Faith Lift: Shout of Joy

It was a joy to share a first Sunday with you. I know the service went a little long, but I will eventually get the kinks worked out  Many thanks to Jo Ann and Gerald and Joel for their help in acclimating me to how things are done, and responding to some of my “fresh eyes” questions. We made a first attempt at getting a video monitor going so that I and the band can see what you are seeing. It is a work in progress. I think we are going to have a great time serving Jesus together. Thank you for bearing with me and extending a warm welcome. 

Some of you have commented on the unique necklace that I wear. To save time in explaining it one at a time allow me to give you some of its history. Its official name is a “Shout Of Joy.” Initially it was a creation of the Rev. Sam Lanham former pastor of St. Philip Presbyterian in Houston. I got my first one sometime in 1981 when I was serving as an Associate Pastor at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian in Houston. 

I wore it every day until 2011 when somehow, I lost it when I was serving as the Interim Pastor at Westminster Presbyterian in Odessa. The chain around my neck broke and unnoticed it fell to the ground somewhere.  I lost my “joy” in Odessa.
Then, one day I went on an Artist retreat at Laity Lodge in Leakey, Texas. The retreats are held at the Foundation Camp started by Howard Butt of the H.E.B. grocery chain. At each retreat they always have an artist in residence. Each time I go there is a different artist teaching a different medium. At various retreats I have painted and sculpted and made a mobile out of tin.  

On the opening night of the one of the retreats I attended in 2012 they were introducing the leaders for the conference. When they announced that the artist in residence for this retreat was a jewelry maker I got excited. I turned to the man next to me and said, “Oh I hope I could make a “Shout Of Joy.” to replace the one I lost. The man next to me was the artist in Residence, Jim Morris. He said, “I’m the one who Sam Lanham asked to take over production of them for him.” Right then and there I let out a silent “shout of joy.” So, during the free time with his help and materials I was able to make the “Shout Of Joy” that I now wear every day. 
I love it because almost every day someone comments on it and I get to share its meaning.  One millennial looked at it and said,’ Oh I love your Burning Man.” (She thought it was from the Burning Man festival that takes place every year in Black Rock Desert in Northern Nevada.)

One morning at What-a-burger the cashier said, “I love your cross.” I said, actually it’s called a “Shout of Joy.” It’s more like a risen Christ off the cross.” She said, ‘AMEN!”On Sundays I usually wear a bigger Shout that was designed and made by the original artist. After worshiping with you this last Sunday and getting to play bass with your rockin’ band I think its somehow appropriate attire for the Interim Pastor of Joyful Life to wear a big … Shout of Joy

Welcome Pastor Jim

On January 19th, Pastor Jim will be joining Joyful Life Church as the new interim pastor.

Jim is a native Houstonian. He was baptized at Christ Presbyterian Church Houston as an infant.

He was ordained a deacon at 19 at St. Giles Presbyterian, Houston. He was ordained as a Minister of the Word and Sacraments at Westminster Presbyterian, Beaumont at 27. He has served in New Covenant for 36 of his 40 years in ordained pastoral ministry.

Jim graduated from Waltrip High School in Houston, the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Arts in 1973, and Austin Presbyterian Seminary with a Master of Divinity in 1977, and the Doctor of Ministry in 1996.

He and Anne were married in the Austin Seminary Chapel on August 21, 1976. They were blessed with two children, Andrew in 1983 and Abbey in 1989, both of whom are married and living in Houston. Anne just completed her 25th year on the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston where she is now a full professor and Assistant Dean.

In ministry, Pastor Gill has served as a Youth Director at First Presbyterian, Galveston, as a Campus Minister at Lamar University, an Associate Pastor at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Houston, a solo pastor at St. Andrew Presbyterian in San Antonio, and at John Knox Presbyterian in Houston, as a church planter at Peace Presbyterian in Pearland, a Designated Pastor at First Presbyterian Tomball, an Interim Pastor at Westminster Presbyterian in Odessa, Texas, and an Interim and Installed Pastor at Faith Presbyterian in Baytown, Texas. He served as a supervisor for 4 seminary interns.

In the Baytown community, he served as the President of the Bay Area Ministerial Alliance, is a member of the Baytown Rotary International, and served on the Board of the Baytown Area and Chambers County Long Term Recovery Team, dealing with recovery from Hurricane Harvey.

For the last 6 years he has written a weekly column for the Baytown Sun Newspaper called, “Faith Lift.” He is an active member of the Houston Songwriters Association and enjoys sharing his gift of music at various venues around the Houston area as well as at churches and for the Houston Interfaith Ministries Gathering Place-a ministry to families dealing with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. He has even been known to take his guitar with him when he makes hospital visits.

