By Alice Gerard
St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church, 2587 Baseline Road, will host a Zumbathon, open to the public, from 11 to 12:30 p.m., April 25. The event, which will take place in the church's undercroft, will cost $15 per participant. All proceeds will go to support the Family Justice Center in Buffalo, which provides services for victims of domestic violence.
Pat Braunscheidel, who is organizing the event, is an intern at St. Martin's contemplating becoming a deacon in the Episcopal Church. He explained that, when he started his internship on Jan. 4, the Rev. Earle King gave him the assignment of solidifying a relationship between St. Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church and the Family Justice Center.
The church had already started working with the Family Justice Center when Braunscheidel arrived to begin his internship. On Jan. 4, to celebrate Epiphany, when the three wise men gave gifts to the baby Jesus, St. Martin-in-the-Fields collected donations of diapers and other supplies for babies in families fleeing domestic violence. Approximately 1,000 diapers and many other goods were delivered to the Family Justice Center, along with a cash donation of more than $210.
"One of the initiatives that I am undertaking is to raise some money for the Family Justice Center" by having a Zumbathon, Braunscheidel said. The idea of a Zumbathon came about after Braunscheidel met several times with people from the Family Justice Center, including its executive director, Mary Travers Murphy.
"Mrs. Murphy is a very sharp and able advocate for the Family Justice Center. She is very energetic, articulate and knowledgeable," Braunscheidel said. He has also met with family members of domestic violence victims.
Braunscheidel, the father of two sons, ages 21 and 13, said, "Personally, I don't have a connection (with domestic violence). My mom and dad provided a very safe home for me and my six brothers. I am just an apostle trying to be what Christ would want me to be. I think that's making families feel safe and secure."
Baunscheidel's wife Bridgett, a certified Zumba instructor, will teach the class. "The men of the parish, including, myself, will make smoothies for two or three dollars apiece. They will most likely be some kind of fruit smoothie," Braunscheidel said.
Braunscheidel said, when asked how he connected his faith with reaching out to community organizations, such as the Family Justice Center, "Oftentimes, when we think of Jesus, we think that he is confined to the boundaries of the church, when, in reality, he wants us to go where there is suffering and where there is discontent. He wants us to stand with those who need to be comforted."
"Under no circumstances should any woman or child feel that they can't go home," Braunscheidel said. "Home should be a safe haven. I would like to see domestic violence eradicated. It is important for men to get involved to stop this, to be good role models for their sons and daughters, but it is also important that women are partners in ending domestic violence and in protecting those women who are victims of it. I know that there are a small minority in which men are victims. That's where the Family Justice Center is so critically important because they offer so many services that women need."
When asked about his choice to become a deacon in the Episcopal Church, Braunscheidel described the discernment process that he has experienced. He said that part of the discernment process is to "serve an internship away from your home parish." Braunscheidel, who lives in West Seneca and who attends St. David's Episcopal Church, also in West Seneca, said, "I feel very lucky to have my internship at St. Martin's. The people are terrific. Father Earle King is an amazing guy; he is energetic, knowledgeable, and talented."
Braunscheidel said, "Anyone who wants to come and dance is welcome to participate. Braunscheidel said that he anticipates that child care will be available for anyone who comes with a baby or a small child.