"Privilege does not have to be negative, but we have to share our resources and take direction about how to use our privilege in ways that empower those who lack it." - bell hooks
We at UCC are constantly trying to find ways to share our privilege and we will have opportunities to do that in the next three months. Whether we share with our own community as our children and families will be doing by baking bread this Sunday or whether we share with the wider community as our youth will be doing this Saturday at the CrysalisQ Playdate, we are a community with a heart for making lives better through love.
Here are some ways you can share:
1) In September and October, we will collect items to go into Church World Service Hygiene kits. These kits go to those who are dealing with disasters or are in a refugee situation. Right now, many are going to the areas of the United States like Kentucky who have experienced unprecedented flooding. Some go to ministries on the border of Texas and Mexico. Here is what we will be collecting:
Service for distribution.
2) During our Community Building sermon series, we will have a blessing of the prayer shawls. If you have a prayer shawl you are working on (even if it is partially finished), bring it to church that Sunday to be blessed.
3) In October and early November, we are collecting canned goods for the Bethany Faith Food Pantry Thanksgiving boxes. We don’t know what we will be assigned yet, but will find out before October. The Social Justice Committee will buy the boxes used for the distribution and our youth will assemble and fill them in November.
4) Please continue to fill our Little Free Food Pantry by bringing non-perishable food items for our Children’s Collection on Sundays.
5) Finally, put Sunday, March 5th at 2:00 pm on your calendar for the Austin CROP Hunger Walk at Camp Mabry.
Please keep your Social Justice ideas coming. We are currently trying to find a meeting time for the team that works with our new small group schedule, so keep an eye out for announcements. Send any thoughts, questions, or comments to email@example.com.
Social Justice Team Lead
This Sunday is “Kickoff Sunday,” but truth be told, the activity around church picked up weeks ago. Last week, youth and volunteers finished up the Gaga Ball Pit in what was formerly our garden area for the youth to use at their Youth Group Kickoff Party this Sunday evening, preceded by an information session for families with youth interested in our Confirmation Class.
After months of anticipation and even getting temporarily lost in the mail, the first piece of our Children’s Playground has arrived: a cave! In addition to tracking all these shipments down, Emily has been preparing the schedule of Godly Play lessons for our children during worship, with an all-new story about the fierce prophetess Deborah! We'll also be resuming our Children's Offering before the children's sermon, collecting from the congregation spare change and nonperishables for the Little Pantry. For Second Sunday Social, she's also planning a Bread Baking Party for World Communion Sunday, so please RSVP for that!
Our Small Groups are taking RSVPs for this fall. Groups will meet every other week for authentic conversation, community building, and fun. See below for the schedules and more information.
Kelley has been printing up helpful UCC Fall 2022 brochures with our events and groups and gorgeous Devotional Journals for you based on this month's sermon series. Pick up your copies at church on Sunday. Kelley’s also made Conversation Cards based on our series for use in your small groups and framed gorgeous new Artwork associated with each Sunday to display in worship.
Personally, I’m enjoying getting to know all the new friends who have been coming through our doors lately. I’m excited to hold another UCC 101 after worship this Sunday and New Friends & Members Potluck at my house next Saturday to get to know many of you better. If you’ve been worshipping with us for some time now, and UCC feels like your church home, you’re warmly invited to come up front during the Sending Hymn any Sunday in September to become a member.
There's so much to celebrate that I hope you join us for Kickoff Sunday, either at our monthly 8:30 AM Outdoor Worship Service OR our weekly Hybrid Worship at 10 AM (sanctuary & online) to kick off a fall semester of community building, faith formation, and service in the name of Christ.
How many times have I heard myself say, "I've been thinking about you and meaning to check in…" or "You've been on my mind and I've been meaning to ask..."
The ellipses symbolize the main objective for our September sermon series, titled "I've Been Meaning to Ask": to cultivate deeper relationships to God and to one another through meaningful and authentic conversations.
During the pandemic, many of us have experienced a general sense of disconnection as we literally placed partitions between us and the rest of the world. Not only have we been physically divided, but our culture has also become increasingly divided -- divided along lines of politics, social class, generation, and race. It's now possible to live your life in a silo, interacting only with people of your age, race, political persuasion, and income level. You can even curate your news feed to show only articles that align with your beliefs! The Church, however, is one of the few intergenerational communities left where people of different ideas, abilities, and backgrounds come together to live life together.
