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 devoted 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, with 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.
Awards 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 Endowed 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.