Tag: Liz Nash

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.

Heart of Texas News

     On the fourth Sunday of November, I watched the Facebook link to the worship service at the Union Congregational United Church of Christ in Angels Camp, California.  The church is a small congregation in a rural town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.  My dear friend and mentor, Rev. Dr. Sally Smith, was being honored in celebration of the 50th anniversary of her ordination — an extraordinary milestone for anyone but even more so for a woman ordained in 1970.  I could not be there in person because of the distance and difficulty traveling now. I also could not be there because I live in an area where the COVID counts are extremely high and would be bringing that risk into an area with far lower case counts and, in the process, endangering a 90 year friend along with the congregation honoring her.  But the blessing was that I actually could be part of the congregation that day.  In this week of Thanksgiving as I write, I am so very grateful.

     I share my experience for two reasons.  First, to highlight the creative ways we have learned to bring people together in worship during this difficult year, and second, to encourage us to understand some of our differences.

     In our Association, our urban churches are meeting almost completely by Zoom, on YouTube, by Webex, or using a similar online platform.  These churches are all currently in high danger COVID areas. A few of these who have a good space for an outdoor service have taken the opportunity to worship once or twice in that way, while also putting up the cameras and microphones to include those who could not be present — quite a feat.  A few of our churches have worshipped in person for a short time, and then stopped when the COVID counts locally went up.  Several of our more rural churches have been meeting in person for quite a while.  These are in areas where the pandemic has not hit as hard or not much at all.  We have one church who broadcasts to cars outside via the car radio, and has met inside on and off as the local case counts went down and then back up. Other churches did drive-up services before beginning to meet in person.

     Our circumstances are different right now.  From listening to those I know and care about, I know sometimes these varying circumstances are hard to understand.  For those of us living in a large city, COVID is very present and gathering in a group is dangerous.  For those of us living in rural areas, COVID is not as present.  We are a diverse church in many ways, and this difference now in how we worship is part of that diversity. For me, I found a life-giving and creative bridge between two ways of doing church as my friend was honored last Sunday.  Thanks be to God for that bridge.  In this time of polarization in our society, I invite us to choose to appreciate each other.

     Our friends at Hope United in Georgetown have welcomed Rev. Remington Johnson as their designated pastor at this time of change for them. Rev. Johnson is a Presbyterian minister with substantial experience in hospice care and chaplaincy in the Austin area.  We offer our prayers and hope that her ministry with Hope United will be a faithful and enriching time.

Blessings in Christ, Liz Nash, Association Minister

Heart of Texas Association News

     The date of the Heart of Texas Association Fall Meeting has been moved to Saturday, October 24 at 10 am to noon (a shift from the original date of October 10) on Zoom.  The reason for the change in date is to allow us to prepare for a presentation on the proposed formation of a Conference level Fitness Review Committee.  The formation of this committee has been a project of the South Central Conference Board of Directors, and would be a joining of Associations (rather than a taking over by the Conference) in the work of ministerial fitness reviews.  I will explain a little more about what this means below.

     Our Association Executive Board will be putting the agenda together before the Fall Meeting, but we expect that we will have an emphasis on sharing from the churches about how we are doing our ministry during this time of enormous change, an opportunity to give toward needs generated by the pandemic, an update on what the work and needs of Slumber Falls are, and our normal financial/budget approvals and other brief reports.  The leadership of the Heart of Texas Association believes that it is perhaps more important than ever to share from our lives as churches in this time of change. 

     One of the most difficult, detailed, and time consuming tasks of our Committee on Ministry is a fitness review.  This work happens when a complaint regarding the fitness for ministry of one of our ministers is raised in a substantial way.  There is currently a thorough and demanding process for raising, investigating, and considering these types of complaints that the Association Committee on Ministry uses, as outlined in the United Church of Christ Manual on Ministry and supporting documents.  Since fitness reviews do not occur often, Committee members must be trained to understand and to work with this process when one does happen. Additionally, the Committee often needs to do quite a bit of follow up work after a fitness review occurs.  Normally, our Committee on Ministry has a full load of work for its meetings  working with our Members in Discernment and ministers before the major addition of fitness review work. An ongoing committee, composed of members elected from all of the Associations in the Conference, could do the demanding work of fitness reviews with members who are trained and experienced in this work.  That proposed ongoing committee, as well as a process to be able to join it, will be what will be presented at our Fall Meeting.  We would not vote on joining this committee until the Spring of 2021.  However, it is important for us to hear what is being proposed, to understand what we would be voting on, and to share feedback about it at this time.

    We will be sending out the Fall Meeting Zoom link, the agenda and instructions to all of our churches, to our ministers, and to as many people on our email list as we can once we are closer to the meeting date.  It is my hope and prayer that this meeting will be uplifting, informative, and a time of bonding and mutual support in our faith as we continue to do the work Christ calls all of us to do.  I hope many of you will join us.

Blessings in Christ, Liz Nash, Association Minister

Heart of Texas Association News

    Our Heart of Texas Association Fall Meeting is still on for Saturday, October 10, 2020.  We had planned to hold it at Hope United in Georgetown in celebration of its 10th anniversary, but as all of us know, the COVID situation has sent all of us in directions we could not have imagined several months ago.  Many of our churches are not meeting in person yet, including Hope United. Hope is also in transition, as it is in the interim and pastoral search process. The plan now for our Fall Meeting is to meet via Zoom. Our Association Board will be planning that gathering over the next month, and we will send each of our churches and ministers information and a link to the meeting as soon as that planning happens. I think we can all look forward to the opportunity to share our churches’ experiences, commitments, and journeys together as we gather — always an uplifting and vitally important part of our meetings. Perhaps even more important than ever in this time will be your stories of how our churches are continuing to minister and how we are each dealing with the challenge that the COVID pandemic is presenting.  We will look forward to the time when we can meet in person once again but are grateful, in the meantime, that we have the opportunity to gather easily from home online.

    I am also grateful for the many ways I am aware of that our churches and pastors are adapting their ministries and even growing them in new ways over this time. Some of our churches are meeting outdoors (seated outside or by driving up and staying in cars); some are meeting in person but spread out to keep each other safer; and some, particularly those in areas with high COVID case numbers, are meeting online in various ways. Many have found that the process of learning to meet online has led to new and very creative worship formats. Some have also found that our online platforms have brought distant members and friends to worship with us as well as allowing very broad participation in discussion and study since people do not have to drive. Our pastors have met via Zoom several times to continue our “Jam and Bread” gatherings, the last time being to say farewell to Ron Trimmer as he prepared to move to Lake Ozark, Missouri.  Ministers who otherwise would have had to drive a long distance have been able to gather easily with colleagues. The youth of United Christian and others who joined them were able to have a virtual mission trip this summer after the muti-church mission trip they have been part of was cancelled. A host of people have worked hard to make all of this happen. I thank God for all of you.

    On Sunday, September 17th, Lee Zillman, pastor of Redeemer UCC in Marion (in the Zuehl community) will retire. Lee has served Redeemer for the past 11 years, and in ministry and in Christian ministry for forty three years. I hope to give news of the celebration in a future newsletter. At this time, I ask for prayers of thanksgiving and support for Lee and Sharon, and prayers for the ongoing service in ministry of the whole Redeemer community as they embark on this interim time.

Blessings in Christ,

Liz Nash, Association Minister

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