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, 5-23-19

Dear church family -
 
I hope and trust you are having a good week, or at least finding moments of peace and grace in the midst of an otherwise hard week.
 
I am working hard today to finish up my sermon for Sunday. I'll be preaching on an interesting story from the book of Acts. Acts, or sometimes called the Acts of the Apostles, is the sequel to the gospel of Luke. The book of Acts tells us what happened after the resurrection, as the disciples-turned-apostles and the new converts tried to take the message of Jesus and put it into action--living out the teachings of Jesus and creating the type of world that he spoke of. As we see from the story, and know from our own lives, that is not always as easy as we'd wish.
 
The story that we will be looking at all centers around a controversy in those early days about whether the Gentiles (read: non-Jews) would need to become, essentially, Jewish before they could become Christian. It is a story, ultimately, about who is in and who is out.
 
We are quick to do that, aren't we? Draw lines and choose sides, determining who is worthy and who still needs a little work. We distinguish between us and them. But in this story, Peter has a bit of an awakening through an interesting vision that takes place. And he discovers that the family of God is a little bigger and wider than he originally thought. As he recounts this vision that converted his heart, he begins to convert other hearts as well.

I hope you'll join us in the Sanctuary at 9:00am or 11:00am. 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. Or join us for the Simple Worship service at 9:30am in the chapel led by Rev. Shannon Moore. This is a short, simple, come-as-you-are service that includes communion.
 
I'm sure you've seen the devastation that has taken place this week due to the terrible storms in the Midwest. I have a friend who pastors the Disciples church in Jefferson City, MO, which was devastated last night by a tornado. He reported this morning that his church building was unharmed (though there was a lot of damage in the surrounding community), but that Community Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Jefferson City sustained extensive damage from being hit by the tornado. This is just one of countless stories that will be told in the days ahead. If you would like to support the relief efforts, I would encourage you to do so by giving to Week of Compassion (www.weekofcompassion.org), which is our denomination's emergency relief organization. They do wonderful work on our behalf and through our efforts. Please give generously.
 
Here is the prayer I offered this morning:
 
God of grace and love, we thank you for all the blessings in our lives and for the chance to renew ourselves each day. Inspire and instill in each of us a capacity for compassion and love, that we might serve you in all that we say and do. Remind us that faith is a gift, not something to hold onto tightly, but to live out and give away to a world in desperate need of your healing grace. Amen.
 
As always, it is my sincere joy to serve as your pastor. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!
 
Rev. Dr. Russ Peterman
Senior Minister
University Christian Church
Fort Worth, TX

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