FPCSA Choir Hits New York!

Armed Man performance at Carnegie Hall, Jan 18, 2016. Photo credit: DCINY

Having all returned safely from New York, we are basking in the memories we gained from singing at Carnegie Hall. And we are most grateful for our wonderful and generous congregation, without whose support we would not have been able to participate! We represented our part of the world very well – it was an amazing adventure!

We arrived in the Big Apple in relatively balmy weather and immediately began checking out the various restaurants, sites, and shops. Many of us stayed in midtown hotels, so we were within walking distance of Central Park. Being on West Coast time is a decided advantage in The City That Never Sleeps! Some of us went to the opera, some to a Broadway show, some to the New York Philharmonic, and some to a jazz club in the Village. Rehearsals were in Park Central Hotel for one long morning and one long afternoon. Composer Sir Karl Jenkins stopped by and there were autographs and photo ops. The rest of the time we were free to explore the city.

A reflective moment at the 911 Memorial

A reflective moment at the 911 Memorial

Many of us visited the 911 Memorial. It is very moving to look into the huge square holes in the fountains that sit where the World Trade Center towers once stood. A sacred place, where so many lives were lost. How fitting that we had come to NYC to sing of peace. And indeed, as many of you know who heard our May 9th performance of The Armed Man, the music is moving and the film heart-rending. I personally could not get the refrain out of mind as I gazed at the names on the memorial stone: “God shall wipe away all tears….”

A light dusting of snow covers Central Park

A light dusting of snow covers Central Park

Sunday morning, several worship services were attended: high church complete with incense at St. Thomas Episcopal with a heavenly Men’s and Boys’ choir, a rousing gospel choir at First Presbyterian, and the full Catholic experience at St. Patrick’s. All are on 5th Avenue.

On the eve of the concert, as it got colder outside and began to snow, 24 of us gathered at Marseille Restaurant on 9th & 44th for a lively group dinner. The French-Mediterranean fare was delicious, the company delightful! Many of us walked back to the hotel through always-brightly-lit Times Square. The next morning, Central Park was beautifully dusted with fresh snow.

Composer Sir Karl Jenkins and Conductor Jonathan Griffiths

Composer Sir Karl Jenkins and Conductor Jonathan Griffiths

On performance day, we had a “short” rehearsal with the orchestra, and the production crew showed us how to get on and off the stage. As there were almost 300 singers, this took a while. Small groups of singers were bustled into separate rooms, some of which were 4 or 5 stories higher than the stage level. Our queues snaked down the stairs and gradually we were able to get into place. Whatever organization of voice section had been no longer applied, yet we managed to all fit onto the stage. The full symphonic orchestra was fantastic! What an incredibly special experience to sing on this hallowed stage.

Gala Dinner. Dave Jones, Marita Mayer, with Linda Adams from FPCSR

Gala Dinner. Dave Jones, Marita Mayer, with Linda Adams from FPCSR

Aprés le concert, we attended a gala buffet banquet at Rosie O’Grady’s on 7th Ave. There was plenty of scrumptious food and an open bar. The Swiss and German groups serenaded us with a couple of traditional songs, but we all joined in on the Beach Boys’ Barbara Ann and Dona Nobis Pacem.

We are very proud to have been the only American choir to sing in The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace (the first part of the program included other American choirs doing other Jenkins’ compositions), and we are already talking of doing something similar again!


FPCSA Chancel Choir sings in Carnegie Hall!

Karl Jenkins concert 2015 promo pic

On January 18, 2016, the chancel choir with FPCSA Music Director Daniel Canosa will be singing with 16 other choirs from Spain, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France, England, Northern Ireland, and the United States to present Karl Jenkins’ Armed Man: A Mass for Peace.  The work is a contemporary mass based on a 15th-century French song (L’homme armé). We were invited by DCINY (Distinguished Concerts International of New York) to participate. Composer and maestro Jenkins will be in attendance. Rehearsals begin January 16th for the performance on Martin Luther King Day, January 18th. We are privileged indeed to participate and look forward to meeting other singers who share our love of this beautiful music! Look for photos of our trip to appear soon!

