Week 43 January 3rd, 2021

Dear Church,

Attached you will find our first worship experience of 2021. Happy New Year!
This week is a study week for me. I will spend most of each day in digital classes for the Next Generation Leadership Initiative. Because of this, in lieu of a spoken sermon you will find a lengthy message to all of you that I wrote reflecting on the new year.

Next week our worship theme will center on things that are “unfinished” by taking a look at some famously unfinished pieces of art. Our musical offerings will also center around this theme of “unfinishedness.” Must something be “finished” to be good and holy?

Then on January 17 I will debut our new video format for our worship. I have been working at learning how to manage a YouTube channel so that we can produce content that others will stumble upon so that our reach and our circle can grow ever wider. It has been fun to learn and I am excited to share this new medium with you.

You all continue to be in my prayers. Stay well, safe, and healthy.

With grace,

Rev. Tim


A Message for 2021



Performance Notes – Jan 3, 2021



Week 44 January 10th, 2021

Dear Church,

As promised, today we take a look at the meaning of things “unfinished.” Unfinished works of art can shed light on important events and sometimes deep truths. I hope that you all might be inspired by something “unfinished” in your life, perhaps you might even see it in a new and more sacred light. Nina has also selected music for us which also takes up this theme “unfinishedness.”

Next week I will debut my new YouTube channel with all of you. This has been quite the learning curve for me, but also something that has been fun. It is a challenge to find new ways of widening our circle and expanding our message.

I hope you will enjoy the new adventures which lie ahead.

With grace,

Rev. Tim


AT HOME WORSHIP 44 Unfinished






Week 45 January 17th, 2021

Dear Church,

Here we go! This week we are moving into something a bit different. This video is an experiment in a new thing! It was the first time I produced such a product and I hope it serves as a good introduction to this new medium.

Below you will find the link to the YouTube video. Click on it to view it. You will receive a separate email from Bronwyn that includes all of this week’s musical components. Why are we doing this? So that you have more to open and you can spread this out across the week and come back to it over and over if you like.

YouTube opens our congregation to the wider world. I posted this video a week ago to make sure that it functioned properly and it already has several views from outside our congregation.

The blessing of these pandemic times is that our church can reach out beyond our walls to a world in need of our witness and our message. This first video will help anchor the channel and provide an orientation to anyone who comes along and wants to know who we are. Most of you already know me and our church, so this will be a chance for you to enjoy this new visual experience.

In the coming weeks look out for mini-sermons or reflections, prayers, and some teaching about church basics. Nina and Bronwyn will be continuing to offer us music, and Nina will be introducing us to some basic concepts of the music we are accustomed to hearing in church. All of this is information that I think both our congregation and the wider world could benefit from hearing about.

At last, here is the link. Click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKa3IFUGojY

With grace,

Rev. Tim


Dear Church!

We’re starting a new format for our weekly at-home worship kits. You’ll get a separate email from Rev. Tim with his message. This week you’re also getting two music emails—this one with three performance audio files attached, plus a second email with a short “music note” talk attached.

We hope you enjoy this new format!


Nina and Bronwyn

PERFORMANCE NOTE – January 17, 2021
Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, office manager and soprano
Nina Gilbert, music director and pianist

Georg Philipp Telemann, Now Thank We All Our God
Two chorale preludes based on the same hymn tune. Hugely prolific, Telemann (1681-1767) wrote about 500 chorale harmonizations. His works are literally countless, because many are lost and some are falsely attributed.

I Need Thee Every Hour
Verses by Annie Sherwood Hawks, refrain and music by Robert Lowry, 1872
A prolific poet, Hawks (1838-1918) was encouraged by her pastor and friend—and composer—Robert Lowry (1826-1899) to write hymns. While this is the only Hawks text in our hymnal, Lowry is also represented by Shall We Gather at the River and How Can I Keep from Singing.

Julia Amanda Perry and Frederic Chopin, Preludes in C minor
Two unrelated pieces with similar structure. Listen to the audio file in today’s second email to learn about Prelude form!
Prelude for Piano (1946) is Perry (1924-1979)’s only known solo piano piece, composed while studying at Westminster Choir College in New Jersey. She also studied composition at Juilliard and Tanglewood, and won two Guggenheim Fellowships to study with composer Luigi Dallapiccola in Florence and legendary teacher Nadia Boulanger in Paris. Her works include twelve symphonies, three concertos, other instrumental works, and choral and vocal works including early songs based on spirituals, a piece called Song of Our Savior for the Hampton Institute Choir, and several operas.
Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) wrote twenty-four preludes covering all major and minor keys.



Here is a learn-to-listen Music Note:

All of Nina’s piano solos this week are Preludes. The link below is to an audio Music Note that explores the concept of what a prelude is.


Nina and Bronwyn





Week 46 January 24th, 2021

Dear Church,

Here is the second video worship product! I am trying to get better at this. I think I am succeeding (at least a little bit). Click the link below:

Also, you are all invited to a celebration of life for Jerry Allen, our beloved member of CCLJ and father of Bronwyn. This will take place via Zoom Saturday, January 30, at 1 PM Pacific. I will send a Zoom link this coming week.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

Dear Church!

Here is your music for Week 46 of At Home Worship: three solos, plus a four-minute (!) talk about the music.


Nina and Bronwyn

PERFORMANCE NOTE – January 24, 2021
Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, office manager and soprano
Nina Gilbert, music director and pianist

Johann Sebastian Bach, In dulci jubilo, BWV 729
Following up on last week’s introduction to preludes, this is Bach (1685-1750)’s setting of “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice.”

