Good News, 09.26.2012


        This coming Sunday, September 30, Peace Lutheran’s seminarian John Brett, will begin an Adult Education series on baptism.  He will be using the classic booklet, Baptized We Live: Lutheranism as a Way of Life, by Daniel Erlander.  During his life and death, Jesus said “yes” to God by following the way of the cross and rejecting the way of glory.   Following Jesus, we, too, are called to say “yes” to God and this life-giving way of living begins in our baptism!

         If anyone approaches me regarding the baptism of a child or adult, my heart sings and my face breaks into a big smile.  As a pastor, I have so many good memories of baptisms!  I remember times when a tiny infant slept so soundly that I picked her up while speaking about baptism in my homily and held her throughout the entire baptismal rite before she woke up!  No fear in that little one!  Then, there was the five year-old who seemed excited when I showed him font the Saturday before his baptism.  However, in the middle of Sunday worship when he was to come up to the font, he yelled, “No!  No way!  Not me!”  Then, his father picked him up, calmed him down, and held him over the font so the baptism could proceed.  My observation?  This “dying to self” and “rising with Christ” can be scary!

       Baptism is far more powerful and central to our faith as Christians than most people realize.  Many people carry misconceptions or have never stopped to consider its meaning and significance.  For example, I have heard the following questions a number of times:

  • Why isn’t baptism a “heavenly insurance policy”?
  • Why is baptism usually done in the midst of community?
  • What does it mean to “die” in baptism?  Die to what?  …so that we might live for____?
  • Some people talk about “sealed orders” being opened by following Christ during our lives.  What does this mean?
  • What does it mean to be “marked with the cross of Christ forever?

      While not all of these questions may be addressed during Adult Education time on baptism, many others may bubble up, especially if we have a lively and enthusiastic group!  It should be fun and interesting!  So, plan to attend if you are able.  Grow in your ability to live as a baptized Child of God!

Pastor Mary Ann

 Reminder: The Office Hours  while Libby is in South Africa are Tuesday-Thursday, 10-2 pm.  Jeanie Locklear is filling in the Office. No one will be here on Monday and Friday.

 Book event at the Congregational church: Saturday, 6 October 2012 at 4 PM — Bishop Gene Robinson discussing his new book, God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage. Danville Congregational Church, 989 San Ramon Valley Blvd, Danville. Call Rakestraw Books at (925) 837-7337 for more information.    

 BJ Jesse is looking for a temporary place to live, since she has been living in her mother’s house,  which sold last week.  If you have ” an empty house/cottage or house-sit something for late oct./nov…..” call BJ at 925-548-7050.

September/October Calendar

Weekly (Tues)  Yoga Level One in the Gathering Hall at 9:15 am
Weekly (Thurs) Chair  Yoga in the Gathering Hall at 4:45pm
Sept. 30-Oct. 28  Education series: “Baptized We Live”
Oct. 3 (Wed)  Youth Group meets at 7 pm in Youth Room
Oct. 4 (Thurs)  Tai Chi resumes at 7 pm with Lori Eickmann
Oct 7  St. Francis Pet Blessing Festival  noon-3 pm (Remember to bring your baskets or gift certificates!)
Oct 14  Small & Tall Service; Jazz Church West–8th Season opener- Gerry Grosz & The Jazz   Kitchen  5 pm

Pray for our travellers to South Africa who left Wednesday evening!

Peace to All!


Good News, 09.21.2012

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Where did your faith come from? ….one of your parents? …a Sunday School teacher? …a camp counselor?  And, what does your faith in Christ mean to you now?  Are you a student (disciple) of Christ and, if so, where/how do you continue your studies? After all, a disciple by definition is a learner.

My first memory of church comes from a time when we lived in Lima, Peru.  My mother took me to church and I became entranced by the prayer votives.  Later, I loved going to church camp in the summertime where we had “quiet night” under the stars, went on nature walks and learned Bible stories.  Now, I am blessed by a spiritual director who helps me sort through personal experiences, discern choices before me and understand scriptural passages I’ve been reading.  The process, though, is what intrigues me because I feel so welcome to “be myself” – talk about the places where I am confused…irritated by others… and less than “perfect.”  It is such a gift!

