Journeys

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Consecration Sunday 2019
Consecration Sunday 2019

Every November, we spend several weeks talking about Stewardship to the church through our commitment and pledge to Trinity. It is a very good time to reflect on what our church means in our lives and how we can better serve the church by helping others. Through letters we have sent to everyone, Stewardship Moments, and Journeys articles, we have spent a great deal of time discussing the dozens of programs and opportunities offered to extend ourselves beyond just attending church once a week.

When we all joined the church, we pledged to support Trinity and its many missions. It was a commitment and a pledge not only to the church, but also to ourselves as an extension of God’s good will and good deeds. It is obvious that our commitment to the programs and overall mission of the church is alive and well, as is demonstrated by so many people willing to help in the various programs and projects.

The second part of Stewardship has to be our commitment and pledge to support these programs financially. Without a financial commitment by our members, it is extremely difficult to know how to proceed with the support necessary to remain a vital congregation.

Next week, we will be asking everyone to fill out a pledge card and turn it in during the Consecration Sunday service at 10:00 a.m. Please, prayerfully consider making a pledge. It is so important.

As part of the Stewardship Committee, we hope to see you all at the 10:00 a.m. service and at the Consecration Celebration lunch following the service on Sunday, November 17.

Stewardship Committee

Tom Graves

Growing up in Valentine
Growing up in Valentine

Growing up in Valentine, my siblings and I were taught the value of hard work, honesty, and Christian values. My road to the Methodist Church was through my ex-husband. We had not been steady church goers in our first few years of marriage, but after the kids came along, I knew I wanted them to be raised in the church. So, instead of going back to the Episcopal Church, we started attending the Methodist Church in Aurora, NE. After the divorce, I transferred membership to Trinity. I have served on the Admin Council and SPRC.

Music has always been a big part of my life. I attended college in Kearney as a Music major/ Theatre minor. I sang in a few bands, including The Southside Blues Band. We played at a number of Blues Festivals and area establishments, weddings, birthday parties, Christmas parties, etc. After the band broke up, I needed an outlet for the creative side, and Crosspoint has served that purpose. I love singing with this wonderfully talented group of fellow Christians!

The best part of my life now is my kids and grandkids! John and his wife Gina have two boys, ages 3 & 5 in Lincoln. Billie Jo and her husband Alex have four kids. Three daughters, ages 9, 10, & 11 and a 12-year-old son. It is so fun spending time with them and spoiling them rotten!

I find myself on the road a lot between Valentine, Kansas, and Lincoln. I am the Nebraska Regional Coordinator for IMPS (minpinrescue.org) and am a huge advocate for animal rights. I’m pretty adamant about human rights, especially those rights of women that we fought so hard to get! In my spare time, I like to spend time with friends or family. I’ve been an insurance agent for Shelter Insurance Companies for over 20 years and take pride in trying every single day to provide the best care for my clients as possible. A great team of folks help me achieve that goal!

Thanks, Trinity family for all you do for the Church! I feel so uplifted after service! It helps me get through the week!

—Joni Rodabaugh

 

 

 

Trunk-or-Treat 2019
Trunk-or-Treat 2019

I participated in my first ever Trunk-or-Treat this past Wednesday. Having never been to a Trunk-or-Treat before, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. So, when choosing how to decorate my trunk, I knew I wanted it to be easy, but also somehow meaningful.

The result, a simple mirror with the words, “God’s Masterpiece” surrounding it. I threw in a couple of paint trays and some brushes and Ta-da!!…I was quite proud of my cleverness and creativity. However, I was not at all prepared for the response it would receive. As each child approached my trunk, they read the words and peered into the mirror, looking for “God’s Masterpiece.” Watching the smiles that followed as they made the connection was priceless!!…Woot! Woot! They “GOT IT”!!

Then the “Awes” that came from their parents as they looked over their child’s shoulder and saw the smiling child’s reflection. I could sense in those awes that for a moment those parents flashed back to the day they were blessed, the day they first laid eyes on that child as they entered their life.  They awed as they remembered and awed as they too recognized the wonderful Masterpiece God had created in their child, and perhaps maybe, even in themselves. It was quite heartwarming! Still, the younger children were the best!! They would get as close as they could to that mirror. Some would twist their bodies and turn their heads trying to get different angles and views. Some raised their eyebrows, smiling and then frowning, hoping to change the shape of their face. What caught my attention the most, was that they didn’t care who was watching. They weren’t critical of themselves and they weren’t boastful. They didn’t doubt what they saw, and they didn’t feel insecure. Not one of them wanted to look away and when I asked them if they liked what they saw, if they thought it was beautiful, every single one of them answered with a yes! Even with the intentional distortions, they truly admired the work of art that was reflecting at them. Seeing only a reflection of themselves…uniquely and perfectly made, just as God intended. They couldn’t read, but they still “GOT IT”!

How simple is that??!!…God doesn’t want us to look in the mirror and not be happy with the reflection we see. When we are critical or dissatisfied with our own reflection, we are insulting the creator, God. You are a Masterpiece after all! – HIS Masterpiece!!

So, the next time you are around a child, give them a mirror and just observe. See how they see themselves. Then, I hope the next time you look in the mirror yourself, that you look with the eyes of a child. Look in the mirror without criticism, without insecurities, and without false image.  Instead, see “God’s Beautiful Masterpiece”!

—Marcy Johnson

 

 

Going to Garrett
Going to Garrett

Going to Garrett was my dream for the past four years. Thank God today it’s a reality! It is a reality, because God used people to make it possible. You, my Trinity UMC family, made yourself available to be used by God.

I arrived at Garrett on August 20. I spent two weeks in orientation. I was very excited to start classes and learn. I have five classes, and one of them is Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). From the very first lecture, I felt like my head was messed up. This is because, I learned some Bible stories in a different way, not the common way that I knew, and everyone knows. One of the books we are reading for this class is Womanist Midrash: A Reintroduction to the Women of the Torah and the Throne by Wilda Gafney. This book names and gives voices to several women who were influential in the Bible. This class has challenged me so much.

I am attending First UMC in Evanston with some Garrett students. First UMC is a very welcoming church and the pastor is Rev. Grace Imathiu whom I met last year in Portland (while I was with you). I have once been given the opportunity to serve holy communion during service. And I am a volunteer for their children’s ministry.

I spend most of my time in the Library, because that helps me to focus and be effective. I also spend time with friends. I like walking and siting by Lake Michigan, which has a great view. I also have time for myself where I just relax and rest.

Even though seminary is very challenging, I am very happy and excited to see who I will become after my time in Seminary.

Thank you for your financial support. This has helped me with accommodation and meals.

I am in contact with my family back home. They usually call me and we talk on the phone two or three times a week.

I miss my Trinity UMC family so much. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. I watch the live stream of all the service on Facebook on Sundays. This makes me happy to see you all and worship together with you. I can’t wait to see and worship with you.

–Pauline Omboko Shongo

The Perfect Sunset
The Perfect Sunset

The other night we had one of those perfect sunsets. You know the kind. The air was perfectly still. There were no clouds in the sky. The last 20 minutes before daylight ended, the bottom half of the western sky was brilliant orange. Trees, buildings, and machines were stark black cutouts holding back the horizon’s glow.

On nights like that, we here in south central Nebraska are lucky enough to be able to see the turning of the earth. With good peripheral vision, we can see the dark edges slowly close in on the sun’s reddish-yellow influence. A yellow glow radiates in streaks through the blue parts of the sky as the sun’s angle gets steeper and steeper. The orange slowly consolidates into the top half of a brilliant ball of light that sinks away to darkness.

