Category: Faith UCC News and Comments (Page 1 of 5)

The U…C…What?!

The U…C…What?!  For those not familiar with us, it can be a little confusing!:

               “Oh, yeah…You’re Unity, right?”    Nope.  We share their focus on community, positivity, and education, but that’s not us. 

            “So, then, you’re the Unitarians?”   Nuh uh.  We share their value of other religions and spiritual paths, but that’s not us.

            We are the United Church of Christ. 

            “Wait!  You mean the ones who don’t use music instruments or allow women to preach?”   Nope.  While we love our conservative brothers and sisters (and man, can they sing!), we are waaaaayyy on the other end of the political and theological spectrum.

            The United Church (pause here) of Christ, is a Protestant (like Methodists and Lutherans) denomination that began when 4 denominations united in 1957.  There are tons of us in the Midwest, Northeast, West Coast, Hawaii (yes, please!), and we’re growing in the South. 

            We’re about as far left as you can go and still be considered Christian.  Our Unitarian friends affectionately joke the UCC stands for “Unitarians Considering Christ” because we are similar, just with a much heavier emphasis on Jesus (as Trinitarians, we’re big fans of the Holy Spirit, too!)

The UCC is a mainstream Christian denomination with deep roots in social justice, peace movements, activism, and support for the environment. Our ancestors were educators, abolitionists, civil rights and healthcare advocates, and folks of radical love and extravagant welcome.

            We ordained the first openly gay man in 1972, voted to affirm full rights and participation in the Church and society for transgender persons in 2003, and became the first mainline Christian denomination to support equal marriage rights for all in 2005. 

            We’re relatively light on dogma; extremely light on judgment (we try hard never to be but, hey, we’re human); and heavy on standing with people Jesus hung out with—those cast to the margins by society, those treated as any way less than, and those oppressed (like Dr. King, we even try to love the gremlins in our own and others’ hearts that lead us to oppress others).

            We often say, “Jesus didn’t turn anyone away, and neither do we.”  Micah 6:8—seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God—sums up what we seek to do, pretty well.  We’re imperfect, ever-growing, and try to have a hella lotta fun together along the way.  So, come hang out awhile, let us love on ya, and see if maybe we, and the UCC, are for you.

Peace, Pastor Carla

Thank you from Pastor Scott

Thank You!

     Let me say once again that is has been an honor, a privilege and a blessing to serve as pastor of Faith UCC in New Braunfels these last 15 years.  Thank you very much for all your cards, kind words, gifts and well wishes over Christmas and for my retirement!  I would like to thank all those who made my retirement send off possible.  Doing this over zoom and not in person complicated all of this.  I love the memory book!  A great deal of work went into it.  What a surprise to see letters and cards not only from the members of Faith UCC but also former conference ministers and even my Old Testament professor from seminary!  I would also like to thank the church for the very generous check.  Once we are able to travel again I will put that to good use and will think of you all and remember the many years we have journeyed together here at Faith UCC.

    I wish Faith UCC and each of you individually all the best as our paths diverge for awhile.  May God be with you. 

Grace and Peace, Pastor Scott

Introducing the Faith UCC, New Braunfels designated term Pastor: Rev. Dr. Carla Cheatham

After thoughtful and prayerful consideration, it is with great pride and much anticipation that I, on behalf of the Interim Pastor Committee and the Church Council, announce the selection of our church’s Designated Term Pastor — Rev. Dr. Carla Cheatham. Rev. Cheatham was one of three applicants for the position and was unanimously approved by both the Committee and the Council. Rev. Cheatham comes to us with many unique qualities and gifts that I am sure will serve us well starting January 1, 2021.

A word about Designated Term vs. Interim Pastor. We consulted regularly with our Interim Conference Minister, Campbell Lovett, and he was helpful in describing the pros and cons of each expression of ministry. We chose Rev. Cheatham as Designated Term Pastor for Faith UCC in part because, while an Interim Pastor cannot be considered for the Settled Pastor position, in certain circumstances, such as the ones we face now at Faith, a Designated Term Pastor can be considered for that position. A designated term pastor also has additional specific goals and objectives than an interim pastor, and we believe the goals that focus on community engagement and membership growth will better serve our church.  Carla is well-suited to help us realize our goals. Thus, we would like to keep our options open about a settled position. For instance, we all agree that we would not be well served if, after 12 months of Carla’s help and guidance to grow and revitalize, we started over again with a new pastor and began another pastoral transition. The Pastoral Search Committee will meet in early 2021 to update the Local Church Profile and perform other assignments typical to the Search and Call process. When the time comes, this committee with input from Rev. Cheatham, will determine if she will be considered for the settled position or if the position will be posted. We will be looking for one or two members to fill vacancies on the committee.

