August 2020
Go Tell It On The Mountain
Monthly Newsletter
Skyland Community Church, United Church of Christ
Minister: Rev. Melanie Weiner
Sunday Worship Service:
During COVID-19 Shelter-in-Place
Services will be online, check website link below
10:30 A.M.
August to mid-September Church Calendar

Bible Study on Thursday mornings:

8:45 - 9:45 Important Passages from the Bible
9:45 -10:45 Sunday's Scripture

by computer, tablet, or smartphone:

by phone: dial 1 669 900 6833 and enter the meeting id 83544553057#

Sunday, August 2, 9, 16, 23, & 30
Online Worship at 10:30 A.M. with Rev. Melanie Weiner
To connect by phone: dial 1 669 900 6833 and enter the Meeting ID: 833 3487 6493 followed by the # sign.
To connect via smartphone, tablet or computer: click

see more upcoming event s on the Church Calendar

All Regularly Scheduled Events in Whitaker Hall
are on hold during Shelter-in-Place
Message from
Reverend Melanie Weiner

For a variety of reasons I was late getting plants started this year, so while many of my friends are harvesting beautiful vegetables I go out each morning to check on blossoms. I have a small container garden on my front porch, the only space I have where I can grow plants outside my condo. The porch is hot and in full sun most of the day except where our potted plants themselves provide some shade, and of course potted plants need more watering and feeding than plants growing in the ground do. These challenges do reduce our harvest, but harvest we do, and each year a little bit more. We can count on some lemons and a few pomegranates if we successfully fend off the squirrels as well as a few herbs for the kitchen. This year we will have cucumbers if all continues to grow well. We also have roses and an array of succulents that we enjoy for their beauty and resilience.

I have been your pastor for four weeks now after eagerly looking forward to it for some time. It has taken some time to feel like I am getting my legs under me, learning the processes of a new (to me) church, meeting people, preparing worship for a worship environment none of us could have envisioned. I appreciate all of you warm welcome and gracious patience as I catch on and as we put our new roots down together. Our growth together may be invisible for a time, but we are already beginning to push up new shoots and develop new blossoms. These are the early signs of the fruit that is to come from our ministry together, fruit that will be added to the bountiful harvest that the ministry Skyland Community Church already provides in the community.

Rev. Melanie's Work Hours and Contact Information

Rev. Melanie's work days will be Sunday, Monday, Thursday, and Friday. She will take Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays as her days off. 

While it remains necessary to maintain social distancing, Melanie plans to work in her office on Mondays and work at home on most other days. 

If you want to visit, please contact her to make an appointment. For everyone's protection, we can speak outside or in a large room like Whitaker Hall. Please plan to wear a mask. 

If you would like a home visit, Rev. Melanie is willing to visit you outside your home from more than six feet away. 

You can reach Rev. Melanie at:
Church office (408)353-1310 (leave a message)
Mobile phone (408)307-3709 (voice or text)
Email and Phone Security or 
How Our Pastor Will Never Ask for Gift Cards Via Email or Text

Good and generous people are once again being scammed by people pretending to be their faith leader. An email that appears to come from pastor, rabbi, imam, etc asks for gift cards for a family that the leader is helping who have asked for privacy. These emails often have the recipients name and the pastor's name in them, so it is very easy to think it is the pastor sending it.  

Please know, my good and generous friends, that I will never ask you for gift cards or money via email or text unless the church is providing a way for you to donate to a legitimate ministry such as The Giving Tree or other such organization in which you bring a gift for a child, a UCC disaster relief fund, or Skyland Community Church itself. I will never ask you to give me gift cards or money to give to someone else.

If you ever get an email, text, or call from someone purporting to be me and you are not sure, please don't reply. Instead please go to the church directory for my phone number or email, the church website, or the end of any email blast from the church and use the link there to send me email. I will not be offended if it is actually me and you feel the need to confirm. Your safety is important to me, and I don't want anyone to be scammed.
Church Council News
July , 2020

The council met on July 13, via Zoom with ten members present. Anne Evans presented an update on Fire Safe County Roads activity, currently the only Action Team able to move forward due to the current health restrictions. Fire-Safe County Roads are working along with Santa Cruz County agencies, the Mountain Alliance and CALFIRE to apply for a grant to establish a shaded fuel break along the Summit Road-Highland corridor. Anne and Al have completed a short video to document the shaded fuel break around the Loma Prieta School which was completed in June. Click here to watch the video. Currently 70% of the land owners along the Summit-Highland corridor have responded with interest and support for this important project.

