President’s message for 2020

NIA’s 2020 history was marred by the limitation in gathering due to Covid 19. However, before the

lockdown., NIS held the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday committee service which was held at the

McKinley arts and Cultural Center. As is tradition, the event encompassed music, multifaith prayers and

reflections and the presentation of the Onie Cooper Humanitarian award which went this year to

Bernice Matthews, a long time resident of Reno and Nevada. Mrs. Mathews was recognized for her

many, many contributions including former state senator and administrator of higher education.

Receiving the award, Mrs. Mathews admonished the audience to do more to support and mentor the

youth of our community who are the promise of the future. She added to her spotlight moment by

sharing her wit and charm, delighting the audience with her comments.

In place of the Nevada Prayer Breakfast, a unique prayer service program, presented remotely from

each participant’s home or place of worship, was crafted together and presented. It was noted that the

number of viewers for this first ever virtual experience was considerable. Our Coordinating Council

members, Rabbi Ben Zober and Rev. Matthew Fisher’s technical skill enabled NIA to present this

outreach to the community during this stressful time on Facebook.

The official election of officers took place. Pastor Sara Johnson was elected president, Pamela

Kellerstrass as secretary, and Patricia Meidell, past present, as treasurer. Father Chuck Durante was

elected to the Council replacing Sean Savoy who resigned from the Coordinating Council but who

remains as the liaison in our partnership with the Renown Spiritual Center and technical advisor to NIA

as needed for events.

Following the state mandated restriction for socially distancing and the ability not to gather, the annual

Thanksgiving Program was remotely filmed for each participant and crafted together for presentation on

Facebook by the assistance of JB Benna. Father Chuck Durante was the featured speaker with his

message entitled, “One in Origin, One in Healing” and Father William Stomski presented the history of

the Thanksgiving holiday. Musical numbers graced the program. Galena High School President, Taylor

Pickett, was the youth participant and represented the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

In all, 2020 was challenging for each council member’s religious affiliation. The coordinating council

missed the camaraderie that we share by coming together in fellowship and support as a group.

“Zooming” became our communication medium as we strived to keep the momentum of NIA going.

The holding of a youth leadership conference was out of the question but due to our guest speaker’s

availability for the 2019 event, it was held February 2020 before Covid 19 hit with all its closure and

restrictions. We are hoping to get back on track in 2022 with another Youth event.

Due to the added pressures of work during the Pandemic, as well as family and health issues, Pastor

Sarah Johnson requested to remain on the Coordinating Council but to relinquish her position as

President. A special meeting of the Coordinating Council was held and an interim president was

appointment until next year’s election in April. Past president, Pat Meidell, agreed to resume the

President’s duties until that time when Father Chuck Durante was proposed to full that position in our

regular election year.


Submitted by Pat Meidell, President