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March 4, 2019 - 11:00am
posted by Lisa Ace in Making Crosses, lent, art, religion.
Event Date and Time: 
April 11, 2019 - 7:30pm to 8:30pm

Making Crosses During Lent

We are invited to a journey of exploration and prayer during Lent using Ellen Morris Prewitt’s book Making Crosses: A Creative Connection to God. Lent is an intentional time to journey with Jesus to the cross by adding intentional prayer practices to our daily lives. Making crosses out of discarded items will be a great way to add spiritual awareness to your life. This active prayer form will help you open your life to God’s healing, love, and challenge in a new way.

March 4, 2019 - 10:59am
posted by Lisa Ace in Making Crosses, art, lent, religion.
Event Date and Time: 
March 28, 2019 - 7:30pm to 8:30pm

Making Crosses During Lent

We are invited to a journey of exploration and prayer during Lent using Ellen Morris Prewitt’s book Making Crosses: A Creative Connection to God. Lent is an intentional time to journey with Jesus to the cross by adding intentional prayer practices to our daily lives. Making crosses out of discarded items will be a great way to add spiritual awareness to your life. This active prayer form will help you open your life to God’s healing, love, and challenge in a new way.

March 4, 2019 - 10:55am
posted by Lisa Ace in Making Crosses, lent, religion.
Event Date and Time: 
March 7, 2019 - 7:30pm to 8:30pm

Making Crosses During Lent

We are invited to a journey of exploration and prayer during Lent using Ellen Morris Prewitt’s book Making Crosses: A Creative Connection to God. Lent is an intentional time to journey with Jesus to the cross by adding intentional prayer practices to our daily lives. Making crosses out of discarded items will be a great way to add spiritual awareness to your life. This active prayer form will help you open your life to God’s healing, love, and challenge in a new way.

December 20, 2018 - 9:54am
posted by Virginia Kropf in Gregory Van Dussen, books, news, religion.


After a lifelong career in ministry, Gregory Van Dussen has written his first book, "Transfiguration and Hope."

"I have done a lot of writing in graduate school and a lot of reviews, but never a book,” Van Dussen said. “I didn’t think I had anything to write about until it hit me like a ton of bricks.”

As a new retiree, the vision became clear, he said.

“I had to do some reflecting about this time of life, getting old and the next life,” Van Dussen said. “I put that together with the Bible transfiguration of Christ.”

One thing which makes his book distinctive, he said, is in his research he read a wide range of authors, not only Christian authors from Protestant to Catholic but Eastern Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox writers from Egypt and Armenian Apostolic.

His book is a conversation across time and space, he said. He describes it as gathering many of those voices from the panorama of Scripture and church history and finding in them the common theme of radical transformation in Christ.

Van Dussen is a retired United Methodist pastor, having started 39 years ago in Batavia. From 1972 to 1974, he served as district superintendent. His career includes serving at churches in Bergen, Albion, Batavia, East Aurora and Springville.

His book is available at the Holland Land Office Museum, on Amazon and in local retail distributors, including the Book Shoppe in Medina, where he has a book signing scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22.

Van Dussen is already working on a second book of devotions, based on the lives of early circuit riders in North America.

“I have always been interested in those people,” Van Dussen said. “I found an abundance of information available online about these people.”

He hopes to have the new book available by next fall.

May 14, 2018 - 1:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in EverPresent Church, batavia, news, Announcements, religion.

Press release:

EverPresent Church invites you to visit our new location at 4 Batavia City Centre, Batavia. We are excited to announce our Grand Opening Weekend on May 18-20 at the former Homestead Center also former home to Roxy’s Music Store.

EverPresent Church was founded in 2013 in the local YMCA. Not long after its beginning the church found a new home at 8 City Centre, formerly Center Stage Dance Co. Although EverPresent Church embraced its new location, we still longed for a space we could call home.

The conversation started back in 2015 with the owner of The Homestead Center but a deal wasn’t stuck until the summer of 2017.

Since our move into our new location we have been very busy settling in and making it our own. We are excited to be holding services and If you are looking for a warm friendly environment with a caring community of believers this just might be the place for you.

We are a family oriented church with great vision for you and our community. We are excited to see what God has in store for our church and anticipate great things for the future of Batavia.

If you are looking for a church and it’s been difficult to find where you fit or feel comfortable, this is the place for you! We are Real People, living Real Lives, with a Real Hope! We invite you to check it out and celebrate together as we help one another on this journey called life.

