Pastor’s Blog

Friday, September 2, 2005

I just finished a meeting with builders and architects to discuss the last phases of the building project. You have probably already noticed that we are very near completion. In the next few weeks we will begin to see the last details to fall in place. I can’t begin to thank everyone who has made this project possible. Between donors and visionaries and craft-persons and those who clean up after them, it has been a faithful and amazing process. We look forward to celebrating the completion of the building on Sunday, October 23 at 4:00 p.m. with a special service where all those who worked on the building will be present. Please mark your calendars now and invite all those who have helped to come and celebrate on that day!


Coming up at Lake View:

  • September 4: Worship at 9:00 and 11:00 September 5: 4:00 p.m. Ice Cream Social to celebrate the upcoming wedding of Dale Heidebrecht and Christine Lynam
  • September 9: 7:00 p.m. Silent Auction (there are still tickets left-please come!
  • September 10: 9:30 a.m. Clean-up day at Lake View! The construction has left a fine residue of dust on most surfaces in the church. Come help us put things back to order. Many hands needed!
  • September 11: Worship at 9:00 and 11:00 Sunday School starts today for adults and children of all ages: 9:00 and 10:00 a.m.
  • September 22 & 29 New Members Class at 7:00 p.m. Tell your friends and those interested in membership about these dates!


Keep checking the website calendar for more events.


Katrina News: On Sunday we will have information available for ways you can contribute to hurricane relief through the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. I’ve been pleased to notice that the Tribune has been publishing the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance information in their list of ways to help. You can be confident that the money you send to PDA will go to people already trained to handle disaster relief. Please give as you can. On Sunday evening, September 11 at 7:00 there will be an interfaith prayer service for Katrina victims at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church at Belmont and Greenview. Please plan to join us for that community-wide time of prayer and remembrance.




Friday, July 22, 2005

So I got a call from the reporter yesterday saying that our story was bumped to next Friday….that would be July 29th! We’ll just have to wait.




Tuesday, July 19, 2005

If you drive by this week you may notice a crew of men dangling from the scaffolding. No, it isn’t Cirque Du Soleil, it is the beginning of the tear down of the scaffolding. This is good news. The south wall and basically all of the bell tower are completed! It will be good to be able to see the big picture, at least from the southeast vantage!


I don’t think I’ve written since the prayer shingles went up! Lindsay, Dale, George and I all got to put a few on the wall and it was a very special moment. The prayer shingles are on the south edge of the bell tower just around my office window. It’s a nice feeling to look out my window and know that I and the church are surrounded by prayers.


The rest of the work is moving along quickly as well. The curved shingles that had to be specially cut have arrived and they are being stained today the chocolate brown color that will add a contrast on the east face above the big stained glass windows.


Stained glass is back in the south wall-including the bathroom and kitchen! Check out the website for the latest pictures! From a fundraising perspective, we’ve made some progress. If you’re looking for the fundraising banner it’s now on the scaffolding on the north face of the building. We’ve raised $56,000+ toward our goal and we still have the Silent Auction event in September. Thanks to all those who have pledged to make this project possible. If you haven’t had a chance to contribute, of course, there’s still plenty of opportunity! Again, it is sometimes just stunning to think how many people are involved in this endeavor. $1,056,000! That’s amazing!


We’re looking for names of people you think might be interested in coming to the Silent Auction dinner on September 9. So please consider the contacts that you have who might be able to contribute in this way to the project and bring their names and contact information to the church or contact Lindsay at We’re also looking for items for donation. So if you have something (vacation home, tickets, new car, Hawaiian vacation, furs or diamonds—or anything valued at $50 or more!) to donate, call Lindsay too! Seriously, we thought a new car would be a nice draw for the auction so if you know Al Piemonte, please give him a call for us!


This Friday, July 22, we will be featured in the Metro Section of the Chicago Tribune! A reporter and photographer were here over the weekend and spoke with Jim Hall, Phelim, George and myself for a long time. The article will mainly focus on the historic aspect of our building. We also talked a long time about the history of Lake View Church so I hope that the church will be part of the article as well.


This Sunday we will have a group of D.Min. Students from Korea who are at McCormick visiting us in worship.


If you would still like to go camping (July 29-31) you can sign up this Sunday!


Dress for comfort on Sundays in this heat! I’m confident that God likes flip-flops! See you in church!




Friday, June 24, 2005

It is hot at the church today and the work continues. These guys who work outside all day in this heat are amazing! Nothing more to say than just that….the shingles are going up….our prayer shingles will be added on Tuesday, so if you didn’t get a chance to write a prayer for the church, you could do so this Sunday as well!


There is a lot of church news this week so I’ll get right to it!


Friday: We’re setting up for the rummage sale….come help if you can! The basement is actually cool!


Saturday: Rummage Sale will be from 9:00 to 5:00 p.m. We have an incredible collection of valuables/treasures! Come help or come shop, just come!


