July 28, 2011

Montclair Presbyterian Church

Dear Friends,

Summer is such a great time to open up all of our senses and receive the sights, smells, sounds, tastes and feelings of our enlivened surroundings!  I hope you are taking some time to enjoy all that this season has to offer.  As many of us have been visiting with family or taking short vacations here and there, our Celebration has continued steadily.  While I have been away, Talitha and Dr. Carol Miles both did a fabulous job of preaching and leading in Celebration.  Last Sunday was very meaningful as we celebrated what is right with the world and many of you offered stories or images to participate in that celebration.  When I heard the news of the tragedy in Norway, I debated whether to change the focus of my sermon and then decided that sometimes in the midst of what is terribly wrong with our world, it makes some sense to focus on what is also right with the world.

As many of you know, I spent last week up at Lake Tahoe for Week 2 of my Interim Pastor training.  Interestingly enough, Interim Pastors are no longer called Interim Pastors.  We are now called “Transitional Pastors.”  The leaders of the training explained that regardless of whether a pastor is temporary or installed, every pastor in our denomination (and in most denominations) is doing transitional ministry because of how rapidly society and the church is changing.  So, their focus was on continuing to equip us to do transitional ministry.  One of the concepts we talked about was the difference between “continuous change” and “discontinuous change.”  The former is change that develops out of what has gone before and is therefore expected, anticipated and managed.  The latter is change that is disruptive, unanticipated and creates situations that challenge our assumptions or skills. (From “The Missional Leader:  Equipping your church to reach out to a changing world” by Roxburgh and Romanuk).  We had some great discussion about whether the changes churches are experiencing are continuous or discontinuous.  Most of the transitional pastors in my group seemed to feel that even though it should be continuous change because most of us have seen it coming, it feels like discontinuous change because churches need to develop new skills and it’s not easy or necessarily what they want to do!  Pastors also have to develop new skills and we all acknowledged our need to do so.

As we continue to experience changes here at MPC, it might be helpful to ask ourselves whether the changes are continuous or discontinuous because how we respond and deal with those changes is dependent upon the kind of change.  Discontinuous change can feel very traumatic or numbing at times.  As you think through the past several years here, I wonder which changes have been continuous or discontinuous.

Last week and as I go away again later this week for study leave, one of my tasks has been to do the reading the Mission Study Team agreed to do together over the summer.  The books we are reading are as follows:  “Strategic Leadership for a Change” by Kenneth McFayden; “Holy Conversations:  Strategic Planning as a Spiritual Practice for Congregations” by Gilbert Rendle and Alice Mann, and “Tribal Church” by Carol Howard Merritt.  In addition, we are reading some articles.  If you would like to read along with us, you are welcome to do so!  The Mission Study Team will be meeting 3 weeks in a row in August in order to create our plan.  We hope to begin our congregational gatherings in September.  Before we invite you to participate, we will definitely explain how we are approaching the study and why we are doing what we are doing as well as the expected timeline.  I have heard 3 people express concern about the length of the mission study and I want to assure you that while we plan to be thorough, we will also keep it moving at a very steady pace.  We will either have a Town Hall meeting or a Congregational Meeting within which we will share the plan and the timing with you.  In the meantime, as with any other item you may have a concern about, I invite you to come and speak to me or any of the Session Members and share your concern in a healthy manner.

After hearing a variety of stories last week from Transitional Pastors, I am more grateful than ever to be serving here with you at this time in your history.  You are spectacular!


Rev. Beth will be on Study Leave from July 28 to August 4th.  She will be back in Celebration on August 7th and in the office beginning on August 8.


