Chapel Hill Zen Center to celebrate Buddha’s birthday Sunday – Flo Johnston

Flo Johnston
Flo Johnston

A celebration of Buddha’s birthday is set for Sunday, April 23, at the Chapel Hill Zen Center, 5322 N.C. 86, 2.5 miles north of Interstate 40 at exit 266.

Following regular meditation from 9 to 10:30 a.m., a short talk will be directed to children who will then proceed to an outdoor altar where they will offer incense and bathe the Baby Buddha.

Following the ceremony, a potluck picnic with birthday cake will be served.

The children are invited to help decorate the pagoda or “flower house” for Baby Buddha. Those who are able are asked to bring cut flowers for decorating.

Children, families and friends are all welcome.

Bull City United

The April Community Luncheon Roundtable in Durham will gather at noon on Thursday, April 27, in the fellowship hall of Shepherd’s House United Methodist Church, 107 N. Driver St.

Representatives of Bull City United will discuss the violence-reduction initiative of Durham County modeled on similar Cure Violence programs worldwide. Dorel Clayton, supervisor, will give an overview of the program. He will be joined by an outreach worker and “violence interrupter,” each of whom will share from specific areas of their work.

A free catered lunch is available, and all are welcome.

Brother Sun concert

Brother Sun’s “Standing on the Side of Love Concert” at Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4907 Garrett Road in Durham at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, April 23, will highlight the movement to support local Muslims, Latinos and refugees.

Joe Jencks, Pat Wictor and Greg Greenway each toured as a solo singer-songwriter for more than a decade before the three formed the trio. Their collective musical experience includes folk, roots, blues, pop, jazz and rock and the trio fuses them in song, both accompanied by their instruments and a cappella in a unique male singing tradition.

Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

Organ crawl

Progressive Evening Organ Crawl with silent film accompaniment will be offered by the Durham-Chapel Hill Chapter of the American Guild of Organists Friday, April 28.

The Chapel Hill event will begin at 6:15 p.m. at Chapel of the Cross with organ music and a liturgical design presentation by Terry Byrd Eason, liturgical design consultant.

At 7:10 p.m. at University United Methodist Church, Scott F. Foppiano will accompany a silent film. Hors d’oeuvre and punch will be served.

At 8:30 p.m. at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church a presentation on how organs work will be given and dessert and champagne will be served. All churches located on, or just a block off, East Franklin Street.

Adult tickets are $10; children and students, free.


Judea Reform Congregation, 1933 W. Cornwallis Road, Durham, marked the second night of Passover with a seder focused on the plight of refugees in the Triangle.

Through its partnership with resettlement agency Church World Service-Durham and PORCH, a nonprofit food-focused organization, refugees were invited along with a staff member from CWS-Durham.

“The Passover story is one of migration from deprivation to freedom. And while it is always meant to be understood as both timeless and timely, some years it feels more so,” said Rabbi Larry Bach of Judea Reform Congregation in Durham.

Judea Reform formed its resettlement committee less than a year ago. Since then it has led the congregation to donate backpacks filled with school supplies for local refugee children, transcribe refugee experiences of Judea Reform congregants, furnish an apartment for a newly arrived family, donate winter coats to refugees in need, purchase GoDurham Bus Passes for refugees needing transportation and raise $5,300 for job training programs in partnership with SONAM (Singers of New and Ancient Music), a nonprofit chorus.

Religious research

Duke University will use a $1.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to assess how America’s religious congregations’ demographics and practices are changing, Valerie Ashby, dean of Duke’s Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, has announced.

This ongoing National Congregations Study at Duke includes American churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship. Mark Chaves, a Duke professor of sociology, religious studies and divinity, directs the study.

More than 3,800 congregations have participated in the first three phases of the study, which has taken place between 1998 and 2012.

“The new funding will enable us to update and expand the solid base of knowledge we’ve built so far,” said Chaves. “I’m eager to see what we learn in this next wave of data collection about congregations’ leadership patterns, social and political activities, and the many ways that they contribute to communities.”

Lilly Endowment has a long history of making grants to Duke. Recent grants include $6 million to support the Divinity School’s leadership development programs for religious leaders, $250,000 to address the education debt of seminary students, and $500,000 to strengthen preaching resources through a partnership involving Duke Divinity School, Duke Chapel and Duke Libraries.

Contact Flo Johnston at or call 910-361-4135.