The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want + The Lord’s Prayer
Words from the Scottish Psalter, 1650 (plus the Lord’s Prayer)
Music by Jessie Seymour Irvie, 1872 (plus improvised interlude)

Stefans Grové, “Lamenting Birds,” from Images from Africa, 1999
Grové (1922-2014) was the first white South African composer to incorporate African themes in his music. He was also the first South African to earn a Fulbright Scholarship, which he used to earn a master’s degree at Harvard (1953-55). He also studied with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood.



Here is a learn-to-listen Music Note:





Week 47 January 30th, 2021 In Memory of Jerry Leonard Allen

Dear Church,

This week our at home worship is a bit different. Nina and I filled our week with preparing a memorial service for Jerry Allen. This was quite an interesting task. It is the first virtual memorial our church has done and the first of this sort of thing that I have designed.

In case you missed it, I have posted it to YouTube. All of the music is contained within this video. All you need to do is click the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhNQRBma_pI

Continued prayers for all of you. Next week we will take up the question of “what is a Congregationalist?” just in time for. our virtual annual meeting where we will vote by mail to approve our 2021 operating budget. A lot to look forward to, indeed!

Continued prayers for health and safety,

With grace,

Rev. Tim



Week 48 February 7th, 2021 Presentation of Jesus

Dear Church,
Here is this week’s worship vlog along with a reflection on the Presentation of Jesus. This coming week we will talk about how we will do our annual meeting this year and we will send out our 2021 operating budget for your review and approval.
To view this week’s message please click this link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUY_YNX3x7E
You all continue to be in my prayers.
With grace,
Rev. Tim



Dear Church!

Here is your multi-media musical adventure to go with this week’s worship kit!

What makes it multi-media? Well, it has two audio music files attached, one video link, plus an audio talking file that asks you to participate and a PDF that explains that participation.

More about the PDF: remember the music mash-up projects we did in the fall? One with hymns, and one with Christmas carols, the latter with guest appearances by dogs? We’re in the process of inventing another one.

Eventually it will involve a song, but so far we want to collect sounds. Namely, the sounds of your home. You can hear some examples on the Music Note Talk audio file, and the PDF explains how to record and send sounds on your phone.

Please think about the sounds you hear—or the sounds you can make—at home, and get creative! Does something squeak or beep or ring or whistle or bark? Can you tap or strum or drop things to make interesting sounds?

The PDF includes NIna’s email address and instructions how to send your sounds.

Please enjoy the adventure! And let Nina know if you have questions about it.


Nina and Bronwyn


PERFORMANCE NOTE – February 7, 2021

Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, office manager and soprano
Nina Gilbert, music director and pianist

Ludwig van Beethoven, Adagio cantabile, from Sonata in C minor, Op. 13
Our piano choices this week are inspired by the news of Salisbury Cathedral and other vaccine venues where church organists and other local artists are providing a musical environment to accompany the occasion. I’ve seen mention of familiar hymns, smooth classics, fairground tunes, and nostalgic jazz.

Precious Lord, Take My Hand
Words by Thomas A. Dorsey, 1938
Music by George N. Allen, 1844, adapted by Thomas A. Dorsey, 1938


Bronwyn tells us:
This is one of two memorial videos I made in honor of my father’s passing. It was in the wrong format to share during the memorial and we also had a lot of content that was more comforting. It was more appropriate to save this for later but I had a request for it to be shared so I am sharing it this week. Blessings!

Music by Hoagy Carmichael, 1927, arranged by Brent Edstrom
Prepared last week in honor of Jerry Allen, also inspired by the vaccination repertoire mentioned for Salisbury Cathedral.




Week 49 February 14th, 2021 Annual Meeting

Dear Church,

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This week we have something different for you. Again, we are making history by figuring out a new way to do the business of the church.

Typically, this time of the year would bring our annual meeting — the event that is at the heart of what it means to be a congregational, self-governing church. Many of you have been a part of several annual meetings. The main purpose of them is to reflect on the past year, approve the operating budget for the current year, and give thanks to all of those who helped make the church what it is.

This year we intend to do just that — only in a different format.

This week, Nina has prepared special music for us as well as information about how to patriciate in our Easter music project. Attached to this email instead of a YouTube video or worship packet you will find my report on the church in 2020, a copy of the last sermon I gave in-person at CCLJ (which I make reference to in my report), in addition to a compilation of reports from various officers of the church.

I hope you will take the time to read about the strange yet wonderful year we had at the Congregational Church of La Jolla. It was filled with many surprises and little miracles. There was a lot that went on behind the scenes this year — from worship prep, community planning and advocacy, building improvements, new renters, and unexpected gifts to the church.

I explain this further in my report however I will briefly mention it here because there is one action item we need our members to take.
Your church council has recommended an identical budget to 2020, identical to the one that you already voted to approve exactly one year ago. Also, our officers/boards will remain the same in 2021 as it was in 2020. We anticipate most of 2021 to be held remotely and thus we have recognized that last year’s budget and slate of officers affords us the flexibility to pivot should the global situation change. It also allows us to continue to do the same level of ministry and outreach as we did in 2020.

