Contact: November 22, 2011

Montclair Presbyterian Church

Dear Friends,

In this time in our world when the economy and political scenes seem so bleak, I have been thinking about how it is more important than ever that we focus on gratitude. I am always grateful for our Thanksgiving holiday for the very fact that it gives us a chance to stop and reflect and consider the things for which we are thankful.

You, the Montclair church family, are near the top of my list. Okay, admittedly, there are moments when you drive me crazy, but mostly I deeply appreciate you. At times you absolutely amaze me, at other times you deeply touch me, and plenty of times you make me laugh. You are talented, creative, complex, richly diverse, caring, compassionate, sensitive, thoughtful, intelligent, and courageous. You are not perfect and you are okay with that fact! You are a wonderful mix of demanding, understanding and encouraging.

Recently the Search Committee for the Coordinator of Children, Youth and Family Life position was talking about a candidate who is not just well qualified for the position but in some ways overqualified. The committee was musing about why the person would be interested in the position. I explained to them that in the larger church world, Montclair – YOU – has/have a reputation for being a great congregation with which to work. You may not realize how much that means to someone looking at church positions.

When I first arrived more than a year ago, you were anxious and on edge. My experience of you now is that you are much less anxious (though I know a few of you still feel anxious about the length of time the interim period is taking) and much more willing to discuss difficult issues. After my article last week, for example, many of you spoke to me about some of the issues outlined regarding membership. Thank you for trusting me enough to be willing to open up and even disagree with me or let me know I have offended or hurt you in some way. We will really be making progress when more of you are able to let each other know when you are offended or hurt by something someone has said.

While it may go without saying, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how grateful I am to have such fine colleagues. Kim, Marcia, Sherrill, Susan, Talitha and Maria and Gil, are treasures, each one with their own gifts and abilities. The church is fortunate to have such a hardworking, competent and fabulous staff.

Whatever you end up doing this week for giving thanks, I hope you will take some time to think about how fortunate we all are to be a part of the Montclair church family at this time in life. Let the faces come to you of people for whom you are especially grateful. I love doing that and it’s amazing how many of your faces come to mind!

See you on Sunday as we journey into Advent and Christmas,
P.S. JE and I received news this morning that our legal issue has been resolved and in our favor. Thank you for all of your prayers!

Sunday, November 27th: Rev. Beth will be preaching as we enter the Advent season. Something will be different…
Sunday, December 4th: The Adult and Children’s choirs will be leading us in their major work. The Children’s Christmas Party will follow the Celebration service. Adults will be asked to stay in the sanctuary for a Called Congregational Meeting to vote on the Amendment to the By-laws.
Sunday, December 11th: Rev. Beth will be preaching and we will formally thank and say good-bye to Susan Hunn in Celebration. Celebration will be followed by a Mission Study Team Congregational Gathering.

Advent Wreath:
This year we will do the Lighting of the Advent Wreath with a twist. Rather than have only children do the reading and lighting, we are asking various generations to participate. This is in keeping with our overall attempt to help the generations get to know each other. If you have a child who you think was counting on being a part of the advent candle lighting, please let me know asap. If you are in the older generations and would like to participate, please let me know!
Youth Group: We will meet this Sunday in room 2, 7-9 PM.
Children: The children continue their choir rehearsal from 11 – 11:30 AM this Sunday. On Sat. Dec. 3 they will rehearse from 9:30-11 AM with the Adult Choir.
Children’s Christmas Party: Our Children’s Christmas Party this year will be held on Sunday, Dec. 4, the day they are singing in church. Come and join us in Room 10 after Celebration and the Congregational Meeting for refreshments and for a chance to meet other parents. Children are again asked to bring a gift to wrap which will go to children whose parents are in the county hospital at Christmas. Sponsored by our Education Committee for Children and Youth.

THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY OFFICE SCHEDULE: The church office will be closed on Thursday and Friday, November 24 & 25, 2011. Rev. Beth will be available on her cell.

DECK THE HALLS! We need volunteers of all ages to help decorate the sanctuary for Christmas. Join us at 10:00 a.m. in the sanctuary on Saturday, November 26. Coffee and treats will be provided. Call Sloan White at (510) 339-8728 if you have any questions.

CHESTNUT CHOIR THIS SUNDAY! Come one, come all to sing in MPC’s drop-in, no-fault, no-rehearsal choir, the Chestnut Choir. The Chestnut Choir is a fun and low-key way to participate musically in Celebration. It’s also a great way to try choral singing if you’ve never tried it before. Show up on Sunday morning at 9:15 and join us–you’ll be glad you did!

GIVING TO THE WORLD IS BACK: On Sundays starting November 27th through December 18th, you will be able to shop at Giving to the World table in the Family Room for alternative gifts. Tired of malls? Annoyed that it’s so difficult to find a truly unique present for that special someone? Eager to save gas with one-stop shopping at MPC? Wishing you could honor your boss with a donation to Presbyterian Disaster Relief? Giving to the World is the solution to all of your concerns.

THE ANTHOLOGY IS HERE! “Lives in Progress 2011” goes on sale this Sunday, November 27. Enjoy the children’s drawings and poems as well as the adults’ original reflections on family, society, personal experiences, adventures and aging. It’s a bargain @ $6.

