Category: May 2021 (Page 1 of 2)

Updates from the Pastor

Faithful Friends,

As usual there is much going on at Faith Church and many ways to serve and be served.  We are also reminded as we are active in our outward faith of service and the pursuit of justice, to take quiet time apart to tend to our inward faith and rejuice our minds and bodies. 

As we do, we are then able to give from the abundance of what we have and our connection with God rather than draining ourselves, which serves no one well.  We are no good to others when we are not good to ourselves and when we do love ourselves enough to tend to our own needs, we have so much more to give! 

Our Pastoral Care Team continues to reach out to our family when in need and to visitors who join our services.  Please let us know as needs arise. 

We will be accepting new members in our congregation at the May 16th Worship Service and hope you will attend and join in sharing vows of covenant promise with them as the newest members of our family.

Our members are active with KIVA Microloans, Texas Impact, the Refugee Network, SOS Food Bank, Theology on Tap gatherings, Social Gatherings, and so very much more. 

This month we will celebrate Mother’s Day, Pentecost, graduations, college admissions, championship playoffs, work promotions, successful healthcare outcomes, and Scout accomplishments.  We will also sit with those waiting for answers that cannot come quickly enough for the struggles of their hearts, minds, and bodies or concerns for those they love.  God, in your mercy, hear our prayers!  

A few other events and updates of note:

New Braunfels Pride is coming June 26th from 11a-5p at Landa Park.  Mark your calendars and plan to participate in whatever way feels safe to you and your family.  If you would like to become a sponsor of this event, please contact the organizers through FB @RiversidePrideTX or their website at  Faith has been a long-time supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, dignity, and inclusion and we will continue to support the growing New Braunfels Pride community in whatever ways we can!

Slumber Falls Summer Camp Registration is now open!!  Our denomination’s camp is just down River Road and is for children, youth and adults.  Most of our Faith Church family have been to camp or served as counselors at Slumber Falls and have generations of fond memories of connection with God and each other while there.  Please share this information with those you know and consider camp for the young ones in your life.

We will be gathering persons to help with our Music Minister Search and also resume meetings of our Settled Pastor Search Committee in the next few weeks.  Please pray that God helps us discern exactly what Faith Church needs in both positions and lead us to just the right fit for where God wants to take Faith Church in the next chapter of our lives together.

You will be hearing more about the non-profit, Serve Spot, in the weeks to come as Faith Church combines efforts with this local group that partners area churches with community needs.  I’ve met with Kim Francis, their executive director, and she is assisting in connecting us with others to help market and provide blessers for the Blessing of the Hands June 7th.  More to come in the weekly worship guide announcements and next months Glimpses of Faith.  For now, you can learn more at where you can see their amazing promo video!

The Faith Church COVID Committee continues to meet to plan what resuming in-person in-doors worship will look like in terms of timing and process.  We want to be good stewards of our people’s spiritual and emotional needs and also their safety, especially with so many elders and children in our midst.  As the number of those vaccinated continues to grow, as more of our children are able to get the protection of the vaccine, and as numbers of cases continue to decline, we are itching to resume our in-person connection. 

We ask for your prayers for God’s guidance as we undertake this delicate task.  We know some are ready to begin now.  Others are much more hesitant.  We know there are strong feelings and much fear and impatience that can arise.  But we will do as we have always done as Faith Church and face this as an opportunity for us to pull together and find a common path that serves all our needs AND get us back together as quickly as possible in the weeks to come. 

We want to make as certain as possible that once we return to worship together we will be able to continue gathering and not need to go back to virtual worship only.  We will, however, continue to broadcast our services via Zoom and/or social media in what is being called hybrid worship, and covet your prayers and even financial support for our preparation to have a strong tech team of more than 2 or 3 to take on this challenging task.

WHEW!! There is a lot going on.  Please pray for me, Pastor Janet, and for your elected leaders on the Faith Church Council that we be given strength and endurance, wisdom and clarity, and know clearly exactly what God most wants us to do and when and how to do it to make Faith Church a strong, healthy, vibrant witness of God’s inclusive love and justice in our community and our world.  As you do, please know that daily I pray for each of you.

