August 21, 2017

The Friendliest Church in Town

The Friendliest Church in Town

Marsha Peek

Dave and I come from families filled with ministers! My grandfather, father, and two uncles are UCC ministers while Dave’s grandfather and two uncles were Baptist ministers. NeedlessM&D Grand Canyon to say, church has always been part of our lives! 

When we met in 1990 (introduced by a mutual friend, a minister!), I was a member of Evangelical UCC in Webster Groves so when it was time to plan our wedding, that was the logical place to hold the service. However, we had purchased a home at Olive and 270 and making the trip down to Webster every week became difficult. We found ourselves going on Sunday mornings but missing the church events and activities throughout the week.

So we decided to visit some of the UCC churches in the neighborhood. We visited three churches over the summer months. Both of us kept coming back to Parkway in our discussions. What was drawing us to this church? Well, we felt at home here. The people were welcoming and friendly. Worship was meaningful and engaging. It was obviously a congregation which values their tradition but is willing to be the church of the present and future. This was the time when there was much discussion about building a new sanctuary across the street and offering two different styles of worship. The sense of community was very strong, so we joined.

What has kept us here for the past 20 years? Well, we still think this is the friendliest church in town! When we voted to become an Open and Affirming church, that just made us more aware Parkway is the place for us. Worship is meaningful and engaging and we feel truly blessed to have Kevin as our pastor and minister. We love all the opportunities available to us so we can live out our faith in the community and the world—Jesus Has Left the Building and Habitat for Humanity workdays are some of our favorites! As retired teachers, we also find the love of children, youth, and education for all to be inspiring and engaging. Here at Parkway the children are not the church of the future but the church of now! It is so exciting to see the many ways children and youth are involved in the ministry of Parkway. As you can tell, we love our church family and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!

Why I Joined Parkway

SvensonWhy I Joined Parkway

Ellie Svenson

By birth, I was a Congregationalist and by extension, a member of the UCC. My great grandfather, Reverend Walz, immigrated from Germany to serve as the pastor of St. John’s Evangelical and Reformed Church in North St. Louis. My grandfather played the organ at his father’s church. I was confirmed in my birth church over 55 years ago and was very involved there util joining PUCC. When my late husband and I moved to Conway Road in 1978, we enrolled our then 3 year old, Kim Svenson Weas, at PUNS. Her brother Alex followed, becoming a life-long friend of Matthew and Douglas Scherrer. Naturally, we became fast friends of Betty and Richard. Kim and Alex attended Bible School at PUCC for several summers. Fast forward some 30 years.
Kim and Dan moved to St. Louis when Ben was 9 months old and began attending PUCC. Ben enrolled at PUNS at age 2; then at the appropriate ages, Henry and Davis followed. As the Weas family became part of PUCC, I began attending while remaining a member of my church in Webster. It was difficult for me to actually join PUCC because my mother, now in her late 80’s, had been a member of our Webster church for over 80 years. Mom needed me to take her to church in a wheel chair.

When still an infant, Davis contracted MRSA and was hospitalized for some 10 days. While I cared for Ben and Henry, the Membership Care team from PUCC brought us meals on a regular basis. Kevin ministered not only to the Weas family but also reached out to me. As time went on the ministers at my Webster church seemed quite distant; naturally I felt rather aloof from them. When attending Parkway, I always felt a warmth and sense of belonging. One Sunday, Dan (who had not formally joined PUCC) said to me, “Gammy, let’s take the plunge!” Soon thereafter, we both became members.

Since that time, I have been involved in many aspects of the church from teaching Sunday School on a regular basis, to serving on the Stewardship Commission, and being a Sunday counter. I am truly grateful to all who included me in so many ways and to all who befriended me. I will never forget how many PUCC members attended my mom’s funeral two years ago. Kevin is a constant source of inspiration and support. His pastoral care is beyond compare, and I have gained many insights through his sermons. In addition, I have loved getting to know the entire Cameron/Bumgarner clan and value the multi-generational aspect of PUCC. Our terrific church is a large part of my life, and I look forward to many, many years of belonging.

