Chapter Meeting – Thursday, April 14

Austin District Reconciling Ministries Communities

The April meeting of the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) will be held Thursday, April 14 in the Saint John’s UMC Fellowship Hall.  The program will be about the Reconciling Ministries Network.  RMN is a Methodist movement whose purpose is to foster increased inclusivity in the United Methodist Church.  Representatives from First UMC Austin, University UMC Austin, Trinity UMC Austin, and Saint John’s UMC will discuss the process they are in (or have been in) to become connected to the Reconciling movement.

The meeting will begin at 6:30pm for snacks and mingling.  The program begins at 7:00.

Join us!  Bring a friend!

“God’s Agenda” Workshop April 9-10

Join peace and justice advocate Rev. Bill McElvaney at University UMC for a series of justice workshops. Bill is Professor Emeritus at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, and he is a longtime peace and justice advocate. Each gathering will begin with an opening prayer and a brief justice reading from Bill.  Featured readings will be:

·  Life After Mississippi – by James Autry
·  The Justice Project – by Brian McLaren et al
·  Justice – by Nicholas Wolterstorff
·  The Last Week – by Marcus Borg & John Dominic Crossan
·  Blessed Are the Peacemakers, a Lenten meditation – by Bill McElvaney

On Saturday morning, Bill will outline his reasons for writing the book Becoming a Justice Seeking Congregation: Responding to God’s Justice Initiative, experiences with the book, and some general observations about justice. Saturday afternoon will include participation in a justice exercise.

On Sunday afternoon, we will consider where UUMC is in doing justice, including existing and possible new challenges. The sessions on both Saturday and Sunday will proceed with narrative of doing justice, followed by discussion (action and reflection). The sessions will conclude with Bill McElvaney’s reflections on a chapter of the book. Along the way, we will consider questions at the end of each chapter. Books will be available for sale for $10.

PLEASE REGISTER AHEAD OF TIME FOR THE WORKSHOPS. DEADLINE IS TUESDAY, APRIL 5 AT 5:00 P.M. Email Rev. Susan Sprague at or call 512-478-9387 to RSVP. A $15 fee includes breakfast & lunch on Saturday.

BOPA Recycling Event Was a Success!!

Our MFSA chapter sponsored a BOPA (Batteries, Oil, Paint, Antifreeze) Recycling Event at Trinity UMC on Saturday, April 2.

We collected over 967 gallons of paint, 93 gallons of oil, 11 car batteries, 160 pounds of smaller batteries, 12 gallons of antifreeze, 47 spray paint cans, and lots of other material that was taken to the City’s recycling station. Thanks to all who volunteered and those who took the time from their Saturday morning to take care of our earth.

March Meeting Recap

Our March 10 meeting on immigration, held at Emmanuel UMC, was well received.  The program focused on immigration issues.  Ms. Marjorie Herbert, a retired attorney, discussed what the Central Texas Chapter has learned about immigration and some of the actions the local congregations in Georgetown have taken.  We met new friends interested in this issue.  Those in attendance have created an email list to communicate ideas and opportunities.  Reverend Madeline Carrasco Henners, Associate Pastor at Northwest Hills UMC, has scheduled  training to lead the faith-based immigration study, “Transcending Borders,” in your local congregation.  Laity and clergy who are interested in starting conversations about immigration in their local church are invited to this training.  The 6 week study topics are as follows:

–      Session 1: Getting Started
–      Session 2: Immigrants of the Bible
–      Session 3: The Alien, Orphan & Widow
–      Session 4: Welcoming the Stranger
–      Session 5: Citizens of Heaven
–      Session 6: Our Christian Response

The training will be from May 15th – June 19th, Sundays from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at Northwest Hills United Methodist Church, Family Life Center.  Please register by emailing  The cost of printing the document is the only fee, $10.  For more information contact Rev. Madeline C. Henners at (512)345-1743 or via the email noted above.

