Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Choir Major Work – Sunday Nov. 8th at 10am

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

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ein-feste-burg-image (Small) CHOIR MAJOR WORK: During Celebration on Sunday, November 8 starting at 10am, the MPC choir will present J.S. Bach’s magisterial cantata “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” (“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”).



Written to celebrate Reformation Sunday, this cantata uses Martin Luther’s famous hymn tune as the basis for a glorious Baroque musical structure of complexity and beauty. The choir will be accompanied by a Baroque chamber orchestra and joined by a quartet of fine vocal soloists. We look forward to sharing the splendor of Bach with the congregation!


Duke Robinson’s new memoir

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

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Duke Robinson, who served as pastor at MPC from 1968-1996, has a newly published memoir, the title and cover of which you see here in the photo.


Bud Sisson will have signed copies for sale at the Family Hour, on December 13. A single copy will go for a special discount cost of $13–cash, or a check made out to Duke Robinson. Think about copies for Christmas/Holiday presents, and the price goes down (2 for $25, 3 for $35, etc.). You can learn more about the memoir and Duke’s four other books, on Amazon, right now (see link below).

When Duke was in the fourth grade, a Philadelphia Inquirer photographer caught his grammar school tumbling team’s premier performance at a PTA meeting. As a result, he claims to be (trumpets!) the only Presbyterian minister in the history of Western civilization to have had his picture in a major metropolitan newspaper standing on his head with his fly open.

Here’s what Duke says to us about it: “I dedicate more than 80 pages of this book to stories from my 28 years with the Montclair Church Family. No one has dared to put some of them in writing … until now.” Curious?

The book features a lot of funny stuff, but it also strikes an important note about facing life’s mysteries, and growing up. And it takes you behind the scenes of two of the most memorable events during Duke’s ministry in our life: The 1972 granting of sanctuary to a Conscientious Objector sailor, whom the navy was sending to Vietnam; and the response of the Church Family to those who lost their homes and physical possessions in the 1991 Berkeley/Oakland Firestorm.”

Sometime fairly early in the new year, Duke will have an Open Mic brunch and discussion about his memoir. Watch for further details.


DUKE ROBINSON — 522 High Eagle Ct. Walnut Creek, CA 94595;  Phone: 925-287-1837

Direct link to the following books at Duke’s page
A MIDDLE WAY: The Secular/Spiritual Road to Wholeness (April 2014)
SAVIOR: An Old Notion in a New Novel of Unthinkable Absurdity (2012)
CREATE YOUR BEST LIFE: How to Live Fully Knowing One Day You Will Die (2011)
TOO NICE FOR YOUR OWN GOOD: How to Stop Making 9 Self-Sabotaging Mistakes (2000)


Green Building Award – Tuesday Nov. 10th at 6pm

Sunday, November 1st, 2015

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invitecoolclimates Celebrate 15 years of California faith community climate action and honor outstanding green congregations at the Interfaith Service for the Climate and 2015 Cool Climate Awards. Montclair Presbyterian Church will be receiving the Green Building Award this year. The event will be held at the Cathedral of Christ the Light on Lake Merritt in Oakland.

To RSVP or for more information, visit Interfaith Power & Light.

Tuesday, November 10 2015, 6-8pm at Cathedral of Christ the Light (on Lake Merritt), 2121 Harrison Street Oakland, CA 94612


Eli Cook – PC(USA) Mission Co-Worker – Saturday Oct. 31st

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

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COOK_Elisabeth_photo2_2015 (Small)Saturday, October 31 from 10-11:30am in the Thornhill Room.

Come and learn what our denomination is up to in Latin America! A Mission Co-Worker from Costa Rica, Elizabeth (Eli) Cook, will speak with us , in a presentation sponsored by the Peace & Justice Steering Committee.

Eli’s “day job” is as Bible Professor and Academic Dean at Latin American Biblical University (Universidad Bíblica Latinoamericana – UBL). The Instituto Biblico Pastoral program at UBL trains lay persons throughout Latin America, especially those with limited opportunities, such as the underprivileged, women, and indigenous peoples.

