UCC Blog

Russ's Weekly Thoughts - 9/12/19

Dear church family - 

This Sunday we will be continuing our series looking at our newly adopted core values. We are calling this series At Our Core. These core values are who we are; the foundation of everything that we do. This week we'll be looking at the core value of vulnerability

Whenever I present these core values to groups and individuals, this is always the one people find intriguing and ask the most questions about.  They aren't opposed to it, just curious about it (curiosity is also one of our core values, so, well-done!). Why would a church lift up authenticity as a core value?

A lot of research and study has gone into the link between vulnerability and connection and community. As Brené Brown wrote in her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, "vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path."

So, what would it look like for us to show up as a community of faith fully authentic and willing to be vulnerable, without pretense or a facade of having it all together? Because when you show up in this way, you create the space for others to do the same. 

My guess is that we'd find a community of faith in which we are loved and accepted as we are. We'd find a place where it is okay, it's okay to be our true selves, genuine and real. A place where we don't have to compare or compete. And to me, that sounds so compelling.

I hope you'll join us this Sunday as we invite one another to be genuine and authentic. If you can't be there in person, I invite you to join in via the livestream on our website or on Facebook live at both services.

I strongly encourage you to join us Sunday evening at 7:00pm in the Sanctuary for a Hymn Festival featuring organist Bradley Welch. This event is part of our Belltower Series and will include hymn singing and special anthem presentations by a combined choir, including UCC's Chancel Choir, First United Methodist Church's Choral Union and First Presbyterian Church's Chancel Choir. It is going to be incredible and not to be missed!

I also wanted to take a moment to thank those of you who completed the congregational survey that our Strategic Discernment Team put out. We had a great number of responses. So, thank you. The feedback was very positive and helpful as we determine our strategic priorities in the coming months. I'll be sharing some of that information in the days ahead.

We had a great turnout on Sunday night for the first of a series of events that we are calling Meal With A Mission. It was a lively, informal conversation in which I was able to unpack some of the possibilities revealed in the new mission statement for University Christian Church. I hope you'll mark your calendars and plan to join us for the next one on Sunday, October 20, as we'll ask what "Commit to Love" might look like in UCC's relationship with the city of Fort Worth, in the way we share our resources, in the way we care for each other. We'll talk about what God can do through UCC when "love" becomes the way we measure our success. This is a conversation for everyone with a passion for what's next at UCC.

Here is the prayer I began my day with today:

Loving God,

In a world that is all too often shallow and mundane, we ask for moments of clarity and conviction; of genuine relationships and sacred encounters. Give us the courage to be honest about where we are in the world and where we long to be. We are grateful for life and all that comes with it. We thank you for all the ways you are present in this world you love so much.

Amen.

It continues to be my deepest joy and privilege to be your pastor. 

Grace and peace,

Rev. Dr. Russ Peterman

Senior Minister

University Church

Fort Worth, TX

Russ's Weekly Thoughts - 8/29/19

Dear church family - 

Have I mentioned lately how honored and thrilled I am to be a part of this church with all of you? What an embarrassment of blessings it is to be your Senior Minister!

This Sunday, we will be continuing our series looking at our newly adopted core values. I'm calling this series At Our Core. These core values are who we are; the foundation of everything that we do. This week we'll be looking at the core value of curiosity.

"Curiosity," Elizabeth Gilbert says, "is our friend who helps us become ourselves." It is what keeps us moving forward; it is what allows us to grow. Being curious means you get to ask hard questions that may or may not yield satisfactory answers. It invites you to walk into places you've never been. If you'll let it, curiosity enables you to go deeper into your faith.

So, I'll invite us to think about what it might mean for us, as a community of faith and as individuals, to live into a virtue of curiosity. Because I believe, church, that when we embrace life with a spirit of curiosity and lean into the wonder and mystery, our worship becomes deeper, our faith becomes richer, our lives become better and our church becomes more alive!

