Greetings to all, in the name of Christ our Redeemer! This coming Sunday we will be celebrating the festival of Pentecost. The term "Pentecost" is derived from a Greek word that means "fiftieth" and marks the fiftieth day after Easter and the Resurrection. It was a moment of transition between the Ascension of Christ and the shocking and unexpected outpouring of the Holy Spirit on a very diverse early Christian community.
There is a poetry in Scripture that was probably well understood in the early Church. Though the Fall of Humankind in the Garden of Eden was initiated by our symbolic mother Eve, the redemption of the world was made possible through the actions and obedience of our spiritual mother Mary. And so it is with Pentecost. A few weeks ago, Rev. Cam Burton spoke to us about the story of the Tower of Babel. In that story God responds to humanity's hubris by confounding their speech so that they could not understand each other. In the story of Pentecost the opposite happens. God as Holy Spirit descends on people who speak many languages and makes it so that they can understand what each other is saying. In this act I invite you to see the seeds of unity, acceptance, and equality.
So, what should you expect this Sunday at UCC? First off, come to church wearing fiery-colored clothing. Red is the official color of Pentecost. Pastor Carl will be preaching, and if you feel moved to officially join our church on this festival day, you will be invited to move to the front of the sanctuary and go through a short liturgy with Linda Laurence, our Community Connections Team Lead. We will end the service with a neat worship moment by circling the sanctuary with candles and singing "This Little Light of Mine" like we do "Silent Night" on Christmas Eve. The children will be invited to come back into the service for this if they'd like to join, and those who join us online are encouraged to participate as well.
This is a wonderful, exciting time at our church and we hope you will be able to join us this Sunday and beyond. June will be off to a big start at UCC with Pride Celebration Sunday on June 4, VBS running from June 5-9 , and VBS Celebration Sunday on June 11.
See you in church!
Worship Team Lead
Dear Church Family,
Just as Christ calls us, this community consistently supports "the least of these," and this Spring has been an amazing example of that.
Our April Social Justice project collected for and assembled 35 Birthday Bags for the Round Rock Area Serving Center. This was no small task, so thank you for the generosity of time and donations to make this possible.
This month, we are writing postcards to legislators in our state. The legislative session is drawing to a close at the end of May, and there are many issues that need to be addressed. Our legislators and governor need to know where people of faith stand. There is a table up in the fellowship hall with suggestions about bills you might specifically want to speak to, as suggested by Texas Impact, Equality Texas, and the League of Women Voters. Postcards, pens, and a writing prompt are all provided so you can easily write messages if you wish. We will address them, add stamps, then mail them to make it as easy as possible for you. Please use your voice.
Next month, we will be hosting a booth at the Pflugerville Pride Pfestival. On Saturday, June 10th, we need volunteers to join us at Pflugerville Pride from 3-8pm and help us with our Chapel of Love! Our hope is that we provide a space that lets all in the Pride Community know that we want to affirm and love them for exactly who they are. We believe that Love is Love and ALL are welcome at the table. So come help us offer blessings over all who choose to visit our booth!
Thank you, as always, for being the hands and feet of Christ as we work together to build the kin-dom of God.
~ The Social Justice Team
How can we care for you?
As you all read this email, I will be in San Diego with a group of friends, supporting Izzy, the stepdaughter of our late friend, Cary. Izzy is graduating from college and would love nothing more than to have Cary there, but instead she gets this band of women (and men) who have been working hard to mother her and her siblings since Cary died last May. It’s a bittersweet trip but there’s no place I’d rather be: in community with those who have worked so hard to hold each other up over this past year.
I am grateful for this time away and amazed at how each time there’s a need to fill, this church is the direct reflection of God’s kin-dom, supporting and helping one another as only loving building blocks can do. While I am gone this weekend, Rev. Dr. Sarah Henseler is filling in for me, leading prayers of the people. When our A/V Tech Ethan is away a few times this summer, I’ll fill in for him in the sound room, and Rev. Dr. Sarah Allen, Rev. Dr. Jenny Veninga, and Carol Barrett will step in for me to lead the prayers again. Two weeks ago when Emily and I were out sick, Carol Barrett, Melissa Vasquez, and Andrea Larson all stepped in to fill our roles.
