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HOTA September 2021 News

You are invited to come to the Heart of Texas Association Fall Meeting on Saturday, October 23rd, hosted by the Austin cluster of churches. Because of the evolving COVID situation in Austin, we do not know yet whether we will be meeting online only or at one of our churches in a hybrid format. The time we start will depend on whether we are meeting in person. We will let all of our churches know the plans as soon as a decision is made. Bear with us in this unusual time! We would love to be together in person but we need to make a determination about whether it will be safe for those who come into the Austin area.

Our sister in Christ, Billie Watts, co-pastor of Touchstone Community Church, is retiring from active ministry. Her last Sunday at Touchstone, with a farewell liturgy and with Billie's vibrant preaching, is on August 28th. Billie committed to the intensive ministry work of starting Touchstone with Kerry Kirtley before retiring, and Billie is now stepping back to well deserved time with her family. Our heartfelt blessings go with her as she transitions into this new phase of life, along with our gratitude for the work she has done. Kerry will continue as the pastor of Touchstone, and we continue to offer prayers of support for the community and ministry there.

Amy Grogan, an ordained minister with the Christian Church/Disciples of Christ, is completing the process of gaining standing in the United Church of Christ as an Ordained Ministerial Partner to share her ministry gifts with Touchstone. Amy moved to the Boerne area with her husband for family reasons after living for several years in Belgium. She completed her Master of Divinity at Phillips Theological Seminary in a hybrid program, and has served in online ministry with the Disciples. Like Amy, people living abroad often are in areas where there is little Protestant presence and where few people are part of a church, so her work online has been part of the outreach to others like her and to people who live in places where they would have to travel far to find a church where they feel at home. She has been very active in the Touchstone Community, and will be helping as a volunteer in several ministry areas. Our relatively simple process for welcoming ministers from the Disciples reflects the close relationship between the UCC and the Disciples. We welcome Amy to the Heart of Texas Association.

Our Committee on Ministry also has accepted Brittany Hicks as Member in Discernment. Brittany is a member of Open Cathedral in Leander and a student at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She served our country in the US Navy for a number of years. We welcome Brittany to our discernment process and look forward to walking with her on her ministry journey.

For those who wish to spend a week of service in the marvelous, lifegiving work of Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, MS, I invite you to a work camp there with others from the South Central Conference (if the COVID situation is safe enough for work camps to happen), November 7th to 13th. Our group will need to conform to the COVID safety measures there. Please be in touch with me if you are interested: lizknash@gmail.com. Back Bay Mission is our treasured UCC related outreach to the poorest in Biloxi, with a work camp program of repairing homes, building, and work at Back Bay Mission itself that brings groups in from many places across the country. People of all skill levels are welcome. Come see why we go!

Blessings in Christ, Liz Nash, Association Minister

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