Contact: May 9, 2012

Montclair Presbyterian Church

Dear Friends,

Over the course of the year and a half I have been with you, there have been a number of times when I have felt a deep sense of awe and appreciation for who you are and it hasn’t always been for the same reasons. Last Sunday I had another experience with you which led to that deep sense. After church more than 50 people gathered in the Family Room to join in the Congregational Gathering to consider the questions “What is God calling us to do?” and “Who is God calling us to be?” These are the last of the framework questions posed by the Mission Study Team for the congregation to consider. Just to remind you, last Sunday was a spectacular day in terms of weather. The fact that so many of you came to celebration, when you were surely tempted to celebrate outside instead, filled me with appreciation. I was concerned that because of the beautiful weather, and because we were doing an unfamiliar exercise that we had said would include some silence, and because we still had a memorial service coming later in the day, many of you would choose not to attend. Fortunately, I was wrong! My feeling awe about who you are came from realizing that though you had no idea what we were going to do, you were committed to being there and you were game to try something new.

For those of you who were unable to attend, we engaged in a discernment exercise together in small groups. The exercise consisted of periods of silent listening interspersed with periods of sharing what was heard. The goal is to listen to God’s and one’s own wisdom and then to share it with the group. What can be very frustrating about the exercise is that it doesn’t ultimately result in a list of action steps or a to-do list. People who are naturally problem solvers and doers find themselves feeling frustrated over the lack of clear and helpful outcomes. Having said that, it can also be a very powerful experience for those who give themselves to the process and experience listening at a deeper level than usual. Regardless of how various people felt about it, everyone present was willing to engage in it in some way and for that reason I was filled with tremendous gratitude and appreciation. Not every congregation is so willing.

As the small groups went around and shared with the entire group what had come with their discernment, two common themes emerged from each of the groups. One theme is how very important the experience of community is for every person who attends. More than anything else named, the community is what draws people and keeps people here. The second theme that came across loudly and clearly is that we have to find ways to share our experience of community with all those who are not here yet. While some in the room were not impressed with the process or the outcome, I have to say I was amazed at how every group came to the same place eventually. Aren’t you struck by how powerful the collective voice is in saying, “Our experience of community is the most valuable thing we have to offer and we need to go out into the world and offer it!” If that isn’t a vision for the future, I don’t know what else would provide that vision.

On a number of occasions in the past year I have mentioned in my sermons that rather than think about wanting new members because “we need younger people to be the future of this church” or “we are graying rapidly and we need younger people to step in and do our jobs” or “we need more people so we can afford to do what we want to do” or however else it is said, we need to think about wanting new members (young and old) because we know how amazing it is to experience community like this and we want to share it with everyone. I think that is what we just named as the vision for the future.
Do you feel as excited about that as I do for you?

Obviously, the Mission Study Team and the Session have some flesh to put on those bones, but by golly those bones are going to live with a vision as alive as that vision!

Grateful for another day with you,

Katie is on study leave until Saturday, May 12th and will return Sunday, May 13th.

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.
Sunday, May 20: CREATION! The Choir Major Work will be the focus of this service.
Sunday, May 27: Pentecost Sunday! Wear red or orange or yellow or all of them together! Rev. Beth will be preaching and the Oakland East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus will be singing!

DON’T FORGET THE POPCORN! Our next movie is the 1987 film, Bagdad Café, 92 minutes and in color. German writer-director Percy Adlon makes a “remarkable” American debut with his “charming” Bagdad Cafe starring CCH Pounder and Jack Palance. Injecting his bold and unique style into a sweet story about the common threads that connect disparate people, Adlon succeeds in creating a cinematic jewel that is both “hilarious and touching.” Drawn to a pair of lights in the barren American desert sky, a mysterious German woman, Jasmin, stumbles upon a dilapidated motel/diner in the middle of nowhere. Her unusual appearance and demeanor are at first suspicious to Brenda, the exasperated owner who has difficulty making ends meet. But when an unlikely magic sparks between the two women, this lonely desert outpost is transformed into a thriving – and popular- oasis. This Saturday, May 12 at 6:30 pm in the Thornhill Room – coming up fast!!! Bring ‘movie’ snacks or beverage. We start on time!!! This’ll be fun!! Jeanne Dunn 510.834.7559.

JOIN US FOR FAMILY CHOIR! This 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!

FROM YOUR STEWARDSHIP FRIENDS AT KPMC: This year’s pledge drive is almost over, but we still haven’t heard from about a third of those who pledged last year. We know families are different. We don’t want anyone to feel pressured into pledging more than is comfortable. If you have been blessed financially, we hope you’ll give of your gifts to support our MPC family. Whatever you are able to give, letting us know what your financial support will be (even if you are unable to pledge at this time) is a responsibility of membership. Jeanne Dunn will soon start calling members we haven’t heard from. Will you help your friends working on the budget committee and mail in your pledge form, or email a pledge to Barbara Vaughn at … now? Remember, pledges can be changed if circumstances change. And if you can give more as the year goes by, that would be wonderful! Thank you! Do you have questions? Contact Jeanne Dunn, Barbara Vaughn or Sloan White.

