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Dance Idea premiers on stage at Central Christian Church Saturday evening, May 26 at 7:30.  The performance is Cacophony.

Cacophony, choreographed by Director, Elizabeth Owens, is a story about two women who undergo the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery of cancer. Plagued with fear and a new found awareness of mortality, the patients decide to go through their journey together instead of alone, with one reaching recovery first and then returning to provide support to the other.

Cacophony refers to the literal sounds of medical equipment as well as the metaphoric dissonance of feelings and realizations during difficult life’s difficult experiences.

The show is dedicated to cancer survivors and to the loving memory of those we have lost.

Dance Idea Company Members include Darian Armani, Dancer; Candace Craig-Hardie, Choreographer/Dancer; Tamara McDannel, Choreographer/Dancer; Elizabeth Owens, Director/Choreographer/Dancer and Myrna Thibault, Choreographer/Dancer. Guest  artists will include Tim Caffee, Torrey Owens, Michael Raines, David Joshua Shepherd, Sarah Stoffels and Cara Wildman. 

Admission is “pay as you can” so that everyone has the opportunity to experience this amazing performance. 

Refreshments will be served at 6:30.  Children are welcome.

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Amethyst Kelly

Central Christian Church supports and spotlights today’s youth through programs, camps, performances and scholarships.  A recent collaboration was with the National Benevolence Association XPLOR Program.

XPLOR is a ten-month residency program affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ.) It was launched as NBA XPLOR in 2014 to give young adults (age 21-30) who are considering a profession in care and service a ten-month opportunity to live in a community and engage in direct service for justice work.  The Dallas participants, of which there are five, reside on the Juliette Fowler Communities campus and intern at an area non-profit.

That is how Amethyst Kelly came to know Central Christian Church and how the congregation came to know her. It has been a blessing!

Amethyst is from Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with a degree in Biosystems Engineering.

A Chi Omega, Amethyst says she has learned a lot about working with people from her sorority.

“I love being in leadership positions, but my sorority has taught me that there are leaders and followers and sometimes there just aren’t enough followers,” she said. “I have learned when to step up and lead and when to step back and support others in their leadership roles.”  

Volunteering is nothing new to Amethyst.  She has mentored other students in multiple math and Biosystems courses, volunteered in summer camps and missions and in local animal shelters.

 “I love animals and I am especially fond of cats,” she said.

Another of her passions is dance.  She started dancing when she was three years old. Dance, Amethyst believes, can be used to let loose and relax or to meditate and heal.

We can’t talk about Amethyst and not mention food. 

“I love to cook, and I love to eat,” she said. 

For such a young person, Amethyst is quite knowledgeable about various foods and their preparation. And loving to eat is indisputably documented by her place in line at the buffet table, leaving those of us with more mature metabolisms a little green.  

During her ten months as intern at Central there has been no “red river rivalry” between this Okie and the Lone Star State.  Amethyst was quickly embraced by the congregation.

“The congregation at Central gave me an instant family,” she said.

 Amethyst immediately became an asset to the various outreach programs that Central extends throughout the community.

Her previous mentoring experience at OSU was a plus for her position as intern at Central and she wasted no time using those skills to develop a relationship with Maple Lawn Elementary (Central’s outreach school) tutoring students in DISD’s after-school program. She also teaches crafts at Connecting Point of Park Cities, a day program for adults with disabilities housed in Central’s building.

Since her arrival at Central last September, Amethyst has headed up Central’s participation in “Trunk or Treat” at Maple Lawn, the Angel Tree for low-income students at the school during Christmas and she has worked in Maple’s Lawn’s book fair.  She also created a new wedding brochure for the church.

Laura Ninesling, the church secretary says Amethyst is always upbeat and happy.

“She makes me smile,” Laura said.

Amethyst will be ending her tenure at Central next month as she heads off on a new journey.  After a summer of visiting with family and traveling, she will attend graduate school at North Carolina State University in the fall.