Rev. Melanie Weiner talked about leadership experiences she has seen in churches where she has ministered. In small churches without built-in flexibility leadership could become entrenched. At-large member representatives on the council helped to provide voice for everyone while representation by central ministry teams facilitates good communication between council and board.
Jackie discussed the leadership direction in the evolving bylaws. She stressed the need for providing flexibility for many of the boards and committees so that bylaws do not require changes if some cease to exist or become active or come into existence, such as the reVision Action Teams. She also explained that a few boards such as the Trustees were required to maintain the church and would be a part of the council. The council could include the chair of an active committee, board or Ministry Team as a voting member although attendance would be discretionary. However to be sure that everyone’s voice is considered, at-large representatives would be a part of the council.  
Larry Lopp suggested that the church investments be re-evaluated. This was tabled in the short term with commitment to address it in the future.
Patricia Wood has done research on reopening the church. Her recommendation restated briefly was as follows:  Because there is neither vaccine nor cure for the Covid-19 and we can not provide safety for ourselves or our community, both the church and Whitaker Hall will remain closed to all public gatherings until a vaccine is available for everyone. The proposal was voted on and approved with the stipulation that it be revisited in 6 months if no vaccine is available.
Gerald Alonzo presented information regarding the need to remove the large trees near the memorial benches and one leaning over the road. It was voted on and approved to proceed to remove the trees.
The council will meet again on Monday August 17.
Your Co-moderators,
Jackie Seymour and Anne Evans
Bylaws are changing

Churches, like other nonprofit organizations, have bylaws to state their purpose and to set forth their governance structure. Skyland church has bylaws that were written thirty to forty years ago with only a few subsequent amendments. However the number of active participants is now much smaller resulting in fewer active boards and committees and fewer members of those that are still active. As a result of reVision we have five Action teams that are not covered in the bylaws. Last year we held a congregational meeting to reduce the quorum requirement because it became extremely difficult to fulfill the quorum requirement of 25 at Congregational meetings in order to conduct church business, such as elect officers and pass a budget.

Prior to reVision we voted to set aside the bylaws because we could no longer follow them and we didn’t know what we might want for our church afterwards. That was extended in January 2020 for 6 months and again in June 2020 for another 6 months. We have gone through reVision, we have completed our Interim tasks and now it is time to face our outdated bylaws. 

Our search committee along with Kevin, Anne, and Jackie worked on Our Local Church Profile prior to calling a new settled pastor. That document can form the basis for the initial sections of the Bylaws – Purpose, Polity and Vision. While Kevin was still with us, Anne, Kevin and Jackie rewrote those sections with some additional work on the governance sections. When Rev. Weiner arrives, the work will continue. Deana Arnold and Patricia Wood have agreed to review the Bylaws prior to giving them to the council for their review and approval. When the council has approved them, the bylaws will go before the entire church for a final review and approval at a Congregational Meeting.  

As Socrates once said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but building the new.” We hope you are looking forward to the building blocks of the new bylaws in the months ahead.

Your co-moderators,
Anne Evans and Jackie Seymour
reVision Action Teams News

"Mountain Hangout"
"Lunch and a Documentary"
are suspended until further notice
due to COVID-19
Fire Safe County Roads Action Team

Al Feuerbach and Anne Evans created a short three-minute video to explain and motivate Summit area residents to support the grant application this Summer. You can watch the video here:
Email the reVision team:
For more information on the phases of reVision click here: /
Mission Board News
(see articles below)
  1. Erasing medical debt.
  2. Baobob Home in Tanzania
  3. The Little Free Pantry

Good News!
UCC Churches Erase $4.7 million in Medical Debt
in the San Francisco East Bay

