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FRESH START: The past two years have...

FRESH START: The past two years have been challenging for the congregants of Canoga Park’s Emerson Unitarian Church, but now things are looking up with the arrival of a new minister and the near-completion of its new sanctuary and day-care center.

Shortly after the Rev. Richard Davis left Emerson for an Oregon church in 1993, the Northridge earthquake hit, rendering the church’s 70-year-old building unusable. Since then, the church’s 130 members have had to meet in improvised sites nearby, most recently at the West Valley Masonic Lodge.

On Sept. 8, the newly ordained Rev. Gail Geisenhainer will take to the pulpit, in time for completion of the church’s new sanctuary expected in mid-October, said congregation President Kathy Challis. The facilities will include Emerson Day Caring, a newly established public day-care program able to accommodate 60 children 2 to 5. Proceeds from the day-care center will help pay the church’s $800,000 Small Business Administration loan used for construction, Challis said. Church members raised another $200,000.

Geisenhainer served as an intern minister with the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Redding, Pa., before coming to Emerson. She made her introductory visit to the congregation in May.

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For her inaugural sermon, she will speak on “Shared Ministry” at the 10:30 a.m. service at the lodge located at 7242 Owensmouth Ave., Canoga Park. (818) 887-6101.

NEW CANTOR: Caren Glasser of Agoura Hills will be installed as cantor at Kol Tikvah at Shabbath services on Friday. Previously, she served as preschool musical and High Holy Days cantor at Temple Aliyah in Woodland Hills and will take her first cantorial position at Kol Tikvah. Performing the installation will be William Sharlin, cantor emeritus at Leo Baeck Temple and former chairman of the Hebrew Union College’s cantorial program. Services will begin at 8 p.m. at the Reform synagogue at 20400 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills. (818) 348-0670.

CATHOLIC LUNCHEON: The recent canonization of Blessed St. John Grande will be discussed Wednesday by Brother Patrick Orr at a Catholic Community luncheon. A native of Spain, St. John worked tirelessly for the sick and poor and died of the plague on June 3, 1600. In 1852, Pope Pius XI declared him Blessed, and in June, Pope John Paul II canonized him, giving him the title St. John Grande. Brother Patrick is a member of the Hospitaller Order of the Brothers of St. John of God. Fellowship will begin at 11:30 a.m., followed by lunch at noon at Barone’s restaurant, 10123 Riverside Drive, Toluca Lake. Cost is $9 each. Reservations: (818) 784-1960.

SPECIAL GUEST: In observance of Kinnus Teshuvah, the weekend of repentance prior to the Jewish High Holy Days, Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein will address the Shaarey Zedek Congregation on Sept. 7. Adlerstein is director of the Jewish Studies Institute, outreach wing, at Yeshiva of Los Angeles, where he also serves as professor of Judaic studies. His appearance is sponsored by the West Coast Region of the Orthodox Union. He will speak at 10:45 a.m., 5:50 p.m. and midnight at the Orthodox synagogue at 12800 Chandler Blvd., North Hollywood. (818) 763-0560.

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HIGH HOLY DAYS CLASS: The structure and themes of the Jewish High Holy Days liturgy will be examined in a University of Judaism course on Sept. 8. Rabbi Stephen Robbins and his wife, Cantor Eva Robbins, both of N’vay Shalom congregation in Los Angeles, will explore the central prayers, symbols and traditions of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The class will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the university at 15600 Mulholland Drive. Tuition is $60 each. Registration: (310) 476-9777, Ext. 246.


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