The XPLOR program has been a “win-win” for Central who has always supported young people in their journey to fulfill their dreams.  Music director, David Aston, welcomes young talent to perform on Sunday mornings.  A fund-raising piano concert recently helped ensure that the remarkably talented Tinashe McGowan attend the famous Interlochen Arts Camp this summer.

The Westside Players, founded by the late Ed DeLatte, will once again host a drama camp.

Dance Idea, a newly formed flamenco-inspired dance school will premier May 26 on Central’s stage.

Central offers scholarships to college-bound church members to help them realize their dreams in whatever field they choose.

Visit the website or call the church office at 214-526-7291 for more information.

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Rebuilding Together and Home Depot Crews

Tuesday, April 24 Dallas witnessed another tragedy when a triple shooting at a Home Depot fatally wounded one Dallas police officer and critically wounded another as well as a Home Depot Security Guard. 

The chase and resulting apprehension of the shooter ended in a residential area along the back lot of Central Christian Church.  

Central’s sympathy and prayers continue for the victims and their families. The church also continues to be thankful that due to the late evening hour of the chase, there were no people or pets in the community dog park where the chase ended, breaking through the dog park’s fence. 

Wednesday morning, following Tuesday’s tragic incident Cara Mendelsohn with “Rebuilding Together North Texas” showed up in the dog park and shared the good news with Pastor Ken Crawford that the organization would re-build the fence that was destroyed in the car chase at no cost to the church. 

“It was like a miracle,” church elder and co-property chair, Frank Whitington said. 

You might say that Rebuilding Together makes miracles happen. For over 40 years the non-profit has been rebuilding pride, community and the future by repairing and revitalizing homes and communities of families, seniors, people with disabilities and victims of disasters. Both determined and devoted the non-profit organization is raising awareness of the housing problems facing nearly 1.6 million Americans. 

The Home Depot Foundation through government grants partners with Rebuilding Together to provide building supplies as well as an army of professionals known as “Team Depot” to help make it all happen. 

Last week’s rain delayed the rebuilding action on the dog park fence by one week, but bright and early Thursday morning members from Team Depot showed up to begin prep work (demolition of the broken fence) for Friday’s Rebuilding Together volunteers. 

Long-time church member and treasurer, Jayne Hawley greeted the workers with breakfast tacos, donuts, coffee and juice. Dog park regulars, Liza Felder and her dog Pellinore, brought a variety of sandwiches from Subway for lunch.. 

Friday morning saw a new flurry of activity with the arrival of volunteers from Rebuilding Together North Texas as well as Home Depot. 

Again,the church showed appreciation with their hospitality.  Coffee, donuts and bagel from Oren the Bagel Man were provided to welcome the crew. 

There will be barking in the park, again!  With a brand new fence across the back of the dog park it will be open for business  and the dogs will be running, fetching and doing whatever it is dogs do in this happy place. 

The dog park was established 11 years ago. It has been rated “Best Dog Park in Dallas” by the Dallas Observer.  The first and third Sundays of the month, morning worship is held in the park so people can bring their dog to church. The dog park is a special place and it is a community park open to everyone. 

Central, the dog park regulars and the dogs are all grateful to Home Depot and Rebuilding Together North Texas for restoring the park "together."

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Church in the Dog Park

“Jesus loves me and my dog” seems to be the sentiment of many a Sunday morning worshiper as church in the dog park becomes more and more popular at Central Christian Church in Dallas.

Central has a one-acre, fenced, off-leash community dog park that celebrated its 10th anniversary a little over a year ago.  About that same time church elder Tyson Woods began holding morning worship services in the dog park. 

Tyson is not an ordained minister; he is an arborist by profession.  However, when people hear Tyson deliver a sermon they always comment, “you missed your calling.”  So, Tyson took his talent to the dogs!

Seriously, Central began the outdoor services in the dog park so that people who may not want to attend a traditional service inside the sanctuary have an alternative place to worship. They also recognize that many people who work during the week may want to spend as much time with their pet on weekends as possible.

