Rochester Presbyterian youth featured on CBS special

Sept. 26 television program highlights ‘young people making a difference’

September 9, 2010


Youth from Gates Presbyterian Church in Rochester, N.Y., are featured in a religion special that will be telecast Sept. 26 on CBS.

The program is entitled "Faith in Action: Young People Making a Difference." A CBS press release states, "Young people are often at the forefront of social change so this program takes a look at how they are creating change today in a world of conflict, poverty and social inequality."

John P. Blessington is the executive producer and Liz Kineke is the producer of the special, which was made with the cooperation of the National Council of Churches, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Islamic Society of North America, the Union for Reform Judaism and the New York Board of Rabbis.

One segment follows students from Gates Church as they spend a week in New York City volunteering for the Youth Services Opportunities Project (YSOP) alongside Lisa Gesson, director for this decades-old, service-oriented program inspired by Quakers. 

YSOP is a 25-year-old non-profit organization that offers students from across the United States a chance to volunteer in projects that help alleviate poverty and hunger.  In the segment featuring the Gates youth, the young Presbyterians work at the B'nai Jeshrun lunch program on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and then return to YSOP headquarters to reflect on their experiences.

While some young people like those in YSOP choose to work closer to home, American Jewish World Service provides the opportunity for others ages 16-24 to volunteer for summer projects in impoverished areas abroad. Viewers will meet a volunteer who recently returned from working in Ghana.

The special also visits Artsbridge, a conflict resolution leadership program that brings Israeli and Palestinian high school students to Boston each July to collaborate on an art project. Part of the collaboration is meant to encourage new ways of communicating with one another. 

The program's founder, Debbie Nathan, is a mental health counselor and art therapist who wanted to start a program that would help young people living in conflict. She says, "What I want the students to get out of working together through art is how to take a challenging situation where you may not agree…but still come together and work constructively to solve challenges and build something."

A third segment of the special follows Nadia, a young Muslim woman, as she fulfills her faith obligations during the holy month of Ramadan (a time when Muslims fast, pray and perform acts of community service). The special also highlights the efforts of a non-profit organization, "Muslims Against Hunger," through an interview with its founder, Zamir Hassan, a Pakistani American from New Jersey. The group provides volunteers — of all faiths — to work in underserved communities in 20 different cities across the United States, serving hot lunches and dinners to the homeless and working poor.

Information for this story furnished by Jeremy Murphy, CBS Television.

  1. I am deeply saddened by Mr. Carter's response. The Bible _is_ our primary authority (though we also acknowledge our confessions and polity as secondary authorities). And is it not written in Matthew 25, beginning in v. 34: Then the king will say to those at his right hand, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' 37 Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' 40 And the king will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." Surely the youth of Gates Presbyterian Church, by feeding the hungry of Upper Westside Manhattan, are serving "the least of these"?

    by Jennifer Warren Hauser

    September 11, 2010

  2. Christians working side-by-side and having unity with Catholics, Quakers, Muslims, Jews, ect... I thought the Bible says to be separate? Let's quit focusing on Social Justice and get back to the Bible, our ONLY standard!

    by Caleb Carter

    September 9, 2010