The area's faith community will continue its focus on Advent as well as other Christmas events this month.
Advent is the period involving the four Sundays before Christmas when Christians prepare themselves for the true meaning of the season — the birth of Jesus. Advent began Dec. 1.
Among central San Joaquin Valley events, First Congregational Church of Fresno will light the hope and peace Advent candles at the 10 a.m. service Sunday at the church, 2131 N. Van Ness Blvd.
Later in the day, First Congregational Church will host its All-Church Advent Festival, from 4 to 6 p.m. The event features a potluck as well as fun activities, including how to make wreaths, how to make gingerbread houses and how to assemble bath-towel wraps for the Poverello House and Naomi's House. Photos with Santa Claus also are available.
Special Advent candle lighting also will be held at the church's services Dec. 15 and Dec. 22.
A Celebration of Christmas concert is at 5 p.m. Dec. 15, featuring the church's Chancel Choir and Handbell Choir.
Details: (559) 227-8489.
Immanuel Lutheran celebrates 125th year
A dessert reception and open house is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Immanuel Lutheran Church, on the northwest corner of Elm and Lincoln avenues in Easton.
The church was founded in 1888 as Immanuel Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church.
Church families are providing cakes and cookies, which will be available between service and at the reception, to be held in the church's social hall.
Additional parking is available across Lincoln Avenue at Washington Union High School. Details: (559) 237-7909.
Christmas project is new books for students
Campus Bible Church is having a book drive as its Christmas project this year.
The goal: 700 new books, or one for every student at Vinland Elementary School. The church and school are neighbors.
The book drive will be held as part of the church's Deck the Halls Christmas party, which is scheduled at 6 p.m. Sunday at the church, 4710 N. Maple Ave. Each family unit has been asked to donate three new books at the event.
The church plans to present the books to students next week. A card to be enclosed in each book reads, "From your neighbors, Merry Christmas."
Details: (559) 291-9116.
Fresno State students sing for donations
A Caroling for Cans project is scheduled 10 a.m.-noon Thursday, Dec. 12, at Fresno State.
Students will sing holiday carols at various sites on campus in exchange for nonperishable food items. The donations will go to the student-run Bulldog Pantry food distribution to help the needy near the campus.
The event is presented by Associated Students Inc. at Fresno State and the Bulldog Pantry. Details: (559) 278-2656, ext. 8861.
Islamic center holds food distributions
The Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno will continue its Valley food distribution over the next two weeks.
The distribution began Wednesday.
Remaining distribution events are scheduled:
Monday, Dec. 9: John Palacios Community Center, 16856 Fourth St., Huron.
Thursday, Dec. 12: Veterans Memorial Hall, 22001 W. Manning Ave., San Joaquin.
Dec. 18: Chapel Grace Church, 120 E. Hawthorne St., Coalinga.
All events are from 9 a.m. to noon. Details: (559) 297-9525.
Events scheduled for Human Rights Day
A Human Rights Commemoration in Fresno will celebrate the 65th anniversary of the declaration of human rights.
Today (Dec. 7), a film — "Trade of Innocents" — will be shown at 7 p.m. at College Community Congregational Church, 5550 N. Fresno St.
Sunday, Dec. 8, a presentation — "Human Trafficking — Modern Day Slavery That's Closer Than You Think" — will be at 3 p.m. at the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, 2111 E. Nees Ave.
Speakers are Jim and Karen Schmidt. He is producer of "Trade of Innocents." She is chairwoman of the Public Awareness Committee for the Kern Coalition Against Human Trafficking. The coalition headquarters is in Bakersfield.
After the presentation, a panel discussion will take place. On the panel are Ronna Bright, Maria Villasenor, Curtis Chastain, Rebecca Headrick and Pao N. Fang.
All events are free. They are presented by the Human Rights Coalition of the Central Valley. Details: (559) 435-2212 or 435-2690.
Holiday Concert features Earl Meyers
Earl Meyers' annual Holiday Concert is at 4 p.m. Dec. 14 at Westside Seventh-day Adventist Church, 2750 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
The free event features Meyers, a baritone.
Details: (559) 233-3648.
Oakhurst church hosts Cowboy Christmas
A Cowboy Christmas Concert is at 3 and 6 p.m. Dec. 14 at Oakhurst Lutheran Church, 39255 Black Road.
The event features the Cowboy Christmas Band, led by Tim Johnson on the violin, guitar and mandolin.
Other performers are Bobby Black on steel guitar, Jimmy Collier on banjo, Arnie Johnson on guitar, Cliff Neufeld on piano, Eddie Guzman on drums and harmonica, John Kilburn on guitar and Kirk Moulin on bass guitar.
Pre-sold tickets cost $15. Details: (559) 683-4673.
Event features Fresno State president
Fresno State President Joseph Castro is the speaker at the Christian Business Women's Connection and Christian Business Men's Connection annual holiday lunch, which is at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at Pardini's, 2257 W. Shaw Ave.
Castro's wife, Mary, also will talk.
The organization will present its annual Impact Award posthumously to Pete Mehas.
Cost is $20. Details: (559) 225-5095.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6304 or firstname.lastname@example.org.