Support our youth this Christmas
For me, there is so much to love about Advent and Christmas Time. I love the cooler weather, peppermint mochas, decorations and lights, family traditions, and of course, youth group traditions.
In a few weeks we'll have our annual ugly sweater Christmas party, accompanied by some sort of silly games and likely lots of candy. But leading up to this fun event, we've been working to build relationships among our youth. We do this through weekly meetings, meals around tables, and service to others.
Three weeks ago we held our fall Lock-In where we focused on service to our direct church community, our local neighborhood community, and the broader Austin community. Our youth assembled 100 boxes and packed them with 500 canned goods, as well as other food items. The youth also purchased items to help stock the Little Free Pantry, made blankets for those experiencing homelessness, and finished moving the mulch into the playground area. Also this fall, the youth have served at a playdate for LGBTQ kids and their families, and packed poinsettias at Down Home Ranch.
All of this relationship building and service work throughout the year leads to our biggest event: our Mission Trip. In 2023 our youth will serve for a week with Appalachia Service Project doing home repair and learning about poverty. In order to fund these mission trips, we rely on parent contributions for each youth and fundraising. We currently have two fundraisers going on, if you would like to support our youth.
Through this Sunday, 12/4, you can purchase poinsettias. Our poinsettias come from Down Home Ranch and are absolutely gorgeous. You may order in person or online, and can also choose to order one to be delivered to one of our homebound members. Poinsettias will be available for pick-up after worship on 12/11.
Through that Sunday, 12/11, you can also order gift cards. Gift cards are available through many popular retailers, and make a great gift or stocking stuffer! The gift cards will be available for pick-up on Sunday, December 18. All information about gift card ordering is available online, or in person.
Thank you for loving and supporting our youth!
A Long History of Grace in Action
‘Which of these three, do you think,
was a neighbor to the man
who fell into the hands of the robbers?’
He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’
+ Luke 10:36-37
Over the last several weeks, we’ve been exploring what “Grace in Action” looks like, for God and for us. We’ve considered God’s generosity in building the home of creation, and our call to be world-builders and homemakers, too. We’ve thought about God’s prodigal, neverending welcome, and about our own hospitality and celebration.
This week, as we approach Giving Sunday, October 23rd, we’d like to ask you to reflect on the grace that appears when we least expect it.
That’s what Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan is all about, since Jews and Samaritans didn’t get along in those days: imagining someone from the “other side” – of the aisle, of the debate, of the conflict – whose actions beautifully reflect the grace of God. And then going and doing likewise.
When the image of God shines brightest through our lives, we find ourselves building bridges, showing and receiving mercy, and learning from supposed “enemies.” Through our youth planting sea grass to restore Texas marshes, our Social Justice team providing feminine hygiene products and school supplies for students in need, using our building to host open and affirming ministries like Gender Hope, demonstrating at the State Capitol to support sensible gun control, and supporting many local nonprofits like Austin Coalition for the Homeless, we’ve been a part of God’s merciful work of justice and reconciliation.
United Christian Church of Austin has a long history of “Grace in Action,” and with your help, we can do even more. So be sure to join us this Sunday for Giving Sunday, when we’ll celebrate and reflect on all the ways God’s “Grace in Action” has shaped our community, as well as all the ways we seek to be more gracious in our lives and work together. If you haven’t pledged online already at uccaustin.org/pledge, be ready in worship to fill a pledge card out with grace upon grace!
See you Sunday,
Rev. Anna Kreisle (Senior Minister), Letty Tomlinson (Stewardship Team Lead), Jan Keeling (Financial Secretary), and Sarah Donohoe (Treasurer)
Collections through October 30th
We have two active collections as we continue in hurricane season and look toward the holiday season.
We are collecting items for Hygiene Kits with Church World Service. These kits go to those who are recovering from disasters or are in a refugee situation. Needed items are:
Each year in October, we collect canned food for Thanksgiving Boxes at Bethany Food Pantry. Bethany asks us to collect canned corn, green beans, and yams, and we have made it easy by suggesting you grab the cans based on your last name.
Last Name A-G: 15 oz. Canned Corn
Last Name H-O: 15 oz. Canned Green Beans
Last Name P-Z: 29 oz. Canned Yams
After worship on October 30th for our 5th Sunday Social Justice project, we will prepare the cans to go to Bethany who will hand them out to their clients, and we will assemble the hygiene kits and ship them directly to Church World Service for distribution.
Thank you for giving where you can to our neighbors experiencing needs.
Grace in Action
We’re so excited to launch this year’s annual giving campaign, “Grace in Action.” Throughout the month of October, we’ll reflect together on how God generously puts grace into action through us.
Here at United Christian Church of Austin, we’ve been hard at work putting grace into action. For example, through our Little Pantry and work with Bethany Food Bank, we are feeding the hungry every day. Through our radical hospitality and LGBTQ+ welcoming, we’ve made a spiritual home for adults, youth, and children who have been elsewhere excluded.
Through our contributions to organizations like Coalition for the Homeless and our denominations’ Global Missions Office, we’re empowering people near and far. Through our weekly Children’s Collection, 5th Sunday Service Projects, and our annual Youth Mission Trip, all generations at UCC come together to make God’s grace real in our world today.
This month, you’ll hear and read brief testimonies from pledging members of our community. You’ll hear why they’ve committed their time and resources to this amazing family of faith and its mission, and we hope you’ll find your place to give, too. You'll have your own opportunity to make a pledge on Giving Sunday, October 23rd. No matter how you choose to pledge to the mission of UCC in 2023, know that your commitment is putting God’s grace into action, creating a more just and peaceful world for all.
Grace and peace,
Living in Worldwide Communion
Every year, I both love and dread World Communion Sunday. As a progressive Christian, I feel self-conscious about celebrating the diversity of the global Church given that I’m a privileged white woman serving a predominantly privileged white church. Most likely, my ancestors colonized and dominated people from places like Africa, Vietnam, and Latin America. So what right do I have to speak on behalf of those very cultures who are still on the margins today as a result of my ancestors' and culture’s actions -- to sing African songs, read Vietnamese poems, and butcher the pronunciation of the Lord’s Prayer in Spanish? These cultural treasures do not belong to me. At the same time, I want to lift up and honor our global siblings in a way that doesn’t involve social plagiarism, stereotypes, or irreverence.
It can be a fine line, however, between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. Though it may seem like I'm splitting hairs or politicking here, I believe it’s an important question for us to consider as followers of Jesus. After all, Jesus showed honor and respect for people of other cultures when he praised the Samaritan, dined with Gentiles, and commissioned us to make disciples of all nations baptizing them into the Church, thereby including every culture and race into God’s family.
So how do we, like Jesus, respect people of different cultures on World Communion Sunday? This is one of the questions we'll be asking this Sunday because asking these questions out of concern for our global neighbor is part of what it means to live in worldwide communion. Although we may never land on clear or definitive answers, it is in asking that we honor Christ in the other and grow into the Family of God.
Social Justice Fall Projects
"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
Kick-off at UCC!
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.
I've Been Meaning to ask...
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:
Fall is fast approaching!
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,
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