Thanksgiving Schedule

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

The mid-week Service of Holy Communion will be held as usual on Wednesday, November 25, at 12:15 p.m. in the Chapel. Dr.Wilson Boots will deliver the Communion homily.

The Church offices will close at noon that day and remain closed until 8 a.m. Monday, November 30. For emergencies, please call the answering service at 713-528-0527 to reach the minister on call.

All three worship services -- 8, 9:45, and 11:05 a.m. -- will be held on Sunday, November 29.  Children’s and Youth Sunday school will meet at 9:45 a.m.; Youth will not meet Sunday night. Adult classes will meet at their option; check with yours.

Advent and Christmas at St. Paul's

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

St. Paul’s Family prepares for the celebration of the birth of Christ in many ways. On this page are dates and basic descriptions of most of the churchwide Advent activities.

The Giving Tree in Jones Building Foyer will receive presents for children in need. Please place food, clothing, and toys under the big Christmas tree.

First Week of Advent

Sunday, November 29.

  • Advent: Theology, History, and Traditions, a Chapel Lectures Advent study led by Rev. Danny Yang begins in the Trinity Bible Class. 9:45 a.m. in the Chapel. 
  • The First Christmas, an Advent study based on the book by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan, led by Rev. Rick Goodrich begins in The Candlelighters class. 9:45 a.m. in S-109.
  • GROW 2nd-5th-graders begin Advent unit, “Prophecies and Miracles,” with workshops Songs, Symbols, Stars and Signs. 9:45-10:45 a.m. JB Basement.
  • Children's Ministries table on the Plaza with Advent devotional booklets illustrated by St. Paul's children and information about seasonal activities.

Monday, November 30.

Preparing for Christmas: Daily Reflections for Advent by Richard Rohr is the text for an Advent study led by Dr. Randy Zercher. 6:30 p.m. in the Fellers Room (S-312).

Wednesday, December 2.

Midweek Service of Holy Communion with Advent liturgy. 12:15 p.m. Chapel. Homilist: Dr. Bill Gandin.

Saturday, December 5.

Kids Day Out. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. A day of games, crafts, snacks, and supervised activities for children ages four months to 5th grade. $25/child plus $5 for each additional sibling. Lunch is served. RSVP required to  

Second Week of Advent

Sunday, December 6.

  • Alternative Gift Market. Fair trade, environmentally sustainable artisan items from around the world for sale. + ways to support our local ministries. 9 a.m.- 1  p.m. Activity Center. 
  • Advent Lessons and Carols. St. Paul’s Choir and the Treble Choir lead one of the most beloved and transporting services of the season. Sanctuary. 6 p.m. Dessert party follows in Youth Center.

Wednesday, December 9.

Midweek Service of Holy Communion with Advent liturgy. 12:15 p.m. Chapel. Homilist: Dr. Bill Kerley.

Thursday, December 10. 

Primetimers Christmas. Gather at 10:30 a.m. Program at 11. A $7 lunch for those who RSVP by December 8 to 713-528-0527. Program: Rob Landes, pianist. Program in Parlor. Lunch in Youth Center.

Friday, December 11.

  • Choir decorates gingerbread houses in Activity Center. Observers welcome between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • After-School Program Christmas Party. Late afternoon/early evening. Fondren Hall.

Saturday. December 12.

  • St. Paul’s Choir Gingerbread House and Bake Sale Extravaganza. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jones Building. Village News story about these houses - page 1, page 2.
  • Kids Day Out. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. A day of games, crafts, snacks, and supervised activities for children ages four months to 5th grade. $25/child plus $5 for each additional sibling. Lunch is served. RSVP required to  

Third Week of Advent

Sunday, December 13.

Sights, Sounds, & Smells of Christmas for all ages. 4-6 p.m. Fondren Hall. Fun-filled evening of crafts, Santa, snacks, & music for all ages. Wesley Singers lead sing-along. For pictures from previous years, please see the Photo Galleries.

