OF NOTE

Photo credit: JogiBaer2 on Visualhunt.com

Spirit of Abilene wants to share what’s happening at your place of worship with other Abilenians. Please send notice of events and ideas for human interest stories to: editor@spiritofabilene.com
Or call Loretta Fulton, editor, at 325-669-9006

Abilene Association of Congregations Meets Jan. 26
First Christian Church will host the January meeting of the Abilene Association of Congregations in its “new” church at 5125 Antilley Road. The meeting, which is open to the public, will begin with lunch at 11:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 26.
Greg Morris, pastor of the church, will serve as host. A program begins at noon. Susie Rockett. oboist and music instructor, will share her ministry and music. A $3 donation for lunch is suggested.
First Christian opened in the Antilley Road location last spring, with Morris as the the pastor. The historic church had been located downtown until relocating.

Diocese of San Angelo hosting youth SEEK 22 conference
Young adults from anywhere in the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo are invited to the SEEK 22 Conference Feb. 4–6 at the Cathedral Church of the Sacred Heart in San Angelo.
This is a national conference with presentations by dynamic Catholic speakers. Participants will listen to talks together, with small group discussions, and praying. A celebration of Mass and confession will follow.
Normal pricing is $75, but scholarships are available to drop it down to $35. The registration fee includes access to all the talks for the next six months online, as well as food and a T-shirt for the conference.
The registration link is below, and when it asks for what school you are with, select Angelo State University from the dropdown menu. Anyone over 18 is welcome to come, whether you are a college student or not. For more information, contact Tori Jara at (325) 212-7959. We will even take last minute registrations.
Click here to register.

Point-In-Time Survey of Homelessness Resumes After COVID Interruption

The annual Point-In-Time survey to determine the homeless population in Abilene will be conducted Jan. 27.

Volunteers are need for the survey, and training is required. Training sessions will be held 12-1 p.m. Jan. 18 and Jan. 20. Location has not been determined. Contact Heather Hurtado for details, 386-9195 or email her at hhurtado@westcentraltexas.org

The annual survey is conducted by the West Texas Homeless Network. Last year, instead of an on-the-street survey, a count was conducted of people already in the system who were sheltered locally. The last in-person survey, conducted Jan. 23, 2020, located 116 people experiencing homelessness. Of those, 113 were adults age 18 and over. Three were under the age of 18.

‘Exalt’ Citywide Worship Coming Jan. 30

Exalt, a citywide celebration, will begin at 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 30, at First Baptist Church, 1333 N. Third St.

The event will feature a night of worship, “As we exalt Jesus over Abilene and the Big Country.”

Exalt, which was held annually, prior to COVID, is hosted by 1-Kingdom, “a group of Big Country pastors and leaders who are coming together to advance the Kingdom of God and to see Abilene and the Big Country transformed through unified prayer, authentic relationships, and intentional mission.”

Marc Sanders and Friends Concert at Heavenly Rest

The Heavenly Rest Chamber Music Concert Series presents Marc Sanders and Friends at 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 16. The church is located at 602 Meander St. All of the concerts are free to the public and will be livestreamed and recorded, and they will follow church guidelines pertaining to audience participation. 

Will Willimon Speaker for FCPC Festival of Faith in November

Mark your calendar now. Will Willimon, professor of Christian Ministry at Duke Divinity School and the author of more than 70 books, will be guest speaker for the Festival of Faith Nov. 13-14 at First Central Presbyterian Church.

The Festival of Faith was started at FCPC more than 40 years ago but has been on hiatus due to COVID concerns. More details will be published closer to the date of the event.

Cliff Stewart, pastor of First Central Presbyterian Church, extended a community-wide invitation to attend the series.

“We consider this series not only to be of spiritual encouragement to our own church,” Stewart said, “but a gift to our community.”

Abilene Community Band Christmas Concert

The Abilene Community Band will present its Christmas concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14, at the Paramount Theater.

Admission is free. Donations will be accepted for the band’s endowment fund.

