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Historical Notes

April 2017

On Friday, March 10th at the first of a series of interfaith gatherings, about 100 people came to Bet Havarim to experience a Shabbat (Sabbath) service. Rabbi Greg Wolfe, and others gave a brief talk about the service, and mentioned that the holiday of Purim would be celebrated on the weekend. The evening Shabbat service was divided into 3 parts, with songs and chants in Hebrew (translated on a song sheet), and in English. Participants were encouraged to sing along and most enjoyed doing that. Rabbi Wolfe also gave a brief synopsis of Purim, a holiday commemorating feasting of the Jewish people after being released from threat of persecution from Haman, a prime minister under the ancient Persian king Ahasuerus as told in the Book of Esther. (each time he mentioned Haman’s name, the congregation “booed”). Rabbi Wolfe invited people to the Purim service on Sat. March 11th and to a satirical play and other celebration activities over the weekend. After the service, people gathered again in the Fellowship Hall for a wine (or grape juice) toast/blessing, snacks, and “spiritual pursuit” discussion questions.

I wasn’t able to attend the Purim festivities, so I looked online to learn more. You will have to read the” Book of Esther” for the details of Queen Esther’s role in convincing the king to reverse the persecution orders. In doing so, you will be following one of the observations of Purim. This is, to hear every word from the “Megillat Esther” or “Scroll of Esther” (the whole megillah), and to make noises that blot out Haman’s name. Some people dress in costumes from the Purim story, or other costumes. Sometimes a satirical re-enactment of the story is presented. Several years ago, DavisUMC youth and Bet Haverim youth joined together to perform a serious version of the story under the marvelous direction of Janie Howard Knudsen when she was music director here.

The Purim feasting is jovial, with at least a small portion of alcohol being customary, and triangular shaped filled pastries called hamantaschen to represent the ears or hat of Haman. Also dishes with beans are served, because they are what Esther ate to remain Kosher in the Persian court. In cities like Tel Aviv, there are large parades and carnivals. Giving gifts of food to friends (“mishloach manot”) is a common practice during Purim, and giving charity to the poor(“matanot l’evylonim”) so they can celebrate as well.

The word Purim means “lot” and Haman “cast lots” to determine the day of the Jewish persecution, which would have been the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Adar. Currently this day has been celebrated in late February or early March. The way to wish someone a happy Purim is “Chag Purim Sameach”.

1.Torey Avey “What Is Purim”
2. “Purim-Customs and Rituals”
3.”The Whole Megillah-Hebrew For Christians”
4. Wikipedia
5.Impressions of Kathy Schinski of the March 10th,2017 Shabbot service at Bet Havarim)


March 2017
Last Month I wrote about Phil Walker, the first long term pastor of Davis United Methodist Church,(1961-1970)who passed away on Jan.15 2017. After attending his memorial service, and reading his eulogy/obituary, I learned several more things about Phil worth noting in this column.

Phil was born in Victorville Ca. and spent his childhood in Chino, Ca.where he developed a love of animals. He studied Animal Science at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and lived in a cattle barn while caring for animals on campus. He completed his Bachelor of Science degree there.

In 1950, Phil enlisted in the Marine Corps, earning the rank of first lieutenant. He entered in the 7th Engineer Support Battalion. While at Camp Pendleton, he decided to become a minister ,and attended Drew University in New Jersey to obtain a Masters Degree in Divinity. This brought him to Davis UMC in 1961 with his wife Carol and the 3 children they had then. It was his commitment to civil rights and social justice that compelled him to march with Martin Luther King in Selma and Montgomery Alabama, and to meet with Cesar Chavez and the Farm Workers Union. It was also why he performed ceremonies of commitment for gay and lesbian couples, because he believed in responding to all situations where “lasting love can begin”.

At Davis UMC, and in his subsequent careers with the Yolo County Health Department, Phil, (as taken from his eulogy)”was known for his ability to bring people together; he learned early on that despite differences of opinion about how to solve problems, people often have much the same heart, the same goals, the same possibilities.” His eulogy stated that he was most proud of the people “who stepped up and made things happen” and he talked about those people all the time.

