Heart of Texas Association

April 2022 Newsletter

HoT Association Says Goodbye to Rev. Dr. Sarah Bentley

Our friend and colleague, Rev. Dr. Sarah Bentley, is moving to Allentown, PA to live near friends and closer to family.


Rev. Sarah attended Smith College and Teachers College before attending Union Seminary where she earned her MDiv and PhD in Social Ethics. She was ordained in the United Church of Christ in 1980.


Rev. Sarah served as a staff member of the National Council of Churches and of Church Women United from 1977-1983 and a pioneer of using movement/dance in worship. Rev. Sarah was a visiting teacher at both Auburn and Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and served on faculty at the Clergy Continuing Education Center in New York.


Rev. Sarah moved to Austin in the early 80's with her husband, Rev. Bob Breihan, who was a Methodist Minister and social activist. Her connections within the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist church run deep and wide.


Rev. Sarah was the first woman to serve any church in the South Central Conference as a pastor. In the Heart of Texas Association, Rev. Sarah served as an Interim Minister at St. Peter's, Congregational Church of Austin, and the former UCC church in Niederwald between 1984-1997. When not serving a church, Rev. Sarah attended Congregational Church of Austin and University United Methodist.


Between 1986-1996, Rev. Sarah worked as a counseling/retreat leader at New Life Institute, which she, her husband, and a Methodist friend help found. Many Heart of Texas Members in Discernment received their psychological evaluations through the New Life Institute.


She served as an Associate Pastor at Westlake UMC between 1997-2006 until Hospice Austin sought her out to be a hospice chaplain. Rev. Sarah retired in 2012, but has remained active at Congregational Church of Austin and the Association.


Of her friend, Rev. Liz Nash shared, "She's done all kinds of things. She has a long history in the SCC. She's so perceptive. We just always connect, and I lover her perspective. I'm really going to miss her."


Rev. Sarah, thank you for your years of ministry, particularly in the Heart of Texas Association. The seeds you planted, you tended to, and you watched grow are more fruitful because of your love and grace. You will be missed!

Heart of Texas Spring Association Meeting

Heart of Texas Authorized Ministers, voting Church Delegates and Guests of the Heart of Texas Spring Association. You are invited to our in-person Association Meeting on April 30th at Bethany Congregational Church in San Antonio starting at 10:30 am. Registration starts at 10 am.


There will be a Zoom option for those who do not feel comfortable to be in person due to COVID concerns. We do hope that those who do feel comfortable will join us in person.


More information, including Zoom link, will be emailed out by the Executive Committee soon.

South Central Conference Annual Meeting

The South Central Conference Annual Meeting website is up and running! Be sure to make plans to attend May 27th - May 29th at Camp Allen. This a bring your family event with activities planned for children, youth, and adults. The focus is Rest. Cultivate. Grow., and your Heart of Texas Association Planning Committee has been working hard to ensure that all three things can happen!


Churches, please be sure to send your delegates so quorum can be met and the business of the Conference can be completed.


On Sunday, Rev. Phil Hodson will be installed as the SCC Conference Minister. The worship service will be livestreamed so your churches can participate and your clergy can attend this important mark of the South Central Conference.


If you are still on the fence, you might think "What would Linda Coats want me to do?" For those who knew and loved Linda, you know where she'd want you to be!


Register here.


Special thanks to the Planning Committee Members: Rev. Arlene Turner, Ann Wehrly, Carl Brown, Pastor Carl Schwartz-King, Rev. Charles Stark, Rev. Dr. CJ Wood, Rev. Crystal Silva-McCormick, Debra Joseph, Doris Machinski, Rev. Jenny Russell, Rev. Jeremy Albers, Joe Ward, Rev. Kerry Kirtley, Rev. Lynette Ross, Rev. Nikki Stahl, Rev. Phil Hodson, Stacey Silvey, and Rev. Trent Williams.

Church Leaders & Delegates Contact Information Needed

We are still looking for contact information for many of our church's lay leaders. Please complete this simple form.

