MFSA Meeting on Thursday, February 9

“Changing Perceptions & Surviving the Texas Legislative Session”advocacy

Want to know more about effective legislative advocacy here in Texas? Join Rio Texas MFSA on Thursday, February 9 at Saint John’s UMC, 2140 Allandale Rd.  Dr. Melody Chatelle will present “Changing Perceptions and Surviving the Texas Legislative Session”, ideas about effective advocacy and other tips about making a difference in the 2017 Texas Legislative session.

Dr. Chatelle is a well-respected and effective veteran of the national and state legislative arenas. Prior to forming Chatelle and Associates, her own political and communications consulting company in 1999, Melody worked for 12 years as Director and Vice President of Government Affairs for Mariner Post-Acute Network, the second largest post-acute health care company in the country. Before joining the health care industry in 1987, Melody served for 10 years in the Texas State Capitol as a legislative aide to a former Texas State Senator now serving in the United States Congress, as well as the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Melody and her husband Eddie Zamora are members of University UMC.

Join us at 6:30p for snacks.  The program begins at 7p.  All are welcome.

Texas UMC Bishops Respond to Immigration Order

An Open Letter to United Methodists in Texas and All People of Good Will

We, the United Methodist Bishops of the State of Texas, greet you in the love of Christ. We call upon those who claim the title “Christian” to remember that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, began his life as a homeless refugee, fleeing with his family to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15). Just as the Holy Family was forced to flee their homeland and seek safety, too many flee for their lives in our violent, terror-plagued world.

In the face of such human tragedy in our world today, we, the bishops of The United Methodist Church in Texas, call upon all United Methodists to see Christ in the refugees of today, regardless of their nationality and/or social, religious, economic, or political background.

We share with others a common sense of frustration, hopelessness, and confusion as we view the unfolding images of today’s refugees in the news. We desire to welcome the sojourner, love our neighbor, and stand with the most vulnerable among us, while also being concerned for the security and well-being of our communities, state, and nation. It is legitimate and proper to be concerned about the safety of our neighborhoods and our country. It is also proper and right that we reflect Christian compassion and values in our response. Jesus was explicit in his teachings when he said, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” (Matthew 10:40).

We cannot let fear rule the day; we must let love champion our actions. We are a nation founded on immigration and forged by the courage of shared values to be a “light on the hill” and a beacon of hope in a broken world.

As Christians and as Texans, our values are grounded in respect and hospitality toward strangers. We recognize that these are difficult and complex times that call for the best of America’s values and our highest witness as followers of Jesus Christ. Accordingly, we call upon President Trump, Governor Abbott, and the leaders of our nation and state to seek a more compassionate response to immigrants and refugees. Joining with those who desire a safer America, we pray for a just and caring response to those most in need of our help and love.

Yours in Christ,

The United Methodist Bishops of the State of Texas

Bishop Earl Bledsoe, The Northwest Texas Conference (Northwest Texas-New Mexico Area)

Bishop Scott Jones, The Texas Conference (Houston Area)

Bishop Mike Lowry, The Central Texas Conference (Fort Worth Area)

Bishop Mike McKee, The North Texas Conference (Dallas Area)

Bishop Robert Schnase, The Rio Texas Conference (San Antonio Area)

– See more

Refugee Services of Texas

Statement by Aaron Rippenkroeger, President & CEO, Refugee Services of Texas

(Friday, January 27)

We are gravely disappointed by the Executive Order issued today by President Trump to scale back the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, including a complete stop in refugee arrivals for the next four months.

History has shown us time and again that America has been at its greatest when we have welcomed refugees to our shores, and at its weakest when we have shut our doors out of fear.

The horrific humanitarian consequences of this action cannot be overstated.  Some refugees will be at risk of losing their lives – including some who may do so following their service to the U.S. military and other U.S. actions overseas.  Some refugees, already approved for resettlement in the U.S., have sold all of their few remaining belongings in preparation for travel and after having already undergone up to two years of security vetting.  They will now be left in limbo, waiting for a refuge once promised to them that now may never come.

Over 70% of these refugees are women and children, and over 70% of these individuals are coming to the U.S. to join family members who already live here. Separating families needlessly is cruel and un-American. They are not dangerous, and to claim otherwise is not only false but morally wrong.

By definition, refugees are people who face a threat to their safety in their former homes – they are distinctly non-violent.  They personally know the horrors of violence and, like all Americans, they first want to be safe and secure.  Being tough on terrorism does not require being tough on refugees.  Even so, the U.S. has already in place the most stringent refugee security vetting process in the history of the world by any country and refugees are by far the most heavily vetted of all the individuals traveling to the U.S.  This political action will leave Americans less safe, not more.  It also undermines America’s principles of fair and equal treatment of all people around the world regardless of race, religion or country of origin – core tenets of the U.S. Constitution and the founding of our country.

