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Local talent show raises money for CROP Walk

October 02, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

KEEDYSVILLE - More than 30 years after serving in Nigeria, one former missionary still tears up when he talks about the people he met.

For retired pastor Roger Burtner of Keedysville, who took part Sunday in a benefit to ease world hunger, poverty is personal.

At a talent show to raise money for CROP Walk, Burtner struggled to speak without choking up as he read poems. Afterward, he spoke of the disparity he had seen as a missionary.

"And, I had seen so many, many people walk for food, for water, to escape the enemy. It was the Nigerian Civil War in those days," Burtner said.

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Burtner, 79, was one of about a dozen people who took the stage Sunday at Salem United Methodist Church in Keedysville. According to pastor Malcolm Stranathan, participants collected pledges for the Church World Service's CROP (Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty) Walk, an annual event that raises money to help people in poor countries.

"I'm not a regular church-goer, but I've always loved when they mix church and the arts ... and community," said Dane Galloway, a 16-year-old pianist who dazzled the crowd of about 40 with a few jazz selections.

Galloway, of Frederick, Md., said he collected about $400 in pledges.

According to the event's treasurer, Becky Hein, this year's CROP Walk participants turned in about $7,400 by Sunday afternoon. Almost 100 people from eight churches in southern Washington County took part in a walk from Taylor Park to Boonsboro before the talent show, she said.

"Our goal had been $10,000. I don't know whether we'll be able to reach that or not," said Hein, who is Burtner's daughter. According to information provided by Hein, the walk raised close to $8,000 in 2004 and nearly $9,000 last year.

In the past, one-quarter of the money raised went to the South Washington County Food Bank, Stranathan said.

"You know, some people just aren't as fortunate as we are to be able to get up and go to work and to have funds for food, so if we can help the less fortunate, that's what it's all about," said Lyndell Clipp, a benefit co-chairman.

Jennifer Silbert, who helped organize the talent show, said she hoped the opportunity to perform would get more people involved.

"It was designed for people who either couldn't walk or preferred not to and (decided) to donate their talent instead," said Silbert, who sang in a women's bluegrass trio.

After the talent show, Silbert announced that Salem United Methodist Church would continue to provide live entertainment. According to Silbert, it will host a "coffeehouse"-type live-mic night from 7-9 p.m. Nov. 3 in the first of what she and other performers Sunday said they hope will be a shared event among area churches.

In his first CROP Walk after returning from Nigeria, Burtner said 1,400 participants raised about $22,000. That was in 1970, he said.

"I call it the work of the Holy Spirit. I don't know what else to call it ? God's victory, not mine," said Burtner, who acknowledged the grip poetry has on him by reciting a few verses with tears in his eyes after the talent show.

In one poem he read for the crowd, Burtner told the story of a family of cold refugees seeking safety from the border patrol. The poem's last words ? "into the night continued Mary, Joseph and the babe" ? caught in his throat.

"Those poems touch on what goes on in our hearts and what motivates us," Burtner said.

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