This Week's Announcements
Our Schedule of Services:

Here is our schedule;
more information may be found by downloading the bulletin.



Sunday January 16:

8:30 am In Person Eucharist


9:40 am Sunday School (Pre-K-12th Grade)


10:30 am In Person(also streamed virtually) Eucharist



Wednesday January 19:

12:00 pm Noonday Prayer

Masks Currently Required During Worship
Because of the high rates of transmission of the omicron variant, we are currently requiring our congregation to wear masks during our worship services. We are monitoring conditions and hope to return to a “masks optional for vaccinated persons” rule when the caseload is lower in our area. In general, we continue to affirm that vaccination seems to be the strongest tool for avoiding severe illness and hospitalization, and our temporary mask requirement is intended to add to that defense. To share any questions, concerns, or encouragement, please contact Fr Ben.
Annual Meeting

Please join us after 10:30 Service on Sunday, January 30 for our parish Annual Meeting and Luncheon (organized by Parish Life).

This year, they have decided to change it up a bit. Parish life will provide meat, rolls and drinks. They would like to ask parishioners to potluck the rest. Anyone whose last name starts with A-O, please bring a side dish such as a casserole or salad, and last names P-Z, please bring a dessert. If your offering is gluten free, please let us know so we are able to label it as such.
Parent Meeting
Please join us after 10:30 service on Sunday, January 23 for a parent meeting. Childcare and snacks will be available.

We want to have a discussion about our Youth, from Pre-k to High School Seniors. We plan to talk about formation, fellowship, service & worship, what our plan for the future is as well as what you would like to see your children involved in. Come ready to discuss what we have done well in the past, what we are doing now, and what we can be doing in the future to keep our youth program going strong, and above all make sure our youth have the best opportunities for spiritual growth that we can give them!
Directory

We are beginning a much needed update to our Parish Directory. This time, we will have the option to allow you access to a digital directory as well as a paper copy. Please send Kate or Jay a current photo of each member of your household individually as well as one of the entire household. Please send photo’s by January 30.
Opportunities to Get Involved
Save The Date!
Masks will be required during the ordination service
Tree Removal and Free Fire Wood
 Photos taken by Jim Keepers, Certified NE Arborist
FREE FIREWOOD

   The pile of firewood on the church's south-east property line needs to be moved. If anyone in the parish would like some free firewood or if they know of anyone who would like some wood to burn please stop by and take some. It is an ideal time, because the ground is hard and you can back your truck or car to the pile. If you need any help or have any questions, please contact Jim Keepers at 402-618-8837 or 402-332-0715. The wood pile must be moved.
TREE REMOVAL

You may notice a change to the landscape, as two trees in front of church were removed.

The evergreen removal is being paid for by the Hitchcock Foundation Grant. The tree on the right(as you looked at church), Locust, is being paid out of part of last year's garden budget and part of this year's garden budget.

The trees were removed because of the problems their branches, seed pods and pine cones caused in our front drainage ditches, in the parking lot and along the sidewalks. This fall I(Jim Keepers), collected over 26 bags (large brown trash bags) of just the seed pods that fell off of the locust tree. The June wind storm damaged a number of branches (called hangers) in the Locust tree and it would have cost a lot of money to have the damaged limbs removed from this tree. Our present Hitchcock Foundation Grant will help cover part of the cost of planting new trees in the same general area. I have not decided on the exact evergreens to replace the ones removed, but they will be columnar trees.
Elaine Randall Book Club
Join us for The Cowboy and the Cossack, the next book for the Elaine Randall Book Club.   It is a great adventure story of Montana cowboys moving cattle by ship and land from the Northwest U. S. to inland Russia.

The Elaine Randall Book Club is a day-time book club group which has met monthly for years. While we are committed to reading a wide variety of genres from historical fiction, mysteries, to non-fiction and everything in between, we are committed to reading and talking about books. We always meet on the last Tuesday of the month, 11:30 a.m. for an hour of discussion, and we take turns leading the book discussions. Check us out on Tuesday, January 25 at 11:30 a.m. 

During much of COVID-19 we met on Zoom and are now trying to get back to face-to-face meetings at the church. We are always open to suggestions for that next great read.

We use book bags from the library when available, but sometimes we have to get the book on our own. Readers, please feel free to join us for our next great read. If you have questions, feel free to contact Sandra Squires.
December Vestry Notes
Parish Office Nominations

Each year, we accept nominations for several parish offices. This year, Fr Ben has asked the outgoing class of Vestry members (Anja Armitage , Lynette Kautz , and Bill Smith ) to serve as our Nominations Committee to receive names. Nominations may also be sent to Fr Ben – this committee will review any nomination with the nominee and create a slate or schedule of candidates for the parish Annual Meeting in January (date TBD).

The following parish offices will be elected at our parish Annual Meeting:

Vestry, 3 seats, class of 2025: The Vestry is the parish board, and is a 3-year term elected by our Annual Meeting. Vestry members must be Confirmed (or had a confirmation Received) in the Episcopal Church, or be willing to do so this coming Spring. The Vestry meets monthly and reviews our church projects, policies, and finances, and collaborates with Fr Ben for major goals and initiatives. It is important that our Vestry reflect people from different kinds of families and groups throughout our parish to help us listen well to the call God places on our church community as we carry out our mission to “be a growing, faithful, inclusive, and caring community committed to the ministry and teachings of Jesus Christ.”

