Spring 2022 Photos

Music Update

by Jung Jin Kim

I can’t believe it, but I have already been here almost three months. For the last three months, I have really been moved by our choir’s great singing. I thank you all for a warm welcome. I am especially impressed by the dedication and openness of the whole choir. Even though we are a small number right now, our choir has a lot of potentials. Also, our vocal range is incredibly wide. Everyone is already musically well-trained, and so talented. 

With the coming of the Spring, I pray that 2022 will be a year of restoration, rejuvenation, revival. My goals are as below.

Restoration 

Choir Gathering: On February 3rd,  eleven members of the choir met and discussed about the plan and filled out a survey. 

Choir Cleaning Day: On February 8th, several volunteers came to church and cleaned out the music library and choir folder slots. We sorted out all the old anthems too. Robin Holbrook is willing to serve as our new music librarian. She will also make sure that the online music database is the most up-to-date version. I want to send a big shout-out to her devotion.

First Choir Rehearsal: On February 10th, we resumed our Thursday’s choir rehearsal.

First Singing in the Worship: On Ash Wednesday, we sang our first anthem for this semester. 

Rejuvenation 

Lots of Great Music Planned: Our choir rehearsals are all about having fun, singing, and getting back into the swing of things. 

Various Repertoires: Music is a joyful and meaningful part of our worship services. We’ve practiced 16th-century motet and 21st-century gospel music in the same rehearsal.

Weekly Choir Updates: Every Thursday morning, I’ve sent a weekly update email to the choir. 

Providing more Written Documents: With a one-person operating system, there might be confusion. To better information, I prepare a more written version of the documents. (Thursdays: Take Note , Sundays: Music Focused Order)

Wearing Robes: On March 13th, we restarted to wear the choir robes. It looks so nice!

Extended Rehearsal Time: Since March 17th, we extended our rehearsal time. (Thursdays – 1 hour and 30 minutes, Sundays – 30 minutes) 

Revival

Trying to Find an Intergenerational Opportunities: Isaac just joined us!

Including Various Instruments: If possible, I want to include various instruments. Please let me know if you want to make an ensemble with the choir.

Organ Music: I will keep providing top-notch organ repertoires for every worship service.

Vocal Warm-Up Packet: We always want to improve our vocal quality. I plan to collect various vocal warm-up examples from several books and build a packet for the choir. We will do it with purpose. 

Invitation & Recruitment: We are always looking for new members. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you are interested or if you know someone who wants to join us.

Sometimes people come to worship and the music opens their hearts and minds in a way that nothing else can – so that they can hear the scripture and sermon and worship. I encourage the choir to keep up the good work!!!

Spring Intergenerational Events

by Pastor Kate

(Image above: from our Valentines’ Day Event)

Exciting Intergenerational Events coming up this Spring and Summer!

We have been so lucky as a church community, living with Covid, to be able to do more together as a church! Since the summer, we have had so many nice gatherings, celebrations and chances to serve and share with others. Doesn’t it feel wonderful? Well, we have more opportunities for fellowship, fun and important events in the making for this spring and summer! Our Sunday School teachers, Intergenerational Ministry group, and others are making plans that we are excited about and hope you will join in the fellowship and service with us!

Easter: We invite youth of all ages to be a part of an Easter Vigil skit about Jonah and the Whale. We will rehearse on both Sunday April 3rd and April 10th from 11:00- 1:00 pm ( lunch provided). Please contact Pastor Kate if your youth would like to participate in the telling of this important story!

Annual Pancake Breakfast ( hosted by John King and our church youth) and Easter Egg hunt on Easter morning.  More details to come!

Intergenerational Service Event “ Bees, Butterflies and God’s Creation”  at church on Saturday, April 23rd from 10-12:30pm ( including lunch). We will be celebrating Earth Day with a focus on the stewardship of our natural environment. Be on the lookout for more information. If you would like to be involved in helping plan this important and fun event, please contact Pastor Kate (pastork@flcpa.org) or Carol Larsen (clarsonca@yahoo.com).

Mt.Cross Camp is visiting First Lutheran on Sunday, May 1st! Adam Erickson, the executive director will join us in worship where he will preach and share fun camp music with the kids. This is the time to ask questions about what is going on at Mt. Cross and offer our support.

