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August 5, 2013

'Giants in the Faith' honored for service

Event celebrates mission of non-profit Hope Southern Indiana

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Around 300 people gathered in Huber’s Restaurant and Winery Sunday afternoon to celebrate the mission of Hope Southern Indiana and recognize 25 Giants in the Faith.

Hope Southern Indiana is a nonprofit organization and will be 50 years old next year, although it has gone through name changes — from the Downtown Neighborhood Council, to Interfaith, and now to Hope.

“It just felt like some names didn’t portray what we really wanted to do,” said Hope Executive Director Christine Harbeson. “But Hope fits it perfectly.”

The annual Giants in the Faith event honors individuals who have shown acts of faith in the community. People who have recognized their acts submit the honorees and every single one is honored at the event. So far, Hope has never turned anyone away. Harbeson said, “We want to give good homage to each person.”

The event begins with prayer and a buffet meal and then each Giant is recognized. At this year’s event, a new promotional video was unveiled for the first time, as well.

Event co-chair Cindy Kanning interviews each honoree to gather information to share at Giants in the Faith. Kanning also has a large part to play in the planning process.

“We start planning for the next year the day after this year’s event,” Harbeson said.

Kanning said there is an organizational process that occurs each year. First, there is an open call for honorees, then after several weeks, people are invited to start making reservations.

“In just the first year of the event, there were between 250 to 300 people there. God has truly blessed it, because it’s all about him,” Kanning said. “This year is the seventh year.”

Kanning said part of the event is also focused on bringing together people from different Christian denominations. She said the youngest honoree has been 4 years old and the oldest, 93.

“I really want to raise the public’s awareness of Giants and hopefully keep it growing,” Kanning said. “It’s also a wonderful event to recognize all that Hope Southern Indiana is doing in the community.”

The 2013 honorees, who live or worship in Floyd County, are: Lana Aebersold, Centenary United Methodist; Pastor Tony and Rhonda Alstott, Wesley Chapel United Methodist; Bob Battles, St. Paul’s Episcopal; Pastor Allen and Jacqueline Colwell and Bob and Karen Goodwell, St. John Presbyterian; Sonny and Ginger Combs, Vicki McCombs, and Katelyn Walker, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic; James Furber and Kathy O’Day, Grace Lutheran; Maj. Steve and Maj. Pam Kiger, The Salvation Army of Southern Indiana; Wendy Moody and Al and Sharon Whitman, Faithpoint United Methodist; Rev. Dr. Curtis and Pam Peters, Concordia Lutheran in Louisville; Dianne Schladand, Holy Family Catholic; and Pastor William and Joyce Shannon, Trinity United Methodist.

Hope’s mission is to “partner with the faith-based community, to best utilize the diverse resources of the whole community, to provide a vast array of excellent services and opportunities, promote social justice and enhance community development.”

President of the board Vern Eswine said the mission is derived from the Bible.

“God has called us as Christians to help those in need,” Eswine said.

Hope accomplishes this goal with a variety of different community services, such as emergency financial assistance, retired and senior volunteer program, Pack-the-Bus collaboration, food pantry services, and Clothe-A-Teen, among others.

Harbeson said the food pantry is likely the most recognized program.

“We base it off of the USDA food plate so meals are balanced for each family member. We provide families with enough food, eight times a year and the homeless can come and get their supplies as needed,” Harbeson said.

For the future, Harbeson said she would like to see churches gain involvement.

“We really want Hope to be an extension of the church-an organization that moves people from comfortable pews and into acts of service out in the community,” Harbeson said. “All for the glory of God.”


• To learn more about Hope Southern Indiana or Giants in the Faith, log on to

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