Greenbelt Interfaith News

    September 1998

    Mishkan Torah Chooses New Rabbi; Greenbelt Baptist Pastor Resigns

    Jonathan Cohen has been chosen as the new rabbi of Mishkan Torah Synagogue. President Rachel Goldfarb announced in the synagogue's newsletter, The Mishkan Torah Trumpet, that Rabbi Cohen will join the synagogue in time for the September simchas and the high holidays. In the meantime, Arnold Brodsky has resigned from Karp Family School at Mishkan Torah Synagogue. Mr. Brodsky, who has been principal of the school for the past fifteen years, has accepted the position of Assistant Principal for Secular Studies at the Yeshiva of Greater Washington. Mr. Brodsky's position will be taken by Jim Cowan, who is currently the principal of Owens Road Elementary School in Prince George's County.

    After five years at Greenbelt Baptist Church, the Rev. Drew Shofner has accepted a position as pastor of Severn Baptist Church. Says Pastor Shofner in the church's newsletter, The Lamplighter, "I'm leaving because, to the best of my ability to discern it, I wholeheartedly believe it to be not only a part of God's plan for my life, but a part of God's plan for Greenbelt Baptist Church. It's not a matter of wanting to go, but of needing to in order for Greenbelt to grow, for Severn to grow, and for me to grow." Pastor Shofner adds that he is not leaving the church in order to find better people: "that'd be impossible."

    The Rev. John Burciaga is the new interim minister for Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church. Mr. Burciaga describes himself as a religious humanist, coming out of an initial ordination in the First Baptist Church. Elements of his past services that caught the search committee's attention were Unitarian Universalist revivals, references to Greek mythology, and the consistent presence of music and the arts. In addition to guiding strong social action programs, Mr. Burciaga was host and producer of "Religiously Incorrect," an award-winning program sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Clearwater, Florida. Among his many published articles are interviews with David Duke, Betty Friedan, and Rush Limbaugh. Mr. Burciaga will remain at Paint Branch for one year, while the church searches for a permanent minister.

    At the annual meeting of Episcopal Communicators, a national organization of people involved in various communication ministries in the Episcopal Church, the Rev. Michael W. Hopkins of St. George's Episcopal Church received an "Award of Excellence" for an editorial written in The Voice of Integrity, the national publication of Integrity (an organization of gay and lesbian Episcopalians and their supporters). Father Hopkins, who presently serves as director of communications for Integrity, will become president of that organization in October. As a representative of Integrity, he travelled in July to the Lambeth Conference, a worldwide meeting of Anglican bishops that is held every ten years in England.


    Greenbelt Community Church's Faith Lift! drive, intended to raise money for improvements to the church's facilities, has netted $130,932. The goal was $180,000 in gifts and five-year pledges. "Now what?" asks the church's newsletter. "Celebrate! . . . We are a small congregation of people with modest means. We are also richly blessed. We have reason to be thankful and confident as we take the next step!"

    For the fifth consecutive year, Greenbelt Community Church has won the Holy Sole Award for the most participants in the Hyattsville CROP walk. The church contributed 100 walkers and nine dogs. Money raised from the walk goes to the poor around the world, including a fund for Help by Phone in Prince George's County. Other area churches that took part in the walk were Berwyn Presbyterian Church and Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church.

    During Lent, St. George's Episcopal Church participated in the Fill the Ark program sponsored by Heifer Project International (HPI). The church's goal was to match last year's gift of $500 so that HPI could purchase four goats for needy family. St. George's reports that it in fact exceeded its goal and raised $655.81, enough for HPI to purchase five goats families in the developing world.

    The Silver Spring Gazette of June 10 describes the meeting house of the Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church as a wooded wonderland, in an article announcing a new concert space for the Institute of Musical Traditions, IMT. Paint Branch will provide the setting the for the 1998-99 concert series. What most delights Busy Graham, executive director, is the building's unique architecture. "With its hardwood floor and exposed ceiling beams, PBUUC in Adelphi has attracted more than religious seekers to its sunlit space set into a forested hillside," Graham said.

    News on this page is derived from the newsletters of the above religious communities.

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    © 1998 Heather Elizabeth Peterson
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