Category: December 2021 (Page 1 of 2)

From the Pastor

This past Sunday we had what we believe to be a record-attendance of 71 people attending our service via Zoom and in-person, with many more watching the recorded service once posted on social media and our website!

Things are happening at Faith, and folks can feel it. They are looking for a church home, a faith family where they can be accepted as they are, worship in a way that honors their values of justice and inclusion, and be of service to the world.

As we have more and more visitors, please make a special effort to ensure no one leaves our worship space without a warm handshake or hug. We are a warm and welcoming bunch, but it can be easy with the numbers of visitors we are having to miss someone, so let’s be a bit more brave and not risk anyone falling through the cracks!

Members of Faith have helped launch the inaugural PFLAG (parents and friends of lesbians and gays) chapter in New Braunfels and are working with the national PFLAG offices to get this chapter formalized and organized!  Be watching for details and ways you can participate and learn more at

We continue to feed our community that remains in need of food support through the SOS Food Bank the third Friday of each month from 1-4pm. We provide on-going support to Riverside Pride and our presence there is incredibly welcomed and noticed. 

We continue to work with a growing coalition of people to possibly place a tiny home community on our property to support Family Promise’s New Lease On Life Program. I’m meeting with the head of Family Promise, one of their former board members, and our insurance provider to explore more about next steps later this week.

We are reaching out and expanding our reach through social media and will need persons to sign up to help curate articles, so be watching for details on that aspect of our ministry. If you are on Twitter, follow us @FaithUCCNB and like and re-tweet what we post. Like us on Facebook @FaithUCCNewBraunfels and like and share articles we post so others can also find us. It is an easy and even fun way to engage our world and let others know what we believe and that we even exist!

We have a new praise and worship group affectionately known as Faithful Praise!  We meet at 9:30am on Sunday mornings to work on the music for the service. If you would like to join us, contact me for the music ahead of time and join us for rehearsal! We are also looking for a music minister, so please help spread the word (guitarist and/or pianist with strong vocals and leadership skills needed for up to 20 hours a week at a competitive salary!).

Last but not least, we were awarded a $15,000 grant through the UCC to help with signage and to help fund our social media outreach (since almost all of our visitors are finding us on-line!!).  If you have expertise and/or interest in signage, PLEASE reach out to pastor Carla to volunteer to help with this endeavor to increase our visibility to let others know who we are, where we are, and what we believe.

As we grow, as we consider our future together, please keep me, our leadership and our Pastoral Search Committee in your prayers.  We need God’s direction and inspiration every step of the way for this to be more than just a flash in the pan.

We want to deepen and grow in ways that will serve us, love on others, and honor and serve God and only God can help us do so in the healthiest and most sustainable ways.

Along those lines, we will still be needing at least 4 (or more!) new council members to join us for 2022-2023. If you would like to nominate yourself or another, please reach out to Moderator Sam Ward or me and we will vote on nominees at our annual congregational meeting at the end of January.

For your prayers, for your excitement, for your faithfulness to following an alternative path to sharing God’s radical message of a different kind of hope in a dark and challenging world, I thank you, and ask God to provide blessing on your amazing heads.

Peace, my friends.
Pastor Carla

For Everyone Born, A Place at the Table—2022 Stewardship Campaign

It is common practice in most churches to do an annual pledge campaign to assist with the development of a statement of faith (otherwise known as a budget). To our knowledge, Faith Church has never held one, so we are beginning with a theme that represents what we believe and seek to provide as a ministry of God in our community and world!

Each year at our annual congregation meeting at the end of January, we vote on our statement of faith to approve our spending and allocation of resources for the coming year. If we do not know how much to anticipate coming in, we do not know how much we can, in good stewardship, plan to spend.

Please help us dream into a bright future in the coming year of Faith by prayerfully considering your pledge of resources and talents and make your pledge by filling out the form via the link below or take a form from the bulletin board in the narthex.

We will dedicate all pledges provided in a special ritual during our Sunday worship service December 26th as our own offering of a gift to the newborn Christ Child.

Together, we can make a place where everyone feels welcome AND do the outreach needed to let them know we are here and how to find us!!


No Rehearsal Christmas Pageant

Bring your kids, invite their friends, invite friends of friends, and maybe pick up a few young uns on your way to church this next week to participate in our No Rehearsal Christmas Pageant!!  It is a fun, easy way to tell the Christmas story while engaging our kiddos and having a lot slightly controlled chaos level of fun with our faith family.

And it will all be counted as worship as we enjoy time together cheering on our children and youth and singing the hymns of Christmas.

Children and youth are asked to arrive at 10am if they can to get a costume and be assigned a part.  We want our coordinators (thank you Chrissy Gossett and Kim Beauchamp!!) and other adult volunteers to be able to focus on last-minute kiddo visitors as we get close to service time.

For more information, contact one of the coordinators or Pastor Carla. Otherwise, come join in the fun Sunday at 10:30am.

