Proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ


Bishop’s Cross Presentation: The Very Reverend Catherine Scott

(The following is Rev. Mavis Hall’s presentation of the Bishop’s Cross at Annual Council to The Very Reverend Catherine Scott.)


The Very Rev. Catherine Scott, 2018 Clergy Bishop’s Cross Recipient

I have the privilege of introducing this year’s clergy Bishop’s Cross award recipient.  This person is someone I have looked up to as a mentor and friend for many years.  Someone who helped me navigate the ups and downs of the ordination process, offering me invaluable encouragement and advice, born from personal experience.

Quiet and unassuming, with a sly wit, this person has been a valuable asset to the Diocese of Nebraska for over 20 years. Arriving here in 1995, this person first served at St. Matthew’s Church in Lincoln, and then moved on to serve as the Rector of St. Luke’s in Plattsmouth and as the Ministry Development Coordinator for the Diocese, working tirelessly to provide congregations across the Diocese with the tools and opportunities to seek new ways of expanding their ministries.

This person then went on to serve the Church of the Holy Trinity in Lincoln and finally as the first female Dean of the Pro-Cathedral in Hastings.

Over the years she has served as a ground-breaking role model for all clergy, following her heart into ministry at a time when women were just beginning to be ordained and faithfully following Christ’s call throughout her career. And by doing so she touched innumerable lives over the years.

Most importantly, she has been a loving partner to her husband Bob, a supportive mother to her children, Nick, Christy, and Tom, and a doting grandmother.

I am pleased to present this year’s clergy Bishop’s Cross Award recipient, The Very Reverend Catherine Scott.


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Bishop’s Cross Presentation: Sandra Squires

(The following is Fr. Benedict Varnam’s presentation of the Bishop’s Cross at Annual Council to Sandra Squires.)


Good afternoon:


Sandra Squires, 2017 Bishop’s Cross Lay Recipient

Right Reverend Sir; members of the Annual Council; friends and family and visitors;
One of the greatest privileges that clergy experience is to have a set of tiny windows into lives that are so richly lived by the people in the communities we serve.

I am very happy to assist Bishop Barker in presenting here someone living that kind of rich life, who has truly taken up the commitments of our baptismal promises, especially the great love of neighbor that we commit to in our vows, to seek and serve Christ in all persons and to respect the dignity of every human being.

When Bishop Barker invited me to assist him in presenting this year’s recipient, he not only reminded me urgently of the secrecy of the award – and the great tradition of building only slowly to the revelation of who will receive it this year – but he also wrote about this year’s recipient in particular, that this person

“is and has been an extraordinarily faithful servant of Jesus and the Episcopal Church in innumerable capacities and over many, many years.”

But let’s try to enumerate the innumerable, just a bit.
Let me begin by saying this recipient is a faithful member of our congregation at St Augustine’s.

  • This is someone whose life of prayer and presence at worship are visible and steady.
  • This is someone who clearly cares about the people in our church family, and listens well over the conversations at coffee hour or after an event.
  • This is someone who is faithful in encouraging others, in celebrating the joyous, in comforting the hurting, and in serving as a champion for those facing real challenge.
  • This is someone who always notices the visitor or stranger in our church, and makes time to say hello and learn more about them.

This person sees the needs in our community, often bringing to my attention someone who is quietly struggling and might need a visit. And I have also seen the impact of our recipient’s own work offering comfort and support to members of our church and members of our diocese. This is faithful companionship in the holiest tradition of Christian community: to walk with others through the hardest parts of their journeys.

I have also rarely seen someone this dedicated to personal growth and study. Although possessing several degrees in a rich field of study, this person continues to read, to attend adult formation studies, and to reflect with me and others on the texts from Sunday, the content of sermons, and books, DVD lessons, and other work.

Our recipient also understands that there is a natural political life to any group of organized people, but who has been able to look at that political life within the church, and see in it not a place for gossip, not a possibility for self-promotion, but rather the opportunity for us to do more together, as Christ’s Body the Church, than we could accomplish as individual persons or individual parishes.

That has been true in our parish; that has been true in our diocese; that has been true in a professional career; and that has been true in work done with national groups.

Let me speak about our recipient’s professional career, spent in a field that was dedicated to others. This work celebrated diversity, and also engaged it honestly, asking hard questions about who was not part of the conversation and why. This work sought to help those who held power and authority understand the realities of those who did not.

The field of study was education, and our recipient holds a Doctorate in it, with special attention to older youth and adults with disabilities.

Throughout a career in education, this work also included teaching on special education administration, women’s studies, Native American studies, and human relations.

