We held our first all online Heart of Texas Association meeting on Saturday, May 16th. It was, of course, with regret that we had to change to this format instead of gathering at Weimar UCC. However, we rejoice that we had 51 attendees representing 17 churches. While we have had more people attend an Association meeting, we had the highest number of churches ever represented, and we voted with joy to welcome Friedens United in Gay Hill back into our Association. Each church gave a short report about their life and activities, which is always a vital and great part of our meeting. I appreciate your efforts to join together at this time to continue our reach across churches for ministry in Christ’s name. We have all learned a great deal very quickly about being the church in cyberspace during the pandemic.
At our spring meeting, we had Ecclesiastical Councils for Kerry Kirtley and Arlene Turner, approving both for ordination. Kerry and Arlene have both come to the UCC from the United Methodist Church. Kerry was welcomed to the UCC by Bethany Congregational in San Antonio. She is a pastor, along with Billie Watts, of the vibrant new congregation Touchstone Community Church, in Boerne. Arlene was welcomed to the UCC by United Christian Church, where she has had many opportunities to serve in ministry during the church’s interim period. We look forward to Kerry’s ordination to her call at Touchstone when that can happen, and we offer our encouragement and support to Arlene as she starts her search for a call to ministry.
At our meeting, we also extended a call until Labor Day to gather supplies for Back Bay Mission hygiene kits or to send in donations to our Association to allow us to buy supplies in bulk for these kits. In early September, we will find a way to pick up any kits our churches have assembled, to buy the supplies most needed using monetary donations, and to transport these out to Biloxi to Back Bay Mission for the homeless folks they serve. If you have kits to be picked up, contact Liz Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org or Linda Coats at email@example.com. If you wish to donate money, send it to our Association treasurer, Joe Ward, with an indication that the gift is for Back Bay hygiene kits. To find out the supply list for the kits and where to send money, go to our website at http://hotaucc.org/index.html and click on “Report on the Spring Meeting” and “Back Bay Mission Hygiene Kit Info.” You will also see Glen Schoeneberg’s extra verse for the song “Pass It On” that he and Dottie sang for us during worship, a gentle and fun reminder about how to pass on God’s love in this pandemic.
Finally, I want to share a word of caution with you. I recently have encountered several “phishing” attempts via email and text — many more than usual. As you may know, “phishing” refers to attempts to commit fraud by impersonating a friend, company, or organization in order to obtain personal information such as your credit card number or to get you to send money or gift cards. These attempts have mainly come as emails or texts that look like legitimate contacts from our pastors, often with church information on them. Others ask you to click on a link. If you receive a message that appears to be from a minister but you aren’t absolutely sure, check the email address or phone number, and also check in a different way with the person who appears to have sent it. Do not click on a link and do not send gift cards, money, etc. if those are requested. Many people are working for the good of all during this time but, sadly, some are not.
Blessings in Christ, Liz Nash, Association Minister