Giving Tuesday Coming November 30

If you don’t bust the budget on Black Friday, Nov. 26, you might think about aiding your favorite nonprofit on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 30. Just about every nonprofit participates in Giving Tuesday, a day set aside to emphasize special giving. Check a nonprofit’s website or social media to take part.

Following is a news release from givingtuesday.org:

GivingTuesday, the global generosity movement, has announced a preview of campaigns and events that will take place during the annual GivingTuesday celebration on November 30, 2021. People around the world will show generosity in all its forms through acts of kindness and by giving their voice, time, money, goods, and advocacy to support communities and causes. Each year GivingTuesday activity takes place in every country and territory around the world.

Anyone can participate in GivingTuesday, no matter who or where they are. The organization that supports the movement and the annual day of celebration offers ideas and free toolkits for individuals, families, organizations, businesses, and more on its website, www.givingtuesday.org

McMurry Invites Public to Help ‘Deck the Quad’

The lighting of Old Main will highlight the Deck the Quad event at McMurry University Monday, Nov. 29.

The lighting ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will conclude the day’s activities. Events will be held 4-6:30 p.m. in Garrison Campus Center and the grassy quad area in front of Old Main. Photos with Santa will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Photos will be available for download via email link beginning Dec. 2. A Christmas carol sing-along, hot chocolate and cookies, and an ugly sweater contest will highlight activities.

Hendrick Home for Children Focus of October AAC Meeting

Loretta Fulton, editor of Spirit of Abilene, and David Miller, president of Hendrick Home for Children, will present the program for the October meeting of the Abilene Association of Congregations.

The Home is celebrating the opening of a new Main Building. Fulton wrote a book about the Home and its founders, Tom and Ida Hendrick. The coffee table-style book, “Hendrick Home for Children: Still Building on a Firm Foundation,” was published by ACU Press.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will begin with lunch at 11:30 a.m. The program begins at noon in Gerhart Hall at the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest, 602 Meader St. The parking lot is on South Seventh Street. A $3 lunch donation is requested.

New Beginnings Fundraising Luncheon Nov. 4

The annual fundraising luncheon benefiting New Beginnings Big Country is set for Nov. 4 at the Hunter Welcome Center on the campus of Abilene Christian University.

The luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m., and the public is invited. Individual tickets are $35. Call 325-232-8614 for ticket availability. The luncheon honors the women who have been a part of the New Beginnings Big Country program.

“This is an opportunity for the community to hear their testimonies and see the difference God is making in each of their lives,” a promotional email states.

Royce Money: ‘Cracking the Crisis of Conspiracy Theories’

Royce Money, former president and chancellor of Abilene Christian University, will be guest speaker Wednesday, Oct. 13, at First Central Presbyterian Church.

Money will speak on “Cracking the Crisis of Conspiracy,” which he originally delivered last year as part of an ACU program. The Oct. 13 program will begin at 6:30 p.m. It is free, and the public is invited.

From Cliff Stewart, pastor, First Central Presbyterian: “Dr. Royce Money will address the subject of “conspiracy theories”! Dr. Money is a first class scholar and I am sure that what he shares with us will be important and helpful. How in the world do we evaluate a world that seems to be immersed in various conspiracies of one kind or another? As Christians how do we evaluate the falsehoods and truths that confront us every day?”

Royce Money became chancellor of Abilene Christian University in 2010, after serving 19 years as ACU’s 10th president.

Dr. Robert Monk to be Honored at McMurry University

Dr. Robert “Bob” Monk, retired McMurry University religion professor, will be honored at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, with a special homecoming and lecture reception. The event will be in Bishops Hall on the second floor of Radford Auditorium. The public is invited to the free presentation.

Guest speaker will be Dr. Ted A. Campbell, the Albert C. Outler Professor of Wesley Studies at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. Call 793-4609 or email mattie.denise@mcm.edu for more information.

Valley View Missionary Baptist Church Celebrating 48 Years

The worship service at 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 17, at Valley View Missionary Baptist Church will honor the church’s 48 years.

Theme will be Psalm 27: 1 “Except the Lord build the House, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lor keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” Guest minister will be the Rev. Quincy Randall, pastor of New Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Colorado City.

