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Weekly Thoughts 3.28.19

Dear Church Family ---

We are continuing our journey through Lent. Along the journey through this sacred season, we are using the image of the Exodus--braving the wilderness, discerning what God is inviting us to leave behind in order to be fully alive. We are using this season to talk about the ways and areas that God is inviting us to move From Here to There -- from where we are, to where God wants us to be. We've talked about moving from fear to faith, from despair to hope, and from excess to abundance.
 
This week, we'll talk about moving from Me to We. One could make the argument (and I will), that one of the greatest issues and problems in our culture today is that many of us live as though the world revolves around our belly-button. Narcissism is rampant in our culture.
 
I spoke with someone recently who confessed to me, "I don't come to church anymore. Sundays are MY day. It's all about me."
 
But isn't one of the reasons that we come to church is to be reminded that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves? That our story is simply a part of the larger story? On Sunday, we'll remind ourselves that our call is to give our gifts to the world without thinking you are as good as God in the process; to humbly serve the world, without believing you are the center of it.

I hope you'll join us in the Sanctuary at 9:00am or 11:00am as we begin this journey through Lent. I think you'll be glad you did. 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 for both services.
 
Then I hope you will join us on Sunday afternoon, as we join with our Muslim brothers and sisters for an interfaith prayer service, Joining Hearts and Hands, Community Prayer for the Victims in New Zealand. It will be held at 2:00pm at the Islamic Association of Tarrant County, 4901 Diaz Avenue, Fort Worth. I will be there and hope you'll join me as we stand together with brothers and sisters from other faith traditions, united in love and compassion against hate, division and bigotry. You can find more information about this gathering here.
 
This morning I offered this prayer:
God of grace and new beginnings, we give you thanks for the way that you move in us, stirring us to move closer to who you would have us be. In those moments when our faith is unsure, and it feels like life is slipping through our fingers, work in us. In those times when we lose hope and stop searching for you, please seek us with the relentless passion that you have for your people.
 
Amen.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the honor and privilege to serve as your pastor.
 
Peace to your Lenten path,
 

Rev. Dr. Russ Peterman

Senior Minister

University Christian Church

Fort Worth, TX

Words of Hope 10.26.18

Dear Church Family -

Today, I'm writing from California where our family has gathered to celebrate the life and mourn the death of Kelli's dad. Please know how much we appreciate the outpouring of love and support from so many of you! As often happens in moments like this, the minister (and his family) is the one being ministered to. And we couldn't be more grateful.

Last Sunday we celebrated Commitment Sunday as part of our annual giving campaign, What Shall We Bring? And the response was wonderful. To date we have received 325 commitments, including 100% of our Board of Stewards, with a 13% increase over last year, and your clergy staff, with a 122% increase over last year! No, that is not a typo! I hope you see the enthusiasm, excitement and commitment of your church leaders. It is a clear expression of what we are about here at UCC, and how inspired we are to be a part of it.

If you have not yet turned in your estimate of giving for 2019, please consider becoming a sustaining partner of University Christian Church, by making your commitment right now. There will be estimate of giving cards available on Sunday, or you can take a moment to complete it online here. If you have questions about any of this, please call Michelle Ingram, Director of Operations at (817) 926-6631, ext. 269 or email her here.

Let me also say, thank you for your support of this church in so many ways. Thank you for your sacrifices. And I want to thank God for your faith and for our partnership in the gospel. It is all a gift. It is all God's amazing Grace.

 

This Sunday we'll be celebrating Children's Sabbath at UCC. Our Minister to Children and their Families, Rev. Kera Watts will be preaching. The rest of the service will be led by our children. I'm glad we do this. By participating in this multi-faith, nationwide celebration, we gain the inspiration of participating in a larger movement for children and help amplify the voice of our faith communities calling for justice.

