Religion Feed

A community takes sides: Back the Blue or Black Lives Matter

Two separate rallies, one for Black Lives Matter and the other for Back the Blue both kicked off at 10:30 am on October 10, 2020 in Springfield Township, Montgomery County Pennsylvania in two nearby township parks. Was it coincidental??? Watch short video of rallies here.  An unscientific poll of 99  respondents on the NextDoor app indicates that people who support both causes are in a distinct minority, about 27%. It also indicates 76% support Black Lives Matter and  47% Back the Blue. Caveat: there is always the question of what people are thinking who are neither participating in such a poll or even on the social media platform where the poll was conducted. It's also worth noting that people may support the causes espoused without ascribing to a provocative movement or slogan.

ND back blue  black matter poll screenshot
As a member of the minority who espouse both causes, your correspondent attended only part of each rally so the material here is certainly not comprehensive and due to personal history, not necessarily well balanced. Photos of both rallies here.

A-little-girl-with-a-back-the-blue-flag-at-springfield-township-rally_50446102426_o
At the Back the Blue Rally in Cisco Park, your correspondent heard 37 year veteran, Michael E. Pitkow, Chief of Police, thank the community for their support and the dedication of his officers. He spoke of a survey being conducted [the outgrowth of community meetings] among community residents soliciting their input about what they want from their police department. He remarked about the challenging times ensuing after the onset of the corona-virus pandemic and the "death of Mr. George Floyd" but noted Springfield Township hadn't experienced the civil unrest occurring in many other places around the nation.

Michele Chesaitis, an active member of the Friends of the Springfield Township Police is concerned when people make negative generalizations about the police. She comes from a police and fire department family and is proud of her family’s service. She considers the close knit community of law enforcement as part of her family, too. When asked whether the Black Lives Matter protesters had any legitimate issues she answered "There are legitimate and valuable issues for every walk of life," and as to what whether police could do better, "that we stop lumping police into groups.” When introduced she began her public remarks by asking everyone to join her in a prayer for the police, "In the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit...."

Watch video interview here.

Black and white teens unite at black lives matter rally

At the Unity and Diversity rally to honor Breonna Taylor, clumps of young adults, families and older adults were spaced far apart in Mermaid Park listening to the speakers. Montgomery County Commissioner Ken Lawrence contrasted the actions of Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend who fired out from inside their home, defending their home with the act of a white vigilante who traveled from his home and killed protesters “There’s a hypocrisy. That’s why Black Lives Matter. Because when it happens to us it’s always something that we did wrong to end up dead.” He highlighted a recent incident in Upper Gwynedd Township in which police successfully de-escalated a situation and no one died; they were able to disarm a man who had fired a shotgun at them. “It absolutely can be done.”  Napoleon Nelson, who is running for representative in the 184th district of the Pennsylvania State House, encompassing Springfield Township spoke next. He had visited the police rally, too, and a photo of him there appears in the photo album above. Your correspondent regrets an opening didn't present itself to interview him, being apparently only one of three African-American adults present at the police rally. The African American Republican congressional candidate Kathy Barnette was similarly engaged with others and Barnette's  mother declined to be interviewed. The below is only an excerpt of Nelson's remarks. Readers are encouraged to listen to the fuller versions of both Lawrence and Nelson here.

"Before I got here I was over on the other side of the Township at a Back the Blue rally. And I do, I support police. I think there’s an important role for law enforcement in our community. But this day, this time, is not about backing the blue.

Continue reading "A community takes sides: Back the Blue or Black Lives Matter" »


Religious activity: feeding the hungry, reaching out to youth

 

Two fish five loaves
The "Two Fish.Five Loaves" ministry of the New Covenant Church of Philadelphia gives out free food to the neighborhood and beyond. Many volunteers help with the distribution of nearly 1000 free boxes of food each week. During these pandemic times, demand is growing according to Minister Sandra. (Volunteers are welcome to sign up for either packing or distribution tasks at https://nccop.church/2fish5loaves  ) People arrive in cars, on foot and on the bus to pick up food, no questions asked. The food is provided by Common Market, a non-profit food distributor sourcing product from sustainable local farms and Caring for [Friends], also a non-profit organization. This past Saturday, boxes were brimming with fresh peaches and blueberries. Separate packages contained dry goods and meat. For the recipient, the different food items are considered one box. "Two fish, five loaves" references a Bible story in which two fish and five loaves were brought to Jesus; with it, he fed thousands with food left over. Minister Sandra says the ministry is following out Jesus' instruction to Peter to "Feed my sheep." "That's what we are doing every Saturday, feeding his sheep." Watch video interview here.

