e-communications from University Presbyterian Church March 4, 2020
MARCH 8, 2020


the Reverend John Leedy preaching
"This Dark Night"
Gospel reading is

The Chancel Choir sings Alice Parker’s setting of a traditional early American hymn, “His Voice As the Sound”.
Here's the video for the second Sunday in Lent, with David Johnson, interviewed by Jeannie Corbitt. For all the Lenten devotions, go to austinseminary.edu/lent
On this week's Sunday Morning Matinee, Adam and Matt welcome Sarah Kinney Gaventa, dean of students at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, to talk about work, sexism, Dolly Parton, and the hit 1980 movie 9 to 5. 
March 1, 2020, the Reverend Matt Gaventa, All the Kingdoms of the World

February 23, 2020, the Reverend Matt Gaventa, Ready or Not

February 16, 2020, the Reverend Matt Gaventa, The Name on the Front

February 9, 2020, the Reverend Matt Gaventa, Packing and Unpacking

February 2, 2020, the Reverend Krystal Leedy, Do, Love, Walk

January 26, 2020, the Reverend Karen Greif, Witness to the Light

January 19, 2020, the Reverend Rykie Marx, Comfort My People

January 12, 2020, the Reverend Matt Gaventa, The Repair Shop

Find our sermon archive at
Subscribe to our sermon podcast:
Dear friends,

Are you as overwhelmed by the news cycle as I am? It would be enough to be in the middle of Super Tuesday season. But the news related to the spread of COVID-19, the Coronavirus, is no less troubling and no less exhausting. My prayers for all of you as you navigate the frantic and anxious times in which we live.

I do want to let you know about the basic sanitation practices that we employ here at UPC, so that you have a sense of the environment into which you bring yourself or your family when you come to worship.
Here are some highlights from our normal, everyday commitment to keeping our building safe and sanitary:

  • All “high touch traffic” surfaces in the church — door handles, nobs, light switches, tabletops, etc. — are sanitized regularly: three times a week right now, as a basic flu season protocol.
  • Hand sanitizer bottles are located by all building entrances and available for all UPC programs. Hand sanitizer wipes are available in every UPC pew.
  • Communion servers are asked to use hand sanitizer immediately prior to the celebration of the sacrament. Pastors also use hand sanitizer immediately prior to presiding over the communion liturgy.
  • All UPC members and staff engaged in serving or preparing food, including communion, are asked to wash their hands prior to beginning work. 
  • In general, UPC staff are requested not to come to work if they are running a fever or have symptoms of a communicable illnesses. 

These are just highlights — there are more detailed procedures available in links at the bottom of this note. And in addition to these normal practices, we are of course monitoring the spread of COVID-19 carefully, and making additional plans for escalated safety protocols should our community become more imminently at-risk. 

Of course you can help! The easiest and simplest thing to do is to mind your own hygiene, especially when coming to church gatherings. Follow CDC recommendations related to hand-washing, hand sanitizing, and the like. You can also help by helping us remember some good practices about bodies here at UPC. Remember: you get to choose whether you want to get a hug at the passing of the peace. You get to choose whether you want to shake hands coming through the receiving line. At UPC, no touching is ever required, and you can help us live into that conviction. 

If you’re here on Sunday, but you just don’t quite want to shake hands, that’s okay! You could offer a friendly elbow bump — or you can just clasp your hands together and say a friendly “Peace of Christ” without touching. The same goes for Communion — if you don’t feel comfortable coming forward, you are welcome to receive the sacrament in your pew, or take a pass for the week entirely. God is big enough to embrace you and hold you for the week even if you don’t want to be touched by anybody else. That’s okay.

Nobody wants to be living in times this anxious. But even in the anxious moment, we can still live into our calling: to be joyful, hospitable worshipers of God; to offer a safe and nurturing space for everyone who comes here curious about Jesus Christ; and, of course, to go into the world with courage, with hope, and with conviction for the kingdom yet to come. In all these things I remain your grateful companion along the way.
It’s time to introduce (and re-introduce) a few new UPC staff members!

First, as you may already know, at its February meeting, the UPC Session voted to extend UPC’s relationship with our Sunday morning Safety Officer beyond the initial four-month trial period. Your congregational feedback was invaluable in helping session discern the best path forward for our ministry of hospitality and welcome. Now that the trial period is over, we will be moving forward with one consistent face, the newest member of our UPC staff family, Officer Jacob Troy. 
Officer Troy hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but has been in Austin for five years, and an officer with APD for four. Among other things, he is trained as a Crisis Intervention Officer with a specific attention to persons needing mental health assistance. Officer Troy’s responsibilities on Sunday are really twofold. First, he will enable us to cross San Antonio safely from the parking garage, as his presence in the street helps us navigate the construction (and also creates a legal crosswalk!). Second, he will maintain a subtle presence in the narthex during worship, so that we can focus our energies on the worship of God. 