Join us for Cardboard Arcade at 10:00am in Walker Hall for a chance to experience the gift of imagination and ingenuity expressed by the kids. Worship will celebrate children and the call to put our gifts to work to care for children. I hope, too, that you'll plan to be a part of our Trunk or Treat event Sunday afternoon at 5:00pm! This free trick-or-treating event for the community, featuring carnival-style games and decorated trunks filled with candy, is a great way that we reach out and serve the community around us! For more information or to sponsor a trunk email Robin Doyle in the church office. 

If you are unable to join us in the Sanctuary at 9:00am or 11:00am, you can join us via the livestream on our website or on Facebook live at both services as well.
 
Here is my prayer for today...
 
Gracious and merciful God, help us to see in every face we encounter a reflection of your creative and loving self. Remind us each person we meet is a child of heaven. Instill within us the joy of following in your footsteps so that we may inspire our friends and neighbors to know you more dearly. Amen.
 
The precious opportunity to serve as your Pastor gives me more joy than you can imagine. I pray for this church every day.  
 
Grace and Peace to all of you,
 

Rev. Dr. Russ Peterman

Senior Minister

University Christian Church Fort Worth, TX

 

Words of Hope 10.19.18

Dear Church Family -

We are in the midst of a season of looking at how we might be good, faithful stewards of the gifts that God has entrusted us with. We call this stewardship, which is a whole-life response to the abundant generosity of God.

 

While stewardship is about more than our money and stuff, it does include our money and stuff. I realize that a lot of people get a little nervous when we start talking about money in church. It is an emotionally charged issue for many people. In fact, most preachers get more nervous on a Sunday like this than any other day of the year. They tend to cringe at the thought of delivering the annual "stewardship sermon." Dare I say that most preachers hate to give it almost as much as you hate to hear it!

 

In all honesty, though, I don't feel that way. I think we need to talk about money in the church. As I've said, more than 60% of what Jesus talks about has to do with money and possessions, and if we aren't talking about how we spend our money, then we aren't being true to the gospel.

 

So, we are going to talk on Sunday about how we use that which has been entrusted to us and note that it points to what we believe to be true about God, and how we practice our faith.

I hope you'll join us at 9:00am or 11:00am. And if you are unable to join us in the Sanctuary, you can join us via the livestream on our website or on Facebook live at both services as well. 
The music at both services will be beautiful! No matter which service you attend I can assure you there will be a word of hope, an open invitation to live in the light of God's love and a challenge to serve the world with love. Invite a friend and join us for a beautiful time of worship.We'll also be rededicating our art gallery this Sunday following the 11:00am service. We've made some changes and improvements and added a couple pieces. I hope you can stop by and be a part of that.

By now, you should have received the 2019 Annual Giving Campaign letter from our Campaign Chair, Chad Cline. The annual giving campaign is critical to undergird operations supporting strong ministries and the mission work we do in the community and across the world. If you have completed your estimate of giving card, THANK YOU!
If you have not, please consider becoming a sustaining partner of University Christian Church, by making your commitment this week. There will be estimate of giving cards available on Sunday, or you can take a moment to complete it here. If you have not received a letter, or have questions, please call Michelle Ingram, Director of Operations at (817) 926-6631, ext. 269 or email her here.
 
Thank you for your generosity and commitment to UCC and our ministries.
 
Many have been in contact with the church this week asking if there is a way to support relief from Hurricane Michael. The emergency relief agency of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) the Week of Compassion, will be providing immediate support. On Sunday if you would like to donate to this effort, note in the memo line the words "Hurricane Relief" and we will make sure that all funds are sent directly to the Week of Compassion. For an update on their work, read more here. 
Here is my prayer for today:
 
Loving and Ever-Present God,The cool temperatures and changing season are a beautiful reminder of your creative power. Bless us with open hearts and minds so we too can be transformed by your love and grace. Encourage us to give ourselves to the love of neighbor, the goodness of kind-hearted acts and the passion to serve with joy. Amen.
 
My great joy is the opportunity to serve as your pastor. It is such a marvelous opportunity to share with you in the ministry of University Christian Church.
 
With love for all of you,

 

Rev. Dr. Russ Peterman

Senior Minister

University Christian Church

Fort Worth, TX

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