--------------------------------------

Calvary wyncote video

Calvary Church of Wyncote Associate Pastor Tom Tweedle and some church youth were on the front lawn of a home in East Mount Airy making a video. The finished video will encourage teens to get active in the church's youth group which is restarting in September. As one young woman pointed a hose in the air to create a gentle arc of rain over the pastor's head, another took a video of him talking into the camera. "Baby Come Back" the 1978 song by Player played aloud in the background.  Expect to see the video on the Church's website calvarywyncote.com/youth/and perhaps, also, on TikTok. Watch video Watch video here


Palestine Teach-In draws hundreds in Philly

From the Facebook Event Page

"Join us on June 30 for our Palestine teach-in! This event brings together an amazing group of scholars, organizers, activists, and teachers for a day of teaching and strategizing. Whether you’re looking for a basic introduction or advanced analysis, the event will be a valuable experience." Hosted by Uncle Bobbie's Coffee and Books in Germantown.

------------------------

---------------------------------


-------------------------

----------------------------

Meanwhile  Weavers Way Co-op may have gotten around the boycott Israel issue by selling Equal Exchange Olive Oil produced by Palestinian small farmers

Palestinian farmer olive oil


Missionaries raise funds for Haiti relief trip

Missionaries headed to Haiti for relief work

​A mother and son and another member of a Christian community in Center City Philadelphia were outside a neighborhood food store raising money for a one week trip to Haiti where infrastructure repair remains a high need after the 2010 earthquake. The young man and 11 other youths will help conduct bible study for children in an orphanage and the 4 adults on the mission will do electrical and construction repair at a school.

video interview here


Reverend offers free prayer for Starbucks customers

Reverend offers Starbucks customers free prayer

The Reverend Paul Adler, installed just last summer as rector at the Episcopal Church of Saint Alban in Roxborough, Philadelphia  prays for people who come across him seated and collared in the nearby Starbucks coffee shop. An occasional customer  is drawn to his table by the license plate size "FREE PRAYER" sign  atop it. When he's not engaged in an impromptu prayer session, he will address email correspondence or work on sermons. A medical student seeks God's help with medical exams about to begin. A young woman who has a newborn child and also a very ill, hospitalized mother-in-law seeks prayer for her family. Adler believes that prayer is a way of spending time with God and spending time with God is worthwhile, even if  prayer doesn't always work in the ways supplicants are expecting. Watch video here.


Overcoming paralysis from multiple sclerosis

Minister Betty Jones Alston was paralyzed from the waist down this January due to multiple sclerosis which she was diagnosed with in 1990. She had begun dropping things and attributed it to being very busy and worn down directing a food ministry and prison ministry, but it was not so.

But she is walking again and on a recent chilly spring day, she was methodically making her way down the steep entrance steps of the J.S. Jenks School after a meeting about her grandson, a student. She placed her three-footed aluminum cane on the step below her before taking each step.

Also afflicted with lupus, Minister Alston credits her faith, positive attitude and taking control of her body for enabling her to continue to lead an active life. She also sings gospel but due to a recent illness, was not able to sing in the accompanying video.

Watch video interview here.


Chabad Rabbi lights public Hanukah menorah

public menorah

It appeared that Rabbi Yitzchok Gurevitz’s faith in the accuracy of the weather forecast was rewarded last evening. Skies cleared just before the public lighting of a large Hanukah menorah at 6:30 pm on a grassy area beside Chestnut Hill Plaza at the bottom Germantown Avenue above Cresheim Drive.

Watch video here.

