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SCC News and e-News

Catch up with news from around the South Central Conference! Please see the most recent eNews weekly update below!

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SCC e-News
eNews weekly update
June 9, 2022 | Issue 23
Clergy Café
June 15, 2022 @ 9:30 AM

Retired Clergy Zoom Gathering
June 30, 2022 @ 3:00 PM
North Texas Association Fall Meeting
October 22, 2022 @ 10:00am
(First Congregational – Ft. Worth)

2022 Southern Regional Women’s Retreat
October 14-16, 2022 (Live Oak, FL)
Conference Minister Connections
Schedule Rev. Hodson to Preach
Phil will bring the message, host a Q&A discussion with your congregation after worship, and meet with your leadership.
Conference Minister 1:1 Chats
Schedule a conversation via Zoom with Rev. Hodson at a time that fits your life. Phil looks forward to chatting with you!
Clergy Café resumes Wednesday, June 15th @ 9:30 AM

News from Around the Conference
When we say, “everyone welcome, seriously everyone,” we mean it. This year, Slumber Falls and New Church have come together to craft a junior & senior high experience that is a safe, brave space for all youth to deepen their faith in an open & affirming community!


Summer Camp Registration is now open for all summer camp sessions at Slumber Falls Camp.

Early-Bird Registration discount ends April 1st. Take advantage of the savings and get connected to one of our great experiences now!

Loving Leadership
Pastor Mak Kneebone is at the helm of a queer-affirming congregation in Spring, TX.

Growing up Roman Catholic and being assigned female at birth, one won’t find many role models for becoming a clergyperson. The path towards a vocation in a pulpit can be, shall we say, not straight.

But that’s where the story of Mak Kneebone, pastor of Plymouth United Church in Spring begins. Growing up in Michigan, first in Detroit and then in more rural areas, he knew he didn’t fit in, but didn’t have the language to explain it. In college, he used the label “lesbian” to describe himself for a while, and found a community, but he still felt out of step. There were few resources for dealing with what he was feeling. “Saying I’m not actually a woman’ didn’t get met with great applause,” Kneebone admits. Text Link
Having a strong religious impulse and finding so little support for his queerness in the early 1980s, Kneebone switched religious traditions. “I went into the Pentecostal church, where I became ashamed of everything about myself and became an ‘ex-gay'”, he says. For ten years, he was involved in that tradition, teaching and leading small groups. It was not a sustainable situation. “I couldn’t imagine it; I couldn’t pretend anymore,” he says. “I knew I needed to explore and discover how God actually made me.”
 
He came out again, and found himself shunned by the community he’d served all those years. He left with a new conviction. “I decided I knew two things. I knew I wasn’t heteronormative, and I knew that God loved me.” He just had to figure out how those things worked together.
 
Kneebone had a close friend in Chicago who he trusted, so he moved there to begin really addressing his gender identity. He found a therapist there who listened to him and agreed that he was not a woman and also that he had a calling to ministry. “That was really profoundly moving to me that somebody else could reflect back to me something that I knew about myself,” he says. 

We celebrate with the Open Arms community the graduation of the Rev. Dr. Jules Williams from Eden Seminary!
Pictured from left to right is Rev. Dr. Jules Williams, Jr.; Margaret Smith and Pam Mayo, members of Open Arms UCC; Kim Williams; Rev. Traci Blackmon, Associate General Minister of Justice and Local Ministries of the United Church of Christ.
Meet Rev. Dr. Jules Williams, Jr.

On May 20, 2022, Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, conferred the degree of Doctor of Ministry on Rev. Jules Williams, Jr., Pastor of Open Arms United Church of Christ in Conroe, TX (Tamina Community). Rev. Williams, who earned his pre-doctoral degrees at the College of Biblical Studies and Dallas Theological Seminary, has pastored Open Arms, a new church in the area, for two years. In efforts to lead his congregation to follow the way Jesus intended, Jules models one who strives for justice and equality, for inclusion, for service, for love of all. In addition to his church duties, Rev. Williams works for the Texas Department of Corrections in the Windham School District as educator and counselor. Jules cherishes his family: his wife, Kim; daughter, Nia; and sons, Jules III and Mustapha. Incidentally, all three of his children are talented musicians, Nia having just completed her degree in Music at Sam Houston State University; and all contribute their talents to Open Arms worship. The Open Arms congregation congratulates Pastor Williams on his achievement and cherishes his leadership.
Your Invited! Pastor Leslie Jackson’s Anniversary Celebration – June 26th
Please join St. Peter United in celebrating the anniversary of Pastor Leslie Jackson on Sunday, June 26th at 4:00pm at the church located at 9022 Long Point Road in Houston.