In addition to a celebration of the church’s service to the community, a financial campaign will launch on Sunday to pay off the remaining $5,000 owed on a note that was obtained when the church built its current facility. The original note was for $200,000.

Bishop to Celebrate 60th anniversary of San Angelo Diocese

Bishop Michael Sis will celebrate two special Masses, one in English and one in Spanish, on Sunday, Oct. 17, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Diocese of San Angelo. The diocese opened in October 1961.

The Spanish Mass will begin at noon and the English Mass will be at 6 p.m. All are invited to the Masses at Sacred Heart Cathedral in San Angelo. The bishop also will officially open the diocesan phase of the synodal process during those Masses. This month, Pope Francis is launching a two-year worldwide process that will culminate in the Synod of Bishops in October 2023. The process, according to Bishop Sis, calls for local parishes and dioceses to carry out consultations and listening sessions that will involve many local people in a prayerful experience of discernment and sharing.

Every diocese in the world, including San Angelo, will conduct a six-month diocesan synodal process from October 2021 to April 2022.

Zoo Animals to Get Special Blessing in Honor of St. Francis Day

Animals at the Abilene Zoo are in for a different kind of treat on Wednesday, Oct. 6, when they get a special blessing from clergy at the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest.

The public is invited to participate in the free event, which begins at 6 p.m. Do not bring pets to the zoo. Family pets may be blessed at Heavenly Rest’s “Blessing of the Animals” service on Sunday, October 3, at 5 p.m.

The Blessing of the Animals honors St. Francis of Assisi, who showed love for animals and all of God’s creation. His actual feast day is Oct. 4. Churches around the world hold various kinds of animal blessings on a day close to Oct. 4.

The family friendly event at the zoo will honor the example of Saint Francis and remind us of the ways we are connected to the natural world and to one another.

For more information, email or call the church info@heavenlyrestabilene.org or (325) 677-2091.

Jay Moore to Speak at FCPC Wednesday

Jay Moore, Abilene’s favorite historian, will be guest speaker for the Wednesday, Oct. 6, evening program at First Central Presbyterian Church, 400 Orange St.

Moore’s talk will be about Abilene churches, drawn from research for his books and public presentations. The program will begin at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited to the free presentation.

Fall 2021 College Enrollments: 2 up, 1 down

Abilene’s three universities reported fall 2021 enrollments as follows: Abilene Christian, 5,334; Hardin-Simmons, 1,933; McMurry, 1,155.

McMurry’s numbers represent a 4.8 percent increase over fall 2020 enrollment of 1,104. McMurry also reported its largest freshman class in nine years, with 302 students. Another 129 full-time and part-time transfer students added to the numbers.

ACU reported that 41 more students enrolled for fall 2021 than fall 2020. The increase marks the fourth consecutive year with an increase. ACU’s numbers included 1,780 students enrolled in the Dallas-based online-only campus, an increase of 162 students. The Abilene campus enrollment decreased by 121 students, from 3,675 to 3,554. ACU reported a freshman class of 872 students and another 195 transfers.

For the third consecutive year, Hardin-Simmons reported decreased enrollment. This fall, 1,933 students are enrolled, down by 195 students from fall 2020. The enrollment figure shows 479 new students, including 388 freshmen.

‘Christian Environmental Stewardship’ Topic of September AAC Meeting

Rick Hammer, former biology professor at Hardin-Simmons University, will present a program on “Christian Environmental Stewardship” at the Wednesday meeting of the Abilene Association of Congregations.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held at First Central Presbyterian Church, 400 Orange St. Lunch serving begins at 11:30 a.m., and the program begins at 12 noon. A $3 donation is suggested for the meal. The program is free.

Our speaker is Dr. Rick Hammer who is going to talk to us about ‘Christian Environment

Rick is not only a ‘talker’ – he is a ‘doer,’ said Cliff Stewart, pastor of First Central Presbyterian and president of the association.