Potluck Supper and Movie Night: 6:30 p.m. in the back of the sanctuary….bring a dish to share and celebrate Pride Weekend! Stay for the movie “Common Ground”. Hope to see you there!


Sunday: Remember there is just one service at 10:00 a.m. You can park in the 5 rows closest to the alley fence of our regular parking lot.. There will be an antique car show in the rest of the parking lot. Cones will be up to help you know where you can park. Also, the bank parking lot is available.


Today is also the day that Tupperware orders are due!


At 11:30 a.m. walkers will leave the church to join the Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches to march in the Gay Pride Parade. If you can run a marathon, this should be easy. If you can’t run a marathon you can do it too! Join us for this important statement of faith. There will also be viewing at the church for the parade, but we will not access to the church yard this year. So, if you want to stake out sidewalk space, bring a lawn chair and a bottle of water.


The Rummage Sale will start back up at 12:00 until 4:00 p.m. If you are feeling angelic, why not be a volunteer at the end of the rummage sale? That is when we are going to need fresh energy and support. Often those clean-up hours fall to staff and the organizing volunteers and it’s always great to have some fresh enthusiastic energy at the end of a big event like the rummage sale!


Upcoming events:

  • July 9—come to see Cora VanderBroek in her play Dancing at Lughnasa. Great play. Great production. Sign up at the back of the sanctuary.
  • July 13—Protestants for the Common Good will host a tour of Bethel New Life Communities and speaker Jim Wallis will give an address.
  • July 29-31—Camping Weekend….want more information? Call the church office….
  • August 14—Laurie Empen will give a presentation following the 11:00 service about her recent trip to Palestine/Israel….potluck lunch


Friday, June 17, 2005

Hey So, the shingles have arrived! And to celebrate, George cooked out for the carpenters on Tuesday! This Sunday, please join us at both services where we will each write a prayer for our church on the back of the shingles. These shingles will be installed on the building and kept in trust for God and for some future generation to discover!


Since I last wrote, we have installed clear glass on the south side of the sanctuary. What an improvement from plywood! The stained glass will return after the frames have been finished inside. The installation of the windows was a study in diplomacy. The folks from the glass restoration company and the carpenters doing the exterior work had to really negotiate the solution to old frames, old openings, gaps and big chunks of out-of-square 116 year old carpentry..It was a success! Inside and out, tweaks were made to give us light and ventilation and beauty! And no one had to pull a weapon! Oh that the negotiations of conflict around the world could go so smoothly!


A similar round of negotiations happened this week around the detail on the roof of the steeple. For reasons that I still don’t completely understand, different contractors put the cedar shingles on the roof then on the walls. But it is the same shingle going everywhere. In the old photograph from which we draw on for design details there appears to be a band of shingles on the steeple that are different—we’ve been calling it a hat band. After much discussion, it was decided that these rows of shingles should have a piece cut off the bottom of them in order to create the design. But cutting off the bottom of the shingle at an angle opens up a bare spot of cedar, not stained. Cutting meant that someone would have to cut each shingle one by one and then stain each exposed edge, one by one. Whose job was that? All’s well that ends well. The jobs were distributed and the row of detail is in place. Next week they begin to create the spiral design that completes our very interesting steeple.


We are due to get lightening rods installed on the steeple and other parts of the building as well. I don’t really get lightening rods. As far as we know we’ve never been hit by lightening, but the insurance company really considers the lightening rod an essential piece of fire protection. One thing for sure, we are vigilant about fire protection in this project!


The shingles are going up in several places and we can finally begin to picture the overall look of the finished project! The parish house is being painted to match. It has needed painting for so long that this makes a huge impact on the Addison entrance area. All in all, the progress this week has been remarkable.


I give thanks for many things this week. I am thankful for the talented and gifted people who have the skills to help us with this project: architects, contractors & carpenters! Their combined wisdom and knowledge is reflected in the beauty being recovered in our building. I am thankful for George and his tireless presence. He walks the line between the church and the workers with grace and ease. I am thankful for Drago and his tireless tolerance with MESS! He cleans up the dust that drifts in from the project over and over and over..and never complains about it. I am thankful to the rest of the staff here (Dale, Sue, Deborah, Anita, Laura, and Cameron) for coping so well under the pressures a project this size inevitably has on our program life. I am thankful for the members of our congregation who keep up the work of not only raising funds, but keeping the rest of the church moving along as well.


Laurie Empen has returned from the Middle East. Anita has arrived safely in Baghdad. A notebook is being kept in the back of the sanctuary with e-mails that arrive every other day or so from Anita. Please keep her in your prayers and watch for updates.


Lindsay Lewis is starting next week as our year-long PASTORAL INTERN. She will have a small office area in the Mulford Room. Thanks to Doug Jensen for finding us a free desk! Thanks to Lindsay, Maggie and Dale who figured out how to put it together! Thanks to the children of the church who will share their space!


