* United Methodist minister Jeff Smith, better known as public television’s “Frugal Gourmet,” will be the keynote speaker at the School of Theology at Claremont Auxiliary’s annual benefit at 8 p.m. Thursday. His talk, “Food and Theology,” will be followed by a signing of his cookbooks in conjunction with Vroman’s Bookstore of Pasadena. The $25 admission cost and all book sales benefit student scholarships. (800) 626-7821.

* Mayor Richard Riordan and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) are among the friends, family and congregation of First African Methodist Episcopal Church who will honor the Rev. Cecil L. Murray as “Our Man of FAME” at 4 p.m. Sunday at the church. The FAME Freedom Choir will sing to an expected audience of 2,000. Tickets are $10; proceeds support scholarships to the Cecil L. Murray Education Center, a private school at the church serving children in preschool through third grade. 2270 S. Harvard Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 735-1251.

* Talk show host and author Dennis Prager debates Ramona Ripston, Southern California director of the American Civil Liberties Union, on “Civil Liberties and Morality in America,” moderated by attorney Janice Kamenir-Reznik, at 8 p.m. Monday at Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel. Admission is $12 at the door, $10 in advance, sponsored by the Jewish Student Assn. at UCLA and Sephardic Educational Center. 10500 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood. (310) 208-3081.

* L.A. Shanti will hold its next Women for Positive Living seminar, a free weekend workshop for women with HIV June 4-5. Child care and food are provided. Transportation is available. The organization also provides continuing support groups for women with HIV and a phone call support system for women. (213) 962-8197.


* A Mass and anointing for persons living with AIDS/HIV and their families, friends and care givers will be offered at 7:30 p.m. today, during the vigil of the feast of Pentecost at St. Paul the Apostle Church. The celebrant is the Rev. Alexander J. Lewis. Donations will benefit Serra Homes Housing for men, women and children with AIDS. A reception follows. 10750 Ohio Ave., Westwood. (310) 474-1527 or (310) 659-6924.

* The 1994 Taize Festival will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. on Sunday at the West Hollywood Presbyterian Church. The festival is an exploration of the simple, peaceful style of worship developed in the 1940s by an ecumenical community in the French village of Taize. Sponsored by Metropolitan Community Church of Los Angeles with cooperation from the United University Church, the festival spotlights the Rev. Nancy Wilson and the Rev. Jose Gonzalez. Admission is free. 7350 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. (213) 464-5100.

* Gabrielle Roth, author of “Maps to Ecstasy: Teachings of an Urban Shaman,” will appear at a workshop from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, presented by the Earth Trust Foundation, featuring live drumming with John Densmore and Miguel Rivera. An additional drumming and dance workshop featuring other artists follows from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. 4117 Overland Ave. For prices, reservations and information, phone (310) 456-3534.

* “Eastern European Jewish Life: Dreams and Realities” is the topic of a talk by Mark Mancall, co-director of Stanford University’s Department of Judaic Studies at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Temple Beth Hillel in North Hollywood. Admission is $10 for non-members; free for members. 12326 Riverside Dr. (818) 763-9148.



* An organ recital to raise money for restoration and improvements of the Hollywood United Methodist Church will be held at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the church. The church’s organ, built in 1929, has 4,147 pipes with room for 1,500 more. The church says that its Martindale chimes carillon--weighing nine tons and having 32 tubular chimes--is the largest west of the Mississippi. Artists from a number of local churches will perform. Admission is $10. 6817 Franklin Ave., Hollywood. (213) 874-2104.

* St. Mel’s boy choir, parish choir and an instrumental ensemble will perform “Requiem” by John Rutter, and St. Mel’s Chamber Choir will sing Mozart’s “Regina Coeli” at 8 p.m. at the church. Admission is $5. 20870 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills. (818) 340-6020.

* James Sterrett-Bryant will be the baritone soloist in Handel’s Messiah, presented by the UCLA Campus Chorus and Orchestra, at 3 p.m. Sunday at Westchester United Methodist Church. $10 admission. 8065 Emerson Ave., Westchester. (310) 670-3777.


* The Native American United Methodist Church holds its Fifth Sunday Gospel Singing at 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. May 29, featuring Native American tribal and choral singing. Anyone who can hum or yell out page numbers is welcome. Echo Park United Methodist Church, 1226 N. Alvarado St., Los Angeles. For information, phone the Rev. Marv Abrams (310) 929-3710.


* The Rev. Dumas A. Harshaw, Jr., former pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Los Angeles and current area director for Africa for the American Baptist International Ministries, based in Valley Forge, Pa., has assumed additional responsibilities as area director for Europe and the Middle East.

* Rabbi Lennard Thal is being honored by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations at a benefit dessert program at 7 p.m. June 5 at Leo Baeck Temple. Thal has been director of the Pacific Southwest Council for 13 years. For program and ticket information, call (213) 653-9962.


* The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced the appointment of two mission presidents from Southern California: R. Noel Hatch of Altadena is assigned to the New York Utica Mission. Allen Clare Christensen of Chino will be given his assignment later in the year and begin serving a three-year term in July.

* Rabbi Arnold Rachlis of University Synagogue in Irvine, a former White House Fellow, has been selected by President Clinton to serve on one of 10 regional panels that recommends candidates for White House Fellowships to the President.

* The Rev. Brandoch L. Lovely, interim minister of Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church in Costa Mesa was awarded an honorary doctorate of theology last week by the Starr King School for the Ministry in San Francisco.



* Operation StandDown for homeless veterans--a cooperative effort of the South Coast Ecumenical Council and the Long Beach Employer Advisory Council--needs new underwear, T-shirts and tube socks, toiletries, over-the-counter medicines and used clothing and blankets before June 9. (310) 599-8805.

* Rabbi Isaiah Zeldin, Rabbi Eli Herscher and Cantor Nathan Lam led a 30th anniversary celebration last month at Stephen S. Wise Temple, with music composed by Michael Isaacson.

* Evely Laser Shlensky, chairwoman of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, represented the commission in a 25-day march of the United Farm Workers from Delano to Sacramento in an effort to improve working conditions.

Notices may be sent to Southern California File by mail c/o Religion Editor, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, or by fax to (213) 237-4712. Items must be brief and arrive at least three weeks in advance of the event announced. Include a phone number, date, time and full address.