Due to the fact that this email is sent out to almost 300 people, we find ourselves conducting this “annual meeting” in a forum much wider than is usual. Therefore, we are not attaching our financials to this email. Rather, they are accessible to all by request. Email office@lajollaucc.org or consult your copy of the 2020 Annual Report to find the list of current officers and the budget detail.

To vote on this budget we invite you to do so electronically by visiting this link. It is safe, secure, and easy: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MYNVCKG

Continued prayers for health, healing, and safety.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

Sermon March 8 2020

2020 Pastor’s Report

2020 Annual Report



Dear Church!

We’re celebrating Valentine’s Day (and Lunar New Year, Presidents Day, Canadian Flag Day, and Mardi Gras—busy weekend!) by sending you a recording of a microwave door slamming. Don’t worry, that’s not all the music you get!

But we want to encourage you to experiment with recording some sounds at home and sharing, so we’re re-attaching Nina’s PDF instructions. Some people have used these instructions and successfully sent little recordings! Find things in your house that make noise! Pets are especially welcome. Do we have any birds? As NIna’s Music Note Talk says, the plan is to create a piece of music incorporating layers of “found percussion.” So if you think that dropping your silverware (for example) or crushing some paper is not a solo you want featured or associated with your name, send that sound! Nothing will be announced—it will all fit together into a rhythmic texture.


Nina and Bronwyn

PERFORMANCE NOTE – February 14, 2021
Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, office manager and soprano
Nina Gilbert, music director and pianist

Amy Beach, Scottish Legend, Op. 54, No. 1
We heard Beach (1867-1944)’s Hermit Thrush at Morn in July.

Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, In Christ Alone

R. Nathaniel Dett, “Dance (Juba)” from In the Bottoms
Juba, also called hambone, is a precursor of tap dance—dancing that generates its own percussion.
We heard another selection from Dett (1882-1943)’s set of “characteristic pieces”—referring to the River Bottoms region of the southern US—last April.
We also heard his “Desert Interlude” from Eight Bible Vignettes in October.





Week 50 February 21st, 2021 Lent

Dear Church,

We have arrived at the beginning of our Lenten journey! Whatever you have given up (or added) to your lives this season, I wish you success and a time of transformation.

I hope you will continue to vote in our virtual Annual Meeting. We need 20% of the congregation to participate and we aren’t quite there yet. Voting is quick and easy. If you want to see any of the financial documents, please email office@lajollaucc.org.


Also, here is this week’s vlog:

Lookout for a corresponding email from Bronwyn containing this week’s solo, some info about Nina’s musical selections featured in my video, as well as further instructions for our congregation-wide Easter music project.
Continuing to wish you all health and Lenten grace,
Rev. Tim
Dear Church!
Happy WEEK FIFTY of worship at home! Here is your latest church music email.
Nina’s piano solos are incorporated into Tim’s video this week. We’ll include their details in this email. Lullaby of Birdland appears about four minutes in, accompanying the artwork, and Clog Dance appears at about eighteen minutes, under Tim’s Presidents Day segment.
Bronwyn’s solo is a replay of “Morning Has Broken” that she sang for Week 23, August 16.
Home Percussion Update: people have been sending marvelous sounds—some musical, some meaningful. Please continue to send recordings! We’re re-attaching Nina’s instruction sheet, plus an audio file that gives a small idea of how we’ll be combining these sounds.
Nina and Bronwyn
PERFORMANCE NOTE – February 21, 2021
Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, office manager and soprano
Nina Gilbert, music director and pianist
Morning Has Broken
Words by Eleanor Farjeon, music traditional Scottish, arr. Yusuf/Cat Stevens
This traditional Scottish tune acquired Christmas words (“Child in a manger, infant of Mary,” by Mary MacDonald) in the 19th century. In 1931, poet Eleanor Farjeon (also represented in our hymnal by the Advent carol People Look East) was commissioned to write new words for use year-round. Yusuf/Cat Stevens (as he currently prefers to be called) recorded his version in 1971.
Lullaby of Birdland
Music by George Shearing (1919-2011), arr. Brent Edstrom
Composed as a signature tune for the iconic jazz club Birdland in 1952.
Clog Dance
Howard Hanson (1896-1981) won a Pulitzer Prize for his fourth symphony, and directed the Eastman School of Music for forty years. His 1922 Clog Dance is typical of his midwestern-Americana style.




Week 51 February 28th, 2021

Dear Church,

As we come to the second Sunday of Lent, I want to share with you a few components to our worship email for this week.

First, our weekly vlog is now up. You can access it by clicking the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_s0YzMwhLs&t


Second, I share with you the unfortunate news that long-time CCLJ member Kay Reynolds died two weeks ago. Kay had been away from the church for several years so some of you might not be familiar with her. However, to honor her life I have attached an interview she gave in 2008 when several long-time members recorded their oral histories. Also, Rev. John Benbow will offer a tribute to her in next week’s worship email. If you didn’t know Kay, please feel free to get to know her extraordinary life through these attachments. If you did know Kay, I hope you will join me in thanking God for sending to our congregation such a vibrant saint.

Third, I would like to invite you all to a Zoom event on March 30 at 7 PM with our interfaith partners at Congregation Beth El and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar. You might remember our interfaith dinner and discussion with them last February. We want to continue to foster this partnership between our communities. This discussion will bring us together to reflect on the lessons we have learned this past year and how our various faith traditions have informed (and transformed) us this year. If you wish to join us, please RSVP to office@lajollaucc.org.

