MFSA Monthly Meeting Thursday, February 8

The February meeting of the Rio Texas Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) will take place Thursday, February 8, at Saint John’s UMC, Austin.  The program will focus on the Austin Region Justice for Our Neighbors (ARJFON) effort, which is part of a national United Methodist network of legal clinics based in United Methodist churches around the country.  Our speaker will provide updates on JFON’s activities as they attempt to address immigration issues in an increasingly challenging social environment.

ARJFON, a non-profit law office, welcomes refugees and immigrants into our communities by providing free, high-quality immigration legal services, education, and advocacy.  ARJFON strives to empower immigrants bring about systematic change through active participation in our community.

Please join us to learn about this much-needed ministry.  Snacks and mingling begin at 6:30p; the program will start at 7p.  Hope to see you there!

Mark Your Calendars

MFSA Delegation Visits The Rio Grande Valley

On January 18 – 20, a group of 9 people from the Methodist Federation for Social Action in Austin went to the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) on an immigration education tour. Steve Hamlett, Kenneth Henry and Deana Henry are from Trinity Church Austin.  Anne Mund, Rowland Curry, Al Lindsay, Pat Stewart, Patsy Hickey, and Lyn Loeffler are members of Saint John’s UMC Austin.  Our guide for the tour was Susan Hellums, Border Area Mission Coordinator for the El Valle District from First UMC McAllen.

A more detailed description of our visit will soon be available on our website.

On Thursday, we attended a presentation in San Juan on the RGV Equal Voice Network, which has several components addressing the following issues:  health care, education, wages and jobs, housing, and transportation.  The housing initiative, Proyecto Azteca, was founded in 1991 by Cesar Chavez, is similar to “sweat equity” programs like Habitat for Humanity, and has 4,000 families on its waiting list.

Friday, we traveled to the Hidalgo County Park to view the Rio Grande River, Mexico, and portions of the border wall.  We then went to First UMC McAllen to hear a presentation on the Tamar’s Tapestry program by Tracy Hughes.  We were joined by Robert Lopez, Superintendent of the El Valle District.  Tamar’s Tapestry provides intervention, education, and restoration for victims of human trafficking in the RGV.  Data is horrifying; there are an estimated 79,000 persons in Texas that are victims of commercial sex trafficking.

After this presentation and lunch, we drove to San Benito to visit La Posada Providencia, a short-term shelter for immigrants and asylum seekers.  While it is a Catholic charity, La Posada receives help from the UMC in many ways.  Deaconess Cindy Johnson was our guide at La Posada as we visited with the Sisters and others.  We were introduced to a group of about a dozen immigrants from Central America, Cuba, Africa, and Eastern Europe.

Saturday morning, we toured the Humanitarian Respite Center, sponsored by the Catholic Charities RGV, where refugees in transit are provided with information, food, clothing, hygiene products, and other assistance before boarding a bus to join family, friends, or sponsors in other parts of the country.  Our group then volunteered to do a short service project, sorting donated clothing for the refugees.

Before heading back to Austin, we drove through a Colonia near Edinburgh to observe the conditions that we had heard about in several presentations.

This MFSA road trip was extremely enlightening and educational, and we hope it will guide us in pursuing further mission opportunities related to immigration.  Our plan is to present an in-depth report on this trip at a future meeting, most likely in April.

MFSA National Office Move Planned

As many of you have already learned, MFSA has decided to relocate their national headquarters office to Central UMC in Detroit in mid-2018.  This announcement follows a lengthy discernment and visioning process that includes a recommitment to local church and community-led grassroots organizing.  Unlike MFSA’s current location in a Lutheran church on Capitol Hill in Washington, Detroit Central UMC will offer adequate office space, conference rooms, and other amenities needed for the headquarters.  MFSA is also posting for the Executive Director position, replacing interim E.D. Darlene DiDomeneck.

More information here.

Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

TCADP 2018 Annual Conference in Dallas February 17, 2018

TCADP’s Annual Conference is a one-day event geared towards anyone interested in learning about the death penalty and becoming involved in our efforts.  It features a panel discussion, workshops, a keynote address, and the presentation of our annual awards.  You don’t want to miss this opportunity to connect with supporters from across the state and hear about the progress we are making towards ending the death penalty in Texas!

The TCADP 2018 Annual Conference will take place on Saturday, February 17, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. Registration includes breakfast and the awards luncheon.  Tickets are available for the luncheon and keynote address for those who can attend only part of the day. We accept cash, check, or credit card as payment.

Contact us at 512-441-1808 or khoule@tcadp.org if you have questions.

Crop Hunger Walk

 The Austin CROP Hunger Walk is scheduled for Sunday afternoon, February 25 at Camp Mabry.  Registration opens at 2:00 with the Step-Off at 2:30.

 

Register and raise funds online—it’s easy! Go to www.crophungerwalk.org/austintx to sign up.

 

Thank you Austin Hunger Heroes – $72,614.47 raised at the 2017 Walk.

 

YOU make the difference

iACT Red Bench

The Red Bench – HOME

Join us on Tuesday, February 27 for a courageous conversation on

the topic of Home at Unity Church of Austin
(5501 West Highway 290, Austin TX 78735).

If you plan to attend, please RSVP