Parker Palmer, a Quaker and highly respected author, teacher and spiritual leader, wrote To Know as We Are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey. In it, he says that our vocation is the spiritual life, the quest for God.  About teaching he writes, “To teach is to create a space in which the community of truth is practiced” To pursue that quest, Palmer says, we need to know the difference between the “truth” that our culture demands of us such as whatever would give me an ‘A’ in a class versus “the truth in Jesus Christ” that would set me free as a human being.  While scholarly achievement and financial success are admired in our culture, they often lead us to become adversarial, self-righteous, controlling and domineering.  Palmer contrasts that with the spiritual attitude of “submission to the truth of Christ.”  He reminds us that through careful listening and responding to God’s Word in Christ, we learn about ourselves as God already knows us.  This leads to growth in fruits of the Spirit within us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control and generosity. (Gal 5:22+)

To teach is to create a space… where new ideas, concepts and our own feelings are welcome.  Within this hospitable space, people are encouraged to struggle through the pain of their half-truths and self-deceit… to struggle toward wholeness and health in Jesus Christ.

To learn is to enter that space… where it is safe to ponder: What does it mean to open my heart to all people?  How can I be compassionate as our Lord was, to ALL, even the ones that irritate me?

So…. who wouldn’t want to be both a teacher and a learner when it means the opportunity to grow in faith and hope and love?  In other words, who can resist God’s invitation to a richer spiritual life?  Homecoming Day at Peace Lutheran is Sunday, September 23.  That is the beginning of the new Sunday School year.  Come one!  Come ALL! Let your attitude of “submission to Christ” lead you right into a class!  Remember: God is the potter and we are the clay!

Blessings,  Pastor Mary Ann

Partnership Delegation The Delegation to Lwamondo Parish in Venda, South Africa leaves Sept. 26 at 11 PM from SFO. Pr. Steve will meet the group in Johannesburg for the commuter flight to Polokwane airport.  Late news is that the local bishop will meet them at his office in Seshego Township on Sept. 28, shortly after they land in Polokwane.
Jack O’Neil will meet with local youth groups and begin an exchange that he hopes to use for his Eagle Scout project.  Elizabeth Hunter Ashley (his mother) will be singing during the church service on  Sunday  Sept. 30. Karl Pfeiffer has warned the delegation to expect services that last 2+ hours!
Four Peace families have volunteered to support John and Noah Ashley while Elizabeth and Jack are traveling: Karl, Gun, Charlene and Arlene.  Thanks to them– and to all who contributed to the fund for the Beuster Church rebuilding.  The check will be hand-delivered.  Jack and Elizabeth will return on Oct. 6 (so that Jack doesn’t miss too much school) and Libby will return on Oct. 9. The Delegation will be giving a report back to Peace a couple of weeks after they return.

Upcoming Events:

Sept. 23–HOMECOMING Sunday; SUNDAY SCHOOL resumes during worship;
Blessing of Delegation to South Africa; Youth Group receives copies of The Message
Sept. 28–Education series on Baptized We Live begins
Oct. 2 (Tues.)–Healing Prayer Team meets at 4 pm.
Oct. 3 (Wed.)–Youth Group meets at 7 pm. Discussion of God Has A Dream and South Africa and Senegal
Oct. 4 (Thurs.)–Tai Chi resumes at 7 pm with Lori Eickmann; class meets every week thru Nov (except Thanksgiving)
Oct. 7–Feast of St. Francis; St. Francis Pet Blessing Festival from noon-3 pm
Oct. 14–Small & Tall Service; Education series on Baptized We Live continues;
Jazz @ Peace 8th season opener at 5 pm with Gerry Grosz & the Jazz Kitchen
Oct. 17 (Wed.)–Youth Group meets at 7 pm; guest speaker from the Contra Costa Food Bank
Oct. 21— St. Luke’s Sunday-Healing Prayer Service; Education hour with Healing Prayer discussion
Oct. 28–REFORMATION Sunday; Education series on Baptized We Live continues

Greg Grebe’s Oct. 7 Pet Festival list:
Items needed: Additional large umbrellas for shade (we only have four)
Baskets or services for the Silent Auction
Help needed day of event:
Table set-up in the courtyard for the Silent Auction (before Worship)
Traffic director so that exhibitors can get close to the grassy area
Chair set-up for exhibitors on the lawn–as well as chairs and umbrella for Pr. Mary Ann and Pr. Margareta
Roving volunteers to assist as needed
Items for the Silent Auction can be brought into the Office–Tues-Thurs–or bring them the day of the Pet Festival

Property Update From Everett Sylwanowicz,  Property Deacon

Here’s an update on two Peace property projects for 2012.

