From The Bishop
At the turn from summer to fall, your diocesan staff paid a second annual visit to a number of our parish churches located farthest from Omaha and your cathedral and diocesan offices. In all, Kate Baxley (Director of Administration and Communications) Beth Byrne (Director of Finance) and I spent nine days in the westernmost part of the Diocese of Nebraska, visiting our churches in the communities of Valentine, Chadron, Gordon, Holly, Alliance, Hyannis and Oshkosh.
We spent our days in various ways. Sometimes facilitating retreats or workshops, sometimes working as a threesome to offer an extra-rich Bishop’s Visitation…sometimes just keeping open office-hours in a parish building, or walking those many communities to try to get to know our people and landscapes just a little bit better.
I need to offer here a word of thanks to the great effort made by western clergy and lay people alike, for offering us such wonderful kindness and hospitality over the course of our visit. Folks were welcoming, honest, kind and considerate – and as is usual, fed us some of the most insane meals you could possibly imagine. Every member of your staff returned to the Clarkson Center convinced that we’d gained five and more pounds!
At most of the church gatherings, I was able to take time to meet with small groups, and pray together, and talk a little but about life in our parishes and the many challenges and ministries that are part of Episcopal life right now in Western Nebraska. Without exception, you all shared tales of the deepest imaginable connection to one another through your common bonds as brothers and sisters in Christ, and you are maintaining a real sense of optimism about your communities, even when challenges are great, because of your certainty that Christ is with you, and that the Holy Spirit still has plans for “God’s Country!”
On behalf of your bishop and your whole diocesan staff, thanks again for making our annual extended stay in the panhandle such a beautiful experience of Christian community. We’re so very proud to serve you all, and we promise to come back soon!
Bishop J. Scott Barker +
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.