Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gathering for Sacred Business

Sunday is our business meeting and Pat Hines will have the financials ready to include who all we have given to this year, checking acct. balance, and a proposed budget for next year.  Also, we will discuss our giving process and how to proceed.

~ SUNDAY, December 29, 2013 ~
~ 5:30 PM ~ 618 LOCUST STREET ~

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Traditions

~ SUNDAY ~ DECEMBER 22, 2013 ~
~ 5;30 pm ~ 618 LOCUST STREET ~
This Sunday we will talk about some Christmas traditions celebrated in other countries in the world. There are countries that have traditions we are accustom to. Others that do not see Christmas as we do and celebrate it at different ways and times. Countries we will talk about are below and after we look at their traditions we will look at a few of our own traditions. So, think back in to Christmas past an maybe share them with us. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Choosing Non-Disagreement

Valerie T. Queen has written a skit about conflict resolution, entitled "The White Truck."  Volunteers will be invited to adopt a character and read that character's lines. We will stay seated. No rehearsal or acting is expected.

There are 6 roles to choose from. They will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis, so come a few minutes early if you want to participate in the reading. Otherwise, you will be in the audience, which is fine also!  Any real hams can call early to special request a role.  Thanks in advance for your participation. I think the skit will be educational and fun.

It's all black and white, I tell you. It's always either black or white. Yet, if I look close enough I think I see a few shades of grey. This might be the perfect opportunity to explore non-disagreement!

Sunday, December 8th at 5:30 pm
618 Locust (off Houston Harte access road south of Bryant Blvd.)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Gatheriing for SALT

Gatherers will meet at San Angelo Living Together (SALT) 6 p.m., Sunday December 1, 2013 at St Paul Presbyterian Church on 11 N. Park (corner of Pecos and Park)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving Meal Put on Ice

Due to dangerous road conditions and not wanting to take a chance on any of our Gatherers' getting hurt, we will NOT have our Thanksgiving Dinner today.  We will plan this again at a later date.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Gathering with Thanksgiving

The Gathering will celebrate Thanksgiving Sunday with a traditional Thanksgiving meal and conversation. We will be having turkey and dressing with gravy, green bean casserole, and other favorites of some of the gatherers. Come-on an join us even if you just bring yourself.
See You There!

~ SUNDAY ~ 24 NOVEMBER 2013 ~
~ 5:30 pm ~ 618 Locust Street ~

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Gathering for Worship

SUNDAY November 17, 2013
5:30 pm - 618 Locust Street
+++++ This coming Sunday we will have Prayer and Worship Service +++++
lead by Rev. Ellen King.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Beyond Theology

How do you conceive of God? Do you believe that God exists? This is a subject that's highly  personal and subjective, and it often involves strong emotions and beliefs as well as lifelong patterns of behavior. It's not easy to entertain new ideas about something around which one's whole existence revolves. But many people today find themselves confronted with situations that challenge their most basic beliefs about spirituality and religion. In this program, we're going to reflect upon some of those basic beliefs as they've developed in the Christian tradition and see how some progressive Protestants and an energetic Catholic nun are called to question them.

Offering for Sunday, dry foods (i.e. beans, peas, rice, pasta's etc.) for Project Dignidad, monetary offerings will go to Meals for the Elderly.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Jacob's Ladder

Tracy Wright Baker will be leading us in a worship service this Sunday. Tracy will talk about the story of Jacob's Ladder from Genesis 28:10-19. She will use the story to talk about being aware of the presence of God within ourselves, the faces of our neighbors, and in the world.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Gathering for Book Discussion with Valerie

Come and listen to my story about a man named Confucius
 Introduction to the book:
Confucius From the Heart, by Yu Dan (2009)

Confucius is an esteemed Chinese Thinker From the Sixth-Century BC

This book has been a recent best-seller throughout China and elsewhere.
It has also prompted controversy. We will discuss.

SUNDAY ~ October 27, 2013 ~ 5:30 pm ~ 618 Locust Street

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Minds on the Edge

Aretta Greer will facilitate a discussion about the dilemma that face individuals and families who are living with mental illness. We will watch a film called "Minds on the Edge" Facing Mental Illness. The film approaches this subject from many perspectives including the individual, the family, the health community, the educational area and the judicial arena. What is important to our group is to discuss the challenges of how we can be supportive and helpful in our community. Offerings will be go to MHMR of the Concho Valley.

5:30 pm ~ 618 LOCUST STREET

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Film with Discussion This Sunday

This coming Sunday the 13th, Nancy York will be leading us in discussion after we watch another film in the Beyond Theology series. This one is titled ~ "A Finger Pointing at the Moon" ~ Facing unprecedented challenges on a global level, many people think we're passing through a major transitional phase in human history. They contend that the basic images guiding our lives must change in order for us to successfully deal with these challenges.

