As many of you know, our Association sets aside money in our scholarship fund each year to award as scholarships to our seminary students. Also, we are able to award some of the Greg Felder Memorial Scholarship money in this effort. The current awards are going to Betty McDaniel at Chicago Theological Seminary; Rene Slataper at Lexington Theological Seminary who is transferring to Chicago Theological Seminary beginning this fall; and Brooke Dooley at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth on the TCU campus All are earning their Master of Divinity degree and are Members in Discernment in the Heart of Texas Association. Both Betty and Rene are in the online programs at their schools, programs that allow them to work in their home cities and area churches while pursuing seminary degrees. The students apply for these scholarships through our Association scholarship committee. Our Association website, http://hotaucc.org/, has a page to congratulate them that also tells how to inquire about scholarship applications.
Our South Central Conference Annual Meeting was held online for the first time on Saturday morning, June 13th. While it was a loss not to gather face to face in a more extended time together in friendship and worship, the meeting was done in an excellent way that reflected the hard work of Board President Nikki Stahl and several others who helped put it together. There was uplifting music and outstanding worship in the recorded video offered by Houston Association churches; video reports including an opportunity to hear from our new Consulting Conference Minister Campbell Lovett; screen sharing that helped us with minutes, financial reports, understanding bylaw changes that were voted on and adopted, and the slate of nominations; a lovely tribute to Rev. Dr. Alice Graham, the outstanding Executive Director of Back Bay Mission who is retiring at the end of the year; a tribute of gratitude to Jim Blume, our long-time SCC attorney who has given us so much over the years and has now retired: a well-crafted agenda that helped us move along in a timely way that also allowed for discussion; and a time for video break-out rooms that allowed small groups of us to gather and talk. As many of us are finding out, there are new opportunities to be creative and connect that many of us will very likely use in the future as we go back to worship in person. Many thanks to our Conference leadership for this meeting.
At the meeting, we elected new representatives for our Association, and we continue to have others serving on our behalf. We elected Bainie Wild from St. John’s UCC, Burton, to the South Central Conference Board of Directors and Rev. Jenny Russell from Touchstone Community Church, Boerne, to the Nominating Committee. Carl Brown from Trinity Church of Austin continues to serve on the SCC Board of Directors; Rev. Nikki Stahl from United Christian, Austin, continues as President of the SCC Board; Rev. Peter Bauer from Faith UCC, New Braunfels, and Andrew Roblyer from Friends Congregational UCC, College Station continue as General Synod delegates; Josh Mata from United Christian, Phillip Gullen from Friends Congregational, and Jerry Carpenter, retired pastor of Weimar UCC, continue as General Synod alternate delegates; and Cindy Miller from St. John’s UCC, Burton continues on the Nominating Committee. As the chair of the SCC Nominating Committee, I also thank Rev. Trent Williams and Rev. Peter Bauer for their SCC Board service as they finish their terms as representative and secretary.
Blessings in Christ, Liz Nash, Association Minister
We currently have $385 in our Habitat Fund. We will be participating in the next Habitat Stud-a-thon that begins July 7th. We will be sponsoring two studs which are $200 a piece. Habitat hopes to raise $25,000 for this new home. Gary, pictured to the left, will be the new homeowner. Gary dreams of the day when he can move his family out of the 27 foot long RV they currently live in. He dreams of moving into a home with enough room for his children to grow. As he works on his sweat equity hours and continues his journey through our Home Program, Habitat is gearing up to break ground on his home build by fundraising for the building supplies needed to begin construction on his home. Gary, says, : “What I hope that our Habitat home will offer over our current home is comfort, security, and a place that I can actually call mine. That we can call home.”
Kathy Leber will paint the studs UCC red and black, once we get them. They will be placed in the fellowship hall and you will be invited to come by and sign them or write your best wishes on them. We will let you know when the studs are in the fellowship hall. If you wish to donate to our Habitat fund simply send a check to the church and write Habitat on the memo line.
We have been hearing a lot about history as confederate statues are being torn down or moved off of public squares to storage lockers and perhaps museums in the future. The great Southern author William Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead, it is not even past.” Another Southerner, Martin Luther King once said, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”
Every single human being is shaped by history. The history of their families and the history of everywhere they have ever lived. The roots of history that shape us goes far beyond our memories and remembrance and are lost in the mists of time. The Bible talks about the sins of the present generation affecting generations seven generations from now! I trust that this is also true of the good things each generation does.
This is one reason so much of the Bible, especially the Hebrew Scriptures that Christians call the Old Testament, is history. Now let it be said that the older history is the more likely it will be mythologized. Often it is scrubbed clean of any negative connotations. The heroes and heroines are made more heroic and come to be seen as paragons of the values a nation or people prioritize. They sometimes come to be more than they ever were in life.
I was reading an article about how white Christians were often complicit in Jim Crow laws and segregation. MLK correctly observed, “it is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” This was true in the 1960’s and long before that. Sadly it is still mostly true today, some 60 years after MLK made the observation. It is hard to overcome history. It is hard to learn the lessons of history because we don’t look at the whole historical record. We tend to pick and chose what history we remember.
We need to learn from history, not a sanitized version of history but history as near to how it happened as we can get. This will mean listening to the voices of the oppressed, to the weak, to those who all too often are ignored or run over by history. Archbishop Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, once said, “History will not tell us then what to do, but will at least start us on the road to action of a different and more self-aware kind, action that is moral in a way it can’t be if we have no points of reference beyond what we have come to take for granted.”
Grace and Peace, Pastor Scott