Eli says, “I am continually challenged … to be aware of the multiple forms of injustice, exclusion, discrimination and prejudice – forms of violence that are often justified legally and even Biblically in our communities and congregations.” She seeks to help UBL prepare leaders from partner churches to actively participate in the quest for reconciliation and justice.


Reflections on the Fall 2015 Women’s Retreat

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

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This year’s retreat was again held at the picturesque Ralston-White Retreat Center located on the side of Mt Tam above Mill Valley. Julie Cline, our facilitator, guided us as we learned about the characteristics of our learned patterns of behavior & unconscious biases.

Small group discussions (Small)    Wonderful meals (Small)    A cozy place to read (Small)

During the weekend, there was time for reflection, songs, hikes, ping-pong, reading, and a competitive game of Sequence.

Time for a hike (Small)   Ping Pong games on the porch (Small)    Evening time games (Small)

Saturday afternoon included a brief Taize service, followed by the creation of a liturgical banner that will eventually be displayed at MPC. A worship service brought our retreat to a close on Sunday morning.

The making of the liturgical banner (Small)




Peace and Justice talk with Peter Mathews, Sunday Oct. 18

Friday, October 9th, 2015

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Sunday October 18, 1:30 p.m. Come to a talk in the Family Room by author Peter Mathews, professor of political science and sociology and a TV/radio analyst. His recent book is Dollar Democracy with Liberty and Justice for Some: How to Reclaim the American Dream for All. This event is sponsored by the Peace & Justice Steering Committee. Refreshments will be served. This event will kick off a postcard writing campaign to elected officials over the ensuing weeks.


THIS SUNDAY – Kimberly Burge Author Talk

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

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On Sunday, November 1st at 4pm, author Kimberly Burge will be at MPC to discuss her new book The Born Frees: Writing with the Girls of Gugulethu, detailing her experiences with a South African girls creative writing group. We hope you can join us for what is sure to be a thought-provoking and inspiring event.

About the Book

Born Frees cover
When Kimberly Burge organized a writing group in the township of Gugulethu, South Africa, she discovered a group of extraordinary young women who belonged to the first generation born into a post-apartheid world. Though they were “born free,” the young women of the townships around Cape Town still face daunting challenges. Their families and communities have been ravaged by poverty, violence, sexual abuse, and AIDS. Yet, as Burge quickly learned, the spirit of these girls outshines the often extremely difficult circumstances they share with so many of their peers throughout the world.

The group is made up of girls with wide-ranging personalities and varying levels of education—girls such as the irrepressible Annasuena, whose late mother was one of South Africa’s most celebrated singers; bubbly Sharon, already career-bound; and shy Ntombi, determined to finish high school and pursue further studies—all of whom find reassurance and courage in writing. Together they also find temporary escape from the travails of their lives, anxieties beyond boyfriends and futures: for some of them, worries that include HIV medication regimens, conflicts with indifferent guardians, struggles with depression. Driven by a desire to claim their own voices and define themselves, their writing in the group Amazw’Entombi, “Voices of the Girls,” provides a lodestar for what freedom might mean. (source: )

About Kimberly Burge

Kimberly Burge and the Born FreesKimberly Burge is a narrative journalist, a longtime activist, and a Fulbright Scholar to South Africa. She earned a bachelor of science in journalism at Bowling Green State University, a master of fine arts in nonfiction writing from George Mason University, and was a fellow in global religion reporting for the International Reporting Project at Johns Hopkins University.

Kimberly has published feature stories, editorials, and reviews on issues of culture, politics, global poverty and development, faith and public policy in places such as The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, and Salon. A contributing writer for Sojourners magazine, she previously worked for twelve years at Bread for the World, a Washington-based advocacy organization combatting hunger and poverty in the United States and worldwide. In 2005, she accompanied 150 grassroots activists to the G-8 activities in Scotland, where an international mobilization organized by grassroots leaders, along with Bob Geldof and Bono, called on world leaders to increase efforts to fight poverty in Africa. (source:

Please contact the church main office with questions. Hope to see you there!



