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Dear Brothers and Sisters, as we are observing the social distancing/physical distancing my prayer is that we get closer and closer to God. I allow me to bring to you this short reflection, as a journey piece:
As a child, we grew up making our own toys and the only time we were expecting toys as gift was on Saint Nicholas day (6th of December). However, those gifts did not last to the next December 6th . Sometimes, we played with them just for few days and they were broken and thrown away. I remember one day a childhood friend of mine asking why Saint Nicholas has to come only once a year with gifts, does he not know that the toys we receive do not last longer?, he asked.
Years later, I met that childhood friend and we started talking about our childhood memories and then there was a sudden silence for few seconds. He then said, “You remember I did complain fifteen or sixteen years back about Saint Nicholas bringing gifts to us only once a year?” Yes, I remember that conversation, I replied. He continued, “We were looking for gifts that come and go while we had gifts that were renewed every morning by a faithful Saint Nicholas…” I was a bit lost and asking him to explain more on what he meant by gifts that were renewed every morning. My friend noted, “God has given us the gift of creativity to make our own toys, and we had the power to transform useless materials into useful toys…”
Dear brothers and sisters, God has blessed us all with gifts but sometimes we envy the gifts we do not have while forgetting the gifts we already have. We feel like our gifts are not as important as the gifts other people have. Remember, all gifts are equally important, and it is God who gives us not for selfish ambitions but so that the name of God can be glorified through our work.
When I am weak and my soul is weary, in those seasons of my life I am reminded of the apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…” These words inspire me, and I hope they inspire you as well during this season of human vulnerability. Remember in our weaknesses in face of the pandemic, Covid-19, God’s strength is made perfect. God’s strength is made perfect for us to look beyond past our own needs to think of those in our community, especially the most vulnerable ones. Friends, God creates us for a purpose and God gives us gifts and enough resources to carry God’s mission on earth. I am inviting us in this challenging time to remember that we are created for a purpose, God has called us for this moment to be the church that transcends the four walls of our building and carry the gospel of life, peace, and caring even through the mystery of technological advancements. Covid-19 has no power to contain the move of the spirit to reach out to people in new and creative ways.
The question for us is, are we willing to allow God to use our gifts to uplift someone? Are we willing to let God use our resources to save someone’s life? Friends, are we open to trying a new thing in order to point other to the source of life, who is God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy spirit? Remember, there are no big and small gifts, more and less important gifts, all gifts are important and unique, and it is God who graciously gives all gifts for the sake of accomplishing the mission here on earth. To some is given the gift of wisdom, to others the gift of knowledge, and still to others the gift of healing, organization, or just to put a smile on someone who is having a tough day or the gift of caring for those who are isolated, those who experience loneliness.
We are going through a challenging time where we need God and we need one another. No one is stronger enough to go through this challenging time by himself or herself. Let us use our gifts to help people around us as we go through this darkest valley. This is an invitation for to be good neighbors, humble and faithful servants with the gifts God has entrusted us with. Good and faithful servants are not those who do miraculous things but those who put their gifts to their accomplishment of a few things so that the name of God can be glorified as Matthew 25:21 reminds, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things…”
My prayer is that when my journey on earth is done, the Lord will welcome me as a good and faithful servant. I believe that is what you want to hear from the Lord too when your journey on earth is done, “Well done good and faithful servant!”
So dear good and faithful servants of our Lord Jesus Christ, this is a call to compassion through the various gifts given to us by the source of life, God. Let us not stay indoors to contemplate walls and sleep but as we stay indoors, let us use the tools we have to care for our neighbors, especially the most vulnerable members of our communities. It is time to use Facebook to encourage someone rather than disparaging others. It is time to tweet about others the way we wish them to tweet about us. Now more than ever before, social media can be used as tool to bring the love of God to people around us. And as the end of the week approaches, let us look around us and ask ourselves what have we done this week to keep ourselves safe and keep people around us safe? What can we do better to ensure that we are safe, and our neighbors are safe?
Remember, dear good and faithful servants of God, it is not about how big one’s impact can be, rather it is about being faithful with the small things and gestures that we do to lighten the life of others during this time that matters the most.
Well done, good and faithful servant for the work you are doing in keeping yourself and people around you safe.
