Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Remembering Aunt Bae - Grace Dalles Clarke

Today we received word of the death of my paternal aunt Grace Dalles Clarke, (September 5, 1924 - July 18, 2018), in New York City.  

Those of you who have been faithful readers of my blog down the years will remember that I wrote a profile of her, and her work, back in March of 2012.  She lived a long and full life, and made fantastic contributions to the world of publishing - both as an illustrator of children's books and as an executive at several notable publishing houses.  Along the way she was able to work with many creative and insightful people, including Sarah, Duchess of York (the Budgie books), and President Jimmy Carter (Habitat for Humanity's "The President Builds a House").

She grew up in Pittsburgh, graduated from Carnegie Tech, was a personal friend of another Pittsburgh native and Tech grad, Andy Warhol, long before he was famous, and she "made it" in Manhattan in her chosen field.  To her family she was always "Bae" or "Aunt Bae", a nickname from childhood days.  We loved her and relished hearing her recount stories about her work, and some of the amazing things that happened to her.  Usually we would end up rolling on the floor with uncontrollable laughter; she was such a great raconteur.

Her timeless children's book illustrations have that same ability to bring warmth and joy.  And here is a not so secret secret: many of her family members are depicted for all time in her illustrations.   If you have a moment, please...

Follow this link to read more: Grace Dalles Clarke
 Above: Photo of Grace Dalles Clarke as a young girl.  Below: Illustrations by Grace Dalles Clarke

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

New Hymnal Features My Hymn: "May God's Love Be Fixed above You"

Above: Me, in my office, holding the new "One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism" hymnal.  Below, my hymn "May God's Love Be Fixed above You" on page 218 of the hymnal.

This brand new hymnal, entitled "One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism" has just been published by the famous sacred music publisher, GIA.  GIA is the copyright holder of about 50 of my hymn texts, including the one that is featured in this new hymnal.  The hymn is called "May God's Love Be Fixed above You."  It is selection 218 in this new hymnal.  I received my author's copy in the mail yesterday and was glad to receive it.  The hymnal is quite handsome in design and it is an honor for my work to be part of it.  Here's hoping that the singing of my hymn will prove inspirational to congregations for many years to come.

You can buy this hymnal directly from GIA at this link: One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism

My hymn text "May God's Love Be Fixed above You" was written to be sung to the familiar hymn tune LAUDA ANIMA, with the meter 878787, in March of 1992.  It was written to be part of the first published anthology of my hymn texts,  “Come O Spirit” (published by EMI).  The words are based on the benediction that was used at our wedding, inspired by Psalm 91:1 and Psalm 121:5.  The hymn was first sung by a group at the Parish Resource Center in Mishawaka, IN, (no longer extant) gathered there to mark the introduction of my book in October of 1992. 

The hymn also has been published in the February 1993 issue of “Church Worship” magazine; in the Moravian Hymnal as selection #443 also set to LAUDA ANIMA; in The Covenant Hymnal as selection #669 to TANTUM ERGO.  In "Church Worship" again in 1998.  The hymn is published in the Presbyterian Church of Canada PCC hymnal, as selection #582. 

It was sung on 5/14/08 at the commencement ceremony of the Toronto School of Theology, on the campus of the University of Toronto, thanks to Professor John H. Derksen (Knox College); on 8/23/09 at the Knollbrook Covenant Church in Fargo, ND; on 5/13/07 at Augsburg Lutheran Church, in Winston Salem,  NC; on 6/22/08 at the Covenant Church in Springfield, VA; on 2/15/09 at St Giles Presbyterian Church, Ottawa CA; on 6/21/09 at Calvin Presbyterian Church, in Abbotsford, B.C.; on 6/24/09 at St Andrews Presbyterian Church in Guelph, Ontario; on 9/9/09 at St Luke the Evangelist Catholic Church, Stratford, NJ.

The hymn text was included in the Moravian Church’s annual devotional book, Daily Praise in 2010.  And in the anthology of my hymns called “Swift Currents and Still Waters” published by GIA, as selection #29. 

About One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism:

(From the GIA website): In creating the African American ecumenical hymnal, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism it was imperative to the core committee that the hymnal serve as a needed resource for the many denominations in the African American Church. It was the committee’s strong desire that this hymnal would represent and preserve the rich theological, cultural, and musical heritages of these traditions and offer a full breadth of music representing historical as well as vibrant contemporary worship, while looking toward the future. It was also of utmost importance that this hymnal draw the body of Christ together so that it may be enlarged, enriched, and inspired to live and worship based on what unites us: “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Weekend in Pittsburgh - Wedding at Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church

We had a great long weekend in Pittsburgh, where I officiated at the wedding of the daughter of dear friends, whom I have known all her life. The photo above is of Downtown Pittsburgh from the 16th Street Bridge.  The photo below is of the bride and groom at the conclusion of the wedding.  They met in high school and have been dating for 10 1/2 years; both are 26 years old.

