Our lives make imprints. I have a good friend that I meet with every couple of weeks for coffee. We have known each other a long time. It’s wonderful to be together to discuss our work, our mutual intellectual interests and family. Right now, of course, with the ongoing quarantine, there are no opportunities to meet. Instead there is the occasional E-Mail or telephone call, but it is not the same as seeing the person in real time.
As I have noted before, more and more of our time is being devoted to digital space. We do our work online, maybe go to church online, meet with chat groups online, or go to a happy hour online. Many of us are noticing different interiors of rooms. Maybe we are getting some ideas for home decorating or renovating by observing the living spaces of others. Then there is the altered perception of having a conversation digitally with people in unexpected places. I have had people talk to me from their cars, their bathroom, sitting against a headboard talking to me while sitting up in their bed. Depending upon the conversation and the depth of material , the experience can feel disconcerting. You can feel like a voyeur, that somehow you are not in the right place, that this may not be what you need to see.
Where is the comfort of having someone else in the same room sharing time with you ? The pleasure of another’s company can get obliterated in the pursuit of making as many digital contacts as possible. All of the Emojis that one can use will not necessary replace the connection of a handshake or the warmth of a smile in real time. This pandemic has forced people to get very creative. New opportunities for contact over the internet are emerging all of the time. Churches are also experimenting with new offerings including the digital coffee, tea and conversation hour.
Former Secretary Of State Madeleine Albright has noted in her book: “Hell And Other Destinations: “ We all, in our own way, search for fulfillment, happiness, or a general sense of well-being. Many-by far the majority-are too busy coping with life’s complications to allocate to this quest more than a series of passing thoughts; We measure our serenity in coffee spoons. Perhaps we hope to find time in the future to sit on a mountaintop or recline beneath a banyan tree and figure everything out. “ ( P. 318 )
For now, I will settle for being able again to see people, those I love , friends and family who are important to me, in person and in real time. It’s important to be in the room and know it again as if t were the first time.
The Cactus at Church Were in Full Bloom on Monday, August 3
Come By and Sign the Habitat Stud
Come on by the fellowship hall and sign the Habitat stud. They will be built into the next Habitat House this fall. You have until September 15 to come by. Share your prayers and best wishes for Gary’s new house and his two young boys.
More Kiva Loans Confirmands Help Choose
Veronique Cameroon/Fruits & vegetables $25 $25 A loan of $350 helps to buy more stocks of fresh foods (plantains, taro, and cassava).
Abisunzekristo Cb Group A loan of totaling $3,500 helps a member to increase the stock of various types of food in her restaurant
Yeremy Rafael Alpha, Gutierrez Brown, Coto Brus, Puntarenas, Costa Rica / Cattle $25 A loan of $525 helps to purchase calves to raise so he can take advantage of his land.
Jewel Johnson, our brother in Christ and Pastor Emeritus of St. Peter’s Church of Coupland, died Thursday, July 2nd. He served St. Peter’s for 17 years, starting in 1955 for four years and returning in 1968. In this Association, he also served as pastor of St. John’s UCC in Burton, St. John’s in Richland, and Trinity United Church of Niederwald. Beyond the Heart of Texas, Jewel pastored churches in Dallas, Illinois, and Nebraska. He and his wife, Mary, who passed away in 2016, lived a rich life of service and commitment. Jewel was a committed peace and justice activist, a beloved pastor, a joyous singer, and a devoted husband and father. He has given all of us a marvelous example of Christian ministry and faithfulness. We give thanks for Jewel and for the rich and full life he lived as we commend him to God’s eternal love and life.
This month, we say farewell to our brother in Christ, Ron Trimmer, and his sons Ben and Aaron. Ron has accepted a call to Lake Ozark Christian Church in Lake Ozark, Missouri. He has served as the founding pastor of Hope United in Georgetown for the past 10 years and served at Friedens Church of Washington for several years before that. He and Jan married in Washington, and they moved together with the boys to Georgetown with the shared commitment to the work of starting Hope United. We are grateful, too, for all he has given to the wider church and community. He has been the chair of the Brazos Association Committee on Ministry, has served for a number of years as the chair of the South Central Conference New and Renewing Churches Committee, and has connected in many ways in the Georgetown community. Ron is a good friend to many of us. We send the Trimmer family off with love and prayers as they go to serve at Lake Ozark and to be closer to Ron’s family in the St. Louis area.
