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Advent Reflections and Christmas Sunday Celebration

Dec 18th, 2018 by Annali Topf | Comments Off on Advent Reflections and Christmas Sunday Celebration

During the season of Advent we light candles to symbolize Jesus breaking through the darkness and bringing light to the world. At Glendale Church of the Brethren we have been exploring the stories of Jesus’s birth. We learned about Mary and the expectant hope she and all of Israel had for a messiah. We celebrated Joseph’s obedience in the way that he claims Jesus as his own, and in return how God now claims each of us as His children. Last week we got to celebrate everyone being welcomed into the Kingdom of God, from the outsider magi to the salt-of-the-earth shepherds. What we have discovered is that each of these stories teach us about who Jesus is, and that we are also called to be a part of the story.

So for the four Sunday’s of Advent we have also been engaging a special prayer practice to symbolize the light we bring to those around us. On our Advent table we place a bowl with candles inside. As we sing “O Come, O Come Immanuel”, those who wish come up, light a candle for a prayer request or thanksgiving. As the bowl fills with light we remember that as Jesus is the true light that brings hope, love, joy, and peace to a dark world. But we are also reminded that we can cast our light, as we offer our petitions to God, as we serve one another, and as we faithfully remain in relationship with our loving Heavenly Father.

This Sunday, we will be celebrating with a candle lighting service. Our worship service will begin at the normal time, 10:45am, but after welcome and announcements we will read the entire Christmas story together with Christmas carols throughout, and Interim Pastor, Annali Topf, will provide a short reflection. We want to celebrate Jesus being born, and we also want to remember that we still wait for Jesus to come again. Perhaps it is the outsider magi who are our glimpse of the promise, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11). Amen. 

Advent: A Season of Waiting

Dec 11th, 2018 by Annali Topf | Comments Off on Advent: A Season of Waiting


Throughout December, Glendale Church of the Brethren, and churches around the world are celebrating the season of Advent. Simply put, advent means waiting for the arrival of something very special. For Christians, the season of Advent is looking forward to the birth of Jesus, the one who brings light into the world. Each Sunday our scripture reader reads part of the Christmas story and lights one candle. Each Sunday an additional candle is lit and by Christmas Sunday all four candles, and the Christ candle at the center will light up the sanctuary. The slow lighting of the candles and the incipient light that follows symbolizes the fulfillment of our waiting, and also symbolizes the light that Jesus brings into the world.

There are many ways to countdown to Christmas each year; one year, when I worked in a Fuller Seminary office my coworker brought each person a Trader Joe’s chocolate countdown book (I think it was more about knowing when vacation started then when the birth of Jesus was scheduled to be celebrated). And, I have seen storefront countdown signs letting people know how much longer they have till Christmas day, putting an emphasis on what we buy and who we buy for during the holidays. There’s also the sight of Christmas tree pop-up stores at CVS and in Ralphs parking lots, the sounds of Salvation Army bells ringing, and the constant stream of Christmas music on the radio and in stores. It seems that Americans are all about “counting down” to Christmas. 

However, the church pushes back against this “count down”, instead we are “counting up”! A new candle is lit each week, a new part of the Christmas story unfolds each week, more light is brought into the world. Love, hope, joy, and peace are shared for a new way of life; life that is ordered by Jesus where the “poor in spirit, receive the kingdom of heaven” Where “those who mourn are comforted” Where “the meek inherit the earth” and the “ones who hunger and thirst for righteousness are filled” Where the “merciful are shown mercy” and the “pure in heart, see God”. Where “the peacemakers are called children of God and those persecuted receive the kingdom of heaven.” These are Jesus’s order for our new way of life, or the Beatitudes as they are commonly referred to. So we counting up to the time when our savior, messiah, Lord, and redeemer is born so that all can be put right in the world. 

We celebrate with Mary the blessing of being chosen. We celebrate with Joseph compassion and grace. We celebrate everyone being welcomed into the Kingdom of God; from the elite, educated Wisemen to the salt-of-the-earth hardworking Shepherds. Most of all, we are counting up to Jesus’s birth. In December, I hope we will learn with greater clarity that each of these stories is about Jesus.

