in the near future. More good news!
New Assignments: Bob Saltz is joining the Personnel Committee; Karen Gibson and Lee Aurich will begin serving as session representatives to the Nominating Committee; Julia Dunbar has agreed to work with Systems and Procedures Committee; and Jean Gregory will head up session’s Education Cluster.

FROM THE MISSION STUDY TEAM: Our next congregational gathering is THIS COMING SUNDAY, May 6, 11:30 to 1:00. Pastor Beth will lead us in a discernment exercise, a different way of collecting wisdom from what we have done in prior gatherings. We will sit for periods of silence with the questions, “Who is God calling us to be?” and “What is God calling us to do?” We will engage in small group conversation about the kind of church we want to be in coming years. Bring your own lunch. The MST will provide fruit, granola bars, and beverages. Let Katie Morrison know by Wednesday, May 2 if you need childcare.

Our LAST congregational gathering will be Sunday, June 3, from 11:30 to 1:00, where our various task work groups will give progress reports. Watch Contact for more information.

Thank you to everyone who has attended our gatherings. Your participation is very important to our process.


We invite you to picture yourself at Family Camp! Family camp is for members and friends of Montclair Presbyterian Church, no matter the size and configuration of your family. Registrations have begun for Family Camp (MPC’s 35th year at Camp Richardson) on the shore of beautiful South Lake Tahoe, held June (16)17-23. Our theme is: Making Space for Play! In an atmosphere of playfulness and ease, we’ll be exploring the use of movement, stillness, story, and song as spiritual practices that allow for the discovery of ancient wisdom within our bodies. We’ll bridge the artificial divides that have been created between body, mind, heart, and spirit and learn to share stories, dances, and songs in a way that is inclusive of all ages and abilities. There will be time for silence and personal reflection along with community-building group activities. You don’t have to think of yourself as creative in order to be a full participant. Best of all – learning to access our body wisdom through these practices is energizing, easy, and fun! In addition, Rev. Katie will be providing some programming for children and youth. Our guest speaker/presenter is the Rev. Dr. Melinda McLain, an exceptional, top-level artist, thinker, and creative leader. She is an ordained UCC pastor, musician, non-profit consultant, and certified InterPlay leader (which we’ll be learning more about). She recently completed a doctor of ministry at Drew University in postmodern ecclesiology (fancy words for “how do we do church in a postmodern world”) with focus on the needs of the de-churched – those who have been harmed by churches, but have returned to a new congregation. Melinda is the lead musician for Wing It! Performance Ensemble, an Oakland-based improvisational company using the techniques of InterPlay to create on-the-spot concerts filled with storytelling, dance, original music, and fun!
You can register in the family room at fellowship time following Celebration on Sundays, or contact our camp registrar Cindy Gullikson ( to learn more about lodging options. The planning team is hopeful that you will make space for play and join us at Family Camp 2012!

“Family Camp instantly became our yearly family tradition. We were hooked from day 1. It’s a week-long play date with sleepovers! Please come and join us for a fabulously fun yet peaceful respite from the hectic Bay area on the gorgeous shores of Lake Tahoe.” Cathy, Allen, & Elizabeth (Bis).

Sunday, May 6:
Rev. Beth will be preaching on Mark 1:16-18. We will celebrate a baptism and communion.
Sunday, May 13: Rev. Beth will be preaching on Mark 3:31-35, focusing on the redefinition of family. This will be a Sunday for Family Choir, which means all ages are invited to sing the special music. One of our External Giving Grant Recipients, Rebuild Southern Africa Association, will share with us.

STEWARDSHIP UPDATE: From your Stewardship friends (think KPMC pledge break) — Pledges were due April 29, but it’s never too late. Mail it in, or email Barbara at We just need to hear from you. Calls to members we haven’t heard from will start in about a week, so that’s your grace period to get your pledge in.

We assume many members give, but don’t pledge. Please know that we really need a pledge in order to be able to budget for the coming fiscal year. So… if you’re giving anyway, won’t you please turn in a pledge? or email Remember, we also know that pledges can be changed if circumstances change. Thank you! If you have any questions, please contact Jeanne Dunn, Barbara Vaughn or Sloan

PARKING AT THORNHILL ELEMENTARY: To all of you who park on the playground at Thornhill Elementary school – please leave the gates open – do not close them. Other people that come to park there think it is locked if the gates are closed. Thank you for your help.