Sunday, October 13, 2013
5:30 pm, 618 Locust Street 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Gathering for Worship

Sunday we will be lead by Nancy York for our worship service and this being the first Sunday of the month the service will be followed with a potluck meal.

SUNDAY ~ 6 OCT, 2013
5:30 pm ~ 618 Locust Street

Honoring Karen

Dear Gatherers,

Thank you for the beautiful send-off Sunday evening. The room was lovely, the liturgy and rituals were profound and meaningful, and the love and care were palpable. And what a treat it's been to read and re-read the cards from you all.

It has been a joy to be the planting pastor of this unique faith community, and I leave with a heart full of gratitude for the opportunity. Thank you. I also leave with the anticipation of watching The Gathering continue to unfold, develop, and grow.

Neil and I continue to hold you close in our souls and prayers.

With love,


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Farewell Get Together for Rev. Karen Schmeltekopf

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This Sunday will be Karen's last Sunday as Pastor for The Gathering. This will be a farewell get-to-gather for Karen. So come spend time with us as we express our thanks and appreciation for all the things she has brought to pass for The Gathering.  There will be punch, tea with cookies, cake, and brownie type food.

5:30 pm ~ 618 LOCUST STREET

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Movie Night Returns

We will explore the changing American religious reality when we gather to watch and discuss another episode in the Beyond Theology DVD series Sunday night. To borrow a line and image from an old commercial - religion in America is no longer your father's Oldsmobile! We'll discuss these shifts and changes and the implications for The Gathering and other faith communities across the country.

Sunday, September 22 at 5:30 pm
618 Locust

Friday, September 13, 2013

Gathering for Worship

The United Church of Christ

We are delighted to welcome Douglas Anders, Conference Minister of the South Central Conference UCC, to San Angelo and The Gathering this Sunday, Sept 15.  He will lead us as we gather for worship then will help us think about and plan for The Gathering's future.  His timely sermon, "A Hole in the Roof Spirit", is based on Mark 2:1-5, and our offering will be designated for the South Central Conference.  Douglas has been one of our biggest supporters and consistent encouragers, so it'll be great to have a good turn-out to meet and visit with him.  Following worship we'll gather for a good ol' West Texas brisket meal.  For more information about what you can bring, contact Fred and Marilynn Johnson,

Karen's Leave-Taking


The Gathering, 8 September 2013
Seven years ago this month a group of people joined with Divine Spirit and began co-creating something completely and totally unique in San Angelo and in West Texas. This creation gradually became The Gathering UCC. 

I have been privileged and honored (as well as initially surprised) to be the planting pastor of The Gathering.  The experience, as well as the community, are wonderful gifts, and I am excited about The Gathering's future.  So, it is only after much prayer and prayerful conversation, and with much grief, that I have decided that my season in those roles is coming to completion.

The reasons for this decision now include:

1)               A change in my Hospice of San Angelo job time and energy requirements. Because my full-time job is taking up more time and space, I have increasingly less time and  availability for Gathering responsibilities and opportunities. 
2)               Neil and I have been given the incredible gifts of his new life and health.  Increasingly aware of the preciousness of time, I am choosing to spend time with Neil and other family members in ways not related to working or doctor's visits.
3)               I have depleted my internal resources and am weary.  I am choosing to do what we often talk about at The Gathering – slow down, be mindful of the present, observe the Sabbath time of rest.  In addition, my weariness impacts/affects The Gathering. 

Given all the above, I believe The Gathering will be well served by new leadership from someone who has a different kind of availability and energy than do I at this point.

However much I have sown, watered, tended, and loved this sacred community, The Gathering is not my faith community – it is the Spirit’s, it is yours, it is The Gathering’s.  And, if we believe it's God's, then we know it's future is bigger than any one of us in particular. 

Two of the strengths of The Gathering from the beginning is the collaborative, cooperative nature, as well as the depth of creativity and giftedness in the group.  These will serve The Gathering well in the days ahead.  In addition, Rev. Douglas Anders, Conference Minister of the South Central Conference UCC, will help provide guidance and suggest next steps.

We cannot know what’s next.  That’s the scary part, and if allowed, that fear can become overwhelming.  But not knowing what's next is also the exciting part, the hopeful part, the faithful part, because it means again, we're opening ourselves to the dynamic, sacred workings of the Spirit – which is what we've been trying to do since September 2006.  So hear and know again the hope and power offered by these sacred words from thousands of years ago: “See, I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth... I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:19)  

Karen Schmeltekopf

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sacred Conversation - Changing Seasons

While some days it still feels like we're in the middle of a hot summer, we're actually moving towards autumn - the earth is shifting, the sun's light rays are lessening, the nights are just a tad cooler. Birds have started their migration south, and gardeners are starting to plant fall vegetables. Nature again gives witness to the truth of the ancient words:-

To everything there is a season (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Sunday night we will gather for a conversation about our own changing seasons - personal as well as communal. In honor of the earth's lessons, our offering will be designated for the People/Plant Connection.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Labor Sunday

The Sunday of Labor Day Weekend (September 1) is Labor Sunday, a day to lift up workers, to celebrate their contributions, and support their struggles. It is also a day to lament and commit ourselves to improving jobs so that every worker has wages, benefits, and work hours that allow them to be self-sufficient.

Conditions and events at work absorb our energy, occupy our minds, and impact our psyches when we are at work and after returning home. Some workers confront particularly unjust situations-unsafe conditions, extremely low pay, racism, sexism, and other abuses. All workers, whatever their position in the hierarchy of jobs, may suffer from indignities, large and small, that cripple their spirit and hinder their journey to greater wholeness. The Church, the body of Christ, is called to seek out and accompany people wherever they are. So the Church must also be in our offices, factories, stores, farms, schools, and all the places where people work. As Isaiah reminds us, we are called "to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke" (Isaiah 58:6).

We will observe Labor Sunday when we gather for worship this Sunday, September 1, 5:30 pm, 618 Locust Street. Our financial offering will be designated for Neighbors in Need (, and you are also invited to bring nonperishable food for Project Dignidad. Following worship, we will gather for our first Sunday potluck meal.

The UCC Justice and Witness Ministries provides a wealth of resources for pursuing work-related justice, including links to a few of these resources.

Labor Sunday at The Gathering
Sunday, September 1
5:30 pm, 618 Locust Street.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Beyond Theology: Co-Creation

Sunday night we will again engage the DVD series Beyond Theology by watching "Episode 7: A Spirituality of Co-Creation". The term and concept "co-creation" are familiar to The Gathering as we often say we are co-creating with God. In this 25 minute dvd, we'll further explore this idea. Sister Joan Chittester begins the conversation by saying: "We need a new spirituality in our time -- not simply an intellectual spirituality, not simply a relational spirituality, not simply a contemplative spirituality, but a spirituality that emerges out of the concept of the responsibility to co-creation - meaning: God did not create this world finished; God left the world unfinished for us to do, to complete. That's how we understand the whole function of human science, human education, human charity, human spirituality".

The Beyond Theology series explores the evolution of consciousness and examines topics such as the challenges confronting humanity and the changing representations of God. Bill Moyers praises the series by saying, "This is an ambitious series with some of the most interesting voices in religion in America today. They take us beyond the current conflicts about religion and politics and show us a hopeful vision of faith based on the deepest longings of heart and mind."

Our offering will be designated for needs within The Gathering community as well as for Project Dignidad. Please bring canned/nonperishable food products or donate money for food to be bought. Every little bit makes a big difference.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Teresa Rylander, the inspiration and co-planner and leader of Sunday's Gathering, writes the following about this week's Gathering: We will be talking about taking mindfulness practice off the cushion and bringing it into our day to day life (or more correctly, our moment to moment life). Jan Chozen Bays defines mindfulness as: "...deliberating paying full attention to what is happening around you and within you-in your body, heart, and mind-without criticism or judgment.

The key is deliberately choosing where you place your attention. For, if left unattended, the mind will run off to anyplace other than here and now. Its frequent haunts are: if only-ingin the past, trying to rewrite the script for a moment that no longer exists; or, what if-ing some future moment that may or may not come to pass. And, sometimes, it just goes plain goofy. Case in point: last week while on a walk, I started out by noticing the beauty around me, but, at some point, I noticed my mind had roamed off to Austin to expound on the ludicrous parking on Congress Avenue. Definitely not how I wanted to spend my precious walking moments.

Sunday, we will consider practicing choosing where we want to spend our "one wild and precious life" (Mary Oliver) rather than letting the gremlin of the unattended mind make the only moment of life we actually have-this moment-go unnoticed.

Wanting to share the gift and joy of spending a moment reading, our offering will be designated for The Adult Literacy Council of the Concho Valley. Following the service, we will share a potluck meal.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Gathering for Film Night

Sunday, August 11, 2013, 5:30 pm, 618 Locust Street

Water and oil are always important topics in San Angelo, and this Sunday we'll combine the issues when we gather to watch Tapped, a 2009 documentary that examines the role of the bottled water industry and its effects on our health, climate change, pollution, and our reliance on oil. The movie explores the "manufacture" of the water itself, and also where the bottles come from, where they go after use and how they influence our lives while they're with us.

Directors Stephanie Soechtig and Jason Lindsey became interested in the topic after research into ocean pollution "kept leading them to bottled water". The movie won the Best Documentary award at both the Anchorage and Eugene International Film Festivals.

Leading the discussion will be Sin, and our offering beneficiary has not yet been determined. For more information about the movie before Sunday night, check out

Saturday, August 3, 2013


It's time to re-Gather as a group at Promenade Square, 618 Locust Street, THIS SUNDAY, August 4, 5:30 pm.  We will gather together for worship and to share stories of vacations, reunions, cook-outs, community dinners, sabbaticals, and other summer activities that have reminded us again that the whole universe is indeed God's body (Sally McFague).  Our offering will be designated for The Gathering - our regular operating account and our future facility fund.  Following worship we will share a community potluck dinner.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

General Synod News & Views

Thanks to the UCC's use of technology, I, too, attended General Synod this year - that is, I attended via the internet. What a great gift to those of us who could not physically be present - the ability to participate in the denomination as a whole, to engage in worship, hear the speakers, participate in the life and process of our church. Even though Synod is over it's not too late - you haven't missed it; the videos are still available at and well worth watching.

Like Douglas Anders, I, too, found Peter Kageyama's talk engaging - and a great way to think about The Gathering. To paraphrase Kageyama, The Gathering UCC can't "compete" with the established and plentiful large churches in San Angelo - they are amenity-rich, financially secure, numerically stable. Obviously, if we try to do what they are doing, we can only fail. What is possible, and what The Gathering is actually doing is engaging in San Angelo in creative and meaningful ways. The result is that despite our small size, The Gathering has a remarkably large presence in San Angelo via our reputation and "good works". In the last few weeks, it has been The Gathering the media has contacted for comment on the Supreme Court DOMA ruling, The Gathering that's been contacted re: Texas women's health care issues, and The Gathering that's been contacted by people seeking a public response to the Trayvon Martin tragedy. Our small UCC new church start community is becoming known as a mighty faithful Christian presence confronting local, national, and global issues of justice and inclusion.

As Douglas pointed out in his article, "the good news about meaning-rich cities or meaning-rich churches is that they rely on ordinary, average, grass-roots people to make things happen" - which is exactly the situation with The Gathering. I may be considered the spokesperson for The Gathering, but our life and vitality is because of the vision, efforts and love for San Angelo and The Gathering by Gatherers. We are truly a collaborative community seeking to join with God in the holy work of creating not just a church, but a community.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A great time was enjoyed last Sunday evening at Pat Hines home.  We shared great food, great conversation and played.

This coming Sunday, July 21, we will gather at the Lights' home at 5:30 p.m. for our shared meal. Ann and Crockett live at 9649 Deer Lane in the Ponderosa Estates. Their home is a short drive out Highway 67. If you have not signed up yet, need directions, or would like to car pool, let Ann know by email, or telephone, 325-632-2626.

The Gathering does "food" very well. We also do "caring about others" very well. This Sunday, in addition to enjoying food together, we'll also care about others by bringing a can of something or a small jar of peanut butter for Project Dignidad.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Dinners for Eight Are Here

The Gathering is hosting Dinners for Eight in the homes of church members in July.  The opportunity to break bread with one another and offer hospitality is time honored tradition.  Information on these events can be found in the last two editions, July 3 and July 11, of our weekly newsletter

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Dinners for Eight Coming!

Because of the holiday, many of our Gatherers will be out of town or otherwise occupied this Sunday, July 7; therefore, there will be no service this Sunday. We will reconvene Sunday July 14th for the Dinners Eight.

We will join for Dinners Eight on July 14, 21, and 28. We have the Ann & Crockett Light and Pat Hines who are hosting so we need at least one more host and many attendees to sign up. Let Ann Light at know what you will do and let's make this a fun month of sharing on Sunday evenings.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sacred Business of Serving

One Billion Rising, a global action event that more than 200 countries took part in, drew about 70 people to the courthouse.

The Gathering is a collaborative community where each person is a valued participant. As such, we gather as a whole for updates and conversations about the life of the community most fifth Sundays, which is this week. We are also a community that values service to others. After all, one of our Practices is Service and another is Compassion. So on this fifth Sunday of June, we will combine these values and practices and Gather for the Sacred Business of Service. The evening will be full of engaging with the Spirit and discussing and deciding things that shape who we are, as well as doing something for others. You are encouraged to participate.

Because it is the fifth Sunday of the month, we will not have a regular pot-luck. Feel free, however, to bring a snack supper and/or snacks to share.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mapping Soul Country

Cartography (from Greek Χάρτης, khartes = papyrus (paper) and graphein = to write) is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.

This is the subject for The Gathering on Sunday, June 23. We will draw a map of our "soul country. " If drawing a map and coloring it isn't your thing, writing is also an option.   All supplies will be provided for this fun time exploring our life's journey in a different way.

There will be no potluck this Sunday but if you would like yummy goodies to inspire you during this exercise, feel free to bring snacks.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Movie Night!

One of the cool things about The Gathering is that we're always doing something interesting!  For example, this coming Sunday we'll explore the evolution of the Bible.  "Evolution," you say?  In the same sentence as "the Bible"?  And the topic is not creationism or science, but the evolution of the Bible itself?  Yes, exactly.

Using a 25 minute clip from the PBS dvd series "Beyond Theology", we'll look at how various people interpret and make sense of the Bible and the changing meanings of some of the Bible's most well-known myths - for example, the Genesis story of creation. Get ready for a great discussion, which will be particularly timely given our recent Gathering at which we learned about Native American creation myths.

The "Beyond Theology" series explores the evolution of consciousness and examines topics such as the challenges confronting humanity and the changing representations of God.  Bill Moyers praises the series by saying, "This is an ambitious series with some of the most interesting voices in religion in America today. They take us beyond the current conflicts about religion and politics and show us a hopeful vision of faith based on the deepest longings of heart and mind."

Our financial offering will be designated for a relatively new local non-profit agency that's doing great work: Promises for Families, whose mission is to provide quality summer camp, after school programs and academic tutoring for children whose lives have been impacted by parental incarceration.

Also, You are invited to bring non-perishable food items to help support Project Dignidad.

Sunday, June 9
5:30 pm at 618 Locust

Saturday, June 1, 2013

"The Gathering"for Worship

Sunday, 2 June 2013
5:30 pm, 618 Locust Street

After several weeks of special events, we will return to our foundation this Sunday evening by gathering for worship. We will take as our focus Luke 9:11-17, a story about Jesus and the sacred power of sharing food with each other. Our offering will be designated for the San Angelo Kids Eat summer nutrition program, and you're also invited to bring canned and/or boxed food for Project Dignidad. We will also join together in a potluck meal as a part of our worship experience with the theme "5 loaves and 2 fish", or anything you'd like to share with the community. If you'd like to help Karen co-plan and/or co-lead worship, please let her know.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Washuntara in Concert May 26

Washuntara is an Australian singer/songwriter based in Nashville, Tennessee. In addition to working on his label, Passionworks, he also conducts relationship workshops and Mens' Outreach to further his mission "to co-create passionate, powerful and authentic lives, that work."  

Washuntara has performed with some of the worlds greatest acts, including Sir Paul McCartney, the Eagles, the Moody Blues, Keith Urban, Jerry Lee Lewis, Garth Brooks and others. He has also been received at the White House with great enthusiasm by Barbara Bush. When he's not at The Gathering or on a silent Buddhist retreat, he travels the world performing at international events, festivals, and functions.

This will be a one-of-a-kind evening at The Gathering.  Don't miss it!  And invite all your friends, family members, co-workers, and even enemies to it- but only if you don't want to be enemies anymore.

Sunday, May 26 at 5:30 pm
618 Locust (off Houston Harte Expressway Access Road, south of Bryant Boulevard)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Service in Gathering

Sunday we will assemble the Church World Service hygiene kits. In the face of natural disasters, violence, or grinding poverty, Hygiene Kits can mean the difference between sickness and health for struggling families. These kits will be combined with others from across the South Central Conference UCC and given to Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Our potluck meal is simple-bring anything that is easy to fix or purchase or if you are pressed for time, just bring yourself. We always have more than enough food. We will enjoy being together and talking about our service project for June.

Sunday, May 19 at 5:30 pm
618 Locust

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Gathering to Share Creation Stories

Gathering on Mother's Day
Sharing Creation Stories
Sunday, 12 May 2013, 5:30 pm,
618 Locust

Creation myths are stories of how the universe and its inhabitants came to be. They are found in nearly all religious traditions and are usually considered sacred. Creation stories are very important to a culture because they reveal the central worldview of a particular people and give voice to the values and beliefs held by the society that shares them.

There's not a more fitting time to explore some of our creation stories than on Mother's Day. Ann and Valerie will share several Native American stories and facilitate our conversation. We'll collect money to purchase the various components of Church World Service hygiene kits which we'll assemble May 19. Because it's the second Sunday of the month, we'll not share a potluck meal.

We offer a Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Women in our Lives who Fill the Role of Mother

She is a Valiant woman; her roots are firmly planted. The Kin-dom is within; her heart, treasure-filled.
She is a Joyful woman, for whom laughter is no stranger: a song to sing, a smile to give, a hand to clasp or embrace.
She is a Strong woman whose heart and arms withstand the pressures and the worries that each day unfolds.
She is a Patient woman waiting through storm and night for new life, new growth, rich harvest.
She is a Loving woman, ever giving and forgiving, ever caring and concerned.
She is a Sharing woman who with arms outstretched gives her gifts and treasures to those both near and far.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Gathering for a "Happy" Movie

Sunday, May 5, 2013, 5:30 pm, 618 Locust Street

Sunday night we will watch and discuss the 2011 documentary Happy. "The movie takes us on a journey from the swamps of Louisiana to the slums of Kolkata in search of what really makes people happy. Combining real life stories of people from around the world and powerful interviews with the leading scientists in happiness research, HAPPY explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion."

According to the movie, one aspect of being "happy" is helping others, and that's what we'll do with our offering. We'll collect money to purchase the various components of   Church World Service hygiene kits, which we'll assemble in May. These kits will be combined with others from across the South Central Conference UCC and given to Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, Mississippi. Our potluck meal theme is simple: anything that makes you happy and is movie-watching appropriate.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Retreat at Walnut Creek Ranch

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"Pioneering Spirit" 

The Gathering will host a day of communal and individual spiritual renewal and care, a day we will explore what it is to be spiritual pioneers and ways the Spirit invites us to keep exploring our spiritual frontiers. Sunday, 28 April 2013, leave San Angelo by 9:00 am - return to San Angelo by 4:30 pm Walnut Creek Ranch, Water Valley, TX. According to the website, "because of its family heritage, rich history and diversity in terrain and inhabitants, Walnut Creek Guest Ranch draws travelers, outdoor photographers, archeology buffs, hunters, ecologists, trail riders, birders, nature lovers and historians from all over the nation."
We will leave San Angelo by 9:00 am and return to San Angelo refreshed and renewed by about 4:30 pm. Those interested can carpool together. Meet in the parking lot of the Tom Green County offices, 3020 N. Bryant (Hwy 87 North). This is just past the Shell station and Sonic on the corner of 29th Street and N. Bryant. If you do want to carpool, please let Karen know so we don't go off and leave you.  If you do not want to carpool, let Karen know so I can send a map and the gate code to you.

Lunch, coffee, tea, and water will be provided by The Gathering. Suggested donation is $20/person to pay for facilities and food, with scholarships available for anyone who's hesitant to attend because of financial considerations.

The day will include times of community gathering, as well as individual time. The planning team anticipates the day including exploration (both internal and external), silence, walking, sitting, worship, fun, and meal sharing. Things to bring: your self; something on which to write (pad of paper, tablet, journal, etc); writing utensils; lawn chair (there are seating options outside around the lodge, but if you want to walk off a bit, bring a chair you can take with you); drinks if you'd like something other than coffee, tea, or water; money for the offering. Attire is casual - we have access to an air conditioned lodge, as well as outside patios, walking paths, and acreage. Be comfortable for a day of retreat and exploration.

For more information, to tell me you're attending,and/or to share your anticipation about the retreat, email Karen Schmeltekopf or call 325-374-1566..

Saturday, April 13, 2013

More Sacred Music

From the rhythms of the heartbeat experienced in the womb to the stirring sounds of a marching band, rhythmic patterns and music surround us. Music is central to our lives and is embedded in our culture, defining how we acknowledge milestones, rites of passage and celebrations as well as providing comfort, transformation and inspiration. Possessing a dimension of its own, music often exceeds the spoken word in expressing moods and feelings of the soul. It is, therefore, integral to our experiences of "worship."

Music is very important to Gatherers individually and to the Gathering as a whole. In fact, we had such a positive response to the invitation to share our sacred music at a February Gathering, we weren't able to share everything people brought. So this Sunday we're going to continue (there's no way to "complete" it) the experience. So again, you're invited to share any music that inspires you, moves your soul, helps you feel like you've been on holy ground. Some of the music that was shared last time included Singing Bells of Tibet, old country gospel hymns, a Middle Eastern song, and selections from musicals. And somehow, it all came together beautifully! Whatever it is that opens your ears to the voice of the Divine, you're invited to share it Sunday night with The Gathering.

You're invited to bring the music on CD, DVD, or even an old-fashioned vinyl record. If it's available on mp3, youtube, etc, please send the link to me in advance, and hopefully, I will download it and have it ready to play.

In February, our offering was appropriately designated for Playing for Change. Their thank you note is included in this week's newsletter. This Sunday, our offering will be designated for Strengthen the Church, a UCC offering that helps congregations be "church" in new ways.  For example, it helps fund new church starts like The Gathering.

Because it's the 2nd Sunday of the month, we will be nourished in many ways, but not through a shared community pot-luck meal.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Gathering to Share Resurrection

Sunday, 7 April 2013, 5:30 pm, 618 Locust Street.
You are destined to fly, but that cocoon has to go.~ Nelle Morton 

This past Sunday during our Easter service, some shared how they are "practicing resurrection", how they are living their lives in ways that are transformative - for themselves and perhaps even for our world. We will continue this theme this Sunday as we gather to further share the good news of resurrection. You are invited to bring writings, art work, film clips, scripture, music, share a story, whatever, that gives voice to your understanding and experience of "resurrection." Neil will facilitate the conversation.

Some of the things shared last week include the phrases:
- I try and see the resurrected Christ-presence in whoever is walking beside me. 
- Resurrection is grand and challenging. She was on her way back to her wings.
- Resurrection doesn't always roar; sometimes resurrection is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow. 
-I'm learning I have the opportunity to resurrect myself each new day when I try to do better than the day before. 

Our offering will be designated for an organization which literally "resurrects" people by providing drinking water in the desert - Humane Borders. Humane Borders, motivated by faith, offers humanitarian assistance to those in need through the deployment of emergency water stations on routes known to be used by migrants coming north through the Sonoran desert. Its sole mission is to take death out of the immigration equation.

For our community potluck meal, you are invited to bring "spring" foods.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Celebrate Easter with The Gathering

Sunday, March 31, 2013
5:30 PM 618 Locust Street

Offering will be designated for The Gathering. Potluck to follow.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Happy Passover

Sunday, March 24, 5:30 pm,
618 Locust Street

The week beginning Sunday, March 24, known worldwide as Holy Week, marks foundational events in both the Jewish and Christian traditions. We will reflect upon these holy days as we gather to observe Passover, or Pesach, which is the Jewish remembrance of the exodus of the ancient Israelites from the slavery of Egypt to new life in the Promised Land. The story, appropriately chronicled in Exodus, a book in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), provides an account of people whose value had been stripped from them who went on to live rich, full lives in the land of milk and honey.

"The Exodus is a story of transformation about people socially, economically, and politically oppressed who find the inner strength and resources to create a community and culture that became vibrant and enduring. This is a story whose potency continues to inspire oppressed people to work for justice some four thousand years after it was first recorded." Lou Kavar 

This potent story and lesson is passed on through the sharing of a Seder meal. This meal of remembrance has also become important to Christians because it was a Seder meal which Jesus celebrated with his disciples shortly before his death. This meal continues to be significant to anyone who feels the struggle for liberation for themselves and all of God's children. It will be in this spirit that we will gather on Sunday, March 24, which is the Christian Palm Sunday, for an interfaith Seder.

Our offering will be designated for One Great Hour of Sharing, an ecumenical effort supporting ministries in 70 countries. The motto,"Giving Help, Hope and Life," appropriately conveys the work of OGHS which includes funding development projects, feeding the victims of famine, providing services for displaced people, and responding to natural disasters.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Generously Gathering

Sunday, March 17, 5:30 pm, 618 Locust Street

One of the deep satisfactions I experience is related to the generosity of The Gathering. We give away approximately 49% of what we financially take in each week. Wow. Plus we give of ourselves in various others ways - we give to each other, to San Angelo, to the UCC, and to our larger community the world.  We, a small group of committed people, are making a big difference in our community!   

In addition to making a difference for others, giving is also important to us - because giving of ourselves, or being generous, lies at the heart of spiritual practice.  We will explore this notion of giving and faith/spiritual development during worship this coming Sunday, March 17, 5:30 pm.  As part of the evening, we will learn about our current financial situation from Pat Hines, The Gathering treasurer, and we will hear recommendations from the Finance and Budget Workgroup about our 2013 budget.   

Appropriately, this week's offering will be two-fold: both for ourselves and for others.  Our financial offering will be designated for The Gathering, and our "hands-on" offering will be non-perishable food for Project Dignidad. This being the 3rd Sunday of the month, we will also share a potluck meal following worship.   