Pastor Carla

Blessing of the Hands

Faith Church is planning a community-wide socially-distanced Blessing of the Hands for all healthcare staff and first responders *most likely* to be held 6a-8p Monday June 7th.

It is designed to acknowledge the work they have done, are doing, and have ahead of them to care for others the personal and professional trauma they’ve faced while doing so the journey to come, as they can finally begin to slow down and grieve what they’ve been living through for more than a year.

Research shows healthcare workers after the first SARS pandemic in 2003 faced astronomical burnout and PTSD rates 18-36 months AFTER the pandemic was over. 

The road ahead may not be easy for many of them as we return to our lives and they remember the ones they tried to help but who will not be returning to theirs and as we remember the colleagues we’ve buried and wonder, and even feel guilt, about why we survived when they did not.

We want to do all we can to respond to them as they have responded to us

help them on their own path toward healing do all we can to decrease their risks for burnout and PTSD by offering ample support for them, in whatever ways we can.

Please mark your calendars and look for ways to participate in this event!  We will have rotating shifts of greeters and blessers from 6a to 8p to give as much chance for all shifts of workers to attend as possible.

There will be many opportunities to volunteer and there are plenty of logistics to confirm, as we don’t want a good idea to turn into a disaster!  We’re working on it all—getting clear about routes into and out of the church, lining up volunteers to serve as blessers and direct traffic, getting things out into the press, printing up cards with the spiritual but not dogmatic blessing so all will feel comfortable attending, preparing the bowls of cotton balls dipped in lavender that will be dropped into their palms to bless their hands with as volunteers say a blessing over them, etc.  

Any event planners or organizers out there who can help, please holler as we need your gifts!!  Til then, please spread the word that this event is coming and keep us in prayer as we plan the event.

And thank a healthcare worker or first responder, today, letting them know you’re with them.

Pastor Carla

Weekly Witness / Texas Impact

Weekly Witness is an opportunity for Texans of faith to learn about important public policy issues through a faith lens, and find out timely opportunities to participate in the public policy process. Weekly Witness is broadcast live on Zoom and Facebook with a studio audience. The Weekly Witness podcast features content from the live event and is usually available the day after it is recorded.

It features a brief reflection, a moment of hope to start, then a guest expert on some policy issue of importance in the legislative session. The guest will answer questions. Finally, there will be a report on what is current in the legislature, what bills are in which stage of development, what is encouraging, what is discouraging, and, most important, what response is called for NOW by people of faith wanting a better future for Texas.

You can download the current Action Alert at the Texas Impact website:

There you will find toll-free numbers for legislators, email addresses (at this point phone calls are better, and they will be brief), and more information about Texas Impact. Weekly Witness can also be found on YouTube.

Rapid Response Teams:

Our goal is to have people in each legislative district willing to make time-sensitive contacts to their legislator or key legislators during the Texas Legislative Session. You will be given the choice to receive rapid response notifications by text or email.

Currently a lot is happening and bills can change minute by minute. Some bills are still in committee, some are on their way to the floor for vote, and some have been approved by one or both chambers. This requires close monitoring and quick response to the right people. You can be part of that response by joining a rapid response team.

Shared by Sheila Angerer, TX Impact Board Member

Do You Know Texas Impact?

Texas Impact exists to put faith into action. We equip faith leaders and their congregations with the information, opportunities, and outreach tools to educate their communities and engage with lawmakers on pressing public policy issues. We are an interfaith group that works together on issues that impact the most vulnerable people in our communities. We help people live out their faith in the public square, moving the faith community from charity to justice. 

I have served on the TX Impact board for the past four years. This is not an elected position; it is completely volunteer. During this legislative term, I have sent emails to many of you to call your local representative and senator. TX Impact gives you all the tools in an email to complete a call and have your voice heard.  

TX Impact is comprised of a diversity of faiths. That is what makes this non-profit organization unique. I was present at the Capitol during the legislative session before the session now in progress. We are using Zoom and other electronic messaging to be in contact with our representatives and senators. The Capitol is open with restrictions. Texas Impact has committed to stop voter suppression, support Medicaid expansion, revise gun laws and other bills that we as a body either reject or support. 