Our prayers are with the churches in the Heart of Texas Association who are in transition at this most challenging time. These include Hope United, United Christian in Austin, Evangelical UCC in Lyons, and Weimar UCC. We have others that have had pastoral changes this spring since the pandemic began, including Bethany Congregational in San Antonio and Church of the Savior in Cedar Park. I know all of you are working to find the path God is calling you to follow, and we pray that the ministries of all of our churches will continue to be full and faithful.
Blessings in Christ, Liz Nash, Association Minister
Thank you for your generous gift to Back Bay Mission! Your gift makes it possible to ensure help for the low-income and homeless people that are being seriously impacted by this pandemic.
As we move through this pandemic to a place of relative stability, the needs of the people we serve will be deeper. Many will not be able to return to their old jobs due to the loss of businesses and we will be assisting many new clients looking for restorative resources to resume their lives. As demonstrated after Hurricane Katrina and the Deep Water Horizon Oil Disaster this is a resilient community that will need support to find new pathways to sustainability. So, with your help, we can be there for people struggling to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, the utilities on. Homeless residents will continue needing basic necessities such as showering, having clean clothes, respite space as well as access to case management..
The vast majority of the people we serve do not want to live in poverty and they don’t want a handout. They want the chance to move forward. And your gift provides that chance.
On behalf of the Board, staff, and guests of Family Promise of Greater New Braunfels, I want to express our heart-felt appreciation for Faith’s gift of $500.00 received on 7/7/2020!
Your donation truly is a blessing to families struggling with the challenges of homelessness. Your support has given 52 families with children in our community the opportunity to move from homelessness into a secure, stable home. Thank you for helping to ensure a bright, hopeful future to families in need!
Sincerely, Sarah Dixon. Executive Director Family Promise of Greater New Braunfels
We are all familiar with the apocalyptic image from the Bible of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, one of which is pestilence. In the Bible the Apocalypse is the end of life as we have known it. We get caught up in the gory devastation of apocalyptic imagery in the Bible: Armageddon, blood red moon and other signs, the Four Horsemen I mentioned, etc. but ultimately apocalyptic writings are about hope.
The word apocalypse means “to reveal” or “to unveil”. In a recent Christian Century article Martha Tatarnic points out that “horrifying and beautiful truths are being revealed to us in these apocalyptic days of COVID 19”. The systemic injustices around us that affect minority groups and economic polarization is on full display. We have also seen all across this planet how human beings can work together and change radically in response to an emergency. We have seen how this world on which we live is inextricably bound together. The air I breathe becomes the air you breathe. We can distribute wealth more justly. We can find housing for the homeless. We can change our entrenched routines when it is necessary to do so. We have seen how our choices affect the whole planet’s ecosystems.
Tantric concludes her article with these words, “We can choose to align our lives with the God of compassion and healing. Or we can choose to keep trying to cobble together the teetering house of cards that is this claim that we can operate outside the bonds of relationship. We can choose, but the truth that one of these paths leads nowhere but to death is now impossible to ignore.” What will this crisis reveal about the human race? What choice will we make? What choice will each of us make?
As many of you know, our Association sets aside money in our scholarship fund each year to award as scholarships to our seminary students. Also, we are able to award some of the Greg Felder Memorial Scholarship money in this effort. The current awards are going to Betty McDaniel at Chicago Theological Seminary; Rene Slataper at Lexington Theological Seminary who is transferring to Chicago Theological Seminary beginning this fall; and Brooke Dooley at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth on the TCU campus All are earning their Master of Divinity degree and are Members in Discernment in the Heart of Texas Association. Both Betty and Rene are in the online programs at their schools, programs that allow them to work in their home cities and area churches while pursuing seminary degrees. The students apply for these scholarships through our Association scholarship committee. Our Association website, http://hotaucc.org/, has a page to congratulate them that also tells how to inquire about scholarship applications.
Our South Central Conference Annual Meeting was held online for the first time on Saturday morning, June 13th. While it was a loss not to gather face to face in a more extended time together in friendship and worship, the meeting was done in an excellent way that reflected the hard work of Board President Nikki Stahl and several others who helped put it together. There was uplifting music and outstanding worship in the recorded video offered by Houston Association churches; video reports including an opportunity to hear from our new Consulting Conference Minister Campbell Lovett; screen sharing that helped us with minutes, financial reports, understanding bylaw changes that were voted on and adopted, and the slate of nominations; a lovely tribute to Rev. Dr. Alice Graham, the outstanding Executive Director of Back Bay Mission who is retiring at the end of the year; a tribute of gratitude to Jim Blume, our long-time SCC attorney who has given us so much over the years and has now retired: a well-crafted agenda that helped us move along in a timely way that also allowed for discussion; and a time for video break-out rooms that allowed small groups of us to gather and talk. As many of us are finding out, there are new opportunities to be creative and connect that many of us will very likely use in the future as we go back to worship in person. Many thanks to our Conference leadership for this meeting.