You just don’t get that view from heavily wooded places. You need places with a clear view of the entire horizon; places where you can see the outline of the earth begin to bend in the furthest corners of your vision.

When we lived in Charleston, South Carolina I had to go to the beach for any sunset fix. You can go to the mountains, but you have to be on top of the tallest one looking down on the horizon to get the same feeling. Being in the middle of the ocean works.  Tundra does it, too.

But there is nothing like having a flat horizon to frame your sunset. The simplicity of the line gives you a sense of the greatness of our world and the smallness of our place in it. It is one of those thin places, where the boundaries between heaven and earth are permeable and it seems easier to cross over from one side to another.

When done, a sunset like that makes you sigh deeply. Somehow that orange glow seems to have gotten inside you. And before you know it, you find yourself bowing your head and saying these words out loud to no one in particular, “Thank you God . . . Thanks!”

Grace & Peace,

—Rev. Kelly Karges, Senior Pastor

 

Happiness, but also Turmoil
Happiness, but also Turmoil

The 1970s were a time of much happiness, but also turmoil.

My Mom left the Methodist denomination and became a member of a cult. My parents lived on a farm and one of their neighbors was a Jehovah’s Witness and it wasn’t long until my parents were studying with this group. My older brother, his wife, and three daughters joined the organization. My father did not join for a long time and this was very hard on him. He drove to Grand Island to talk to Kenny and I about this difficult situation. We continued to love Mom and she continued to love us.

We and our five kids lived in Grand Island and were over an hour away from our parents. When my parents left after a visit, I would find Watchtowers and Awake magazines hidden in various places around our house.

When our youngest daughter was married, Mom did not come to the wedding. She was taught by this group, ‘the devil is in the churches.’ My Dad came alone. When the ceremony concluded, our daughter handed out a rose to each Mother and Grandmother. My Dad accepted Mom’s flower and as he stood in the reception line, I saw a tear in his eye. The whole day was extremely hard on him, but we were blessed that he came.

I am so grateful that I was active in Bible studies. Kenny and I compared scripture from our Bibles to the one they used. We could see many of their errors. The major one—they did not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. God is surely good. In later years, after Mom had a stroke and had been living in Columbus with my brother and family, they looked for a nursing home in that town and none was to be found. (We later found out through someone working at a nursing home in Columbus there was a room available, but God had other plans)

When my brother’s family brought her to Park Place, which is near our home, they informed the Activities Director she was to attend no birthday parties, no celebrations for Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. The director told me after they left the building, “Marjorie will attend whatever she wants to attend!” She enjoyed passing out Halloween candy to costumed children, singing Christmas carols, and eating birthday cake. We were so blessed to have her in Grand Island where she reverted back to her Christian roots and enjoyed Thanksgiving and watching her grandkids do the nativity scene at our house. She could barely wait to rip the paper off her Christmas gifts as she celebrated the holidays with us once again. I am so glad we continued to love one another and not let this issue divide us permanently. It has been hard to condense this life changing event.

—Helen Brandt

 

One Year Anniversary
One Year Anniversary

A year ago, I was buried beneath nuptial “to do” lists, consistent questions, and continual life changes. In less than six months, I had graduated from Hastings College, started my first professional job, moved in with my in-laws, and then moved into an apartment in Grand Island. All of these life changes happened while I planned for my wedding on September 29, 2018.

Marriage.

I didn’t know what to expect. I loved God and Austin, and trusted His plan for the both of us. Throughout the last 365 days, God has shown me the beauty of companionship, the discipline of compromise, and the grace of patience and sacrifice.

My mother-in-law wears a small, golden ring at the base of her finger, in front of her wedding ring. This small ring symbolizes her relationship with God and how she can’t love her husband without God’s continual presence. God has to come first in our lives, because it is the most important relationship. At my sister-in-law’s wedding in August 2019, the sermon was about leaning on God and His grace to love one another, because we can’t do it without Him. The pastor talked about how we are selfish, broken beings… so how can we hope to have a healthy marriage without tending to our relationship with God?

Isn’t it amazing that God loves us every second of every day? In all of our imperfections, He still loves us. Even when we say or do something very ugly, He is there to forgive us and shower us in love. Every day, I try to show Austin unconditional love, grace, and patience. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I don’t. I know Austin does the same for me. Because of our loyalty and dedication towards each other, I am thankful that God united our lives.

How do you show your spouse or family members love and grace?

—Alexandria Remm

Trust and Have Faith
Trust and Have Faith

What do we hear when we attend Church…trust and have faith? How easily we forget. Because Penny and I failed to prepare Rummage information for the Circles in a timely manner, we weren’t getting the needed volunteers for the Rummage Sale. We understood it was our fault and not anyone else’s fault. Pastor Kalaba’s sermon, “Lost in our own Grumbling,” fit us to a tee. All we needed was to trust and have faith. Because of the response from the United Methodist Women and others in the Church, both men and women, we had the needed help. Once again, our sale was a success.

Trinity…we thank you, as do those who benefit from our mission projects: Trinity Youth, Hope Harbor, Salvation Army Men’s Shelter, Community Food Pantry, Neighbors in Need, Epworth Village, United Methodist Ministries, Mongolian Mission, Red Bird Mission, McCurdy School, and others not mentioned.

UWM ladies, we’d love to have you come to our Prairie Rivers UMW District Meeting at Trinity on Saturday, October 12. The meeting starts with registration at 8:30 a.m. and ends by mid-afternoon. Cost is $8.00, which provides lunch and can be paid to Virginia White, 23 St. James Pl, 68803. The deadline for registering for the meeting is October 6. To contact Virginia White, please call her at 308.675.1063.

—Betty Patrick

 

“Be Still & Know”
“Be Still & Know”

Be still and know

that I am God.

Psalm 46:10

Recently, I was reminded that God freely gives us the best things in life to thoroughly enjoy. The 23rd Psalm, along with many other verses, let us know that God will provide for us by nourishing us, taking care of us. I believe that one of his best provisions is found in the beauty around us –rainbows, laughter of children, silently falling snow, genuine hugs, early morning birdsong, a tasty cup of cinnamon tea with a trusted friend and exquisite BUTTERFLIES to name only a few.

If you visited the butterfly pavilion at the state fair, you may have experienced the same deep joy that I did. Oftentimes, butterflies flit around our yards and if we are lucky, we may catch a glimpse of them or even snap a photo. For me, it’s a special treat when a butterfly actually lands on me. In the butterfly pavilion, the lovely butterflies landed on my shoulder, my arm and my hand. Oh, how blessed I felt! We were given a nectar-soaked paint pad when we entered and it then become quite easy to coax one of these wonders of nature onto my pad. And… then…. I could carry it around. He stayed with me. I was taken by surprise when this became a spiritual experience for me.

As I contemplated how the butterfly stayed with me when I moved around, I was reminded that God stays with me no matter where I go or even what I do or what I feel.

God stays with me when I have a sleepless night. God stays with me when I feel hopeless. God stays with me when I feel angry. And then I also know that God stays with me when I am filled with joy, when I am filled with peace, when I am filled with love. After all, he knew me in my mother’s womb. And he knows me today and blesses me with simple pleasures like an encounter with the butterflies. Thank you, God, for all the ways you bless my life.

—Deb Brummund

 

I wonder if this is the way God feels…
I wonder if this is the way God feels…

I want to share with you a piece I wrote a few years ago when life was much simpler and I had just taken our oldest daughter Katie on the one block walk to her first day of Kindergarten. Now, Katie is 30 and just got engaged to be married this past spring!

This is from September 1994:

“I walked my oldest child off to Kindergarten this year. Me, holding her hand with pride. She, siphoning as much security out of my palm in one block as humanly possible. It seems as if I have now eased ever so gently into the world of permanent adulthood.

