What We Believe

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Our Mission:

UUMC is an urban, progressive community of faith committed to traditional worship, social justice, inclusiveness and reconciliation.

Our Vision

UUMC seeks to be a model for living our faith in an imperfect world, to be a sanctuary for healing and spiritual renewal and a leader in the struggle for justice.

 

Our Values:

 
 

1. We are open to all people, inclusive in membership, leadership and ministry.
2. We commit ourselves to love and follow the God revealed in Jesus without denying the authenticity of other paths to the holy.
3. We are committed to challenging our minds through lifelong study, and transforming our hearts through spiritual practices that are both personal and communal, embracing all ages and stages of life.
4. We express our faith in vibrant worship that is beautiful and scriptural, and that calls us to revolutionary discipleship.

4. We express our faith in vibrant worship that is beautiful and scriptural, and that calls us to revolutionary discipleship.
5. We believe that practicing our faith is more important than adhering to doctrines.
6. We work for peace and social justice.
7. We commit to be in ministry with the poor, the stranger, and those in the margins.
8. We strive to protect and care for the earth.

 
 
 

Meet the Staff

 
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Bonnie Luce

Office Administrator

Bonnie Luce is happy to be a part of the UUMC team once again, but with a whole new role! Bonnie just recently graduated with a BA in Psychology from Texas State University and hopes to begin her MSW at UT or Texas State next August. She will also get married next July to her fiancé Brien. Bonnie and Brien do not have children, however they have two loving cats named Puffington and Mr. Grey.

(512) 478-9387 ext. 210 Email

Chad Jones

Director of Communications

Chad Jones handles all things communications.  From the website to the econnection or the signs around the building.  When not working he's either in his woodshop, playing music with his daughter Olivia or watching old westerns with his son Huckleberry.

(512) 478-9387 ext. 212 Email

Cindy Reeves

Finance & Operations Manager/Wedding Coordinator

UUMC member Cindy Reeves joined the staff in August of 2010, and has also been our Wedding Coordinator since her own wedding here in 2008. She is responsible for all things financial for both the church and the Early Childhood Center (ECC), as well as everything related to the church campus itself.

Cindy enjoys volunteering with various organizations, planning weddings and events and attending UT football games.

(512) 478-9387 ext. 224 Email

 

Cynthia DePrang

Children’s Music Director

Cynthia DePrang leads Sunday School music for two year olds through First Graders from 9:45 to 10 am each week, and she directs the Wesley Choir and Sixth Grade leaders during our worship services. Cynthia comes to us with a wealth of experience as an elementary school music teacher, choir member and choir leader.

(512) 478-9387 ext. 221 Email

Rev. Heather Green

Youth Ministry Director and Justice Associate

Heather Green has previously served as a Hospice Chaplain and Spiritual Advisor for a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility.  She holds a Masters of Divinity from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and a BA and Teaching Certificate from Schreiner University.  Heather grew up in the Hill country and has a passion for spiritual formation in children and youth and walking with parents on this journey.  She is married to her husband Shelton Green and they have two small children, Everly Grace and Sutton Handley. 

(512) 478-9387 ext. 213 Email

Hugo Gonzalez

Head Custodian

Originally from Guatemala, Hugo Gonzalez has been on staff at UUMC for more than 10 years. He says his work background is “a little bit of everything,” including construction work, preparing food at Bob’s Barbeque in Round Rock and even washing dishes. His homemade chicken soup is, quite simply, the best we’ve ever tasted. Hugo enjoys working in the church environment. His philosophy: “I like to be happy all the time. I take pride in everything I do, even cleaning restrooms. I still have to do it anyway, so I might as well enjoy it.”

 

Jan Reed

Worship/Database Assistant

Joining UUMC and the church choir in 1996, Jan Reed finds working behind the scenes in the church office fascinating as she manages the church database, membership reports, the church calendar. She also assists in the preparation of worship services. Jan leads the Centering Prayer group that meets at UUMC on Sunday mornings. When she’s not at church, she serves as a commissioned facilitator for Centering Prayer workshops around town and edits the monthly e-newsletter for Heart of Texas Contemplative Outreach. Her husband, Jim, is a retired video editor and her daughter, Lily, is a graduate of Occidental College in Los Angeles. Jan holds a degree in Music from UT and has sung in the chorus of the Austin Lyric Opera.

 

Rev. John Elford

Senior Pastor

Rev. John Elford has served as the Senior Pastor at St. John’s UMC in Corpus Christi, John Wesley UMC in Victoria and as Associate Pastor and Director of Music at First UMC in San Angelo. He has also served as a classroom teacher in San Angelo and McAllen, Texas. He was born April 11, 1956 in Toronto, Canada. He is married to Rev. Linda Seaman Elford, who currently serves as the Pastor at Crestview UMC in Austin and attended UUMC years ago. The Elfords have two children – Chris and Lauren.

(512) 478-9387 ext. 216 Email

Dr. Jolene Webster

Director of Music Ministries

Dr. Jolene Webster directs the Music Ministries at UUMC including the Sanctuary Choir, Cantamus Youth Choir and UUMC Orchestra. She also oversees the Children’s Choir Program, Student Assistant Choral Scholarship Program, Vocal and Instrumental Music, as well as Music in Worship.  Dr. Webster has served professionally in Texas Music Education since 1989 and as Director of Music Ministries in several churches across four states. She holds a Doctor of Education Degree in Curriculum and Instruction, a Master of Music in Choral Conducting and Vocal Performance, a Bachelor of Sacred Music Degree, and a Bachelor of Religious Education Degree. Additionally, Dr. Webster is also a Seminary graduate and is a commissioned and installed ELCA rostered Minister of Word and Service.  She holds a Lifetime All-Level Music Texas Teaching Certification from Texas Education Agency.

(512) 478-9387 ext. 220 Email

 

Lisa Allen

Custodian

Lisa Allen helps make the church shine! She keeps the facility clean and welcoming, and she prepares rooms and meeting spaces for guests and members. Her work is a key part of the hospitality that University UMC offers to all.

Rev. Lisa Blaylock

Associate Pastor

Before arriving at UUMC, Rev. Lisa Blaylock served churches in Garfield and Denton. She brings a wealth of experience in pastoral and congregational care, adult education and worship planning. As Associate Pastor at UUMC, Lisa’s responsibilities include adult education and teaching, worship leadership, occasional preaching, and pastoral care. Lisa holds an Masters in Divinity from Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology and a BA in psychology from New Mexico State University. Lisa and her husband, Jeff, have two adult children.

(512) 478-9387 ext. 217 Email

Madelynn Fierova-Martinez

Early Childhood Center Director

Madelynn Fierova-Martinez is UUMC’s Early Childhood Center Director. She has a BA in psychology from Texas State, where she also attended graduate school. She was previously an assistant director at a preschool in San Marcos, and she interned at San Marcos High School working with at-risk youth.

(512) 478-9387 ext. 222 Email

 

Megan Otto

Director of Campus, Young Adult, and Senior Adult Ministries
Megan Otto comes to UUMC from Topeka, Kan., where she served as Campus Minister for Ichtus Campus Ministry at Washburn University and the Associate Pastor for First UMC. Megan oversees weekly Bible studies and small groups, provides pastoral care and leads worship for UUMC’s Campus Ministry. Megan has been on staff at UUMC since 2014, serving as our Director of Campus and Young Adult Ministries and will now also serve our senior adults, doing pastoral care and visiting congregants at assisted living centers and hospitals. She holds an Masters in Divinity from SMU’s Perkins School of Theology and a BA in history from Southwestern College. Megan is an avid sports fan who enjoys talking to people about the crazy places that God shows up in our lives.

(512) 478-9387 ext. 223 Email

Natasha Ulack

Children’s Ministry Director

Natasha Ulack was UUMC’s Interim Director of UUMC’s Early Childhood Center before taking on the role of Children’s Ministry Director in August 2010. Natasha worked at the ECC for three years in various capacities and before that taught Spanish to elementary school-aged children in Austin. She is currently completing her teaching certification in Elementary Education at Austin Community College. She studied Spanish and sociology at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA.

(512) 478-9387 ext. 221 Email

Thomas Azar

Organist

Thomas Azar is our magnificent organist. Thomas, a native of Texas, earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance and Bachelor of Music degree in Music Theory and Composition at the University of Texas in El Paso. He earned his Master of Music degree in Piano Performance at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and his Graduate Diploma in Piano Performance at the Manhattan School of Music in New York. Thomas maintains a full studio of pupils and composes commercial music with his brother, Jeffrey Azar for their band “Demi the Daredevil.”

 
  • Megan Otto | Director of Campus, Senior Adult, and Young Adult Ministries ext. 223 Email
  • Jan Reed | Worship & Database Assistant
    ext. 210 Email
  • Cindy Reeves | Finance Manager & Wedding Coordinator
    ext. 224 Email
  • Natasha Ulack | Director of Children’s Ministries
    ext. 221 Email
  • Madelynn Fierova-Martinez | Early Childhood Center Director
    ext. 222 Email
  • Hugo Gonzalez | Head Custodian
    ext. 210
  • Rev. Heather Green | Social Justice Associate & Director of Youth Ministries
    ext. 213 Email
  • Bonnie Luce | Administrative Assistant
    ext. 210 Email
  • Church Office
    512-478-9387 Email
  • Rev. Lisa Blaylock | Associate Pastor
    ext. 217 Email
  • Cynthia DePrang | Children’s Music Director
    Email
  • Rev. John Elford | Senior Pastor
    ext. 216 
  • Dr. Jolene Webster | Music Ministries Director
    ext. 220 Email
 
 

Our History

 

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About Methodism

The United Methodist Church was created in 1968 when The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren joined together. The denominations had similar ecclesiastical structures and a relationship that dated back almost two hundred years.

Today, there are 8.5 million United Methodists in the United States and 1.5 million more worldwide, with the largest growth in membership in Africa and the Philippines.

Methodism is

… A faith that is both informed and widely experienced
… A religion that is intensely personal but shared with others
… A concern for spiritual, physical and social conditions of all persons
… An affirmation of belief in one God as revealed through Jesus Christ – but an appreciation for a variety of ways in which that affirmation may be expressed.

History of Methodism

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Methodism traces its roots to the Church of England and John Wesley (1703-1791) the founding father of Methodism. Early Methodists focused on putting faith and love into action. This emphasis continues to be a hallmark of United Methodism today, in the form of concern for social justice.

The United Methodist Church was created in 1968 when The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren joined together. The denominations had similar ecclesiastical structures and a relationship that dated back almost two hundred years.

Today, there are 8.5 million United Methodists in the United States and 1.5 million more worldwide, with the largest growth in membership in Africa and the Philippines.

Reconciling Ministry at UUMC, affiliated with the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN)

Our journey toward becoming a reconciling church began in August 2010 when the Church Council formed a Reconciling Ministry Committee. Its task was to build upon the many UUMC small-group Reconciling initiatives established over the previous ten years and facilitate discussions around the possibility of UUMC becoming affiliated with the national Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN). Over a six-month period, the Committee organized an eight-week Sunday school study on the Bible and homosexuality, presentations to existing Sunday school classes, a roundtable forum with retired clergy, a lecture by noted Bible scholar L. Michael White, and two open forums for church member discussions. In February 2011, at a special church conference supervised by District Superintendent Rev. Bobbi Kaye Jones, 94 percent of UUMC members present voted to affiliate with RMN and become a positive voice in the United Methodist Church for the full inclusion of GLBT persons.

Our Church family recognizes there is still much work to be done, both inside and outside our walls, to move closer to God’s dreams for a world in which everyone is treated the same. We will remain steadfast in that vision.

Join us in ministry. Join us in worship. All are welcome.

For more information about Reconciling Ministry, or about our bi-monthly LGBTQ Fellowship, please email us.

 

Our Heritage

In 1887, Austin was a bustling city of 12,000; Jesse L. Driskill opened his magnificent new hotel at the corner of 6th and Brazos Streets and the University of Texas celebrated its third birthday.

These facts come from a history of UUMC written by long-standing member Dr. Margaret Berry. In March of 1887, Berry wrote that Reverend J. E. Stovall began services in Honey Chapel, a tiny building on the UT campus owned by the Northern Methodist Episcopal Church. It was located at the northeast corner of 24th Street and Whitis Avenue.

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On that first Sunday, four people became members of the 24th Street Methodist Church (now University United Methodist Church.) During the first year, others joined, including Dr. George B. Halsted, an eccentric mathematics professor who built his home near the corner of 24th and Guadalupe Streets, where UUMC now stands.

He built it on stilts to avoid malaria but having hogs and chickens under his house did not bother him. In 1891, the congregation moved to a new and larger building at the corner of Nueces and 24th Streets, Hotchkiss Memorial, and then in 1909 to the current site at 24th and Guadalupe Streets.

Over the past century, the church has been renovated a number of times, the congregation has grown and the number of services has increased. One notable event in the church’s history occurred in 1957, a time when acrimonious civil rights demonstrations and confrontations were taking place across the country.

The first black members were received into the church, which for more than a decade had attracted to services black students from Huston-Tillotson College. Another historic event took place on November 22, 1964, when a memorial service for President John F. Kennedy was held, attended by President Lyndon B. Johnson and Governor John Connally.

In 2008, the congregation undertook a major capital campaign to repair and renovate the church to prepare it for next century of service to the community.