Religion

Rainbow proudly flies again over Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation had a full house Sunday morning. They were a mix of regular congregants, and a lot of visitors who had shown up to support the church as it responded to an act of hatred. On Tuesday someone stole the church’s rainbow pride flag and mutilated it. The Wood County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the incident At noon on Sunday, about 100 people gathered around the flag pole as Andrew Schocket, president of the congregation, raised a new rainbow flag. The morning message on the congregation message board was “Still We Rise.” Schocket said that the news of the desecration of the church’s flag had an extra kick given the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, the weekend before during a march by Nazis and other white supremacist groups. The Rev. Lynn Kerr said that in her sermon “I was asking people: don’t sleep through the revolution. The revolution is one of compassion. There’s just too much hate and division, and it only seems to be getting worse. .. We might feel like we’re a small group, but we can’t sit on our hands any more. We’re small, but mighty.” Kerr said she was grateful for all the visitors at that morning’s service. They had read about the incident and “just came out to support us.” “It felt wonderful,” Kerr said. “You just don’t always know how they feel about you. That came out today.” Kerr said she has also received many calls and emails. “The whole community has been very supportive.” After raising the new rainbow flag, Schocket said that the church now has another rainbow flag in storage, so that if something happens to this one, the congregation will be able to get a new one flying immediately.  


Rainbow pride flag to rise again over Unitarian Universalist church

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The rainbow pride flag has flown at the Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation for longer than the Rev. Lynn Kerr can remember. She knows it was flown on occasion before she arrived at the church six years ago, and that it has been a constant presence since after she arrived. “We want it to be known that we’re welcoming so we have a big flag out there,” Kerr said. Many of the congregants, she said, identify as LBGTQ, or as allies. “We welcome anyone from the community to join us, especially LBGTQ.” That extends now to those who on Tuesday trespassed on the church’s property on Ohio 25, and ripped down the flag. Photos taken of the incident that Kerr and members of the congregation have seen, indicate the vandals were teenagers. “I felt bad that there are teenagers who have this kind of hate,” Kerr said. “That does not bode well for our future.” The Wood County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the incident. The suspects have not been positively identified, the BG Independent was told. The incident will not keep the congregation from flying the rainbow colors, though. Kerr said that organizers of Toledo’s Pride Parade, scheduled for Saturday (Aug. 19), will present the church with a new flag. On Sunday (Aug. 20) about noon after the service, congregants will gather out front to raise the new flag. Kerr said the public is invited to join them. The flag and the congregation’s outspoken support for LBGTQ rights has drawn criticism before. “We’ve riled some people up, but never felt in danger.” And it’s not only been flying the flag that has drawn the ire. “We put controversial messages on the board, important and liberal and good messages. Some people don’t like those either.” After the 2015 murder of nine black churchgoers at a historic church in Charleston, South Carolina, MVUUC posted: “Confederate flag down rainbow flag up.” The complaints come in the form of and e-mails, like the packet of Biblical passages sent to Kerr monthly. One local minister told Kerr she shouldn’t call herself a minister because of what she preaches. She and her congregants are undeterred. “I tell my congregation we’re not going to return their fear and hate with more anger. We’re going to return it with compassion.” Kerr said she will address the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the…


