Category: Faith UCC News and Comments (Page 2 of 30)

A Note From Pastor Carla

I’ve been asked to share the transcript of my sermon from October 9th based on 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c.

Thank you for being a church that demonstrates to ALL that there is a God in New Braunfels!!


No person is one thing. 

The one you discount or roll your eyes at will then humble and surprise you by saying or doing something profound and deep and beautiful. 

The one you respect and adore will say or do something equally surprising but in the opposite direction and let you down, disappointing or even hurting you. 

No person is one thing. At our best, we are all wonderful. At our worst, we all have the capacity to really blow it in unimaginable ways. 

It’s messy living in this world with others, and with ourselves. 

Especially now when we are all more than a little crispy, living with the lingering and as yet unresolved trauma and grief of a world torn apart by the pandemic, violence, and the perversion of politics and religion to harm and divide rather than heal and unite. 

Naaman was called a “great man” and did great things to protect and serve his country. And he suffered with his own afflictions of body (leprosy) and spirit (pride and a fragile sense of self).

And in his service to HIS country, had decimated the country and lives of others, including the young girl from Israel whom he had captured and enslaved. 

If you’ll notice, we were not given her name. She was female. She was a held captive. She was made to serve her captors who had destroyed her country and likely killed her family, friends, and neighbors. 

She had EVERY reason to hate Naaman and wish him ill, to relish in his pain and delight in his suffering from leprosy. 

But she had the love of God in her to see the suffering of another human. Perhaps she even had the wisdom to see that if Naaman found healing, and even found it in the God of Israel, then maybe, just maybe, it would help bring peace between and for the two countries. 

Sure enough, when all was said and done, Naaman had the humility and change of heart to say, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel.”

Each country had their own culture and beliefs and their own gods and religions. The nation of Aram was no different. 

Everyone thought their gods were better and most often despised the beliefs and practices and gods of others. 

After being born and raised in Northeast Texas and doing my education and living and working there my whole life, I finally got to my Mecca, my Holy Land, my safe space of Austin. 

I joked that I had paid my dues living east of what’s known as the Pine Cone Curtain of Interstate 45 and once I finally got to the relative safety of more liberal and accepting Austin, that I would be drug out of that town kicking and screaming. 

And so I lived there, where I felt mostly included and accepted, for 17 years. It was a breath of fresh air and gave me much healing. 

My neurochemistry always felt on high alert in Northeast Texas as a gay female in such a patriarchal, misogynistic, and homophobic culture where crude comments and jokes and sneers and even threats were common. 

When I left Austin to go back east for work or to visit family or friends, I would spend the whole drive back to Austin holding my breath and saying to myself, “It’s not a mirage. Austin is real. You’ll be back with your people again, soon.”

I joked that I would go straight to Whole Foods and hug the first person with tattoos and dreads smelling of patchouli, or biracial couple, or drag queen that I saw and say, “My people! I’m back with my people!”

And then, an amazing and progressive little church I knew and loved in an equally conservative town as the ones I came from, called me to come serve for a time as an interim pastor and to consider staying longer. 

New Braunfels is a beautiful city with its own rich culture and heritage. The rivers and landscape appeal to my love of the outdoors. The quality of the music and incredible food and festivals cannot be denied. 

And then there’s you. I already knew and loved this church, having preached here over the years when Pastor Scott was away. I knew many of you from being in the same conference and then association of the UCC. 

I knew and loved your passion for justice, your legacy of service to those without enough food or shelter, your intentional making of space for those who felt safe in no other house of worship or for immigrants seeking to make their way as a stranger in a strange land, your creativity, your love of the outdoors and photography, environmental justice, and all forms of activism at the local and national levels for decades.  

As we worked to learn to serve together, I came to love you even more. And that love increases all the time. 

