Spreading the Word
Members of St. Mary’s Parish in Blair participated in the Sugar Plum Festival on Thursday, November 21 along with special guest, Deacon Wes Agar as St. Nicholas. The Sugar Plum Festival is an annual event in the Blair community taking place the Thursday prior to Thanksgiving throughout the downtown business district. It is a community wide celebration intended to ring in the upcoming holiday season. Children and their families visit business, organizations, and churches throughout downtown Blair and receive goodies and information regarding each participant. St. Mary’s parishioners handed out candy canes along with postcards containing a story about the candy cane’s history as well as parish related information; Deacon Wes Agar of course passed out golden chocolate coins with a song about the tradition of St. Nicholas. The festival normally brings out approximately 850-1000 Blair residents; it was a very successful and fun evening spreading the Love and Word of God!
Thanks to the Blair Chamber of Commerce for the photos below!
Around lunchtime on Tuesdays, a bright pink sign appears on the sidewalk outside Trinity Cathedral: “DEO–Open for prayer”.
DEO stands for Downtown Episcopal Outreach, a ministry housed at Trinity Cathedral but staffed by people from several parishes.
There are two components to DEO. The less visible component that runs throughout the week quietly provides funds to people in need through partner agencies. If, for example, a guest at Siena Francis House needs a prescription filled or a bus ticket to get to a new job, DEO could pay for that need. This part of the program helps us meet the needs of people who have been vetted by professionals who can assure us that the need is real.
The more visible component is what DEO does on Tuesdays. When the pink sign goes out, DEO gathers for a simple Eucharist or noonday prayer. Guests can get out of the weather and join us in prayer or simply rest.
DEO provides space for prayer, people to talk with or pray with, reading material, help connecting with agencies that can meet specific needs, and refreshments. Small travel bags of nonperishable food go with guests.
Michael Duffy from Trinity Cathedral, co-ordinator of the DEO team, rosters volunteers in to serve monthly or quarterly, though a core group serves more often. Come see what DEO is doing on a Tuesday, and talk to Michael if you feel pulled to be part of this ministry.
– Betsy Blake Bennett
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
July 19 started a wild week at St. Elizabeth’s in Holdrege as Vacation Bible School began. St. Elizabeth’s and Spirit of Grace Lutheran combined to host Kingdom Rock – a bible school that helped all of us know that our strength in God will help us conquer whatever life brings us. The Bible School was open to all and we had 38 participants (including helpers) and many adult volunteers. The participants represented 5 area churches and some who did not have a church affiliation. It was a great week with lots of singing, lots of games and activities, and bible stories. The week ended with a barbeque open to all families and friends. We served over 100 people. The kids ended their week with water balloons and sponge relay games!