Rev. Cheatham made a short video of introduction to our church, that I have included in this letter. Please take a moment to watch. We hope you will be as impressed with her ideas and plans for Faith UCC as the committee was when we first viewed it. 

Click here to watch the video

We are grateful to Pastor Scott for his ministry that has created such a strong base for our church. We are thankful to congregation members for your commitment to Faith. We look forward to building upon all this positive momentum as we prepare to enter a New Year!

Michael Ziegler, Moderator

Special Committees Named

Early in the summer of 2020, the Church Council named three committees to give leadership to special needs of the congregation.  

The first is IN-PERSON WORSHIP COMMITTEE and the members are Mary Owen, Judith James and Jim Gossett.

The second is PASTORAL RETIREMENT AND CELEBRATION COMMITTEE and the members are Carol Sisco-Martinez, Jan Ziegler, and Sheila Angerer.

The third is the INTERIM PASTOR SEARCH COMMITTEE with membership of Miki Ward, Beth Bizer, Kyle Kramm and Jena Wendel. 

These committees did important work for this epidemic and pastoral transition time.  The Council and congregation express deep appreciation for the care and leadership given by these persons.  So a big THANK YOU to each of you.

A brief description of the work of each committee.

IN-PERSON WORSHIP COMMITTEE

They identified a number of mitigation conditions needing to be enacted for safe in-person worship such as   sanitizing, wearing masks, maintaining 6’ distancing, temperature checks, and not attend if feeling ill or been near others that tested positive.     It was also identified there would be no in-person worship if the local new positive cases numbers exceeded a 7 day average of 30.  Arrangements were made for virtual worship. The Committee continues to monitor the numbers and will recommend resuming in-person worship based on local new cases.

PASTORAL RETIREMENT AND CELEBRATION COMMITTEE

This committee task was to find appropriate ways, during this Covid 19 time, to rightfully celebrate the 15 years of Pastor Scott’s ministry.  They have invited the congregation to share their remembrances, given financial gifts to Family Promise and Slumber Fall camp in his honor, presented him with personal gifts and will conclude during his retirement Sunday, December 27 worship service with a litany celebrating his ministry and releasing him of his pastoral duties.  

INTERIM PASTORAL SEARCH COMMITTEE

This Committee was tasked with finding Pastoral leadership for Faith Church upon Pastor Scot’s retirement.  Working closely with the South Central Conference Minister, the committee determined the kind and scope of leadership necessary, reviewed and interviewed a number of available candidates, and prepared a Designated Term Ministry Covenant.  The candidate and agreement will be announced soon.

The Council thanks the congregation for their faithfulness during this health crisis and transition time.

Faith UCC Confirmation 2020

Confirmation November 15, 2020

Ava Perry and family
Adam Gossett and family
Fischer and Hayes Marlow with the Marlow family

It was a strange confirmation year, one all who participated in will remember!  All our sessions were on zoom and on confirmation Sunday we all had to wear masks during the service and wipe down the podium but some things remained the same.  Adam, Ava, Fischer and Hayes all took part of the UCC Statement of Faith and gave their take on it.  They did a fantastic job!  All four of these young people have many gifts and talents to express and share with their families, church and community.  I look forward to seeing what  they do as they continue on their life’s journey.   Congratulations and Blessings to Adam, Ava, Fischer and Hayes!

Pictures from confirmation Sunday, courtesy of Michael Inman.

Fischer & Hayes Marlow Receive Boy Scout P.R.A.Y. Badges

The UCC, in partnership with Scouts BSA, participates in the Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (P.R.A.Y.).  Fischer and Hayes’ work in their confirmation class met the requirements for the God and Church emblem.      According to the P.R.A.Y booklet, the P.R.A.Y. award features a four-colored cross.  The four colors converge into a point to create an “X” at the center of the cross.  “X” is the first letter in the Greek word for Christ, and it is symbolic of how Christ should be at the center of our lives.  The four colors correspond to the four levels in P.R.A.Y. for different age groups. The God and Church emblem has a blue-ribbon symbolizing loyalty and truth.  Pastor Scott presented the religious emblem on Dec. 10 and pinned the award on their Scout uniforms.

Congratulations to Fischer and Hayes!

