As always, there are so many wonderful things to celebrate at UCC Austin. We are celebrating the end of the school year, especially for our graduates. We have new members, a full sanctuary with lots of children and VBS around the corner, a robust online worship, and new opportunities for community gatherings. There is a new playground in the works, and our recent property workday has our building looking refreshed for the spring and summer.
At the same time, your Executive Committee has been hard at work behind the scenes. We are working to update policies and best practices that are outdated or not yet created, focusing especially on financial, personnel, and safe church policies. We are also actively working to update our bylaws to better align with our new church staff and governance structure and to make some clarifications in sections that are vague. If you would like to be among the first to give feedback on the proposed changes, please contact Jon Kinder (firstname.lastname@example.org). We plan to have a full proposal ready for review before the November congregational meeting.
We are also happy to report that 19 people have joined our church in the last year, and we will have our next new/potential member gathering on June 4 and an opportunity to officially welcome new members on Pentecost Sunday, June 5.
At the end of April our finances, both giving and expenses, are tracking our approved 2022 budget very closely. We received over 80 pledges last year. Currently there are forty-three households contributing that did not pledge last year. Fourteen of these households are new to UCC. It’s exciting to see participation grow in all areas, including giving, in our church.
We joyfully celebrated Rev. Anna Kreisle being selected as our settled Sr. Minister, and great strides have been made to find outstanding new team members to support UCC. Since last October we have welcomed Ethan Roberts as Audio Visual Technician, Paula Snyder as Bookkeeper, Kelley DeCleene as Church Administrator, and Jose Hernandez as Facility/Groundskeeper. We are now actively seeking talent for our Accompanists ongoing and substitute opportunities, and we will soon begin searching for our new Director of Music to be on board in time for our fall programs.
Our recent Workday at the church was a big success. We were able to get most of the high priority items completed (or close to complete). The property committee would like to make the congregation aware of two new links on our website. The first link is a form that allows any congregant to let us know about maintenance issues. Our Maintenance Request form (uccaustin.org/ticket) allows you to identify the issue and provide a picture of the problem. The property committee also encourages congregants to sign up for a lawn mowing day. The lawn schedule can be found at uccaustin.org/lawn. We’re not looking for a long term commitment (unless that’s what you want) - we just need people to volunteer one or two times during the year. Mowing our own lawn saves our church $700 every month.
In closing, friends, United Christian Church is thriving. Your continued commitment to work with and within our church community to spread the Good News is evident in every area of our life together. Thank you!
~ UCC Church Council Executive Committee
From Pastor Meghan, Director of Youth Ministries
This Sunday, May 15th, we will take time to hear from and celebrate our 2022 graduates. We have eight high school seniors this year, possibly the largest graduating class to date for our church. While personally, I am sad to see them all go, I am also so glad to share with you this group of faithful youth who have worked hard to be the hands and feet of Christ in this world.
Please join us in person or online Sunday morning to help us celebrate our seniors, and please continue to hold them in prayer as they prepare for the next steps in their journey.
From Emily, Director of Children's Ministries
Please join us on Sunday after the worship service for the Playground presentation. For almost two years, Logan DeCleene has led the Playground Committee in planning and designing a play space for the children of United Christian Church. Last fall, we were able to have the border fence installed and the area is now ready to have a beautiful playground built, but we need your support. We need YOUR help to get this project finished! Come and hear about the important work this committee has done to envision a playground that our children will be able to enjoy for years (and years) to come. Slides, caves, climbers…and monkey bars, here we come!!! Help us make this beautiful playground happen for our children!
Friday, May 6, 2022
Last time I counted, we had 17 teachers and staff affliated with our congregation. And there are even more retired educators amongst us. The last two years of pandemic, poor funding, and political strife have taken a toll on educators to the point that over half are seriously thinking of finding a different profession. Yet, a new NPR poll shows that most parents feel their children are in good hands in the schools their children attend. To see the results of this poll go to https://www.npr.org/2022/04/29/1094782769/parent-poll-school-culture-wars. So, we asked our teachers what we could do to support them. Surprisingly, an immediate need is copy paper. Are you shocked? I know I was. Budget cuts have left our teachers buying their own copy paper to provide their students with the tools they need to be successful. Please take a ream of copy paper to your child’s teacher or bring one to church - the cost for one ream is about $7.50 and can be purchased at your local grocery or office supply store or online. If you bring copy paper to church, we will make sure it gets to a teacher. If you want to go further in supporting our educators, letter writing, voting on May 7th, going to school board meetings, and joining groups who support our schools could make all the difference to combat the very small group of loud voices who have agendas to hurt public education. In Round Rock ISD, one such support group is Access Education RRISD, but there are PTAs and parents groups in all our school districts where you could make a difference. If you want to find our more about being an advocate, talk to Rebecca Molis who has been attending and speaking at board meetings all this year. This should matter to everyone because we all pay school taxes in one way or another and an educated citizenry is vital to our democracy.
Blood supplies are low all over our area due to a lull is giving blood and an increased need for blood during the pandemic. All who can are encouraged to give blood in our informal blood drive at any blood bank during the weekend of May 14-15. Leslie Guerrero Collins and I have signed up at We Are Blood on May 15th at 1:00 pm, and they had many openings on that day that need to be filled. Take pictures and post it on our In-House Facebook group.
People need places to sleep and one of the biggest purchases needed to furnish apartments for refugees are for new mattresses and frames. Through May 15th, we are taking donations to purchase two twin beds (three would be even better) for Refugee Services of Texas. As of last week, we were more than half way to our goal of collecting $500. We take credit cards and any of our other means of donating. Make sure you put Twin Beds in the memo line of your donation.
As we have all heard this week, the Supreme Court seems to be ready to put an end to abortion rights. We wouldn’t think to dictate to you how to feel about this, but no matter how you feel, it is definitely the time to make your thoughts known to your elected representatives. Post cards, letters, emails need to go out immediately. Voting for representatives who support your views is imperative. We have a primary runoff coming up which will be your first chance to express your voice. May 13 is the last day to apply to vote by mail. Early voting runs from May 16-20 and the election is May 24th. The next chance you will have to make a difference is in the November 5th midterm elections. To find out the important deadlines for voting in this election go to https://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/important-election-dates.shtml. Non-partisan information for elections can be found at vote411.org. I can help you register to vote or update your voter information.
The death penalty came into focus with the recent case of Melissa Lucio. We were asked to participate in a letter writing campaign, but her case has recently been sent back to the court where she was prosecuted - same DA and same judge - so the disposition of her case is in question right now. This is not the end of her situation and to find out more information, go to https://innocenceproject.org/melissa-lucio-9-facts-innocent-woman-facing-execution/. Again, you can voice your opinion about the death penalty or this case by writing letters, speaking up, and voting. You may think that you are just one small voice, but the many individuals who wrote letters and spoke out made a difference in this case.
There never seems to be an end to the need for justice in this world and it can seem overwhelming at times. One letter, one postcard, one vote, one bed, one pint of blood, one ream of copy paper can make all the difference. Your voice is important. Let us join together as members of UCC to make a difference.
Social Justice Team Lead