Join Us for World Communion Sunday, October 4, 2014

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

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IMG_4832 World Communion Sunday - 20131007_123247
We are coming up to World Communion Sunday, which is my favorite minor church holiday of the year. Perhaps because it’s the most delicious, or perhaps because being so minor has saved the holiday from being co-opted or commercialized, I will always have a special place in my heart for the first Sunday in October. On this day we remember that we are one with the Church throughout the world and all ages, and we show this in our worship as tangibly as possible. This means Irish soda bread, Indian naan, Italian focaccia, New York bagels, Palestinian pita, Native American fry bread and much, much more. Debbie Fallehy’s bread-baking Family Life Small Group will contribute a loaf, and you are also invited to bring bread from your family’s culinary heritage.

I celebrated this holiday for the first 17 years of my life in a very diverse church. At Broadway Presbyterian Church in New York City, we were near Columbia and all its international students, adjacent to Harlem’s historic African-American neighborhoods, and just blocks away from the vacant lots where the legendary gangs of West Side Story battled out their ethnic rivalries in song and dance. World Communion Sunday brought so many people together, and as we stood around the table in saris and kente cloth, kimonos and suits, the vision of our multicolored clothes and faces taught me an image of heaven, where all shall be reconciled with God and one another.

Montclair may be a less diverse neighborhood than the Upper West Side… but we are well-traveled, and many of us have left bits of our hearts in one country or another. A piece of my heart is in Uganda. Some of our MPC members are in Bolivia right now. So I would invite you to bring a loaf, a tortilla, a rice bowl, or another alternative — either from your family’s heritage OR from a country you especially love.

You have advance notice so you can get excited and choose your best international outfits and recipes. This is happening on Sunday Oct 4th. If you can contribute bread please RSVP to me, and be there to deliver it early (9:45) before church.

Every Blessing,
Rev. Talitha


Larissa MacFarquhar Author Talk

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

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On Wednesday, Sept 30th at 7pm, New Yorker journalist Larissa MacFarquhar will be at MPC to discuss Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help. We hope you can join us for what is sure to be a thought-provoking, inspiring and challenging evening.

About the Book

Strangers Drowning by Larissa MacFarquharThere are those of us who help and those who live to help. How far would you really go to “do unto others”? In Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help, renowned New Yorker writer Larissa MacFarquhar digs deep into the psychological roots and existential dilemmas motivating those rare individuals practicing lives of extreme ethical commitment. MacFarquhar seeks out people who devote themselves fully to bettering the lives of strangers—even when it comes at great personal cost—and tells their deeply intimate stories: their stubborn integrity and their compromises; their bravery and their recklessness; their joys and defeats and wrenching dilemmas.

We honor such generosity and high ideals, but when we call people “do-gooders” there is skepticism in it, even hostility. Why do moral people make us uneasy? How could these do-gooders value strangers as much as their own loved ones? MacFarquhar combines these real-life stories of unimaginable selflessness along with deep meditations on the implications of these ethical acts. Throughout, she threads a lively history of the novels, philosophy, social science, and self-help that have contributed to a deep suspicion of do-gooders in Western culture.
(source: Penguin Press)

About the Author

Larissa MacFarquhar (c) Philip Gourevitch copyLarissa MacFarquhar has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1998. Her subjects have included John Ashbery, Barack Obama, and Noam Chomsky, among many others. Previously she was a senior editor at Lingua Franca and an advisory editor at The Paris Review. She lives in New York.

Please contact the church main office with questions. Hope to see you there!

Author photo credit: Philip Gourevitch


Fall Kickoff — “The Future” — is this Sunday!

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

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Fall Kickoff, the ‘official’ start to a new year at MPC, is Sunday, Sept 13th after celebration. The theme is The Future, and we’ll be doing all kinds of forward-looking things, including collecting items for an MPC Time Capsule. We’ll also be enjoying each other’s company — and each other’s food, since Kickoff is a potluck. If your last name starts with A-M, please bring a main dish. If your last name starts with N-Z, please bring a salad, veggies or other side dish. And when you deliver them to the Family Room on Sunday morning, please label your dishes and utensils, so that you may see them again in The Future.

For now, consider: what item do you want to leave for future generations to ponder? And what potluck item will you bring that day to share? Let’s gather, enjoy each other’s company, and picture our future together.

Questions, please contact Steve McKiernan. See you there!