My Dad entered St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City when I was 12 years old. Up until then, home was our two story farm house on the hill just above the Albion Country Club. Home included the Karges and Sons Dairy Farm that I roamed from sun-up to sun-down as soon as I was big enough for Mom to let me pack a jar of water in my back-pack and head for the dam at the edge of our property. There were loads of great frogs hiding in the cow hoove prints in the mud around that pond. Since then, for me, there has been no permanent place to go home to.
If you’re like me, you’ve got several homes. And home becomes more about the people you’re with than the place where you put your head down to sleep. I’ve joked that our two Husker season football tickets that we’ve had since 1993 are home for me. Those two 18 inch seats in section 19 at Memorial Stadium are a part of what defines me.
Then there’s Disneyworld. Folks know that our Karges family is crazy about Disney world. But most don’t know how that all started. When our kids were little, we’d driven down to Disneyworld from Charleston, SC a couple times. Then my Duke Divinity School roomate Dale and his wife Kelly had a tornado destroy Kelly’s church on Palm Sunday in Alabama. Their daughter Hannah was one of several who were killed in that church that day. Two weeks before then, we’d lost our baby Luke as he was being born when we were pastors in Ainsworth, NE. Later that year, our two families met at Disneyworld and let a couple Mylar balloons go during the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom in memory of Hannah and Luke. And Disney became another home for us; home to our grief; a place where we could let go and be a little happy watching our other kids have fun at a time when we didn’t know if we’d ever smile again.
Then there’s church. I call the Albion United Methodist Church my home church. Mom and Dad sang in the choir. Us Karges boys sat with Grandma Karges in her pew as her friends passed us three boys gum and mints and paper and pencils to keep us occupied. I also call the Doniphan and Rosedale UMCs my home churches. It’s where Dad was pastor while I was in high school. Mom and Dad did the Doniphan UMYF group. Actually, every church I’ve ever been a part of has felt a little bit like home. It really is true. Home is where your heart is.
So is Trinity church one of your home places? Before all this pandemic stuff, did Saturday night or Sunday morning include that little twinge of excitement as you got ready to head up to the church and see your friends that sit near you in your pew? Did you anticipate your soul being touched by the music, the sermon, the prayer time, or coffee and cookies afterward in the gathering place? Did just being there, seeing the marvelous stain glass windows make you feel at home; settle the dust of your soul from a hectic week of life?
These days, we are not able to gather in our home church place like usual for worship and learning and community. I don’t know about you, but I’m missing that church home feeling. These days, eight or nine of us gather at the front of the Trinity sanctuary on Sundays at 10 a.m. to lead the live-streamed worship so that you at home can see and hear some semblance of your worship home church. It’s not the same. I’ve already mentioned how weird it is to preach to an empty sanctuary, knowing that behind those cameras, you’re there watching and listening.
This Sunday, we will be doing virtual communion. Asking you at home to gather some juice and some kind of bread and we’ll participate in this ancient Christian family meal together, virtually. It is a way that God’s heart touches our hearts. This pandemic will not last forever. We will be able to come back to this home church place again sometime soon. Until then, know that God’s heart is there where your heart is, no matter where we are, as we worship together. I’ll see you on Sunday.
Hello my friends.
As we all navigate this “new normal” there are adjustments to the ways we stay connected with each other. Here are two possible ways.
First know that doing for others is the best antidote to depression. Let’s reach out to those in our community who are keeping things running in a simple way. You could write a thank you note. Write about how their presence at work makes a difference in our community. Yesterday I thanked Walmart employees for working so I could buy groceries. It was obvious that they did not hear this much. Sign it with your first name and perhaps Trinity United Methodist Church as well. Place your note in an envelope with “Thank You” on the outside. Then put it in the plastic bin that is outside door number 1 (the office door) at church. Be sure to put the lid back on tightly so the notes don’t get wet. Do this as often as you like, I will keep collecting them and delivering them. However, if you have a specific place to thank, write the business a note and mail it. We trust they will post it for their employees to read. This could include daycares, the police, the firemen, the hospital, nursing homes or financial institutions and drive throughs for food as well as grocery and pharmacies.