If you have not already done so, please take a moment to greet Officer Troy, introduce yourself, and welcome him to the UPC family!
Second, the Staff Support Committee has been busy mapping out a transition strategy for our music ministry following Ara’s scheduled retirement at the end of May. As you may already know, the Session has charged a formal search committee with recommending a candidate to be Ara’s ultimate successor; that committee is beginning its work as we speak. However, in order to give the search committee time to do its work well, and to give the entire congregation some time to grieve and prepare, the Staff Support Committee has been working on interim arrangements to sustain and enrich our musical life in the meantime.

The first step is that Assistant Music Director Kim Vitray will step into the role of directing our week-to-week summer choir, and we are dearly fortunate that her gifts will continue to elevate our worship and our ministry. Thank you for your continued service, Kim!
The second step is that, beginning on Rally Day 2020, Eric Wall will serve as Interim Director of Music Ministry into the next program year. Eric is a stalwart of our Chancel Choir already; however, during the week, he serves as Assistant Professor of Sacred Music and Dean of the Chapel at Austin Presbyterian Seminary; prior to that, he was director of music at First Presbyterian Church in Asheville, North Carolina. As such, Eric brings significant experience helping churches think about the entire musical life of a congregation, experience which will serve us well as we discern and explore the future of this role and its leadership here at UPC.
Eric has committed to working alongside us, if needed, through April of 2021, which will give our search committee plenty of time to do its work thoughtfully and deliberately. Of course, as the committee begins to learn its way through this process, we will keep you as informed as possible about what to expect. In the meantime, please extend Eric a warm greeting as he prepares to join the UPC staff!

If you have any questions about either of these processes, don’t hesitate to contact Pastor Matt or to contact Staff Support chair Adam Houghton . Thank you all for your continued support of UPC, its ministries, and its staff.

UPC Staff Support Committee
Want to know more about Amplify Austin? Go to amplifyatx.org . Look for our other ministry partners, like Micah 6 of Austin, Manos de Cristo, Presbyterian Children's Home and Services, and Austin Seminary, while you're on the site.
Social Witness Committee
Issues in 2020:
On March 22, we welcome the Reverend Deanna Hollas for the 2020 Social Witness Sunday Series during the Sunday school hour, as well as welcoming her into the pulpit for the morning worship service. Reverend Hollas is the Gun Violence Prevention Ministry Coordinator with the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and the co-founder of Retreat House Spirituality
Center in Richardson, Texas. In her role with the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Reverend Hollas empowers individuals and congregations across the Presbyterian denomination as they embody Jesus’ call to love God and love neighbor by being engaged and active in the prevention of gun violence. She holds a Master of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology as well as a Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction from San Francisco Theological Seminary.
Deanna and her husband, Chris, are the proud parents of 3 young adult children: Emily, John, and Eleanor. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, being outdoors, and discovering delicious plant based harm free meals. Reverend Hollas will be speaking in the morning on: Unmasking the Powers Behind Gun Violence . Theologian Walter Wink understood that there are invisible forces that shape and determine human existence. This class will explore the forces behind our gun violence epidemic and how being a follower of Jesus affects our response.
Christian Formation:
March 8, 2020
Theology – Feminist, Womanist, Latina
Dr. Jennifer Owens-Jofré

Dr. Jennifer Owens-Jofré is a Latina Catholic theologian. Her academic writing has appeared in the International Journal of Practical Theology, and she co-edited From the Pews in the Back: Young Women and Catholicism, which Liturgical Press published in 2009. Other popular pieces can be found online at Patheos, God's Politics, and Busted Halo. With ministerial experience in Catholic contexts across the United States, she also offers professional development opportunities for those in ministry.

Having studied at Loyola Marymount University, Harvard Divinity School, and the Graduate Theological Union, Jennifer defended her dissertation, which explores the implications of devotion to la Virgen de Guadalupe at a Latinx Catholic parish for Mariology and for ministry, in August 2018. During academic years 2018–2020, she is participating in a postdoctoral fellowship through the Louisville Institute at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, where she served as visiting assistant professor of constructive theology.

