Category: August 2021

From the Pastor,

Faithful Friends,

We have so much for which to be grateful! 

Our congregation is growing with 4 new amazing members committed to joining us August 8th and others in discussion with me about doing so in the near future.

We’ve added to our tech team, thanks to Philip Graves, and Joe, Mikki, and Sam Ward have worked hard to set us up so well for hybrid (in-person and Zoom-casted) services, with written instructions for each part of that process, that others will be apprenticed to also join that team in the weeks to come (we could use a few more volunteers!).

Our Pastoral Care Team continues to reach out beautifully with cards, notes, and calls to our faith family, as do many of you, so that I regularly hear what incredible warmth, welcome, and hospitality our congregation provides.

We have scheduled another Outdoor Hymn Sing August 8th to sing to our hearts’ content (with a bit more distance provided between us due to the Delta variant crowding our local hospitals) as Slim Bawb and Jordon once again lead us in some good old fashioned music (11:15am-12:00pm after an abbreviated service).

We had a great response to our request for nominations to our Pastoral Search Committee and will be announcing those names, soon.  They will be meeting with the help of our new Conference Minister, Rev. Phil Hodson.

And…the world continues to struggle in ways too numerous to mention.  As of this writing, over 4.2 million people have died of COVID, with a new surge in cases and deaths as our country and community grapples with coming to agreement about how to protect ourselves and each other.   

More than 2,100 children separated from their family at the border still have not been reunited with their families, voter rights remain under attack, and the bodies and lives and rights of many of us and our siblings are, as well.

We may find ourselves lamenting along with the psalmist, “How long, oh, Lord?  How long?” as we face these struggles, along with others that hit much closer to home. 

We wonder what we can do.  And I still believe the most powerful and radical thing we can do is to pray, to so build our connection with and trust in and security with God that we can hear clearly what God would call each of us and our church to do and be in response. 

As we bring our best selves to each and every interaction, conversation, decision, and Facebook or Instagram post, we can put greater health and justice and peace into our midst.  We can invite God into the circumstances of our world and lives and seek God’s face, where God is moving in the midst of the seemingly worst and most hopeless of circumstances, asking God to empower us to be God’s hands and feet and voice in all we do. 

So, I invite you to join me as we lift up our hearts to God, and sing along with me this month the prayer of the Psalmist from Psalm 130, captured so beautifully by Ruth Duck and Robert J. Batastini in the following hymn (NCH 554). 

  1. Out of the depths, O God, we call to you.
    Wounds of the past remain, affecting all we do.
    Facing our lives, we need your love so much.
    Here in this community, heal us by your touch.

  2. Out of the depths of fear, O God, we speak.
    Breaking the silences, the searing truth we seek.
    Safe among friends, our grief and rage we share.
    Here in this community, hold us in your care.

  3. God of the loving heart, we praise your name.
    Dance through our lives and loves; anoint with Spirit flame.
    Your light illumines each familiar face.
    Here in this community, meet us with your grace.

    The tune can be found here https://youtu.be/EJ8Yexp0Iz8

As we sing this Psalm, let us do so as a prayer, asking God to fill our hearts and lead us and others to solutions while comforting us all every step of the journey.

Peace to us all,
Pastor Carla

An Invitation to the Women of Faith UCC (from Friedens UCC)

Friedens UCC in Geronimo will again host the September salad luncheon on September 9th.  The women of Faith Church have been invited to attend this gathering at our neighboring sister church. 

We are asked to arrive at the church at ll:00 a.m. for a time of fellowship and  a delicious salad feast.  We are their guests and have been advised that we do not need to bring a salad this time.

Please RSVP to Karen Dietz (830 626  6833) or at (karenpdietz@gmail.com) if you plan to attend.  Karen will then be able to contact you if there is a change of plans due to Center for Disease Control cautions about indoor gatherings. 

Friedens Church is located at 2555 Friedens Church Road

We are grateful for this kind invitation and opportunity to break bread together .  Karen looks forward to hearing from you.  

Kiva: Update on our loan to Cotzi Ya Group

Submitted by Frank Dietz

This update on our loan to Cotzij Ya Group was written by Kiva’s Field Partner.

The 37-year-old Flora’s leadership grows daily. She seeks to consolidate the Mayan women of her community through typical weavings. She comments that when the woman weaves she occupies her mind, her hands and her spirit. That is why each typical “girdle” or belt that Flora weaves has her essence. She wants all weaving women to sell her products well. So Flora employs two people to support her in weaving typical belts that are in fashion. She says that if women weave and sell their products, they will be able to meet their basic needs and there will be fewer malnourished children. That is why last November, Flora acquired the fifth loan with Kiva. She was effectively able to capitalize on her textile business by purchasing a large quantity of high-quality yarns in various colors. Now Flora generates more income that allows her to continue supporting her parents and her 6 younger siblings.

The eight women from the “Cotzij Ya” Communal Bank continue to prepare through training provided by the “Microcredit Plus” program for loans, non-formal education and health services. They not only benefited from a Kiva loan, but also benefited greatly from training in financial, health, women, and family issues. They now know their rights, but also their obligations as wives and mothers. A nurse from the institution visited their homes every two months and performed Pap tests, blood pressure, height and weight. Flora and her companions were also informed about the importance of vaccination to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Thanks to these educational topics, the women of this communal bank acquire more knowledge that allows them to develop their capacities.

Kiva Lender, the more than 32,000 clients of Puente de Amistad, achieve their goals thanks to each one of you.

