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HOTA April 2020 News

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our Heart of Texas Association Spring Meeting has now been moved from April 4 to Saturday, May, 16th. We anticipate that the meeting will be a Zoom video conference instead of a face to face gathering. Because we will not have people driving long distances to meet, we will start signing in at 10 am and begin at 10:30. We will be finishing by lunchtime. Our thinking is that, by that time, many of us will be more familiar and comfortable with meeting electronically. It is possible that, by then, smaller groups may be able to gather at some churches to be together for the meeting, although of course that is something we cannot predict. As we get close to the meeting time, we will be sending out instructions for using Zoom. We are looking at some easy to use tutoring videos for those who are not experienced, and we will be offering an early chance to login to be sure everyone has a chance to learn how to use it. We anticipate having either one or two Ecclesiastical Councils, and we feel the sharing time among our churches will be more important than ever.

The United Church of Christ National Youth Event registrations for this coming summer have been suspended indefinitely. I have read on the Southern New England Conference website that the event is being postponed until 2022, but I have not received verification of that yet. We certainly will send out more news as we have it. Many of our youth were planning to go, and we want to support you in attending this outstanding event when it can happen safely.

At this time, Darrin Holub is scheduled to be installed as the Pastor of St John's UCC in Burton on Sunday morning, April 19th. That installation is on hold at this time. We will be announcing whether this will happen on schedule or whether it will be postponed. We look forward to joining with St. John's and Darrin to celebrate his ministry with them with joy when they are able to hold this service.

Gary Olsen, the Lead Pastor of Rolling Hills Community Church in Lago Vista, retired in February after many years of excellent ministry The new Lead Pastor, Matt Ritter, has served the church since 2017 as the Associate and Family Pastor. Our prayers are with Gary as he begins this new phase in his life, and with Matt, and Rolling Hills as they start a new time of ministry.

Mary Wilson, Pastor of Church of the Savior in Cedar Park, was scheduled to retire this month after seventeen and a half years in ministry there, with Palm Sunday as her farewell service. Crystal Silva McCormick has been called to ministry as their new minister. In light of the COVID-19 restrictions on gathering for worship, Mary has offered to extend her ministry for a few weeks. Our prayers are with Mary, Crystal, and Church of the Savior as they navigate this time of change together. We stand with them in celebrating Mary's vibrant ministry there and in joyously welcoming Crystal as their new pastor.

Bethany Congregational in San Antonio is welcoming Jacqueline Moncrief as their new minister. Pastor Jacque will have an unusual start there as April begins, helping the church put together a service via internet to begin her ministry. Welcome, Pastor Jacque!

I am grateful for the hard work, caring, and substantial work our pastors and churches are doing to put together online worship services and to reach out to members and friends. We are in a challenging time, and our ministry with one another is perhaps more important now than ever.

Blessings in Christ, Liz Nash, Association Minister

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