St Paul Lutheran Hymn and Organ Festival

SUBMITTED BY ST PAUL LUTHERAN CHURCH On August 27 at 4:00 pm, St. Paul Lutheran Church in New Rochester, Ohio, will present a hymn festival to mark the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. On October 31, 1517, Dr. Martin Luther wrote to Albert of Mainz and presented his 95 Theses on the power and efficacy of indulgences. This hymn festival also acknowledges the 50 year journey the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church have taken in moving from conflict to closer communion. Special guest at the festival is organist Tom Gerke, who was baptized and confirmed at St. Paul and became an organist during high school at Christ Lutheran Church, Dowling. While attending Capital University in Columbus, he continued studying organ for two years with Professor David Britton and two years with Dr. William Haller. In May 1970, while a junior in college, Gerke won a competition for organists under age 25 in greater central Ohio sponsored by the Columbus Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Having earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Math Education from Capital and Ohio University, Gerke taught math in the Columbus area for 35 years and recently retired. He has continued as organist of All Saints Lutheran Church in Worthington, where he has played for 41 years. Gerke is a member of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians and serves as treasurer of the Columbus Chapter. He is also Dean of the Columbus Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and President of the Ohio Chapter of the Palatines to American German Genealogy Society. With Mayor Gustava Oberhouse, he established the Pemberville/Roedinghausen Friendship Communities Agreement of 1995. St. Paul invites area churches to our Reformation Celebration and all are invited to stay and enjoy a German supper following the program.  


Creation Care Celebration to be held on Sunday

The Black Swamp Green Team’s second Creation Care Celebration will take place Sunday, April 23 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Peace Lutheran Church, 1201 Martindale Rd at W. Wooster in Bowling Green. The event celebrates local efforts, organizations and leaders practicing good stewardship by increasing awareness and practices for sustainable renewable energy use and healthy living. Lunch will be included, as will music by the Peace Band. Keynote presentation and panel will be on the topic of sustainable and regenerative agriculture by Don Schooner of Schooner Farms, Alan Sundermeier from the Ohio State University Extension Office, and Paul Herringshaw of Bowling Green. There will be recognitions, displays, and electric car test drives. A tour of Schooner Farms will immediately follow the event at 3:30 pm. The Black Swamp Green Team is a collaboration of faith communities, advocacy groups, non-profit entities, and individuals engaged in promoting and practicing good creation care among itself and its constituents so as to: implement energy efficiency; the use of renewable energy; the production and delivery of local renewable energy; and, thereby, improve its overall stewardship of creation.


St. John Passion in its element as Good Friday offering

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Liturgy and drama are one in Bach’s St. John Passion. The theatrical elements – a narrator, dialogue, and the evocative underscoring for small orchestra—are undeniable. Yet the message and the story almost demand the setting of a church. Yes, it is presented in a concert hall, but that’s akin to a staged reading of a play as opposed to a fully staged production. The St. John Passion was fully in its element on Palm Sunday afternoon in Hope Lutheran Church in Toledo. The Passion, one of two that have come down to us from Bach, the other being the monumental St. Matthew, was presented by musicians from Bowling Green State University. The performance brought together the Early Music Ensemble, directed by Arne Spohr, the University Choral Society directed by Mark Munson, who also conducted the work, organist Michael Gartz, and voice faculty taking on the principal roles and solos. Munson said he’s been waiting for Easter to fall late enough in the semester to be able to prepare the Passion for presentation during Holy Week. So on Good Friday, April 14, the St. John Passion will be presented at 7 p.m. in First United Methodist Church in Bowling Green as the community commemoration of the day. The Passion was first performed in 1724, revised over time, though the final version reverted to much the same as it was originally performed. As presented in Bach’s time, a sermon would be preached between parts one and two. Those in attendance Sunday were advised not to applaud between the two movements. Spohr read several verses of the gospel in Martin Luther’s German translation between the sections. The Passion develops on several fronts. The Evangelist, sung by Christopher Scholl, tells the story, with the direct quotations sung by other vocalists, including Lance Ashmore as Jesus. Interposed in the narration are reflections – chorales sung by the 40-voice choir and arias sung by four soloists alto Ellen Scholl, soprano Chelsea Cloeter, tenor Christopher Scholl, tenor, and bass/baritone Ashmore. Underneath the orchestra provides musical commentary and sets the scene. The opening passage with woodwinds and restless strings, musical establishes the theme that contrasts the degradation and horror of the passion with the glory of the redemption. The belief that Jesus is brought so low to bring humanity so high runs through the chorales and arias. The narration is all sung…


