Category: Glimpses of Faith (Page 1 of 20)

From the Pastor

Faithful Friends,

I am bouncing off the walls excited about returning to in-person worship this Sunday, November 7th!!!!  As long as numbers remain down, we will remain inside together, with masks and distance respected.  I cannot wait to see all of you who can join us in the sanctuary this coming Sunday as well as those who need to continue joining via Zoom.

As we continue to welcome guests into our space, we need to do some work!  Be watching your email for scheduled workdays SOON, most likely on a Saturday morning and another on an afternoon to organize, de-clutter, and spruce up our space.

Our world continues to struggle to recover from the pandemic, from political discord, from social problems we just can’t yet seem to figure out.  AND, people are being broken open to better understand the suffering of others, are deciding to live their lives more intentionally in nature and with loved ones rather than on the hamster wheel, and are awakening to the need for people of good will to stand up and speak out.

As a people of faith, we are finding our own way.  We are repenting of being far too silent far too long in this community out of fear of making ourselves a target for our more conservative neighbors and are becoming a more visible progressive presence.  We are discerning where God wants to lead us in the future. 

We are asking ourselves how and where we are willing to take up our own crosses to follow God into that future.  Discipleship is rewarding and full of joy, and also involves a willingness to let go of our places of comfort to share of ourselves in ever deeper and bolder ways.

We are on the precipice of something amazing happening in and through Faith Church.  Many of you feel and have commented on it.  It has already begun.  We don’t want to beg, borrow, and plead for people to contribute their time, energy, talents, and resources, we don’t want to beg people to come and join our church…we want to LET them.

This video from punk rocker, Amanda Palmer sheds a much different light on the idea of asking vs. allowing folks to participate.  I hope you’ll take a moment to watch it.

Then ask yourself, “Do I tell folks about Faith Church activities and invite them to participate?  If not, why not?  What feels uncomfortable or scary about that?” and send me your answers. 

At the end of the day, when we say we want to repent of our position as the best kept secret in town and do something different, we get to ask ourselves why our number one best chance of getting people in the doors—word of mouth marketing—is not happening

The research shows that when people believe their church makes their life better then they are more likely to tell others about it and allow them to have access to that goodness, too.  I know you love Faith Church.  I know how dear this family of faith, our history and traditions, our values for justice and service are to you.  So why are we not telling others?   

The better we understand what gets in our way of each and every one of us sharing what Faith Church means to us and inviting others to take part in our work and worship, to the table from which far too many have felt excluded far too long, the better our chance at doing something different. 

If churches do not open theirs doors wide and go out to find others who need and want community, the doors of the church do not remain open long, in our current era.  Church attendance was once assumed as part of the culture.  Since the late 2000s, organized religion has been in decline, except those faith communities that still claim evangelism as part of what it means to be a follower of Christ. 

There is a means of evangelism, sharing the Good News of God, that is not about conversion, coercion, or judgment but about sharing that there is a different way to understand God and follow Jesus that is about…

  1. using the minds God gave us to think for ourselves and reason together, wrestling with God for answers from a place of relationship rather than fear
  2. service of others, radical hospitality and inclusion, wasteful love and the pursuit of justice, and the kin-dom of community rather than kingdom and dominance

Whom do you know who may not have the warmth and acceptance of a family of faith like you have?  As we return to the sanctuary in-person, again, it is an excellent opportunity to offer the sanctuary of a different kind of God, a different kind of church, to your dog walker, hair dresser, co-worker, neighbor, best friend, or person sitting next to you at your kid’s games.

We are not begging, we are not coercing, we are not manipulating or judging or insulting.  We are letting folks know a place exists that may just let them feel comfortable coming back to church.  Tell ‘em your pastor will be in jeans and boots, and they’re welcome to do the same.  I’ll see you, and your friends, this Sunday!

Peace,
Pastor Carla

Pledge Campaign for Our 2022 Statement of Faith

To properly develop a Statement of Faith (otherwise known as a budget) for the congregation to discuss and vote on at our Annual Congregational Meeting in January, we will be conducting a Pledge Campaign between now and January 9th

Members will be asked to prayerfully consider what they feel called to give to Faith Church through regular tithes in the coming year.  We know circumstances change and it can feel overwhelming in uncertain times such as these to make a commitment.  We simply ask folks to take time now to consider what contribution they believe they can make and place that information on the Pledge Campaign forms that will be made available both at the church and via email.

Most churches do this as an act of due diligence, since otherwise we are left guessing what income we will have and crossing our fingers, hoping we will have enough to meet our needs.  Following a Biblical model, many Christians tithe 10% of their gross income to their church.  Others feel able to do more. 

