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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

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.

‘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.