People of different faiths bust barriers to peace

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   People of many faiths busted some myths that stand in the way of peace, during the third annual Interfaith Breakfast in Bowling Green Wednesday morning. More than 250 people gathered for food, fellowship and to break down walls that have been built between faiths over centuries. “If ever there were a time for a candle in the darkness, this would be it,” said Rev. Lynn Kerr, of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. “The more we learn from one another,” she said, “peace is possible.” Speakers from Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Native American, Buddhism and Christianity tried to bust myths surrounding their faiths. Rehana Ahmed, a member of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, was born and raised in Pakistan where she attended a Catholic school. That glimpse of another faith gave her an understanding of others. “That has made me a better human being. At the core, we are all the same. What hurts me, hurts other people.” In her job at Sky Bank, Ahmed told of a customer asking her to do something she was not legally able to do. She remained quiet as he spewed several four-letter words at her. But when he told her to go back where she came from, Ahmed asked him if he was a Native American. “You and I can go back on the same boat,” she said to him. “These are trying times for all of us,” Ahmed said. “Let’s ask questions before we make a judgment.” Srinivas Melkote, who is a Hindu originally from India, addressed the immigrant stereotype first. “I’m not a drug dealer,” he said. “I don’t murder people.” After living in Bowling Green for decades, Melkote still gets questions about how often he gets to go home. Every day after work, he responds. Though the oldest continuous religion, Hinduism is misunderstood by many. “It’s extremely tolerant,” and is based on reaching higher knowledge, he explained. Cows are considered sacred, since they give milk like mothers. But other common myths are false, such as Hinduism requiring vegetarianism, subservient women, and the caste system. Joseph Jacoby, a member of the Temple Shomer Emunim, busted myths about Judaism in rhyme. Not all Jews are doctors, control government, rule Hollywood, or have big noses, he said. Jews make up just 2 percent of the U.S. population and 1 percent of Ohio’s population. Many came to the…


Muslim students build bridges with BG community

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some bridges were strengthened Sunday between local Muslims, Christians and Jews. The ravine between Muslims and other faiths in America has grown during the past year – emphasizing the differences rather than the similarities between people of varying faiths. So on Sunday, Muslim students from Bowling Green State University, asked the community to join them for a “Meet the Muslims” gathering at the Wood County District Public Library. “This is how it starts,” a Muslim student said, pointing out that both Islam and Christianity  promote love for others. “We are all brothers and sisters in humanity. It’s on us to get to know one another.” Adnan Shareef, president of the Muslim student group, said that stereotypes are allowed to fester and grow if nothing is done to stop them. “All of us are affected by stereotyping,” Shareef said. “Unless we communicate and interact with people. Through interaction, stereotypes can change.” In the current political climate in the U.S., the community gathering was a serious undertaking for students of the Muslim faith. “It takes a lot of courage,” said Marcia Salazar Valentine, executive director of the BGSU International Programs and Partnership. But the students were not alone, reminded Bowling Green City Councilman Daniel Gordon. “Events like this today are needed now more than ever,” Gordon said, speaking of the “venom of Islamaphobia” being spread since the presidential campaign and election. He spoke of the growing number of hate crimes targeting Muslims, and the travel ban executive order signed by President Donald Trump. “This is not our America,” Gordon said. This has become a nation where hateful campaign rhetoric is turning into national policy. This isn’t the first time refugees have been turned away at America’s borders, he said. In 1939, many Jewish refugees coming into America were refused entrance. So Trump’s signing of his travel ban on Holocaust Remembrance Day was particularly hurtful, Gordon said. “America, after all, was built by immigrants and refugees,” he said. “We need to stand together.” Bowling Green City Council has taken action to stand up for Muslims, with the passage of a resolution condemning hatred toward Muslims and proclaiming that silence in the face of intolerance is not acceptable. “This is the heart of who we are,” said Gordon, who presented members of the BGSU Muslim Student Association with a framed copy of the city resolution. Fatima…