You can still be a kid when you get married. You can even hold on to the illusions of kid-hood when you have a child. You can waffle back and forth with them as they grow; rediscovering the child part of you that you’d long since forgotten. But, when that child enters formal education it’s time to pass the childhood baton on to the next generation and settle into permanent, life-insurable, parenting adulthood.

The other thing that makes me proud and sad at the same time, is that she is growing up so fast.  She’s not my baby girl any more. A part of me wants to hold her back until she’s maybe eight or ten before throwing her into the public realm. But the time has come for her to take the first of many steps out of the nest. And it’s my job to prepare her for the flight, then let her struggle with learning how to make her own wings work.

I wonder if this is the way God feels as God watches us take our first tentative steps into the public realm of faith? When we first share our gifts with other people who might reject what we have to offer. . . When we risk seriously praying and listening to God for the first time . . . When we do anything that says to the world that God has made a difference in our lives?  Is God proud and sad to watch us grow and mature? I don’t know. But sometimes I wish that God would hold MY hand as I cross the street to greater responsibility in my faith journey.”

Grace & Peace,

Rev. Kelly

Back to School Blessing
Back to School Blessing

Last year, I wrote these blessings for the first week of school. I thought we’d do them again this year.

“This is the week to bless our students, our teachers, school staff, parents and grandparents.

(All students please stand) God bless our students. May you soak in all that is given to you this school year and grow into your true self; the person God needs you to be.

(All teachers please stand) God bless our teachers. May the content of your teaching be boosted by the quality of your soul, your character, and the person that you present each and every day.

(All staff please stand) God bless our school staff. You have no idea how the little things of your daily contact with our students and teachers make a huge difference in their emotional well-being. Your smile, your look, your prayers, and support change lives.

(All parents & grandparents please stand) God bless our parents and grandparents.  All the effort to herd those kids out of bed and off to school and back will show in the adults that they will become one day. God bless your being there for all those games and events; for making sure your children and grandchildren have what they need to be the best students they can be. God bless you for those hugs and kisses before they go out that door, and, for the courage to trust their growth to the people in the school system.

(Everyone please stand) God bless our school and our community. As we enter into another year of being there for each other, may we all—churches, school and community—do what we need to do to live into the Biblical command to live for the “good of our community” this school year.

Grace & Peace,

–Rev. Kelly Karges

 

Meet Christina Landenberger
Meet Christina Landenberger

My name is Christina Landenberger, but you can call me “Church Lady.” I am excited to be serving you as the new Director of Family, Youth and Children’s Ministries.

My husband, Adam and I have two adult children – Bryan and Christen. Adam is looking for a job in the information technology field. Bryan is a manager at Hy-Vee and Christen attends classes through Grand Island Senior High’s Workforce Prep Academy. We are also caring for two elderly dogs.

I have a BA in Human Relations with an emphasis on Child Development from Doane College. My prior work experience includes government and non-profit agencies. I was formerly employed at First Presbyterian Church in Grand Island.

My style of family, youth and children’s ministry is an emphasis on intergenerational ministry rather than age-segregated programming. When the church comes together, we are mighty! While I have lots of practice working with young church goers, I will need your help getting to know Trinity United Methodist Church. Please share with me the traditions you value and help me to create new experiences. Also, please forgive me more than seven times seven when I forget your name.

Parents of children and youth age 0 to 18, please COMPLETE THE ONLINE SURVEY to help me understand your hopes and expectations for Family, Youth, and Children’s Ministry. You can find it on Trinity’s Facebook page or on our website at trinityumcgi.org/kids-youth/

—Christina Landenberger

 

 

Where is God in all these?
Where is God in all these?

There is no journey without meeting new people, discovering new places, learning new cultures, appreciating new challenges, and creating new memories. From Johannesburg, South Africa to Saint Louis, Missouri, we met new people, made new friends, discovered new places, and created new memories… Here we are in Grand Island, Nebraska, even though for Tim, my last-born, he thinks we are not yet in Grand Island because we not surrounded by waters, he is still waiting to be in the Island. However, we are busy learning to figure out the geography of the city and its surrounding towns and in this process sometimes we get lost and end up looking at the map or GPS to find our way around. We have been busy meeting new people and doing our best to remember people’s names, grateful for the grace people give us when we mispronounce their names or call them by someone else’s name. We keep reminding ourselves that there are many names to learn and eventually we will get there. We have been busy unpacking boxes and trying to make a home out of our new place, we have been learning everyday about Trinity UMC.

While being busy with all the above, I have been trying to answer the following question: Where is God in all these? Is there more than just learning the geography of Grand island? Is there more than just learning names of people? Is there more than just unpacking boxes and making our new place a home? Am I rushing in my learning about what God is up in Grand Island through our church, Trinity?

There are times in our journey of faith when we have to learn to be more patient, to seek help when we cannot figure things out. Just as there are times when we have to accept our vulnerability and learn from people around us. Then, there times where we need to learn how to just be at Jesus’ feet…Our Christian journey requires from us patience, seeking help when needed, listening deeply not rushing ourselves or rushing God on doing what we want but to take one step at the time.

We would like to thank the church for the warmth welcome, the SPRC for the welcome party and for helping us with orientations. As we have embarked on our journey with you all… We say in Swahili “Katika kutenda mema musishoke… (please, do not get tired in being generous…)”

—Pastor Kalaba Kapundu

 

County Fairs
County Fairs

It is county fair time! The Hall County Fair was last week. The Adams County Fair is always the week after that. The last time a member of the Karges family entered something in the county fair was when we lived in Seward and our son Zack entered the open class in vegetable art. Since then, when our kids were teenagers in Beatrice and Hastings it was all about “wrist-band night” and riding the rides. As band parents, we helped with the Hastings High food stand at the Adams County fair to earn money for that year’s trip.

We left the dairy farm when I was 12. I have distant foggy memories of the one year I entered my halter horse at the Boone County Fair in Albion. My red ribbon happened because I could not for the life of me get my horse to trot. No matter what I did with that halter, running was not on her agenda for that day.

I do have fond childhood memories of playing with friends at 4-H monthly meetings and being around as my older brother showed dairy cows. There were books to fill out and a lot of fluffing of tails and polishing of hooves and trying to keep your white shirt clean on the day you showed your cow.

I also remember saving my weekly money from cleaning out the milk barn for county fair hot dogs, funnel cakes, peanuts, snow cones, and cotton candy.

My Grandpa Karges was the Superintendent of the rural schools in Boone County. So, he recruited his grand kids to help put up the art work from all the one room country schools. You also had to have someone there to watch over the entries. So, we just kinda hovered around Grandpa’s building during the fair.

This week we thank God for all those parents and 4-H leaders out there over the years. Without them, there would be no county/state fairs. Turn to the person next to you in the pew and tell them your fondest growing up memory of the county fair.

Grace & Peace,

Rev. Kelly

Memories of the Moon Landing
Memories of the Moon Landing

Where were you when we landed on the moon 50 years ago?

I distinctly remember that day, ‘cause I was mad. It was my 10th birthday party at the Albion Public Pool and we had to get out of the water to gather around this tiny black and white TV to watch the stupid black and white view of landing on the moon from the inside of the space capsule thousands of miles away.

I had no idea at the time how big a deal it was. Bigger than your 10 year old birthday party. Bigger than Albion. Bigger than Nebraska. Bigger than the USA. Bigger than the world. As I pass into my 60th year with the 50th anniversary of that Moon Landing, I still don’t think I can completely grasp the enormity of that “one small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind.”

