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.