Just in time for Winter, the painters should be putting the finishing touches on the painting and siding repair project on the outside of the church.   The original paint job was done with the wrong kind of paint for the type of wood that was used for the siding of the Church.   Many of the siding panels have had to be replaced.  Only the highest parts of the church remain to be repaired and painted.    The process should be complete within a month, and should last for many years.

Fall is a great time for planting native plants.   The seasonal rains provide the moisture needed for the plants to get started.   Native plants use much less water than non-native ground covers over time.   We have a few landscaping patches around the church that were planted with non-native ground cover that has become inundated with weeds.   This October we would like to transform the patch on the southwest corner of the church into a beautiful native garden, with specimen manzanita as the focal point.  Jeanne Kaplan and I are very motivated.   Talk to either of us after church if you would like to participate (planning, digging, planting, donating rocks or plants).


Good News, 09-13-2012


The congregation called Peace Lutheran Church is a gift to the world!  At least that’s what I’ve been thinking ever since I was an intern at Peace in 1995.   Since then, I’ve been praying for you… keeping in touch a bit through friends… and giving thanks for your ministries that emphasize peace and justice, healing prayer, Christian education and so much more.  In fact, now that I am back among you for twelve weeks, I very much look forward to learning about all your ministries and encouraging/supporting wherever possible!

            As I said in my homily last week, God opens our ears, eyes, minds and hearts to new possibilities, new ways of thinking, new perspectives when we encounter God’s Word.  It can happen by oneself, but more frequently happens in community, through others as we are challenged to examine our assumptions about the reality before us.  It happened to me while on a Peace Lutheran trip to Laurel Galan, Nicaragua.  That trip forever changed who I am.  So, I look forward to the reports of the group going to Lwamondo Parish in South Africa.  Maybe we could ask them on their return: “What experiences on this trip opened your heart to new realities?  How do you see the world differently now?  And, what will you do to share this?”

            God’s world is different from ours.   It’s a place where God reigns in peoples’ hearts… where peace and justice prevail… where people cooperate to bring blessings to all, including animals, plants and our earth…   But, we don’t need to travel to be challenged to accept God’s reality.  That happens every time we hear the Good News – when we read the Bible, attend worship, or engage in Sunday School or Adult Forum.  This year at Peace, Sunday School will begin on September 23, Homecoming Sunday, during worship.  The children will leave right after the children’s sermon and return  before Holy Communion.  Beginning September 30, the Adult Forum will meet  after worship and engage in a discussion of “Manna and Mercy.”  I hope you are able to take advantage of these opportunities to be challenged by God’s plan for our lives, our communities and our earth.

            May the presence of our Lord Jesus in our lives and in our midst open us to God’s plan for us… for Peace Lutheran… and, for our world! 

                        Blessings, Pastor Mary Ann


Office Note:  While Pr Steve is on Sabbatical, members of the Council have volunteered to help with the Good News.  Thanks to Jeanne Kaplan, for volunteering this week!

Reflection From Jeanne Kaplan,  Council Vice-president

   As we embrace the warm winds at the end of the summer and watch the leaves flutter to the ground marking the end of their life cycle, it is a logical time to take a mental inventory of the things that will sustain us in the months to come. Of course, fall nourishment from pumpkin, pear, and potatoes will be welcome on our tables, but as the sunlight in our day wanes and our outdoor activities slow, I am thinking of turning inside to take a spiritual inventory—is my spirit nourished?

  What things will sustain me on darker days? It takes almost superhuman mindfulness to leave superfluous tasks alone and trade them for sleep or quietude. When am I still and just breathing? When can I hold my posture and just be? Is there value in doing so, and how would I find that out?

  In Psalm 46:10, we are told, “Be still, and know that I am God.” This kernel of eternal wisdom, thousands of years old, is a command – and perhaps even more valuable than in the time of David, considering our stressors.

  At Peace Lutheran, we are blessed to have such a space to “be still” and many opportunities to do so. Through worship and meditation services, labyrinth and garden spaces to contemplate, counseling & educational groups, and even yoga & Tai Chi classes that allow us to still our minds into focus: we can find the space where we can truly grasp that God is in us and all around us. Let us count this as a blessing, and note the “happenings” listed below. Peace be with you!

