Weekly e-communications from University Presbyterian Church  March 27, 2019

MARCH 31, 2019


Matt Gaventa preaches from

"A Theory of Change"

The Chancel Choir is joined by harpist Ellie Yamanaka in a John Rutter arrangement of the familiar hymn, “Amazing Grace”. Ms Yamanaka will also play the offertory "Prelude in B Minor" by J. S. Bach - Siloti.
Jonah outside Nineveh, detail from the triptych
painted by UPC Youth for the Great Easter Vigil 2018

March 17, 2019, Pastor Matt Gaventa

March 10, 2019, Pastor Matt Gaventa

March 3, 2019, the Reverend Brian Ellison
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2019 UPC Border Mission Team, Faith Ministry, Reynosa, Mexico
Ready to mix concrete for Casa # 6
The bucket brigade works fast!
The walls are almost done!
Adrielle reconnects with growing things after working with concrete, rebar, and mortar.
The team signs a wall of Casa #6
2019 Work Team, UPC & Faith Ministry
I want to give you an update about our friend, fellow UPC member and longtime UPC employee Barbara Litchford. As you are probably aware, Barbara has not been at her regular spot at the hospitality desk since last fall, when a variety of health issues landed her in the hospital. In the intervening time, Barbara has largely been at home recuperating, struggling with mobility, surrounded both by family, by friends here at UPC, and by your prayers. A couple of weeks ago, Barbara went back to the hospital with a bout of pneumonia, but she is once again home and once again in the long-term work of recuperation.

Barbara has been a critical member of the UPC team for years — a fixture at the hospitality desk, providing both a welcoming smile and a steady hand in the security and operations of our building. Unfortunately, after consulting with her support team including elder care attorneys and advocates, Barbara and UPC have agreed that it is not in her best interest to return to her role as a church employee. Instead, it is our turn simply to embrace Barbara as a member of this church and a part of this family — as indeed we already have, with thanks for all the folks at UPC who have helped in so many uncountable ways.

On a personal note, I would love for us to have a chance to celebrate with her all the years of faithful service that she has rendered — and when she is physically able to be with us on a Sunday morning, I will hope that we can throw a party and say “thank-you” in person.
For now, if you are interested in offering a more immediate token of thanks, the Staff Support committee is collecting a Love Offering to support Barbara in her time of transition. If you would like to contribute, you can put a designated check in the offering plate or contact the church office. The Deacons are also coordinating meals and additional help for Barbara and her family; if you’d like to join along, please get in touch with Remie Martin.

Thank you Barbara for all of your years of faithful service! We will look forward to worshiping alongside you as soon as possible!

I am thrilled to introduce you to a familiar face who is also the newest member of the UPC pastoral staff: Reverend Karen Greif, who has agreed to join us as a Parish Associate helping with pastoral care. Some of you may know Karen as a friendly face on Sunday morning and a dedicated UPLift volunteer — but she’s also a veteran Presbyterian pastor with a long history of helping churches think about pastoral care, and I am excited for the chance to work alongside her. You’ll see Karen a bit in worship on Sunday morning — she’ll officially begin on Palm Sunday, April 14 — but mostly she’ll be spending a few hours a week helping with deacons, visiting with older and home-bound adults, and helping us care for one another in concrete ways.

A bit of Presbyterian polity: a Parish Associate is a very flexible container of pastoral relationship in the Book of Order, often undertaken by retired clergy who want to be of service in a particular congregation in a particular way. The relationship is approved by a simple vote of session — as ours did last week — and by concurrence of the Presbytery Commission on Ministry. Its virtue is its flexibility; Mission Presbytery uses the phrase “as needed / as available” in its guiding language. My hope is that we are UPC can take this flexibility to heart, and greet Karen with thanksgiving for all the ministry she can offer while also blessing all time she needs to enjoy family, friends, and retirement.
Thank you for joining our pastoral staff, Karen! We are excited to work alongside you!
Drawn by the warmth of this church family, I joined UPC in 1980, with son Zooey and daughter-to-be Katie. It seemed like home from day one, and we dove right in. My children loved “going to school” at the Child Development Center. Dr. Farmer’s Bible studies expanded my knowledge of scripture. My UPC women’s covenant group encouraged me to consider a call to ministry. I enrolled at Austin Seminary in 1989 and served as a seminary intern at UPC my senior year.