Central St. Matthew’s Celebrates Pride Month
If you drive pass Central St. Matthew UCC in New Orleans in the month of June, you will see that their Pride Flags are displayed front and center at the entrance of the church.

These beautiful flags represent Central St. Matthew’s open support and welcoming of the LGBTQ community.
2022 UCC Southern Regional Women’s Retreat
October 14-16-2022
Greetings to the UCC Women of the Florida, South Central, Southeast, and Southern Conferences!!
Have you ever attended one of the Southern Regional UCC Women’s Retreats? If you have, I expect you will be coming to Camp Weed and Cerveny Conference Center in Live Oak, Florida October 14-16, 2022. You value the inspiration, camaraderie, making new friends and reconnecting with old ones, learning new skills, and listening to God in a natural setting.
 
If you have never been to our retreats, you are in for a treat! We are meeting in the same beautiful northern Florida setting on a small lake where we met in 2013. It has a lovely chapel looking out on the water, nice two-bed rooms with private baths, an inspiring outdoor patio area with rocking chairs overlooking the lake, a large dining room with great food, and trails through the woods. A perfect spot to retreat from our everyday lives. 

Key Church Leaders Update Request
As part of our ongoing effort to increase communication and share resources across the Conference, we’re inviting all congregations to update their key church leaders’ information annually.

Please take just a few minutes to share with us your leadership team information so that we can make sure everyone is “in the know” about what’s happening across the Conference.

So far, we have only received five responses. This information is extremely important. Please take a few moments to complete this form. It assists the Conference office in updating the UCC National Data Hub Church Staff tab and keeping the SCC Directory current. Thank you!!
Career & Continuing Education Opportunities
PRIDE SALE FOR ONA WEBINARS!

During Pride month, three of our most popular webinars are on sale. For just $35, an unlimited number of members of your church can participate from their own computers or devices. ONA 101 and ONA and the Bible are for congregations taking their first steps towards, or just curious about, an Open and Affirming Covenant. Bending Gender is for both ONA and not-yet ONA churches: with transgender and nonbinary Americans under attack in many states, it’s time for congregations to understand how to welcome trans and nonbinary seekers into their congregations. 

Tuesday, June 21, 7 pm EDT

This webinar explores how and why congregations can become ONA—in ways that do not divide, but unite the church. Applying the basic ONA principles of “graceful engagement” and “covenant,” ONA 101 has helped hundreds of congregations successfully navigate through an ONA process. 
United Campus Ministries of Greater Houston is seeking an outstanding candidate for the part-time position of Executive Director to begin as soon as practical.

Executive Director / 30 hours per week – $45-48K (benefits included)

Review the entire posting here.
Pathways Theological Education is proud to offer the following courses beginning June 28 – July 4, 2022.

  • Living the Heart of Progressive Christian Theology
  • Preaching for Special Occasions
  • Congregational Ministry and the Future Church
Conference Resources
Bookkeeping Services Now Available
Quality bookkeeping services that are built around the needs of your local church. The Conference now has this resource available to you!

Learn more about what we can offer your congregation!

Resources from Our Covenant Partners
A LOW-COST LOAN FROM THE CORNERSTONE FUND IS JUST A CLICK AWAY!
Sometimes you need to ask the difficult question. Deep down inside, you may already know the answer. But it’s not until you actually take the time to assess and realistically address the situation that you decide to act on the solution. While this scenario applies to a variety of issues in life, the topic at hand is the condition of your church property.