Pastor Carla

Heart of Texas Association News


It is hard to believe that Advent is upon us, followed quickly by Christmas. During the Advent and Christmas season, we journey through scriptures and rituals that are tender, heavy with emotion, and vulnerable. We carry the memories and truths of this season close to our hearts. I invite you to follow along on Facebook ( as we journey together through the “already but not yet” tension of our faith: Emmanuel is with us, and yet, God’s promised day—our everlasting home—is not fully realized utilizing material from Sanctified Art ( Especially for our clergy, I hope you find space and time to walk through these seasons in addition to leading others through them.

I’m grateful for the opportunities in November to visit in-person with Rev. Dan DeLeon (Friends College Station), Rev. Darrin Holub (St. John’s Burton), Pastor Rene Slataper (Hope United Georgetown), Rev. Crystal Silva-McCormick (Church of the Savior Cedar Park), Rev. Ryan Hart (Open Cathedral), Rev. Enid Ross (retired chaplain), Rev. Arlene Turner (Bethany San Antonio), and Rev. Eric Gates (Faith United Bryan). Lots of different, yet exciting, life-changing things are happening in each of these local churches and the communities that they serve. I look forward to finding Sundays to worship with you and learning more about how God is working through you.

Please remember that Annual Meeting Planning is underway. We would love to have a representative from each church involved in our planning. The dates have been set for Friday, May 27th – Sunday, May 19th (with Worship Service/Installation livestreamed for your congregations) at Camp Allen. Contact me if you are interested. It is never too late to chip in and help. 

Also, don’t miss out on various celebrations and news events being posted on the Heart of Texas Association Facebook Page ( (Instagram, Twitter coming). Some November recognitions included church anniversaries, ordination anniversaries, clergy birthdays, new calls, special local church events/accomplishments, and more! Send us pictures and updates about how you are transforming lives in your local communities so we can celebrate with you and share with the wider Association!

Remember too that 2021 church contributions to the Association are due by December 31st so that our Treasurer, Joe Ward, can close our books. 

Finally, words cannot even begin to express the joy of this first month of ministry with you. I feel so honored to be on the journey with each and everyone one of you.

Rev. Nikki Stahl

Rev. Nikki Stahl
Heart of Texas Association Minister
cell: 512-751-3557

Heart of Texas Association

Returning members Rev Bill and Florence Burns

Welcome back Rev. Bill and Florence Burns! Here’s a little about them.

Welcome Rev. Bill and Florence Burns

Bill grew up on a farm in Iowa and after finishing his 4 year degree in History he attended Eden Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 1963 and served several churches in Iowa. Bill was involved in the Civil Rights Movement and he became known as a “Freedom Rider”. Once the Vietnam War started the UCC church was seeking ministers who would serve as Chaplains to minister to the troops. Bill answered that call and served with the US Army as a Chaplain on active duty for eleven years as well as serving in the Army Reserve as a Chaplain for many years.

Florence grew up in rural Illinois but knew nothing about farming. Health issues kept her from attending college right out of high school but she worked for six years for the Chicago Motor Club in their small loan department in Chicago. She moved to Iowa when she married her late husband and they owned a business together for sixteen years. Florence graduated from Iowa Wesleyan College with a double major in accounting and personnel administration/industrial psychology. Florence got her realtor license and sold real estate and then after graduation Florence worked for EF Hutton as a financial planner. Florence opened her own office as a financial planner/broker/consultant and did a lot of seminars helping persons with their investment needs.

In 1984, Bill and Florence were married in a beautiful UCC church in Iowa. Our first home was at Eden Theological Seminary and Bill studied for two years furthering his theological studies. Florence closed her financial planning office in Iowa but continued her work as a financial consultant financing our living and college costs. Once Bill got his DM degree he accepted the call to a small church in Baxter IA where we made our home for three years. Florence continued her work as a financial investment planner with her office in Des Moines. Bill continued his work with the Army Reserve which sometimes took him to conferences and education events out of the area.

One such trip, we had lunch with a Chaplain who really wanted Bill to serve as a chaplain with the Veterans Administration. He was called to serve at the VA in San Antonio a few months following that meeting. That is what got us to move to Texas.

Our life in Texas has been very busy with Bill at the VA and Florence working in the investment department with USAA plus active in various ministries. We were involved in starting a home away from home, called the Hospital Welcome Lodge, giving a place to stay for loved ones of VA patients as well as the other hospitals in San Antonio. It was a huge mission. Once they retired from their regular jobs in 1998, Bill accepted a call to two small churches and we lived in Buda for a few years. We were very involved in ministry in real estate, helping people who were losing their homes and we started a branch of the Fuller Center for Housing which helped those who could not do the upkeep and repairs needed in their homes. They have now retired from all that and are presently enjoying the retirement community at Eden Hill Village Community.

Family is very important to them having three adult children and their families in the Midwest and two adult children in Cedar Park, we travel a lot to be with our families. We have 8 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren with another great due in March. Life is good and we are thrilled to be back in New Braunfels and the Faith UCC community.