“To refuse to welcome migrants to this country—and to stand by in silence while families are separated, individual freedoms ignored, and the migrant community in the United States is demonized by members of Congress and the media—is complicity to sin.”
— The Book of Resolutions 2008

May 12 Chapter Meeting

The May program will focus on how we can reduce poverty, both locally and around the world.  We will refer back to our study on poverty last year.  Kerry Stevens, Bethany UMC, will talk about Bethany’s program to work with World Vision in Kenya.  More details later.

MFSA Chapter Activities Planned for Annual Conference

MFSA will again be active at Annual Conference in Corpus Christi June 8 – 11.  We will sponsor an awards luncheon, Growing the Heart of Methodism (see below) in partnership with Reconciling Ministries Network and the Conference Board of Church and Society.  We plan to again sponsor the MFSA Book Fair, which has been a successful fundraiser for our chapter.  We will have our Informational Display about MFSA and its mission and activities.   We will again sponsor the sale of BeadForLife, which supports Ugandan women and communities.  And we will again co-sponsor a display of the Shower of Stoles, an extraordinary collection celebrating the gifts of GLBT persons who serve God in countless ways, while also lifting up those who have been excluded from service because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
This is shaping up to be an exciting time!  Join us!

Growing the Heart of Methodism

A Peace & Justice Luncheon Sponsored by
Southwest Texas Conference Board of Church and Society
Methodist Federation for Social Action
Reconciling Ministries Network

Professor Joerg Rieger
Perkins School of Theology

On his new book:
Grace Under Pressure:
Negotiating the Heart of the
Methodist Traditions

This is our chapter’s first large-scale event to be held during Annual Conference in Corpus Christi.  It is being planned at lunchtime on June 10, and will consist of a luncheon, the presentation by Dr. Rieger, and awards for special recognition for Building a Just Community.  We will also have a presentation by Steve Clunn, the MFSA/RMN National Coalition Coordinator regarding national issues and Sing a New Song (see below).

We owe a great deal of thanks to Dr. Rieger for his willingness to rearrange his busy schedule to be with us for this event.  He is extremely supportive of MFSA and its mission.

The luncheon cost is $12.00 per person if paid by May 10, $15.00 afterward.  Registration Deadline is June 1.

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

We need your 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 to Conference attendees 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 ( know if you have books to contribute.

UMC Advocacy Effort in Austin

Left to right in the group picture is Dr. George Atkinson, Rev. Julius Malone-Wardley, Dr. Paul Escamilla, Rev. Romonica Malone-Wardley, Rev. Tommy Williams, Dr. Jim Bankston, Rev. Kevin King, Rev. Terry Thompson. During a recent advocacy effort at the State Capitol by UMC ministers, the Governor and others signed on to release partial monies out of the Rainy Day Fund for the current budget.  While there is still more that can be done for the next budget, 2012-2013, this should soften some of the inevitable impact of the crisis.  MFSA member, Joy Butler, took this photo.  Left to right in the group picture is Dr. George Atkinson, Rev. Julius Malone-Wardley, Dr. Paul Escamilla, Rev. Romonica Malone-Wardley, Rev. Tommy Williams, Dr. Jim Bankston, Rev. Kevin King, Rev. Terry Thompson.

More than 1,500 United Methodists from rural, urban and suburban Texas who signed the letter, which had been signed by all Texas Methodist bishops.

Texas Coalition Against the Death Penalty (TCADP

View CBS “48 Hours”  Special on Anthony Graves

On Saturday, April 16th at 9pm Central, CBS “48 Hours” will air a special on Anthony Graves, the most recent death row exoneree from Texas.  Anthony was wrongfully convicted of murdering Bobbie Davis, her daughter and her four grandchildren in Somerville, Texas, in 1992.  After spending 18 years in prison, 12 of which were on death row, Anthony was found to be innocent by the Burleson County District Attorney and released from custody in October of 2010.  Learn more about the background of his case.

Updates on the 82nd Texas Legislature

On March 29, 2011, the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee heard more than 1.5 hours of compelling testimony in support of House Bill 819, which calls for repeal of the death penalty in Texas. Murder victim family members, religious leaders, and academics joined TCADP Board President Bob Van Steenburg in advocating for the bill, which has been left pending in committee.

