Category: December 2020

Special Committees Named

Early in the summer of 2020, the Church Council named three committees to give leadership to special needs of the congregation.  

The first is IN-PERSON WORSHIP COMMITTEE and the members are Mary Owen, Judith James and Jim Gossett.

The second is PASTORAL RETIREMENT AND CELEBRATION COMMITTEE and the members are Carol Sisco-Martinez, Jan Ziegler, and Sheila Angerer.

The third is the INTERIM PASTOR SEARCH COMMITTEE with membership of Miki Ward, Beth Bizer, Kyle Kramm and Jena Wendel. 

These committees did important work for this epidemic and pastoral transition time.  The Council and congregation express deep appreciation for the care and leadership given by these persons.  So a big THANK YOU to each of you.

A brief description of the work of each committee.

IN-PERSON WORSHIP COMMITTEE

They identified a number of mitigation conditions needing to be enacted for safe in-person worship such as   sanitizing, wearing masks, maintaining 6’ distancing, temperature checks, and not attend if feeling ill or been near others that tested positive.     It was also identified there would be no in-person worship if the local new positive cases numbers exceeded a 7 day average of 30.  Arrangements were made for virtual worship. The Committee continues to monitor the numbers and will recommend resuming in-person worship based on local new cases.

PASTORAL RETIREMENT AND CELEBRATION COMMITTEE

This committee task was to find appropriate ways, during this Covid 19 time, to rightfully celebrate the 15 years of Pastor Scott’s ministry.  They have invited the congregation to share their remembrances, given financial gifts to Family Promise and Slumber Fall camp in his honor, presented him with personal gifts and will conclude during his retirement Sunday, December 27 worship service with a litany celebrating his ministry and releasing him of his pastoral duties.  

INTERIM PASTORAL SEARCH COMMITTEE

This Committee was tasked with finding Pastoral leadership for Faith Church upon Pastor Scot’s retirement.  Working closely with the South Central Conference Minister, the committee determined the kind and scope of leadership necessary, reviewed and interviewed a number of available candidates, and prepared a Designated Term Ministry Covenant.  The candidate and agreement will be announced soon.

The Council thanks the congregation for their faithfulness during this health crisis and transition time.

Faith UCC Confirmation 2020

Confirmation November 15, 2020

Ava Perry and family
Adam Gossett and family
Fischer and Hayes Marlow with the Marlow family

It was a strange confirmation year, one all who participated in will remember!  All our sessions were on zoom and on confirmation Sunday we all had to wear masks during the service and wipe down the podium but some things remained the same.  Adam, Ava, Fischer and Hayes all took part of the UCC Statement of Faith and gave their take on it.  They did a fantastic job!  All four of these young people have many gifts and talents to express and share with their families, church and community.  I look forward to seeing what  they do as they continue on their life’s journey.   Congratulations and Blessings to Adam, Ava, Fischer and Hayes!

Pictures from confirmation Sunday, courtesy of Michael Inman.

Fischer & Hayes Marlow Receive Boy Scout P.R.A.Y. Badges

The UCC, in partnership with Scouts BSA, participates in the Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (P.R.A.Y.).  Fischer and Hayes’ work in their confirmation class met the requirements for the God and Church emblem.      According to the P.R.A.Y booklet, the P.R.A.Y. award features a four-colored cross.  The four colors converge into a point to create an “X” at the center of the cross.  “X” is the first letter in the Greek word for Christ, and it is symbolic of how Christ should be at the center of our lives.  The four colors correspond to the four levels in P.R.A.Y. for different age groups. The God and Church emblem has a blue-ribbon symbolizing loyalty and truth.  Pastor Scott presented the religious emblem on Dec. 10 and pinned the award on their Scout uniforms.

Congratulations to Fischer and Hayes!

