News & Events Highlights

Here you will find information on some of the exciting things going on at FCC. Visit this page often to review featured events, ongoing opportunities, and various updates from the congregation.

An Interview With… Barb & Bonnie

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
October 28 2020

Long time finance guru, Lou Lamberty recently stepped down from keeping the books at First Central.  He left it all in the very capable hands of Barb Switzer and Bonnie Austin.  Here’s a look into their background and the job that lies ahead for them!

Kerrie: How long have you been a member at First Central?

Barb: Bill and I came to First Central in 1984, so that makes 36 years we’ve been members. During that time I’ve been active in the church, as Moderator, Clerk, Cabinet member at large, chair of various Boards/Ministries, sang in the choir, ran the plant sale with Cherie, and participated in any number of church events.  I’ve served on Search committees (both for Winston Baldwin and Scott Jones), worked on capital campaigns and followed Grant through Youth Group.  You know, just your regular church member…

Bonnie: John and I have been members since March 2015, and in that time I have served on the Outreach committee for 3 years and chair the last two. The last few years I have prepared the Chancel on Sundays (pre Covid).  On Thursdays I work in the Thrift shop.

Kerrie: Gosh, Bonnie – it seems longer!  You two have become such integral parts of our church body. What life-experiences / work-history do you bring to this new position with the church?

Bonnie: I was a software developer who wrote, installed and supported financial software for over thirty years.

Barb: I was recruited to help count the offering a couple of years ago, when I went to part-time status from my career at UNMC.  Since I’ve served on Cabinet and Ministries, I know how to read the church budget and have a general understanding of how the finances work.  In my professional life, I was responsible for a laboratory budget and doing cost accounting, and I know how to pay attention to details.  The idea of learning new software was interesting to me, although it’s a little challenging.  I believe in the idea that learning new things keeps your brain “young” so this should be good for me, right?

Kerrie: Can you please explain each of your separate roles moving forward with the finance team?  And why you chose to tag-team the responsibilities?

Barb: When I was first asked to do this, it was to do the entire Financial Secretary job – which was surprising, because  I have NO accounting background, and even the best software in the world couldn’t make me feel secure in doing something like this. So, although my usual default when someone asks me to do something at church is “yes”, this time I said “no, but…”.   I really felt they needed someone with experience and familiarity in procedures for things like payroll, taxes, bill paying, etc.  I was SO happy when Lou told me that Bonnie Austin would be taking over his job!  Bonnie has excellent skills and experience, and I think we make a good team.

Kerrie: That seems pretty familiar!  I recall that Lou didn’t have a great deal of experience either when he started this job.  Baptism by fire around here I guess!

Barb: Oh, that’s true!  So my part of the work is to record the money given to the First Central each week.  I use the Fellowship One software to enter each person’s gift, so we can track how much they’ve given the church.  I also enter gifts for memorials, the Food Bank, and other categories.  I understand that giving is something that requires a certain level of confidentiality, and I expect to honor that responsibility. As the Stewardship campaign started, I learned how to enter the amount each person pledges, and to keep track of who might need a follow-up contact.  Lou used to do a lot of personal outreach to church members, to encourage people to give; this year more of that will be the responsibility of the entire Stewardship committee.

Bonnie: And I’m responsible for payroll and paying any bills and then producing the monthly/yearly financial statements.

Kerrie: So it’s essentially an “Accounts Receivable” and “Accounts Payable” situation?

Bonnie: Yes, exactly.

Barb: We all became very dependent on Lou to just handle all of these different tasks. Although Bonnie and I are just getting used to doing this work, I think it would be a good idea to eventually train folks to “back us up” in case we were unavailable. Written protocols are critical, but I am learning that experience is invaluable.

Kerrie: Do you have any goals or expectations for this new role?  or for the church as you accept this new role?

Bonnie: My goal right now is to determine all the ins and outs of the software and determine the best way to do everything.

Barb: Yes, agreed.  The software is the most challenging piece of the puzzle right now. I’m trusting that eventually, I’ll be more comfortable with the software and those routine tasks won’t take so long, or seem so mysterious.

Kerrie: Have you discovered any fun surprises since you took the roles?

Barb: I’m starting to learn all those little jobs that Lou took on over the last 10-15 years, like doing all the calls for reminding people to send in pledges.  I think we’ve gotten a little spoiled, and it’s a good that we are starting to share some of those responsibilities.

Kerrie: So it is good that Lou is still just a quick phone call away?

Bonnie: Oh, most definitely!

Kerrie: Ladies, thank you for taking on this very important role in our church!

Bonnie: It’s my pleasure!