United Methodist Bishop R. Lawson Bryan talks about how:

it took 400,000 people working together to make that mission such a success. Recalling Armstrong’s statement reminds us of the extreme importance of small steps. One small step can be a giant step — for our family, for our church, for our community. Great outcomes are the result of a long series of small steps taken deliberately and faithfully. And when 400,000 people each take a small step, the result is a giant leap far beyond what anyone could have achieved on their own. Do not take lightly the small steps that each of us can take: a phone call, a visit, a letter, a prayer, a gift, an apology, an invitation. Jesus himself is our best teacher. Every ordinary day and in every ordinary place Jesus took the kind of small steps that turned out to be giant leaps for the Kingdom of God. He taught his followers to transform the world one step at a time. If you could take one small step today, what would it be?

Thank you, Bishop.

Grace & Peace,

Rev. Kelly Karges

Meet Rev. Kalaba
Meet Rev. Kalaba

My name is Kalaba Kapundu and I am Zambian by nationality, but I have lived in different African Countries: D.R. Congo and Zambia in my formative years, Zimbabwe for my high education, South Africa country of my first career, country where I became husband and father for the first time. I come from a family of  eleven children, seven  girls and  four boys and I am the 8thchild of the family. My Dad, the late Pierre Kalaba N’Kangalesa Kapundu, was the Lay Leader of the Zambia-South Congo Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church. I hold a bachelor’s degree of Science in Economics from Africa University, postgraduate degree in Economics from the University of South Africa, and master’s degree in Divinity from Eden Theological Seminary. I have been fortunate to work with people of different backgrounds and origins and as a result I can speak few African languages, French, and English … I am married to Anny Kalinowski Kapundu who comes from a family of five children, three girls and two boys. She is a daughter of a United Methodist pastor. She holds bachelor’s degree in Humanities and Religious Studies, master’s degree in Social Development and master’s degree in Theological Studies. We have three boys, Ian Kalaba Kapundu, Dan Kongolo Kapundu, and Tim N’Kangalesa Kapundu.

I grew up in a Christian home where the foundation of our faith is the love of God and the love of our neighbors. And that has influenced my understanding of who God is. My understanding of God is more related to the “Ubuntu  (connectedness that exists or should exist between people) theology.” This is because my journey of faith is meaningless without people around me, my faith in God comes from my interconnectedness with people of different backgrounds, it comes from the respect I have for those who do not think, speak, look like me, it comes from my carrying of both strangers and friends. As far as I am concerned, Ubuntu is not just an ideology  or philosophy, but it is the foundation of my spiritual life. I do not see myself relating to God if I cannot connect with those created to the image of God. Thus, as a Christian and a pastor, I work to connect with “others” through their day to day life experiences. It is in that same way that I do not see the church as an institution which is based on material and rules/ principles but the church to me is something organic, it is something flexible and can adjust to new life experiences. The Church which is the body of Christ is more spiritual than material. I believe that human experience  is tied to both the new and old covenants through the Holy Spirit and not through material, and it is the Holy Spirit that inspires us to love the same way God loves us. And as John Wesley, I will say my heart is enlarged towards all humankind, to those I know and those I do not know… We say blood is thicker than water but for me the Spirit is thicker than blood.

We are blessed to be part of the Trinity family and thank you all for your warmth welcome.

—Rev. Kalaba Kapundu

 

 

Sunday of Solidarity for Suffering Children
Sunday of Solidarity for Suffering Children

In light of the recent news about children in U.S. government holding facilities along the U.S.-Mexico border, the United Methodist Committee on Relief has received numerous requests to respond. We have heard the plea for action from the church. Unfortunately, the facilities in question are managed in such a way that precludes even UMCOR’s assistance. Access to these government facilities is extremely limited.

As the arm of The United Methodist Church mandated to cultivate and promote mission, the General Board of Global Ministries seeks to equip your church with tools to use as you confront the frustration and helplessness that this situation evokes. While this particular case is in the U.S., we recognize that migration is a global issue and the breadth and depth of our Global Migration programming at UMCOR and Global Ministries reflects that fact.

As a church that is united on the need to care for children, we can be in mission together. Global Ministries encourages you to take part in A Sunday of Solidarity for Suffering Children in three ways:

  1. PRAY – We encourage you to pray for children. Below, you will find a prayer to use. You might choose to dedicate a service to suffering children everywhere or conduct a prayer vigil in your community for the children suffering along the border.
  2. ACT – We encourage you to act on behalf of children. While we cannot take UMCOR hygiene kits to the U.S. government holding centers, we are distributing UMCOR hygiene kits at transitional shelters all along the U.S.-Mexico border. In the last three months, UMCOR delivered 46,128 hygiene kits to six church-run transitional shelters. Instructions on how to make and send these kits are available on our website (UMCOR.org).

You can also act by calling U.S. elected officials. The following link to the General Board of Church and Society, our sister United Methodist agency responsible for advocacy, has posted what you can do to end child detention on their website (UMCJustice.org).

  1. GIVE – Finally, we encourage you to give on behalf of children. Through the Global Migration Advance (https://advance.umcmission.org/p-525-global- migration.aspx), UMCOR provides grants to organizations along the U.S. border and elsewhere around the world that are working to fill gaps in the needs and rights of migrants.

Jesus implored his disciples to welcome the children. This is our mission: to make sure the children are welcomed. Thank you for your prayers, your actions and your gifts.

 

To Mars & Beyond 2019 VBS
To Mars & Beyond 2019 VBS

The week for Vacation Bible School is quickly approaching! While we had a late start getting things organized and advertised, it looks like To Mars and Beyond VBS is shaping up to be a great week for children to experience the love of God.

Nearly all the donation cards quickly disappeared off the board, and for that we are thankful. Most of the supplies that are needed are sitting in the office, ready to go. We have also had enough monetary donations that will cover the cost of any last-minute needs, and to cover the registration fees of any children that may be in need. Volunteers have signed up to help us on our adventure, so it looks like VBS will be well staffed for the whole week. The Education Committee greatly appreciates all that this congregation contributes towards the success of Trinity’s week of Vacation Bible School.

If you have any children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, or know of any other children that might benefit from a week of fun and experiencing God’s love, it’s not too late to sign them up. You’ll find the registration forms at the table in the Narthex on Sunday, and in the office during the week. An online sign-up can also be found on the Trinity website: trinityumcgi.org/kids-youth/

Join us July 8th-11th with a meal at 5:30 pm in Miller Hall, and activities starting at 6:00 pm. And remember to mark your calendars for our pool party celebrating another successful VBS at Trinity! It will be July 17 from 6:00-8:00 at the Wood River Aquatic Center. Get ready to blast off To Mars and Beyond!

—Kara Rieger, Summer Youth Intern

 

 

 

This Father’s Day 2019
This Father’s Day 2019

Today we thank God for fathers. This Father’s Day my kids are 30, 28 and 23 years old. I can still remember waiting for that first one to be born and having serious reservations about whether I was ready to be a father. After I witnessed our daughter Katie’s birth, my reticence over my readiness for fatherhood became irrelevant. When the nurses cleaned her up, put her in my arms and her little eyes met mine that was it. I was Dad. That fatherhood connection, that new relationship happened with Zack and Emily, too.

This Father’s Day I find myself reflecting on what I love about being a Dad.

I love hearing my kids laugh. I loved rocking them to sleep with their baby heads resting on my shoulder. I still love watching them sleep. I love seeing them take a risk and be successful. I love to see their thirst for a challenge. I love to see them mature and grow up before my very eyes. I love those moments when they actually want to be around me. Becoming friends as adults is an amazing thing. Pretty regularly, in between their text messaging and instant messaging with multiple friends around the country we get to chat on the phone or on FaceTime.