Skyland Community Church donates $4,304 to
RIP Medical Debt

         A group of United Church of Christ (UCC) churches in San Francisco’s East Bay, with generous help from our national denomination, have erased $4.4 million in medical debt for our neighbors in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. This effort began in late February and was completed even as our communities were negatively impacted by the global coronavirus pandemic. While we know that current economic conditions and public health emergency will soon create more medical debt, we are glad to be able to give so many neighbors a clean slate right now.         
        Our local campaign raised $44,000, thereby erasing $2.6 million in medical debt for residents of Contra Costa County and $2.1 million in Alameda County, the two counties where our churches are located. These two California counties include the large cities of Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond plus many smaller cities, towns, and unincorporated rural areas. This is a richly diverse area with large populations of immigrants, people of color, and people struggling to make ends meet in an area with an astronomical cost of living.
        Inspired by similar efforts by UCC churches in Chicago, St. Louis, and elsewhere, the idea for the campaign began with our largest East Bay church, First Church Berkeley , led by Rev. Molly Baskette , as a joint fundraising activity for nearby congregations during this year’s season of Lent, culminating on Good Friday. “Remembering that the Psalmist said ‘God heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds,’ and that Jesus himself in Matthew 25 told us that when we tend to those who are sick, we are tending to Jesus himself, we take up this holy work not just to heal bodies but to mend lives destroyed by astronomical debt,” said Rev. Baskette.
The campaign grew to include eight other area churches: Arlington Community Church in Kensington, Berkeley Chinese Community Church (UCC), First Congregational Church of Alameda UCC, First Congregational Church of Oakland UCC, First Congregational Church of Auburn, The Good Table UCC in El Cerrito, Hillcrest Congregational Church in Pleasant Hill, and Skyland Community UCC Church in Los Gatos ($4,304 donation).

As a diverse group of churches, we all knew that medical debt was a big problem for the most vulnerable in our communities: the sick, the elderly, the poor, and veterans. In addition, we learned that medical debt seriously impacts the middle class, driving many families who were formerly stable into poverty. By forgiving this debt, we hope to give struggling individuals, and their families, a fresh start. 

We’ve also come to understand that medical debt is a huge driver of the destabilizing forces that can lead individuals and families to become homeless, so we hope that relieving our neighbors of medical debt will prevent the further exacerbation of the homelessness crisis in the East Bay. 
        The campaign was made possible by working in partnership with an extraordinary non-profit organization, RIP Medical Debt, founded in 2014 by two former debt collections executives, Craig Antico and Jerry Ashton. Over the course of decades in the debt-buying industry, Craig and Jerry met with thousands of Americans saddled with unpaid and un-payable medical debt and realized they were uniquely qualified to help these people in need. Their expertise and compassion created a process to forgive medical debt: using donations to buy large bundles of medical debt, which is then forgiven with no tax consequences to donors or recipients. The organization has now managed to erase over $1.4 billion dollars in medical debt across the nation.
Skyland Church has been supporting the Baobob Home  every January for over five year.  It was wonderful to get a virtual tour around the "orphanage" and see a day in the life of the kids in Tanzania. Like all children they enjoy playing ball, reading and drawing. We got to sing Happy Birthday to one young man. It was great to see over a hundred people across the globe on the call.  

Over the past 16 years the Baobob Home has continued to seek ways to be self-sustaining and each year they make strides toward that. The current health crisis has really put their systems to the test and while we are grateful to have a robust foundation of self-sustainability, these continue to be uncertain times and we still rely on support and donations.

If you haven't already, please consider donating to their annual appeal. They have made it very easy to give via credit card with a few clicks. They have set up an online donation page that you can access  HERE . Please help them share the link with your friends and family or anyone who might be interested in supporting our work.

There will be a few more online events in August to keep you connected with Tanzania, sign up and they do hope to see you there!  
Shannon Edwards, Missions Board

Skyland Community Church's Little Free Pantry

A BIG THANKS to all who are helping keep it filled, orderly and getting the word out about the LITTLE FOOD PANTRY on the front porch of our church!  

