Tag: SCC (Page 2 of 4)

Putting Feet To Our Prayers

Submitted by Rev. Phil Hodson, Conference Minister

I’ve heard this as a lyric in modern Christian music, calling out to God in a victory-seeking, almost authoritarian way. Directing praise to “God-of-the-angel-armies,” which is language I once found off-putting. Then I served a predominantly military congregation where the terminology came to life. Not in a macho, winner-take-all, generic sense, but in a specific, leading, loyal, purpose-driven way — folks who gave their lives in service to others resonated with a God who shared orders and gave directives and invited their response in the world for the good of their neighbors. So I slowly began to rethink my position.

In recent weeks, Hurricane Ida has destroyed one of our churches and impacted many, many lives throughout New Orleans and across Louisiana and so many other places, too. In recent days we have seen our own government respond to those seeking a better life — people camped out under a bridge right here in Texas after spending 11 years journeying with the hope of a brighter future — by chasing down children and shipping folks back to a land they left behind long ago and likely won’t even recognize. And these two statements I have just made, overly simplistic as they are, barely scratch the surface of the challenges faced.

So we pray for somebody to do something about it. We hope it will get better. We shake our heads in disappointment and disgust. And maybe, just for a moment, we cry out to “God-of-the-angel-armies” to mobilize a squadron and make a change. But when we do all of these things we must remember what that means. Something the folks I served in that military church knew — we are the squadron we’re asking God to mobilize. And it is God’s desire that we get with the program and be the change we seek in the world! Prayer works best when we put our own feet beneath it.

I am heading to New Orleans next week to survey damage, meet with our pastors and churches, and begin to seek God’s vision for what happens next. And today I put my name and office on a letter crafted by our Justice and Witness Ministries office in Washington, DC, to ask the administration to rethink its present course on the refugee crisis here in Texas. 

I will, in ways that I can, put my feet beneath my prayers. What about you? We are going to need, at some point soon, teams to go into Louisiana and help rebuild — both the walls of our own churches and the walls of our neighbors, too. Will you join me in that effort? If so, email me. And we need more to participate in the work of this letter, to lend the voices of our United Church of Christ, laity and pastors alike, to call out for justice. If that voice is yours, you can read the letter here and sign it here

Let’s put feet beneath our prayers and be the squadron of hope and healing we pray for.

Blessings,
Rev. Phil Hodson
Conference Minister
South Central Conference, United Church of Christ
3610 River Road
New Braunfels, TX 78132

Cathedral of Hope Dallas Acquires Believe Out Loud

Submitted by Rev. Neil Thomas, Senior Pastor COH

Cathedral of Hope Acquires Believe Out Loud, aGlobal Digital Project Providing Resources and Community for LGBTQIA People of Faith and Allies

Believe Out Loud will become a Cathedral program that will expand the church’s community and increase tailored content

DALLAS, Texas (September 14, 2020) – Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ, known as the largest predominantly LGBTQ+ church in the world, is pleased to announce the acquisition of, and partnership with, Believe Out Loud. Believe Out Loud will become a program of the Cathedral that will promote the message of God’s love for all, regardless of faith tradition. 

As a new program of Cathedral of Hope, Believe Out Loud’s mission is to meet the needs for spiritual content tailored to the LGBTQIA community. These resources will go beyond tolerance and acceptance and use the LGBTQIA experience as a framework for understanding the divine.

“In the face of constant efforts to squeeze people who are different out of public space, it is critical to remain grounded in the deep faith that all people are worthy of God’s love,” said Rev. Dr. Neil G. Thomas, Senior Pastor of Cathedral of Hope. “We are excited to partner with Believe Out Loud to spread that message and be an affirming space for all people of faith and our allies.”

Started in 2007 as the Religious Voices Project, the original mission of Believe Out Loud was to determine where mainline Protestant clergy stand on gay and lesbian equality and assess methods to move more clergy toward LGBT acceptance. Believe Out Loud has since expanded its campaign from reaching exclusively mainline Protestant clergy to reaching Christians of all kinds, regardless of denomination, affiliation, or role.

Believe Out Loud now works internationally and digitally, having evolved to become an online community for LGBTQIA people of faith and allies. The organization provides access to affirming worship services and livestreams, LGBT and faith-related events, connections to justice and inclusion organizations, mental health resources, and original content.

Now operating under the the leadership of Cathedral of Hope, Believe Out Loud aspires to be a more diverse space, specifically working to unite people of various faiths and religious experiences to find hope and reclaim their own experience of the Divine. Victoria Anderson, former digital and creative content associate for Believe Out Loud, has now joined the staff of the Cathedral of Hope as Director of Content Development. “The Board and Staff of Believe Out Loud conducted a thorough and national search, including most major national LGBTQ nonprofits, to find the perfect home for our future. We are thrilled that the new home proved to be Cathedral of Hope, and I’m excited to join the Reverend Neil and the incredible staff of Cathedral.” 

First Congregational Church of Houston Offers Invite to Sylvia Richards Memorial Lecture – October 16th

Submitted by Mary Harper

FCC Houston would like to invite local, area, and national UCC folks to the Inaugural Sylvia Richards Memorial lecture to be given by renowned speaker Dr. Jill Carroll at 4:00 pm CST on October 16, 2021.

She’ll discuss “The Faults in Our Stars (and Stripes): What 2020 Can Teach Us About Who We Are & Who We Might Become as a Nation.” Dr. Carroll is a recognized expert on issues of religious tolerance, American religion, and religion in public life.

