It is with joy that I announce the ordination of Kerry Kirtley by the Heart of Texas Association on Pentecost Sunday, May 23rd, at Touchstone Community Church in Boerne at 10:30 am, as the church gathers again to worship in person for the first time since March, 2020. Kerry, who was approved for ordination last spring, is one of the two founding and current pastors of Touchstone, along with Billie Watts. She has waited to be ordained until it would be safe to meet. The church is working to have a hybrid service — online and in person — and we invite those of us who can be part of it to come and share in the celebration. Touchstone Community Church meets (in the past and when they reconvene) at Kronsky Place, 17 Old San Antonio Rd., Boerne, Texas. Look for the ordination news on their website, https://touchstonecc.org/.
At our Heart of Texas Association spring meeting, we held two Ecclesiastical Councils, voting during these to grant Privilege of Call in the United Church of Christ to Amelia Fulbright and Sid Hall. Privilege of Call is the process for bringing ordained ministers of a different denomination into full ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ. Amelia was ordained at First Baptist Church of Austin in 2007. She has served as the Associate Minister of University Baptist Church of Austin, as the Labyrinth Progressive Student Ministry founding minister, as sabbatical minister at Congregational Church of Austin, and (most recently) as the Designated Senior Minister at University Baptist Church during their transition time. Sid was ordained as an Elder in the United Methodist Church in 1986, has been the Lead Minister of Trinity Church of Austin (formerly Trinity United Methodist Church) since 1988, and serves on our Association Committee on Ministry. Sid is retiring from Trinity in July and will gain full standing in the UCC at that time. We welcome these two valued and respected colleagues to this new era in their ministries among us.
At our Association Meeting, Charles Stark and Campbell Lovett (our Interim Conference Minister) also educated those present about the possibility of a Unified Fitness Review Committee which would consist of members from all of the South Central Conference Associations and conduct clergy fitness reviews. These reviews occur when a complaint is raised about a clergy person that challenges their fitness to continue in ministry. Currently, these reviews are conducted by the Association Committee on Ministry. The purpose of having a Unified Committee would be to take the substantial burden of conducting fitness reviews off of the Association Committee to allow them to do the normal work they need to do. Our Committee on Ministry is still considering and doing “due diligence” to understand how a Unified Committee would work, and will bring this possibility back to the fall meeting for consideration.
We have two clergy and church transitions to share. Rene Slateper has been called to be the Designated Term Pastor at Hope United in Georgetown, officially beginning his ministry on Easter Sunday. He also serves as Co-Pastor of Labyrinth Progressive Student Ministry, is now a Licensed Minister in the Heart of Texas Association, and is a Member in Discernment in the ordination process. Nikki Stahl has resigned as Associate Minister of United Christian in Austin, where she has served for the past 9 years. Nikki is taking a well deserved break as she finishes her excellent work at the South Central Conference Board President. Our prayers and blessings are with Rene and Nikki as they go forward in Christian ministry.
Blessings in Christ, Liz Nash, Association Minister