Youth Mission is AWAY!

NOLA Work Party 3

2 adults and 5 youth left this afternoon for a week of service at Project Homecoming in New Orleans, LA. We are so grateful for all of the support our communities and families have shown as we got ourselves ready for this adventure. We represent 3 churches and lots of love – we will share your love and support with the people we meet.

In case you’d like to imagine what we’re up to each day, here’s a basic schedule:
Sunday & Saturday are travel days.
Monday – Thursday work on a home from breakfast through the afternoon
Friday – work at a community garden (we’re gonna play in the dirt!)

Each night we’ll have something new to do like tour the areas devastated by hurricane Katrina (levies, 9th Ward, etc.), meet and talk with Katrina survivors, tour a bayou and learn about conservation, go to a museum on slavery, and, yes, play in the French Quarter!

If you signed up for emails, they’ll be coming soon. If not, do check back here for a mid-week update. We appreciate your prayers for a safe and fabulous trip learning and serving in New Orleans, LA!

Together We Serve!

Youth Mission Trip – New Orleans

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 3.47.55 PM

FPCSA Mission Trip

We will spend one week be working with Project Homecoming, a nonprofit devoted to helping the people of New Orleans rebuild from the devastating events surrounding Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We will be part of a large (80+) team of people from across the country coming together with the people of New Orleans to rebuild homes/neighborhoods. Check out this video and PH’s website. We will work with our hands rebuilding during the day and we’ll get a flavor of the people and creation (bayou tour!) of the Gulf coast.

When: Saturday, June 14 – Sunday, June 20, 2015
Where: New Orleans, LA
Who: High school youth who have already complete their first year of high school
What: rebuild the New Orleans community, build relationships & faith, have FUN
Cost: $1,000/person* (may decrease when we purchase tickets)

*This is a trip that we want our community to support. Thus, we will not ask our parents to cut a check for the entire amount. Rather we will ask our community to support us directly with a letter writing campaign, pancake breakfast, and a third option we need to plan (similar to last year’s “nail sale”). Yes, parents can support us, but it is important that we raise money ourselves.

We will meet regularly (every 3-4 weeks) throughout the spring to get to know one another, prepare ourselves for service, and serve together before we go.

I hope you will prayerfully consider being part of the mission team to build relationships, faith and help rebuild a community. Please contact me with any questions and concerns.

For more information, contact The Rev. Diana Bell, Associate Pastor
415-456-3713 OR

Together we SERVE

Pancakes for Youth Mission



This Sunday, February 22nd, worship will be a little shorter so that we can all enjoy a meal together! We’re celebrating in a “Fat Sunday” way with colorful decorations and pancakes to go around.

Proceeds will support our youth mission trips this summer. We are leading a trip to New Orleans and some of our youth will go back to Mexico. This breakfast will support all of the youth who are willing to do mission this summer.

Bring your appetite and celebrate youth, mission, and short stacks!

(Suggested donation $10/person, $25/family)


*image credit: Lara604 “Fluffy Pancake Recipe” CC 2010, Flickr

Mexico Mission


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Summer is upon us. For some this means the end of school and a much-deserved break. For some we are planning trips and vacations to be with loved ones or perhaps to venture forth to new destinations. For some, it’s a chance to catch our breath and enjoy walking around this beautiful area.

A few of us are preparing to go on the Mexico Mission Trip with Sleepy Hollow Presbyterian Church. (Follow us on the blog.) Thank you to everyone who’s helped us raise money and have offered us your warm wishes. We are truly blessed to have such a supportive community! Upon our return, perhaps this fall, I hope we’ll hear from Zach, Jennie, and Cheryl about our experience. For now, I’d like to share with you about a video we watched.