“What better place is there than outdoors under the Live Oak trees with your dog at your side to be One with God?” Tyson asks.

“This is a space where community comes together,” Tyson said.  “The congregation is made up of people from a variety of faiths and backgrounds.”

The service consists of sing-a-longs, donuts and coffee, prayer and a short lesson—not that we believe that anyone has the attention span of a puppy but because we recognize lives are busy and have lots to do during free time.

Church in the dog park is a beautiful way to begin the week and to meet new friends who share a love of animals. It must be working!  The dog park service is growing in numbers.  What started as a hand-full of people and their pets is now 20 to 30.

There’s room for you! Located behind the church, there is plenty of parking and plenty of seating. Dress is casual, sweats in the winter and shorts in the warm months. Service is 9 a.m. the first and third Sunday of the month, weather permitting.  All are welcome. All means all.

 “Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace.” ? Milan Kundera

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Harry and Meghan

With the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markel days away, Americans can’t help themselves—we are intrigued and curious about the couple, royal traditions and the details of the wedding.  However, Prince Harry and his American bride-to-be are not the first couple of British royalty to achieve celebrity status.  Americans have a long history of “royal watching.”

Fawning over the dress choices and breeding habits of the royals has been a longstanding American preoccupation. Although it may have reached its peak with Diana, as she was truly the fairy-tale princess, it didn’t begin with her.

I remember as a very young child (and I mean very young) watching the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth on T.V. 

Prior to that, look in the newspaper archives at the scandal caused by King Edward the VIII when he abducted the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, an American socialite who was divorced from her first husband and was pursuing the divorce of her second.  

Today, we have the internet and the king and queen of social media are William and Kate and George and Charlotte and Baby Louis, pronounced Looeee.

Nor can we forget the popularity of Downton Abby, the cult T.V. show depicting the lifestyle of British class distinction. The show was discussed in the work place, at cocktail parties, book clubs and more.

Now we have a California girl about to become a member of the British royal family when Meghan marries Harry on May 19. The pretty and talented American is a graduate of Northwestern University, a Kappa Kappa Gamma, actress and blogger and we are enchanted with the new fairy tale.

Are we charmed by the pomp and circumstance or the fairy tales of our childhood? Whatever, we like to watch the Royals.

The Disciple Women of Central Christian Church chose tea as the theme for their last meeting of the year, prior to summer break, borrowing the idea from the forthcoming wedding.

Note that I said, “tea,’ not “a tea.”

Central member Anne Pogson gave a review of the history of tea and the etiquette surrounding the tradition of taking tea. Anne shared the accidental discovery of the drink, its Chinese roots and its arrival in England by Catherine De Braganza, as well as what is proper in serving and drinking tea.

“According to British etiquette, you host ‘tea,’ not ‘a tea,’” Anne informed the women.

“Also, be careful to stir your drink not in a circular motion, but gently and quietly, north to south. And never squeeze your lemon; simply drop the slice into your cup and let it infuse on its own,” she added.   

So much to learn and so little time, if we are still hoping for that engraved invitation to St. George's Chapel.

Following the delightful presentation by Anne and a quiz on royal weddings (Jayne Hawley was most knowledgeable, winning a book titled “Tea at the Ritz,”) tea was served.

Earl Gray Black and Oolong, two of the most popular teas were among the choices. Finger sandwiches with fillings such as egg salad, cream cheese, radish with butter and cucumber (the most popular of tea sandwich fillings) were offered for the first course.

Next, in keeping with the order appropriate for serving, a variety of scones, pronounced scons, (no long “o”) were served with clotted cream, lemon curd and marmalade.

Strawberries, chocolate truffles, almond cookies and Lemon Elderflower cake finished the celebration.

Meghan has chosen a light, springy Lemon Elderflower cake, rather than the heavier traditional fruit cake for her wedding cake.

