On Sunday evening, November 7, the Unity Church of the Hills community celebrated several historical milestones by hosting the “Season Of Creation” Celebration at it’s beautiful campus in Northwest Austin. On the eve of its 26th Anniversary as a Unity community, just past the 20th Anniversary at its present home, and on the first evening after the clocks had fallen back an hour, Unity Church of the Hills celebrated with a night of connection, live musical performances, karaoke, silent and live auction, food, fun, community and more.

Karaoke On The Patio Kick Starts The Evening
The amazingly talented, Charissa Memrick kick-started the evening’s entertainment leading a long lineup of singers in a dazzling set of karaoke favorites out on the Patio underneath the cool and gorgeous, November Texas skies. The “Karaoke On The Patio” event was a big hit with attendees, who offered no shortage of volunteers willing to sing themselves into karaoke legend. Judging by the crowd’s response, we could’ve “karaoke’d the night away” and that would have been just fine with everybody. But, there was simply too much else going on, too much still left to happen. So, the night rolled on.

Silent Auction Quietly Raises Over $3,300
Just as the “Karaoke On The Patio” was winding down, so too was the deadline for final bids in the Silent Auction. Friendship Hall quickly filled up with bidders checking their bids and making adjustments before the bidding closed. The Silent Auction featured a range of offerings from original art, custom jewelry and pottery, a Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer, along with a range of local goods and services, including unique and original, Christmas Tree Decorating services, among others. The Silent Auction offered something for everyone, and the UCOH Team extends our deepest gratitude to those who generously contributed and participated in helping UCOH to raise over $3,300 on the Silent Auction alone.

Focus Shifts To The Sanctuary For The Main Event
As the final bids for the Silent Auction were being entered in Friendship Hall, Celebration band leader, Matt Russell, kicked off the opening music set in the Sanctuary, along with his bandmates, Glenn Schuetz on Bass, and Stephen Summer on Drums. As attendees began making their way into the Sanctuary for the evening’s Main Event, Matt led the trio in a brief opening set that featured Matt on the first vocal of the evening, before leading the band in rock solid support for a revolving cast of singers, including Reggie Strickland, Kim Pollini, and karaoke hostess, Charissa Memrick. Despite showstoppers from Reggie and Kim, Charissa very nearly stole the opening set accompanying herself in a solo performance of an old Carole King classic that we know had many audience members way down memory lane somewhere in another time and place, far far away. The audience was definitely in the mood for more live music, but they would have to wait a bit to get their fill, as the evening’s attention turned center stage for Rev. Sheree’s introduction of the evening’s special guest.

FUN Auctions, Auctioneer Gayle Stallings Entertains As She Raises Money
Whoever said auctions are boring, never attended one led by auctioneer extraordinaire, Gayle Stallings of FUN Auctions. As entertaining as she is persuasive, Gayle facilitated a live auction sale, that also featured a rousing side appeal for the Sanctuary Carpet campaign. Together, they both raised nearly $9,300 in about 40 minutes, including just over $5,500 for the Carpet Campaign alone. But that’s just the nuts and bolts of the sale’s results, the real star of the event was Gayle herself. Her sharp professional skills coupled with a keenly timed sense of humor made the Live auction part of the evening exciting and productive, not to mention an immense entertainment value.

Gayle’s infectious appeals certainly made it easier for many bidders to open their hearts with generous bids for a range of items including private airplane rides, a 5-Star Restaurant dinner, Air B&B getaways, and a private dinner with Rev. Sheree and her husband Graham that fetched the highest winning bid price all night. From all sources, including ticket sales, the Season Of Creation Celebration brought in a total of $16,125, and netted nearly $14,000 after expenses for the UCOH Ministry. The event’s success serves as an outstanding kickoff to the “End Of The Year Giving Campaign 2021,” which continues through December. For the success of this evening’s event, we are ever so grateful to Gayle and her husband who so generously donated their time and skills to ensure the success of the “Season Of Creation” Live Auction.

But, Wait! There’s More Live Music Ahead
But, wait! The Season of Creation Celebration was not quite finished yet. There was still more live music ahead to cap off the evening while winning bidders of the Silent and Live Auctions closed out their bids. As in the first set, bandleader Matt Russell led the trio as showstoppers Reggie Strickland, Kim Pollini, and Charissa Memrick reprised their respective Set #1 vocal turns, and were supplemented with vocal sets by the evening’s Auction MC, Tom Horne and Singer-Songwriter, Rick Busby. For the closer, Matt Russell led everyone in a sing-along of Jackie DeShannon’s classic, “Put A Little Love In Your Heart”.

Over the course of two sets of music, the band and guest vocalists treated attendees to a sprawling set of music that spanned over a century of the American Songbook, from W.C. Handy to Errol Garner to Carole King, Marvin Gaye and more down to the present day, touching on genres ranging from R&B, Pop, Jazz, Gospel, Blues, and Country! Judging by the spontaneous outbreak of couples dancing in the Sanctuary aisles, it is safe to say the entire evening was a sparkling success. We are blessed at Unity Church of the Hills with many gifts, but one of the greatest blessings is there is no shortage of creative and artistic talent here in the spiritual family.

We Forgot To Mention The Fabulous Food
We didn’t really forget it, because we are mentioning it now, but the food was a fabulous blessing in and of itself. And speaking of blessings we enjoy at UCOH, this report of the “Season Of Creation” Celebration would be sorely remiss if it did not include a huge expression of gratitude to Shawnda Birch and the entire Hospitality Support team of volunteers that assisted in the preparation and presentation of the scrumptious buffet of tasty delights on display at the center of the foyer. The spread even included a generous range of vegan offerings that pleased many in the crowd. There is so much work done behind the scene before the actual event to make the night go smoothly, and we are truly blessed here at UCOH by the love, care and culinary mastery expressed time and again by Shawnda and her revolving cast of volunteers for making so many UCOH events truly memorable.

Season Of Creation Celebration A Sparkling Success
All in all, the “Season Of Creation” Celebration was a sparkling success from the karaoke to the live music performances, the silent and live auction fundraisers, along with the wave of new support for the ongoing Sanctuary Carpet campaign that auctioneer Gayle Stallings inspired, the amazing buffet of tasty delights, and last but not least, the surprisingly popular “selfie wall” which got more popular as the evening went on and attendees took the opportunity to take a “selfie” to mark the occasion. To top it all off, UCOH netted nearly 14,000 from the event, after expenses, which helps to jump start the “End Of The Year Giving Campaign 2021” in a positive direction right out of the gate.

On behalf of UCOH Senior Minister, Rev. Sheree Taylor-Jones, the UCOH Staff, and the entire UCOH Spiritual Community, present and past, we say thank you for supporting Unity Church of the Hills these past 26 years. We look forward to continuing to serve well into the brilliant future ahead. Until next time…peace and love.

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