Which Way Home is a documentary that follows several migrant children as they try to make it to the United States via Mexico.1 The children face harrowing dangers and come face to face with situations I, as an adult, would prefer to avoid. I’m not sure which part saddened me most. Is it the poverty that leads children to thinking a 1,000+-mile journey by themselves is worth it? Is it the lack of hope and opportunity in their own families and communities? Is it knowing that America isn’t necessarily as ideal a place as these kids seem to think? Is it feeling absolutely helpless as I watch children jump on and off of trains?

This film was part of our pre-trip training. It gave us an opportunity to hear stories from children and youth and to begin to appreciate the complex situations of immigration and poverty. It put a human face on the poverty and migrant influx that leads to needing shelter…shelters like the ones we will be building in just a few weeks.

This video reminds me of a song I heard for the first time recently. It was the benediction response at the installation service for the new associate pastor at Westminster Presbyterian church, the Rev. Bethany Nelson. She said she learned this song at a camp growing up and, clearly made a difference in her life. Here are the lyrics:

“How Could Anyone” by Libby Roderick
How could anyone ever tell you
you are anything less than beautiful?
How could anyone ever tell you
you are less than whole?
How could anyone fail to notice
that your loving is a miracle?
How deeply you’re connected to my soul.

I’ve looked this music up on YouTube and recommend you do the same. It’s short, simple, and repeatable. The last two lines catch in my throat. It feels almost too vulnerable to sing them aloud. I’ve seen videos where this is sung as a lullaby. What a grace-filled turn of phrase to acknowledge a child’s love as miraculous. It is certainly true. How deeply I want to be connected to people whose faith can be so expressed. It is comfortable for me to sing this song and think of people I love easily. We Christians know that the next step is harder which is to try singing this with people we don’t like or don’t even know in mind. I would like the children riding the Mexican trains to know they are loved and that we are connected. It seems a small thing, for I cannot lift them out of poverty with a song. Perhaps it is I who will be changed in the singing and praying?

While we are swinging hammers in Mexico, our denomination will gather in Detroit, MI for the biennial, national gathering we call General Assembly. Many issues are taken up at GA, and it warms my heart that we have so many people from our congregation attending as advocates on numerous bills and issues. I know some people’s eyes glaze over at the mention of big, denominational politics, but here’s the thing: compassion and justice cannot happen without politics. We are deeply connected to the welfare of others. If we feel warm thoughts at the camp song, how can we then turn away when opportunities arise to make a difference in peoples’ actual lives? What a gift to be in a community of people who (tolerate if not) appreciate the need to act politically for the sake of love.

I hope that you will remember to hold the 57 participants of the Mexico Mission trip in your prayers. I hope you will also hold our denomination in your prayers as we all try to remember that we are deeply connected even when we are divided. And, whatever you do this summer and wherever you may go, may you feel God’s loving embrace surround you. If ever you doubt that you’re loved just the way you are, please start singing this song, and repeat.

Together we serve,

1Which Way Home can be found on Netflix streaming.
Image taken from the documentary.

Sleepy Hollow Mexico Mission Blog:  

Sunday Seminars with Church & Society’s Green Team

Robin's First Hello

Our Sunday Seminars take place at 11:30 am in the Fireside Room adjacent to the Sanctuary.  Everyone is welcome.

May 25:  We will be discussing global warming with guest speakers Deborah Silley from, and Constance Washburn about “Work to Reconnect.” Also speaking will be church members Peter Anderson and Dave Jones.

June 1: Zero Waste Marin will discuss easy household tips that can help you and your wallet. Zero Waste Marin is a county-wide program whose goal is to reduce waste and help our environment. Zero Waste Marin will  answer questions about which bins to use for which kind of waste, what to do with hazardous waste, and how to avoid and reduce household and food waste, among other things. FREE tote bags will be given away to participants.

June 8: Judy Pope, an accomplished public speaker and organizer for, the Sierra Club, and other non-profits, will be speaking about divestment from fossil fuels and other topics related to climate change.

