Category: October 2021 (Page 1 of 2)

From the Pastor

Faithful Friends,

As we watch carefully the number of COVID cases in our county and consider the right time to reconvene in person for worship in the coming weeks, Faith Church remains busy in worship by Zoom, Christian Education, ministry, and preparation for our return to the sanctuary. Opportunities abound for service!!

Council, and members of the congregation, have been discerning areas for our focus in the coming months. We are working to improve our visibility in the community and move past our position as the Best Kept Secret in New Braunfels.

I am working with Conference Minister, Phil Hodson, to complete a grant application to the UCC that could bring us $10,000 to help us in 3 areas:

  • 1) improve signage on our property, help us install a flag pole to display more of our message of welcome and inclusion, and expand our social media and on-line presence
  • 2) increase our support of the local LGBTQ+ community by co-founding a PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chapter in New Braunfels that could meet at our church, expand our support of Riverside Pride, and help offer transitional housing to youth and young adults in crisis
  • 3) and improve our ability to support Family Promise and other housing needs in our community, perhaps by making better use of our buildings and property.

New member, Lauren Pearce, is on the ball contacting sign companies to get information and quotes for our signage needs and installation of the flagpole. She and long-time member, Michelle Perry, are exploring steps and like-minded persons in the community to help start the PFLAG chapter. Please be in touch with me or one of these ladies to lend your support.

New member, Lindsey Graham, is helping me coordinate gathering volunteers in the congregation to help collect and post articles and memes that promote social justice issues Faith Church stands for on social media. She is also helping organize me to coordinate a regular schedule of Theology on Tap events outdoors, especially as the weather cools. Be watching for details and let us know how you would like to participate.

I am meeting with a group of people, including builders and designers and representatives from Family Promise, interested in starting a community coalition to begin a tiny home community, perhaps even on our grounds!

New Member, Pam Robinson, has graciously agreed to lend her years of experience teaching children to revitalize our Christian Education Program. We need someone to join her as Co-Coordinator and volunteers to join a roster of rotating teachers of our children and youth once we

return to in-person worship. Former Christian Ed co-coordinators of many years and long-time members, Karen Dietz and Jennifer Marlow, are providing wonderful wisdom and guidance, and we need others to join the effort. Please contact me or Pam [email protected] to let us know how you could help.

I will be leading a Bible Study of the book of Job during October. We have several who have already signed up and we likely will be scheduling this beginning Sunday the 10th at 6:30pm outdoors on the playground at the church and are exploring ways to also allow persons to join us by Zoom. Details are still forming, so be in touch with me and be watching your worship guide for more information.

Organization and Project Management are not my spiritual gifts! We are searching for an Administrative & Communications Assistant to work approximately 20 hours a week to help with daily tasks, preparation of worship, and social media outreach. We are seeking candidates outside the congregation, so if you know of someone, please send them to me to apply. In the mean time, if you have the gifts of organization and project management, please contact me to help herd all of these many things Faith is involved in so we do not lose our momentum of growth and renewal!

As church leadership and all these volunteers work to BE the church in our community, we covet your prayers. We seek God’s wisdom, discernment, guidance, and energy as we want to know where God is moving and leading and how we can be part of God’s work in our community. All the above are the most recent ways we believe God is calling us to grow and serve, and we need your prayers to not fall into overwhelm and to make the best use of our resources of time, finances, and energy to serve the church and our neighbors well.

Please also continue to pray for our Pastoral Search Committee as it puts together our church profile and considers the next evolution of leadership for Faith Church.

We know that the God who calls us will also sustain. Faith Church has a rich history of service, work for justice, and inclusion of all God’s children in New Braunfels and the world. Now, more than ever, as the city grows and so many are facing so many challenges, the community needs the unique Christian voice Faith Church provides, and we want to go out and find them.

As we do, we will continue to grow while also holding true to our heritage as a church that follows a Still-Speaking God. Together, through us, God can and will do even greater things.

Grace and peace to us all,
Pastor Carla

Welcome New Members to Faith Church!

Please welcome our newest members, who joined Faith Church in August! 

They are Izzy Mason, Lauren Pearce, Philip Graves, and (fiances–yay!!) Lindsey Graham and Rachelle Akpanumoh.  Read on and get to know the newest members of our Faith Family and then reach out to welcome them!

Welcome Izzy!

Hi! I’m Izzy. I’ve lived in the New Braunfels area for around six years and am so excited to have finally found and joined Faith UCC and am excited to get to know everyone and get involved in the church.