As I previously wrote, on his ranch on Rd.27, Phil and Carol, his wife of 63 years, and their 7 children, along with many foster children, trained border collies to work with sheep. They moved a former fraternity house onto their property as a residence. During Phil’s memorial service on Jan. 28th at Woodland United Methodist Church, several neighbors, children and grandchildren spoke of the advice he gave them over the years from this vantage point. Phil and Carol enjoyed living there until he moved to St John’s Retirement Village in Woodland.

At Phil’s memorial service, his chair, hat, dog training cane, belt buckle and boots were central to the altar. His wife, children, grandchildren, neighbors, colleagues and friends crowded into the church. They sang his favorite songs and laughed at humorous memories. They spoke fondly and proudly of his life and his work. In his eulogy, Phil’s brother stated that Phil had a full life loving his family, friends and community, because his joy was to “Love The People” and to “Look For The Possibilities”. During the reception, stickers of Phil’s favorite sayings like the two above, were available for guests to take home as keepsakes.

Davis United Methodist Church was very fortunate to have been part of Phil Walker’s full life, and to have had Phil as the first full time pastor of our church life!

1. “The Story Of A Unique and Unrepeatable Man-Phil Walker” eulogy by Warren Walker,
2. Anecdotes and events from Phil Walker’s memorial service on Jan.28th,2017 at Woodland United Methodist Church.


February 2017

Serving from 1961 to 1970, Phil Walker was the first long term pastor of Davis United Methodist Church. He set the course for our  church as a faith community that works for Social Justice. His recognition of the power in ecumenical action led to the development of many social service programs in Yolo County. Two important programs spearheaded by Phil while he was Davis UMC pastor are Suicide Prevention, and STEAC (Short Term Emergency Action Committee).
These programs continue to be vital to the county at the present time. Phil, along with Captane Thomson, Betsy Marchand, Lois Graff, and Max Rothe, played a key role in establishing the Suicide Prevention program and working with church and community members to sustain it. In response to local food and housing needs, STEAC was created by Phil and Zoe Alderman with community support.
Phil provided strong leadership in the Davis community through his service on the Davis school board and his close association with C.A. House. His work with community leaders and the UC Davis staff helped to avert violent student protests and to promote positive alternative actions. He helped organize, and joined with other Davis residents in the march for voting rights at Selma Alabama during 1965. While Davis UMC pastor, Phil helped to establish Davis Clericus, a group of clergy that met regularly for prayer and Bible study.
In 1970, Phil resigned from the pastorate to become director of the Yolo County Alcohol and Drug Program. He later became head of The Yolo County Health Services Agency. While in these positions, Phil became a catalyst for others such as Captane Thomson, and  Pat Williams to establish additional quality programs for Yolo County. His philosophy was “look for the possibilities!” as he tried to promote positive action. He was able to combine the creative talents of professionals, government agencies, and volunteers, effectively working together with community support, to form programs like mental health group homes,drug and alcohol addiction control groups,elder care and adult daycare. Several of these programs are still critical to Yolo County today.
In his personal life, Phil and his wife Carol raised 6 children. Carol has been equally involved in various aspects of community service and now their children are involved in their communities, as adults. Phil, Carol, and the family also changed the lives of other children by having them join their family for a time in foster care. In their country home, the Walker family enjoyed raising Border Collies.
Phil retired in 1993,but remained an active member of the Yolo County community and a guest preacher in several churches.The “Walker Room” at Davis UMC is named in his honor.
Phil Walker was a role model for how to treat people, and for how to get community ideas and positive support of effective social programs that benefit all. He will be remembered by Davis United Methodist Church, and throughout all of Yolo County, as his legacy continues!
Sources:”History of the Davis United Methodist Church” and members of the DavisUMC and Yolo County community.

October 2016

In the book “Preacher on Foot” about DUMC founder Rev. William F. Oglesby, Davis is mentioned in 2 chapters: the first was about how he enjoyed living here, and the second when he returned in 1960 to establish the Davis United Methodist Church. I’ll use excerpts and quotes from these chapters and from the “History of the Davis United Methodist Church” that has been compiled by several dedicated Church Historians over the years to finish part 3 of this series.

