CEC benefit to meet critical funding need

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 1, 2000

What do Jack Koppa, Four Words Followers, Jim Jayes and In Synque have in common?.

Monday, May 01, 2000

What do Jack Koppa, Four Words Followers, Jim Jayes and In Synque have in common?

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Answer: the fifth annual Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction fund-raiser for the Christian Education Center.

The concertina player, Christian a capella quartet, magician and singing group will entertain visitors beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday in St. Edward’s Catholic Church Corcoran Center.

Tickets are being sold in advance at the CEC, local churches and Philomathian Religious Books and Gifts and by Aid Association for Lutherans Branch No. 255 and Lutheran Brotherhood Cedar River Branch No. 8198 members. The price is $5 for adults and $3 for youths ages 5-12, while those children 4 and younger will be served free of charge.

Matching funds will be provided by the AAL and Lutheran Brotherhood branches’ members.

Signe Rizzi is coordinating the spaghetti dinner for the CEC board of directors, while Connie Boes, Shawn Radford and Kathy Helle are coordinating the silent auction of items donated by pledging churches, individuals and businesses.

According to the Rev. Debbie King Quale, CEC director, a special presentation will be made at 6 p.m. Tuesday to honor the Philomathian Religious Books and Gifts store volunteers and the AAL and Lutheran Brotherhood branches for their continuing support of the CEC.

For those who don’t know, this is not the same Christian Education Center that state Sen. Pat Piper (DFL-Austin) started more than two decades ago. Times have changed and with them the CEC.

For instance, the CEC has its own e-mail address – christ@smig.net – and is in the process of tapping into the information superhighway to better serve churches.

Also, it has a new mission and while it does not ignore the rich roots grown by Piper, when she directed the CEC, it is moving toward a new focus.

The new mission statement, approved by the board of directors in February, reads: "In the spirit of Christian hospitality, the Christian Education Center provides resources and support, inviting all to be faith-filled followers of Christ."

"The old mission statement described a Christian Education Center that was more task-oriented," the director said. "It was more about what we do than who we are."

Austin’s changing face is part of the impetus for the mission statement to be rewritten, according to Quale, because the CEC wants to be a multicultural center of religious education resources. Beginning this fall, the CEC’s shelves will continue Hispanic books, periodicals, Sunday school curriculum, videos and tapes.

"I think the new mission statement is a better fit for who we are today," Quale said. "We’re what God is calling us to be."

The CEC survives, in part, because of "wonderful people" like Edith Pike, also the CEC’s landlord.

In addition, the Twin Cities Presbytery is both a pledging church body and gives one-of-a-kind donations, too.

In all, Pike and the Twin Cities Presbytery have donated a total of $7,000 to the CEC and their generosity has, in part, allowed the cancellation of the popular spring fund-raiser, while has been moved back to the fall.

Thus, Tuesday’s fund raiser is critical to raising funds now to sustain the CEC until the fall fund-raising schedule begins.

Debbie Golberg is the office manager, working 30 hours per week.

Joyce Kinney, the former Christian education director at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church of Austin, is a volunteer resource consultant.

Monica Hansel, 82, volunteers her services every Tuesday afternoon; a public service she has performed for the last 16 years.

Quale would like to see the CEC continue its "old" mission of providing resources to churches continue, because the demand is increasing.

However, more money is needed and Tuesday’s fund-raiser will help in this direction, to upgrade the CEC’s technology capabilities. If and when that is done, it can only enhance the CEC’s religious education consulting services and attract a new audience of users.

But the only change allowed will be for the better and Quale believes the CEC always must pursue what has earned it some of its support. For instance: being a meeting place.

The CEC remains a popular alternative for clubs and organizations to hold meetings there. In addition, the CEC makes its meeting room and kitchen services available for private parties, such as birthdays and anniversaries.

That fulfills the CEC’s intent to be a "hospitable, welcoming and accepting place," as Quale described it.

Each year, the CEC’s 28 pledging churches evaluate the center. What always wins approval is how the center delivers religious education and this pleases Quale.

"One of my goals is to continue to work with the pastors to keep religious education a priority," she said. "I think for far too long education has taken a back seat and we can’t let that happen."