Tuesday, December 15, to Wednesday, December 23.

Las Posadas. From Abraham Station at 6 p.m., children dressed as Mary and Joseph will lead a “pilgrimage” around the sanctuary, returning to Abraham Station for reflection and a shared meal, concluding around 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, December 16.

Midweek Service of Holy Communion with Advent liturgy. 12:15 p.m. Chapel. Homilist: Rev. Nataly Negrete.

Saturday, December 19.

Journey to Bethlehem Labyrinth Walk. Families are encouraged to visit during the morning of the Children’s Candlelight Service rehearsals. Come and go between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on the outdoor Labyrinth. Introductions in the Jones Building Foyer.

Fourth Week of Advent

Sunday, December 20.

  • St. Paul's Youth Strings perform in Jones Building Foyer. 9:30 to 10 a.m.
  • Tamales ordered at December 6 Alternative Gift Market may be picked up from the second floor Jones Building kitchen. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Children’s Christmas Candlelight Service. 4:30 p.m. Sanctuary. For pictures of previous services, please see the Photo Galleries.

Monday, December 21

Service of the Longest Night. 6 p.m. Chapel. Homilist: Dr. Matt Russell.

Wednesday, December 23.

  • Choral Scholars sing in the J.P.Morgan Chase Holiday Choral Showcase. Noon to 1 p.m. Lobby of 712 Main.
  • Midweek Service of Holy Communion with Advent liturgy. 12:15 p.m. Chapel. Homilist: Rev. Terry Thompson.

Thursday, December 24.  

Christmas Eve Candlelight Services. Sanctuary.

  • Noon. Holy Communion. 
  • 4 p.m. Christmas Lessons and Carols. 
  • 6 p.m. Christmas Lessons and Carols. 
  • 8 p.m. Holy Communion.
  • 10 p.m. Bi-lingual Spanish-English. Begins at 9:30 with food and Las Posadas pilgrimage around sanctuary.

First Sunday of Christmas

Sunday, Dec. 27. 

One worship service at 11:05 a.m.  Homilist: Rev. Dr. Bill Gandin. Children’s church and childcare will be available in the Jones Building during the service. Youth may gather in the Youth Center from 10 to 11 a.m. for fellowship and refreshments. Adult classes will meet at their option; check with yours.

Advent Music and Liturgy

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

As our forefathers prepared for the coming of Christ, so we prepare our hearts every year for his arrival on Christmas.

Our preparation is symbolized in many ways: by the interplay of light and darkness at the beginning of Sunday services, gradually increasing light of the Advent wreath, and changing of paraments in the church to blue.

Another way we at St. Paul’s demonstrate our change of seasons is by using different service music. Throughout Advent, our baptismal hymn will be Christ, When for Us You Were Baptized, which connects current baptisms with Christ’s baptism. The Doxology after the Offering will be based on the plainsong tune Conditor Alme. While we won’t be singing the original words to the plainsong during the Doxology (in italics below), the tune and original words are representative of our expectant waiting during Advent.

During this preparatory season, be reminded that “a light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Original words to Conditor Alme: Creator of the stars of night, thy people’s everlasting light. Jesu, Redeemer, save us all, and hear thy servants when they call. 

Awe: Prophecies and Miracles

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

"Awe: Prophecies and Miracles,” the GROW 2nd-5th-graders Advent workshops will include these topics and activities:

  • Songs — learn and sing traditional Christmas carols
  • Symbols — stencil an Advent symbol on fabric and create an ornament to remind of Jesus birth
  • Stars — see how the stars and constellations played a role in ancient times and in the Christmas story
  • Signs — learn how to share some of the Advent/Christmas story in American Sign Language.

GROW meets from 9:459:45-10:45 a.m. in the Jones Building Basement.

