Valley religion news: Obon Festival brings Buddhists together, World Changers plan Fresno projects

July 4, 2014 

The area's Buddhist community is coming together at a long-running festival to have fun and honor its ancestry.

The 69th edition of the Obon Festival, also known as Festival of Lanterns, is scheduled July 12 at the Fresno Buddhist Dharma Center, 2690 E. Alluvial Ave. Doors open at 2 p.m. for the sale of Asian-flair food, desserts and beverages. Taiko drumming, carnival games and bake walks begin at 4 p.m.

The lighting of personalized memorial lanterns that bear the names of loved ones who have passed away starts at 7:30 p.m. Buddhists will reflect at that time on the hardships and sacrifices made by their ancestors on their behalf. Buddhism teaches appreciation for the interdependency of all living things.

Evening entertainment will be provided by the Taiko drummers. There also will be Bon dancing in the evening. Bon dancing classes are scheduled at 7 p.m. Monday and Wednesday at the Fresno Buddhist Dharma Center.

Details: www.fresnobuddhisttemple.org or (559) 442-4054.

Joni Eareckson Tada coming to Valley

Joni Eareckson Tada will speak at Valley events in October, officials at Joni and Friends Central California in Fresno announced.

She is founder/chief executive officer of Joni and Friends, an organization in Agoura Hills that accelerates Christian ministry in the disability community. She also is an evangelical Christian author and radio host.

She will speak:

-- At the Christian Business Men's and Women's Connection banquet from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Oct. 24. Husband Ken Tada also will speak.

-- At the second day of the Central California Disability Summit, which will be held 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at Fresno Pacific University.

-- At Clovis Hills Community Church services at 6 p.m. Oct. 25 and 10:40 a.m. Oct. 26.

Joni and Friends Central California is an area ministry of Joni and Friends.

Details: email Lstoeckel@joniandfriends.org or call (559) 227-5664.

Mission youth to work on projects in Fresno

The World Changers mission organization again will send youth from throughout the United States to the central San Joaquin Valley to do work projects.

The youth will arrive Monday at the Fresno Rescue Mission, where they will sleep each night.

They will go out in teams Tuesday through Friday to work sites for the first time in Fresno. In previous years, they worked mainly in Clovis.

The sites are focused in southwest Fresno, including repair work at homes on West Roy and West Almy avenues, as well as the Mary Ella Brown Center and West Fresno Elementary School.

Clovis Hills Community Church has arranged for Valley churches to provide lunches to youth at their work sites.

Every Neighborhood Partnership and Habitat for Humanity also are participating in the work effort. Funding has been provided mainly from Lowe's.

World Changers seeks to provide Christian youth and adults with opportunities to serve a community physically and spiritually through practical learning experiences that teach servanthood and personal commitment to missions.

Details: email gsusfrk4life@gmail.com or call (205) 432-9504.

Ministry director writes book on marriage

Ron McLain, executive director of the Healthy Marriage Coalition/Marriage Mentoring Ministries in Fresno, is the author of a new book, "The Resurrection Marriage — Breathing New Life Into Your Relationship."

Book signings are scheduled 4-7 p.m. July 13 and July 14 at Sequoia Sandwich Company in Clovis, 765 W. Herndon Ave.

The book was published in mid-June. It costs $14.97 on amazon.com, but it is available for $10 at the book signings.

Details: www.growyourmarriage.com or (559) 313-4226.

Unitarian Universalist film series continues

The Summer Film Series at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno continues with the showing of "Koch Brothers Exposed" (2014 edition) at 7 p.m. July 12 at the church, 2672 E. Alluvial Ave.

The series began June 13.

Other films and dates are:

-- "The Change Agents," July 26.

-- "Bidder 70," Aug. 2.

-- "Switch," Aug. 9.

-- "Inequality for All," Aug. 30.

-- "The Other Son," Sept. 13.

The series is part of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno's social justice committee. Films focus on social justice issues, such as the environment, the energy crisis and water conservation.

All films begin at 7 p.m. The events are free and open to the public.

Details: www.uufresno.org or (559) 291-1590.

Islamic scholar to speak at Ramadan fundraiser

An Islamic teacher and scholar is the speaker at a Ramadan fundraiser event at 6 p.m. Friday at the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno, 2111 E. Alluvial Ave.

Sheikh Alauddin El-Bakri, prayer leader at Saratoga Masjid, will talk on "Ramadan: A Time for Change."

Cost is $25 for adults or $10 for students and children. Dinner is included. Persian and Pakistani food will be served.

Details: email info@iccf.org or call (559) 297-9535.

Fresno Pacific, ministry group offer scholarship

Fresno Pacific University and the West Fresno Ministerial Alliance have formed a partnership to present a new scholarship, the Martin Luther King Jr. & Fannie Lou Hamer Scholarship.

The scholarship is designed to reach out to the African American community as well as build partnerships within congregations.

Recipients of the first scholarship are Christopher Ballard, a recent graduate of Bullard High School who plans to study history at Fresno Pacific, and Jasmine Caldwell, who is transferring from Fresno City College and plans to major in music.

Details: www.weservefresno.org/mission_history.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6304, rorozco@fresnobee.com or @ronorozco_bee on Twitter.

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