On March 30, 2011, the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 377 by a vote of 28 to 2. This legislation expands the scope of the death penalty by making the murder of a child who is less than 10 years of age a capital offense. Senators Rodney Ellis of Houston and José Rodríguez of El Paso voted no; Senator Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio voted “present-not voting” and provided a reason for her vote. The bill now moves over to the House of Representatives, where it has been referred to the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. TCADP will provide an alert and action request if/when the bill is scheduled for a hearing (the bill number in the House is HB 1065).

Scheduled Executions

April 5 Cleve Foster
May 3 Cary Kerr
June 1 Gayland Bradford
June 16 Taylor Lee

Execution Vigils: under “Get Involved – Stop Executions”

New Death Penalty Resources

New Book – God’s Feet are in My Sandbox: Faith Chronicles of a Texas Death Row Chaplain is the concise memoir of Rev. Rick Anderson, a United Methodist pastor, who details very passionately God‟s presence in his life and the faithful response he offers. Readers will journey with Rick through love and loss, uncertainty and fear, the value of forgiveness, and, at the heart of it, great trust in God‟s care and attention. Rick shares several experiences from his work as a death row chaplain at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, giving readers an inside view of the unit from his position. Please note: the TDCJ Chaplaincy program is being targeted by current legislative budget cuts. The book is available through Barnes and Noble online.

New PDF Profiles – Murder Victims‟ Families For Reconciliation—Voices of Texas share the stories of murder victim family members who oppose the death penalty. A copy of each story was provided to Texas Representatives during the TCADP Lobby Day. The PDFs (in English and Spanish) are available for download on the TCADP website under the resource section on the Victims Outreach page. Storytellers include: Steve Bishop, Chris Castillo, Helene Burns, Jan Brown, Joanna Rankin, Joy Strickland, Linda White, Ron Carlson and Elizabeth Stein.

2011 TCADP Chapter Volunteer Recognition

During the 2011 TCADP Annual Conference, Anne Mund was given special recognition as a volunteer in the Austin chapter.  She has been a tireless worker for the chapter for the past four years and for the state organization.

Anne has organized the chapter’s quarterly meetings, including locating a venue for the meetings.  Anne supports all of the chapter’s events and is a person who can be counted on.  Her energy, enthusiasm and dependability reflect most favorably upon her and upon the organization.  Congratulations, Anne.

Save Our State: State Budget Lobby Day 2011

Join Texans from Across the State for a
March, Rally and Advocacy Day!

Building on the spirit  and energy of rallies around the country calling on  state governments to prioritize education, health care, public safety, the environment, and jobs, we will demand that Texas take a balanced approach to balancing the state budget by spending our state’s savings in the Rainy Day Fund and finding new revenue.

On April 6, thousands of Texans will gather in Austin for Save Our State–a march, rally and lobby day calling for legislators to abandon their proposed $23 billion in cuts to education, health care, nursing homes and other state services.

ON THE SAME DAY, the conservative group “Americans for Prosperity” (AFP) is holding a counter-rally and lobby day at the Capitol. They’re calling it “Tighten Your Belt, Texas” Day and here’s what they say about it: “We limited government advocates have been vastly outnumbered at the Capitol this legislative session. The legislature is working to cut spending and not raise taxes this session, but every spending program has its special interests. We realize that government needs to tighten its belt just like
Texas families are reigning in their spending when they have less to spend.

Please help make sure legislators hear the right message: Texans don’t like the House budget.

A recent University of Texas poll gives the numbers:

Texans oppose cuts to public education, 82 percent; pre-kindergarten, 62 percent; state grants to college students, 73 percent; state contributions to teacher and state employee retirement programs, 69 percent; the Children’s Health Insurance Program, 87 percent; state environmental regulation that could be picked up by the federal government, 65 percent; cuts to Medicaid providers like doctors and hospitals, 86 percent; state funding for nursing home care, 90 percent; prisons for adults or for juveniles, both 67 percent; new highway construction, 63 percent; border security, 85 percent; closing  community colleges, 77 percent.