I hate to see them disappointed. I hate to witness their pain. I hate when their happiness is out of my control. I hate that they have grown up and left the nest (even though I know it’s my job to get them out of the nest).

I know from my own experience that I will always be their Dad not matter how many connector flights it takes to get to them. I also know that my fathering skills have not always been up to par.  I just hope that they were able to soak in the good stuff and let go of the bad so that when the time comes, they’ll not be afraid to be a Dad or Mom themselves.

Grace & Peace,

—Rev. Kelly Karges

 

Message from Rev. Karges–Noah’s Ark
Message from Rev. Karges–Noah’s Ark

It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that the Administrative Team of Trinity has chosen to close Noah’s Ark Daycare & Pre-School as of September 1, 2019. This decision was not an easy one to make. The Administrative Team, Finance Team, Noah’s Ark Board and Director have been working tirelessly to try and bring Noah’s Ark into the black for a while now. It just got to a point where the church could no longer afford to supplement the ministry of Noah’s Ark in the way we have in the past.

We celebrate 18 years of ministry to the children and young families of our community. I believe Noah’s Ark staff and families have had a great impact on the lives of so many young ones by showing them extra attention, love and care. And this will have a positive ripple effect in our community for generations to come

From 2012 to now, the church has supplemented Noah’s Ark to the tune of $221,000 dollars. In 2018, we helped Noah’s Ark out with $60,000. In 2019 we have infused Noah’s Ark $10,000 a month for six months so far just to make payroll. And all indications are that this will continue.  Each month we would exhaust our checking account before dipping in to endowments. So other funds have suffered. For example, we have not been able to help folks out with rent/utilities assistance with the Helping Hands Funds since early spring.

Our hope is that a closing date of September 1, 2019 gives the staff and families of Noah’s Ark some time to make other arrangements. I am thankful for the solid leadership of our church’s Administrative Team, Finance Team and Noah’s Ark Board. These are hard decisions. But I believe this is the right decision for our congregation as we move into the future. Our Ad. Team meeting on Monday night and Tuesday night’s meeting with Noah’s Ark Parents and staff were some of the saddest I’ve ever been a part of. Please keep our Noah’s Ark staff and parents in your prayers during this time of transition.

Grace & Peace,

–Rev. Kelly Karges

 

Response to the Flooding Crisis
Response to the Flooding Crisis

Our congregation has responded to the Spring 2019 Flooding Crisis in Nebraska in several ways.  Over $3,700 was sent to our Great Plains Conference Office for direct flood relief. The money that had been donated to the Conference for the flood relief effort so far has totaled a little over $180,000, but there still is a great need.

Trinity has also put together multiple flood buckets that have already been delivered to places like Wood River, Columbus, St. Edward, Fremont and Lynch, Nebraska. We had our annual special offering to the United Methodist Committee on Relief last Sunday. An initial gift of $10,000 from UMCOR had already come to Nebraska to help in the initial relief efforts.  Emergency Response Teams from all over the country (including 200 volunteers from Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City) have already come to places like North Loup, Columbus and Fremont, and more are on the way.

Hollie Tapley is our Great Plains Conference Disaster Coordinator. Rev. Russ Anderson coordinates the efforts here in our area of Nebraska.

The Great Plains Conference’s disaster relief fund received more than $7,000 from a Texas United Methodist Church. Christ Church in Sugar Land, a suburb of Houston, sent a $7,177.01 check to the Tapley after a special offering March 24.

“Having some experience of our own with flooding during Hurricane Harvey and other storms over the years, we are well acquainted with the enormity of the clean-up task and we’re so thankful you are there to help people rebuild their lives,” the church’s pastor, Rev. Dr. Chappell Temple, wrote to Tapley.

“During the Harvey clean-up we found that monetary contributions that had no strings on them were extremely helpful when we simply wanted to help an individual or family without having to register all the details,” the letter continued.

“I was blown away” after seeing the letter and donation, Tapley said. “We’ve gotten donations from all over the United States, last time I looked. I’m very grateful for that.”

Thanks again to Trinity and our friends and neighbors for helping with this year’s Food Relief.

Grace & Peace,

—Rev. Kelly Karges

 

 

 

Once a Year Relationships–Beginning of Holy Week
Once a Year Relationships–Beginning of Holy Week

Once a year relationships. I am in a once a year relationship with ten or so folks that I’ve been traveling to New Orleans to meet with for 20 years now. I was there this past week. Once a year, we gather together for three days or so to check in and grow; spiritually, emotionally, and religiously. We call ourselves the 3-M group. We are folks from Nebraska, Colorado, Montana, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Vermont, who work at maintaining Ministers in their ministries. We are mostly, but not all Clergy, and mostly, but not all, United Methodist.

The local Louisiana folks take us to their favorite New Orleans restaurants. The conferencing continues through the meals and beyond. The primary focus of our lifelong learning/teaching is Bowen’s Family Systems training. It is a way to help pastors process the emotional content of our professional and personal lives. We pastors live through/with four times the emotional content as our average parishioners. Rev. John Winn is the guy who started it all with the Center for Pastoral excellence of Louisiana. Now John is almost 90.

One of the things about this cognitive therapy way of seeing the world is that you’re never done learning new insights about yourself and your family systems. And every new “aha” changes you and your family system at the soul level. I always come home from 3-M with several “aha’s.” My soul is expanded. I experience God in new ways. Healing happens.

This is Holy Week. Christians gather for several once a year services of worship; Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. Once a year, we remember and celebrate Jesus the disciples’ last once a year Passover meal together. Once a year, we gather to remember and celebrate the crucifixion of our Lord. Once a year, we come together on Easter Sunday to remember and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection.

I like to think this Holy Week is an opportunity for our souls to be expanded; to come to know God in new ways; to experience healing.

I look forward to walking this Holy Week journey together with you.

Grace & Peace,

—Rev. Kelly Karges

 

So how do you prove Easter?
So how do you prove Easter?

So how do you prove Easter? Sure, the story of Easter wasn’t written down as it happened. What happened was talked about for decades before the Gospels as we know them were put together.  The story was passed on because it meant something to those who heard it. It meant so much that they were willing to risk a lot to share it. To share the story was to become a part of it, to own it.  As the Easter story was whispered from friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor, the truth was in the teller. As it resonated with each recipient, transformed each hearer, made each receiver of this “good news” a more loving individual, a more forgiving soul, it became more contagious.

So, the proof of Easter was in how it changed the followers of Jesus. They had scattered to the winds, gone back to their jobs. But something happened to turn them around, to bring them back to Jerusalem. Once they had experienced and lived with the unconditional love of God, they could not go back to the way things were before. They were drawn by this spiritual magnet to come together and do something about what Jesus had taught them in his short time with them.  Their lives were resurrected. As my friend Rev. Jim Keyser puts it, “It was not magical. It was mystical.”

So, the proof of Easter today is found in us. Has something changed us? Does God’s love ring true in us? Does it draw others to it? Are we a magnet for God where we work and live and play?

If we are, then Easter is real.

Grace & Peace,

–Rev. Kelly Karges

 

An Adventure Serving
An Adventure Serving

It has been an adventure serving as the Director of Family, Youth, and Children’s Ministries. Our family has grown up with all of your families. I’ve learned so much from the little ones as they share their smiles and insight to the heart of God. I began serving with the Middle School students as a volunteer before I took the position here at Trinity. I was trying to think of how old everyone was when I started and I teared up realizing I began leading Middle School Youth Group when our current Freshman crew was in 6th grade!