So each Sunday, we'll be asking a question that will stir meaningful conversations at Church and in your small groups to connect us with God through authentic relationships with one another:
By the time you receive this, I will be on my way to Minnesota to visit my dear friend from seminary, Rev. Mariah Tollgaard, whom you heard preach at my installation in February. This will be my last Sunday away before our regular fall programming kicks off, and then you’ll be stuck with me through Christmas!
Though I will not be with you in body this Sunday, I will be worshipping with you online because I’m so excited to hear Rev. Dr. Sarah Allen preach this Sunday. Dr. Allen is the Director of the Doctor of Ministry and Supervised Practice of Ministry programs at Austin Seminary and is ordained in the Presbyterian Church, USA. We have been blessed to have her family of 5 worshipping with us these past months and to have them as part of our community.
Speaking of community, I’m so excited for our fall sermon series on community, and the community we will be building in our small groups. After hours of logistical gymnastics by Jan Austin-Scott and Mark Simoneau, we just have a few final details to confirm, but we can tell you that:
This Sunday, please join us for a wonderful morning of celebrations!
During our 10 a.m. Worship Service, we will have a special time of Blessing for those beginning a new school year - students, teachers, and school staff. All are invited to bring a backpack or school bag, and any other teaching tools that you would like to have blessed during the service.
Let's help our neighbors by bringing school supplies to donate to area schools. We want to help everyone have the best start possible to their school year - bring ANY school supply to donate during the month of August!
After the worship service, please stay as we celebrate the new school year with our Second Sunday Social: Splash-Party Edition! Bring clothes you can splash around in, a towel, and lunch or snack for your family. The church will provide the water and some fun water-play activities. We hope you'll stay to play, snack, and socialize with our church family!!!
Looking forward to seeing everyone soon!
With love, always,
This Sunday, August 7th, we will celebrate Pride Sunday at UCC. While celebrating Pride Sunday is not a new thing for our congregation, celebrating it as an out, queer woman is new for me. When I began attending this church in 2008, I knew it was a special place. The sense of community, the amazing children’s programs, the true feeling of welcome and inclusion, were like nothing I had ever experienced anywhere before. I loved being a part of a church that had a clearly written open and affirming statement...what a welcome to all!
After attending for several years, I was so proud of the intentional work put into expanding that open and affirming statement. The work put into making the statement more inclusive and welcoming, showed that our congregation believes very much in the phrase “God is still speaking.” We are a congregation that continues to show welcome and love, because we are willing to continue to learn and grow in our faith.
This extravagant welcome and continued focus on what it means to be a child of God, is what helped me to learn to know myself better. I am grateful for a God that loves me "no matter who I am, or where I am on life’s journey.” What a privilege that the church where I am encouraged to serve, worship, and practice my faith, is one of such love, welcome, and radical hospitality. Thank you all for loving me into being, I look forward to sharing more of my story this Sunday!
Pastor Meghan Dever
Director of Youth Ministries
The dog days of summer are upon us here in Austin, and that’s usually when worship attendance begins to dip. At UCC, however, longtimers and newcomers are continuing to show up every Sunday for our annual summer sermon series, “God at the Movies.” Twenty-six youth and 6 adults also showed up for our first in-person youth mission trip in 2 years, practicing eco-stewardship at the gulf coast. Thirty-seven children and 44 adults showed up for fun and faith in our first in-person Vacation Bible School in 2 years. This time last year, I have to admit I worried that people wouldn’t show up to church again after getting out of the habit during the lockdown, but you proved that I should “fear not.”
Truly, United Christian Church of Austin is a community of people who show up. When we were forced to worship online, you still showed up. When it came time to install your senior minister, you showed up. When we asked for your financial support to build a playground for our children, you showed up. When we asked for you to support women, refugees, and transgender youth, you showed up. Because of all the ways you’ve been showing up, our financial outlook remains strong, and we’re continuing to make improvements to our governance, ministries, and outreach. None of these things could have happened without you showing up with your gifts of time and money.
So thank you United Christian Church of Austin, for all the ways you show up for Christ and for each other.
Rev. Anna Kreisl
This week in our God at the Movies series, we are watching Soul. Soul isn’t just a movie about music, or about the afterlife. Soul is a look at how we find our calling, how we find what makes us “us.” Below are some of the top quotes from Soul. Which ones resonate with you? Which ones will you be thinking about as you join us for worship on Sunday?
Join us Sunday, online or in person, as Rev. Anna preaches on Soul. Of course, we’ve got two more Disney Sundays after that! Our movie for July 24th is Coco, and for our last Sunday of the month we’ll take a look at Moana. We hope to see you soon.