The second possibility is to reach out to others from Trinity. Send emails, texts, or phone people just to say Hi. Start with those you have contact information on (like I am doing with this). And when you think of someone you don’t have that information on, you can leave a message at church and ask Susan to get that to you. Be patient, she will get back to you. Her email is: email@example.com if you would rather reach out that way. Feel free to forward this message on to anyone in your contact list. And of course, we know the power of prayer so keep storming heaven with prayers for overcoming this virus!
Thank you for your caring,
Being a PK (Pastor’s kid). I need to be at church all the time for Loaves and Fishes, and all three services and much more. So I have gotten used to it. It became fun like Loaves and Fishes. It is so fun to help people and much more stuff I like about it. But my all time favorite is kids zone. It is funny and it is great. It teaches me about God and Jesus. I love much more than that but I am running out of space. But I love church. And I will always be a Christian.
*Picture was drawn by Tim Kapundu
Tim drew a teacher, Jackson, Dan, Tim, mom, Ian, Grandpa, Jace, dad, and Penny.
I love the bell music! It makes me think of God.
Picture drawn by Alanna Warner
The bell tower music is beautiful. It makes me think about God.
It is fun to light the candles. Jesus is the light of the world.
I like to help at the food bank. Crosspoint makes good music.
I love surprises at Easter. Jesus comes back alive! Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. My teacher, Mrs. Hanson, is kind like Jesus.
Believe what they say, three kids are a lot of work. Most of my day feels like organized chaos: baths, feedings, middle of the night soothing, transportation, more middle of the night soothing, laundry, packing bags, emptying bags, etc. Did I mention laundry? Add to this a full-time job where my #1 role is to address the needs of others, and most days I can barely keep my head above water. I’m tired. I lose my patience. I scatter my attention in 20 different directions.
Amidst the supersonic pace of life, it’s easy to let the chaos get the best of me. I am so busy trying to do this thing called ‘life,’ I forget to actually live it. And unless God is on my ‘to-do’ list, I find myself letting Him get overshadowed by the daily demands of being a working mom.
In an effort to calm the storm, the four Buhrman boys and I make it a priority to eat supper as a family every night. For twenty minutes, we attempt to block out the rest of the world to focus our attention on God and each other. We begin by holding each other’s hands and praying, concluded by an enthusiastic “AMEN” by Nolan. Then everyone goes around the table and shares their joy for the day. In fact, you cannot be excused from the table unless you have shared your joy. It’s my favorite family tradition. It reminds me that no matter how tired I am, no matter how many directions I feel pulled, I am centered by my faith and my family. I can ALWAYS pick out something in my day that brought me a smile, that I’m thankful for, or was a reminder of the many blessings God has given me. I leave the dinner table emotionally, physically, and spiritually renewed.
What centers you through the chaos? What do you do to bring yourself emotional and spiritual renewal daily? I pray that in this furious storm of life, you find moments of joy and calm—bringing you closer to God and the people who matter most to you.
You are probably wondering what this is… it is acolyting. It is so much fun—it is where two people hold a candle lighters or I just call them a candle stick and you walk down a hall at church and you put the candle lighter on the candle then after church you acolyte again—it is so much fun!
You are probably wondering what this is… it is a sign of a cross—a cross is where Jesus dies on the cross.
The cross tells us Jesus is alive.
The date was January 15, 2020. The place was Miller Hall. The time was 6 p.m. The reason for the people to gather was to fellowship over pizza and then to have a time of prayer. The long-range planning committee of Trinity has a goal of bringing people of different worship services together and making us one congregation rather than three. What better way to fellowship is there than to come together over food?
Somehow food relaxes people and relaxed people like to talk and share. Our first 3Ps—Pizza, People, Prayer—saw people from under age 2 to over 80 coming together. Much laughter was heard. Children’s excitement was abundant as they played together. Conversation flowed easily. We saw faces we recognized and introduced ourselves to faces we didn’t know. We were simply people of God, people of Trinity, together.
And then we had a time to think about prayer in our lives. We were able to write prayer requests and place them in the Trinity prayer box knowing the requests would be honored by a group to pray over them. Newspapers of old used to report on social and family gatherings in the community and they often ended with “a good time was had by all.” I think we could conclude the same, “a good time was had by all” and now perhaps we can expect more good times in the future; the 3rd Wednesday of the month—prior to youth gatherings, prior to choir practice, and prior to bell choir practice—a time for all people to come together as one to eat pizza and pray.
