Louisiana Floods

Photo: Faithful United Methodist Church in Saint Amant, LA (southeast of Baton Rouge)

August 19, 2016

Dear St. Paul's family, 
As you know, our neighbors in Louisiana have experienced extreme damage and loss due to recent flooding. Bishop Cynthia Harvey of the Louisiana Conference says, "This flood is of Katrina proportions; it's Katrina without the wind." 

St. Paul's is coming alongside our neighbors in Louisiana to offer help and support during this difficult time. Here are three ways we can respond: 


Bishop Harvey has identified these specific prayers. Let us pray for... 

  • Those still trapped by rising waters
  • Those yet to be affected
  • First responders who have left their own flooded homes to rescue others
  • Children who have difficult questions with difficult answers
  • Government officials--may they get the rest they need
  • Our churches--may they respond with the grace of Jesus Christ


There is an immediate need for financial contributions to help with supplies and recovery needs. We will be collecting donations for Louisiana this Sunday in all three worship services and will continue receiving your contributions for the next several weeks. You may bring your donation to the church or can make your donation online. Please indicate your giving with "Louisiana flood relief." At the recommendation of our own Bishop Huie, we will send these donations to the Texas Annual Conference for transfer to the Louisiana Annual Conference. 


City and church leaders in south Louisiana have made pleas to surrounding areas for work teams to come to the hardest hit places to help with cleanup. Serving as a hub for volunteers, First UMC Baton Rouge is actively sending out teams each day to help residents clean out their homes. Time is of the essence because the August heat and humidity can cause mold to grow very quickly. Soon a salvageable home becomes a health hazard. 

Because our neighbors are in need of immediate help, we are coordinating a team from St. Paul's to go to Baton Rouge Thursday, Aug. 25 - Saturday, Aug. 27. If you are able to go on this quick trip, please email St. Paul's Director of Missions, Amy Taylor, for more information. Likewise, if you are interested in going to Louisiana to help but cannot go this time, email Amy Taylor about other opportunities.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. May God bless our efforts to serve and love our neighbors.

Amy Taylor
Director of Missions
St. Paul's UMC, Houston

Rev. Tommy Williams
Senior Pastor
St. Paul's UMC, Houston

Rev. Scott Moore, executive director of the Texas Annual Conference Mission Center, reminds us that during and immediately after a disaster, what you do NOT do is often just as important as what you do.

  1. Do NOT take up a collection of items based solely on news or even personal reports from Louisiana. This would include clothing, shoes, diapers, food and water. Unsolicited donations can lead to a second disaster when an organization's infrastructure has been damaged as badly as Louisiana's has been.
  2. Do NOT contact churches in Louisiana directly with an offer to assist or send teams. Please allow the local churches time to respond to their local community, and please allow the conference and denominational response system to function.  

St. Paul's UMC will keep you up to date on ways to help.

Clean Out Closets, Donate to EAC

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

As the seasons change and you clean out your closets, think of the Emergency Aid Coalition's Clothing Center. Especially needed in the upcoming months are

  • Men's shoes and pants (jeans and khaki, sizes 30-36)
  • Women's clothing, sizes 14 through Plus
  • Reading glasses
  • Used backpacks
  • Cold weather jackets, hats, and gloves (all ages, genders)

Please place your donations inside the church entrances. Thank you.

World Methodist Conference

Hilton Americas - Houston (map)

The World Methodist Conference is a global gathering of the Methodist-Wesleyan family held every five years in a different part of the world. The 21st World Methodist Conference will be in Houston under the theme "One" -- One God, One Faith, One People, One Mission. The program will invite participants into a conversation about the distinction between unity and uniformity in the Wesleyan tradition.

For more about the conference, including registration, please see their website.

European UMC Bishop to Preach Here

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

Dr. Patrick Streiff, United Methodist Bishop of Central and Southern Europe, will preach at the 8:30 and 11:05 am services here next Sunday, September 4.

He will be in Houston to attend the World Methodist Conference.

Bishop Streiff is a member of the Connectional Table, the study committee of the worldwide nature of the United Methodist Church and the Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops as well as study groups on theological education and spiritual formation.

Choral Scholars Resume Leading 9:45 Service September 4

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

Choral Scholars 2015-16. Photograph by Robin Gandin.

Choral Scholars 2015-16. Photograph by Robin Gandin.