Advent Studies

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

Two adult Sunday school classes will host guest leaders for Advent studies at 9:45 a.m., starting November 29, and another Advent study will be conducted on Mondays at 6:30 p.m., starting November 30. These studies are open for anyone to attend. Pre-registration is not required for any of them.

The Chapel Lectures hosted by the Trinity Bible Class in the Chapel will feature Rev. Danny Yang, whose theme will be Advent: Theology, History, and Traditions. 

The Candlelighters in S-109 will host Rev. Rick Goodrich, who will teach from The First Christmas by John Dominic Crossan and Marcus J. Borg.

Dr. Randy Zercher will lead the Monday night study at 6:30 p.m., based on Preparing for Christmas: Daily Reflections for Advent by Richard Rohr. 



St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

Artwork by Jan Richardson

Artwork by Jan Richardson

Con-spire in the Latin (com-spirare) means to ‘breath with’ and is an intentional ministry of spiritual formation and the contemplative practices.  Each week we spend time learning, reflecting and practicing ways in which our interior life can be more rooted in grace. Join us at 11.05 in J-203. The topics through December 20 are listed below. .

  • November 29. Learning to Respond, Not React (Art)
  • December 6. Learning to Wait
  • December 13. The Sacred Art of Listening (Basic Meditation)
  • December 20. Opening to God’s Flow (Walking the Labyrinth)

*At approximately six-week intervals, Dr. Bill Kerley preaches at the 9:45 Sunday morning worship service. Then the congregants from that service plus the Con-spire class and others who wish to join them in community, dine together at 11:05. The next Odyssey service will be in January 2016.



World AIDS Day Prayer Vigil

December 1 at 6 p.m.

Labyrinth (Chapel if inclement weather)

Please send names of loved ones to be remembered in the service to Rev. Eleanor Colvin at

Open Hearts

Open Hearts will meet Thursday, December 3, at 7 p.m. in Fondren Lounge, located on the second floor of the Jones Building.

A caring ministry for LGBT persons, families, and friends, Open Hearts provides support, education, and spiritual guidance.

Hospitality is a hallmark of St. Paul's that is much more than just being friendly. It is a radical welcome for all God's children to worship and serve here.

All About Kindergarten

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

Learn about St. Pauls fantastic Kindergarten. The teachers will give an overview of the curriculum with an explanation of the reading and mathematics programs. Samples of the childrens work will be shown to illustrate the uniqueness of the Kindergarten program at St. Paul's School.

Alternative Gift Market

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

Fair Trade, environmentally sustainable artisan items from around the world will be for sale throughout the morning at the Alternative Gift Market in the Activity Center on Sunday, December 6. 

Merchandise from returning vendors will include household, apparel, holiday, and gift items from SERRV, a pioneer and leader in the fair trade movement; coffee, chocolates, and teas from the interfaith-sponsored Equal Exchange; hand-crafted jewelry from Africa sold by a local Girl Scout troop on behalf of the Light Up a Life Project.

The Fe y Esperanza congregation again will sell their handmade Christmas cards and gift tags and take orders for pork or beef Christmas tamales. Tamale pick-up will be Sunday, December 20, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. from the kitchen on the second floor of the Jones Building. 

New to the market will be art by students from Sharpstown High School who are connected to the Iconoclast project and art by Lanecia Rouse, who teaches at St. Paul’s After School Program. Her work includes photography, painting, and abstract mix media.

The market also will provide ways to support other ministries, such as the Iconoclast poetry project, Manna bags, SEARCH Homeless Services, and the Emergency Aid Coalition.


Parents Matter: Q&A with Michele Russell

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

Michele Russell, who spoke with parents in October about "The Four R's of Present Parenting,"will return for an informal Q&A session. Bring  your parenting questions to share and learn from Michele and other parents. To enable the grouping of similar questions, please send your questions to Jane Williams at by December 2.

The session will be on Sunday, December 6, from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. in the Parlor. It is open to parents of children of all ages, though children from ages 0 to fifth grade will be the primary focus.