Lastly, I want to inform you that Rev. Sam Greening’s mother died on February 19. If you want to send Sam your prayers and support, you can do so at 202 S. Hambden St, Chardon, OH 44024. We all will keep Sam and his family close to our hearts as he contends with this recent loss.

Continue to stay safe and well.

With grace,

Rev. Tim




Dear church!
Here is your music email for February 28.
We’ll continue asking for your homegrown percussion sounds for ONE MORE WEEK, and then it will be too late! (Why: Nina needs time to compile the project for Easter, and Easter is remarkably soon.) We love the sounds people are sending. See the “how to” PDF attached for instructions and the email address to send your sounds. 
Today’s short “music note talk” includes some thoughts about sound and meaning—certain sounds make us feel like something is beginning or concluding, for example. The talk also explains the terms Toccata and Toccatina.
Nina and Bronwyn
PERFORMANCE NOTE – February 28, 2021
Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, office manager and soprano
Nina Gilbert, music director and pianist
Aram Khachaturian, Toccata, 1932
A Soviet Armenian composer, Khachaturian (1903-78) composed this piece while studying with Nikolai Myaskovsky at the Moscow Conservatory.
George Bennard, The Old Rugged Cross, 1913
A Midwestern evangelist and song-leader, Bennard (1873-1958) wrote dozens of hymns, of which this is by far the best known.
Piano solo starting at 3:52 in Tim’s video this week:
Dmitri Kabalevsky, Toccatina, from Thirty Pieces for Children (1937-38), Op. 27 No. 12 
A prolific and well-connected Soviet composer—and, also like Khachaturian, a student of Myaskovsky—Kabalevsky (1904-1987) took the development of children’s musical skill and taste seriously.







Week 52 March 8th, 2021

Dear Church, 

This week brings us to our 52nd week of doing church in this strange, yet creative, virtual format. One full year. I have learned so much during this time. This has expanded our way of worship into a format that has made our congregation’s reach wider than I ever imagined. 

While many churches moved their worship services onto the Zoom platform, I knew that this wouldn’t work for us in the way it might in other communities. I wanted to come up with a way where you could do church in your own time and in a place that is sacred and special to you. I wanted church to be portable and for you to be able to take it into the world with you. Whether that be on your porch, at the beach, in your bed, at your kitchen table, or while taking a walk–so many of you have shared with me the places you have taken these worship kits to. 

Our Sunday morning worship time will forever be special and sacred, but I also wanted to convey that we can take this spirit of worshipfulness into our lives the rest of the days of the week. I think we have lived into this very well. With the help of Nina and Bronwyn we continue to explore the connections between faith and art, music, and voice. We continue to imagine a faith that is brave, bold, and responsive to our world. 

We held a very well attended memorial service on Zoom, conducted our annual meeting year in review digitally and voted on our budget virtually as well. Thanks to all of you we had a quorum in our digital voting and passed the budget and slate of officers overwhelmingly. 

We also have a now sizable presence on YouTube ever since we moved our worship into video format. As of the writing of this email we have had 906 views across 6 videos. Imagine having 906 visitors across 6 Sundays at church! We have invited in more newcomers, far-away members, and friends than ever during this time. You can explore the channel and past videos that you might have missed by visiting this link: 



Speaking of which, this coming week I am working on a video for you about Lent and this season’s intersection with the work of Robert Motherwell and the ways that he was inspired to create paintings based on a 6-movement piece for string quartet. Motherwell was a famous abstract expressionist and was the husband to Helen Frankenthaler, one of the artists we explored last spring.

While I am a very amateur video maker still finding my way in this new medium, I wanted to show you some of the ways that professionals do it. There are video makers out there who specialize in what is called “visual liturgy.” This is when scripture or other elements of worship are expressed through visual storytelling. Here are some examples from a very well-known website called “Work of the People.” I am a big fan of their work. (Hint: Liturgy literally means “work of the people”). I hope you will take time to enjoy some of these professional examples of this creative medium as we continue to remember that God is with us as we work our way t

We also will be having an interfaith event with Congregation Beth El and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on Zoom on March 30th at 7 PM. You will find the information about this event attached to this email in a PDF.
I will also be a guest preacher at a church this coming May, without even leaving home! And the best part is, you all will be able to attend as I take the virtual pulpit of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar. I will be sure to send out the Zoom link for this. Never did I imagine that we could all join with another church for worship without even leaving our homes. I hope you will all enjoy this “field trip” of sorts where we see the way that Episcopalians worship.
This week I hope you enjoy Nina’s two musical pieces. Here is some info about them:
Frédéric Chopin, Nouvelle Étude no. 1, 1839
After Chopin (1810-1849) had published two sets of concert études, François-Joseph Fétis and Isaac Ignaz Moscheles asked him to contribute to their textbook Méthode des Méthodes de Piano.
The attached Music Note Talk untangles Etudes.
Scott Joplin, Solace: a Mexican Serenade, 1909

While some Black composers avoided ragtime because of its association with casual, improvising brothel pianists, Joplin (1868–1917) elevated the style to a classical genre intended to be played precisely as written. We have an important clue to Joplin’s performance intentions in the piano rolls he recorded for player pianos. From those rolls, for example, we learn that different sections of rag can be played at different tempos.