I made my own version of a Lemon Elderflower Cake.  And as usual, I cheated a mite for convenience by starting out with a cake mix.  Not just any cake mix, but Betty Crocker’s Pound Cake Mix.  It is an excellent cake on its own and doctoring it with some lemon and St. Germain’s Elderflower Liquor resulted in a cake fit for a Queen, a Princess, a Duchess or a Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Lemon Elderflower Pound Cake

1 Betty Crocker Pound Cake Mix

2 eggs

3to 4 lemons or enough to produce 1/3 cup plus two tablespoons juice (divided use)

2/3 cup liquid (use 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon and 1/3 cup water)

½ stick softened butter

1 tsp. almond flavoring

Lemon zest from one lemon

For topping

1/3 cup Elderflower cordial (can be purchased at liquor store)

Remaining lemon juice

Granulated sugar for sprinkling

Whipped cream (optional)

3 Tablespoons Creme Fraishe (optional)

Combine cake mix, liquid (water and lemon juice), eggs, softened butter, almond flavoring and lemon zest. Beat according to package directions.

Bake as directed on box using baking spray with flour to prepare 9’ x 5’ loaf pan.

When cake is done, cool 10 minutes and remove from pan and continue to cool about 30 minutes.

While cake is cooling combine 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon and 1/3 cup of Elderflower Cordial. (Can be purchased at liquor stores) 

Pierce cake top generously with fork or skewer.  Pour lemon and cordial mixture over top.  Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Slice and serve with a dollop of whipped cream or a combination of whipped cream and crème fraishe.

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Tinashe McGowan

Tinashe McGowan performed a piano concert in the sanctuary of Central Christian Church Sunday afternoon. Church members, friends and family gathered to hear and support this talented 11-year-old musician, a 5th grade student at William B. Travis Academy/Vanguard for the Academically Talented and Gifted.

Tinashe is preparing for summer camp—not just any camp, but Interlochen Arts Center in Michigan.

Interlochen draws young people from around the world to study music, theater, dance, visual arts, creative writing, motion picture arts, and comparative arts. Application and audition are required for summer camp acceptance.

Ft. Worth’s Van Cliburn had a long and special relationship with the Interlochen Center for the Arts. He was elected a trustee of Interlochen in 1963 and served on the board until 2004. He first came to Interlochen for what was supposed to be a one-time performance, but he became a lifelong friend and advocate for Interlochen and arts education.

Musical talent runs in Tinashe’s family.  His dad, Eran, is a member of Central’s Chancel Choir and the congregation always looks forward to hearing Eran’s beautiful solos during worship services.

I asked Eran when he realized that Tinashe was gifted at the piano.

“He started banging on the piano when he was a baby,” Eran said.

“I had always wanted to pursue a career in music, but not recognizing its importance, I was not encouraged by my own dad, so I have always been supportive of Tinashe,” Eran said.

Central, too, has always been supportive of the arts and of young people— offering scholarships to further education in whatever field they choose.  Music director David Aston often features young artists during Sunday morning worship. If you have a talented youngster in your household or know of one, contact the church office at 214-526-7291 and ask for David.

The next performance at Central will be a Contemporary Dance presentation by Dance Idea on Saturday, May 26. For more information on the dance performance or the Summer Showtunes Theatre Camp, July 9-20, visit the website.

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Liz Owens

Like many young girls who aspire to dance, Liz Owens began her dance career studying tap, ballet and jazz, pursuing that interest through high school at the art and science magnet where she attended and then during college.   But it was her husband, guitarist Torrey Owens, who sparked Liz’s interest in Flamenco.

Her newly formed company, Dance Idea, is a contemporary fusion dance company that performs live as well as producing dance films.

Liz has studied Flamenco with Daniel de Córdoba Bailes Españoles Company and with Julia Alcantera Flamenco Fever.

