"Sunday Cabaret," a popular collaboration between Community Missions and the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, will kick off its second season with a picnic on Saturday, July 27, from noon until 2 p.m. The event, to be held at CMI, is open to all and will allow the agency to show its appreciation to all those who made the project a success.
As was the practice throughout the past cabarets, guests in the community kitchen, as well as participants in all of CMI's programs, are invited to attend.
"Sunday Cabaret" was developed through the Mustard Seed Project, an initiative of Bishop R. William Franklin of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York. One Sunday each month, two local church congregations partnered to provide dinner in the community soup kitchen and to present a special program. The event provided a time of fun and fellowship for guests in the kitchen, individuals and families staying in the missions' crisis housing, and participants in CMI's programs for parolee re-entry, youth, and residential- and community-based programs for adults living with mental illness.
"The 'Sunday Cabaret' project made a very positive contribution to everyone involved - the churches, Community Missions, and especially to the many consumers of CMI services that participated," said Mark Breese, agency pastor at Community Missions.
Last season, the programs included performances by the Gospel Groove Band, magician Mike Hilburger and chalk artist/storyteller Robert Cramer. Other events included a "Celtic Fest" in March, including a dinner of corned beef and cabbage followed by a presentation of Irish songs and dancers. The season concluded with two very different performances by clowns. In April, the group "Fools for Christ" dramatized the story of Noah and the flood in mime, while in May, Twinkle Toes entertained the audience with interactive magic.
"The 'Sunday Cabaret' was a great success," said Grant Babcock, director of operations at CMI. "We are so glad to have a chance to thank all the churches that were part of the effort, and especially thank all of the kitchen guests, CMI clients, and others who came to the 'Sunday Cabarets.' "
The project is designed to offer a unique time of food, fellowship, entertainment and cultural experiences that may not typically be available to those the mission serves, as well as to the public. Its seeds began in the spring of 2012, as the Niagara Deanery received funding to initiate a cooperative outreach project by eight Episcopal churches in Niagara County, Community Missions, and the community. This coincided with Breese's "Many Hands of God" initiative, which builds projects with churches in Niagara County that strengthen shared ministries.
"The 'Sunday Cabaret' series at Community Missions has been a great outreach project for the Christian community of WNY," said Michael Pyskaty, a student at Starpoint High School who served as videographer for the project. "It is great to see how our actions have touched the lives of the clients of the mission, and it has been a privilege to work as a member of this superb outreach program. Taking the videos and photos of every performance has been a great opportunity for me, and it has changed my life."
The Episcopal Deanery of Niagara County is now working with CMI and other church partners to plan the 2013-14 series of 'Sunday Cabarets.'
"It has been such a successful ministry on so many levels," said The Very Rev. Judith Lee, dean of the Niagara Deanery. "We are looking forward to the coming months and know that it will be even better than last year."
For more information on the 'Sunday Cabaret' project, or if you are interested in participating for the upcoming year, contact either Breese at 716-285-3403, ext. 2259, or [email protected], or Lee at 716-778-7633 or at [email protected].