Category: March 2021

Where are You Gifted?

Lay leaders are needed to assist with the life and ministry of Faith Church.  Please let Pastor Carla (pastorcarla@faithuccnb.org) or Pastoral Assistant, Janet Sherman (jcmsherman681@gmail.com) know if you are willing to participate in one of these areas of service:

Building and Grounds—improving visibility, maintenance, cleaning, improvements

Pastoral Care—notes/calls to those not able to get out, those ill, those grieving, & visitors  

Education—virtually engaging children & youth; coordinating bible & book studies, & discussion groups      

Tech/Social Media—promoting Faith on FB & other platforms, helping with virtual worship

Mission—supporting & coordinating work with Kiva, Family Promise, SOS Foodbank, & more   

Worship—planning services, helping with music, preparing for special services, designing power point slides, & more

Outreach—anything as creative and crazy as we can imagine to let folks know there’s a different kinda church in town!!

            We are only limited by our imagination and desire.  Thankfully, God’s imagination is bigger than ours and God’s supply of energy and inspiration will never dwindle.  Relying on God, let’s all work together to see exactly what God can do in and through Faith Church!

One Great Hour of Sharing Special Offering—March 14th

Faith Church has a long, proud history of being a 5 for 5 Congregation, meaning we donate to the 5 special missional offerings of the UCC.  One Great Hour of Sharing® is one of those offerings received each year during Lent.  This offering directly supports the disaster, refugee, and development ministries of the United Church of Christ within Wider Church Ministries. 

To learn more about the impact of this offering, watch this brief video, “When Water Comes Interviews”, with villagers in Kenya describing the difference it made in their lives when clean water was provided, thanks to the support of OGHS https://youtu.be/Q9y_1U425cs

Please prayerfully consider your contribution to this special offering, which will be collected March 14th, in addition to your regular tithe to the work and ministry of Faith Church.  You may donate via the Church website (https://www.faithuccnb.org/) with a message to designate the amount to the OGHS Offering or by mail to the church (970 Loop 337
New Braunfels, TX) with “OGHS Offering” in the memo line.

Go to Camp for FREE!—Slumber Falls Spring Work Camp March 12-14

As most of you know, Faith Church has a close working relationship with our own UCC Slumber Falls Camp, right here in New Braunfels! 

Children and youth have camped there and made lifelong friends and memories, congregations have held meaningful retreats on the grounds surrounded by the beauty of nature, clergy (including your own!), have gone there for quiet retreats to rest.

            SFC relies on our support to remain a place of fun, learning, and connection with God and each other. 

One way we offer support is by attending the regular Work Camp Weekends where we are invited to stay at the camp for free for a causal weekend of laughter and sharing while helping with work projects (primarily Saturday) around the property at 3610 River Road.

            In the recent extreme weather of SNOVID 2021, the camp suffered significant plumbing damage and will rely on our support during this work camp, more than ever.  Please make plans to attend.  If you have special tools or expertise, please contact the camp office at 830-625-2212 for possible projects.             To register, go to https://slumberfalls.org/events/sfc-fall-work-camp/

Faith Music Update

Our prayers go with former Music Director, Stephanie Phillips, for her two years of service to Faith Church.  We wish her well as she continues to follow her passion for music and service.  A Music Team is being gathering to provide music for our weekly worship and plans are under way to seek and hire a new minister of music.  Stay tuned for more updates!

Calling all Young Ones (And Parents of Young Ones!)

Mike Ziegler and Frank Dietz are heading up our Kiva micro-loan lending program and we want our children and youth to help us! 

Some time after March 10th, these two men, along with Pastor Carla, will be hosting a Zoom session to introduce our young to Kiva, start selecting our next loan recipients together, and set up a rotation for which kiddos will help us out each month as we select new recipients. 

Parents, please reach out to Mike Ziegler (mzieglertx@yahoo.com) by 3/10/21 if your children or teens are interested in helping out.  It’s a great chance to learn about missions, the needs of others, good stewardship, and to engage with the adults of our congregation.

Blessing When the World Is Ending

Look, the world
is always ending
somewhere.

Somewhere
the sun has come
crashing down.

Somewhere
it has gone
completely dark.

Somewhere
it has ended
with the gun,
the knife,
the fist.

Somewhere
it has ended
with the slammed door,
the shattered hope.

Somewhere
it has ended
with the utter quiet
that follows the news
from the phone,
the television,
the hospital room.

Somewhere
it has ended
with a tenderness
that will break
your heart.

But, listen,
this blessing means
to be anything
but morose.
It has not come
to cause despair.

It is simply here
because there is nothing
a blessing
is better suited for
than an ending,
nothing that cries out more
for a blessing
than when a world
is falling apart.

This blessing
will not fix you,
will not mend you,
will not give you
false comfort;
it will not talk to you
about one door opening
when another one closes.

It will simply
sit itself beside you
among the shards
and gently turn your face
toward the direction
from which the light
will come,
gathering itself
about you
as the world begins
again.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

Acknowledging a COVID-19 Milestone

We acknowledge that the United States has now experienced over 500,000 COVID-related deaths, that we know of, since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Such a large number can be hard to wrap our heads around and we can easily become numb in the face of so much suffering, including our own.  This National Geographic article can help put that number into perspective.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/graphics/what-500000-united-states-covid-deaths-look-like

Our prayers remain with those who have died and those who mourn, those who are ill and those who are recovering, those who are fear and those in denial. 

As a people of justice, we also acknowledge the health, economic, and social disparities  that have come even further to light with the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on our brothers and sisters of color. 

From the article, “Deaths among Black Americans are 1.9 times higher than among non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics and Latinos 2.3 time higher, and Native Americans 2.4 times higher.”

Please pray for an awakening to the greater need for stewardship, individually and collectively, to ensure all God’s children are safe, cared for, and working to be good stewards of their neighbors’ safety.  May we listen to and follow where God may be leading us to take part in co-creating a more just and healthy world for us all.

The 2021 Faith 40-Day Gratitude Challenge

Folks are experiencing enough sacrifice these days, so instead of giving something up for Lent, I invite you to add a spiritual discipline.  From Feb 17-April 3, engage in at least one gratitude practice a day.  Use the notebook provided (available in the Ash Wednesday packets at the church), your own journal, or post on social media (tag us! @FaithUCCNewBraunfels).  You can write down 5 things or something you’re grateful for:

*for each letter of the alphabet

*about yourself for each letter of your name 

*about another person and consider sharing it with them

*in nature, in your house, your town, about your job or school, etc.

*every time your phone or computer dings with a call or message

*every time you hear yourself start to complain

Let’s also memorize Philippians 4:6-7 (NRSV) together as a reminder to turn to gratitude when anxiety starts to crowd our minds or we hear ourselves start to complain. 

I hope you’ll join me in reminding ourselves of the good God is doing, even in the midst of struggles.  Peace and blessings for your Lenten journey.

Pastor Carla

A Note from Pastor Carla

What an incredibly insane time we have faced this past year and in the first several weeks of 2021!!  As I shared in my Pastor’s Letter to the Congregation at our Annual Meeting 1/24/21 (see letter, here), our faith calls us to see such times as opportunities—to deepen our trust in God, to grow in our love for each other, and to learn even more effective ways to BE the church.  

Faithful Friends,

Faith Church has a long history of doing exactly that and, in this season, that will not change.  Our methods may look different.  Our format and places of service may not be the same as we get creative about ways to continue our Mission. Our heart for justice and unity in spirit, however, faithfully remain:

*We continue to have volunteers serve at the SOS Food Bank and we continue to pray for our friends at Family Promise until that mission can safely resume on a broader scale. 

*I’m working to connect us with a couple of community coalitions in New Braunfels to work together on issues of hunger, solutions to homelessness, and other needs (stay tuned!) 

*We continue to provide KIVA loans and, with the support of Mike Ziegler and Frank Dietz, will be engaging our young to meet monthly via Zoom to help decide how we will make those loans. 

*We have a new Pastoral Care Team, currently led by Pastoral Assistant, Janet Sherman (NOTE: we need a congregant willing to help organize and lead that team) sending notes and making calls to those more shut in than others, those grieving, and those who are ill who are connected to our Faith family. 

*We are adding members to our Tech Team, currently led by Joe, Mikki, and Sam Ward, and extending the reach of our unique message of God’s inclusive love through our recorded services via the website and social media, and will soon broadcast them on FaceBook Live. 

*We are forming a Social Media Team to work with our Tech Team to increase our presence via uplifting, educational, and advocacy-oriented Facebook posts, Instagram and Pinterest memes, and tweets on Twitter (kids, youth, young adults, and ALL, we need your help…who’s in?)

*The COVID team is meeting to help guide us through safe outdoor gatherings, disaster response, and mission support. 

*We are adopting a spiritual practice of Gratitude and giving up worry for this 40-day season of Lent.