From Yoga at Peace (

New class schedule for Fall:
Tuesdays: Level 1, 9:15-10:15 AM starting Tuesday, 9/18
Thursdays: Chair Yoga, 4:45-5:30 PM starting Thursday, 9/20


From Peace Counseling Center. The Counseling Center is starting several new groups:

              The Authenticity Group focuses on bringing your outer behavior in line with  your inner being.
              The Addictions Group focuses on the underlying causes of various addictions.
              The Couples Group focuses on relationships and marriage. 
              The Men’s Group and the Women’s Group  will focus on all issues, but especially those specific to men and women. 
              Contact the  Counseling  Center at 925-648-7003.
The Counseling Center is also interested in donations of unwanted Legos  for use in child therapy. 

The Church Council will have their September meeting next Tuesday Sept. 18 at 7 pm.

Beuster Church, Lwamondo Parish, SA— Building Gifts: our Delegation will carry a generous check to the Beuster Church Fire Fund.  Thanks to all who have contributed!  Elizabeth Hunter Ashley, her son, Jack O’Neil and Libby Flynn will be our delegation. They will be leaving for South Africa on the evening of Sept. 26 to renew and continue our friendship with Lwamondo Parish.

St. Francis Pet Blessing Festival on Oct. 7 from noon-3 pm.  Pastors Mary Ann and Margareta will be blessing pets.  Greg Grebe has lined up 13 exhibitors!  There will be hotdogs, cookies and soft drinks available for purchase. Let Charlene McPherson know if you can donate  a gift basket or service for the Silent Auction.  Invite your friends!

7 folks will be attending the retreat at San Damiano on Sept. 29 called  Engaging Spirituality—Live deeply, Love broadly” .  Thanks to Cindy Townsend for coordinating the registrations!

John Brett needs a car for commuting from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary to Peace for Sundays and other meetings.  Email John  [email protected]  or Teaching Parish Chair Cindy Townsend if you can help.

St. Joan of Arc (San Ramon) is presenting a 3-part series to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Vatican II starting this Tuesday Sept. 18 at  7PM with Fr. Tom Bonacci  from the Interfaith Peace Project.  See the flier on the kiosk in the Gathering Hall or talk to Linda Benatar  for more information.

Founders’ Day at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary on Wed., Sept. 26 at from 9-3 will have the theme “Bonhoeffer’s (and our) Postracial Blues“. You can register online Pre-registration fee is $20, which includes lunch.  John Brett is on the program committee!

Fall Jazz is coming to the San Ramon Valley!  “More Jazz at the Library” starts Sept. 21 at the San Ramon Library with our friend Clairdee. [Clairdee will be singing for Jazz @ Peace on March 3, 2013!]  Tickets can be purchased by mail or by ordering them at the San Ramon Library. More information online:

Jazz @ Peace has our 8th season opener on Oct. 14 at 5 pm with Gerry Grosz & the Jazz Kitchen.  We will have All Nite Soul–an expanded program from 5-7:30 pm–on Oct. 28 with the Fred Randolph Quintet. Some of his students will be joining him.  Jazz @ Peace performances are free and open to all.

HOMECOMING is Sept. 23 and Sunday School  during 9:30 worship will begin  that day. Sunday School will start with Children’s Time in the service (early in the service) followed by Activity Time in the classroom, which will last about 25 minutes. Later when the ‘Gifts are Brought Forward’ (after the Offering in our liturgy), the children will return to join their families for the Eucharist.  Sunday School Teachers:  We now have 4 teachers–and would like to have 4 more. There will be an Orientation and lesson plans.  Are you prepared to join this special group?  Contact Pat Leong or the Office if you are willing to help.

Pray for our country and our world– our students returning to class and our seniors as they deal with health issues and the loss of loved ones. 

From God Has A Dream

All over this magnificent world God calls us to extend His kingdom of shalom–peace and wholeness–of justice, of goodness, of compassion, of caring, of sharing, of laughter, of joy, and of reconciliation.  God is transfiguring the world right this very moment through us because God believes in us and because God loves us

             Bp. Desmond Tutu


Good News, 09-05-2012


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

          What a joy to find myself back at Peace Lutheran serving as your interim pastor while Pastor Steve is on sabbatical!  What a wonderful surprise!   During the fourteen years I served as a pastor of Our Saviour’s in Oxnard, I became very aware of the need for a sabbatical (time away) to renew, re-tool and re-energize.  Sometimes deadlines, pastoral care issues, and even exciting projects rolled toward me with relentless fury, leaving me depleted.  So, I hope that Pastor Steve uses this time away to rest; to be immersed in the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi; and to reconnect with the people of Lwamondo Parish in South Africa.  As it says in Isaiah 40:31,  …those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles…God willing, he will “soar” when he returns!

