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Initiatives to Ease Human Suffering to Be Explored


An array of religious leaders will explore new initiatives to ease the human suffering caused by entrenched systems of penal institutions, immigration and welfare in a conference today in West Los Angeles.

"A Faithful Response to Suffering Humanity: A Celebration of Light" will feature as speakers state Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara), Episcopal Bishop Fred Borsch, Methodist Bishop Roy Sano, Metropolitan Community Elder Nancy Wilson and First African Methodist Episcopal Pastor Leonard Jackson. Focus groups will explore hate crimes and environmental degradation.

"There are some good things going on, but there will be a lot more suffering by a lot more people before the community can adequately care for everyone," said the Rev. Albert G. Cohen, executive director of the Southern California Ecumenical Council, which is sponsoring the conference. "We need new solutions for old problems."

The conference will begin with registration at 8:30 a.m. at St. James Armenian Church, 4950 W. Slauson Ave. The requested donation is $15, $10 for students and seniors. (626) 578-6371.


Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end apartheid in South Africa, will preach Sunday at the 9 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. Eucharistic services at All Saints Episcopal Church, 132 N. Euclid Ave. in Pasadena. Tutu, who also headed South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, is a theology professor at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta. (626) 796-4749.

* David Ellenson, professor of Jewish Religious Thought at Hebrew Union College, will lecture on "Modernity and the Construction of Jewish Identity" Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd. in Los Angeles. (310) 440-4500.

* Jerald C. Frakes, professor of comparative literature at USC, will lecture on the Yiddish language Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring, 1525 S. Robertson Blvd. in Los Angeles. Cost is $5 for members, $8 for nonmembers. (310) 552-2007.

* Otto Huber, director of the Oberammergau Passion Play 2000, will discuss how he revised the traditional play on the life and passion of Jesus Christ to eliminate anti-Jewish insinuations Monday at 8 p.m. at Beth Jacob Congregation, 9030 W. Olympic Blvd. in Beverly Hills. The plays have been faithfully performed every decade by Oberammergau villagers since 1634 in thanksgiving for being spared from the Black Plague, but were traditionally marked by anti-Semitism. (310) 827-3609.

* Father John Neiman of St. Elizabeth Church will speak on "The Diary of Anne Frank: The Untold Story," Friday at 8 p.m. at Valley Beth Israel, 13060 Roscoe Blvd. in Sun Valley. (818) 782-2281.

* Fred Brooks, lay leader at the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, will preach on the broad religious vision of New England poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson on Sunday at the 11 a.m. service. The church is at 2936 W. 8th St. in Los Angeles. (213) 385-6761.


The Agape International Center of Truth is sponsoring its annual East-West Healthquest through Sunday, featuring workshops and health screenings. The expo, entitled "Claiming Your Wholeness," will be held at the center, 5700 Buckingham Parkway in Culver City. The fee for today's events is $25 for the day and $15 for a half-day; Sunday's events are free. (310) 348-1260, Ext. 33.

* The San Fernando Valley Interfaith Council will hold a free panel discussion Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. on the theme "What Does My Religion Say About the Divine's Role in Tragedy and Suffering?" Speakers include Solomon Moore of the local Bahai Assembly, the Rev. James E. Bodman of the Unitarian-Universalist Society, InSoon Lee of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Rabbi Morris Rubenstein of Valley Beth Israel and the Rev. Dudley Chatman of the Greater Community Missionary Baptist Church, Pacoima. The event will take place at the Greater Community Church, 11066 Norris St. in Pacoima. (818) 718-6460, Ext. 3001.

* The First Evangelical Church Assn. will hold a conference on issues of social concern, "Holistic Gospel, Holistic Ministry," through Sunday at the First Evangelical Church of Cerritos, 11330 E. 166th St. Today's event on "Loving the Poor as God Did" begins at 2 p.m. (626) 570-8678.


A benefit concert for victims of Hurricane Mitch will be held today at 7:30 p.m. at Brentwood Presbyterian Church's Fellowship Hall, 12000 San Vicente Blvd. in Los Angeles. The concert will feature the church's Chancel Choir, Praise Singers, Living Proof Youth Choir and other performers. (310) 826-5656.

* The Crenshaw Christian Center will host a play on family issues, "Missing the Main Ingredient," today at 7 p.m. at the center's main auditorium, 7901 S. Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles. Tickets are $10 advance, $15 at the door. (323) 758-3777, Ext. 4273 or 4275.

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