I am a portrait artist by trade. My studio is above the New Braunfels Art League (come visit me!) I’m vegan, bi, and passionate about animals and music. I’ve been married to my husband Lark for 10 years now and am a mom of two (6 and 9 years old). 

Welcome Lauren!

I grew up in Northern California and resided there until my husband Bawb and I decided to move to Texas in 2005. I have 2 grown sons, CJ who lives in Southern California and Bryan who lives in New York with my two Grandcats.

I am now retired from an extremely demanding, exciting and challenging career which took me all over the world. I am beyond grateful for this season of my life. When I retired, I made a commitment to God that I would work for him and that is what I have been focused on since I got to stop working for money. I must tell you that God is the most loving, kind and forgiving boss I ever had!

I am very involved in some recovery groups which occupies a good amount of my time. My husband Bawb and I love to play golf which we try to do twice a week. Bawb is a musician so I become a merch person at his bigger shows to sell his merchandise. I enjoy painting and am trying to learn to play the piano, but have a long way to go.

My most important priority is to be as kind, loving and compassionate to every person God puts in my path. This is what I challenge myself everyday to accomplish, with God’s help. Believe me that takes a lot of work!    

Welcome Philip and Bonnie!

Philip Graves is a short nerd who runs too much. He also reads a lot of philosophy, and likes to play his fiddle when he’s not verbally sparring with his twin brother over systematic theology. He’s non-monogamous, but has a life partner named Bonnie who is a casual pagan, and she is both loving and patient with his many quirks. She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to him, and he cherishes every moment he spends with her. 

He works at a running store, where he outfits runners who need new shoes, but also helps those recovering from injury or suffering from limited mobility by finding footwear solutions that work for their needs. He’s the store manager, which means he does almost anything and everything store-related that needs to get done. He is also planning to return to college in the spring of 2022.

Philip joined Faith UCC because he is progressive, bisexual, and polyamorous, and wanted to find a faith community that wouldn’t condemn him, but would remind him weekly that Jesus loves him. He’s really interested in observing the traditions of the historical Church (He loves traditional services!) but recognizes that it’s important to exercise autonomy over his faith inheritance, rather than blindly follow it. As the composer Gustav Mahler once said, “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”

Welcome Lindsey and Rachelle!

Lindsey: I am a registered nurse currently working at Christus Santa Rosa New Braunfels in the ICU. I come from a very large family (one of five siblings, 20-something first cousins on my mom’s side) and a very conservative faith tradition (Assemblies of God). I read too much fiction, especially sci-fi and fantasy, and one of my favorite pastimes is making fun of Rachelle for reading 1/2 of all her gazillion books (she really loves physical books). Another hobby of mine is taking care of Rachelle’s 50 some-odd house plants that I swore I wouldn’t be responsible for if she got too busy. I loved working in the homeless ministry of one of my prior churches and am looking forward to getting more involved at Faith UCC. 

Rachelle: First-generation American and born to Nigerian parents, I am an outgoing introvert on the best of days and a lover of music and all things outdoors on all days. I’ve wandered from a more or less Pentecostal upbringing (no make-up, no jewelry, no dancing, dresses/skirts only, fire and brimstone, the whole works) and have been searching for a church where I feel like I can be myself the way God made me and shine whatever weird light I have as a reflection of Him. I am glad to have found Faith UCC and other churches along the way on this journey. I am looking forward to dusting off the ol’ trumpet and using it to make a somewhat joyful noise at church.

We began dating in 2009 while both working at the rock climbing gym at the University of Houston. Outdoor adventures still have our affection with our most recent outdoor love being mountain biking. We both grew up in Houston, Texas but have lived in Dallas, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and now Canyon Lake (all for Rachelle’s job).Our wonderful furbaby, Annie, was introduced into the mix in 2018, and we love her to pieces except for the first two weeks when Lindsey cried and wanted to give her away after realizing potty-training on a 3rd floor apartment could get old really quickly. We got engaged in July 2020 and hope to be married sometime soon!

From everyone at Faith UCC, welcome!

Big Serve 2021

Join us for the Big Serve 10/9 from 9:30a-12:30p as we join others in the community to build a Healing Garden for the children at Connections Individual and Family Services.

You can also donate supplies on the page linked below. 

Contact Pastor Carla to sign up (we have 6 spots left to fill) at [email protected].  

See this link for more information.

Thank you, for being a congregation always willing to serve your neighbors, and all God’s kids!