BDM and Pacific Southwest District respond to California’s Camp Fire

Nov 19th, 2018 by Annali Topf | Comments Off on BDM and Pacific Southwest District respond to California’s Camp Fire

California’s Camp Fire, so named because it started along Camp Creek Road, is the deadliest wildfire in California’s recorded history. It began on the morning of November 8, 2018 and quickly engulfed the town of Paradise, destroying all but a very few buildings. Residents had to flee for their lives. A total of 52,000 have been evacuated from the fire area. One week later, the fire was only 45 percent contained but had already covered 142,000 acres and destroyed nearly 12,000 structures, most of which were single-family homes. The death toll as of November 15 was 63, however the list of missing people was rising quickly, reaching over 630 at that point.

One of the structures destroyed in the fire was the Paradise Church of the Brethren, also known as the Paradise Community Church, along with its other buildings, including the parsonage. The pastor was able to evacuate but their home and belongings were destroyed.

Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Pacific Southwest (PSW) district of the Church of the Brethren are working closely together to respond to this disaster. Children’s Disaster Services was requested by the State of California Emergency Services to serve the Camp Fire survivors in a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in Chico, Calif. Eight volunteers were deployed on November 16 to provide childcare for families who visit the DRC in search of assistance to begin their process of recovery. The American Red Cross is providing some support to CDS on this deployment. Brethren Disaster Ministries is communicating with PSW district Executive Russ Matteson and with partner agencies on the ground to determine how it might respond in other ways. A long-term response, including rebuilding, will be needed.

The Pacific Southwest District is collecting funds to provide direct support to the pastor and other members of the Paradise Church of the Brethren as they recover from the Camp Fire. Contributions can be sent to:

Pacific SW District Church of the Brethren (PSWD COB)
PO Box 219 La Verne, CA 91750
Please note “Paradise Fire”.

Donations to support the Children’s Disaster Services response and Brethren Disaster Ministries’ long-term recovery response in Paradise, Calif., and other areas in northern California impacted by the Camp Fire, can be sent to:

Emergency Disaster Fund
Church of the Brethren
1451 Dundee Ave.
Elgin, IL 60120

Please note “Camp Fire Response”

As the fire rages on, and in the months of recovery following, please continue to lift up in prayer the survivors of this devastating event as well as the first responders, including CDS volunteers.

District Conference Sharing

Nov 19th, 2018 by Annali Topf | Comments Off on District Conference Sharing

On Sunday, November 18, Cindy Slaughter and Tia Hong took time to share about their time at Pacific Southwest District’s (PSWD) annual district Conference. Both Cindy and Tia reflected about how the business meetings, insight sessions, and worship services all contained the true spirit of hospitality and friendship that is so embodied by the Church of the Brethren denomination. While the important work of business discussions and denominational work occurred, it was the deepening friendships and joy of a family reunion-like environment that will be most cherished.

Additional information about PSWD’s District Conference can be found here.

Living in an the Upside Down Promise

Nov 18th, 2018 by Annali Topf | Comments Off on Living in an the Upside Down Promise

“What is one thing God is calling me to leave behind so that I can live out my Christian calling without boarders?”

That is the question we will be asking one another this Sunday. We will be considering this question through the lens of Abraham and Sarah, and God’s blessings given to them throughout the book of Genesis.

Why are we focusing on Abraham and Sarah? Well, God’s blessings to them included many descendants, and Abraham and Sarah were barren! God’s blessing to them included having land, Abraham and Sarah were wanderers. God’s blessing to them included the entire world knowing them, but Abraham and Sarah slipped in and out of communities seemingly without effect or lasting impact. It seems that for each blessing, Abraham and Sarah have a long list of reasons why these blessing will never come into fruition.

This coming week we will enter this story without knowing how it really ends. We will challenge ourselves to imagine just one thing that we may need to leave behind to live into the faith God calls us to. To live into the promises that God has promised us. To wander, at God’s mercy, and be assured of God’s faithfulness, as we also wait for God’s blessings to be fully realized in our own lives.

Hebrews 12:1, NIV

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”


Nov 8th, 2018 by Annali Topf | Comments Off on Disruption

When disruption interferes in your life, where do you turn? Who do you blame? How do you make sense of your situation? What is your response?

This week our church will consider one story of disruption found in Genesis 11:1-9, The Tower of Babel account. This story illuminates our fallen human nature, but also points to a God who will not abandon His people. As Christians, we serve a merciful and gracious God. Even when we forget what it means to be faithful, God is there to gently remind us, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, deliver us from ourselves.