In March, when the Merryman family experienced the sudden death of Brant, our church community stepped in to send food and gift cards. A week ago when Andrea Simoneau had surgery, meals were provided for her family. On Monday, Kelley posted a Care Calendar for the Allison-Johnson family and within 4 hours, all but one of the slots was filled.
This church never ceases to amaze me with its love and generosity, as well as its ability to pivot on a dime. You support the children, the youth, each other, and the staff. Over the last few months, leadership has come to the staff repeatedly to let us know the congregation wants to help and wants us to know that we have their support and prayers. I assure you, we have felt incredibly supported and cared for, so thank you!
But what I want to know now is…how can we care for you? The love and generosity flowing towards the staff is amazing, but it's important that it flow both directions. How can we care for you, how can we care for our lay leadership, and how can you care for leadership, each other, and yourself?
As the lyrics in our communion music said this past Sunday, “I thank God every time I remember you. Constantly praying for you.” I thank God for this church, this community, and this love and care flowing throughout our congregation.
This past Tuesday, our Church Administrator Kelley shared the following poem with us in staff meeting. I immediately asked if I could share it as part of our ministry minute this week. As we prepare for our annual Graduate Sunday this week, this poem really hit home for me.
The Facts of Life
That you were born
and you will die.
That you will sometimes love enough
and sometimes not.
That you will lie
if only to yourself.
That you will get tired.
That you will learn most from the situations
you did not choose.
That there will be some things that move you
more than you can say.
That you will live
that you must be loved.
That you will avoid questions most urgently in need of
That you began as the fusion of a sperm and an egg
of two people who once were strangers
and may well still be.
That life isn’t fair.
That life is sometimes good
and sometimes better than good.
That life is often not so good.
That life is real
and if you can survive it, well,
survive it well
and meaning given
where meaning’s scarce.
That you will learn to live with regret.
That you will learn to live with respect.
That the structures that constrict you
may not be permanently constraining.
That you will probably be okay.
That you must accept change
before you die
but you will die anyway.
So you might as well live
and you might as well love.
You might as well love.
You might as well love.
- Pádraig Ó Tuama
This Sunday is always bittersweet for me, and I’m sure many others in our congregation. Serving the youth of our church has brought me much joy (and tears), but also much wisdom. I have learned so much from them, mostly just watching how they unabashedly care for those around them, being certain to create a space of inclusion and belonging. In a world, and especially a state, where so much is telling them to hate or dislike certain things, thoughts, or even people, they simply choose to love. Our youth have taught me to live and to love, even when it seems really difficult to do, and for that, I am grateful.
I hope you can join us, in person or online, this Sunday for Graduate Sunday. You’ll get to hear from all of our graduates, and witness first-hand the ways in which they choose to live and love. Congratulations to all of our graduates! This church loves you!
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” -- Psalm 119:105
My name is Jan Austin-Scott, and I’m UCC’s Education Team Lead. Growing up in the Church of Christ gave me a firm faith foundation, a love for 4-part a cappella singing, and an understanding of the importance of participating in my church community. As my faith evolved, particularly over my years in Buenos Aires and Boston, I attended Churches of Christ as well as Disciples of Christ and United Church of Christ congregations. Becoming a part of UCC when we moved to Austin in 2004 was an obvious choice!
So much is happening in our Education Program right now, and I enthusiastically invite everyone to get involved! We are blessed to have both staff and lay-members who plan and implement meaningful and fun programming. There are classes and activities for every person in our church; we appreciate both our attendees, and our volunteers who make our programs possible. (We need and love our volunteers, and we look for opportunities to feed them well!! )
Under the brilliant and creative leadership of Emily Jamison Guerrero, our Director of Children’s Ministries, and Meghan Dever, our Pastor of Pastoral Care and Youth Ministries, our youngest children through teens actively learn Bible stories and teachings, and understand how to connect the meaning of those stories to their everyday lives.
Upcoming events for our children and youth include:
We invite adults to join these ongoing faith and fellowship opportunities. Details can be found at this link.
Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions, feedback or ideas about UCC’s faith and fellowship programs. Or find me at church for an in-person conversation. We’re making plans now for summer and fall!