The ickyness that often comes up for folks when talking about money need not be (didja watch the Amanda Palmer video, yet?).  We are not asking so we can build a huge new facility or cars or boats or creature comforts.  We do not use this money to serve us, alone.  We use it to feed us and then help fuel our going out and serving others. 

We are asking so this unique church, this place where all are welcome, this congregation that works for justice and peace and wants everyone to know they have a safe place to come where a spiritual family will love them can remain open and reach even more people. 

So be watching your email, social media, and worship guide announcements for your chance to help us reach our goal of 90% of our members completing cards for Faith Church’s very first Pledge Campaign and commit to what you feel God calls you to provide. 

Council Positions Open for 2022-2023

We will have 4 positions on Council open for 2022, including the position of Council Secretary.  Please begin prayerfully considering now if you God is calling you to join us!  You would commit to one meeting per month and helping out as a group with various projects as needed.  We will need at least one young adult to join us, as well.

None of us should EVER feel alone or overwhelmed as we work for this church.  The more of us who participate, the less the chance of that happening!

My pastor used to say, “If God is in it, God will provide the resources of people and finances.  If those aren’t there, then perhaps God is not in it and we should not be doing it right now…” 

In my heart of hearts, I believe God very much is in the ministry of this congregation and that “not doing” the work of Faith Church is not an option if we are to not just survive—our God of abundance wants better for us than that—but to actually thrive. 

So please join me in asking for God to prompt just the right group of people to come forward who want to participate in servant leadership for this church that provides blessings, to us and to others in our community, too numerous to count!

 

PFLAG New Braunfels

Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gays is a group designed to provide support, information, and resources for LGBTQ+ people, their parents, families, and allies.  The closest PFLAG chapters are in San Marcos, Boerne, and Seguin. 

If you would like to be one of 7 charter members to help begin a chapter in New Braunfels, please contact Lauren Pearce dawgs4ever@gmail.com or Michelle Perry mich_perry@yahoo.com

Christian Education Meeting 11/13/21 10:00am

Pam Robinson and Chrissy Gossett have graciously agreed to serve as Co-Coordinators of Christian Education.  They need Volunteer Teachers and persons willing to serve on the Christian Education Committee to join a meeting on Saturday, November 13th at 10:00am in the Fellowship Hall. 

Please contact Pam at pamr292@yahoo.com for more information and to join in this vital part of Faith’s long-standing ministry to our children and youth.

Get to Know Anya-Rose!

Please get to know our new Communications and Administrative Assistant, Anya-Rose Vages.

She is getting up to speed with our systems and will soon be organizing our social media and other on-line communications, our office and administrative processes, and will have regular office hours Monday through Wednesday each week (exact times to be posted, soon). 

As you see her, please help make her feel welcome!


Welcome Anya-Rose!

Anya-Rose has resided in New Braunfels for three years. She is originally from the New England area.

She is frequently seen working festivals, 5Ks, and liquor stores throughout Central Texas.

She currently runs a tequila company and enjoys hot yoga, spinning and a great brunch place and all things ocean related. She spends her free time on a plane going to explore new cities.

New Heart of Texas Association Minister

Greetings! My name is Rev. Nikki Stahl. Starting on November 1st, I’m your new Heart of Texas Association Minister. Before I tell you more about me, let me say what an important pastor, mentor, and friend Rev. Liz Nash has been for me. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been able to hear many of you share how important that she has been to you. Again, many thanks to Rev. Liz Nash! Liz, thank you for your ministry and all the ways in which our lives have been blessed and enhanced by it. Now, go enjoy those grandbabies!!

There is a lot that I can share about me so I will just hit the highlights. I was born and raised in Austin. Grew up Southern Baptist. I have a bachelor degree in Finance from UT of Austin, a masters of Social Work and a masters of Divinity from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. I’ve held several “jobs” prior to seminary including Workers Compensation Underwriter, 3M Plant and Operational Accountant, and Business Analyst.

I served at United Christian Church of Austin from 2011 until earlier this year as Associate, Executive, and then Co-Pastor. I’ve worked with some amazing pastors at United including Rev. Tim Tutt, Rev. Ken White, Rev. John Gage, and Rev. Anna Kreisle. I have learned so much from each of them.

Over the years I have been active in the Association by participating on the Executive Committee, and Scholarship Committee and mentoring members in discernment. I have also served on the Camp Council at Slumber Falls.

The past few years my focus has been at the Conference level where I served on the Board of Directors for five years including the last two as President (term ended June 2021). I’m currently overseeing the newly formed Communities in Practice groups.