Scholar helps guide BGSU musicians toward Holy Week presentations of St. John Passion

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Mark Munson has been waiting for the academic and liturgical calendars to align. The director of choral studies at Bowling Green State University wanted a year when Good Friday fell late enough in the semester to allow time to prepare and present J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion on Good Friday. This is the year, and this past week the singers and musicians started the final phase of preparation. The passion oratorio, originally presented on Good Friday, 1724, is a large undertaking that involves soloists, the University Choral Ensemble, and the Early Music Ensemble, directed by Arne Spohr. To help this large contingent of students, faculty and community members prepare, a leading scholar and tenor Christopher Cock, of the Bach Institute at Valparaiso University in Indiana, visited campus. In the passion, Bach relates the story of Jesus’ trial and execution using the text from the Gospel of John, with reflections by soloists and the choir. Cock has sung the role of the evangelist in the St. John Passion 50 times as well as conducted it on several other occasions. His choir has been in residence at St. Thomas in Leipzig where the piece was first presented, a rare honor for an American choir. He was at BGSU as the Helen McMaster Endowed Professor in Vocal and Choral Studies. For many of the students involved this will their first time playing it. “I’m getting chills just thinking about you’re experiencing this work for the first time,” he told them. Cock spoke about how Bach brought the theology to life in the music. “The debasement of being nailed to the cross,” he said, “was the only way Jesus could realize his full divinity.” That comes through in the instrumental introduction. The winds play a series of notes that overlap to create a dissonance “like a nail piercing a skin.” Cock said. The strings are restless, rustling, unsettled. The lower strings relentlessly lead the way to the choir’s entrance. This music may indeed have gotten Bach into trouble, Cock noted both at the rehearsal and at a talk the next day. Bach wrote the Passion in 1724, the first year of his employment at St. Thomas. He presented it again the next year, the scholar said, an unusual move. This time that distinctive opening had given way to a more soothing introduction. Cock said no one knows why,…


Bach expert to help prep BGSU musicians for Passion

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Renowned Bach expert and premier lyric tenor Dr. Christopher M. Cock will share his knowledge and love of the composer with students in the College of Musical Arts and local audiences March 13-15 as the 2017 Helen McMaster Endowed Professor in Vocal and Choral Studies at Bowling Green State University. Cock holds the Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Lutheran Music at Valparaiso University and is director of its Bach Institute. During his residency, he will give a public lecture and work with the BGSU Collegiate Chorale, voice and conducting students and the Early Music Ensemble as they prepare to perform Bach’s “St. John Passion” in April during the Easter season. All events and activities are free and open to the public. Cock will discuss his life’s work in a public presentation titled “J.S. Bach and the St. John Passion: A Lifelong Pursuit” at 10:30 a.m. March 14 in 1040 Moore Musical Arts Center. In addition, audiences may hear the ensembles in performance, beginning with the Early Music Ensemble with soloists at 8 p.m. March 13 in the First United Methodist Church, 1526 E. Wooster St. in Bowling Green. On March 14, he will lead the University Choral Society at 7:30 p.m. in 1040 Moore Musical Arts Center. On March 15, he will again lead the Early Music Ensemble with soloists, at 8 p.m. in the First United Methodist Church. His visit will also include a voice master class and work with undergraduate choral conducting students. Through his activities as a choral music educator and distinguished solo artist, Cock has forged a unique career path combining the roles of conductor and performer. He frequently brings his focus on outstanding repertoire, vocal technique and polished musicality to high school ensembles throughout the country. He has also conducted All-State Choirs in Minnesota, Georgia and Ohio and the Collegiate Honor Choir in Pennsylvania. He has appeared at Carnegie Hall as guest conductor of the New England Symphonic Ensemble. In 2004, he founded the Bach Institute at Valparaiso University. The institute performs the major works of Bach triennially and, in the years since its formation, has devoted scholarship and performances to studying Bach’s professional years prior to his appointment in Leipzig (1723). Cock’s leadership of the Valparaiso University Chorale has led to numerous recordings and extensive concert tours in the United States and Europe. The chorale has served four performance…