Heart of Texas Association News

Our Heart of Texas Fall Meeting will be held virtually on Saturday, October 23rd at 10 am, hosted by the Austin cluster of churches. We had, of course, hoped finally to have an in-person meeting, but Austin is still in the Stage 5 COVID risk level as I write, and we don’t want to put people at risk by gathering in person. Let’s hope and pray the illness level decreases soon! I am thankful, though, that we are able to meet via Zoom. The meeting information and link will be sent out in early October.

One item on the agenda will be our continuing work to join the South Central Conference Unified Fitness Review Committee. As I have written in the past, fitness reviews are conducted by our Committee on Ministry when a complaint is brought against one of our ministers that raises questions about that minister’s fitness for continued ministry, based on the set of ethical standards set forth in the United Church of Christ Manual on Ministry that all of our ministers are charged to follow. These reviews, which have not occurred often, are challenging and require quite a bit of work. The proposal is to have one committee in the South Central Conference comprised of people from all of the Associations to conduct them, allowing the members to be trained, gain experience, and do the work in a consistent way. Our Committee on Ministry has done research and found that this model has worked well in other Conferences. However, the process of joining the Unified Committee involves our whole Association since we will have to change our bylaws and nominate members. We will continue with that process at our Fall and Spring Association meetings.

Eric Gates, Pastor of Faith UCC in Bryan, is nearing the end of the process of gaining Ordained Ministerial Partner standing in the United Church of Christ. Eric is a Christian Church/Disciples of Christ (DOC) minister. Once this process is completed, Eric will be fully a UCC minister while serving a UCC church, but can go back to serve DOC churches as a full DOC minister later on. Before entering the ministry, Eric served our country for eight years in the Marine Corps and then served the Austin community as an Austin Police officer for nine years. In addition to being Pastor at Faith, Eric is the founder and CEO of Devil Dog Coffee Company in Buda. We welcome Eric as a ministry colleague. I hope many of us will get a chance to enjoy a cup of coffee with him!

Finally, I want to say to each of you in our churches that it has been a great privilege and joy to serve among you as your Association Minister. Since I began this work in 2006, I have met and worked with so many of you that are real servants of Christ. We have had a group of fine and dedicated ministers — I could not have asked for a better group to serve with. Although I will have to step back from being among you as I retire in October, I treasure the friendships and feel enormously blessed by working in ministry among you. I know you welcome my successor as you have always so warmly welcomed me. Thank you for our years together.

Blessings in Christ,
Liz Nash, Association Minister

CWS Participating in National CROP Hunger Walk

Submitted by Kevin Murphy, Community Engagement Manager, CWS

Join us for the 2021 National CROP Hunger Walk on World Food Day, October 16th and end hunger in the U.S. and around the world!

Walk on your treadmill, in your neighborhood, in a park with friends – you choose the location and the experience. Walk one day – 3.7 miles (the average distance a woman walks for water) or take the Weekend Challenge and walk 11.1 miles (3.7 miles for 3 days).

Every step you take, every dollar you raise makes the walk shorter for neighbors in need by providing clean water, emergency food as well as livelihoods and access to education.

Sign-up and start raising funds TODAY at !

Contact [email protected] for more info.

TX Impact Board to have UCC/SCC Representative Vacancy as Sheila Angerer Steps Down

Submitted by Sheila Angerer

I am going to step back from serving as a TX Impact board member. This will leave a vacancy to represent the UCC and SCC.

I am unwilling to drive to Austin, let alone maneuver my way through traffic. I have not made this decision without some prayer and meditation and kept coming up with the same answer. 

I have enjoyed everyone on the TX Impact board. I believe I served through three legislative years.  Two of which I was able to be in Austin several times due to the kindness of others. The rallies on the steps of the Capitol were invigorating. We were able to meet with our respective representatives and senators.

I have contacted Bee Moorehead and advised her of my decision.  Just remember the legislature meets every other year. If you are at all interested in serving on the TX Impact board, please Google TX Impact, there is good information to digest and help with a decision. TX Impact is a faith based organization. I have submitted information about TX Impact in earlier newsletters.

If more information is needed , please contact Bee Moorehead at [email protected] or Annaliese Cothron at [email protected]. They will have answers to your questions.

It has been an honor to represent TX Impact through Faith UCC in New Braunfels and the conference during the past six years. All good things do come to an end.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me at 830 352 3314 or email me at [email protected].  Thanks very much.

Peace & Grace
Sheila Angerer

All of us at Faith UCC offer our special thanks to Sheila for her dedication and service! Thank you, Sheila.