All classes meet at 9:30 a.m. in the Great Hall, and you may join the class at any time. Upcoming classes include

March 15: Toxic Masculinity, Microaggressions, & A New Vision
the Reverend Dr. Phil Helsel

March 29: Gender Justice in the Church
The Reverend Dr. Karoline Lewis

April 5: Conclusions & Where Do We Go From Here?
the Reverend Dr. Cindy Rigby & the Reverend Krystal Leedy

Saturday, March 28, 7:00 p.m.
UPC Great Hall
The Christian Formation Committee of University Presbyterian Church is thrilled to welcome the Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis for a Gender Justice Special Event on Saturday evening, March 28 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm in the UPC Great Hall. This event is open to everyone in the UPC and Austin Seminary communities, as well as local area pastors, church staff, and elders. This is a free event with dessert provided. We ask that you RSVP by Sunday, March 22 so we know how many to plan for. And download the poster to share with your friends!
The Reverend Dr. Karoline M. Lewis is the Marbury E. Anderson Chair in Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary and she previously taught at Candler School of Theology, Columbia Theological Seminary, and Augsburg College. Lewis is the author of SHE: Five Keys to Unlock the Power of Women in Ministry (including an accompanying facilitator guide, participant guide, and DVD) and John: Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentaries , as well as numerous articles for The Christian Century, Feasting on the Word, Feasting on the Gospels, Currents in Theology and Mission, Lutheran Forum, Word & World, Abingdon Preaching Annual, and Odyssey Network’s ON Scripture .
She was one of the 100 religious scholars in the United States to contribute to the Values and Voices Campaign . Ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Lewis holds degrees from Northwestern University (B.A.), Luther Seminary (M.Div.), and Emory University (Ph.D., New Testament Studies and Homiletics). She has served as Treasurer of Academy of Homiletics and Regional Coordinator for the Upper Midwest Region of the Society of Biblical Literature.

Lewis is a regular preacher/presenter at the Festival of Homiletics and leads conferences, workshops, and retreats internationally on the Gospel of John, the New Testament, interpreting the Bible, preaching, leadership, and women in ministry. She is a contributing writer for Working Preacher , author of the site’s Dear Working Preacher column, and co-host of the site’s weekly podcast, Sermon Brainwave . Visit karolinelewis.com for resources on preaching and being a woman in ministry.
We have a great group going, with almost 40 people presently signed up! The trip is around the corner, Spring Break 2020 (Sunday, March 15-Friday, March 20). It is a wonderful way to experience God’s love working in the world, and to learn about our brothers and sisters in Christ living and working in Mexico. It’s not too late to sign up! If you are still interested in going but haven’t decided, please contact Craig Deats ASAP for details at: cdeats@ddollaw.com ; or call his cell: (512) 567-1419.

Contributions still needed!! If you have not yet done so, please contribute to help with trip expenses. Construction materials are $6000 per house, and this year we are building TWO houses; add travel, housing and food, and it’s a lot. We really need your financial help. To contribute: (1) Place a check in the offering plate clearly marked for the “Border Mission Trip;” (2) donate online (again designating the Border Mission Trip); or (3) give a check made out to UPC to the church office, or to Craig Deats directly. Any contribution, large or small, is really needed and appreciated. Those contributing $250 or more will receive a “thank you” email mid-week from a trip member about the experience.
On Sunday, March 22, the Heritage Ministry Team seeks to connect the heritage of our January 1892 founding "roots," with our "growing" present. Our old fashioned potluck luncheon will emphasize a Heritage Food & Fellowship theme.

Have a favorite family recipe from a treasured church or community cookbook? Text your mom, call your grandma, or pull out that old church cookbook and plan to make your favorite dish (vintage or newer) that means (church) family to you . We need savory side dishes like Jan Berry's Easy Sesame Spinach (times 20 ;-)
The Heritage Ministry Team serves under the Congregational Connections Committee (CCC). For more information, contact Carol Keller at carolaskeller@gmail.com  
Saturday, March 7, 9 am to 2 pm
If you are a gardener, the Sunshine Community Gardens annual plant sale offers quite a selection of tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. The funds help support the garden, which in turn, has several plots managed by gardeners that give their produce to the Micah 6 food pantry. This past Saturday's donation was more than 110 pounds of produce.

And it is a fun event. If you are there in late morning, early afternoon, say hi to Bill Gaventa, who will be volunteering. 

Prayers of thanksgiving that Jane Payne and René Haas are both home following a time in a rehabilitation hospital.

Please pray for

the family of Elizabeth Jepson, who died Friday, January 31, 2020. Bryan Jepson is Elizabeth's husband; Linda and George Henderson are her parents. A service in witness to the resurrection will be held Saturday, March 7, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. in the UPC sanctuary, with a reception to follow in Fellowship Hall. Obituary may be found here.
To have a deacon pray with you, look for the  Deacon of the Day  on the pulpit side front of the sanctuary any Sunday following the postlude.
To request prayers for yourself or a loved one, email   upc@upcaustin.org .
Celebrations and Concerns of the congregation are published weekly and include prayers and people to pray for. Download Celebrations & Concerns for Sunday, March 1, 2020, or pick up a copy in the narthex or outside the library.
UPC's Prayer Chain is a group of faithful prayer warriors who commit to praying for people throughout the week. If you'd like to be part of the Prayer Chain, click the button below. You will receive periodic emails (no more than one per day), with specific requests from members to pray. Thank you for your faithfulness in prayer.