Tag: heart of texas association (Page 2 of 3)

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

Heart of Texas Association News

    The Annual Meeting of the South Central Conference (SCC) was held on Saturday, June 12th, online.  Although there is a loss to us from not being together in person, it was an excellent gathering, full of joy and good sharing.  All of that is thanks to outgoing SCC Board President from our Association, Nikki Stahl; the great work of the North Texas Association; and those who helped behind the scenes. At the meeting, we learned that, after this very difficult year, Slumber Falls Camp is filling up in its camps this summer, our churches have been generous in their giving to the South Central Conference (through Our Church’s Wider Ministry), and three of the four Associations in the South Central Conference have voted to participate in the Unified Fitness Review Committee.  The Heart of Texas Association has not yet voted to join this committee, but we are moving forward in the process of deciding by the time it is needed next spring.  Those elected to SCC committees and offices from the Heart of Texas Association include Trent Williams of Friends Congregational College Station as SCC Board Vice President, Brooke Dooley of Friends Congregational (a Member in Discernment) as the Youth/Young Adult SCC Board representative, and Sonja Phillips from Friedens UCC Geronimo to the SCC Nominating Committee. In addition, we offer thanks to Cindy Miller of St. John’s UCC Burton and Jenny Russell of Touchstone Community Church Boerne for serving on the SCC Nominating Committee this year. We also offer our support and gratitude for Debra Joseph of the New Orleans Association as she begins her term as Board President of the SCC, and give thanks for the important interim ministry work of Campbell Lovett as he finishes his time with us.

    Arlene Turner, Pastor of Bethany Congregational San Antonio, will be presenting a workshop, “The Urgency and Challenges of Bible Literacy,” on Thursday, July 8th, at the upcoming virtual UCC General Synod.  Congratulations, Arlene! Arlene’s workshop was also part of our SCC Annual Meeting. Arlene’s workshop, along with the other General Synod workshops, will be recorded and available for viewing by those registered for Synod from July 11th-18th.   Any of us can register for General Synod at https://www.generalsynod.org/.  The cost is only $100 for visitors, with the opportunity to celebrate, worship, and learn with folks from across the UCC.

    Mary Wilson, retired pastor of Church of the Savior, has taken on a new position.  She is the Director of ChrysalisQ.org, a support and resource group for LGBTQI+ families.  We congratulate Mary. Her skills and calling will bring real gifts to this new organization.

    There will be a Celebration of Life for Jewel Johnson, Pastor Emeritus of St. Peter’s Church of Coupland and longtime minister among us, at 4 pm on Wednesday, July 7th, at St. Peter’s.  Jewel died on July 2nd, 2020.  I know many of you knew Jewel and his years of faithful and excellent Christian ministry.  Glen Schoeneberg will officiate.

    Finally, as many of you know, I recently submitted my notice to the Heart of Texas Association that I am retiring. I have offered to serve until a new Association Minister is brought onboard or until the Fall Association Meeting, whichever is sooner. The new Association Minister will have a good start in working with our new SCC Conference Minister, Phil Hodson. My heart and prayers will always be with the generous ministry of this Association and our churches.  You are great disciples and wonderful people!

Blessings in Christ,
Liz Nash, Association Minister

Heart of Texas Association News

Heart of Texas Association

    I share with joy that Arlene Turner has been called to be Pastor of Bethany Congregational UCC in San Antonio, beginning on June 1st.  Arlene will be ordained at United Christian Church on Sunday, May 30th (by the time most of you read this article) during the Zoom prayer and fellowship time after preaching in the morning online worship service.  As some of you may recall, Arlene was approved for ordination at an Ecclesiastical Council of the Heart of Texas Association last May.  Her journey to ordination came first through the United Methodist Church, and then through being a Member in Discernment at United while helping in many ways with her active membership and ministry there.  Bethany voted to call her on May 9th.  Since Arlene is to be ordained at United, the church is working with her to celebrate her ordination before she begins at Bethany.  They are figuring out how to do it with Association representation while the whole church community is still meeting online.   Our ways are a bit different than before the pandemic, but we are thankful to God that our ministry continues.  We pray for God’s blessings on Arlene and on Bethany as they go forward in Christ’s ministry together, and we give thanks for the caring and faithful interim ministry of Pastor Tom Robison with the church.

     As announced earlier, Kerry Kirtley was ordained on Sunday, May 23rd at Touchstone Community Church in Boerne in a vibrant Pentecost service.  The service was the first in person worship for Touchstone since March, 2020.  It was also their first hybrid service, meaning that the service included those attending online. In addition, the service included both online and live music.  It all came together beautifully.  Kerry, like Arlene, came to the UCC through the United Methodist Church (UMC), and the service included UMC pastors who had supported her in her journey as well as many from her large and loving family.

    Our brother in Christ, Martin Garrison, has resigned as Pastor of St Peter’s Church of Coupland, with his last Sunday being June 27th.   Martin has served at St. Peter’s since 2014.  Several of our Heart of Texas ministers shared heartfelt memories together recently as we said farewell to Martin at our May “Jam and Bread” gathering. He and his wife, Emily, will be moving to Galveston for the next stop on their journey, with Martin taking a break from ministry.  Our prayers for God’s blessings and the presence of the Holy Spirit go with them.  Our prayers go, too, with St. Peter’s as they search for an interim minister and begin this time of transition.