Barb: Mine too! And I’m hoping that once the pandemic is under control, we might be able to re-constitute the offering-counting team, just to be good and responsible stewards for the church, and because I also think those folks miss being part of the process.


Just My Thoughts… Clergy Appreciation Month

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
October 22 2020

The month of October marks many things: the fall weather and season change, the days get substantially shorter and the time changes. … More

Advent Devotionals

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
October 22 2020

Advent approaches. Already. In honor of the season (and what will likely be a weird season at that) and our upcoming Advent … More

Katie’s Musings – But/And

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
October 14 2020

I’ve been thinking a lot about language and the way we use it to talk about life and each other and about … More

Tug, My “AA” Buddy

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
October 7 2020

Thank you Kathy Hoyt sharing this story of her faithful Tug at this year’s Pet Blessing! Unlike the rest of us, Tug … More

Pet Blessing – Saturday, Oct. 3rd

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
October 1 2020

In celebration of the Feast of St. Francis, we will again host a Blessing of the Animals service this Saturday morning at … More

Scott’s Column: Sandhills Retreat

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
September 28 2020

Shortly after I arrived at Kamp Kaleo last week, our denomination’s campground and retreat center in Burwell, Nebraska, David Butz, the director, … More

Race & Liberation: Contemporary Black Theology

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
October 7 2020

In his book The Christian Imagination, theologian Willie James Jennings argues that modern, Western Christianity has a “diseased social imagination.”  Diseased because of … More

Just My Thoughts: September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
September 17 2020

September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. Sometimes it strikes me as odd that there IS such a thing, and that someone … More

An Interview With… Lou Lamberty

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
September 2 2020

Lou, our acting financial aficionado for years, is hanging up his clipboard after nearly two decades on the job. Before he officially … More

Gospel Encounters: Fall Worship Theme

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
September 1 2020

“The encounter with people who are different from others, in whose lives you can see a new intelligence about reality, a fully … More

Pandemic Stress Relief – The Labyrinth

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
August 19 2020

In the midst of a pandemic, any activity that relieves a little stress is a welcome distraction.   First Central Congregational United Church … More

Katie’s Musings – COVID Consent

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
August 12 2020

To mask or not to mask… that is the question. …. no actually, it really isn’t a question.  #WearAMask and #ListenToTheScientists Realistically, … More

Pandemic Spirituality

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
June 24 2020

This spring Senior Minister Scott Jones wrote a series of five essays connecting our pandemic and quarantine experiences with the spiritual wisdom … More

Katie’s Musings: COVID Time

Katie Miller
June 24 2020

I think the weirdest thing about COVID life is the passage of time.   June is almost gone.  But May was only … More

Living Well During the Pandemic: Zoom Forums

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
May 26 2020

We are living through a public health crisis with profound implications for all other aspects of human living—morality, psychology, culture, politics, economics, … More

From the Health Team

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
May 13 2020

Submitted by Bonnie Harmon, First Central Health Team   In preparation for this week’s Adult Forum on Mental and Spiritual Well Being, … More

From The Refugee Team

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
May 5 2020

We received word last month that our (current) refugee family was struggling during this time of pandemic. The bread-winner of the Khamis … More

From The Health Team – Mask Mastery

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
April 24 2020

Your mask protects me, and my mask protects you. I hope you have heard this many times by now. It is the … More

An Interview With… Sally Lewis

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
March 18 2020

Late last year, the Council – with guidance from the Health Team – asked First Central member Sally Lewis to step into … More

State of the Church 2020

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
January 27 2020

At yesterday’s Annual Meeting, Senior Minister Scott Jones delivered his annual “State of the Church” address. This being my tenth Annual Meeting … More

TAGG – One Easy Way to Give to First Central!

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
November 20 2019

TAGG, which is an acronym for “Together A Greater Good” is a non-profit organization unique to Omaha.  The phone app was launched … More

From the Health Team: Cold & Flu Season

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
November 19 2019

Here we are again, right at the onset of cold and flu season. We are all interested in things we can do … More

Education Spotlight: What’s Happening Downstairs?

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
November 6 2019

On Sunday mornings, the kids all head out of the sanctuary after the Children’s Sermon.  But then what happens? Most Sundays, the … More

Parables: Wednesday Night Bible Study

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
September 11 2019

“The parables give us access to the way Jesus re-imagined the possibility of living, of being in the world.”–Brandon Scott Our Wednesday … More

First Central Library

Cassie Williams
June 21 2019

Ever wondered what books are available in the church library? The First Central Library catalog is now online. You can access it … More

Scott’s TED Talk

Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones
April 2 2019

In February Scott was an invited speaker to this year’s TEDxUNO where the theme was Resilience.  His talk, “Living Open” has now … More