I was encouraged when I received an email from the Reverend Dr. Whit Bodman asking me to share information about TX Impact with the South Central Conference, UCC. With the support and involvement of the conference, there will more representation for the betterment of TX Impact and our state.

Shared by Sheila Angerer, TX Impact Board Member

Heart of Texas Association

    It is with joy that I announce the ordination of Kerry Kirtley by the Heart of Texas Association on Pentecost Sunday, May 23rd, at Touchstone Community Church in Boerne at 10:30 am, as the church gathers again to worship in person for the first time since March, 2020. Kerry, who was approved for ordination last spring, is one of the two founding and current pastors of Touchstone, along with Billie Watts.  She has waited to be ordained until it would be safe to meet.  The church is working to have a hybrid service — online and in person — and we invite those of us who can be part of it to come and share in the celebration.  Touchstone Community Church meets (in the past and when they reconvene) at Kronsky Place, 17 Old San Antonio Rd., Boerne, Texas.  Look for the ordination news on their website,

    At our Heart of Texas Association spring meeting, we held two Ecclesiastical Councils, voting during these to grant Privilege of Call in the United Church of Christ to Amelia Fulbright and Sid Hall.  Privilege of Call is the process for bringing ordained ministers of a different denomination into full ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ.  Amelia was ordained at First Baptist Church of Austin in 2007.  She has served as the Associate Minister of University Baptist Church of Austin, as the Labyrinth Progressive Student Ministry founding minister, as sabbatical minister at Congregational Church of Austin, and (most recently) as the Designated Senior Minister at University Baptist Church during their transition time.  Sid was ordained as an Elder in the United Methodist Church in 1986, has been the Lead Minister of Trinity Church of Austin (formerly Trinity United Methodist Church) since 1988, and serves on our Association Committee on Ministry.  Sid is retiring from Trinity in July and will gain full standing in the UCC at that time.   We welcome these two valued and respected colleagues to this new era in their ministries among us.

   At our Association Meeting, Charles Stark and Campbell Lovett (our Interim Conference Minister) also educated those present about the possibility of a Unified Fitness Review Committee which would consist of members from all of the South Central Conference Associations and conduct clergy fitness reviews. These reviews occur when a complaint is raised about a clergy person that challenges their fitness to continue in ministry.  Currently, these reviews are conducted by the Association Committee on Ministry.  The purpose of having a Unified Committee would be to take the substantial burden of conducting fitness reviews off of the Association Committee to allow them to do the normal work they need to do.  Our Committee on Ministry is still considering and doing “due diligence” to understand how a Unified Committee would work, and will bring this possibility back to the fall meeting for consideration.

    We have two clergy and church transitions to share.  Rene Slateper has been called to be the Designated Term Pastor at Hope United in Georgetown, officially beginning his ministry on Easter Sunday.  He also serves as Co-Pastor of Labyrinth Progressive Student Ministry, is now a Licensed Minister in the Heart of Texas Association, and is a Member in Discernment in the ordination process. Nikki Stahl has resigned as Associate Minister of United Christian in Austin, where she has served for the past 9 years.  Nikki is taking a well deserved break as she finishes her excellent work at the South Central Conference Board President.  Our prayers and blessings are with Rene and Nikki as they go forward in Christian ministry.

Blessings in Christ, Liz Nash, Association Minister

Information on the Heart of Texas Association’s Beloved Linda Coats

Shared from Friends Congregational UCC Facebook Page

As many in our church family know, our beloved Linda Coats suffered a massive stroke on March 5. She has received excellent medical care through CHI St Joseph, College Station, and then at Accel at College Station since March 15.

Linda has moved to an assisted living facility in Humble, TX where she will continue to receive the rehab and assistance she needs in the next step in her recovery.

To send cards or flowers:
The Suites at Crimson Heights
19279 McKay Dr, Room 701
Humble, TX 77338

Information is forthcoming regarding financial support for Linda, as well as visitation details. In the meantime, please continue to keep Linda and her family in prayer.