Finding Parkway

gale_haggard_640Finding Parkway

by Gale Haggard

I was originally born in St Louis and lived here in south city and University City until age 14 when my father was transferred to the Boston, MA area. As a youngster in St Louis I was raised in a Presbyterian church.

Subsequently I received degrees in geology from M.I.T. and in meteorology from the University of Michigan. I had a career first as an Air Force weather officer (stationed in Kansas and in England), and then was a meteorologist/manager/senior supervisor for NOAA at the National Meteorological Center in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. for 25 years. Before permanently joining NOAA I was also an Air Force civilian at Offutt AFB, NE for 2 years doing top secret work and was a systems analyst for IBM for 2 years in Maryland.

I met Marcia, my wife-to-be, while at MIT and we had two daughters and a wonderful 42 years together. My oldest daughter, Loretta had moved to St Louis in 1988 for law school at Washington U. in 1988 and settled here. My younger daughter, Lynne, settled in North Dakota.

Our church life in Maryland was split between United Methodist and UCC churches. I liked the emphasis the Methodists placed on adult education and Sunday School, and I liked the UCC for its involvement in the community. In later years in Maryland, I became deeply involved in a Congregational UCC church and among other things I served on the church council, was an audio specialist, was on many commissions, and helped start an adult ed class specializing in modern theology and reading contemporary books. That class is still flourishing some 18 years later! I was also involved in planning programs for olderadults and served twice on O&A committees which resulted in an O&A church.

After my wife passed away in 2003, it seemed logical for me to move back to St Louis, which I did 8 years ago, I found the best housing deal way down on Telegraph Road in South County. My Kirkwood daughter told me to look in West County for churches because she knew the ones in South County would be too conservative for me.

So, I looked in the Post-Dispatch and immediately saw an ad from Parkway UCC that highlighted an adult ed speaker from Eden. I went to Parkway where I was met immediately by Rick Oberle who took me to the Heritage Room and explained Parkway’s interest in adult ed. Rick promptly put me on the Adult Ed Committee and the rest is history.

I next visited the TED group and found the people there to be so interesting that I knew my search for a church was over! In recent years I have served Parkway on the Council, the O&A Committee, the Mens’ group, the Evangelism Commission, and the pre-school committee.

All Paths Lead to Parkway!

Scherrer Fam 2014By Betty Scherrer

Not necessarily and not all paths, nor all people, but for the Scherrer family it surely did. As with many young couples, Betty and Richard had drifted from organized religion in part because they were raised in different faiths. Their wedding, interestingly, was a full blown Roman Catholic mass, with Richard’s UCC minister uncles allowed a quick two or three-minute prayer at the end of the long (by Richard’s standards) Mass.

From there, when Matthew was born a few years later, he was baptized by a Roman Catholic priest, but aside from the occasional midnight Christmas mass, there was little of a regular church experience in the then young couple’s life.

That is until Matthew got a bit older, and it was time to engage in what many young couples take part – “the search for the right church.” The experiment in church hunting took them to a number of Protestant churches, but Parkway was the one that stuck, starting a church experience that has now exceeded more than three decades.

The first time at Parkway, of course, was in the historic sanctuary. It felt right and for Richard the old familiar rituals, songs, and order of service were very much a homecoming, having been raised at Brentwood Congregational Church long ago.

Joining became an easy decision. When it came time for Douglas to be baptized, it happened at Parkway where the little baby had his special introduction to church. Later when Douglas was about seven years old, Pastor Nourse singled him out to do the scripture reading on Easter Sunday. He did it perfectly, but later has told us how anxious he was about having such an important church assignment.

The boys flourished at Parkway; PUNS was a wonderful time in their young lives. Nancy Brown (a long-time PUCC MEMBER) taught them both, and they felt at home both in Sunday school and in nursery school.

Participation in the life of Parkway has been very meaningful. For Richard a highlight was working with Parkway members to turn the Recturn Trust money into a mechanism for helping to launch the new sanctuary, one of the most satisfying times in his legal career.