YOUTH GROUP GARDEN NEWS: The cover crop in the edible garden has been turned in and the new planting is about to commence! We will be growing a variety of summer squash, lettuces, and tomatoes to donate to a local school program. The vegetables are provided to low income families and to the school to teach children about the benefits of eating healthy food. We may have an available plot or two, if anyone is interested in adopting a plot to maintain please contact Jessie Lett at

TAIZÉ MEDITATION SERVICE MAY 16: If you’d like to reconnect with the calm quiet center of your soul, leave behind distractions and worries, and get a renewed perspective, come to the next candlelit Taizé service, 7:00-8:00 p.m. May 16 in the sanctuary, consisting of music, Scripture reading, prayer, and silence. Sunset will be at 8:14 pm so it will still be light on your way home. For child care (available upon request), contact the office by May 11.

“THE CREATION” BY HAYDN, MAY 20: On Sunday, May 20, the choir will present its spring Major Work: Part I of the sacred oratorio “The Creation,” by Franz Josef Haydn. Widely considered to be Haydn’s masterpiece and the culmination of his life’s work as a composer, “The Creation” depicts and celebrates the creation of the world, using scripture from the books of Genesis and Psalms, as well as Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” Haydn wrote, “I was never so devout as when I was at work on ‘The Creation.’ I fell on my knees each day and begged God to give me the strength to finish the work.” For our performance, the MPC Choir will be joined by a large chamber orchestra and three stellar vocal soloists. Encourage your music-loving friends to come with you to church on May 20–this is a performance not to be missed!

TASK FORCE MEETING: The Bylaws Task Force will meet on Monday, May 21, at 7 p.m. in Room 4. If you have questions or would like to participate, please contact Susanne Lea or Tom Davies.

COME ONE, COME ALL AND HAVE A BALL!!!!!!! The Community Congregational Church of Tiburon- Belvedere is happy to host a concert just for kids (and their big people of course) on May 25th at 4pm. Children pay according to their age up to $5 adults are $10 tickets are available at the door. Join us at 145 Rock Hill drive in Tiburon, find us on the web at or call us at 415-435- 9108. Laura Hall, Kelly Macleod and Rick Hall will delight and charm your young ones with a show that is lively and interactive. The kids will love to use their imaginations, play, and sing along. Featuring music from Laura’s cds for children, I SEE A TIGER and COME JOIN THE PARADE, as well as a few songs from THE SWEET POTATOES, it promises to be a fun event for kids and their families.

WANT TO HEAR SWEET POTATOES SING? The Community Congregational Church of Tiburon-Belvedere is happy to announce an evening with “The Sweet Potatoes.” They will be here on Friday, May 25th at 8pm; tickets are $10 at the door. The address for the church is 145 Rock Hill Drive in Tiburon, (415)435-9108 or The Sweet Potatoes are Laura Hall (Whose Line is is Anyway), Kelly Macleod (Private Life), and Rick Hall (countless TV shows and commercials). They bring their acoustic, harmony rich, original music, along with songs from Laura’s faith albums, and Rick’s inspired story telling. Audiences across the country have been enjoying their shows full of inspiration, music, and laughter.

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR OWN JOHN SUTTER: John Sutter, long-time member of MPC, was greeted with a standing ovation from the 320 attendees at the League of Women Voters of Oakland’s Annual All-City Luncheon Wednesday, May 2, when he came forward to accept one of the League’s Making Democracy Work awards. The League presented the award to John for his lifetime of public service as an Oakland City Councilmember from 1971 through 1982, as a Judge of the Alameda County Superior Court in the 1980’s and early 90’s, as an elected Director on the Board of the East Bay Regional Park District from 1996 to the present, and as a Board Member of the Chabot Space and Science Center for several terms as the Park District’s representative. Concern for open space and the environment have been a major theme in John’s life as he organized two successful campaigns to protect Lake Merritt parkland from commercial development, and chaired Citizens Against Trucks on MacArthur Freeway, which successfully lobbied the State to ban truck traffic on Interstate 580. From 1963 to 1970, he served as President for People for Open Space (now Greenbelt Alliance) when they lobbied for federal legislation to create Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Pt. Reyes National Seashore, and for state legislation to create the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC). John was appointed by Governor Edmond G. (“Pat”) Brown to serve on the original BCDC from 1965 to 1967. He serves now on the board of the SF Bay Restoration Authority.

MARY STEWART’S NEW ADDRESS: Mary Stewart has moved to be closer to her daughters. Her new address is listed below. Please call Sherrill in the office with any questions.

Mary Stewart
AlmaVia of San Francisco
Bridgehaven Unit #317
One Thomas More Way
San Francisco, CA 94132

Front Row from left: Julie Schober, Marilyn Ehrenreich, Pat Hoggatt
Back Row from left: Paul Gertmanian, Earl Sawyer, Carrie McKiernan

• Those who are grieving the loss of their mothers or the mothers they never had.
• Those who are ill.
• Those who are traveling.
• Those who are facing transitions.
• Our high school youth who are taking Advanced Placement exams.

• Bob Stewart’s life.
• Our children and youth.
• Those who have had the courage to stand on the side of justice.
• Families.

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