Heart of Texas News

     On the fourth Sunday of November, I watched the Facebook link to the worship service at the Union Congregational United Church of Christ in Angels Camp, California.  The church is a small congregation in a rural town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.  My dear friend and mentor, Rev. Dr. Sally Smith, was being honored in celebration of the 50th anniversary of her ordination — an extraordinary milestone for anyone but even more so for a woman ordained in 1970.  I could not be there in person because of the distance and difficulty traveling now. I also could not be there because I live in an area where the COVID counts are extremely high and would be bringing that risk into an area with far lower case counts and, in the process, endangering a 90 year friend along with the congregation honoring her.  But the blessing was that I actually could be part of the congregation that day.  In this week of Thanksgiving as I write, I am so very grateful.

     I share my experience for two reasons.  First, to highlight the creative ways we have learned to bring people together in worship during this difficult year, and second, to encourage us to understand some of our differences.

     In our Association, our urban churches are meeting almost completely by Zoom, on YouTube, by Webex, or using a similar online platform.  These churches are all currently in high danger COVID areas. A few of these who have a good space for an outdoor service have taken the opportunity to worship once or twice in that way, while also putting up the cameras and microphones to include those who could not be present — quite a feat.  A few of our churches have worshipped in person for a short time, and then stopped when the COVID counts locally went up.  Several of our more rural churches have been meeting in person for quite a while.  These are in areas where the pandemic has not hit as hard or not much at all.  We have one church who broadcasts to cars outside via the car radio, and has met inside on and off as the local case counts went down and then back up. Other churches did drive-up services before beginning to meet in person.

     Our circumstances are different right now.  From listening to those I know and care about, I know sometimes these varying circumstances are hard to understand.  For those of us living in a large city, COVID is very present and gathering in a group is dangerous.  For those of us living in rural areas, COVID is not as present.  We are a diverse church in many ways, and this difference now in how we worship is part of that diversity. For me, I found a life-giving and creative bridge between two ways of doing church as my friend was honored last Sunday.  Thanks be to God for that bridge.  In this time of polarization in our society, I invite us to choose to appreciate each other.

     Our friends at Hope United in Georgetown have welcomed Rev. Remington Johnson as their designated pastor at this time of change for them. Rev. Johnson is a Presbyterian minister with substantial experience in hospice care and chaplaincy in the Austin area.  We offer our prayers and hope that her ministry with Hope United will be a faithful and enriching time.

Blessings in Christ, Liz Nash, Association Minister

Thank You From CUE Seminary Support

Your gift of $1,034 in 2019 and  $250.72 in 2020 is an affirmation of hope, and expression of God’s love that makes possible a seminary experience that will prepare the faith leaders of tomorrow to bring wisdom, healing, and creativity to the life of the Church. We invite you to give in 2021, your gift makes a huge difference in providing theological education.

    The CUE seminaries, Chicago, United and Eden, have responded to the challenges of 2020 with deepened commitment, expansive creativity, and nimble flexibility to ensure that our seminarians – your future pastors, counselors, community leaders, and ethical guides – continue to receive all that they need to become what is needed in a world that is being reshaped forever by the pandemic and all it has brought to light.

    Together, we are claiming a future of hope, born of the groanings, growth, and unexpected grace of these times.  We are grateful for your gift of partnership as we bring this hope to life for all our communities, and the world as God is bringing it into being.

     We encourage you to give through your conference office or directly to CUE.  If you have any questions or ideas, please be in touch with us at cue@vandersallcollective.com

Blessings, Rev. Cambell Lovett and Rev. Franz Rigert

Thank You From Back Bay Mission

Thank you for your generous gift to Back Bay Mission!  Your gift to Friends of the Mission makes it possible to meet the most urgent needs of the poor and marginalized of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Your gift is already at work strengthening neighborhoods, seeking justice, and transforming lives.  You’re helping a homeowner stay in their home, providing homeless families with apartments, making sure people have enough food, and giving people the support they need to make their lives better. Most importantly, your gift is making sure that Back Bay Mission is here to provide a safe and welcoming place for everyone who comes through our doors.  Thank you for partnering with us through your generous gift.  We – and those we serve – are ever grateful.  Grace and Peace, Rev. Alice Graham, Executive Director

Faith UCC Gift $129.68 11/5/20

Christmas Eve Service

Our annual Christmas Eve service will be on Thursday, December 24th at 5:30 p.m.  and 10:30 p.m.  Since we cannot gather in the sanctuary the service will be on zoom only.  You can use the same zoom link as on Sunday mornings.  The service will include candle lighting.  You can use any candles that you have around the house for this or if you wish stop by the church and pick up an “official” candlelight candle.  They will be on the pew outside the sanctuary door starting Sunday December 20th. 

    The sanctuary will be lit up with 50 luminaries.  Some very special music will be a part of this service. Be sure and view the service at 5:30 p.m.  or 10:30 p.m. December 24th.

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