Resilience, staying connected in 2020

| December 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

SERVICES are held outdoors at St. Brendan Church.

It’s been quite a year, what with a once-in-a-century pandemic and a presidential election like no other in recent memory, or maybe ever.

There were shining moments too, some surprises and glimmers of hope.

When the lockdown came, religious leaders probably said a quick prayer before moving their services outdoors and online.

Programs online

Wilshire Boulevard Temple (WBT) boosted its programming and increased its audience across the nation.

“We are filled with programming and we have been since March,” said Rabbi Susan Nanus.

This month, among offerings are: “Eight Crazy Quarantine Nights” celebrating Hanukkah beginning Dec. 10, and “The Rabbi and The Preacher,” featuring WBT Rabbi Steve Leder and Bishop Kenneth Ulmer of Faithful Central Bible Church. This program will discuss religious freedom Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. Leder and Ulmer have been seen recently on NBC’s the “Today Show.”

For a full schedule of classes, films and services, visit

In addition to its online activity, a bevy of clergy and volunteers at the temple fanned out across a congregation of some 2,400 families offering words of comfort.

“We’re trying very much to stay connected,” said Nanus, who is based at the Temple’s Glazer Campus, 3663 Wilshire Blvd.

She estimates that she’s called about 300 congregants, including a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor and active volunteer before the pandemic.

“I think all clergy do the same, whether it’s a church, a mosque or a synagogue,” Nanus told us.

“I feel people are very appreciative… They feel cared about,” said Nanus.

Services outdoors

Rev. Brian Castañeda at Saint Brendan Church, 300 S. Van Ness Ave., hopes to add a third Sunday mass to the schedule. He has been holding two Sunday services — at 8 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. — in the church parking lot since September.

Attendance “has been growing in number, so people are feeling more comfortable and feeling safe,” he told us.

Chairs are placed socially distant and hand sanitizer is available.

The 9:45 a.m. mass is livestreamed, and the church has a Facebook page, added Castañeda, who said he brushed up on his social media skills to meet the need.

Canopies provide shade, and parishioners wear hats and sunglasses, or scarves and gloves depending on the weather. And they wear masks, of course.

While the pandemic has provided challenges, to be sure, “I always say God provides,” said Castañeda.

Services are also streamed online at St. James’s-in-the-City Episcopal Church, and at Christ the King, where outdoor masses are offered in English and in Spanish, and confessions are heard in the parking lot.

Hope Lutheran Church will conduct Christmas services online this year as well, and advent themed services take place every Sunday leading up to Christmas Eve. Visit, or its Facebook page for more information.

“While we are anxious to be together again and welcome back friends new and old, we feel it’s more important to make everyone’s health and safety a priority,” said Jeff Burtt, church office manager.

Visit local temple, church and other worship sites’ online pages for full and up-to-date schedules.

Holiday traditions

As they have been each of the last 14 years, freshly delivered Christmas trees were set to arrive on Larchmont after Thanksgiving, officially announcing the holiday season, as we went to press. They will be ready for pick up at the same location as the Pumpkin Patch, Wilshire Rotarian Scot Clifford told us.

Also, the pandemic didn’t stop neighbors from ghostly pursuits in October. Third Street and St. Brendan schools practiced safe costumed carpools and pumpkin carving events. See story and photos on page 14, Sec. 2.

Feeding neighbors

Residents in Brookside, Hancock Park and citywide have been busy on Sunday mornings since the pandemic began — making sandwiches, thousands of them. The Hollywood Food Coalition and the Hancock Park-based Hang Out Do Good coordinate the effort.

The Ebell of Los Angeles, the Junior League of Los Angeles and other charitable groups also took their fundraisers and galas online, often with surprising results. Saving money on venues and other overhead costs, the Los Angeles Opera reaped more at its recent Zoom gala than the previous year.

Dining out

Before the Al Fresco program was halted last month, tables and chairs had spread out on the sidewalks and curb-side parking spaces of Larchmont Blvd. and around the city. Some restaurants had turned spacious parking lots into dining areas, such as at El Cholo, Marino, Kali, Osteria Mamma and El Coyote.

Patio dining and life in general may return to normal soon. A vaccine, actually several vaccines, are on the way. Until then, stay safe, wear a mask and raise a toast to 2021!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: People

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *