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The First Fruits That Inspire

Rev. Vanessa Monroe, pastor of Bethel Church UCC presenting the $50,000.00 check to Huston Tillotson University President Dr. Collete Pierce Burnett during a meeting of the Trustees.  Submitted by: Diane Matthews, Bethel Church

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Dr. Margaret Mead.

Add to the small group, the direction of biblical principles, a desire to Be the Church and the blessings of resources, and this small group is on fire! Such was the perfect storm of circumstances which framed the sale, subsequent purchase and re-imagining of the faithful few at Bethel Church United Church of Christ, Houston. The congregation sold its long-held property in the Heights neighborhood of Houston after completing UCC New Beginnings. They then nested with a gracious Disciples of Christ congregation and looked, listened and waited for the Spirit to pronounce the next steps. In the waiting, they imagined and created a new vision and mission and gave of their first fruits. The gift of $500,000.00 was the congregation’s tithe given to the Houston Association with a request that a $50,000.00 endowment be given to Houston Tillotson University, a United Church of Christ affiliated Historically Black College in Austin, Texas. The $500,000.00 gift to the Association has been named the Bethel Legacy Grant and it is fashioned after the Illinois Conference LEEAP grant which seeks to take the resources from church property sales and/or gifts to the Conference and invest those resources in new church starts and church revitalization. The first applications for Bethel Legacy Grants which are administered by the Houston Association of the South Central Conference of the United Church of Christ are due on October 1, 2019. The Bethel congregation is grateful to be able to create a legacy and still serve.

Malachi 3: 10, 11 instructs us to: “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing. I will rebuke the locust for you, so that it will not destroy the produce of your soil; and your vine in the field shall not be barren, says the Lord of hosts.”

Pictured is Rev. Vanessa Monroe, pastor of Bethel Church UCC presenting the $50,000.00 check to Huston Tillotson University President Dr. Collete Pierce Burnett during a meeting of the Trustees. Rev. Vanessa Monroe and Alumnae Lauren Ingram both serve as UCC Trustees to the Board.

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