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july 18, 2018

Those of you who know me well, know that I have struggled for many years, to the point of despair, over our beloved United Methodist Church and the real possibility of schism. I am a United Methodist by choice. The UMC is not my heritage. I am not a "cradle Methodist." I grew up American Lutheran and attended a Missouri Synod Lutheran parochial school, 1st through 6th grades. That means I know what living with laws, guilt and shame, and a vison of God that is punitive is like.

At the age of 30, when we had driven past the First United Methodist Church in Dripping Springs, Texas for over three years, I was finally bitten by the Methodist Bug. Thank God! It was through the voice of our beloved United Methodist pastor, Reverend Grady Roe that we not only learned about grace - grace was extended to us. It was through the arms of the United Methodist Church that I was birthed into ministry. It was with the hands of United Methodists that I participated in my first mission trip (to Appalachia, with the Appalachia Service Project which was then United Methodist). It was a Bishop of the United Methodist Church, Bishop Joe Wilson, who invited me to live into my call and took a great risk by allowing this (then) seminary student to dream of and create the Central Texas Conference Youth in Mission program. Bishop Wilson risked over 300 youth and adults (including himself and members of the Central Texas Conference cabinet) to my leadership and organizational skills as we made the trek to a post-flooded Missouri.

Members of St. Barnabas UMC, the church where I currently serve, were on that first trip. Larry Arnold, Tom Bonjour and others were in St. Joseph, Missouri on that first endeavor in 1994. Wow. What goes around, comes around! But, I digress.

I love the United Methodist Church! I love her in all her brokenness and in all her glory! I love her people (a majority of the time), and I love her focus on personal piety, scriptural holiness, and social justice. I love her focus on God as a grace-filled, abundant, generous God! How can we think of anything but God as that?!

So the thought of this beloved church being ripped into shreds makes me want to vomit like I did when I had food poisoning as a senior in high school. The thought of future generations losing the gifts God has given to me, to our communities, to our world through the United Methodist Church causes me to despair.

BUT this is NOT a message of despair! I write tonight because for the first time in many, many years I have HOPE. I have hope that our beloved church will not die. I have hope that our beloved church will not be ripped into shreds.

A few of you have noticed that I've posted pictures on my Facebook page from the Uniting Methodist Conference I've been attending since Monday. This conference was a gathering of people who have very, very divergent opinions when it comes to matters of human sexuality. But we are not willing to allow the church to be destroyed because of our opinions; because of a "strict reading of Scripture," or especially because of scriptural interpretation. We are those who are willing to "draw the circle wide" so that we can remain united in purpose and mission -- to Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World!

Were all the questions answered? Heavens no! Is there pain? Absolutely! Will this work be difficult and challenging? You bet! And at the same time it is GOOD and GODLY work! Is it perfect? Nope. Even John Wesley did not believe we had arrived at perfection, but that we were "moving on to perfection."

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, the time is here. Let us take the hands of those who are "not like us" in WHATEVER way that may be -- even Traditionalists and Progressives -- and together move forward as The United Methodist Church!

Thank you God, for the hope that is in my heart this night. May it move me to courage and compassion for all God's children. But especially, Merciful God, may it move us toward a future with hope for our children and grandchildren who are yet to come to faith in you. Amen.  

Rev. Virginia O. (Ginger) Bassford, PhD

Senior Pastor


MARCH 9, 2018

I am pleased to announce that St. Barnabas United Methodist Church has received a $10,000 grant from the Central Texas Annual Conference for the beginning of a new faith community! Our 9:30 a.m. worship service will be revamped and become Traditional Unplugged beginning April 8th (the first Sunday after Easter) with the specific target of those who are not yet here. The SPRC, with the blessing of Mr. Mark Husband, approved the hire of Mr. David Pfleger to lead the music component in this service. The funds are designated for this Traditional Unplugged service, for the musical staff, advertisement and any special instrumentation or music needed.

What will happen to Mark Husband, Kacy Choi and the Chancel Choir? They will be free to rehearse for the 11:00 a.m. service! David will utilize all our musical talent in the 9:30 a.m. Traditional Unplugged service, just not everyone, every Sunday. Mark will be a voice of consultation and feedback. Chancel Choir members will be able to fully participate in Sunday School. Everyone walks away a winner! Most importantly, we have a new opportunity to introduce and re-introduce new people to Christ!

We will need our current 9:30 a.m. worship attendees to remain faithful to the Traditional Unplugged service. In addition, we will need for our Sunday School classes to also be intentional about helping us get started with this service. In a new church start, faithful church members are aware that it is their opportunity and responsibility for the good of the whole to attend the new worshiping body. Persons are actually "sent" as missioners to the new start. If our congregation could take on this attitude so that the new service is filled with high energy, that would be wonderful (and sacrificial). That doesn't mean we give up our regular, "favorite" service. It does mean that some Sundays folks attend worship -- twice!

Why are we doing this now? Because the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expect different results (Einstein). Our 9:30 worship service has dwindled in numbers. A few people (2 or 3) have requested that we stop the 9:30 worship service. But stopping the service would mean that 50 or so folks would lose the service they prefer to attend. The Central Texas Annual Conference offered this opportunity and we were awarded a grant. It seems foolish to not try and bring new life to an existing service. With Traditional Unplugged we might energize St. Barnabas! We might bring in new folks! We might be able to use this opportunity to grow!

