Amid concerns for the drought conditions, the area's faith community is being asked to fast as well as pray for rain.
A "United in Faith, Fast, and Prayer for Water" event seeks people of all faiths in the central San Joaquin Valley to fast for 24 hours as an offering to God and to pray for rain in whatever manner their faith calls. The event begins today (Saturday, Feb. 1).
Mali Flood of Firebaugh, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Kerman ward, organized the event. She says it started with a request from her LDS bishop, Nathan Fox, and stake president Reid Everett in January to fast and pray for rain.
Flood says she wanted to include friends in the effort. So she sent invitations to her 700 Facebook friends. She also asked them to invite their friends. She estimates 8,000 people have been invited. So far, 600 have accepted.
"There's a dire need for rain in our community because of the drought," Flood says. "I wanted to reach out to all faiths because it affects us all. We need each other regardless of our religious beliefs."
The event also asks people to make a donation to their church or a food bank to help the needy.
Flood plans to fast from 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2.
Details: check Prayer for Water on Facebook.
Also, the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno is encouraging Muslims to join in prayer for rain. Prayers to recite (duas) are listed at icfresno.org.
One translation is: "O God, give water to Your slaves, and Your livestock, and spread Your mercy, and revive Your dead land."
Girl inspires others to read Bible
The 10-year-old daughter of pastor Sam Beckworth of Faith Summit Church in Clovis is serving as inspiration to others to read the Bible.
Mackenzie Beckworth read through the entire Bible — Old and New testaments — in 2013. She used the Adventure Bible, a full-size New International Version translation for young people.
Sam Beckworth says Mackenzie was inspired by her teacher at Fresno Christian School, Matthew Weimer, when she was in the fourth grade to read the Bible in a year. She is now in the fifth grade.
"Well, she accomplished her goal," Sam Beckworth says. "My wife and I couldn't be more proud. What is really amazing is what she retained from her reading, the stories, lessons, principles and Bible history.
"I've never heard of such a thing. At that age, I was just thinking about the Lakers and Thundercats!"
New senior pastor at Fresno church to begin
The Rev. Gregory V. Haroutunian will be in the pulpit Sunday, Feb. 2, as the new senior pastor of First Armenian Presbyterian Church, 430 S. First St.
Haroutunian was associate pastor of First Armenian Presbyterian Church from 1989 to 2001.
He served as interim pastor of the Armenian Evangelical Church of Chicago from 2001 to 2002. Then, he was director of outreach/discipleship at Dinuba Presbyterian Church from 2002 to 2003.
Since 2003, he served as senior pastor of First Armenian Church in Belmont, Mass. While there, Haroutunian was at the Boston Marathon in April when two bombs went off near the finish line, killing three people and wounding more than 150.
Haroutunian was a spectator with his family at the race, cheering on a friend. They were across the street from where the second blast occurred. They were unhurt.
First Armenian Presbyterian Church in Fresno elected Haroutunian as pastor on Sept. 15.
Church services Sundays are at 9:30 a.m. (Armenian) and 11 (English).
Details: (559) 237-6638.
Derek Carr, family to speak at ministry event
An evening of faith, family and football with Derek and Heather Carr and other family members will be presented at the Christian Business Men's Connection-Fresno 2014 celebration banquet at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 13 at TorNino's Banquets, 5080 N. Blackstone Ave.
Twenty members of the Carr family are scheduled to attend.
The event also is presented by the Christian Business Women's Connection.
Cost is $60.
Details: www.cbmcfresno.com or (559) 225-5095.
Yoga teacher to speak to Women of Spirit
An instructor of Pranayama yogic breathing is the speaker at a Women of Spirit event at 3 p.m. today (Saturday, Feb. 1) at 7319 N. Fourth St.
Gita Patel of Hanford will talk on "How Yoga Changed My Life." She has offered classes in yogic breathing in Hanford, Visalia and Fresno since 2008.
The free event also includes guided meditation.
Details: (559) 435-2212.
Church hosts annual Evensong event
The annual Galloway Memorial Organ Evensong will be presented at 4 p.m. Feb. 9 at First Congregational Church of Fresno, 2131 N. Van Ness Blvd.
The event features Scott Horton, the church's music director and organist, and incorporates Scripture, prayer and congregational singing.
Admission is free. An offering will be taken to benefit the church's pipe organ fund.
Details: (559) 227-8489.
Kerman church offers financial course
Nine-week courses using the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University video series will be offered at Kerman United Methodist Church, 3095 N. Madera Ave.
The courses will be offered at 12:30 p.m. Sundays, starting Feb. 9, and 7 p.m. Wednesdays, beginning Feb. 12.
Cost is $93 per family.
Details: (559) 567-5284.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6304 or firstname.lastname@example.org.