 June 12-17th is a special week set aside for churches in the Peninsula and San Francisco. There are week-long overnight camp options available for youth. For more information about what the camp has to offer, you can go to mtcross.org and learn more.

Some other possible plans in the making include honey tasting, a service project involving an animal theme, and a lemonade stand on August 20th. We are also looking into a possible work day at Mt. Cross!

 Please do reach out to Pastor Kate or Carol Larsen if you have any ideas, time,or energy to share!

Take good care,

Pastor Kate

Getting Forward Together

By Pastor Bernt

It’s not the same as getting “back” together, as there’s no going back to the pre-pandemic world.  Our lives have changed in many ways these past years: loved ones lost, moves, new health realities, new routines, (speaking personally) kids off to college.  But there’s a “forward” together momentum around church that’s energizing: wonderful new staff with Rosamia and Jung Jin (bios on the website), new members (see elsewhere in this newsletter), people stepping into new roles such as planning inter-generational events or leading adult forum – and an encouraging recent congregational budget meeting.  

There’s great things happening that go unseen.  The other day I was around when John and a friend were finishing an asylum application for a recent immigrant (with connections to families we’ve helped before) who was fleeing terrible violence.  We got to stand together in our newly renovated fellowship hall, praying over her and the finished application.  Thanks for your support of this ministry.

These days I’m really appreciating the “together” moments on our journey “forward together.”  It’s wonderful when we can join even small gatherings together in the same space: a visit to someone’s home, a shared potluck, sitting together out front on the patio. Zoom continues to be an amazing gift allowing participation for those who don’t live close by or may have health concerns.  We’re actually going to consider a more permanent zoom setup for the sanctuary.   But I got used to being isolated and it’s such a gift to find even small ways out of it.  The best parts of church may be the most simple: being present and available to each other, any ways we can. When you’re able to join one of our in-person gatherings, do so! 

Holy Week – the central worship experience of the year – is all about getting forward together.  Forward: in that the week is all about a movement from the cross to the empty tomb, from loss to gain, fear to love, despair to hope, death to new life – in Christ, for each and every one of us.  Let it also be a together event: join us, at some or all of the services, on zoom or in-person, in the pew or up front and in fellowship.

Introducing Rosamia, our new office manager

Hello! My name is Rosamia Morales Valdez. I was born in Lima, Peru and raised in East Palo Alto. I have lived in EPA for 16 years, and consider it my second home. I graduated from CSU Northridge in 2018 with a Bachelors in Marketing. I am currently in my first year of my Masters in Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism at CSU East Bay. I have a passion for event planning, marketing and social media. After graduating I would love to become a full time Event Planner.

During my free time, I love to spend time with my family and friends. At home, since we all have different schedules we love to gather by having game nights. Recently, our favorite game has been UNO. I love to travel. So far my favorite state to visit is Hawaii. Hopefully, once COVID is gone I will be able to visit more places. I love listening to music, playing the drums, and dancing. My favorite genres are Salsa and Afro Peruvian music. I am very excited to be working here. I hope to be able to meet all of you soon!

December 2021 Photos

Introducing our new music director

Worship practices Late Fall 2021

Please note: December 24, 5pm service will be in-person only (zoom service will be 8:30pm).  See information on in person practices below.

Beginning October 31 (for Reformation Sunday!) we went to one 10:00am worship service, which you can participate in on zoom or indoors, in-person.  Please read on for the details:

In person, indoors: 

  • All participants (over the age of 2 – see health order) aside from some worship leaders will be required to wear masks except when receiving communion.    
  • We’ll sit six feet from those not in our family, unless they give us permission to sit closer.  This is actually a safety advantage over worship outside, where there wasn’t as much room to spread out – or a sound system so you could hear from far away.
  • We’ll keep the space ventilated.  We are fortunate to actually have windows and doors we can open in the sanctuary.  It will be chilly on some mornings, so bring a jacket.
  • We’ll try to keep the service at about 50 minutes, somewhere between what 8:30 and 10:30 worshippers were used to the last time we were indoors. It’s safer to spend less time in an environment with singing, and long services can be difficult for those on zoom.
  • Besides the presider, we’ll ask readers, singers and other worship leaders to be in person.  You won’t be on camera if you’re sitting in the pews.