New SCC Conference Minister Rev. Phil Hodson Affirmed

New SCC Conference Minister Rev. Phil Hodson Affirmed Saturday, April 17th
Submitted by Rev. Nikki Stahl, SCC Board of Directors President

[Note: An Introduction Statement from Rev. Hodson can be found here:]

The South Central Conference is excited to announce that at Special Meeting held Saturday, April 17th members of the conference voted to affirm the selection of Rev. Hodson as our next Conference Minister. Rev. Hodson will officially begin his work in the South Central Conference on July 15th. 

A bit about Rev. Hodson from Rev. Vanessa Monroe, Chair of Search Committee, as spoken at first Meet & Greet: “Rev. Hodson comes to us from Wichita United Church of Christ in Kansas where he currently serves as pastor. Rev. Hodson has also spent a significant time pastoring in the United Methodist Church. He has experience planting churches including knocking on doors; revitalizing churches – finding what is within a particular congregation that is to be celebrated in a way that perhaps widens the welcome, or creates new interests, or allows people in a community to realize what has been sitting there all along. Rev. Hodson has even merged churches when congregants agree that they are stronger together. During the pandemic, as we all pivoted, Rev. Hodson guided his congregation in the creation of a film studio. He will for us be an advocate for our camp. He has served on the Board of Directors on Campus Ministry in Oklahoma, has taught mission insight strategies to congregations, and has worked on the vision process for the Kansas Conference. Rev Hodson is a successful grant writer and has excellent business [experience creating] strategies for growth. Rev. Hodson comes to us prepared to begin to walk alongside our board and our congregations as we seek to live more fully into the call of our God for this day and this time.” 

If you are interested in learning more about Rev. Hodson, you can watch the Meet & Greets where you can see relationships already being formed. 

A special thanks to the Search Committee: Rev. Vanessa Monroe, Cesar Baptista, Bessie Griffin, Debra Joseph, Rev. Jacqueline Lamensky, Rev. Joshua Lawrence, Marilyn Reyes, Rev. Neil Thomas, and Arlene Turner. And also to Rev. Lee Albertson who helped resource and guide the search committee. If you know any of these individuals, please reach out and thank them personally. You can get a glimpse of the huge amount of work that they accomplished in a relatively short time frame (and during a pandemic) by reviewing the search process they followed. 

We look forward to God’s spirit working through Rev. Hodson as he guides us as Conference Minister. We are excited and hopeful of our next steps as the South Central Conference and all the ways in which our local congregations/ministry settings, camp, and partners in ministry will benefit as well!  

In an effort to help with the transition, the Board of Directors approved extending Rev. Campbell Lovett’s call through September 30th. Between June 15th and September 30th, Rev. Lovett will work 1/4 time with his sole purpose of tying up loose ends (Jun 15th – Jul 14th) and then to be a resource to Rev. Hodson (Jul 15 – Sept 30th). We are grateful for your continued support – including monetary – and for the acquisition of a second PPP loan to allow this gift to happen. 

Again, we are excited and we welcome Rev. Hodson, his wife Joelle, and their four boys (Xander, Xane, Xackary and Xavier) to the South Central Conference!

Rev. Nikki Stahl
President of the Conference Board of Directors

PAAM Solidarity

Board of Directors
South Central Conference
Board of Directors

Jesus prayed for his followers, and all disciples in the future, “that they may all be one.” (John 17:21).

The Pacific Islander & Asian American Ministries (PAAM) of the United Church of Christ recently issued a statement that read, in part: “There are no words to reflect what is happening in our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Brutal attacks on the elderly and vulnerable are increasing. And these are not robberies. Just hate crimes and in broad daylight. The latest report from just one center monitoring AAPI crimes lists over 3,700 incidents from March 2020 to February 2021.” Since 1974, PAAM has boldly called out and condemned racism and xenophobia against all communities of color and vows to continue to do so for as long as this virus exists in our society.

Within the South Central Conference, several congregations identify themselves as Asian American and/or Pacific Islander churches. Additionally, many other local churches have members who identify as Asian American and/or Pacific Islander. Members and communities within our Associations, within our Conference, are being attacked.

The Board of Directors of the South Central Conference joins in solidarity with PAAM, the Pacific Islander and Asian American churches within our Conference and beyond, and members of the Conference in condemning the violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities – and every community of color – and in seeking to create a just world for all. An official vote of support of solidarity was taken by the Board of Directors at their April 17th Board Meeting.