We hope you will join us on Wednesday, February 19 for the next Pizza, People, and Prayer event. Oh, and by the way, another way long range planning is bringing people of Trinity together is implementing combined worship on the 5th Sunday, known as TRINITY UNITED, but we will save that for another time.
Everyone is invited on Wednesday, February 19 for Pizza, People, Prayer!
I love to candle light. I love Jesus cause He loves me and He is our helper. I love church. I love Bible study. I love Bible study, because I love to learn.
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
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”!
O.K., so the Christmas tree is up. The lights are up on the house and/or bushes. You know where the family gatherings are going to be on Christmas Eve/Day and/or the week in-between Christmas and New Year’s Day. You got tired of not being able to stop thinking of all the stuff you’ve got to do before Christmas Day, so you’ve put together your list. You’ve lost that list at least twice, so it is now securely placed on the refrigerator door.
You want Christmas this year to be at least as memorable and meaningful as last year, maybe more. Or, Christmas has never lived up to the days of your childhood. Or, your childhood memories of the holidays are so horrible that you’ve vowed to make them better for your kids. Or, you are wanting to simplify your Christmas list, move away from all the “stuff,” and focus on the relationships that matter this year.
Or, you are looking for some meaning and healing in your life this Christmas. More than anything, you need God to shine some light amidst the darkness of your life. Cause, face it, you are not able to generate much spark right now. You can’t even find a match to light the candle of your soul. You are that far down. Christmas seems to lift others up. But it is secretly bringing you down.
See, for a lot of folks Christmas is a time to take roll. Who’s here? Who’s not here? For some who’ve lost a loved one, Christmas just reminds you of who’s not here. And I tell folks that if they didn’t mean anything to you, you would not be grieving. But the pain of grieving is proportional to how much your husband/grandpa/child/sister/niece/Dad/Mom/grandchild etc., meant to you. And there is something about Christmas that seems to open that grief up again. And you find yourself right back where you were the day after the funeral.
If that’s your deal, it’s O.K. for your Christmas prayer to be the same as on that post-funeral day, . . . “God, help me get through this!” Cause my experience is God’s will.
Grace & Peace,
–Rev. Kelly Karges
Recently I began teaching the 5th and 6th grade Sunday School class. Our first lesson together was about the women who followed Jesus. After reading the few verses that mention women followers by name, our conversation veered away from the lesson plan and we talked about how Jesus spent time with people that society considered unimportant, unworthy or even hated. I asked the students, “What groups of people do you think Jesus would spend time with today, people that we may think were a waste of time or a bad choice?” Here’s what made the list:
From there, we went on to discuss a few other topics, until it was time to leave and I was left wondering if anyone knew the story of Mary and Martha that was supposed to be today’s lesson. But later in the day, I reflected on the sincerity and accuracy of the students’ statements. It brought to mind what happened after Jesus was in the Temple, turning over the money lenders’ tables and healing the blind and disabled. Children watched and began shouting “Hosanna!” The priests and legal experts confronted Jesus:
16 “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus. “Haven’t you ever read about it in Scripture? It says, “‘Lord, you have made sure that children and infants praise you.’” Matthew 21:16
Do you hear what these children are saying? Jesus loves gang members, LGBTQ people, and everyone in the Middle East. Kids have a way of responding to the most difficult and complicated problems with a clarity that adults have lost. Hosanna!
I really love how I can get a chance every Wednesday to learn about God. It gives young kids like us a chance to learn about God and different stories of the Bible!
Another adventure I love about Trinity is that every year they do a Vacation Bible School. It is a different theme every year. For example, they did a Space theme and they had a robot named RT-D2. The previous year, they did a River Rampage theme.
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.
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.
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!
Every November, we spend several weeks talking about Stewardship to the church through our commitment and pledge to Trinity. It is a great time to reflect on what our church means in our lives and how we can better serve the church by helping others. That’s what Stewardship is all about—sharing. As Christians, we all try to share what we have with others, in our families, in our church, in our community and beyond. Sharing is not something we do just once a year on Consecration Sunday, but all year long.