Association Events

Clergy Gathering

At the March Clergy Gathering, we spent some in depth time exploring the mark Exhibiting a Spiritual Foundation and Ongoing Spiritual Practice. It was fascinating to see the different ways in which we tend to our spiritual foundations.


On April 5th at 9:30 am, we will be looking at a second Marks of Ministry: Engaging Sacred Stories and Traditions.


  • What sacred stories and traditions do you hold dear?
  • What are ways in which you engage with them?
  • Are there other sacred stories and traditions that feed you, fascinate you, etc.?

Church Leaders Gathering

Wow, the energy was alive last month as a group of church leaders met to discuss new church starts in the Association.

So many of our churches are going through "restarts" post-COVID so everyone had something to share and something to learn. Churches, you have some fantastic, passionate leaders!


We will meet again on April 6th at 7 pm so if you are a church lay leader, or retired/licensed minister serving on your church leadership team, come and join the conversation.

Annual Planning Committee Meetings

The Planning committee will be meeting April 7 and April 21 (tentative). Anyone is welcome to attend and see if there are ways in which you can pinch in and help. Rev. Nikki Stahl is pretty good at keeping us to an hour and we can share previous notes.

Conference & Wider Church Events

Saturday, April 2

  • 3:00 pm MLK Vietnam Speech 55 years later UCC.org

Monday, April 4

  • 6:30 pm Best Practices Pastoral Relations Committee (see MESA graphic below)

Wednesday, April 6

  • 9:00 am SCC Conference Café with Rev. Phil Hodson Zoom Link
  • 11:00 am OWL Taking Flight: Building an OWL Program from the Ground Up UCC.org
  • 1:00 pm Volunteer Ministries Celebrates National Volunteer Month UCC.org
  • 2:30 pm Call Agreement Basics (see MESA graphic below)

Thursday, April 7

  • 2:30 pm Make Visible UCC.org *Pastor Rene Slataper will be part of the panel!

Friday, April 8

  • 7:00 pm LIFE at Eden: The Treasure of Solomon Eden Life

Wednesday, April 13

  • 9:00 am SCC Conference Café with Rev. Phil Hodson Zoom Link
  • 12:00 pm Getting Ready for Earth Sunday: Resources for Congregations UCC.org

Thursday, April 14

  • 2:30 pm Thursdays for the Soul Topic UCC.org

Wednesday, April 20

  • 9:00 am SCC Conference Café with Rev. Phil Hodson Zoom Link

Thursday, April 21

  • 2:30 pm Thursdays for the Soul Topic UCC.org

Saturday, April 23

  • 9:30 am The Faith of Prophets: Lessons for the Climate Crisis UCC.org

Monday, April 25

  • 6:30 pm Discernment MicroRetreat (see MESA graphic below)

Wednesday, April 27

  • 9:00 am SCC Conference Café with Rev. Phil Hodson Zoom Link
  • 6:30 pm 3 Best Practices for Increasing Giving Register Here

Thursday, April 28

  • 2:30 pm Thursdays for the Soul Topic UCC.org

UCC History & Polity

Mission Opportunities

Hygiene Kits Collection at Annual Meeting

It is our tradition to collect Hygiene Kits for Back Bay Mission at each year's annual meeting. Kits will be collected at a designated location during annual meeting and distributed appropriately thereafter. Click below to download flyer with additional information.

Can we do it? Yes, we can!

The Heart of Texas Annual Meeting Planning Committee has made the decision to collect hygiene kits for Back Bay Mission this year at the Conference Annual Meeting, but we didn't want to lose our tradition of the Conference collecting School Kits for Church World Services (CWS). We know how much this mission means to so many of our members. So, the Heart of Texas Association would like to challenge North Texas, Houston, and New Orleans Association in a "School Kit Challenge" and see who can put together the most school kits by our Fall Association Meetings.


A link to the CWS School Kit can be found here.

If assembling "one kit" = kit + $2

If collecting money, "one kit" = $17

MESA Education

Slumber Falls 2022 Summer Camp Registration

Early bird registration ends April 1st!