Heart of Texas News

     On the fourth Sunday of November, I watched the Facebook link to the worship service at the Union Congregational United Church of Christ in Angels Camp, California.  The church is a small congregation in a rural town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.  My dear friend and mentor, Rev. Dr. Sally Smith, was being honored in celebration of the 50th anniversary of her ordination — an extraordinary milestone for anyone but even more so for a woman ordained in 1970.  I could not be there in person because of the distance and difficulty traveling now. I also could not be there because I live in an area where the COVID counts are extremely high and would be bringing that risk into an area with far lower case counts and, in the process, endangering a 90 year friend along with the congregation honoring her.  But the blessing was that I actually could be part of the congregation that day.  In this week of Thanksgiving as I write, I am so very grateful.

     I share my experience for two reasons.  First, to highlight the creative ways we have learned to bring people together in worship during this difficult year, and second, to encourage us to understand some of our differences.

     In our Association, our urban churches are meeting almost completely by Zoom, on YouTube, by Webex, or using a similar online platform.  These churches are all currently in high danger COVID areas. A few of these who have a good space for an outdoor service have taken the opportunity to worship once or twice in that way, while also putting up the cameras and microphones to include those who could not be present — quite a feat.  A few of our churches have worshipped in person for a short time, and then stopped when the COVID counts locally went up.  Several of our more rural churches have been meeting in person for quite a while.  These are in areas where the pandemic has not hit as hard or not much at all.  We have one church who broadcasts to cars outside via the car radio, and has met inside on and off as the local case counts went down and then back up. Other churches did drive-up services before beginning to meet in person.

     Our circumstances are different right now.  From listening to those I know and care about, I know sometimes these varying circumstances are hard to understand.  For those of us living in a large city, COVID is very present and gathering in a group is dangerous.  For those of us living in rural areas, COVID is not as present.  We are a diverse church in many ways, and this difference now in how we worship is part of that diversity. For me, I found a life-giving and creative bridge between two ways of doing church as my friend was honored last Sunday.  Thanks be to God for that bridge.  In this time of polarization in our society, I invite us to choose to appreciate each other.

     Our friends at Hope United in Georgetown have welcomed Rev. Remington Johnson as their designated pastor at this time of change for them. Rev. Johnson is a Presbyterian minister with substantial experience in hospice care and chaplaincy in the Austin area.  We offer our prayers and hope that her ministry with Hope United will be a faithful and enriching time.

Blessings in Christ, Liz Nash, Association Minister

Thank You From CUE Seminary Support

Your gift of $1,034 in 2019 and  $250.72 in 2020 is an affirmation of hope, and expression of God’s love that makes possible a seminary experience that will prepare the faith leaders of tomorrow to bring wisdom, healing, and creativity to the life of the Church. We invite you to give in 2021, your gift makes a huge difference in providing theological education.

    The CUE seminaries, Chicago, United and Eden, have responded to the challenges of 2020 with deepened commitment, expansive creativity, and nimble flexibility to ensure that our seminarians – your future pastors, counselors, community leaders, and ethical guides – continue to receive all that they need to become what is needed in a world that is being reshaped forever by the pandemic and all it has brought to light.

    Together, we are claiming a future of hope, born of the groanings, growth, and unexpected grace of these times.  We are grateful for your gift of partnership as we bring this hope to life for all our communities, and the world as God is bringing it into being.

     We encourage you to give through your conference office or directly to CUE.  If you have any questions or ideas, please be in touch with us at cue@vandersallcollective.com

Blessings, Rev. Cambell Lovett and Rev. Franz Rigert

Thank You From Back Bay Mission

Thank you for your generous gift to Back Bay Mission!  Your gift to Friends of the Mission makes it possible to meet the most urgent needs of the poor and marginalized of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Your gift is already at work strengthening neighborhoods, seeking justice, and transforming lives.  You’re helping a homeowner stay in their home, providing homeless families with apartments, making sure people have enough food, and giving people the support they need to make their lives better. Most importantly, your gift is making sure that Back Bay Mission is here to provide a safe and welcoming place for everyone who comes through our doors.  Thank you for partnering with us through your generous gift.  We – and those we serve – are ever grateful.  Grace and Peace, Rev. Alice Graham, Executive Director

Faith UCC Gift $129.68 11/5/20

Christmas Eve Service

Our annual Christmas Eve service will be on Thursday, December 24th at 5:30 p.m.  and 10:30 p.m.  Since we cannot gather in the sanctuary the service will be on zoom only.  You can use the same zoom link as on Sunday mornings.  The service will include candle lighting.  You can use any candles that you have around the house for this or if you wish stop by the church and pick up an “official” candlelight candle.  They will be on the pew outside the sanctuary door starting Sunday December 20th. 