Please take a few extra minutes to encourage everyone you can to attend the Save Our State event. Detailed information is available at

Can’t make it to the event in person?
Call Lt. Governor David Dewhurst at 1-888-225-8098 and urge the Senate to reject the House cuts.

United Methodists Volunteers in Mission – UMVIM Training

Tuesday, April 12, 6:30 – 9:30 pm
Bethany United Methodist Church
10010 Anderson Mill Road
Austin, TX   (512) 258-6017

RSVP or more information, contact Julie Hutcherson, RN, International VIM Coordinator, SWTX UM Conference (830) 685-3562. The cost is $30 and includes training, UMVIM manual, and T-shirt)

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.

iAct Hope Awards

2011 HOPE Awards
April 26

Buy your tickets now for the iACT Hope Awards Gala and Fundraiser, the  signature spring celebration of iACT, formerly Austin Area Interreligious Ministries (AAIM). The Hope Awards honor those who have inspired the Central Texas community through lives of dedicated service and their work to improve interfaith understanding. This year’s honorees include Bishop John McCarthy, singer-songwriter Sara Hickman, and Rev. Joseph C. Parker, Jr. of David Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. 6 p.m., April 26, University of Texas Alumni Center. For tickets and more info, click here.

Social Justice Events from Third Coast Activist

Monday, April 20 at 6:00pm
Panel on “Working for Social Justice: Career and Life Choices”

Many students with commitments to social justice struggle with career and life choices. What paths can young people pursue that will allow them to contribute to making a better world? In this event, local organizers and activists will discuss the decisions they have made and answer questions from students.
The panelists will be Lisa Byrd (Executive Director, Pro Arts Collective), Josué Guillén (Trainer, Progressive Technology Project), and Cristina Tzintzún (Executive Director, Workers Defense Project).
This event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Social Justice Institute of the UT Community Engagement Center. There will be free pizza and beverages. For more information, contact Robert Jensen at 471-1990 or

Location: University of Texas, University Teaching Center (UTC), Room 3.102.

5604 Manor
Thursday, May 12, 5:30–10pm – Anniversary Celebration

In May 2010, the progressive community center opened.  Now they will celebrate a great first year with an anniversary party. Staff and volunteers from the groups with offices in the building — the Workers Defense Project, Third Coast Activist Resource Center, and Third Coast Workers for Cooperation — will be on hand to give guided tours and explain their work.

The evening’s performers will include Cerronato (6-6:45 p.m.) and Eliza Gilkyson (8-9 p.m.).

Cerronato plays an authentic yet innovative version of Colombian vallenato and cumbia, merging ornate melodies from the accordion with rumbling and quirky bass lines, the eccentric syncopation of the guacharaca or scraper, the steady beat of the small drum, and the frenzied flourishes of the bongo.

Eliza Gilkyson, a politically minded and poetically gifted singer-songwriter, has become one of the most respected musicians in roots, folk and Americana circles. The Grammy-nominated artist has appeared on Austin City Limits, Mountain Stage, and etown, and in 2003 was inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame.

Dance music throughout the evening will be provided by Dj Chorizo Funk.

The big backyard provides lots of room for conversation, and there’s playground equipment for kids. There will be great food and beverages from a variety of local food folks.  The suggested donation of $10 (no one turned away for lack of funds) will benefit the Workers Defense Project, with a $10 suggested donation.

Location: 5604 Manor Road, Austin, 78723

Sunday, May 22 at 12:15pm – Screening of Video of Tim Wise talk  on Illusions of “Post-Racial” Politics

In February, author Tim Wise spoke in Austin about his 2010 book, Color Blind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity.  This program will screen the video of that talk, followed by a discussion.

Wise is a frequent speaker on campuses across the country and a regular commentator in mainstream media.  His other books include: Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama; White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son; Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White; and Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflections From an Angry White Male.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Social Justice Committee at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. For more information, contact Robert Jensen at 471-1990 or

Location: St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 14311 Wells Port Drive (exit off I-35, west on Wells Branch Parkway)