A northeast Fresno church is responding to the severe drought in California by pursuing a landscape makeover.
Community United Church of Christ, the former College Community Congregational Church, has begun a xeriscape project at the church, 5550 N. Fresno St.
The decision came after Northern California Nevada Conference United Church of Christ asked its congregations to make commitments toward water conservation. The Fresno congregation of about 200 wrote a covenant that promised a commitment on its property as well as at members' homes.
"We are an environmental and social-justice church — and a lot of what we do is this," says Maggie Dutton, who is coordinating the effort with Helmut Kloos. Both are church members.
The church chose a plan with minimal impact.
The first phase is to remove 21,000 square feet of Bermuda grass that requires significant water to maintain. The method of removing the grass is being done by soil solarization and not with chemical choices.
On July 12, about 20 church workers sealed the grass under plastic, which prevents air flow and traps the heat with the summer sun to basically "cook" the grass.
Congregants can smell the process — which takes six to eight weeks — working.
"It's an organic smell that's indicative of a biological treatment," says Dutton, a water resources engineer with the state of California.
After removing the plastic, workers will use a sheet-mulching technique that involves layering cardboard and mulch over the turf.
The church also plans to install drip irrigation to better manage existing bushes and trees.
The final phase is to landscape the south bed area with indigenous and drought-tolerant vegetation as well as boulders.
Dutton says the public can help with the donation of cardboard or quality mulch. The entire project will take about three months.
Congregants plan to re-use the plastic at their homes for similar projects.
The Rev. Chris Breedlove, pastor of Community United Church of Christ, hopes other institutions and residents in the central San Joaquin Valley will make commitments to conserve water.
Details: (559) 435-2690.
Christian fellowship event features Buckner
Christian Fellowship Night at Chukchansi Park, which is Friday, Aug. 1, will feature former Major League Baseball player Bill Buckner.
For the special promotion, Buckner will throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Fresno Grizzlies' game at 7:05 p.m. against the Reno Aces.
Fans are encouraged to remain at the ballpark after the game ends, when Buckner will give a 20-minute talk about his faith.
Buckner averaged .289 for his career, with 2,715 hits in 22 seasons. He had more than 100 RBIs in two of his three seasons with the Boston Red Sox.
The former first baseman also is known for a costly World Series error with the Red Sox in 1986.
Details: (559) 320-4487.
Muslims to celebrate end of Ramadan
The Islamic Cultural Center is planning its Eid al-Fitr celebration at 7:45 a.m. Monday, July 28, at the center, 2111 E. Nees Ave.
Eid al-Fitr is the holiday that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
The Fresno event begins with a call to prayer (takbir), followed by an Eid sermon and a potluck breakfast. Visitors are asked to bring a dish to share with others.
The center believes Ramadan fasting will end Sunday with the sighting of the moon of Shawal.
Details: www.icfresno.org or (559) 297-9535.
Church will release worship CD at services
The NorthPointe Community Church worship team will perform songs from its new worship CD, "NorthPointe Night of Worship," at all four services Sunday, July 27, at the church, 4625 W. Palo Alto Ave.
The CD was recorded from a live worship night held at the church last summer, featuring NorthPointe vocalists and band members. It features well-known contemporary worship songs as well as original material by the NorthPointe worship team. Seven of the 11 songs feature Todd Anderson, worship pastor at NorthPointe.
The CD costs $10 and will be available at the services, which are scheduled at 8, 9:30 and 11:15 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Details: www.northpointe.org or (559) 276-2300.
Dinner will benefit food ministry
A dinner fundraiser to benefit the food distribution center at Breaking Free Revival Center is scheduled at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 26,at Belmont Country Club, 8253 E. Belmont Ave.
Robert Rogers, founder of Mighty in the Land Ministry in Fort Wayne, Ind., will speak on living a life of no regrets, cherishing your loved ones and living life to the fullest.
In August 2003, Rogers' wife, Melissa, and their four children drowned in a flashflood on a Kansas highway that swept their minivan away. He survived the accident. He also established the ministry, which helps orphans around the world.
Music at the event will be provided by violinist Patrick Contreras. Cost is $45.
The food distribution center feeds and helps more than 110,000 people each year.