The Disciples Voice – Newsletter for October 19, 2016
Dropbox Link to our PDF version: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6plruwbyghcwkm2/NL101916.pdf?dl=0
Calendar at a Glance
Faith Alliance Music Festival Blesses Many
Saturday, September 24, 2016 marked the first Sing Out Against Poverty, Annual Faith Alliance Music Festival at The Square at Union Centre. About 200 people attended and the event raised $4,000 which be used to fund Faith Alliance Programs and Outreach. Leftover food was donated to Stepping Forward Dinners, WC Presbyterian Community Suppers, Reach Out Lakota and Hope In Action, a street ministry for the homeless. Hundreds struggling with poverty or homelessness were blessed with food from this event. Praise God!
Special thanks to our bands, sponsors, church liaisons and volunteers, and all our donors who offered food and support.
CCC FALL BOOK SALE UPDATE
Our first Fall Used Book Sale was a success! We raised a net profit of over $300 dollars! What a blessing for our church and our community! When asked, our visitors overwhelmingly told us they heard about our sale through the internet either on Craig’s List or Facebook. So we now have valuable information for how to advertise our future events.
Let’s continue to bless our community by picking up a box of leftover books and taking it to your local Half Price Books for review and bring back the money you receive there. Whatever left over books from that effort, please take to one of the Better World Book drop box locations listed on the instruction sheet attached to the box you took. All intact boxes should be returned to the church for our Library Move! Thanks again!
Sarah R Ferguson, Stewardship Chair
Abundant Living Fall Sermon Series
We are taking an extended journey this fall through the vineyard and its importance to us individually and congregationally for growth. Growth has been a key focus for leadership this year, and this series is an outgrowth of that focus. Here’s the ground we’ve covered, and what’s yet to come:
Oct 9―Song of the Vineyard
Oct 16―God’s Plans for Your Life
Oct 23―When You’re Down & Dirty
Oct 30―When God Allows Pain, Part 1
Nov 6―When God Allows Pain, Part 2
Nov 13―Doing More by Doing Less, Part 1
Posting as per Permission to use the following image: http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/NTAwWDMzMw==/z/sXQAAOSwu-BWPQkR/$_1.JPG?set_id=8800005007
Sunday Service Schedule:
- Awakenings (Fellowship for all ages) 9:30 – 10:30 am
- Opportunities to Study at CCC Sunday Mornings @ 9:20 am
- CYF (grades 9-12)
- Chi Rho (grades 5-8)
- CCF (grades 3-4)
- Children Bible Study (ages 4 – 2nd grade)
- Toddler (ages 2-3)
- Adult Bible Study: New study of Revelation begins early Nov.
Worship 10:30 am
Adult Mission Trip Group leaves for SC
Adult Mission trip to SC
The Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI) is a new collaborative effort between the United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries, Church of the Brethren Disaster Ministries, and the disaster ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ): Disciples Volunteering and Week of Compassion.
Last October, South Carolina was beset by severe storms and heavy flooding. Today, DRSI is one of only a very few groups still working around Columbia, SC, organizing mission teams for long-term repairs and rebuilding. On Sunday, Oct. 23 volunteers from Compass Christian Church will travel to East Charleston, South Carolina to stay until Saturday, Oct. 29. In East Charleston, they will join other Disciples disaster relief groups to repair and restore buildings damaged by floods last year. Workers will tear out ruined walls and floors, re-install drywall, finish and paint —whatever is needed when they arrive.
Sunday October 23 continues… Special Board Mtg after worship Re exterior signs
CMF Breakfast – Christian Men’s Fellowship
October 29, 2016 at 9 am
All members and friends of CCC are welcome.
Please note the following address and directions:
Scrambler Marie’s (513-769-8999) 4006 Hauck Road Sharonville, OH 45241
Directions: Immediately North of the intersection of S.R. 42 & I-275, turn East on Hauck Road between the CVS Pharmacy & the BP station.
PS. The women are crashing the party; will sit at a girls table!