The Choral Scholars for 2016-17 will begin rehearsing and observing St. Paul’s worship services Sunday, August 14, in preparation to lead 9:45 worship on September 4 with Eddie Quaid directing.

Created in 2005 to give advanced high-school singers an opportunity to lead worship services by presenting the finest in sacred choral music, “this choir is unique to our church,” said Quaid. “They are committed to the best.”

Four years ago the Choral Scholars sang as a demonstration choir to a packed room at the American Choral Directors Association national conference.

Selected after a rigorous audition process, this year’s choir members represent 13 schools in seven school districts -- from Galena Park to Cypress Fairbanks, Montgomery to Friendswood; two are home schooled. All are juniors or seniors.


St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

A conscious contact with God requires a conscious effort. Con-spire in the Latin (com-spirare) means to "breath with" and is an intentional space to practice the spiritual disciplines and make space in our lives for God. Each week we spend time learning, reflecting and practicing ways in which our interior life can be more rooted in grace. Join us Sundays at 11.05 in J-203. The topics through October 2016 are listed below.

September 4: The Sacred Art of Listening
September 11: Walking with Worry
September 18: How to Be Where You Are, Not Where You Are Not
September 25: How to Nurture Gratitude
October 2. How to Live in "Flow"
October 9: How to Forgive Others
October 16. How to Face Your Insecurities
October 23: How to Live in Grace
October 30: How to Move through Fear

Artwork by Jan Richardson

Artwork by Jan Richardson

Martha's Way Training

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

St. Paul's will be a new site this fall for Martha's Way Residential Housekeeping Training. Martha's Way is a vocational training program designed to increase the earning potential of low-income women and men.

The classes will be in S-300 on Wednesdays from 11:30 am to 3:30 p.m., beginning September 7. Childcare and lunch also will be provided free of charge.

This training is presented in Spanish by the Christian Community Service Center and provides individuals the skills needed to run their own cleaning businesses. (English workbooks are available.) Graduation will be November 16.

Register by August 18. To register or for more information, please contact Rev. Nataly Negrete via nataly@stpaulshouston.org or 713-528-0527.

Astronaut Shannon Walker

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

The first native Houstonian and triple Rice graduate astronaut — Shannon Walker — will speak with the PrimeTimers at their September 8 meeting.

With a bachelor’s degree in physics, she began her professional career in 1987 with the Rockwell Space Operations Company at the Johnson Space Center as a robotics flight controller for the Space Shuttle Program. After additional education and professional work, she was selected in 2004 for Astronaut Candidate Training.

Her first flight was as the crew support astronaut for the ISS Expedition 14 crew, ending April 2007 after 215 days in orbit. She has since been co-pilot of Russian Soyuz spacecraft for a long-duration mission aboard the International Space Station and Flight Engineer while landing the 163-day mission, 161 of them aboard the Station.

Gather in Fondren Hall at 10:30 am followed by the free program and a $8 lunch for those who RSVP by September 6 to info@stpaulshouston.org.

Finding Your Rhythm

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

Every stage of life — and the calendar year — has its own rhythm.

“Finding Your Rhythm” will help you balance the demands of school, work, and family while taking time to rest and renew spiritually. This three-week class will be taught by Robert Hilliker of The Lovett Center and Rev. Dr. Matt Russell.

It meets in the Chapel at 9:45 am. Themes will be

  • Family on September 11
  • Personal on September 18
  • Spiritual on September 25

No registration needed.

Coffee with the Pastors

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

Enjoy this informal, family-friendly opportunity to visit with St. Paul's ministers in the Jones Building Foyer. 

Disciple Bible Studies

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

Two long-term Disciple Bible Studies will be offered this year -- Disciple I: Becoming Disciples through Bible Study and a Disciple Special Study: Jesus in the Gospels.

Disciple I is a foundational overview, serving as the basis for all the other studies in the Disciple family. Led by Pastoral Intern Sadie Brink, this 34-week study begins Monday, September 12, meeting in J-203 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

Jesus in the Gospels invites believers to encounter Jesus as one hard to ignore and one hard to control, as portrayed in each of the gospels. Led by Rev. Karyn Richards-Kuan, this 30-week study begins Sunday, September 11, meeting in J-203 from 2 to 4:30 pm

Each study costs $40 for the texts to be paid at the first class. For more information or to register, please contact the church via 713-528-0527 or info@stpaulshouston.org.