At the meeting, we elected new representatives for our Association, and we continue to have others serving on our behalf. We elected Bainie Wild from St. John’s UCC, Burton, to the South Central Conference Board of Directors and Rev. Jenny Russell from Touchstone Community Church, Boerne, to the Nominating Committee. Carl Brown from Trinity Church of Austin continues to serve on the SCC Board of Directors; Rev. Nikki Stahl from United Christian, Austin, continues as President of the SCC Board; Rev. Peter Bauer from Faith UCC, New Braunfels, and Andrew Roblyer from Friends Congregational UCC, College Station continue as General Synod delegates; Josh Mata from United Christian, Phillip Gullen from Friends Congregational, and Jerry Carpenter, retired pastor of Weimar UCC, continue as General Synod alternate delegates; and Cindy Miller from St. John’s UCC, Burton continues on the Nominating Committee. As the chair of the SCC Nominating Committee, I also thank Rev. Trent Williams and Rev. Peter Bauer for their SCC Board service as they finish their terms as representative and secretary.
Blessings in Christ, Liz Nash, Association Minister
We currently have $385 in our Habitat Fund. We will be participating in the next Habitat Stud-a-thon that begins July 7th. We will be sponsoring two studs which are $200 a piece. Habitat hopes to raise $25,000 for this new home. Gary, pictured to the left, will be the new homeowner. Gary dreams of the day when he can move his family out of the 27 foot long RV they currently live in. He dreams of moving into a home with enough room for his children to grow. As he works on his sweat equity hours and continues his journey through our Home Program, Habitat is gearing up to break ground on his home build by fundraising for the building supplies needed to begin construction on his home. Gary, says, : “What I hope that our Habitat home will offer over our current home is comfort, security, and a place that I can actually call mine. That we can call home.”
Kathy Leber will paint the studs UCC red and black, once we get them. They will be placed in the fellowship hall and you will be invited to come by and sign them or write your best wishes on them. We will let you know when the studs are in the fellowship hall. If you wish to donate to our Habitat fund simply send a check to the church and write Habitat on the memo line.
We have been hearing a lot about history as confederate statues are being torn down or moved off of public squares to storage lockers and perhaps museums in the future. The great Southern author William Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead, it is not even past.” Another Southerner, Martin Luther King once said, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”
Every single human being is shaped by history. The history of their families and the history of everywhere they have ever lived. The roots of history that shape us goes far beyond our memories and remembrance and are lost in the mists of time. The Bible talks about the sins of the present generation affecting generations seven generations from now! I trust that this is also true of the good things each generation does.
This is one reason so much of the Bible, especially the Hebrew Scriptures that Christians call the Old Testament, is history. Now let it be said that the older history is the more likely it will be mythologized. Often it is scrubbed clean of any negative connotations. The heroes and heroines are made more heroic and come to be seen as paragons of the values a nation or people prioritize. They sometimes come to be more than they ever were in life.
I was reading an article about how white Christians were often complicit in Jim Crow laws and segregation. MLK correctly observed, “it is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” This was true in the 1960’s and long before that. Sadly it is still mostly true today, some 60 years after MLK made the observation. It is hard to overcome history. It is hard to learn the lessons of history because we don’t look at the whole historical record. We tend to pick and chose what history we remember.
We need to learn from history, not a sanitized version of history but history as near to how it happened as we can get. This will mean listening to the voices of the oppressed, to the weak, to those who all too often are ignored or run over by history. Archbishop Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, once said, “History will not tell us then what to do, but will at least start us on the road to action of a different and more self-aware kind, action that is moral in a way it can’t be if we have no points of reference beyond what we have come to take for granted.”
The South Central Conference will be holding its annual meeting on Saturday, June 13th. Originally it was going to be held in Houston but because of the covid 19 virus it was decided to hold it via zoom. The deadline to register was this past Friday, June 5, unless they extend it.
Along with the usual voting on nominees for conference positions, voting on the budge, etc. a vote will be held on by law amendments.