    The sanctuary will be lit up with 50 luminaries.  Some very special music will be a part of this service. Be sure and view the service at 5:30 p.m.  or 10:30 p.m. December 24th.

Thank you from Family Promise

Your support is a true blessing  to families struggling with the challenges of homelessness.   To date, your generosity has helped 54 families, comprised of 165 individuals, transition from homelessness to secure, stable housing. With your help, another family may soon be back in a home again!  We are also grateful that during these difficult times, with the help of donors like yourself, we have been able to extend our ministry to families who are still housed but struggling financially.  We have been able to provide rental assistance, transportation assistance (help with a car payment or needed repair), and assistance with childcare expenses to vulnerable families.  Without your help, these families would be in danger of losing their homes.

Thank you for choosing to support families in need    Sincerely, Sarah Dixon, Executive Director, 

Family Promise of Greater New Braunfels

Faith UCC Gift $500.00 11/25/20


Christmas Fund Special Offering

“For Such a Time as This” Esther 4:14

The Christmas Fund has been caring for active and retired United Church of Christ clergy and lay employees and their families for over 100 years, providing emergency financial help, supplementation of small annuities and health premiums, and Christmas “thank-you” checks to our lower-income retirees.  This year, amidst many unforeseen new realities, the Christmas Fund continues to respond with love to the emergency financial needs of many who serve the church. If you wish to contribute mail a check to the church and write Christmas Fund on the memo line.

Thank you for your support of the Christmas Fund!

From the Pastor – December 2020

Since I announced my retirement last spring this year has been a year of “lasts” both for me and Faith UCC and to compound the inevitable feeling of nostalgia that comes with this we have all had to deal with the Covid 19 pandemic and all the dislocation that comes with that.  After 15 years at Faith UCC and 39 years as a UCC minister I’ve conducted my last Palm/Passion Sunday and Easter service; led my last confirmation class; and I’m entering my last Advent/Christmas    season as an unretired pastor. 

     The good news is that with all these “lasts” come the possibilities of new beginnings and a new chapter opens in my life and in the life of Faith UCC.  It is not always easy to move into new possibilities.  There is always the temptation to look backward to what was instead of forward to what could be.  It is scary to leave the familiar behind and enter an unrealized future.  It often takes patience, perseverance, deep thinking and reflection to imagine a new future.  It often means trying something new and being open to new possibilities. It often means building new relationships and strengthening old ones.  Community has been important in the past and it will continue to be important as a new future unfolds, maybe even more important.  It often means extra effort and work beyond what we have been doing.  It often means relying on God’s grace, power, and presence to a degree we may not have for a very long time.

    I’m struck this Advent/ Christmas season that Christmas celebrates the birth of the Christ-child, Emmanuel, God with us, who comes as a baby.  Not only did the Christ child have to gestate 9 months in Mary’s womb before entering the world but the world had to wait 30 years before that baby grew into an adult and began his ministry.  Even then, after the resurrection and ascension, we Christians await the second coming.  We Christians are always awaiting the coming future God has in store, even while we celebrate God’s presence with us now.  This requires much patience, perseverance and prayer.

       I ran across this quote on patience that I will close with.  “Patience is not the ability to wait. Patience is to be calm no matter what happens, constantly take action to turn it to positive growth opportunities, and have faith to believe that it will all work out in the end while you are waiting.”   ― Roy T. Bennett

       I pray that God will grant us all the gift of active patience and the peace that passes understanding that comes with trusting in God, no matter what the future may hold. 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!      Pastor Scott

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