February 16, 2011

President’s Day

Montclair Presbyterian Church

Dear Friends,

On February 8th, Art Paull, Tom Davies and I attended the San Francisco Presbytery Meeting at the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown.  Leonard Nielson was also there and the four of us were able to have dinner together.  We had a great discussion while eating Chinese food!  One of the major items on the docket for the evening was whether or not to replace our current Book of Order (how we govern ourselves) with a new form of government(nFOG).  For some reason there has been very little conversation about this and it turns out that it is a momentous possibility.  Our current Book of Order, for example, prohibits an interim pastor from becoming the next installed pastor.  The nFOG says that “…a presbytery may determine that its mission strategy permits…a teaching elder (otherwise known as a pastor) employed in a temporary pastoral relationship (like an Interim) to be eligible to serve as the next installed pastor…”  There are many other such changes that could potentially have a HUGE impact on individual congregations.  The idea behind it was to allow for more freedom for congregations and presbyteries.  Twelve men got up in a row to speak against the nFOG.  It is not nearly specific or narrow enough in their perspective.  For example, the nFOG says, “The good news of the Gospel is that the triune God –Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – creates, redeems, sustains, rules, and transforms all things and all people.”  Those from conservative churches are quite upset with the statement that “God redeems all people.”  They find that to be far too universalist and a watering down of the Gospel.  Oh my.  Doesn’t that illustrate why our discussions at Presbytery are so difficult?  We come from such different places theologically.

Well, the motion to adopt the nFOG passed by 4 votes.  Honestly, I was shocked because only 3 of us stood up to speak for it while all of the rest of those who spoke were vehemently against it.  I do not know how many other presbyteries have voted to adopt it yet and in the end that will determine whether it happens.  Even though I spoke in favor of it (more freedom for congregations is definitely the direction I would like to see us head as a denomination), I am also aware of the problems.  A great deal of it will depend upon how presbyteries set up various guidelines, expectations, etc…In the case of the example I gave above about interim pastors, it would be up to our presbytery to decide whether an interim could become the next installed pastor.  Imagine the fierce fighting that will begin to occur at our local presbytery level when it comes to these decisions.  The issue about interim pastors is complicated because if interims are allowed to become the next installed pastors, they run the risk of worrying more about pleasing people and lobbying for themselves than doing the work of interim ministry.  So, it was with trepidation that I voted in favor of the nFOG, hoping for more freedom and being wary of the intense work that would be required locally.  As I hear more about how the other presbyteries are voting, I will keep you informed.

Our Session is engaging in conversation regarding the scope of our interim period.  A small group was tasked with looking at some different approaches.  The major questions have to do with how long the interim period will take and how involved I become in the ongoing ministry of the congregation.  For example, before Karen left a great deal of work had been done around the question of whether to have deacons.  Do I pick that ball up and run with it or do we put that on hold until a new pastor arrives?  The Session is meeting on March 1st and hopefully we will come to consensus on the approach that makes the most sense.  At the same time, the Personnel committee continues to meet to discuss staffing.  The plan is to increase the Administrative Assistant position back to 40 hours per week but to be very intentional about what tasks are included in the position.  As we look at what makes sense for that position, we are also looking at where the holes are in our overall staffing.  One of the tasks of the interim pastor is to make any necessary staffing changes.  The reason for that is it can be very difficult for a new pastor to arrive on the scene and begin to make changes without experiencing serious backlash.  It is not a good way for a new pastor to begin a long-term relationship!  As these conversations occur, I will do my best to communicate with you about what is being discussed and decided.  Feel free to talk with any of the session members or me if you have thoughts or concerns.

Please continue to let me know of any pastoral care issues that arise with members of the congregation.  As soon as you hear of anyone in need of care, call and let me know so I can follow up.  There is no place I would rather be than right here with you!


TALITHA’S TWO CENTS: I will lead a Bible Study for storytellers, greeters, and parents of Godly Play-age children at 11:30 on March 6th in the Godly Play room (#4). We will focus on the Godly Play stories for Lent and the questions they may raise for your children – or for you! This is a chance to dig a little deeper into the stories we hear. Childcare will be provided (email me at talitha@mpcfamily.org with how many children you’ll be bringing).


  • Youth Group: We will meet this Sunday, 7-9 PM in room 2.
  • Godly Play Teachers: As we begin our new semester, we welcome back our teachers, all of whom are returning. AGE 4 – GRADE 3: Courtney Blair, Suzanne Jones, Shelley Klop, Carrie and Megan McKiernan (youth), Chris Singer (youth). 4-6 GRADE: Cathy Sharp, Linda Spencer, Leslie Louie, Talitha Phillips, Peggy Alter, Cindy Gullikson, Stacy Canzeroni (youth), Tami Driver. We very much appreciate their commitment to our children.
  • Church Family Pasta Dinner – Youth Mission Trip Fundraiser: Join us on Sunday, February 27th, as we share a meal which our high school youth will cook as a fundraiser for their summer Mission Trip. Dinner will be served buffet style 5:30-6:30 in the Family Room. This is a good way to get to know OUR YOUTH. We have also invited our Youth Group Alumni and their young families, a group which has met twice now. You are asked to donate any amount to the trip in exchange for your meal. This year’s Mission Trip will be to Portland where they will volunteer with Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, which oversees urban, sustainable farming programs as well as other ministries.

