This group of Presbyterians and friends in the community has been active since January 2000. 


Charter members who attended the first meeting were Jean Anderson, Allan Edmonds, Margaret Harter, Jeanette Hendry, Judy Schroeder, Martha Wailes, and Gloria Westfall.


Regular participants include Sandy Brown, Kathryn Brown, Ginny Coombs, Allan Edmonds, Cheryl Engber, Susan Engert, Ann McEndarfer, Cathy McFarland, Galina McLaws, Norma Miller, Lou Moir, Paul & Mary Ellen Rothrock, Kathy Ruesink, Roberta Taylor, Judy Schroeder, Martha Wailes, and Karen Watts.


New members and "drop-ins" are always welcome! Feel free to check with any member of the group about participating. Contact the group at


Except where noted the group meets on the last Sunday of the month at 7 p.m. We meet in a downstairs activity room in the main building at the Bell Trace Retirement Community off of East 10th Street.


Books for 2018 and Beyond


  • Jan. 21 – Geraldine Brooks, The Secret Chord,  Leader: Kathy Ruesink. Brooks takes on one of literature’s richest and most enigmatic figures: a man who shimmers between history and legend. She peels away the myth to bring David to life in Second Iron Age Israel, and traces his journey from obscurity to fame, from shepherd to soldier, from hero to traitor, from beloved king to murderous despot and into his diminished dotage. This book provides new context for some of the best-known episodes of David’s life while also focusing on others that have been neglected. We see David through the eyes of those who love him or fear him—from the prophet Natan, voice of his conscience, to his wives Mikal, Avigail, and Batsheva, and finally to Solomon, the late-born son who redeems his Lear-like old age. Brooks has the ability to hear and transform characters from history in this beautifully written, unvarnished saga of faith. 
  • Feb. 25 – J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy (MCPL book kit), Leader: Paul Rothrock. The author pays tribute to his family, who aspired to transcend their white working-class roots, while investigating issues like domestic abuse, poverty and alcoholism that plague the culture they came from. Vance and his memoir have proved valuable guides to one landscape of Middle America following the confusion many have felt during and after the election season. (Time)
  • March 25 – Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You (MCPL book kit), Leader: Roberta Taylor. The NEA Big Read selection. MCPL book kit available. NY Times Notable Book of the Year. “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.
  • April 22 – Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow, Leader: Ann McEndarfer. The protagonist of this novel is a Russian count who, after the Revolution, is imprisoned by the Bolsheviks in the luxurious Hotel Metropol and remains there for the next three decades. The count’s sedate life provides an ironic counterpoint to the grim doings of Bolshevik and Stalinist Russia, most of which occur out of sight.
  • May 27 – David Oshinsky, Bellevue, Leader: Martha Wailes. It was — and remains — the nation’s first first responder. It was also the first hospital to have a maternity ward, an on-site medical school, an ambulance corps (originally driven by horses, their coaches outfitted with stretchers, whiskey, bandages, straitjackets and stomach pumps). Any exciting book about the history of Bellevue — which this one surely is — is destined to be as much about the history of disease, medicine and New York City as about the hospital itself. 
  • June 24 – Ann Patchett, Commonwealth (MCPL book kit), Leader: Kathy Brown. An encounter at a christening party breaks up two marriages and drastically alters the lives of the children of both families. Years later, when the child from the baptism grows up, she confesses her family’s secrets to a lover, who later uses them in a novel, inciting turmoil once again. The family drama explores not only the metafictional concerns of how writers wreak havoc on their subject matter but the ways that all of us use and abuse the people we love most. (Time) 
  • July 22/29 (TBD) – David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon, Leader: Allan Edmonds. The story, written by a staff writer for the New Yorker, is set in the 1920s and focuses on a string of murders of members of the Osage nation in Oklahoma after oil was discovered beneath their land. The chilling series of slayings was one of the fledgling FBI’s first major homicide investigations. Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese are developing a film adaptation of the true-crime thriller.