I’ve been married to my husband, Ian, for 15 years. We have three daughters: Marian (14), Emmalee (10), and Cora (8). We stay busy with church, school, piano, dance and marching band (Marian plays vibraphone in the pit!). My mother, Lee, and her dog (Blue) live with us along with our three cats (Lola, Henri and Precious). In July we added a new puppy – BB Grace!

That’s just a bit about me. I look forward to learning more about you and your congregations! If there is something going on in your congregation, please let me know! If possible, I would love to be there!*** I want to get to know you!

I can be reached at revnikkistahl@gmail.com and my cell number is 512-751-3557. I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/togetherwithyouonthejourney.

The Heart of Texas Association is full of amazing churches, doing amazing things in their communities. I am honored to be a part of your work even if it is just in little ways.

With you on the Journey,
Rev. Nikki Stahl
Association Minister (elect)

***Until my youngest two can be fully vaccinated for COVID, I will not be able to attend inside gatherings where people are unmasked. I am available for outside gatherings, zoom calls, email, texts or phone calls.

Heart of Texas Association

Support Faith and Philip in 100-mile Run

New member, Philip Graves, is an ultra-marathoner and has graciously offered to host a pledge-drive for Faith Church during his next long-distance effort—a 100-mile run in February. 

As a warm-up, he’ll be doing a 24-hour run in December.  We will be selecting one of these events as a fundraiser for Faith Church with folks invited to pledge X amount of dollars per hour (for the December run) or mile (for the February run) with all proceeds going directly to help make up the current budget shortfall of Faith Church.  

Be watching your email, worship announcements, and social media for your chance to chip in and help raise this barn, together once the Pledge Drive begins and please thank Philip for his generosity and keep him in your prayers as he prepares and trains.

Phil’s Note-Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Submitted by Rev. Phil Hodson, SCC Conference Minister

As of today I have traveled 5,173 miles around the Conference in my car. I’ve been preaching and visiting our congregations, meeting with different individuals and groups, and asking the same question: What should a Conference Minister do? I’m asking because I want to learn our goals and dreams and also gain insight into our past experience so that we can live more fully together into the future that God has in store for us. When I started asking the question, I expected two standard answers: conflict resolution and search & call. What’s been both interesting and exciting to me is that neither of those are at the top of the list with anyone I’ve spoken to. Instead, I’ve heard these words: encouragement, guidance, direction, connection raised repeatedly. I find this terribly exciting — because that’s been my hope since I started the car on July 15! It is my deepest desire to be in ministry with you that is missional, relational, and incarnational across every setting of the church. 

One of the ways that can happen is through the use of a tool called MissionInsite, which the Conference has purchased and will make available for use in every congregation. As a pastor in the local church, I used this resource to launch a new congregation, identify ministry opportunities, and see the local church relate to its’ community in incredible ways — and I want us to do the same in the South Central Conference! This resource compiles data about the neighborhoods we live in and the neighbors who live beside us — interests, preferences, hopes, and more — using the latest from the Census and the agencies who collect our individual data for private enterprise to understand us, but their goal is to help the church gain deeper understanding so that we can be in ministry with our neighbors in relevant, practical ways that will transform lives.  Did I mention this is freely available to any setting that would like to use it? And that I will make time to personally consult with you and your leadership in understanding your mission field and help you identify new opportunities? This will be a multi-step process that will help us understand ourselves and our neighbors more fully, so that we can help the rubber meet the road in our ministries going forward! The first step is to answer this question:

Would your congregation be interested in this resource?

If you answered yes, the next step is to email me and let me know you’d like to begin the journey! Note: when you do, I’ll send you back a spreadsheet. This will come with regular homework. I’m sharing this now because we just signed the contract and I’m really excited about what is possible! I’m also sharing it now because Christmas is right around the corner (I know, right?), and the Advent and Christmas season has traditionally been a wonderful time to connect with new neighbors and showcase the power of community and relationship through the life of the church! Which leads me to another question:

Would or Could your church utilize a list of names in your community for you to reach out to?

If we developed a simple postcard that could name your church and Christmas Eve worship time, then provide you a list of 1,000, 5,000, or 10,000 names in your community to mail it to, would your congregation be interested in underwriting the cards and names prepared for you?

Jesus’ ministry was highly contextual. He knew the people he connected with. Everywhere he went on his ministry journey, Jesus paid careful attention to what was actually around him and related to the folks he met. I believe, as we prepare for what God has in store in our future, we must move forward in the same fashion. These resources, and the questions I’m asking you today, are one way your Conference Minister hopes to encourage, guide, offer direction and foster new connections with you. I pray you will find them helpful and engage in this exciting opportunity together with me. We have many wonderful miles to travel together!

Blessings,

Rev. Phil Hodson
Conference Minister
South Central Conference, 
United Church of Christ
3610 River Road
New Braunfels, TX 78132


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