Pastor Gill completed his service as the pastor of Faith Presbyterian in Baytown, TX as of December 31, 2018. On January 21st, 2019 he began serving as a part time interim pastor at Faith Lutheran Church in Dickinson, Texas.

Wednesday Bible Study on Immigration Issues

Mr. Robert Rivera, leader of the Gulf Coast Synod AMMPARO taskforce and Vice President of the Synod Council, will lead a discussion of immigration issues on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 7 PM at Joyful Life Lutheran Church. This is an opportunity to learn about the issues and help discern where God may be leading us to serve in the community. This discussion open to the public and other congregations are especially invited to attend. Please contact Pastor Bob Bryan at 402-640-7145 for more information.

For more information on AMMPARO and the Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod go to

It’s Time For Oktoberfest

Guten Tag!!!

On Sunday, October 27th we will celebrate the 502nd anniversary of the Reformation with our Oktoberfest. After church, we will have a potluck lunch of German dishes and beers. If you would like to participate, and we hope you do, listed below are some traditional German dishes below for you to think about bringing: 

Meats – bratwurst, schweinebraten (pork roast), wiener schnitzel, and frankfurters

Vegetables – potato pancakes, potato dumplings, red cabbage,and sauerkraut

Desserts – strudel, Black Forest Cake, buchtel, and lebkuchen

Beers – Shiner Bock, Lowenbrau, Kolsch and Spaten Oktoberfest

There are many more German foods and beers! 

If you plan to attend, please let Randy Harris know and tell him what you plan to bring.

Fall Food Pantry

For the rest of 2019, we will be collecting the following pantry items to support Society of Samaritans. Please bring all items to church with you on Sundays and place them in the worship area so they can be brought to the alter during the offering.

  • Instant Mashed Potatoes
  • Stuffing Mix
  • Gravy Mix
  • Chicken Broth
  • Canned Green Beans
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Canned Sweet Potatoes
  • Caned Fruit
  • Canned Pie Filling
  • Jiffy Pie Crust
  • Marshmallows
  • Brownie Mix
  • Cookie Dough

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is a “Sanctuary Denomination.” What does this mean?

Beginning Wednesday, Oct. 16 at 7 PM, our Bible study will discuss the faith implications of being part of a Sanctuary Denomination and what this means for for Joyful Life as we serve all in our community through love and fellowship. The following text is from the ELCA website and includes a link to “Talking Points.”

“In its simplest form, becoming a sanctuary denomination means that the ELCA is publicly declaring that walking alongside immigrants and refugees is a matter of faith.

In baptism, we are brought into a covenantal relationship with Jesus Christ that commits us to strive for justice and peace in all the earth. Following the example of Martin Luther, we believe that advocacy is a crucial expression of baptismal identity. As a church, we have advocated for stopping the detention of children and families for decades. We have spoken out against family separation, sought a pathway to citizenship for community members who have lived in the U.S. for many years, and have taken steps to address the root causes of migration in a way that honors the humanity in people who must flee.

Through the ELCA’s AMMPARO strategy, we continue this work. Talking points, articles, videos and resources are housed here so this church can have conversations about what sanctuary means with many of our members in their context to discern future action and direction. Becoming a sanctuary denomination was voted on and passed by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee.

Being a sanctuary denomination means that we, as church together, want to be public and vocal about this work. It will look different for everyone, but welcoming people is not a political issue for us – it is a matter of faith.”

Joyful Life Church Responds to Food Pantry Needs!!!

Pastor Bob blessed all of our congregations’ donations to the food pantry today during service. During the month of September, we have been accepting cereal and soup to benefit Society of Samaritans of Magnolia, TX.

Thank you to the Joyful Life congregation for such an amazing response to this month’s needs so far!

Click image to visit the Society of Samaritans website.

September Food Pantry

During the month of September, we are looking to stock the shelves with soup and cereal. While at the grocery store, please consider picking up a few cans of soup or boxes of cereal and bring them with you to worship on Sundays.

We have an Interim Pastor!

The Joyful Life Church Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that Pastor Bob Bryan has accepted the position of Interim Pastor for Joyful Life. He will be with us on a part-time basis on Wednesdays and Sundays through January 5, 2020. We look forward to having some stability with Pastor Bob as we move through the transition of searching for our next full-time pastor. Thank you, Pastor Bob, and welcome to the Joyful Life family!

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