And. With the politics of this town, with the sneers and jokes and comments and fear that comes from being different here, with the founders of the Trump train and others STILL spreading untruths and riling up division and angst against the freedoms and rights and safety of others…it has been a struggle for me to let go of my safe space in Austin and embrace this town with so many who do not embrace me, or anyone different.

Please hear me. I do NOT mean to disparage this town that many of you have been born and raised in and raise families in and have served in and have amazing memories of and people and schools and neighbors whom you adore!!!

We have our own Aram and Israel conflicts here. “Keep Austin Weird” the bumper stickers and t-shirts say. “Keep New Braunfels Normal” say others. 

Some would hear, before I moved here this past spring, that I was from Austin, and say longingly, “Ohhhhh, Austin!!!” and others would say with raised eyebrow and grimace, “Oh, Austin!”

But as I’ve worked with the big-hearted people of the homeless coalition and folks from Connections Individual and Family Services and the Comal County Crisis Center and Serve Spot and Family Promise and the SOS Food bank and the McKenna Foundation and Riverside Pride and met Mayor Rusty and members of City Council and other city leaders and folks from the MLK Association and the IDEA Forum and members of other more progressive faith communities like St John’s and Unity and New Braunfels UU, and even purplish ones like Peace Lutheran and New Braunfels Presbyterian and saw their thirst for making room for everyone in this town, and I could not help but be impressed and fall in love with them as siblings also seeking peace and justice in an area where it can often feel impossible. 

And Father Rip from St. John’s Episcopal and Pastor Jake from Peace Lutheran say, “Let’s start getting together as progressive pastors and talk about ways we can work more together and bring others who are ready to work with us along”

And Ripp says, “Our people were so moved by what y’all at Faith did with the Interfaith Pride Worship Service that we want to host it next year”. 

And Jake reaches out to invite us to their Ecumenical Thanksgiving Worship Service this year (November 17th) and to talk about getting us into the rotation with other purplish congregations to host one year soon even though they know how very blue we are in our beliefs. 

And city leaders speak with deep and tremendous respect for our congregation for even considering possibly using our property to help families living with housing insecurity and say they wish other churches in the area would follow suit. 

And I see you donning your new bright blue Faith Church t-shirts and showing up to represent at the City-Wide Worship Service, and the SOS Food Bank, and Pride Events, and speak Thursday night at a Texas Gun Sense event, and write articles in the paper about environmental faithfulness, and loving on our church grounds and property and finances and tech to make sure others can access a loving word of God even from their homes and states away, and loving on our children and youth and teaching them that faith means following Jesus in working for economic justice by paying off incredibly unjust and predatory medical debt, and providing music and other leadership for worship to make folks feel welcome and lifted up and loved, and showing up at the Habitat Restore and Habitat Home Build working alongside others to serve and be an alternative Christian voice in so many ways. 

And I see the ways that this church is helping to be a connector of people in peace and a unifier for justice and I have even more hope and feel even safer in this town. 

I’ve been told that the local Ministerial Alliance would not be a great place for me as a female pastor, especially not a gay one with a fo-hawk and biker boots. And my presence makes even many of the more evangelical and fundamentalist clergy at the Serve Spot ministers prayer breakfasts hold their breaths. 

But then one pulls me aside and says, “I believe more like you and the people of Faith Church do, but my congregation doesn’t. Let’s grab coffee and talk about how I can slowly bring them along.”

And another says, “Can we have lunch some time and talk about ways I can disagree with homosexuality as God’s plan but not do harm to people in the process?” 

Oh, you bet, brother, we can talk about that!!

And a social Justice class from St. John’s reaches out to ask me to speak to their class about what we believe about issues of social Justice and why to help stretch them further past their comfort zones. 

And I see Yesenia on stage as a openly gay woman who is like a local Ellen Degeneres with people who adore her and her musical gifts and get to wrap their heads around, “How can I hate this lesbian who brings me so much joy” and who creates safe space at her gigs because folks who are different go there knowing that no one will mess with them because she will see if from on stage and with a nod to management would make sure nothing bad happens. And folks are joyful and dancing and meld together   united by a common love for her music and spirit and even just for a little while forget to feel weird dancing next to a lesbian o gay couple dancing together next to them. And she says, “Baby, we’re doing it. We’re helping bring people together.”

