Thursday, May 1, will mark the nation’s 63rd observance of the National Day of Prayer. The national day of prayer (NDP) dates back to 1775, when the Continental Congress made a proclamation to set aside a day for prayer on behalf of the nation. The annual event encourages the people of this nation to unite in prayer for the nation one day each year, each in accordance with their own faith. A Christian observance of the 2014 NDP will be held May 1 in The Alexandria Room of Edmond Town Hall. It will start with music at 6 pm, followed by prayers from 7 to 8 pm.
In a scene set like the Last Supper, local clergy gathered at a long table filled with foods and items of both seasonal and religious significance. Among those at the head table at Newtown United Methodist Church on Sunday, April 6, which was set for a Passover Seder feast and interfaith celebration, NUMC Reverend Mel Kawakami greeted members of the public filling the room. The religious leaders and guests came together for the interfaith supper and traditional Jewish ritual feast marking the beginning of Passover, which celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt more than 3,000 years ago.
On Wednesday, April 16, at 8 pm, the Mystery Players of Immaculate Heart Central High School in Watertown, N.Y., will present the Stations of the Cross in a very creative way at St Rose of Lima. The Mystery Players bring the stations to the modern level through the use of special lighting, music, pantomime, and paraliturgical readings. Using the sanctuary of the church as a stage, The Paschal Mystery is recreated in a moving, dramatic presentation. It may not be appropriate for children under the age of 10, but all others are invited to attend the unique and powerful prayer experience.
Unity and Diversity is a weekly television program featuring interviews with leaders and representatives of various local religious communities. Those who wish to learn about their religious neighbors in a non-threatening manner are invited to look in. Programs are aired on Charter Communications channel 21, Mondays at noon and Wednesdays at 5:30 pm.
On Saturday, April 26, a dinner, reception, and comedy night will be held at Congregation Adath Israel, 115 Huntingtown Road. This evening will include a cocktail reception and full dinner, as well as a comedy show featuring Moody McCarthy, Andy Pitz, and Johnny Lampert. Presentations about Congregation Adath Israel and The Parents Circle-Families Foundation will also be offered, and both groups will benefit from the evening's proceeds.
Sandy Hook resident Elizabeth Adam introduced a few dozen St Rose of Lima School students to a program of stretching and strength-building postures on March 24. Called PraiseMoves, the program looks very much like yoga but uses biblical scripture to focus one’s mind instead of the chanting that accompanies most forms of the Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline. The program, Ms Adam told the students, “works on building muscular strength, flexibility and balance.”
A new church has been formed in Sandy Hook. Pastor Chris Camp, formerly of River Valley Baptist Church in Ansonia, has been leading services for Sandy Hook Baptist Church since the fall. The small, but already devoted, group meets at 31 Riverside Road, in the home of Ana and Paul Schriever. Sunday services are at 11 am, and Thursday evening bible studies begin at 7. The Schriever residence is the temporary home for Sandy Hook Baptist Church. Three families, about 15 people, gather regularly for the weekly services. The core group of Sandy Hook Baptist Church (SHBC) began meeting for Bible studies once weekly in early September.
Residents of all ages have stepped up their efforts to be better people in the 15 months since 12/14. There are concerted efforts to be a kinder, gentler town, and regular reminders to be nice to each other. A resident of Newtown who has been living such a life of purposeful kindness and encouragement for more than a decade, Michelle Weinstein was invited by the local unit of Church Women United to be the keynote speaker for this year's Human Rights Celebration. The residential and clinical services manager for Ability Beyond, Ms Weinstein shared some of the challenges and rewards of her career in the service of helping those with addictions and mental disabilities. As part of her presentation, Ms Weinstein challenged attendees to think about addictions in a different light. Using a can of Diet Coke and the challenge of a New Year's resolution, Ms Weinstein used the teaching tool she often shares with her clients to illustrate the difficulty of breaking an addiction. After her address, Ms Weinstein was then surprised to learn she has also been selected to receive a CWU Human Rights Award.
On Sunday, April 6, at 4 pm, an Interfaith Passover Seder will be celebrated at Newtown United Methodist Church. As has been done in recent years, the ceremony will be presented by clergy and lay people of many houses of worship in Newtown. The Reverend Mel Kawakami, pastor of Newtown United Methodist Church (NUMC), said, “This is always a special community event. This year, we will introduce a little more Christian perspective in this Jewish observance with an emphasis on the role of woman in the story.” NUMC members Betsy Kraushaar and Kathryn Wolf are co-organizing the event, and volunteers are needed to make it a success.
Congregation Adath Israel will hold a festival in celebration of the Jewish holiday of Purim on Sunday, March 16. The public event will run from 11:30 am until 2 pm at the synagogue. This festival is open to the community and will include magic by Magic Lee between 11:30 and noon, and a carnival from noon to 2. Food will be available for purchase. Admission is $5 per child; adults are free when accompanied by a child. The admission includes all games and prizes.