Proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ

Outreach and Mission

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Greetings from Sandra Squires, United Thank Offering Board President

Newly approved UTO design

It is that time of year when many of you prepare for your parish UTO In-gatherings, and I thank you for that. The images to the left give you some ideas about how people have promoted UTO.

It is with gratitude and sadness that I share with you that Kathy Graham has resigned from the position of UTO Coordinator in Nebraska because of health reasons and an expected move. She has been Nebraska UTO Coordinator since 2013 and has done great work here. We will miss her, and thank her. Until she can be replaced, I will fulfill that role. I will drop a bill in my blue box in thanksgiving for Kathy’s service.

Since our meeting in North Dakota, much has happened with the Dakota Pipeline. I know some of you believe the President did the right thing to allow the pipelines (Keystone and Dakota) to go through contested land and others do not. I think we still need to pray for the people of Standing Rock Reservation, the safety of their water and grieve with them over the intrusion of their sacred sites. Likewise in Nebraska, we need to pray for the protection of our people and our land with the resumption of the work on the Keystone Pipeline.

UTO Blue Boxes–how to get one, how to use it, collecting the money, and where does the money go?

  • How do I get a blue box? Ask your priest or UTO parish coordinator for a blue box. If you can’t find a blue box, let me know and we will get you one. I have many stored in my garage in Omaha.
  • How do I use the blue box? Put it in a prominent place where you will see it every day. I have a tray with change right next to my box so I don’t have to dig through my purse. Add giving to your blue box during your prayer time. Something great happens, thank God and, put money in the blue box.
  • Where does the money go? Take your money to church for the Ingathering Sunday. Don’t have an Ingathering Sunday? Send it directly to the diocesan office to Beth Byrne, and tell her it is for UTO.

Every penny given to UTO is given in grants. 2016 funds will be given in 2017 in grants. Likewise, everything collected in 2017 will be given away in 2018. Questions? Contact me at


Bear from UTO blue box, made by UTO Coordinator, Central Pennsylvania

UTO display at St. Andrew’s Omaha

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Angels Among Us

St. Martin of Tours Clothesline

St. Martin of Tours has a clothesline in its front yard where we put coats, hats, mittens, socks, etc. we collect in our Fall clothing drive. They are then picked up by people who need them, at any time of the day or night.

Recently, Deacon Robin McNutt headed outside to place the last of our coats on the line. When she got there, she saw that the clothesline was full of coats, scarves, blankets, hats, and even boots that had not been there before. An unknown angel had replenished the line with an abundance of warm items. Many of them have already been claimed by our South Omaha neighbors.

We are grateful for the angel or angels who brought the items. You have warmed our neighbors and our hearts.

Vicar Kim Roberts+

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Trinity Cathedral Offers Prayer Vigil on Inauguration Day


The Prayer Vigil will begin with Morning Prayer at 8:30 AM, and continue throughout the morning, concluding with the Holy Eucharist at 12:00 Noon. From 9:00 until 12:00 will be a time for silent prayer. People of all faiths are invited to stop into Trinity Cathedral for a few minutes, a few hours, or the entire morning to join us in the vigil.

Dean Craig Loya of Trinity Cathedral said that, “This is an opportunity to quiet ourselves and to offer our hearts and minds a chance to rest from the tension and noise of this uniquely difficult time in our nation’s history.” Brother James Dowd, of the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, said, “The time we will spend together will be completely non-partisan. Our prayers will be offered for peace and justice in our country and throughout the world. We will simply offer our prayers and engage in meditation.”

Dean Loya went on to say, “The level of conflict and divisiveness we’ve seen this season is really unprecedented in recent memory. As people of faith, we are called to promote peace and reconciliation. We developed this vigil as a follow-up to the one we held on Election Day as a way of offering a sanctuary of peace in the midst of a tense time, and helping us all offer our lives, our leaders, and our nation to God’s care.”

The specific schedule for the day is as follows:

8:30 AM Morning Prayer
9:00 – 12:00 Silent Prayer/Meditation
12:00 Noon Holy Eucharist


At all other times there will be at least one person praying in the church. All are welcome to join in the silent meditation, the prayer services, or both. For further information, please contact Brother James Dowd at 402-342-7010.


