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Fit for Faith 2018
Last year’s successful Fit for Faith campaign returns to fpcw beginning this week! Join us for a 12-week inclusive fitness campaign (now through August 25) as we seek to glorify God with our blessed bodies. All ages, abilities, interests and types of exercise are welcome! (walking, running, rowing, biking, weights, yoga, spin, pilates, stairclimber, fitbit steps, swimming, soccer, etc.) We’ll build on last year’s successful round trip to Edinburgh with an even more ambitious goal to collectively “walk” from Wilmette to Mzuzu, Malawi and back – which is 16,714 miles. Mzuzu is the town where our mission partners from Katawa CCAP is located. Over 20 of your fpcw colleagues have already responded to Pastor Jeff’s challenge by signing up since last Wednesday’s kickoff. A personalized Google Drive spreadsheet will be distributed this week that allows each of us to track our “miles” accordingly. We’ll provide updates as the summer goes on and celebrate together following the campaign’s conclusion. During the summer months, may we worship God with our bodies, which the apostle Paul called a “temple of the Holy Spirit.” Whether you exercise every day or have been thinking about being more active this summer, together let us strive to be “fit for faith.” Karl Ottolini and Doug Ackerman are leading our effort. Please email one of them to sign up and invite a friend or neighbor to join you.

One Church, One Book (June 17 – August 5) — No matter where you are this summer, join us in reading together “The Road to Character” by David Brooks. Purchase a copy on Amazon ($12), or you can buy a copy from the church.

  • Each week the E-News will have a thoughtful reflection and questions prompting us to think about how Jesus invites us to live our lives.
  • Join us Sundays,  at 11:15 am, to discuss each chapter and how our Christian faith informs our character.
  • Send Sue Sklansky ( a picture of you and your book, along with your favorite quote.  If you give us permission, we’d like to post these on our Facebook page.

Book Synopsis — In a world where we emphasize the depth of our professional resume and  external accomplishments, where do we find space to value character? How do we account for kindness, bravery, faithfulness, and the relationships we build? Strategies for career success are well documented. But how to do we develop in ourselves and those in our charge? Brooks explores through probing questions and biographical vignettes how inspired leaders built strong inner character through personal struggle and a sense of their own limitations. He purposely picks individuals who made choices that could have adversely affected their professional careers, but ultimately turned them into respected leaders. Brooks looks at a diverse set–white and black, male and female, religious and secular–to make his point including Dorothy Day, Dwight Eisenhower, A. Philip Randolph, George Eliot, Joe Nameth, and Augustine of Hippo.

The Wednesday E-News will have a detailed synopsis of the chapter we will be reading for the week. Our schedule is as follows:

    Chapter 1: The Shift-
    David Brooks begins by contrasting two American cultures – one that embraces self-effacement and the other that worships self-promotion – through several illustrations. He argues that over the past 25 years we have witnessed the rise of the “Big Me.” The self and its happiness is where culture places ultimate value. The book is an examination of people who took a different path. They made themselves subservient to a higher, external purpose. As Brooks says, “They had to go down to go up. When they quieted themselves, they opened up the space for grace to flood in.” By struggling with their own weaknesses they found purpose.
  • Chapter 2: The Summoned Self-
    The first profile is of Frances Perkins, witness to the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, Mt. Holyoke College grad, activist for workers’ rights, colleague of Jane Adams and her Hull House, and eventually FD Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor and backroom manager of the New Deal. Born into affluence and comfort, she choose another path after witnessing the Triangle Fire- shifting from “What do I want from life?” to “What does life want from me?” Brooks calls this the summoned life- we don’t create our lives; we are summoned. Perkins constantly asks how she can put herself at stake for others, including living with and supporting a spouse and child with mental illness and forgoing career promotions. She suppresses her own identity and values for a cause. And she is willing to make the compromises necessary for progress. Working with the “tainted” powerful for a “half-loaf” is headway. She believes all of us are put in circumstances that call for action. We just need to realize when we are being summoned. She died largely anonymously in 1965.
  • JUNE 24:  CHAPTER  3
    Self-Conquest: Ida Stover Eisenhower and Ike 
    Brooks looks at the influence Ida and David Eisenhower had on their presidential-bound son Dwight. The family had a hard life in Kansas and Texas that created moments of peril. With this background, the parents promoted an ethos of self-restraint designed to minimize risk. Dwight grew up mostly under Ida’s watch, encouraging small acts of self-control that eventually had Dwight living between his inner nature and his outer conduct. Dwight was a man of quick anger and opinion, but he channeled this into public service. Brooks writes about Eisenhower’s eight years under General Douglas MacArthur. Eisenhower bristled under MacArthur’s grandiosity and belief that he was above the institutions he was serving. According to Brooks, the downside of creating a second, public self is that it also restraints creative thinking, vision, and abstract ideas. Brooks concludes by addressing the importance of moderation in character. He defines this as the awareness of the inevitable conflicts in life and the ability to live between these while doing good in the world. Eisenhower believed in “making our mistakes slowly.”
  • JULY 1:  CHAPTER 4
    Struggle: Dorthy Day
    Dorothy Day, founder of The Catholic Worker newspaper, is the focus of chapter 4. Brooks writes of her constant struggle with actions, faith, and her own thinking as a testament to character. Day grew up in San Francisco and Chicago living a self-centered, bohemian life. It is in her early 20s when she has her child, Tamar, that her trajectory changes. She identifies a loneliness in herself that seems to be only suppressed as she serves others. Having Tamar made her aware of a guiding presence beyond herself. She recognized this force as God. She encountered several Catholic nuns who explain their own struggles between service and self. They did not allow religious self-doubt to restraint their activism, particularly for the poor. They had faith in the Gospel. In 1927 Day became Catholic and shortly thereafter started The Catholic Worker, which was more than a paper, it was a movement. Created to highlight and support those in poverty, the paper funded soup kitchens, hospitality homes, and organized agrarian communes. Day wanted The Catholic Worker to provide models of the Gospel in action. In the 30s and 40s this was radical. By the 1960s radical had a very different meaning. Day was challenged by the “radical” counterculture that focused on the self. Brooks sees this era as the early signs of “Big Me” and capitalism’s rise in 1990s. Day spent the second half of her life focusing on the individual needs of those around her. She believed if you took care of the individual the world would grow more humane.
    Self-Mastery: George Catlett Marshall
    With the fifth chapter, Brooks is striking some common themes with the people he has chosen. Each character has dealt with restraint, containment, and, with George C. Marshall in this chapter, the idea of self-mastery over base drives. Brook’s choices are not the most book-smart or creative, but they have a sense of order that defines their approach to life. Brooks quickly points out that Marshall was not terribly intelligent, but he believed in the higher ideals of truth, honesty, leadership that carried him forward. Brooks quotes the philosopher Arthur Whitehead, “Moral greatness is impossible without habitual visions of greatness.” Marshall had an “institutional mindset.” He believed one had to commit themselves to a few set institutions – for him this was the military and government service – and then let those institutions grind their ideals into actions. As Chief of Staff for FDR, Marshall was content to be a relatively anonymous functionary who made huge impacts in the background. Churchill at the end of WWII wrote Marshall, “It has not fallen to your lot to command great armies. You have to create them, organize them, and inspire them.” Marshall did while others talked.
  • JULY 15: CHAPTER 6
    A. Philip Randolph and Baynard Rustin: Dignity
    Brooks tells the stories of A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, and their collective work in the civil rights era. Both were instrumental in the 1964 march on Washington DC that included Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. Each man represents a different perspective on the trait of dignity. Randolph cut his teeth organizing the Pullman Porters in the 1920s and 1930s. He made a call for the dignity of the African-American workers. Randolph used the Book of Exodus as a guide for non-violent action. Brooks goes into detail about two philosophies of civil rights, with Randolph and Rustin representing a confrontational biblical foundation. Rustin was mentored be Randolph, and is a more interesting character. Brooks contrasts Rustin’s unrestrained promiscuity and his need to be a dignified, controlled leader in the civil rights movement. He ultimately realized to push the movement forward he needed to step back into a supporting role. Like Marshall, Rustin found his power in the role of support of great leaders.
  • JULY 22: CHAPTER 7
    Mary Ann Evans (AKA George Eliot): Love
    The deep intellectual fascination between the novelist George Eliot and George Lewes represents the humbling and de-centering effect of love. George Eliot, born Mary Anne, early in life had a desperate need to be loved and accepted. She fell in love quickly only to have it rejected equally as quickly. It took until her early thirties to realize what the toll this whip-saw approach to emotions was playing upon her life. She was not only quick to decision on her love life, but on how she approached her religious life. She saw love and faith as points of self-control. Once she met the married, but estranged George Lewes her outlook on love and faith shifted. She came to see both as external actions that humble and happen to you versus states of mind that are controlled. We don’t build love. We fall into love. Love and faith are acts of submission. Brooks walks through Eliot and Lewes’ relationship as an example of how this shift occurs. The love each had for the other was of service, sympathy, and outward acknowledgement that controlled. Love and faith are acts of submission, not decisions that we come to embrace willingly.