June 29: Peter Joseph, M.D. will be addressing the urgent need for a carbon tax on all carbon based fuels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that we have a 15 year window during which we must dramatically end our dependence on carbon based fuels. A carbon tax is mandatory if we want to convert to sun and wind energy while we still have this window of opportunity to act.

Guy Noir and the Case of the Inconvenient Truth



Note:  This is the script for a sketch presented in our Holy Humor Sunday worship on April 27, 2014.  The theme of the service was Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it; the world, and those who live in it.”  Guy Noir, Private Eye, is a character from “A Prairie Home Companion,” Garrison Keillor’s PBS radio show. The introduction to this sketch – the opening scene at the park through the ringing of the phone – was adapted from an actual Guy Noir sketch broadcast on “A Prairie Home Companion” in April of 2009. The rest of the sketch is original material.

Announcer: A dark night in a suburb that knows how to keep its secrets, but in his office upstairs over Comfort’s, one man is still trying to find the answers to life’s persistent questions…..Guy Noir, Private Eye.

GN: It was a balmy day in April, a gorgeous spring day like you see only in gorgeous Marin County. The beautiful people of Marin were out and about, enjoying yet another perfect Marin spring day. They were bubbling over with the natural beauty of the weather, the scenery and themselves, and it was like San Anselmo had become a giant musical.

ALL SING: The sun’ll come out TOMORROW  Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow  We’ll have sun.

GN: People standing in Bouick Field, shoulder to shoulder, arms up in the air.

ALL SING: Honey, everything’s coming up roses ….

GN: In Memorial Park you had bicyclists, tricyclists, unicyclists, and even one man on one of those bicycles with the really big wheel in front and the really tiny wheel in back.


GN: … and inline skaters and people dancing on roller skates …


GN: …and runners and walkers …


GN: … and kids playing on the monkey bars …

[Childish voice: “Mom, look how high up I am!”  Mother’s voice: “Just a second, honey; I’m on Facebook.”]

GN: Amazing what a little photosynthesis can do. That’s when the phone rang.


GN: Yeah, Noir here.

Teen: Hello, Mr. Noir. I wonder if you could help me. I keep hearing about “climate change” and “global warming” and “carbon footprints,” but I just don’t know who to believe. Do I believe the scientists?

GN: The same people who gave us drones, nuclear bombs, and genetically engineered corn?

Teen: Exactly. Or do I believe the politicians? They seem more interested in staying in office than in the future of the planet.

GN: The same people who gave us national debt, work stoppages and campaign ads?

Teen: Exactly. I don’t know where to turn or who to listen to.

GN: You want to know who to believe?

Teen: Well, yeah. Who to believe, and what to do. I mean, what is the truth? Do you have time to help me with this, Mr. Noir?

GN: As it happened, I hadn’t had a job in over three weeks—Google has really done a number on the private eye business and my Chinese chicken salad supply was running low. So I headed down San Anselmo Avenue to see what I could find out.


GN: That’s when I saw the sign in the window. I knew I should start here.


GN: Sir, I couldn’t help but notice the “Global Warming Is Baloney” sign in your front window.

Denier: That’s right. Global warming is a sham, a fraud, a conspiracy!

GN: But 97% of the scientists …

Denier: (interrupting) Scientists? They’ve been corrupted by the environmentalists! I mean, if the planet’s heating up, how do you explain the Polar Vortex, huh? I have friends who work for Chevron and BP. Trust me: there’s nothing to worry about.

GN: So you aren’t worried about your carbon footprint?

Denier: I’m not any more concerned about my “carbon footprint” than I am about the abominable snowman’s footprint.

GN: … Or rising sea levels?

Denier: Hey, first people complain about a drought; then they complain there’s too much water? Make up your mind!

GN: But, just on the chance that the science is right, …

Denier: (interrupting) What? You mean go ahead and change MY LIFE, the way I LIVE, and then find out it’s a big hoax? And we’ve created a better world for no reason? No thank you. Now, excuse me; my Hummer is idling and I have to go put gas in it.