ORPHANAGE AT PRACHAKITTISUK CHURCH, THAILAND: The children at the Reverend Sirirat’s orphanage come from the hill tribes, neighboring countries and from mothers and fathers who have lost their lives to HIV, drug addition and desperate conditions, children who never knew their parents and who have no one to call “family.” These children have literally been given a second chance at life. Without any documentation of where they were born, they will have difficulty ever attaining citizenship. But with the help of the local schools and Pastor Pusurinkham, they attend school and learn to be children knowing they are loved. Her church is an intrinsic part of the community; part congregation, part artisan craft center. The wares she sells help sustain her village and prevent desperate and hungry women from selling their bodies and their children into the sex trade. Please come to meet Sirirat and hear her story about her two orphanages, her new women’s center and how she is helping to curb the sex trade in Thailand. Rev. Sirirat will be at MPC on Monday, November 28th at 6 pm in theThornhill Room. If you plan on coming, please bring a potluck dish to share. In addition, she will be at Lafayette Orinda Presbyterian Church, 49 Knox Dr., Walnut Creek on Nov. 29, 2011, from 9:30-11:30 in the Oak Room. Please let me know if you can attend! Gail Parker-Marshall, or (925) 938-2121

DEADLINE IS APPROACHING! We are still collecting cash donations for food and gifts to honor Susan Hunn at her retirement party on December 10th. Please send in your tax-deductible gift via check to the church office by December 2nd and mark Susan Hunn’s Gift in the memo line. If you would like to help with the party set-up or clean-up, please contact Debbie Fallehy (

PALESTINIAN OLIVE OIL & CERAMICS FOR SALE: Lovely Palestinian ceramics and tasty Palestinian olive oil will be available for purchase during Family Hour in the month of December. Profits from the sale of these goods go to KEEP HOPE ALIVE, a joint advocacy initiative of the YMCA branches in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Olive tree farmers and the ceramic industry are the ultimate beneficiaries. From the Peacemakers Committee.

THINKING ABOUT CHRISTMAS CAROLS? Singing Christmas carols is a favorite activity of Christmas. But do we ever think about them? Here’s a chance to do so: an Adult Ed class on the carols…musing and talking about – and singing – such carols as “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “Joy to the World.” The class will be led by (the Rev. Dr.) Carol Miles (how about that name!!) on two Sundays: December 4 and 11, 8:30am to 9:45 in Room #10.

CHRISTMAS CAROL SING ALONG: Everyone is invited to a Christmas Carol Sing-A-Long on Wednesday, December 7. Join us at 6:00 p.m. in the Family Room for a soup and salad dinner. Then we will proceed to the sanctuary at 7:00 to sing carols by audience request. Contact Sloan White at (510) 339-8728 if you have any questions.

HEAR YE, HEAR YE LORDS & LADIES, YULE FEAST IS COMING! Yule Feast is a night of revelry, ceremony & celebration! Our 32nd Yule Feast will take place Saturday night, January 7th. Mark your calendars. More information will soon follow. Kristin Nicholas, Kathy Sharp & Debbie Fallehy.

BOOK DEPOT NEWS: Celebrants this past Sunday heard former pastor, Duke Robinson, tell what his new book, CREATE YOUR BEST LIFE–KILL THE GRIM REAPER: How to Live Fully Knowing One Day You Will Die, is all about, and over 70 folks have ordered the book. The Book Depot will continue to take orders ($17 cash or check made out to the church, or put your name on an order list). Printing has been delayed but Duke should be able to have the books available in the next couple of weeks, when he will return to Family Hour to sign copies for those who would like him to do that. Buying through the depot not only gets you a signed copy, but also puts the book in your hands faster than and saves you shipping and handling. Sunday, the author referred to his latest work as a “provocative, absolutely fantastic book.”

PEACEMAKING OFFERING: Thank you to all who contributed so generously to the annual Peacemaking Offering which totaled $2,240. We joined with other Presbyterians in supporting national, regional and local activities to teach and promote non-violence at all levels. This year our local funds, $560, 25% of the offering, were presented to Destiny Arts Center, an Oakland-based violence prevention and arts education program serving local youth. Our money will provide scholarships, allowing additional needy Oakland youth to participate in their classes.

• Ruthann and family as they grieve the death of Clyde Taylor.
• The Parrot/Becker family as they juggle a heavy load with family and work responsibilities.
• Tom Debley’s older sisters who are both struggling with health issues.
• Those who are lonely and alone.
• All who spend Thanksgiving on the streets, or isolated from family, or in sorrow.
• All those working for peace and justice in Egypt.
• Safety for all people who put their bodies on the line while protesting injustice.
• Kathy Horn who is now home recovering from having her appendix removed.
• Ron, Jan Stites’ brother who is recovering from by-pass surgery.
• Serin Eggling and her daughter Vanessa as Serin declines.
• Continued healing for Tracy Livezey and wisdom for her doctors.
• All those who are grieving due to loss of lives, relationships, meaning, employment, housing, abilities and health.
• All those who are caring for aging parents.
• The concerns of our hearts that don’t always get shared aloud.

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, 8:30am-4:30pm
Rev. Beth Buckingham-Brown, Office hours Monday-Wednesday, 10:00-4:00 pm
Susan Hunn, Associate for Education: Office hours, Tuesday-Thursday, 9:30-2:30 pm
Sherrill Figuera: Administrative Assistant, Office hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30-4:30 pm
Talitha Phillips: Associate for Care and Congregational Life
Kim Rankin: Music Director
Marcia Roy: Organist
Gil & Maria Chiguila: Caretakers
Rev. John Hadsell: Theologian in Residence
Rev. Kathy Ray: Parish Associate