*We are hosting a virtual Lenten Book Study of Karen Armstrong’s “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life” for 6 weeks Wednesdays at 7pm with myself and Beth Bizer. 

*With the help of Sam Ward and David Reed, we are updating the website to respond to needs, share information, let the community know who we are and what we do, and to help us gather information from our Virtual Worship Service visitors so we can follow up with them. 

*We are working to create virtual experiences of worship to engage our members and new friends around the country and our young ones are helping lead by being liturgists each week, along with our adult scripture readers. 

*We’re engaging our young ‘uns in safe ways during a Time for Children each week and also sharing our Joys and Concerns together via Zoom once the recorded portion of our service is complete. 

*We are organizing music for our services that lifts us up, shares our message of advocacy and inclusion, and prepares us for the week ahead. 

*We’re planning in-person, socially-distanced, outdoor social gatherings at the church for both Theology on Tap (bring your own beverage and talk theology with the pastor) and Faith Family Time (10 chairs 6-feet apart around each fire pit to visit safely). 

And soooo much more!!

Thank you for your patience with me as I’ve been getting up to speed with the processes and needs of this congregation. My apologies for not getting a newsletter out to you for January and February. 

If we missed a birthday or anniversary, please let us know. We’ll be asking for your help in updating the directory in the coming weeks to make sure we have those special dates and current contact info for our Faith family. 

Moving forward, content for the newsletter is due to me by the 23rd of each month. Many thanks to David Reed and Sam Ward, who will help get Glimpses of Faith out to you the first Tuesday of each month. 

As we recover from the tragic weather of recent weeks, look ahead to increasing unity in our country, and pray for extensive vaccination of our world, there is much reason to hope and to be excited about what God is doing and will continue to do in us and in our world.   

We will not sit back and wait for the world to re-open in order to be about the business of God’s work.  We will seek diligently to follow our Still-Speaking here and now, and to find opportunities in the midst of challenges to revitalize ourselves, our ministry, and, by the grace of God, the world around us.

Peace be with you all,

Pastor Carla

Heart of Texas Association News

As I write, we are just a couple of days past the very difficult days of our freeze, power outages, and water problems.  Many in our churches have suffered.  We have had illness and death over this past week among our churches.  Many of us faced situations in our homes that we never thought we would face — extreme cold, lack of water, the inability to get out or even communicate at times. Some faced these while being ill at the same time.  Others who did not have problems or had fewer issues to deal with offered help and care with great generosity. My heart and prayers go with all of you.  We have had several churches with building issues from burst pipes, including (to my knowledge as I write) Friends Congregational College Station, Faith UCC in Bryan, St. John’s UCC in Burton, and Church of the Savior in Cedar Park.  Slumber Falls Camp has also sustained damage. The United Church of Christ Disaster Ministry is reaching out to the churches in our Conference with support.  Our Conference Minister Campbell Lovett has been reaching out to our churches, and I have been in touch with a number of our pastors. If there are ways I can support your congregation, please let me know (lizknash@gmail.com, 512-799-2782).

I ask you at this time to pray for our faithful brother in Christ, our former Conference Minister Douglas Anders.  Douglas, who moved home to the St. Louis area when he retired, has been fighting colon and very aggressive liver cancer now for a number of years.  While continuing to serve the church and his local community in numerous ways, Douglas has undergone several forms of treatment, including travel to MD Anderson in Houston for experimental treatment. He is in the final stages of his life now.  His example of faith and service to us while he was with us and, in the past few years, during his illness, has been extraordinary and inspiring.  Let us pray for him and give thanks for his years of ministry with us.

Carl Schwartz-King, our Association Vice-Moderator, a licensed minister in the Heart of Texas Association, and a commissioned minister in the Christian Church Disciples of Christ, has resigned his position at United Christian Church as Minister of Congregational Care at United Christian Church of Austin. He has served in this position for the past five years, giving generously of his time and talents. Following a call to ministry, Carl completed the Certificate program at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary to be able to serve after retiring from his position as Manager of Emergency and Trauma Services at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin.  He has served the Heart of Texas Association in many ways, and I am happy to say that he will be continuing in that work.  If elected at our Spring meeting, he will serve as our moderator for the next term.  I know United appreciates Carl’s ministry, and I look forward to his gift of excellent leadership in this Association.

Our Association Spring meeting date will be set soon.  We will be having an Ecclesiastical Council for Amelia Fulbright for Privilege of Call in the United Church of Christ.  We anticipate having one more Ecclesiastical Council.  More details and a meeting date will come soon.

Blessings in Christ, Liz Nash, Association Minister.

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