Choral Evensong by St. Paul's Choir and Choral Scholars

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

Among the many possible ways of Christian worship, the service of Evensong, also known as evening prayer, is remarkable both for the centuries-old liturgical tradition it represents and for the atmosphere of contemplative devotion that enables it to remain deeply meaningful for worshipers today.

The liturgy traces its origins to the daily rites of the medieval church and has been said or sung regularly in its current form since the sixteenth century. All the words have been shaped and refined by long use and by renewed attempts to express the mysteries of God.

For some people it is music, not words, that carries them into the presence of God; and for others it is silence. Most of us need all three - words, music and silence - to lead us into the spirit of worship. So this service provides a liturgical, architectural and musical space in which one may gather the preoccupations and anxieties of life, and hold them together with a recollection of the God whose saving acts we celebrate.

Many find that through participation by silent attention while ministers and choir speak and sing in their name, they make the words and music their own. Once you have quietly offered those preoccupations which may be cluttering your mind, you are free to go on to offer to God all that you are. It is then that this service is experienced for what it is - an act of worship, in the Spirit, expressing our thanksgiving and hopes to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let all be silent before him.
Habakkuk 2:20 


Register for Fine Arts Academy

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

Classes in ballet, Musikgarten, and visual art for children from birth through age six and individual piano lessons for six-year-olds through adults plus handbell choir for youth and adults are available through the St. Paul’s Fine Arts Academy. The new term begins September 12.

For descriptions, class times, and online registration, please see the academy's webpage. 

If you have questions about the Fine Arts Academy or its offerings, contact fineartsacademy@stpaulshouston.org.

Holy Women, Holy Men

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

The 2016-17 worship calendar will include several new festal services in celebration of holy women and holy men, or marking other notable feasts in the life of the church. These will add to St. Paul’s annual observances, from All Saints through Ascension and Pentecost, among others.

The series opens on Saturday, September 17, with a 9 am Communion service in honor of Hildegard of Bingen, mystic, poet, composer, doctor, and scientist. The service will be led by Mark Stamm, ThD, Professor of Christian Worship at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology. After the service, Dr. Stamm will offer a lecture about the service as part of Perkins’ Houston offerings at St. Paul’s. Service and lecture are open to all.

 The remainder of the series will be Evening Prayer services at 7:30 pm. These will be 30-40 minutes long with music and scripture specific to the day. Bulletins will include a short biographical sketch or essay. The first of the Evening Prayer services will be Tuesday, October 4, in  honor of St. Francis of Assisi. This will be in addition to the Sunday afternoon Blessing of the Animals.

“In our planning,” explained Dr. Paolo Bordignon, “we’ve aimed for one service per month through the school year, skipping December and April (Holy Week and Easter). We looked for dates that wouldn’t abut Evensong services. Developing an eclectic and, I hope, compelling series of commemorations ended up taking precedence over meeting at a regular day of the week/month.”

For the complete schedule, including Evensong and other special services, please click here. 

Guild Members Make St. Paul's Weddings Memorable

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

To learn more about the Wedding Guild and how you can help make St. Paul’s weddings memorable, stop by the Wedding Guild table on the Plaza the morning of Sunday, September 18. Current guild members sign up to help at weddings through the end of the year.

Wedding Guild members are friendly, informed, competent faces to those being married here and their families. Their role helps St. Paul’s put its best foot forward in this key worship experience.

An average of two weddings a weekend occur here, and St. Paul’s could not offer joyous, beautiful weddings without the Wedding Guild’s well-planned and thorough assistance. Working in pairs, including men as well as women, Wedding Guild members usually are involved in three weddings a year. 

Membership in the Guild is always open, and on-the-job training is required prior to service.

Chapter One Book Group - Orphan Train

St. Paul's United Methodsit Church (map)

The book for discussion September 20 will be Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.

Chapter One Book Group is open to anyone who enjoys reading and discussing a wide variety of books. The group meets at 7 p.m. the third Tuesday of the month in J-202. To be added to the email list, please contact Linda Harmes at hblinda@hibit.com.

The reading schedule through the remaining of the current list is

  • October 18:  We Are Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler  
  • November 16: The Martian by Andy Weir   

The compilation of books for the next reading cycle will begin soon. To submit your nominations (limited to three per person), please contact Linda Harmes.


