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Can you imagine standing from early in the morning to noon as the Bible is read and teachers walked around to add meaning and context to what was being read? That is what is recorded for us in Nehemiah as the people asked Ezra to read the Torah to them. Probably just selected parts, as the Torah would include the first five books of the Old Testament, but still, that is a lot of reading and listening. And it all led to joy as the people were able to hear the word of G-d with understanding. Our message for Sunday is “Hearing With Understanding” and the focus scriptures are Luke 4:14-21; Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-10. There is a pre-recorded sermon at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_nBQohhrTA, but the best would be to watch the livestream a little after 10:00 Sunday for the music. And in our effort to reach everyone in any way we can, we also can also email you the printed message that you can simply read and reflect upon. Just contact the office and we will get you on the list.

Our Legacy Ranch Angel Tree is up and oh my how this generous congregation has responded! During our worship service on December 19, the congregation joined with representatives from Legacy Ranch to bless the gifts and the kids, staff and teachers. We are blessed to be a blessing.

This past week was completely focused on service to our neighbors and community. Our Missions and Outreach team, in partnership with our Wesley Nurse, organized a winter clothing ministry at the Northside Park. We were able to help families with winter coats for about 100 children and many adults too. We also offered flu shots and other immunizations, which is a continuation of our efforts this year to help keep our friends and neighbors well. I believe this is the 4th clinic we have either hosted or were in partnership to help with. And we did not forget our veterans. Missions and Outreach collected and delivered a huge amount of non perishable food, toiletries, small clothes and other items for the Caldwell County Veteran’s Administration. They will make sure that the items get to our veterans in need. We are so thankful for a congregation who cares so deeply in the United Methodist Way and we are thankful too for our community partners. Together we can do more.

Karmen and Mr. Shanklin. Notice that Karmen has a piece of the ribbon from the ribbon cutting ceremony. How she loves that school and they love her!
School Board cutting the ribbon

One of the many joys of pastoring in Luling is entering the life of the community. We have had a great relationship with Shanklin Elementary School over the years. Leonard Shanklin was a member of our church for many years and was the beloved principal at Shanklin for many years. So, when I was asked to offer the opening prayer at the dedication of the new school building, I was honored to do so. This new building is a wonder. It is so well designed and it is beautiful. There are three huge murals adorning the hallways, including Texas, the United States and Luling and one can spend some time just reading all the inscriptions. The classrooms are large, state of the art and the school now has a gym and a cafeteria with a stage and all the lights and sound needed for theater productions. And the children, administrators and teachers who greeted us on the tour had the biggest smiles you can imagine.

Thanks to our devoted and hardworking people, we made a great deal of progress as we sorted out the landscaping issues on campus. That big tree that died is gone, the shrubbery damaged by the freeze is gone, the playground is in great shape, the bushes are trimmed and the flowers are blooming in Mom’s Garden. We still need some weeding and mulching, but much of the heavy lifting is complete. Let’s keep working and our church will continue to be that bright beacon of hope in Luling, Texas.

Just a few of pictures from “Stuff the Bus” this past week over at the Gerdes Gym. Rhonda Hunnicutt gave “Bombas” socks to the students and Jim and Candice gave out the hygiene kits. The Luling Lions gave out 275 bags of school supplies and back packs. A great day to encourage and bless our students.

Robin, Mignon and Debbie present Esther with a car so that she and her sister, Sa Ra (standing next to Esther) can come to the church and present their music. Sa Ra is the lead organist at First United Methodist in Seguin. If anyone wonders if God has a plan for them, just look at the smiles on these faces.

We have a new music director and we are so blessed to welcome Esther Park to our staff.

Esther is working on her masters in choral conducting at Texas State. Her resume is amazing. Before coming to the US, she studied piano, song accompanying / vocal coaching at the Conservatory for Music Mainz, and church music at the Conservatory for Church Music Heidelberg. At its website, The Mainz School of Music is named the only of its kind at university level in Germany. In addition to studies in music, Esther was an active choirmaster in St. Johannes Heidelberg and conductor of the Ueberberg-Orchestra in Mainz-Finthen, Germany. While choirmaster, she programmed many concerts with various choral repertoire. We have seen just a glimpse of her work during the interviewing process. We will greet her on August 1 as she begins her journey with us. This is a church service you will want to attend. and might I suggest, ours is a choir you will want to sing with.

We delivered three large bags of school supplies to Shanklin Elementary School this week and how gracious they were in receiving them. Here is a picture with the Principal, Ms. Schwartzlose, right in front of a picture of Mr. Shanklin, a beloved saint of our church.

A PROMISE FROM AN OLD FRIEND

        The 23rd Psalm

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

 

Prayer Wall

We have added a prayer wall to our church. As with the Western Wall in Jerusalem, this is a place to prayer and leave prayers in the cracks and niches in the wall. Anyone is welcome to do so. The prayers will remain personal.

 

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safe gatherings

“Safe Gatherings” is the Conference’s new training and background checking for those who work with children, youth and vulnerable adults. So, those who teach Sunday school, VBS, visit shut-ins, work with children/youth need to have this training. It comes in three parts. The first step is to register at safegatherings.com. Registering will initiate the background checks and references requirement. There is a fee which of the conference will pay part and the church will reimburse you for any excess. The second step is a relatively painless computer training program we do individually at our own pace. The safe gatherings webpage will lead you into this training. The third step is an interactive session you can either do in person or at a webinar. Go to   https://riotexas.org/safe for times and places.