Additionally, the Board of Directors Invites Conference churches to unite in standing against hate, racism and xenophobia. 

Here are several Resources for PAAM:

Donations Needed for Asylum Seekers 5/22


What: A donation drive for asylum seekers at our southern border.

BABIES: Diapers & pull-ups (all sizes), baby wipes, baby bottles, extra bottle nipples, baby wash cloths, baby food pouches/packets (NOT jars), powdered infant formula.

HYGIENE, TRAVEL OR HOTEL SIZE: toothbrush, toothpaste, soap (liquid or bar), sanitary napkins (all sizes, no tampons), hairbrush, comb, shampoo, hair ties, scrunchies, lip balm (Chapstick).

CLOTHING: (If used, please launder). Children’s underwear, all sizes, girls & boys (new), children’s clothing, infant–age 8, girls & boys, children’s tennis shoes, toddler-age 8, girls & boys, infant’s to children’s size 8 socks, women’s underwear, sizes 5-7 (new), adult long-sleeve shirts, blouses, sweatshirts, lightweight sweaters, (women’s size sm & med), men’s (size me.

WE WANT TO MEET YOU ON MAY 22 WHEN YOU DROP OFF DONATIONS! But if you can’t stop by…. Early drop-offs welcome at Democratic Headquarters on Tues & Thurs, 10:00am – 6:00pm, Sat, 9:00am – 2:00pm. Donations by check can be sent to Memo “DWCC”, make checks payable to UUNB. Mail or drop off at UUNB (church) 135 Alves LN, New Braunfels, TX 78130. Donate online to

Also in need of boxes, bins and reusable grocery bags.

When conditions for asylum seekers at the border became intolerable in 2017-18, faith-based organizations stepped up to provide humanitarian aid. The Interfaith Welcome Coalition (IWC) in San Antonio, with which DWCC has worked in the past, manages enormous efforts from central Texas to southern border locations. DWCC will transport donations to the border where they will be distributed by an IWC affiliate, El Buen Samaritano Migrante. Money donations will be accepted and tracked by IWC and another affiliate, Unitarian Universalists of New Braunfels. Donations are tax deductible.

Comal County Democratic Headquarters

1592 West San Antonio Street
New Braunfels, TX

Download a flyer below to share!

SCC Nominations Requested


The SCC Nominating Committee is announcing the following positions open for nomination to be filled to serve with the South Central Conference Board.

You may self nominate or nominate another member, willing to serve, by placing the name and position nominated for in writing via e-mail to:

Yvette W. Scales, Chair, Nominating Committee (; or to: Cindy Miller, Secretary, Nominating Committee (

VICE PRESIDENT – clergy preferred (2yrs)
Association Representative – Houston (2023)
Association Representative – New Orleans (2024)
Association Representative – North Texas (2024)

Heart of Texas – Clergy
Houston Association Representative – Clergy
New Orleans Association Representative – Lay

Houston – Clergy

Submitted by Yvette Scales, Chair of Nominating Committee

Resilience and the Practice of Pivoting – Congregational Consulting Group

Submitted by Campbell Lovett, SCC Interim Conference Minister

Over this past year, we have had to pivot—in our personal lives, as religious leaders, and in our organizations. We have found ways to be resourceful in ways we didn’t know we could. Perhaps we have even sensed a capacity to be resilient in order to navigate intense and unforeseen challenges. Resilience is often understood as the capacity to “bounce back,” but I prefer to think of it as the ability to return again and again to what matters. In other words, to cultivate resilience, we must practice pivoting.

Learning to Pivot

Most of us first learned to pivot when we learned to walk as toddlers.

Stephen Hayes, developer of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Coaching, points out that babies learning to walk can take about 2400 steps an hour, the equivalent of 7 football fields. During that hour, babies fall, on average, about 17 times.

One researcher calculated that this experience means that in a single day, even if a baby walked only half of its waking hours it would cover forty-six football fields and fall a hundred times. During this ordeal of learning to walk, fall, and get up again that toddlers develop the stamina for pivoting.