Twenty some people such as Norm and Leah Schwartz of Mount Airy who brought their granddaughter, braved the near freezing temperatures and driving winds which had blown out the afternoon’s rain and sleet, to celebrate the first night of Hanukah. As Gurevitz, leader of  Chabad-Lubavitch of Northwest Philadelphia, lit an oil wick candle, they sang prayers to mark the beginning of the eight-day Jewish holiday that commemorates the successful revolt of the Jews against the Syrian king Antiochus in 165 BCE in Judea and the rededication of the Temple that had been desecrated at his orders.

Hanukah is a special holiday, Gurevitz explained, because Jews are called upon to observe it not just in the home but outside with the community at large. (In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court got involved in the national Chabad movement practice of lighting menorahs in public places made controversial by the constitutional mandate of separation of church and state, when it allowed a public display in Fountain Square, Cincinnati)

Referring to the case, Gurevitz emphasized the menorah as a symbol of freedom for all people and interprets the freedom message at a personal level-  “the freedom to be the best that we can be, the freedom to be the most we can be.”

 

At the conclusion of the ceremony, a celebrant placed a large boom box atop his car parked in the adjoining driveway and broadcast festive Chanukah music as those gathered huddled against the cold, schmoozed, and enjoyed latkes (traditional potato pancakes) with hot cider.

For the next week, one additional electric candle will be lit every day in reenactment of the Chanukah story that oil found in the reclaimed Temple, sufficient for only one day, miraculously lasted eight days.  Electric current is coming courtesy of Yu Hsiang Garden restaurant next door.


Uplift the karmic pattern of the whole world

Don't go down into muck of materialis

“When certain events take place like this festival of Hidden City or different things like that.  I don’t know if you’re part of Occupy but it tends to bring people out of the woodwork and put them in a certain space where they can share their talents and creativity.  And my experience with these types of things is that it lends itself to a tremendous new and refreshing hope for mankind, for the state of affairs in the world. Because the tendency is to think we are all alone in our own head and even if we do come up with some positive ideas on what to do we feel pretty helpless because what can I do by myself.

When different things happen and people come together, we stand to get a tremendous new inspiration. And actually, ‘I can do something, I do count and there’s other people that think the same as I do.’ If we put our talents and our efforts together we can really make some difference.

I’m a yoga instructor. I teach yoga meditation and music is a big part of what I do. Because music and something that’s called Kirtan, sankirtan which means the congregation and glorification of the supreme joy of life. So basically, just like your drumming circle, same type of principal. People come together and they selflessly express themselves in such a way that the overall effect is that everyone feels a tremendous upliftment the environment becomes uplifted the community, neighborhood, like that.  Just imagine if we could have this on a worldwide scale, every day then the whole planet the whole, the karmic pattern of the whole planet earth will be changed, will be uplifted.

It is possible. We don’t have to simply go down into the muck of gross materialism.”

Ananda.

Watch video and harmonium playing here.


Minister pitches Inky subscription

Sells Inquirer subscriptions

Andy Autrey, a resident of the Hill House in Chestnut Hill, has long been in professional sales – cars, life insurance – and now is pitching subscriptions to the Philadelphia Inquirer. His engaging approach at the Flourtown Walgreen’s won your correspondent over to re-upping with a subscription. An on-the-spot Walgreen’s gift card and the fact that disadvantaged youth will be treated to a Phillies game as part of the promotion clinched the deal. Autrey considers his sales work part of his mission as an associate minister involved with youth programs at the Embracing Truth Church in West Philadelphia. Watch video here.


Krishna Devotee engages Afghan immigrant

cu dwija

A passerby sat down and engaged in a long conversation with Dwija Mani, a Brahmacari monk of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, who was camped with a display near the Chestnut Hill news stand. Mani is visiting Philadelphia for a couple weeks from the Rupanga Vedic College in Kansas City, Missouri.  He related that the passerby, with whom he conversed in Arabic, was from Afghanistan but now lived nearby and, after talking, expressed an interest in bringing his mother to the Hare Krishna Center on Allens Lane in Mount Airy. Mani was just a child during the eighties when scandals rocked the Krishna movement and believes the religious order has now matured. He says he intends to devote his life to his faith. And who could deny his easy smile and the happiness he professes? Watch video here.