It is to her credit that she did not remain satisfied merely with teaching others on these topics, but also spent time challenging the enrollment structure at her own university, calling into question how they might ensure that opportunities to take up teaching as a career were presented in a way that promoted a diverse student body to be trained as the future leaders of higher education.

Suffice to say that her professional work was done with a set of commitments that we honor within the church: that Christ’s Body has many members, all of whom need one another.

But if you need further clues, let me tell you where you might have glimpsed her tireless, effective work closer at hand:

  • Our recipient has steadily been a member of this Annual Council, offering her voice to the conversations we have here.
  • Our recipient is an avowed member of the Daughters of the King, and regularly works with others throughout the Greater Omaha area.
  • Our recipient has served in the Women’s Ministries of the Episcopal Church, including recently as a president for ECW of Province VI, and as a member of the Episcopal Church’s delegation this year to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
  • And our recipient has faithfully served on the board of the United Thank Offering, currently as its president, in which role she not only convenes international conversations covering everything from creating a culture of gratitude to assigning particular grants, but also spent her time this week gathering table stands from St Augustine’s to borrow for this Council, so the resources of UTO wouldn’t have to be spent buying them up.

Our recipient is Sandra Squires, who fills her free time with gathering others into community and fellowship.

Our recipient is Sandra Squires, who made the work of her career the needs of those our world would rather not slow down long enough to consider.

Our recipient is Sandra Squires, who has given her time, talent, and being to a generation of young people who have grown up in this diocese.

Our recipient is Sandra Squires, who has over and over again taken up the responsibility of positions in our diocese, province, and national church in order to move us closer to God’s coming Kingdom.

And our recipient is Sandra Squires, who told me mere days ago that she knew long ago that she could do more ministry as a layperson than if she had become a member of the clergy.

She loves God; she loves neighbors:

Friends, please join me in honoring the ministries of Sandra Squires, well-deserving of this year’s Bishop’s Cross.


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Nebraska Hymn Poet Rae E. Whitney Awarded the Bishop’s Cross at Annual Council

Rae E. Whitney (via Skype) receives the Bishop's Cross Award

Rae E. Whitney (via Skype) receives the Bishop’s Cross Award

Nebraska hymn poet Rae E. Whitney was awarded the Bishop’s Cross at Annual Council in Lincoln last week. Marty Wheeler Burnett, Canon Precentor, addressed the convention regarding Whitney’s accomplishments, which include over 500 published hymns. Here is Canon Burnett’s address:


A Nebraska Love Story

It was a starry night in Rome, that summer of 1960, illuminated by a full moon and fireflies weaving a sparkling array.

A couple – strangers – whose eyes first met on the tour bus, climb to the rooftop terrace and embrace in a passionate kiss. The young English woman looks into the eyes of the older man – an Episcopal priest –  and says:

“What’s your name? I can’t call you ‘Father’ anymore.”

Next stop – beautiful Assisi, the home of St. Francis. The Episcopal priest proposes to the young English woman.

By the time the tour of Italy concludes, the two are officially engaged. The Episcopal priest invites his fiancée to travel home to meet his mother and visit his parish in……Nebraska.

NEBRASKA? “I had never heard of Nebraska,” she said, “and I had never considered visiting the United States.”

But, she came. They traveled by boat to Montreal, by train to Albany, then Chicago, then Omaha, where they visited Bishop Brinker. By night, the train crossed the Nebraska prairie, arriving the next day in Scottsbluff.

Father Clyde Whitney introduced his bride-to-be to the parish. Their reaction? Surprise! Father Whitney was a 58-year-old bachelor. The congregation warmly welcomed the young woman, a teacher and ecumenical worker.

She returned to her teaching position in England that fall. Clyde left Scottsbluff on Christmas Day, carrying a loaf of communion bread baked for his wedding from wheat grown on his family’s farm. He traveled four days to reach England and married his beloved Rae on New Year’s Eve, 1960.

Rae E. Whitney, who was 33 at the time, moved to Scottsbluff and assisted her new husband in his ministry at St. Andrew’s (now St. Francis). She was Director of the Sunday School, which at that time included 80-100 children. During their years in Scottsbluff, the couple initiated the local observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. During the mid-1960s, they worked to establish the Transfiguration Retreat and Conference Center at Bayard, Nebraska.

After Clyde’s retirement, the couple served a congregation in Guatemala for a year, then returned to the United States, where Clyde worked as an interim priest at several parishes in Nebraska and Wyoming. Rae assisted him as a licensed lay reader and chalice bearer – uncommon roles for women at that time. She was also active in women’s ministries, serving as diocesan ECW president and for two terms on the national ECW Triennial Committee.

The couple shared a love of music and hymns. Prior to becoming a priest, Clyde had worked professionally as a jazz musician. He assisted the Reverend Canon C. Winfred Douglas, the editor of The Hymnal 1940 and leader of the Evergreen Church Music Conferences in Colorado. Through this association, Rae met many of the Episcopal Church’s leaders in the fields of liturgy and church music.

Rae and Clyde traveled to the Holy Land in 1964, an experience that inspired Rae to write several hymns. Her writing continued in the 1970s, encouraged by Clyde and her friends here in Nebraska. Her first collection of hymns was self-published in 1978. Since then, Rae E. Whitney has written over 500 hymns and published 4 major hymn collections. Her work appears in hymnals of many Christian denominations, both here in the United States and around the world, including our own Hymnal 1982.

Through her hymns, we learn about this remarkable woman: her care for God’s creation; her commitment to social justice; her scholarly depth; her lifelong interests in church history and ecumenism; her celebration of women’s ministries.  Her texts are grounded in the life of the Christian community.  Often starting with a familiar Biblical image, her hymns relate the gospel to the present age and invite singers to join in the ongoing faith story.

During her lifetime, Rae Whitney has witnessed remarkable changes in society and in the Episcopal Church. Her writing continues to evolve and is shaped by her experiences, her Christian faith, her voracious reading, and a deep need to write. Her topics span the breadth of Christian life and experience. She has frequently chosen to write about women:  women of the Bible, women saints, and feminine images of God. Whitney’s groundbreaking texts on these subjects have illuminated topics previously ignored by hymn writers. Her hymns have been set to music by the leading church music composers of our time, and she continues to receive commissions and write new hymns.

Rae Whitney’s archive will be housed at the library of The University of the South (Sewanee), where her collection of books and writings can be used in research by hymnologists, liturgical scholars, and poets around the world.

Many Nebraskans know Rae Whitney through her local ministries as a Bible study leader, lector, Eucharistic minister, and scholarship donor, as well as her work in service organizations. What many of you may not realize is that, through her hymns, Rae has quite possibly touched the lives of more people worldwide than any other Nebraska Episcopalian.

Recognized as one of the most significant hymn poets of our time, her words will continue to shape generations of Christians. And it all started with a love story – a Nebraska love story.



– Marty Wheeler Burnett, D.Min., Canon Precentor, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral

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Two Women’s Ministries Scholarship Winners Announced

DioNEB Women’s Ministries is happy to announce the annual scholarship winners, Angela Byrne and Reiley Jo Hillman.

All women are part of Episcopal Church Women and Women’s Ministries.  The board created a scholarship to acknowledge young women who have been active in church and  to encourage them as they further their education. A quilt was raffled to create the scholarship fund.


Angela Byrne

Angela Byrne

Doane University freshman Angela Byrne received a Women’s Ministries Scholarship this fall. Pictured with Angela are Christine Grosh, Women’s Ministries Convener (left) and Beth Agar , Province VI Representative, National Episcopal Church Women(right). Angela is majoring in Elementary Education and playing soccer at Doane. Among her high school activities: Key Club, Future Business Leaders of America, German Club, basketball, and soccer. Her church participation includes mission trips to Rosebud Reservation and the Dominican Republic, serving as acolyte at Church of the Holy Spirit, Bellevue, her home parish. Angela attended Journey to Adulthood, Sunday school and she has helped with many church activities there.

Reiley Jo Hillman

Reiley Jo Hillman

University of Nebraska at Kearney Freshman, Reiley Jo Hillman received a Women’s Ministries Scholarship. Reiley is majoring in Computer Science with the goal of becoming a software systems developer. In her application, Reiley outlined leadership roles in high school and at St. Stephen’s, Grand Island, her home  parish.  She was  in  show  choir,  concert and marching band, playing the flute, baritone, and violin. She also participated in One Act; her group won competitions at district and conference levels. Her church activities include singing in the choir, serving as acolyte, thurifer and subdeacon. Reiley also served as Youth Rector at NOVO which is a 3-day retreat for youth from all over the diocese.

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48th Triennial Meeting of the Episcopal Church Women

Nebraska Members of National Board: Rev. Pat Sheldon, Province 6 Representative; Patricia Wellnitz, Secretary; and Sandra Squires, UTO Board President.

Nebraska Members of National Board: Rev. Pat Sheldon, Province 6 Representative; Patricia Wellnitz, Secretary; and Sandra Squires, UTO Board President.

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.

Patricia Wellnitz

Patricia Wellnitz

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

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Salute to Stephen Kay, Church of Our Savior

Steve Kay, Church Historian at COS, and Father Jeffrey Nelson

Steve Kay, Church Historian at COS, and Father Jeffrey Nelson

Salute to Stephen Kay, whose work at Church of Our Savior in North Platte has become a soon-to-be published book.

Here is an excerpt from a story in the North Platte Telegraph:

“It contains early history and noteworthy events from 1967 to the present,” Kay said.

His investigation revealed a number of things, including connections between the church and several notable individuals, such as former Nebraska Gov. Keith Neville, who was born in the church’s first rectory in 1884, and Johnny Carson, who married his first wife, Jody Wolcott, there in 1949.
He discovered the stories behind some church artifacts, as well. He located an invoice from Meneely Bell Company for a church bell that was purchased in March 1885 and first put into use in 1886. It currently hangs in the top of the bell tower.
Kay also learned that the alter reredos in St. George’s chapel was made from two saloon bars, one of which was frequented by William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody.

Click here for the full North Platte Telegraph article.


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Meet New Diocesan Administrator Lindsey Rowe

Lindsey Rowe

Lindsey Rowe


Lindsey and James Rowe, with Miles and Lydia.

TNE welcomes Lindsey Rowe, the new Diocesan Administrator to the diocesan office! Here are some details she wanted to share with us all:

I have been married for almost 12 years to my husband James, we got married in Trinity Cathedral. We have two kids, Miles who is 5 and Lydia who is 3 months old. And two Boston Terriers, Ace and Frazier. We live in Northwest Omaha.

I am a lifelong Episcopalian, I grew up going to St. Luke’s in Plattsmouth, and I still go there, my mom is Mother Mavis Hall. I was baptized and confirmed at St. Luke’s, and both of my children have been baptized there. My dad was in the Air Force, so we did move around, and we would find an Episcopal church to attend, but we always called Plattsmouth home.

I participated in many of the youth events in the 90’s. I was a camper at Camp Comeca, and a counselor in college. I attended the Fall Rally’s at the House of Transfiguration, and made Happening # 17, and was the Co-rector of Happening # 19.

In my free time, I like to cook, I love to go out to eat at restaurants (I love food), go to concerts and musicals, and practice Yoga. Our family spends most of our weekends in the summer up in Fremont on the Platte River. James’ family has a cabin on the Platte and we have Air Boats, so we spend most of our time out on a sand bar relaxing in the water.

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Trinity Cathedral’s Historical Society Honors David Walvoord

david walvoord

David Walvoord

The Trinity Cathedral Historical Society surprised member David Walvoord with a luncheon on January 31 to thank David for his leadership in redesigning Trinity’s museum rooms He also designed the Bishop Barker Family exhibit, “Seven Generations of Barkers” for the Annual Council in October and created the beautiful nativity scene for the Historical Society’s “Christmas Open House” in December.

Members thanked David for his many faithful years of lending his artistic talents and craftsmanship to far-ranging projects at Trinity.







david walvoord celebration

Historical Society members L to R Karen Burkley, Nancy Davis, Dean Craig Loya, Mary Loring, Tommy Thompson, Merrilee Miller, Beverly Otis, Gloria Dunbar, David Walvoord, Sheryl McBean, Judy Metz. (photos by Judy Metz)


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Michael Duffy (Trinity Cathedral) Accepted into The Seven

Michael Duffy (on the left) at his reception into the Episcopal Church

Michael Duffy (on the left) at his reception into the Episcopal Church

Michael Duffy, a member of Trinity Cathedral, has been accepted into The Seven, a church-wide program from the Association for Episcopal Deacons that gives young adults hands-on experience in diaconal ministry. The AED website explains that “participants serve where they live and engage in work and reflection that connects head, hands and heart to gain a deeper understanding of the concerns of the world. Online forums and other interactive communication tools will connect participants and their deacon mentors for group learning and conversation.” The program begins this month and ends in June.

Michael is the leader for Downtown Episcopal Outreach (DEO), and his work with DEO will dovetail with his work as one of The Seven. He will have support from Dean Craig Loya as Trinity Cathedral is his sponsoring institution, and Archdeacon Betsy Bennett will serve as his deacon mentor.

Please keep Michael in your prayers as he serves, learns, and discerns as one of The Seven.

You can find more information about The Seven here

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Salute! Craig Loya, new Dean at Trinity Cathedral

Craig Loya

The Very Rev. Craig Loya



Salute! to The Very Rev. Craig Loya, new Dean at Trinity Cathedral. We welcome Craig, Melissa and their daughter Mari back to their native Nebraska from Kansas, where Dean Loya had been canon to the ordinary since 2009. Dean Loya also serves as co-chair of the national church’s Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church.

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