November 5, 2016 – Empty Bowls Event
The Caring Community Collaborative (C3) is sponsoring the Second Annual West Chester Liberty Empty Bowls at Liberty Center on Saturday, November 5, 2016. They are looking for volunteers to work registration at some “pre” events at Liberty Center beginning October 9th and other weekends leading up the event. Addition info is in the volunteer opportunity section.
November 6, 2016 – All Saints Sunday
This Sunday will mark All Saints, the day when the Church gives thanks for the saints we have known who now rest from their labors. Each year we commemorate those who have passed on to glory since last year’s All Saints Sunday.
We will be remembering Roy Andow, Dave Clemons, and Ken Dicken. Please join us that day in remembering and giving thanks for these and other saints we have known.
Daylight Savings Time ends on Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016 at 2:00 a.m.
Remember to set your clocks BACK one hour.
Election Day Bake Sale
November 8, 2016
We need people & cookies!
First, by bringing cookies, brownies, cakes, pies, etc., appropriately packaged (2-3 pieces to a baggie) in case folks want to munch while they wait to vote. Please bring donated baked goods to the church on Sunday or Monday preceding Election Day.
Second, by volunteering for a shift as greeter/cookie-seller! The baked goods booth will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. See sign-up sheet at church or contact Sally E. for more details.
November 10, 2016 noon – Pastor at Panera
Panera VOA Voice of America plaza (note this was moved from November 3rd)
- Work Day
November 12, 2016
- Live Nativity Build, 8:00 a.m.
- Ground Clean Up, 9:00 a.m.
- One of the big jobs associated with this event is the “Live Nativity Build,” i.e., construction of the stable out in the church’s front yard, which will take place Saturday, November 12, starting at 8:00 am. (Yes, you have to get up early on a Saturday.) We should be able to finish by 11:00 or so. The size of the structure has been greatly reduced from previous builds in order to make construction faster and easier.We need volunteers to make this go smoothly, mostly volunteers with the muscle to lift and carry building panels. You don’t need to bring tools, but if you have an 8-foot stepladder, that would be helpful. We will be fastening panels together with nuts and bolts, and hammering a few nails to fasten the roof panels in place.So if you’re available and feeling spry, come on out and help us set up for this service to our community.(Questions? Contact Steve S.)
December 3, 2016 at 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm CCC grounds
VOYAGE TO BETHLEHEM – TEN THOUSAND VILLAGES
December 3, 2016 at 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm inside CCC
- November 24-25, 2016 Thanksgiving Holiday (Office Closed)
- November 26, 2016 Over-the-Rhine Soup Kitchen
- November 27, 2016 Advent begins
- November 29, 2016 Stepping Forward Dinner https://compassc.org/2016/10/17/volunteer-opportunity-stepping-forward-dinner-november-29-2016/
From Disciples.org Knowing When to Stay and When to Go:
A Guide to Volunteering ; By Josh Baird
“Go,” said a voice in my head. “Go!”
I had been glued to the television and various news or weather-related websites all day, trying to keep up with the latest information about this storm.
It is almost instinctive, the desire to want to help someone in need. When a large disaster strikes a community, we know that help is needed. Most of the time, we have resources to offer. Sometimes, we have skills that are needed. I understand the desire, that instinct, to jump into action, to drive to that community, to do something—anything—to help. Our national media is very good at filling our television screens, front pages, and Internet sites with compelling images and stories of people in need. How can we, as a people of faith, not respond?
But, most of the time, the worst thing we can do is listen to that voice that tells us to immediately “Go!”
Among disaster responders, people who just show up to help are called “unaffiliated volunteers” or “spontaneous volunteers.” Other words, however, get more quickly to the point, among them “distraction,” “headache,” and “nuisance.” … Many people arrive without tools, rather assuming they will be made available. Almost everyone arrives needing a place to stay and something to do.
I have had the privilege of sitting down with pastors and local leaders after disaster has hit their community. They tell amazing stories about how the community rallied in response. “We pulled together and took care of each other,” is a common refrain. These stories also typically include a few details about people who came from out of the area to help. Sometimes, these spontaneous volunteers called first to ask if their help was needed. Sometimes, they called as more of a “courtesy” to inform folks that help was on the way. Even if they had the real courtesy to ask, however, most pastors and community leaders do not say, “No.” But they should.
