November. 2017
The Newsletter of the First Congregational Church of Webster Groves

(Click here to download a pdf version of this newsletter.)


What Can Faith and Renewal Bring?

As we work together with Christ, we urge you not to accept the grace of God in vain. For it is written, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2a)

Pastor Dave DenoonWe are coming up on the end of another year, and I love the way that we guide ourselves into it. The transition always begins in November.

The first Sunday in November we celebrate as a Day of Remembrance, honoring the memories and legacies of our members who have died in the last twelve months. Then, with the country we celebrate Thanksgiving, always led by our Student Minister. This year, that’s Kalaba Kapundu who is from another culture and another strand of Christianity.

The last Sunday of November, will be Reign of Christ Sunday, the final Sunday in our annual Christian calendar. This holy day is a great celebration of the Sovereignty of our Savior, for us and for the world. And this allows us to transition into the ritual preparation for his birth, through Advent in December.

As we remember and prepare, I know that we have all experienced a year very full of opportunities and reflection. We have imagined how to be “Renewing Our Mission.” For some there have been new ideas and curious concepts that have challenged world views and personal perspectives. But God is always inviting us into new ways of loving one another, so none of this was unexpected. Still, as we reflect, let us also consider: What renewal have you experienced, this year, thanks to your presence in this community of faith? Do you see new vistas for our mission, new paths down which the Holy Spirit is beckoning us? What will our faith community’s renewal bring?

I look forward to considering these things with you, on November 5 and 19, and December 5, when Minister Sonya Vann leads a Renewal Committee-sponsored event for just such discussion. “Now is the acceptable time,” Paul says to the Corinthians as they are consider directions for themselves and their community, “now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2b)

That last quote may seem a bit grandiose for us, or intimidating as we consider our small part in God’s plan, but let us not flinch or evade God’s call upon us. There is much faith to act upon, and much work to do.


Pastor Dave Denoon


Sunday, November 5, 9:55 am — Remembrance Sunday (Sunday after the Feast of All Saints). We honor the memories and legacies of members who have died in the last twelve months, as well as our own departed loved ones, with the lighting of candles and the sharing of communion.

Sunday, November 12, 9:55 am — Veterans Sunday. With music and a special message, as well as recognition of our current and past armed forces members, we celebrate the care of our church members for answering their country’s call to service.

Sunday, November 19, 9:55 am — Thanksgiving Sunday. Scripture readings feature the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), with a message by Pastor Dave Denoon entitled, “Hidden Talents,” in which he summons memories from his Africa trip that add new light for him to this familiar story.

Thursday, November 23, 10:30 am — Thanksgiving Day. Student Minister for Pastoral Studies Kalaba Kapundu leads worship in our annual celebration of Thanksgiving, preceding a feast with tables set in the Memorial Hall. Turkey and stuffing are provided; the rest is potluck. RSVP the church office – or (314) 962-0475, ext. 10

Sunday, November 29, 9:55 am — Reign of Christ Sunday; United Black Christians anniversary (UCC). Readings are from Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24 and Matthew 25:31-46, both of which offer a vision for a time when God will rule the world as our great Good Shepherd. Pastor Dave Denoon’s message of the day will offer a perspective on “Reigning/Raining Compassion.”


November, the month our minds often turn to what we are thankful for. Whenever I am asked what I am thankful for, many things come to mind of course, family, friends, shelter etc… This year with the very graphic images of loss as a result of the tragedies, those of us who have water, electricity food and warmth, can easily see our blessings. My thoughts also turn to my mother. My mother was blessed in many ways but fought anxiety, worry, and doubt by making an effort to “wake up with a grateful heart.” There were, I admit, many, many years when I thought this was pretty hokey, to say the least. But, as she faced the end of life, and dementia had taken so much of her life as we know it, it was the gratefulness that miraculously remained. The last words she was able to say were “Thank you.”

As we enter the last few months of our Year of Renewal, I am thankful for all the people who have come together to make it happen. I am thankful for the caring people that saw a need and urged us to the edge of our comfort zone and beyond.

My mother would be proud. More than idle thoughts of thankfulness, she was urged to action with and for those who were not so privileged. Please join me as we attempt to “act” urged on by our awareness of our blessings.

Linda Kopetti


Dr. Ray LandisJazz Noel!
The annual Jazz Noel concert will be held on Sunday, December 17 at 4:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. The program will feature original songs and fresh arrangements of familiar Christmas carols presented by the Oîkos Ensemble and a mass choir, including the First Church Chancel Choir. The music, narration and visual expression in the form of photographs by Phil Shoulberg will intermingle to create a vivid program bringing to life the essence of the Christmas story. Jazz Noel is part of First Church’s God Is Still Speaking – Come Listen! Artistic Series.

Music in Worship for November

November 5 – Remembrance Sunday will feature a stirring Gospel setting of “Do This In Remembrance of Me,” presented by the Chancel Choir and accompanied by Student Minister for Music, Erick Falconer!