When we 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.
God has given us many blessings. Each of us has different abilities and desires to serve others by using these blessings God has given us. That’s what makes this church such a caring and vital part of our lives and the lives we touch. I am always pleased to read about how many Trinity members serve leadership roles in our community. We seem to have a collective desire to help manage God’s blessings well beyond just helping ourselves.
Stewardship is managing God’s blessings. We need to manage these blessings by, 1) our time, 2) our talents, 3) our relationships, and 4) our treasure. So, when we think of these treasurers, we need to ask ourselves, how can I help manage God’s blessings in all four areas, all year long?
By the time you read this the seasonal shift will have happened. We leap from Thanksgiving to Christmas season with one quick Black Friday. Our culture no longer really recognizes Advent; the season of anticipation, the season of waiting, the season of preparation. We’re more into celebrating the season of Christmas from now until the big day. Then there’s the twilight zone week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
The Christmas Season is not so bad really. All the Christmas parties; the Children’s Christmas programs, the Christmas Choral cantatas. Even if we plug in the Christmas lights downtown the week before Thanksgiving, there still doesn’t seem to be enough time before Christmas Eve. There’s the decorating (inside and out), the lists of gifts to be found, the mailing deadlines for gifts and Christmas family epistles to be mailed, the school Choral Concerts, the staff office party, the one day within two weeks of Christmas when all the Karges brothers and families can be in the same place at the same time.
Christmas Day has become the finish line for a long sprint. It’s a 400-yard dash kind of thing. You go full speed for as long as possible then crash in a heap when you finally cross the finish line.
The day after Christmas is what we’re all longing for. That’s what we can’t wait to get to! The day of no pressure, no expectations of doing what we’re always done. I dream of the day after Christmas! Now that’s a “Holy-day.” Except of course if you’re a retail clerk, and everybody and their dog is coming in to the store to exchange their Christmas gift. You’ve got to come up with another holiday.
Grace & Peace,
Rev. Kelly Karges
There are only 10 shopping days until Christmas! All the stores are out of that one and only things your child (or grandchild) wants for Christmas. Have you mailed your Christmas cards yet?
Have these words been uttered or screamed in your house?
“Where did all that wrapping paper go from last year?”
“Has anyone seen the tape?”
“What did we do with the scissors?”
Uncle John moved again. Do we have his new address?”
All the neighbors have their lights up. When are we going to put up ours?”
“Do we have any replacement bulbs for these green strings of lights?”
“I think we blew a fuse.”
Advent is the season of anticipation, expectation . . .and panic. There is so much to be done on top of the regular stuff. And the days still have just 24 hours in them. Our nostalgia tells us to do all those things that made us feel good in the past. Our sweet tooth tells us to eat all those goodies that will make us feel good now. Our sense of responsibility tells us that family, friends, co-workers, the mail man, the newspaper delivery person, all our children’s teachers and Sunday School teachers need some sort of gift to be wrapped and delivered sometime before December 25th.
Our faith tells us that Christmas comes down to one thing: God loves us so much that God comes to be one of us. God’s love overflows into the gift of a baby that would grow up to save us from ourselves. And because God gives, we give too. So, before you get totally overwhelmed by the season, take a moment to stop the madness. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and receive the gift of peace from God. Take God’s love and it will overflow into the patience and endurance you will need to make it through Christmas day and beyond.
Grace & Peace,
After today we’ve got two days until Christmas. With school out on Friday, a lot of families with kids hit the road the minute those school doors opened to release the masses. Things will begin shutting down Tuesday night. Christmas Eve day will have selected stores and businesses open, some only half-day. Christmas Day only the economically challenged will be open. Nobody wants to work on Christmas Day. But, no matter what the day, the cows still have to be milked and fed. Hospitals still have to function. Law enforcement will still be out there along with firemen/women and emergency response teams and staff at the wide variety of humans and animal care facilities.
The gifts as the bottom of the list should be crossed off this week. Wrapping paper and ribbon are important. We’re way past the mailing time for Christmas presents. You can still send that yearly family Christmas letter to 50 to 100 of your closest friends that you communicate with once a year, but they won’t get there ‘til after “the day.”
