Spirit of Nativity
December is one of our busiest months, and it is easy to get caught up in the busy-ness and lose track of the whole meaning of the story we are proclaiming.
If you would like to take time out from the hubbub, why not join in with the Christmas Pageant during worship on December 18th? The Religious Ed Board and I want to invite you to join the children and youth to take part in our church's telling of the story.
One year, we were missing Joseph; so I played that part. For the first time, I really thought about what it might mean to be him, journeying with his wife, who was very ready to give birth, finding no proper rooms in which to stay, witnessing the birth and the loving presence of angels, shepherds, sheep, and wise magi from far away. It was a wonderful experience and one I would recommend to you.
I also remember some years ago Ruth Dawkins as an angel along with the children, and that mental picture warms my heart still today. When you come on the 18th, please feel free to join the shepherds, angels or the holy family. Come up and be in the story! You might wear a white shirt if you want to be an angel, or grab something like a staff if you want to be a shepherd; but the main thing is to get into the story and let it speak to you, perhaps revealing something you never thought of or felt before.
For a moment, you can let go of the busy-ness and resonate with the great message, "Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all!" May that deep truth come alive in our hearts and in the world this month.
With love and blessings,
Blanket Sunday Offering Dec. 11
We will be taking our annual Blanket Sunday offering on Dec. 11. The blankets we buy through Church World Service provide warmth and shelter to refugees and people who have lost their homes or have been victims of war or natural disaster both in the US and around the world. In this season, when we feel the chill in the air and are thinking of giving gifts, please join us in donating generously to this great program.
Christmas Eve Service at 8 p.m.
Please join us for a service of singing, story, prayer and candles on Christmas Eve at 8 p.m.
The offering will add to our Blanket Sunday collection.
Watch Al's Style Online
You can see Al Feuerbach on YouTube
, performing at the 1972 men's track and field Olympic trials at Eugene OR. (This video opens stuck on a test pattern, and you have to click on the timeline at the bottom of the screen to see the action. Al throws at 27:40 into the video.)
You can see his speech at the Hall of Fame banquet
And a 16-minute segment of the 1982 "Two Big Guys Mountain Games" is available on YouTube
Anyone who would like to donate flowers for the Christmas Day service is invited to sign up on the calendar in Whitaker Hall.
Schlumbergera?!! . . . Aah,
pinkish, shrimp-like blossoms,
as Christmas cactus
~ haiku by John Heyes
Let this hour be a door opening
into a place we have never been,
a road branching into a world of miracles and hearings,
an awakening into the reality of
-- Edward Tyler
Mission Board Spotlight
Our special collection on Nov. 13 to support the Davenport Resource Center's holiday programs yielded a most generous amount: $1,015.
On receiving the check, program director Luz Fuentes expressed gratitude for Skyland Church's ongoing endeavors on behalf of the Center's activities.
The Center serves as an advocate and resource for the area's culturally diverse and low-income population.
Mountain Families, Children
The Skyland Women's Group will once again sponsor local families at CT English and Loma Prieta Schools for this holiday season. We will give Target gift cards to the children and Safeway cards to the families for food.
The felt Giving Tree in Whitaker Hall is our way of showing the generosity of our church community and our neighbors. Add a felt ball to symbolize your gift. We will collect money during and after church on Sunday, Dec. 4.
6 1/2 Inches from the Gold
Too Small' Shotputter Al Feuerbach
Joins Track and Field Hall of Fame
Al Feuerbach, who spent 22 years chasing excellence as a world-
class shotputter, and by any measure achieved it, was rewarded for his effort last month by being inducted into the USA National Track and Field Hall of Fame at the organization's annual "Black Tie and Sneakers" banquet in New York.
Al retired from competition in 1984 after winning four small-college U.S. championships and blazing through an extensive post-college career in which he was part of three U.S. Olympic teams, won a gold medal at the 1971 Pan American games in Cali,
Columbia, held the world shot put record of 71 feet 7 inches for three years, and even brought big-time track to the Santa Cruz mountains in 1978 with the Two Big Guys Mountain Games, which were held at the same house where he now lives with wife Anne Evans and their son Evan.
The name of the latter games must have been an ironic joke, because Al, even at 6-1 and 250 pounds, was considered a little fellow by the track and field world. "They said Al Feuerbach was too small to put the shot, but they neglected to measure his zeal," is the way
put it in a feature on Al's "magnificent obsession" to be a world-class shot-putter.
That obsession began when Al was in the eighth grade and his brother Gary brought home a 12-pound shot (it's 16 pounds in college and beyond). Al was hooked from the first time he tossed it. Until then he had been a baseball-football-basketball player, and was considered a promising catcher.
"When I tried the shot, I got a feeling unlike team sports," he says
now. "When I picked it up again, could I throw it farther than the first time? That intrigued me, became a passion, an obsession. What was best about it was that you could measure progress with a tape measure. Wouldn't it be great to measure self-improvement in life with a tape measure? In addition, I was attracted to individual sport, and not everybody is. I could go out and train one, two, three times a day, and didn't need a team there to do it."