ALSO, LAST CALL FOR HOME-PERCUSSION SOUNDS! We have plenty of sounds for our Easter project, but in case you’ve been planning to participate, you have one more week!
Reminder: we’re collecting the sounds of our homes. Things—and animals—that normally make sounds, or that you can use creatively (bam!) to make sounds. Sustained or rhythmic!
Lastly, you will find attached to this email a reflection on the life of Kay Reynolds that was written by two of her friends and compiled by Rev. John Benbow. Thank you to John for compiling this remembrance of Kay.
As always, stay safe, healthy, and well.
With grace,
Rev. Tim







Week 53 March 14th, 2021 Robert Motherwell & Lessons for Lent

Dear Church,

I hope you all had a great week!
This week’s message can be viewed by clicking on the following link:

Robert Motherwell & Lessons for Lent

Donate to the mission of our church: https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=MHKJLYNRGPDUS&source=url

Tim’s personal website: https://www.timseery.org

I hope you enjoy the connections between our own Lenten spirituality and the work of abstract expressionist Robert Motherwell.

Nina has also prepared music to aid in your reflection and worship including another “music talk” to help us understand and appreciate the context of this week’s musical selections.

You might be wondering where Bronwyn’s solo is. She has prepared for us one of my all time favorites, Carole King’s, “You’ve Got a Friend.” I almost included it in this week’s email, however it is too good to not design an entire video around. So I am going to sit on it one more week and next week I am going to tell the story of the song. I have preached this before, but not during our days of digital worship. So I hope this is a chance for those who are tuning in from afar to hear the brave story of Carole King, the background story of this song, and the ways that I think it fits perfectly into the season of Lent. So this week we used Robert Motherwell to learn some Lenten lessons, next week we will turn our attention to Carole King!

Also, I hope you will mark your calendars for our March 30th virtual interfaith even with Congregation Beth El and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Del Mar. Please RSVP to Bronwyn at office@lajollaucc.org and we will send you the Zoom link in anticipation of the event.

Continue to stay healthy and well,

With grace,

Rev. Tim







PERFORMANCE NOTE – March 14, 2021

Nina GIlbert, music director and pianist

Modest Moussorgsky (1839-1881), Bydlo (Oxcart), from Pictures at an Exhibition

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) via Ernö Rapée (1891-1945), Aëroplane/Scherzo



Week 54 March 21st, 2021 You’ve Got a Friend

Dear Church,

Welcome to yet another week of Lent. This week Bronwyn offers us her beautiful vocal rendition of Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend.” This is truly one of my favorites. Here is the link to this week’s video. You can access it by clicking on the following link: https://youtu.be/lspsDYwjw2g

Nina also offers us a solo based on the themes of friendship and collaboration in honor of James Taylor and Carole King’s lifelong friendship of support and collaboration. She also offers us a music talk that explains some context and background. Here is the information about the music presents us:

Florence Smith Price, Fantasie on “Sinner, Please Don’t Let This Harvest Pass,” 1929
Price (1887-1953) dedicated this work “To my talented little friend, Margaret A. Bonds.” More about that friendship in the attached Music Note Talk.
You can hear the spiritual it’s based on here:
Sinner, please don’t let this harvest pass, sung by Myrna Summers:


We continue to be deeply grateful for the careful ways that Nina pairs music with worship themes. Even when there are weeks that seem like there could be no possible musical accompaniment, Nina surprises us with perfectly appropriate occasional music.

Also, I hope you will join us on March 30 at 7 PM for our “Deliverance or Exile” event with Congregation Beth El and St. Peter’s Episcopal Del Mar. Please email Bronwyn to RSVP and we will send you the Zoom info before the event.

Continue to stay healthy and well.

With grace,

Rev. Tim


Week 55 March 28st, 2021 Palm Sunday

Dear Church,

This week I wanted to share with you artistic depictions of Palm Sunday. It is a story with deep resonance and I believe poets, artists, and musicians are the ones who are best able to capture Palm Sunday in its fullness. In this first email you will find the At Home Worship Guide, Audio Files 1, 2 & 3 and the audio file containing the reading of the scripture passage.

I also look forward to seeing some of you at our first ever entirely virtual interfaith event with Congregation Beth El and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar this Tuesday at 7:00 PM. Please RSVP to myself or Bronwyn if you want to attend!

This week Nina and Bronwyn selected musical pieces that address the idea of our prolonged sojourn of worshiping outside of the building. Bronwyn’s vocal solo, “I was there to hear your borning cry” addresses the theme of worshiping from anywhere while Nina’s pieces, “A New Hinding-Place” and “Troubled Waters” are spirituals that connect us to a deep rootedness of the divine that exists within us and around us at all times.

I hope to see some of you on Tuesday evening.

With grace,

Rev. Tim




Week 55 April 1st, 2021 Maundy Thursday

Dear Church,

As we enter this stretch of holy days — as we walk with Jesus, I offer you two musical selections courtesy of Nina.

May these help guide our meditations over these coming days.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

Maundy Thursday: Claude Debussy, Arabesque No. 1

Good Friday: J. S. Bach, Andante, from Italian Concerto, BWV 971

While Bach’s music is precisely notated, he is creating the effect of a harpsichordist improvising over a steady bass line. Debussy admired (and perhaps imitated) what he called the “wonderful arabesque” quality of Baroque music, a line shaped by nature.


Week 56 April 3rd, 2021 Easter Sunday

Dear Church,

Happy (almost) Easter!

Here is our Easter worship video which includes a very special project from Nina that involved the participation of many members of the congregation. Access it by clicking on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm_nGIWCOMA

For our performance notes this week, they are divided by the times each element appears in the video. There is also special information about how the project was produced.