For those who weren’t able to be part of our worship service this past Sunday, here’s a recap of what some of our youth shared about their experience during our mission trip with Blue Theology.
On our first full day of service, we went down to the beach to clean up trash. Together we picked up around 100 pounds of trash. While we were saving the environment, we were also having fun and building friendships. Beach cleanups are a worthy cause to bring people together, to focus on the environment and to learn ways to protect it.
- Norah, 6th Grader
The church we went to makes something called “plarn.” Plarn is made by using used plastic grocery bags and cutting them into strips, then looping all of those together. They then use the long strips to crochet them all together into large sleeping mats for the homeless. These mats can be used for insulation in the winter, and to avoid the heat in the summer. It can take around 700 bags to make one of the mats. - Jackson, 7th grader
On Monday, we worked with Galveston Bay foundation to help restore some of the wetland shore lines. We planted sea grass using a dibbler, which is a wedge-like tool that you drive into the ground and wiggle back and forth to make a hole big enough to plant the sea grass. We worked in groups of three with one person as the dibbler, one that plants and one that holds the bunches of seagrass. By planting sea grass we hope to build back the ecosystem and help with erosion. We also moved a net along the bottom of the water and then picked it up quickly so we were able to see what lived in the water. There was mostly clear shrimp and minnows but we also saw a sea snot and a stingray which was apparently very rare.
We also went to the local biosphere which is a recycling plant. They told us that they sort and compact materials only to be shipped off somewhere else. I was a little disappointed to hear this but it tells us that recycling isn’t the best solution, we really need to focus on reusing and reducing the amount of waste we produce. – Morgan, Senior
On Wednesday, we participated in two activities, the first of which being service at a food bank in Texas City. Our work at the food bank was comprised of two jobs: packing lunches for kids in the area, and sorting produce into “keep” and “throw away.” Those of us packing lunches formed an assembly line, and completed a total of 741 meal kits. The group sorting through produce delicately parsed through moldy and decomposing vegetables to find the fresh food, eventually filling 3 pallets with edible produce. During this service, the members of this youth group worked in harmony, collectively helping each other serve others. This sense of community continued into our next activity: Prairie planting at Galveston Island State Park. At this site, we transferred different plants from a nursery to a piece of land in need of rejuvenation. The grasses we planted will provide lasting, positive effects on the environment, acting as erosion prevention and as an all natural carbon sink. Each member of the group worked just as hard as before to complete this task. I’d like to especially highlight the efforts of those of us on their first mission trip, who have never experienced this kind of service before due to COVID restrictions. Despite being new to service work at this level, they all sprung into action and worked as diligently as any experienced member of the youth group. - Gabriel, Junior
“A mature Christian sees Christ in everything and everyone else. That is a definition that will never fail you, always demand more of you, and give you no reasons to fight, exclude, or reject anyone.”
― Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For and Believe
This past week 25 youth and 6 adults spent time in Texas City and Galveston learning about creation care and climate justice. We spent time cleaning the beach and sand dunes. Our youth cut up plastic bags to make balls of “plarn” for weaving mats to give to the homeless. Youth and adults waded into the marshy waters to plant sea grass in order to help restore the coastline. After a busy morning of packing produce and kids lunches at the Galveston County Food Bank, youth planted over 100 native grasses at Galveston Island State Park to help restore the eco-system and capture carbon from the atmosphere.
But that’s not all they did! In the mornings and evenings youth spent time doing meditative yoga, writing to their representatives, discussing where they saw the divine in things during the day, preparing and serving meals to one another, washing dishes, playing games, singing loudly to fun music, painting each other’s nails, engaging local kids at a neighborhood park, and just generally getting to know one another better.
While our mission trip was themed around eco-justice, the real theme was and always is present, seeing the Christ in one another and in all that surrounds us. The youth of this church certainly do that, and they constantly work to create an inclusive and welcoming space for all of their peers. One night when our youth were asked to share something that surprised them so far on the trip, someone shared that they were “surprised how little they’ve had to fight for respect and recognition” on the trip.
So, I hope you join us, in person or online, this Sunday to hear from our youth about the work they did on this mission trip. But beyond hearing about the work they did, I hope you also open your hearts and minds to live like them, and ‘see Christ in others, demand more of yourself, and have no reason to fight, exclude, or reject anyone.’
With an open heart and mind,
Director of Youth Ministries
Outdoor Worship at 8:30am on 1st Sundays of the Month
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