It is always inspiring to know there are people in our community who are working to bridge the widening gap between hope and hopelessness.
While I know of many such persons in our community who fit that description, one in particular comes to mind as I write this column. Her name is Sara Leon, and we met several years ago when we both were members of the Christian Coalition of South Florida.
Leon is a true “grass-roots” kind of woman, a person who works with the so-called underdogs of the community trying to find ways to better their status of living.
“I have dedicated my life serving the community in various ways,” she said to me recently. “For over two years, I have prayed to be involved in an organization that has religious principles and is involved in improving the community in various ways.”
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For example, Leon wanted an organization that would reach out to area churches, helping congregations understand problems involved with teen pregnancy, drug use and gambling. She said many people don’t realize that gambling is a big problem among teens.
“I started praying about these problems and what I could do to help prevent them when I served as the chairwoman of the Christian Coalition of South Florida. And when Coalition shut down, I started praying and asking the Lord how He could use my skills to serve the community,” she said.
Leon said the answer to her prayer came from the Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, inviting her to launch the first chapter of the Sara Leon Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition.
The official kick-off of the newly organized organization will be 9:30 a.m. April 25, with a continental breakfast and registration at Central Church, 1300 SW 87th Ave. The program will be from 10 a.m. to noon.
Leon has previously worked worked with the Florida Sheriffs Association’s “Don’t Let Florida Go to Pot” campaign. She was also involved in hosting the “Truth Project” and community prayer breakfasts and prayer walks.
Leon, 65, said she has asked the Lord at times, “Are you finished with me yet?”
“I don’t think He is because He keeps pushing me to do more. When you are doing the Lord’s work, He propels you forward.”
She said she never married because, “I believe God wanted me to remain unmarried so that I could be free to impact the community for His glory.”
If you go to the event, Leon said you should enter the church through the back door. The guest speakers will be Jim Kallinger, president of the Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition and Javi Corresoso, the “No Casinos” campaign manager.
Women’s fellowship celebrates 100th anniversary
Congratulations to the Women’s Fellowship of Plymouth Congregational Church on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.
The congregation and friends of the organization will celebrate the milestone Sunday in the Edson Chapel on the church campus at 3400 Devon Rd. in Coconut Grove.
According to church history, Plymouth was organized in 1897. Its name at the time was Union Congregational and its membership comprised of four males and six females. In 1915, the Ladies’ Aid Society of the church, now known as Women’s Fellowship, was organized.
Since then, the women of the church have continued their important work, offering fellowship while at the same time raising money for the church and meeting community needs.
Since its early days, the organization has pursued goals through member units known as Circles. Today, according to the history, there are two Circles — Barnes and Trapp — which each offer fellowship while contributing to the improvement of the community. A third mission of Women’s Fellowship owns and operates the This ‘N That Shop, a well-known and successful thrift shop at 3155 Commodore Plaza in Coconut Grove. The women of Plymouth opened the shop in 1957 and it has operated continuously since.
The reception will follow the morning worship service and is open to the public.
Temple Israel Sisterhood luncheon
A 11:30 a.m. Sunday, the Temple Israel Sisterhood will roll out the red carpet for its annual Spring Luncheon Gala “That’s Entertainment.”
The event will include a champagne reception and a catered lunch by chef Michael Meltzer. There will be great prizes and musical entertainment performed by artists with the J-CAT Cultural Arts Theatre.
Nancy Dreyfuss and Sandra Simon are the chairwomen of the event, which benefits sisterhood program and activities.
Open to both sisterhood members and guests, the tickets are $50 per person and $150 for sponsorships and $250-$1,000 for underwriters. The temple is at 137 NE 19th St. Self parking is available in the temple lot. Call the temple office at 305-573-5900 for more information or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Celebrating Israel Independence Day
Temple Beth Tov Ahavat Shalom at 6438 SW Eighth St. in West Miami will celebrate Israel Independence Day from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday.
The celebration will include music a raffle, an auction and children’s activities. Lunch will include falafel, pita, hummus and Israeli salad. There is no charge for the celebration but donations will be graciously accepted.
All are welcome.
Church building fund signature event
The Christ the King Catholic Church building fund committee will have its “signature” fund-raising event for the year at 7 p.m. Saturday in the St. Richard’s/Holy Rosary at 7500 SW 152nd St.
The cost is $100 per person and includes fine dining, premium drinks, dancing and entertainment. Tickets for reserved tables of eight are available for ministries or family and friends. Call Jerry Nagee at 305-505-5573 for tickets and more information.
Meditation lecture in Fort Lauderdale
Want to know more about meditation? If so, a free lecture on meditation will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale.
The free lecture is based on the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda and the topic is “Meditation: Awaken Your Inner Power.” The lecture will be given by a long-time monk of the Self-Realization Fellowship Order, which has more than 500 temples and centers around the world.
The lecture is part of a weekend of events and will focus on the power of meditation to create more peace and happiness in one’s life.
For more information about the public lecture and other scheduled programs during the weekend, contact the Fort Lauderdale Meditation Group at 954-729-2046.
Riviera Presbyterian gets OK to perform same-sex marriages
The Rev. Martha M. Shiverick of Riviera Presbyterian Church wrote to me about a recent church celebration.
“The progressive Presbyterian church in South Florida celebrated ... as our national denomination moved toward marriage equality. The denominational definition of marriage now will state that it is between two people which allows same-sex marriages to be performed by Presbyterian pastors in Presbyterian churches,” she wrote. “At the core of Riviera Presbyterian Church is the belief in our God, who loves all people and invites all into community calling us to build a world of justice, equality and shalom.”
Shiverick said the vote does not mandate that conservative churches conduct same-sex weddings or that conservative pastors officiate at them. “But for churches like ours that are open and inviting, it allows all members to enjoy equal benefits of Christian life.”
Riviera Presbyterian is at 5275 Sunset Dr. in South Miami.
St. Johns madrigal concert postponed until May 31
Carol Hoffman-Guzman, Ph.D., founder of Arts at St. Johns, sent a note to let us know that the madrigal concert and talk that was scheduled for Sunday has been rescheduled for 2 p.m. May 31.
Arts at St. Johns is at St. Johns on the Lake United Methodist Church at 4760 Pine Tree Dr. in Miami Beach. Tickets are still $15 general admission; $10 for seniors and students and free for children under 10 and active military personnel.
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