Bonhoeffer's life of piety is to be marked in music


Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran theologian who tried to rally German Christian opposition to Hitler's policies, was executed in a Nazi concentration camp as World War II was ending.

In Baltimore next week, Bonhoeffer's life of deliberate piety will be celebrated with music of a German Protestant, a German Roman Catholic and an American Jew.

A choir from Dresden, Germany, will perform the music, "Altar-Triptikon for Bonhoeffer," at a free concert at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday at First English Lutheran Church, North Charles and 39th streets. A collaboration of the Lutheran congregation, the Handel Choir of Baltimore, the German Embassy in Washington and four Baltimore-area Jewish congregations made the local appearance by the 35 Dresden choir members possible. Also part of the Baltimore commemoration of Bonhoeffer's life -- under the title of "Courage and Conscience" -- will be talks by Eric W. Gritch, of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pa. He will speak at the 8:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. services Aug. 23 at First English Lutheran Church. Dr. Gritch's subject is "Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Embodiment of Costly Grace."

At next Thursday's concert, members of the Handel Choir and Cantor Kimberly Lewison of Temple Emanuel will perform with Dresden's Chamber Choir for the Hochschule fur Musik.

The music to be performed was written by Lutheran Hans Werner Zimmerman and Catholic Robert Helmschrott, both Germans, and Herman Berlinski, an American Jew.

Christian census:

Nearly 50 denominations and thousands of congregations are working together to plan a door-to-door tabulation of religious beliefs or lack of them in cities and towns across the United States on Sept. 20. A goal of the effort, called the National Evangelistic Census, is "upward of 25 million new converts in only a few hours."

People contacted by church teams will be asked if they believe in God, if they pray, if their prayers have been answered and if they have ever had a "life-changing experience with Jesus Christ." Among supporters of the $2 million project are the Southern Baptist Convention, the Roman Catholics' Evangelization 2000 project and the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

The Maryland coordinator of the census is the Rev. Robert Lafferty of Cornerstone Assembly of God in Bowie. For more information, call 1-800-683-3024.

Somalian relief:

Catholic Relief Services, which has its international offices in Baltimore, will administer a $4 million emergency effort in the northeast African country of Somalia this week. A United Nations estimate is that 5,000 Somalis are dying each day from malnutrition or violence in the drought and warfare that have plagued the mostly Muslim country since January 1991.

A CRS spokesman said warehouses for food already at the Somalian border with Kenya were being secured this week, with the goal of getting 3,000 metric tons of sorghum and beans quickly into the hands of 60,000 famine victims.

Population shift:

The Jewish population of the New York City area dropped by more than 220,000 in the last decade, according to a new survey.

The American Jewish Committee said the decline -- mostly in Queens and suburban areas -- resulted from a steady relocation of an aging population to the Sun Belt and no significant replacement by younger people.

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