We ask our Prayer Team to begin praying for the Traditional Unplugged service to be blessed with new people who are searching for God, for our evangelism team to be filled with people who want to greet and welcome newcomers to St. Barnabas and for our congregation as a whole to be engaged and excited as together we begin a new thing for Jesus Christ.


Rev. Ginger Bassford

Senior Pastor


AUGUST 29, 2017

One of the best things about being a United Methodist is that we are already present in recovery efforts in Houston. Through the giving of apportionment dollars, the framework that provides for emergency relief is already in place. When we make contributions to UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief), 100% of every dollar goes to direct disaster relief -- unlike some other institutions where the first portion of a dollar goes to provide the institutional framework for work to be done.

The Central Texas Conference, and thus, St. Barnabas UMC, are not in active disaster mode at this moment. The situation in Houston is being carefully monitored. As soon as it is safe to begin ERT deployment to Houston and the surrounding area, our Conference is poised to go.

In the meantime, what can we do? First, pray, and do not underestimate the value of prayer. Second, exercise patience. This will be a long recovery process. Third, we can make cleaning buckets and health kits to send to Houston along with our prayers. We talked about this option in staff yesterday morning and with Kay Dillard, our Disaster Response and American Red Cross liaison. Please watch our e-publications for more information coming soon.

If you are interested in becoming trained as part of an Emergency Response Team, ERT, there are multiple trainings offered in the near future. For this and other up-to-date information about Hurricane Harvey relief, go to

In addition, if it is your desire to write a check for the relief efforts, please do so through the United Methodist Church. Simply make your check out to St. Barnabas and write “Hurricane Harvey” in the memo line. Our checks will be collected, and a single check will be sent to the Central Texas Conference, and from there, to the General UMC.

Thanks to each of you for your immediate prayers, warm hearts and extended hands of mission and ministry.

In Christ,

Rev. Ginger Bassford


AUGUST 17, 2017

Dear St. Barnabas Family,

This note is full of great news! Please read carefully so that you are correctly informed.

Staff Updates

As you are aware, Alyssa Lawther, Julie Fletcher and Thomas Killough are all on board and doing great work. This week, Kaitlyn Jackson joins us as an (unpaid) youth intern. Kaitlyn is a former St. Barnabas youth and spent this past summer working summer camp. She brings energy and orientation to detail.

We have not yet filled the front office desk position. Thank you to our amazing, dedicated volunteers who stand in the gap on a daily basis. We have interviewed for this position but refuse to “settle” for someone who is not a right fit of talents and match for our staff team.

The SPRC is hard at work interviewing for a new choral conductor. They are using the financial package that we previously paid for this position and dividing it out into multiple part-time positions. Although the primary chancel choir conductor is not yet hired, we have the commitment of several other music leaders, all within our current budget. Because of Dale’s vacation time, we have spent above-budget funds during August for Geoffrey Moore. The SPRC has covenanted with Geoffrey for him to be with us through the 40th Celebration, but that will be within our budget. Our additional music leaders are as follows. Please welcome them!

  • Tana Marks – Youth Choir (Tana and her family have been members for some time. She sings with the Encounter Praise Band. Tana conducts the Bailey Junior High Choir, AISD.) 
  • Meredith Riddle – Older Elementary Choir (Meredith is a “life-long” member who has just returned from China and will be teaching elementary orchestra in the AISD.) 
  • Alyssa Lawther – Cherub (little ones) Choir (Alyssa and her family are former members of the St. Barnabas family and are quickly becoming integral parts of our current family.) 
  • Daren Stone – Accompanist (Daren was previously a part of the music ministry at St. Barnabas. He is excited to be returning and accompanying our youth choir and perhaps children too.) 
  • Tracy Loftin – Hand Bell Choir Director (Tracy is a long-standing participant in the St. Barnabas Chancel Choir and Hand Bell Choir. She joined the congregation last year and began conducting the hand bells after the Partridges moved. We are delighted she is resuming this role for another year.) 

The SPRC is still working on leaders for the Youth Praise Band and Youth Orchestra.

40th Anniversary of St. Barnabas

Sunday, October 15, we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of St. Barnabas! Mr. Dave Wilson is preparing smoked pork, and we will have a fabulous lunch to go with it. Dr. Clifton Howard is preaching all worship services. The Encounter Band will host an outdoor concert on Saturday evening, October 14. Mr. Jerry Davis has written a beautiful rendition of our history. Make plans now to be present and bring friends!

Sunday, September 10

Last, but certainly not least – Sunday, September 10, is Church Connection Sunday. We invite everyone to bring friends, relatives, acquaintances and neighbors to church as we gather together to start the fall season. Church growth experts share that fall is THE MOST important time to invite people to church because we are getting into new routines and habits. People who begin worship in the fall are far more likely to continue attending than someone who comes to a Christmas or Easter service. Invite someone to church and invite them to connect! We will have a great potluck lunch after worship! (Bring enough for your family plus several others!) 

Rev. Virginia O. (Ginger) Bassford, PhD