Contact: October 26, 2011

Montclair Presbyterian Church

Dear Friends,

Last week I went to a luncheon for the clergy involved in the Oakland Community Organization (OCO). It was well attended and I was able to meet many new clergy colleagues. We met in West Oakland at the Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church and it was in an area unfamiliar to me. As I drove into the neighborhood from the freeway and up to the church, I was struck by how different their context is for ministry than our context. Several homeless people were out on the streets with shopping carts walking here and there. The houses and apartments surrounding the church had bars on all of the windows. When I locked my car I looked carefully at what could be seen through the windows to avoid theft. My senses were on much higher alert than they are when I park here in Montclair.

Several clergy had speaking parts during the luncheon and I kept thinking about how dissimilar in some ways their congregations are from Montclair and how we also share some similarities. Most of the agenda for the day centered on an upcoming national clergy event that many of us are attending in New Orleans in November. For the first time ever, PICO (People Improving Communities through Organizing) is hosting a national gathering of clergy as a multi-faith, multi-cultural call to action on behalf of America’s families. They will provide training for clergy on how to be community organizers and how to leverage congregations. Very early in the morning on Monday, November 14th, I will be flying with 6 other clergy members of OCO to New Orleans. Rabbi David Cooper, our Faith Trio partner from Kehilla Community Synagogue, will be on the same flight which I hope will allow us the opportunity to get to know one another better.

Driving away from the luncheon I couldn’t help but feel as if our ministry here at Montclair is different than the ministry of those in the gritty areas of East and West Oakland. The question that keeps reverberating for me is “How can we use what we have and what we have been given for the most possible good?” What is our connection to the churches in the heart of the areas that know poverty, daily crime, gangs, hunger, homelessness, despair, drugs, prostitution, a lack of fresh food, a lack of healthcare, and very few areas for children to play?

On Monday I went to San Francisco with OCO clergy and San Francisco clergy to march in solidarity with the Occupy SF movement. We went to several banks and the Federal Reserve, we sang songs, there were speeches, and then we gathered for a closing service next to the Occupy SF village. Sally Juarez and Bruce Reyes-Chow were the only other Presbyterian clergy I saw while there were many UCC clergy present! The idea was to get the message out that the conversation regarding the economy needs to be a conversation about values. The media was well represented and there were several good stories written about the gathering. It felt like a very small response to an enormous problem, but at least it was a step.

Many people are wondering what we will do as a congregation related to the Occupy Oakland movement. The Social Justice steering committee talked about it last evening and it appears as though the movement is up in the air at the moment. Once things have settled down and the movement seems to be re-established, the steering committee plans on scoping out how we could be involved and then will work on organizing it. If you have thoughts about how you want to see us involved, please contact someone from social justice or me. We are open to any and all ideas. In addition, if you are interested in gathering people together to talk about the issues, solutions or how we might be called to work for economic justice, let one of us know as well.

Several colleagues have asked me this week how I like being at Montclair. My response is, “I love it. I’m having a great time because they are an amazing congregation.”   I continue to enjoy my days with you and I am grateful!

Sunday, October 30th:
The Rev. Dr. Carol Miles will be preaching and we will celebrate the Saints that have been a part of MPC! The children will be singing in Celebration.
Sunday, November 6th: Talitha will be preaching, it’s family Sunday, and we will celebrate communion. Rev. Beth will be away.
Sunday, November 13th: Rev. Beth will be preaching and exploring what we want in terms of healing, individually, collectively and globally. Celebration will be followed by a Mission Study Team Congregational Gathering.
Sunday, November 20th: Rev. Duke will be preaching on a topic covered in his new book. We will have his new book for sale that morning and he will be signing books following Celebration.
Sunday, November 27th: Rev. Beth will be preaching as we enter the Advent season.
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.
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.

MISSION STUDY TEAM CONGREGATIONAL GATHERING COMING UP! Don’t forget that on Sunday, November 13th, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm, the Mission Study Team will lead the congregation in another meaningful discussion about our church. Our focus for that gathering will be a look at the past as we tell stories and construct a timeline. Our commitment to you is that we will begin and end on time; we will provide an opportunity for you to connect with people you know and don’t know, we will have some fun, we will encourage you to share what you know, and we will then communicate the results. For the results of our last gathering, you can go to and see all of your responses.

NOTE: We will be providing childcare for children of adults who would like to participate in the gathering and we will provide heavier snacks than last time so you won’t go hungry! Each table will have heavy snacks on it so we can work and eat.

Please join us for this important gathering even if you are new to the congregation or haven’t been here very long. We hope to have everyone involved!

Have you seen it?
The youth garden beds are in and ready to be planted this weekend. There are 2 plots still available. Please contact me if you are interested in one of them. Check out the garden this Sunday after church. We are proud of the building job they have done.
Did you know that the lumber which our youth used to build the garden’s raised beds was the wood from the redwood tree that stood in that same spot for many, many years and was cut down a year or so ago because it was pushing over the neighbor’s garage? Now it returns and has a new life supporting our organic garden. We are very appreciative of Arthur and Kathy Horn who got the wood milled for us.










