Faithful Friends, As promised, leadership is watching local COVID numbers closely and making decisions day by day as new information comes in.
With the significant surge in numbers the past two days, we are resuming Zoom-only worship for the next couple of Sundays, at the very least.
Those leading the service will do so from the sanctuary as they are comfortable and able to do so, with masks and greater distance.
We will make decisions week by week as this surge settles down and keep you updated as we know more.
Please help us by remaining faithful with your attendance, inviting others, and the giving of talents and resources to keep our growing momentum going. We have had record numbers in attendance and want to continue to have our Faith family available for those needing spiritual community. There’s no reason they cannot find and connect with us in deep ways during this time, if only we all still show up for them!
And remember, the building is not the church, WE ARE, and God is very much open and working and will continue to do so in and through us as we practice integrity and stewardship in keeping one another safe. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to me. Til we meet on Sunday, know you are all in my prayers, as I trust leadership and I are in yours.
After thoughtful and prayerful consideration, it is with great pride and much anticipation that I, on behalf of the Interim Pastor Committee and the Church Council, announce the selection of our church’s Designated Term Pastor — Rev. Dr. Carla Cheatham. Rev. Cheatham was one of three applicants for the position and was unanimously approved by both the Committee and the Council. Rev. Cheatham comes to us with many unique qualities and gifts that I am sure will serve us well starting January 1, 2021.
A word about Designated Term vs. Interim Pastor. We consulted regularly with our Interim Conference Minister, Campbell Lovett, and he was helpful in describing the pros and cons of each expression of ministry. We chose Rev. Cheatham as Designated Term Pastor for Faith UCC in part because, while an Interim Pastor cannot be considered for the Settled Pastor position, in certain circumstances, such as the ones we face now at Faith, a Designated Term Pastor can be considered for that position. A designated term pastor also has additional specific goals and objectives than an interim pastor, and we believe the goals that focus on community engagement and membership growth will better serve our church. Carla is well-suited to help us realize our goals. Thus, we would like to keep our options open about a settled position. For instance, we all agree that we would not be well served if, after 12 months of Carla’s help and guidance to grow and revitalize, we started over again with a new pastor and began another pastoral transition. The Pastoral Search Committee will meet in early 2021 to update the Local Church Profile and perform other assignments typical to the Search and Call process. When the time comes, this committee with input from Rev. Cheatham, will determine if she will be considered for the settled position or if the position will be posted. We will be looking for one or two members to fill vacancies on the committee.
Rev. Cheatham made a short video of introduction to our church, that I have included in this letter. Please take a moment to watch. We hope you will be as impressed with her ideas and plans for Faith UCC as the committee was when we first viewed it.
We are grateful to Pastor Scott for his ministry that has created such a strong base for our church. We are thankful to congregation members for your commitment to Faith. We look forward to building upon all this positive momentum as we prepare to enter a New Year!
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?
Please join us Wednesday evening for an open and honest discussion about:
The Bible contradicts itself…Fact-checking the Bible August 26, 2020 at 7pm
The Bible contradicts itself: Case in point “Fact-Checking the Bible” is a TED talk video with television writer, David Ellis Dickman, who was at one time hired to write questions for a TV game show for adults about the Bible, hosted by Jeff Foxworthy. His comments range from serious to the ridiculous. And he says, himself, we can’t blame him for being a conservative Christian or having conservative Christian viewpoints. In this hilarious talk, Dickerson shares his experience writing wholesome Bible trivia for the Emmy-winning TV show “American Bible Challenge,” a show that split its contestants into teams who answer questions that draw from the Old and New Testaments. Writing these questions was, to say the least, challenging.
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.”
Ingredients: 1 Cup water 1/2 Cup butter 1/4 teaspoon salt 4 eggs 1 Cup flour
Put water and butter in pan, heat until water boils. Pour flour and salt into hot mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir and cook over low flame until mixture forms softball. Remove from fire, cool, add unbeaten eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each egg is added. Drop by teaspoon full, for small puffs or tablespoon for large puffs, on greased baking sheet. Fill with custard filling or whipped cream. After puffs are baked at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, sprinkle with powdered sugar or drizzle with melted chocolate. I also like filling mine with ice cream or fresh strawberries and whipping cream.
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.