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Sts. Thomas and John Episcopal Church of New Richmond hosted a full house of parishioners and visitors from around the Diocese of Eau Claire for a Celebration of New Ministry Holy Eucharist for the institution of their new priest, The Rev. Vern Barber.

The celebrant was the Right Rev. Edwin Leidel, Bishop of Eau Claire, and the preacher was the Very Rev. Scott Kirby, pastor of Grace Church in Rice Lake. Two deacons from the diocese, The Rev. Deacon Jo Glasser and The Rev. Deacon Jackie Broughton, assisted the bishop.

The procession into the nave, the main worship space of the church, was led by acolyte Hayden Nelson of Sts. Thomas and John and was made up of clergy from around the diocese, the deacons, the bishop and Fr. Barber. The service began with Fr. Barber being presented to the bishop by churchwardens Ray Anderson and Bud Anderson.

The solemn Litany of Institution, the scriptures, the sermon and the induction when church members presented Fr. Barber with symbols of his service to the church followed. The service ended with the Holy Eucharist. Music was provided by Mary Barney, organist.

Following the service, members of the church hosted a meal. One long-standing member of the church, Myrna Anderson, commented, "We have never before served so many people in our little church."

Fr. Barber had been serving as part-time pastor of the local church since Fr. Jonathan Mayo left in 2010 for a pastorate in Pennsylvania. He has been serving full time in New Richmond since Jan. 1, 2012.

Fr. Barber and his wife, Leslie, have a home in Prescott and an apartment in Eau Claire, where she is employed as a nurse anesthetist. Just a short commute away, Fr. Barber is active in the local ministerial association and is available to his parishioners for all their pastoral needs.

He is leading a Lenten series of meditations on Wednesdays during Lent and is planning a beginning Bible course to be offered following Easter.