Trinity Episcopal Cathedral • 113 North 18th Street (corner of 18th and Capitol) • 402-342-7010



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Jacob Manyang: Report from South Sudan

Jacob Manyang near the UNHCR refugee camp at Goba, South Sudan.

Here is a report from Jacob’s current trip to Kakuma Refugee Camp, and the work of the Save South Sudanese Orphans and Widows humanitarian organization Jacob founded two years ago.


It’s always a joy to come back to the refugee camps and visit with our innocent brothers and sisters who are displaced into the camps due to war. After staying here in Kakuma for a week and a half, I have shared the pain that the people are going through and I understand their issues in more detail. The living situation here in Kakuma refugee’s camp is extremely difficult.


There are many issues, but most importantly:

  • Shortages of water
    There’s shortage of water due to an increasing number of the refugees that are coming into the camp from South Sudan and other countries that are affected by war. The temperature here in Kakuma is always hot because it’s nearly a desert and the wind blows throughout the day which makes the shortage of water a big concern.
  • Food insecurity
    The UN is now distributing two kilos of sorghum to an individual as food for a month. It uses to be one gallon of sorghum for a month which was not even enough for 15 days. However, it has been reduced to the level that makes it difficult for refugees to survive. The food that’s given to refugees monthly couldn’t even last 5 days if there’s no other support provided by the families abroad. Most of the people in Kakuma refugee’s camp survive because of the support that’s given to them by relatives abroad and from South Sudan. Beside food shortages, refugees in Kakuma are highly affected by the absence of medicine. Most people are malnourished.


In Bortown, we provided 500 mosquito nets to orphans, widows, and elders who couldn’t afford to buy them.

High temperature and wind blow sands throughout the day and that contributes to high fever, typhoid, kidney stones and many other diseases that are also a big concern to most of the refugees here. Kakuma is mainly a desert so it’s always hot during the day and night. It’s really sad that people here in Kakuma have struggled for many years and still there is no solution in sight to solve the issues that are affecting them. The camp is now crowded; the reception center at the Kenyan border is crowded to the level that they don’t have enough medicine for yellow fever.


All the people that are immigrating to Kakuma refugee’s camp in Kenya have to get yellow fever at the reception before they cross the border into Kenya. However, currently, there’s no medicine for yellow fever so they have to wait at the reception until the yellow fever vaccine is provided to them. Some families from South Sudan have tried to go to Kakuma in order to skip starvation. However, waiting at Kenyan border without food in order to first get yellow fever injection has become extremely difficult so some people have to return back to South Sudan.


In the face of the struggles refugees are facing here, they haven’t lost hope of a better tomorrow, so they are supporting themselves as one family with every little thing they have. If one family doesn’t have anything to eat they would get help from their neighbors and their neighbors will do the same thing for them if they face the same situation tomorrow. It’s very encouraging to see most of the families here in the camp are working together to make sure everyone is taken care of—even when they themselves don’t have basic resources for living.


Distribution of pens, pencils, and notebooks for adult education.

After I arrived in Kakuma with the idea of helping orphans and widows with basic education, I learned of an adult education program that has been run by a group of students who are dedicated to helping their elders with basic education. The teachers volunteer their time to teach. However, they don’t have any funding to buy chalk and textbooks for teaching. Since the students are willing to learn they sell half of their two kilos of sorghum that’s given to them as food for the whole month then they each give 300 Kenyan shillings to teachers so that they could buy supplies for teaching. The teachers also welcome students to learn even if they are not able to contribute 300 Kenyan shillings monthly (which is equal to $3.06).


The key challenges here faced by adult education is lack of support. The teachers and students are asking for your support so as you read this article, please consider helping this critical (and awesome) program. Teachers are volunteers and they would like to get paid even enough to cover their expenses for teaching supplies. There is a lack of a permanent place to teach because they are only allowed to teach adult education in the kindergarten school for 2 hours in the evening. Finally, students cannot afford to buy school supplies.


