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Heart of Texas Association News

Happy New Year!

I pray that your Advent and Christmas Time was/is meaningful for you and your congregations. There were/are so many beautiful activities happening across the Heart of Texas Association in your local congregations and settings. It was/is beautiful to behold each setting celebrating the incarnation of the divine in sometimes unique, sometimes familiar ways.

As the new year begins, I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of an Association Minister. According to the job description one of the main focuses is to support local congregations via lay leaders, local clergy, and local clergy’s families. In an effort to live into these expectations, I’m looking for ways to connect one-on-one and in groups in addition to visiting your local congregations. Additionally, is the call to foster connections between the 20 wonderful churches of the Heart of Texas Association and create ties to the South Central Conference and beyond. Following are some efforts to live into these efforts:

Clergy

  • First Tuesday of every month from 9:30 am – 11:30 am on zoom (for now). We can adjust time and place as we continue to move out of COVID. Part of this time will be fellowship and sharing, and the rest of the time we will creatively engage in the Marks of Ministry as we all strive to be healthy, well-rounded, growing clergy, regardless of our settings. Begins January 4th. 
  • Added bonus: the weekly Conference Cafe (Wednesday from 9:30 – 10:30) has been a wonderful way to connect with clergy all over the South Central Conference. Although not strictly Heart of Texas Association, a good number of HOTA clergy are regularly attending. We have a lot of fun wondering and stretching our theological understanding on such topics as what is a soul?, what does incarnation really mean?, and so on.

Lay Leaders

  • First Wednesday of every month from 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm on zoom. We will gather for a time of fellowship, sharing and dip our toes into educational pieces important for lay leaders. Begins January 5th. I could use your help in updating contacts (name & email) for your 2022 Lay Leaders. Click here for form or email me at revnikkistahl@gmail.com.

These are both come and go so feel free to attend as you are able, for as long as you are able, even if it is to just pop on and say hello! Separate invites will be sent out to each group.    

Annual Meeting Planning 
There is still time for both lay and clergy to jump in and help with 2022 Annual Meeting. Our next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 6th at 12 pm. Email me for the zoom invite. 

Invite me to Worship with You
So far I’ve been able to visit Bethany (San Antonio), Open Cathedral (Leander), Hope United (Georgetown), Trinity Church of Austin, Friends Congregational (College Station), Faith UCC (Bryan) and Faith UCC (New Braunfels). I have planned visits for St. John’s UCC (Burton), Touchstone UCC (Boerne), St. Peter’s UCC (Coupland), Redeemer UCC (Zuehl), and St. Paul’s UCC (Corpus Christi). If you aren’t on this list, let’s plan a date! 

Schedule a One-on-One
I’m available for safe in-person visits, zoom or a good-ole fashion phone call.

FB and Instagram
Information and cross-posting of your events and information happening here! Take a moment every once in a while to see what others in the Association are doing and/or share your good news! 

Heart of Texas Association FB Page https://www.facebook.com/HOTA.UCC
Heart of Texas Association Instagram https://www.instagram.com/heartoftexasassociation/
Rev. Nikki Stahl, Association Minister FB Page https://www.facebook.com/togetherwithyouonthejourney/ 
Rev. Nikki Stahl, Association Minister Instagram https://www.instagram.com/rev.nikkistahl/

I pray that some or all of these ways help you feel a little less out there on your own and connected to the wider church. If topics or needs arise, remember I’m here to be with you on the journey.

Peace and Light,Nikki


Rev. Nikki Stahl
Heart of Texas Association Minister
cell: 512-751-3557
revnikkstahl@gmail.com
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Heart of Texas Association
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HOT Virtual Church Leaders Gathering Wednesday, January 5th 7:00 pm

Link to FB Event

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5127513557?pwd=VEdWRVpJdEJ3cUZjelEvTlIxNmJWdz09

Meeting ID: 512 751 3557
Passcode: Godislove

One tap mobile
+13462487799,,5127513557#,,,,*546482556# US (Houston)

Dial by your location
        +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
Meeting ID: 512 751 3557
Passcode: 546482556


Rev. Nikki Stahl
Heart of Texas Association Minister
cell: 512-751-3557
revnikkstahl@gmail.comFacebook

Heart of Texas Association News

Friends,

It is hard to believe that Advent is upon us, followed quickly by Christmas. During the Advent and Christmas season, we journey through scriptures and rituals that are tender, heavy with emotion, and vulnerable. We carry the memories and truths of this season close to our hearts. I invite you to follow along on Facebook (www.facebook.com/HOTA.UCC) as we journey together through the “already but not yet” tension of our faith: Emmanuel is with us, and yet, God’s promised day—our everlasting home—is not fully realized utilizing material from Sanctified Art (sanctifiedart.org). Especially for our clergy, I hope you find space and time to walk through these seasons in addition to leading others through them.

