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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Guest Post: by Stacie L. Spahr, Evans Funeral Chapel, Honoring Maryland's Veterans

On May 17, 2014 Evans Funeral Chapel and Cremation Services honored veterans with their 5th Annual Memorial Day Balloon Release held at the Parkville Facility. Evans Funeral Chapel and Cremation Services has been a strong presence in local communities dating back to 1865. Being in its fourth generation, the family-owned funeral home is currently owned and operated by Charles F. Evans, Jr. 

Welcoming families for this annual ceremony, the directors and staff of Evans Funeral Chapel and Cremation Services honored veterans who passed within the recent years. As families and friends gathered, they were greeted by the Young Marines of Hamilton, funeral directors and staff. 

The ceremony began with an opening speech by Stacie L. Spahr, funeral director, who spoke of the importance of Memorial Day. She spoke of the men and women that joined the military without fear and became united in a fraternity filled with American Pride, Courage, Dedication, and Selflessness. These veterans were ordinary people who stood up for what they believed in and became extraordinary heroes. Stacie also spoke of the recent loss of veterans who worked or assisted at the funeral chapel and showed how even they, being funeral directors, are also affected by the loss of veterans. 

The Young Marines lead in the Pledge of Alliance which was followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Jordan Tibo, a local music teacher. His rendition of this emotionally powerful hymn brought tears to the eyes of many as his voice overwhelmed those attending the service. 

A member of the Young Marines of Hamilton spoke about their organization. This organization promotes mental, moral, and physical development. It also helps to develop leadership skills and aids in a healthy, drug-free lifestyle for young boys and girls in the local communities. 

The keynote speaker, Maryland State Senator Katherine A. Klaismeier, spoke about Memorial Day Veterans and how important it is to remember that it is not just a holiday that we celebrate. Memorial Day is a day to remember those who died to protect our freedom. Rev. Bob Tousey, a clergy member who lead the ceremony in prayer, said prayers for the families of the honored veterans and spoke of honoring all our service members, present, past, and future alike. He also said prayers for those leading this great nation in hopes that they always are always able to defend and protect our country. 

To conclude the ceremony, Condra√® McFadden, funeral director, Andrew Cimino, Army Veteran and Kenneth Spahr, Air Force Veteran presented each family with a coin, as a token of appreciation. The coin states “If you love your freedom, thank a United States Veteran.” The families were pleased to receive their token for their veteran from a veteran. Several handshakes and hugs were given to the two veterans that day, especially from the families of our Marine Veteran, Navy Veteran, and part-time funeral assistant who passed away this year.

As everyone exited the chapel they were handed a red, white, or blue balloon for the releasing ceremony lead by Mr. McFadden. Everyone gathered together in a circle holding onto their balloon tightly as everyone read the poem “Floating” in unison. Ryan Evans, son of Charles F. Evans, Jr., released a cluster of balloons to signify the loss of all veterans and was followed by the release of all other balloons. After the balloons became small dots in the sky, everyone was invited back inside for refreshments including hot dogs, chips, and soda as a way to end the day with a feeling of family togetherness. 

The Annual Memorial Day Balloon Release has increased dramatically over the past few years. In 2010 it began with a small ceremony of about 12 people in attendance. This year, there were over 100 people in attendance. This ceremony is a way to gather together to remember and show gratitude to those who answered the call to serve and protect this country. Helping serve families is the primary goal and it is what makes our directors and staff committed to their work and the communities they serve. (Article written by Stacie L. Spahr) —

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Jesus' Love of His Mother

"But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home."  John 19:25-27 (ESV)

At this weekend's service Pastor Mark Norman of Grace Community Church in Fulton, Maryland taught us about the responsibility adult children have towards their aging parents.  He reminded us of the fifth commandment which commands us to honor our father and our mother.  This commandment is not only for young children but for adult children as well.  Mark then unpacked what that means as our parents age. We have a responsibility to ensure they are cared for. This will require planning and suggested that each of us begin to get use to living on less now.  He and his wife increased their sacrificial giving to God's work. He pointed out that God instructs us to care for our parents so. Therefore, God would want us to use the resources we dedicated to other ministries in our younger years to be used for the ministry of caring for parents when they need it. If you have siblings it is important that you speak with them and give them the opportunity to share in the responsibility as well as letting your parents know they will be cared for.

I emphasized the Gospel verse above as it shows how Jesus as He was dying made sure His mother was taken care of.  He did not surrender to death until He knew His mother would be cared for.  So if we have not thought about this before maybe Mother's Day will be a good day to begin to think of how we will care for our parents as they age.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Legislative Prayer: Town of Greece vs. Galloway

This week the Supreme Court upheld the right of the Town Board in Greece, New York to open it's meetings with prayer.  It is important that we take a few minutes to understand exactly what the Supreme Court said and how it effects us.

By way of background, the Town Board of Greece, New York , a predominately Christian community invites unpaid volunteer  clergy to open its  meetings with a prayer.  Because the town is primarily Christian so is the clergy whom are invited.  Often clergy invoke Jesus' name in prayer.  It should be noted that on at least one occasion the town board did invite a wiccan priestess who invoked the name of goddess Athena and the god Apollo in prayer.

Two women, one Jewish and another Atheist found this offensive and filed suit.  The U.S. District Court upheld the town's practice but on appeal the Second Circuit reversed and held that the practice violated the establishment clause of the first amendment of the United States Constitution.  The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and narrowly reversed the Second Circuit in a 5 to 4 vote.  Thereby allowing the town board's practice to resume.

The Court held that (a)  legislative prayers are compatible with the establishment clause; (b) that the establishment clause does not require religious neutral prayers as long as the opportunity to led prayer is open to clergy of all religions and (c) the town board is not required to recruit non Christian clergy outside of its borders.

This means that  Christian clergy can invoke Jesus in prayer and other faiths may invoke the name(s) of their deity as well.

We must keep in mind that the establishment clause was written because our founding fathers fled religious persecution. They did not want a state established religion as was present in England nor did they want the government to interfere with the free exercise of religion.

In short, what the establishment clause guarantees us is freedom of religion and not freedom from religion.  Therefore, while we as Christians are free to exercise our faith and invoke the name of Jesus Christ the Constitution also allows other faiths the same freedom.  I hope that when we attend meetings where non Christian clergy offer the prayer that we will offer them the same respect as we expect them to offer when Christian prayer is offered.

The freedom to exercise our religious faith is what makes the United States different from other countries and one of the reasons I am proud to be an American.  God bless you.