With grace and blessings on a very happy Easter,

Rev. Tim

Nina Gilbert, pianist and music director
Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, soprano and office manager
0:00 Jesus Christ is Risen Today
Music from Lyra Davidica, 1708, via The Compleat Psalmodist, 1709

1:53 I’m Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table
Traditional Spiritual/protest song

Singers: Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, Melissa Melchor, Nate Henrichon, Rick Hernandez-Gist, Jim Tompkins-MacLaine

Home percussion:
Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser (sweeping a rug; opening and closing drawers)
Nate Henrichon (wind chimes; clock; lamp chain)
Mindy Miller (Yahtzee dice; paper shredder)
Deanne Monte (dog ball bouncing)
Gina Gilbert (Nina’s niece, who recorded her cat Beau’s distinctively loud purr)
Arlene Gilbert (desk bell in a resonant metal bowl)
Kristin Bean (Fletcher lapping water; plus a treeful of loud chirping birds)
Melissa Melchor (eyeglass case; camera shutter double-clicking)
Nina Gilbert (cricket; plus the final latch of a gate at the end)

Technical notes:
Singers recorded themselves separately, watching a video of Nina conducting. Each singer is represented by two voices: the unison chorus, plus the overlaid Hallelujahs and other improvised interpolations.
There is some relevance between the sounds and the words! Before “I’m gonna feast on milk and honey,” we hear Kristin’s dog Fletcher feasting (remarkably rhythmically) on water, and before “All God’s children,” we hear other animals.

7:37 Christ the Lord is Risen Today
Music by Robert Williams, 1817

18:30 Thine is the Glory
Music by George Frideric Handel, 1747, originally an oratorio chorus called “See, the conquering hero comes”
Words by the Swiss hymn writer Edmond Louis Budry, 1904, translated by R. Birch Hoyle, 1923
Week 57 April 11th, 2021 Sunday After Easter

Dear Church,

As we begin the season of Easter we do so as people of hope and optimism. The stone has been rolled away, death defeated, and we are onward to new things.

In the church we unofficially call this “low Sunday”– the Sunday after Easter typically yields a lighter attendance. Pastors and musicians are tired from the Easter push, parishioners decide to enjoy a Sunday sleeping in….you get it. Thankfully I think rest is holy and there’s nothing wrong with a “low” Sunday.

In response to this well-known tradition, our UCC national office has provided a Sunday after Easter worship service for us that connects our current season to many important themes that the UCC is working on nationally. We are grateful to have wider church staff who work tirelessly for justice and who represent us well.

You can access the video for this week’s worship — which will introduce you to several folks I have had the pleasure of knowing — by clicking here: https://vimeo.com/showcase/8312392

With grace,

Rev. Tim

Week 58 April 18th, 2021 Worship

Dear Church,

Here is this week’s at home worship. This week we make a nod to our old style of worship with a PDF that includes examples of some of the visuals I will be talking about. I also include links to some online resources for you that explain in further detail some of this week’s topic. The sermon is a YouTube video while the scripture reading and vocal solo are included in attachments attached to this email.

I felt that since I have continued to teach about the way our faith connects with different art forms that it was only right that we keep on top of current trends. This past month crypto art was brought to the auction marketplace with astounding success. With our world’s continued interest in cryptocurrency and other digital assets this is an important frontier in our understanding of humans, human nature, artistic expression, and the ever-expanding world we live in.

Nina’s musical selections are posted to YouTube as separate links. The links are both in the PDF worship guide and can be found here for your convenience. I will also include here the link to this week’s YouTube video containing my message:

Tim’s Sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1yz4CKQmoc

Alexandre Guilmant, Prelude in E-flat, Op. 41, No. 1 From The Practical Organist, Book 2
Organ virtuoso Guilmant (1837-1911) published hundreds of useful pieces for church organists.

BUNESSAN (“Morning Has Broken”)
Harmonizations by Dean McIntyre, Gregory Hamilton, and David Evans, plus an improvised variation.

This week’s dive into the new concept of “cryptoart” is something that I am still just learning about — but I am very interested in the ways that ancient aspects of our faith are replicated and reinforced by the newest and most abstract of technologies. I hope you will enjoy this opportunity to learn about something that is very new as we continue to listen for God’s still speaking voice in our chaotic world.

With grace,

Rev. Tim




Week 59 April 24th, 2021 Fourth Sunday of Easter

Dear Church,

Here is the at home worship email for the fourth Sunday of Easter. Today we hear about the good shepherd.

You will find attached to this email a PDF guide, two musical selections from Nina, a vocal offering from Bronwyn, a scripture reading from me, and my message which is uploaded to YouTube. You can view it by clicking on this link (which I have included here as well as in the PDF): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEZt9DMzBxI

The Sheep of Francois- Xavier Lalanne – The Good Shepherd
Donate to the mission of our church: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=MHKJLYNRGPDUS&source=urlChurch website: http://lajollaucc….

My prayers and the prayers of our collective community continue to be with you all.

With grace,

Rev. Tim





Week 60 May 2nd, 2021 Vines and Branches

Dear Church,

This week I want to share with you something a bit different from the usual.