The end of the month seems to be a tough time for our neighbors. The Outside Pantry is full but the inside pantry is only1/4 full so please pick up a little extra food on your next shopping trip. 

Macaroni and cheese, juice boxes, snack bars, kids snacks, pasta sauce and one meal items, chili, and canned meats seem to be going quickly. Neighbors have asked for DVDs too. Does anyone have extra produce to share? We have plenty of dried beans and rice and pasta and a local neighbor donated lovely homemade masks for the pantry too. 

As with the food supplies, take what you need for a few days and leave the rest. We want to serve as many of our neighbors as possible.

Feel free to use our Food Pantry photos too.

Thank you, Shannon Edwards
Free firewood at far end of parking lot.
Hope to have the large pieces cut into smaller manageable pieces by the time you receive the Newsletter.
Gerald Alonzo

Note From the Heart:

Dear Skyland Community Church Community,
I have been looking through notes and letters many of you sent over the past year when I was healing from my big fall. Thank you so much for loving me! I appreciate your kind letters, notes, prayers, well wishes, rides, and etc. Getting well is precious. And having your love and regard while I I have been healing has been an integral part of healing.
Thank you to each of you. Even to those who did not know about my fall. Creating this community together is a precious thing we are doing. I am appreciating each of you:
as we share this community, 
as we work together
as we yearn for more time together, and 
do what we understand to be best for health of all.
My warmest and best regards to each of you,
Jan Swayne
                               The passing of a tennis player

   We lost our mother, Barbara Brooke Hultgren, on 7/8/2020, at the age of 95. She loved our home on Hester Creek Rd, in Los Gatos. Back when we were building it, she picked out antique fixtures for the bathroom, kitchen and living room, and found our Eureka wood stove, a company that began before the Civil War..
  One New Years Eve, she spent hours filling in the knot holes in our oak floors. Another time she furiously pulled out all of the ivy on a hillside, to prevent it from spreading.. Over the years, many visited, and she was always a heavenly host.   
  Her life was mostly centered around tennis, but she did many other things, including teaching fourth grade at three different schools.. At age 17, she won the junior national doubles title in Philadelphia,, then attended Stanford four years. She got her masters degree in education at Boston University, where she met our dad. She grew up in Pasadena, where her father took a great interest in her tennis game.
  In 1981 she authored the ball person training manual for the USTA, donating it for distribution and use. She used to love to bring her ball kids to work matches in the Bay Area, in Palm Springs, once for Davis Cup matches. In 2006,  Inside Tennis  wrote an article about her, and that same year, she was honored opening night of the Sap Open tournament in San Jose, for her work with ball kids, flipping the coin for Andy Murray's match, who won the tournament.
  In 2012, she entered the Palo Alto Commons, and lived there for eight years. She was a big fan of Stanford women's basketball, a member of league bowling, a volunteer for countless organizations, and loved her cats. In Mill Valley, where our family began, she was the Junior Choir Director of the Mill Valley Community Church.. She was a people person, fun to be with.
  With love, we remember her-always,,
 John & Debra

Note from your Treasurer

Note from your Treasurer for first two months of our ’20-‘21 fiscal year:
Pledge income is $444 above budget.
As we might expect in this remote setting Offerings received are $-890 below budget.
Received one advance Hall Rental which may need to be refunded.
Income received is $-462 below budget/
Expenses are $3,095 below budget primarily due to confusion at Pension Boards UCC as they attempt to go online only for billing and payments for Rev. Melanie’s Annuity and pre-tax account. We are also in the process of using an outside payroll service and have yet to receive debit for Rev. Melanie’s last 2 weeks salary.
During the current “Shelter In Place” restrictions please mail your pledge and other donations to
Skyland Community Church
P.O. Box 245
Los Gatos, CA 95031-0245
We are 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 once we are able to meet together again.
Here is a summary of our operating finances as of July 27, for our 2020-2021 fiscal year.
Gerald Alonzo, Treasurer
Skyland Community Church, United Church of Christ
25100 Skyland Road, Los Gatos, CA 95033
phone: 408-353-1310
USPS mail: Skyland Church
P.O. Box 245
Los Gatos, CA 95031-0245