They will never forget the support of Parkway’s members when Matthew deployed four times following 911, and the welcome he received that was so heartwarming and sincere.

Thank you Parkway for all that you have done. It has been and will be a continuing joyful journey.

Celebration of Covenant between PUCC and Kevin Cameron

Celebration of Covenant between PUCC and Kevin Cameron

You are invited to reflect on the Celebration of Covenant between PUCC and Kevin Cameron that was made on Sunday, July 11 when the congregation voted to extend to Kevin the call to be Senior Pastor at Parkway. Kevin began his ministry at PUCC on Sunday, September 19, 2004…10 years ago.

10352262_10203040980198649_7400599854447477347_nThe Search Committee reviewed more than 75 profiles sent thru the MO Mid-South Conference Office before settling on 4 candidates who were invited to come to St. Louis to be interviewed. Some of the interviews lasted a few hours while others took all day. Kevin’s interview began with breakfast and ended in the evening with a flight home to Kansas City. The Search Committee had questions for Kevin, and Kevin had questions for us…pointed, meaningful questions that challenged us to really think about Parkway. He spent an hour talking with Sally about the preschool which demonstrated his desire to include children in his work.

Kevin preached a trial sermon for the Search Committee at St. Mark’s UCC in High Ridge while Carmen slipped into Parkway’s informal service incognito accompanied by their 3 children…Maya, Tavis, and Iris.

Saturday, July 10 the congregation was invited to an informal gathering with a catered dinner to meet Kevin and his family. Before that event, Kevin had requested information about Parkway…history, current members, pictorial directory, and boxes full of archival materials. When the members met him on July 10th, they were surprised he knew many by name. He had visited with members who were ill. Sunday, July 11 Kevin presented a full service to our congregation followed by a vote that was essentially a slam dunk. He accepted the Call to be our Senior Pastor.

The past 10 years have been the most rewarding, inspirational, and challenging in Parkway’s long history…176 years and counting. The Search Committee did not interview the wives of the candidates so Carmen was a surprise. Carmen has been active at Parkway since her arrival. She started the AWOL group for women, has been in charge of children’s activities during the informal service, has helped with music, was on the Board of Neighborhood Houses and organized a successful fund raiser held at Parkway for several years.

Carmen and Kevin adopted Dexter in 2006, and he has been a lively addition to their family. Kevin is a good role model for Parenting with a capital “P.” He volunteers at his children’s schools, and he has made sure children are included in Parkway’s activities. Babysitting is provided for all church events. The adults, as well as the children, look forward to Children’s Time each Sunday. Early on (before we knew him well), Kevin climbed up a 20 ft. ladder in his long robe to tell the children about Zaccheus. He makes Confirmation classes interesting. You’ll see him leading games during Vacation Bible School or popping corn for various activities. He was instrumental in seeking funding for the basketball goal in Fellowship Hall. He suggested the Prayer Corner and walking labyrinths.

Kevin shepherded PUCC through the Open and Affirming process that led to the congregation voting to become an ONA church. He seeks out opportunities to get to know church members…inviting us to meet with him during the summer, meeting monthly at the St. Louis Bread Co., visits members who can no longer come to church, organized singing at Easter and Christmas for those same members. When a family recently requested a funeral be held outdoors, Kevin carried 60 chairs outside and set them up under a tree. He liked that so much the 5th Sunday Service was held outdoors in August. Kevin is fun, and he brings humor to his sermons.

For all the times we forget or are too busy…thank you, Kevin and Carmen, for all you are and all you do for us, the congregation of Parkway United Church of Christ. We pray for you, your family, and your continued leadership at Parkway.

The Wandless Story

P4200014A Family that Holds Together, Open and Inclusive to All

Don & Gloria Wandless

From September 2014 Intersections.