This was quite a week for me in terms of community activism. In order to keep the size of this email down (often these emails get very heavy with attachments) my message this week is in written form. Both are newspaper pieces recently published over the past few days. I want to first share with you a guest opinion piece I wrote for the La Jolla Light released this past week: https://www.lajollalight.com/news/opinion/story/2021-04-25/guest-commentary-politics-and-the-pulpit-dont-mix-quite-the-contrary

As a progressive minister, nothing is more frustrating than hearing someone restate the culturally ubiquitous phrase “Keep politics out of the pulpit.” Users of this phrase are mostly always well-meaning and cite this tired cliche as if it is not only a gospel truth but also a legally binding …




Secondly, I was elected to serve as a director of La Jolla Parks and Beaches. I was elected 12-2 with 4 abstentions after one successful vote to delay my election and one unsuccessful vote to postpone consideration of my election one month. You can read about this in a well-written piece by the La Jolla Light that came out this week: https://www.lajollalight.com/news/story/2021-04-28/la-jolla-parks-beaches-group-seats-local-pastor-as-new-member-but-not-without-controversy




The seating of a new member to the La Jolla Parks & Beaches group is normally a simple, maybe 90-second process. But when it came to seating the Rev. Tim Seery during the board’s April 26 meeting, there were debates, lengthy discussion and multiple votes. To be eligible for membership, a candidate …



This is the board that contained members who spoke out against the Black Lives Matter chalk art drawings on the La Jolla Bike Path this past summer. A group of community leaders, including myself, joined forces and pressured this board for the resignation of these dissenting members. After months of meetings with representatives of Mayor Gloria, Councilmember Joe La Cava, and several community members, I made the decision to offer myself for service. You can read my statements both to the board and to the media in the article linked above.

Aside from these two articles which constitute my message to you, you will find
This week’s Gospel lesson
Nina’s musical selections – two piano solos
Bronwyn’s musical selection
Here is the information about this week’s musical offerings:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Theme and Variations 1, 2, 3, and 5, from Twelve Variations on “Ah! Vous dirai-je Maman,” K. 265/K. 300e, 1781 or 1782
This familiar children’s tune from the mid-18th century has various lyrics in different countries. We know it as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” among others. Mozart would definitely have been aware of the playful quality of his composition. In keeping with this week’s worship theme, the original tune is like a vine, where each variation represents different type of branch.

Adam Anders and Nikki Anders, Roots Before Branches, 2008

Mozart, Variations 7, 8 (Minore), 9 (Maggiore), 11 (Adagio), and 10 (Allegro), from Twelve Variations on “Ah! Vous dirai-je Maman”

You will hear that our Gospel lesson talks about the metaphor of the vine and the branches. Jesus is our ever-steady vine, and we are the branches that shoot off into the world. It is here that we hear of God as the “pruner” editing us and pruning us to bear the fruit of justice in the world. The truth is, we are all called to bear the fruits of justice and this text underscores the source of that justice and truth. We bear the fruits of justice when we abide in God’s love. God is the source of our guidance and strength when we stand courageously on the side of love. I thought this was the perfect week to share with you the justice work that I continue to promote. I hope you, too, can take a moment to give thanks to God for orienting your heart toward that of justice, mercy, and inclusion.

With grace,

Rev. Tim






Week 61 May 9th, 2021

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar

Dear Church,

This week we will head to another YouTube channel for worship as I am the guest preacher for St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar. St. Peter’s is the church that is in partnership with us and Congregation Beth El. We joined them for our interfaith Zoom conversation about Ezekiel last month. The entire service, including scripture, music, and sermon are included in one video.

To access the worship service, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLFOMc2G_v4

5/8/2021 5PM Service
Welcome to our 5PM Saturday service at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar, California.

Click here to access your worship bulletin and follow along at home:





With all my prayers for a safe and healthy week ahead,

Rev. Tim





Week 62 May 16th, 2021

Dear Church,
Today we begin a spring-time journey into the Psalms. The Palms have provided comfort to both ancient and contemporary peoples. As we begin to reassemble our lives, the psalms can, I believe, provide us with guidance and comfort.
The scripture and sermon are accessible through this link:

The musical selections are attached to this email and their file names correspond to the following. Please note “Allegro” is the first piano solo, “Rondo” is the second. They are two movements of the same sonata.
Nina Gilbert, Music Director and Pianist
Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, Office Manager and Soprano
Maria Hester Park, Allegro Spirito (first movement), from Sonata in C, Op. 7 (c. 1796)
In Psalm 1’s spirit of learning and delighting in rules and law, and not straying from paths of obedience, we offer a sonata by Maria Hester Park, scanned from the British Museum collection. Born Maria Hester Reynolds, Park (1760-1813) was a singer, harpsichordist, and pianist until her marriage, when she turned to teaching and composing. Based on surviving documents, biographers have described her as both “unknown” and “hugely popular,” and her music as both “demanding” and “not challenging.” Pianist Diana Ambache describes Park’s music as “the sort performed by Jane Austen heroines.” Composer Franz Joseph Haydn met Park and her husband, Thomas, an engraver, during a visit to London. He heard Park perform and acquired two of Thomas’s mezzotint prints. Haydn’s thank-you note to the Parks included a new piano sonata dedicated to Maria.
Words by Dean Pitchfford, Music by Tom Snow, (Love Moves in) Mysterious Ways, 1991
Bronwyn dedicates her performance this week with a wish of “Happy birthday to the love of my life.”
Park, Rondo: Allegramente (third movement), from Sonata in C

As always, you have continued prayers and blessings.

With grace,
Rev. Tim





Week 63 May 23rd, 2021

Dear Church,

We begin our second week of this springtime/summer series on the Psalms.

