In the Media


Allentown soup kitchen mainstay says relationships are key

Why are people making such a fuss over Charles Brannon? Let’s start here. In his 17 years as coordinator for the Lehigh Conference of Churches soup kitchen in Allentown, he told me, it has missed just one lunch – during a blizzard so powerful it shut the roads down.



Local man dishes out care, compassion and hope from soup kitchen

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Tim Larney, who had been homeless, helps feed hungry at Allentown soup kitchen

Tim Larney knows what it’s like to have nowhere to sleep and nothing to eat. The Allentown man has been homeless – he walked the streets at night with nowhere to go, crashed on anyone’s couch who would have him and seeked brief refuge at a rescue mission.




John E. Felch Jr.: Community builds on lessons learned about caring for homeless

In the aftermath of our community’s recent 31-inch snowfall, the Lehigh Conference of Churches has been engaging with municipal officials and leaders of the faith to build upon the many lessons learned. On any given night, hundreds of people in the Lehigh Valley are without a home of their own.



Lehigh Valley religious leaders offer support for Muslims

Troubled that anti-Muslim rhetoric is spreading in the media and that attitudes of hostility toward Islam are on the increase in the United States, we affirm the right of Muslims to practice their religion freely and without fear or intimidation.




In the Valley, gardens of faith and friendship

Not all of the world’s problems can be solved in a garden, but Robert Yoder and friends are betting that some of them can. “Complexity has led us down the wrong road,” said Yoder, a retired dentist and Penn State master gardener from Upper Milford who has alchemized faith and gardening into a simple elixir for modern ills: technology addiction, the fragmentation of society and the demise of decency and dignity that have attended these things.



Justice, and how to achieve it, will be topic of Muhlenberg College forums

This winter, a Muhlenberg College institute will bring together people from inside and outside religious faith to talk about justice and how to achieve it. The Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding’s “Journeys to Justice” program will begin with an opening forum on Jan. 20 and close with a second forum on March 29.




Faith and Values: Remembering the homeless, and recommitting

Earlier this year, the death of Tony Graham, a Lehigh Conference of Churches’ client, brought the plight of homelessness in the Lehigh Valley into the headlines. Tony was crushed to death in a garbage truck because he was sleeping in a Dumpster. At the memorial service celebrating his life, I affirmed the sacredness of all lives.



Christian faithful take part in Christmas Peace Pilgrimage

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Christian faithful in the Lehigh Valley continued a longstanding holiday tradition Saturday morning, with their annual Christmas Peace Pilgrimage. Held for 56 years, the pilgrims take a bus from Bethlehem to Nazareth, and then walk 10 miles from Nazareth back to Bethlehem.



Faith and Values: Remembering the homeless, and recommitting

Earlier this year, the death of Tony Graham, a Lehigh Conference of Churches’ client, brought the plight of homelessness in the Lehigh Valley into the headlines. Tony was crushed to death in a garbage truck because he was sleeping in a Dumpster. At the memorial service celebrating his life, I affirmed the sacredness of all lives.



Allentown Band, ‘Singing Policeman’ pay tribute to veterans at Symphony Hall concert

ALLENTOWN – Celebrate the holidays while saluting veterans during an “Americans We” concert, 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, at Miller Symphony Hall in Allentown. The scope of the annual holiday/Pearl Harbor remembrance concert has been expanded in collaboration with the City of Allentown, ArtsQuest, Bethlehem, Lehigh Valley Veterans History Project, Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum, Lehigh Conference of Churches and Muhlenberg College to make this concert a tribute and recognition of veterans.



New warming station now open in Allentown

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – A new temporary shelter to keep Allentown’s homeless population warm this winter is now open. The Fountain Park Warming Station officially opened Tuesday afternoon on Martin Luther King Boulevard near 10th Street. The station was converted from an old changing station for a public pool.



Syrian refugee rally provides hope

I was one of the 500 citizens who attended the Syrian refugee welcome event at Dubbs Memorial Community Center , Allentown, on Nov. 22. It was spectacular to witness such a strong feeling of caring and outreach from Lehigh Valley residents of every age, gender and religion.




Syrian refugees take difficult path to freedom in Allentown

Ahmed is one of 138 Syrian refugees who have settled in Allentown since civil war broke out in Syria in 2011. Like all refugees who go through the United Nations refugees program, he didn’t get to chose where he’d go, but he’s fortunate his landing spot was Allentown.

