New pastor begins at Peoples Church

The congregation of Peoples Church in northeast Fresno is feeling a sense of excitement.

March 14 is the Rev. Dale Oquist’s first Sunday as senior pastor of the church, one of the central San Joaquin Valley’s largest congregations. He will speak in all three Sunday services — 8, 9:45 and 11:30 a.m. — at 7172 N. Cedar Ave.

Oquist, senior pastor of Evergreen Christian Community in Olympia, Wash., for the past 10 years, replaces the Rev. G.L. Johnson, who retired in February 2008 after nearly 45 years as the church’s pastor.

The church’s executive pastor, the Rev. Doug Holck, believes the congregation is in a position similar to the biblical character Rebekah in Genesis 24, when Abraham sent his chief servant to find a bride for Isaac. The bride was Rebekah. Trusting her future, Rebekah said, “I will go.”

Holck writes in the March edition the church’s magazine: “God is bringing someone to lead us. I pray we will be like Isaac’s bride and follow God’s servant, riding the camel in the direction that Pastor Dale leads.”Details on the church: (559) 298-8001.

Jewish film series will show ‘Strangers’

The film “Strangers” will be presented at 7 p.m. March 13 at Temple Beth Israel, 6622 N. Maroa Ave. It is part the the Fresno Jewish Film Series.

The film is about an intimate encounter of two strangers — an Israeli man and a Palestinian woman — in a strange city during World Cup play and the second Israel-Lebanon war.

Cost is $8. Details: (559) 432-3600.

Peace festival at Fresno fairgrounds

The ninth edition of the Rally in the Valley/Peace and Justice festival will be held at 12:30 p.m. March 21 at the Fresno fairgounds, 1121 S. Chance Ave.

Among the speakers will be Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a campaign to end U.S. war efforts.

The event will mark the seven-year anniversary of the Iraq war. Details: or (559) 251-3361.

Tickets available for Fowler church’s event

A banquet celebrating the 100th anniversary of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church of Fowler will be held at 1 p.m. April 11 at the Fresno Convention Center New Exhibit Hall, 848 M St.The Fowler church was consecrated on April 17, 1910.

Guest speaker will be Dr. Garo H. Armen, CEO of the biotechnology company Antigenics Inc.Cost is $75 for adults, or $35 for children. The reservation deadline is March 26. Details: (559) 834-2919.

Benefit concert is set

The “Spring Harmonies: A Showcase of Local Talent” concert will be held at 7 p.m. March 22 at North Fresno Mennonite Brethren Church, 5724 N. Fresno St. The event benefits Central California Mennonite Residential Services, a ministry for adults with developmental disabilities.

The event will feature performances by Tom Hiebert on French horn, Lenore Hiebert on piano, Joyce Lilyquist on bells, vocalist Tonya Smith and the Fresno Pacific University Chamber Singers.

Details: (559) 227-2940.

Ron Orozco covers religion for The Bee. He can be reached at or (559) 441-6304.