Outreach and Mission
I am dismayed by the fear expressed by Americans towards people of foreign nations over the past few weeks. I am reminded of some basic lessons of our shared Nebraska history.
On December 7, 1941, Imperial Japan attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor. In the immediate wake of this declaration of war, the FBI arrested some 1,200 leaders in America’s Japanese communities, most of whom were suspected but never charged as spies and were eventually detained in internment camps.
Among those community leaders was the Rev. Hiram Hisanori Kano, Episcopal priest of St. Mary’s Church in Mitchell and St. George’s Church in North Platte. Father Kano, who had immigrated to the United States from Japan in 1916, was imprisoned because he was identified as a leader in the community of first-generation Japanese immigrants who worked on the railroads and farms of western Nebraska.
While interned, Father Kano continued to serve as a priest, educator and pastor, conducting worship services, organizing classes and workshops, and trying to spread hope among the incarcerated. According to his son Cyrus, Father Kano asked himself, “God put me here, what does He want me to do?”
In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, we again find ourselves afraid, suspecting that Muslim refugees, and indeed anyone who adheres to the Islamic faith, may harbor the intent to harm us and the nation we love.
In that fear, we find ourselves publicly discussing the possibility of depriving Muslim-Americans of their rights as U.S. citizens, and turning our backs on immigrants, including those who had the courage to flee their homes rather than submit to living or dying under terrorist regimes. Some, including a number of politicians, are calling for a virtual end to all immigration, and are considering the prospect of leaving every refugee out in the cold as a viable option.
I am reminded of the lesson taught by the life of Father Kano and wonder how we might best answer the question he asked himself so long ago: “What does He want me to do?”
For a follower of Jesus the answer to that question is clear. We are called to show compassion to “the least,” including prisoners and refugees.
We are called to respect the dignity of every human being — for surely every human being is created in the image of God. We are called to love our enemies, including certainly both those we rationally and irrationally fear, remembering that God is love, and that “there is no fear in love” (1 John 4:18).
Our fears that this nation might face attacks like those in Paris are not unjustified. But in the face of such concern, we hear a single message repeated over and over again. “Do not be afraid,” the angel said to the startled virgin. “Do not be afraid,” the Lord said to the vexed refugee who still awaited the promised child. “Do not be afraid,” the prophet said to a people scattered in exile. “Do not be afraid,” the liberator said to the nation when their captor’s army approached. “Do not be afraid,” God’s messenger said to the terrified shepherds (Luke 1:30, Genesis 15:1, Isaiah 41:10, Exodus 14:13, Luke 2:10).
Christ’s message of hope and courage is the same to humankind in every age. If we do not surrender to our fears, we can find ways to love our neighbors as ourselves, whether those neighbors are in the house next door, the next town over or half a world away.
Our borders must remain open. Our nation must continue to welcome new citizens from all nations and all religious traditions. Remember Father Kano. Choose love … and be not afraid.
+ Bishop Barker
Bishop Barker’s commentary also appeared in the Omaha World Herald on December 9th, 2015, at this link.
On Sunday, December 13, the Trinity Cathedral Choir and Handbell Ensemble will present an Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols at 4:00 p.m. at St. James Episcopal Church, 301 E. 5th Street, Fremont, Nebraska. The traditional Anglican service of readings and music is designed to prepare us for the coming of Christ at Christmas.
Each December, cathedral musicians travel to a parish in the Diocese of Nebraska to share the gift of music. Those “road trips” have included visits to these parishes:
2007 – St. Martin’s, Omaha
2008 – St. Mary’s, Nebraska City
2009 – St. James, Fremont
2010 – St. Andrew’s, Seward
2011 – St. Martin’s, Omaha
2012 – St. Augustine’s, Elkhorn
2013 – St. Mary’s, Blair
2014 – Trinity, Norfolk
This year’s festival is one of a series of events celebrating the new Allen organ at St. James Church. An extended prelude will showcase the sounds of the instrument with music by composers ranging from Johann Sebastian Bach to contemporary Nebraska composer and organist, Michael McCabe.