Next Sunday, June 26, we have just one service at 10:00 a.m. because of Pride Sunday. We hope that many of you will choose to walk with us in the parade. We have the opportunity to communicate to our neighborhood that at Lake View Church, we love to build: our building, our congregation and our commitment to the community that surrounds our church. If you want more information about activities during Pride Weekend, please check out the web site



Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Hey everyone. Rain means a quiet day at the church today! We so need the rain that it’s ok to have a break from hammering! Painters have arrived this week to do some priming of the trim. So don’t be surprised by the color….it isn’t the final coat, just a primer. Phelim is replacing the wood around the window frames in the south wall. I hope you take a close look this week to see the amazing workmanship that goes into this small piece of detail. First he has to dig out all the rotten wood without disturbing the interior trim and framing. Then he replaces each piece he takes out with fresh wood. That sounds easy, but think about an old building that has been settling at odd angles for 116 years. It isn’t just a matter of cutting a 2 x 4 and hammering it back in. Only an artist could make these fit so precisely. In the end, it may not be the most decorative piece of the building, but it is a detail worth noting. We are so fortunate to have Phelim’s gifts applied to our old building! I just realize that rain has NOT stopped them…..they are still working….


I don’t believe in ghosts, but I love the hymn “For All the Saints”


….. For all the saints who from their labors rest, Who Thou by faith before the world confessed, Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest. Alleluia! Alleluia!


Can a building be a statement of faith? Confessed before a changing neighborhood? Confessed before a world that seems bent on tearing down, not building? Confessed before a culture that would just as soon throw something away rather than bother to fix it? I am continually reminded as I watch this work that the original congregation may have not had much money, but they built the building to last! They may not have had many members, but they staked out this corner for the church and it held. We jump on this moving train called Lake View Church and ride through this phase in awe of those saints who from their labors rest and committed to their ideals….building a church that will last…..Of course its about more than just great lumber and amazing carpenters. What we do to build relationships and community and our passion for justice…..these are building projects equally important.


In the next couple of weeks, both Laurie Empen and Anita David are headed back to the Middle East. Laurie will be going back to Palestine with a CPT delegation. Anita is going back to Baghdad for a 3 month stay, now a member of the permanent staff of CPT.


It’s a small building, but the punch of our impact is big! It’s a small community of faith, but the punch of our witness is big! Our prayers for these two women will be felt across the ocean and our support will be stronger than the 100 year old beams that hold up our roof! Through them, perhaps a child will know a particular kindness. Through them, perhaps a mother will find relief. Through them, perhaps a dialogue can create possibilities for peace. We send them on their way amazed at their courage and committed to prayer support all the days they are gone. We are building a community of faith that is strong enough, with God’s help, to face anything! Thanks be to God!




Friday, April 29, 2005

As I write to you today, the last of the windows are coming out for restoration. The big window on the east side of the building, when uncovered this week, turns out to be magnificent! The layer of Lexan was hiding trim detail that hasn’t been seen in many years. This window has seen a lot of use, especially in the Mulford Room, where the windows open and close regularly! Phelim has his work cut out for him in restoring the sills and frames for these windows. There is a lot of rotten wood!


With the removal of this last window, it appears to me anyway, that we have crossed the line between destruction and re-construction. From this point forward, it’s all about re-construction….New wood, new glass, new paint, new siding….a fresh start for a very old, tired building!


Lindsay talked on Sunday about This Old House and the building of a spiritual house. It seems this task requires the same steps that our physical project has seen. Stripping away the rotten wood and layers of paint to reveal this beautiful piece of art hiding underneath and then helping that art shine! We are the art—God’s art, and our life’s work is about uncovering the layers we take on that block other’s view of the beauty with which we are each endowed! So, for what it’s worth, I say let’s all strip! (can a pastor say that?!?) And let the beauty dazzle all those who we meet!




Friday, April 22, 2005

So, the building has evolved again. This week yellow Dens glass was applied to a good deal of the steeple building and some of the side walls. Before they are finished the whole building will be covered with this material. It provides a layer of fireproof material needed to meet the code requirements for the shingles. From a distance, the church now looks yellow. So we’ve gone from dirty white to black soot to yellow… will come a layer of black paper….then finally red….transformation, slow, but sure.


The graceful arches at the top of the steeple that go in front of the louvers are back! They are not all in place, but the newly fabricated pieces add an elegant detail to the overall design. The artistry with which these were re-created is just amazing and it is good to see the new going back on. In the meantime, the folks from Valor Technologies are persistently removing lead paint (many layers) from the last of the trim work. While that’s happening, Michelle has designed some new banners for outside to let the neighborhood know about our project. As we wait for those to be produced by another set of hands, the musicians are practicing to ready themselves for Sunday’s concert and the next one May 15. So many hands are working, so many hands and brains are problem solving, so many hands and brains and hearts are holding the vision of the new building before them. It is a privilege to be working alongside all these hands!




