Proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ

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Emily Barker- September Missionary Update

emily

Emily shows us where she’s living

Emily Barker, our missionary has been in Cape Town working for HOPE Africa for a month! Check out her update below on what this first month in Cape Town, South Africa has held for her.

hope-boxes

Part of HOPE Africa’s job is to provide disaster relief to dioceses and projects that need it. These six boxes of dried food are promised to a few relief sites in the Western Cape and will be sent over when the time is right. In the mean time, they live my office 🙂

desk

And what does that office look like? This is the desk where I spend my weekdays at HOPE Africa. Currently I’m working on quite a few distinct projects and need a lot of materials to help prepare for those projects, so maybe my desk will be more organized when things calm down–never!

emily-no-heat

I arrived at the end of winter and quickly discovered that that the buildings where I work and live do not have central heat. So this is how the office keeps warm!

emily-elephant

I’ve already seen multiple elephants, although none have been real yet. Hopefully I’ll be sending an update soon about a real live elephant!”

emily-whale So no real elephants, but I’ve seen real whales! At a Whale Festival in Hermanus, Western Cape, I was lucky enough to see quite a few whales breach at the bay. See that black in the middle of the picture? That’s a Southern Right Whale! Whales come to this bay to calf and mate every year and the festival is scheduled right around the time when they are most visible.
emily-rocky-horror

Some things are timeless and universal! In the past week, I pursued my favorite passion and saw some live theater in the middle of Cape Town at the Fugard Theatre in District 6. Here I am with Frankenfurter, from the cult classic Rocky Horror Show.

Why Omaha?

Alyse Viggiano

Alyse Viggiano

Omaha, why Omaha?

Greetings! My name is Alyse Viggiano and I hail from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Interesting fact,I am a triplet. So I have a sister and a brother who are my age and both currently attend WestVirginia University. I attended college at John Carroll University, in Cleveland Ohio, andgraduated with a degree in Marketing and minors in Philosophy and Entrepreneurship.

Prior to college, I was very involved in my parish in Pittsburgh, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. I was apart of the youth group, went on several mission trips to Charleston, South Carolina, and was an Acolyte (which is similar to alter serving). At that time, being apart of the worship service and serving others was something I was passionate about, and still so to this day. Two older priests, who truly embody what it means to serve people, noticed these passions within me, and asked me to consider the priesthood. During high school, I didn’t consider myself prepared to take on a vocation in the church. I wasn’t mature enough to handle difficult situations that would plague a congregation, preach the gospel, or give wise advice to others. Ultimately, I didn’t dismiss the idea, I simply set it aside for later. In the fall of 2009, I went off to John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.

While at college, I studied marketing, entrepreneurship, and philosophy. In the spring of 2011, I studied abroad in London, England for a semester. Before going abroad, I began working at a little unknown coffee shop on campus. While at the coffee shop, I showed an enthusiasm for making smoothies, and was asked to become student manager of the coffee shop. I took the position, although reluctantly because I had no experience with coffee (I was strictly a tea drinker). But after diving head first into the coffee world, I had a newly found thirst to learn everything about coffee, coffee shops, and the atmosphere they convey. In the fall of 2011, I implemented everything I had learned about coffee and espresso, and began making chocolate chip cookies for the coffee shop, which changed names to The Cubby. When I first started at The Cubby, it barely did $100 a week in sales, by the end of spring 2013, my senior year, we hit record sales of $723 in ONE night. The Cubby was my life, the support and community that surrounded it was growing, and I didn’t want to leave it. It was hard to let go of the reins, but The Cubby wasn’t truly mine, and I was graduating, which meant I had to move on. I was passionate about making cookies and other baked goods, pouring lattes and coffee, but ultimately, I was more intrigued by the development of the community that begun to surround The Cubby. So at the end of four years, I had a college degree in hand, but I had a question to answer, what do I do now?

I took a step back and asked myself the question, “If I were to die tomorrow, what would I regret now doing?”. I earned a degree in marketing with minors in Philosophy and Entrepreneurship (check), I ran a coffee shop (check), I baked a ton of cookies, muffins, scones (check), I had been doing something I was passionate about. The answer that felt right was to explore that call of priesthood. But how to do it?

Through the Episcopal Service Corps. I found the program in Omaha called the Resurrection house coordinated by Jason Emerson. It is a 9 month program where 50% of my time will be in an Episcopal church, 25% will be at a non-profit, and the other 25% will be spent on spiritual development. Starting August 31st until May 19th, I will be in Omaha, Nebraska exploring this option.

I don’t know what will happen by the end of May. I am letting the chips fall as the may, which is much harder than I anticipated. I am anxious and nervous for what lies ahead, but I am listening and staying open to what the future holds. At John Carroll, I worked on a project with two of my closest friends which we called Polis after the perfect community that Aristotle created. The tag line for the project was cultivating community through coffee, collaboration, and community. I use that same tag line for my own goals with a slightly different tilt. My mission is to cultivate community through food, conversation, and spirituality. How I will do this, I do not know. But after completing this year of service, prayer, and discernment, I can only hope to be closer to understanding what it means to cultivate community through food, conversation, and spirituality.

-Alyse Viggiano

Please Help with Presiding Bishop Nominating Committee Survey

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Dear Friend of the Episcopal Church,

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church will elect a new Presiding Bishop at our meeting in July, 2015. We are beginning our search and nominating process.

The Joint Nominating Committee wants your input. This survey instrument will be used to help the Nominating Committee write a document describing the priorities and hopes of the Church in our selection process. It will also inform our understanding of the qualities and skills we would like to see in our Presiding Bishop. We ask you to take a few minutes to complete this survey.

Here is a link to the survey:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GGCLYCQ

Please know your responses will be kept confidential.

Bible Challenge Week 38 September 23rd-29th

12ba4fb9-5a18-4263-b078-33c47ce543e3Weekly Word from Bishop Barker for Week 38
September 23rd-29th

In the Old Testament this week we finish reading the Book of Jeremiah and we’ll read Psalms 63 through 68. In the New Testament we will read 1 Peter and begin reading 2 Peter.

I wonder…

– In Jeremiah chapter 49, the prophet foresees that the fall of the land of Edom will be absolute. Here, there is no prediction of exile and restoration…no hope for return, renewal or redemption. Edom will become an “object of horror” where no one can even live (see Jeremiah 49:18.) As a follower of Jesus, how do you understand stories of God’s utter and everlasting condemnation of a place or people? Is there really such a thing as being, “beyond redemption”?

– The note from the ancient scriptures introducing Psalm 63 says, “A Psalm of David. When he was in the desert of Judah.” The words of this much beloved psalm are hopeful and encouraging despite the setting in which the poem was composed. Has there been a time in your life when God has sustained you, “in a dry and weary land” or through, “the watches of the night”? Was this a time of testing or strengthening your relationship with the Holy One?

– 1 Peter is written to encourage early church communities and disciples who were suffering ostracism and persecution for their beliefs. Some of the teachings here are hard for modern ears, including the notion that some on the margins should suffer such indignities willingly as an emulation of Christ and perhaps, even as a way to witness to one’s persecutors. Could this message still apply today in our here and now? Are there ways you might be invited to simply bear up when suffering, as a way to deepen your relationship with Jesus and share the Good News with your own community?

 

  Please consider inviting a friend to join us in our read.

May each and everyone one of us be blessed by the Word this week!

 

In love and Faith –

+ Bishop Barker

 

This week’s readings:

Day 260  – Monday, September 23, 2013
– Jeremiah 46-47, Psalm 63, 1 Peter 1
Day 261  – Tuesday, September 24, 2013
– Jeremiah 48-49, Psalm 64, 1 Peter 2
Day 262  – Wednesday, September 25, 2013
– Jeremiah 50-51, Psalm 65, 1 Peter 3
Day 263  – Thursday, September 26, 2013
– Jeremiah 52, Psalm 66, 1 Peter 4
Day 264  – Friday, September 27, 2013
– Lamentations 1-2, Psalm 67, 1 Peter 5
Day 265  – Saturday, September 28, 2013
– Lamentations 3-4, Psalm 68, 2 Peter 1
Day 266  – Sunday, September 29, 2013 – Enjoy hearing the Scriptures read aloud in church

Deacon’s Bidding Prayers Sept 20th

Peace of God_scripture

We Bid Your Prayers…

 

Each week, the deacons of the Diocese of Nebraska invite everyone to join us in praying for the needs, hopes, concerns, and joys of the world beyond our immediate circles of family, friends, and parish. Deacons are invited to send biddings for prayers for the world to deaconbetsy@windstream.net by Thursday noon for each week’s gathering of biddings.

 

The deacons of our diocese bid your prayers:

 

 

 

For an end to senseless violence both in the world at large and in our communities across the United States.

 

For those involved in the negotiations intended to stop the use of chemical weapons in Syria and for the people of Syria and all people who seek peace and safety.

 

For healing after the shootings at the Navy Yard this week. For the victims and their families and friends, for the first responders, for the Navy community, for the shooter and his family, and for the wisdom and courage to find a way to end gun violence in this country.

 

For all those affected by floods in Colorado, New Mexico, Mexico, Japan, and elsewhere in the world this week. For those mourning the loss of homes and the deaths of loved ones. For the people in the village of La Pintada as they search for family members and neighbors buried in a landslide.

 

For the church; for our diocese as we prepare for our Annual Council; for all parishes in transition that they be led in their discernment for their futures by God, through the Holy Spirit, and in the name of Christ; and for the House of Bishops as they meet.

 

For all those known and unknown who have been killed in wars around the world, especially 1st Lt. Timothy G. Santos Jr., 29, of Helena, Ala and Master Sgt. George Bannar, Jr of Orange, VA.

Colorado national guard assists with flooding in Boulder, CO

Colorado national guard assists with flooding in Boulder, CO

All Saints Omaha: Annual Cycle for South Sudan Fund Raiser

Pedal for Treadles Riders and Volunteers

Pedal for Treadles Riders and Volunteers

On Sunday September 15th , All Saints Omaha had their 5th annual Cycle for South Sudan fund raiser for our Companion Diocese of Twic East South Sudan.

This year’s theme was “Pedal for Treadles”. The funds raised will go towards the purchase of treadle manual type sewing machines and grinding mills. The sewing machines will be used to make different clothing to be sold to the communities. The motorized grinding mills will be used to replace the manual stone grinding operation the women now use.

We had a record turnout of bicyclers and walkers for the event. A very special occasion for this year’s event was the attendance by Bishop Ezekiel Diing, the Bishop of Twic East Diocese and his wife Rebecca. The event was especially exciting because of their attendance. They are here due to their son Paul’s surgery at Sanford Hospital Sioux Falls South Dakota. (Bishop Ezekiel and Rebecca received a cash prize for coming the greatest distance for the event!)

A cookout picnic was held at the All Saints Retreat Center following the event. Everyone is looking forward to next year’s event.

– Jim Yeates

Using a grinding mill

Using a Stone Grinding Mill

All Call Omaha Kiva Kickoff Raises $925, Gives Micro-loans to Three

Dean Pritcher explains Kiva

Dean Pritcher explains Kiva

More that 40 people, from every parish in Omaha, attended the All Call Omaha Kiva kickoff party, to discover what Kiva is about, to select the recipients of our micro-loans, and to say thank-you and farewell to Dean Joan Pritcher.

The group collected $925 dollars, and we browsed through the Kiva site to select two loan recipients in the Dominican Republic (one of our sister Dioceses), and one in Honduras.

It was fun and fulfilling and humbling for everyone attending to see how Kiva works, to browse through the list of possible recipients, and choose whom to help. Thanks to everyone who participated, and stay tuned for loan updates, news of the next All Call Omaha service project, and ultimately a repeat of this Kiva party when the original loans are repaid and we meet to re-invest!

