Tag: from the pastor

From The Pastor – April 2021

Faithful Friends,

This season of Lent, I’ve asked us to take on gratitude as a new spiritual discipline, rather than sacrifice even more than we have already this year. 

Gratitude journals remain available in the Narthex of the church for adults (solid color books) and children (the smiley-faced ones) to use to write down each day things for which they are grateful.  Suggestions for gratitude exercises are also provided.

We do have so much to be grateful for—vaccines are rolling out in greater numbers, we survived SNOVID 2021, our committees are organizing greater work and mission of our congregation, our financial giving is growing, and new members are joining!

There also remain struggles in our lives and our world that hurt our hearts, fuel our anger, leave us questioning where God and goodness are, and have us reeling to know how to even begin to respond.   

In this month’s Glimpses of Faith Newsletter, you’ll read of the death of our former conference minister and friend to many, our current interim conference minister’s prophetic call to action in the face of yet another mass murder in our nation, opportunities to serve our faith family and our community, the chance to help teach our children how to engage in mission to support our world, and much more.

Joys and sorrows are interwoven, and yet we as a people of God look for the good not in a glory to come but in what is available to us in the gifts God gives each moment, even during the hardest of times. 

As followers of that radical advocate of justice and love, Jesus, we seek to BE the good by the ways we show up as co-creators of equality, peace, and extravagant welcome to all God’s children and each part of God’s creation. For what are you grateful?  In what ways do you feel called to BE God’s church in the world?  Where can you be the good you wish to see?  How can we follow Jesus in bringing change by changing ourselves, first, by loving and accepting ourselves and letting go of the fear that drives us to be less than our best selves?  Let us begin, right now, to live out our hope for a brighter future as people of God’s resurrection.

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7.

Peace,

Pastor Carla

From the Pastor – December 2020

Since I announced my retirement last spring this year has been a year of “lasts” both for me and Faith UCC and to compound the inevitable feeling of nostalgia that comes with this we have all had to deal with the Covid 19 pandemic and all the dislocation that comes with that.  After 15 years at Faith UCC and 39 years as a UCC minister I’ve conducted my last Palm/Passion Sunday and Easter service; led my last confirmation class; and I’m entering my last Advent/Christmas    season as an unretired pastor. 

     The good news is that with all these “lasts” come the possibilities of new beginnings and a new chapter opens in my life and in the life of Faith UCC.  It is not always easy to move into new possibilities.  There is always the temptation to look backward to what was instead of forward to what could be.  It is scary to leave the familiar behind and enter an unrealized future.  It often takes patience, perseverance, deep thinking and reflection to imagine a new future.  It often means trying something new and being open to new possibilities. It often means building new relationships and strengthening old ones.  Community has been important in the past and it will continue to be important as a new future unfolds, maybe even more important.  It often means extra effort and work beyond what we have been doing.  It often means relying on God’s grace, power, and presence to a degree we may not have for a very long time.

    I’m struck this Advent/ Christmas season that Christmas celebrates the birth of the Christ-child, Emmanuel, God with us, who comes as a baby.  Not only did the Christ child have to gestate 9 months in Mary’s womb before entering the world but the world had to wait 30 years before that baby grew into an adult and began his ministry.  Even then, after the resurrection and ascension, we Christians await the second coming.  We Christians are always awaiting the coming future God has in store, even while we celebrate God’s presence with us now.  This requires much patience, perseverance and prayer.

       I ran across this quote on patience that I will close with.  “Patience is not the ability to wait. Patience is to be calm no matter what happens, constantly take action to turn it to positive growth opportunities, and have faith to believe that it will all work out in the end while you are waiting.”   ― Roy T. Bennett

       I pray that God will grant us all the gift of active patience and the peace that passes understanding that comes with trusting in God, no matter what the future may hold. 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!      Pastor Scott

From the Pastor – November 2020

It has a been a strange year is so many ways with all the ramifications of Covid 19.  There have been stay at home orders, the cancelation of large gatherings, wearing a mask everywhere we go, the closure of restaurants and bars, the move to online school, quarantine of nursing homes and retirement communities,  etc.  Certainly it has affected our church and churches all the across the country.  We have done zoom worship with no sanctuary worship since last March!  Thankfully, to date, no one at the church has come down with Covid 19.  It has been a time when we have come to realize how much the little things in life mean to us.  It has been a time when we’ve drawn closer together as families, friends and neighbors and perhaps closer to God.  We have all been in the same storm.  It has been a time when we have been reminded of the value of health care workers, nursing home staff,  grocery store clerks, factory workers, teachers,  and truck drivers. and so many more. 

    Through all this Faith Church has continued to function, albeit in a very different way.  We’ve all learned how to zoom and as bad as social distancing has been we are thankful for technology that let’s us at least see and hear each other and stay in touch.  We’ve continued to worship, pray, had meetings via zoom, work at the SOS Food Bank, hold confirmation classes via zoom, put out the newsletter, contribute to mission projects near and far, and do the work to prepare for looking for a new minister.