  • Children: Our next Family Sunday is August 7 where children will join in the 10 AM Celebration.
  • Youth: On Monday high school members of our Youth Group left for Portland where they will volunteer in and learn about a variety of hunger justice programs, coordinated by Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon. This is an interfaith food and farm partnership, which has recently received a grant from the PC(USA). Volunteer opportunities include (1) Zenger Farms, an Urban Agriculture Center in a low-income area; (2) Portland Fruit Tree Project, which gleans urban fruit trees; (3) N.E. Emergency Food Program; (4) New Seasons Market, a local chain which hires from the neighborhoods they locate in and sources food as locally as possible. While on the trip they will also be taking photos for the Joining Hands with Bolivia Poverty, Pollution and Solutions photo contest.
  • Youth Group Alums: All of them are invited to a Picnic on Sun., Aug. 28, 11 am at Seth and Shelly Hamalian’s house (changed from our original Temescal plan).  Their address is 1051 Oak Knoll Rd., Lafayette 94549.  Bring meat to BBQ, drinks, plates, etc. and salad or dessert to share.  We will provide charcoal, mustard, and ketchup.  Spouses, partners, kids invited and there will be swimming too. Many alums received this by email or Facebook, but be sure your Youth Group Alum knows about this event.


  • All Ages Invited to Intergenerational Event: Please SAVE THE DATE for an exciting intergenerational service trip!  All ages are invited including parents, children, grandparents, and teens are all invited to a “CROP MOB,” a community-building day of farm fun. Saturday, August 20th, 10 AM to about 5 PM. What on earth is a crop mob, you ask?  It’s a fun and unique way of supporting local, sustainable agriculture.  In the past, farming was a community activity.  Harvesting, threshing, and barn raising are all activities that require more than an extended family to accomplish.  Sadly, over the last couple of decades, as farming has become more reliant on machinery and fuel, farms have grown to huge sizes, lost their surrounding community, and turned farming into a more or less solitary career.  But now the growing organic & local food movement is making steps toward reversing this tide!  Diversified crops and chemical-free inputs require more hands-on labor.  This means that farmers, once again, need communities who support them in this work – the sacred work of caring for the land given us by God.  So a crop mob is a group of urban/suburbanites like us, who trek out to a farm for an afternoon and supply them with the communal labor force they need, to get certain tasks done.  We will learn a lot about the farm as we work, thanks to our eager guide Austin Blair (a relative of Courtney & Wes).  And we will build our own intergenerational community as we work side by side with one another.  Read more about the benefits of crop mobbing at http://cropmob.org/
  • The details: SATURDAY, AUGUST 20th.
  • Meet at the church parking lot at 10 AM to carpool.
  • We’ll be at the farm until about 4 PM. Return and do dinner on your own unless you’re in the youth group, which will take the long route home (see Susan’s note below).
  • Where: TBA – details will be included in the August 10th contact.
  • From Susan to youth group: At this point it looks like we will have to cancel or postpone the Camping Trip because we don’t have any advisors available to go that weekend.  BUT……here’s what is happening still.  We’ll go to the farm day that Talitha is planning, and stop for dinner and fun on the way home.  RSVP please so we can give you the details. shunn@mpcfamily.org

If you are interested in serving as a Beacon or would like more information about what it will entail, please contact Carrie McKiernan or Don Alter.

SUMMER PROGRAM: This sounds like an exciting opportunity for our children – and any adults who want to help out.


Pre-K through 8th Grade

Montclair, Fruitvale, College Ave., and Park Blvd. Presbyterian Churches

  • Part Art Camp, part Vacation Bible School, and part Gardening Party (building a community garden)
  • Includes snacks and lunch
  • Aug. 15-19     8:30 am – 3:30 pm
  • $75 per child or $50 each in family of 2 or more

Where: Fruitvale Presbyterian Church, 2735 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland

Register by email to recreationvbs@gmail.com by Aug. 10. Checks may be brought the first day or made out and sent to College Avenue Presbyterian Church (Memo VBS) at: 5951 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618.

Volunteers welcome. Email Monte at montemcclaine@gmail.com to help with anything from serving snacks to working with children. Questions? Monte McClaine at 510 658-2333. More info at http://recreationvbs.blogspot.com

WHY MPC?  Please Share Your Story: The MPC Tech Team is looking for “Why I go to MPC” stories/statements that can be added to the MPC website.  Could you write one for us?  Your statement wouldn’t have to be long — 100 to 250 words only, please — and it could really help bring new people here on Sunday.  Is it the community? The music? The preaching?  Was there a special experience that keeps you coming back?  Just send your statement/story to whympc@mpcfamily.org.  Have questions, please contact Steve McKiernan at spmckiernan@gmail.com, or any member of the MPC Tech Team. Thanks for sharing!