The wedding was held at Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church, where I served as associate pastor for the ten years before I was called to Wekiva Presbyterian Church.  In the photo above you can see me, in the chancel, with the string quartet behind me.  Also on each side are the members of the women's choir who sang at the wedding.  Below is a photo of the Peace Candle “A Prayer for Peace” which was created in the 1980's by noted twentieth century sculptor Eleanor Shaw Milleville (1921-1991).

The Sanctuary is simply gorgeous (as you can see, above).  The proportions are said to be the same as King Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem.  The Chancel Window is the church's "signature" architectural feature, with its mostly clear glass, with stained glass insets.  Several of Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church's bridal consultants have said that this is the longest asile in Pittsburgh.  They may be right.
Above is the portico to the 1953 Chapel - the first worship space of the congregation, now a multi use room.  Below is the entrance to the Atrium which leads into the Sanctuary, and you can see the steeple at the background.

It was a joy to be with dear friends, for the wedding and the festivities surrounding the wedding.  The bride and groom are high school sweethearts, and met by their lockers at Fox Chapel High School.  By the way the father of the bride was the head of the music department at the high school and the groom's mother is secretary to the principal.  The groom is also an identical twin (his brother served as the best man).  They could have switched places and fooled me.

The weather the whole weekend was marvelous.  Sunny.  Hot but not as hot as Florida.  On Saturday morning while Judy attended the bridesmaids' breakfast, I went for a walk and got some "calendar worthy" photos of Downtown Pittsburgh, which is my hometown.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Bear in the Wekiva Presbyterian Church Memorial Garden!

Yesterday, a Florida Black Bear came to visit our church. Bears are often spotted in our neighborhoods around the church but this is the first on-property sighting we have had in many years. The last time we saw a bear here, it was near the dumpster, which makes sense since Yogi and his friends like to find people food, wherever they can.

But yesterday’s visitor was in the Memorial and Mediation Garden. Not only IN the garden but all of the way into the garden, walking under the covered walkway, right outside the nursery and toddler rooms, heading toward the side sanctuary doors.

This appears to be a juvenile bear, not a cub and not full grown. People have wondered aloud why the bear might have visited us, and so closely, around 3:30 in the afternoon. Maybe it came to have a drink or even a dip in the fountain – it was so hot yesterday it felt like 101 degrees. Of course, to the question, "What is that bear doing at church?" the correct answer is, "Anything it wants to do."

It may or may not be a coincidence that our Old Testament lesson for my sermon this past Sunday included this verse: David said, “The LORD, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” (I Samuel 17:37)

Friday, June 22, 2018

Wekiva Presbyterian Church and the Glory to God Hymnals

We are getting to know the new Presbyterian Church USA) hymnals which the congregation dedicated the first Sunday in May. Now, two months into singing from them, they feel as if we have had them much longer. They function beautifully in worship, whether we are singing someting old or something new.

We served as a test congregation for the hymnal, so many of the new songs that found their way into the book were first sung here at Wekiva Presbyterian Church when they were being considered by the editorial committee. Three members of the congregation were asked to provide detailed responses to how the worshipers responded to each of the hymns.

On the Sunday we dedicated the new hymnals, I told the congregation that if we were to sing three hymns each Sunday without repeating any of them, it would take is a full five years to sing them all. So, we've only just begun! Come and sing some of them with us!

A New Sign

Wekiva Presbyterian Church has a new sign. It has digital capabilites as well as the name of the church. The sign was installed last week, and has been brought up to running condition as of today.

We are pleased that we will be able to share what's happening here with the large community, with just a few strokes of the keyboard. And we plan to share words of inspiration and humor as well. All this will be happening in the next several weeeks. The possibilities are great.

This is the fourth sign for the church. The first announced that our then-empty lot was the future site of a Presbyterian Church. True. That was in the mid-1970's. A second sign consisted of a V shaped pair of horizontal elements stating: Wekiva Presbyterian Church. That sign was in use until the end of the 1990's, when it was replaced by a sign that looked like a smaller version of the church's bell tower. Two weeks ago, that sign came down, and the new sign was built on the same foundation.

We hope this sign will serve on into the next several decades and well beyond, to welcome, inform, and inspire the Longwood-Wekiva area.

North Star Boys Choir Concert at Wekiva Presbyterian Church

North Star Boys Choir Concert at Wekiva Presbyterian Church

On Wednesday evening the congregation of Wekiva Presbyterian Church and guests were treated to a remarkably wonderful musical evening. We hosted the North Star Boys Choir of the Twin Cities in a program that ranged from the sacred and spiritual to blues and barbershop quartet. The choir came to be with us because the grandson of a snowbird couple, who make Wekiva their winter church, sings in the North Star Boys Choir. We were glad of this connection, and especially so, when we were so fortunate to hear them. What a delightful evening it was! The photos can give you some sense of the event; and those who were here are still buzzing about what a great performance we all experienced.

The choir says they "may" return! We certainly hope so!