And then I go to the rapidly growing Libbie Ladies Happy Hour where women and even now men will come and they will get choked up and say, “I THOUGHT I WAS ALONE!!!! I HAD GIVEN UP HOPE. LOOK AT ALL THESE PEOPLE who believe like I do about inclusion and equal rights and equal access and caring for each other and our planet!! I’M NOT ALONE!”

And then the organizer, Terri Truitt, whom many know as Lulu, drags me around to introduce me LOUDLY as the pastor of Faith Church and tells them all about us and they are stunned—after they get past their moment of panic that a pastor is there—and then they are impressed to know that there is a prophetic church in Israel…and they want to know more. 

Then Friday night at that event a woman reaches across the potatoe skins and margaritas at a table at the Hideaway and grabs my hand desperately and with tears coming down her face says, “You and your people at Faith give me hope. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!” And she places her hands together in a sign of deep respect and says, “Namaste”. 

And that means, “The divine in me sees the divine in you.”

No person is one thing. 

Not a pastor who preaches that homosexuality is a sin. 

Not a group of women who detest and fear churches because of the ways they have perverted Christianity and sought to impose a warped version of it into laws that strip them and their daughters and their granddaughters of their rights and safety.  

Not a highly imperfect redheaded pastor who can say too much too strongly despite my best intentions and can often be not my best self.

Nor the local family who are selling lies and fear and “Biden is the Wurst” W. U. R. S. T. t-shirts to pay for their legal fees for running the Biden campaign bus off the road near the exit to our church. 

No person is one thing. 

No town is one thing. Even as I’ve wrestled with my own fears of often feeling like I’ve stepped back in time about 30 years, back behind the Pine Cone Curtain of Northeast Texas that was SUCH an oppressive place for me, I’ve thought often, “I don’t want to be like Jonah getting swallowed by a big fish or sitting grumpily under a withered gourd tree refusing God’s command to him to go to Ninevah, the city of HIS oppressors because he knows if he tells them of God’s love they will turn toward God and change and he doesn’t want the ones who have killed his family and his people and his country to be saved. 

And I’ve thought of this story. And I’ve thought of all the unnamed servant girls I’ve met seeking to bring about change so no one in this town feels alone or feels left out. 

And I’ve thought of you, who have chosen to put down roots here and to, like God told Jeremiah, “seek the welfare of this city”. 

How can I not fall even MORE in love with you for that?

Because of the grace and faithfulness and compassion of a kidnapped, enslaved, unnamed servant girl who dared to be an evangelist—one who bring the Good News of a God of healing—Naaman says, “Now I KNOW that there is a God in Israel”.

Because of our faithfulness to answer God’s call, because of our compassion even for those who consider themselves our enemies, even for those whose beliefs and votes and actions seek to oppress and enslave us and others, we can be, we ARE, the evangelists who will spread love and connection and justice and peace and HEALING…

And cause people to say, “Now we KNOW that there is a God in New Braunfels.”

In and through us, led by God’s UNFAILING grace and wasteful love poured out on EVERYONE in this city, and then the world…God grant that it may be so. 

AMEN 

Coming Events and Announcements

Theology on Tap—Sunday October 16th 4 – 7pm at Hill Country Tap 5441 FM 1102 New Braunfels in the top pavilion area that will be reserved for us.  Food and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages available.  Come early to get food and get settled so we can begin our conversation at 4:30pm!


Realm Support—Sunday October 16th after worship.  Download the Realm Connect app on your phone or iPad and let other members help you activate your Realm account and learn to navigate around to stay in touch with your Faith family through prayer requests, events, special projects, and more.


Faithful Praise rehearsal—Monday Oct. 17th 7:15pm All welcome!