The task of finding something for spontaneous volunteers to do often falls on our pastors. Most take this on because they think they should, even though they have much more important work to do, such as checking on church members and being available to the wider local community, not to mention taking care of themselves and their own families. After one disaster, I met with several church leaders and told them it was okay to say “No” to all the offers of help that they were receiving. The mood in the room shifted, as if a weight had been lifted. One pastor then admitted that she would much rather be helping the people of her church connect with relatives or find a place to stay than arrange work or housing for yet another out-of-town mission team. It is common for more people to spontaneously show up than can possibly be accommodated. In these circumstances, people spend a lot of time standing around or searching for something to do; sometimes, they’re even turned away. The question we should all be asking, in circumstances such as these, is: Whose needs am I really trying to meet?
The same question is also appropriate before we begin gathering donations to send to the disaster zone. Unfortunately, some people use a disaster as an excuse to clean out their garages or the back of their closets. Threadbare clothes; used underwear; random, expired, even unlabeled prescription medicines; old, half-empty cans of paint; broken Christmas lights and other junk: all of this stuff and more pours into communities following a disaster. The time it takes to sift through it all to determine whether there is anything worth keeping is time that is not spent working with people who need help. The space that must be found to sort, store, and display or dispose of these things becomes a burden when space is already at a premium. After the city of Joplin, Missouri, was struck by a tornado, I remember a story in the news about how communities in Alabama, which had been hit by multiple tornados less than four weeks earlier, were sending donations on to Joplin. In my head, I imagined a convoy of semis hauling donated junk that nobody wanted from one disaster to another.
News media are good at laying bare the devastation of a disaster. The stories and images they share move us to want to help. Only in recent years have they begun to tell the other side of that story: that not all help is helpful, and that sometimes it only increases the burden on a community that is still reeling. Communities that are hit hard by disaster depend on outside assistance for their recovery. But with the exception of professional services offered by trained First Responders and organizations such as the Red Cross, the kind of assistance that is needed while the television cameras are still there is limited.
In the immediate hours and days following a disaster, trained responders are saving lives and meeting the most basic of needs: providing shelter, food, water, and medical care to those who have been directly affected. These services occur during the emergency phase of disaster response. The phases of a disaster and an appropriate response are not clearly separated. The emergency response often begins while the disaster is still occurring. And it typically continues after relief begins. Once basic survival needs are met, attention turns to securing property. Damaged roofs get the blue tarp treatment; downed trees are cut and hauled to the curb; flooded homes have water-logged carpet—and sometimes furnishings, clothes, flooring, and walls—removed so the homes can dry. During this relief phase, neighbors are most needed as people pitch in together and folks who can come and go—and who know the local area—are most useful.
This need for neighbors provides an exception to the “don’t go” rule. If people can get to a community hit by disaster in half a day or less—taking into account road hazards, closures, detours, and other unpredictable conditions—then their presence may be helpful. They can get there, work for about half a day, and still get home that night. They also must be completely self-sufficient, carrying all of the tools, protective gear, sunscreen, bug spray, food, gas, and cash necessary, plus two to three times the amount of water or sports drink needed. Anyone meeting all of these conditions still must check to see whether people are even being allowed into the community, or if a curfew is in effect, before loading their vehicles. Finally, they must have a point of contact—a place to go or a person they’ve already connected with—before setting out.
For the rest of us, those who are more than a few hours’ drive away, the waiting can be difficult. In the next phase of the recovery, things seem to slow down. Most of the people impacted by the disaster, and the government, civic, and faith-based organizations involved in the response are, in reality, extremely busy assessing needs, gathering resources, and planning for the long term. Homeowners begin to file with their insurance companies. FEMA focuses on registering people who may need assistance and guiding them through various assistance programs as appropriate. Local governments, community organizations, churches, and other agencies begin working to develop the infrastructure needed to support a long-term response.