Hammer is a writer, photographer, speaker, and naturalist living in Abilene. He earned a doctorate on botany at Texas A&M University and is president of the West Texas Science Center. Rick and his family worship at First Baptist Church in Abilene where he serves as a deacon. Contact him at rick@3hammers.net and follow his Kirby Park posts on Facebook: @lakekirbynaturepark

‘An Evening of Wonder’ Benefits Christian Service Center

Illusionist and storyteller “Harris the Third” will entertain and inspire guests Sept. 28 with his “An Evening of Wonder.” The event benefits Christian Service Center. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. at the Abilene Convention Center, with the program to follow.

Jim Clark, executive director of Christian Service, said the following about “Harris the Third”:

“I’ve read his books, visited his website, and had two significant conversations with him. I can tell you that Harris is going to present an entertaining, inspiring, and potentially transforming message. His Christian faith and testimony are the foundation of his presentation.”

Individual tickets are $50. For ticket availability, call 673-7530 or email Jim Clark at jclark@cscabilene.org.

FCPC and Heavenly Rest Hosting Wednesday Speakers

First Central Presbyterian Church and the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest will have guest speakers Wednesday evening, Sept. 22. Both events are free and open to the public.

David Wray longtime director of Abilene Christian University’s Summit, will speak at FCPC at 6:30 p.m. on “Being Christian in a Secular World.”

Heavenly Rest started a four-week series Sept. 8 on “Returning From Exile: Rediscovering Our Common Life After a Time Apart.” On Wednesday, Sept. 22, Rev. David Romanik, rector, will lead small group discussions on “Community Conversation.” Groups will reflect on what was lost and learned during the last year and a half as COVID changed the way “church” is done.

ACU Launches Video Campaign

Abilene Christian University has produced an original music video to accompany its new branding campaign, We Light the Fire Within.

“ACU has a special spark that carries beyond the classroom,” said Linda Bonnin, senior vice president for marketing and strategic communications, who created the brand story. “The impact our graduates have on their communities through their personal and professional lives is extraordinary, and we want to tell that story in a fuller way.”   

Bonnin co-wrote a song, We Light the Fire, with two professional songwriters, Joe Beck and ACU alumnus Billy Sprague, and an assist from Michael Blanton, a music industry veteran and ACU’s 2019 Alumnus of the Year, who connected the three after hearing Bonnin share her vision for the project.

Three other alumni – Gary Pigg, Chris Harris and Jan Harris – sang background on the song, with the Harrises also contributing to the musical arrangement. An a cappella version and one with instrumentation were both recorded in a Nashville studio in October 2020. 

The song, We Light the Fire, morphed into a music video, with footage shot by filmmaker and music video producer Randy Brewer, another Nashville-area alumnus. Brewer created the concept for the video. Blake Condra, video specialist at ACU, was producer and also contributed footage.

“ACU lights the fire in each of us in a very personal way, but there’s also this shared belief that we’re all part of something really special here,” Bonnin said.

The new branding campaign will launch this fall through digital, print and broadcast advertising, as well as social media.

9/11 Vocal Majority Concert Canceled

Vocal Majority Pure Harmony canceled its Sept. 11 concert due to COVID concerns. The concert, “9!1 An Evening of Remembrance,” had been scheduled at the Abilene Convention Center.

Promoters hope to reschedule the concert, sponsored by Abilene-based Herald of Truth, next spring. The concert was schedule to coincide with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Chili Super Bowl Benefits Boys Ranch

The 39th annual Rentech Chili Super Bowl is scheduled for Sept. 3-5 at the Old Settlers Reunion Grounds in Buffalo Gap. The popular event benefits Ben Richey Boys Ranch & Family Program.

Hundreds of chili, brisket, chicken, beans, and rib cooking teams come from all over the state to compete for prize money in excess of $7,500. All cash prize money is donated by local merchants.

There are food booths and homemade chili cooked by the Taylor County Sheriff’s Officers Association, Taylor County EMS, and Dyess Volunteers in the World’s Largst Chili Pot sponsored by HEB.

Also, there will be games for children at the Kid’s Place. A live auction will be held on Saturday, Sept. 4. The annual event has raised more than $2 million over the years.