Like many of us, I’ve asked myself, where did the time go? Our Middle and High School students inspire me every time I talk to them. Every time they serve communion, I cry. Every time our students serve alongside our adults, I feel a deep gratitude for our church family. It’s been a joy and privilege to watch these young men and women grow into the remarkable people they are today. I know it isn’t quite time to say goodbye yet. But the process has been put into motion with the Sunday announcement that Pastor David is being appointed to a church in Girard, Kansas. That means our family will be moving from Grand Island this summer. We are sad and broken hearted to leave our church family and Grand Island community. We are holding hope that this new journey will shine light on new possibilities and new growth. For the time being, we are finding it’s OK to be angry, sad, and anxious for a while. Thank you for all of your love, care, and support these years. Keep loving and serving each other well. Continue to hold space for those who are searching for a place of belonging.

Peace,

—Molly Clark, Director of Youth and Children’s Ministry

 

Confirmation Class of 2019
Confirmation Class of 2019

Today is Confirmation Sunday at Trinity. This year Nine seventh graders and their mentors devoted 13 weeks of Wednesday nights to learning about what it means to become a full member of the church.  Each time we would begin with 15 minutes of instruction by me with the whole group. Then the confirmands and their mentors would scatter to the corners of the church to discuss the questions in their workbooks and to read a couple chapters of the Gospel of Luke together. They also worked on their memorization of the 23rd Psalm, the Apostles Creed and the books of the Bible. Then we’d all reconvene after 40 minutes or so for final questions with me and discussion of the topic of the week. Our topics included things like: God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Worship, the Ministry of the Church, Prayer, Service, Death . . . etc.

We took road trips to Seward for the Living Last Supper, and, All Faiths mortuary here in town.  They also each wrote the article on the back of the bulletin about where they had seen God, or their favorite things about the church. The confirmands also did service projects and talked about what gifts they have to offer both through in the church and in their daily lives.

Today these seventh graders are publicly proclaiming to the world that they are ready to confirm the decisions made for them by their parents when they were baptized. They are telling us that they are ready to make up their own minds about this faith thing. And we, the church, are telling them that they are now adults, (and full members), in the eyes of the church. I will stress to them that this is not a graduation, it is an initiation in full membership in the church.

This year’s confirmands at Trinity are: Grace Hill, Jaylen Hansen, Trey Engberg, Conner George, Madilynn John, Alec Sundberg, Makenna Garrels, Kyla Sybrandts, and Madyson Schley. Their mentors who went through the whole process with them are: Sebrina Bergmeier, Jeanne Graves, Vicki McDermott, Ron George, Danny John, and Jeremy Sundberg. Please take the opportunity today to congratulate them on this important step in their faith journeys.

Grace & Peace,

—Rev. Kelly Karges

 

Happy Mother’s Day!
Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day! All of us have Moms; biological and adopted.  Today is the day to thank God for blessings and goodness of Moms.

This year I picked up a couple adult coloring books with Mom sayings that you can color and give as gift cards. They say some of those phrases that echo in our head’s way beyond childhood.  They’re things we automatically say back to our kids then cringe with the memory of where we got those words. I’ve passed them out at the Tuesday Bible study and at Coloring with Pastor Kelly at the Chocolate Bar at 4 p.m. on Wednesdays.

So, here’s some of those Mom sayings: “You’re lucky you’re cute! . . . What did I just say! . . . What part of NO don’t you get? . . . Use your words! . . . Life isn’t friar! . . . Don’t make me count to three! . . . Because I said so! . . . Don’t make me turn this car around. . . . Where is your other shoe? . . . When I was your age . . . Don’t even think about it! . . . Two more bites! . . . Don’t lick that! . . . Your face will get stuck like that! . . . This is my circus.  These are my monkeys. . .. Only mothers know that silence means something is very wrong. . .. Best way to get the kids attention is to sit down and get comfortable.”

If you want some of these Mother’s Day coloring cards, let me know.

Here is the prayer for Mother’s Day from our United Methodist Book of Worship:

For our mothers, who have given us life and love, that we may show them reverence and love, we pray to the Lord . . . For mothers who have lost a child through death, may their faith give them hope, and their family and friends support and console them, we pray to the Lord . . . For women though without children of their own, who like mothers have nurtured and cared for us, we pray to the Lord . . .For mothers, who have been unable to be a source of strength, who have not responded to their children and have not sustained their families, we pray to the Lord.

Loving God, as a mother gives life and nourishment to her children, so you watch over your church.  Bless these women, that they may be strengthened as Christian mothers.  Let the example of their faith and love shine forth.  Grant that we, their sons and daughters, may honor them always with a spirit of profound respect.  Grant this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Grace & Peace

—Rev. Kelly

 

Confirmation 2019 Has Begun
Confirmation 2019 Has Begun

Confirmation 2019 has begun. We meet 13 Wednesday nights from 6:45 p.m. to 8 p.m.

We gather in Gollaher Chapel and I introduce the topic for 15 minutes (along with a little drumming circle action). Then the 10 seventh-grade confirmands and their mentors scatter to the corners of the church to discuss the questions in their books, read a chapter from the Gospel of Luke and/or work on memorizing the books of the Bible, the Apostles’ Creed, or the 23rd Psalm.

We gather back together again for the last 15 minutes of questions with me before circling up to share joys and concerns and praying together before going home.

We’ll do road trips to a mortuary, Confirmation Day at Nebraska Wesleyan with Bishop Saenz in March, and the “Living Last Supper” in Seward in April. The confirmands are encouraged to participate in as many aspects of the church as possible in these 13 weeks (worship/service projects etc.).
In the coming weeks the confirmands will be given the opportunity to write a Journeys piece (the article on the back of the bulletin) about what this church means to them or their favorite thing about the church. If the confirmands choose to become full members of the church, they will be confirmed on Sunday, May 5th.

Please keep these Confirmands and their Mentors in your prayers during this important discernment time in their lives:

Confirmands: Trey Engberg, Gabe Gonzalez, McKenna Garrels, Conner George, Jaylen Hansen, Grace Hill, Madilynn John, Alec Sundberg, Kyla Sybrandts, and Madyson Schuler.

Mentors: Vicki McDermott, Sebrina Bergmeier, Jeremy Sundberg, Danny John, and Ron George.

Grace & Peace,

Rev. Kelly Karges

Honor the 2019 Graduates
Honor the 2019 Graduates

Today we honor our High School graduates. Central Catholic’s was two weeks ago. Northwest was last weekend. Grand Island Senior High’s is today. In this graduation season, we give them God’s blessing for completing this portion of their education. High School graduation has become one of the only ceremonies we do to bestow adulthood on the coming generation.

With a little piece of paper, a shake of a hand, a walk across the stage, a speech, a senior video, a back yard party, loads of paper plates and napkins, a table or wall dedicated to 18 years of pictures and memories, grandmas and grandpas, aunts  and uncles, cousins and friends, pictures, videos and more pictures, we let them know that we think they have definitely done something.

The church’s language would be that we (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, Sunday School teacher, youth group leaders and pastors) have poured God’s blessings into you graduates for 18 years. Now, we expect those blessings to begin to pour out of you and onto those around you. We have blessed you so that you can be a blessing to the world.

Things like love, compassion, respect, and forgiveness have been given to you because God gave them to us and expects us to pass them forward. Now, we believe God expects the same from you.  Pass on the blessings. Pour them into your families, your friends, your fellow workers, and the world will be a Godlier place; a more loving, more compassionate, more respectful and more forgiving place.

True, we are not done passing on our blessings. But this graduation thing is a marker in time. From this point on, we give the future to you. You are no longer just receivers, but givers of God’s blessings.