Youth Missional Giving—Help support Faith Church Youth as they raise money to wipe out predatory and unjust medical debt for families in need in Texas.  They will be in the Narthex each Sunday through December 11th offering coffee, cocoa, and cider for donations.  Our current goal is $400 and we raised $85 our first Sunday.  For each dollar they raise, RIP Medical Debt can pay off approximately $100 in medical debt, meaning we can help pay off $4000 of medical bills for families before Christmas.  Go to https://ripmedicaldebt.org/campaign/texas/faith1957? to learn more about and give to our campaign.


Souper Supper WednesdaysBeginning NEXT Wednesday, Oct 19th, 6-7pm and occurring every other Wednesday through December 14th…Come for food, fellowship, and learning around various topics led by Pastor Carla and Lisa Newman.

Our first topic will be on Love Languages and an introduction to Attachment Styles that can help or hurt our relationships. (Take the Love Language quiz here to learn yours: https://5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/love-language)

We’ll gather and get our food from 6:00 – 6:15p then hold our discussion from 6:15 – 7:00p. One soup will be vegan and grain free. The other will be fully loaded. Bring sides or snacks to compliment the meal if you wish (but not required) and your own beverage.

These sessions will be Zoomed but not recorded or broadcast on social media.  Use the regular Sunday worship zoom link to join us virtually at https://us04web.zoom.us/j/586745671?pwd=aG0wUnZTR3NIKzBXUXp1Vkh2KzJXQT09

Meeting ID: 586 745 671
Password: 008518

Series Topics:
11/2 Myers Briggs—empathy and understanding for others types and our own while not excusing behavior
11/16 Crucial Conversations
11/30 Boundaries/passive aggression v aggression, shame vs guilt
12/14 Blue Christmas—Worthiness, not alone, holiday blues, prepping to be around relatives—more of a simple service with communion

Please RSVP to Pastor Carla or Lisa Newman so we will know how much soup to make. Should this event be well-attended, we will consider adding a mid-week mini-worship service in the near future.


55+ Social at the Robinsons’ home—Oct 23rd. The 55 Plus Group will meet on Sunday, October 23, 2022 at Charlie and Pam Robinson’s home. We plan to gather on their deck at 1:30 pm. RSVP Pam Robinson at pamr292@yahoo.com for directions and to let her know what finger snack food you might bring.

Parking is very limited so it is suggested we arrange to carpool from the church parking lot gathering about 1 pm.


OTHER DATES TO REMEMBER:

Faith Church 2023 Stewardship Pledge Campaign coming in November
Slumber Falls S’mores Roast—Nov 4th 6-9pm
Thanksgiving Potluck after worship Nov 13th
Ecumenical Thanksgiving Worship at Peace Lutheran Church—Nov 17th 6:30pm
Monthly Youth Gathering—Nov 6th

Pastor Carla’s Installation Sunday December 11th 3:00pm

No-Rehearsal Christmas Pageant December 18th during worship

Welcome New Members to Faith Church!

Our church family continues to grow!!!

We’ve recently received these new members:
Karen Perry
The Blankenship Family
The Fox-Newman Family

Each of these are already jumping into the swing of things and pitching in to support the work and mission of Faith Church to bring peace, healing, and justice to all of God’s created. 

Please help us welcome them all and be watching this space in coming newsletters for more information about each of them! Please continue reading to learn a little about new member Karen Perry and welcome to everyone!


My name is Karen Perry.

I was fortunate to be raised in a loving Baptist home and church. I drifted away from church in my 20’s because my life was taking me on a path that diverged from Baptist beliefs. I have always had a relationship with God. I believe that God loves everyone, in an all encompassing way that would boggle our minds if we could fully understand and see. I am learning so many things in life and I am a perpetual “work in progress”. I have a wonderful career as a Nurse Practitioner and I am very blessed with my job. Faith UCC is the first place I have felt fully loved as I am and no matter who I love.


