Our Heart of Texas Association Spring Meeting will be on Saturday, April 4th, at Weimar UCC.  Registration starts at 10:30 am with the meeting beginning at 11.  We will start with worship in the sanctuary and then move to lunch and our meeting in the Weimar church’s fellowship hall. We anticipate having people go through the lunch line right after worship, so we can eat and meet at the same time.   Our offering will go to donate to provide supplies to those living outdoors at the border in Matamoros awaiting asylum.  We will be accepting money and supplies (list of items needed to be distributed later) to be sent down on a trip that United Christian is making later this spring.  Those who wish to stay a bit after the meeting are welcome to help sort donated supplies. All paperwork (agendas, reports, and other paperwork we have handed out in the past) will be posted on the Heart of Texas Association website, http://hotaucc.org/, the week before the meeting. In order to save paper, we ask that people download these from the website, as we will have only a few copies.

      At our meeting, we anticipate discussion and a vote on whether to support the formation of a conference-wide fitness review committee.  A fitness review, in the United Church of Christ, is a serious and demanding process that takes place when the fitness of a minister for ministry is brought into question, usually due to a serious accusation.  At this time, fitness reviews are held at the Association level by our Committee on Ministry, which has the general task of oversight of ministers in the UCC.  When a fitness review occurs, Committee on Ministry members have to be trained in the process, members must recuse themselves if they are close to the person who is the subject of the review, a trained team must be sent to interview people close to the situation, and there are other demanding aspects of the process. During the time of the fitness review, the other tasks of the Committee on Ministry need to continue and, as in any situation where there is a problem of this sort, it is difficult to get work done.  Some other Conferences have moved fitness reviews to a Conference level committee, which allows a group to be “on call” with ongoing training and without other ministry oversight tasks to handle. At our Association Meeting, we will be deciding whether to support this initiative, and our meeting is scheduled in time to give our answer to the Conference Board at its April meeting as they prepare for a possible decision at the South Central Conference Annual Meeting in June.  In addition, we anticipate discussion on a few proposed changes to the Conference bylaws.

   We also anticipate having either one or two Ecclesiastical Councils, following ordination interviews for one or more candidates to be held at the Committee on Ministry’s meeting on Tuesday, March 31st.  I will be sending out the information on Ecclesiastical Councils to our churches and ministers as soon we can on March 31st, and we will be posting the relevant ordination papers on our website as soon as possible.

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      Finally,  on Sunday, February 16th, the Friends Congregational Church Choir sang the Requiem by John Rutter in Carnegie Hall in New York City as part of the Distinguished Concerts Orchestra and Singers Series.  I had the privilege of hearing this inspiring and beautiful concert, along with several folks from Friends.  Congratulations, Friends choir! 

Blessings in Christ, Liz Nash, Association Minister