Community stands with Muslims over travel ban

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   During his 35 years in the U.S., Imam Talal Eid said he has never criticized an American president. Even during the campaign, when Donald Trump made hateful statements about Muslims, Eid held his tongue. “He’s the president, I’m sure things will be OK,” Eid said once Trump took office. Then came the executive order that effectively banned Muslims from seven countries from entering the U.S. And Eid, director of religious affairs at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Perrysburg Township, cautioned church officials to pray for the divided nation but not criticize Trump. But then the stories came of families separated, Muslims returned to dangerous lands, people’s lives at risk. “I started to hear the tragedies,” Eid said. “I broke my silence. Innocent people are being harmed in the name of our nation.” Eid spoke Sunday afternoon to a mosque crowded with members and strangers who wanted to offer their support in the face of the travel ban. The audience overflowed out of the sermon room into prayer room. “This is the first time that I feel that my country, my president is trying to kill the morale of innocent people,” he said. He spoke of the agony that families already go through to get entry into the U.S. “You may not be aware that people sell their homes to come to America and have a good life,” the Imam said. Eid said he  has always clung to the Constitution, which is guided by the belief that people are all created equal. “I always speak of the ethics of the Constitution.” But that document appears to be under attack, as are Muslims, he said. “Isn’t it true that Muslims are not the only immigrants,” Eid said, noting that Muslim Americans contribute to their communities. He is not opposed to measures that are truly intended to keep America safe – but this travel ban will only act as ammunition for those who hate the U.S., he said. People being turned away from the U.S. will say, “Look what America did to me,” he said. “You are making terrorists happy. That’s what they want – to divide us.” Eid offered a prayer for the nation, directed at Trump. “Mr. President, I pray that God will enlighten your heart. That God will help you see the truth.” That truth includes the fact that people…


Peace Lutheran powers Christian mission with light from the sun

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Peace Lutheran demonstrates its faith by the cross that rises high atop its steeple. The solar panels that were installed recently are also a demonstration of the congregation’s faith. “Here’s a faith expression that God is resourceful and generous,” said Pastor Deb Conklin. The solar panels fit in its Creation Care ministry. The solar panels were paid for by a behest from long-time neighbors Leonard and Margaret David. On Sunday, Feb. 5, at 10:30 a.m. the church will dedicate and give thanks for the solar panels and donation as part of its 10:30 a.m. worship experience. The donation was a surprise, Conklin said. The Davises were not members of a congregation, though Mrs. Davis did attend some of the church’s many community functions. Conklin had already been considering what environmental action the church could do and had attended an Ohio Interfaith Power & Light conference. She’d also discussed the environment and what the church could do with local activist Neocles Leontis. Then in 2014 the lawyer handling the Davis estate stopped by the church with a $5,000 check. That was, he informed her, just the start. She wasn’t at the church, she said, when the rest came. A check for $120,000. Conklin said the church already had a vision fund in place and that’s where the money was put. Working with Harvest Energy Solutions of Jackson Michigan, the solar panels were installed this winter, and have been operating for several weeks. The contractor also provided an app that allows the congregation to monitor how much electricity is being produced. Conklin said the church expects to save 25 percent on its utility bill with the solar panels. That won’t just come off the budget’s bottom-line, she said. That money will be used for its ministry. “That’s what’s important,” she said, “not to save money for us but to do more ministry.” That means “to enhance our vision to create a Christ connection to the community.” The goal is not to proselytize “but we’re trying to connect people with the best in Christ.” Part of that is being good stewards of the earth and its resources. It’s up to people to use what God gives them and that includes science, to take care of the creation, the pastor said. Using solar power is a way of achieving that by reducing the church’s carbon footprint. The solar panels…


Debate over afterlife puts church through hell in “The Christians”

