Sunday services jazzed up at First Lutheran

Glendale church hosts David Sills Quartet for Jazz Celebrations service, which attracts a diverse congregation.EAST GLENDALE -- The music emanating from the First Lutheran Church of Glendale on Sunday evening was nothing like the traditional hymns most people associate with worship services.

Organ music was replaced by the lows of the tenor saxophone and the eclectic rhythm of jazz drums, as the 40 or so people congregated in the church's pews enjoyed a performance by the David Sills Quartet.

The performance was part of the church's Jazz Celebrations, a contemporary vespers service typically held on the second Sunday of each month. The program is free, though offerings are accepted, Pastor Ken Simon said.

"It started here long before I arrived here seven years ago," said Simon.

"I believe the first jazz service of its type started at a church in New York City."

While the program does include a greeting, closing prayer and some reflection time, Simon said his talks during Jazz Celebrations are not always religious in nature.

"Most of the people who come here are not connected to the congregation, so it is like a different congregation from people we have during morning services," Simon said.

"The main issue for me is that all of the arts are a wonderful part of spirituality in a larger sense, and we love connecting to that."

As for the music, Simon said he does not completely understand jazz himself, even though his son is in his second year of UCLA's jazz program.

The crowd was as eclectic as the performance, with people of various denominations and from cities throughout the Southland and beyond.

"I came by to visit my friend, and we were gifted to be able to catch a jazz vespers ceremony," said Tim Perlick, a Catholic from Newport Beach.

"The acoustics in this building are beautiful, and this saves us from going to a bar in Pasadena and listening to jazz."

His companion, Andrea Arey of Chicago, was in town for a training session put on by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

"I was pleasantly surprised that there was a jazz concert," Arey said as the quartet played an original composition based on the old standard "Tangerine."

"We have a vespers back home, but it is more of a worship service."

Vespers, the evening prayer service in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox liturgies, usually refers to an evening worship service in Protestant denominations.

First Lutheran Church of Glendale is at 1300 E. Colorado St. For more information, call (818) 240-9000.

* FRED ORTEGA covers City Hall. He may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at

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