To be a vendor, or to volunteer or sponsor, call 675-8412 or send email to eaglebbq@att.net. The event also is on the Chili Super Bowl Facebook page.

‘Inside Champions’ Needed for Global Samaritan Hunger Relief Event

Global Samaritan Resources is looking for “Inside Champions” to donate money for food boxes and/or volunteers to draw messages on the boxes the food will be packed in.

The finished boxes will be part of a 77,000-pound humanitarian food shipment to northern Iraq for displaced persons and refugees living in camps. Individuals, teams, church members, Sunday School classes, youth groups, men’s and women’s groups are all invited to help.

Each box contains 217 servings–enough to feed a family of six for a month. Each box costs $50 to sponsor. Also, children and adults are invited to draw messsages of peace and friendship on each box. Several coloring dates are planned, beginning Wednesday, Sept. 8, when the warehouse will be open 6-8:30 p.m. Churches are invited to come for a missions-focused, family friendly event.

Other coloring events are scheduled for:
Thursday, Sept. 9, 9 a.m.-noon
Friday, Sept. 10, 9 a.m.-noon
Saturday, Sept. 11, 9 a.m.-noon

ACU Celebrating Restoration Movement Roots

Abilene Christian University will celebrate its roots with Restoration Day events Sept. 7.

The university is affiliated with the Churches of Christ, which rose out of the Restoration Movement. On Sept. 7, the university will observe a “Night of Worship, Celebration, and Deeper Conversation.” The celebration will be from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Chapel on the Hill, which is housed inside the Biblical Studies Building.

The observance will focus on the place of music in the church’s history. The year 2021 marks the centennial anniversary of the hymnal, “Great Songs of the Church.” The congregation will sing hymns and will hear a discussion from a panel of worship leaders, including Robin Brannon, D.J. Bulls, and Sheryl Thomas. Mac Ice, ACU’s director of special collections, is preparing a special exhibit featuring various editions of the historic hymnal.

This is the third annual Restoration Day observation, sponsored by the Center for Restoration Studies at ACU. Sept. 7 marks the anniversary of Thomas Campbell’s publication of The Declaration and Address, a foundational document that helped give birth to the Churches of Christ branch of Christianity.

The public is invited. RSVP to Jenny Kelly in the Graduate School of Theology office, jjk21a@acu.edu. The celebration will be in-person and also will be available on Zoom. RSVP to receive a Zoom link.

PDBC Hiring for Child Development Center Positions

The Child Development Center at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church is looking for some great people to rock babies, play with toddlers, and teach our pre-K children.
This is a paid position, with full-time and part-time positions. The CDC is a state licensed facility and requires training that will be provided.
Contact Pam Click for more information at 325-695-1451 or email Pam@pioneerdrive.org.

‘Dependence Day’ and Celebration of Life set for July 3

The second annual Dependence Day and Celebration of Life will be held 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, July 3, in the parking lot of West Texans for Life, 1317 N. Eighth Street.

The event is sponsored by West Texans for Life. Free ice cream, beach balls, Frisbees, and patriotic coloring books will be provided for children. The program will begin with a reading of a “Declaration of Dependence on God.” The event also will honor the memory of Paula Matchen, founder of West Texans for Life.

Month of Music at Heavenly Rest

A Fourth of July concert by the Abilene Community Band will kick off a month of music at the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest. Free concerts will be presented each Sunday evening in July by musicians from the church and community.

The first concert begins at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 4, on the east lawn of the church, 602 Meader St. Bring a lawn chair or blanket.

Future July concerts will begin at 5 p.m.

July 11–Jesse Ratcliffe, church organist, in the nave
July 18–Orginal music by Daniel Makins, singer-song writer and spouse of former Associate Rector Claire Makins
July 25–Key City Winds in Gerhart Hall

Summit Returning to ACU campus in October

Summit will return to the ACU campus Oct. 14-15 after a year of being a virtual-only conference.

Theme for the 115th Summit is “Seeking Hope, Finding Joy” According to an ACU news release, “Summit will emphasize community building and shared learning among those in similar roles such as children’s ministry, preaching, and small-church leadership. We will also host a group focused broadly on gathering with others for spiritual renewal and fellowship. Each of these communities will come together to engage with God, with one another, and with material designed to equip them for effective service.”