Is your congregation considering making improvements on your building to expand ministry or increase revenue? Is it finally addressing deferred maintenance items that worsen every year? Are you ready to reduce your building’s carbon footprint and save money on utilities in the process? Can you enhance digital capabilities to maintain and grow your online community?

If any of these questions apply to you, then now is a good time to talk with the Cornerstone Fund about low-cost loan options that will directly improve your facility and potentially strengthen your congregation.
Clergy Clinic 2022-2023 Registration Now Open
Registration is now open for our Clergy Clinic 2022-2023, both Group A & Group B. 
We invite you to dig deeper into those “mediation skills” concepts and strategies that you learned in MSTI and join us for this outstanding training event! 

We hope you will clear your calendars now for either Group A (Oct. 24-26, 2022; Feb. 13-15, 2023; and April 24-26, 2-23) OR Group B (Nov. 7-9, 2022; Feb. 27-March 1, 2023; and May 15-17, 2023).


If you would like to attend any of the training events, the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center does offer a limited number of partial scholarships. Scholarship Form

Stewardship Webinars
Our friends in the Wisconsin Conference have created a series of online stewardship courses to help congregations consider these concerns, and we encourage you to check them out! Each opportunity has a unique registration button so that you can select those most relevant to your local church. These are offered at no cost, and we hope you’ll be able to participate!

New Materials Available for Stewardship
“From Bread and Cup to Faith and Giving” makes the connection between our experience of God and our generosity as disciples. It includes practical tools such as logos, commitment cards, bulletin inserts, and letters. The materials also provide resources for preaching about stewardship throughout the year. Campaign guidance and calendars help leaders make the best use of these robust materials for their specific content and size.
Your Gift Matters
You can make a difference as a
Friend of the Conference!

General News, Announcements and Dates to Remember

Dates to Remember (details below):
Pastor Carla on Vacation May 11th-19th
Deadline to Register for SCC Annual Meeting May 13th
Slumber Falls—Register NOW!!!!
Recognition of Graduates May 22nd
City Council Meeting—Chance to Speak to Support Homeless Services May 23rd
SCC Annual Meeting May 27th-29th
Interfaith Pride Service June 9th
Riverside Pride June 11th


General News and Announcements:
Pastor Carla Vacation Days Pastor Carla will be working remotely May 9th and 10th, then completely unplugged the 11th through 19th. She will begin returning messages and calls at that time. Please plan to be present in worship and prayerfully support Faith Church member, Rev. Rohn Armstrong, who will be preaching that day along with Philip Graves and others who will be assisting with worship May 15th. For emergency needs during this time, please contact a member of Council.

Youth Group Thanks Thanks to those who helped our youth have an amazing time
bowling last week! Ten of our young ones and mom, Melissa, enjoyed the outing. Stay tuned for details of the Cookout and Pool Party June 5th after worship or contact one of our Youth Leaders—Lauren Pearce, Carol Sisco-Martinez, and Sue Ashinhurst.

UCC/Faith Church 101 Thanks Thanks to Rev. Bill and Florence Burns, Revs. Ralph and Sandy Ludwig, Tim Marlow, and others for their help with last week’s UCC/Faith Church 101 session. We had 24 in attendance! Our next class will be the first Sunday in August. Until then, Tim Marlow and others will be presenting special Moments of Our History during worship services and in Glimpses of Faith newsletter articles specifically about the history of Faith Church to help our growing congregation understand our strong and vibrant beginnings and heritage of inclusion, service, and social justice.

Serve Spot Prayer for Unity Gathering Thanks A special thank you to Rev. Jim and Mary Pohl and Rev. Bill and Florence Burns for their presence and help at last Monday’s gathering hosted by Faith Church. Nine of us gathered with Kim Francis of Serve Spot to pray for and with one another as we seek to be closer as faith siblings so we can work together more effectively to care for our community. We left refreshed and encouraged by this beautiful time together and cannot wait for the next gathering to pray and grow and build, to be scheduled every other month.

Deadline to Register for SCC Annual Meeting May 13th Please consider attending our first gathering in-person since the pandemic for a time of worship, fellowship, workshops, and discussing the business of the Conference at gorgeous Camp Allen. Worship will be streamed to churches from the Conference so all leaders may attend. Go to https://sccucc.org/ to register and for more information.