Youth Group: This Saturday, from 12:30 -2:30 PM, the Youth are invited to come to fill the raised beds and install the drip water system. This Sunday, the YOUTH GROUP will meet at 5:45 pm in the church parking lot to go ROLLER SKATING in San Ramon. Cost: $11 for admission and all-you-can-eat pizza, plus $5 skate rental.
Children: The children WILL SING THIS SUNDAY at the beginning of Celebration and then go to class. Please arrive at 9:15 to rehearse. NEXT SUNDAY, Nov. 6, is a Family Sunday with rehearsals beginning for the Christmas Children’s Choir from 11-11:30.
Church Nursery News: We say good-bye to Mariah Carray who has been providing child care for us for several years. Mariah is very busy with senior year demands. Thank you, Mariah, for sharing your love and talents with so many of our children over the past years. Phoebe Lett and Julia Gullikson continue as our faithful nursery staff and are joined by Rosa Chiguila (Gil and Maria’s daughter).

TALITHA’S TAKE: I will be gone 10/28 to 10/30 for a Children of Uganda board meeting in Washington, DC. Pray for wisdom and discernment for the board!

HELPING HANDS: Have you ever needed a hand? Maybe while your hand was in a sling or when your life was so busy that you needed three hands (or more) to get everything done? After surgery, or a spouse’s surgery? In times of grief? Or while welcoming a newborn home?
MPC’s group Helping Hands is set up to take care of these kinds of needs. Whether it’s a ride to the hospital, a hot casserole at dinnertime, or a trip to the grocery store, Helping Hands can help you through such times. But like every group does from time to time, Helping Hands needs more members! There are no meetings, just occasional emails. To join the group, you will need to register online. Visit the site On this page you will need to fill out the right-hand side of the form, “Request to Join the (MPC) Community” (user name, password, phone number, etc.). You will then get an email back asking you for confirmation. This site will make it easier to track who has requested what and who has responded. We’re pretty sure that by using this method, no one will get five casseroles at the same time because of miscommunication. For questions, contact Carol Wolleson at 510-658-6655.

REMEMBER: The MPC Women’s Retreat is this Friday! Registration opens at 4:00 pm and the program begins at 5:00 pm. Bring clothing for all temperatures, feel free to bring along wine if you would like to share in the evening, and please CARPOOL. See you Friday! Francie Chan & Gretchen Garlinghouse, Event Co-Chairs. If you have any questions call Gretchen at (510)482-1157 or email at

CLOSE TO HOME: Close to Home presents a talk and slide show with ecologist Todd Keeler-Wolf on, Ancient Redwoods in the East Bay – Where Did They All Go? It will be on Monday, November 7, at 7:30 pm. Some of the oldest and largest coast redwood trees once stood in the East Bay. Full scale logging of them began in 1842. Todd Keeler-Wolf is currently working with the Oakland Museum of CA to map historic vegetation patterns including the footprint of the ancient forest. What did the East Bay Hills look like before the arrival of Europeans? Is it true that there are at least two redwoods left from the San Antonio Forest that are very hard to get to? Todd will tell. For more info:

CHRISTMAS REVELS: Mark your calendar and enjoy seeing the Christmas Revels with a large group from MPC! Our church has reserved a block of tickets for Saturday, December 10 at 1:00 PM. Enjoy a theatrical celebration of the winter solstice as told through music, drama and dance. This year’s theme features the legendary King Arthur and his court. The performance is at the Scottish Rite Theater on Lake Merritt at 1547 Lakeside Drive, Oakland. Great seats at $27 and $20 for seniors (60 & over) & children under 18. Purchase tickets at the Family Hour on Nov. 6 & 13. Questions? Contact Barbara Peters, 510-654-9677 or

FOR RENT: My small one room unfurnished garden apartment in Montclair is available for rent. The rent is reasonable and you must like cats. If you are interested, please call Dot Cudaback at (510) 531-0757.

FAITH TRIO HAVEST DINNER REMINDER & VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: The Annual Faith Trio Harvest Dinner is Saturday, November 5 at 5:30 pm in our Family Room. No signup needed; just come! We also need helpers: help with appetizers (crudités, crostini), with setup and cleanup, and it will take less than an hour for any task. Call or email Virginia Abascal or Phil Reagan if you can help.

ADULT ED: Myth Busters: Environmental Edition. We all want to do right by the environment, but what’s the most effective way to help? We are inundated with information and advice, some of it conflicting. This class on Busting EnvironMyths should help. We will explore the science behind the claims, and calculate the impact of our actions. We can also do some playful activities developed for kids, if you wish. I’ll bring some of my favorite myths; you bring questions and a willingness to explore.
Cynthia Cudaback, PhD grew up here in Montclair, got college degrees in physics and geophysics, sailed around the world with NOAA, and taught college level introductory oceanography for 7 years. She now freelances as a marine educator.
Mondays in November–7,14,21,28, 7:00-8:30 pm, Fee: $10.
Convener: Margaretha Derasary, 339-2282, Opportunity to sign-up for the class after Celebration this Sunday, October 30.

FINAL CALL: I want to share with you a great deal I received from Berkeley Repertory Theatre. You can get 20% off any seat in the house for Rita Moreno’s show, Life Without Makeup, for this Wednesday or Friday night performance (Thursday matinee is already sold out.). If you would like to take advantage of this offer you must use the code ROSITA and order online. Follow the instructions carefully and call the box office if you need assistance. I hope you can take advantage of this offer. Enjoy! Donna Carruth.

• Our college students.
• Frank Dauby as he travels to see his mother recovering from hip surgery.
• Continued healing for Tracy Livezey and wisdom for her doctors.
• For the Occupy Oakland movement for safety and non-violence.
• For all those who are grieving due to loss of lives, relationships, meaning, employment, housing, abilities and health.
• For all those who are caring for aging parents.
• For the youth group as they prepare their garden project.
• For 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