Grand Opening Weekend

  • Friday, May 18th at 5:45 p.m. -- MOVIE NIGHT showing “THE GREATEST SHOWMAN." Free popcorn and water; pop available to purchase.
  • Saturday, May 19th -- OPEN HOUSE from 2 to 5 p.m. Come by and check out the place, get some info about the church, and meet the pastors. 
  • Sunday, May 20 -- SUNDAY SERVICE at 10:30 a.m. Join us for a time of worship and an encouraging message.

We guarantee that you will experience God and His love through the people at EverPresent Church. We look forward to meeting you!

"Real People. Real Life. Real Hope!"

February 25, 2018 - 5:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Hope Center of Le Roy, Le Roy, news, religion.


It's the vision of Rev. Henry Moore and the team at the Hope Center of Le Roy that the new ministry 42 Main St. will provide the community with a place of hope and help.

"We just want to show God's love through all of us and everything that we're doing," Moore said. "That's a lot of what we're based on, the fact of God's love and things will take shape from there."

The Hope Center, which is still just barely furnished, offers several programs for the community already.

There is L.I.F.T., which stands for Ladies in Faith Together. It's a program for single moms, where single moms can meet and support each other, share a meal, and grow in faith together.

The King's Table provides support for caregivers of children with special needs. 

"A couple of ladies who have special needs children took it upon themselves to start the program," Moore said. "Since then they've begun to bring families in and it gives them an opportunity to just meet together."

Fresh Start Literacy is a program for children to get extra help with reading.

"We really feel like this is going to be a powerful one because so many families have children who struggle to read," Moore said. "It's tough in a school atmosphere to get one-on-one help. We're willing to offer that."

Moms United in Prayer is a chance for women to pray together on a regular basis for children and schools.

Annually, the center offers Go Pro Spa Day and the Prom Dress Give Away.

Planned programs include Celebrate Recovery, a disaster relief program, children and teens programs and a New Life Clothing Center.

Much of Moore's ministry is based on the work, including the Prom Dress Give Away, he was doing with the Living Waters Church.

The Hope Center is now a separate nonprofit, and Moore is seeking donation and community support. The Hope Center has also started a building fund with the hope of eventually owning its own building.

"What we really want to do is get the community involved get all the churches to come together," Moore said. "I mean, no one person has a vision to make everything happen. One of the things we found was that someone has a vision and they don't know how to make it happen. We want to help that."

The rest of the leadership team includes Donna Friedman, Pat Bedford and Amy Bolton.

The motto of the Hope Center is that "hope is more than a wish. It is a confident expectation."

Moore said it's his goal to see the new ministry provide that kind of confident expectation to the Le Roy community.

October 30, 2017 - 4:15pm

Tuesday marks the 500th anniversary of Reformation Day, celebrated alongside Halloween, by Protestant Christians.

On Oct. 31, 1517, German monk Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Pastor Alan Werk from St. Paul Lutheran Church in Batavia, said Reformation Day is an important holiday that marks the beginnings of the church body.

“It shows recognition that the Bible is God’s word and it’s our sole authority for what we teach and believe,” Werk said.

On Nov. 4th from 2 to 4 p.m., St. Paul Lutheran Church will hold a family-oriented Reformation Day Celebration. There will be stations for people to walk around to learn more about Martin Luther and Reformation Day. St. Paul's is located at 31 Washington Ave. in Batavia.

“The other important recognition is that we are saved by Jesus Christ, not by the things that we do,” Werk said. “Jesus did for us what we couldn’t do.”

Earlier in the month, St. Paul members gathered to watch a documentary about Martin Luther, to start the celebrations of Reformation Day.

Every year, the congregation celebrates Reformation Day on the last Sunday of October.

“It lets us live with a whole lot more joy and peace,” Werk said. “We remind ourselves about all things the Reformation stands for in terms of our faith and Scriptures.”

The three key points celebrated are Scripture alone, faith alone and grace alone, Werk said.

When Martin Luther nailed the Ninety-five Theses to the church, he did not set out to create a new church body, Werk said.

“What he was really trying to do was correct some things that he recognized from his study of the Bible, that the church had been doing wrong,” Werk said. “He wanted to make some adjustments and corrections.”

Werk said he ended up getting kicked out of the church, which prompted him to start a new church body.