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Clearly Presbyterians don’t believe in bad karma. Otherwise the pastors and board of the First Presbyterian Church in Bowling Green would have thought thrice about hosting a production of “The Christians,” a drama about a church being ripped apart. The church lived up to its declaration on its sign outside as a welcoming congregation, and welcomed Broken Spectacle Productions into its sanctuary. Luke Hnath’s 2015 play “The Christians” is being presented Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. in the church’s sanctuary. Tickets at the door are $20 and $15 for students. Tickets in advance are $15. Visit brokenspectacle.com. That’s a fortuitous setting for the play. After a small choir (William Cagle, Beth Felerski, and Lorna Patterson) directed by pianist Connor Long has offered a couple hymns, the pastor, Paul (Jim Trumm) steps out and greets the congregation. Given the stage is a sanctuary a moment of confusion ensues – is this a service or a performance? Trumm’s Paul is a warm, reassuring figure, glib but not quite unctuous. He’s certainly proud of what he’s built. As he details in the opening lines of his sermon, he built this church from a handful of worshippers in a storefront into a congregation of thousands with a church that has a bookstore, coffee shop and parking lot big enough to get lost in. This Sunday is one of celebration, he tells the congregation, because the mortgage on the church has finally been paid off. And the Sunday is notable as well because he is announcing a dramatic change in theology – he no longer believes in hell. Paul arrived at this epiphany not on the road to Damascus, but in a bathroom in an Orlando hotel. At a conference he heard a missionary lament that a boy, who burned to death in the process of saving his younger sister, would not go to heaven because he was not a Christian, not saved. Paul says that is incompatible with a loving God. “We are no longer that kind of church.” Trumm’s Paul announces this with joy and certainty. The audience – or is it a congregation? – would do well not to be so mesmerized by Paul’s preaching that they neglect to watch the others on the dais. The actors – Eric Batts as the associate pastor Joshua, Jim Dachik as the elder Jay, and Libby Dachik as Paul’s…


Broken Spectacle troupe brings “The Christians” to First Presbyterian

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Broken Spectacle Productions has staged plays in a bar, a lounge that served as a hookah lounge, and an empty storefront with one electrical outlet. The troupe makes it work. The company is peripatetic by design. Making it work is part Broken Spectacle’s mission statement. As Jonathan Chambers, who launched the theater company in 2014 with his wife Sara Lipinski Chambers, explains “It’s always about the plays and the spaces.” “We identify projects we want to do, then find spaces that are suitable,” he said. Chambers said Sara Chambers is always ordering and reading new plays. Last summer they came across “The Christians” by Lucas Hnath. He read it and knew immediately it was a play they should produce. “It ticks a lot of our boxes for us. It’s a new play that’s dealing with issues we’re interested in.” “The Christians,” which is structured around a sermon, “treats the issue of faith and people of faith with integrity, so it’s not making fun of belief,” he said. “In some respects the play is an argument that’s very old. If God is all loving, how can he send people to hell?” Chambers said they also realized “this is not a bar show.” Broken Spectacle will stage “The Christians” at First Presbyterian Church in Bowling Green, Thursday, Jan. 12 and Friday Jan 13 at 7 p.m. Tickets at the door are $20 and $15 for students. Tickets in advance are $15. Visit brokenspectacle.com. Knowing they wanted to stage the play set in a church in a church, they approached First Presbyterian. Chambers said they knew the church was a welcoming congregation, and its involvement in community projects such as Not In Our Town made it an attractive collaborator. Also First Presbyterian is the home congregation of cast members Jim and Libby Dachik, so they brokered the conversation with the pastors, Gary and Mary Jane Saunders. The response was enthusiastic, but the proposal had to be approved by others in the church as well. The main issue was the use of the sanctuary itself. The strength of the script and its approach to faith helped win approval. Church board members were uncomfortable with the sale of tickets at first, though they went along after the producers explained that there are inherent costs in staging a play. They did not want tickets sold in the sanctuary itself, so…