Friday, April 8, 2005

If you’ve driven by the church, you know that activity has picked up considerably this week! The last of the white siding is gone, leaving in It’s place the old darkened shingles. It gives the church a kind of haunted, sinister look. So it is particularly providential that Spring has arrived to counterbalance the affect of the building in its current shape. However, real progress has been made. The shingle crisis has been solved and you will begin to see a lot of activity in the days and weeks ahead. I have to say that we have a dedicated set of people working on this project. Our contractor, the architects, Phelim and George, and our own committee have served us well! Bob Reynolds, our Executive Presbyter came this week to inspect the work. Check out the pictures of his visit on the website! The roofers have removed the roof over the Broadway porch. The steeple and this porch entryway will be the only roof surfaces to have the wood shingles. Please make sure you look in the sanctuary for the steeple cap, which was removed this week and brought indoors for our inspection. Once it is sent away for repairs and goes back on top, you will never again have the opportunity of seeing this up close. The detail and size will surprise you. The question was raised of why all the detail when it can’t be seen anyway? If the steeple on a church was supposed to reach right up(?) to God, then the detail may not have been meant for human eyes!


Today is the opening game for the Cubs! Maybe this will be the year……In the meantime, remember that parking can be scarce at the church on game days. Recycled Paper Greetings rents the lots on those days. We do have an arrangement once again with North Community Bank, just north of the church on Broadway for the dates of home Sunday games. Make sure you have your Lake View tag in your dashboard. They can be found in the rack in the Broadway entryway. For your convenience, I’ve listed the dates for you. Mark your calendars and allow time on those days to find parking OR walk to church on that day and save expensive gas! OR come to the 9:00 a.m. service where parking is never a problem! OR bike or roller blade and get your physical and spiritual exercise concurrently! (Don’t forget we have a shower in the basement!) Sunday Home Games: April 10, 24; May 8, 22, 29; June 12; July 3, 17, 31; August 14, 28; September 18, 25



Friday, April 1, 2005

There’s activity happening all around this week! Lots more scaffolding has gone up on the south and east yards. Our beautiful yard is filled to the brim with pipes and boards! Try hard to imagine next year’s yard when the exterior will be in place, new grass and plantings in bloom all around! Think spring 2006!

Next week, the abatement folks will come and begin the process of removing the rest of the white siding. So watch for the guys in white suits. They’ll be back. After the siding is gone, the repair work will begin. Around the windows, Phelim is removing rotten wood and replacing it with new sills and trim. On the roof of the steeple, some wood will be replaced as well. I’ve heard them say several times, though, how surprised they are at how “little” rotten wood they’ve discovered. So, even though the outside has been looking pretty ragged, underneath there is strength and substance. It’s not hard to make a connection there.

The life of faith makes it possible to take the blows and weather the storms that hit us on the outside because on the inside we draw on the strength and substance of our faith. Coming out of Holy Week, we are particularly attuned to the strength of the gospel message and its power to transform and sustain life! Keep watching….the church is being transformed along with us!

Big news: Viola Ann Swartout was born (7lbs. 4 oz. 20″) on Tuesday. She and her folks (Jim & Eileen) and her brothers (James and Thomas) are home and doing fine!

See you in church! Joy


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve written an update about the building. That’s because it’s been a long time since we’ve had some measurable progress. Between the cold and snow and a shingle hold up, things had kind of ground to a halt. But hope “springs” eternal, and this week some activity has resumed.

On Monday and Tuesday, Daprato Rigali came and took the bulk of the windows away to their shop to start restoration. Removing the windows gave new meaning to the expression a wing and a prayer. It is so good to have them safely removed and the work started toward renovation! Sometime in the next few weeks we are going to go to their workshop and take some video shots of the work so we can all be educated about exactly what will happen to them while they are away. Pictures of the glass going out are on the web site. You may remember that when the east windows in the sanctuary were restored during the sanctuary renovation, we used a company that was in Iowa. We have purposely chosen a local glass company this time so we could monitor their progress and observe some of the work. Think about the history of these windows!

As part of the fundraising drive, we have been contacting members of the church who moved away years ago. We received a letter a couple of weeks ago from a man who had spent 3 years living at the church as the church’s janitor. He remembered removing some of the broken stained glass and taking it on the street car to a shop for repair and then bringing it back and re-installing it. I am glad that our process has improved since those days.

There has been a delay on the shingles. As you may remember, each shingle must be fire-treated and then stained to the original color. We have discovered that there is some question about this two-step process and how it affects the rating of the shingles. I am confident that between Holabird and Root and our contractors, the solution will be discovered. We hope to have this resolved by next week and the shingles here in 3 or 4 weeks. Then the progress will move along quickly!

While the windows are gone, I would invite you to check out the local art that is being substituted in their place. As we might expect, the talent in our midst is vast!

Though work on the outside of the building has been slow, activity inside has been anything but! This year’s Lenten discussion has been fascinating and rich. I hope that you have been able to participate. As Holy Week approaches, we will rehearse once again the story of life and death and resurrection our scriptures present. May this season be a time of renewal for you.



