Upcoming MFSA Chapter Meetings and Events

March 10 – Presentation and discussion on immigration issues in Texas
Tentative plans to hold this meeting at Emmanuel UMC, and we are hoping to
include a report by the Central Texas MFSA Chapter on their immigration study.

April 14 – Presentation on Reconciling Ministries Network efforts in Austin
Representatives from Reconciling Ministries Network and Methodist Churches in Austin who have  Reconciling Ministries Teams.

Saturday, April 2 – BOPA Recycling Event
MFSA will sponsor a BOPA (Batteries, Oil, Paint, Antifreeze) Recycling Event at Trinity UMC.

Texas Impact – Legislative Update

LEADD: Leadership Education Advancing Democracy and Diversity
Training the next generation of citizen leaders

Texas Impact, iACT, the Interfaith Alliance and First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin are excited to bring the nationally recognized high school leadership program, LEADD (Leadership Education Advancing Democracy & Diversity), to Central Texas, May 6-8, 2011.
Students who attend LEADD become immersed in the history of the First Amendment, particularly its Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses, and learn about current policy, legislative and legal issues regarding religious freedom.

2011 Interfaith Environmental Conference Calls
February 22

Please join us on Tuesday, February 22nd at 10:00 a.m. for our next monthly interfaith conference call. In our monthly environmental calls, we seek to connect faith leaders around the state who are engaged in the work of caring for creation; provide updates about environmental legislation and opportunities for involvement in the legislative session; keep you current on new programs and initiatives; and create a space for sharing hopes and frustrations, plans and ideas, stories and prayers.


Other Dates to Remember:

March 15: Alliance for Clean Texas (ACT) Lobby Day
March 30: “Cover Texas Now” Health Lobby Day
April 12, 2011: “Texas Forward” State Budget Lobby Day
April 19, 2011: ACT Lobby Day– Earth Day Edition

Texas Coalition Against the Death Penalty (TCADP) News

TCADP Annual Conference in Austin, February 19
Seizing the Momentum… Advancing Statewide Vision through Local Action

Schmidt-Jones Family Life Center, First United Methodist Church
13th and Lavaca, Austin, Texas

The Panel Discussion on the impact of the death penalty on a county level will include:

  • Sam Millsap, former Bexar County District Attorney
  • Dennis Reeves, Assistant Public Defender of the Regional Public Defenders Office for Capital Cases
  • Karen Peissinger, El Paso TCADP Chapter Leader
  • Sachin Chheda, NCADP Deputy Director (moderator)

New offering this year!  Afternoon training will feature legislative workshops designed specifically to your legislative district Register today.  More information and flier  (Download PDF)

Scheduled Executions

February 15: Michael Wayne Hall
February 22: Timothy Adams

Learn more about responding to these scheduled executions at the link.

TCADP Lobby Day – HB 819

On Monday, January 24, 2011, State Representative Jessica Farrar filed House Bill 819 calling for repeal of the Texas death penalty.

What you can do to support this bill:

  1. Telephone your State Representative and tell them:
    • you support repeal of the death penalty in Texas, and
    • you support Rep. Farrar’s H.B. 819.
  2. Ask your Representative to co-sponsor H.B. 819.
  3. RSVP for the TCADP Lobby Day to be held on March 8 at the Capitol!
  4. More information on contacting your lawmakers, including talking points, is available at the link.

If you do not know who your State Representative is, you can find out at http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/.
You can follow the progress of H.B. 819 at http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=82R&Bill=HB819. Now is the time to make your voice heard by your elected Representative. Please make your call this week.  Let TCADP know the results of your conversation!

Recent Editorials on the Texas Death Penalty

Both the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently published editorials calling on members of the Texas Legislature to examine the serious flaws and failures of the state’s death penalty system.  In “Death penalty debate should start, not end,” (January 15, 2011) the Star-Telegram notes that “The capital punishment system is troubled and expensive.  The Legislature needs to debate how to fix it – and whether it can adequately be fixed at all.”  Read more from the Star-Telegram and Morning News.
TCADP members throughout the state hold respectful vigils on the days of executions in Texas. Attend a Vigil in your area!

See http://tcadp.org/ for locations and times.

