Religion Briefs

Bahai members hold annual Festival of Ridvan

Members of the Bahai Faith will celebrate a major event of their religion tomorrow with a festival and business-meeting combination.

The Oahu Bahai communities will gather for the annual Festival of Ridvan from 1 to 5 p.m. at Puuiki Park in Waialua.

Before the party, the Honolulu community will meet for its annual election. The church, which has no clergy, is led by people chosen by vote to handle administrative and business affairs.

Ridvan, which means "paradise," marks the founding of the religion in 1863 by Baha'u'llah. The Persian teacher proclaimed his mission as God's messenger for this age in a Baghdad garden he dubbed "the Garden of Ridvan." His teachings focus on the oneness of God, religion and mankind.

Buddhists present program Monday on environmental ethics

Buddhist environmental ethics will be the subject of a free program Monday at 7 p.m. at the Buddhist Study Center, 1436 University Ave.

"Nature as Dharma: Exploring the Relevance of Buddhism for Earth Day" is the theme of the public presentation, which includes a video by Abbot John Daido Loori of Zen Mountain Monastery which was developed to aid in meditation.

Leslie Sponsel, director of the University of Hawaii ecological anthropology program, will facilitate the discussion.

The Hawaii Association of International Buddhists, Buddhist Study Center and the Chaminade University religious studies program are sponsors.

Pu'a Foundation grants target Hawaiian projects

The Pu'a Foundation is offering grants of up to $5,000 to churches and other groups for projects that bring a clearer understanding of the historical, cultural, spiritual, economic or political environment of Hawaii, particularly in regard to the impact on native Hawaiians.

The nonprofit foundation was created in 1996 by the United Church of Christ as part of the apology and redress policy for Hawaiians. It provided $52,000 in grants last year.

June 3 is the deadline for grant applications. Call Toni Bissen, 808-945-3570. Send applications to 2331 Seaview Ave., Honolulu 96822.

St. Andrew's sponsors choral celebration Friday

Three choirs will offer a wide range of sacred and secular choral music Friday at "A Choral Celebration," 7:30 p.m. at St. Andrew's Cathedral. The concert is free and open to the public.

It will be the first time the cathedral choirs, directed by Arlan Sunnarborg, will perform with the Iolani School Choir, directed by John Alexander, and the choir of St. Andrew's Priory School for Girls, led by Diane Koshi.

Offerings collected will be matched by the Historic Hawaii Foundation and will support the cathedral re-roofing project.

Hawaii Baptist Academy stages fair next Saturday

A midway of carnival rides, including Xtreme Fun Rides, will be part of Hawaii Baptist Academy's Fun Fair, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. next Saturday at Nuuanu Elementary, 3055 Puiwa Lane. Included are games, food, a silent auction, plants, produce and a white-elephant sale.

A continuous shuttle service will run from parking lots at Hawaii Baptist Academy on Pali Highway and the Tenri Cultural Center at 2236 Nuuanu Ave.

For information, call 564-0309.

Alabama man turns yard into garden of crosses

PRATTVILLE, Ala. >> American flags, cozy homes and blooming flowers dot the landscape along County Road 86. But it's the crosses -- hundreds of them -- that draw a steady stream of the curious to the tranquil neighborhood.

William Carlton Rice has spent 26 years turning his dusty yard and modest house into a religious shrine of discarded appliances, cars and crosses, all bearing messages such as "Hell is hot hot hot." Many are splattered with red paint symbolizing the blood of Christ.

Rice's cross garden has attracted attention, landing him in several folk-art books and drawing visitors from near and far.

With pricey housing developments sprouting down the road, some neighbors consider Rice's icons an eyesore.

"There ain't another place like this in the world," said Rice, 72, a retired construction worker unbowed by diabetes and back problems. "I ain't a well-educated person, but what I know I got from God."

He added: "A lot of people call this art, but I'm not in the art business. I'm in the Jesus business."


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