Thursday, December 23, 2004

The building groans and creaks and life goes on within. The ceiling of the kitchen in the Parish House collapsed last week. (Video | Broadband | Dial-Up) We are so fortunate that no one was hurt. George was there when it happened and he and Phelim quickly secured it until we could get a crew here to address the problem. After the radiator was capped another group came and pulled the entire ceiling down. Any of you living in old homes with plaster walls can appreciate the chaos this created in our very busy, very used kitchen. The Lake View Academy Christmas dinner was prepared upstairs and food was taken up and down stairs all evening. There is something about a crisis that brings folks together….the student Christmas pageant was the best ever! and good attendance made it a lively evening.

The workers worked long hours through the weekend to have the kitchen back in order for the Golden Diners Holiday Party on Tuesday. Monday evening after they finished a wonderful group of church volunteers came in and cleaned everything in the kitchen, top to bottom, inside and out. The kitchen is as clean as it has been in a long time and with a new ceiling! Sometime in the spring, we’re going to be calling on you for a painting party in the kitchen. In the mean time, we’ll just prepare food there five days a week for our Seniors.

Today as I am writing an addition is going up outside to the scaffolding. A new system of stairs is being put in place so the roofers can get up and down more easily. The shingles/shakes, we understand have arrived in Indiana, where they are stacked on pallets eight feet high, waiting to be stained and shipped to Chicago. Apparently, the volume needed for our job is impressive and there will be some complicated storage logistics once they arrive!

The season of waiting is almost over….the building is a metaphor for all our hopes this year. We hope for a building that is secure, solid, safe…at peace. So, we hope for a world that is secure, solid, safe, and at peace. We hope for a building that adequately houses the mission and ministry of our church. So, we hope for a community of faithful people growing into a strong body who are empowered to provide for the poor and care for one another. We hope for a building where we can gather to celebrate the miracle of a baby born new…..So, we hope for a world ready to receive the miracle of light that shines in our all our darkest places. Our hope is not frivolous, but rests on the foundation of our most core beliefs. Come to the manger….come to the stable….come ready to be amazed….God is not finished…..there is more life to be had….and we are a part of it.

Christmas Eve Services at 7:00 p.m. Hope to see you there!


Merry Christmas!




Friday, December 10, 2004

It’s December 10 and 12 weeks have gone by since the beginning of the building project. If you read last week’s blog, you know that we are waiting for shingles to arrive. I heard today that the shingles are in route….on their way from Canada where they were cut and fireproofed….to Indiana where they will be stained….and then finally to Chicago where they will land on our building!

In the meantime, Phelim has been very busy this week! The trim for the wood arrived. This wood is very beautiful. I was feeling wistful about covering it up with paint. It has a reddish grain that runs through it and there are no knots in it anywhere! It is very dense and heavy. I doubt any of us have ever seen wood like this before because it comes all the way from Africa! It is African mahogany. Check out the pictures on the website. The wood has been cut into the shape of the original molding with a special blade made just for our project. When you come to church on Sunday you will be able to see it around the Broadway porch. It already has a layer of primer on it, so you’ll miss seeing the red grain. Phelim’s work has been to cut and piece and fit together this beautiful wood from Africa with the original wood that we think probably came from Wisconsin. Canada, Indiana, Africa and Wisconsin.

The international nature of this project is intriguing to think about. The hands that cut down trees in Canada and Africa….did they know they were building a church? The hands that dip the shingles in Indiana….will they know they are restoring a 100+ year old building and creating a solid, warm space for a growing congregation? The parts come from all over, but we are the common denominator. Our building brings the separate parts together and makes of them something beautiful.

It is a lot like our church right now. People come from all over and converge at the corner of Broadway and Addison. Some have been here a long time. Some will stay a long time. Some have just arrived. Some will only be here briefly. The common denominator is our fellowship together. Can we knit ourselves together and create something strong and durable? And can we do so as effectively as Phelim is joining together the wood? Not alone…..our fellowship draws people from all over and it is God who makes of us something beautiful.

This weekend you can participate in the building of our community in many ways. The More Light Task Force meets Saturday at 9:00 a.m. At 10:00, the sanctuary is being decorated for Christmas. At 5:30, dinner is being served at Lake View Shelter. On Sunday? Worship at 9:00 and 11:00. And after church, Anita David will offer a presentation about her time in Baghdad.

See you in church!



Friday, December 3, 2004

Lake View Friends: The carpenter says today they are out of supplies! So work stops until next week. Over the past two weeks, Phelim has been doing repairs and smaller jobs all in preparation for bringing the big arches back to place them in front of the louvers. Also, we are still waiting for the shingles to come. When they arrive, work will resume at a quicker pace.

There are some new pictures available. Check the website. Please notice the way our workers are bundled up, working even when it’s cold! For many of us, it should make us appreciate our desk jobs! It’s an easy link to make this week.