I’m grateful for the opportunities in November to visit in-person with Rev. Dan DeLeon (Friends College Station), Rev. Darrin Holub (St. John’s Burton), Pastor Rene Slataper (Hope United Georgetown), Rev. Crystal Silva-McCormick (Church of the Savior Cedar Park), Rev. Ryan Hart (Open Cathedral), Rev. Enid Ross (retired chaplain), Rev. Arlene Turner (Bethany San Antonio), and Rev. Eric Gates (Faith United Bryan). Lots of different, yet exciting, life-changing things are happening in each of these local churches and the communities that they serve. I look forward to finding Sundays to worship with you and learning more about how God is working through you.

Please remember that Annual Meeting Planning is underway. We would love to have a representative from each church involved in our planning. The dates have been set for Friday, May 27th – Sunday, May 19th (with Worship Service/Installation livestreamed for your congregations) at Camp Allen. Contact me if you are interested. It is never too late to chip in and help. 

Also, don’t miss out on various celebrations and news events being posted on the Heart of Texas Association Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/HOTA.UCC) (Instagram, Twitter coming). Some November recognitions included church anniversaries, ordination anniversaries, clergy birthdays, new calls, special local church events/accomplishments, and more! Send us pictures and updates about how you are transforming lives in your local communities so we can celebrate with you and share with the wider Association!

Remember too that 2021 church contributions to the Association are due by December 31st so that our Treasurer, Joe Ward, can close our books. 

Finally, words cannot even begin to express the joy of this first month of ministry with you. I feel so honored to be on the journey with each and everyone one of you.

Peace,
Rev. Nikki Stahl


Rev. Nikki Stahl
Heart of Texas Association Minister
cell: 512-751-3557
revnikkstahl@gmail.com
Facebook

Heart of Texas Association
Website
Facebook

New Heart of Texas Association Minister

Greetings! My name is Rev. Nikki Stahl. Starting on November 1st, I’m your new Heart of Texas Association Minister. Before I tell you more about me, let me say what an important pastor, mentor, and friend Rev. Liz Nash has been for me. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been able to hear many of you share how important that she has been to you. Again, many thanks to Rev. Liz Nash! Liz, thank you for your ministry and all the ways in which our lives have been blessed and enhanced by it. Now, go enjoy those grandbabies!!

There is a lot that I can share about me so I will just hit the highlights. I was born and raised in Austin. Grew up Southern Baptist. I have a bachelor degree in Finance from UT of Austin, a masters of Social Work and a masters of Divinity from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. I’ve held several “jobs” prior to seminary including Workers Compensation Underwriter, 3M Plant and Operational Accountant, and Business Analyst.

I served at United Christian Church of Austin from 2011 until earlier this year as Associate, Executive, and then Co-Pastor. I’ve worked with some amazing pastors at United including Rev. Tim Tutt, Rev. Ken White, Rev. John Gage, and Rev. Anna Kreisle. I have learned so much from each of them.

Over the years I have been active in the Association by participating on the Executive Committee, and Scholarship Committee and mentoring members in discernment. I have also served on the Camp Council at Slumber Falls.

The past few years my focus has been at the Conference level where I served on the Board of Directors for five years including the last two as President (term ended June 2021). I’m currently overseeing the newly formed Communities in Practice groups.

I’ve been married to my husband, Ian, for 15 years. We have three daughters: Marian (14), Emmalee (10), and Cora (8). We stay busy with church, school, piano, dance and marching band (Marian plays vibraphone in the pit!). My mother, Lee, and her dog (Blue) live with us along with our three cats (Lola, Henri and Precious). In July we added a new puppy – BB Grace!

That’s just a bit about me. I look forward to learning more about you and your congregations! If there is something going on in your congregation, please let me know! If possible, I would love to be there!*** I want to get to know you!

I can be reached at revnikkistahl@gmail.com and my cell number is 512-751-3557. I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/togetherwithyouonthejourney.

The Heart of Texas Association is full of amazing churches, doing amazing things in their communities. I am honored to be a part of your work even if it is just in little ways.

With you on the Journey,
Rev. Nikki Stahl
Association Minister (elect)

***Until my youngest two can be fully vaccinated for COVID, I will not be able to attend inside gatherings where people are unmasked. I am available for outside gatherings, zoom calls, email, texts or phone calls.

Heart of Texas Association

ONA NEWS: New Webinar Series Can Revive Your Church

Submitted by Andrew Lang

TRAINING PROGRAMS FOR ONA AND NOT-YET ONA CHURCHES

The Coalition’s popular series of webinars resumes on Tuesday, October 26, 2021.
Available Webinars:

ONA 101:

  • Tuesday, October 26th
  • Thursday, November 4th

ONA and the Bible:

  • Tuesday, November 2
  • Thursday, November 11

1-to-1 Conversations about ONA:

  • Tuesday, November 9

ONA Next:

  • Tuesday, November 16

Do you know churches that want to become ONA, but are hesitating because of the fear they might lose members and money?