The builders at the Tower of Babel built walls to glorify themselves, they built walls for power and protection. And aren’t we like them sometimes? Don’t we also put up walls so that others only see the beautiful edifice we want to display? God sees our minds, He knows the desires of our hearts. Like the builders at the Tower of Babel, God will find a way to redeem and renew us to be a witness to Jesus to all those we meet, we will also be sent out! 

Disruption may be uncomfortable. Disruption may be scary or even immobilizing. But we are not alone as we go. God walks beside us, blessing us in our going out, rejuvenating us as we keep in step with the Spirit.

Interim Pastor, Annali Topf 


Sep 7th, 2018 by Cindy Badell-Slaughter | Comments Off on WELCOME GUEST PASTOR ROBERT AGUIRRE

Welcome! On Sunday, September 9, 2018, Pastor Robert Aguirre will be our guest Pastor.

All are welcome to join us for breakfast at 9:30 am, followed by fellowship and Pastor Robert’s message:  Matthew 5:46-48  “The way that God loves…” 

How will this message speak to you?

Robert is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. He felt the call to ministry while serving in the Navy back in 2003. After an honorable discharge in 2008, Pastor Robert enrolled at Fresno Pacific University Biblical Seminary, where he would meet his wife Roxanne. After graduation Robert found work as a retirement home chaplain before serving as Pastor of Cornerstone Community Church of the Brethren in Reedley California.

Today Pastor Robert is on staff at a Mennonite Brethren non-profit that combats poverty and gives work opportunities to people looking for a fresh start.


Aug 17th, 2018 by Cindy Badell-Slaughter | Comments Off on WELCOME GUEST PASTOR ALEX HERRERA, AUGUST 19, 2018 – 10:45 AM SERVICE

Pastor Alex Herrera was born in Detroit and raised here in Los Angeles.  He and his wife Rosa have been married for 30 years are blessed with 4 children and 4 grandchildren.  At the age of 25 they received our Lord Jesus and fell in Love with Him since that day…

In his own words, “I’ve been a Pastor now for 6 years and I love what God has done in my life.”

We are happy to receive Pastor Herrera as our guest Pastor this Sunday, August 19, and hope you can join us!


Aug 9th, 2018 by Cindy Badell-Slaughter | Comments Off on WELCOME PASTOR ANNALI MURRAY – SUNDAY AUGUST 12, 2018

We’re excited to welcome Guest Pastor Annali Murray, Sunday, August 12, 2018

Annali Murray is from Orrville, OH but has lived in southern California for the past three years to pursue her Masters of Divinity degree at Fuller Theological Seminary. She plans to graduate this fall.

Annali is also pursuing ordination in the Church of the Brethren and currently attends Pasadena Church of the Brethren. Annali’s vocational desire is to pursue chaplaincy. She is currently working at Methodist Hospital in the Spiritual Care office.


Jul 20th, 2018 by Cindy Badell-Slaughter | Comments Off on PASTOR RANDY SHORT – A CELEBRATION OF LIFE


March 31, 1968 – July 11, 2018

We wish to share the sad news of the passing of our wonderful Pastor Randy Short. He served as Pastor of Glendale Church of the Brethren with great joy. His faith and love of God was strong and he truly loved sharing his faith, and love for Jesus Christ, with the congregations and communities he served. Please hold his wife, Kathie, daughter Bailey, his family and his congregation in your prayers during this time.

Please join us: A memorial service to celebrate Pastor Randy’s life and ministry will be held at the Glendale Church of the Brethren, 626 N Pacific Ave, Glendale CA 91203 on Friday, July 27 at 2 pm. All who knew Randy are welcome. Directly following the service, everyone is invited to Randy’s “celebration of life” luncheon gathering in the Fellowship Hall.

IN LIEU OF FLOWERS we request that donations be made to Brethren Disaster Ministries (BDM) at  or Children’s Disaster Services (CDS)   Both are organizations that Randy loved and supported.

Letters or cards for Kathie and Bailey Short can be mailed to: Glendale Church of the Brethren 626 N Pacific Ave, Glendale CA 91203.  You may post fond Memories and Condolence messages here on Pastor Randy’s Memorial Page