BREAD OF LIFE, CUP OF BLESSING: Are you interested in serving communion? It’s a great way to connect, or reconnect with our MPC family. If you are interested in participating, write us a note on the back of a white card and drop it in the offering plate, or email either Marilee Bailey at jeph4@sbcglobal.net or Karen Ray Gibson at karenraygibson@yahoo.com.

BOOK DEPOT NEWS: I’ll be out of town from July 31–August 16.  If you need a book for a class before July 31, call me at (510) 530-3557, or email me at gretchenhayes@sbcglobal.net as soon as possible, and I’ll see what I can do for any book orders.  Gretchen Hayes

EMMA’S REVOLUTION: Emma’s Revolution to Sing at Anti-Nuclear Event on Aug. 6.  An MPC group is forming to carpool to hear Emma’s Revolution, a fabulous folk duo that is like Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart with guitars.  They will be performing at a commemoration & rally at the Livermore Lab, August 6, 6-9 PM, “Hiroshima to Fukushima to Livermore.”  The event will focus on confronting the serious problems of nuclear weapons and nuclear power on the 66th anniversaries of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki.  Fantastic vegetarian food, music, & great speakers.  Info: Trivalleycares.org.  Contact Barbara Peters, Peacemakers/Spiritual Activists, if you’re interested in joining us: barbxpeters@gmail.com or 510-654-9677.

September 11, Sunday at 10:00 a.m. a joint service at MPC will commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, led by pastor Beth Buckingham Brown, rabbi David Cooper and imam Rahim Nobahar.  Reception to follow in the Family Room.
September 17, Saturday: TWO EVENTS!
Event No. 1, from 1:30 to 5:00 p.m.: A Peace Forum at the Pacific School of Religion, sponsored by 3 collaborating institutions (United Nations – Association of the East Bay, the Graduate Theological Union and the United Religions Initiative).  Brief presentations, discussion groups, refreshments. (Representatives from interfaith groups such as ours are especially welcome as persons presumably experienced with potentially contentious issues).  No fee, but donations are welcome at the door.  Address: 1798 Scenic Ave., Berkeley.
Event No. 2, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.: Opening Reception for the Faith Trio’s Art Exhibition, “Diverse Visions of Harmony,” at the ICCNC.

CLOSE TO HOME PRESENTS:  Our Mountain Lion Neighbors, Puma Project Comes to East Bay in 2012 on Monday, Aug 8, at 7:30pm. Mountain lions in the East Bay (also called pumas and cougars) are keystone predators and play a critical role in the health and biodiversity of our ecosystems.  The Felidae Conservation Fund has created a partnership with the East Bay Regional Park District and other local organizations to begin a mapping project in our area in 2012 to identify and strategize how to preserve corridors for mountain lions and other wildlife. Zara McDonald provides a compelling view of the natural grace and beauty of these animals, delves into the biological and ecological science that is working for their preservation, and offers essential tips for living and recreating without fear in puma habitat. For more info: http://www.close-to-home.org/flyer.htm

DIVORCE RECOVERY COURSE: The pain of separation and divorce can feel unbearable and isolating. The Divorce Recovery Course openly acknowledges this pain and loss and offers the hope of healing that is uniquely found in the Christian community through the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the encouragement of others.
Who? Anyone who has ended or is in the process of ending a long-term relationship or marriage.  When? Sunday evenings 4:30 – 6:30 pm.
Dates? September 25 – November 12, 2011. To gain the most from this course, regular attendance is encouraged.
Where? First Presbyterian Church, 2407 Dana Street, Berkeley, McKinley Hall, Room 310. Free Parking is available.
How do I sign up? Registration is required by September 22 in order to attend the first class, to register contact Katie Kelley at katiek@fpcberkeley.org or 510-280-6141.
Each session will include presentations and personal stories by professional facilitators, pastors, and the Divorce Recovery Leadership Team followed by time in small support groups for processing and prayer.  The presenters are Valerie Nuzum, MA, Training Facilitator, Rev, Debbie Whaley, Associate Pastor and others from the Divorce Recovery Leadership team.

