Author: David Reed (Page 2 of 10)

Heart of Texas Association News

    The Annual Meeting of the South Central Conference (SCC) was held on Saturday, June 12th, online.  Although there is a loss to us from not being together in person, it was an excellent gathering, full of joy and good sharing.  All of that is thanks to outgoing SCC Board President from our Association, Nikki Stahl; the great work of the North Texas Association; and those who helped behind the scenes. At the meeting, we learned that, after this very difficult year, Slumber Falls Camp is filling up in its camps this summer, our churches have been generous in their giving to the South Central Conference (through Our Church’s Wider Ministry), and three of the four Associations in the South Central Conference have voted to participate in the Unified Fitness Review Committee.  The Heart of Texas Association has not yet voted to join this committee, but we are moving forward in the process of deciding by the time it is needed next spring.  Those elected to SCC committees and offices from the Heart of Texas Association include Trent Williams of Friends Congregational College Station as SCC Board Vice President, Brooke Dooley of Friends Congregational (a Member in Discernment) as the Youth/Young Adult SCC Board representative, and Sonja Phillips from Friedens UCC Geronimo to the SCC Nominating Committee. In addition, we offer thanks to Cindy Miller of St. John’s UCC Burton and Jenny Russell of Touchstone Community Church Boerne for serving on the SCC Nominating Committee this year. We also offer our support and gratitude for Debra Joseph of the New Orleans Association as she begins her term as Board President of the SCC, and give thanks for the important interim ministry work of Campbell Lovett as he finishes his time with us.

    Arlene Turner, Pastor of Bethany Congregational San Antonio, will be presenting a workshop, “The Urgency and Challenges of Bible Literacy,” on Thursday, July 8th, at the upcoming virtual UCC General Synod.  Congratulations, Arlene! Arlene’s workshop was also part of our SCC Annual Meeting. Arlene’s workshop, along with the other General Synod workshops, will be recorded and available for viewing by those registered for Synod from July 11th-18th.   Any of us can register for General Synod at https://www.generalsynod.org/.  The cost is only $100 for visitors, with the opportunity to celebrate, worship, and learn with folks from across the UCC.

    Mary Wilson, retired pastor of Church of the Savior, has taken on a new position.  She is the Director of ChrysalisQ.org, a support and resource group for LGBTQI+ families.  We congratulate Mary. Her skills and calling will bring real gifts to this new organization.

    There will be a Celebration of Life for Jewel Johnson, Pastor Emeritus of St. Peter’s Church of Coupland and longtime minister among us, at 4 pm on Wednesday, July 7th, at St. Peter’s.  Jewel died on July 2nd, 2020.  I know many of you knew Jewel and his years of faithful and excellent Christian ministry.  Glen Schoeneberg will officiate.

    Finally, as many of you know, I recently submitted my notice to the Heart of Texas Association that I am retiring. I have offered to serve until a new Association Minister is brought onboard or until the Fall Association Meeting, whichever is sooner. The new Association Minister will have a good start in working with our new SCC Conference Minister, Phil Hodson. My heart and prayers will always be with the generous ministry of this Association and our churches.  You are great disciples and wonderful people!

Blessings in Christ,
Liz Nash, Association Minister

Slumber Falls Camp Looking for Summer Camp Volunteers

Hello Churches and Conference Friends:

Slumber Falls is having excellent summer camp registrations and we are now at 221 campers.

We are in desperate need of the following Volunteers:

  • 2 female adults (over 18) to Counsel at our Streams of Faith 1 (grades 3-5) from July 4 – July 10
  • 1 male adult (over 18) to Counsel at our Eco Camp (grades 6-8) from July 11 – July 17
  • 3 females and 2 males (over 18) Counselors needed for our Living Waters camp (grades 3-6) from July 11 – July 17

If you are interested in volunteering for any of these openings, please contact

Stacey at stacey@slumberfalls.org as soon as possible. Thank you for your consideration!

“Zoom Cafe” Reminder – Wednesday Morning July 7, 2021

Wednesday, July 7th @ 9:30 am.

Join Rev. Campbell Lovett and other Clergy from around the SCC for the weekly “Zoom Cafe” on Wednesday, July 7th @ 9:30 am.

This is an opportunity for coffee and conversation about the challenges of the week.

There is no set agenda, and you are free to come and go as your schedule allows.
Topics of conversation might include preaching possibilities for the coming Sunday, COVID challenges to you and your flock, UCC mission updates, or a sharing of concerns about local matters.

If you have not already attended a “Zoom Cafe” and would like to, here is a link to the pre-scheduled meetings: Zoom Cafe.
Meeting ID: 827 8727 5793
Passcode: 224868

See you all soon!

