Pride in Texas

Through the Strengthen the Church Offering, people across the United Church of Christ support the formation of new congregations and the renewal of existing ones, fund new programs for youth and young adults and sponsor leadership development for the whole church.  Faith Church UCC in New Braunfels, TX, received a CASA New and Renewing Church Grant made possible by the Strengthen the Church Offering. The congregation felt called to reach out and support the LGBTQIA Community in their region. They began by hosting the area’s first Interfaith Pride Worship Service and later hosted a Drag for a Cause fundraiser for local youth living in an emergency shelter. The public witness of Faith Church UCC rallied the local progressive community.

Before the grant, Faith Church took a “quiet” approach to their community. They did good work, like starting a food pantry, but avoided public stances On Holy Ground Pride in Texas on controversial issues. The grant encouraged the congregation to think beyond their church walls. The congregation began by “coming out” about its values, welcoming people into its congregation, and going beyond its wall to share its inclusive faith. The church faces backlash for its courageous stances. “We received over 1800 negative messages, including threats, when we held Drag for a Cause,” Rev. Dr. Carla Cheatham noted. The threats were scary. “But supporters also showed up and outnumbered the hate without returning any evil or malice in their direction. It was a peaceful, loving, powerful event!”

Faith Church UCC became the hub of progressive people in New Braunfels. “We had 13 people join the church the month following the event, and every week, we still hear from members of the progressive, marginalized, and disenfranchised people impacted by our taking a stand.”
The Strengthen the Church Offering, helps congregations like Faith Church UCC with renewal initiatives. Together, through this offering, we help congregations live into our call to be a multicultural/multi-racial, accessible to all Christian movement.
– Submitted by Lisa Johnson