“He wanted to call the church back to the things the Bible taught,” Werk said.

August 26, 2017 - 9:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in religion, news, music, entertainment, austin park, batavia.


Austin Park was filled with praise and worship this weekend for the Here and Now Festival, featuring several Christian music acts and pastors along with dozens of vendors and activities for families.

More than 3,000 people turned out for last night's music and the festival continues today through 10 p.m.











August 14, 2017 - 2:08pm
posted by Maria Pericozzi in batavia, news, Zerin Firoze, religion, notify.


Zerin Firoze grew up in Bangladesh in a secular family with a well-educated father, where 90 percent of the people in the country are Muslims.

She wanted to be like any other kid and use YouTube to listen to music, watch tutorials and study for school. But in 2013, YouTube was banned in her home country after an anti-Islam video was posted.

Firoze said something special happened to her that day. Shortly after it was banned, she watched an anti-Islam film, “Innocence of Muslim” after some of her Muslim friends were sharing the video, asking for everyone to report it.

“After having a few conversations back and forth, I went back and read the Qur’an again,” Firoze said. “I used an adult mind this time and I was shocked. Something happened to me that day.”

Her new attitude toward Islam and problems at home set her on a path that brought her to Batavia for college and she hopes will eventually lead to Harvard Medical School.

Firoze was a high school student who started questioning Islam on social media.

“I sat up straight and thought, ‘What is happening in my country?’ ” Firoze said. “2013 was a turning point in my life. I understood that everything I learned about religions is false and man-made.”

She said she knew it was dangerous to question Islam on social media, but she did not stop. Overnight, she lost her Muslim friends.

“I did not know that my own Muslim friends and family that I have grown up with would try to kill me or harm me, just because I chose to question Islam,” Firoze said. “There are several passages in the Qur’an that instruct Muslims to kill non-Muslims. I didn’t want to kill Christians or non-Muslims because I have loving non-Muslim friends and they’re amazing.”

It's been a year since Firoze came to the United States and settled in Batavia.

She has applied for asylum in the United States because she would be killed by Islamic extremists or jailed by the government for speaking out against Islamic extremism.

“I would love to go back to my home country, but I would be killed,” Firoze said. “I don’t think it will change in the next 10 years. It will not get better. It will get worse.”

After speaking out, Firoze received death threats from multiple terrorist groups in Bangladesh. Her name was on a death-threat list from one of the terrorist groups.

“My country is supposed to be a secular country,” Firoze said. “It’s still secular in the Constitution, but a majority of the people happen to be Muslims.”

Firoze said they don’t understand free speech or secular values.

 “You cannot call a country secular, then have a state religion,” Firoze said. “It makes no sense.”

When Firoze’s father found out she received death threats from terrorist groups, he told her to get out.

 “I fought with my parents a lot and I could no longer take the abuse at home,” Firoze said. “I got in touch with more secular friends from Western countries. I started documenting my miserable condition.”

Firoze received a head injury from her father, which gave her a speech impediment. She told her friends she was forced to drop out of school and was locked in her room. She was not allowed to go out or do anything.

“My mom and dad said they could not keep an outspoken atheist at my house,” Firoze said. “My dad threw me out many times for me wanting an education.”

Her dad was highly educated, so Firoze never understood why her dad denied her education.

“I expected a lot more from my family,” Firoze said. 

After her condition continued to get worse, her friends in the United Kingdom set up a GoFundMe to try to rescue Firoze from Bangladesh, after she began receiving daily threats from Islamist terror groups.

“At the time, it became too dangerous for me to stay in Bangladesh,” Firoze said. “I had started receiving rape threats and death threats just for saying something on my own Facebook page.”

It took Firoze almost two years to obtain her five-year visa to the United States, after being denied by the United Kingdom and Sweden for her single marital status, lack of ties to her home country and lack of funding.

Once in America, Firoze began to adjust to the American life. For the first time, she used public transportation by herself, wearing a short skirt.

In Bangladesh, Firoze said women could not take the bus or train alone because they would be harassed, kidnapped and raped. Women are also expected to follow conservative Islamic dress codes, wearing a burka and veil.

“My mom and my aunt started taunting me to be more modest,” Firoze said. “All my high school friends started wearing burka and hijab. I was expected to dress like them and be like them to fit in. I never cared about fitting in.”

