January 5, 2011

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year to all of you!  As this New Year begins, I am aware of my deep gratitude for being with you.  I awaken each day, full of anticipation for what will happen!  This year has so much possibility and promise as we walk together.

We were so blessed throughout our Advent and Christmas season by so many talented individuals working together and using their gifts to glorify God.  We began with the children singing and bringing a different twist to the story of astrologers and shepherds as they found their way to Jesus.  They were ably led by Talitha while Kim wrote the entire pageant.  The adult choir sang powerfully and Kim wrote and spoke a reflection that was absolutely amazing.  Talitha led us in a Taize service and then we had several voices helping us on Christmas Eve, including the adult choir, Madeleine Blumgart, Marcia, Kim and JE Buckingham.  Immediately after Christmas Bud Sisson performed an utterly convincing monologue written by me for a whole new look at the Herod story.  Last Sunday we enjoyed the Pacific Boychoir performance and spent some time reflecting on burdens (those we want to carry into this year and those we would rather leave behind) as well as on how God is calling us this year.  Behind the scenes we had many hands helping to fill the holes left by Maria while on her vacation to Mexico!  Thank you one and all for pitching in, for sharing your gifts, and for contributing to a spectacular Advent Season.

The office was closed from December 24 to January 2nd.  When the office re-opened on Tuesday, January 4th, we received word that our temporary office person, Paul, was sick and would be out for at least 2 days.  I apologize for the inconvenience to many of you who were waiting for him to return to take care of some business.  Rest assured I have looked over all of the office email and retrieved the phone messages in order to deal with anything urgent.  Please continue to be patient throughout this month as the Personnel committee prepares to hire someone for the regular position. This is not going to be a regular Contact since Paul is not here to do it!  However, I have included the announcements below.

May this year be full of joy and growth for all of us!

Beth

PLEASE READ THROUGH THE FOLLOWING ANNOUNCEMENTS:

OUR NEW WEBSITE WILL BE LAUNCHED ON FRIDAY: The Tech Committee has been working very hard to launch our new website.  They will launch late in the day on Friday so please don’t be alarmed if your emails to staff are slowed down or postponed.  It will take a couple of days to switch over and then all will be well.  The emails will get through eventually.  Many thanks to Steve McKiernan, Linda Benson, Lee Aurich, Sarah Clark, Brad Hestir and to those who contributed written material for various pages.  The tech committee will continue to make improvements after the site is launched.

TO ALL WHO EMBRACE NON-VIOLENCE: You invited to a Film Screening of “Little Town of Bethlehem” on Friday, January 7th at 7 pm in the Chapel at First Congregational Church of Oakland.

This inspiring documentary film was made to raise awareness of the nonviolence movement in Israel and Palestine. Just released in September 2010 and not yet widely available, it tells the story of three protagonists: a Palestinian Christian, an Israeli Jew, and a Palestinian Muslim. The director commented, “We were fascinated when all three referenced Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi.”

What better way to start celebrating Dr. King’s birthday? After the 77-minute film, two knowledgeable leaders, one Jewish, one Palestinian, will conduct a brief discussion.

Don’t miss this chance to learn about the conflict by seeing it through the eyes of those who are living it every day. Perhaps, become a part of the solution.

For more information, call Emily Wheeler at 510-725-5484, email emily4english@gmail.com, or go to www.littletownofbethlehem.org to view the trailer.

First Congregational Church of Oakland 2501 Harrison St. at 27th (across from Whole Foods) free admission • free parking • enter from rear lot

THIS SUNDAY: Children in the 4th grade will be presented with a Bible.  This is an annual tradition for MPC.

BRUNCH FOR JAY GREGORY’S PRESENTATION ON BOLIVIA ON SUNDAY, JANUARY 16TH: Jay returned a few months ago from his mission role in Bolivia as interim Joining Hands Companionship Facilitator!  Enjoy Jay’s wonderful photos of Bolivia and tales of what it is like to coordinate the work of the 11 networked member organizations of UMAVIDA, to host a US delegation visit, to work with the Youth Environmental Congress delegates, and to observe the ongoing magic of social movements in Latin American up close and personal.  Please come enjoy lovely food (served warm, but not too hot), bring a salad or dessert or beverage, or make a small donation for brunch expenses.  And, dream about your own visit to Bolivia, perhaps in February 2011?  Call Jean Norris for more information, (510) 535-0498.

GIVING TO THE WORLD: This was an amazing year for our alternative giving program!  There were 34 MPC family members and friends who participated, contributing a total of $8,901.00 to the 14 organizations in our catalog.  Those people are no doubt feeling good about helping others as they honored friends and family and notified them of their donations.  Thank you to everyone who contributed!  When we’ve crunched the numbers, we’ll let you know how the money will be distributed.

SURPRISE! I’M STILL HERE: Join Jane Rubey for a brunch celebrating her book on living with cancer (available in the Book Depot). Storytellers and Companions are co-sponsoring the brunch on January 23 at 11:30 in the Thornhill Room. Marge Moser will host Jane for a discussion of her book. All are welcome.

THANK YOU: I want to express my great joy and gratitude for the support from all of you over the recent loss of my mother.  You have brought me great comfort and love!  Thank you.    Kathleen Donnell

You are invited to the following upcoming event:

Ecumenical Peace Institute/CAL Winter Gathering

Haiti – Centuries of Resistance:

The Role of Grassroots Women in Rebuilding Community and Country  With Speakers: Ayana Labossiere, Judith Mirkinson & Leslie Mullin

Sunday, January 23rd, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Albany United Methodist Church,

980 Stannage Ave. at Marin, Albany, CA