Clergy remember Columbine

ORANGE— Priests, ministers and rabbis from six Catholic and Protestant churches and two synagogues will be discussing the Columbine massacre, teen violence and abuse from their respective pulpits during Passover and Easter services.

Shortly after meeting with task force chairwoman Susan Cambria, Rabbi Alvin Wainhaus, who represents the Orange Clergy Association on the task force, approached fellow clergy with the idea of a town-wide sermon theme on teen violence.

"There was an agreement that the clergy had to become involved in a public demonstration of concern over the scourge of violence in our schools," Wainhaus said recently.

"When I put the idea on the table, my colleagues accepted it. .We concurred that as spiritual leaders within the Town of Orange, we must lead the effort to build bridges of understanding and turn tragedy into a positive force. Teen violence crosses denominational lines. It affects all of us," Wainhaus recently said.

Each clergymen will create their own sermon, the theme will be Columbine one year later.

Father Peter Dargen, of Holy Infant Catholic Church, will discuss how the 20th century was the most violent century in world history.

He will focus on the fact that violence is everywhere, even in elected legislatures and on the basketball court. He will talk about the need to stem individual aggressiveness that frequently results in tragic consequences. Dargen plans to remind his parishioners that violence knows no boundaries.

Rev. Stoddon King, of Orange Congregational Church, plans on talking about diversity and divisiveness. He will be calling on his congregation to find ways to develop respect and inclusiveness.

"All to frequently we seek inclusion. But in the process we become divided," King said recently.

Father Robert Deming, of Church of the Good Shepherd, plans to focus on human relationships. He believes that people who are lonely and desperate sometimes lose their dignity and consequently think nothing of taking another life.

"He plans to encourage his parishioners to remember that we are all human beings.

Rabbi Gerald Brieger, of Temple Emanuel, plans to explore teenage violence from the perspective of children. Poems written by students following the tragedy will be part of his sermon. He will also encourage women in his synagogue to participate in the Million Mother March in Washington, D.C.

Father Peter Orfanakos, of St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church will be discussing what the Greeks call ‘agape' or brotherly love.

"We tend to look at violence after it has occurred. How do we transfer this concept that takes place after the fact to the present in order to prevent violence from occurring in the future," Orfanakos recently said.

Reverend John Schettenhelp, of Zion Lutheran Church, will discuss the issues of bullying in schools, especially by adolescents.

Wainhaus will focus on the physical and emotional bullying and call upon his congregation to teach their children that verbal aggression can be more painful than physical aggression.

"We must dispel the notion that ‘sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.' The truth is that wounds resulting from verbal abuse can be more painful and more lasting than wounds from mere ‘sticks and stones,'" Wainhaus said recently.