Twenty-four cathedral musicians, as well as several spouses, friends, and clergy, will travel to Fremont for lunch and a rehearsal, followed by the choral service. The annual trip provides an enjoyable opportunity for fellowship in the midst of the busy December choir schedule. We are blessed with magnificent musical resources at Trinity Cathedral, and we rejoice in opportunities to share those gifts with our friends and neighbors throughout the diocese.
All are welcome to attend. A reception will follow the liturgy. A freewill offering with be received benefitting Jefferson House, a local youth shelter, and Downtown Episcopal Outreach (DEO).
God willing, next year will mark our tenth annual Lessons and Carols on the Road. Where will we go? An epic Nebraska road trip may be in the works to celebrate!
Marty Wheeler Burnett, D.Min.
Canon Precentor, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
Advent Challenge: Journey from Gratitude to Hope
Advent is a time of waiting and watching. We pray and sing, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” reliving the beginning of our sacred story, entering into that liminal and holy space of hope. Each year, we are secure in our knowledge of the story’s resolution. The Christ child will be born. God will come among us. Mary and Joseph will flee with the infant Jesus as refugees, escaping the murderous King Herod, fleeing to Egypt in a reversal of the Exodus. The child who would become the Savior of the world will begin his life as a refugee.
This Advent season, our world faces the largest refugee crisis ever known – 60 million displaced, nearly 20 million of whom are refugees, half of whom are children. Four million Syrian refugees have fled civil war and terrorism in their country, and the number continues to grow. Here in the United States, refugees, especially Syrian refugees, have received increasing attention in the media. Programs funding refugees are in jeopardy of being cut or severely limited, which would result in this most vulnerable population of new Americans having limited access to food, housing, health care and the other basic needs they need to get on their feet during their first few months in the United States.
In response, the United Thank Offering board is challenging Episcopalians to take part in an important part of refugee welcome in the United States through its 2015 Ingathering Challenge, which will support Episcopal Migration Ministries, the refugee resettlement service of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. Deemed the 2015 Advent Challenge: Journey from Gratitude to Hope, United Thank Offering will match the first $30,000 given by December 31, 2015 that is marked “EMM-UTO.” The challenge will continue throughout December 2015.
Known worldwide as UTO, the United Thank Offering grants are awarded for projects that address human needs and help alleviate poverty, both domestically and internationally in The Episcopal Church.
The Rev. Heather Melton, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s Missioner for United Thank Offering, noted, “Episcopalians are encouraged to begin using their United Thank Offering Blue Box as an expression of gratitude this Thanksgiving and to continue the journey with United Thank Offering and Episcopal Migration Ministries through Advent toward the hope Episcopalians embrace through the birth of the Christ child.”
Checks or online donations should have UTO-EMM in the memo line/comments section.
Donations are also accepted online at https://episcopalchurch.thankyou4caring.org/ just select UTO from the drop down menu and then put EMM in the comments.
Submit checks to:
United Thank Offering
DFMS – Protestant Episcopal Church
P.O. Box 958983
St. Louis, MO 63195-8983
Check notation: UTO-EMM
United Thank Offering
The Episcopal Church
815 Second Avenue
New York City, New York 10017
Check notation: UTO-EMM
You can download bulletin inserts here as PDFs:
(This article is reprinted from the Episcopal Digital Network)
Two of our four outstanding All Call Omaha Kiva loans are now 90% paid back, and the two others are 50% paid back–so, we have several hundred dollars in our Kiva fund we need to reloan! Come to Trinity Cathedral to help the Friends of Tamar at their Suitcase Packing Party from 10:00 am-12:00 pm, Saturday, November 7, and as you do, you can find out more about Kiva, join our team of lenders, and help select our next loan recipients.
This is Latiffany, from New York, our most recent All Call Omaha loan recipient. For many years, Latiffany (who lives in New York) was acutely aware of the shortage of affordable and stylish clothing for plus-sized women. Starting in 2012, she decided to address the need by starting an online site that sold fashionable clothing at economical prices. Since the launch of her online site, Latiffany has successfully organized the Ms. Kurvie NY Pageant and has seen an increase in customers. With this loan, Latiffany was able to purchase more merchandise and supplies for her store. In the future, she hopes to open additional stores and find new ways to work as an advocate for female empowerment. Latiffany is now almost 50% repaid on her loan!
Here is the status of the other All Call Omaha Kiva loans:
Monday – Kimball 5:30 Holy Eucharist
Tuesday – Harrisburg 6:30 Holy Eucharist
Wednesday – Alliance 7 p.m. It will include confirmation and receiving new members
Thursday – Hyannis 5:30 p.m. Holy Eucharist
Friday – Rushville 5:30 p.m., Pot Luck at Holly, followed by informal discussion and Eucharist
Saturday – Gordon 9:30 to about 11:30 Western Deanery meeting. Coffee & snacks available as people arrive. Program will be Q & A to Diocesan Staff.
Noon to 5:00 Attend Willow Tree Festival (optional). There will be many food vendors. The festival has ongoing entertainment at three different stages and numerous craft booths.
5:30 p.m. Eucharist at St. Mark’s
Sunday – Scottsbluff 8:00AM & 10:00AM Holy Eucharist
Join our team as we travel to Hato Mayer in the Dominican Republic to work on renovating a local house owned by the church (see pictures below). No construction skills are necessary, just a willingness to work. Stay in the comforts of a new hotel (picture on bottom right). Enjoy the beauty of this tropical country and work with local parishioners.
Click here for a three-page PDF with more details and registration information.
The Mission Trip sign-up deadline is August 1, 2015.
Dates: September 21 – 28, 2015
Cost: $1600 (approximately) Flying out of Omaha
Contact Karen Watson at St. Elizabeth’s Church, Holdrege, for more information.
At the same time as General Convention, another group met in Salt Lake City to celebrate the 48th Triennial Meeting of the Episcopal Church Women. Nebraska was well represented at this meeting by Lynn Fitzgibbon and Sharon Bartlett of Chadron, the Rev. Christine Grosh from Crete, Patricia Welnitz from Rushville, the Rev. Pat Sheldon from Elkhorn, and Kathy Graham from Alliance. Also present was Sandra Squires from Elkhon who was the Province 6 UTO representative. There were several special moments.
One of the first moments was the announcements of the United Thank Offering Grants for 2015. One of the grants awarded was to the Friends of Tamar, a Ministry of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Omaha. This $33,300.00 grant will create a part-time staff position to coordinate present administration of a new initiative designed to challenge violence against women and to pursue peach and reconciliation.
Closely related to this moment was the United Thank Offering (UTO) Ingathering during the Sunday Eucharist. Over the recent 3 years (2012-2014) the Diocese of Nebraska contributed $18759.77. Every penny of this and the other Diocesan Ingatherings went out in grants over the 3 year period.
Another highlight was the recognition of the 2015 Distinguished Women of the Episcopal Church Women. This Triennial recognized Patricia Wellnitz from St. Mary’s Holly/Rushville as the Nebraska Distinguished Woman. Patricia was later elected as the Secretary of the National Board of Episcopal Church Women for the next 3 years.
The National Board of Episcopal Church Women for 2015-2018 will include 3 Nebraskan women: Patricia Wellnitz, Secretary; Rev. Pat Sheldon, Province 6 Representative, and Sandra Squires, UTO Board President.
We also attended the worship service for Fr. Hiram Hisanori Kano. Besides being special to the Diocese of Nebraska, the Women’s Ministry Board helped fund the publishing of his autobiography, Nikkei Farmer on the Nebraska Plains.
– Kathy Graham
On April 30, 2015, eight people left for Omaha. Seven of us from St. Matthew’s: Bill Cody, Linda Huckfeldt, Charles Plantz, John and Anne Adam, Todd and Cheryl Harris and Gina Briggs from the Alliance Berean Church. We took helping hands, willing hearts, donation checks and the items that had been collected for the Hope Totes, to the Open Door Mission and to Table Grace Café. The group stayed at All Saints Retreat House. What a blessing that was to us. A beautiful room with a fully equipped kitchen upstairs and downstairs there were bedrooms and bathrooms with showers to take care of our needs.
The Open Door Mission, the first place we worked, offers hope and help to homeless men, women and children. Hope that can break the cycle of homelessness and poverty. Our work there involved anything from making 1,320 sandwiches for their street mission to food prep for breakfast, lunch and dinner, bagging hundreds of cookies, chips, treats, to sorting clothing and handing out boxes of food in their Timberlake Outreach building (similar to our Mission Store but 4 times larger). We learned that the average age of the homeless is 9 years old! We learned of the counseling program that each person who enters the program is required to participate in along with the rules they agree to follow. Each person is assigned a caseworker. The program offers counseling and teaches money management, job skills and life skills as well as parenting for those with children.
The Table Grace Café is located in a tiny building in downtown Omaha and serves organic, gourmet pizzas, soups and salads made from scratch. They are one of fewer than 40 pay-what-you-can restaurants in the U.S. There are people from all walks of life that come together to enjoy good food. If you can’t pay with money, the owners ask for an hour of time. All are treated with dignity. Bill, Linda and Gina ground wheat berries for pizza flour, made homemade croutons and grated ginger and other things to season the food.
Each night after working and eating supper, we went back to the retreat center and talked about our day. Some of the things that were mentioned were the enormity of the Open Door facilities, the volume of people fed (500 each day – 3,500 a week), the tons of food donated, the never ending food prep, the amount of people who volunteer (40 + per day) and the cleanliness of everything with so many people coming and going. One of most touching things was the “overflow room” – a room with wall to wall blankets and sleeping bags. At the head of each “bed” was a tote with all the person’s belongings. There were about 100 sleeping on the floor, waiting for a space to be available to them in the program.
At Table Grace we were blessed to see their ministry at work. We saw people coming in and doing anything from sweeping the floor or painting murals, to playing the bongos or guitar and singing. They have regular days for Bible Study, days where they have ecumenical talks, they go out to families who need help and spread the Gospel wherever they go.
After talking about our day, we played a game called 5 Crowns. It’s a fun game and led to lots of laughter. Before retiring for the evening, we had a beautiful evening meditation that Charles put together for us from the New Zealand Prayer Book.
I could go on and on about what we saw and did but this gives you a brief overview. All of us felt it was a wonderful few days and everyone wants to go back. We feel we came home with much more than we left there.
Without the support of our congregations, we wouldn’t have been able to do what we did. With our fundraising, we were able to give each place a check for $1,000 and we took six large boxes of items for the Hope Totes to the Open Door Mission.
Deacon Cheryl Harris
Saturday, April 25, 10:00 am.
Church of the Holy Trinity
6001 A St. Lincoln, NE 68510 (402-488-7139)
Film producer John Maisch and co-star of the film, Frank LaMere, will be present to answer questions.
Sober Indian | Dangerous Indian is both a story of brave men and women on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation who have found empowerment through sobriety and those still struggling to overcome their alcohol addiction. Set in the weeks leading up to the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s historic vote to repeal its ban on alcohol on August 13, 2013, the documentary follows the journey of four alcoholics living on the streets of Whiteclay, Nebraska, less than 300 yards from their homes in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. A must-see film for anyone interested in stories about beating the odds in one of the poorest places in the country, Sober Indian | Dangerous Indian explores the harmful effects of alcohol abuse on tribal reservations including high rates of fetal alcohol syndrome, cirrhosis, teen suicide, and high-risk sexual behavior.
The mission of the Dean Fricke Memorial Episcopal Food Pantry is to serve others in the name of the Lord by providing food to families The Fricke Food Pantry is a unique organization that brings together Episcopalians from all over Omaha.
The pantry provides 100 bags of groceries per week for Youth Emergency Services (YES), an Omaha-based agency that serves homeless and at-risk youth in crisis, and we provides $1,200 per month to help stock the pantry at Project Hope, a Lutheran agency that provides food and clothing assistance to families in need. It also provides larger Parish Pantries with bags that hold enough food for an entire family, and traveler’s lunch sacks which are distributed by Holy Family Catholic Church at 17th and Izard.
Click here for the full Dean Fricke Memorial Episcopal Food Panty 2014 Report.