Fear keeps Syrian refugees away from interfaith service

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Hundreds of people gathered together Sunday for an interfaith service in Allentown to honor and welcome new Syrian refugees to the Lehigh Valley. But in the wake of the attacks in Paris and the national debate over the acceptance of Syrian refugees into the U.S., many of the local Syrian refugees were absent from the service.



Fear keeps Syrian refugees away from welcoming event in Allentown

More than 500 people crowded into the sanctuary at the Dubbs Memorial Community Center in Allentown on Sunday afternoon for an interfaith service to welcome the community’s newest refugees from Syria – but fear kept the guests of honor from attending.



Lehigh Valley Muslims hold vigil Friday; interfaith service to welcome refugees set for Sunday

Denouncing ISIS as a hate-based movement, more than 100 Muslims rallied Friday night in downtown Allentown to mourn the terrorist group’s recent victims in Paris, Beirut and elsewhere. “This is our stand against ISIS, because they don’t represent our values,” said Ameen Datoo, vice president of the Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat, the mosque in South Whitehall Township.

Syrian refugee crisis stirs misconceptions

I visited the Newspaper Club at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Bethlehem on Thursday morning – awesome fourth- and fifth-graders who will begin a school newspaper there – and one of many good questions they asked was: What was my favorite interview?



Faith & Values: Lehigh Valley church leaders rally to help Syrian refugees

The Syrian refugee crisis is a human tragedy playing out across the Middle East and Europe. Yet, the United States – and particularly the Lehigh Valley – is not immune from the effects of this geopolitical crisis.



Fear over Muslim faith trumps topic of helping refugees at meeting in Allentown

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Syria is a divided country that has been drenched in turmoil. Folks have been fleeing for years and are trying to start new lives as refugees. That’s why a group in Allentown decided to hold a meeting to get information out about sponsoring refugees who come to our area, but things didn’t go as planned.

Allentown homeless commission absorbed into regional effort as city adds a new shelter for winter

An Allentown commission on the homeless is being absorbed into a regional organization that is fighting the problem across the Lehigh Valley, officials announced Wednesday. Meanwhile, a new winter shelter is under construction in the city to head off a problem encountered during the last two bitterly cold winters, when demand sometimes exceeded space.



10,000 Men in Unity brings Christian conference to PPL Center

It’s not on par with the famed Million Man March or the million or more people expected in Philadelphia for the pope’s visit next week. But Saturday’s 10,000 Men in Unity conference at PPL Center in Allentown promises to be equally uplifting, organizers say.



Faith and Values: Reaching beyond faith’s common boundaries

Recently I received a call from a clergy colleague with whom I attended seminary many years ago. She called seeking guidance about developing a congregational policy statement that would inoculate her church from possible litigation in the event it confronted and refused a request to perform a same-sex marriage.



Larry Pickens: Charleston again becomes pivotal city for U.S. history

Charleston, S.C., is a historic and pivotal city in the landscape of the United States. It was April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter and Union soldiers, leading to the beginning of the Civil War. Critical to the hostilities fomenting the war was slavery and its place in the social and economic fabric of the nation.




Violence motivated by prejudice is deplorable

We, the undersigned members of the Interfaith Action Committee of the Lehigh Conference of Churches, wish to express our concern for the members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., and the families of those killed. We hold them in prayer.



“Here a Church Shall Rise”: The end is near for Allentown’s Dubbs Memorial UCC Church

Marion DeMilio, historian for Allentown’s Dubbs Memorial UCC Church at 5 th and Allen, has been a member there since childhood. “We lived at 529 N. Penn St,” she says, not far from the church. After 113 years of Dubbs serving its congregation in the neighborhood and beyond, it is getting going to close its doors in July.




Homeless can seek shelter in churches during frigid nights

When the temperature dips, the urgency for the homeless to find shelter rises. So area shelters are bracing themselves as the mercury is expected to sink to 17 degrees Tuesday night and 6 degrees Wednesday. “The phone has been ringing nonstop today,” said Jeff Poch, the day program case manager at Safe Harbor shelter in Easton.


John E. Felch Jr.: Strong public commitment needed to end homelessness

This is the time of year when we take stock of those things for which we are so grateful, especially our families and our homes. It is also the time of year when our compassion is strongest for those who have less or are homeless through no fault of their own.