OF SAN FRANCISCO United Church of Christ
JUBILEE CELEBRATION -- REMEMBRANCES
The members of the First Congregational Church invite you to learn about our past with these remembrances.
Other Jubilee Celebration Pages:
150th Anniversary Service
Tribute to Our Ministers
Dr. William E. McCormack
It was during this period of time that contributions from members brought about the refurbishing and decorating of several rooms that were named for the contributors - hence the Geis Room given by George and Pearl Geis, the Dettner Room by Ernest Dettner, the Gilbert Room by Edna Gilbert, the Jackson Room by L.R. Jackson, the Nursery (now the Dadian Room), and the addition of Bradford Chapel, a gift given by Doris Sidebottom in memory of her parents, Wallace and Agnes Bradford. A Sunday evening service was held in the Chapel for several years, and many weddings were performed there. A new ceiling was added in Plymouth Hall, and the present flooring in the Hall was also laid. I remember seeing Dr. McCormack joining members of the church in installing this square by square. Coffee Hour Fellowship was held in Plymouth Hall at that time. Upon arrival in 1949 Dr. McCormack embarked on improvement in the sanctuary.
There were many active groups, and I first joined the Young Adult Fellowship. We had meetings Sunday evenings, social gatherings including dances in Plymouth Hall, some weekends in Tuolume, where a former member was teaching. There were often visitors at the Sunday meeting and program, and refreshments were served with a free will offering taken. On one occasion a visitor asked if he could write a check for the offering. The check was for $1.00, and would you believe the check bounced. A business Girl's Group was added, and other groups were the Fortnighters for seniors, 50/50 for young married, and the Men's Club. There were a number of active Circles - afternoon and evening. The Sewing Group each Wednesday and Mary Moore was at the helm for some of the time. Clothes were made at that time for needy children, and style shows were held prior to giving same.
Dr. W. Leonard Beck was Director of Music, and organist for 25 years, and directed the Messiah performance at our church for several years. Members of other church choirs, and a portion of the San Francisco Symphony joined our choir. The church was filled.
Dr. McCormack went on to a ministry in Pasadena, and then founded Skyline Community Church in the Oakland hills, and following his ministry there accepted interim ministries until his retirement in 1969. We were fortunate to have had Dr. "Mac". Dr. & Mrs. McCormack passed away in 1997.
Submitted by Marilyn Carlson
James Clark Brown had served as an aid in Congress and had many political contacts. While he was minister, several United States Senators spoke at the church. Among them were Senator Proxmire, Senator Mark Hatfield, and Senator Cranston. He was also recognized in San Francisco serving on the Mayor's Committee for the Aging. Mayor Alioto and Senator, then Mayor, Feinstein participated in our worship services. Mayor Feinstein declared "James Brown Day" when Jim Brown left our church for Carmel Valley.
Submitted by Ruth Hoy
James Clark Brown
We were blessed by have the Rev. James Clark Brown as Senior Minister from April 1966 to August 1980, and his dear wife LaVerna who entered into many activities and assisted with music.
Rev. Brown was born in Quinton, Oklahoma and grew up there during the
Great Depression. His many odd jobs included working at a radio station
and delivering newspapers. He graduated from Phillips University
in Enid, Oklahoma, and went on to Yale Divinity School where he won awards
for preaching excellence. He lent his strong ministerial voice to
the cause of civil rights during 50 years in the pulpit. He marched
with Martin Luther King in the 1960's, and later spoke out for gay rights
in the 60's and 70's. He also devoted time to bettering the lives
of the young and aged, and in the 1960's was a delegate to the White House
Conference on Refugees from Eastern Europe. He served churches in
New Haven, Connecticut, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC prior to coming
to San Francisco. During the 70's he worked with the Commission on
Aging in San Francisco, and helped establish the St. Francis Meal Program
for the elderly (they still gather in Plymouth Hall Monday through Friday).
He opened this church to many self-help groups and set up a Youth Coffeehouse
featuring music and comedy, where
Following his ministry here, Rev. Brown served as pastor of the Community Church of the Monterey Peninsula in Carmel Valley for 8 years, and moved to Santa Rosa in 1989. The Browns settled in Oakmont, but Jim Brown continued to preach serving as Interim Minister of churches in Stockton, San Rafael, and Hawaii, and Guest Minister at churches in Sonoma County and at our church.Among his many talents we the writing of poetry, some of which he eloquently shared in his sermons. Included is one of his many meaningful poems.
"Do your best to come before winter." St. Paul to Timothy, Second Letter 4:19. Awaiting execution as a prisoner of Nero's in Rome, Paul sends a poignant appeal to his most trusted human friend, his "Dear and faithful child in the Lord," to come to him before winter's storms make such journey impossible. We do not know if Timothy was able to fulfill Paul's request.
Come Before Winter
"Come before winter." are words old and wise
For life's voyage is brief, uncertain,
Ships meant to explore life's oceans,
Life's saddest sight is not the scene
No, life's saddest sight is of souls
Still move the seasons swiftly,
Rev. James Clark Brown
James Clark Brown: The Ministry We Have Shared Together
The First Congregational Church of San Francisco welcomed the Rev. James Clark Brown as its Senior Minister in April of 1966. We welcomed also his lovely wife, LaVerna, and their children, David Edmond (then 4 not 18) and Edith Louise (then 10 months old, not 15). Together as pastor and people we have sought to make the outreach of this church within the city and beyond a resource for more humane living. Our church facilities are perhaps the most used of any church in the city. The St. Francis Meal Service provides some 300 nutritious luncheons each day, Monday through Friday, to senior citizens, and an additional 60 meals are delivered to older persons confined within their rooms or apartments. Our church is a meeting place for the widest variety of groups meeting human need. Across the years it has included Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, rehabilitation groups for ex-prisoners, a counseling center staffed by the Pacific School of Religion - Berkeley, the Mustard Seed, a coffeehouse providing an alternative to the bars.
Our church has provided volunteers and vigorous financial support of the San Francisco Night Ministry, whose ministers walk the streets of our city each night from 10:00pm to 4:00am, meeting the widest range of human need. The Rev. Mr. Brown has given community leadership ecumenically within the Jewish Community Relations Council, The San Francisco Council of Churches, the Ecumenical Peace Council, and since November 1978, has served as President of the San Francisco Commission on the Aging.
The Rev. Mr. Brown suggested, some years ago, our church motto: "A Church With a Heart in the Heart of the City." Together, we have endeavored to justify that description of our ministry.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to "Brother Jim".
Source: Addenda For Members and Friends of the First Congregational Church - August 3, 1980
Submitted by Marilyn Carlson
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