St. Anthony Park UCC to host benefit concert for Center for Victims of Torture

St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ (SAPUCC) will host a benefit concert for the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) on Saturday, Feb. 25, that will include choirs from SAPUCC and St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church. Writer and poet Michael Dennis Browne will also be part of the event.

“Woven Together,” which is the theme for the concert as well as the name of one of the choral pieces that will be performed, “describes the intersection of music and words, said Ted Bowman, longtime CVT volunteer and a member of SAPUCC. “And, as a benefit concert, it will weave those in attendance with the mission and work of CVT.” The choirs will perform work by composers Stephen Paulus, Abbie Betinis, Craig Hella Johnson, Jacob Navrerud, Keith Hampton and others.

Founded in 1985, the CVT is headquartered in the Specialty Building at University and Raymond avenues. The center began after Gov. Rudy Perpich directed a committee of human rights experts to research various initiatives to advance human rights. The group proposed a rehabilitation center for survivors of torture, and Perpich embraced that idea. He visited the first treatment center in the world in Denmark and then appointed a task force to determine how a similar center could be established here.

Three decades later, the CVT operates a healing center for torture survivors in St. Paul; partners with the International Rescue Committee to offer similar rehabilitative services in Atlanta, Ga.; has services in Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya and Uganda; and trains partner organizations across the United States and all over the world.

In honor of the organization’s 30th anniversary last year, Bowman co-edited the book It Starts With Hope. Eighty-four authors and illustrators from throughout the world contributed original photos, poems, essays and messages of hope to the book, which will be on sale at the Feb. 25 concert.

Last year a touring choir—Conspirare—gave a free concert for CVT staff at the CVT headquarters the night before the group performed at the Ordway in downtown St. Paul.

“I was invited and was so struck with the power of music for healing that I thought, ‘This needs to be done again,’ ” Bowman said. And that was “the germ of the proposal” that he made to choir director John Habermann, the artistic director of the event, and Victoria Wilgocki, pastor at SAPUCC.

The concert will begin at 4 p.m. in the UCC sanctuary and will include a presentation by the CVT. Suggested donation is $15 at the door. All proceeds from the concert and the sale of It Starts With Hope will go to the CVT.

Need more information? Contact the church at 651-646-7173.

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