  • Aug. 26 – Alice McDermott, The Ninth Hour,  Leader: Susan Engert. “This seamlessly written new work from National Book Award winner McDermott asks how much we owe others, how much we owe ourselves, and, of course, with McDermott’s consistent attention to the Catholic faith, how much we owe God . . . In lucid, flowing prose, McDermott weaves her characters’ stories to powerful effect. Highly recommended.” (Library Journal)
  • Sept. 23/30 (TBD) – Debra Dunn, Madonnas of Leningrad, Leader: TBA. Russian emigré Marina Buriakov, 82, is preparing for her granddaughter's wedding near Seattle while fighting a losing battle against Alzheimer's. Struggling to remember whom Katie is marrying (and indeed that there is to be a marriage at all), Marina does remember her youth as a Hermitage Museum docent as the siege of Leningrad began; it is into these memories that she disappears. After frantic packing, the Hermitage’s collection is transported to a safe hiding place until the end of the war. The museum staff and their families remain, wintering (all 2,000 of them) in the Hermitage basement to avoid bombs and marauding soldiers. Marina, using the technique of a fellow docent, memorizes favorite Hermitage works; these memories, beautifully interspersed, are especially vibrant. 
  • Oct. 28 – Jodi Picoult, Small Great Things, Leader: Karen Bush Watts. When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the black nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his white supremacist father. What the nurse, her white female lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives. Small Great Things is about prejudice and power; it is about that which divides and unites us. “With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion — and doesn't offer easy answers” (Goodreads review). An Amazon Best Book for Oct. 2016. 
  • Nov. 25 – Lev Golinken, A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka, Leader: Lou Moir. A compelling story of two intertwined journeys: a Jewish refugee family fleeing persecution and a young man seeking to reclaim a shattered past. In the twilight of the Cold War (the late 1980s), 9-year-old Lev and his family cross the Soviet border with only ten suitcases, $600, and the vague promise of help awaiting in Vienna. Years later, Lev, now an American adult, sets out to retrace his family's long trek, locate the strangers who fought for his freedom, and in the process gain a future by understanding his past. 
  • Jan. 20, 2019 – Laurie Frankel, This Is How It Always Is, Leader: Cathy McFarland. Frankel takes the real-life experiences of living with a transgender child and puts them into a big-hearted story of family and secrets. Penn and Rosie are a close, loving couple, living in Madison, Wis., with their five boys. But it becomes evident that their youngest, Claude, feels like he should have been born a girl, and his parents want Claude to be who he wants to be. The nuances and unforeseen pitfalls of trying to protect your child from fear and hate while nurturing a sense of acceptance are daunting. Sometimes secrets have a way of materializing in the blink of an eye or the span of an innocuous question, and this novel is about the lengths we will go, as parents and siblings, to protect each other, and how we react when our secrets are exposed. It speaks to the heart of what it means to love and be loved by family. (adapted from Seira Wilson, The Amazon Book Review)
  • Feb. 24, 2019 – Candice Millard, Hero of the Empire, Leader: Ginny Coombs. Winston Churchill's extraordinary and little-known exploits during the Boer War (NYTimes review). At age 24, Churchill was utterly convinced it was his destiny to become prime minister of England one day, despite the fact he had just lost his first election campaign for Parliament. Churchill arrived in South Africa in 1899, valet and crates of vintage wine in tow, there to cover the brutal colonial war the British were fighting with Boer rebels. But just two weeks after his arrival, the soldiers he was accompanying on an armored train were ambushed, and Churchill was taken prisoner.  Remarkably, he pulled off a daring escape — but then had to traverse hundreds of miles of enemy territory, alone, with nothing but a crumpled wad of cash, four slabs of chocolate, and his wits to guide him. Millard spins an epic story of bravery, savagery, and chance encounters with a cast of historical characters — including Rudyard Kipling, Lord Kitchener, and Mohandas Gandhi — with whom he would later share the world stage.