Church Inspires Heavenly Thoughts


SOME of my favorite structures are churches. I love the way outside light fills their sanctuaries and how their arches stretch toward the heavens.

Several years ago, my neighbor, Roger Powers, was associate pastor at Montclair Presbyterian. I occasionally went there to hear his sermons, thinking the congregation was vibrant and energetic but the space in which they worshipped — not very inspiring.

That all changed when the Thornhill Drive church completed a major renovation and earthquake retrofit two weeks ago. It’s a stunning transformation, turning an old 1950s A-frame into an inviting sanctuary with soaring arches and sparkling skylights. “When we gather,” says the Rev. Karen Stokes, “there is a lot of laughter and joy in being together. We wanted our worship space to reflect that lightness.” The timing couldn’t have been better. The retrofit and remodel was completed just days before last month’s quake on the Hayward fault, with the epicenter at Joaquin Miller Park.

E-MAIL BAG: Reader Brenna Coker sends out a “thank you” for my recent piece on the mountain lion cubs that were spotted on Villanova Drive. “I was walking my dog this morning and heard a distinct growl coming from the bushes,” she writes, saying it was so alarming she immediately turned around and went home. “My back yard borders Huckleberry (Regional Preserve) and I have a new puppy that I take outside frequently. Thanks to your article I will be on the lookout and more careful.” He points out the section of Skyline (between Shepherd Canyon and Snake) which is “in desperate need of center stripes and reflectors. He sites the Montclair nature trail as another “accident waiting to happen. “On the bridge over Snake Road, there are vestigial poles (if the authorities are trying to keep out motor vehicles it makes no sense to put a barrier in the MIDDLE rather than at the entries to the path), but worse, there is a post hole studded with metal that is not visible from the bridge. Some day a biker, stroller or jogger is going to go flying with a very negative result.” In regards to my recent rant on parked cars along narrow hills streets, reader Bill Hogan says: “There are other areas of Montclair that present serious safety hazards.”

On the flip side, reader Chuck Harrison brings us some good news regarding the pitted and potholed stretch of sidewalk from Montclair Elementary School to the library. “After 30 years of woeful neglect,” he says, the walkway is being resurfaced.”This is a EUREKA event worthy of three column photographs in The Montclarion next Friday,” he enthusiastically declares. Sorry, Chuck, but sidewalk photos just don’t cut it with the Town Crier. I’ll assume this paragraph paints an adequate picture.

PROUD MOMENT: Montclair’s popular UPS driver, Jeff Acosta, had some priceless cargo in his truck the other day. He was delivering his son’s new children’s book to the Book Tree on La Salle Avenue. Jeffrey Acosta, 20, wrote and illustrated “Adventures in Colurland” with the help of four friends while attending Liberty High in Brentwood. “I’m very proud of him” says Jeff, who says his son had to overcame a form of autism to write the book and plans to study elementary education at UC Davis next fall.

ANIMAL TALES: Next time you take your hound on a trail walk, you may want to have a dolly handy. Phil Meads had to push and prod with all his might recently when his big dog collapsed near the Skyline gate of Redwood Regional Park. When he finally got his companion to the vet, they ran a battery of tests to the tune of $1,900. “We never did find out what was wrong,” says Meads, but his walks now include an exit plan.

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