Celebration of life for Rev. Jewel Johnson Wednesday, July 7, at 4 pm

Submitted by Rev. Glen Schoeneberg, Shared by Rev. Campbell Lovett

There will be a Celebration of Life for Rev Jewel Johnson on Wednesday, July 7, at 4 pm, at St. Peter’s in Coupland. A reception will follow in the Fellowship Hall. 
Jewel is “Pastor Emeritus” at St Peter’s in Coupland. He also served conference churches in Dallas, Burton, Richland, and Neiderwald. Jewel died on July 2, 2020. 

South Central Conference – Let’s Worship Together at General Synod!

Submitted by Rev. Campbell Lovett, SCC Interim Conference Minister

You have read in these pages about the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, July 11 – 18. Most Synod events will take place in the late afternoon and early evening. If you are not able to register as a Visitor for the workshops, keynote addresses, worship services, exhibit hall and business sessions ($100), you can still sign up to “attend” the virtual worship services – for free!!

The worship services are usually highlights of Synod and help us all feel connected as members of the United Church of Christ. I hope that you will attend as an individual, family or at a church viewing party!

To register for General Synod worship services, please go to www.GeneralSynod.org. Click on the REGISTER NOW link and follow the prompts. When checking a registration category, indicate Live Stream Only, which will allow you to view worship only at no cost.

Worship services at Synod – schedule:
Opening Worship: July 11, 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Mid-Point Worship: July 14, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Closing Worship – July 18, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

I look forward to worshiping with you at General Synod 33.

With you on the journey,
Campbell Lovett Interim Conference Minister

SCC Conference at a Glance

UCC 2021 General Synod
July 11-18, 2021

SCC Executive Committee Zoom
July 12 @ 6:00pm
August 9 @ 6:00pm
September 13 @ 6:00pm
October 11 @ 6:00pm
November 8 @ 6:00pm (Subject to Date Change)

SCC Board of Directors Training
July 21, 6:00-8:00pm
August 12, 6:00-8:00pm

Heart of Texas Committee on Ministry Meeting
August 24, 2021

SCC Board of Directors Meeting
Saturday, September 18, 10:00am – 2:00pm
Saturday, November 6, 10:00am – 2:00pm

SRWR Virtual Retreat
October 2, 2021

SRWR In-Person Retreat
October 14-16, 2021


Other Upcoming Events

Slumber Falls Summer Camp Descriptions

Geek Week & Streams of Faith 1 Camps
July 4-10, 2021
Eco & Living Waters Camps
July 11-17, 2021
Streams of Faith 2 Camp
July 18-24, 2021

Pathways Theological Offering Spiritual Growth Courses beginning July 19th

Submitted by Rev. Melissa Ashmore, Pathways Theological Registrar

Pathways Theological offers personal spiritual growth courses in addition to our ministry preparation program. PATHWAYS Theological, Inc. is an affordable and accessible online program in progressive theology. Participants are not bound by geography and have a flexible time schedule over the course of each week. The weekly readings and the facilitated accompanying online forum offer a practical, open-minded education and create a learner-centered environment where participants can bring their own questions and wisdom. 

Please get to know us through our website: https://pathwaystheological.org/

From the website you can enroll in our upcoming classes as simply as shopping online.  The following explorer courses are $99 for a 4 weeks.

  • Singing the Bible – [this is an extremely popular course and you need not be a worship leader or musician to take this course, it is for everyone] (Jul 19 – Aug 15)
  • The Bible Clearly Says…Or Does It? Homosexuality and the Bible (Jul 19-Aug15)
  • Good Sabbath: Restoring the Soul (Aug 18 – Sept 13)
  • What about the Bible? (Sept 15 – Oct 12)
  • Environmental Justice (Oct 20 – Nov 16)

Getting to know Pathways
Shared by Melissa Ashmore, Pathways Theological Registrar

Greetings, South Central Conference!
It is my honor and my pleasure to invite you to view the videos at the links below to introduce you to PATHWAYS Theological Education, Inc. As registrar, I have committed to the mission and vision of this organization as one of the multiple paths to ministry and as a provider of excellent education for church leaders at every level.

Please feel free to contact me directly or to complete the contact form at www.PathwaysTheological.org/contact-us to learn more about what PATHWAYS can offer to you and to your church.

Peace,
Rev. Melissa Ashmore
PATHWAYS Registrar
registrar@pathwaystheological.org

Community of Practice Sign-Ups

Submitted by Campbell Lovett, Interim Conference Minister

If you are an Authorized Minister in the South Central Conference and would like to be a part of a Community of Practice, please sign up using this link to a Google Registration Form.