Kiva: Loans that change lives!

Here are the three recipients of our loans:

Gladis in her rice field in Honduras

Gladis in her rice field in Honduras

Gladis is a 31-year-old woman who makes a living as a teacher. Since she does not have a husband and she receives paychecks every four months, she decided to work in agriculture to earn other income. She is the mother of three children. Her oldest daughter is six years old and in the first grade. Her son is in kindergarten and her younger daughter is not old enough to study yet.

Gladis has the support of her brother who is in charge of caring for the crop, while she takes care of the financial resources in order to attend to them and give them the necessary and possible maintenance. Through the cultivation of rice, she earns income for the entire year and provides for her children. She has been cultivating rice for five years on land which belongs to her parents, which allows her to save money on rent for the land which is located around her house.

Gladis dreams of someday being able to buy her own land for cultivation, using the profits from this year’s rice harvest. For this reason she has requested financing from the COMIXMUL cooperative to provide greater maintenance and technical assistance to her rice crops through the purchase of three gallons of ARROMAX, 15 QQ of fertilizer 12-24-12, two liters of FURORE, and 10 QQ of urea.

Francisco at his house in the Dominican Republic

Francisco at his house in the Dominican Republic

Francisco, a married man with three children, is a micro-entrepreneur selling miscellaneous products, especially fuels, such as gasoline, gasoil and motor oils. He is a member of the group called Vecinas Unidas (United Neighbors), located in the city of Samana. He has had his business for over eight years, started from his savings.

This is his sixth loan, which he will use to improve his house. After his last loan, which he invested in his business, Francisco realised the need to improve his home, and with this loan he will change his wood walls for a safer structure made of concrete blocks walls. With this loan he will buy cement, concrete blocks and other building materials.

Esperanza Internacional runs a program for their good clients who are reliable in paying back their loans, who have fulfilled the commitment to grow their business and who have shown fidelity in their groups. This allows them to take out a loan to improve the structure of their house at the same time as running their business and attending their group meetings. The other members of Franciso’s group are recommending him for a housing loan.

Francisco thanks God, Esperanza Internacional and all of you for this opportunity. In his name and that of his family, he thanks all of you for your support!

Maria at home in the Dominican Republic

Maria at home in the Dominican Republic

Maria is one of Esperanza Internacional’s entrepreneurs. She is a single woman. She lives together with her children. She is working hard to change her home structure, and with her husband, she has decided to take a loan with Esperanza to continue improving their house.

Maria has been taking loans with Esperanza Internacional since she started her business, with her first loan almost seven years ago. She is receiving her 13th loan and this one is to finish building her house. She will build some concrete block walls in her house. With this loan she will buy concrete blocks, cement, rods and other building materials.

Maria is one of the members in the group called Nuestro Progreso (New Progress) located in one of the rural villages in the city of Samana. Esperanza Internacional runs a program for their good clients who are reliable in paying back their loans, who have fulfilled the commitment to grow their business and who have shown fidelity in their groups. This allows them to take out a loan to improve the structure of their houses at the same time as running their businesses and attending their group meetings. Maria thanks all of you for your support!

Here are two more photos from the evening:
(click on images to enlarge them)

Honoring Dean Joan Pritcher for her loving service to Trinity Cathedral and the people of Nebraska

Honoring Dean Joan Pritcher for her loving service to Trinity Cathedral and the people of Nebraska

Counting the generous offering

Counting the generous offering

Resurrection House: The Journey Begins…(Again)

The Big Picture Website Sidebar

Where is God in all this?

