Hiss event tackles serious topic of human trafficking

Human trafficking is not something of concern in Loch Raven area — or so we think.

However this belief was refuted at a seminar on June 4 on the topic, presented by Jeanne Allert of the Samaritan Women at Hiss United Methodist Church.

The 30 people in attendance learned many disturbing facts about the prevalence of trafficking of youth, men and women for illegal labor, sex and abuse.

Allert said it is a $40 billion a year industry in the U.S., and is prevalent along the I-95 corridor.

The United Methodist Women of the church sponsored the seminar, which was attended by men, women and teenagers.

Dianne Thompson, director of evangelism and communications at the church, said one mother brought her daughters so that they would be more aware of what can happen to young people in malls and big shopping areas.

Those in attendance learned the problem exists locally, and also learned about the profiles of victims and perpetrators — and suggested actions for preventing trafficking.

The program also touched on the work of Samaritan Women for legislation which aids victims and prosecutes the criminal.

As one attendee summarized, people must be aware of their surroundings, and not be afraid to report suspicious activity.

Brenda Stadler, a Hiss member, explained why this topic was selected.

"We are required as UMW members to take a stand against human trafficking. It is a heinous crime perpetuated against our youth. ... The life of a trafficked victim is about 7 years."

For additional information go to http://www.thesamaritanwomen.org. To report suspicious activity call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center 1-888-3737-888; or, of course, 911 in an emergency.

Summer break has just started, but if you are already looking for something to keep the kids occupied, try vacation Bible school at one of the area churches.

Loch Raven Presbyterian Church, 9318 Old Harford Road, will host "Summer Seaquest," using storytellers, puppets, singing, theme-related crafts, outdoor recreation and snacks to "dive" into the book of Jonah. This program, for children age 4 through the fifth grade, runs 9 a.m. to noon, July 11-15, at 9318 Old Harford Road. For more information or to register, call the church office, at 410-661-5777.

Hiss United Methodist Church, 8700 Harford Road, will host a study of Old Testament Joseph and his adventures in ancient Egypt. The program runs June 26-30, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., for children ages 3 to 12. Register online at http://www.hisschurch.org or call the church for more information at 410-668-5665. There are no fees.

And Arnolia United Methodist Church, 1776 E. Joppa Road, is hosting PandaMania vacation Bible school, July 18-22, 6 to 8:30 p.m., with an ice cream social on Friday, July 22. Call 410-665-7005 to register, or for fees or more information.

All of the churches extend an invitation to community children to attend.

After 15 weeks of classes about the United Methodist faith and Christianity, 19 youngsters were confirmed into membership at Hiss United Methodist Church. In preparation for their June 12 confirmation, the class took field trips to Lovely Lane UMC, the birthplace of Methodism in America; Walters Art Gallery's exhibit of Christian relics; Strawbridge Home in Westminster; to a retreat at West River Camp; and to First Fruit Farm, where they helped to plant 1,500 tomato plants.

Pastor Mark Smiley said this is probably the largest confirmation class he has ever had in any of his churches in more than 29 years of serving as a pastor.

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