Reverend Mel Kawakami said the path followed by a college student who is currently serving as the new youth leader for Newtown United Methodist Church was an act of faith. The senior pastor of NUMC, Rev Kawakami has had a new leader for his church’s younger members since last summer. Brendan Fox, 24, is not ordained, but does have the blessing of NUMC’s trustees, who interviewed and then hired the Bethel resident late last year after a serendipitous series of events brought him to the Sandy Hook church.
Students from The Nezvesky School For Religious Education, affiliated with Congregation Adath Israel on Huntingtown Road, took part in the congregation’s annual Hanukkah program on Sunday, December 21, in the temple’s sanctuary. David Smith, the school’s education chairman, looked on as Dalia Coleman, the school’s director, rehearsed with the students who were about to perform in the Hanukkah program. During the colorful event, the costumed children read from scripts, explaining the eight-day Jewish holiday, sometimes known as The Festival of Lights.
Congregation Adath Israel’s religious school will hold its annual Hanukkah program on Sunday, December 21, at 10:30 am, in the sanctuary at 115 Huntingtown Road. This year’s program will feature a skit about the story of Hanukkah with student participation from all the classes. The skit will be followed by the chanukiyah contest. Participants must create a chanukiyah (the special candelabra used during Hanukkah) that is usable (i.e., not flammable and can have candles or oil lamps) and kosher.
The cable television program "Unity in Diversity" can be viewed on Charter CommunityVision Channel 192 each Monday at 12:30 pm and Wednesday at 5:30 pm. The program features interviews with prominent pastors, rabbis, imams, and other spiritual leaders of a variety of local faith communities. Viewers have an opportunity to learn more about Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Bahá’í, Unitarianism, or one of the many Christian communities, all in a nonthreatening manner.
Newtown’s Interfaith Clergy Association has announced plans for an Interfaith Gathering for Prayer and Comfort to take place on Sunday, December 14, the second anniversary of 12/14. Faith leaders from the various Newtown religious communities will guide the community by reading from their respective sacred texts, offering prayers for the community, and allowing for times of silence for each individual to reflect and/or pray in his or her own way. All are welcome. The interfaith gathering will be at Newtown Meeting House, 31 Main Street. It will begin at 6 pm.
By the weekend before Thanksgiving, retail locations across the country have all but given over their decorations to Christmas. Some offer Hanukkah and other holiday displays. A few even make a gesture toward Thanksgiving with hints of brown, orange, turkeys, and Pilgrims. Trucks filled with Christmas trees were traveling highways, and early Sunday afternoon there were at least two cars in the parking lot of Blue Colony Diner with pine trees strapped to their roofs, presumably headed toward a home to be decorated. But on Sunday evening, to the notes of Ralph Vaughn Williams’s “Rhosymedre,” nearly 200 people entered the sanctuary of St Rose of Lima Church for an Interfaith Thanksgiving Gathering.
The Newtown/Danbury unit of Church Women United joined World Community Day celebrations “going on internationally,” local unit president Darlene Jackson said on November 8, addressing those who gathered in the meeting room of C.H. Booth Library. Mrs Jackson offered the Welcome and Invocation last Saturday morning, saying Church Women United is “a group concerned with social justice, the environment, world peace, and looking to see if we can have some influence on any of that.” The third and final program of the year being presented by the Newtown/Danbury unit, like those happening around the world last weekend, followed the theme of “Through God Our Hands Can Heal.” Local organizers chose to invite someone who would speak about personal experiences with healing, and reached out to Newtown resident Diane Leaman, a longtime volunteer for Regional Hospice of Western Connecticut.
For the fourth time in as many years, Newtown will be holding an Interfaith Community Thanksgiving Service. The event was resurrected by Newtown Clergy Association in 2011, and has continued each November since. There will be representation from many faiths for the ecumenical service of thankfulness to be presented at St Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, 40 Church Hill Road. It will begin at 7 pm on Sunday, November 23. An offering received during the service will be given to FAITH Food Pantry.
The Newtown/Danbury unit of Church Women United is planning its annual World Community Day celebration. This year’s event will be Saturday, November 8, at C.H. Booth Library. World Community Day is a celebration that brings attention to ways that all can be the Body of Christ throughout the world.
At Every Turn, a two-part choral piece with text the Reverend Gregory J. Wismar, former pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Newtown, and music by Professor David vonKampen of the University of Kansas, was published in April by Concordia Publishing House. The musical tune is called “Newtown.” Every tune has a story, Rev Wismar explained. “In church music shorthand, every tune in a hymnal has a name, and there is an art and science to those names,” he said. The melody “Newtown” is rooted in this place, a response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. It is a simple melody, said Rev Wismar, and in that simplicity lies its beauty. The words are inspired by the Bible passage Romans 14:8, and were written with that tragic day in mind, he said. Although Rev Wismar had retired the previous year, he was closely affected by 12/14.