Vestry, 1 seat, class of 2022: Bill Kimme will need to step down from Vestry after this year, and our Annual Meeting can act to fill this seat as well (otherwise, it will be nominated by the rector and confirmed by the Vestry as part of their usual work). This represents an interim-year seat, which can be renewed for a standard 3-year term through the following year’s voting process. This is a good way for someone to learn more about how our vestry works or to serve for a brief term.

Annual Council Representative: Each year, the Annual Council of the Diocese of Nebraska meets in October (typically during bye-week for the Huskers!) to gather in worship and counsel and plan for the year ahead. This includes hearing from Bishop Barker, reviewing a draft budget, learning about ministry programs and goals, and may include legislative resolutions. The Annual Council in 2022 will be held in Kearney from Thursday evening to Saturday morning on a week in October.

Legacy Society Director: Our parish Legacy Society is a way to receive structured gifts, especially from estates, and has policies that govern how those gifts may be invested and used so that they continue to support our church and its ministries, especially in Outreach, Formation, and a small portion of budget. Each year we elect one member to a 3-year term, and this group meets four times each year, chaired by the senior member, to review the status of these investments and create any parish education about legacy planning.
Volunteers
Friday, January 14

  • 8:00 AM -Men's Bible Study


Sunday, January 16

  • 8:30 AM -Eucharistic Service in person

  • 9:40 AM -Sunday School

  • 10:30 AM -Eucharistic Service in person & via Facebook Live CLICK HERE

  • 3:00 PM -Sacred Ground


Tuesday, January 18

  • 6:30 PM -EFM (Contact Jack for Zoom Link)


Wednesday, January 19

  • 12:00 PM - Midday Prayer

  • 6:00 PM -Youth Group
  • Jan. 16 Sacred Ground Classes Begin
  • Jan. 21 Rebecca Smith's Ordination
  • Jan. 23 Sunday School Parent Meeting
  • Jan. 23 Rectors Book Club first Meeting
  • Jan. 30 Annual Meeting & Luncheon
  • Feb. 27 Shrove Sunday Pancake Feed
  • Mar. 2 Ash Wednesday
Rector's Reflection
Thursday, January 13, 2022

Returning to Some Temporary Measures

This coming Sunday I’ll be returning us to a rule of wearing masks during worship at church. The below is some information about that.

First of all, it’s disappointing not to have better circumstances around us. Currently, the 7-day average of new covid cases is nearly TWICE the highest point of last winter. We have stronger tools – vaccines and clearer information about what kind of masks are effective (the N95 or KN95 varieties) – but also harder conditions. Much reporting describes the omicron variant as “less severe,” but because there are so many cases, our hospitals in greater Omaha are still at over 90% occupancy, and Nebraska Medicine has activated their Crisis Plan in our Douglas County area (https://www.nebraskamed.com/COVID/crisis-standards) today. Hospitals are asking our communities to do what we can. At St Augustine’s, masking will be part of that again for a time.

Theologically, Christians should have a better foundation than most for taking on this sort of discipline. We regularly remember that we are called to being responsible for our neighbor, rather than the world’s “look out for number 1 first” culture. We have traditions of taking on personal privation to reflect on our relationship with God and neighbor – especially in Lent, for example. And we have lessons from Jesus to build a culture around those who have greatest need, instead of taking a cold average and shrugging about those who it leaves out. The lessons of our faith provide us with a road map, and reminders that generations before us have also taken on much to build up a better world for all of God’s people; we in our age are called on to take special care now for the literal health of our communities. Our own small efforts at church may not make a huge dent in that (though it’s also wholly possible that we could literally save a life by being careful), but at least we will be carefully guarding the places we are able to.

Speaking of our efforts, masks during worship are one piece of our local puzzle, but we’ll be talking over some of the others, both at the vestry meeting this coming Sunday and with our various parish groups and leaders. For example, our choir has broadly decided already that singing is a particularly exposed time, and will not be rehearsing together for the time being. This means that some of our anthems will be instrumental, which is both a way of being careful and a chance for some of our other musicians to offer their talents towards beautiful worship of God together.

As a side comment, I’m aware that this decision comes at the same time as the public discussion around an indoor mask mandate for the county or city; my current understanding is that this rule would allow churches to have a legal exception, but I don’t anticipate taking that up at present. While we may or may not be bound by their decision-making, it will be one thing I keep an eye on. In general, the reporting I’ve seen suggests that the omicron spike is expected to peak between mid-January and mid-February in Nebraska, but we’ll need to remain flexible.

All of that said: we aren’t operating in the same vacuum we were last year; we now have a year of experience about what a “winter surge” looked like, and vaccines for youngest children are still in development, as are treatment protocols for immunocompromised people. I have every hope and a cautiously optimistic expectation that we will see this surge recede, as the caseload did last year and as the delta surge did in the Fall, and that we may well fall back into gentler times for health where we can relax our protocols.

Beyond that, I remain very grateful for you all, and your commitment to each other and St Augustine’s as a place where people gather faithfully for worship, formation, and growth. Happy to talk more about this with anyone who would like. In the meanwhile, we will continue our worship of God, our fellowship with one another, and our formation as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

Ben
St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church
285 S 208th Street
Elkhorn, NE 68022
402-289-4058
Church Communication and Announcements
Those of you who need to share information with the parish, please be sure to send it to parish@sainta.net as well as ministries@sainta.net  Jay and Kate will need to have this information by Wednesday at 10:00 am to be included in that week's communication for bulletin and newsletter. We appreciate your support.
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