Now, we’re basically down to the gifts and the food. And we’re praying for good weather. Now, it’s about getting everybody together at the same time and place, to give each other something, to watch the kids enjoy Christmas, to record the moment with pictures and video. It’s a day to say thanks, and to be filled up with food, family, stuff and love. Christmas is a reason to care about each other, and to show it in as many ways as possible.
In my family, it is important that no one is left out. Gifts are as equal as possible. Love is fair. Caring is universal. The same is true of the church family. God’s blanket love gift to the world pours over onto us and we throw that blanket over everyone within our reach and call it Christmas.
Grace & Peace,
It is the first Sunday of the new year. 2019 is done. 2020 is all before us.
My Zen Buddhist friends remind us that “the past is perfect.” So even though memories and regrets of this past year are fresh in our minds, there is nothing we can do now to change any of that. 2020 is a clean slate in front of us. It is time to move on.
True, there are still some people that we could say, “I’m sorry,” to from 2019. There are still some, “Thank you’s,” “You mean so much to me’s,” and “I love you’s,” left unsaid from last year. There are tons of things we may wish we could do over. But fretting over all that doesn’t change anything.
What can happen in this new year is that maybe, if we’re lucky, we can make one significant change from our 2019 behavior. Rev. Fred Wideman, pastor Coach and friend of mine from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, challenged his congregation to choose one thing that they’d be willing to get up early or stay up late to accomplish this new year. One thing we’d be willing to go that extra mile to do.
Try that. Ask God to help you do it. Then if we’re lucky, when we cross over into 2021 one year from now, the past will truly be perfect and you will have one less regret.
Grace & Peace,
—Rev. Kelly Karges
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/
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
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
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,
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
Be still and know
that I am God.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
—Molly Clark, Director of Youth and Children’s Ministry
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
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
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
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
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.
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”
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,
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 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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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:
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).
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.
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:
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
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
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.
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.
Trinity has so many amazing ministries. And it follows that Trinity has many amazing people. We could be a Hallmark commercial – “when you care enough——.” I marvel daily at all the ways our church is in mission to our community. One area that particularly touches my heart is — drum roll here — and no surprise to those who know me, Loaves and Fishes. Last weekend you read some year-end numbers. Amazing, 19,199 people had more food this past year, because of all those who help. Let’s look at a few more numbers, that’s 4788 families served in 2019. And that translates into 7992 children who had more food in 2019, plus 9762 ages 19-64, and 1445 seniors over 65. More importantly, let’s talk stories for a moment. There are people in their 80’s who are raising great grandchildren and are extremely grateful for the food help. There is a physically challenged lady who comes each month. Our group calls a cab to pick her up. In December, she baked cookies and brought them for the volunteers! We give out blankets, hats, socks, gloves, and scarves during the cold months. In December, a man got two hats and hugging them close to his heart, he said he had two kids and asked for two blankets for their Christmas gifts. Children who receive a blanket and are warmer while waiting with their parents have huge smiles.
A lady brings Bibles to give away most months. A man from Hastings brings grocery carts every month. A group brought books in December. And in addition to those from our church, some of the consumers volunteer plus the hard-working ROTC from Senior High, people from First Presbyterian, some scout troops have helped as do people from Principal Finance and others who have heard of the distribution. We are also very grateful that the city of Grand Island allows us to use the utilities garage. It takes over 110 people each month to man Loaves and Fishes and that translates into about 480-man hours per month or about 5760-man hours in 2019. Also, in 2019, we began taking prayer requests. We get anywhere from 35 to 98 requests a month. The care, the smiles, the pats on the back, the prayers we give are every bit as important as the food we distribute. So, here’s that word again, AMAZING. Yes, Trinity, you are an amazing and loving church and today I salute you as we celebrate our first TRINITY UNITED!
Are we there yet?
We have journeyed for 4 weeks during this advent period. We have had time to reflect on the coming of our Savior and we have had time to prepare for his coming. We have called family and friends to make plans for this coming holyday. We have done some shopping, wrapped gifts, we have decorated our houses, we have made plan for what we are going to eat on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
As a child, I remember Christmas was the period I could get toys and we could eat delicious food and wear new clothes and shoes. Christmas used to be a time where our dreams and hope could come true. It was a time where we go to church to sing Christmas songs, watch the movie about the birth of Jesus, it was a time to move around in the neighborhood showing of new clothes and new toys.