Flamenco has a rich history with the oldest record of flamenco dating back to 1774 in the book Las Cartas Marruecas by José Cadalso.  The genre originated in the music and dance styles of Andalusia which is mostly related to the Middle-East. Hailing from southern Spain's outcast populations, flamenco dance and music drew early influences from Greek and Roman cultures and later from Indian, Moorish, and Jewish cultures. 

Although Flamenco has become popular all over the world and is now taught in many non-Hispanic countries, the flamenco dance and music that we enjoy today are still the dazzling result of centuries of absorbing and interweaving elements of this myriad of diverse cultures.

Liz’s passion for flamenco-influenced dance and her company, Dance Idea, is apparent when you talk to her.  I spent Tuesday morning visiting with Liz at Central Christian Church, the location of her new studio and company.

“Having a supportive and collaborative atmosphere is very important to me. I think it brings out the best in us as dancers, artists and human beings,” Liz said.  

Dance Idea will premiere their first company performance, a collaboration with live musicians, on Saturday, May 26 at Central Christian Church.

Central, the oldest continuously operating protestant church in Dallas, has a long history supporting the arts. The late Ed Delatte, founder of the NorthPark-based Dallas Repertory Theater, was a member of Central and formed and directed The Westside Players.  Central has a fully-operable stage in the building’s fellowship hall.

The evening will begin with refreshments at 6:30 p.m. and the performance at 7 p.m. Musical guests include Texas artists Tim Caffee, Torrey Owens, and Cara Wildman. Ticket price is “pay as you can” because Dance Idea wants everyone to have the opportunity to experience the performance.  All proceeds will support Dance Idea productions.

Tell your neighbors, tell your friends and bring your family to this spectacular evening of entertainment.   

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Katheryn Livengood delivering a meal

The Visiting Nurse’s Association (VNA) Meals on Wheels provides hot, nutritious, freshly prepared meals five days a week to Dallas County residents who can’t provide for themselves due to illness, advanced age or disability. These meals contribute to the overall health and well-being of participating seniors, including those with chronic illnesses that are affected by diet, such as diabetes and heart disease, and frail seniors who are homebound. Without these meals, many seniors, low income and disabled adults would go hungry.

At 5 a.m. each weekday, more than 5,650 meals are prepared in the VNA Haggerty Kitchen (the country’s largest single-site provider of such meals) packaged and delivered to designated pick-up stations where drivers, half of whom are volunteers, are furnished with meals and route map to get the food to those in need.

The Meals on Wheels Program in Dallas was organized in 1957 as a pilot project by the Women’s Council of Dallas County. It was one of the first Meals on Wheels programs in the United States.

In 1973, VNA agreed to assume responsibility for the service, viewing the Meals on Wheels program as a logical extension of home health care and as an advancement of the agency’s mission. One of my friends has been a volunteer driver for the VNA program for nearly that long.

Katheryn Livengood signed up as a volunteer for the program in 1982 and has been delivering meals to those in need ever since. 

I asked Katheryn why she has committed time and energy to the program for the past 36 years. 

“I can’t fathom someone not having something to eat,” she said, “it hurts me.”

Another friend, Becky Riggins, told me that she likes to give back to the community and that this is one little thing one can do.  She started as a volunteer driver in 1992 after she retired from her full- time job.

I met up with the women, both residents of Lake Highlands and long-time members of Central Christian Church in the parking lot of Northway Christian Church,  the designated meal pick-up station, and joined them for the Wednesday morning run. 

Our first stop was a delightful apartment patio decked with a gazillion whimsical wind chimes where we were greeted by Jules, the German Shepherd and his owner.

I asked Jules to pose next to the neatest “beware of dog” sign I have ever seen.

It read, “This home protected by the Good Lord and a German Shepherd. If you come here to steal or do harm, you might meet them both.”

We continued through the remaining seven stops on the route delivering Wednesday’s packaged meal of barbecue riblet, pinto and green beans, roll, gelatin and milk.

Thanks VNA and people like Katheryn and Becky who have faithfully helped make the program a success for so many years, ensuring that those who may otherwise have gone hungry were able to sit down to a nutritious meal.