Heart of Texas Association News

    The South Central Conference now has a new Conference Minister, Phil Hodson.  Phil comes to us from the Wichita United Church of Christ in Wichita, Kansas.  During his ministry, the Wichita church formed from two congregations that merged and entered a new period of growth. Phil brings ideas and commitment about growing our Conference, along with experience in church planting.  He went to seminary at Perkins School of Theology at SMU and came into the UCC from the United Methodist Church. He has already spent time in our Conference before his official start date in addition to meeting regularly with interim Conference Minister Campbell Lovett. Phil and his wife and four children are moving to Galveston. He anticipates traveling throughout our Conference and churches to connect with all of us. He will bring new ideas and wisdom.  It is an exciting time for the South Central Conference.  Let’s give Phil a big Texas welcome!

    I also give thanks for the wise and excellent guidance and leadership of Campbell Lovett during this challenging year in the life of all of our churches. He has given stable leadership with his deep base of experience.  Campbell is continuing to help with the transition.  Let us send him off with our prayers for a rich life going forward and with gratitude for his ministry.

    Starting in July, Charles Stark began a second interim ministry in the Heart of Texas Association. Charles is now the interim minister of St. Peter’s Church of Coupland.  In addition to his many years at Slumber Falls, Charles has served Lyons Evangelical, Faith UCC in Bryan, Friends Congregational, and, most recently (as interim), St. John’s Burton. Charles and his wife, Bonnie, will be living in Coupland.  We give thanks for the ministry Charles and St. Peter’s will have together.

    We also welcome Christine Tata, as I previously shared, as interim minister at Trinity Church of Austin.  Christine brings an earlier background in ministry, having served in this Conference in Dallas.  She has worked in business and human resources, and has done a substantial amount of supply preaching.  We rejoice with Christine and with Trinity as they begin their time together.

    The Congregational Church of Austin is beginning a new era in the church’s life as Amelia Fulbright begins her ministry there as the Designated Term Pastor.  As some of you know, Amelia had her Ecclesiastical Council recently among us through the Privilege of Call process, supported by Congregational Church where she is a member.  Earlier, she started the Labyrinth Progressive Student Ministry in Austin (for University of Texas and other college-age students) and also served as the Associate Pastor of University Baptist Church in Austin. Congregational (my home church) is excited to welcome Amelia on board.

    Finally, I announce with sadness that Rev. Bill (Hudson) Phillips died recently, surrounded by his wife, Betty, and his daughters, Stephanie and Katy.  Bill, a retired minister who served churches in Friona, Texas, and in New Orleans, as well as in campus ministry for a number of years, was part of marches and lunch counter sit-ins during the Civil Rights movement.  He and Betty faced danger and stood firm for equal rights.  Bill also served in social work for several years in Austin and was a gifted poet.  I give profound thanks to God for his full and rich life.

Blessings in Christ,
Liz Nash, Association Minister

God’s Hands and Feet

Submitted by Sandy Ludwig

Image Credit: Meghan E White

Mary was walking down the street with her three-year-old son, Peter. Now Peter was a happy, delightful, charming little guy who tended to smile at the world, as well as at every person he met whether he knew him or not. Mary basked in Peter’s cheerful personality and enjoyed taking walks with him around town.

One day they were in downtown New Braunfels, just strolling and sightseeing, when they came to a red light and stopped at the curb. Across the street from them was a hobo-like guy dressed in layers of clothes, with a straggly beard and a sorrowful downcast look. Mary kept a wary eye on him as they started across the street. When they were abreast of him, Peter looked up and smiled his sweet smile at the man.

“Hi!” Peter greeted him.

The man stopped in the middle of the street and stared down at the boy and seemed to come out of his moodiness for a moment. Then, to Mary’s surprise, the man smiled back at Peter.

“Why, hello, little feller,” he said and reached out his hand to shake Peter’s. Peter happily obliged.

As they went on their separate ways, Mary noticed that the man no longer walked with a droop to his shoulders and when he reached the other curb, he turned and waved to them both.

“Thank you!” he called to them. “God bless you!”

Marveling at the transformation in the man because one child greeted him without judgment or condemnation, Mary felt ashamed of herself. Looking down at her extraordinary son, she gave his hand a squeeze and told him she loved him. Then she thanked God for showing her how simple it was to show God’s love to others.

UCC Webinar – They Knew: 50 Years of the US Government Causing the Climate Crisis

Submitted by Rev. Brooks Berndt, Minister for Environmental Justice, Justice and Local Church Ministries

UCC Webinar— They Knew: 50 Years of the US Government Causing the Climate Crisis 

The UCC’s next Creation Justice Webinar will feature one of the leading voices in environmentalism over recent decades: James Gustave Speth. Among his many accomplishments, Speth served the Carter administration, founded the Natural Resources Defense Council, and spent ten years as Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In August, he is releasing a new book entitled, They Knew—The US Federal Government’s Fifty-Year Role in Causing the Climate Crisis. Naomi Klein has described it as “a damning record that will become a potent tool for justice.”

Even if you can’t make the scheduled time of 1 pm ET on Wednesday, September 8th, still sign-up, and we will send you a recording.

Register now!

The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belong

The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belong by Karen Gonzalez

Submitted by Karen Cotton, SCC Immigration Team

At the Immigration Team meeting held via zoom last Thursday, July 22, I was asked to send a picture of a book I was talking about so it could be included in the weekly newsletter.

Please click here to see the review of the book The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belong by Karen Gonzalez.

I hope it can be a resource for churches in the conference as an educational faith formation tool.

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