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.
Joseph Walkovich, president of the board of directors of the Association of Religious Communities (ARC), has announced Dr William Glass, deputy superintendent for Danbury Public Schools, has been elected as a member of the ARC Board of Directors. Dr Glass, a Newtown resident, has an extensive career in education spanning 40 years. His areas of expertise include organizational development, systems enhancement, instructional capacity-building and administrative leadership. He has served on numerous state and national task forces representing these areas.
The 57th Annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper at St John's Episcopal Church took place on March 7. Guests of all ages dined on pancakes, country-style sausage, and applesauce in the undercroft of the Sandy Hook church. Approximately 60 dinners were served this year before a water problem caused an early close to the yearly event. Nevertheless, those who did have dinner in the church's gathering hall seemed happy with their meals.
On Friday, March 21, from 8:30 until 10 pm, poets and scholars from surrounding universities will gather at Congregation Adath Israel for an inspirational evening of poetry. Refreshments will be served including wine, cheese and crackers. The guest poets are Dr James R. Scrimgeour, Carol Ann Davis, Jeff Schlicht and Brian Clements. A Sabbath service will precede the poetry reading at 7:30, to which the public is also invited.
Members, and a few friends, of St John’s Episcopal Church plan to present their annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper next week. Volunteers will be at the church all day on March 4, prepping the plates, napkins, utensils, drinks, pancake batter, griddles, coffee and everything else that will go into serving dinner for a few hundred people that evening. Diners will again enjoy an all-you-can-eat offering, with this year’s menu to include fresh pancakes, country style breakfast sausage, applesauce and beverages.
"Unity in Diversity," a weekly television program, can be seen on Mondays and Wednesdays on Charter Communications channel 21. Each week, viewers may experience leaders and representatives of a variety of local faith communities, sharing their message in a non-threatening manner. Host and producer of these programs is The Reverend Leo McIlrath, coordinator of Corpus Christi Community of Connecticut and ecumenical chaplain to the Lutheran Home of Southbury.
On Wednesday, February 19, there will be a service of Taizé worship at 7:15 pm in Trinity Episcopal Church. This tradition of musical worship began years ago in the ecumenical French monastic community called Taizé. Held at Trinity Episcopal Church in the darkened, richly resonant space, the local Taizé services provide an uncomplicated framework for quiet meditation, reflection, readings and music. There is no Eucharist or sermon during a Taizé service. Instead, the experience has the opportunity of deepening faith through the power of prayer. All are encouraged to participate as the Spirit moves them, whether that be in song, prayer, or quiet meditation.
On Sunday, February 23, at 11:30 am, a special meeting of the members of Newtown Congregational Church will take place in the sanctuary located at 14 West Street. The purpose of the meeting is to vote on staffing recommendation put forth by the Personnel Committee, the trustees, and the council to authorize the hiring of a full time transitional associate minister for a period of no more than two years effective July 1, 2014.