I hope you'll join us this Sunday. The choir is doing an awesome anthem that will no doubt speak to your soul, and there will definitely be a seat at the table for you.

But if you can't be there in person, I invite you to join in via the livestream on our website or on Facebook live at both services.

While I've got your attention, I hope you have taken a few minutes to take part in the congregational survey. This feedback will be a great help to our Strategic Discernment Team as we work to identify and articulate a clear path to help us live into the vision God is calling us to. You can take the survey by clicking here.

I also want to invite you to join us for a series of events that we are calling Meal With A Mission. Think of it as a town hall meeting where we'll talk about where our mission and ministry are headed. There will be three of these events---each specifically about different segments of our new mission statement. The first will be Sunday, September 8, 6:00-7:30pm in Walker Hall. I really hope you'll join us for these.

Here is the prayer I began my day with today:

Gracious and Holy God,

I am so thankful for this community of faith which offers us a place to grow closer to you as we grow closer to one another. In a world desperate for a word of hope and healing, speak to us and through us, that we might be filled with kindness and compassion. Help us to live a worshipful life, that others may see your love and grace reflected in all that we do. We thank you for this church home that inspires and challenges us to be our very best selves.

Amen.

Serving as your pastor continues to be the greatest honor of my life.

Rev. Dr. Russ Peterman

Senior Minister

University Christian Church

Fort Worth, TX

Weekly Reflection, 8-2-19

Dear church family -

I hope you are having a good week and staying cool in the midst of this heat.

It will be good for us to be together again on Sunday as we gather together for worship. I'll be preaching on an interesting text---the parable of the rich fool in Luke's gospel. My sermon title will be "Possessed by Possessions" and will look at the issue of materialism. You've probably seen the saying--- on a t-shirt or perhaps a bumper sticker---The one who dies with the most toys wins. We see that and we laugh. But I wonder if it is a symptom of a larger, more profound sickness that pervades our culture today. In fact, this illness even has a name. They call it affluenza. I'm willing to bet that most of us have been infected with this virus to some degree.

Jesus is pretty clear about the role and place of money and possessions in our lives. In fact, Jesus spent more time talking about money than any other subject. He talked more about it than prayer or even heaven and hell. 60% of what Jesus talked about had to do with money and possessions.

I know that very few of us like to talk about this sort of thing in church. But it is an important part of the spiritual life. So, we'll look at what Jesus teaches us about how to keep wealth and possessions in their proper place. And remind ourselves that our lives have significance, value and worth, not in what we accumulate but in the light of God's love for us... which is more than any of us can measure.

I hope you'll join us this Sunday. But if you can't be there in person, I invite you to join in via the livestream on our website or on Facebook live at both services. 

When you come on Sunday, you'll probably notice some work being done in our building. This exciting work is being done in anticipation and preparation for our fall kick-off on Sunday, August 18. On that day, we'll be celebrating Back to Church Sunday! There will be a lunch after the 11:00am service, we'll be blessing our children's backpacks and our educators as they get ready for another year of school. There will be all sorts of fun things happening--- something for everyone! 

 The most exciting thing about that day, will be the launch of UCC's all new school-aged (grades K-5) children's programming on Sundays that we are calling Discovery! This is an exciting and refreshing update to our previous Journey Land program. You can find out more by clicking here, but also by coming to the Discovery Open House on August 11 at 10:00am-12:00pm. 

 These are just some of the things we have to be excited about. There is a lot of energy about all that is happening and where we are headed as a congregation. Your generosity is a big part for that. Thank you for all you do to support the incredible ministries of UCC! 

 Here is my prayer for today:

 God of grace and summer nights, we give thanks for places where we can go, where we can discover and remember the wholeness that you intend for our lives. We thank you that UCC is that place for so many of us. Bless us as we seek to be the people of faith that you call and create us to be.  Amen.

 Serving as your pastor continues to be the greatest honor of my life.

Rev. Dr. Russ Peterman

Senior Minister

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