On zoom:

  • You’ll join using the same link as before.  There will be slides with lyrics and art, just as you’re used to. The difference will be that the readings, sermon, music will all come from the sanctuary (rather than different locations).   
  • People appreciated that zoom allowed us not just to watch a service, but to chime in and experience some sense of community.  We have two pastors!  So the one who isn’t presiding will be in the parlor and serve as “zoom host” during the service, greeting people at the beginning and end, including children.  The presider will be able to see and include prayer requests submitted on “chat.”  
  • Zoom participants are invited to meet with pastors later on in the day or week to receive communion.

Other important information, considerations:

Adult forum will continue to be on zoom at 8:30 at this point, but in a few weeks will probably move to 9 and be both in-person and on zoom. 

After worship there will be a reception – which we’ll try to do outside (masks optional) when we can, and in-person Sunday School.

We’ll need to be a bit legalistic for Lutherans.  We are promising to those who come in-person that there will be certain safety measures in place.  It can be disappointing when what happens isn’t what was promised.  We’ll all work together to make the experience safe for everyone.

Shabbat: Joys and Challenges

(words from a local Jewish studies teacher who plans to join our adult forum for a session … excerpt from a reply to Pastor Bernt’s questions about Sabbath)

Bernt, your astute question about the joys and challenges of practicing Shabbat brought much to the surface for me as I reflected on your email. Just about one week ago I heard a GREAT story from a Jewish studies teacher at [a Jewish day school] that is definitely apropos. She described the way Shabbat would commence for her family when she was a little girl. In the couple of weekdays leading up to each Shabbat her mother already would have begun a flurry of preparations shopping, cleaning, and cooking. By Friday afternoon her mother’s pace reached a frenzy as she hurried and scurried, working so hard to get things in order for the beginning of Shabbat.  The teacher and her siblings knew that they had better do what mother barked at them to do, (“Clean your room! Don’t get crumbs on the floor! Take your showers! Help in the kitchen!), and they knew not to challenge her or ask her for ANYTHING when she was in that mode, like an angry, irritable commander in the army.  Then, just before nightfall, mother would kindle the Sabbath lights, covering her eyes, as is customary, as she recited the blessing. “Magically”, as soon as her blessing left her lips, her hands would open from her face, and a soft, sweet, smiling, gentle voice would emit the most inviting, comforting wish to her children of a “Shabbat Shalom”, (a peaceful Shabbat).  As a little girl, this teacher could not comprehend how her mother could transform almost instantly from a wild, raving, commanding, demanding, tornado force to a peaceful, present, glowing, embracing source of love.  She decided that there had to be something like a little angel that crawled up her mother’s arm, underneath her two hands covering her mother’s face, who did some magic to transform her mother, pushing her mother’s frown into a smile.  As a little girl, she would try so hard to pry her mother’s hands away from her face during the blessing in order to witness the angel doing its magical work! 

I was recently reflecting on how not peaceful my family’s Friday night Shabbat dinners at home were for so many years when our kids were younger.  The start of our blessings and dinners were fraught with the cries and needs of toddlers, the rush to cook dinner, the scowls of pre-teens/teens, the exhaustion from the week of work, and I remember thinking “who were these Rabbis who thought Shabbat is meant to be peaceful??? Were they with their families???” And then, our kids grew up a bit more, and became a part of the preparations, and also started to really value that family together time. Finally, we got to a place where the commencement of the “time of rest” felt real.  Our Friday Shabbat blessings and dinners have truly become a time of peace, togetherness, and distinction from the craze of the rest of the week. So, for sure, there are joys and challenges, even in the effort to initiate this sacred time.  

Then, the challenge of actually experiencing Shabbat for 24 hours, not just the ushering in of the day of rest, is also something many Jews wrestle with. Could I, should I, turn off my cell phone and skip a day of email? If I’m doing something enjoyable on a screen or taking a drive to the beach are those considered work or rest? Should I run my errands that I have no time for during the work week? Is there a way I can actually drop my worries and petty thoughts and focus on joy, gratitude, humility, family, and community? What counts as experiencing the Shabbat?