Faith in Community holds forum for Brookhaven neighborhood

The Fresno BeeJuly 19, 2013 

Faith in Community is hosting a forum for Brookhaven residents in southwest Fresno to talk about their neighborhood concerns.

The Brookhaven Community Forum is at 6 p.m. Friday, July 26, at Second Baptist Church, 1041 E. Jensen Ave.

Faith in Community is a Fresno nonprofit organization seeking to develop and connect leaders in local neighborhoods and congregations and to equip them with skills that are necessary to build safe, healthy environments.

Brookhaven is widely known as "The Dog Pound," a name taken from a gang that has a significant presence in the neighborhood. At the forum, residents can speak with city officials about their concerns, such as police relations, vacant slumlord-owned homes, street lighting and alleys.

The area has been the focus of West Fresno Night Walk teams on Friday nights for more than a year. Pastors, ministry leaders and others make up the teams, which seek to spread peace, stop violence and create opportunities. Team members also pray with residents during the walks.

Faith In Community introduced the Night Walk teams in June 2012. Officials with Faith in Community are encouraging leaders from all parts of Fresno to attend the forum. Details: or (559) 486-0204.

Fundraiser for Haiti scheduled in Fresno

A nonprofit organization with Valley ties is hosting a Fundraiser for Haiti from 7-11 p.m. Friday, July 26, at Diana Court Banquet Facilities, 5351 N. Diana St.

Russ One Source-Haiti is a nonprofit seeking to help with relief efforts. The nonprofit was organized by Cecilia Russ of Clovis.

Russ lived in Fresno, from 1981 to 2004, before she moved to Chico. Then, she moved to Placerville to do graduate work at National University.

She visited Haiti right after Hurricane Sandy devastated the country's farmland and triggered a severe food crisis in October 2012. Upon her return to Placerville, she started Russ One Source-Haiti.

Russ returned to Haiti this past spring. She is in contact with teachers and families in the Petion-Ville camp in Delmas near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. She has a teaching credential and graduate work in special education. Russ recently moved to Clovis.

In Fresno, proceeds from the fundraiser will go to food and school supplies for children at Saint Benoit School.

"I wanted to do more than 'look at people' and take pictures, as my friends are sending messages about children dying," Russ writes in an email. "Many parents have no source of income, so they can't buy formula. Many babies and children have problems, and children in Haiti have intestinal parasites."

The fundraiser features dinner, Haitian coffee and homemade desserts. There also will be dancing. Music will be provided by a California-style, reggae-rock band, Dub Seeds, of Bakersfield.

Tickets cost $37 in advance or $40 at the door. Details: (559) 348-9806.

Peoples Church plans 14 mission trips

An initiative to launch 14 Peoples Church mission projects in 2014 — "Fourteen in '14" — was announced by the northeast Fresno church.

The destinations/ministries and dates are: India, January; Break Away Easter vacation in Fresno, April; Champions for Life prison ministry, May; Ensenada in Baja California, June; Swaziland, July; Bangladesh, July; Columbia, July; Poland, July; China, July; Fiji, July; Sullivan's Islands, July; Ecuador, July; Bhutan, July; and a destination to be determined.

The initiative fulfills Peoples Church's core values of loving others and loving cultures, associate pastor Terry Townsend says. The church also has the core values of loving God, loving truth and loving sacrifice.

"It's the most ambitious (initiative) in our history for mobilizing people," Townsend says. "We want people committed to Christ because this is about sharing the Gospel. It's not a social trip. It's to share the love of God with people around the world."

Details: (559) 298-8001.

Ecclesia University holds special events

A three-time Grammy nominee for gospel jazz will perform at the Ecclesia University of Divinity International's fourth annual Heavenly Vibes Banquet on Friday, July 26, at Clovis Veterans Memorial Building, 808 Fourth St.

Ben Tankard, known as the Godfather of Gospel Jazz, also has received eight Dove Award nominations. He won the Stellar Awards' 2010 Best Instrumental Album for his "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" CD.

The event begins with a reception at 5 p.m. The dinner program starts at 6.

Cost is $50. Details: or (559) 217-7439 and 252-4000. The banquet kicks off a busy weekend for the school, which will hold its commencement exercises at 10 a.m. July 27, also at Clovis Veterans Memorial Building.

Hanford church hosts Celebrant Singers

The Celebrant Singers, a contemporary Christian music and missions ministry with headquarters in Visalia, is beginning its 2013 season with performances at services July 27 and 28 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Hanford, 10435 Hanford-Armona Road.

The services are 5:30 and 7 p.m. July 27 and 9 and 10:30 a.m. and noon and 5:30 p.m. July 28. The group also will perform in concert at 3 p.m. July 28 at the church. Details: (559) 584-8576.

North Fresno names minister of music

A new minister of music has been named at North Fresno Mennonite Brethren Church — Milton Friesen. He replaces Bob Plett, who retired in May after more than eight years as the church's minister of music.

Friesen is a music professor at Fresno Pacific University, where he directs the Crosswind contemporary chorale ensemble. He also is director of the West Coast Mennonite Men's Chorus.

At North Fresno, Friesen will direct the sanctuary choir of nearly 50 singers at the classic worship service on Sunday mornings. His new assignment begins Aug. 1.

North Fresno is at 5724 N. Fresno St. Details: (559) 431-0333.

NorthPointe hosts block party at school

NorthPointe Community Church in northwest Fresno is hosting a neighborhood block party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 27 at Lawless Elementary School, 5255 N. Reese Ave.

The family-oriented event features hot dogs, a bounce house, snow cones, games, music, water slides, dunk tanks, free bike repair and information tables. Details: (559) 276-2300.

NorthPointe also holds monthly Saturday sports camps at Lawless throughout the year.


Ron Orozco covers religion for The Bee. He can be reached at (559) 441-6304 or

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