Yours on the journey -- Jan
Retreat on Rest
“Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” –Matthew 11:28-30
What does rest look like to you? How is rest a form of resistance? If we take time to rest our minds, our bodies, our souls, can we see God more clearly? These are the questions we will be considering on our youth retreat this weekend. We’ll be at Slumber Falls Camp, just off the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels. Activities will include lectio divina, meditation stations, cookie decorating, worship, games and, of course, some time sitting by the river. Personally, I am so excited about the return of our spring youth retreat (we haven’t had one since 2019), I can barely stand it. I love this time with our youth; watching them spend time together laughing and learning fills my soul in ways I don’t know how to explain. As we explore what rest looks like, and where we see God in our world, we will also be building on friendships established in this church that value welcome and inclusivity.
The retreat is not our last youth event of the school year though! On May 7th we’ll celebrate our high school seniors and any college students graduating this year during our Graduate Sunday service. Our high school youth will lead worship, and we’ll offer a blessing over all of our graduates. Please be sure to join us on May 7th and help us honor our students reaching such an important milestone in their education.
May your weekend be filled with rest and may you find your burdens lightened.
Pastor of Pastoral Care & Youth Ministries
Building the Kin-dom of God
For the next nine weeks, during our season of Easter, we will be focusing our worship around building the kin-dom of God. Now, you may wonder what “kin-dom” is all about…like, could they just be misspelling Kingdom? I’ll admit, when I first heard the term years ago, I thought that someone was pronouncing kingdom wrong or possibly using an interesting accent.
Well, here’s what we’re learning about the difference: A kingdom in itself is about power. Kingdoms are about dominance, control, and the singular influence of one person who has authority to rule. God’s Kingdom, however, is truly a KIN-dom. The word “kin” means family, so it makes sense that kin-dom is about our family of faith – our community. The kin-dom of God is inclusive, non-hierarchical, relational, full of compassion, and justice-oriented. A true kin-dom is, therefore, a community of equals.
Throughout this series, including our AMAZING week of Vacation Bible School (June 5-9), we will wonder together about what it means to build the kin-dom of God. We’ll remember the story of Abram and Sarai and how they built altars on their journey. We’ll remember the story of the Tower of Babel and how ego got in the way of going out and doing God’s work in the world. We’ll remember the story of Solomon as he supervised the building of the Temple over 7 long years. We’ll remember the parables of the House on the Rock and the Mustard Seed. Finally, we’ll remember how Jesus called the disciples and asked them to be “fishers of men.”
We’ll wonder together what God’s calling is for us as individuals and as a community of faith. How can we build the kin-dom of God? What are WE, as the church, called to do?
With love, always,
Emily Jamison Guerrero
Director of Children's Ministries
Good Friday Meditation
My name is Meghan Hatcher. My spouse, Corey, and I first attended UCC on Easter Sunday 2022 and joined the church officially in December. It’s been our distinct joy to be part of this beautiful, caring, and affirming community of faith. Thank you for welcoming us so fully.
If you’re reading this message on Good Friday, we are midway through the Triduum – the three days spanning the evening of Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday. As we enter this period in the Church’s calendar, the movements of our faith’s story and our liturgies pick up speed. It’s a veritable sprint from Jesus sacrificially washing his friends’ feet; to his brutal arrest and crucifixion at the hands of the Roman state; and finally, to his totally improbable resurrection. So much unfolds in these three days and, if you’re like me, you’re prone to rush past the emotions of it all.
As people of faith in 2023 we have the tremendous benefit of history. We know how this story ends. We know that what John 19:30 tells us was not, in fact, Jesus’ final act: “When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” But what if for today you place yourself in the role of Joseph of Arimathea or Nicodemus, the two men who received Jesus’ beaten and lifeless body, prepared it for burial, and laid it in the empty tomb (John 19:38-42)? What might it have felt like to truly believe your teacher, friend, and the person who just might be the Messiah, was dead? Gone. No more.
My encouragement to us all is that we sit with the grief, discomfort, and unknowing of Good Friday. Because in reality, Good Friday is a lot like our lives sometimes, isn’t it? We don’t always know that Love wins, hope is coming, and grief will be defeated. Let us not rush past this reality, but instead, pause long enough to feel the weight of Good Friday. That way the incredible hope of Easter Sunday will be that much more precious this year.
Holy Week is fast approaching!