Little is known about the original Methodist Episcopal Church of Davis where worship services were held between 1875 and 1925. Sometime later, Methodists, along with other Protestant congregations, formed the Davis Community Church under the leadership of the Presbyterian Church. When Paul and Marie Castelfranco moved to Davis, there was a feeling that a separate Methodist Church was again ready to be formed. Reverend Ogelsby arrived in 1960 at the age of 92. He walked the streets ringing doorbells and conducting a survey. On the basis of his findings he was given authority to start a church. On May 31st, 1961 the Davis Methodist Church was officially established with 19 pledging units.

While the district Superintendant searched for a pastor, Paul Castelfranco became the interim pastor. For the first 3 months, the church held worship services in the Masonic Lodge on G st. In July of 1961 the Phil Walker was appointed to serve as pastor (which he did until 1970 when he resigned to become director of Yolo County’s Alcohol and Drug Program, and later County Director of Health Services). The next meeting place was the Girl Scout Cabin which stood on 7th and A streets. The congregation soon outgrew the cabin and moved to the Oddfellows Hall on 2nd st. Davis Community Church provided space for a clerical office. Marie Castelfranco organized the first Sunday school in the Oddfellows Hall. Jim Lyberger produced the church bulletin on Saturday nights with a mimeograph machine in his garage.

Phil Walker, along with Paul Castelfranco, set the course for the Methodist Church of Davis as a faith community that works for social justice. The ecumenical actions of Davis Methodist Church led to the development of many important social programs in Yolo County such as STEAC (Short Term Emergency Action Committee) and Suicide Prevention. Phil served on the school board, was active at CA House, and worked with community leaders on many projects. He helped organize and joined a number of Davis residents in the march for voting rights in Selma Alabama in 1965. Phil’s civil rights activities may not have been seen favorably by some members of the congregation, but others saw his actions and were attracted to church membership.

As the church grew in the 1960’s, the congregation was eager to find a permanent home. 5 acres were purchased on Anderson Rd, which was then surrounded by farms but in good proximity to the university. The sanctuary, which is now Fellowship Hall, was built in 1964. Other buildings have followed in subsequent years, culminating in 2004 with the present day sanctuary. In 1968, the church changed its name to Davis United Methodist Church after the National Church merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church.

In “Preacher on Food” it states that the church which Reverend Oglesby started in Davis was his personal tribute and contribution to the city where he had enjoyed living and from which he re-retired to work for the Lord by founding churches. The book was a good tribute to him from the Wesley Methodist Church, and I hope this 3 part series in the Davis United Methodist Crossection was part of OUR personal tribute as well!

To read more about Rev. Oglesby see Kathy Schinski to check out “Preacher on Food” by Walter Shore. To learn more about DUMC church history and pastors, check the church website, ask Kathy for a paper copy of the church history, or talk to long-time church members.


September 2016

While reading “Preacher on Foot,” the story of Reverend W. F. Oglesby, I felt it was important to see him as more than a black and white photo in our church hallway (after viewing portraits like that, he was known to say ‘I see that I’ve been framed’). His early life held the many accomplishments that I wrote about in part 1, but he has been known mostly for what he did from ages 75-93. The book was written by, and about, the Wesley Methodist Church in the Hillcrest area of Bakersfield, but their experience describes how most the congregations began, including Davis UMC.

When Reverent Oglesby applied to the Southern California Bishop for an assignment, he was considered fairly old. He used his real estate knowledge to research places that were ready for a new church. He convinced the Bishop to let him spend a year, at his own expense and time, in various communities and then if a church was established, the Bishop could appoint a permanent pastor there. During that year, Reverend Oglesby bussed and ride shared, but mostly walked, door-to-door surveying 75-80 homes a day about starting a Methodist Church. He followed up with return visits, mailings, and even birthday cards to those expressing an interest. When a core group formed, he worked with them to find temporary places for services, Sunday School, and offices until a permanent structure could be built. In the case of Wesley Methodist, it was homes, yards, garages, warehouses, and even a Laundromat with washers down the middle aisle (they turned on the dryers and left them open for heat).