            All of us need rest and renewal!  It is my hope and prayer that Sunday morning worship will be our time for joy-filled spiritual renewal and deepening.  May the joys and sorrows, pains and problems we carry in our hearts encounter the healing presence of our Lord as we celebrate Word and Sacrament together.

            A word about me…  I am a born and raised Californian.  I grew up in Garden Grove when it was both a garden and a grove – actually played in orange groves.  Then, we moved to Long Beach for the rest of elementary and high school.  For college, I attended UCLA, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in bacteriology, and eventually taught medical microbiology.  After some years in middle-management at a hospital, I answered the call to ministry – graduated from PLTS, completed my internship at Peace Lutheran in Danville (more later), and served for almost 14 years at Our Saviour’s in Oxnard, CA.  When I retired, I moved to the Bay Area to be near family (sister, her husband, their six children and six grandchildren). In addition to faith-related activities, my interests include: walking/hiking with friends, gardening, playing my cello, eating chocolate, reading books of many kinds, and playing with my two cats.

            I look forward to getting acquainted with each of you and pray that our journey together will bear fruit for God’s Kingdom!

            Blessings, Pastor Mary Ann

Congratulations to Pr Mary Ann who will be installed as our Interim Pastor and John Brett who will be installed as our Teaching Parish Student Sunday!   Pr. Mary Ann will be at Peace on Sunday and Tuesday.

Reminder: The Office Hours  are Tuesday-Thursday, 9-5 pmNo one will be here on Monday and Friday.

9/11  reflection
There is no way to peace, peace is the way:  What if we began walking together—like the Pilgrimage Journey on the Labyrinth—to help people honor all the victims of 9/11 by walking and talking kindly with neighbors and strangers, in celebration of our common humanity and in defiance of fear, misunderstanding and hatred?  Wouldn’t it be great if 9/11 became a day for Christians, Muslims, Jews and everyone else to step over boundaries and walk kindly with ‘the other’ in the same way as Martin Luther King Day has become a day for community service?  It takes a little bit of hope and courage.  Step outside your door, greet a stranger or two you meet along the way… 


Beuster Church, Lwamondo Parish, SA— Building Gifts: our Delegation would like to take a gift to help defray costs for the rebuilding of the Beuster Church which was destroyed in a fire last year.  A large funding gap remains before the church can be finished.  If you would like to contribute, please make your check out to Peace and note “Beuster Church” on it.  Thanks to those who have already contributed! 

Pet Festival on Oct. 7  Noon to 3 pm— Fliers are ready to distribute for the Pet Festival after worship on Sunday.  Be thinking about a gift basket or service you might donate for the Silent Auction!

See Bill Carmel’s art at the BridgeHead Gallery in Alameda!  . To arrange a visit, call the sponsor, Chuck DiGuida, 510-523-3686 or talk to Bill. Directions on Facebook:

You can attend a San Damiano Retreat on Sept. 29, 9:30 am-4 pm:   “Engaging Spirituality—Live deeply, Love broadly”  to explore the intersection between Christian spirituality and social engagement.  Email Cindy Townsend [email protected] before Sept. 15 to sign up.

Long shot:  does anyone have a “spare car” which our Seminarian John Brett might use during this next year?  Contact John or Teaching Parish Chair Cindy Townsend if you think you could help.

Fr. Tom Bonacci  from the Interfaith Peace Project is presenting a 3-part series to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Vatican II on Tuesdays Sept. 18-Oct. 2 at  7PM at St. Joan of Arc (San Ramon).  St. Joan’s will be arranging more events during this year-long  commemoration.  See Linda Benatar for more information.

Founders’ Day on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary will have the theme “Bonhoeffer’s (and our) Postracial Blues“.  The program lasts from 8:30-3:00, with lunch included.  Register online
John Brett was on the program committee for this event!

HOMECOMING SUNDAY is Sept. 23 and Sunday School during 9:30 worship will begin that day.  Sunday School will start with Children’s Time in the service (early in the service) followed by Activity Time in the classroom, which last about 25 minutes.    The children will return when the “Gifts are Brought Forward’ (after the Offering) to join their families for the Eucharist.  Sunday School Teachers:  We now have 4 teachers–and would like to have 4 more.  There will be an Orientation and prepared lesson plans.  Are you willing to join this special group?  Contact Pat Leong or the Office if your are willing to help.

Please pray for Martha Mantei who is having surgery this week, grieving families, loved ones with serious illnesses, and all our children as they return to school.  Let’s also pray for Pr. Steve who left for Italy on Tuesday.

Blessings to All!