New Year's Eve interfaith service set


Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic Christians have teamed up to plan an unusual interfaith service of thanksgiving on New Year's Eve at St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church, 740 N. Calvert St.

Sponsors said the one-hour prayer service will begin at 9 p.m. Dec. 31, preceded by 20 minutes of music, and will emphasize "gratitude to God for blessings in 1993 in the Mount Vernon-Belvedere community" of Baltimore."

Officiating clergy will include Auxiliary Bishop John H. Ricard of Baltimore's Catholic archdiocese and Bishop Naomi C. DuRant of the New Refuge Deliverance Cathedral at St. Paul and Chase streets.

Bishop DuRant's Pentecostal congregation has worshiped since 1991 in the former Christ Episcopal Church, long a Mount Vernon area landmark.

Others planning to take part in the interdenominational New Year's celebration are the Rev. William J. Watters, the St. Ignatius pastor; the Rev. Thomas L. Culbertson, rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church at Cathedral and Read streets, and the Very Rev. Mark Odell of Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church, 1723 E. Fairmount Ave. in East Baltimore.

Also participating will be Sister Helen Amos, president of Mercy Medical Center, and Sister Gloria Rubio, the Catholic director of the Park Avenue Lodge, a Methodist-sponsored shelter for women at 607 Park Ave.

Among other participants who will represent the arts, education and business in the neighborhood are Isaiah Wooden, a student at St. Ignatius Loyola Academy, and John Pivinski of Mount Vernon Florists.

Several youth and adult choirs will sing.

Bishop Ricard will preach, and Bishop DuRant will give the blessing at the conclusion of the service.

The public is invited, but free tickets will be required for admission. Information: 727-3848.

Two Trinity churches:

Among many Baltimore-area congregations inviting the public join them for Christmas Eve worship tomorrow are Trinity Episcopal Church, 120 Allegheny Ave. in Towson, and Trinity Lutheran Church, 1100 Philadelphia Road in Joppa.

At the Towson church, a family service and pageant will begin at 5 p.m., followed by a Festival Holy Eucharist at 10 p.m., with choral anthems by the Trinity Choir.

The Rev. Kingsley Smith, the church's rector, said college students home for the holidays are especially invited for refreshments at 9:30 p.m. in the Trinity Parish Hall, preceding the Eucharistic service.

A Family Holy Eucharist will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday, Christmas Day, he said. Information: 823-3588.

At the Lutheran church in Joppa, a Family Candlelight Service at 4 p.m. tomorrow will feature Christmas carols by a children's choir and sermons addressed to both children and adults.

Three more Christmas Eve services will begin at 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., the last including Holy Communion and music by instrumentalists, vocalists and a handbell choir. A nursery will be available during all but the 10:30 p.m. worship.

Information: 679-4000.

Talking books:

"Making Books Talk" is a new program of Jewish Family Services and Baltimore Hebrew University designed to make a variety of literature, including books on Jewish prayer, accessible to the blind or visually impaired at no charge.

The taped works in the extensive collection may be borrowed in person or by mail from the university at 5800 Park Heights Ave. Information: 578-6936.

Letter to the president:

In a letter to President Clinton, Roman Catholic Archbishop William H. Keeler of Baltimore expressed concern about possible cuts in foreign aid and urged that the administration "maintain at least current levels of assistance to the poor around the world."

The archbishop, writing as president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, said there was a particular need for reconstruction in areas of Central America and Africa where the United States had provided armaments during the Cold War, and he criticized the United States for ranking "near the bottom" among industrialized nations "in terms of the share of our economy devoted to development assistance."

Archbishop Keeler also criticized U.S. funding of "abortion-related activities" overseas.

Reported by Frank P.L. Somerville

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