Category: June 2021 (Page 1 of 2)

From the Pastor,

What it Means to be Open and Affirming

Years ago I was asked to preach at an Open and Affirming church and the lectionary happened to be a portion of the epistles dedicated to unity and maturity within the body of Christ.  It was during yet another period of time in which there was much angst about political officials and the decisions they were making.

I spoke of the church’s long history of being open and rightful pride in itself on being affirming and accepting of all persons.  Then I asked, “Do we really mean it?”  I was greeted with confused looks, because of COURSE the church meant it.  It welcomed those whom society most often rejected and deemed unworthy.

“Let me ask a different way…If (name of much-distrusted political figure) walked through those front doors right now to join our service, would we welcome him with as much compassion and grace as we do others?”  Yeah, that went over well!  And, it made us all think as we asked that question honestly of one another. 

Faith Church voted to become Open and Affirming to LGBTQ+ persons in January of 2009.  This month, we will be sponsors of the Riverside Pride event in Landa Park.  You called an openly gay pastor, for goodness sake! 

But we still get to ask ourselves, in the spirit of maturity and depth of character and continued growth, “When we say we are Open and Affirming, do we really mean it, in all ways?” 

Whom would we not wholeheartedly welcome?  Who could walk through our doors whose presence would make us flinch and do anything other than greet them with an unreserved, genuine welcome?  What are the limits of our readiness to put feet to our faith when we say, “No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here”?  Where do we stop short when reaching out to let folks know about one of the best-kept secrets in New Braunfels? 

Recent visitors, long-time residents of the area, commented they had been to our church for events put on by other groups at our facilities on multiple occasions…and had absolutely NO clue we were a progressive community of faith. 

That is on us, and it is up to us to change that!  In a community such as ours, it would not be hard for an open-minded, welcoming church with an alternative Christian voice of inclusion and justice over judgment and inequality to stand out in the crowd. 

It is time to get incredibly creative about not keeping this church to ourselves, but instead to reach out in vocal, obvious, even risky ways to let people know that we are here.

Since I began serving as your pastor, I’ve often thought of the Dr. Seuss book, Horton Hears a Who and the Who’s as they shout to be heard and to save their community, “We are here!” 

Theodor Seuss Geisel held strong anti-Japanese sentiments during and after WWII, but changed his views substantially and began to work hard to relay the message the Japanese people should be treated equally and fairly, an unpopular message in the height of post-WWII hate and distrust of the nation of Japan and it’s people. 

Geisel came to value, in particular, the Japanese concept of the importance of the individual, which was a new idea for him.  It can be seen clearly in Horton’s words, “A person is a person, no matter how small.” 

As Horton works to save Whoville, he is constrained by other jungle animals who do not believe Whoville exists, to the point that his hands (limbs?) are literally tied and he cannot convince the other animals on his own.  So he asks the Mayor of Whoville to get the residents to all make noise so they can be heard and known by the other animals and therefore, be saves from doom. 

All do so, singing and shouting and playing instruments as loudly as they can to prove their existence and save their world, but no one hears them.  As the Mayor searches the community, he finds one small Who not making noise but, instead, quietly playing with a yoyo.  At the Mayor’s urging, little Jojo utters one loud word that is enough to finally let their collective voice be heard, proving their existence and saving their community.

Where can you make your voice be as part of Faith Church?  Whom can you invite to worship?  What neighborhood newsletter article or letter to the editor or social media post can you write or share with your own circles?  What cause is near and dear to your heart that you can engage in on behalf of Faith? 

What word can you utter and to what unreached communities to let others know, “We are here”?  There are folks hungry to know that a place like Faith exists; that there is a place where they can be Christian and practice radical hospitality and that the two are not mutually exclusive.

Research shows we need to hear about something 5 to 7 times before it becomes enough a part of our frame of reference that we express any interest or curiosity about it—“What’s the name of that church, again?”

No matter how small you may feel your voice to be, my dear Jojos, yours may be just the final word that let’s others hear our collective message of God’s wasteful grace and unqualified love.  So let’s find ways to speak, for the sake of our church and the sake of those to need to know that we are Faith and the are, most definitely, here!

You can participate by joining us at the Blessing of the Hands June 7th, New Braunfels Pride June 26th, welcoming our new members, responding to our Survey about in-person worship, and helping ready the church for our return to the sanctuary later this month! 

All of us, together, will let the surrounding community and our world know that We ARE here!

Peace,
Carla

Volunteers Needed—Blessing of the Hands for Healthcare and First Responders

Volunteers Needed—Blessing of the Hands for Healthcare and First Responders

Monday June 7th 6:30am-7:30pm 

Faith Church will be providing a (contactless and drive through) Blessing of the Hands for first responders (police, fire, EMS, etc.) and healthcare staff Monday, June 7th from 6:30 AM to 7:30 PM so all shifts can attend.  We want to thank them for their work and offer support for the on-going challenges they face as they begin to recover from the trauma of their work during COVID. 

