Proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ



Is 2014 your year to join folks from across Nebraska in forming our Companion Diocese relationship in the Dominican Republic?
Are you ready to witness the joy and faith which makes the Dominican Episcopal Church one of the fastest growing dioceses of our Church?
2014 Mission Teams are now forming. The Adult Team will work at the Diocesan Camp in the mountains near Jarabacoa on February 10-17, 2014. A Youth Mission Team will work at the Camp on June 23-30, 2014.
We will be visiting a mission diocese in an emerging and developing country. Many of our Dominican brothers and sisters live in difficult conditions. Though financial resources are limited…faith is great, joy is abundant, and hope sustains those in need of food, clothing, and education. The blessings received will be equal to those blessing given.

The expected cost will be approximately $1500. Necessary fundraising will be left to the individual and their home parish, but fund raising ideas may be found at Very limited scholarships may also become available.

Youth must be at least 16 years old in order to participate. Both the Adult and Youth Teams will arrive into Santiago on Monday evening. Our Teams will be met at the airport by local clergy who will either escort us to a downtown hotel or see that we are safely on our bus to the Diocesan Camp. Our journey will continue early Tuesday morning as we become familiar with the new surroundings that will become home during the coming week. We will work at the camp and in the surrounding barrio until we embark upon our journey home….changed forever.
Join folks from around the Diocese of Nebraska, as we continue to build companion relationships with our church and our brothers and sisters in the Dominican Republic!


For more information regarding these missions please contact:

Adult Mission Information
Rev. Karen Watson

Youth Mission Information
Don and Melissa Peeler

If you are unable to participate, but still wish to support our DR Ministry, educational scholarships are a wonderful way to support the work being done in the DR. A gift of $350 provides a student in the DR with the opportunity to learn for one year, and a much needed physical, vision, and hearing examination. For more information on how your life changing gift may be made, go to
A special ministry opportunity exists for a creative individual with a little extra time and web-site development experience. The Diocese of Nebraska is looking for a volunteer to maintain its global mission web-page, and take it to the next level for communication, interaction, and information. If global mission and technology are your passions, please contact Canon Judi Yeates at 402-341-5373.

South Sudan Update August 2013

Commissioner Dau Akoi (fourth from right)

Commissioner Dau Akoi (fourth from right)

The significant news the past few weeks from South Sudan is the sacking of the entire national cabinet of ministers and the vice-president. It appears President Salva Kiir wanted to downsize the central government cabinet posts. Having completed that task the president is now re-appointing ministers to some of the positions and also appointing new personnel to some of the positions.

One of the new appointments to the president’s cabinet is the appointment of Jonglei State Governor Kual Manyang Juuk to the position of Minister of Defense. Twic East Diocese is in Jonglei State.

The South Sudan petroleum pipeline which travels through North Sudan is now back in operation, however North Sudan is threatening to shut it down due to some border disagreements.





Twic East

Mother's Union leaders in Maar

Mother’s Union leaders in Maar

The county commissioner Mr. Dau Akoi from Twic East has been travelling in the U.S.A. to several cities the past 3 weeks. His base location was Omaha during his stay. He is assisting the U.S. South Sudan diaspora in fund raising for the proposed construction of a youth center in Panyagor the county seat of Twic East. If the fund raiser is successful this project will provide a much needed location for the youth in Twic East County to gather and participate in various activities.

At the Twic East Diocese headquarters village of Maar, we now have an operating mobile phone tower. The tower was actually constructed several years ago, however it was not completed and activated until this past spring.

This will be a real asset for communications directly to Maar and Twic East Diocese personnel.

We also have word that the Bol Deng Compound which is adjacent to the Diocese church compound in Maar is being renovated. This undertaking is due to the need for an adequate facility for the visiting medical teams working at the new primary health clinic in Maar.



Nebraska Activities

The annual “Nets for Nets” fund raiser in Elkhorn, Ne. was recently completed. Their proceeds this year will be for medical supplies for the Twic East Diocese. This is an annual fund raiser organized by two students from Elkhorn, Abi Heller and Ashley Knight. Congratulations on your great work!

Using a grinding mill

Using a grinding mill


All Saints Omaha is preparing for their annual fund raiser on September 15th. The fund raiser “Pedal for Treadles” will be for the purchase of sewing machines and grinding mills for the Maar village community.

Agriculture training will begin with the fall semester at the Baraka Agriculture College in Molo, Kenya for a South Sudan priest in Nairobi. This will be a two year program of study. Upon completion he will relocate from Nairobi to Twic East. The purpose of the training is to teach and train the Twic East Diocese communities ways and methods of producing vegetable garden produce for use by the individual communities.

There is an ongoing study to investigate the best method to complete the Wanglei girls school. This school completion will be a primary focus for the Nebraska diocese Companion effort to Twic East in the coming year.


Jim Yeates

Health & Wellness Corner (Self Esteem)

God’s richest blessings on your summer! I hope you were able to spend some down time enjoying your loved ones, and the beauties that remind us…it is summer! Family picnics…vacation outings and play time… cook-outs with neighbors and friends. This article focuses on the role of the family in self-esteem.
The family plays a significant… if not critical role… in the development of self-esteem. Much of our self-esteem can be traced back to how we were treated as children in our families. Children are not born with self-esteem; rather self-esteem is really a reflection of other’s opinion of us.

A healthy sense of self is a very important gift we can give to all/our children. As adults, we may need to forgive our parents if they were not able to help us feel lovable, capable, and valued. The only healthy source of self-esteem comes from our relationship with our loving heavenly Father. As children of God…our Father is the only divine being who can love us with the unconditional love that never fails.

So how can families help children develop self-esteem? Well there are several things Christian families can do to foster self-esteem.

First: We can provide our children with an abundance of unconditional love. This is the love that we learn best from God. It is easiest for adults to share this with their children if they can enjoy God’s love for themselves (see Rom. Ch. 5 and 1 Jn. Ch. 3 & 4). Unconditional love speaks loudly to children that they are valuable because of who they are… not what they do! Each person is a precious and irreplaceable child of our loving Father…of such worth…that Jesus died to redeem him or her!

Second: We can provide the structure and guidance that children need. Love without guidance really…is not love! Children need discipline and I am not talking about physical discipline here. It is the discipline that our loving Father offers every one of his children so that we can learn to understand our roles and position in the world that is logical and predictable. In God’s loving hands… it helps us all to feel safe and to focus on our real work and purpose in this world.

Third: We can provide a positive environment that affirms one another. Children learn a great deal from watching their parents interact! “Love is patient, love is kind…it is not rude…it is not easily angered…it always protects…always trusts, hopes and perseveres” (1 Cor. 13: 4-7).
Family Esteem: Is the belief that our family is valuable and worthwhile. It identifies the strengths that the family has and values how the family works together to assist each other in growth. Most of all…it appreciates each family member and the family as a whole. How is your family esteem?
May he who is faithful help us to experience wholeness and love in our families’ lives.
Have a Healthy and Blessed Day!
The Rev. Dn Stephanie Ulrich, RN, SD, Minister of Health All Saints Episcopal Church

Ask A Priest (Bishop’s Vestments)

Q: Bishop Barker recently visited our parish and now I’m curious about his vestments and other objects associated with being a bishop. Can you explain their significance?

A: That’s a great question, and one that is of special interest to me because I served on the Transition Committee that was charged with procuring those very vestments and objects for Bishop Barker. The ministry of the bishop is to connect all of the parishes in the diocese, to connect all of the dioceses to one another, and to maintain a connection between the church of today and the early church established by the apostles. The bishop’s vestments help symbolize his ministry (both men and women serve the church as bishops, but since your question was about Bishop Barker, I will use male pronouns in my answer).

The pointed hat that the bishop wears is called a mitre. Bishops have been wearing mitres for about 1,000 years, so they are very recognizable symbols of the office of bishop. The mitre is shaped like a flame, reminding us of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the upper room on Pentecost, when the church was born. We believe that bishops represent an unbroken lineage (sometimes called succession) all the way back to the first apostles, so the flame-like hat reminds us of that special spiritual ancestry.

The cape that the bishop sometimes wears is called a cope. Historically, copes are reminiscent of overcoats worn during Roman times. The bishop typically only wears a cope when he is participating in a non-Eucharistic liturgy (a church service without Holy Communion), but it may also be worn in the first part of a Eucharistic service or when performing services that only he can do, such as ordination or confirmation.

The stole is a long piece of fabric that priests (and bishops) wear around their necks and deacons wear across their chests. They are symbols of obedience to Christ.

The alb is the white garment that goes under all the other vestments. If you are a chalice bearer in your parish, you may wear and alb yourself sometimes. Albs are symbols of our baptism and reminders that we are all equal in Christ. Above everything else, the bishop is first and foremost a baptized Christian. The alb is a reminder that our identity is found in baptism, not ordination.

When the bishop visited your church he probably carried a large staff with him, called a crozier. The crozier, which has a curved top, looks like a traditional shepherd’s staff and is symbolic of the bishop’s ministry as pastor (shepherd).

Bishop Barker wears a ring on his right hand with the seal of the Diocese of Nebraska. It is an ancient tradition—probably dating back to the Middle Ages—that a bishop receive a ring at his or her ordination. The ring is a symbol of the bishop’s faithfulness to the Church and to Christ. In rare occasions when the bishop must seal a document in wax, he can use his ring.

The bishop has other special garments symbolic of his ministry (like a chimererochet, and tippet), but he doesn’t typically wear them on parish visits (at least not that I’ve seen).

Rev. Liz Easton

An Alb

An Alb


A deacon wearing a stole (deacons wear the stole across one shoulder, priests around both)

A deacon wearing a stole (deacons wear the stole across one shoulder, priests around both)


Bishop Barker's crozier

Bishop Barker’s crozier


Several bishops wearing their copes

Several bishops wearing their copes



Bishop Barker in his mitre


A Bishop's Ring

A Bishop’s Ring

A New Missionary Is Born


About one month from now, I will be moving to Cape Town, South Africa where for the coming year I will be volunteering for the Young Adult Service Corps in a placement as the Communications and Development Assistant at HOPE Africa, the social programming arm of the Anglican Church in South Africa!  I’m still learning quite a lot about this job, but so far I’ve discovered that I’ll be spending my days traveling to different locations in South Africa and learning about the programs in these different places. Once I’ve learned about them, I’ll then create blurbs and photos that HOPE Africa can put on their website and Facebook page.  I am writing here to ask the support of my fellow Nebraska Episcopalians.

One of the easiest ways to support me on my trip is to add me to your prayers. I’m carrying with me the long list of people and families that have supported me to make sure they’re in my prayers all year round!

Emily Barker (at left) with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and other new missionaries at the 2013 class orientation

Emily Barker (at left) with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and other new missionaries at the 2013 class orientation

Another way to support me is to read my blog. As a YASC volunteer, I am required to post to my blog at least two times a month, and I plan to fill my posts with lots of interesting info about Cape Town and the people I meet there. You can find my blog at

The YASC program is committed to sending as many qualified people as they can overseas to help out in the communities that need them. The cost per ex-pat is $20,000. Luckily, YASC will cover half of that for each of us, but we are expected to raise the other $10,000 on our own. So far, I have about $6,500, which is great. But I’m still a ways off from my goal of $10,000, and I could really use your support. If you’re willing and able to contribute any sort of monetary donation, there are a two ways to go about doing that:

Option #1 is an online donation. A crowd-funding site called Go Fund Me allows makes it easy to send donations straight to me. Online donations also offer fun perks and rewards depending on your giving level. If you’d like to donate online, go to click the big DONATE button! This method is the easiest, but unfortunately not tax-deductible.

Option #2 (the tax-deductible one) is to donate through the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska. Simply make a check out to the Diocese of Nebraska, write “HOPE Africa” on the note line, and mail it to the Diocese of Nebraska, 109 N. 18th St., Omaha, NE, 68102. The Diocese will take care of the rest.

Suffice it to say that I will be grateful for any and all support that you can give. Please also know that I’m supremely grateful for the support you’ve given me over the years to help me be ready for this journey at this stage in my life.  I look forward to being the best servant I can be, and to representing my fellow Nebraskans in South Africa in the year to come!

Emily Barker

NOVO Fall 2013 Youth Event


NOVO (a Latin word for renew, refresh) is a youth-led faith event. This is a weekend filled with creative worship, games and fun!
NOVO is a spiritual renewal event for some and a spiritual discovery for others. The focus is around the Stations of the Cross and a connection with the Holy Spirit.

High school youth will share their faith through talks, small groups and music. Youth from all over Nebraska are invited to join in this weekend. We encourage you to invite your friends!

Please join us at Camp Timberlake on Friday, September 6th to Sunday, September 8th to experience this renewing journey with Jesus.
Please click on the link below to learn more and to get registered:

NOVO Registration

Christ’s Welcome at Heartland Pride Fest 2013


Members and clergy from seven local parishes share Christ’s message of welcome at the Heartland Pride Parade

Saturday, June 22, dozens of Episcopalians from numerous Nebraska parishes gathered amidst a sea of rainbows in downtown Council Bluffs to march in the Heartland Pride Parade. The spirit was joyful and upbeat as faithful laity and clergy marched to extend the Episcopal Church’s welcome to the GLBT community and their allies. It was apparent from this group that welcome, like God’s grace, is so much more than a word.

Members and clergy from seven local parishes share Christ’s message
of welcome at the Heartland Pride Parade
Kicking off this grand event on Thursday, June 20, Fr. Jason Emerson (Church of the Resurrection, Omaha) and Fr. Randy Goeke (Church of Saint Mary in the Sandhills, Bassett) participated in an interfaith candlelight prayer vigil in Stinson Park. The prayers and Fr. Jason’s sermon there brought to awareness the great resource faith and prayer can and need to be in standing in solidarity with those who are victims of bullying, discrimination and hate.

Both Friday and Saturday (June 21 and 22) members of the newly formed Nebraska Chapter of Integrity, gave out free bottles of water, “anointed” the hot and weary with sun screen, and shared their stories of the Episcopal Church’s welcome of GLBT folks during Heartland Pride’s fair held in Stinson Park. The response of those seekers stopping by Integrity’s booth was overwhelmingly positive. Numerous parish lists and literature about our wonderful old church were given out to the very colorful crowd. Thanks to Bishop Barker and all the clergy and laity who helped make this important witness a reality.

Fr. Randy Goeke

From the Bishop (Camp Comeca 2013)

I have just returned from spending a week with our diocesan youth at Camp Comeca in Cozad, Nebraska. We had a particularly rich and joyful time together this year, learning and celebrating around the theme of, “Emmanuel – Christmas in the Summertime.” In addition to digging deeply into the stories of Christ’s birth as told in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, we also speant time singing carols, making Christmas decorations, and for one memorable evening, playing “Reindeer Games” on the front lawn of the camp. (Who knew that water balloons and shaving cream we’re such important pieces of equipment for Rudolf and his friends?)camp0

There are many blessings that flow as part of being at camp together each year. These include being knit together Christ’s body in a special way, growing in faith as a community built over the course of a whole week working and playing together, and dwelling in the wondrous natural beauty of central Nebraska. I am very grateful to the kids, parents and staff who made participating in camp a priority this year. There are few activities that unite us across our large and diverse diocese quite so wonderfully as church camp.

My particular thanks go out to our camp Co-Directors Noelle Ptomy and Kourtney Lewis, whose shared and exceptional leadership made Camp Comeca 2013 one of the best camps ever!

If you missed it this time around, I urge you to participate as either a camper or a counselor in July of 2014 as the Diocese of Nebraska once agains descends on Camp Comeca.

Nebraska Episcopalian – New Format

You will notice several changes in the Nebraska Episcopalian beginning with this latest issue. We’re moving to an exclusively on-line publication, which will mean we can be in touch more often and more immediately with news of diocesan people and events. Our on-line format will also make room for more and better photos to tell the story of our diocese, and for the incorporation of larger special pieces of reporting for you to read at your own pace. Jo Behren’s article published here – “Pray Fervently, Labor Diligently and Give Liberally”: The Story of Episcopal Women’s Ministry in Nineteenth Century Nebraska,” – is an exceptional example of the kind of in-depth writing we hope to now be able to feature more regularly in this publication.

Please do send us feedback about this new format, as well as your suggestions for future stories and features in, The Nebraska Episcopalian.

Book Review: Rich Church, Poor Church

Review of Rich Church, Poor Church — Keys to Effective Financial Ministry, by J. Clif Christopher. (Nashville; Abington, 2012) 108 pgs.

In the introduction to his short book on church financial health, “Rich Church, Poor Church,” author Christopher shares some startling statistics on charitable giving:

  • Religion used to receive 60 percent of all charitable gifts in America. Today it receives 32 percent.
  • United Methodists and Presbyterians give an average of 1 percent of their income to the church. Episcopalians and Lutherans give 1.1 percent. Baptists give 2 percent. Orthodox and Catholics give less than 1 percent.
  • In the past decade the number of financially healthy churches has dropped from 31 percent to 14 percent of all churches, a drop of over 50 percent!

Christopher, a former United Methodist pastor and current CEO of Horizons Stewardship Consulting, then goes on to describe the ideas, characteristics, and behaviors that his research has shown to differentiate between financially healthy and financially unhealthy churches.

In doing so, Christopher makes a compelling case that there are specific, indentifiable characteristics that affect a church’s financial health, and offers hope that any church, paying attention to the right things, can move from one category to the other. In other words, struggling churches are not bound to continue to live in financial uncertainty, but can create a new future by gathering their leadership and applying their resources in ways that follow the successful patterns of others who have made that transition.

Each of the eleven chapters lists and contrasts specific points that churches can attend to. Not very point applies to every church, and not every church will agree with every point the author makes. However, I found myself agreeing with most of what Christopher writes, and I recommend this book enthusiastically to every parish, regardless of their financial position. It is not a stewardship program or campaign, but is rather an invitation for parish leaders to study together some church health and growth information based on the author’s substantial experience working with churches, both financially troubled and sound.

Fr. Mark Selvey

Deacons Meet in Kearney

Deacon David Holmquist from St. Augustine's Elkhorn discussed effective ways to advocate in the Nebraska Unicameral

Deacon David Holmquist from St. Augustine’s Elkhorn discussed effective ways to advocate in the Nebraska Unicameral

Thirteen deacons gathered at St. Luke’s, Kearney, August 16 and 17 to visit, eat together, worship together, and reflect on our vocations. Throughout our gathering, we celebrated the variety of ways in which the small group that had assembled manifests the ministry of deacons.

Friday night was for visiting with each other, enjoying a catered barbecued beef dinner that Deacon Colleen Lewis had arranged for us, and praying compline together.

Saturday morning began with Deacon Wes Agar’s pancakes and sausages. After breakfast, each of us shared what’s new in our ministries, and several also shared about ongoing ministries and ways of balancing diaconal service with other things going on in our lives.

We congratulated Deacon Cheryl Harris on receiving a Stephen’s Award at the Association for Episcopal Deacons assembly in June, and she shared the story of her travel adventures and what she learned at the AED workshops. As a result of Cheryl’s information from the assembly and some of the issues raised during the sharing about our ministries, there is interest among the deacons in getting the film Traces of the Trade about the legacy of slavery and the relatively unknown complicity of New Englanders and the Episcopal Church in the slave trade.

Using notes and materials from the spring AED Archdeacons conference, I shared some thoughts on the historical waves of the diaconate in the Episcopal Church and reflection on who we are now and what the diaconate might look like in years to come. With ordination dates ranging from 1984 to 2013 for the deacons at this gathering, we were able to see how the development of the order of deacons is reflected here in the Diocese of Nebraska.

Deacon David Holmquist told us about effective ways to advocate in the Nebraska Unicameral. Along with helping us understand more about the legislative process, he described several issues we may want to continue watching because of their ties to social justice issues that concern deacons and provided us with packets of information about the legislature. We agreed that a longer workshop would be very worthwhile for deacons and others who want to join us in advocacy.

After lunch and more time to visit, we gathered for Eucharist with Fr. Jerry Ness celebrating. We used the propers for St. Mary the Virgin. In the homily, I suggested that Mary’s Song of Praise in Luke 1:46-55 in the context of our common notions about Mary’s life and character could help us reflect further on our own vocations as deacons.

As we left, the consensus was that an informal annual gathering of deacons would be beneficial – and fun. Look for another gathering of deacons in 2014.

Archdeacon Betsy Blake Bennett