My name is Linda Laurence and I am the Community Connections Team Lead. My role involves welcoming and fellowship in our church.
I am a charter member of United Christian Church. I joined one of our predecessor congregations, Pecan Springs Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with my family when I was 11 years old in 1971. Here at UCC, my father is still an active member, along with my husband, daughter and daughter-in-law.
United Christian Church was formed as an ecumenical partnership between Pecan Springs Christian Church (DOC) and Trinity United Church of Christ. Talks of merging began in 1990. Both congregations were becoming stagnant in membership, so both church councils voted to move forward with the merger. After months of praying and planning, our first service as United Christian Church was held on October 6, 1991. It was decided that due to location and size, the Trinity UCC building would be the best place to meet. Shortly thereafter, the property and building of PSCC was sold to an up-and-coming church that needed a larger building. That church is still thriving today. We knew at the onset that the Trinity site would not be our permanent home, so a committee began searching for property. We were able to purchase the land on Parmer Lane, sold the Trinity building and property to a neighboring church, and began the process of building a new building.
In the meantime, we had a hired a new Senior Minister, and began the road to who we are today. Our first service in the new building on Parmer Lane was a prayer vigil on September 12, 2001, and our first worship service was September 16, 2001. Our building was expanded in 2007 to renovate the Sanctuary and add the Children’s Wing. Just in the last year, we held the successful campaign to purchase and install a wonderful new playground for our children.
Over the years we have had many challenges and triumphs. Much like a marriage, there has been a lot of learning about one another's traditions and growing pains. We have had serious and lively conversations over communion every Sunday versus once a month, intinction versus passing of trays, chairs versus pews in the Sanctuary. Eventually, those decisions were made and we carried on. Over the past 30+ years we have had 4 Senior Pastors, including our first openly gay minister and first female. Each one has brought their own unique style and gifts. We have grown our membership significantly to a vibrant congregation of inclusion and diversity. In 2007, we passed our first Open and Affirming Statement.
We have a thriving children’s program led by Emily Jamison Guerrero and very active youth ministry led by Pastor Meghan Dever. In the fall of 2022, we formed several small groups meeting on various days of the week in members' homes. These small groups have restarted for the Spring semester of 2023. We have also added an adult discussion class on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month meeting after worship at the church building.
We will soon be entering into the liturgical season of Lent. But before that, this Sunday, February 19, we will have our first Joining Sunday of 2023. If you have been engaged in worship and fellowship with us and desire to become a member, you will have the opportunity to formally join UCC. There will be an invitation towards the end of the service.
Moving forward into Lent, there will be two opportunities on Ash Wednesday, February 22, to receive the imposition of ashes: a drive-by at noon and evening service at 7 p.m. There will be a soup fellowship supper before the evening service beginning at 6 pm. All are invited.
If we haven’t met, I look forward to meeting each of you. Please feel free to reach out to me via email or find me at church.
Peace be with you,
Community Connections Team Lead
I am Laurie Thornhill and I am writing to you as Elder Chair.
My family and I have been members of United Christian Church for almost 19 years. Bryan and I got married in the church building before the children’s wing was added. We have witnessed many other changes in UCC- from staffing to flooring to stewardship campaigns (I think I remember one about toilet paper?). But a constant in this church is the relationships. From the folks who greet at the door to waves at the cameras for those who are worshipping virtually, there is a genuine kindness and caring spirit at UCC.
Our Elder Team is an extension of this loving care. We are a team of members who strive to extend care to folks who are asking for prayers, experiencing illness or life struggles, or grieving a lost loved one. We send cards and make calls and visits. We are working with Meghan, UCC's Pastor of Youth and Pastoral Care Ministries, to reach more folks who need care or just a kind hello. This is where we need your help. We invite you to request care for yourself or someone else. You may choose to share a reason, or just request prayers and/or a visit. There are many ways to do this:
I am blessed and honored to serve as an Elder alongside Rev. Jane Perrine, Letty Tomlinson, Andrea Simoneau, and Rev. Jenny Veninga. Pastor Meghan Dever is our Pastoral Care Extraordinaire and we have additional volunteers who are helping in our caring endeavors. We look forward to another year of caring for our UCC family.
Greetings to all, in the name of Christ our brother, our example, and our daily inspiration.
I hope that you are doing well physically, mentally, and spiritually during this unusual and challenging week. Another winter storm has disrupted our lives for the second time in the last few years and we find ourselves in a liminal space, in a state of waiting. Waiting for the lights to come back on. Waiting for warmth. Waiting for a return to normalcy.
At the root of our Christian faith is the story of a God who somehow chose to enter our imperfect world and to suffer alongside us. In all of life’s calamities, both great and small, I find this paradox comforting. I hope that you do as well as you face the challenges of this season and beyond.
I am so pleased to begin my second year serving as your Worship Team lead. As you know, our church offers many opportunities to contribute to the rich and creative worship experience that we have come to expect at UCC. From thematic chancel décor to stewardship video shorts to special music, our Worship Team is fortunate to be able to tap into the talents of so many willing volunteers to help enrich our Sunday mornings together. For that we are very grateful.
In the Book of Revelation, Christ says “Behold, I make all things new.” Although UCC Austin has been the spiritual home of our family for almost 15 years now, I still catch myself at times thinking of it as our “new” church. Indeed, Christ does make all things new. The years and seasons do not roll by with drudgery and sameness. Each comes with new perspectives, new challenges, and new opportunities.
I would like to focus on this last category to help keep our Sunday morningworship running smoothly. We are in particular need of additional volunteers to assist our Audio-Visual technician Ethan Roberts in the sound room. Having a helper ensures that the AV aspects of the service, including slide transitions during hymns, go smoothly. If you are interested in helping in this capacity, Ethan will be conducting a training on Sunday, February 19, starting at 9:30 sharp.
We are also on the lookout for volunteers to serve as acolyte. If your child is of elementary-school age please encourage them to consider becoming an acolyte, an important role as the acolyte symbolically brings the light of Christ into the midst of the congregation at the start of each worship service. If your child would like a short training before the service, please contact me using the email listed below and I will arrange that.
Thank you for the ways that you are already contributing to our church family and thank you for considering new ways that you might serve the Body of Christ. I count myself as truly blessed to be able to serve this loving community of faith.
Worship Team Lead 2023