The building waits. We wait. It is Advent! How appropriate. It would be interesting if the shingles arrived in time for Christmas! I’m not sure I want to use a miracle up quite that way…I’d rather have peace in the Middle East! Still….hmmm…. I wonder how many of us at this time of year can also relate with the condition—-out of supplies. Depleted by work, busy schedules and expectations this time of year can make us feel empty! Will Advent culminate in a filling of our tanks? A fresh set of supplies with which to cope in today’s world?

Wait. Hope. Peace. Joy. Love. These are the words of our season and the words of our faith. Tomorrow is the Advent Retreat….we will ponder these beautiful texts which talk about transformation and the ability to draw on the resources of our faith in order to keep going…to find meaning in life…to move beyond going through the motions to a celebration of each breath, each moment, each day. To find light or supplies or shingles or even peace in the dark, we must know the One from which it comes. Let your list of chores wait… and join us at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow for worship, reflection and fellowship.

Take care….. Joy


Friday, November 19, 2004

I’m a week behind again, so there is a lot to catch up on. The louvers are in place. Insulation has been blown in to the walls of the steeple. I have convinced myself that there is already less draft. The new shingles have been ordered. They will go through a two-step process before they arrive. First they have to be dipped into a fire-retardant chemical. This is good! Next they will be dipped into the stain. In the next week a huge container will be placed in the yard to receive them when they arrive in a few weeks. They will be stored here while they wait their turn to be nailed into place.

One of the most interesting things that happened this week was the discovery in the walls of an odd collection of treasures. A clay pipe, a mason jar, a corked jar of mineral spirits, some old coin boxes used to collect money for foreign mission, and some newspapers from the denomination. They were found in the walls of the porch. It’s hard to determine how they got there. Perhaps they slipped down the walls from a closet in my office…though we could find no evidence of a hole big enough for these items to pass through. The mason jar is dated 1858. The newspapers date 1895. How often I have said: “if these old walls could talk!” This week they have. Check out the web site for pictures of the items.

I just opened my mail and have received a nice note from someone who lives in the neighborhood: It reads: Dear Rev. Strome, Every day I drive by your church on the way to work—it is such a delightful presence in our neighborhood. Please use this for nails or caulk or some part of the restoration. Enclosed was a check!

Random pieces of another interesting week of the building project. We make discoveries, we make new friends, we make progress.

· Some church news:

  • The 10:00 class tomorrow will have a discussion regarding the Presbyterian Church (USA) position on divestment in the Middle East. Richard Poethig will facilitate.
  • Don’t forget that the Affordable Housing Task Force has a page on the web site where you can sign up to receive action alerts regarding upcoming events. Check it out!
  • This Sunday afternoon there will be an Organ Concert. The associate organist from Fourth Presbyterian Church will play. The concert is sponsored by the Organ Historical Society.
  • Please remember in prayer: Cora VanderBroek’s father who has had a reoccurrence of skin cancer;
  • John Wilkinson’s family—Bonny’s father died this week.

See you in church!.


Friday, November 5, 2004

This week it’s all about perspective. If you look at the photos of the steeple you will notice that just below the roof are 8 archways that are filled with louvers. I wonder if their original purpose might have been to house a bell—one that was never hung we have surmised. The louvers would have allowed the tones of the bell to come through and sift out across the lake or into the neighborhood. From the ground level, they are a quaint detail….a piece of the plan that never saw fruition.

This week Phelim began the work of reconstructing the louvers in preparation for installation. First they are made of the most beautiful cedar wood—which smells the way you wish the inside of your closet would! But the most amazing thing is that when they are built down on the ground they are gigantic! Taller than I am, eight sets of louvers are sitting in the basement waiting their first coat of paint next week.

As always, I am impressed with the craftsmanship and care going into the project. The boards are cut at just the right angle with just the right edge, all measured to fit in just the right groove before they are screwed into place. There has been discussion about how to keep our friends the pigeons from taking up residence again in the new louvers.

I wonder if faith is something like these louvers. From a distance, it’s easy to imagine that our faith is just a decoration to an already full and crowded life. Up close, it takes on very different dimensions. From a distance, faith is just an add-on. Up close, it becomes the foundation where all of life rests.

Make sure you don’t miss the congregational meeting and dinner on November 14th at 12:30. We’ve created a video where you can meet all the people involved in the building project. Good food, a great program, and the opportunity to celebrate the very big parts of our life together at Lake View!

See you in church!


Friday, October 29, 2004

Well, I missed a week because of scurrying around to get ready for the Young Adult’s retreat. But the work continued. Progress was made. The building has been stripped to its underwear, so to speak, and the carpenters have covered her back up with blue tarpaulins to protect from the weather while new supplies are ordered. The wood that provides the underlayment for the shingles is still there, in good shape for the most part and we discover places where carpenters used it to work out a math problem or to calculate a length or square footage. The numbers are just to the left of the door on the Broadway entry if you’d like to see them. Again, they give us a contact with a real person, who made intricate “2’s” and who connects us with our ancestors in the faith whose vision for a church in Lake View came to pass in 1888.

The arches at the top of the tower have all been removed. Underneath, the structure that keeps the tower upright is exposed. Look now at the pictures, or from across the street (you almost have to be at the southeast corner of the intersection, to be able to see the whole view). In a few weeks, it will be covered up and it will probably be another 100 years before you can see inside the guts of the steeple. This wood is massive…8” x 12” Phelim (sorry about misspelling your name, Phelim) tells me…. intricately put together to form the foundation for the rest.

During Week Four we had a visit from former pastor John Magill. He was a pastor at Lake View in the 40s when the church paid off their original mortgage. He told me about one member who gave $500 to start the campaign to complete the $6000 they owed. That $500 gift made a big difference to the campaign. When Magill heard about our project, he was one of the first to send us a $500 check….he told us that he hoped his $500 check would have the same impact on our fundraising efforts in 2004. Amazing.

Week Five began with a discovery on the east side of the wing that houses the bathroom and little kitchen. When the siding was pulled away, the water damage was extensive. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever eaten Shredded Wheat….I don’t care for it, but I remember watching others take the big Shredded Wheat biscuits and “shred” them up further in their bowl before pouring the milk….if you ever seen that happen, you know what they discovered under the surface of this section of the church. Come to the congregational meeting on the 14th of November and we have some video of me shredding the wood. Apparently the gutters have been backing up in that corner for a really long time. Water, that wonderful source of all life, can also do a lot of damage!

I asked Phelim if this was kind of depressing to discover. He shrugged and said…”No, it’s work!” So they have begun to do the repairs. What I am struck with today is how they do that. There are studs in the wall—very thick again—-that are in terrible shape. Right next to them is a fresh piece of lumber—looking all clean and strong. The old isn’t taken out, even though it is shredding…The new just stands next to it to restore the strength and integrity to the wall….to bear the load the original wood has faithfully been doing all these years.

Well, that’s an easy illustration for today. We lost Vicki Green last week…a long time friend and supporter of our church and a fixture in the neighborhood….her obituary rightly says: she never met a stranger! In the same week, Amaya Reyes was born to Brandon and Jessica. (this is the beginning of the granddaughters I referred to last time). My time with Young Adults last weekend would testify that there are many young people who are capable of bearing loads in our midst….

And the beat goes on……shredded or steady….old next to young….life pulsing and straining to stand up tall. See you in church!

P.S. A paper copy of blog and pictures is available in the back of the sanctuary. Tell your non-e-mail friends about it. I don’t want anyone to miss all this fun!


Friday, October 15, 2004

A lot happened this week. The abatement is complete. This means that all the wood trim that could be saved has been stripped of its lead paint. An assessment was made about the condition of the tower, especially the 8 arches that are near the top. They are, to put it simply, in terrible shape. They are curved wood and they have seen years of weather and wear and most of it will need to be replaced. You may not know this little bit of trivia, but in a bad storm if it is windy, you can feel the steeply move a bit. If there is a glass of water on my desk, I can watch the water lap back and forth. So if weather can be felt inside, imagine the impact outside! 116 years of weather pelting away at the wood always makes me marvel that it’s even still standing.

Phelum is the name of the man who is the lead carpenter who will do much of the restoration of wood detail and oversee the work of putting the tower back together. He reminds me very much of Bryan Saner, the carpenter who worked on our sanctuary and who used to teach in the Academy. Both have a sort of holy reverence for old carpentry and it was moving to watch Phelum be caught in the spirit and mystery of our old building. If you looked out the window you could often catch Phelum just gazing at the building. Was he pondering how to do the fix? Or was he imagining the carpenter who drove the nails and shaped the wood and created the building in 1888? Either way I can tell that he is excited to be associated with this job.

George brought me some of the old square nails that were used to put the shingles in place. They were hand made and there must be hundreds of thousands of them holding the shingles up. Late in the week, another crew came in to begin removing the original shingles. Layer by layer, the steeple is being peeled like a huge banana! What is left to discover?

This week I am struck with how newness comes in all sorts of forms. There is some irony in the beauty of this very, very old building being restored so that a very, very new congregation can continue to minister and worship here. Eight new people will join the church on Sunday. They step on a moving train of ministry that stretches back in time and is whizzing toward the future at lightening speed. My hope is that we all can be as flexible and resilient as the steeple—that we can be pelted by newness and bounce back stronger than ever. My hope is that we can take our cue from the carpenters and have a holy reverence for a spiritual home that is well-built. My hope is that we can honor our ancestors in the faith by our preservation of the building, but also honor the vision they had for a people gathered at this corner to serve a steadfast God. Stay tuned….and see you in church!