Reverend Oglesby’s tenacity, forcefulness and humor inspired people to keep going. His knowledge of properties and management, along with his openness convinced them to trust him. One congregation met in a barn for awhile, and Reverend Oglesby was hear to say that it gave them “a ‘stable’ beginning.”

Each time he finished an “assignment” Bishops would have to decide if he was too old to continue, but he always managed to convince them to let him try another community. When asked if he was a retired pastor he said something like, “No. Tired maybe, but not retired. And judging from the soles on my walking shoes, perhaps the proper word is retreaded.”

There had been a small Methodist Church in Davis that had been absorbed into the Community Church for many years by the 1960’s. Reverend Oglesby had spent enjoyable years several times previously in Davis, so he knew when the time was right to come back and start the church up again. In part 3, I’ll write excerpts from Davis Methodist Church history to show how this church was founded.

After Davis Methodist Church, Reverend Oglesby went on to found, or temporarily minister, churches in San Francisco, Long Beach, and Morrow Bay. He passed away at the age of 94, still active in church work.

A quote at the end of “Preacher on Foot” is a good summary of Reverend Oglesby’s life. It states that although there have been more eloquent speakers, stronger leaders, and more influential missionaries, wide recognition should be given to the unique record of this old preacher who walked so many miles and signed his name, “God’s Servant, and Yours, W. F. Oglesby.”


August 2016

When we were rearranging the Walker Room library, I found a volume titled: “Preacher on Foot,” the story of Reverend W.F. Oglesby, who founded Davis United Methodist Church. His picture in our Walker room/Office hallway doesn’t begin to reveal his remarkable contribution to the Methodist Churches in California!

During the 1950’s and 1960’s Reverend Oglesby founded many California Methodist Churches. He walked door to door at thousands of homes to spark people’s interest in starting a Methodist Church for their town. His quiet charisma inspired people to start from scratch and build up a successful congregation. Like the early Circuit Riders of the 18th and 19th centuries, he was truly a “Circuit Walker,” devoting his own expense and time to getting congregations started and then moving on.

Reverend Oglesby was born and raised in a Methodist family in Kentucky. He graduated from business school and then entered seminary. He sold books to earn school money. He also later became a teacher and moved near Santa Barbara where he met his wife.

Reverend Oglesby and his wife spent several years in Mexico where he built a church and a school before returning to Southern California to be a preacher. When his family grew to 5 children, he “temporarily” left the ministry to become an Extension Specialist for the College of Agriculture at U.C. Davis. He and his family enjoyed several years of living here. He became an expert on olive cultures. During W.W.I. he was director of efforts to grow castor beans for war needs and then presided over closing that program. Reverend Oglesby also helped organize some of the first 4-H clubs in various areas of California.

Later, Reverend Oglesby and his family started a fruit farm in Oregon and helped others to develop successful farms. He managed those until his children grew up and his wife passed away.

He then returned to Davis, where had liked living so much, to become a realtor. When he turned 75 he could no longer get car insurance so his Real Estate career came to an end. He had no dependants, was in good health, and had enough income for his frugal needs, so he decided to return to his former career as a pastor. He spent that time using what he had learned from all the other roles he’d had in his life, to walk door to door founding new churches, including Davis United Methodist.

In the next 2 parts of Reverend Oglesby’s story, I’ll write about his method of founding churches and about the Davis United Methodist Church in particular.

Source: “Preacher On Foot” – The story of Rev. W.F. Oglesby and the Founding of Wesley Methodist Church. Original Text by Walter Shore.