EXCITING NEWS FROM THE NEELYS! We are announcing the birth of our first grandchild and grandson to Jessica Neely and Jonathan Ross.  Wyatt Thompson Ross was born Thursday, July 14, in Eugene OR.  All of the family is doing well!  Hooray!!  Hooray for Wyatt!! Bill and Sheryl Neely.

WOMEN SAVE THE DATE: The Women’s Fall retreat will be Friday, October 28th through Sunday the 30th. This year it will be held at the Westminster Retreat Manor in Alamo. Rev. Beth will be our facilitator. Registration will begin August 28th.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: More than 65 cards were written to prisoners of conscience.  The hope is that the prisoners will be comforted and encouraged and that those who keep them captive will release them sooner.  Cards can be written until August 31.  The information and guidelines will be left on the table just inside the Family Room.  Feel free to take an info sheet home, write a card, and return the info sheet the next Sunday.  The recommendation is: postcards, no people, just places.  No envelopes.  International postage is 98-cents.  The prisoner in Bahrain gets cards through D.C. at 28-cents.

LOOKING FOR EMPLOYMENT: Worship Coordinator/Administrator, will oversee and administer the execution of all logistical details relating to worship services, concerts and other musical activities.  Produce bulletins, concert programs, databases, and visual imagery related to worship and music.  Coordinate the worship planning and activity of pastoral and music staff; procure and manage a variety of related volunteer groups (including worship committee and musical ensembles). Oversee AV staff, AV production, and related set-up needs. Maintain, manage, and communicate worship and music schedules and calendars, and provide general support for Director of Worship and Music. Produce, and serve as primary editor for weekly worship bulletins. This position requires competency in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, and Finale. The ideal candidate is a “doer” and problem-solver, who pays great attention to detail, enjoys constantly exploring better ways to support and enhance the work of an executive, has a heart for ministry, and thrives in an environment of high-expectations.  The position is Full time, Exempt and reports to the Director of Worship & Music.  Hire Date:  ASAP.

Interested parties should contact:

Chuck Fry
Director of Operations
Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church
49 Knox Drive
Lafayette, CA 94549
(925) 283-8722 Ext. 230


  • For Lisa Larges whose case will go before the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission on Friday, July 29th.  The GAPJC will decide whether the Presbytery of San Francisco was acting in good order when they voted to examine Lisa for Ordination as a Minister of Word and Sacrament.  Lisa has been seeking ordination in the PC(USA) for 25 years as an out lesbian.
  • The Mission Study Team as they continue their reading and begin their weekly meetings.
  • Comfort for Cindy Gullikson and her family as they grieve the loss of Cindy’s mom.
  • For those affected by the violence in Norway.
  • All those on hunger strike in California prisons. California has 3,259 prisoners in SHUs (solitary confinement), and thousands of prisoners are striking in solidarity with the Pelican Bay SHU inmates who demand more humane conditions. More information at www.prisons.org/hungerstrike.htm.
  • Joan Halperin and her husband David as they adjust to new medical realities.
  • Virginia Hadsell, still struggling with her health, John as he takes care of her, and the rest of the Hadsell family who are visiting.
  • Healing for Kini York who is recovering from surgery.
  • Healing for Burt, Jan Stites’ husband, who will have back surgery next week.
  • For the Youth, the Youth leaders and Susan as they return home next week from their mission trip.

DEADLINES: To submit announcements for the bulletin and Contact, please send them to office@mpcfamily.org.  The deadline for Contact is every other Tuesday at 3 pm, starting June 28th, and the deadline for the bulletin is Wednesdays at 12 noon. This is a change for all of us, so let’s try to remind each other!

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 Congregational Care and Life

Kim Rankin: Music Director

Marcia Roy: Organist

Gil & Maria Chiguila: Caretakers

Rev. John Hadsell: Theologian in Residence

Rev. Kathy Ray: Parish Associate