2010 – 2011 SWT MFSA Program Focus

While we plan to follow through with actions to address poverty this year, we will start a new year of study for the 2010-2011 program year.  Our focus will be on social justice issues and how we address them as people of faith.  We will examine the perspectives of the United Methodist Church, people whose lives have been impacted, and experts regarding the issues.  We will explore ways to be advocates for social justice and what legislative actions will impact social justice issues.  Join us on our journey as we seek to discern what God calls us to do as people of faith.

Next Chapter Meeting – Thursday October 14

“What is Social Justice?”

Social justice has come under public attack in recent months, with one popular commentator calling it a perversion of the Gospel and encouraging church members to flee their churches if they discover evidence of social justice there. How do we respond to our friends, family, and others in our faith communities when we’re faced with these views?

A presentation entitled “What is Social Justice?” explains social justice and why it’s important to a person of faith.  It brings clarity to a topic which can be complex and often misunderstood while delving into the social and theological aspects of this core attribute of Christianity.  The presentation also examines the important differences between charity and justice and why both are needed for all God’s people to live to their full potential.  “What is Social Justice?” explores the rich history and present-day involvement of the United Methodist Church in some of the most pressing social issues.

This program was developed and will be presented by Kerry Stevens, Chairperson of Bethany UMC’s Church and Society Ministry and a long-time advocate for social justice.  The material is designed as a curriculum for Sunday School classes and other interested groups.  Designed as two 45 minutes sessions, you may share this material with your adult Sunday School class or others interested in having a clearer understanding of this important topic, after seeing the complete presentation at this MFSA meeting.

Come at 6:30p for snacks and mingling.
The program begins at 7:00.

Join us!  Bring a friend!

Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

The Austin TCADP chapter will hold its next event this Tuesday, September 28.  This will be a panel discussion about capital punishment featuring three individuals who view it from very different and unique perspectives.  The panel members include:

Professor Rob Owen, UT Law School and Co-Director of the Capital Punishment Center. Rob has defended people facing the death penalty at every level of state and federal court system, including arguing successfully at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reverend Sidney Hall, Senior Pastor, Trinity United Methodist Church, Austin.  Rev. Hall leads a congregation that describes itself as inclusive and that is active in social justice issues.

Michael Heath, murder victim family.  Michael brings a voice and perspective to the issue of capital punishment that answers the challenge, “…but what if it were your family member…?”

This event will be held on Tuesday, September 28th, 7 PM, at St. John’s United Methodist Church, 2140 Allandale Road, Austin.

TCADP is a statewide grassroots organization working to end the death penalty in Texas through education and action.  MFSA supports the work of TCADP, and we welcome your participation in this work in any capacity.

Vigils to protest executions are held from 5:30p – 6:30p on the evenings of the executions on the south steps of the Capitol, 11th and Congress.

Upcoming executions scheduled:

October 14:  Gayland Bradford
October 21:  Larry Wooten

To learn more, go to TCADP.  Contact Anne Mund (ennadnum@aol.com) with questions.

You’re Invited to Celebrate with Trinity UMC

Trinity UMC is scheduled to move into the location of the former Hyde Park UMC (at Speedway and 40th) on Sunday, October 17th at 10:30 am.  They will celebrate beginning at the current location (600 E. 50th St.) and walk together to the new location (4001 Speedway) to finish up.   As you may know, this move is made possible by the donation of this building to Trinity, so in many ways this new home also belongs to all the conference United Methodists.  The new building is part of the Southwest Texas Conference’s and Austin District’s  vision of many local congregations pursuing unique spiritual journeys.  Trinity’s journey is open to everyone and attempts to see God’s love in every person and all things.  Please come share their new beginning!

(If you plan on coming let Deana Henry know and she will update you on the latest parking/shuttle plan.  512/784-2951)

Mission Trip to Galveston

Spots available on Saint John’s Adult Mission trip to Galveston, Week of October 24
Yes, there are still about 1,000 homes in need of repair from Hurricane Ike damage in Galveston (9-12-2008!) and this is the 4th trip that members and friends of Saint John’s are trekking south to do about a week of repairs on those homes belonging to the working poor, or those without insurance.  We coordinate our efforts through Texas Disaster Recovery and stay at the former Crockett Place UMC (50th and R) on the island, avoiding the typical 45 minute commute some groups have to do to nearby churches.  If you or a fellow church member have thought of doing this for your fellowship, class, congregation, etc., this would be a good chance to get some experience in this significant effort.

Please call or write Mike Renquist for details and/or to sign up, 512-663-9868 or mgrenquist@sbcglobal.net, but please be quick; there are some forms and communications to complete.

MFSA National Meetings

Deana Henry and Rowland Curry will be traveling to Des Plaines, IL in late October to attend national MFSA meetings.  Rowland is a member of the national Board of Directors of MFSA, and they will be meeting to finalize MFSA strategic plans and other critical issues.  Deana will be attending the MFSA Program Council meeting, where all the chapters share ideas and plans for programs and activities.  Both groups will also discuss plans for MFSA leading up to efforts at General Conference 2012 in Florida.

Report on Poverty is Available

As mentioned in our last newsletter, our chapter has completed our report on poverty, “In Search of a Better Understanding of Poverty.”

During our 2009-2010 study on poverty, our chapter attempted to better understand the challenges of poverty.  Poverty is a complex issue and our understanding of its root causes, contributing factors, and ways to alleviate it is incomplete. Our paper is a reflection of what we learned from speakers, documentaries, our experiences, and other resources addressing issues associated with poverty.  It is not intended to be a comprehensive work.  However, it can be an effective guide to help our members embark on an action plan to be in ministry with those living in poverty.

It is interesting to note that shortly after our report was completed, the US Office of Management and Budget reported that our nation’s poverty rate jumped to 14.3% in 2009, its highest level since 1994, and the 43.6 million Americans in need is the highest number in 51 years of record-keeping.  The OMB defined the poverty threshold level as less than $21,954 for a family of four in 2009 and $10,956 for an individual.

The MFSA report is available here (MFSA Poverty Report) as a PDF (652 KB).  Paper copies will be available at the next chapter meeting.