Volunteers are needed to:  1) pass out and post fliers, 2) spruce up the exterior of the church, 3) be a blesser, 4) and to serve as Greeters and traffic control throughout that day. 

We are asking folks to work 2-hour shifts, if possible.  To secure the slot and task that works best for you, please contact Pastor Carla pastorcarla@faithuccnb.org or Pastor Janet jcmsherman681@gmail.com to sign up!!  

Fliers are available in stacks of 10 at the church on the desk in the office.  Please stop by and place these in your local coffee shop, library, neighborhood store, etc.  You can also share a PDF of the flier by downloading it from the church website or sharing the Facebook Event from the Faith Church Facebook page with your friends.

Thanks for your help in caring for those who seek to care for others, even during the riskiest of times!

Survey Responses Requested by June 8th

Thank you!!!

In-Person Worship Comfort and Intentions Survey Due June 8th.

Last week, an email was sent out with a survey of members’ comfort levels with and intentions for participation with Faith Church worship once we return to in-person worship (with protection protocols in place) in the coming weeks. 

Please be clear that this is not a vote, but a chance for the COVID Committee and Church Leadership to hear your voice, your thoughts, and your needs as we make preparations and plans.

Please respond on behalf of your household (one per household, please) by 5pm Tuesday, June 8th, to help us as we work to move forward in a safe, responsible, comfortable way for everyone.

Click here to complete the survey for your household if you haven’t already.

Welcome New Members to Faith Church!

On Sunday, May 16th, we welcomed 3 new members into the life and ministry of Faith Church, including one Virtual Member!  Welcome!

Pam and Charlie Robinson are residents of our community and have been visiting so long, and participating in our outdoor social gatherings, that they already felt like members of our Faith Family.  Mike and Jan Ziegler are serving as Member Mentors to help them feel more welcome and connected to our church and other members.  Here is a little about Charlie and Pam:

We are Charlie and Pam Robinson and were delighted to join the Faith Church
family on May 16. Both of us were born and raised in Houston but didn’t meet
until a blind date in the fall of our freshman year at Texas Tech. We married in
1968 and finished our senior year. Charlie had joined the National Guard after
graduation and spent 6 years of weekends on guard duty as airborne infantry.
After 6 months of training, he began managing his family business, Robinson
Public Warehouse, and Pam began teaching in Spring Branch ISD. We joined
Bethany Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and were quite active through the
years. We were blessed with two children. Stacey was born in 1974 and
Stephen in 1980. Our grown children now live with their families in San Marcos
and Austin. We are delighted to be able to spoil our grandchildren, Weston,
Rowan, Brynn, and Owen regularly.
Retirement in 2005 brought us to New Braunfels. This area was always special
to us because Pam’s parents started coming to the Comal River in 1937. The
family tradition continued and attendees have increased to 80 of our nearest and
dearest (family and good friends) who gather at Heidelberg Lodges every July.
The lodges are located at the headwaters of the Comal. We also have family
nearby, Pam’s sister and brother-in-law live in Landa Estates. Charlie has
always loved golf but never had the time to pursue it until retirement. He has
been involved with the Legends, playing at Landa Golf Course. We have been
blessed to travel in recent years including a bike and barge trip on the Moselle
river. We no longer bike, preferring less vigorous travel experiences. We were
active members of Christ Our King Anglican Church before joining Faith. Our
desire to be part of a progressive, Christian church with doors open to everyone,
made us start searching this area. We met all of you on Zoom and got to know
Pastor Carla. We feel sure that the Lord has led us to your wonderful faith
community.

Amanda Dunnem lives in Niles, Michigan but has been worshiping with us for some time via Zoom and was part of our Virtual Lenten Book Study. Mikki Ward is serving as her Member Mentor and they are already scheming ways to support our Blessing of the Hands event!

Hello. My name is Amanda. I live in Southwest Lower Michigan and have one child, Sarah. I am a Nurse Tech in an oncology clinic and also work part time as a Hospice CNA. I’m on the City Council as well. Being outdoors when it’s warm, and anywhere near water is where I like to spend my free time. I’m also a hard-core college football fan (Go Irish!). I look forward to getting to know everyone and though I am not there in person, I am thankful for the ability to connect virtually. 

We are so very excited to see our family expand and to have these thoughtful and wise folks join us.  Please find a time to say hello and get to know these members, more.

Heart of Texas Association News

Heart of Texas Association

    I share with joy that Arlene Turner has been called to be Pastor of Bethany Congregational UCC in San Antonio, beginning on June 1st.  Arlene will be ordained at United Christian Church on Sunday, May 30th (by the time most of you read this article) during the Zoom prayer and fellowship time after preaching in the morning online worship service.  As some of you may recall, Arlene was approved for ordination at an Ecclesiastical Council of the Heart of Texas Association last May.  Her journey to ordination came first through the United Methodist Church, and then through being a Member in Discernment at United while helping in many ways with her active membership and ministry there.  Bethany voted to call her on May 9th.  Since Arlene is to be ordained at United, the church is working with her to celebrate her ordination before she begins at Bethany.  They are figuring out how to do it with Association representation while the whole church community is still meeting online.   Our ways are a bit different than before the pandemic, but we are thankful to God that our ministry continues.  We pray for God’s blessings on Arlene and on Bethany as they go forward in Christ’s ministry together, and we give thanks for the caring and faithful interim ministry of Pastor Tom Robison with the church.