This is why the enormously successful U.S. humanitarian refugee program has received significant bi-partisan support for decades – through many Presidents of both parties.

Because of its welcoming nature, Texas has been highly successful integrating refugees for many years. Over 85% of refugees resettled by Refugee Services of Texas achieve self-reliance within six months to become tax-paying contributors to their local communities and our country, and eventually American citizens.

We urgently request that President Trump rescind this Executive Order and demonstrate that America is not afraid of refugees. We respectfully ask him to show leadership and compassion for human rights and refugee protection during the current global refugee crisis—the largest of its kind since World War II.

 

Visit http://www.rstx.org/ to see how you can help!

On Sanctuary Cities Legislation

UMC Bishop Joel Martinez Highlights Faith Communities’
Opposition to Sanctuary City Legislation

On January 25, 2017, Retired Bishop Joel Martinez joined the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Texas Mexican-American Legislative Caucus to speak out against new proposed immigration policies. You can watch the entire press conference on Youtube.

iACT Vigil of Commitment Monday, February 6

iSpeak – February, 2017       

Dear Friends of iACT,

As we move into the second month of the new year, a number of challenges and difficulties face those of us who wish to welcome and have compassion for all of our neighbors. In the face of recent executive actions that have targeted the human rights of our immigrant, refugee, and Muslim brothers and sisters, the iACT Board of Directors has issued the following statement:

“It is often in times of challenge that we find ourselves at a loss for words, therefore many shout, scream or resort to violence in an effort to articulate their fears or anger. It is with this in mind that iACT intentionally chooses to use words. Words that heal. Words that unite. Words that renew our hope in humanity and the strength we find in our faith. We pray for all families and individuals who are challenged by uncertainty. We pray for the consolation and comfort of all who are displaced, and we embrace those who are isolated and alone. May we stand together, side by side, as we speak words of life, healing and love over the persons whose hands we hold. Amen.”

With this statement in mind, iACT and St. James’ Episcopal Church will be holding a Vigil of Commitment on Monday February 6 to show our solidarity with all of those who have been or will be affected by these newly established discriminatory mandates. The vigil will begin at 7pm at St. James’ (1941 Webberville Rd, Austin TX, 78721). Please share this event with your community, and be sure to RSVP.

Now, more than ever, we need to stand together as one community in love of our fellow human beings. With your support, iACT will continue to speak up for those who are most marginalized in our society. We thank you for standing with us. Stay strong.
See more.

Advocacy and Resistance Events from Progress Texas

Since the new administration has come into power, Texans across the state are taking action to stand up for social justice issues — we have come together, resisting the politics or fear and hate. We have seen a regressive legislative agenda in Texas in the past, but it seems even more hateful this year.

On Thursday, hundreds of people showed up at the state Capitol in organized resistance to testify against the Texas Legislature’s anti-immigrant, racial profiling legislation Senate Bill 4.  And we need to keep up the fight.

Join the resistance and show the opponents in our Capitol this session that they don’t represent our values. Find an issue that’s important to you and register for an advocacy and resistance event (and tell your friends):

One example that you should be aware of is this:

No Ban, No Wall Rally at Texas State Capitol

Saturday, February 25 at 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

TCADP 2017 Annual Conference

The TCADP 2017 Annual Conference – a must-attend event for anyone interested in ending the death penalty in Texas – will take place at St. David’s Episcopal Church in downtown Austin on Saturday, February 18, 2017.  Take advantage of pre-registration rates until February 8, 2017.

If you can’t join us for the full day, consider purchasing a ticket for our awards luncheon and keynote address by Brian Stolarz. Stolarz served as habeas corpus counsel to Alfred Dewayne Brown, who was exonerated in June 2015 after spending 10 years on Texas’ death row. Stolarz’s book about his relationship with Brown, Grace and Justice on Death Row: The Race Against Time and Texas to Free an Innocent Man, is a Washington Post best-seller.  Brown is the recipient of our 2017 Courage Award.

Here’s a preview of some of the workshop sessions we’ll be offering during the conference:

  • The national death penalty landscape
  • An in-depth look at wrongful convictions
  • Mobilizing networks to create change
  • Legislative advocacy
  • The intersection of mental health and the criminal justice system

 Online registration is now open!  Take advantage of pre-registration rates between now and February 8, 2017.

Sponsorshipvendor opportunities and program advertisements are also available. Click here for the conference flyer.

Executions Scheduled in 2017
February 2: John Ramirez
February 7: Tilon Carter
March 7: Rolando Ruiz
March 14: James Bigby
April 12: Paul Storey
June 28: Steven Long
July 19: Kosoul Chanthakoummane

March 28: Join TCADP and Texas Impact at the State Capitol in Austin for our second Faith Leader Advocacy Day on the Death Penalty.  Together, we will make sure legislators hear the loud and growing chorus of voices in opposition to the death penalty. Register online today.