July 2016

As we await the arrival of Pastor Brandon this Summer, we mark the departure of Jean Becket, who has been a very active, long term member of Davis United Methodist Church, and a great friend to many of us. We recognized some of her contributions to DUMC last July at her 90th birthday celebration held in the Fellowship Hall. Here is a more detailed biography and appreciation of her service to DUMC and the Davis Community.
Jean was born in 1925. She grew up in Woodland along with her older sister Nancy (Merrill), and her younger brother Jim (both Nancy and Jim were once members of DUMC, and Jim was a longtime member of Woodland UMC as well as being active in both Woodland and Davis Communities).
After High School, during WWII, Jean worked for 2 years in a Mare Island chemical lab, and she has had an interest in chemistry ever since. In 1945 she attended UCDavis for 2 years, but since it was still an agricultural campus, and she was an English major, she transferred to UC Berkely where she graduated in 1949. She got her teaching credential in 1950, and taught  high school in Shasta County, Sonora, and Antioch. Jean then went to UCLA to get her Masters Degree in Educational Psychology. She became a school psychologist in the Palos Verde School District.
When she returned to Davis in the early 70’s, Jean joined the Davis United Methodist Church and became the active member that she continues to be today. She was a school psychologist in Davis until she retired.
Jean has been active in so many areas of the Davis United Methodist Church! She has been chairperson of Church Council, superintendent of Children’s Education, part of the” Davis Community for Sanctuary of El Salvadorian Refugees,” and “Friends of Rutillo Grande.” She was chairperson of the Nurture and Growth Committee and a Lay Leader.  She initiated a Bereavement group, and has been a Stephen Minister. Jean is a member of United Methodist Women, Sunset Diners, and Wednesday Bible Study. For a brief time, she served as a Lay Pastor to 2 Northern California congregations. She has contributed to community organizations like STEAC, Community Meals, and the Rotating Winter Shelter. She has also held offices in the Yolo County chapter of” CALrta”, a retired teachers organization.
This summer, Jean will be moving to Oregon to be near her nephew Mark and his family. She plans to do a lot of travelling in Oregon and Washington. Jean will be very missed at DUMC! Some of us jokingly say that she is only moving to” North, North, North, North Davis.” She is looking into joining a Methodist church in Oregon, so she will continue her service to the Methodist community. Her helpful advice and good sense of humor are still only a phone call away! Her address and phone number may be accessed through the church office when they become available.


June 2016

As we sadly say farewell to Pastor Kelly Love this month, and get to know our new pastor, Rev. Brandon Austin this summer, I decided to write about the system begun by John Wesley in the 1700’s to choose how Methodist pastors are selected for churches. In many Protestant denominations pastors apply to the church they want and if they are offered a job there they can choose to accept or decline. Methodist churches however, use the “itinerant” system.

Because a lot of John Wesley’s time was spent travelling to parishes in England, he set up circuits for his assistants to travel with a large number of appointments in each. Preachers visited these appointments about once a month, and changed circuits from year to year depending on the current needs. Wesley justified the changes by saying:”We have found by long and consistent experience that a frequent exchange of preachers is best. This preacher has one talent, that, another; no one whom I ever yet knew has all the talents which are needful for beginning, continuing and perfecting the work of grace in a whole congregation.”

In the days of Francis Asbury, the first Methodist Bishop appointed by Wesley in the United States, a pastor might be appointed to half a state or more, and it might only be for a few months. Travelling preachers became known as “circuit riders” who rode around their circuits to organize, lead, and perform sacraments for groups of Christians across the frontier. The rapid growth of Methodism through the 18th and 19th centuries is partly due to this form of organization. Many of the oldest Methodist congregations can trace their history back to a circuit rider.

In keeping with this itinerant tradition, Methodist ministers are sent to local churches by a Bishop and regularly rotated. Pastors, therefore, are members of the Conference and not the local church. The Conference is broken up into Districts. Each year, Bishops and District Superintendents consult with pastors seeking new appointments, and decide where each pastor can best serve to fulfill the mission of the United Methodist Church. The gifts of the pastor, the needs of the church, the current circumstances, etc. are taken into consideration. One week in June, all the pastors begin ministering at their new churches. The appointment is for a year, so each pastor must be re-appointed to their present congregation annually, but most pastors stay about 5-7 years.

Many things have changed in the years since Wesley began the itinerant system, but the basic ideas remain the same. Let us welcome our new pastor, Rev. Austin, and appreciate the time he has to be with us, as we have appreciated Pastor Kelly, and the other pastors of the Davis United Methodist Church!

(Sources: 1. Illinois Great Rivers “Understanding Pastoral Changes:An Itinerant System,How Itineracy Works” “How Do United Methodist Pastors End Up At Their Churches” 3. Wikipedia.)