Dansby Retirement Reception at Christian Service Center

A retirement reception honoring Karen Dansby will be held 2-4 p.m. Thursday, June 24, at Christian Service Center, 3185 N. Tenth St.

Dansby is ending a career as a fundraiser for nonprofits in Abilene, including a long tenure with Christian Service Center.

St. Luke Orthodox showing ‘Parallel Love’

How does a free pizza and a movie sound?

That’s the invitation from St. Luke Orthodox Christian Church, 501 Sunset Drive. The party is scheduled 6:30-9 p.m. June 19 and begins immediately following Great Vespers, which begins at 5:30.

The video, “Parallel Love: The Story of a Band Called Luxury,” is a documentary about a struggling ‘90s indie-rock group from the South. They suffered a devastating car accident and three of the members became Orthodox priests.

Father Philip LeMasters, priest at St. Luke, attended the premier in New York a couple of years ago and knows the priests in the band.

Click here for video trailer

Zion Lutheran Schedules VBS

Vacation Bible School will be held June 21-24 at Zion Lutheran Church, 2801 Antilley Road.
Hours June 21-24 are 5:30-8 p.m. A swim party will be held June 25 8-10 p.m.

A light meal will be served at 5:30 p.m. June 21-24 and VBS will begin at 6. All children ages 4 years through fifth grade are invited. All events are free.  

Theme is God’s Wonder Lab from Concordia Publishing. The parents can register their children at zion-abilene.org click on the banner at the top of the screen.

“We at Zion are very excited to get back to ‘normal,'” said Sara Shaw, who is in charge of VBS. “We will be taking proper procedures to ensure everyone has a memorable experience.”

EXALT 2021 Set For Jan. 31

1 Kingdom is hosting the annual EXALT event Sunday, Jan. 31, beginning at 6 p.m.

The city-wide service will be held at New Hope Church, 3122 S. Clack St.

EXALT is billed as a “night of worship and prayer lifting up the name of Jesus.” For more information about 1 Kingdom, go to http://www.1-kingdom.org

PDBC Hosting ‘Race and Racial Identity’ Conference

A winter conference titled, “Race and Racial Identity,” will be held Friday and Saturday, Feb. 5-6, at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church, 701 S. Pioneer Drive.

Hours are 5:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 5 and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 6. The conference, hosted by the Big Country Counseling Association, also will be presented virtually on Zoom and will be available for viewing through Feb. 28.

The conference will be led by Elizabeth Behrens, an educator and online community manager for Be The Bridge, http://www.bethebridge.com. Behrens specializes in providing resources, vision, and skills for racial unity.

Topics will include:
How to talk about race
Understanding how we got here
Understanding socialization and culture
Mind and body response to race talk
Identity development

More details and registration are available here.

PDBC Collecting Gifts for Christmas Store

Through Dec. 4, gifts may be delivered to Pioneer Drive Baptist Church, 701 S. Pioneer Drive, for a Christmas store to serve the neighborhood, including children at Bonham Elementary School.

New, unwrapped toys will be collected at the church office through noon Friday, Dec. 4. A store will be set up for parents to purchase toys at 10 percent of retail price.

If you prefer shopping online, wish lists are available at AmazonTarget, and Walmart.

Grace Lutheran Rummage Sale

The public is invited to a rummage sale, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, at Grace Lutheran Church, 1202 S. Pioneer Drive.

A range of items will be for sale, among them kitchen goods, craft items,electronics, purses, jewelry, clothing, toys, furniture, etc.

FCPC Hosting Abilene Chamber Singers Outdoor Concert

First Central Presbyterian Church, 400 Orange St., is hosting a sacred music concert at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4.

The concert, which is free to the public, will be in the meditation garden across from the church. Music will be provided by a quartet from the Abilene Chamber Singers.

Bring a lawn chair and a mask. Or, park in the parking lot adjacent to the garden and roll down your windows to enjoy the music from afar.