Historically, the United States has released more global warming pollution than any other country, and it remains the world’s second highest emitter. With its immense wealth and power, what are the moral obligations of the U.S. in confronting the climate crisis? In short, what’s fair? Three leaders in the effort to address this question will present in this webinar: Sivan Kartha from the Stockholm Environment Institute, Jean Su from the Center for Biological Diversity, and Susannah Tuttle from North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light. Even if you can’t make the webinar’s scheduled time on Wednesday, April 14th, at 1 pm ET, still sign-up, and we will send you a recording of it.
I have written this article before. I have written this article a number of times before. Every time there is another incident of gun violence, I sit down to write this same article again. It is not the article you think it may be, about the need for our prayers for family members and friends who are devastated by the violence robbing them of loved ones. Though those prayers are needed. It is not the article where I call for us to comfort one another in the face of yet more casualties of gun violence. Though comforting is necessary. No, this is the article that asks, “When will we move beyond simply offering prayers and actually do something about the violence that runs rampant in our culture? When will the Christian church that follows the Prince of Peace, actually do something, say something that will make a difference in countering the violence so that we don’t have to pray for the families of the victims anymore?”
In this article that I have written before, the names of the cities are all that is different. Atlanta and Boulder now enter the lexicon of sites that have experienced deaths by gun violence. These names are added to the other names that just by mere mention call to mind tragic episodes of gun violence: Columbine, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Charleston to name just a few. However, there are hundreds of other places that only make the news for a split second that are reeling from their own encounters with gun violence. Small towns, large cities, churches, synagogues, mosques, family reunions, random street corners – all have been places where loved ones, family and friends are gunned down and the call for prayers ascends yet again.
Is there a unique role for Christians to counter gun violence? Those of us who seek to follow a Savior who himself was a victim of violence, what is it that we are called to do? At the risk of grossly oversimplifying the problem (and possible solutions), I humbly offer a few possibilities for our consideration
Hate appears to be a large factor in gun violence, where the shooting outwardly manifests an inner hate against someone else. We must counter this hate with a renewed focus on love for all people.
Young white males seem to be the majority of the perpetrators of gun violence. Can the church create or participate in programs that teach tolerance, understanding and acceptance for young males? Mentoring, Big Brothers, youth groups, scouting – at their best – offer some hope.
Isolation and individualism create a climate for gun violence. People may become more prone to seeking resolution by violence if left to their own devices. The church is all about building community, building relationships, resolving conflict, and encouraging transformation. What are some ways that your church can further build community and be a mediating presence – not just for members, but for all people?
Many of those who are prone to gun violence, like the rest of the population, have experienced mental health challenges. The Mental Health Network of the United Church of Christ has a great program that seeks to remove the stigma mental health problems often create, and truly welcome all to seek wholeness and wellness within a supportive and loving community. Can your congregation become a WISE congregation? Check out this toolkit: https://www.mhn-ucc.org/wise-congregation-toolkit/
I know that I will have to write this article again. I know that we will hear more calls for prayer and few calls for action. But I continue to hope that maybe this time will be different. I continue to hope that maybe our churches can be part of the answer – like that the prayer in the Book of Worship where we pray that “we might be a part of God’s answers to the cries of this world.” This time, may it be so.
With you on the journey, Campbell Lovett Interim Conference Minister South Central Conference, United Church of Christ
From SCC Weekly e-News Submitted by Campbell Lovett, SCC Interim Conference Minister
Southern Methodist University will host a Zoom Webinar with special guest, Ms. Bree Newsome. This event is free and open to the public. You may remember Ms. Newsome as the young woman who scaled a flagpole to remove the Confederate Flag from the South Carolina capitol after the Mother Emmanuel Church shooting in Charleston. Her address will be titled, “Tearing Hate from the Sky.” In the wake of recent gun violence against the Asian American community in Atlanta and the supermarket shootings in Boulder, this title seems sadly appropriate. Please see the attached brochure for more information.
With the final candidate for the Conference Minister position being brought forward by the by the CM Search Committee, and the SCC Board of Directors voting to affirm the Search Committee’s recommendation, we are pleased to invite you to the following:
Presentation of Rev. Phil Hodson to the Conference for a vote at a special meeting of the Conference on Saturday, April 17, 2021 at 10 am via Zoom. This communication serves as official notice to the Conference as outlined in the SCC Constitution (Article V Section 1) and Bylaws (Article 11 Sections 1 and 2). The only agenda item will be for Conference members to vote on the Conference Minister candidate, Rev. Phil Hodson.
**Please be sure to share with Conference members (authorized ministers and lay leaders from your churches) so that we can ensure that a quorum is present on April 17th for the Conference vote**
Rev. Hodson has provided an introduction statementfor the Conference so you can begin to learn more about him. Additionally, four meet-and-greets have been scheduled to allow the Conference to get to know Rev. Hodson before the vote on April 17th. The first meeting was held last night.
We encourage you to be present on one of the meetings (or all) listed below. The Zoom link is the same for all of the meet-and-greets and you can contact the Conference office if you need more information. They will also be recorded if you are unable to attend any session.
Sunday, March 28th at 2 – 3 pm
Wednesday, April 7th at 7 – 8 pm
Saturday, April 10th at 10 – 11 am
The purpose of the meet-and-greets is for Rev. Hodson to introduce himself, say a bit about his faith journey and share why he’s excited to serve as the SCC Conference Minister. If present, members of the Search Committee can also share why they felt called to name Rev. Hodson as the final candidate.
Speaking of the Conference Minister Search Committee, please be sure to thank members of this committee:
Rev. Vanessa Monroe (chair) Debra Joseph (VP of the BOD) Rev. Joshua Lawrence Rev. Neil Thomas Marilyn Reyes Cesar Baptista Arlene Turner Rev. Jacqueline Lamensky Bessie Griffin
They went above and beyond in their duties as part of this committee including conducting a mock interview to prepare, interviewing lots of candidates in first round interviews, and going on to more in depth interviews with four candidates before reaching a unanimous consensus. I have heard nothing but praises from Rev. Lee Albertson, who helped guide this team and from Rev. Hodson himself. They were organized, prepared and dedicated — asking hard questions and listening for God’s call. I look forward to celebrating them with the entire Conference soon.
If Rev. Hodson is affirmed as the SCC Conference Minister at the April 17th meeting, he will begin in this role around July 15th. This means that we will be transitioning to saying good-bye to our Interim Conference Minister, Rev. Campbell Lovett. Rev. Lovett will be around to help with this transition. We continue to be extremely grateful for Rev. Lovett and his leadership over the past year.
That is all that I have for now, but I look forward to seeing you all at the meet-and-greets and the called special meeting of the Conference on April 17th. I am really excited about the future of the South Central Conference and a little sad to be rolling off as President in June.
Peace and blessings, Rev. Nikki Stahl
From SCC Weekly e-News Submitted by Rev. Nikki Stahl
Lay leaders are needed to assist with the life and ministry of Faith Church. Please let Pastor Carla (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Pastoral Assistant, Janet Sherman (email@example.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!
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.
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/
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!
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.