Mormons to Lead Flag-Raising Ceremony


On the site where Mormon soldiers built the first U.S. military fort in the Los Angeles area, more than 1,000 costumed participants will gather Friday to reenact the city’s first Independence Day flag-raising.

The ceremony--at the Ft. Moore Pioneer Memorial Wall on Hill Street just north of the Hollywood Freeway--is part of a sesquicentennial celebration of the early Mormon presence in California and a broader observance of the church’s settling in Utah.

The 250-member Mormon Battalion, under the command of Gen. Stephen Kearny, who became the first U.S. military governor of California, was the largest of three military units in Southern California 150 years ago. The battalion completed a 2,000-mile march from Iowa during the U.S. war with Mexico.


“What started out to be a modest endeavor to honor the Mormon Battalion on July 4 has grown into a major community event,” said ceremonies Chairman Jay Johnson, an architect in La Canada Flintridge.

The event, starting at 10 a.m., will feature a reenactment of the July 4, 1847, ceremony, complete with costumed soldiers, cannon and muskets. An oversized, 28-star U.S. garrison flag will be raised, Johnson said.

“A military band will play the same songs that were played at the original celebration,” Johnson said. After the ceremonies, a ballet folklorico dance program will begin at noon.

The commemoration, led by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is sponsored by the Times Mirror Co. and McKesson Water Products Co. Also taking part are representatives of the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese, local government officials, the Historical Society of Southern California and descendants of early Spanish and white founders.

A small exhibit recalling the Mormon Church experience in early California opened this week at the Huntington Library in San Marino.

The exhibit, which continues through Sept. 21, covers the period from 1846 to 1856. Many of the first Mormon immigrants to California eventually departed for Utah, but they were around for the Gold Rush, which began in 1848, and statehood, which was achieved in 1850. For more information, call (818) 405-2141.



Recognizing that issues of homosexuality and the church “have preoccupied all churches and have polarized some to the point of schism,” the recent regional convention of United Methodists in Redlands decided for the second consecutive year not to vote on a resolution proposing that the 400-church California-Pacific Conference call itself a “reconciling” body welcoming gay and lesbian Christians.

The delegates, who concluded their meeting Sunday, approved a resolution proposed by San Diego Pastor Mark Trotter and others that directed the Center for Sexuality and Christian Life at the Claremont School of Theology to convene four regional convocations on “a Christian understanding of sexual life,” according to Methodist spokesman James W. Johnson.


Metropolitan Bishoy of Damietta, Egypt--the principal ecumenical emissary of the Coptic Orthodox Church--will speak during a theological conference next Saturday in Highland Park. The prelate will review the status of formal Coptic Church dialogues with Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theologians.

The daylong conference, organized by Bishop Serapion of Los Angeles, will be at Holy Virgin Mary Coptic Orthodox Church, 4900 Cleland Ave., starting with Divine Liturgy at 7 a.m. (562) 946-3931.

* Concluding a three-night celebration of Bishop Charles S. Blake’s 40 years of ministry, representatives of 200 Church of God in Christ congregations in California will join in a service of tribute at 7 p.m. today at Blake’s West Angeles Church of God in Christ, 3045 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles. The 15,000-member congregation has announced plans to build a new, $50-million church. (213) 733-8300, Ext. 211.

* Two upcoming courses at the Catholic-run Center for Spiritual Development in Orange will examine insights of the founders of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam, and teachings of four legendary Christian mystics.


The first course, taught by Sister MaryAnne Huepper, will run on successive Tuesday nights, starting next week. “We will ask ourselves: ‘How would I see the world if I practiced this religion?’ ” Huepper said. The second course, running on four Monday nights starting July 7, deals with mystics Meister Eckhart, St. Theresa of Lisieux, Mechtild of Magdeburg and St. Francis of Assisi. The courses cost $49 each. (714) 744-3175.


Church observances linked to Independence Day include a musical event Sunday and a July 4 picnic on a church-owned ranch.

* A 60-voice choir and full orchestra at the 1,800-seat Pasadena First Church of the Nazarene will present “With Freedom’s Holy Light” at 6 p.m. Sunday. Featuring contemporary arrangements of traditional American songs, the production at the church, 3700 E. Sierra Madre Blvd., is free, although donations will be accepted at the end. (818) 351-9631.

* Jerry McClain, who wrote and recorded the theme song for the TV sitcom “Happy Days,” will be the featured entertainment Friday at a Fourth of July picnic at Rancho Capistrano, a 175-acre ranch operated by the Crystal Cathedral Ministry. McClain, whose career plummeted during a long bout with drugs, is now active in evangelical Christian ministry with a book and a radio program. The entertainment, starting at 2:30 p.m. and ending with the 9 p.m. fireworks, is free except for a $6 parking fee. Reservations are required for a $9 buffet barbecue. (714) 544-5679. Directions: (714) 347-4000.

Notices may be mailed for consideration to Southern California File, c/o John Dart, L.A. Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, CA 91311, faxed to Religion desk, (818) 772-3385, or e-mailed to Items should arrive two to three weeks before the event, except for spot news, and should include pertinent details about the people and organizations, with address, phone number, date and time.



The Church of the Brethren, a traditional “peace church,” or denomination that conscientiously objects to all wars, will open its annual, six-day national convention Tuesday at the Long Beach Arena and Convention Center.


Based in Elgin, Ill., the 144,000-member denomination has 16 churches and an affiliated college, the University of Laverne, in Southern California.

The 1,000 delegates will discuss a dozen resolutions, including a proposed statement on child exploitation that calls on Congress to adopt laws prohibiting the marketing of goods produced by child labor in the United States.

Conference guest speakers include Millard Fuller, president of the Atlanta-based Habitat for Humanity; Sara Speicher of the World Council of Churches’ Programme to Overcome Violence, and the Rev. Patrick Mellerson, pastor of Butler Chapel Church in Orangeburg, S.C., a black church destroyed by arson that is being rebuilt by the Church of the Brethren.

* The 286-congregation Pacific Southwest District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod will open its three-day convention Sunday at the Los Angeles Airport Westin Hotel. The Rev. Loren Kramer will be nominated for a fifth term as president of the Irvine-based district, which he has headed for 12 years. The district has 120,000 baptized members in Southern California, Arizona and southern Nevada.