By taking a series of short rocking steps and adjusting direction a little at a time, toddlers learn to pivot smoothly. Then they learn to shift from one direction to another. Only by pivoting do toddlers finally accomplish walking.

Likewise, in life and leadership we recover from our falls—our mistakes—and either learn from them or we don’t.

Continuing to Pivot

The capacity to pivot is of course not just physical. It’s also psychological, spiritual, and organizational. Without the capacity to pivot, we would have found it hard to navigate the adaptation this past year has required of us.

To pivot as religious leaders and organizations means to change directions when the direction we aspire toward doesn’t take us there. To pivot requires us to make U-turns or reorient ourselves. For some of us, pivoting may mean changing our pace. This may mean that we have to slow down our tendency to seize on a quick fix or a known strategy.

Organizational Routines

Oftentimes, as leaders and as congregation we are not as flexible in our actions as we imagine ourselves to be. Therefore, though we might intend to pivot—to change what we are doing—we may actually do the opposite.

The organizational learning practitioner, Chris Argyris, highlighted the frequent gap between what we know and what we actually do. He taught some skillful and disciplined ways of articulating our “espoused theory”—what we say we want to do—while also observing what actually occurs—our “theory in action.” Our capacity to pivot is often stifled by the what Argyris called “organizational routines.” These “defensive routines” are automatic and outside our conscious awareness. These routines attempt to prevent us from experiencing embarrassment or threat as leaders (or organizations), but the result is often just the opposite.

Organizational routines can prevent us from identifying and eliminating the real causes of embarrassment or threat. We end up not learning because we have defended ourselves from the very conditions that could prompt learning. As Argyris put it, “Organizational defensive routines are anti-learning, overprotective, and self-sealing.”

Christians will recognize this phenomenon. It was named by Paul in his letter to the Romans: “For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” (Romans 7:19)

Disciplines for an Age of Overwhelm

Learning is essential in this time. To learn, we need to practice pivoting. To align our actions with our deepest aspirations and values, we must redirect ourselves toward the actions that would take us there. Organizational routines are like tires spinning in deep mud—we spin and spin. We look like we are expending useful energy but in fact we’re getting nowhere.

Currently many of us are immobilized by our routines and the tremendous challenge we face every day. Laura van Dernoot Lipsky defines our time in the title of her book, the Age of Overwhelm. She encourages us to find “strategies for the long haul.” Quick fixes to complex situations will not suffice. Such strategies must necessarily include what I am calling practices of pivoting.

Some of the major pivots required of us during the uncertainty and upheavals of our time are not just in what we do, but how we do whatever it is we do. Van Dernoot Lipsky proposes that we need to find ways to move from:

  1. Less distraction toward more intention
  2. Less disconnection toward more presence
  3. Less attachment to what we know toward more curiosity
  4. Less depletion toward more stamina

These pivots require more than changing our actions. They call us as leaders to slow the process down, even when the clamor is to speed things up.

How would you assess your own leadership along these dimensions? How would you assess your congregation? Take a moment to do a quick rating of yourself on each of these dimensions:

I tend to practice:

  1. Distraction ←→ Intentionality
  2. Disconnection ←→ Presence
  3. Attachment to what I already know ←→ Curiosity
  4. Depletion ←→ Attention to stamina

Our organization tends to practice:

  1. Distraction ←→ Intentionality
  2. Disconnection ←→ Presence
  3. Attachment to what I already know ←→ Curiosity
  4. Depletion ←→ Attention to stamina


Here are some questions that you might find helpful to reflect upon individually or with a group of leaders:

  1. What are some of your organizational defensive routines that are “anti-learning, protective and self-sealing?”
  2. When you look at your rating of yourself and your congregation on the 4 practices listed above, are you and you congregation similar or different?
  3. What pivots do you feel motivated to make as a leader?
  4. What pivots would you recommend to your organization?

This past year has indeed evoked resourcefulness that most of us did not know we had. Mostly in response to significant challenges. We had to do something in order to navigate these challenges. In the next several months, how we manage ourselves within the “overwhelm” will be as important as what we do. In what ways will we foster intentionality, presence, curiosity, and careful attention to our stamina?

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