This past Tuesday, we sat down ー equipped with print-outs of past services and lots of brain food ー to plan out the services of Holy Week. Four hours later, we left this “mega staff meeting” with clear directions for numerous, very special (and fast-approaching) services…and lots of to-do lists! We are very excited to be entering this holy time with you and grateful for the opportunity to lead us all through this beautiful season, from ashes to palms to lilies.
Our Palm Sunday service on April 2 will be similar to last year’s service: a narrative re-telling of the Passion Story, beginning with Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and ending with his crucifixion. We’ll have palms to wave, the vocal and bell choirs will share special music, and you’ll be able to experience the story in a myriad of ways, through sound, sight, and more. The service begins at 10am, in-person and live-streamed.
The Maundy Thursday service on April 6 will be an intimate time together, remembering the night before Jesus died. The service will take us through the Passover meal, foot-washing, and time of prayer that Jesus shared with his disciples. We’ll start the evening with a potluck dinner in the Fellowship Hall at 6pm, followed by the service at 7pm, in-person and live-streamed.
On Good Friday, April 7, our remembrances of Jesus’ last week will take the shape of stations placed throughout the Fellowship Hall and Sanctuary. All will have the chance to come experience pieces of the stories in creative and ceremonial ways. These stations are appropriate for all ages and in-person, open to come-and-go from 5-8pm on Good Friday.
Finally, on April 9 for Easter morning, we’ll have two services to celebrate: an outdoor sunrise service at 7am, and an indoor and online service at 10am. We are delighted to have our own Meghan Hatcher as preacher and celebrant at both services. The 7am service features a bonfire and quiet music. The 10am service will feature both our handbell and vocal choirs, trumpets and chimes, the baptism of two of our youth, and a procession of bunnies, butterflies, and more! Following the 10am service, the kids are invited to enjoy an Easter Egg Hunt - our first one on the new playground! Finally, we’ll have a potluck of breakfast pastries and brunch items so we can enjoy a longer fellowship together, just like we do on other second Sundays!
Please join us in holy celebration during Holy Week, at any or all of our special gatherings. If you’d like to participate during one of the services, please reach out to Worship Team Lead Clark Thompson at email@example.com so we can plug you in. Otherwise, we’ll see you online or at the church!
Together on the journey, seeking and serving,
Kelley DeCleene ~ Meghan Dever ~ Emily Jamison Guerrero ~ Julie Stiles
Join the Music Ministry!
My name is Julie Stiles, and I am the Church Musician/Music Coordinator for UCC. I have the privilege of choosing the music to accompany each service, directing the UCC Choir, and I am a happy member of the UCC Bell Choir.
I grew up in the Church of Christ, which many of you know is an acapella-only denomination. I credit the Church of Christ with my love for the traditional hymns, as well as my good ear for music! After I moved to Austin, I did not attend any church for many years but, around 13 years ago, my husband Bob, son Will, and I found United Christian Church.
Since day one, I have been excited about the music program here at UCC - I immediately joined the choir under Lauren Zachry-Reynolds, and soon was also playing piano for occasional services and special music. For a couple of years, I directed one of our children’s choirs on Wednesday nights (I am hoping we can start this program up again before too long!). It was only natural, and quite the honor, that I became the dedicated 9AM accompanist when that position was needed. Nowadays, as Church Musician, I get to select and present music to all of you, proceeding with a servant heart as my talents lead. I love serving UCC this way!
As Lent rolls towards Easter, both the Bell Choir and Vocal Choir are rehearsing their music for Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday...It is not too late to join! Just email me or show up at 7PM Wednesdays (Vocal Choir) or 8PM Wednesdays (Bell Choir) and we’ll have a space just for you.
Alternatively, if you have musical skills or talents that you wish to share with the congregation, please let me know. We can work together to find a hymn or piece that would fit into a Sunday service, or you can bring whatever you’ve got for consideration. There are also opportunities to play or sing in a small group of musicians; please let me know if you’d be interested in participating. We love our musical family!
If we haven’t already met, I look forward to meeting each of you. If you have any questions, concerns, constructive criticism, or just want to say hi, please reach out to me in person at church, via email, or on Facebook. I value all opinions and hymn requests from each of you.
Peace be with you,
Worship at 10am each Sunday In-Person and Online
We are proudly affiliated with both the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
3500 West Parmer Lane, Austin TX 78727
We are proudly affiliated with both the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
3500 West Parmer Lane, Austin TX 78727