Writing contest asks comparisons with Gambia
Catholic Relief Services, the international relief agency based in Baltimore, is inviting high school students throughout Maryland to enter a writing contest with a March 31 deadline. Entrants must submit essays of no more than 2,000 words comparing their home communities to Gambia, the West African nation smaller than Connecticut.
The contest winner and his or her sponsoring teacher will be sent on a 10-day trip to Gambia in June.
"Our goal is to encourage young people to think in global terms about the challenges confronting the developing world as well as the United States," said Joseph Bock, Catholic Relief Services director of development education. "By looking beyond our own borders, we are convinced that students will gain knowledge and insights that will lead them to a better understanding of the many problems we face."
He said the contest is designed to complement, not compete with, any existing classroom focus on current events or international affairs.
"We see this contest as encouraging students to think critically about development issues," Mr. Bock said.
Students in public and parochial high schools and religious education programs are urged to talk with their religion, social studies or English teachers about the contest. Catholic Relief Services plans to announce the winning essay in late April.
Gambia is the smallest African nation, with an estimated population of 820,000. It is 90 percent Muslim. Its official language is English. The climate is subtropical, with a rainy season that begins in mid-June.
Contest information: (410) 625-2220.
United prayer: Tomorrow is World Day of Prayer, and more than 40 churches of a variety of Christian denominations -- Protestant and Roman Catholic -- in the Baltimore area are participating with services at 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m., 1:15 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Among the participating congregations in Baltimore and Baltimore County are Bethesda United Methodist Church, 6300 Harford Road; Faith Lutheran Church, 8 Sherwood Road, Cockeysville; St. Mark's-on-the-Hill Episcopal Church, 1620 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville; Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, 5700 Edmondson Ave.; Hereford United Methodist Church, 16931 York Road, Monkton; Holy Family Roman Catholic Church, 9531 Liberty Road, Randallstown; St. John's United Church of Christ, 1000 S. Rolling Road, Catonsville; Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, 200 Ware Ave., Towson; Sharon Baptist Church, 1373 N. Stricker St.; St. John's Episcopal Church, 9120 Frederick Road, Ellicott City; First Christian Church of Edgemere, 2618 N. Snyder Ave.; and Hampden United Methodist Church, 3449 Falls Road.
This year's prayers, part of what is an annual, international event uniting Christian men and women in 170 countries, were written by a committee in Guatemala. The local services are sponsored by Church Women United of Greater Baltimore. For more locations and other information: 825-9384.
African relief: As the result of a drive among member congregations concluding during February and marking Black History Month, the Congress of National Black Churches has announced a $100,000 contribution to Africare Inc., a relief agency, for assistance to the people of Somalia.
Bishop William H. Graves, chairman of the drive, said he considered the contribution only the first of many. "From less than 1 percent of our churches participating in this initial phase, we begin to recognize the unlimited potential of black churches responding collectively," he said. "African-Americans, without regard to their economic circumstance, want to help the people of Somalia and expressed that desire by contributing through their churches."
The congress, with headquarters in Washington, is a coalition of eight historically black Protestant denominations, with many churches in Maryland. Information: (202) 371-1091.
Intermarriage: Three evening workshops of the Project on Intermarriage of the Baltimore Board of Rabbis and Jewish Family Services will be held today, next Thursday and March 12 at Beth El Congregation, 8101 Park Heights Ave. Information: 466-9200, Ext. 381. Women's prayers:Women's prayers: New Shiloh Baptist Church, 2100 N. Monroe St., invites all women to a special prayer service at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Send religious news items -- about events, local personalities, etc., from Baltimore City and Baltimore and Harford counties -- to Religion Notes, c/o Frank Somerville, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.