Support Charity to Register for Houston Marathon, Half

Registration for the January 15 Aramco Houston Half Marathon is sold out, and almost sold out for the Chevron Houston Marathon.

But many places are now available through the Run for a Reason program. Among the many charities that can be supported through this option are the Houston Food Bank and SEARCH Homeless Services. For more information about how to register for either of these runs or the January 14 5K while by supporting these or other charities, please see the Charity Program Information on the marathon website. 

The marathon and/or half marathon route usually runs near St. Paul's. Maps will be provided closer to race day to help you plan your route to church that day if you are not running.

Sr. Joan Chittester on "Spirituality, Self and Society"

Christ Church Episcopal (map)

You're invited to attend a Faith+Reason seminar at Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral. Sister Joan Chittister of the Order of St. Benedict will give three public lectures on the theme, "Spirituality, Self and Society." Each of Chittister's lectures will be followed by audience conversations and responses by four responders representing the Wisdom literature in Judaism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity.

Friday, Oct. 14, 6:45 pm
Compassion: The Glue of Society

Saturday, Oct. 15, 9:30 am
An Uncommon Case for a Common Good

Saturday, Oct. 15, 1:30 pm
The Role of the Public Intellectual in a Just Democracy

The seminar cost is $77.50 (lunch included on Saturday), with a student rate available. Please register online.


Theologian-in-Residence to Teach Old Testament

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

What do the Jewish sabbath, negro spirituals, and the movie classic Chariots of Fire have in common?

Each finds its inspiration in the Old Testament. Sabbath rises from the rhythm of creation. Negro spirituals have deep roots in the sway and swagger of the exodus from Egypt. And Chariots of Fire reimagines the ascent of Elijah in the drive of Olympian Eric Liddell.

So much of our world, so much of our culture, so much of our faith is Old Testament based, yet we know so little about its fascinating crevices and corners.

Well, fix that! Fix it now!

Join Perkins School of Theology students in a demanding and deeply rewarding study of scripture, from Genesis through the book of Esther. Learn about your culture. Learn about your faith. Learn about yourself!

The W. J. A. Power Professor of Old Testament Interpretation and Biblical Hebrew at Perkins School of Theology, Dr. Jack Levison, will be St. Paul’s first Theologian in Residence will teach the Introduction to the Old Testament to lay people here as well as to seminary students as part of St. Paul's partnership with the Perkins Houston-Galveston extension program.

Lay people may audit this graduate-level course this fall for only $40. The classes will be at St. Paul's on the Thursdays of October 20 and 27 and November 10 from 5:45 to 9 pm. plus the Saturday of October 29 from 9 am to 4:30 pm at Moody Memorial UMC in Galveston. Registration begins soon. 

Dr. Levison has authored nine books, including Inspired: the Holy Spirit and the Mind of Faith (2013), and Fresh Air: The Holy Spirit for an Inspired Life (2012), as well as numerous articles in professional journals, books, and reference works. “The Bible and Family Values” co-authored by him with a doctoral student, will be published in the forthcoming book, The Bible and Political Debate: What Does It Really Say?

A featured blogger for the Huffington Post, his articles have appeared in parade.com, relevant.com, beliefnet.com, and on Patheos, the world’s largest independent religious site, which hosts his column, spiritchatter

Dr. Levison has been awarded grants from the National Humanities Center, the Lilly Fellows Program, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Rotary Foundation, the International Catacomb Society, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Ilia Delio to speak at St. Paul's

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

Ilia Delio

This fall, we welcome author and theologian, Sr. Dr. Ilia Delio, for a one-day conference and guest lecture. Sr. Dr. Delio is a Franciscan Sister of Washington D.C. and Director of Catholic Studies at Georgetown University. With doctorate degrees in both pharmacology and historical theology, she explores the intersections of science and spirituality. Learn more about Sr. Ilia Delio and her work with the Omega Center.

Compassion and Quantum Entanglement: A New Common Good
When: Saturday, Nov. 19, 9 am – 2:30 pm
Where: Fondren Hall (2nd Floor Jones Building)
Cost: $15 (includes lunch)

Register now!

Technology and Human Becoming
When:  Sunday, Nov. 20, 9:45 – 11 am
Where: Fondren Hall (2nd Floor Jones Building); hosted by the Ordinary Life Class
Cost: free