Today we reflect on Psalm 104.

I will be walking you through the same book I taught from when I worked at an assisted living community during seminary. I discovered, much to my surprise, that that book did not make it in my cross-country journey here. But, thanks to the internet, a new one is on its way as we speak.

Please find the scripture, message, as well as a special announcement about the Light Our Way 2021 campaign by clicking on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JO28wrQeN4

Also, I spend time announcing The Light Our Way 2021 campaign. This is a community effort for which we are grateful to be ambassadors. The campaign seeks to celebrate the accomplishments of our local class of 2021 graduates here in San Diego. Our friend and publicist, Molly Bowman Styles has provided us with some information about this special event, attached to this email.

Our musical selections are attached to this email. Here is some information about what you will find music by Nina Gilbert, Music Director and Pianist and Bronwyn Allen-Kaeser, Office Manager and Soprano.

Our music this week supports the themes of Psalm 104: Interdependence, and Creatures.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Edvard Grieg, Allegro, from Sonata in C, K. 545
Grieg (1843-1907) added second-piano accompaniments to several works of Mozart (1856-1791), to accompany his students in their lessons—and, he explained, “to impart a tonal effect appealing to our modern ears.” Mozart’s sonata dates from 1788, and Grieg’s arrangement is from 1877. This recording is an overdub, with Nina playing both parts.

James K. Manley, Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness, 1975
Last time we sang a hymn by Jim Manley (b. 1940) we dedicated our solar panels. Manley, who is an ordained UCC pastor, wrote a new verse for us (via our connection through interim pastor Bear Ride) to the classic Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam, reminding us that, like a solar panel, we can absorb God’s light to energize the cause of justice. Spirit is Manley’s best-known work.

Camille Saint-Saëns, “The Elephant,” from Carnival of the Animals, 1886
Piano transcription by Lucien Garban (1877-1959), a student of Fauré and transcriber of iconic French works by Saint-Saëns, Ravel, and others.
Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) meant “Carnival” literally, composing his suite for Shrove Tuesday. In addition to honoring a creature, the Elephant movement shows interdependence among composers: Saint-Saëns acknowledges borrowing lines from Berlioz’s Ballet of the Sylphes and Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, transposing both melodies down to the bass/elephant range.

Continued prayers for each of you.

With grace,

Rev. Tim





Week 64 May 30th, 2021

Dear CCLJ,

Before you all begin your long weekend, I wanted to send the worship video for May 30. You can access it by clicking the following link: https://youtu.be/Mq3gZDkZuoc

We are blessed this week to have special music from our very own Nate Henrichon!

Our Psalms series takes us to Psalm 98 and 150. Both of these are made for music lovers. How lucky are we that we have an actual trumpet player to help us bring these psalms to life!

Also, in 2 weeks, you will begin to receive our reopening survey. Please be on the lookout for this! As we make our way through June, we will also be releasing information about our outdoor drop-by communion services planned for later on in the summer.

There are no additional attachments this week because all of the components to our worship are in the video link.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

Week 65 June 6th, 2021

Dear CCLJ,

Like last week, this week our worship is all included in one video. Today we take a walk-through Psalm 65. Thank you to Nina and Bronwyn for more outstanding music that fits our theme.

You can access the video by clicking on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTs1L8YPLWc

Please note that on June 20 you will be receiving a return to worship survey. Please fill this out to help us better serve you in these months ahead as we begin to imagine our future.

I hope you will continue to enjoy our summer walk through the Psalms…

With grace,

Rev. Tim




Week 66 June 13th, 2021

Dear Church,

This week we are exploring Psalm 51. This is a very unique psalm and even in contemporary translation is nothing like how we speak and talk in our daily lives. But I believe it still has something to say to us today.
You can access this week’s meditation by clicking on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYJunMQEu6o

We are working on our reopening and regathering survey and the instructions for the drop by communion stations later this summer. This information will be coming to you in a at home worship email soon. So, it’s as important as ever that you are reading your emails and interacting with our worship emails.

We are on the edge of summer. I hope that each of you take time for some rest and self-care this summer. Some of you might be going away or traveling, perhaps visiting family for the first time in a long time… savor these holy moments. We too will be together again soon.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

Week 67 June 20th, 2021

Dear Church,

This week our psalm is short but powerful. Six verses that can pack a punch.
All of the music, scripture, and the message is included in one video link which you can access by clicking here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJ83dNHHQqQ

This next week our worship will consist of a memorial to honor the life of CCLJ member Sue Belliston. I will also send out the online link to the survey this coming Sunday, June 27th. Please be sure to complete the survey by July 4.

I give joy for the opening of California and for continued health. I know many of you are traveling and venturing to see friends and family afar. Cherish these moments which are well earned and long awaited.

With grace,

Rev. Tim

Week 68 June 26th, 2021

Dear CCLJ,

I wanted to write to inform of you of the death of CCLJ member Susan D. Belliston on May 9, 2021. Sue died at her home and those of us who remain give thanks to God for her life, her presence among us, and the ways she touched the world. Here is a link to her obituary in the San Diego Union Tribune:   www.legacy.com/obituaries/sandiegouniontribune/obituary.aspx?pid=199148026

I would like to invite you to join us for her virtual celebration of life service this Saturday, June 26 at 7 PM on Zoom. Here is the Zoom link so that you can access the service:


Meeting ID: 941 6483 9610
Passcode: 0000

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

With grace,

Rev. Tim



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