Both the individual and organizational work can take several months to complete. Communities, therefore, are not typically ready for out-of-town mission teams in any significant number until at least three months after the disaster. When they are, the response shifts into the recovery phase. This gives those who want to “Go!” and help plenty of time to plan appropriately and make a trip when their service is most needed. Rest assured, unmet needs in the community will long outlast the headlines and news crews. The longer the recovery takes, the more important mission teams will become. The most important thing we can do with that desire to “Go!” is channel it into planning a trip many months, even a year, into the future. Tap into the desire and the energy of your friends and neighbors at home, work, school, and church and make a commitment while the story is still hot to go when interest will have cooled.
At the same time, appropriate donations are needed, and giving is one important response to disaster. To organize or participate in a drive for needed donations, follow a few basic guidelines. Make sure your donations have a destination before you give them. Find out what is really needed. If you wouldn’t want it yourself, don’t send it to someone else. And never, ever send clothes (unless they are specifically requested—and then, send only new clothing).
Another option is to assemble cleanup buckets or other kits for Church World Service. These kits are collected year round and stored in a warehouse. When disaster strikes, they are quickly shipped into communities so that folks have the basic cleaning supplies they need to clean up their homes. Large disasters quickly deplete the supply of cleanup buckets available. So, while the buckets assembled after one disaster may not make it to the affected community this time, they are vital for replenishing stock and ensuring that there are enough buckets ready to go to the next time they are needed.
If you still feel the urge to clean something out, skip the garage and the closet—and go straight to your purse or wallet. The best donation after any disaster is a financial donation. Cash allows responders to flexibly adapt to meet the obvious and the unanticipated needs that arise after a disaster. When an unexpected semi arrives hauling pallets of water, funds can be shifted to purchase food or materials. When a family walks through the door of a relief center needing gas for their generator, a gift card can be given. When a group of people are ready to climb roofs and install tarps but a decent ladder can’t be located, one can be purchased. Through ecumenical contacts as well as historic and emerging partners, mainline denominations participate in strong response networks. Through these relationships, financial gifts made to each denomination’s disaster response offering and Church World Service are immediately available for critical needs. Other grants are targeted to support the work of response partners as they prepare for the long-term recovery.
There are a few more things we can do after a disaster. We can be in prayer—for those who have been affected by the disaster, for those who are responding, and for many, many more to respond when the time is right. We can care enough to follow the response beyond the headlines, to continue to seek information about what’s really happening, and look for creative, appropriate ways to respond. And we can take advantage of the attention being paid to this disaster to prepare our families, church, and community should a disaster hit close to home. If we do these things, share as we are able, and don’t go there until our presence is needed, we will truly be responding at our best.
Once the national media gets its first, happy story about how people are beginning their recovery, they will go home. This is when the work is just getting started. This is when you are most needed. This is when the Church has the greatest opportunity to be the hands, the feet, and the heart of Jesus, offering help, hope, and healing with our neighbors. May we faithfully aim to arrive when we are needed, to serve as we are able, and to be among the last to leave.
Flow Chart for Sequence of Delivery –http://www.fema.gov/pdf/about/regions/regioni/sequence2008.pdf
Relief Assistance Needed in Louisiana
September 21, 2016
Posted by: Josh Baird
In August, southern Louisiana experienced devastating flooding, with impacted homes receiving anywhere from a few inches of flood water up to 8 feet. With more than 110,000 households requesting assistance, it is estimated that over half a million people were impacted by the flood.
The slowness with which the waters receded combined with late summer humidity put tens of thousands of homes at risk of severe mold growth and more rapid deterioration. It is critical that these homes are cleaned out: removing contents and walls that absorbed water will lead to less damage – and a lower need for assistance – in the long run.
Help is needed now to assist with this clean-up work, including the mucking and gutting of homes. Disciples Volunteering has partnered with NECHAMA, Jewish Response to Disaster, for coordinating the work of mission teams through October 30. First Christian Church, Baton Rouge, is providing housing to teams which can arrive Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday and work through Sunday. Week of Compassion and the Great River Region are also partners in this response.