Friday, October 8, 2004

I hope you have a chance to look at the pictures for this week on the web site or to take some time Sunday to study the progress of the building. This week, men in white suits came to take away the asbestos siding on the steeple and front porch areas. The precautions made to insure that no one was hurt by the removal were impressive. Lisa came to monitor their work and she put a little air pump on one of the men working and in various places around the building including the Mulford Room to check the air for hazardous levels of asbestos. All went very well and as she said….outdoor projects are never really a problem….still it was good to have her here monitoring their progress.

What has struck me this week is the building that has been resting comfortably underneath the white siding since 1936. For 68 years, this other building waited and now uncovered it is an amazing site to behold. There is a design and elegance to the original building that none of us has ever seen. Make sure you look at the detail of the shingles on the face of the east side of the building above the largest stained glass window. Another nice detail is present above the arched entry way on the Broadway porch. And then on the south side, in the corner where the steeple meets the rest of the building there is a patch of deterioration that helps us understand the decision to cover it all up.

As people of faith, I wonder if the building can’t offer some insight for us all. Don’t we, too, often hide the beautiful parts of ourselves, holding back the best we have to offer for fear of appearing immodest? Don’t we, too, often cover up the places where are lives are shattered and falling apart for fear of appearing weak and unstable? While I don’t expect we want men in white suits to come and strip away all our attempts at cover ups, I do think that the church should be a place where we can come clean….where the toxicity of life can be stripped away and the essence of our natural giftedness exposed…where we can let down and be seen in the midst of our struggles and failures.

The building stands exposed and the stir in the neighborhood is palpable. Who knew it was there? You aren’t tearing it down are you? What a marvelous building! We’re so glad you’re doing this!

The church stands, too, as a place where we can with confidence be seen for who we are—children of God, gifted and flawed, marvelous creations of the One who does not design junk….

Take a look this weekend. By next week it will be gone. Joy


Friday, October 1, 2004

Blog—not sure where that word came from, but it’s a fun word to say and write….here goes….

We’re two weeks into the start of the building project. I am going to try to write an update from time to time to keep everyone informed about the progress. Last week and for four days this week, a crew came just to erect scaffolding. You may think that is a simple task. Not so. A special architect had to be hired to design the scaffolding so that it would not damage the building. Since I have had visions of the steeple laying on its side going down Broadway, this is a comforting thought to know that professionals are involved. Personally, it gives me a bit of vertigo to look up at the scaffolding. It seems quite high and I am impressed with the way the men casually climbed around at those heights. Today, Brent Humecki, a paint analysis specialist is taking paint samples from all around the building to determine the original colors. After he gives us a report, we’ll make a decision about colors, both of the stain of the shingles and the trims. Some places around the building have 12 layers of paint….after 116 years, I guess that is to be expected. We will have some samples in the sanctuary for review as soon as we get his report. It appears as if the church was painted at least once before the white siding was put on in 1936. Again, its good to have professionals involved to help us re-capture John Wellborn Root’s original vision. Did you know that when the sanctuary was enlarged in 1895 that parts of the original structure were encapsulated by the new sanctuary roof? So one of the places that all the historians like to look is up in the attic where an original gable still sits in its original condition. George took some pictures today with a bright light up there and we will try to post them on the web site. Next week, the folks from Valor Technologies will come to begin the abatement of the siding. If you drive by the church and see workers in suits, don’t be alarmed. They have assured me that the whole process is quite safe and that our shingles are the easiest to remove because they won’t fall apart as they are taken off. Another company, Bain, will be here all week to monitor their work, check air samples from time to time, and make sure that everything is done according to the standards for removing hazardous waste. All decently and in order, and we Presbyterians like that! By this time next week, we should have a look at the original steeple.

I try to picture the church when it was first built. The steeple would have been the highest structure around at that time. Pictures of the area make it appear quite scenic with rolling hills and a lot of trees. Modern day analysts have speculated that the role of the church changed in society when they were no longer the tallest building in a community. I guess that puts some extra pressure on what happens inside. We stand out in our community these days, not because of our physical presence, but because of our spiritual presence. As interest is drawn to our physical church home, it seems like a good opportunity to share with folks all that goes on inside on any given week. The Academy students all took field trips this week. The seniors went to Wisconsin. The others went on a field trip to the Bahai Temple. Lindsay Lewis, our new intern, began her work with the Senior Site and has already made an impact there. Mexican Train Dominoes is the game of choice with our seniors after lunch these days. Sue Cox, our parish nurse, went to St. Louis for a conference. Life inside goes on….

Our church was featured in the October issue of Presbyterians Today, a publication of the denomination. They did a story on churches who are growing in the denomination. I think it was a positive article, though I’m sure we’ve never sung any “Madonna” songs! If you want to read it, you can find it online at the denomination’s website: Just follow the links to resources and publications and then to Presbyterians Today. Let me know what you think!

Sunday at the 11:00 service Kiera Juliet Gettings will be baptized. Next week a new members class begins on Thursday. Tonight, at 7:30 p.m. is our monthly Taize worship service. . Please come and start your weekend with meditation and song…. See you in church! Joy