SPECIAL CALLED CONGREGATIONAL MEETING

Council has been working hard to coordinate the repair of our roof and other portions of our property in need of attention. 

All members are requested to attend a Special Called Congregational Meeting after worship November 6th to discuss and vote on our options for what repairs to make, raising funds, and taking out a loan to cover the costs. 

Be watching for more information on the options to be discussed and make plans to attend and lend your voice and vote to this important part of being good stewards of all God has given us.

NOMINATIONS FOR 2023 CHURCH COUNCIL BEING SOUGHT

Image Credit: Salt House Church

As our congregation grows, so do our leadership needs.  We will have 2 spots open on Council for 2023.  If you would like to be considered or suggest someone else for consideration, please contact a member of Council.  Council is also discussing whether to:

Option 1) develop a Programs Sub-Committee to oversee our day to day ministries (worship, fellowship, mission, pastoral care, outreach, Christian education, fellowship, outreach, etc.) which will allow Council to focus on administrative tasks (staffing and HR, stewardship and finance, building and grounds, etc.) OR

Option 2) ask the congregation to vote to change our Constitution to allow for a larger Council (from the current 6 to 10-12 Council members) that will be organized with half focusing on Programs and half focusing on Administration.

Eventually, the ideal Council will be organized like Option 2, with various Teams (a.k.a. Committees) doing research, planning, and making recommendations for Council to vote upon in both areas (Programs and Administration) rather than Council doing all the legwork and implementation.

Please prayerfully consider how God might be calling you to participate in supporting the life and ministry of Faith Church through service on our Teams and even by taking a 2-year seat on Council.

Youth Missional Giving

Help support Faith Church Youth as they raise money to wipe out predatory and unjust medical debt for families in need in Texas. 

They will be in the Narthex each Sunday through December 11th offering coffee, cocoa, and cider for donations. 

Our current goal is $400 and we raised $85 our first Sunday.  For each dollar they raise, RIP Medical Debt can pay off approximately $100 in medical debt, meaning we can help pay off $4000 of medical bills for families before Christmas. 

Go to https://ripmedicaldebt.org/campaign/texas/faith1957? to learn more about and give to our campaign.

Souper Supper Wednesdays Beginning October 19th 6-7pm

Beginning NEXT Wednesday, Oct 19th, 6-7pm and occurring every other Wednesday through December 14th…Come for food, fellowship, and learning around various topics led by Pastor Carla and Lisa Newman.

Our first topic will be on Love Languages and an introduction to Attachment Styles that can help or hurt our relationships. (Take the Love Language quiz here to learn yours: https://5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/love-language)

We’ll gather and get our food from 6:00 – 6:15p then hold our discussion from 6:15 – 7:00p. One soup will be vegan and grain free. The other will be fully loaded. Bring sides or snacks to compliment the meal if you wish (but not required) and your own beverage.

These sessions will be Zoomed but not recorded or broadcast on social media.  Use the regular Sunday worship zoom link to join us virually at https://us04web.zoom.us/j/586745671?pwd=aG0wUnZTR3NIKzBXUXp1Vkh2KzJXQT09

Meeting ID: 586 745 671
Password: 008518

Series Topics:
11/2 Myers Briggs—empathy and understanding for others types and our own while not excusing behavior
11/16 Crucial Conversations
11/30 Boundaries/passive aggression v aggression, shame vs guilt
12/14 Blue Christmas—Worthiness, not alone, holiday blues, prepping to be around relatives—more of a simple service with communion

Please RSVP to Pastor Carla or Lisa Newman so we will know how much soup to make. Should this event be well-attended, we will consider adding a mid-week mini-worship service in the near future.

Big Serve 2022 Recap

Many thanks to the 20+ Faith folx who participated in the Second Annual Citywide Big Serve Weekend!!  Thanks, also, to Lisa Newman for her servant leadership in coordinating us. 