November 12 – The Chancel Choir will sing a beautiful setting of the spiritual Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning!

November 19 – The Canterbury Bell Choir will ring Acclamation in G Minor, a festive original composition by Karen Thompson!

Our Choirs Always Welcome New Members!

Canterbury Bells: Thursdays at 6:15 p.m. in Sample Chapel– Open to high school youth and adults

Chancel Choir: Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. in the Music Room – Open to high school youth and adults

Unichords: Sundays at 11:15 a.m. in Sample Chapel – Open to all children in 3rd – 5th grades

Youth Choir: Sundays at 11:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary – Open to all youth in 6th – 8th grades


Tracey HarrisTeaching our children to say the words, Thank You, makes us stop and think about when we should use those words. Thanksgiving makes me happy because it is a reminder to take the time to say those important two words, Thank You!

I am thankful for God blessing me with a home, food, family and friends. I do, count all of you among my friends. I am also thankful that God has placed people in my life who are supportive of my seminary journey, especially, my husband Jim. To him and all of them, I say, Thank You!

These two small words carry a very important message. Is there someone in your life (maybe someone behind the scenes) whom you need to thank? Did you include God? What about in your daily encounters with people?

I challenge you all this month to give out many Thank Yous.

Thank you and Peace!
Tracey Harris, DCE


Cliff AerieDear Friends:

Many of you know me through the Oîkos Ensemble and as a member of the Music Committee. Recently, I have been invited by the pastor and the Executive Ministry to direct MICA (Ministry of Imagination, Creativity and the Arts) at First Church as a volunteer staff member.

I began MICA in 2005 as an outgrowth of my work with the God Is Still Speaking identity program as a staff member of the UCC National Setting in Cleveland. MICA was designed as an innovative ministry exploring new and creative ways to reach out to the un-churched—focusing on church revitalization and individual faith-formation through artistic expression, individual creativity and imaginative programming.

After leaving the UCC National Setting I moved to St. Louis and was invited to develop the MICA concept with the Missouri Mid-South Conference. As Artist in Residence I implemented a creative worship renewal program for eleven churches and produced annual Jazz Nativity concerts in St. Louis and Kansas City. In association with Kirkwood UCC I developed the “Worship Alive” initiative and created the “Inner Jazz” interfaith meditation series.

My ministry at First Church will focus on four areas: collaborating with the leadership staff in the planning and implementation of worship, programs and special events; occasionally sharing the music of the Oîkos Ensemble in worship; leading MICA Playshops (see the separate article); and producing Inner Jazz here at our church (more details will be forthcoming).

The church, Missouri Mid-South Conference and I have entered into a three-way covenant affirming MICA and my presence at First Church. I’m looking forward to developing creative possibilities for our ministry and mission and welcome your questions and participation in the days ahead.

Creative Blessings,

MICA will offer its first series of “Playshops” on Wednesday evenings, November 1, 8, 15 from 7:00 – 8:30 pm in the sanctuary. “Imagine That!” will be led by Rev. Cliff Aerie and is suitable for anyone, teenager to senior citizen.

Imagine That!
So, you need a catalyst, a creative spark, to jump-start your imaginative spirit that lies buried somewhere deep inside? Come and explore the roots of imagination, creativity and artistic expression within you. Our time together will offer an “oasis for the soul”—an opportunity to partake of some imaginative spiritual refreshment and rediscover the wellspring of your creative voice.

Participants are encouraged to attend all three playshops, but partial attendance is optional.

What is a Playshop?
There’s no sitting down, crossing legs and talking endlessly at a MICA Playshop. The playshop setting is a sacred, safe space that encourages folks to get up and become actively involved and immersed in a variety of creative explorations to nurture faith formation and imagination. Every MICA playshop is a creative toolkit of ideas, resources and possibilities for spiritual growth and renewal—a hands-on experience.


St. Andrews Resources for Seniors recently presented Rev. Dr. Jack Batten, a member of First Church along with other distinguished members from the St. Louis metropolitan area, with the Ageless, Remarkable Saint Louisan Award. St. Andrews honors those who have remained an active force through volunteerism, philanthropy and/or a continuing career to enhance the image of aging and older adults in our community.


Late Breaking News: We’ve gotten the go ahead on the UCC Habitat house! 

After a number of fits and starts this fall, the UCC group has finally gotten the OK to begin construction on the new home to be located on 5032 Ulena St 63116 (South St. Louis).  The footings are to be poured this week.  First Church will have a Saturday work day on either January 6, January 13, or February 6.

We ask workers to commit to a full day, 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. Although you’ll work hard, I think you will find this work very satisfying. You might even learn something!  Once we have a firm date, there will be a notice with further details in the weekly eNews and a sign-up sheet in the office.