ONE GREAT HOUR OF SHARING: Our One Great Hour of Sharing offering totaled $5,145. We are a generous church! This offering brings hope to people in more than 80 countries, including our own. The PCUSA works with international partners to provide sources of clean water and food, small business micro-loans, disaster preparedness and response, and advocacy and resettlement for refugees.

STORYTELLERS: Attention all participants or would-be participants in the September presentation of “Noah’s Ark Revisited”. Please get your stories to me as soon as possible, or sooner. I have two great stories sent to me with no name, and I want very much to get in touch with this woman. One of the stories is about a visit in Santa Cruz. The envelope got thrown away. Hope to hear from you. Sharon Noteboom 925-943-5685 or

HELLO, MPC LEARNERS! And surely you remember that this Sunday and next (May 6 and 13), will feature a short but very interesting seminar: “An Introduction to the Gospel of John” led by Prof. Eugene Park of San Francisco Theological Seminary. Time: 8:30am to 9:45; place: Room#10. See you there!!

CELEBRATION OF LIFE FOR BOB STEWART: Bob Stewart’s Celebration of Life will be this Sunday, May 6th at 3:00 pm with a reception to follow in the Family Room. Mark your calendar.

REMINDER FOR THOSE WHO SIGNED-UP FOR CREATE WITH CLAY CLASSES: First session will be Saturday, May 12; second session Saturday, May 26, both from 10:00 am till noon. If you have any questions, call Dot Cudaback (510)531-0757.

JOIN US FOR FAMILY CHOIR! Sunday, May 13 is “Family Choir Sunday.” What is Family Choir? It is you and anyone you consider family–your spouse or partner, your kids or your parents, your grandkids or your nieces–or anyone in the MPC Family! Family Choir is a great opportunity for all ages to make music together. You don’t need to be a great singer–you just need to want to have fun. The Family Choir will sing the Raffi song “All I Really Need” in Celebration on May 13. If you’d like to practice the song in advance, you’re welcome to drop by choir rehearsal on Thursday, May 10 at 7:30. Or, you can just show up to church at 9:15 on the morning of May 13. Curious? Got questions? Email Kim at I hope you’ll join us!

THANK YOU FROM VERN ALEXANDER: Thank you, thank you for all of your concern for my recovery from intestinal surgery and a subsequent infection. I am home and with the help of an attached Wound Vac am recovering rapidly. Sundays are somewhat problematic when you have 12 grandchildren playing every sport ever invented but you are missed when we can’t come. Thanks again for your prayers, your visits and genuine care. Vern Alexander.

WARNING TO ALL DOG AND CAT LOVERS!! This is the beginning of foxtail season. If everyone who loves these animals will yank foxtails out by the roots (before they start spreading their seeds) and puts them in plastic bags in the trash (not green bins), we can start to get ahead of them. Questions: Sari Kulberg 510-653-6432.

CLOSE TO HOME PRESENTS: The Earth Shouts with Flowers: Their Incredible Diversity and Beauty with Dr. Chelsea Specht, UC Berkeley biologist (part 2) on Monday, May 7, 2012 at 7:30pm. Ever wonder why there are so many different varieties of flowers? Over 100 million years ago flowering plants (angiosperms) began to appear on planet Earth and quickly diversified. Once the flower evolved changes in shapes and colors, textures, patterns and symmetry increased the ability of a flower to interact with its environment. Chelsea Specht will discuss some of the flower patterns we see and how those patterns have contributed to the fantastic diversity we have today. For more information:

DRAMA DISCUSSION: ANATOL. Now playing at the Aurora Theater in Berkeley, Anatol, by Arthur Schnitzler, is a romantic and comedic tale of a turn-of the (last) century Don Juan and the society of Vienna. Dunbar Ogden, a long-time professor of Dramatic Art at U.C. Berkeley is our guide through this romp. At Montclair Presbyterian Church, Professor Ogden has led popular workshops on Sophocles and Shakespeare. Dates: Tuesday May 8, Discussion and Scene Readings 7:00 – 9:00, Thornhill Room at MPC. Sunday May 13 – Matinee performance at Aurora Theater, Berkeley 2 PM; followed by dinner at a local restaurant with the group. Cost: Tickets – $38.00, $3.50 for workshop materials. Hurry – tickets moving quickly!

• Those who are traveling.
• Those who are frail and falling.
• Those who are grieving.
• Our high school youth who have Advanced Placement exams coming up.

• Creativity.
• Destiny Arts Center and the important work they do.
• Those who provide us with beautiful flowers each week.
• Our sound technicians who keep the service audible.
• Sermons.

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