March 23, 2011

                                                                                                                                     Montclair Presbyterian Church


Dear Friends,

If you were in church on Sunday, you heard me mention that 34 new elders, retiring elders, current elders, committee chairs and coordinators gathered together last Saturday for our planning retreat. We enjoyed being with each other, we learned a great deal and we looked at the dynamics of change. Most of us left the day feeling energized and hopeful.

In my sermon last Sunday, we (I had 7 congregation members help) talked about change related to aging. The book I referenced was “Life Launch: A Passionate Guide to the Rest of Your Life” by Frederic M. Hudson and Pamela D. McLean. This same book provided helpful material both for the retreat and for my sermon.

The suggestion for how we can successfully navigate change is called “The Magic Formula.” It involves 8 little words: Hold On, Let Go, Take On, Move On. Why are such simple words so difficult to practice?

*Hold-On to what is valuable. What is it in you that is valuable? What is it in your relationships that are valuable? What is it in your life that is working well? We need to identify and hold on to what is most valuable to us.

*Let-Go of those things you do not want to carry forward. What is it that is not working? What is worn out? What baggage are you carrying that you no longer need? What is it that is preventing you from moving in new directions?

*Take-On new ideas, new skills, new attitudes, new relationships and new resources for creating your future. What is it you need to take on in order to grow and evolve and become your best self?

*Move-On to the next part of your life. When you do the other 3, you will be ready to walk into the next part of the cycle of your life.

You may have gathered that the information presented on Saturday and in the sermon on Sunday not only relates to individuals who are going through transitions and change, but also to organizations. Part of my job as the Interim Pastor is to help you successfully navigate this transition and change so that you will be free to move into your future with ease and purpose.

We were reminded again on Saturday that as we navigate transition and change, many of us are in different places. There are still a number of people in our congregation who are feeling deeply the loss of Karen while there are others who seem ready to move on to the next pastor. Some of our young families were drawn to the church by Karen and haven’t experienced a pastoral transition in a congregation. They are feeling some apprehension about what is happening and we need to be aware of their apprehension and sensitive to their need to know what this means for them.

One of the issues that came out of the retreat is the need for connection in our congregation. We will be working on connection in all that we do in the coming months and year. If you have some thoughts or ideas about how we can mix it up a bit and help people get to know each other, please let me or someone on session or someone on one of the committees know your ideas. In light of Sunday’s sermon, it would be great if we could mix up the generations as we are working on connecting.

Next week I will be on vacation with JE as she enjoys time off from teaching over spring break. I am looking forward to some much needed rest and relaxation. My time with you over these past 5 months has been fabulous and intense! Be sure to call Sherrill in the office (Tues-Fri) if you need anything while I am away next week. Talitha will be on call for pastoral visits.



Rev Beth will be on vacation from March 27 – April 3.


JANIE SPAHR TRIAL CONTINUES: Thursday, March 24, the SYNOD OF THE PACIFIC Permanent Judicial Commission will hear the Appeal of the decision against the Rev. Dr. Jane Adams Spahr for performing legal gay marriages in 2008. Seating is limited to 30 people so the public has not been invited. Stay tuned for the verdict.


  • Vacation: I will be back on Thursday, March 24th. 



  • Youth Group Retreat: Our retreat has been rescheduled for April 15-17 because of snow and unfavorable driving conditions this weekend. We will meet this Sunday in rooms 1 & 2, from 7-9 pm as usual.
  • Save the Date: Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser for Youth Mission Trip will be on Sunday, April 10.


MARCH 30 CANDLELIGHT TAIZÉ PRAYER SERVICE: If you are in search of spiritual refreshment in the midst of your busy life, come to a Candlelight Prayer Service featuring Taizé Songs the evening of March 30 in the sanctuary. The service theme will be “Wilderness Journey.” At 7:00 p.m., an informative meeting about the unique Taizé community and aspects of the service will be held in the Thornhill Room, followed by the service itself from 7:30-8:30. Refreshments will be available afterwards. With a service of simple music, Scripture reading and silence, Taizé offers an opportunity to become aware of an inviting reverent space and to find the quiet place within. For child care (available upon request), contact Talitha Phillips,, by March 25. The evening is sponsored by the Spiritual Activists Committee.


HELLO FAMILY CAMPERS – NEW & EXPERIENCED! The Family Camp committee is hosting an informational brunch at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 3rd, in the Thornhill Room. It will be a time to share stories and to find out more about Family Camp, especially if you’re new to this MPC early summer experience. Family Camp will be from June 19th to June 25th at Camp Richardson Resort, South Lake Tahoe. In addition, reservation sign-ups for both cabins & campsites will begin. Early bird discounts will be offered this day only! Hope to see you there! Carrie McKiernan & Debbie Fallehy, Family Camp Co-Chairs.


CAROL PEACOCK: Carol is healing but will not be able to drive for a couple of weeks. Carol is still desirous of phone calls and visits!


AVAILABLE ON BOOK TABLE: A one-page copy of the Revised Common Lectionary (March 20 through Easter) is now available on the book table as well as online at The Lectionary is frequently used at MPC for scripture readings on Sunday and for Bible Study as well as around the world in other churches.

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 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-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