The malls in Bangladesh stopped selling jeans, skirts and Western outfits. Firoze was told she should wear the hijab, but she said she finds the concept degrading and insulting.

“So many of my friends and girls in my country are burned and beaten to death, for not wearing the head scarf,” Firoze said. “The hijab is a symbol of oppression.”

One of her best friends in high school was forced into an arranged marriage, which is common in Bangladesh. According to UNICEF, 66 percent of girls are married before the age of 18, and one-third of girls are married before the age of 15. The legal minimum age for marriage is 21 for boys and 18 for girls.

“I raised questions about her marriage,” Firoze said. “I said let her study. Allow her to complete her high school at least. I was the only one brave enough to stand up for her.”

At that point, Firoze was struggling to complete her own education. She was told that because she was a girl, she did not need to study.

“That gave me the courage to speak against Islam, to speak against child marriage, to speak against terrible things happening in my country,” Firoze said. “In 2013, two famous atheists were killed in my country; my country was becoming more Islamic.”

One of her online Bengali atheist friends survived an attack with long-lasting neck injuries after being known an atheist blogger, while another atheist did not.

“In my home country, you can get jailed just for saying something on your Facebook page,” Firoze said. “Ordinary people like you and me have said something on their Facebook page about the government or Islam and they got jailed for it -- or for sharing a cartoon or meme.”

Firoze said there are more important issues that should be dealt with.

“People in my country don’t have access to healthcare or food,” Firoze said. “People are living in the streets. There are so many bigger issues in my country, and the government is after YouTube and Facebook.”

Terrorism has something to do with Islam, Firoze said.

“I have seen this with my own eyes,” Firoze said. “My classmates, friends, they became more radical. They became extremists after going to the mosque regularly. I have seen this in my own family and community.”

Firoze attended a secular school from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m., would have lunch at home, then have Islamic classes from 4 until 6 p.m. She said her mom sent her to Islamic classes to “receive her moral values.”

“I started disliking Islamic school from a young age,” Firoze said. “It was horrible.”

While atheists in Bangladesh have used pseudo names, Firoze has not.

“I am different,” Firoze said. “I have used my real name and my real face. I have spoken against Islamic extreme groups for the last three years with my real name and picture on social media.”

Firoze hopes to be a U.S. citizen in the near future and to attend Harvard Medical School to be a doctor. She started a Skeptics and Secular Humanists Club at college and hopes to spread secularism in the world.

“We must criticize and reform Islam,” Firoze said. “We must protect the rights of Muslims, especially under the Trump Administration. Books and ideas do not have rights. Humans have rights. We must fight Islamic extremism from a place of moral strength and unity, instead of using far-right xenophobia, racism, and bigotry.”

Firoze would like to start a secular club in Batavia if she finds enough like-minded secular or agnostic, atheist people in Batavia. If you would like to collaborate with Firoze, contact her via Facebook.

If you would like to support her efforts, click here.

June 1, 2017 - 9:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Great Tabernacle Ministries, religion, batavia, news.


Press release:

Great Tabernacle Ministries announces the second annual “Here and Now Festival” to be held Aug. 25-26 at Austin Park in Downtown Batavia.

This year has grown to include more than 55 vendors and 12 food trucks from the surrounding region, and more than 14 artists and activities for children including face painting, balloon animals, cotton candy, Kona ice, and more!

Music genres vary from '70s rock and folk to rap and hard rock. Friday night features Elevation Worship with an expected draw of people from as far as Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Vermont, and Ontario, Calif. There could be up to 4,ooo people visiting Batavia from all around because of this event.

Saturday will start at 11 a.m. running all day till 10 p.m. with a number of artist and speakers, ending with runner-up from last year’s hit TV show “The Voice,” Christian Cuevas.

Great Tabernacle Ministries would like to thank the Genesee area Businesses, churches, and ministries for all of their support in sponsoring this great event! Without you this event wouldn’t be possible and FREE to our community! That’s right admission is free so mark your calendars now.

For a full list of Artists, vendors and food trucks etc., please visit www.greattabernacle.org. If you would like to sponsor this event and advertise your business with us please call 585-297-3155 

Photo: File photo. For more photos from last year's event, click here.

March 19, 2017 - 7:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office, law enforcement, religion, batavia, news.


This morning's service at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Batavia was dedicated to members of the law enforcement community, to pray for them and to encourage them and to thank them for their service to the community. There were representatives at the service from the Sheriff's Office, Batavia PD and the State Police.

