Sunday, April 24, 2005

This is my kind of church - Burlington County Times

Item: "Harper also decided it was important to reach out to other faith communities. In her first few days on the job, she discovered that a Latino church, Iglesia Shalom, that had has close ties and shared the building with Christ Church was celebrating its eighth anniversary. Harper immediately asked the pastor if the two congregations had ever held a joint service. The answer was no, and Harper decided that had to change."

Item: "Christ Church is a 161-year-old congregation that was on Bristol Pike, but forced to move to Street Road in the '60s, when construction started on Interstate 95. Today, the beautiful brown brick church is a small island of peace on Street Road, set back and sandwiched between a pancake house and a gas station."

Item: "Harper comes from a family of loyal members of the Anglican Church. Her father's family comes from the British Virgin Islands, her mother's from the Dominican Republic."

Item: "In 1987, Harper traveled to the Yukon to work as a lay minister at St. Simon's Anglican Church in Whitehorse. She also served as a prison chaplain and used her time there to explore Alaska and Canada's Northwest Territories."

Item: "After Vancouver Theological School and before her ordination, Harper took to the streets of Manhattan as an intensive case manager for Federated Education and Guidance Services, an organization that served the needs of "seriously, persistently" mentally ill individuals. Her job was to enforce laws enacted in New York by which people considered a danger to themselves and to others could be forced to take medication or to be hospitalized. Harper championed her clients among indifferent mental facilities, courts and social agencies."

Item: "Eleanor Wallen, 78, a volunteer secretary at the Christ Church said that friendliness was the hallmark of the congregation that takes pride in welcoming all worshippers. She is especially fond of Harper.

"I don't think [Harper's] color even came into the picture at all. Nothing has ever been said about this," Wallen said.

Alex Deas is 19 and serves as the church organist, a successor to his grandmother, who held that position in the '90s. He is also one of the small number of blacks who attend Christ Church. He credits the church's "lack of politics that other churches have" with creating a happy atmosphere."

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