After meeting with adult education teachers and the director of adult education, we talked about the issues that are facing the program and as the result Save South Sudanese Orphans and Widows has provided 360 notebooks for 60 students so each student gets 6 notebooks. We also provided two pens and pencils for each student. This was only a one-time assistance due to insufficient funding. However, Save South Sudanese Orphans and Widows is hoping to continue supporting this adults education program when funding is available.


If you would like to help with this program or other programs run by (SSSOW) please visit our website at

You can also “Like” us on Facebook by searching Save South Sudanese Orphans and Widows.


To all my brothers and sisters aboard, our people are extremely suffering in the refugees camps and within South Sudan due to the on-going crisis. I know many of them are surviving today already only due to your support. I encourage you to continue this great work you are doing. Savings people lives is the best thing anyone could do. Help us promote awareness of the current crisis that’s facing refugees in the refugee camps and within South Sudan.


Your contribution is highly appreciated.

Yours in Christ,
SSSOW Founder: Jacob Maluak Manyang


You can follow Jacob’s work daily on his Facebook page



Contact Jacob for comments or questions at and









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St. Monica’s Needs Our Help

st-monicasDear Episcopal Friends and Supporters,


This year has been a unique year for St. Monica’s. While we are fortunate to have expanded services and improved the safety of our programs and staff, it came at a cost. There are 3 factors that have made this year such a financial challenge:


  • Our first expansion included opening a treatment program for adolescent girls again. As you may recall, we had a program several years ago, but were forced to close it during the states failed attempt at Child Welfare Reform. The challenge we did not anticipate was the length of time it would take to get the facility approved & licensed. We hired staff in anticipation of opening in a few months, but the process took much longer. The combination of paying staff with no clients in our services was a tough blow to the budget. I’m happy to report that the program is now full with a wait list, so things are moving in the right direction.


  • At about the same time we were working on opening the adolescent program, we identified the need to move an adult program out of a unsafe neighborhood. Gunshots fired in the alley behind our facility, drug dealers living on the same block, and an employee’s car broken into were the kinds of regular occurrences that prompted our decision to move the program and move it quickly. Unfortunately, finding another home, making the required renovations and getting that facility licensed took almost a full year. During that time, we could not serve as many women, and the renovation costs exceeded our estimate The program is now full and resides in a beautiful home and safe neighborhood od! But, we lost about $200,000 on this experience alone.


  • And finally, the growing disparity between our reimbursement rates and the cost of doing business is harder and harder to overcome. Most years we get no rate increases, or a small 1-2% increase, while our costs go up significantly more than that. We can’t retain good employees without increasing their salaries, our health insurance rates rise each and every year, sometimes as high as 15% percent over the year before. Our Board of Directors is working hard to create a fundraising plan to address this issue going forward, as the gap will only grow wider.


So we ask for your heartfelt consideration in supporting our 100 Day year end campaign. What is accomplished here at St. Monica’s is life changing and often lifesaving. Your support of treatment for women and families goes well beyond basic social issues, it gets at the core of many complex issues including homelessness, hunger, domestic violence, child abuse and behavioral health. Women who are well, who become healthy & strong, who can be good parents, can work and rent or become homeowners. They contribute to our communities. For many of the women who come through our doors, in addition to the treatment services they need, they find hope at St. Monica’s. Your support assures that hope is still within reach


Thanks for your generous support –


Mary Barry-Magsamen
Executive Director
St. Monica’s Behavioral Health Services for Women


You can write a check to:

“Saint Monica’s”
120 Wedgewood Drive
Lincoln, NE 68516

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A Note from Scott Gunn, Executive Director of Forward Movement

Dear friends in Christ,

I write this on Election Day, not knowing yet what the results will be. As you receive this, we know who will be the next President of the United States. We know by now many of the people who will serve in Congress. Local races have been decided, and important issues have been decided in ballot initiatives.

Trinity Cathedral, Omaha (Photo by Dean Loya)

Trinity Cathedral, Omaha (Photo by Dean Loya)

No one needs a news anchor to predict something else. However our presidential campaign has turned out, we know that the United States is deeply divided. During the campaign–and before, to be sure–we have seen increased division along lines of race, economic class, political preference, sexual orientation and identity, religion, and more. That won’t change with the results of this election. In some ways, this election, like all others, is an opportunity to start a new chapter. This is true today perhaps more than any other day in recent memory.

What can we do? It’s an easy question to ask, a difficult one to answer, and a really hard one to live out. We Christians can pray. We can pray for reconciliation, for our enemies, for those who wish us harm, for those we fear, and for all those working for reconciliation. We can form relationships across obvious lines of division. We can make sure our churches are places where the whole community, not just some of the community, is welcome and involved. We can practice empathy by putting ourselves in the shoes of those with whom we disagree and trying to imagine what might bring about a common vision. We can work for justice and peace for all people, even when it is difficult or dangerous for us to do so. We can, above all else, give thanks for the God who raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and whose love is stronger than any division on earth, stronger even than death itself.

Thanks be to God it is nearly Advent. We have a whole season ahead of us, a time to devote ourselves to preparing our hearts and our lives to receive the gift of Jesus Christ. We have a whole season to remember the promise of God’s kingdom of justice and righteousness. We have a whole reason to seek mercy and truth.

It’s time for us to stop decrying our division and to start doing something about it. That will take a different form for each person and each community. What will you do? What do you hope others will do? For now, let us pray.


O God, give me strength to live another day; let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties; let me not lose faith in other people; keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery, or meanness; preserve me from minding little stings or giving them; help me to keep my heart clean, and to live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity; open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things; grant me this day some new vision of thy truth; inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness; and make me the cup of strength to suffering souls; in the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn
Forward Movement Executive Director



[Editor’s note:  Forward Movement, a ministry of the Episcopal Church, grew out of the determination of the General Convention in 1934 to counter a period of anxiety, distrust, and decline in the Episcopal Church with a “forward movement” charged to “reinvigorate the life of the church and to rehabilitate its general, diocesan, and parochial work.” It is best known for the popular daily devotional Forward Day by Day, which provides daily meditations based on scripture readings appointed by the lectionary and Daily Office. Forward Day by Day is published in English, Spanish, large print, audio cassette, and Braille editions, and the daily meditation is available online. Since 1935, Forward Movement has produced pamphlets, booklets, and books on such topics as prayer, liturgy, pastoral concerns, evangelism, stewardship, church history, and introductions to Anglicanism and the Episcopal Church.

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St. Matthew’s, Lincoln Provides Community, Learning, Love, for Yazidis

Dance class at St. Matthew's (Photo from Lincoln Journal Star)

Dance class at St. Matthew’s (Photo from Lincoln Journal Star)

“…The unofficial Yazidi headquarters in Lincoln — St. Matthew’s — has been happy to oblige the blossoming community in Lincoln, which Khalaf estimated at nearly 1,300 people.

Associate Pastor Steve Lahey said the church recognized an opportunity to fulfill its mission of helping those in need by lending time and talent after nearly a century of keeping to itself.

“What’s the purpose of having a church with gifts if you don’t share them?” he asked.

Lahey said the church is open to the Yazidis to use as they will, including everything from the education and dance classes to worship if they so choose…”

Click here to read the full story at the Lincoln Journal Star website.

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Recovery Eucharist – Holy Apostle’s, Mitchell

October 16, 2016, Pastor Sheryl Kester-Beyer officiated 12-Step Recovery Eucharist at Holy Apostles in Mitchell. Rae N. was invited to give her testimony of her of her addiction, intervention and how God played a role in her life. She shared a prayer with the congregation that made an impact on her life and recovery:

Pastor Sheryl Kester-Beyer and Ray N.

Pastor Sheryl Kester-Beyer and Ray N.

A Beautiful Prayer

I asked God to take away my habit.
God said “no”.
It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.
God said “no”.
His Spirit is whole, his body is only temporary.

I asked God to grant me patience.
God said “no”.
Patience is a by-product of tribulations; it isn’t granted it is learned.

I asked God to give me happiness.
God said “no”.
I give you blessings; happiness is up to you.

I asked God to spare me pain.
God said “no”.
Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow.
God said “no”.
You must grow on your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.

I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life.
God said “no”.
I will give you life so that you may enjoy all things.

I asked God to help me love others, as much as he loves me.
God said “Ahhh”, finally you have the idea!

She shared she did not know the author. After she read her prayer and completed her testimony, Pastor Sheryl completed with her Homily. The parish was very warm and welcoming to Rae at coffee hour. Pastor Sheryl purchased and provided Biblical Helps for the Twelve Steps to the congregation.

For more information on the Episcopal Recovery Ministries go to the national website: or contact Nancy Brown or Sandra Raney with the Diocese Recovery Ministries. Please consider holding your own Recovery Eucharist within your own parish and invite a person within the recovery community to share their story.

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UTO Update – Tiny Houses on Standing Rock

Greetings from Sandra Squires, President, United Thank Offering Board

Tiny Houses on their way

Tiny Houses on their way

Shortly before Annual Council in Lincoln, I met with the United Thank Offering Board in Bismarck, North Dakota.  We chose that meeting site a year ago because we had funded a UTO project on the Standing Rock Reservation to build tiny houses for young men  living on the reservation who are going to school or working.

With UTO funds they have been able to build 4 tiny houses of about 350 square feet each complete with plumbing, a sleeping area, 3 with a loft, and a living room area.  These houses are mounted on a trailer, you can see that in the photographs, and then will be moved to a site to connect to electricity, water, and a septic tank.  They will then be stabilized with cement blocks and poles imbedded at each corner.

Each tiny house will accommodate one person.  Applicants have to either be full time students, full time employed or a combination.  They are eligible to live in the houses for up to 5 years as long as they maintain their eligibility.

Inside St. James' Church

Inside St. James’ Church

The Tiny Houses, which are being built for about $10,000 each, are housed next to St. James Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball.  This church was burned down by an arsonist several years ago and was rebuilt with a UTO grant in 2012.   We met inside the church for some teaching on tribal history and about the protests, they call themselves “protectors,” regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline which is being built near the water supply for the reservation and on sacred burial sites.

Fr. John Floberg, who has served on the reservations of North Dakota for 25 years, was our guide throughout our visit. Coming on to the reservation and returning to Bismarck, we passed through a military check-point to get onto the reservation.  There is one huge encampment with tents and tipis and a couple of smaller camps.  We visited the larger camp, Oceti Sakowin Camp, the same site where Presiding Bishop Michael Curry gave his talk about the similarity of this protest to the protests in Selma, Alabama, calling Standing Rock the new Selma. That video of Bishop Curry speaking at the protest site is here:

In addition, there is a photographic essay of Bishop Curry at the protest sites here:

Episcopal Flag at Protectors' Camp Site

Episcopal Flag at Protectors’ Camp Site

This journey as President of the United Thank Offering Board gives me a view on the great work of the Episcopal Church, in what Bishop Curry calls the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement.

Thank you for your contributions to United Thank Offering, and continue to give generously so we can continue the work you see in these photos.


– Sandra Squires, President, UTO Board

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Monk in Residence: Brother James Dowd, OHC, Joins DioNEB Team

Br. James Dowd

Br. James Dowd

Brother James Dowd of the Order of the Holy Cross is joining the Diocesan staff for a two-year position as “Monk in Residence.” Brother James’s ministry will focus on enriching our prayer and spiritual life, and discovering and building better ways to befriend the poor in our communities. From his base at Trinity Cathedral, Brother James will additionally assist in coordinating the cathedral’s daily prayer life, and serve as Chaplain to the Downtown Episcopal Outreach community. Brother James will preach regularly at Trinity Cathedral and will be available as a guest preacher to the larger diocese.

“I am very pleased to welcome Brother James to our diocese, and I am so grateful to our Bishop Clarkson Foundation and to our Cathedral Chapter for their willingness to finance his ministry among us for the next two years,” said Bishop Barker, “Brother James is incredibly excited to join the staff of the Diocese of Nebraska where he hopes to bring monastic spirituality into the world and to share what he has learned in his monastic life with the people and clergy of the diocese, as we in turn teach him what we have learned of the spiritual life in our parishes and beyond.”

Prior to entering the monastery, Br. James lived in New York City (where he is from originally) and where he worked as a director of more than 100 theater productions and numerous live events for television for more than twenty years. He will begin his Nebraska ministry on September 1, 2016.

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