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Interfaith Celebration

Interfaith Celebration

From the very beginning, Vesper Society saw vocation as a way to exercise one’s power in the world, putting faith into action competently and effectively for the common good. To honor that legacy, Vesper Society held an interfaith celebration at California Lutheran University as its capstone event in its 50th anniversary year. Rooted in the Lutheran tradition, Vesper Society understands we have our own faith and spiritual traditions that call us to serve. In the 21st century we need to add another layer – that of interfaith understanding and interfaith literacy – for in order to serve well in a global and local context, we must understand the traditions and values of others. At the March 12 Saturday banquet, long-time Vesper friends sat alongside recent California Lutheran University graduates to share stories about their own interfaith journeys. California Lutheran University educates leaders for a global society who are strong in character and judgment, confident in their identity and vocation, and committed to service and justice. Program speakers included Pastor Bill Harman, Professor Colleen Windham-Hughes, Interfaith Allies alumna Rebecca Cardone, and Professor Rahuldeep Gill. After viewing historic photos of the Parliament of World Religions over the years, we learned how Interfaith Allies continues to blossom. Sunday opened with an interactive interfaith prayer service “Gather Us In” organized by Pastor Melissa Maxwell-Doherty. Participants sang, read verses from different traditions, and wrote words of hope on smooth rocks that will be placed throughout the California Lutheran University campus. A procession from the prayer service led to a communal lunch hosted by Vesper Society. During a vegetarian meal, participants learned about the Sikh tradition of Langar from Professor Rahuldeep Gill.  Langar expresses the ethics of sharing, community, inclusiveness, and oneness of humankind. We were delighted that the Interfaith Youth Core national conference attendees... Read More

Remembering George Spindt (1920-2016)

Remembering George Spindt (1920-2016)

To make a contribution in the world: This was George Spindt’s desire across his almost 70 years of ministry. In Vesper Society, where he served as an executive and board member, he found kindred spirits who shared his ambition. Born on June 21, 1920, George grew up in Pasadena and attended Trinity Lutheran Church where he assisted the pastor with worship alongside Vesper Society cofounder Bob Cummings. In 1949, George went to Germany as director of a refugee resettlement for the Lutheran World Federation where he was immersed in the challenges of post-war Europe and the role of the church in building a new society. George returned to the U.S. in 1951 and led churches in Tucson, Arizona, and Van Nuys, California. A tragic 1957 midday plane crash on a junior high school playing field in the Southern California community of Pacoima highlighted the need for a local hospital. A group of congregations mobilized to launch Pacoima Memorial Lutheran Hospital and George served on the hospital’s board.  It was this connection that led to the eventual sale of San Leandro Memorial Lutheran Hospital to Vesper Society. In 1963, George became pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Redwood City, California. After Pacoima Memorial purchased San Leandro Memorial, George became a point of contact for the troubled venture in Northern California. George had stayed in contact with Bob Cummings who was now in real estate development and was providing management consulting services with a mutual friend, Gene Heckathorn. After Gene and Bob founded Vesper Society in 1965, George connected them with San Leandro Memorial’s banker, and in 1966 Vesper Society took over formal management of San Leandro Memorial Hospital. Gene and Bob regarded the hospital as a laboratory for lay leaders to work out their vocation in the world.  And George... Read More

Imperial Valley 4-H

Imperial Valley 4-H

At Vesper Society, we are dedicated to long-term solutions that help communities help themselves. One example of this is the University of California Cooperative Extension’s (UCCE) 4-H youth development program in Imperial County. Around the world, 4-H encourages young people and adults to volunteer. Through service learning—a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection—members learn civic responsibility and strengthen their communities. 4-H youth who excel in leadership and community service are selected to serve the 4-H Youth Development Program as a 4-H All Star—a leader among the organization. And Imperial Valley 4-H’s five-day Team Camp Council program helps youth foster awareness and behavior change in areas related to environmental sustainability. Each day at camp, campers plan, develop, and implement projects related to land, air, energy, water, and food. In doing so, they take on the responsibilities of leadership when it comes to the environment, which is important to ensuring a healthy community. 4-H also provides leadership opportunities further from home. Last summer, four Imperial County 4-H members were selected to attend the 2015 Citizenship Washington Focus Conference in Chevy Chase, Maryland. At the conference, they had the opportunity to identify individual citizenship rights and responsibilities, identify issues facing youth and explore causes and possible solutions, and establish communication with lawmakers and witness government in action. Of particular interest to Imperial County, having the highest number of diabetics in California, local delegates worked collaboratively with San Diego State University-Calexico to initiate a healthy living workshop on diabetes for Imperial County Youth. The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development, conducted by the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University, shows youth engaged with 4-H are: Nearly two times more likely to get better grades in school Nearly two times more likely to plan... Read More

Welcome Imperial Valley 4-H

Welcome Imperial Valley 4-H

At Vesper Society, we are dedicated to long-term solutions that help communities help themselves. One example of this is the University of California Cooperative Extension’s (UCCE) 4-H youth development program in Imperial County. Around the world, 4-H encourages young people and adults to volunteer. Through service learning—a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection—members learn civic responsibility and strengthen their communities. 4-H youth who excel in leadership and community service are selected to serve the 4-H Youth Development Program as a 4-H All Star—a leader among the organization. And Imperial Valley 4-H’s five-day Team Camp Council program helps youth foster awareness and behavior change in areas related to environmental sustainability. Learn more about Imperial Valley 4-H here. Miyoko Oshima,... Read More

Introducing IVROP Project RISE

Introducing IVROP Project RISE

Bordering on Mexico, Imperial Valley youth work towards a better future. In a county with a 21% unemployment rate, and where agriculture accounts for 49 percent of all employment, the Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program (IVROP) is a public education service that introduces students to new career opportunities and teaches them technical and life skills. It was formed by seven unified school districts in collaboration with the Imperial County Office of Education. One of IVROP’s projects, Project RISE (Relationships Inspire Success and Excellence), aims to create an asset building culture that contributes to the educational developmental of young people. They do this by engaging schools, social services, health care organizations, and businesses in Imperial County. In January 2015, with support from Vesper Society, Project RISE surveyed over 1,100 Imperial County high school freshmen attending Brawley Union, Central Union, and Southwest. The survey, the Developmental Assets Profile (DAP), was developed by Search Institute and has been administered to more than 5 million diverse children and youth to date. It identifies a set of skills, experiences, relationships, and behaviors that enable young people to develop into successful and contributing adults. As a result of Project RISE’s survey in Imperial County, a group of freshman students created the Brawley High School Asset Ambassadors “Wild Cats in Action” after attending a three-week Leadership Asset Training course. Their projects included attending the Brawley Parks and Recreation Summer Camp in 2016, where they were each assigned a group of young people to mentor and were able to apply their leadership skills in group activities. Vesper Society believes that the future well-being of our communities lies in the hands of our youth. Tomorrow’s leaders need support and encouragement to make maximum impact on our communities. With support from Vesper Society, IVROP’s Project RISE has established long-term... Read More

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