GN: Well, OK, then. I left the shop …


GN: … and I saw a young woman. Maybe someone who’s going to have to deal with the future of the planet might have different insights. (pause) Excuse me; I’m trying to find out the truth about climate change. Is that something that interests you?

Ignorer: Not in the least!

GN: You mean, you don’t believe the planet is getting warmer?

Ignorer: Oh, I believe it. You asked if I was interested in it. See, for me, it’s like riding a roller coaster.

GN: You mean it’s an exciting ride?

Ignorer: No, I mean I close my eyes because I’d rather not see what’s coming. Besides, so what? So it’s getting warmer. We’ll just adapt, you know what I mean? It could be worse than having to wear a bikini and flipflops all the time, right?

GN: Well, I guess it depends on who’s wearing the bikini.

Ignorer: Besides, people are doing stuff so it won’t happen.

GN: Which people would that be?

Ignorer: You know, the people who take care of that kind of stuff. They come up with ideas. Hey, I even had an idea! This is all about carbon dioxide, right? So if plants absorb carbon dioxide and cars emit carbon dioxide, why don’t we just attach a plant to the back of every car? Problem solved, right?

GN: Well, I’m no expert, but …


Ignorer: (interrupting) Hold on! Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber in one selfie? Now that’s interesting! Gotta tweet!

GN: She walked away staring at her cell phone and that’s when I saw a woman on a bicycle, wearing a helmet. And a lifejacket. Towing a kayak. This looked like someone who cared about her safety. I wondered if that extended to global warming. (pause) Pardon me, ma’am. I’m trying to figure out the truth about climate change.

Survivalist: The truth? Be afraid. Be very afraid.

GN: What do you mean?

Survivalist: I mean if you aren’t frightened out of your skull, you aren’t paying attention. This is the crisis of our lifetime. Of all our lifetimes. Of everybody’s lifetime! Ever!

GN: So, what are you planning to do?

Survivalist: Well, for starters, I’m moving to the Colorado Rockies tomorrow. I considered the Sierras but they’re too close to the Pacific Ocean. I figure Las Vegas will be beachfront property.

GN: So that explains the life jacket and the kayak.

Survivalist: That’s right. And I’ve already started building a temperature controlled underground shelter there.


GN: Like, a cave?

Survivalist: It’ll have a hydroponic greenhouse with grow lights and aquaculture, so I can grow all my own food; a bicycle powered generator; eventually a bio-dome. You know, the basics for survival in the new normal of global warming.

GN: Or, the zombie apocalypse. It sounds as though you’ve really thought this through.

Survivalist: You bet I have. And you should too. You need to get started on your own survival mechanisms. Otherwise you’re gonna fry like so much bacon on a griddle.


GN: Are you planning on living in this fortress alone?

Survivalist: Well, yes, for now, but I’m also working on a time machine, in case things get really bad in the 21st century. Maybe I’ll meet someone from another time; I’m thinking seriously about the mid-20th century. You know, when people had penicillin and dishwashers, but disco music hadn’t been invented yet? I was thinking maybe I’d look up Troy Donohue. [SIGH] Oh, Troy …

GN: Well, good luck with that. (pause) That’s when I pretended I saw someone I knew, and crossed the street. But in my haste to get away, I didn’t see the guy handing out fliers; I accidentally made eye contact, and he headed straight for me.

Church and Society Committee Member: Excuse me; we’re having a speaker series over at First Presbyterian Church.


C&S Committee Member: Could I give you a flyer?

GN: Hey, I don’t need any holy roller pamphlets, buddy … Wait a minute. This is about climate change. “Responding to Climate Change.” You might be just the person I’m looking for.

C&S Committee Member: What can I help you with?

GN: Well, it looks as though you believe there’s such a thing as global warming.

C&S Committee Member: That’s right.

GN: And you’re not ignoring it.

C&S Committee Member: Right again.

GN: You and this church – you’re not planning on going all survivalist, are you?