Phil Shoulberg

Sponsored by YWCA
Hosted by Webster Groves Presbyterian Church and
First Congregational Church of Webster Groves UCC

Since 2011, the YWCA has been sponsoring groups as part of its mission to eliminate racism. Witnessing Whiteness (WW) groups are white people coming together to do work around racism in a supportive, non-threatening setting. It is about learning to speak about race & racism, and learning how to ally with sisters and brothers of color & with other white people. WW groups are designed for individuals who identify as white. The YWCA also sponsors groups for individuals who identify as people of color, which focus on healing & internalized racism.

Our commitment to being congregations of mutuality and to diversity and inclusivity requires our thoughtful engagement with one another and with our community in conversations like these.

Together and in a supportive and non-threatening environment, the study group will read the book by Shelly Tochluk entitled Witnessing Whiteness: The Need to Talk About Race and How to Do It (2nd edition). Through group discussions, participants will learn to speak about race and racism, explore white privilege, and discuss ways of being better allies with people of color. Previous groups have found this class to be a tremendous eye-opening and inspiring experience.

Witnessing Whiteness groups strive to:

  • Create spaces where individuals who identify and experience the world as white gain information, scholarship, and insight into creating a more just and equitable world;
  • Invite participants into a community of other white people committed to positive change in their lives, workplaces, and region;
  • Encourage advocacy, collaboration, and strategies for change and increased knowledge;
  • “Build knowledge, skills, capacities, and communities that support anti-racism practices” (Tochluk);
  • Understand and practice interrupting racism;
  • Practice skills to act as agents of change and sharing in the region.

The group will meet Thursdays for ten sessions (1/18, 1/25, 2/8, 2/22, 3/8, 3/22, 4/5, 4/19, 5/3 and 5/10) from 6:30pm-8:30pm at WGPC. It is open to the community. The only cost is the cost of book, which is available from Left Bank Books in St. Louis or on Amazon for $30-35. Space is limited to 25 and registration closes on 12/1/17. To find out more, go to or If you are interested in participating or have any questions, please contact Jenny Weihl at or Doug Miller at


Three new children’s books have been donated to the library. They are shelved on the library cart and taken most Sundays to Memorial Hall.

As a young black man in the segregated South of the 1920s, Wright was hungry to explore new worlds through books, but was forbidden from borrowing them from the library. This tells of his love of reading, and how his unwavering perseverance, along with the help of a co-worker, came together to make Richard’s dream a reality. An inspirational story for children of all backgrounds, Richard Wright and the Library Card shares a poignant
turning point in the life of a young man who became one of this country’s most brilliant writers, the author of Native Son and Black Boy. (Donated by Faye Dyer)

Enslaved African Americans longed for freedom, and that longing took many forms including music. Drawing on biblical imagery, slave songs expressed both the sorrow of life in bondage and offered a rallying cry for the spirit. Like a Bird: The Art of the American Slave Song brings together text, music, and illustrations by Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator Michele Wood to convey the rich meaning behind thirteen of these powerful songs. (Donated by Sonya Vann)

Little Book, Big Dreams: Maya Angelou, follows Maya, from her early traumatic childhood to her time as a singer, actress, civil rights campaigner and, eventually, one of America’s most beloved writers. This inspiring and informative little biography comes with extra facts about Maya’s life at the back. (Donated by Sonya Vann)

(If you have not yet made your pledge, please call the church office at 314-962-0475.)


BJ and Fred Kaul met at church during Coffee Hour in the late 1980s. They were married by Rev. Paul Davis on October 15, 1990. Phil Shoulberg was their photographer, and Tom Pearce the organist. After their wedding they rang our steeple bell to announce their nuptials.

Lynn Roush and Edward Hoganson were married, March 23,1991, by Paul Davis. After the ceremony they were driven from the church in a white 
Rolls-Royce Bentley to their wedding reception at Westborough Country Club.

Compiled by Kay Roush 2017



Eric Breitenbach 1st
Braeden Hood 2nd
Lynda Morrison 2nd
Becky Ruder 3rd
Paul Wentzien 4th
Ann Lauenstein 8th
Andrea Welnick 9th
Maria Lauenstein 10th
Carol McCoy 10th
Carrie Herrick 11th
Bill Moore 11th
Jan Ver Hagen 11th
Nina Thompson 12th
Charley Craig 13th
Joe Weyhrich 13th

Peter McHugh 11/15
Lili Calder 11/17
Jean Kohler 11/17
Emma Edwards 11/18
Rick Herrick 11/18
David Shoulberg 11/18
Carolyn Woodsmall 11/18
Jennifer Monaco 11/19
Ellie Paci 11/19
Mark Smith 11/22
Shirley Moore 11/23
Chris Von Weise 11/25
Kristy Barton 11/27
Pat Schutte 11/27


It is time to plan for the Christmas display in the display case opposite the elevators. This season I would like to feature Manger Scenes/Crèches on loan from our members and friends. If you can share yours, please contact Joan Musbach.

November Meal-A-Month

Canned Salmon or Tuna (in water)
Canned Spinach (no salt
Applesauce (in plastic, no sugar added)
Powdered Milk, Shelf Stable Milk, Soymilk
Toilet Paper