Slumber Falls Registration Filling Up Fast, and Counselors Needed!!!! Rev. Jeremy Albers says more campers than ever from outside the denomination are registering for camp so that long-time attendees may wind up not having a slot available, so register ASAP. Also, Jeremy says the issue is not number of beds, but number of Counselors. Prayerfully consider volunteering for a camp this summer to help make this memorable experience more available to more kids and youth. Go to https://slumberfalls.org/ to register and learn more.

Recognition of Graduates May 22nd If you have a young one set to graduate from high school, please contact Administrative Assistant, Janet Sherman, so we may honor your child and pray for this momentous occasion in their lives on Sunday, May 22nd.

More Pews Available to Members At least one, perhaps two more of the short pews in the fellowship hall have become available to members of the church. To claim one of these for your home or office, please contact Janet Sherman.

Adult Sunday School 9:00am In-Person and By Zoom Rev. Bill and Florence Burns are leading a discussion of Dr. Beverly Brown Tatum’s book, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations Around Race.” Books are available from the Burns. Contact the Burns for more information and join them in the Fellowship Hall or by Zoom. Please let Pastor Carla know if you can help run Zoom for this class.

Building and Grounds Committee Our worship space and surrounding property is in need of some repairs and sprucing up to be good stewards of our buildings and to provide an appealing space for members and visitors. A meeting will soon be planned to walk the property, create a list of items that need attention, make plans for what needs to be done first, and discuss ideas for colors and plants and other updates. To participate in these discussions, let your thoughts be heard, and participate in this revitalized committee, please contact Molly Dixon.

New Members Committee As we grow, it is important that more of us engage in
welcoming visitors and helping new members build relationships and find ways to get involved with our activities and ministry. To participate in this newly-forming committee, please connect with Rev. Bill and Florence Burns and Revs. Ralph and Sandy Ludwig.

God’s Hands and Feet

Submitted by Sandy Ludwig

Image Credit: Meghan E White

Mary was walking down the street with her three-year-old son, Peter. Now Peter was a happy, delightful, charming little guy who tended to smile at the world, as well as at every person he met whether he knew him or not. Mary basked in Peter’s cheerful personality and enjoyed taking walks with him around town.

One day they were in downtown New Braunfels, just strolling and sightseeing, when they came to a red light and stopped at the curb. Across the street from them was a hobo-like guy dressed in layers of clothes, with a straggly beard and a sorrowful downcast look. Mary kept a wary eye on him as they started across the street. When they were abreast of him, Peter looked up and smiled his sweet smile at the man.

“Hi!” Peter greeted him.

The man stopped in the middle of the street and stared down at the boy and seemed to come out of his moodiness for a moment. Then, to Mary’s surprise, the man smiled back at Peter.

“Why, hello, little feller,” he said and reached out his hand to shake Peter’s. Peter happily obliged.

As they went on their separate ways, Mary noticed that the man no longer walked with a droop to his shoulders and when he reached the other curb, he turned and waved to them both.

“Thank you!” he called to them. “God bless you!”

Marveling at the transformation in the man because one child greeted him without judgment or condemnation, Mary felt ashamed of herself. Looking down at her extraordinary son, she gave his hand a squeeze and told him she loved him. Then she thanked God for showing her how simple it was to show God’s love to others.

Worship Service via Zoom Video Conferencing

Due to the City of New Braunfels’ “stay at home” order issued earlier this week, we are planning to come together to worship on Sunday’s at our normal time (10:30am) using the video conferencing platform Zoom. Zoom video conferencing capabilities can be installed for free on most computers, smart phone, or tablets. If you choose not to download the application, you can always join the worship service by phone at the number listed at the bottom of this note.

Click here to watch a video that can help you understand how to install and join a zoom meeting.

If possible, we recommend you sign-up for a free Zoom account so that you can download and install the Zoom application prior to this Sunday’s worship service.


We are blessed to be able to leverage technology to allow us to come together as a congregation during these challenging times.

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