Despite winning the Iowa state small high school championship in 1966, with a throw of 61 feet (not a bad schoolboy throw even today, he says), at 180 pounds, which he weighed then, he did not get any offers from major colleges, and opted instead for Emporia State, which was a member of the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics, the small-college counterpart of the NCAA.
On the day of his graduation he got in his car and drove toward Los Angeles, stopping en route to win the NAIA championship in Billings, Montana. Once in California, he was recruited by the Pacific Coast Club of Long Beach, and competed for them during his Olympic years.
The Only 'Full-Time Amateur'
He did it pretty much on his own. He'd saved some money to live on and spent all of his time training.
Sports Illustrated called him the world's only full-time amateur shotputter, and described his apartment as furnished mostly with mattresses. He bulked up and began competing in international meets, in Leningrad, Paris, and Stuttgart. "I didn't win any of those meets, but I got the feeling that I could beat any of those guys," he says. How? "You just have to keep training."
In 1972 he qualified for the Olympics in Munich, an event that proved tragic when 11 Israeli athletes were massacred there by Palestinian terrorists. At the time, the athletic events were overshadowed by the terrorism; but the records remain, meticulously maintained on Wikipedia, showing Al a few inches away from a silver medal and only 6 ½ from the gold. Five shotputters were within one diameter of a shot-put ball. Al had done better than the winning distance in practice; but he had, in a way, practiced too much.
"I overtrained," he says. "I knew that hard training produces results; but hard training followed by rest produces better."
He was back for another try in the 1976 Olympics, which also had close results; but Al's was fourth best. "We called that the lead medal," he says. It was between Olympics, in 1973, that he set his world record of 71'7" in a meet at San Jose State College.
Blocked by U.S. Boycott
He tried again in the 1980 Games, but the U.S pulled its team from the Moscow Olympics because of the Soviet involvement in, of all places, Afghanistan. He continued competing in meets throughout the world, winning seven AAU national championships, indoor and outdoor. (Skyland's
Don Law, a track buff, remembers seeing Al compete in a meet in Modesto.) He'd been on 13 U.S. national teams before he finally hung up the steel ball a month before the 1984 games in Los Angeles. "My mind said 'go," but my body said 'no,'" he explains. "I had pulled muscles in the calf, the pectorals, and my ribcage was about to give way from torque - shotput is all about torque, exploding the lower body. I knew I couldn't throw. I was 35."
It was quite a career; Al was considered one of the top shotputters in the world for 22 years, in what he now considers "my first life." He continued as a kind of promoter when he and his then housemate, two-time Olympic discus gold medalist Mac Wilkins, produced the "Two Big Guys Mountain Games" at Al's home on Smith Valley Road, where he still lives. He even participated in one of these.
A Second Life
But his first life eventually shifted into a second life after he met Anne Evans, who was working on a crew that was filming a story about the runup to the Moscow Olympics. She later recruited Al into her life; they became a team, Al holding the sound boom and Anne doing the mixing. That life has also been rewarding, providing not only a life together but the same travel opportunities and opportunity to meet people of different cultures.
Shotputting, however, was the time in his life when he remembers measuring progress with a tape measure.
Another rich life: Evan, Al, and Anne at the Hall of Fame banquet.
Second White Privilege
Meeting Jan. 15 in Whitaker
The second of a series of conversations relating to the experience of white privilege - the special, privileged place people with white skin occupy in our society -will be held after worship Jan. 15 downstairs in Whitaker Hall.
Participants will be asked to relate their experience of white privilege in their own lives
. The series follows a curriculum created by the United Church of Christ and available online
. In it, on page 30, UCC general minister and president John Dorhauer provides a glimpse into his own such experiences. At the end he offers a
listing exercises designed to help individuals see how white privilege operates in their own lives.
Rev. Dorhauer focused on white privilege while studying for a Doctor of Ministry degree at Union Theological Seminary; and it was he who initiated the white privilege curriculum at UCC.
In addition, people unfamiliar with the concept may enjoy a one-minute video, "White Privilege Glasses" created by the Chicago Theological Seminary, which explains the idea clearly and with humor. It's available on YouTube
NOTE from your treasurer:
Pledge income is about $2,500 less than expected commitments for first half of our fiscal year. If you are able, please attempt to keep your pledge gifts current.
The Heifer Tube of quarters overflowed again. Total amount of $133.56 has been sent to support the Heifer Project International small animal giving program.
Thanks for your generous support to our local outreach programs. $1,015 was donated for the Davenport Resource Center to provide Thanksgiving meals to families in the Davenport area. $715 has already been donated to our Giving Tree program to help our local neighbors needing assistance this Christmas season. Donations will continue this Sunday, Dec. 4, for those who missed the opportunity last Sunday (see story at left).
We are now able to accept credit card payments for pledge, general and special offerings, if that is more convenient than check or cash. See either Jan or myself after service for these transactions.
Here are our operating finances for November 2016 as of Nov. 29.
Summary of Operating Finances
November 2016 | Jun 1,2016 to Nov 29
Actual Planned | Actual Planned
Income $ 10,170 $ 10,832 | $109,295 $104,717
Expenses $ 17,884 $ 18,453 | $ 94,051 $ 95,177
Net $ (-7,714) $(-7,621)| $ 15,244 $ 9,540
-- Gerald J. Alonzo,