Believe Out Loud Workshop – Saturday, February 12

“Believe Out Loud” Workshop

You are invited to a “Believe Out Loud” Workshop for Reconciling United Methodists on Saturday, February 12th, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the First UMC Family Life Center. This event is hosted by the SWTC Annual Conference RM Team. Please RSVP to Stefanie Gray Greiner at sggreiner@gmail.com or 210-566-7230. Lunch will be provided.

The purpose of the gathering is to:

  1. “Believe Out Loud Together” to help the United Methodist “Open Minds, Open Hearts, Open Doors” theme have true meaning.
  2. Meet and network with other United Methodists who believe true inclusiveness is God’s desire for our church.
  3. Share ideas about making our voices heard at the 2011 Annual Conference.
  4. Brainstorm ways to elect General Conference delegates who desire true inclusiveness in the Church so that we can play a role in UM policy changes.

Hope Food Pantry Fundraiser – Sunday, February 20

Come hear an award winning young jazz band from the Khabele school, eat great food, be serenaded, and take a stab a “winning” some awesome silent auction services and items donated by local businesses and artists.

Tickets are $12.00 in advance and $15.00 at the door.  Email info@hopefoodpantry.org to reserve your $12 ticket and it will be waiting at the door for you.

Get the word out about a local business by submitting an item or service to the silent auction.  Email Stephanie at info@hopefoodpantryaustin.org for more information.

Immigration Forum at University UMC – Sunday, March 6

March 6, 2011
2.00pm – 4.00pm
University UMC- 2409 Guadalupe Street

The UMW of University UMC invites everyone to attend an Immigration Forum to discuss this critical civil rights issue.  Hear two leading experts discuss the critical elements of this issue as the Texas Legislature is bringing controversial bills for debate.

  • Prof. Dr Ray Marshall, LBJ School of Public Affairs and former Secretary for Labor in Carter’s cabinet and a tireless advocate for Immigration reform,
  • Prof Barbara Hines, Director of the Immigration Clinic at the UT Law School, will lead the workshop on this important issue.

Our Chapter of MFSA is co-sponsoring this workshop along with the Amos Commission of UUMC, Church and Society UUMC, Parker Lane UMC, and Texas Impact.
RSVP UUMC (512) 478-9387

SWTC Board of Global Mission Event – April 1-2

Global Mission Celebration
A global village of gifts & learning about intercultural communication, richness of diversity, poverty of spirit all in one conference-wide celebration of God’s mission in the world. Workshops, resources for clergy and laity of all ages, children thru seniors, to worship, learn, witness, share, and become energized & motivated with the passion to follow “God’s Command, God’s Commission, Our Call.”  Keynoter Rev. Jeremy Basset, Director UMVIM, Oklahoma Conference, Sponsored by SWTC Board of Global Ministries and hosted by Windcrest UMC, San Antonio.  Contact Susan Hellums,   shellums@mcfirst.com 956.686.3784

33 bishops call for removal of “incompatibility clause” from Methodist Book of Discipline

On January 31, 2011, 33 retired bishops of the United Methodist Church published a letter to their colleagues, calling for the removal of language that  deems “the practice of homosexuality incompatible with Christian teaching” and bars LGBT persons from full participation in the church.

MFSA applauds this effort to move the church towards full inclusion of all people and hopes that this is another “Watershed Moment” in the life of the UMC.  Read our full response on our website. The text of the bishops’ statement is here.

First of its kind church trial in the state of Wisconsin set for April

A Wisconsin United Methodist Church panel has brought charges against a lesbian minister that could end in her removal from the clergy – but the same committee praised her courage and criticized the church laws that required that the charges be issued.

The case has helped inspire a letter from 32 retired Methodist bishops urging the church to drop its ban on “self-proclaimed practicing homosexuals” serving as ministers.

A church trial has been set for April in the case, the first of its kind ever in Wisconsin.

The Rev. Amy DeLong of Osceola, in northwestern Wisconsin, precipitated the case in 2009 when she agreed to preside at a holy union ceremony for a lesbian couple, and then separately registered with her partner of 15 years under Wisconsin’s Domestic Partnership Law. She reported both actions to the church’s Wisconsin Annual Conference, the governing body for the church in the state, as part of her annual accounting of her ministry.

She said she knew her actions would have consequences.

“I want to help the church to be true to its proclamations,” she said in an interview. “We don’t have to earn our way into God’s heart. We’ve already been accepted.”

The United Methodist Church, the nation’s third-largest denomination, prohibits ministers from performing same-sex unions and allows gay or lesbian ministers only if they’re celibate, or if they don’t reveal their sexual orientation.