C&S Committee Member: Survivalist? I don’t know what you mean.

GN: Oh, never mind, then. How serious are you about this? What kind of car do you drive?

C&S Committee Member: (Pause.) I am from Marin, right?

GN: Oh, a Prius. Silly me.

C&S Committee Member: But the church is serious about climate change, too. We have the largest solar array of any church in Northern California.

GN: What’s that: the largest of 2?

C&S Committee Member: Well, maybe. But we’ve calculated our carbon footprint and we’re working on lowering it. Here, have one of our organic cotton canvas shopping bags.

GN: Well, thanks. This flyer says you’re holding a “Green Chautauqua.” Pretty big word, there. You Presbyterians use a lot of big words, do you?

C&S Committee Member: Why use one syllable when you can use four? A Chautauqua is just a chance to learn new ideas. Come check us out.

GN: These speakers: They’re people you trust?

C&S Committee Member: Yes; climate scientists, botanists, the president of the Sierra Club. We think they’re voices that people should hear.

GN: Could a kid go? I mean, a teenager?

C&S Committee Member: Of course.

GN: You know, this might just be a very convenient truth.


Announcer: A dark night in a suburb that knows how to keep its secrets, but scribbling ideas on the back of a napkin over a Chinese Chicken Salad, one man is still trying to find the answers to life’s persistent questions, Guy Noir, Private Eye –


CROP Walk is March 23rd

Ripening Tomato. Photo by Ginny Sanderson

The 18th annual Marin CROP Hunger Walk will take place on Sunday, March 23 at 1:30 PM.

First Presbyterian Church San Anselmo has participated in the CROP Hunger Walk for years, and was the winner of the perpetual trophy for raising the most money in pledges for the 2013 Walk with a team of walkers 70+ years old, our youth being at Westminster Woods that weekend. This year we hope to earn that honor again with an intergenerational team. The Church & Society Hunger Team and our youth will be recruiting walkers and pledges for this year’s walk. Details will be posted.

About CROP Hunger Walk
The Marin CROP Hunger Walk supports the work of these hunger-fighting agencies: Marin/San Francisco Food Bank, St. Vincent de Paul Society, The Marin Interfaith Street Chaplaincy, and Church World Service


Sunday Seminars in December and January

Be Still and Know

Our Sunday Seminars meet at 11:30 in the Fireside Room following coffee hour, Sunday mornings after worship.

December 1 – The Star of Bethlehem in Ancient Art and the New Testament
SFTS Associate Professor of New Testament Annette Weissenrieder explores the symbol of the star of Bethlehem and its political significance.

December 8 – A Solar Farm for Marin
Kiki LaPorta, president of Sustainable Marin, and David Haskell, Sierra Club member and staunch zero-waste proponent, describe efforts to install an array of solar panels, a “solar farm,” in Novato.

December 15 – World Human Rights Day: Preventing Torture
To observe Human Rights Day there will be a video and discussion on the
practice of torture of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and on the prolonged isolation
of prisoners in US prisons.

December 22-29 No Sunday Seminar (Christmas break)

January 5 Diana Bell and Loring Conant on Israel/Palestine
Loring Conant and Associate Pastor Diana Bell discuss their recent trips to Israel/Palestine.

January 12 – Schools Rule Marin: A Move Toward Funding Equity
Dr. Mary Jane Burke, the Marin County Superintendent of Schools, describes a new effort to address the inequality in funding among the 19 different school districts in Marin.

January 19 – Bill Taylor on Arete West
For 35 years, Bill Taylor has led a handful of Marin high school students on a life-changing trip to some of the most important historic sites in Western Civilization. Taylor, a former Presbyterian minister and “legendary Drake High track coach,” has written a book about the experience, with many insights about the human spirit.

January 26 – Diana Bell: Keep Hope Alive
Associate Pastor Diana Bell presents a more in-depth look at her experiences in Israel/Palestine with the Keep Hope Alive Project.