Tuesday, March 7th, 2023

Dear Church Family,


It’s funny how you stumble on things: first this, then that…then you Google…


I’m not sure how I came to know the anthem you are about to hear but here is the back story: (and thank you Amy Russell for researching more of the back story).


It started with scripture: “…All people are grass, their consistency is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:6-8 NRSV.


Which inspired this poem by Christina Rossetti:

So brief a life, and then an endless life or endless death;

So brief a life, then endless peace or strife: Whoso considereth how man but like a flower or shoot of  grass blooms an hour, well may sigh ‘Alas!’

So brief a life and then an endless grief or endless joy;

So brief a life, then ruin or relief: what solace, what annoy of Time needs dwelling on?

It is, it was, it is done, while we sigh ‘Alas!’

Yet saints are singing in a happy hope forecasting pleasure,

Bright eyes of faith enlarging all their scope;

Saints love beyond Time’s measure: where love is, there is bliss that will not pass;

Where love is, dies away ‘Alas!’ 

(‘Alas’ can be an exclamation to express sorrows, grief, pity, or apprehension of evil)


Which inspired this stunning anthem composed by Chris Mazza in roughly an hour; first draft was the final draft. Chris believes “…the process of composing finding something that was already there and bringing along the right tools to keep it intact.” Such was his experience with this composition.


The Chancel Choir will do its humble best to present this anthem as a musical offering this Sunday. It is a privilege to sing. We pray you find inspiration in its hearing.


With Lenten HOPE,

Peggy Massello

Annual Meeting

The Session has rescheduled the Annual Meeting to be held on Sunday, March 19, at 9:15 am (breakfast available at 9 am) in WMFC to give us more time to publicize the meeting and to experiment with a different way of doing it. A Zoom option will also be available for those who need to join virtually.


Amy Miller has kindly agreed to prepare breakfast for us on March 19, and we will gather around tables that morning in WMFC to reflect on the past year, to have fellowship and do the formal business items required at our Annual Meetings (presentation of 2023 budget, approval of Terms of Call for our pastors, etc). After the meeting, we'll head upstairs for worship in the sanctuary, as our kids will be leading us, and presenting a dramatized parable with music.


Lent 2023 Theme: “Hope: A User’s Manual”


This Lent at First Pres, we are focusing on hope. Few theological ideas are more resourceful and generative for our time than this one! Using MaryAnn McKibben Dana’s new book as our guide, Hope: A User’s Manual, we will be exploring what hope is, what it is not, how it lives in our body, finds best expression in story and is, in the end, a practice we must keep at again and again. In Sunday worship, we will reflect on Scripture passages that touch on hope and we invite you to purchase a copy (available in the church office for $12, or via your book retailer) and read along with us. It promises to be a rich and thoughtful journey together as we rediscover hope together! 

In November, FPCW will be sponsoring a racial justice pilgrimage to a number of important historic civil rights sites in Birmingham, Selma and Montgomery, Alabama. While specific plans for the pilgrimage are still in the development stage, the itinerary will most likely include the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma; the Legacy Museum, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Civil Rights Museum in Montgomery; the Civil Rights Memorial and the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

The tour will begin in Birmingham on Thursday morning, November 02 and end back in Birmingham on Sunday, November 05. Travel arrangements include direct flights from/to O'Hare or carpooling with other participants if that is preferred.

Cost of the trip is estimated to be around $2000 per person...although costs are yet to be finalized. A $500 deposit is required by April 15 to hold your place in the tour group. 

If you have questions or would like more information about the tour, please contact Mary Watt at mhw1117@gmail.com or reach out to another member of the racial justice committee...and mark your calendars to save the dates of November 02-05. 

This is the conversation Pastor Jeff had last week with MaryAnn McKibben Dana author of our Lenten devotional "Hope: A User's Manual."

Come join us on March 19 to hear the gospel proclaimed by some of the youngest members of our church family! The kids have been working hard, preparing music and a dramatized parable, based on one of the stories Jesus told.  We hope you can make it for this very special worship service.

Lent 2023

Adult Faith Formation Class

Sundays, 8:45-9:45 am (6 Weeks, Feb. 26 – April 2)

In-person in the Lounge; and over Zoom

2023 Lenten Adult Faith Class:

“Hope: A User’s Manual”


Join Pastor Jeff for this six-week Lenten study that serves as a “deeper dive” into our broader theme for the season: “Hope: A User’s Manual,” drawing on the recent book written by MaryAnn McKibben Dana (she led a women’s retreat at our church back in 2019). Each week, we’ll look at one of the six sections of the book with the help of the reader’s guide: (1) What Hope Is Not; (2) What Hope Is; (3) Hope Lives in the Body; (4) Hope Travels in Story; (5) The Practice of Hope; and (6) Hope Beyond Hope. No pre-reading required – just come and grow with us as we together seek to wrestle with what hope is, what it is not and to find it even in hopeless times. The hybrid class will meet on Sundays from 8:45-9:45 am in person in the Lounge and virtually via Zoom during Lent (February 26 – April 2): Zoom Link; Meeting ID: 840 3593 7190; Password: 815640.

First Pres Wilmette’s New On-line Directory

We hope you have received your invitation link via email. Once you have created your logon account, please do the following:

Review and update your contact and profile information. (Names/spelling, address, all phone numbers and types of phone #, birthdates, allergies/dietary needs, relationship connection to others in your household/family unit.)

  • If there is an *asterisk next to your name or any name in your family unit, that is from an old system – please delete it.
  • Please upload a picture – of yourself (and your family/family members). 
  • After verifying your information in your new Realm account, feel free to download the Realm Connect App for your mobile device (see more details in the FAQ linked at the end of this page.)
  • If you give to the Church online – do not change those settings in Phase 1. (Giving through Realm will come at a later phase. However, you should be able to view your church giving history through your Realm account.)
  • Parents may request an invite link for children who are 13 years or older.

Later Phase(s) of our Realm roll-out will help the Church utilize the Group functions for communication, seeing scheduled church meetings and events, and online giving through Realm. More information and helpful suggestions as you get started with Realm are in this link to Realm FAQ.pdf.

We are excited to grow in our connection with one another through Realm!

First Pres Realm Leader Team: Pastor Kara Smith-Laubenstein, Amy Miller, Scott McElhenie, Linnea Jacobs, Madeline Weston.

Contact Your Church Staff

Rev. Jeff Lehn


224-328-5469 ext. 101

Rev. Kara Smith-Laubenstein


224-328-5470 ext. 102

Rev. Dr. Lolly Dominski



Peggy Massello


224-328-5471 ext. 103

Lindley Traynor


224-328-5472 ext. 104 

Scott McElhenie


224-328-5474 ext. 105

Madeline Weston


224-328-5476 ext. 106

Marvin Behm


224-328-5476 ext. 107