Chapter Meeting – Thursday, May 12

Annual Conference Planning and Legislative Update

The next meeting of the Southwest Texas Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action will be Thursday, May 12, at Saint John’s UMC.  The topic will be the Peace and Justice luncheon that we are co-sponsoring at Annual Conference (along with the Reconciling Ministries Network and the Conference Board of Church and Society).  We will talk about where we are in the planning process, what things still need to be done, and how we all can help. This luncheon is the biggest event our chapter has ever undertaken, and it will be a great opportunity to educate people about MFSA, encourage more people to participate, and network with other like-minded people of faith in our Conference.

In addition to the luncheon, MFSA will have 5 vendor tables for the Book Fair, BeadforLife, and Shower of Stoles.  Remember to bring your used books dealing with religious, spiritual, or social action topics!  Janice Curry will bring a sample of the beads that we will take to Annual Conference for sale to support women and children in Uganda.

We will also have an update on the 82nd Texas Legislature and social justice issues.

The meeting will begin at 6:30pm for snacks and mingling.  The program begins at 7:00.  This is the last meeting scheduled until August/September.  We hope to see you there!”

Join us!  Bring a friend!

We need MORE Books!

Wanted:  Used books dealing with religious, spiritual, or social justice topics.

MFSA Chapter Book Fair
at
SWTX UMC Annual Conference,
Corpus Christi,
June 8 -10

The MFSA Book Fair is our major annual fundraiser, so please contribute books if you can.  Please let Rowland Curry (836-7004 or rcurry@austin.rr.com) know if you have books to contribute. We can make arrangements to pick them up. We will need the books by June 4.  Thanks for your help!

April Meeting Recap

Deana Henry opened the meeting with prayer.  The program was about the Reconciling Ministries Network, the Methodist movement to encourage greater inclusivity in the UMC, particularly regarding Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender persons.  The speakers were representatives from Trinity (Deana Henry), University (Bruce Kellison and Mike Coughlan), First (Robbie Ausley and Ann Teich), and St. John’s  (Janice Curry) UMCs.  Each of those churches is at a different place in the process of being a reconciling community, and the representatives talked about their respective processes so far.  In addition, representatives from Westlake UMC talked about their process.  A few of the major points:

  1. It is important to approach those on the other side of this issue with sensitivity and respect.  The idea is simply to have conversations with them, to get this issue out in the open where it can be discussed in a nonthreatening, nonjudgmental way.
  2. This is a lay-led movement.  Although having supportive clergy is helpful, having conversations about inclusivity should not reflect upon the pastor in any way.
  3. Pursuing a Reconciling path is just one part of a congregation’s outreach, and not necessarily the defining part.
  4. It’s not about breaking rules.  It’s about changing them.
  5. It’s important to have strong support among straight congregants.
  6. Today many young people, gay or straight, do not want to be part of a congregation that is not Reconciling.
  7. This is a justice issue.

There was a lively discussion following the speakers’ presentations.  There were more than 25 people in attendance, representing 9 UMCs in the Austin area.

Rowland announced the CBCS/RMN/MFSA luncheon at Annual Conference in June.  George Holcombe closed the meeting with prayer.

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

Featuring
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 15, $15.00 afterward.  Mail check to Janice Curry at 1509 Mearns Meadow, Austin, TX 78758.  Registration Deadline is June 1.

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

MFSA National Board Update

I recently had the honor of attending the meeting of MFSA’s Board of Directors in Los Angeles, CA on April 30.  The most important decision of this meeting was the approval of the new MFSA Executive Director, Jill Warren.  She will begin her duties with MFSA on July 5, at the office in Washington, DC.

Jill is a lay member of West Bloomfield United Methodist Church in the Detroit Annual Conference, and has been active at the congregational, district and conference levels.  She is an experienced nonprofit executive who has led agencies, taught management and leadership courses at the graduate and undergraduate level, and provided consulting services to foundations, agencies, boards of directors and nonprofit CEOs.  Her faith has led her to do justice work in family violence prevention, reproductive health, and civil rights while giving boldly in her personal philanthropy to create a more just world.  Jill brings a contagious level of enthusiasm and energy to her work, and MFSA is delighted to welcome her to its leadership.

In addition to the selection of Jill as the Executive Director, the Board approved changes to the MFSA Bylaws and other documents, heard financial and budget reports, and discussed reports from the Coalition Coordinator and the Sing A New Song planning team.

–  Rowland Curry

Book Signing & Conversation with Jimmy Creech

Many of us attended the May 7-8 events at Trinity UMC to honor Jimmy Creech,  former United Methodist Pastor & Author of Adam’s Gift: A Memoir of a Pastor’s Calling to Defy the Church’s Persecution of Lesbian & Gays.  The event was sponsored by Trinity UMC and the  Southwest Texas Reconciling United Methodists.

“Jimmy Creech, a United Methodist pastor in North Carolina, was visited one morning in 1984 by Adam, a longtime parishioner whom he liked and respected.  Adam said that he was gay, and that he was leaving the United Methodist Church, which had just pronounced that no “self-avowed practicing  homosexual” could be ordained.  He would not be part of a community that excluded him. Creech found himself instinctively supporting Adam, telling him that he was sure that God loved and accepted him as he was.  Adam’s Gift is Creech’s inspiring first-person account of how that conversation transformed his life and ministry. Creech was tried twice by The United Methodist Church, and, after the second trial, his ordination credentials were revoked. Adam’s Gift is a moving story and an important chapter in the unfinished struggle for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil and human rights.”
Excerpt from Adam’s Gift.

We highly recommend Adam’s Gift for its inspiration and insight.

Find Jimmy Creech on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.208952379124986.53318.208934022460155&saved#!/pages/Jimmy-Creech-Author-of-Adams-Gift/149222551797725