Valley religious groups mix to share food, fellowship at fundraiser



Guests at the Mahoning Valley Association of Churches annual Taste of the Faiths Festival will feast on church food specialties and share interfaith fellowship.

In addition to food, the event planned April 22 at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Boardman will feature silent and basket auctions and entertainment.

The Rev. Bob Bonnot, president of the MVAC board and pastor of Christ Our Savior Parish in Struthers, said such fundraisers for the interfaith organization are made possible by the diligent work of board members. He said Bernie Kramer, a former MVAC board member and parishioner at St. Charles, coordinates with MVAC on Taste of the Faiths arrangements. Judy Camp, another MVAC board member, also is working on the fundraiser.

Father Bonnot said about 20 congregations representing various denominations participate. “Each is asked to contribute a main dish, a main course item, and a sweet,” he said. “About 50 sample servings of each are needed.”

Past Taste of the Faiths menus have included creamed chicken on biscuits, salads of all sorts, pirogi, pizza, pineapple cake and kielbasi. “Each church makes its specialty,” Father Bonnot said.

This year, guests will be entertained by the For Grace quartet from Grace African Methodist Episcopal Church in Warren.

“The four male singers were a big hit at our Choral Festival,” Father Bonnot said. That event, in conjunction with the American Guild of Organists, took place Feb. 17 at St. Christine Church.

Father Bonnot cited three reasons why interfaith events are an important component in the Valley. “This is a way people of different faith traditions can share their various heritages along with unity in Christ. It’s also a time to enjoy fellowship,” he said. “As a fundraiser for MVAC, it’s another step to replenish the treasury so a director may be hired.” He also noted funds allow MVAC to continue its work and mission.

Elsie Dursi, who served 23 years as MVAC executive director, retired at the end of 2012. The organization is taking applications for the position, Father Bonnot said, and interviews have begun.

Without a director to oversee MVAC operations, Father Bonnot said, “The board is pitching in more to make sure events happen.”

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