Tag: newsletter (Page 2 of 6)

Thank You from Family Promise

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

From the Paster – August 2020

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?

Grace and Peace,
Pastor Scott

Heart of Texas Association News – July 2020

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

Faith UCC to Participate in Habitat for Humanity Stud-A-Thon

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.

From the Pastor – July 2020

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.” 

Grace and Peace, Pastor Scott

South Central Conference Annual Meeting

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. 

The Conference is not collecting Back Bay Mission Hygiene kits this year.  If you wish to make a donation to their Hygiene Kit fund please use this link:
https://thebackbaymission.org/give/#give-now

If you wish to donate to the South Central Conference, please use this link: https://sccucc.org/donate/

Reopening Task Force Formed

The Church Council has formed a Reopening Task Force to identify schedules and conditions to begin worshipping in the sanctuary and scheduling groups meeting in our facilities. The Task Force will identify policies and practices for reopening. They will make recommendations to the Church Council. The Reopening schedule and guidelines will be well communicated to the congregation. Our thanks to the following three persons who agreed to serve on this Task Force: Jim Gossett; Judith James and Mary Owen. The first meeting is Tuesday, June 16th. 

Family Promise Update

If it were not for the COVID-19 virus we would soon be hosting Family Promise families but that is not to be this year but the work of Family Promise still goes on. Currently  two families are being housed at the Family Promise Day Center itself. On a recent zoom call Family Promise said they have tentatively set September 1st as the date they will start hosting families in churches once again, although this could change if there is  strong second wave of COVID-19. 

Since we will not be hosting families at the church or at the camp this summer the Faith Church council will be voting to donate funds from our Family Promise fund to Family Promise.  The amount will be determined at the June Council meeting on June 9th. 

We are also encouraging Faith Church members to consider making a donation to Family Promise directly. This would in lieu of providing gift cards, or food for the families we would normally be hosting. You can donate to Family Promise through the church  or go directly to the Family Promise website and donate there.  Here is the link:   https://www.fpgnb.org/. The later will get your donation to them quicker. You can also use the above link to sign up for the Family Promise Newsletter.  Simply go to the very bottom of the web page and sign up.

Slumber Falls Camp is Moving Forward with Camps

Submitted by Rev. Jeremy Albers, Director of Outdoor Ministry

This past weekend the SCC Board of Directors approved the Decision Tree presented by the SCC COVID-19 task force on Slumber Falls Camp.  For the past three weeks the task force took into consideration the many facets of offering or not offering camp this summer.  The findings were that a simple Yes or No was not adequate because new information continues to come out and that circumstances outside of our control could have major impacts. 

From this came a decision tree that encouraged Slumber Falls to move forward. Support for camps to move forward came from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), American Camping Association and YMCA, state and local health agencies, and the Texas Department of Health which oversees our state licensing as a recognized youth camp. 

The decision on whether SFC would move forward was based on recent events, our ability to mitigate health risks, and enact our health and safety protocols if needed.  The overall well-being of our youth and the challenges they are facing, as well as our ability to acquire necessary supplies and support from third parties which are vital to offering camp were also accessed.  We also outlined the risks to the camp and conference. 

Since there is a financial component to offering camps and the fact that we are offering worry free camping this summer, the burden of costs will initially fall on the camp until the camps occur.  If camps do not happen, then the camp and conference will bear the burden of covering these costs if an exit strategy is enacted. 

The other section of the Decision tree contained exit strategies if our current resources and supply chains changed, the government and experts pull their support, or if we do not get a critical mass of registration by June 10th of 180 campers. 

We believe that summer camps are vital to the wellbeing of our youth, but health and safety concerns of our campers, staff, volunteers and families remain a priority.  Changes will be enacted this summer to many of our practices and procedures, and we will be asking our volunteers, camper families, and churches to help by following our suggestions for creating a “camping bubble” that minimizes risks.  This information is being finalized and will be uploaded to the SFC website and sent to parents with their camper letter. 

Parents are encouraged to sign up their campers before the June 10th deadline.  Registration costs this summer are worry free meaning that parents can change their minds at any point.  They can move their child to a different camp, roll their registration to the 2021 camping season, donate their registration money to the ministry of Slumber Falls Camp or receive a full refund (including the deposit) this summer. The camp will bear the risks in order to provide our parents a peace of mind.  Parents have the choice.  More information on worry free camping will be posted online.

Please keep the camp in your prayers, lift us up in your churches, and consider becoming a Friend of the Camp.  If you wish to volunteer, please sign up.  Slumber Falls is committed to sharing God’s love to all!

From the Paster – June 2020

Recently President Trump sent National Guardsmen and police to tear gas and use flash grenades to clear peaceful protestors from  exercising their constitutional right to protest.  This was done so the President could stroll to St. John’s Episcopal Church.  He did not go there to pray for the country or George Floyd’s family.  He went there solely for  a photo op of him standing in front of the church holding a Bible.  Once the picture was taken he left.  It was later turned into a campaign style video, complete with stirring orchestral music showing him striding past National Guard troops, pumping his fist and culminating in him standing holding the Bible aloft in front of the church.

When Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, senior pastor of the church, was asked about this incident she noted the Presidents earlier inflammatory words  and militarized approach to the protests.  She went  on to say, “He did not pray.  He did not offer a word of balm or condolence to those who are grieving.  He did not seek to unify the country, but rather he used our symbols and our sacred space as  a way to reinforce a message that is antithetical to everything that the person of Jesus, whom we follow, and the gospel texts that we strive to emulate…represent.”    

President Trump and the First Lady later posed in front of the shrine for John Paul II in Washington D.C.   The Catholic Archbishop said he found the President’s actions to be “baffling and reprehensible.”

When Bishop Budde was asked what the Bible has to say to our current crisis she said, “Our faith has many things to say because it speaks to every dimension of the human experience.  And so our texts would offer words of consolation to those who are grieving.  Our text would offer words of encouragement for those who are striving for justice.  Jesus himself spoke of bringing the kingdom of God, the reign of God, God’s shalom and universal love into human experience.  The Bible speaks of God’s demand for us to walk humbly and to do justice and to love neighbor.   And so all of those things are found in our texts, and those are the texts that I would point us to as a way of saying that God stands with those who are suffering.  God walks with those who feel they are oppressed.  And God has harsh things to say to those of us with privilege and power who us that power to be instruments of oppression for others.”

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