You join us in this adult world where these blessings are foreign. And when we are no longer able to carry on, you will be there to pass on God’s blessings to your children and grandchildren.

“God Bless You”

Rev. Kelly

 

Memorial Weekend
Memorial Weekend

I can’t believe that it’s Memorial Day already!  It is the bookend of summer with Labor Day on the other end.

This weekend is about proving that we haven’t forgotten. We need to do what we can to prove to those that served in our military that we have not forgotten their sacrifice. Not forgetting is how we honor them.  In our lifetimes there were 405,399 U.S. military deaths in World War II; 38,516 in the Korean War; 58,209 in the Vietnam War; 6,717 in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars so far.

We buy grave markers made of stone and steel for our loved ones to prove the permanence of our memories of who they were and what they meant to us. My Dad’s grave marker is on a wall at the columbarium at Christ UMC in Lincoln. Our son Luke’s grave marker is at Rose Hill Cemetery just south of Albion, Nebraska.

This weekend we need to visit and tend to the last places we saw the remains of our loved ones who’ve passed away to prove we haven’t forgotten them. We take care of that little outdoor space as a continuation of what we did for them while they were alive. We continue our caring for them even though they were no longer able to reciprocate. Even though it is one-sided, the relationship goes on. We’re doing our part.

We do battle with wire hangers and sculpt flower foam and pick out just the right flowers, (plastic and otherwise), as a gift to the memories of our loved ones who no longer walk this earth with us.  Nailing down those flower pots helps us nail down our memories so they don’t blow away.

May God bless our grave tending this weekend. May they help us hook and hold our precious memories of those we can no longer hug and hold like we used to.

Grace & Peace,

Rev. Kelly

 

Annual Conference 2019
Annual Conference 2019

A week ago Rev. Dave, myself and Carol Denton represented Trinity at the Great Plains Annual Conference meeting in Topeka, KS. Every United Methodist Church in Nebraska and Kansas sent it’s pastor(s) and at least one lay representative to this four day event from Wednesday afternoon to Saturday at noon. There was equal clergy and lay representation. Retired pastors are also welcome and can vote.  Local pastors (those with no college degree and are working toward half the regular seminary credits) can vote on items brought to the general body, but not on items pertaining to ordination, constitutional amendments or election to general or jurisdictional conference.

The structure of the Annual Conference is a lot like that of a local church. There are conference committees that are the same as those we have, just covering the two state area. The Annual Conference business is pretty much like our yearly All Church Conference that we hold in the fall. We celebrate the ministries that have been done during the past year and make arrangements to do ministry in the next year. This year we also elected clergy and laity delegates to General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference in 2020.

We also remember those pastors and pastor’s wives who have passed away since we last gathered together in a special memorial service. We ordain new pastors and deacons. This year the Bishop Saenz baptized the child of a pastor during that memorial service. At the end of the session the Bishop “fixes” the new pastoral appointments for this coming year, making them  official. We share worship at the beginning of each day. We sing hymns together (you cannot believe the volume and gusto of the singing!).

Groups and organizations meet during meal times. We gathered with our friends for the annual parties at the end of each day in the late evening to debrief, regurgitate and ruminate on the events of the day.

Everything we did this year was tainted by what happened at the special general Conference in February. We are trying to work out what we do next as we keep trying to serve the least and lost of our world while we reshape our identity as a church. Thank you for keeping the United  Methodist Church in your prayers as Annual Conferences meet all over our country at this time of year.  God is doing amazing things through us United Methodists, and we are working hard at discerning how to spread the love of Christ in our world in the future.

Grace & Peace,

Rev. Kelly Karges

 

 

Pentecost
Pentecost

Pentecost is a holiday that Hallmark has not yet latched onto. Perhaps if they did, they would develop a card with a tongue of fire that pops out at you when you open it up. What language would it be in? If it were true to the experience of Pentecost it would display in whatever language you speak. This is maybe why the idea of Pentecost cards have not caught on yet at Hallmark—it would require a magic similar to that at Hogwarts.

If you have been paying attention to the beautiful altar decorations that Barbara and Donna have arranged, we have been using the color white since Easter. In the Church calendar, we have continued to celebrate the risen Christ for the past seven weeks. Pentecost is the remembrance of the inbreaking of the Holy Spirit and beginnings of the Jesus Movement. This holiday, then, is wrapped in excitement and anticipation and awe. But in the Church calendar it transitions us to a time that is known as Ordinary Time.

Is this a letdown, or is it a necessary way of living our ordinary lives? When Pentecost came, the disciples were not looking for flames of tongue or the ability to speak in other languages or three thousand people being added to the Jesus Movement. They were living out their ordinary Jewish life—participating in its rituals and sharing meals together. And this is when the Holy Spirit breaks in and changes the course of history. This is a pattern that is written throughout the Scriptures: ordinary people going about their ordinary tasks become vessels for the miraculous.

Go out and celebrate Pentecost today. Perhaps it could just be doing the ordinary things of your life with new eyes to see those actions in extraordinary ways.

—Rev. Dave Clark

 

Change is Inevitable
Change is Inevitable

The Clark family began its journey with Trinity UMC about five years ago. We would show up at the 11:00am service and sit in the back. This was our first experience of a Methodist Church. What we found was a church-community that was open to various theological ideas and willing to discuss those beliefs over a glass of beer. We found a church-community that not only expressed a concern for social justice but actually did something about it. This was a vision and experience of church that drew us in and connected us to this community.

Throughout our five years here, both Molly and I have taken major steps in our own vocational journey. Molly became Director of Children, Youth, and Family Ministries. I began seminary studies, became a Certified Candidate for Ordained Ministry, and was appointed as Associate Pastor this past year. These steps were important in exposing both Molly and I to the important existential questions of who we are, what are our gifts to be offered to the world, and how God is calling us to express these gifts in the church and in the world. Our lives have radically changed over the past five years and Trinity has been a significant part of that journey.

On behalf of the Clark family, thank you for your constant support and love. The experiences we have had here will be carried with us always.

Grace and peace,

—Rev. David Clark

 

Trey Engberg: Confirmation
Trey Engberg: Confirmation

Hi, my name is Trey Engberg and I’m thirteen years old. I love to play football and basketball.

In Confirmation, I have learned many things like how God is actually more of a spirit. He is just pictured in human form so that we can relate to him. Confirmation has also shown me that learning about the Holy Spirit can be fun. We always play drums at the beginning before we separate into groups with our mentors, mine being my grandma, Vicki McDermott. We also play them along with other music from the Greatest Showman.

Confirmation has also got me into reading the Bible. When we go with our mentors, sometimes we read chapters from Luke or other scriptures from the Bible. From the Bible I have learned that Jesus was tempted by the devil but still stayed loyal to God. This is what I have learned from confirmation.

Makenna Garrels: Confirmation
Makenna Garrels: Confirmation

My name is Makenna Garrels. I was born in Hastings, Nebraska and I am an only child.

I just turned 13 on January 10th and I am a 7th grader at Westridge Middle School. I am in dance, softball, and volleyball. I love to go hunting and fishing with my parents at our cabin, and I also enjoy spending time with our dog. I am going on my second year as being a volunteer at Stuhr Museum during special events, summer classes, and working in buildings. I am in choir and orchestra at school, and I am also on the dance team at school.

When we had a lesson on who God was a lot of us learned that God could be anyone or anything, but we don’t know. My mentor is my Grandpa. When we meet for classes, I feel that this is something that has brought us closer together.

General Conference
General Conference

This is what I posted on Facebook immediately following the close of our United Methodist General Conference 2019 in St. Louis.