May 2016

I recently attended the initial” Pathways “meeting on Small  Groups, which is one of the 3 areas found to be most important to Davis UMC members in the”Pathways”survey. Small groups have actually been a major force in Methodism from the very beginning, with the “Class Meetings” set up by John Wesley himself. The class meetings began in 1747 in Bristol England, and they quickly became a means of spiritual fellowship and guidance in the early Methodist church. Each group was intended to have 7-12 members, and meet weekly. Both women and men attended classes, and both were also class leaders. The groups held people accountable for keeping the “General Rules” of “Do no harm, do all the good that you can, and practice the means of grace.” They were places to discuss and get help with issues of spirituality. People at the meetings were encouraged to give service such as relief to the poor.
 In his” Plain Account 2.7″ Wesley reported on the effects of class meetings in this way: “It can scarce be conceived what advantages have been reaped from this little prudential regulation. Many now happily experienced that Christian fellowship of which they had not so much as an inkling before. They began to bear one another’s burdens, and naturally care for each other….”  In an article “Methodist Class Meeting For The 21st Century,” Kevin Watson posts:”The class meeting became a crucial tool for Methodists to watch over one another in love; to support and encourage one another in their lives with God.” They were committed to the idea that Christian life is a journey in grace or sanctification, and they believed that they needed one another to persevere on that journey.”
Like Davis UMC, many churches today incorporate small groups into their church lives, with a main goal being to connect with God and to connect with each other. These contemporary groups overlap the areas of Service, Spirituality,and Fellowship, continuing the tradition begun in Wesley’s time.
Sources:( 1.”Methodist Class Meetings for the 21st Century: The Foundation”posted by Kevin Watson on 2.Works of John Wesley vol.8 ed. 1872 Thomas Jackson 3.Matt Lipan,”Modeling John Wesley’s Small Groups” 4.Wikipedia)


April 2016

In the past year, Davis United Methodist Church has celebrated the 90th birthdays of two very active church members, Jean Becket and Joyce DeLaMartre. This milestone birthday has been reached by a few others in the church and two members, MayEtta Castain and Margaret Henry, lived to be 106 and 103 years!
Most religions and cultures have stories of extreme longevity, from Methusela in the Hebrew Bible (969 years) to Guan Chen Czi, a Chinese mythological figure (1200 years). Many Saints from early Christian times are attributed with ages ranging from 120 to 300 years. Biblical scholars with a literal approach say that people were to originally have everlasting life, but as sin was introduced into the world by Adam and Eve, its influence became greater with each generation and life expectancy was shortened. A second explanation says that before Noah’s Flood, a “firmament” over the earth contributed to people’s advanced age. Other scholars feel that there was a different calculation of age than years to account for the large numbers.
Although 90 years may be young in Biblical and mythological longevity, in terms of modern lifespans it is significant! Several members of Davis United Methodist Church will reach 90 in the next few years. Let us know, so we can honor you and celebrate with you.
( Sources:  1.) Wikipedia  2.) Longevity Myths Explained )

January 2016

A new year calls for reflection on the past and looking with hope on the time ahead. In January of 1874, the friends of Frances R. Havergal who wrote “Take My Life And Let It Be,” (which I have previously discussed) received a New Year’s greeting with the text of what became the hymn “Another Year Is Dawning.” Francis was very devoted to serving God and it was said that she always lived her words before she wrote them.

I will only quote a few lines from the hymn here, but You Tube has several versions, both sung and instrumental. The one I liked best was a modernized version sung by David Summerford, accompanied on dulcimer and mandolin with a percussion beat. It made this hymn sound really fresh to me.

“Another year is dawning! Dear Father let it be,
In working or in waiting, another year with thee….
Another year of mercies, of faithfulness and grace,
Another year of gladness in the shining of Thy face….
Another year of service,of witness for Thy love
Another year of training,for holier work above….
Another year of progress, another year of praise
Another year of proving Thy presence all the days…..”

Although the style and wording of this hymn are typical of the late 1800’s, they can be a reminder that we are with God and God is with us in the coming year.

(Sources:  1.)”Amazing Grace,366 Inspiring Hymn Stories For Daily Devotions” by Kenneth W. Osbeck  2.) You Tube, especially “Another Year Is Dawning” by davidsummerford )