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Students Serving Buffet

The Westside Wanderers had so much fun dining at El Centro in February that when space became available, the group grabbed at the chance to return in April for another superb culinary experience. The Wanderers are a group formed a few years ago from members of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to explore the best local deals and short day excursions around Dallas.

El Centro’s Food and Hospitality Institute offers a terrific dining experience Thursday at lunch and  Tuesday at dinner during the spring and fall semesters.  The students in the Culinary Arts Program prepare the meal, creating a wonderful dining experience from décor to service to gourmet food.

This month’s theme is Mexico and the menu, an artfully presented Mexican buffet, featured chicken mole, carne asada, shrimp, rice, beans and fruit. The simple combination of cucumber and orange amazed everyone.   The ceviche appetizer was fresh and beautifully presented.  Desserts included a Mango Mouse, truffles, anise butter cookies and Mexican Wedding cookies.  All of the desserts were delicious and had guests returning for more.  

The food and service were excellent and the culinary students did a stellar job in creating a fine dining experience.  And all for only $12.00!

El Centro is located at 801 Main Street in downtown Dallas in the former Sanger Harris Department Store building, a Dallas landmark on the National Registry of Historic Places. Many of the degree plans offered at El Centro specialize in the medical and technological fields including nursing, culinary arts, fashion design and marketing.

Lunch or dinner at El Centro should be on the list of “things you must do in Dallas.”  But call ahead for reservations as they fill quickly. 

Mango Mousse

½ tsp. lemon juice

½ cup mango puree

1 tsp. unflavored gelatin

3 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. water

¾ cup heavy cream

Marachino Cherries for garnish

Sprinkle gelatin over half of the mango puree and let soften about 5-8 minutes.

In a sauce pan over medium heat cook the mango puree, sugar, lemon juice and water until all the sugar has dissolved.  Add the softened gelatin mixture to the warm juice and whisk until the gelatin has completely dissolved.  

In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment whip the cream until it holds medium peaks.  Fold 1/3 of it into the mango mixture.

Gently fold the rest of the whipped cream in until no streaks remain and has ribbon like consistency.

Pour in serving dish or individual sherbets and chill overnight. Garnish with cherry before serving. The mousse would be a delightful addition to your summer fajita cook-out.

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Silver tea service in rose garden

In honor of the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Ms. Megan, The Disciples Women of Central Christian Church will celebrate the May meeting with a British Tea, Tuesday, May 1 at 10:30 in the morning.

Anne Pogson will be the guest speaker sharing some interesting tidbits about the art of “Taking Tea.”  For fun there will be a quiz on Royal Weddings, so brush up on your knowledge of the Royal Family.

All this for fun as May is the last meeting of the year for Disciples Woemen.  Monthly meetings will resume in September.  There is no cost for guests who would like to attend—just bring a can, box or jar of a non-perishable food item for North Dallas Shared Ministries.

Following the fun program and a short business meeting we will enjoy an English Tea. In addition to a variety of tea, the menu will feature an assortment of finger sandwiches with traditional fillings like cucumber, egg and chicken; scones with fruit jam, lemon curd and clotted cream; strawberries; chocolates and sweet English cakes.

This is will be a casual and fun way to get to know the women of Central who look forward each month to the Disciples Women ‘s activities.  

The ministries of Disciples Women are part of the movement for wholeness in a fragmented world by providing opportunities for spiritual growth, enrichment, education, and creative ministries to enable women to develop a sense of personal responsibility for the whole mission of the church.  Additionally, we have fun!  Organized excursions are a part of our chapter of the organization.  We recently visited the Granbury Opera House, the Ft. Worth Stockyards and will enjoy lunch at El Centro College later this week. 

You do not have to be a member of the Christian church, or any church, for that matter, to be a part of our ministry.  If you would like to visit, call President Shelia Huffman at 214-827-4568.