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UPDATE WITH NAME: Shooting injures 1 in SE Rochester
 john molseed  / 

A 23-year-old Rochester man is recovering in the hospital from gunshot wounds, and his shooter remains at large as police continue to investigate the incident.

The shooting happened late Saturday night in the 2000 block of 8-1/2 Street Southeast in Rochester. Antonio Lamar Johnson, 23, is recovering at Mayo Clinic – Saint Marys Hospital after being shot in the leg and upper back. His injuries are not life-threatening, according to police.

Witnesses reported hearing four to five gunshots from the direction of Andover Park Apartments, where police found multiple shell casings. The shooting happened at about 10:40 p.m.

But neighbors said they didn’t hear any commotion before the shots. One woman pointed out where a bullet had ricocheted off the base of her bedroom window while she was trying to sleep.

“It about scared me to death,” said the woman, who declined to give her name.

According to neighbors and a police statement, it is unknown whether Johnson, a man known to some of the neighbors as “Tone,” is a resident at the apartment complex.

No one was taken into custody for the shooting as of Saturday night. The incident remains under investigation.

World travelers close to home
 Emily Cutts  / 

To walk from the Southeast Asian homes of Hmong people to those in Ethiopia would take more than just a few steps, but on Saturday, that was all that was needed to learn a little about each culture.

The 10th annual Walk Around the World event, sponsored by the Intercultural Mutual Assistance Association, drew people from around the region and cultures from across the world to Rochester Community and Technical College to celebrate the contributions and success of Rochester’s immigrant community.

The day featured cultural exhibits, food, art, dance, music and singing from all corners of the globe.

For Eden Yiglletu, who stood behind a table displaying items from Ethiopia, the event was a way to spread knowledge about her culture and heritage to the people of Rochester.

“We want to show, since we are a really small community here, we want to show what our different cultures look like,” she said, adding that she frequently is asked where she is from. Often, people don’t know where Ethiopia is located.

Rochester resident Elia Zambrano brought her 5-year-old son Eli Lopez and her 11-month-old daughter Everly Lopez to the event along with her mother, Juanita Zambrano. Elia Zambrano said she wanted her son to experience different cultures and to learn a little bit about them, too.

“He is Latino and I wanted him to know a little bit more outside of the Latino culture so he can understand other backgrounds,” she said. “I think it is a great way for him to see what else is out there.”

At a table displaying items from Mexico, Gina Ledesma and friends chatted with visitors and waited for their turn to perform. Wearing a white flowing dress and a red-and-white flower headband, Ledesma performed to Son Jarocho, a style of folk music from the state of Veracruz in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ledesma and her group have been coming to the annual event for about five years. When asked why they kept coming back, each member had a different answer.

“To show the people how colorful we are,” Ana Velazquez said. “We are happy people, friendly people and we just want to share it with the people.”

“Everybody knows Mexico because they love enchiladas and tacos, but that’s not Mexico,” Ledesma said. “It’s more.”

Behind the Buddhist Support Society table stood Savoeun Keo. It was his second time at the event having arrived to Rochester from Cambodia over a year ago. He said he liked being able to meet people coming from different cultures and countries.

“When someone smiles at me, I smile at them,” he said. “We are happy together.”

It was also a chance, he said, to practice his English as people came up to inquire about the items on display.

The event in Rochester was just one of many taking part across the country and the world as part of World Refugee Day. Marked on the calendar for June 20, this World Refugee Day the United Nations Refugee Agency challenged everyone to join together and take a step with refugees.

According to the U.N., nearly 71 million people are forcibly displaced as of this June. Of that number, approximately 20.4 million were refugees under the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ mandate.

Minnesota Methodist conference votes to support LGBTQ members
 mstolle  / 

Minnesota delegates representing the United Methodist Church across the state declared commitment to the full inclusion of LGBT members at its three-day conference last week, repudiating the anti-homosexual stance taken by the global United Methodist Church several months ago.

The vote appeared to put the conservative and progressive wings of the church on a collision course, but church leaders cautioned against the presumption that a breakup was inevitable.

“It’s building hope among those of us who are quite sure that we can’t be a church that is not inclusive,” said the Rev. Elizabeth Macaulay, head pastor of Rochester’s Christ United Methodist Church and a supporter of a more inclusive church.

