Christian-country singer Pete Whitebird to start new church on Saturday in Topeka

Whitebird spent nearly 2 decades on the road in music ministry

A Topeka-based Christian-country singer who has spent nearly two decades in a traveling music ministry has decided to come off the road and start a new church this weekend in the capital city.


Peter Lewis Whitebird recently announced that after 18 years of traveling full-time with his music ministry, he will be starting a new church called Grace Life Connection, which will begin meeting at 5 p.m. Saturdays starting May 20 at Papan’s Landing, 623 N.W. Paramore in North Topeka.

Whitebird said the ministry’s slogan is “Equipping people to live grace inside-out in an upside-down world.”

He said Grace Life Connection will offer a casual, come-as-you-are worship and Bible study environment that those who are uncomfortable with traditional churches can enjoy.

In other religion news:

--Neil Hansen, Lawrence, began serving on April 30 as the new president of the Topeka Kansas Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In overseeing the 12 northeast Kansas congregations in the stake and helping to minister to more than 4,500 stake members, he will be assisted by two counselors, David Thomason and Lee Christensen.

In the LDS Church, stake presidents and their counselors serve without pay, generally for nine years.

President Hansen succeeds Todd Averett, who served with counselors David Thomason and Mark Schellman and recently began a new job in Utah.

President Hansen works professionally in store development for Payless ShoeSource. In the LDS Church, he is currently also serving as the bishop of the Lawrence First Ward and will continue to do so until a new bishop is called.

Previously he served in the church as a member of the Topeka Stake’s priesthood executive council, bishop’s counselor, and missionary in South Africa. He and his wife, Kristie, are the parents of seven daughters and one son.

President Thomason is the director of the Women, Infants and Children food and nutrition program of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and has been actively involved in the Jayhawk Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

He served previously in the LDS Church as a stake president’s counselor, bishop of Topeka’s Lake Shawnee Ward, president of the Topeka Spanish Branch, and missionary in the Dominican Republic. He and his wife, Laura, have one married daughter and a granddaughter.

President Lee Christensen is the franchising business manager at Payless ShoeSource. He was serving as bishop of the LDS Kaw Valley Ward in Topeka when he was called to serve in the stake presidency and will serve in both positions until a new bishop is called. He served previously in the LDS Church as a president of the elders, seminary teacher, scoutmaster, and missionary in Brazil. He and his wife, Traci, are parents of six daughters.

--True Holiness Family Church, 1244 S.E. Republican Ave., will have a barbecue fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 20. The menu will include barbecue ribs, chicken, fried catfish and two sides from dishes including baked beans, potato salad and green beans. Pre-orders are welcome and deliveries are available for four our more dinners and for senior citizens by calling (785) 233-9545.

--The Ugandan Kids Choir will be in concert at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, May 21, at Highland Park United Methodist Church, 2914 S.E. Michigan.

--Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic School will present its annual Summerfest carnival from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, May 25, at the school, 1750 S.W. Stone Ave.

The event will feature carnival games, inflatables, a used-book sale, a food court and cash raffle with one $1,500 prize and two $500 prizes awarded.

This will mark the second year that Summerfest will take place on a single night, with the event taking place on the evening following the last day of school for Most Pure Heart of Mary students.

Previously, the event was held as a two-day festival on the Memorial Day weekend.

“We just found that too many people were traveling on Memorial Day weekend,” Gilchrist said. “We actually changed it up last year and it worked very well.”

Children in grades kindergarten through 5 will perform at 6:30 p.m., followed by the ’70s and ’80s light rock music cover band Rewind in concert from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

A beer garden also will be available.

--The Notre Dame Folk Choir will be in concert at 7 p.m. Friday, May 26, at Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic Church, 3601 S.W. 17th. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children and seniors and may be purchased at the door.

--New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, 1018 S.E. 8th, will have its annual Men’s and Women’s Day Service at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, May 28. Special guests will be from Mount Olive Primitive Baptist Church. The Message will be delivered by the Rev. David L. Helm, pastor of the Mount Olive church.

--Grace Episcopal Cathedral, 701 S.W. 8th, will present its annual Community Independence Day Celebration at 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 4. Rehearsals will take place 7 p.m. Thursdays, June 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29. Music packets will be available for loan on May 25.

--An original musical titled “Love Story,” focusing on God’s love and how people are called to share it, will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday, June 2, at Countryside United Methodist Church, 3221 S.W. Burlingame Road. The concert features the youth choir from Trinity United Methodist Church in Rome, Ga., performing songs made famous by artists including needtobreathe, Nat King Cole and Taylor Swift.

--East Side Baptist Church, 4425 S.E. 29th, will have a free kids summer sports camp from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 3. The camp is for children entering kindergarten through sixth grades. Lunch is provided. For more information, call (785) 379-9933.

-- Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 312 N.E. Freeman, will have its annual Germanfest on Saturday, June 3, and Sunday, June 4.

Festivities will get under way with an outdoor Mass at 4 p.m. Saturday, June 3. German food will be served beginning at 5 p.m., when inflatables and a mini-train for children will be available.

The event will continue at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 4, when German food once again will be available, along with a carnival, games and bingo. An oral auction and drawings for prizes will begin at 2 p.m.

In addition to authentic, homemade German food, the event will feature a country store, jewelry booth, snack bar and beer garden both days.

The Chardon Polka Band will perform from 8 to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 3, and from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday, June 4.

Free rides will be available from a satellite parking lot at the north end of the BNSF Railroad shops at N.E. Seward and Chandler from 3 to 4 and 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday, June 3, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 5.

In addition, the sixth annual Brat Trot 5-kilometer run-walk will take place at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 3, at the Sacred Heart Church.

For more information, visit

--A retirement reception for the Rev. Jay Henderson will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 4, at University United Methodist Church, 1621 S.W. College Ave. A worship celebration will take place from 3 to 4 p.m. Henderson has served United Methodist congregations in the Topeka area since 1976.

--Highland Heights Christian Church, 2930 S.E. Tecumseh Road, will show the movie “Home Run” at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 10. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. There is no charge for admission and free movie snacks will be provided. For more information, call (785) 379-5642.

--First Presbyterian Church, 817 S.W. Harrison, will have vacation Bible school from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Monday, June 5, through Friday, June 9. The theme is “Hero Central: Discover Your Strength in God.” The vacation Bible school, which is open to children ages 3 through those who just completed fifth grade, will include stories, crafts, games, music and snacks.

-- Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church, 7433 S.W. 29th, will have its First Wednesday Wesley Cafe at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, June 7. The menu will include pork explosion, soba salad with grilled tofu, baked beans, potato salad and cookies. The cost is $6 for adults and $3 for children. A worship service will follow at 7 p.m. To sign up for the meal, call the church at (785) 478-3697 or visit.

-- Bethel Baptist Church, 4011 N. Kansas Ave, will have vacation Bible school from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, June 12 to Friday, June 16, for children entering kindergarten through sixth grades. Registrations can be made online at or in person the first night of the vacation Bible school. Call (785) 286-0467.

-- The “Summer Lights: Escape the Ordinary” tour will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday, July 7, at the Providence Medical Center Amphitheater in Bonner Springs. Featured artists will include MercyMe, Jeremy Camp, Natalie Grant, Meredith Andrews and Jimi Cravity. Tickets are $29 to $95. For more information, visit