The Resurrection house interns have already been in Omaha two weeks. During this time we have spent many hours getting to know one another. Conversation topics have included baking, coffee, family dynamics, scripture readings, and which road will get us back to the house from our current location. Through sharing our past experiences, as well as taking part in new experiences together, we are well on our way to forming a close knit community. Fr. Jason mentioned we all seem to be on the same introvert scale. We laughed when we heard this, because we definitely agree. We talked about how we can all be in the same room, reading, and not talking to each other, and afterwards it feels like we’ve had a good bonding experience. We also do some actual socializing, which has primarily taken place while cooking and eating together. There is a reflection that was written by Jan Richardson for World Communion Sunday, which I have been thinking about quite a bit this week. It not only speaks to the literal Eucharist, but also to community:

“And the table will be wide. And the welcome will be wide. And the arms will open wide to gather us in. And our hearts will open wide to receive. And we will come as children who trust there is enough. And we will come unhindered and free. And our aching will be met with bread. And our sorrow will be met with wine. And we will open our hands to the feast without shame. And we will turn toward each other without fear. And we will give up our appetite for despair. And we will taste and know of delight. And we will become bread for a hungering world. And we will become drink for those who thirst. And the blessed will become the blessing. And everywhere will be the feast.”

I like many parts of this blessing, but this week I was focussed on the line, “And everywhere will be the feast.” As part of our spiritual formation we will turn in reflections each week to Fr. Jason, and we will strive to answer the question, “Where is God in all this?” We will of course have specific instances and experiences which we can draw from to anwser this question, but it’s also quite wonderful to reflect on the omnipresence of God. That through our struggles as well as our successes, God was, is, and will be present. In the baptism lesson from Godly play, we wonder aloud during the time when we light a candle for each person in the circle from the Christ candle, “Look how the light where all the light is coming from is not getting any smaller. I wonder how so much light can come from just one light?” How amazing it is that with open hearts this light can be manifest in the world around us, particularly in each other as we continue grow in community together.

– Reagan Grabbe

Reagan Grabbe

Reagan Grabbe

Bible Challenge Week 37 September 16th-22nd

12ba4fb9-5a18-4263-b078-33c47ce543e3Weekly Word from Bishop Barker for Week 37
September 16th-22nd

In the Old Testament this week, we continue reading from the Book of Jeremiah and we’ll read Psalms 57 through 62. In the New Testament we will complete Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews and read the entirety of the Letter of James.

I wonder…

– Several chapters of Jeremiah seem like complete “sermons,” aimed at returning the Hebrew people to faithful living and right relationship with God. Matthew Henry’s Bible commentary says of Jeremiah chapter 35: “The scope and tendency of many of the prophet’s sermons was to frighten [Israel] out of their disobedience, by setting before them what would be the end thereof if they persisted in it. The scope of this sermon, in this chapter, is to shame them out of their disobedience if they had any sense of honor left in them.” Do you think shame is an effective tool for bringing people into relationship with God? Why or why not?

– At week’s end we’ll be praying Psalm 62 together: “For God alone my soul in silence waits.” Do you make time and space in your busy life to regularly find some solitude, and to wait in silence upon our God? Might you incorporate a measure of silence around your Bible challenge reading in the last few months of this work?

– Martin Luther called The Letter of James an “epistle of straw.” Because of his emphasis on the fallen state of human nature and the utter necessity for “faith alone” in Christ as a means to human salvation, Luther rejected the centrality of Christian “works.” How do you understand the relationship between faith and works in your life? Does James’ famous line, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26) ring true for you?

 

  Please consider inviting a friend to join us in our read.

May each and everyone one of us be blessed by the Word this week!

 

In love and Faith –

+ Bishop Barker

 

This week’s readings:

Day 253  – Monday, September 16, 2013
– Jeremiah 31-33, Psalm 57, Hebrews 14
Day 254  – Tuesday, September 17, 2013
– Jeremiah 34-35, Psalm 58, James 1
Day 255  – Wednesday, September 18, 2013
– Jeremiah 36-38, Psalm 59, James 2
Day 256  – Thursday, September 19, 2013
– Jeremiah 39-41, Psalm 60, James 3
Day 257  – Friday, September 20, 2013
– Jeremiah 42-43, Psalm 61, James 4
Day 258  – Saturday, September 21, 2013
– Jeremiah 44-45, Psalm 62, James 5
Day 259  – Sunday, September 22, 2013 – Enjoy hearing the Scriptures read aloud in church