Russell is the Social and Emotional Program Director of Small Steps Nurturing Center. She is married to St. Paul's senior associate minister Rev. Dr. Matt Russell with whom she parents three sons.

Parents Matter is a periodic series at St. Paul's for parents of children.

Advent Lessons and Carols

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

St. Paul’s Choir and Treble Choir will lead an Advent Service of Lessons and Carols at 6 p.m. Sunday, December 6.

Through music and readings, the Festival of Lessons and Carols explores Christian themes of God’s Advent and Incarnation in Jesus Christ. After the reading of each scripture lesson, the Choir sings carols appropriate to the season of Advent. Initially developed from ancient forms of worship, this service is adapted from one that has been sung annually at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England, since 1918.

After the service, coffee and dessert will be provided for all by St. Paul’s Youth in the Youth Center, located on the first floor of the Sanctuary Building. 

Primetimers Move to Parlor for Rob Landes

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

Rob Landes will present the Primetimers December program in the Parlor on Thursday, December 10. Gather for fellowship at 10:30 a.m., the program at 11. 

In the spirit of giving, please bring a package of sox of any kind to benefit Emergency Aid Coalition  clients.

Lunch will be served in the Youth Center. Please RSVP via or 713-528-0527. 

Well known throughout the Houston area, Landes began studying the piano at the age of three and made his debut on the Art Linkletter House Party program at the age of four. Today an active composer and church musician, he has performed his own choral and organ music throughout the United States and at Westminster Abbey in London and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. 

Now artist-in-residence at St. Luke’s UMC, Landes also has been associated with the music program at St. Paul’s. In addition to his duties as organist at St. Luke’s, he writes music for the choirs and produces musicals in the church’s Rotunda Theatre.

Chapter One Book Group

Tonight's book for discussion will be Dora, a Headcase by Lydia Yulenavichm introduction by Chuck Palahniuk.

Chapter One Book Group is open to anyone who enjoys reading and discussing a wide variety of books. The group usually 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 The December meeting will be off site. For the location, please email Linda Harmes.

The book for January 19 will be How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston.

St. Paul's Youth Strings

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

St. Paul's Youth Strings, Advent 2014

St. Paul's Youth Strings, Advent 2014

Children or youth studying a string instrument are invited to participate in St. Paul’s Youth String Ensemble. All levels of ability are welcome.

Directed by violinist Katrina Bobbs Savitsky, the group will perform in the Jones Building Foyer on Sunday, December 20, from 9:30 to 10 a.m., play for the Children’s Candlelight Service, and provide music for the Children’s Good Friday Service.

Rehearsals will be at 9 a.m. the Sundays of December 6, 13, and 20. Questions? Anna Teagarden at

ProjectCURATE Seeking 2016 Cohorts

St. Paul's United Methodist Church (map)

ProjectCURATE (Center for Urban Reconciliation and Theological Education) is a leadership and learning process that seeks to deepen relationships and inspire action. Cohorts cultivate relationships with a diverse community from across the divides in Houston and will be learning from academics, activists, practitioners, and — most importantly — each other. 

One of the cohorts in ProjectCURATE’s first year, Brad Harmes, observed that it was “designed to bridge gaps, open doors, and build kinship among members of diverse faith communities that would not likely have come together without this innovative endeavor. It has succeeded in engaging the participants in ways I never imagined by taking us to transitional neighborhoods and introducing us to Houston-born citizens and those more recently arrived to hear their stories and share a bit of their journey. I look forward to participating in year two of this pilot program.”

If you are interested, visit or contact Matt Russell at Also, please see these articles from the Conference CrossConnections eletter about ProjectCURATE: ProjectCURATE Fosters Relationship Amidst Cultural Explosion (April 2015) and ProjectCURATE Director Co-lectures with Archbishop Rowan Williams of Cambridge (November 2015).

The first ProjectCURATE session will be in mid-January with dinner together the previous evening.