Putting Feet To Our Prayers

Submitted by Rev. Phil Hodson, Conference Minister

I’ve heard this as a lyric in modern Christian music, calling out to God in a victory-seeking, almost authoritarian way. Directing praise to “God-of-the-angel-armies,” which is language I once found off-putting. Then I served a predominantly military congregation where the terminology came to life. Not in a macho, winner-take-all, generic sense, but in a specific, leading, loyal, purpose-driven way — folks who gave their lives in service to others resonated with a God who shared orders and gave directives and invited their response in the world for the good of their neighbors. So I slowly began to rethink my position.

In recent weeks, Hurricane Ida has destroyed one of our churches and impacted many, many lives throughout New Orleans and across Louisiana and so many other places, too. In recent days we have seen our own government respond to those seeking a better life — people camped out under a bridge right here in Texas after spending 11 years journeying with the hope of a brighter future — by chasing down children and shipping folks back to a land they left behind long ago and likely won’t even recognize. And these two statements I have just made, overly simplistic as they are, barely scratch the surface of the challenges faced.

So we pray for somebody to do something about it. We hope it will get better. We shake our heads in disappointment and disgust. And maybe, just for a moment, we cry out to “God-of-the-angel-armies” to mobilize a squadron and make a change. But when we do all of these things we must remember what that means. Something the folks I served in that military church knew — we are the squadron we’re asking God to mobilize. And it is God’s desire that we get with the program and be the change we seek in the world! Prayer works best when we put our own feet beneath it.

I am heading to New Orleans next week to survey damage, meet with our pastors and churches, and begin to seek God’s vision for what happens next. And today I put my name and office on a letter crafted by our Justice and Witness Ministries office in Washington, DC, to ask the administration to rethink its present course on the refugee crisis here in Texas. 

I will, in ways that I can, put my feet beneath my prayers. What about you? We are going to need, at some point soon, teams to go into Louisiana and help rebuild — both the walls of our own churches and the walls of our neighbors, too. Will you join me in that effort? If so, email me. And we need more to participate in the work of this letter, to lend the voices of our United Church of Christ, laity and pastors alike, to call out for justice. If that voice is yours, you can read the letter here and sign it here

Let’s put feet beneath our prayers and be the squadron of hope and healing we pray for.

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

Cathedral of Hope Dallas Acquires Believe Out Loud

Submitted by Rev. Neil Thomas, Senior Pastor COH

Cathedral of Hope Acquires Believe Out Loud, aGlobal Digital Project Providing Resources and Community for LGBTQIA People of Faith and Allies

Believe Out Loud will become a Cathedral program that will expand the church’s community and increase tailored content

DALLAS, Texas (September 14, 2020) – Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ, known as the largest predominantly LGBTQ+ church in the world, is pleased to announce the acquisition of, and partnership with, Believe Out Loud. Believe Out Loud will become a program of the Cathedral that will promote the message of God’s love for all, regardless of faith tradition. 

As a new program of Cathedral of Hope, Believe Out Loud’s mission is to meet the needs for spiritual content tailored to the LGBTQIA community. These resources will go beyond tolerance and acceptance and use the LGBTQIA experience as a framework for understanding the divine.

“In the face of constant efforts to squeeze people who are different out of public space, it is critical to remain grounded in the deep faith that all people are worthy of God’s love,” said Rev. Dr. Neil G. Thomas, Senior Pastor of Cathedral of Hope. “We are excited to partner with Believe Out Loud to spread that message and be an affirming space for all people of faith and our allies.”

Started in 2007 as the Religious Voices Project, the original mission of Believe Out Loud was to determine where mainline Protestant clergy stand on gay and lesbian equality and assess methods to move more clergy toward LGBT acceptance. Believe Out Loud has since expanded its campaign from reaching exclusively mainline Protestant clergy to reaching Christians of all kinds, regardless of denomination, affiliation, or role.

Believe Out Loud now works internationally and digitally, having evolved to become an online community for LGBTQIA people of faith and allies. The organization provides access to affirming worship services and livestreams, LGBT and faith-related events, connections to justice and inclusion organizations, mental health resources, and original content.

Now operating under the the leadership of Cathedral of Hope, Believe Out Loud aspires to be a more diverse space, specifically working to unite people of various faiths and religious experiences to find hope and reclaim their own experience of the Divine. Victoria Anderson, former digital and creative content associate for Believe Out Loud, has now joined the staff of the Cathedral of Hope as Director of Content Development. “The Board and Staff of Believe Out Loud conducted a thorough and national search, including most major national LGBTQ nonprofits, to find the perfect home for our future. We are thrilled that the new home proved to be Cathedral of Hope, and I’m excited to join the Reverend Neil and the incredible staff of Cathedral.” 

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