Pastor Allen A. Werk officiated. He is also chaplain for the Sheriff's Office.

Pastor Werk read from Joshua 1:9: "Be Strong. Be courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

His message was that God promises to be with us in whatever challenges and difficulties we face, especially those who serve.

“God is your backup," Werk said. "He has your back in every situation you face. Every call out, every domestic, every accident, every traffic stop, every disturbance, every break-in, every rescue, every crisis, every disaster, God promises that he will be with you wherever you go.”


February 10, 2017 - 2:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Eve Conference, northgate free methodist church, religion, news.


The women organizing the third annual Eve Conference at Northgate Free Methodist Church are excited about the event next month that they believe will help bring more joy into the lives of all the women who attend.

The conference is March 25 and will feature keynote speaker Pam Washburn, whose talk is titled "Defending Our Joy."

The Eve Conference is open to teen girls and women of all faiths. 

There are also 12 breakout sessions, including three specifically for teens, two worship services, and an optional lunch.

Sessions include "The Interruption of Joy," "Surviving Divorce," "Marriage," "Living the Full Life," "Daughters of Miriam: Hearing the whispered heroism of the women of the Old Testment," and "Jesus 1st."

Registration is $25, $15 for teens and the optional lunch is $7.

“We’ve had people’s lives transformed in here in one day," said Jennifer Berry. "It’s amazing. It’s a day where you walk away thinking anything is possible and you have the tools you need to improve your life.” 

For more information and tickets, click here.

Photo: Jennifer Berry, Jessica Barone, Meg Hoistington, Gloria Roorda, and Julie Varland.

August 25, 2016 - 11:20am


Jericka, lead singer for the local Christian band Salt of Earth, sings during the opening of Batavia's Great Tabernacle, a three-day event of music and worship at the Genesee County Fairgrounds.

The event continues tonight with free performances by Jim Drew and Jason Upton, and with speakers each night, tonight is Pastor Kevin Traux.









Last night's guest speaker was Tim Bennett, and Robin Mark performed.

April 3, 2016 - 8:25pm
posted by Raymond Coniglio in Le Roy, living waters church, religion, news.


Mikayla Radecki, 17, of Holland, speaks with Living Waters Church member Denise Parmenter during the “Girls Helping Girls” prom dress giveaway Saturday at the Le Roy church.

Some dreams came true this weekend at Le Roy’s Living Waters Church.

The occasion was “Girls Helping Girls,” a prom dress giveaway that marked its sixth year on Saturday. A steady stream of girls and parents browsed among racks of dresses displayed in the church sanctuary.

It had a department-store feel. But the beat of Christian rock music was a reminder that the program is a church ministry born out of compassion.

“Girls Helping Girls” was originally suggested by church member Valerie Moore. She saw it as a way to help families who may not be able to afford a new prom dress, which can cost as much as $400 on average and is usually worn only once.

“God just dropped it on my heart one day, to reach out to those who may be in need,” Moore said. “I know how important it is for a girl to be able to attend her prom.”

In the first year, there were about 75 prom dresses available.

On Saturday the number topped 600 — more dresses, organizers pointed out, than at Kohl’s, JCPenney and Macy’s combined.

Most of the dresses were donated, while others were bought on sale by Moore at the end of last year’s prom season.

Although dresses were free, some families have asked to make financial contributions. This year, the church will forward any donations to the House of Hope being built in Moshi, Tanzania, as a refuge for girls who would otherwise be exploited.

“Girls Helping Girls” draws families from across the region. One visitor was Mikayla Radecki, 17, of Holland, Erie County, who both made a donation and chose a dress for her upcoming junior-senior prom.

“This is very helpful,” said Mikayla, who was holding a purple sequined dress in the church lobby. “You can make a donation and find a dress — it makes things a lot easier.”

Moore has received similar feedback from many girls and families over the years.

“A lot of them are very grateful, and very thankful that we do this,” she said.

“Last year, one of the girls left a comment that said, ‘Now my dream can come true.’ If that was the only dress that we gave away last year, it made the entire event worth it.”

Valerie and her husband Henry Moore have been members of Living Waters Church for 12 years, and help oversee its ministry programs.