Remember the Freedom Rides and connect with MFSA at the JustPeace Annual Gathering

Nearly half a century ago, in the spring of 1961, an incredibly courageous group of individuals left Washington, DC on a commercial bus to embark on a perilous journey to strike down Jim Crow segregation in the Deep South.

Now, fifty years after their historic journey, United Methodists have a unique opportunity to gather in Jackson, MS, to commemorate the golden anniversary of the Freedom Rides and continue the ongoing conversation of racial reconciliation and what it means for us today.
Come join in the 11th annual JustPeace Gathering- Journey Toward the Light.  JustPeace, the Mississippi Annual Conference of the UMC, and the General Commission on Religion and Race of the UMC will co-sponsor the event from 5pm on March 6th to 12 noon on March 8th, at various locations in Jackson, Mississippi.
MFSA staff member Jennifer Mihok will be in attendance and is interested in meeting with MFSA folks who will be attending the event.  Please email Jennifer if you’re planning to attend.  Hope to see you there!  Click here for more information and to register.

Plan to join us at the First Annual MFSA Luncheon and Awards Ceremony Friday, June 10 in Corpus Christi (at Annual Conference)

We are in the early planning stage of our chapter’s first large-scale event to be held at Annual Conference in Corpus Christi on June 10.  The event will consist of a luncheon, a great speaker, and awards for special recognition in social action.  We are partnering with Reconciling Ministries Network to advance the idea of a fully inclusive denomination.

Our speaker will be Dr. Joerg Rieger, the Wendland-Cook Professor of Constructive Theology at Perkins School of Theology at SMU in Dallas.  The title of Dr. Rieger’s presentation is still under development, but it will be based on his new book, “Grace under Pressure: Negotiating the Heart of the Methodist Traditions.”

If you have suggestions for the types of awards we should consider, or names for consideration, please contact Richard Bates, revbates1@aol.com.

We do need volunteers to help with the planning of this luncheon.  We will need help in a number of areas, both in advance arrangements and on site:  publicity, program, awards, financing, and logistics.  If you can help out, please respond to Rowland Curry, rcurry@austin.rr.com.

This should be a great event to share MFSA’s message with others at Southwest Texas Annual Conference.

Books, Books, Books!

We plan to again sponsor the MFSA Book Fair during Annual Conference in June.  We ask our members and friends to contribute their used books dealing with religious, spiritual, or social action topics, and then we offer them in exchange for donations.  This has been our chapter’s major fundraiser during the past few years.  As a result of your kind donations of books and the generosity of the buyers, we made over $700 at the 2010 event.  As you are doing your spring cleaning or going through your library to discard these treasures, please keep us in mind.  In most cases, we can make arrangements to pick them up.  Please let Rowland Curry (rcurry@austin.rr.com) know if you have books to contribute.

Sing A New Song, August 25 – 28

Mark your calendar for the RMN/MFSA Convocation, “Sing a New Song”.
(Reconciling Ministries Network mobilizes United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities to transform our church and world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love.)

Join hundreds of United Methodists singing of and organizing for justice and inclusion for all God’s children as we celebrate in joyful worship designed by Mark Miller and Tanya Bennett.

In word and song, at rest and play, through action and organizing, being church together, “We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly, we are called to serve on another, to walk humbly with God!”

Sawmill Creek Resort
400 Sawmill Creek Drive West
Huron, OH 44839

For more information, see http://www.rmnetwork.org/sing-a-new-song/

MFSA Needs Financial Support as We Prepare for Annual and General Conferences

Please join with us as we connect progressive United Methodists in putting faith into action!

Membership in MFSA is not predicated on ability to pay.  We do not have “dues”.  However, our Chapter and the National Office need funding each year for programs and activities.  Membership gifts and special giving are always appreciated.

MFSA is classified as a 501(c)(3) organization by the IRS.   Membership gifts to MFSA are tax deductible as provided by law.

Here are two simple ways to join or support MFSA:

You can log onto the national MFSA website, http://www.mfsaweb.org and follow the instructions there (you can safely use a credit card).

Or, you can mail a check made out to “SWT – MFSA” to our Treasurer, Janice Curry, at 1509 Mearns Meadow Blvd, Austin 78758.  The suggested annual donation is $60, but any amount is welcome.  Thanks for your support!

Join us!