Let them know about this series: churches that participate in our training programs learn how an ONA process can build consensus and revive energy for mission and ministry!

You can register for an individual webinar or purchase a discounted Season Pass for all sessions.

REGISTER HERE

Heart of Texas Association News

Our Heart of Texas Fall Meeting will be held virtually on Saturday, October 23rd at 10 am, hosted by the Austin cluster of churches. We had, of course, hoped finally to have an in-person meeting, but Austin is still in the Stage 5 COVID risk level as I write, and we don’t want to put people at risk by gathering in person. Let’s hope and pray the illness level decreases soon! I am thankful, though, that we are able to meet via Zoom. The meeting information and link will be sent out in early October.

One item on the agenda will be our continuing work to join the South Central Conference Unified Fitness Review Committee. As I have written in the past, fitness reviews are conducted by our Committee on Ministry when a complaint is brought against one of our ministers that raises questions about that minister’s fitness for continued ministry, based on the set of ethical standards set forth in the United Church of Christ Manual on Ministry that all of our ministers are charged to follow. These reviews, which have not occurred often, are challenging and require quite a bit of work. The proposal is to have one committee in the South Central Conference comprised of people from all of the Associations to conduct them, allowing the members to be trained, gain experience, and do the work in a consistent way. Our Committee on Ministry has done research and found that this model has worked well in other Conferences. However, the process of joining the Unified Committee involves our whole Association since we will have to change our bylaws and nominate members. We will continue with that process at our Fall and Spring Association meetings.

Eric Gates, Pastor of Faith UCC in Bryan, is nearing the end of the process of gaining Ordained Ministerial Partner standing in the United Church of Christ. Eric is a Christian Church/Disciples of Christ (DOC) minister. Once this process is completed, Eric will be fully a UCC minister while serving a UCC church, but can go back to serve DOC churches as a full DOC minister later on. Before entering the ministry, Eric served our country for eight years in the Marine Corps and then served the Austin community as an Austin Police officer for nine years. In addition to being Pastor at Faith, Eric is the founder and CEO of Devil Dog Coffee Company in Buda. We welcome Eric as a ministry colleague. I hope many of us will get a chance to enjoy a cup of coffee with him!

Finally, I want to say to each of you in our churches that it has been a great privilege and joy to serve among you as your Association Minister. Since I began this work in 2006, I have met and worked with so many of you that are real servants of Christ. We have had a group of fine and dedicated ministers — I could not have asked for a better group to serve with. Although I will have to step back from being among you as I retire in October, I treasure the friendships and feel enormously blessed by working in ministry among you. I know you welcome my successor as you have always so warmly welcomed me. Thank you for our years together.

Blessings in Christ,
Liz Nash, Association Minister


Heart of Texas Association News

    You are invited to come to the Heart of Texas Association Fall Meeting on Saturday, October 23rd, hosted by the Austin cluster of churches. Because of the evolving COVID situation in Austin, we do not know yet whether we will be meeting online only or at one of our churches in a hybrid format.  The time we start will depend on whether we are meeting in person.  We will let all of our churches know the plans as soon as a decision is made.  Bear with us in this unusual time!  We would love to be together in person but we need to make a determination about whether it will be safe for those who come into the Austin area.

    Our sister in Christ, Billie Watts, co-pastor of Touchstone Community Church, is retiring from active ministry.  Her last Sunday at Touchstone, with a farewell liturgy and with Billie’s vibrant preaching, is on August 28th.  Billie committed to the intensive ministry work of starting Touchstone with Kerry Kirtley before retiring, and Billie is now stepping back to well deserved time with her family.  Our heartfelt blessings go with her as she transitions into this new phase of life, along with our gratitude for the work she has done.  Kerry will continue as the pastor of Touchstone, and we continue to offer prayers of support for the community and ministry there.

    Amy Grogan, an ordained minister with the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ, is completing the process of gaining standing in the United Church of Christ as an Ordained Ministerial Partner to share her ministry gifts with Touchstone.  Amy moved to the Boerne area with her husband for family reasons after living for several years in Belgium.  She completed her Master of Divinity at Phillips Theological Seminary in a hybrid program, and has served in online ministry with the Disciples.  Like Amy, people living abroad often are in areas where there is little Protestant presence and where few people are part of a church, so her work online has been part of the outreach to others like her and to people who live in places where they would have to travel far to find a church where they feel at home.  She has been very active in the Touchstone Community, and will be helping as a volunteer in several ministry areas.  Our relatively simple process for welcoming ministers from the Disciples reflects the close relationship between the UCC and the Disciples. We welcome Amy to the Heart of Texas Association. 