One of them is Operation Drumstick, which sends church members to New York City. There, they help serve Thanksgiving Dinners to more than 5,000 people as part of an outreach program of the New York School of Urban Ministry. Living Waters is also preparing to send a team to Tanzania to support House of Hope.

Closer to home, Living Waters offers dinners and picnics for residents of local apartment complexes.

“Our biggest goal is outreach ministry,” Henry Moore said. “People think about missions as, ‘I have to go to another country,’ but ‘missions’ is in our own communities; it’s in our own back streets.

“Yes, we want to be able to send people to Tanzania, Africa, and Mexico — and that’s great,” he said. “But where we can connect the best is right here at home.”


“Girls Helping Girls” was originally suggested by Living Waters Church member Valerie Moore, right, who helps oversee mission programs with her husband Henry Moore.

June 14, 2015 - 1:12pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in religion, St.James Episcopal, authors.

It is a bestselling book. It is a “template for religious dialogue,” according to one of the authors. It is required reading in high school and college religion classes. It is a scandal to some, and an inspiration to others.  Last but not least, it was adapted and performed as a play by folks in a Florida retirement community.

The phenomenon in question is the book titled “The Faith Club: A Muslim, a Christian, a Jew – Three Women Search for Understanding,” by Suzanne Oliver, Ranya Idliby and Priscilla Warner.

Oliver came to St. James Episcopal Church in Batavia Saturday to discuss the book, answer questions, and sign copies of the book at a reception afterward. An Episcopalian Christian herself, Oliver attends a church of the same name in New York City.

“Except we have an apostrophe after the ‘s,’ ” she said, eliciting laughter from her audience.

Her visit was part of St. James’ bicentennial celebration, which will include other events as well.

“When I imagine Batavia 200 years ago,” Oliver said, “I imagine a variety of Christianities, as well as native religions that must have been present. Diversity of religion is not really new. But we have to learn to approach it in new ways that affirm the humanity and divinity in all of us.”

This is what Oliver, Idliby (a Muslim) and Warner (a Jew) tried to do with their book, which was first published in 2006. 

Oliver sees this as part of a nationwide movement to foster interreligious dialogue and understanding in the face of much fear and violence associated with religion. One reason she feels this is especially important and timely is the increasing number of non-Christian immigrants to the United States.

“From 1992 to 2012, the proportion of Christians in the United States fell from 68 percent to 61 percent,” Oliver said. “At the same time, the proportions of Muslim and Hindu immigrants have doubled. It is important that we integrate these growing religions into our American communities.”

According to Oliver, the genesis of the project came in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

“I met Ranya (Idliby) at our daughters’ school bus stop the week of those attacks,” she said.  “Our girls had started kindergarten together, and 9/11 was supposed to be their school picnic day.”

At the time, Oliver was part of a book club that decided to read about Islam and the Middle East in order to explore who these Muslim terrorists were, and why they hated Americans. She invited Idliby to their talk on Thomas Friedman’s book “From Beirut to Jerusalem,” and found that she “defied my stereotypes about Muslim women.”

Prior to meeting Idliby, Oliver believed Islam was a violent religion that mistreated women. But she was surprised by Idliby’s personal independence and her ability to read the Koran (Islam’s principle religious text) and see connections with Judaism and Christianity.

It was Idliby who conceived the idea of teaming up with a Christian mother and a Jewish mother to write a children’s book consisting of a miracle story from each of the three Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Through a Jewish friend, Oliver met and recruited Warner, whom she described as “open-minded and curious enough” to join the project.

But when they pitched the idea to an agent, the agent wasn’t interested. Instead, she was interested in the relationship these three women had forged among themselves in trying to write what had seemed like a simple children’s book. How they handled their disagreements (some of them major), found common ground, and continued to work together despite tensions and differences were to become the “stuff” of their joint project.

“This was a bigger commitment than any of us had anticipated,” Oliver said. “We would have to be vulnerable, honest, and forgiving with each other. We would have to figure out how three people could structure one story out of a shared, yet individual experience. And we would have to be willing, ultimately, to share this story with the world.”

And this is what they have done. With more than 200,000 copies sold, “The Faith Club” has reached many people throughout the country and garnered much praise.

At the same time, Oliver acknowledged, there are people of all three faiths who have criticized the book for presenting a watered-down version of each faith. One fairly well-known religious leader even compared it to “the coming of the Antichrist.”

