The issue of race in the community will be discussed by a panel of Valley clergy members at a special meeting.
"Race in Fresno: A Dialogue Between Pastors" is scheduled Thursday, Sept. 26, at Westside Church of God, 1422 W. California Ave. The event is designed to be respectful and transformative, a model for congregants seeking to continue the discussion in their churches and communities.
Pastors participating on a panel are:
The Revs. Brad Bell of The Well Community Church,
Paul Binion of Westside Church of God,
Natalie Chamberlain of United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ,
David J. Criner of Saint Rest Baptist Church,
Elias Loera of Christian Temple,
Jim Franklin of Cornerstone Church,
Booker T. Lewis II of Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church,
Gabriel Ruiz of St. Anthony Claret Catholic Church.
The discussion will be facilitated by Matthew Jendian, chairman of the sociology department at Fresno State, and Francine Oputa, director of the Central Valley Cultural Heritage Institute at Fresno State.
The event starts with an optional dinner at 5:30 p.m. Panelists begin talking at 6:15 p.m. Table discussion follows at 8:30 p.m.
The event is presented by No Name Fellowship and Faith in Community. Details: (559) 237-1444.
Clovis church hosts blessing of animals
A blessing of the animals event is 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 28 at Memorial United Methodist Church in Clovis, 1726 Pollasky Ave.
Dogs, cats, birds, fish — or any other pets — can be taken to the service. Pets must be safely leashed or caged.
There also will be general prayers for the healing of pets who are ill and a thanksgiving for those who are deceased. If pets cannot be taken to the service, people may take a photo and fill out a special card so the pet can be blessed by name.
In an email, the Rev. Janette Saavedra, senior pastor of Memorial United Methodist Church says: "Animals and pets are a special part of our lives, as they give us so much comfort, joy and unconditional love.
"We welcome everyone in the community to bring their pets, large and small, to our special outdoor service so we may celebrate their lives and offer a blessing to them."
After the service, treats will be available for people and pets. Music also will be provided. Details: mem-umc.org or (559) 299-4615.
Students to gather for See You at the Pole
Valley students will gather at school flag poles before school Wednesday, Sept. 25, for See You at the Pole events.
See You at the Pole is the annual gathering of Christian students at flag poles in front of their schools, where they pray for friends, teachers, schools, families and the nation. They are student-initiated, student-organized events.
In Fresno, a United Prayer and Worship event also is scheduled Wednesday at Peoples Church, 7172 N. Cedar Ave.
The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with fun, food and fellowship in front of the sanctuary. A service with worship and prayer starts at 6:45 p.m. The Rev. David J. Criner, pastor of Saint Rest Baptist Church, will give a gospel message.
Students in middle schools and high schools are welcome.
Churches organizing the event are part of the Central Valley Youth Network and United Fresno. Details: (559) 237-4741.
New series of Catholic discussions to begin
A new series of lectionary-based discussions will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Hanford, 10435 Hanford-Armona Road.
The Rev. Mike Lastiri, director of worship in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno and parish priest at Immaculate Heart of Mary, will lead a discussion on "Attentiveness to the Word Of God," based on the Gospel account in Luke 16:19-31.
It is the same lectionary that is designated for Catholic churches on Sept. 28-29.
The series is a new approach to adult Scripture and Catechetical formation in the diocese. Details: (559) 584-8576.
Hanford church launches new ministry
A new outreach ministry at Episcopal Church of the Saviour in Hanford — Gifts Intended For The Spirit — will be launched with an ice cream social from 2-5 p.m. today (Saturday, Sept. 21) at the church, 519 N. Douty St.
GIFTS seeks to provide families, couples and individuals with opportunities to take advantage of local activities that "feed the spirit." They include movie tickets, restaurant gift cards or passes to the zoo or adventure parks.
Episcopal Church of the Saviour also will continue to offer its soup kitchen, which works to feed the hungry and disadvantaged in the community.
The ice cream social costs $5. Proceeds benefit the ministry. Details: (559) 584-7706.
Ethics lecture series to begin Thursday
A lecture on "Immigration Reform and the Law" kicks off the Leon S. Peters Ethics Lecture Series for fall 2013 at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, at the Fresno State Music Building, Room 160.
Justin Atkinson and Jessica Smith Bobadilla are the lecturers.
Other series events are:
--"The Cost of Criminalizing Mental Illness and Addiction," Doug Noll and Deborah Nankivell, 5:30 p.m. Oct. 9, Alice Peters Auditorium at Fresno State.
--"Racism, Torture, and Ticking Bombs," J. Jeremy Wisnewski, 5 p.m. Nov. 13, Alice Peters Auditorium.
--"Professional Ethics for Teachers in a Digital World," Steve Johnson, 5 p.m. Dec. 3, Alice Peters Auditorium.
The lectures are sponsored by the Leon S. Peters Foundation.
The events are free and open to the public. Details: fresnostate.edu/artshum/ethicscenter.
Church hosts Merchant Lunch, Dinner
The annual Merchant Lunch, Dinner and Country Store event is Friday, Sept. 27, at Pilgrim Armenian Congregational Church, 3673 N. First St.
Lunch is 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Dinner is 5-8 p.m. Pilgrim's famous Losh Kebab meal is $13.
Visitors can dine in or use a drive-through or takeout service. Details: (559) 229-2915.
Festival celebrates Christian heritage
The Christian Kingdom Cultural Festival is noon to 9 p.m. Sept. 28 in the Shinzen Japanese Garden at Woodward Park.
The family-focused festival will feature music, dramas, exhibits, Davidic and Christian line dancing, crafts and food. Visitors also can bring flashlights to be part of a light festival.
The event was established to celebrate the Christian heritage, unite the body of Christ and inspire "the light of Christ" in believers.
The event is presented by Ministries in the Making International, Apostolic Institute for Godly Leadership. Details: (559) 412-4092.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6304 or firstname.lastname@example.org.