It was a beautiful day and our bright blue t-shirts were certainly noticed.  Read more about what we helped accomplish through our support of Serve Spot and news for their events in the coming year.


Aren’t these beautiful pictures? These are two of many stories that make Big Serve Weekend so significant. One photo shows a Meals on Wheels client chatting with a Big Serve Weekend volunteer about how he can pray for her. The other is a painting of hope for our mental health facility. This weekend was a gift to the thousands of clients that YOU served throughout the New Braunfels area but also a blessing to the 1100+ volunteers that served at 60 project sites around town. God has you planted in new Braunfels for the flourishing of the city and this weekend was a great example of that!

A few highlights from Big Serve Weekend: 

  • Our city took notice and we made front page news.
  • 4000+ hours of service from 20 local congregations and neighbors
  • 3 schools beautified and teachers blessed with baskets of love
  • 500+ encouragement cards written to our police, teachers, nurses, and elderly
  • Housing, storage, and service areas cleaned or transformed for victims of sexual assault, homeless, foster kids, hungry families, and more!Error! Unknown switch argument.
  • Dozens of parks, landmarks, homes, and nonprofits beautified, renewed and restored
  • 14 nonprofits received thousands of dollars of in-kind donations
  • 100s of mastectomy pillow patterns prepared for patients 
  • 1 birthday cake shared with volunteers while they beatified the yard.

What does God want to do with a unified Church that can never be done by just one congregation? 

We saw that question being answered all weekend long. We see it happening through Serve Spot all year long.
And we will keep asking that question and praying God will do more than we could ever ask or imagine through all 80 congregations…the Church of New Braunfels! Want to join in? See dates below to get started!

Mark your calendars: 

  • New Braunfels Pastors Prayer Gathering (see graphic for dates)
  • Big Serve Weekend 2023 October 14-15, 2023 (always the second weekend of October) 

Thanks for working toward unity of the NB Church, 
Kim and the The Big Serve Planning Team

Fall Association Meeting

The Heart of Texas Association’s Executive Committee invites all authorized ministers and congregations to our Fall Association Meeting on November 12th at Weimar United Church of Christ at 10 am.

The agenda is still being developed but plan on at least the following and if you have other items please send to the HOTA Moderator, Carl Schwartz-King.

  • Ministerial Standings in the Manual on Ministry
  • State of Associations in the Conferences
  • Ecclesiastical Council

There will be a virtual option but we strongly encourage those who can attend to attend onsite!

Season of Change

Friends in Christ,

Believe it or not, Fall is here! The temperatures may not indicate the change in season but the plethora of pumpkin-spice products available won’t let us forget.

And just as the seasons change, September continued to be a season of change and transition for many of our congregations. Most congregations continue to move forward with onsite offerings for their members while at the same time continue to minister and be in relationship with those who need/want to remain online. The creativity and ways in which local congregations are staying connected and willing to do things in new ways is inspiring.

Continuing with the theme of changes in seasons, a few of our clergy/congregations are going through some significant changes/transitions:

  • Rolling Hills Christian Church called a new settled minister, Reverend Rachael McConnell.
  • Rev. Crystal Silva-McCormick has ended her call at Church of the Savior in Cedar Park.
  • Friedens in Washington continues their discernment of whether, or not, to remain in the United Church of Christ.
  • Rev. Ryan Hart and Open Cathedral are taking some intentional time of discernment (a practice we all might consider from time to time)

We hold each other in prayer as we all find ourselves in this in between time. Specifically, we hold those churches that are in the various phases of search and call/interim/transitional work (Rolling Hills Christian Church, Trinity Church of Austin, Congregational Church of Austin, Church of the Savior, St. Peter’s UCC Coupland, and Faith UCC New Braunfels).

Change is inevitable and consistent, but together we can support one another through whatever changes may come our way.

So glad to be on the journey with you!

~ Rev. Nikki Stahl, Heart of Texas Association Minister

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2023

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