In 1992, I accepted a call as Associate Pastor at Hope Presbyterian. The focus of my ministry was pastoral care. On Shrove Tuesday 2000, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During that journey, I understood, first hand, the unique support survivors provide for hope and healing. Although I loved my twelve years as a pastor at Hope Church, a call to cancer care ministry tugged at my heart. Chuck Mendenhall introduced me to Anne Turnage, a Christian Educator and 18-year stage-4 cancer survivor. With Anne’s blessing to use the care model she had created, Bill and I founded an Austin-based ministry in which survivors support cancer patients their families. Regardingcancer.org continues this ministry under the able direction of Linda Richards.

Bill and I were junior high sweethearts who wed in 1971. Our early years together were spent in Houston, San Diego, and St. Louis as Bill moved between teams in MLB. We are both Longhorns and love being Austinites. Of our three children, Zooey lives here. Katie and Jordan, live in Denver, as well as our grandson Viktor. We love to visit them, especially in the summer.

I am both humbled and excited to have been invited to join UPC as Parish Associate. I pray for God’s guidance and blessing upon us all in our service to Christ together as a family of faith.

Building & Grounds has scheduled another Clean & Shiny day for Saturday, March 30, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This time, we will focus on making our sad looking courtyards happy looking again.

We need 25 to 30 volunteers of all ages, dressed to work in the dirt, to help make the central, north and south courtyards beautiful again in only four hours! Lunch (pizza!) will be provided.

Email Frank frank@upcaustin.org if you can help, and thanks!

Frank Adkins, Sexton
Join us in the central courtyard for a special presentation by Drumsistas at 10:30 a.m., and enter the sanctuary with palms and singing at 11:00 a.m.

The Great Three Days, or Triduum, is a single worship service spread over Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Vigil on Holy Saturday. You will notice that we are called to worship on Thursday and receive the benediction on Saturday. While this service is an ancient practice of the church, our hope is that you will hear anew the message of God’s love through these diverse presentations of the story of our faith. We invite you to join us on this pilgrim journey as we experience Christ’s call to service at his table, the haunting music and lament at the foot of the cross, and the joyful celebrations and symbols at the empty tomb. Let us keep the fast.

Maundy Thursday and Good Friday Services at 7:00 p.m., UPC Sanctuary
The Great Vigil of Easter begins in the central courtyard at 6:00 p.m.
NOTE: The Great Vigil is a two-hour services with two congregational processions

Communion worship 9:00 a.m., sanctuary
Easter reception with hot cross buns 10:00 a.m., central courtyard
Easter egg hunt 10:15 a.m., north courtyard
Worship 11:00 a.m., sanctuary
The Bevo Lot Task Committee would like to invite you to share your thoughts and ideas about the future use of the two UPC lots just north of our church facility at 23rd Street and San Antonio and affectionately referred to as the “Bevo Lot”. Our committee has been exploring ideas and possibilities for this space since July 2018. As we continue in this exploration, we would like to give you an overview of our initial work, to hear your viewpoints and to answer any questions you may have.

Join us on either Sunday, March 31, or Sunday, April 7, immediately following worship for a light lunch and discussion in the Great Hall. The listening sessions are identical, so come to either one.

BLT Committee Members: Michael Dodd & Stephanie Morris (Co-chairs), Rey Legett, Mary Wall, Sarah Fife, Ken Gladish, David Perry and Matt Gaventa.

photo credit: Austin Texas Daily http://austintexasdailyphoto.blogspot.com/2011/09/bevo.html

  • strawberry preserves - large jars
  • 10 lb boxes of old fashioned Oat Meal
  • 14 oz cans of corn
  • breakfast/snack bars
Please pray for

Mark Cognetti, who broke his hip last week. Mark had surgery at St. David's South and will be discharged to rehabilitation in a few days. He would welcome calls and visits to Room 236.

Bill Warden and his family. Bill has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer Disease. Debbie Warden is Bill's sister-in-law.

Ann Winkle, who underwent outpatient surgery for a broken elbow March 26. Ann fell last week at home, and will be working to rehabilitate her elbow for several weeks following the surgery.

Mary Ann Parker, who had knee replacement surgery March 26. 

Rachel Erwin, who is in ICU in Georgetown as a result of an abcess. Rachel, 32 and the mother of three small children, is a friend of Karen Greif.

Celebrations and Concerns of the congregation are published weekly and include prayers and people to pray for. You can download the folder here for Sunday, March 17, 2019 . You may also pick up a copy outside the church office or in the narthex.
Please sign up for a meal spot for

David Phillips & family. David continues to struggle with weight loss and fatigue, but was well enough to travel with his family to Colorado for a spring break vacation. The family covets your prayers and is grateful for continued help with meals. If you'd like to prepare a meal for the family sometime in the next six weeks, go to 

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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 .
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.