The United Methodist Church in Minnesota includes about 360 churches and 57,000 members.

State delegates voted 491-86 in support of a vision of the church that fully supports LGBTQIA+ members. Delegates also voted to repudiate the “traditional plan” approved by the global church at a special General Conference last February in St. Louis that declared opposition to homosexuality and gay marriage.

At the St. Louis meeting, the larger church also voted for the first time to impose penalties on clergy who perform same-sex marriages, including suspension and loss of credentials.

The actions taken this week by 800 Minnesota United Methodists — both laity and clergy — at their annual meeting in St. Cloud reflect similar conferences taking place in states across the U.S. Those state conferences are also voting on delegates to send to its General Conference next year. One church leader said many of those gatherings are voting to send progressive delegates.

The vote in Minnesota and other states sets up a potentially dramatic worldwide gathering of Methodists next year in Minneapolis, when the larger church will have to decide how to resolve its differences or to break apart.

“The calling of the church has always been to make visible and real the radical and unconditional love of God for all people,” said Bishop Bruce R. Ough, resident bishop of the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area, in a statement. “As a bishop and leader in the church, I apologize for the ways we have fallen short of that ideal.”

Christ United Methodist Church in Rochester has been particularly vocal in its opposition to the global church’s stance against homosexuality, which has been part of the church’s Book of Discipline since 1972. For Pride Month this month, the Rochester church set up an installation of doors emblazoned in Pride Flag colors on its north portico.

Church leaders said the lead-up to the general conference will be one of organizing and reflection on the implications of a church break-up, if one does occur.

“Some people are seeing the writing on the wall and say, ‘Hey, maybe we need to take a step back and look at something different,’” said the Rev. Cindy Gregorson, director of connectional ministries for the Minnesota Annual Conference.

Rochester is on a creative path
 john molseed  / 

Katya Roberts’ sculpture in Mayo Park looks like multiple panels assembled into one piece. It’s actually a single sheet of aluminum. It represents how experiences in life can shape people.

“Outside forces will bend us,” she said to a crowd Sunday. “Ultimately we remain unbroken.”

Roberts was speaking to people attending the Art4Trails’ unveiling ride and walk Sunday. Dozens of people and families gathered for a guided tour of new public art on city trails.

The new works showcased on the ride and walk included Roberts’ work: “Unbroken” at Mayo Park; “Flathead” in Kutzky Park and “The Send Off” near the downtown Farmers Market site.

The tour also highlighted four temporary trail art works — “Meandering Connections” at Silver Lake; “Reclaim” at the east side of Mayo Park; “Letting Go” at the river landing by the city-county Government Center and “Variations on a Circle of Fifths” in Slatterly Park.

Volunteers guided riders and walkers on the mile-long tour of the sculptures and the temporary installations.

“It’s an easy walk or a ride a family can do any time,” said Megan Chan, Art4Trails volunteer.

Mary Beth Magyar, who created “Reclaim,” went on the ride. She said the beauty of the Art4Trails project is that it makes art available to everyone.

“There’s no cost. You can come look at it at your leisure,” Magyar said.

The art is also available to all ages, she added.

“(Kids) can experience it on their terms and their comfort levels,” she said.

The only drawback is that the art is presented without artists’ statements, Magyar said.

Paul Claus, of We Bike Rochester, said that after 20 years of commuting by bike in town, watching the trail become more complete and creative has been rewarding.

“We have a fantastic trail system,” he said. “Watching them come together, it’s really fascinating.”

There are still some “gauntlets” commuters have to overcome, he added. However, adding art and beauty to the biking experience is important too, he said.

Five of the Art4Trails pieces were created by artist Richard Brubaker, who passed away late last year.

The newest permanent Art4Trails piece, “The Send Off,” created by Sebastien Richer, was made possible by grants from Southeast Minnesota Arts Council and the Greater Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust. Richer will also install a permanent sculpture to be placed at Riverside Central Elementary School.

Andrew Link / 

Henry Sikkink, 6, of Rochester, attempts a ladder drill during Bolder Options Tailgate Sportacular on Saturday, June 22, 2019, at the Graham Arena Complex in Rochester.