A Community of Practice is a small group of four to six people who gather once a month for intentional sharing and learning. Each group will be guided by a trained Facilitator.

The South Central Conference has received a grant so that the first year of a Community of Practice is offered at no cost to the participants. These groups can be transformational.

With you on the Journey, 
Campbell Lovett Interim Conference Minister

From the Pastor,

What it Means to be Open and Affirming

Years ago I was asked to preach at an Open and Affirming church and the lectionary happened to be a portion of the epistles dedicated to unity and maturity within the body of Christ.  It was during yet another period of time in which there was much angst about political officials and the decisions they were making.

I spoke of the church’s long history of being open and rightful pride in itself on being affirming and accepting of all persons.  Then I asked, “Do we really mean it?”  I was greeted with confused looks, because of COURSE the church meant it.  It welcomed those whom society most often rejected and deemed unworthy.

“Let me ask a different way…If (name of much-distrusted political figure) walked through those front doors right now to join our service, would we welcome him with as much compassion and grace as we do others?”  Yeah, that went over well!  And, it made us all think as we asked that question honestly of one another. 

Faith Church voted to become Open and Affirming to LGBTQ+ persons in January of 2009.  This month, we will be sponsors of the Riverside Pride event in Landa Park.  You called an openly gay pastor, for goodness sake! 

But we still get to ask ourselves, in the spirit of maturity and depth of character and continued growth, “When we say we are Open and Affirming, do we really mean it, in all ways?” 

Whom would we not wholeheartedly welcome?  Who could walk through our doors whose presence would make us flinch and do anything other than greet them with an unreserved, genuine welcome?  What are the limits of our readiness to put feet to our faith when we say, “No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here”?  Where do we stop short when reaching out to let folks know about one of the best-kept secrets in New Braunfels? 

Recent visitors, long-time residents of the area, commented they had been to our church for events put on by other groups at our facilities on multiple occasions…and had absolutely NO clue we were a progressive community of faith. 

That is on us, and it is up to us to change that!  In a community such as ours, it would not be hard for an open-minded, welcoming church with an alternative Christian voice of inclusion and justice over judgment and inequality to stand out in the crowd. 

It is time to get incredibly creative about not keeping this church to ourselves, but instead to reach out in vocal, obvious, even risky ways to let people know that we are here.

Since I began serving as your pastor, I’ve often thought of the Dr. Seuss book, Horton Hears a Who and the Who’s as they shout to be heard and to save their community, “We are here!” 

Theodor Seuss Geisel held strong anti-Japanese sentiments during and after WWII, but changed his views substantially and began to work hard to relay the message the Japanese people should be treated equally and fairly, an unpopular message in the height of post-WWII hate and distrust of the nation of Japan and it’s people. 

Geisel came to value, in particular, the Japanese concept of the importance of the individual, which was a new idea for him.  It can be seen clearly in Horton’s words, “A person is a person, no matter how small.” 

As Horton works to save Whoville, he is constrained by other jungle animals who do not believe Whoville exists, to the point that his hands (limbs?) are literally tied and he cannot convince the other animals on his own.  So he asks the Mayor of Whoville to get the residents to all make noise so they can be heard and known by the other animals and therefore, be saves from doom. 

All do so, singing and shouting and playing instruments as loudly as they can to prove their existence and save their world, but no one hears them.  As the Mayor searches the community, he finds one small Who not making noise but, instead, quietly playing with a yoyo.  At the Mayor’s urging, little Jojo utters one loud word that is enough to finally let their collective voice be heard, proving their existence and saving their community.

Where can you make your voice be as part of Faith Church?  Whom can you invite to worship?  What neighborhood newsletter article or letter to the editor or social media post can you write or share with your own circles?  What cause is near and dear to your heart that you can engage in on behalf of Faith? 

What word can you utter and to what unreached communities to let others know, “We are here”?  There are folks hungry to know that a place like Faith exists; that there is a place where they can be Christian and practice radical hospitality and that the two are not mutually exclusive.

Research shows we need to hear about something 5 to 7 times before it becomes enough a part of our frame of reference that we express any interest or curiosity about it—“What’s the name of that church, again?”

No matter how small you may feel your voice to be, my dear Jojos, yours may be just the final word that let’s others hear our collective message of God’s wasteful grace and unqualified love.  So let’s find ways to speak, for the sake of our church and the sake of those to need to know that we are Faith and the are, most definitely, here!

You can participate by joining us at the Blessing of the Hands June 7th, New Braunfels Pride June 26th, welcoming our new members, responding to our Survey about in-person worship, and helping ready the church for our return to the sanctuary later this month! 

All of us, together, will let the surrounding community and our world know that We ARE here!

Peace,
Carla

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