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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

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