SPLASH TEAM HAS A RECOMMENDATION: Mark Hertsgaard will be discussing his book, “Hot:  Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth”, at Diesel Book Store, 5433 College Ave. (near Rockridge BART) Thursday, Feb. 17 at 7 pm. Please contact Sari Kulberg 653-6432 with any questions.

MOROCCAN MUSIC CONCERT: You are invited to a special concert with El Hamedeen and Yassir Chadly on Sat. Feb 19 from 7:45 pm to 9 pm. Shaykh Yassir Chadly and the band El Hamedeen will play sacred and folk Moroccan music in honor of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) at the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California. This concert performance is part of ICCNC’s joint celebration with MAANC (Moroccan American Association of Northern California).For other events at ICCNC go to their website, www.iccnc.org.

DORIS HERRICK’S MEMORIAL: You are invited to attend a celebration of her life on Sunday, February 20th at 3 pm in the Sanctuary. The family would like you to join them for a reception immediately following in the Family Room.

SILENT FURNITURE AUCTION: Some Oak furniture left behind by the Stokes is available in a silent auction in the family room on Sunday, February 20, during family hour. The items include (1) A rolltop computer desk – minimum bid $25.00, (2) A two drawer file cabinet – minimum bid $3.00 and (3) A small storage cabinet – minimum bid $5.00.  The auction will close towards the end of family hour. This is a one day event. Items not sold will be donated to the Salvation Army.

UPDATED BOOK DEPOT NEWS: We sold many books Sunday, but still have lots that are on sale. The sale prices are remaining the same as last week. Just look inside the front cover to see how much the book has been marked down. There are also some new titles and popular titles that have not been marked down, but are still at a discounted price. Stop by and check us out!

KID’S MUSIC TIME: Our children will be learning music with Kim on Sundays, February. 20 & 27 during class to sing in celebration on Sunday, March 6

PRESIDENT’S DAY: The office will be closed on Monday, February 21st in observation of the holiday and Rev. Beth will be unavailable except for emergencies.

OPEN MIC BRUNCH: The Storytellers’ Winter/Spring OPEN MIC BRUNCH is coming up Sunday, March 6, at 11:30 AM in our Thornhill Room. Come and enjoy a feast of stories, poems and shared food. We especially encourage new readers, including young readers to let their voices be heard!

STORYTELLERS COMMITTEE: Do you have some writing stored away that deals with the subject of aging and loss? Would you like to write your thoughts and share with our community? This fall, September, the Storytellers would like to sponsor a works-in-progress program dealing with the subject of aging, change, and loss. Please submit your ideas and musings to Sharon Noteboom ASAP. By the end of March we would like to have all contributions so that a performance piece” can be planned. As usual, our Works In Progress program will be a collection of readings. Sharon Noteboom, slnoteboom@att.net, 925-943-5685,

READ ALL ABOUT IT: Send all announcements to Sherrill Figuera at office@mpcfamily.org not the old address, mpc-family@mpcfamily.org.

“PER CAPITA”: The Per Capita apportionment (what it costs to be Presbyterian!) is $28 per person this year.  The money that we contribute is divided between General Assembly, Synod of the Pacific and the San Francisco Presbytery.  If you would like to contribute toward our cost per member, please do so by writing a check to the church and designating it “Per Capita” on the memo line.  Thank you!

MISTAKES ON THE MPC WEBSITE? WHO YOU GONNA CALL?: Do you see something that should be corrected on the MPC website?  Do you have content about your committee or group that you’d like to add?  If so, please send an email with the subject line “Web Request” to web-request@mpcfamily.org.  A member of the MPC Web Team will get back to you promptly and– just like that– we’ll have a better site.  Thank you!

NEW ADDITION: MPC now has another facebook page. This one is a public page. Visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/Montclair-Presbyterian-Church/133926043339703 and “like” your church! Talitha will be working on publicity through this and other online venues.

DEADLINES: To submit announcements for the bulletin and Contact, please send them to office@mpcfamily.org.  The deadline for Contact is Tuesdays at 3 pm and the deadline for the bulletin is Wednesdays at 12 pm. This is a change for all of us, so let’s try to remind each other!

MPC Calendar:





Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:00am-3:30pm

Rev. Beth Buckingham-Brown, Office hours Monday-Wednesday, 10:00-3:00 pm

Susan Hunn, Associate for Children & Youth: Office hours, Tuesday-Thursday, 9:30-2:30 pm

Sherrill Figuera: Administrative Assistant: Office hours: Tuesday-Friday, 9:00-3:30 pm

Talitha Phillips: Coordinator for Children and Youth

Kim Rankin: Associate in Music

Marcia Roy: Organist

Gil & Maria Chiguila: Caretakers

Rev. John Hadsell: Theologian in Residence

Rev. Kathy Ray: Parish Associate

Ajit Abraham: International Partner in Residence