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
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 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

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!/pages/Jimmy-Creech-Author-of-Adams-Gift/149222551797725

Texas Coalition Against the Death Penalty (TCADP)

Updates on the 82nd Texas Legislature

On April 26, 2011, the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee passed House Bill 1065 (the companion to Senate Bill 377) by a vote of 7-0.  (SB 377 passed the Senate on March 30.)  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. TCADP abhor violent acts against children of any age. We opposes this bill because we believe it is wrong for the State of Texas to expand the reach of the death penalty at a time when Texans are turning away from its use, when victims’ family members are speaking out about the terrible toll the process takes on them, when new evidence of the flaws and failures of our capital punishment system continues to come to light, and when other states across the nation are moving away from it.  HB 1065 now heads to the Calendars Committee, which will decide whether/when to place it on the calendar for consideration by the full House of Representatives.

Take action!

Please call or email your State Representative to urge him/her to oppose HB 1065. Texas does not need to expand the scope of the death penalty – it needs to end it! To find your Representative, go to and type in your address. This will provide you with the phone number for your legislator’s Capitol office. To send an email, type the Representative’s first name.last (for example,

House Bill 819, the repeal bill, has been left pending in the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee (as have most death penalty-related bills).  There are only 23 days left in the 82nd legislative session.

View CBS “48 Hours”  Special on Anthony Graves online

On Saturday, April 23, CBS “48 Hours” aired a special on Anthony Graves, the most recent death row exoneree from Texas. After spending 18 years in prison, 12 of which were on death row, he was found to be innocent by the Burleson County District Attorney and released from custody in October of 2010. View the episode that has resulted in an outpouring of outrage against the injustice experienced by Anthony Graves.

To actively support TCADP’s Religious Outreach efforts, please be in touch with Vicki at

Scheduled Execution
June 1: Gayland Bradford

Texas Impact

Senate Budget Inches Forward –

On May 4, the Senate passed the budget by a vote of 19-12. The bill will now move to conference committee. As it stands now CSHB 1 removes $3 billion of Economic Stabilization (“Rainy Day”) Fund money from the bill, moves a $1.25 billion Medicaid payment into 2013 and enacts 1.2% cuts to all agencies besides the Foundation School Program.

The Senate’s version of the bill now spends $5 billion more in state funds than the House version. Senator Ogden promises to fight for the bill in committee while several Senators have pledged to fight against it. Senators opposing the bill raised issue with the magnitude of cuts being made to education, health care and social services.

Senators want to characterize their budget as “better than the House budget.” This is wishful thinking. The Senate budget results in most of the same draconian cuts as in the House budget, and is still inadequate for Texas.

For a quick review of the massive cuts to State funding read 50 Facts About the Senate Budget at

To read Texas legislators ignore the outcry against school funding cuts at their peril, by Carolyn Boyle, St. John’s member & volunteer chairwoman of Texas Parent PAC ( in the American Statesman go to

50th Anniversary of Freedom Riders

FREEDOM RIDERS – The story behind a courageous band of civil rights activists called Freedom Riders who in 1961 challenged segregation in the American South.
Watch the film on PBS, Monday, May 16 at 8:00pm  (Other showings May 17@ 3:00am; May 18 @2:00am; May 22 @ 4:00pm)

FREEDOM RIDERS is the powerful harrowing and ultimately inspirational story of six months in 1961 that changed America forever. From May until November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives—and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment—for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws, the Freedom Riders met with bitter racism and mob violence along the way, sorely testing their belief in nonviolent activism.

From award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson FREEDOM RIDERS features testimony from a fascinating cast of central characters: the Riders themselves, state and federal government officials, and journalists who witnessed the Rides firsthand. The two-hour documentary is based on Raymond Arsenault’s book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice.

American Experience has Invited College Students from across the country to “Get on the Bus”.  From May 6-16, 40 college students will join original Freedom Riders in retracing the 1961 Rides from Washington, DC to New Orleans, LA.  Accepted students will participate at no cost to them. All transportation, hotel and food expenses are covered by American Experience.

SHARE the journey. Through live blogging, Twitter, and Facebook, the students on the bus will be able to share their experiences and, in a sense, bring others along on their journey.

Social Justice Events from Third Coast Activist

May 15 (Sun) – 11:30 am

Robert Jensen on “What Does It Mean to Be a Human Being?”

The Mistaken Identities of Nation/Race/Gender

Location: First Unitarian Universalist Church, 4700 Grover Ave., Austin 78756

University of Texas Professor Robert Jensen will be the speaker in the First Unitarian Universalist Church Public Affairs Forum.  In his talk, Jensen will examine how nation, race, and gender affect our understanding of ourselves, with a focus on the unjust systems of power and privilege in which they are embedded. In each case he argues against the dominant culture’s ideology and for a radical politics that takes seriously not only political but ecological realities.

May 22 (Sun), 12:15 pm

Screening of video of Tim Wise talk on illusions of “post-racial” politics

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

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

RMN’s Troy Plummer to Speak in Austin

On Sunday, June 19, University UMC will have a Celebration of the recent vote to become a Reconciling Community.  Rev. Troy Plummer, Executive Director of Reconciling Ministries Network will speak.  Check for details later on the University UMC website

Rev. Amy DeLong Trial Rescheduled for June

New Trial Time, Place, Leaders
June 21-23, 2011

Peace United Methodist Church
Kaukauna, WI

Presiding Officer: Bishop Clay F. Lee
Church Counsel: Rev. Thomas Lambrecht

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.

Sing A New Song, August 25 – 28

Sing a New Song August 25-28, 2011 Sawmill Creek Resort 400 Sawmill Creek Drive West Huron, OH 44839

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

Anne Mund, Joy Butler, Robbie Ausley, and Janice and Rowland Curry have already registered.  Let us know if you would like to attend.  Scholarship funds are available.  Contact Janice Curry at 836-7004 or

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, 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!