Note: If you would like to participate in The Gathering's offerings but are not able to attend The Gathering in body, you are always welcome to send your contribution to me at  
1305 St. Andrews, San Angelo, TX, 76904,  
or to
Pat Hines, 309 N. Park Street, San Angelo, TX, 76901.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Gathering with Saints

A Time of Lenten Reflection
Sunday, 10 March 2013
5:30 pm, 618 Locust

Lenten journey to a place of deep wholeness and holiness continues this Sunday as we are lead by Brenda Maiman.  She will invite us into relationship with 2 women mystics as she leads us in a time of contemplative reflection.  She states:  "Come and meet two marvelous mystics this Sunday......Teresa of Avila (12th century) and Julian of Norwich (15th century). .... both of whom weave common sense and mysticism into their writings. Experience how their feminine wisdom speaks to the depths of prayer life, hearts, and lives of women and men today." Pregnancy was quite dangerous during these women's lifetimes; both provided spiritual help to pregnant women and undoubtedly to families and friends when a woman and/or child died during childbirth. So in memory of them, our offering will be designated for the Pregnancy Help Center.  Because it is the second Sunday of the month, we will not share a potluck meal.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Celtic Gathering

Celtic CrossAs we gather for worship Sunday night, we continue our journey through Lent by further exploring the holy relationship between body and spirit; and this Sunday we engage "Celtic Spirituality".  As I'm learning from Nancy, "Celtic spirituality" is a VERY large theme with all kinds of particularities. One feature of Celtic spirituality is interweaving and mixing the sacred and ordinary. They call this the "thin boundary" between the sacred and the secular. And did you know that the circle symbolizes the natural cycles of nature and the interconnectedness of all that is? The circle also symbolizes that every participant is of equal value with no position either more or less important than any other. Sounds like a good fit with The Gathering, doesn't it?  Gather with us Sunday night as we engage with these and other aspects of Celtic spirituality.  And remember: we meet in a dance hall, so don't be surprised if we break out in an Irish jig!

Our offering will be designated for West Texas Organizing Strategy. While not particularly "Celtic", it does seek to connect the sacred and secular and lives out the belief that every human is of equal value with no position either more or less important than any other.

Our fitting food theme will celebrate all things "green," so how about some Irish stew, corned beef and cabbage, or Irish potatoes? Green pasta, broccoli, asparagus and green beans would all be nice additions, as would split pea soup, green cookies, green salad, and of course, lime jello.  You get the idea. 

And please remember - we always have an abundance of food (in many colors), so come on!  PLEASE do not let the potluck issue keep you from participating in community.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sacred Music Gathering

From the rhythms of the heartbeat experienced in the womb to the stirring sounds of a marching band, rhythmic patterns and music surround us. Music is central to our lives and is embedded in our culture, defining how we acknowledge milestones, rites of passage and celebrations as well as providing comfort, transformation and inspiration. Possessing a dimension of its own, music often exceeds the spoken word in expressing moods and feelings of the soul. It is, therefore, integral to our experiences of "worship."

So this Sunday we're going to share "sacred" music - that is, you're invited to share any music that inspires you, moves your soul, helps you feel like you've been on holy ground. For some it might be Mozart, for others, Robert Earl Keen.  Perhaps you respond to the old gospel songs, or maybe it's the traditional classic hymns that give you goosebumps. Do I hear it for bluegrass? Maybe it's through a particular Christmas song that you hear God's voice, or it's Gregorian chant that opens your ears to the calling of the Divine. Whatever it is, you're invited to share it Sunday night with The Gathering.

You're invited to bring the music on CD, DVD, or even an old-fashioned vinyl record. If it's available on mp3, Youtube, etc, please send the link to me in advance, and Neil will download it and have it ready to play.

Our offering is still to be determined.  Because it's the 4th Sunday of the month, we will be nourished in many ways, but not through a shared community pot-luck meal.

Sunday, 24 February 2013,5:30 pm,
618 Locust

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Gathering for Lent

The Christian season of Lent began Wednesday, February 13, with Ash Wednesday. A traditional view of Lent is that it's a time of sacrifice and restriction, a journey to the desert of repentance. Spiritual guide and Catholic priest Edward Hays invites us to experience Lent instead as a time of expansion and growth. It is a journey, yes, and also a time of practicing spiritual disciplines, yes - but not for the purpose of diminishing and flagellating ourselves. Our efforts at things like contemplation, reading sacred texts, worship, prayer, service to others, practicing generosity and hospitality are to positively develop our relationship with God and enhance our connectedness with others.  He states:

Lent as a holy season challenges one to aspire to be as Godlike as possible in forgiving and loving.  We've all heard how the average person actualizes very little of his or her potential mental powers; the same is true of our spiritual potential. Lent as a holy season challenges one to reach for that potential, to aspire toward the greatness of soul that comes from cultivating virtues like justice, mercy, and love. 

Sunday's worship will begin this Lenten effort at cultivating "greatness of soul" with a time of worship and reflection. Our offering will be designated for Our Church's Wider Mission, an offering of the UCC. We will also share a potluck meal.

May this Lenten season be a time of deepening attention to the Sacred and also the ever-widening circle of Love and Compassion.