Update on SWTX Annual Conference

Our MFSA chapter witness at SWTX Annual Conference in Corpus Christi June 8 – 11 was a very positive experience.  Our MFSA/RMN “compound” served as a meeting place for many friends during the stressful business of Conferencing.  As many of you know, our progressive voices did not fare as well as they did four years ago during delegate elections for General Conference.  However, we celebrate the supportive delegates who were elected as delegates to General Conference 2012.  We especially want to congratulate our Austin friends, Jay Brim, Laity Delegate to General Conference; Sarah Howell, Laity Delegate to Jurisdictional Conference; and John Elford, Clergy Alternate Delegate to Jurisdictional Conference.  In addition, the Inclusion Resolution – sponsored by the Conference Board of Church and Society – PASSED on Saturday morning!  (See more below.)  Thanks to everyone’s hard work in making MFSA’s presence and witness successful.

The Book Fair and Bead for Life

Much of the Conference schedule on Thursday and Friday was devoteMFSA Book Fair and Beads for Life at 2011 SWT Annual Conferenced to the election of delegates to the 2012 General Conference.  As a result, there was little time for Annual Conference delegates to browse in the exhibit area.  Nonetheless, we did collect about $500 for the books we offered.  Many thanks to those of you who donated your used books for this event.  We had a few boxes left over which we will likely take to sell next year.

We again displayed the beautiful beads of BeadforLife, the project that helps Ugandan women in their fight against poverty in their villages.  We sold about $500 in necklaces, bracelets, and other items at Annual Conference.  Thanks to Janice Curry for organizing the table for this worthy cause.

Shower of Stoles and First UMC RMN

Our partner in faith at this event was the Reconciling Ministries team of First UMC Austin.  They had a wonderful display, and we shared the space for the Shower of Stoles, with a display of 30 stoles from a collection of over one thousand stoles representing gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people of faith.

The First Annual MFSA/RMN/CBCS Peace and Justice Luncheon


The luncheon was a tremendous success, MFSA Luncheon at 2011 SWT Annual Conferencewith over 140 people in attendance.  After the invocation by Rev. Greg Hackett (Corpus Christi First UMC), we heard from Rev. Steve Clunn, the MFSA-RMN Coalition Coordinator from Washington, DC, who stressed the importance of networking, and promoted the upcoming Sing a New Song (www.sans2011.org) event in August.

Deena Henry presents Lifetime Achievement Award to George and Wanda HolcombeAwards presentations followed, with Rev. George and Wanda Holcombe receiving MFSA’s Lifetime Community Achievement Award, and Rev. Sid Hall and Trinity UMC Austin being recognized with the award for Congregational Achievement.  Additional awards were presented by the Conference Board of Church and Society and the Peace and Justice Coordinator, including an award to Wimberly UMC’s Barnabas Project, accepted by Vicki McCuistion.  All of the presentations and the recipients’ remarks were warm and well-received.

Our featured speaker was Dr. Joerg Rieger, Wendland-Cook EndowJoerg Rieger speaks at MFSA luncheoned Professor of Constructive Theology at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas.  He spoke on concepts presented in his latest book, “Grace Under Pressure – Negotiating the Heart of the Methodist Traditions”.  His presentation was enlightening and received excellent feedback.

Rev. Susan Sprague (University UMC Austin) gave our benediction and sent the delegates back to the conference floor for more elections.
Special thanks to Robbie and Tom Ausley and Jimmie Sue and Dick Francis for the wonderful table decorations.  We gave away door prizes including several cross centerpieces, copies of Dr. Rieger’s book, and jars of jelly beans to attendees.

Thanks to our Volunteers!

We had a great contingent of volunteers (in addition to delegates) who volunteered for all of the activities at Annual Conference.  Janice & Rowland Curry, Anne Mund, Jan Dawes, Jane German, Pat Stewart, Mary Foster, Mike Renquist, Tom & Robbie Ausley, and Dick & Jimmie Sue Francis.  The lovely stoles worn during the luncheon were made by Travis Park UMC San Antonio, led by Betty Curry.

Inclusion Resolution Passes at Annual Conference!

The Reconciling Ministries Network, with support from MFSA and others, has worked for months to develop a petition and Resolution to be approved by the Southwest Texas Annual Conference that calls on the UMC General Conference (2012) to amend the Constitution of the United Methodist Church.  Many of you may have signed a copy of the petition.  The Resolution was sponsored by the Conference Board of Church and Society, and formally presented to the Annual Conference by Rev. Cynthia Kepler-Karrer (Chair of CBCS) on Saturday, June 11.

The Resolution seeks to expand the list of people not to be discriminated against as stated in Paragraph 4, Article IV of Division 1 of the United Methodist Constitution to include those people who have traditionally excluded from membership and full participation in the church.  Specifically, the Resolution would add “sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression” to the listing of those not to be excluded.

The Resolution was presented by Rev. Kepler, and after an hour of parliamentary wrangling and discussion, the Resolution WAS PASSED by the SWT Annual Conference!  The vote was 384 “for” to 325 “against”.  Special thanks to Ann Teich of First UMC Austin’s RMN team for heading up the effort to circulate this petition and resolution, and to Rev. Kepler-Karrer and the Conference Board of Church and Society for their courage in taking the Resolution forward.

RMN’s Troy Plummer to Speak in Austin

RMN's Troy Plummer to Speak in Austin

Come Celebrate with University UMC

Please join University United Methodist Church to celebrate becoming a member of  Reconciling Ministries Network

Sunday morning, June 19, 2011 at 11 A.M.
Rev. Troy Plummer,  preaching.

There will also be a small installation of The Shower of Stoles.

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 44839Mark 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/

Anne Mund, Joy Butler, Robbie Ausley, and Janice and Rowland Curry have already registered.  Contact Janice Curry at 836-7004 or jlcurry@austin.rr.com if you have questions.

Thanks To Our Supporters!

Thanks to your generosity, SWTX-MFSA provided a meaningful witness at Annual Conference, and came out within budget.  As we set our sights on General Conference 2012, 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!