I never had time to reflect on what was going through Joseph’s mind when he first heard that his fiancée was pregnant. All that was important was to receive a new toy, new clothes and shoes, and eat delicious meal. As a grownup man I have started asking myself what was Joseph’s first reaction to Mary’s new about her pregnancy. Have you ever reflect on what was going through Joseph’s mind when Mary announced that she was pregnant? I do appreciate Rev. Dr. Joe Pennel reflection on what makes a real Christmas. He says, “What makes a real Christmas must be found in human history. This is what Joseph did. And in a very real sense, it was the theology of Joseph which made possible the first Christmas. If Joseph had not cooperated with God’s plan in human history, the birth of Jesus would have been quite different.”
God’s plan for redemption does include humanity and Joseph had played his part and it is up to us to play our part in the divine redemptive plan.
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.
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.
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
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,
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
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.
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.
The United Methodist Church has received a lot of press from national news outlets lately. A week ago, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and several others posted headlines like “United Methodist Church to Split.” Unfortunately, the media has once again gotten ahead of itself a little bit.
On Friday, January 10 a small group of United Methodists released a statement called “A Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation.” Sixteen people from several sides of the issue surrounding the equal treatment of the LGBTQ community had been meeting with a mediator for several months to try and to find some kind of resolution. This effort was initiated by a United Methodist Bishop from Africa. And what caught my attention right off the bat was who was at the table. These were the people that have been at the forefront of this conflict within our denomination. The group included Rev. Junius Dotson, who is from Kansas and is a General Secretary of our church. Cindy and I were in seminary at Duke Divinity School with Bishops Ken Carter of Florida and Tom Bickerton of New York.
The Protocol is a proposal for a process of amicable separation by the very conservative, traditionalist folks that would leave centrists, progressives and conservatives with a post-separation United Methodist Church that could then proceed with fully including LGBTQ folks in all aspects of the church.
Nothing will change until May of this year when the world wide United Methodist General Conference meeting happens in Minneapolis. But my first reading of the Protocol proposal gives me hope that this 40-year fight within our denomination may be coming to an end. Initial responses from both sides of the issue have been generally positive.
Go to our conference website at greatplainsumc.org or umc.org for more information. The panel discussion with the group of 16 is very good, and was live streamed this past Monday and is available on that Great Plains UMC website. I have shared several different summaries of the plan on Trinity’s Facebook page. Or feel free to talk with me or Pastor Kalaba about the implications of this plan for our church.
Grace & Peace,
Pastor Kelly recently did a sermon series on Anne Lamott’s book Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. I read her book a few years ago and decided to reread (more like skim over it and read my notes) after the sermon series. I have sticky notes pasted throughout the book and my own scribbles, circles, and thoughts written throughout the margins. After reading her book in 2016, I reevaluated what it means to pray.
I am not an elaborate prayer, which is why her book resonated with me. When I pray to God, it is short and simple, and usually in my mind. Something like, “God, thank you for getting to me work safely” or “God, please comfort my friend” or even “God, did you hear that? Of course you did.” Prayer to me is an intimate time with God. I can be myself, and don’t have to worry about impressing Him with big words or fancy thoughts. I figure—God knows my heart and my intentions, so no need to sugar coat it.
As I’ve grown closer to God, I have become so accustomed to Him being with me all the time that I almost have a conversation with Him 24/7. Sounds kind of crazy, doesn’t it? But I know He sees and hears everything that I do, so I don’t have to explain anything. He just knows. How do you pray? Are you an elaborate prayer or more of a simple prayer type of person?
The take away? Don’t worry about impressing God or coming up with a ten minute prayer—just talk with Him. If you see a friend or family member struggling, pray to God. Keep it simple and sweet. Something like “I love this person and they need help. Please God, give them peace.”
As the Methodist church moves forward, it is good to remember to pray for one another. Pray for patience. Pray for peace. Pray for your leadership. And just remember, your prayers don’t have to be extravagant. God knows.
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.