“I copy the statement from St. Paul UMC, Lincoln.  As Senior Pastor of Trinity UMC, Grand Island:

“While the actions of General Conference have been disappointing today, Trinity will continue to be a place where all people know All are beloved and sacred.  We will continue to hope and pray that God’s love will prevail. And we will continue to work for acceptance and equality for all people.”

Here is a link to the interview that our local TV station News 4 did on Thursday:

https://www.ksnblocal4.com/content/news/Local-Methodist-pastor-fights-for-LGBTQ-rights-in-church-506522501.html

I believe that we are all beautifully and wonderfully made in the image of God; gay, straight, queer, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender etc. I also believe that there is a group that has been working to de-stabilize the influence of mainline Protestant churches in America ever since the end of the Vietnam War.  In their eyes, United Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Baptists were too influential in ending that war.  So, this group has been funding efforts to split the power of those churches ever since. So, the words that “Homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” were added to our Book of Discipline in 1972.  That same group was still at work at manipulating the political process of our United Methodist Special Session of General Conference 2019 in St. Louis.  Back in the early 70’s they chose homosexuality as a strategic wedge to drive churches apart.  I believe that if it wasn’t sexuality, it would have been abortion, or the ordination of women.

I have been United Methodist all my life.  My Dad, two brothers and wife are also United Methodist clergy.  Watching our world-wide meeting on St. Louis by live-streaming was like having the whole world witness a nasty family fight.  The ugly underbelly of our church politics was exposed.  No matter what side you were on, it was painful to watch.  The damage we as a church have been inflicting on the LBGTQ community since 1972 was just exasperated.  The Traditionalist Plan that was approved (55% for, 45% against), was deemed 40% unconstitutional coming into that meeting.  The plan that was approved has been referred to the Judicial Council (our United Methodist Supreme Court) for further review as to its constitutionality.  That will happen April 23rd.  There is a strong possibility that what was approved in St. Louis will be deemed unconstitutional and we’ll be back where we started before the general conference.  A lot of folks are hurting right now.  Folks on both sides of the issue have threatened to quit.  I’m hoping you will join me in choosing to still be the Trinity church we have been in sharing the love of God every chance we get; feeding the poor; training our young one’s up to be compassionate, humble servants who walk in the footsteps of Jesus.  This is not over.  I believe God is still perfecting us and our church. God’s not done with us.  I invite conversation on this over a cup of coffee sometime in the near future.  Let’s hang in there together.

Grace & Peace,

–Rev. Kelly Karges

Conner George: Confirmation
Conner George: Confirmation

Hi, I’m Conner George. I like playing sports: basketball and football are my favorites. Two of my favorite things about our church is helping out with Loaves and Fishes and Vacation Bible School. During VBS, I enjoy helping out with the little kids in all the activities. I enjoy Loaves and Fishes, because I like meeting the people who come and helping them. If confirmation has taught me anything, it is that God is everywhere and He is always there for us.

—Conner George

 

Jaylen Hansen: Confirmation
Jaylen Hansen: Confirmation

My name is Jaylen Hansen. I am 13 years old and in 7th grade at Walnut Middle School. Outside of church and school, I play volleyball, basketball, and softball. I also plan to run track this Spring. Through my confirmation experience, I have been able to understand God better and what my relationship with Jesus means to me. In our classes, we have read verses from the Bible and discussed them with our mentors. One thing I hope to discover through confirmation is how the things I’m learning about God and the Bible can be applied in my own life. My mentor, Jeannie Graves, has been a great leader for me, because I can gain from her perspective on things we talk about. One thing I felt was interesting is understanding what the Holy Spirit means. One thing that I really like in confirmation is the friends that I have in class with me, and getting to talk about these things together. From confirmation, I hope that I will gain a better understanding of God and strengthen my relationship with God.

—Jaylen Hansen

 

Grace Hill: Confirmation
Grace Hill: Confirmation

My name is Grace Hill and I am a 7th grader at Walnut Middle School. I’m 12 years old and I enjoy sports and art. The sports I’m in are basketball, softball, volleyball, and track. The things in art I like are painting and drawing. The reason why I like art so much is because you can make your own story in your picture. Reading the Bible each week has helped me get to know God better. The retreat to Seward is something I’m looking forward to in my confirmation group this year.

In my Confirmation group, I have a lot of people I know and that makes it really exciting. When we do confirmation group, we play the drums. I really enjoy that because I play drums at school for band. My mentor is Sebrina Bergmeier and the thing I like about meeting with her is that I have two other girls in my group so more voices are heard. Sebrina is a good mentor, because it is easy to learn from her and she listens to you when it’s your time to speak.

—Grace Hill

 

Madilynn John: Confirmation
Madilynn John: Confirmation

My name is Madilynn John. I have four brothers and four sisters. I am 13 years old and am in 7th grade at Westridge Middle School. My favorite sports are volleyball, softball, basketball, track, and I am going to begin hunting. Other things I like to do are reading, painting, and math. I am in my school’s choir and orchestra along with playing sports.

My favorite lesson we have done so far was probably the lesson on God. I feel that when we did this lesson, I took more consideration to how my thoughts of God have changed over the years. I always had thought of God as an old guy with a beard, but when I walked out of class that day my perspective changed a bit. I realized that God could be anything. God could be a candle light, the wind, or any type of person. My mentor is my grandpa, Danny. I really enjoy getting to have him as my mentor, because he always has a positive attitude and is always open to learn and to help me. Having him as my mentor, I feel has really helped us learn and grow together.

—Madilynn John

 

Alec Sundberg: Confirmation
Alec Sundberg: Confirmation

My name is Alec Sundberg. I like sports and I play football and basketball. I am in 7th grade at Westridge Middle School. I am 12 years old. I am in orchestra at school. I play the string bass.

In confirmation, I have learned that God is not just a man. In my reading of Luke, I have learned that Jesus was tempted in ways that were bad. He was tempted with things like if you are God’s son then you can throw yourself off the roof and you will not die. My mentor is my dad, Jeremy Sundberg. He is a good mentor, because he makes me think hard about the answers to find a deep and meaningful answer.

—Alec Sundberg

 

Kyla Sybrandts: Confirmation
Kyla Sybrandts: Confirmation

Hi! My name is Kyla Sybrandts and I am 13 years old and in the seventh grade at Westridge Middle School. My family includes my mom, dad, and three younger sisters: Kamry, Keely, and Katelyn. I am involved in volleyball, basketball, track, and show choir. I also enjoy playing golf and softball in the summer.

One thing that I have learned in Confirmation that has helped me to know God better, is learning that God can be anywhere and can be anything. I used to think that God was only a person, but after reading Luke I understood that God can be a flash of lightning or a gush of wind. One thing I hope to accomplish during my Confirmation journey is memorizing the books of the Bible. My mentor is Sebrina Bergemier and I have really enjoyed having her mentor me along my journey of getting confirmed. I feel safe when learning about God with Sebrina and my group, and that I can be open about what I am thinking.

—Kyla Sybrandts

 

Madyson Schley: Confirmation
Madyson Schley: Confirmation

My name is Madyson (Mady) Schley. I go to Westridge Middle School and I am in choir, volleyball, and track. I also play softball outside of school. My mentor is Sebrina. She is a good mentor, because she helps me understand my learning about God. We have two other girls in our class named Kyla Sybrandts and Grace Hill. I like having more than just me in our group, because then we can get a deeper understanding of God.

If we have questions, we always ask and sometimes we have the same questions so we can connect more. One way I communicate with God is by praying. Whenever I am having a bad day, I pray and hope that things will get better. And with God there, I know that they always will. I think the best thing about church is on Wednesdays. I like getting to see all of my friends.

—Madyson Schley