     Now we are about to regather for worship in the sanctuary even as we continue to offer the worship service online for those who need to or choose to stay at home.  It still will not be “normal”.  There will be no singing, or passing of the offering plates or communion plates, or hospitality and conversation  afterwards.  We will have to wear masks and maintain social distance.  We will have to sanitize surfaces and so much more BUT we will be able to gather, at least for now.  We will be able to worship and praise God TOGETHER in the same room, if not in the same pew.  It will be a sign of at least partial normalcy returning.  At this point we will all take what we can get or “normalcy”. 

     We do so with the knowledge that we are not out of the woods yet.  If the covid 19 numbers go up locally we will have to return to doing worship just on zoom.  We won’t be out of the woods until a vaccine has been widely distributed and a large plurality get it.  This is not likely to happen until sometime next year, if we are lucky by late summer or early fall.  Meanwhile faith, hope and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love. 

Grace and Peace,  Pastor Scott

From the Pastor – October 2020

Usually when a pastor leaves a church he or she is going to another church and so they leave the area and are not available to do weddings and funerals, etc.   I am planning to retire and stay here in New Braunfels.  Even though I will still be in the area.  PLEASE do not ask me to perform any pastoral/professional functions.  The UCC “A Pastoral Vacancy: Guidelines for the Departing Pastor and the Governing Board” is quite clear on this:

“The personal relationships established within a parish setting sometimes make it difficult for both the pastor and the people to remember that the role is a professional one governed by a professional code of ethics.  And that code of ethics mandates that the professional relationship cease at the end of the term of service in a church.  As a pastor, you have an ethical obligation not to ‘intrude upon the ministry of my successor.”  Intrusion includes performing pastoral services (funerals, weddings, baptisms) as well as conversing with members about church life or decisions the church is considering.” 

As you can see the guidelines are quite clear on this and I would ask your help in helping me honor these guidelines.  When my predecessor, Rev. Lee Zillmann left Faith UCC to take up a position as a chaplain in the local hospital he followed these guidelines and it made my transition to being the pastor of Faith UCC much easier.  I want to do the same for whoever follows me, for both the interim and whoever the settled pastor will be.  

This also means that I will not be attending Faith UCC when I retire.  Instead, I will be attending other UCC churches in the area.

Please understand that this does not mean I won’t continue to care about you individually or for the church, far from it.  I value my relationship with each and every one of you highly and will continue to do so.  I will also continue to care very much about Faith UCC church.  I’ve only served four churches in my career and it is not an overstatement to say that God has blessed me greatly by allowing me to serve Faith UCC these last 15 years.  In many respects God saved the best for last.  I will continue to pray for you and for Faith UCC church.  I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Philippi, his favorite church, “I thank God every time I remember you, constantly praying with you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.  I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.”  (Phil 1:3-6)            

Grace and Peace,  Pastor Scott

From The Pastor – September 2020

As you all know I will be retiring on December 31st.  I announced my retirement at the beginning of the year to give the church as much time as possible to hit the road running.  There is much to be done and it is not too soon to start.  It will require all hands on deck to prayerfully go through the various steps.  The council will not be able to do it all by themselves so I pray you will prayerfully consider serving if the council asks you to help with the transition process.  Faith UCC is a wonderful church and it serves a vital role in the South Central Conference and UCC; in this community and beyond and in your life as well as the lives of your fellow members.  I have always said that Faith UCC punches above its weight when it comes to outreach, mission, and standing up for justice in this community and world.  A transition, such as the church is facing, comes with many challenges and these challenges are being multiplied by the current pandemic, but with diligent effort and God’s help Faith UCC will come through this transition and be all the stronger for it.

     Generally after a long pastorate, I’ve been here 15 years, a church will hire an interim minister(s).  An interim minister is temporary and serves as a bridge between the past pastor and the new settled pastor.  Whoever the interim is the general understanding is that they will not apply to be the settled pastor.  During the interim period the congregation takes the opportunity to assess its history, mission and unique ministries and where it wants to go in the future.  The interim minister and the congregation use the interim period to address issues that would significantly impact the next settled pastorate and the church.  Often times interim ministers have had special training to help them help churches deal with this interim period and what needs to be done then. 

     Know that you will have my prayers during this transition time.  It is, however, inappropriate for me to, as the UCC “A Pastoral Vacancy: Guidelines for the Departing Pastor and the Governing Board” puts it, “to engage in any conversations about the future roles of other staff members or to suggest interim names.”  Rev. Campbell Lovett, the Consulting Conference Minister for the South Central Conference and Rev. Liz Nash, Heart of Texas Association Minister, will be available to help resource this transition time.  Rev. Campbell has already been in consultation with Council President Mike Ziegler and the church council. 

Grace and Peace, Pastor Scott

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