Community lifts voices in First Presbyterian “Messiah” sing-along

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The season’s first snowstorm couldn’t stop music lovers from gathering Sunday to sing-along to holiday music for the ages. A sing-along performance of G. F. Handel’s “Messiah” drew a few dozen to the First Presbyterian Church to listen and sing-along on the choruses. They were joined by the church’s chancel choir, soloists, organ and an 11-piece orchestra. Inside they all found the warmth of the festive atmosphere, and beloved strains of music. As musicologist Christopher Williams, who was singing in the choir, noted in his introductory remarks, “Messiah” is associated with both the Christmas and Easter season. That means its strains, especially the climatic “Hallelujah” chorus, are familiar both to listeners and to singers. The sing-along is intended to bring those two groups together in a spirit of harmony and in literal harmony. The Rev. Gary Saunders, the church’s co-pastor, said that the event fit well into the church’s belief in fostering community and creativity. Josh Wang, the church’s choir director, credited co-pastor Mary Jane Saunders with first suggesting the church stage the performance. She had attended such performances in the past and felt it would work in Bowling Green. Wang, in his first year in his position, was already contemplating a program for the Christmas season, and this fit the bill. “It’s so popular, really beloved music,” he said. So many people have sung it and having them sing the choruses “makes it a more meaningful experience for everyone.” Also, the sing-along makes the event more casual than the usual concert presentation. Not that the soloists, choir and orchestra were casual about preparation. “It was wonderful to be part of something this big,” said Nancy Hess, a member of choir. She enjoyed the challenge of preparing the music. “Obviously we strive for accuracy, and as good a performance as we can,” Wang said. The performance included almost all of the oratorio’s first section, and “The Trumpet Will Sound” and the “Hallelujah” chorus from the final section. Among the soloists was professional singer Diane McEwen-Martin, whose families has long ties to the church. “I was baptized here.” She sang the mezzo-soprano solos. She has performed “Messiah” before, but not all that many times. She explained that she started her career as a mezzo-soprano before shifting up the vocal register to soprano. Her voice, she said is not suited to the high florid soprano lines…


‘Come to the Stable’ features hundreds of Nativities

(Submitted for ‘Come to the Stable’) New church construction is not halting Bowling Green Alliance’s annual display of Nativities, “Come to the Stable.” For the 16th year, hundreds of Nativities and creches from around the world will be on display Dec. 8-11 in the church’s current sanctuary. A new sanctuary and an all-purpose room are being built just to the west of its current site, and while that has limited parking by a few spaces, it did not stop planning of the Nativity show. The free event opens Dec. 8 at 5 p.m. and runs until 9 p.m.  Guests have all day Dec. 9 (10 a.m. to 9 p.m.) and 10 (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) to see it before it concludes Dec. 11 from noon to 3 p.m. Bowling Green Alliance will hold two shorter worship services Dec. 11, at 9 and 10:30 a.m., because of limited space in the sanctuary. “Come to the Stable” also features free refreshments, live and recorded Christmas music, and drawings for Nativities.  Food items and donations to the BG Christian Food Pantry are welcomed. The church is handicapped accessible. “This event is our free gift to the community, and anyone from far and wide, to help remind us all what the season is truly about,” explained Sherrie Binkley of Perrysburg, who has been involved in the event since its founding.  “It’s like a labor of love that we are pleased to do this for the community.” She noted the ambiance of the votive candles, miniature white lights and Christmas music “has a calming effect and is an opportunity to push the ‘pause button’ on the fast paced, hectic hustle and bustle.” The Nativities range from the reverent to the whimsical, making the display ideal for all ages.  A Native American-themed crèche shows Baby Jesus as a papoose visited by hunters instead of shepherds, while an Amazon River-themed one shows Mary and Joseph with Jesus on a raft, accompanied by a monkey and turtle. Large groups planning to attend may wish to call the church ahead of time at (419) 352-3623 or email office@bgalliance.org.