GUILFORD -- When Jon Erik Brodhurst decided to complete his Eagle Scout project by building a bench for a sacred tree in Kenya, little did he imagine the youth there would follow his example and expand the project themselves by building two more for local elders to rest on.
The tree is hundreds of years old and faces Mount Kenya, as was tradition for centuries.
This Sunday, Oct. 28, the Guilford Community Church, U.C.C., will celebrate this accomplishment along with the six-year partnership they have had with a Green Belt Movement Youth Group in Kaiguchu, Kenya. The project began simply after five Guilford Church members visited a Green Belt Movement Women’s Project in 2006 and learned of a group of children orphaned by AIDS in a village nearby.
Guilford Church has had a long commitment to the AIDS Project of Southern Vermont so the interest in children in Kenya whose lives have been affected by AIDS was natural. Initially offerings went to help with food and mattresses for the children and more recently the congregation has helped also with uniforms and school tuitions.
Two trips have been made since, the last in April was the occasion of the building of the bench under the direction of Jon Erik. At that time, youth in the Kenyan youth group were taught to use power tools by Brattleboro youth, Jeff Kahler, Graham Glennon, Daniel Fooks and Jon Erik’s mother, Dr. Cheri Ann Brodhurst. The photo at right was
This Sunday’s service also celebrates the memory of Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement, who passed away just a year ago. Music will include the Kenyan hymn which was her favorite, "Hakuna Mungu Kam Yeye" and "Now is the Cool of the Day" which speaks to issues of environmental justice. The youth will present "Wangari’s Trees of Peace," an adaptation of her life story taught by Peter and Mary Alice Amidon. Local artist and teacher, Linda Whelihan, will offer the chance to make books in her memory after the service.
Everyone is welcome to the service. Guilford Community Church is an Open and Affirming Congregation of the United Church of Christ. Sunday School is provided for children through grade 8. The church is fully handicapped accessible and an ASL interpreter and hearing assistance is provided for the hearing impaired.
The church is located one mile south of exit 1 of Interstate 91 on Route 5, just in back of the Guilford Country Store. For more information call 802-257-2776 or visit www.guilfordchurch.org.