    Our brother in Christ, Sid Hall, will have his farewell worship service at Trinity Church of Austin on June 13th as he retires as their Lead Minister.  Sid has served at Trinity since 1988, guiding them to become one of the early Reconciling Churches in the United Methodist Church and ministering with them as they became dually affiliated with the UCC, among many milestones in his ministry with the church. He has, as well, been a long time leader in social justice ministry in Austin. Sid and his wife, Mary Pratt, will be moving to Ft. Collins, Colorado, and he will move into full standing as a UCC minister in July.  We give thanks to God for Sid’s ministry and pray for Sid and Mary to be blessed with God’s presence going forward.  We also pray for God’s blessings on Trinity’s incoming interim minister, Christine Tata and on the time she and the church will share together releasing Sid as they start a new era in Trinity’s ministry.

Blessings in Christ,

Liz Nash, Association Minister

Heart of Texas Association

    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

Information on the Heart of Texas Association’s Beloved Linda Coats

Shared from Friends Congregational UCC Facebook Page

As many in our church family know, our beloved Linda Coats suffered a massive stroke on March 5. She has received excellent medical care through CHI St Joseph, College Station, and then at Accel at College Station since March 15.

Linda has moved to an assisted living facility in Humble, TX where she will continue to receive the rehab and assistance she needs in the next step in her recovery.

To send cards or flowers:
The Suites at Crimson Heights
19279 McKay Dr, Room 701
Humble, TX 77338

Information is forthcoming regarding financial support for Linda, as well as visitation details. In the meantime, please continue to keep Linda and her family in prayer.

Heart of Texas Association News

We invite all of you to attend our spring Heart of Texas Association meeting, to be held on Saturday, April 24th beginning at 10 am on Zoom.  Worship, which begins the meeting, will be led by clergy from our South Texas cluster (Faith Church—that includes us!). 

One major part of our business will be to help people understand our possible participation in a Unified Fitness Review Committee at the Conference level, which would transfer most of this extremely time-consuming work from our Association Committee on Ministry to the proposed Conference committee — if we decide to go in this direction.  We already offered some explanation of this possibility earlier, but our aim at this meeting would be to help those who attend to understand the change more fully (as the process to make this change is fairly complex) and possibly vote to participate. 

We also anticipate having up to three Ecclesiastical Councils. One, which has already been announced, will be to grant Rev. Amelia Fulbright, who is currently a Baptist minister, Privilege of Call in the United Church of Christ, meaning that, if approved, she would be able to search for a ministry call in the UCC and gain full ministerial standing with us.  Our Committee on Ministry will be meeting in April with two other candidates.

If these candidates are approved, we will be announcing their Ecclesiastical Councils in advance of our Association Meeting.  We also will be sending out the papers the ministry candidates have written to our churches to allow reading before the Meeting. It will be important to have a quorum of attendees from a majority of our churches to allow voting on our candidates  We hope to finish midday and encourage you to join us.

Blessings in Christ,
Liz Nash, Association Minister

Heart of Texas Association News

As I write, we are just a couple of days past the very difficult days of our freeze, power outages, and water problems.  Many in our churches have suffered.  We have had illness and death over this past week among our churches.  Many of us faced situations in our homes that we never thought we would face — extreme cold, lack of water, the inability to get out or even communicate at times. Some faced these while being ill at the same time.  Others who did not have problems or had fewer issues to deal with offered help and care with great generosity. My heart and prayers go with all of you.  We have had several churches with building issues from burst pipes, including (to my knowledge as I write) Friends Congregational College Station, Faith UCC in Bryan, St. John’s UCC in Burton, and Church of the Savior in Cedar Park.  Slumber Falls Camp has also sustained damage. The United Church of Christ Disaster Ministry is reaching out to the churches in our Conference with support.  Our Conference Minister Campbell Lovett has been reaching out to our churches, and I have been in touch with a number of our pastors. If there are ways I can support your congregation, please let me know (lizknash@gmail.com, 512-799-2782).

I ask you at this time to pray for our faithful brother in Christ, our former Conference Minister Douglas Anders.  Douglas, who moved home to the St. Louis area when he retired, has been fighting colon and very aggressive liver cancer now for a number of years.  While continuing to serve the church and his local community in numerous ways, Douglas has undergone several forms of treatment, including travel to MD Anderson in Houston for experimental treatment. He is in the final stages of his life now.  His example of faith and service to us while he was with us and, in the past few years, during his illness, has been extraordinary and inspiring.  Let us pray for him and give thanks for his years of ministry with us.

Carl Schwartz-King, our Association Vice-Moderator, a licensed minister in the Heart of Texas Association, and a commissioned minister in the Christian Church Disciples of Christ, has resigned his position at United Christian Church as Minister of Congregational Care at United Christian Church of Austin. He has served in this position for the past five years, giving generously of his time and talents. Following a call to ministry, Carl completed the Certificate program at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary to be able to serve after retiring from his position as Manager of Emergency and Trauma Services at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin.  He has served the Heart of Texas Association in many ways, and I am happy to say that he will be continuing in that work.  If elected at our Spring meeting, he will serve as our moderator for the next term.  I know United appreciates Carl’s ministry, and I look forward to his gift of excellent leadership in this Association.

Our Association Spring meeting date will be set soon.  We will be having an Ecclesiastical Council for Amelia Fulbright for Privilege of Call in the United Church of Christ.  We anticipate having one more Ecclesiastical Council.  More details and a meeting date will come soon.

Blessings in Christ, Liz Nash, Association Minister.

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