    Our Committee on Ministry also has accepted Brittany Hicks as Member in Discernment. Brittany is a member of Open Cathedral in Leander and a student at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.  She served our country in the US Navy for a number of years.  We welcome Brittany to our discernment process and look forward to walking with her on her ministry journey.

    For those who wish to spend a week of service in the marvelous, lifegiving work of Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, MS, I invite you to a work camp there with others from the South Central Conference (if the COVID situation is safe enough for work camps to happen), November 7th to 13th.   Our group will need to conform to the COVID safety measures there.  Please be in touch with me if you are interested: lizknash@gmail.com.  Back Bay Mission is our treasured UCC related outreach to the poorest in Biloxi, with a work camp program of repairing homes, building, and work at Back Bay Mission itself that brings groups in from many places across the country. People of all skill levels are welcome. Come see why we go!

Blessings in Christ,
Liz Nash, Association Minister

HOT Association Minister Search and Call

Greetings friends in faith,

The Heart of Texas Association of The United Church of Christ formally announces its Search and Call for a new Association Minister. The position is an average of 15 hours per week. Each prospective candidate should ensure their United Church of Christ online profile has been updated. Candidates may access the profile section of the UCC.org website here: Create an account and log in here.

Once your online profile has been completed on the United Church of Christ website, you may forward a copy of your profile to me at carl@uccaustin.org, and I will distribute it to the Search and Call Committee. If you are outside the United Church of Christ, you may submit your information directly to Conference Minister, Rev. Phil Hodson at sccm@sccucc.org.

The application deadline for this position will be Thursday, September 16, 2021. The job description and other pertinent information will be posted to the Heart of Texas Association website at: http://hotaucc.org.

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ . . . (Ephesians 4:11-13)

Peace and Blessings,
Pastor Carl

Carl Schwartz-King
Moderator, Heart of Texas Association
The United Church of Christ
carl@uccaustin.org

Heart of Texas Association News

    The South Central Conference now has a new Conference Minister, Phil Hodson.  Phil comes to us from the Wichita United Church of Christ in Wichita, Kansas.  During his ministry, the Wichita church formed from two congregations that merged and entered a new period of growth. Phil brings ideas and commitment about growing our Conference, along with experience in church planting.  He went to seminary at Perkins School of Theology at SMU and came into the UCC from the United Methodist Church. He has already spent time in our Conference before his official start date in addition to meeting regularly with interim Conference Minister Campbell Lovett. Phil and his wife and four children are moving to Galveston. He anticipates traveling throughout our Conference and churches to connect with all of us. He will bring new ideas and wisdom.  It is an exciting time for the South Central Conference.  Let’s give Phil a big Texas welcome!

    I also give thanks for the wise and excellent guidance and leadership of Campbell Lovett during this challenging year in the life of all of our churches. He has given stable leadership with his deep base of experience.  Campbell is continuing to help with the transition.  Let us send him off with our prayers for a rich life going forward and with gratitude for his ministry.

    Starting in July, Charles Stark began a second interim ministry in the Heart of Texas Association. Charles is now the interim minister of St. Peter’s Church of Coupland.  In addition to his many years at Slumber Falls, Charles has served Lyons Evangelical, Faith UCC in Bryan, Friends Congregational, and, most recently (as interim), St. John’s Burton. Charles and his wife, Bonnie, will be living in Coupland.  We give thanks for the ministry Charles and St. Peter’s will have together.

    We also welcome Christine Tata, as I previously shared, as interim minister at Trinity Church of Austin.  Christine brings an earlier background in ministry, having served in this Conference in Dallas.  She has worked in business and human resources, and has done a substantial amount of supply preaching.  We rejoice with Christine and with Trinity as they begin their time together.

    The Congregational Church of Austin is beginning a new era in the church’s life as Amelia Fulbright begins her ministry there as the Designated Term Pastor.  As some of you know, Amelia had her Ecclesiastical Council recently among us through the Privilege of Call process, supported by Congregational Church where she is a member.  Earlier, she started the Labyrinth Progressive Student Ministry in Austin (for University of Texas and other college-age students) and also served as the Associate Pastor of University Baptist Church in Austin. Congregational (my home church) is excited to welcome Amelia on board.

    Finally, I announce with sadness that Rev. Bill (Hudson) Phillips died recently, surrounded by his wife, Betty, and his daughters, Stephanie and Katy.  Bill, a retired minister who served churches in Friona, Texas, and in New Orleans, as well as in campus ministry for a number of years, was part of marches and lunch counter sit-ins during the Civil Rights movement.  He and Betty faced danger and stood firm for equal rights.  Bill also served in social work for several years in Austin and was a gifted poet.  I give profound thanks to God for his full and rich life.

Blessings in Christ,
Liz Nash, Association Minister

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