TO VOLUNTEER IN LA RELIEF MISSIONS
For more information and to learn how you can be a part of the response, click here!
To Register as a group or individuals click on this link:
Funding Provided in Response to Hurricane Matthew
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end;they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:21-24 (NRSV)
Since Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti last Tuesday as a Category 4 storm, Week of Compassion has been in ongoing conversation with partners in the Caribbean and the Southeastern United States. Even as damage is being assessed in the affected regions, we are working with our partners to develop response plans and providing relief and assistance. Early reports and actions are detailed below.
CALL TO ACTION
Most needed now are prayer and monetary gifts.
By prayer, we remind ourselves that we are connected by God’s spirit, and we invoke that Spirit of hope, mercy, and steadfast love. By our gifts, we participate in God’s mercies, enabling the variety of responses described below–from food and water, to latrines, shelters, and psychological support.
Week of Compassion has been present in the affected areas since long before the storm. Help us continue our presence long after the waters recede.
Empty Bowls (Volunteer Opportunities and Events)
… participating artists and groups create and donate bowls, then serve a simple meal.… Guests choose a bowl to use that day and to keep as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. In exchange for the meal, and the bowl, guests contribute a suggested minimum donation.
One hundred percent of each meal’s proceeds is devoted to local hunger-fighting organizations, such as food banks or soup kitchens, or to national or international charitable groups.
“Empty Bowls” events can be sponsored by local potters and artists organizations, churches, community service organizations and schools.
Stated OBJECTIVES of “Empty Bowls”:
Raise as much money as possible to feed the world’s hungry people. Lives are in the balance.
Increase awareness of hunger and related issues. Through education, awareness, and action, concerned individuals can change human attitudes that allow hunger to exist.
Advocate for arts education. Nurturing the creative process through the arts enhances the possibility of finding new solutions to old problems.
If you are looking for a volunteer opportunity please sign up for one of these Empty Bowls events.
(From The Faith Alliance online newsletter)
The Caring Community Collaborative (C3) is sponsoring the Second Annual West Chester Liberty Empty Bowls at Liberty Center on Saturday, November 5, 2016.
Sat, November 5, 2016 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM EDT
Join C3 at the Liberty Center, Sabin Hall as we present the Second Annual West Chester Liberty Empty Bowls fundraiser to benefit hunger in our community.
Liberty Center, Sabin Hall 7650 Liberty Way Liberty Township, OH 45069 View Map
REGISTER for either the 11:00 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. seating
DONATE $25 per person toward feeding the hungry in our community
SELECT a handcrafted bowl made by local artists and organizations
RECEIVE your choice of soup, bread, dessert and a drink prepared by local chefs and restaurants
Proceeds from Empty Bowls will go to Reach Out Lakota and the Faith Alliance Summer Lunch and Literacy Program.
To see all the other Empty Bowl Events in Butler County go to https://compassc.org/2016/10/18/volunteer-opportunites-empty-bowls-feed-the-hungry-in-butler-county/
Children’s Bible Study
9:30 a.m. Sundays
The Children’s Bible Study needs volunteers to keep this program going. Specifically, we need people to help in the classroom so teachers can teach, and to help with younger children in the nursery. Your simple presence and kind attention helps things go more smoothly. Please sign up to be with the children for a while on Sunday mornings. See sign-up sheet on the Kids Corner table at church.
Happy Halloween Cards!
The CCC Toddler Class has made special Halloween cards! These charming one-of-a-kind, not-available-in-stores cards are on the Kids Corner table at the back of the sanctuary. You may have one for free, BUT donations / love offerings are gladly accepted and will be used for youth/children’s activities.
Fall Children’s Worship & Wonder Continues …
An exciting way of approaching faith formation with children is the best way to describe Children Worship & Wonder (CW&W)
CW&W respects the ways children learn today by offering learning activities that are experiential, image-rich, multi-sensory, interactive, engaging, and varied in learning style.
In Children Worship & Wonder we provide an environment which provides opportunities for children to experience and imagine how their personal story is intertwined with the Bible and Christian tradition.