 

On the coldest day of the year we moved back to St Louis. For eight years we had been happy at our church in Lake St. Louis. We had cherished relationships and involvements. By spring we had come to terms with reality; the distance, two old people driving at night and in inclement weather…it was time to move on.
Don, a life long Episcopalian and Gloria, from a multifaceted religious background decided together, at our age, the number one priority in choosing a church was driving distance. Don searched out churches in a radius of a 20 minute drive from our condo. We did a driving tour. Some churches needed simple repairs…to us, a lack of commitment. Finally, we had a list and began to visit. Ministers were friendly and welcoming but many parishioners lacked eye contact and displayed wariness of newcomers. The United Church of Christ had been recommended to
us. Parkway UCC was third on our list.

On a bright Mother’s Day 2009 Pat Klein greeted us at the door. She showed up again after the service to introduce us to a friendly man who “wore no name tag” (he did not give the sermon that day). Gloria admonished him for not wearing a name tag like everyone else. We inquired if the church was O & A. Also we noted there were 28 children in church that day.
The next Sunday the nice man delivered the sermon! At the end of the service, Rich and Judy Schanbacher, having heard Don sing introduced him to the choir (but not Gloria). The following Wednesday Don returned home from choir practice and gave a “thumbs up.”
While music is important we have learned to see associations where justice prevails for all peoples. We both have close friends, family ties, which includes theatre groups, various colors, sexual preferences and nationalities. We need a place where our friends and families are welcome. We also believe God wills it this way. Parkway has it all.

What has impressed us mostly is that it is not just the rhetoric but the evidence that speaks. One knows, walking through the door, something is different here. Children are relaxed, accepted and valued. We have been accepted, valued, supported and loved…adopted so to speak.

PUCC is a family that holds together, is open and inclusive to all.It is truly a house of God where everyone tires. That’s all He expects…we are blessed to have been ​led here.

Rita Fogle, Financail Administrator

Rita M. Fogle, CPA, Financial Administrator

Over 25 years of accounting experience includes managing the daily accounting department functions, monthly financial report preparation, internal control compliance, annual audit preparation, and establish/maintain web-based productivity systems.

 

Rita’s background includes several accounting manager positions with not-for-profit and governmental organizations, as well as tax/accounting consulting for local, small businesses. She started her career in audit and taxation with RubinBrown Certified Public Accountants, including the area of real estate, non profit, and taxation. She has served on various Boards as a volunteer Treasurer or President. She has maintained her Certified Public Accounting certification since November 1989 and is a long standing member of the National Association of Tax Professionals.

Laurie La Framboise, Student Pastor

My name is Laurie LaFramboise, which is French for “the raspberry” but is pronounced in the very American way as “La-Frahm-boyz.” I moved from my native Michigan last summer to attend Eden Theological Seminary, at which I am starting my second year. I am a small-town girl at heart and even after a year in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area, I am still getting used to the traffic and crowds.

 

My Christian journey began denominationally in Church of God (Anderson) in a church filled with my extended family. As a young adult, my views on life and religion began to change and I found myself unchurched while maintaining a strong faith in God. I began attending a Metropolitan Community Church in 2003 and my partner, who had been raised Catholic, started attending with me shortly thereafter. Our small MCC was hosted by a UCC with a warm and welcoming congregation and we soon began attending both services. Both denominations have committed themselves to a mission of social justice and extravagant welcome which resonates deeply with my understanding of God. It was through the love and support of my congregations that I realized I was being called to serve in a more formal role. It is my desire to be ordained in the UCC and to be faithful to the plan God has for my life.

 

In 2010, I began the process of looking for a seminary and chose Eden, much to the delight of my UCC pastor, who is a graduate of Eden and coincidentally was a student pastor here at Parkway in his senior year. I am looking forward to this opportunity to grow in faith and to learn more about serving a congregational in a ministerial role.

Why We Chose Parkway

WinklemannwebcropWhy We Chose Parkway
Polly Winkelmann

From the August 2014 edition of Intersections.

There were three of us looking for a UCC church home 15 years ago—my husband Jim and I and my mother, the late Eleanor Petri. Our church quest might be subtitled “How middle-aged newlyweds and an octogenarian found the perfect church home.” The three of us traced our UCC heritage back to Trinity Church in South St. Louis, the church my mother and I both grew up in and where I met Jim at the ripe old age of 14 when the youth fellowship went Christmas caroling for shut-ins. A steady couple throughout high school, Jim and I went our separate ways while at Mizzou. We and our families remained friends through the years as we married and raised families, Jim remaining in St. Louis while I made multiple long distance moves with my first husband. My mom also left St. Louis, moving to Florida when my Dad died in 1977.

Many places I lived, such as Harrison, Ark. and Parkersburg, W. Va., had no UCC churches at all. Though I became active in other mainline Protestant churches, I followed the UCC in the news, proud of its many progressive stances on issues of social justice. All the way back in 1972 the UCC began ordaining gay clergy, an issue still causing division in many denominations today. Many years later I had the opportunity to be involved in the task force involved in Parkway’s journey to become an Open and Affirming Congregation in 2008.

In 1989 we moved from Grand Island, NE to the San Francisco area just in time for the 6.9 earthquake. Soon seismic changes occurred in my life as well—I began graduate school to become a special education teacher, I divorced, and I began teaching students recovering from abuse and neglect at a non-public school in a group home.

Chapter Two for Jim and Polly began when Jim, now a widower, invited me to come to St. Louis to attend his company picnic. We married in 1994, but my mother and I did not return to St. Louis until 1997 when my youngest graduated from high school. We all agreed we wanted to join a UCC church and began visiting area churches. At Parkway we found John Nourse’s sermon among the best we’d heard in our UCC visits and were given a warm and sincere welcome by the members. For me at least, the music ministry helped finalize the decision. I loved the blend of the choir, traditional and newer hymns, and two of the youth singing a contemporary praise song. Thus our quest ended in a church a mere 25 miles from our home in Wildwood.

We began attending the 11:00am worship when the service began in 1999. My mother wasn’t an instant fan, but soon came to love it. The fact that she was losing mobility was irrelevant in a service in which everyone moves about throughout the greeting time. People came to her and it meant a lot to her. We had all found a church family—a family that was there for me during my cancer treatment, a family that was there for Eleanor as her health failed, a family that continues in every way—from ministry to music—to make it well worth the drive from Wildwood each Sunday.

10% Makes a Difference

10% Makes a Difference
By Brad Lyons

July 2014

Those of you who have been around Parkway UCC probably take great pride remembering the Sunday a few years ago when the congregation celebrated paying off the mortgage for the sanctuary. That Sunday was the culmination of years of good planning and committed stewardship.

Coincidentally, that was the first Sunday we visited. There were only four of us back then: Blake was 7, Summer 4. Zoe—not on our radar. After worship, Liz learned the capital campaign included a 10% tithe for outreach. Our jaws hit the floor.

LYONS-LIZ-122A little backstory here. When we moved to St. Louis in 1998, we attended the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregation in the city where Liz grew up and where her parents and grandparents attended faithfully for decades. Worshipping there led to my job working for the Disciples’ national church, so I was committed to the denomination. Still, our commitment wavered.

Several factors contributed to our decision to start searching for a different church: a weak children’s program, a withering young-adult presence, and a sense the congregation was too self-centered. When a $600,000 sanctuary renovation capital campaign was proposed, we struggled whether we could support that inwardly focused project when the neighborhood had so many needs. An epiphany the day before the congregational meeting led me to propose increasing the capital campaign to $667,000 so we could tithe to outreach.

Well, that congregation decided not to increase the amount, and Liz and I decided it was time to move on. And after checking out a few churches, we found one doing EXACTLY what we had hoped our old church would do.

A year later, we joined PUCC, and not just because the congregation shares our resources with the world. God’s call to welcome everyone, no matter who you are, pervades everything we do. Pastor Kevin continues to inspire and challenge us. The children’s program is shaping our kids in amazing ways; they love it here. And, of course, y’all are awesome! What a wonderful collection of good people! I’ve been blessed to work with Christian Education, Council (with a year as congregational president), Christian Services, Ministry Planning and Review, and the new Communications Commissions. While there have been many challenges, I continue to believe PUCC is doing God’s work. We have room to grow in our ministry, no doubt, but I look forward to our work together.