But Oliver, for her part, is not only determined to continue the pursuit begun with “The Faith Club,” but also insists on the need to let go of “religious absolutes” and on the “obligation of contemporary religious leaders to prepare their congregants for the inevitability of interfaith encounter by teaching pluralist theologies of religion.”

In fact, that was the topic of her thesis at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where she earned a master of arts in Interfaith Theology and Ecumenical Studies in 2012.

“I began to recognize (in my faith journey) that no religion had all the answers,” Oliver said. “As Ranya had said in our conversations, ‘Religion is only as enlightened as the human hands it finds itself in.' ”

For more information on "The Faith Club," visit the book's Amazon page.

June 6, 2015 - 5:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, religion, St. James Episcopal Church.


St. James Episcopal Church celebrated 200 years in Batavia today with a special service highlighted by musical performances and officiated by Bishop William Franklin of the Western New York Diocese and former interim pastor Allen Farabbe.

A six-piece brass ensemble and percussion section, led by Dave Porter, performed “Fanfare for the Common Man,” “Crown Him With Many Crowns,” “Lift High the Cross” and “Christ is Made the Sure Foundation.”

The Genesee Chorale, conducted by Ric Jones, also performed, with accompaniment by pianist Doug Henson.






June 2, 2015 - 1:44pm
posted by Traci Turner in batavia, religion, The City Church, Erin Kelly.

The Batavia City Church will host guest speaker Erin Kelly, oldest daughter of Buffalo Bill's former quarterback Jim and his wife, Jill, as part of their Life Night Service.

The service will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 4. The church's band will start the service and then Erin will share thoughts and personal experiences from her latest book "Kelly Tough." A question and answer session will follow.

The book is a story of love between a father and his daughter. In her book, she emphasizes how her faith in God and ability to find strength in weakness helped her to withstand the challenges of her father's and brother's illnesses. 

Marty Macdonald, senior pastor at The City Church, talked with Jill Kelly's brother, Jack Wagner, to set up having Kelly speak at The City Church. According to Macdonald, the church loves what the Kelly family stands for and everyone is looking forward to hearing her story of family love and the greater love of the heavenly Father.

"I hope it will really bring people home," Macdonald said. "There are so many people in our society that are facing challenges whether it's cancer or broken homes or loss of employment, so many things that bring pain and hurt to people. Our hope is that as Erin is sharing her story it will bring great encouragement and hope to let them know that, hey, you can make it. You can go on another day and you don't have to give up."

The City Church regularly invites guest speakers to share their stories at their weekly Life Night Service. The church will welcome their next guest, Pastor Tommy Reid, for their Sunday morning service at 8:30 a.m. on June 7.


Photo from The City Church's Facebook page.

April 28, 2015 - 9:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, religion, first presbyterian church.

“The Rebirthing of God”
A Celtic Evening with REV. DR. JOHN PHILIP NEWELL
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 7 p.m.
at the First Presbyterian Church, 300 E. Main St., Batavia

Come and listen to internationally acclaimed scholar, teacher, retreat leader, author and poet John Philip Newell challenge us to explore a new beginning for Christianity. In the midst of dramatic changes in Western Christianity he offers the hope of a fresh stirring of the Spirit among us.

Tickets are free, required for admission and available atwww.fpcbatavia.org

Speaking directly to the heart of Christians – those within the well-defined bounds of Christian practice and those on the disenchanted edges – as well as to the faithful and seekers of other traditions, he invites us to be part of a new holy birth of sacred living.

For many years now Rev. Dr. Newell has been writing about the sacredness of being, the “of-Godness” that is at the heart of our lives and all life. He is the former Warden of Iona Abbey in the Western Isles of Scotland and internationally acclaimed for his work in the field of Celtic spirituality, having authored more than 15 books, including his best-known titles, "Listening for the Heartbeat of God," "Praying with the Earth," and "A New Harmony: The Spirit, the Earth & the Human Soul."

Rev. Dr. Newell’s talk will be based on his most recent publication, "The Rebirthing of God: Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings." Books will be available for sale and following his talk, John Philip will be signing books. A freewill offering will be taken.

Rev. Dr. Newell is an ordained minister in the Church of Scotland with a passion for ecumenical and interfaith dialogue. More information about John Philip and his work can be found at www.heartbeatjourney.org

Simply click on this event as it scrolls across the home page. You will be asked to register for the event and instructed to print a ticket. Questions? Call the church office at 585-343-0505.

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