Easter story more compelling through narrative preaching

2/10/2022
By Lindsay Peyton - En Español   Pastor Stephanie Hughes considers Easter as an opportunity to share the Good News in a new way and to renew hope. And she challenges herself to find innovative ways to retell the story. Last year, she felt an even stronger call to go all out. After all, Easter was the first sermon back in the building for St. John’s UMC in Texas City. “I told everyone, we had to go big or go home,” she said with a laugh.   Hughes began brainstorming ways to make the 2021 ...

Grades soar when church starts school music program

2/10/2022
By Lindsay Peyton   There’s music in the halls after school at Blackshear Elementary in Houston’s Third Ward, thanks to a partnership with nearby Boynton Chapel UMC. The church’s new program began a week after school started and is demonstrating that learning an instrument translates to higher test scores and better behavior in the classroom. Pastor Linda Davis explained this is just the beginning.   The music ministry at Boynton Chapel UMC lay dormant since COVID hit. Davis started the academy...

Shrove Tuesday continues despite pandemic

2/10/2022
By Lindsay Peyton   The pandemic put a stop to the annual pancake dinner for Shrove Tuesday at Holly Springs UMC in Martin’s Mill. And the congregation greatly missed the tradition. “It has been a grievance during COVID that we weren’t able to do it,” Rev. Erin Muckleroy said. But with a little creativity, the pastor found a creative way to forge ahead – and to share an important message. “It’s a way of letting everyone know that they’re still loved by the church and also a way to invite them ...

The news media can help you share the good news

2/10/2022
By Lindsay Peyton   The story of Lent still makes headlines. In fact, a number of events during the Lenten season that could easily be newsworthy. It just depends on getting the word out there.   When it comes to sharing an upcoming event with the community or getting the word out about your church, a little media coverage can go a long way. “It’s such an awesome way for churches to get their story out,” Shannon W. Martin, the TAC’s Director of Communications, explained. “The news can be an ...

Church ladies sew for CPS children leaving in a rush

1/27/2022
By Lindsay Peyton   The beginning of the year was a return to work for the women of Huntington UMC. Their  Loose Threads ministry reconvened Jan. 6. Sewing machines were humming, pumping out blankets for adoptions in the area. Church members were also assembling birthday surprise boxes for foster children, a new ministry that started in the spring.   Sandy Sheffield is one of the original eight members of Loose Threads ministry. “I’m one of the instigators,” she said with a laugh.   It all ...

Students benefit from churches partnering with local school

1/27/2022
by Lindsay Peyton  En Español   Elkhart UMC is only a one-minute drive from the intermediate school, which is sandwiched between the middle school and the Elkhart ISD’s office. It’s not unusual for students to volunteer at the church -- or for Pastor Carmen Rickel to respond to a teacher’s prayer request. Working together for the greater good is simply how it’s done, Rickel explained.   The congregation is part of the United Church Charities, also known as the United Churches of Elkhart. The ...

Ideas turn to cash at TAC Innovation Lab

1/27/2022
  by Ronnie Crocker  En Español   As pandemic shutdowns began two years ago, churches moved quickly to acquire the technical know-how for streaming services to stranded parishoners via Zoom, YouTube or Facebook Live. Clergy have since embraced TikTok and other platforms as well.   Social media photos of congregants watching services remotely from the comfort of their home jacuzzi suggest audiences likewise have adapted, says the Rev. Michael Jarboe, senior associate pastor at Houston’s Memorial ...

MLK’s legacy remembered at BMCR celebration

1/27/2022
By Lindsay Peyton    “Legacy Moving Forward” was the theme of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, presented by the Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR) on Jan. 17. In the virtual event, Bishop Scott J. Jones said, “We want to remember his legacy and continue our prayers that someday the sin of racism will be eradicated, justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like an everlasting spring.”   The event continued with passing the gavel from Frankie Watson, current president ...

Reaching today’s youth with back to the basics

1/27/2022
By Lindsay Peyton   John Wesley UMC is rethinking youth ministry. The congregation, located north of Houston in Champion Forest, is reaching its youngest members in new ways – and walking with them through their faith journey.   Ministering to Gen Z often left Chris McCarthy scratching his head. Years ago, when he first started working with youth groups, he simply had to open the door and almost 100 kids would show up. Many were from the neighborhood, even if their parents had never attended ...

Top 10 stories of 2021

1/13/2022
Dear Friends, As we move into 2022, taking a look in the rearview is beneficial – it’s been a year full of trials, tribulations, as well as hope and faith. We celebrated miraculous vaccines and grieved when COVID variants arose and we lost loved ones. We weathered a devastating winter storm, while still struggling with the pandemic. Many times, I saw a spirit of resilience rising up in our clergy and church members like never before.   At Annual Conference, we focused on “Faith, Hope, Love,” ...

Church provides housing for unplaced foster children

1/13/2022
By Lindsay Peyton - En Español   It all started in 2014 when a kid wandered into the student ministry at Kingwood UMC looking for a glass of water. “Then he brought his siblings,” longtime church member Nanette Lynch recalled. “There were four of them, and they never missed a Sunday.” She had never considered getting involved in a foster ministry before then, but, one thing led to another. The Oasis Ministry was born, One Love Collaborative sprung up, and now KUMC has a dedicated space on ...

Fitness builds faith at any age

1/13/2022
By Lindsay Peyton - En Español   Imagine a space with fitness classes for all levels and ages, a gym for adult basketball pick-up games or pickleball and a volleyball league. Nearby, children learn soccer skills or practice shooting hoops. You might picture a health club or a gym designed for the community. Instead, this describes the recreation ministry of The Woodlands UMC. “The goal is to bring people to Jesus, though sports and fitness,” Athletic Director Garrett Ritter said.   He explained...

Pastor: what is innovation, growth, where is hope?

1/13/2022
By Lindsay Peyton   New Year’s resolutions aren’t only reserved for people who want to get into better shape or start a new hobby. Church leaders often set goals of how they would like to move forward and guide their congregations into a more fruitful future. Churches in the Texas Annual Conference continue to adjust to the challenges of the pandemic and uncertainties resulting from a postponed General Conference. Cross Connection recently reached out to three pastors and ask about their plans ...

UMC Pastor wins Dickinson City Council seat

1/13/2022
By Lindsay Peyton   Pastor Johnnie Simpson Jr. adheres to the belief that faith should not be constrained inside of church walls. That’s why the congregation he serves, Faith UMC in Dickinson, makes outreach a top priority. It’s also at the heart of his reasoning to run for office this November. He was sworn in to Dickinson City Council Position 1 on Dec. 14, 2021.   “I’m a strong proponent of the church on the public square,” Simpson said. “I feel like the church should be involved.”   But ...

TAC holds Special Session to approve funds for BSA Survivor Trust Fund

1/13/2022
Photo by Mike DuBose, United Methodist News Service Pending court approval of a settlement agreement in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) bankruptcy case, United Methodists have agreed to contribute $30 million to a $3 billion Survivor Trust Fund that will receive contributions from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), insurance companies and charter organizations.  Every annual conference is asked to raise funds to contribute toward the $30 million Survivor Trust Fund.   Delegates from the Texas ...

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