     As announced earlier, Kerry Kirtley was ordained on Sunday, May 23rd at Touchstone Community Church in Boerne in a vibrant Pentecost service.  The service was the first in person worship for Touchstone since March, 2020.  It was also their first hybrid service, meaning that the service included those attending online. In addition, the service included both online and live music.  It all came together beautifully.  Kerry, like Arlene, came to the UCC through the United Methodist Church (UMC), and the service included UMC pastors who had supported her in her journey as well as many from her large and loving family.

    Our brother in Christ, Martin Garrison, has resigned as Pastor of St Peter’s Church of Coupland, with his last Sunday being June 27th.   Martin has served at St. Peter’s since 2014.  Several of our Heart of Texas ministers shared heartfelt memories together recently as we said farewell to Martin at our May “Jam and Bread” gathering. He and his wife, Emily, will be moving to Galveston for the next stop on their journey, with Martin taking a break from ministry.  Our prayers for God’s blessings and the presence of the Holy Spirit go with them.  Our prayers go, too, with St. Peter’s as they search for an interim minister and begin this time of transition.

    Our brother in Christ, Sid Hall, will have his farewell worship service at Trinity Church of Austin on June 13th as he retires as their Lead Minister.  Sid has served at Trinity since 1988, guiding them to become one of the early Reconciling Churches in the United Methodist Church and ministering with them as they became dually affiliated with the UCC, among many milestones in his ministry with the church. He has, as well, been a long time leader in social justice ministry in Austin. Sid and his wife, Mary Pratt, will be moving to Ft. Collins, Colorado, and he will move into full standing as a UCC minister in July.  We give thanks to God for Sid’s ministry and pray for Sid and Mary to be blessed with God’s presence going forward.  We also pray for God’s blessings on Trinity’s incoming interim minister, Christine Tata and on the time she and the church will share together releasing Sid as they start a new era in Trinity’s ministry.

Blessings in Christ,

Liz Nash, Association Minister

Kiva Program Update

From Hayes Marlow

The Kiva Program helps people here and around the world. My brother, Fischer, and I learned about it during confirmation. We like to help others and we are interested to learn about other people, how they live and work, why they need the loan, and how it will help them. We were able to help pick some people who were really close to getting their whole amount of their loan, and we also helped people who were having a hard time because of COVID.

Mike Ziegler shared that Faith UCC most recently donated $50 to Kiva for their operations, and $50 was credited to our account to make loans. He selected women who were close to getting their entire funding (shows lots of support, makes it more likely they will get the funding) and mostly those from South America. Two of the recipients got 2x matching dollars from major corporations, which also helped. We still have $692 to lend, with more coming in almost every day.

Our most recent loan was made to Fortaleza Group in Nicaragua. This is our second loan to that group. They are now fully funded! For more information about Fortaleza Group, go to: https://www.kiva.org/lend/2173694

Help Faith with Hybrid Worship

Even once we begin in-person worship, we will continue our virtual worship via Zoom for those who cannot or are not yet comfortable with in-person worship.  We also want to continue to meet the needs of those who are not in our geographic region but are looking for a church home with which to connect.

There is much work to do to get ourselves ready for this and the Tech Team needs new members!!  You can begin by watching two videos of webinars produced by the Indiana-Kentucky Conference now available on YouTube. 

Session One: Time and Talent helps us plan and prep: https://youtu.be/9t-PFd2OsPA

Session Two: Tools and Tech helps us with gadgets and going live: https://youtu.be/czsobF8w6KY

We are grateful for the faithful work the Ward family has done for this congregation in working with our tech, and we cannot expect them to do this forever or alone without a weekend (or more) off each month. 

We need members willing to join the team, work alongside them to learn how it’s all done, and to help find even outside support to keep us up to date with our equipment and processes.  Please contact Pastor Carla at pastorcarla@faithuccnb.org to volunteer your time OR to offer a special offering in addition to your regular tithe to help hire AV help for the church. 

Help Support Riverside Pride!!

We want to continue our support of and outreach to LGBTQ+ persons in New Braunfels.  The Third Annual New Braunfels Pride festival will be Saturday, June 26th, 2021 in Landa Park.  Sponsors are needed to help us have a presence there.

Riverside Pride is a 501c3 non-profit and NB Pride is a family friendly event that celebrates our LGBTQ+ friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers. It is about making sure that everyone in our community has the opportunity for health and happiness and to express themselves without fear and discrimination. 

To help provide a sponsorship to represent Faith Church or to volunteer to help work the booth that day, please contact Pastor Carla pastorcarla@faithuccnb.org

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