June 1, 2011

Montclair Presbyterian Church

Dear Friends,

Last Sunday we experienced a wonderful Taize type service that Talitha and the Spiritual Activists and Peacemakers designed around Memorial Day. The emphasis was on giving thanks for all those who have given their lives and lived their lives for peacemaking. We were invited to light candles for those who have given their lives and I was struck by the fact that a number of people might have been lighting candles for those whose lives have been lost in the Armed Services and a number of other people might have been lighting candles for those whose lives have been lost while trying to keep peace using non-violent means. It was another reminder to me of how we try to hold each other in the midst of our diversity.

Speaking of diversity…thank you to so many of you who wrote responses to last week’s article about clapping! Some of you were very impassioned in your thoughts and feelings and I found myself smiling as I read all of the responses. No matter what the issue, one thing we can count on for sure in the Montclair church family is that there will definitely be a diversity of thought, opinion, belief, and feeling! What do we do with the extremes? On the one hand, we have folks who feel offended by clapping of any kind during Celebration and on the other hand we have folks who feel offended that we might actually ask anyone not to clap and thereby limit their freedom in Celebration! I love this congregation! Our work as a community is to find the common ground and see if we can live there together. The issue of clapping is a fabulous issue to use for our work. What is the common ground? What do we all have in common, no matter where we stand on whether to clap? We all appreciate good music. We all want our choir (or the kids’ choir or the youth or the young adults or the guests who speak or the dancers or the guest musicians or the ones who do really creative announcements) to feel appreciated when they share their incredible gifts with us and we want to be able to share our appreciation with them. If that is true, that indeed we all want those things, then what can we do to show and share appreciation in a way that isn’t going to make one or more of us want to scream? The people who cannot stand the clapping need to be clear about what they would be able to handle (for example, if we clap at the end of the service after the postlude, would that feel okay?) and the people who cannot stand the thought of being suppressed from clapping need to be clear about what they would be able to handle (for example, if we wave hands in the air instead of clapping, would you still feel like you were getting to show appreciation in a way that feels right to you?). Living in community (as in marriage and family and any roommate situation) is a constant give and take. Finding the common ground is essential and clarity about what things to let go of and what things to hold on to are also essential. In the experiences I have had as a mediator, my best hope was always getting the two sides to agree on their common ground. Once they found their common ground, they could begin to work out their differences (not easily, I might add, but with a great deal of difficult work). Part of our work together during this Interim Period will be discovering our common ground on a number of different issues and topics. Won’t it be exciting?!

If you have a joy or a concern that you would like to have mentioned in Contact so we can all be giving thanks or praying, please send it to Sherrill in the office. Give her your name, whether your item is a joy or concern, the name of the person for whom we will give thanks or pray and that person’s relationship to you. We have been doing this for a few weeks and I forgot to invite you to participate! I apologize and hope you will participate from here on out. This is a way for us to support each other through the good times and the hard times.

Next week I will write to you about the Quaker Clearness Committee process which we used during the Spiritual Practices class I led during Lent. Stay tuned!

This morning I spoke with a friend who is also a clergy person. He asked me how my time here was going and I told him how grateful I am to have been given the opportunity to be with you during such an exciting time in the life of the Montclair church. Time is flying by which means we must be having a blast! I am definitely having a blast and I hope you are having as much of a blast as you are able to considering this is an Interim time. Thanks for being you.



  • Youth Group: We will meet this Sunday, from 7-9 pm, in room 2 for our closing meeting of the year. Final Mission Trip payment is due on June 15.
  • Children: The children will join us in celebration this Sunday for Graduation Sunday and Family Sunday. We have a list of grads but if you think we might have missed your grad, please contact the church office today.
  • Godly Play Teachers: We will honor and express our appreciation for you this Sunday in celebration. We hope you can join us.


  • Thank you: I would like to thank all those who helped make Sunday’s service (5/29) a success, especially Kim Rankin, Barbara Peters, Jean Gregory, Mark Smith, Virginia Abascal, Margaret Irvin, and John Hadsell. It took a village – thanks so much!