They learn about sacred spaces in which they are encouraged to wonder and ask questions. The adults often answer these questions with “I wonder…” discussions. They respect each other and the spaces but doing small gestures like “walking slower” and “speaking softer”.
Significant training is required to learn this approach and use it effectively. It takes commitment in both time and financial resources. We have 8 trained story tellers, as well as trained greeters.
Videos created by Disciples of Christ :
If you can’t see the above videos, please visit this link:
Thursday opened with a jazz trio, speakers on the importance of water, communion with water and plantain chips (remembering our connections to the DOC in Congo), and an offering for Week of Compassion.
Friday we were reminded we are empowered for mission and engaged in onsite mission projects. We also are empowered for justice, and committed to doing so within our local communities.
Saturday concluded with the reminder we are empowered for outreach and a cookout at Camp Christian.
Thanks to all for their prayers and for Dave Tietsort’s presence as another representative from our congregation.
A Moment for Stewardship
Capital Expenditures, Repairs, & Improvements:
Our Capital Funds pay the mortgage, county taxes, building maintenance, and improvements. Below are a few of the repairs & improvements recently completed.
- Repair mechanical room on west side;
- Replace west entranceway ceiling tile;
- Equipment room & Sink room drywall replaced, sealed and insulated;
- Repair Modular by adding flange around window, installing new window, replacing drywall, replacing floor boards & foundation, bleaching & restoring room to usability;
- New energy efficient light bulbs installed in half of the Sanctuary; and
- Upgraded media center to digital soundboard with new lavalieres (wireless microphones).
In addition, plans are in place to complete the ceiling tile replacements & light bulbs, re-route plumbing from sink room to sink behind chancel, install new all-weather carpeting for modular, and if possible, new carpeting for the church building.
“With language clear enough for the whole family to enjoy, Danielle Bean reminds us that our Advent preparations should center on the arrival of the Savior, rather than only on parties and gifts.”
The church will order one booklet per family. Since it is available in hard copy or in electronic version (Kindle or Nook); please contact Donne in the church office no later than Oct. 23 to let her know if you prefer an electronic copy. Otherwise, she will order your family a hard copy.
Devotionals will be distributed on Nov. 20, the Sunday before Advent begins.
Opportunities to Serve at CCC
October 22, 2016 9 am; 12 – 1 pm
Over-the-Rhine Soup Kitchen (located at 1620 Vine Street Cincinnati, OH 45202 – go around to the back of the building) TO HELP PREPARE & SERVE A MEAL IN OVER-THE-RHINE, call 513-754-0777 to volunteer. We start cooking at 9 a.m. to serve at noon to 1 p.m. You do not have to be a member of this church, this faith, or any faith to volunteer.
November 12, 2016 Work Day
- Live Nativity Build, 8:00 a.m.
- Ground Clean Up, 9:00 a.m.
Opportunities to Study at CCC
Sunday Mornings @ 9:20 am
- CYF (grades 9-12))
- Chi Rho (grades 5-8)
- CCF (grades 3-4)
- Children Bible Study (ages 4 – 2nd grade)
- Toddler (ages 2-3)
- Adult Bible Study: New study of Revelation begins early Nov.
In early November the class will begin studying The Book of Revelation. We are very excited about this study. Revelation is frequently misunderstood, misused or simply not read. Join us for this interesting review, especially to find out what Revelation says to us today.
We will be using the Kerygma Study Guide, which costs $20. There will be a signup sheet at church until October 23. Please make checks out to “Steve Simmons” and give to him. He will order the guides on Monday, October 24 for those who have paid. After this you will need to order your own Study Guide.
Hope to see you in class ~ Steve S
Opportunities to Sing at CCC
Wednesday Evening Practice
- 7:00-7:30 pm Ablaze Choir (ages 5-11)
- 6:30-7:15 pm Handbell Choir
- 7:30 pm Adult Choir
On October 12, the Handbell Choir resumed its regular Wednesday night practice from 6:30-7:15 p.m. in the sanctuary.