Please join us for a stimulating talk, either in person at First Congregational Church of Houston, 10840 Beinhorn Rd, Houston, TX 77024 or livestream on YouTube. 

Tickets are available on Eventbrite. 
$20 (includes a reception and opportunity to meet Jill) 
$5 for livestream on YouTube

Eventbrite (in person)
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-faults-in-our-stars-and-stripes-in-person-event-tickets-169628018971

Eventbrite (virtual via YouTube)
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-faults-in-our-stars-and-stripes-virtual-event-tickets-169629900599

Church website pages (also found under the Get Involved tab on the home page):
https://www.fcc-houston.org/lectures/https://www.fcc-houston.org/lectures/jill-carroll/

Facebook Event: https://fb.me/e/Xndfb7ag

You’re Invited to Join the First Congregational Church of Houston at their October 8-10, 2021 Retreat at Slumber Falls

Houston Association Church, First Congregational Church is having their annual All Church Retreat at Slumber Falls the weekend of October 8-10th.

They would like to open this retreat to any and all SCC churches who would like to participate. If you have ever wanted to attend a retreat at Slumber Falls but your church couldn’t meet the minimum number requirement to reserve a facility….this is your opportunity!

If you have any questions about the retreat or would like to register, please contact Sue Earl at jearl18925@sbcglobal.net.

UCC Webinar – Movement Lessons: The First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit 30 Years Later – October 13th

Submitted by Rev. Brooks Berndt, UCC National Office

One of the best resources of the environmental justice movement today is its own history. Leading scholars in the field of environmental justice have described the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit as one of the most significant events in the movement’s history. It was an event hosted and organized by the UCC’s Commission for Racial Justice. In 1991, this summit literally re-defined the word “environment.”

No longer did the word refer to remote wilderness areas and pristine natural landscapes as was often the case for largely white environmental organizations. The environment became where one lived, worked, studied, played, and prayed. It became the water one drinks in one’s home. It became the air one breathes in one’s neighborhood. It became the safety of one’s workplace. The summit produced the landmark 17 Environmental Justice Principles that are still used as a source of moral guidance for environmental organizations to this day. The ripple effects of the summit continue to be felt today.

In this webinar, we will learn from three key participants in the summit: Charles Lee, Vernice Miller-Travis, and Richard Moore. Even if you can’t make the scheduled time of 1 pm ET on Wednesday, October 13th, still sign-up, and we will send you a recording. Register now!

Alpine Odyssey Tour of the Oberammergau Passion Play Begins September 5, 2022

Submitted by Rev. Jerry Carpenter, Retired SCC Clergy

Where will you be on September 5, 2022? You could be starting the journey of a lifetime as we travel to Germany to experience the once each decade presentation of the Oberammergau Passion Play presented by the villagers of Oberammergau, Germany. You may remember this tour was originally scheduled for September 2020 but had to be cancelled due to COVID-19.

I am leading a tour to Germany and Austria in 2022 through the tour organization Educational Opportunities. You can travel from your closest airport to connect with our tour group in New York and then travel on to Munich where we will all be together for a week to tour and see the Passion Play. 

The link below will take you to the brochure that describes the tour in full but if you would also like to receive a printed brochure that contains this information, please let me know and give me your mailing address and I will send one to you. I have led groups to Oberammergau in 2000 and 2010 and I am excited to lead this one in 2022.

Read More….

View Brochure


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

The Space Between

Submitted by Rev. Phil Hodson, Conference Minister

Your anchor passage at annual meeting 2021 came from Mark’s gospel. It referenced the storm over the lake and Jesus’ rebuke of the storm. At annual meeting reflections were offered on how God is with us in the midst of the storm and the power of faith in uncertain circumstances.

But there’s something else here, buried in the text. After Jesus rebukes the storm, all becomes quiet and still. In the stillness, in the quiet, the disciples reflect on who Jesus is and his significance in their lives. Today I write you in that strange quiet, almost surreal in-between space. A space where we are just beginning to understand the damage caused by Hurricane Ida in New Orleans. A space that has yet to be found for many as rain continues to shower across Louisiana, Mississippi, and makes its way north and east. A space where we can take stock of the reality of climate change in our world. A space where we can give thanks for lives spared. A space where we are going to remain, prayerfully together, for a little bit. I’ve heard from many already who want to spring into action, but we’re in a place where we don’t have enough information yet. We know there has been damage to several of our churches, and so we pray for them, knowing that we will respond with our bodies in working prayer to help rebuild and repair when the time comes. As we sit together in this space for a little while there is one other thing we can do: get ready. Pray up and ask God if we have the capacity to step in and help with rebuilding physically when the time comes. Pray up and then share our gifts so that the resources will be available to our churches and the wider communities when the time comes. 

We are a denomination built on being in covenant with one another. Being there for one another. And we, in the South Central Conference, will be. For today, we pray. And we prepare for the next faithful steps when the time is right. Each of us can give, as we are able, to lay the groundwork for recovery by responding to the Special Appeal issued this week by the national setting. I encourage us to do so. Let’s get ready, the action will spring forth in God’s good time.

Blessings,

Rev. Phil Hodson
Conference Minister
South Central Conference, 
United Church of Christ
3610 River Road
New Braunfels, TX 78132
T: (830) 625-2212 x 4 C: (765) 532-3429

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