Green Living
Living green means practicing our faith through caring for the creation. Scripture and our Reformed faith tradition call humans to be stewards of the earth and to participate in God’s call to justice. Living into God’s call is a responsibility that requires effort on our part as global disciples. Navigating through the world and living with a keen environmental awareness heeds Christ’s call to live with integrity as we dwell within God’s good creation. Each of us has the power to make choices that reflect our faith commitments, preserve life, and respond to the movement of the Spirit in our modern world. The Presbyterian Mission Agency has developed a guide designed to prompt individual lifestyle changes and offer resources and ideas to assist in greening our lives and sharing God’s love with the world. Click this link to access the Green Living guide.

Coffee Hour Hosting
Please consider hosting a Fellowship Hour  and help to continue our wonderful tradition of hospitality. Please click on this link and choose a Sunday that works for you.

Malawi Update
We had a wonderful visit with our four guests from Malawi. Their visit was full and included sightseeing of all kinds in Chicago and Wilmette. Most importantly it included time with you! Whether in worship, over a shared meal, at an outing or in a church meeting, we shared our faith with one another and all left inspired, encouraged and grateful. Here’s a small brochure which includes recent pictures from our friends in Malawi and next steps on how we can continue to offer our support to our brothers and sisters in Malawi. Please click this link Malawi to view the brochure.

Shop on Amazon, Support FPCW
fpcw is now a registered charity through the Amazon Smile program! So, next time you’re shopping on Amazon, select “First Presbyterian Church of Wilmette” as your charity of choice and we will receive 0.5% of the total order as a gift. Here’s how it works. Visit our unique link and it will automatically select our church (, or visit and search for fpcw. Either way, thank you for your support of the life and mission of our church. We are grateful.

Family Matters
Volunteers are needed to tutor students in grades K-12. Tutor/mentors receive an orientation and on-going training and support, and meet with students once a week during the academic year. Please contact Greg Korak if you have questions or wish to become a volunteer.

Stock the Shelves Mobile Truck
Is a partnership between fpcw, Sukkat Shalom and First Congregational Church Wilmette who, as people of faith, are responding with God’s love and welcome as refugee families make new lives in the Chicago land area. This collaborative effort by North Shore faith communities, is the missing link that unites an abundance of North Shore resources with under resourced, refugee families. The Stock the Shelves Truck delivers these necessary, everyday items on the fourth (4th) Wednesday of every month to Warren Park, located in Rogers Park, where over 125 refugee families select the items they need to continue to build thriving and sustainable lives.

Can you imagine if you had to choose between diapers for your baby or food for your family? 
This is the reality for thousands of  refugee families in the Chicago area who were forced to leave their homes due to political and religious oppression, warfare and violence, Refugees arrive with minimal possessions of their own, but bring a passionate commitment to  build new, thriving lives.

How Can You Help?

  • Donate Items From Our List: Drop off a single item OR collect hundreds of items by hosting a drive with your classmates, teammates, co-workers or friends! For drive support materials and boxes email Rev. Erin Raska,
  • Purchase items on the Stock the Shelves Registry at Target:
  • Donate Money: Each month the costs is approximately $3,000 to serve the 125 families, but every dollar makes a difference! Please make checks payable to FPCW with Stock the Shelves in the memo line and mail to FPCW, 600 9th St, Wilmette, IL 60091, or hold a fundraiser at your school, office or club. All gifts are tax deductible.
  • Volunteer: Join us to sort items, load the truck and help distribute to the families. To sign up, go to, click on OUTREACH and select REFUGEES & STOCK THE SHELVES from the drop-down menu.

Items Needed to Stock the Shelves:
Toilet paper, feminine pads (No tampons), diapers sizes 1-5, laundry detergent, basic cleaner (e.g. 409), body soap, hand soap, dish soap, deodorant, shampoo, body/hand lotion, Toothpaste and toothbrushes, razors and shaving cream. Please click this link Stock the Shelves to access the Stock the Shelves brochure.

In addition to donations, we need volunteers to help sort the donations and help load the truck and be a host on distribution days, at Warren Park. Please consider helping with this important mission. The SignUpGenius link will help you pick a time to volunteer. Thank you in advance for your help.

GA 2018