Theology on Tap followed by Hymn Singing—this Sunday (the 12th)

Join us for Theology on Tap—4:30pm this Sunday (the 12th) followed by the Hymn Sing at 6:00pm.

The brewery opens at 2p and some of us will get there early, so come on down whenever you want!

We’ll be discussing all things Advent/Christmas related so bring your questions, bring friends and kids and pups and a chair if ya can, grab food and drink, and join us for a leisurely afternoon of fellowship!!

Setting Things in Motion

Submitted by Rev. Phil Hodson, SCC Conference Minister

I write you today in the hope that each and every one has enjoyed some part of this past week. Perhaps it was time with loved ones and a shared meal; maybe just some quiet moments alone out of the ordinary busyness of our everyday lives. Maybe you made a list of ingredients for that Thanksgiving dinner, or the parts of it you were responsible for preparing alongside others. You shopped. You prepped. You cooked. You shared the result. My hope is that preparation culminated in the creation of new memories, the opening of new conversations, and the sharing of new possibilities in your life.

It is customary each year for the Conference to debut our tentative spending plan for review prior to its adoption by the Board of Directors. This custom was, by necessity, not undertaken this year due to the sudden passing of one of our pastors at the time those details were to be finalized and released. So, in November, the Board met for the final time of this calendar year and passed a spending plan. Today I present it here for your review.

I’m a process-oriented person and I recognize that the finished product has been fully baked. However, I think it will be palatable this year and am confident we’ll be back to cooking by the typical ingredients in 2022! Because I can share with you, happily, that the extra time we had in preparation allowed us to examine things more closely and to balance the budget in this upcoming year’s plan! Together with your support through our “Fair Share” OCWM initiative, the South Central Conference can now make new memories, open new conversations, and share new possibilities of a future filled with hope because we can set this plan in motion. 

I present it to you, on behalf of the Board of Directors, with joy and hope for all that lies ahead as we prepare in this season of Advent to celebrate the birth that makes all things new!

Please click here to review the 2022 Spending Plan.

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

Christmas Gifts for Kids of Piedras Negras and Local Orphanges

Submitted by Rev. Arlene Turner, Bethany Congregational UCC San Antonio and Rev. Nikki Stahl, Association Minister Heart of Texas

Dear South Central Conference Churches and Members,

You are cordially invited to participate in a monetary donation drive to purchase Christmas gifts for the kids of Piedras Negras and local orphanages. We (Arlene & Nikki) recently traveled to Piedras Negras and Jimenez, Mexico to visit children supported by El Shaddai Ministries, a ministry partner of Bethany. Provided is a short 3-minute video of that experience. Please feel free to download and share this short-video with your congregations, family, friends, the world by including in your electronic newsletters, social media, websites and more. 

Our desire along with Pastor Jose is to provide each child (300, or so) a small gift from the church so that they will know that they are not forgotten and loved by God. Monetary donations will be accepted through Monday, December 20th at Bethany Online Giving . We will be returning to Piedras Negras Christmas week to purchase and distribute the gifts. Plans are to create a follow-up video so we can celebrate together!

As the video shows, this journey has already been spirit-filled and we look forward to experiencing how the Divine will live, and move, and has its being in and through us all.

Peace, Rev. Arlene & Rev. Nikki

Annual Meeting Planning Committee

Submitted by Rev. Nikki Stahl

Who would you call on in your congregations to make a special event happen in your church? We need them and/or you!  

It’s the Heart of Texas Association’s turn to host the Conference Annual Meeting!

Dates (May 27-May 29, 2022) and a venue (Camp Allen) have been secured, but the HOT Planning Committee needs help in the areas below.

If you, or a member of your congregation, has a particular gift in any of these areas, please let me or our Moderator, Carl Schwartz-King, know ASAP. There will be a special installation service for our Conference Minister, Rev. Phil Hodson during this event as well. This is a great opportunity to get to know people within the Association and beyond.
Annual Meeting Focus Areas:

  • Venue Coordinator: Ann Wherly
  • Registration Coordinator: Stacey Silvey
  • Worship Coordinator: Trent Williams
  • Program Coordinator: CJ Wood
    • Child/Youth Cordination: Jeremy Albers (with specific leads for youth, children)
    • Boundary Training: Lynette Ross
  • Business Meeting Coordinator: Debra Joseph
  • Vendors Coordinator: Charles Stark? 
  • Kit Collections Coordinator: Anne Wehrly and Doris Machinski
  • Hospitality/Fellowship Coordinator: Carl Schwartz-King
    • Banquet Coordination: Arlene Turner assist
  • Volunteer Coordinator: Nikki Stahl
  • A/V Equipment Coordinator: Needed

Online planning kicked off this past Tuesday, November 30th and the next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 6 at Noon.

Let me or Carl know if you plan on attending and we will send you a zoom link. If you want to help but cannot attend, let one of us know as well. Or if you know someone that we can contact in your congregation directly, we would love those names and email/phone numbers.

Peace, Rev. Nikki Stahl
HOT Association Minister

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