SPIRITUAL RETREAT IN CANADA: Our Spiritual Retreat at Heart’s Rest, overlooking Slocan Lake, British Columbia, covered six wonderful days. We shared joyful fellowship in preparing meals, gardening, hiking, visiting the town, including remnants of the sorrowful Japanese internment camp, taking a boat ride on the lake, and enjoying the serene surroundings everywhere. Beginning each day, we read a biblical passage, using the Lectio Divina practice, and throughout the day sought to find that place within us where we could experience the Holy in the everydayness of life. After dinner we reflected on different questions arising from the Lectio Divina readings and then closed the evening with meditation. On the final day we shared communion in the manner of the time of Jesus. The retreat participants, Linda Benson, Marilynn Moore, Carol Miesner, Pat and Paul Underhill, Janet Mulshine, and retreat coordinator Susan Hunn, wish to thank Rev. Therese DesCamp, who led us through this amazing week. Thanks also go to Therese’s husband, Rev. George Meier, and their friendly dog Rosie, for abundant hospitality. We encourage planning a similar event next year to share the experience with others.

30TH ANNIVERSARY FOR IDENTIFYING AIDS: This Sunday, June 5, marks the 30th anniversary of the Center of Disease Control’s first official report of the disease that would become known as AIDS. While there have been exciting new developments in the fight against HIV and AIDS, men, women and children are still dying. New infections among gay and bisexual men are on the rise, and Black Americans account for more new HIV infections than any other racial or ethnic group. New drugs have allowed many of the 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States to live longer; however, the cost for HIV/AIDS medication is still over $2,000 a month. Sadly, there are no HIV/AIDS ministries sponsored by the Presbyterian Church in Northern California, but if you are interested in information about joining the fight against HIV and AIDS, contact Jim Allardice at allardice.jim@gmail.com.

INFORMATION PACKETS FOR FAMILY CAMP: MPC Family Camp information packets for registered participants will be available at the Family Camp table during the Sunday morning Family Hour after church. Please come by & pick up your packet on Sunday. Co-Deans: Debbie Fallehy & Carrie McKiernan – Registrar: Cindy Gullikson

CLOSE TO HOME PRESENTS: Visions of California Past on Monday, June 6, at 7:30pm
Laura Cunningham has spent over two decades poring over historical accounts and archeological data seeking clues that reveal the California of past centuries. Then she created paintings from the information she collected. Her slide presentation gives us the experience of wandering into these scenes, and deepens our understanding of change and conservation. Come share this unique perspective of what our area looked like hundreds of years ago. For more info: http://www.close-to-home.org/flyer.htm.

POLLY’S NEW WRITING GROUP: My class on “Writing About Loss” will run weekly, from 1:00 to 2:30 in the Thornhill Room, starting this Tuesday, June 7, for 12 weeks. If you have any questions, please email me at pollyj28@att.net , or call 428-0869. Thanks so much. Polly Johnson.

GLOBAL CONCERNS BRUNCH: You are invited to a Global Concerns Brunch featuring Ajit Abraham on June 12, at 11:30 am in the Thornhill Room. Ajit Abraham, our International Presence for the past few months, has submitted his dissertation! Please come see him off and hear two vital messages. First, his dissertation brings new light to the role of church activism in support of marginalized communities impacted by neoliberal policies and globalization. Second, does his next endeavor, Volunteers in Global Service, involve you? A main dish will be available. Please bring a side, salad or dessert, or put a little in the expense basket. Contact Jean Norris at (510) 535-0498 or blujeans2@sbcglobal.net.

Anders Jepson who is recovering from surgery after an in-line skating accident
Sheryl Neely’s family as they grieve the death of her father
13 yr old Tal Brown (Ann Fisher’s Grand-nephew) recovering from cancer
Arnie Brown – who will move to Manor Care for rehabilitation
Dot Cudaback who working on getting stronger after her fall
For peace to invade every corner where war and violence are being waged
For those who are grieving those who have died

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:

5701 Thornhill Drive, Oakland, California 94611, (510)339-1131
Office Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:00am-4:30pm
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: Monday-Friday, 8:30-4:30 pm
Talitha Phillips: Coordinator for Children and Youth
Kim Rankin: Music Director
Marcia Roy: Organist
Gil & Maria Chiguila: Caretakers
Rev. John Hadsell: Theologian in Residence
Rev. Kathy Ray: Parish Associate
Ajit Abraham: International Partner in Residence