If you are interested in playing, please see Annmarie Lyons. Ability to read music is recommended.
New members are always welcome!
The choir will be sharing a Christmas Cantata called One Small Child with the congregation during the service on December 18. We invite you to join us in singing for this event!
We will begin preparing this music on Wednesday night, October 26 at 7:30 p.m., using a book and CD to help us learn the music for this celebration of Jesus’ birth.
Coming Events at CCC
December 3, 2016
Voyage to Bethlehem 1 pm – 5 pm
Nativity Display & 10,000 Villages Free Trade Shop; Hot Cocoa & Cookies
Live Nativity 1 pm – 4 pm
Animals and Costumed Actors
For those without homes to find suitable shelter for the upcoming colder weather.
To trust that elected leaders will be God’s choice for our future so we can come together and support them even if we disagree.
For leaders of powerful nations to cooperate and provide aid to struggling countries
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may they prosper
who love you. Psalm 122:6
Hannah Ellis-Peterson wrote an article in the September 24 edition of The Guardian newspaper. “Unity gives Jerusalem a prayer: Jews, Muslims and Christians join for worship.” Given what usually passes for headlines from this area of the world, it’s important to note stories that surprise us with the unexpected.
Eight religious leaders brought their congregations together for eight days in one room. It was a dangerous move.
Above Picture : A member of the congregation is welcomed at the entrance of Amen by, right to left, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum, Waida Ibtisam Mahmeed, Father Alberto Fer and Sister Esther Salib. Photograph: Michal Fattal
For eight days a music school in the lowest valley of Jerusalem next to Mount Zion was transformed into a communal house of prayer, named Amen, bringing together Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious leaders and their congregations to worship together in one room. A female leader of an Orthodox Jewish synagogue, Rabba Tamar Elad-Abblebaum, along with the Muslim Sufi Sheikh Ihab Balah reached out to six other religious figures—two rabbis, a Franciscan monk, a Catholic priest, a Coptic deaconess and a female Muslim community leader. All these leaders were very traditional in their beliefs and practices, but also open to discussions with other faiths.
Above Picture: Waida Ibtisam Mahmeed ties up the strips of muslin that hang from the ceiling in preparation for an evening of prayer and song. Photograph: Michal Fattal
As Rabba Elad-Abblebaum said to the crowd gathered one evening, “We have had a long way to go to prepare for this evening. Today we all do something very brave.” There were synagogue members in modest dress and kippahs, others with crosses around necks, traditional black robes of the Copts, another in the Muslim hijab, and several nuns in their habits. Many wore no religious garb at all, but all were there to pray. Not only were Israel’s discordant religions brought together, but also men and women, which is almost unheard of in such interreligious gatherings.
Instead of merging prayers and traditions, each night the prayer house was hosted by a different religious figure, and most of the prayer done through music and song, a common uniter. The prayer book handed out was in Hebrew, Arabic and English. Modesty governed the interior design of the prayer house. Thin strips of white muslin hung from the ceiling, each bearing a quote from the Bible, the Torah or the Qur’an in both Hebrew and Arabic and the religious leaders, and their accompanying musicians, sat on wooden chairs.
A Lebanese Catholic leader was extremely skeptical when first approached, but in meeting with other religious leaders was surprised that real friendships developed. Those friendships were the basis for changing people’s hearts and then their minds. Elad-Abblebaum said, “This is not a political project; we wanted people to come from the right and the left and show that faith is beyond ideology.
Above Picture: The eight religious leaders, alongside musicians, sit before the congregation. Photograph: Michal Fattal
Here, we are reshaping reality and doing it through prayer. I never believed something like this would be possible in my lifetime.” The eight religious leaders are working together to insure that Amen lives on beyond its eight days, to be more than a memory but energy for the next step. Another Muslim woman organizer, Waida Ibtisam Mahmeed said, “Islam, Christianity, Judaism, it is all interconnected. We may pray in different ways with different texts but in the end we are all reaching for the same thing.”
REGIONAL WEB SITES
You can learn more about each regional ministry by visiting their web site: