Out and About
Ed. note: The following letter is from Fr. Jeffrey Nelson, Rector of Church of Our Savior, North Platte. We wish both Fr. Jeffrey and the people of Our Savior Godspeed for this next step in their journeys, and our prayers lift them up in this time of transition.
It is with great joy that I announce that I have accepted a call to become Priest-in-Charge of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Denver, Colorado. I begin my duties there on January 23, 2019. St. Barnabas is a parish in transition. In my new work, I will walk with the people of the parish to help them discern God’s call to them in the next season of their life and help them live into that call faithfully and courageously. St. Barnabas Church is a good fit for me because it has a long history of advocacy on behalf of the poor, the marginalized, and the dispossessed in both church and society, long a passion of mine called out in prayer and spiritual direction to be exercised more fully and publicly in my ministry.
But there is sadness amid the joy of this new adventure. I leave people I have come to know, love, and respect deeply at Church of Our Savior in North Platte and St. Joseph’s Church in Mullen. Further, I have been privileged and blessed to serve with you as a priest in the Diocese of Nebraska for the past eight years, and I leave with many fond memories, good friends, a sense of accomplishment and work faithfully done, and gifts and blessings that will serve me well as I take up my new call in Denver. I am grateful for the spirit-filled leadership of Bishop Barker and his staff in their faithful leadership of the diocese, and to you, my brothers and sisters, for the gifts and faithfulness you bring each day to the people among whom you are called to serve. Thank you for your partnership in this ministry. May God bless you richly as you continue to serve the people of Nebraska.
Fr. Jeffrey Nelson+
Trinity Episcopal Cathedral presents its second annual Summer Sing! on Thursday, July 20 at 7:00 p.m. The public is invited to participate in an instant performance of Gloria, a sacred choral masterwork by an Italian Baroque composer, Antonio Vivaldi. The evening will include an energized one-hour rehearsal followed by a one-hour performance. Scores will be available on loan for the evening, or participants may bring their own copies. Admission is free.
Tom Trenney, nationally acclaimed conductor and organist from First-Plymouth Church, Lincoln, will lead the event. “Summer Sing is a popular annual event in Lincoln, and we are pleased to share it with the Omaha community again this year,” stated Marty Wheeler Burnett, Canon Precentor at Trinity Cathedral. “Many church, school, and community choirs are on vacation during the summer months, and this event provides a welcome opportunity to join others in singing some of the world’s greatest music.”
The event is designed as a community sing where all are welcome. Unlike many choirs, no auditions, extra rehearsals, or long-term commitments are required. Casual dress is encouraged. As Burnett suggests, “Music, hospitality, air conditioning, refreshments, and fun combine for perfect summer evening.”
Trinity Cathedral is located at 113 N 18th Street in downtown Omaha. Information is available at http://trinityepiscopal.org. The program is presented by Abendmusik in collaboration with Trinity Cathedral.
Prayer is one of the most important things a Christian can do. It must come from the heart, and doesn’t have to be something difficult or complicated. It can be done anywhere at any time. The Episcopal Church Women at St. Francis Church in Scottsbluff do all we can to make our church community one full of prayer.
Pati McLellan heads up a prayer chain of women and clergy who pray for anyone whose name is called in whether it’s an emergency or on our weekly prayer list. She includes suggested prayers in her emails to us. We are also kept updated on loved one’s progress, if it is available for sharing.
Our Courtesy Committee (responsibility changes monthly) sends Birthday, Anniversary, Sympathy, and Get Well cards to our older members and the children. Our clergy encourages all to come forward during services and have their special day remembered by the congregation and a sharing of blessings with praise and prayer.
We also have a Prayer Discipleship Group that has been meeting weekly for approximately three years led by Father Mark, as we study and use prayer in our lives. Our prayers don’t change God, as some people think, but praying changes us. When we spend time with God, he changes our hearts to be more like His. We no longer live a self-centered lifestyle, but one that is focused on others.
Upon the recommendation of Canon Liz Easton, and a representative of the Tamar Project in Omaha, we began a Ministry with the Doves Center here in the valley. With the leadership of Sue Selvey, we assemble bags of personal supplies and prayer letters of encouragement to women leaving abusive situations. Upon request from DOVES, we have expanded our ministry to cover the Doves Centers in Sidney and Chadron besides here in Scottsbluff County.
The picture here shows another small group of our ECW members who have recently completed 18 lap blankets (with a lot of prayers) for those in area nursing homes. Prayer is a powerful force in not only the lives we pray for, but also for those who pray.
St. Francis, Scottsbluff ECW
On June 3, at the Willa Cather Spring Conference in Red Cloud, a Eucharist was celebrated with Fr. Randy Goeke-Celebrant, Dr. Steve Shively-Lector and Chalice Bearer, Fr. Chuck Peek-Preacher, and Rev. Ruth Eller-Gospeller. This was the anniversary of Ruth’s ordination to the Diaconate. Her father was ordained a Priest in this Diocese nearly 60 years ago. The Eucharist was attended by 65 participants from the conference on the occasion of the dedication of the National Willa Cather Center. Cather was Confirmed by Bishop Beecher at Grace Church.
Former first lady Laura Bush came to Willa Cather’s hometown Saturday and officially opened a $7 million center meant to re-ignite fascination in the famed novelist and the tiny Nebraska town where she set her most famous books.
See this Omaha World-Herald story for details on the conference.
DioNEB welcomes Rev. Amanda Gott as the new Rector at St. Matthew’s, Lincoln. Here is a brief introduction from our newest priest:
I just moved to Lincoln from the New Haven, Connecticut area with my husband Steven, our eight-year-old daughter, three-year-old son, two cats, two guinea pigs and some fish. At this moment, our house in Lincoln is still filled with boxes, packing paper, and wads of packing tape. I was born and raised in Atlanta, where I graduated from a high school of performing arts. I majored in religion at Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY) where I focused primarily on the study of Hinduism, but could often be spotted around the Drama/Dance department. After a couple of years as an office temp, a front desk receptionist in a public mental health clinic, a waitress, and a theatrical lighting designer and stage manager – all of which taught me skills that would later be useful in ordained ministry – I began seminary. I earned a Master of Divinity at the Iliff School of Theology (Denver, CO), after which I spent a year as a Chaplain resident at one of Denver’s major hospitals. After another year’s diversion as a Kindergarten teaching assistant, I then went on to earn a Master of Sacred Theology at The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church (New York, NY). I was ordained in 2005. For the past seven years I have been serving as Rector of Grace & St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Hamden, Connecticut. Before that, I was the Assistant Rector at Church of the Good Shepherd in Nashua, New Hampshire. Over the last several years, I have also served in a couple of chaplaincy positions in New Haven, including an elementary school chaplaincy at an Episcopal Day School, and also chaplain to an amazing group of Episcopal Service Corps interns at St. Hilda’s House. In all ministry endeavors, I rely heavily on God’s grace, a hearty dose of humor, the help and prayers of other faithful people, and a little luck.
The Rev. Amanda Gott
The Schola Cantorum of First-Plymouth Church, Lincoln, Nebraska, will sing the office of Compline at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Omaha on Sunday, February 19, at 7:00 p.m.
The congregation will gather by candlelight as the 18-voice choir sings chants and ancient settings of psalms and evening prayers. Compline, sung at the end of the day, offers holy space for prayerful meditation through music.
“Compline is designed to connect us with a deep sense of peace,” explains Trinity’s Canon Precentor, Marty Wheeler Burnett. “As candles illuminate the darkened cathedral, we experience the light of Christ through scripture and song.”
At First-Plymouth, the Schola Cantorum offers Compline once each month. The service, described as “ancient worship for the modern soul,” attracts a diverse congregation, including young adults and persons seeking a contemplative worship experience. The choir typically sings from the balcony, surrounding worshippers with reverberant sound and soft candlelight.
The choir, directed by Tom Trenney, has been selected to sing for the national convention of the American Choral Directors Association in Minneapolis, Minnesota next month.
Trinity Episcopal Cathedral is located at 113 N 18th Street in Omaha, Nebraska. For more information, please visit http://trinityepiscopal.org or call 402-342-7010.
Brother James Dowd to Speak at St. Cecilia Cathedral Lecture Series, February 23rd
Throughout much of the history of Christianity, the church has often turned to monasticism when times became particularly tough either because Empires were ravaging their people or because Empires where falling apart, thus creating chaos. At other times, when the church was in need of renewal, it has often turned to its monastic sisters and brothers to lead that renewal. Thus, when either the world or the church or both were in danger, monasticism has often flourished.
Brother James Dowd, a member of the Order of the Holy Cross, a Benedictine monastic community in the Episcopal Church and the “monk in residence” for the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, will explore these themes and how they apply (or not) to a Post-Christian World and in particularly in our North American context. Consideration of the New Monasticism and the “old” Monasticism, specifically through a Benedictine lens, will highlight this talk of the Cathedral Lecture Series.
Saint Cecilia Cathedral
Cathedral Cultural Center 701 North 40th Street Omaha, Nebraska
Thursday, February 23, 2017, 7:00 P.M.
Sponsored by: Trinity Cathedral, Saint Cecilia Cathedral, Cathedral Arts Project
The Eggplant: January 26, 2017
Eastern Nerd and Western Priest
by The Rev. John Adams
Greetings, Nebraska Episcopalians! At the request of our illustrious editor, I am inaugurating a new monthly (or something close thereto) column for The Nebraska Episcopalian. Depending on the season, this may entail me addressing questions from our readers, sharing thoughts from my ministry, finding the spiritual in books or movies, or pontificating on subjects heretofore not contemplated. Given such unexplored possibilities, I am dubbing this column “The Eggplant,” in homage to the short poem “Pentecost” by David Craig: “What is this Holy Spirit? / And what is it doing in the eggplant?” Whatever you read here, it will on some level reflect the fact that God’s Spirit moves mysteriously, often in the things we least expect.
Being a priest in Chadron, Nebraska (and quite enjoying both the parish and the town) was something I never expected. After growing up in Northern Virginia, I thought I was going to the wild west when the Spirit called me to Omaha as a Resurrection House intern. I never imagined that I would like the city so much that I would want to stay, or that the welcome I received there would open me to the possibility of living and working elsewhere in the state. So now, as the Bishop’s Society Curate serving as priest-in-charge at Grace Church, I find myself living and working in a place very different from the suburbs of Washington.
There are many things I like about living in Chadron (being able to walk everywhere, the low cost of living, the beauty of the hills and forests, and the general niceness of the people among them), but I do find myself missing the presence of a bookstore. I’ve enjoyed fantasy and science fiction novels since middle school, with the consequence that it didn’t take me long to exhaust the small library’s supply of books on my to-read list. But a happier consequence of being a nerd for that long is a willingness to listen to the Spirit speaking even through things that, on the surface, have absolutely nothing to do with God.
Take, for example, the X-Men movie series, to which I was first introduced in college. The series is driven by the fictional relationship between ‘normal’ humans and ‘mutants,’ where the former are afraid of the superpowers awakened in the latter during adolescence. With the exception of one minor character who prays as a Christian, God goes unmentioned across six movies, even though one might expect some folks who develop unusual powers to wrestle with those powers as divine blessing or curse, or anticipate theological and Biblical arguments in the mouths of normal human politicians and preachers condemning mutants as unnatural offshoots to be controlled or eradicated.
But over the course of the series, as some normal humans have tried to deal with mutants by making them register with the government, suppressing their powers with a medicinal cure, using them for involuntary scientific experiments, and killing them all, and mutants in turn have responded in a variety of ways, including hiding their powers, using those powers to help humans, attempting to rule the world through fear, and trying to kill all the humans, a theme that I find very Christian has emerged. The movies’ happy endings, such as they are, occur when the mutants and normal humans who are committed to living and working together thwart the designs of those who would rather dominate or destroy the other.
Setting aside the superpower element, it’s not hard to see parallels between this fictional series and the real world, where certain groups of people fear other groups who differ from them and seek to dominate or destroy them through laws, threats, and violence. We see it today in the conflicts around differences of sexuality and gender, race and language, religion and nationality, and in the efforts of those who, like the films’ heroes, strive to maintain peaceable and equitable coexistence despite the fear and mistrust.
But for us who follow Jesus Christ, we are called not to fear those who differ from us but to love them as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). This requires from each of us a commitment to see those who differ from us as human just as we are, a willingness to turn the other cheek rather than pursue revenge when we are wronged (Luke 6:29), and the will to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44). And fictional and secular as they are, the X-Men movies offer us some ideas of how we might do that in a modern world where those who differ from us might possess weapons of mass destruction, or might be willing to harm literally anyone, or might just be changing the neighborhoods around us by their mere presence. Or to consider another angle, at baptism God awakens in us the superpower of loving even those who differ from us; just as the mutants wrestle with questions of whether to exercise their superpowers only to the benefit of other mutants or in service of all humankind, sometimes to the point of sacrificing themselves, we too must ask ourselves whether we love only those who are ‘like us’ or share God’s love with all.
So that long tangent serves to a) offer an example of finding the Spirit moving in something we might not expect, b) serve as a recommendation of the X-Men movies to those who have not seen them but are not turned off by the idea of superhero movies (just as films, all six are entertaining, with two being excellent and only one being a bit of a trainwreck), and c) provide an idea of one direction “The Eggplant” might take. So please do leave comments and questions on Facebook and let us know what you’d like out of this column. Thanks for reading!
In the autumn of 2007, the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Choir and their director, Marty Wheeler Burnett, launched an innovative ministry: Advent Lessons and Carols “On the Road.” After presenting the traditional service at the cathedral, the singers and instrumentalists traveled a few miles to St. Martin of Tours Episcopal Church in South Omaha. As they shared the distinctly Anglican choral service with that congregation, a new tradition was born.
In celebration of ten years of traveling in the Diocese of Nebraska, the choir has planned two stops on this year’s tour. On Sunday morning, December 11, the choir will sing at St. Mark’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral in Hastings, Nebraska at the 10:00 a.m. Eucharist. The Right Reverend J. Scott Barker, Bishop of Nebraska, and the Very Reverend Catherine Scott, Dean, will preside.
That afternoon, the choir will travel to St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Lincoln, to sing Advent Lessons and Carols at 4:00 p.m. The Reverend Judi Yeates, Interim Rector, will officiate.
For those in the Omaha area, Advent Lessons and Carols is offered at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral on Sunday, December 4 at the 10:30 a.m. Eucharist. The Cathedral Choir will be joined by the newly formed children’s choirs of Cantate Choral Academy and the cathedral’s handbell ensemble.
“This traditional service includes a series of Bible readings and choral music focusing on the Advent themes of hope and expectation of Christ’s coming,” stated Burnett. “Our music is offered to the glory of God and as a gift to each community we visit. It is our opportunity to worship with our fellow Episcopalians in the diocese and celebrate our common mission and ministry.”
The Cathedral Choir continues a long tradition of excellence in choral music. The choir sings for Sundays and Holy Days, September through Trinity Sunday, as well as diocesan occasions such as ordinations, diocesan conventions, and regional confirmations. The choir was honored to sing for Nebraska Day at Washington National Cathedral in 2003 and for an Open House Weekend in 1996. Choral Evensong is offered several times each year, as well as the annual Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols.
The choir will be joined by noted organist and composer, Michael McCabe.