For the Bible Tells Me So – September 25

“For the Bible Tells Me So” – September 25

Ever wonder what you would do if you had a gay child, or what the Bible says about contemporary understandings of sexuality? People of faith such as former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson as well as Bishop Desmond Tutu and Harvard’s Peter Gomes share their stories and offer healing, clarity and understanding about scripture and sexual identity in For the Bible Tells Me So.

The Reconciling Ministries Team at Saint John’s UMC will show this film at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25 at Saint John’s UMC, 2140 Allandale Dr., Austin, TX. Admission is free and all are welcome.

45 Austin United Methodists March in Austin Pride Parade

The Southwest Texas Chapter of  Methodist Federation for Social Action was proud to sponsor a group of 45 United Methodists from 6 Austin churches to march in the 2011 Austin Pride Parade on Saturday, September 10.  Participants were showing support for full inclusion in the United Methodist Church and in society.  See other photos at

September Update and Meeting Information

Chapter Meeting – Thursday, September 8

MFSA will meet at University UMC for an Interfaith Pride Worship Service

The September 8 monthly MFSA meeting will be at the Interfaith Pride Worship Service at University Methodist Church, 2409 Guadalupe Street in Austin, at 7:00pm.  We will join University UMC for this special Interfaith Pride Worship Service, which includes a large Shower of Stoles display.  A reception in their Fellowship Hall will follow the service.  If you would like to carpool from St. John’s, please meet at 6:15pm.  Contact Janice Curry ( or 836-7004) if you would like to carpool.  More information follows.

LGBT Multi-faith Worship Service

Featured Speaker: Rev. Dr. Stephen Sprinkle

Reception afterwards in Fellowship Hall

Display of 150 Stoles from the Shower of Stoles Project

Thursday, September 8, 2011

7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Austin, Texas – University United Methodist Church on the University of Texas campus is sponsoring an eclectic and celebratory service with participation from a number of denominations and faiths.  Everyone is welcome to join us at UUMC for this special Multi-faith Pride Worship Service.  It includes an installation from the Shower of Stoles Project featuring 150 stoles from gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people who are active in their faith communities.  It includes those who have been ordained, or have lost their ordination.

At a February 2011 called church conference, 94 percent of the UUMC members present voted to join the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) of the United Methodist Church and become a positive voice for the full inclusion of LGBT persons.

Rev. Dr. Stephen Sprinkle is the director of Field Education and Supervised Ministry, and an Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas. His current research focuses on the theology of the Lord’s Supper and LGBT History. He is working on an upcoming book, “Unfinished Lives: Reviving the Memory of LGBT Hate Crimes Murder Victims.” 

MFSA to March in Austin’s Pride Parade Saturday, September 10

Please join the Methodist Federation for Social Action and fellow United Methodists as we walk in the 2011 Austin Pride Parade at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 10.  Walkers will wear our rainbow stoles in support of full inclusion of LGBT persons in the United Methodist Church and in society.  We will join with members of First, Grace, St. John’s, Trinity, University, and other area Methodist churches to show our support.  A convertible will be available for anyone who would like to ride in the parade.  A group will be meeting at Saint John’s at 8:30 a.m. to carpool downtown.  If you want to meet us at the west side of South First and Riverside, where the parade begins, please try to be downtown by 9:15 a.m.  Parking is available in the Palmer Events Center Parking Garage located between Riverside Drive, South First Street and Barton Springs Road just south of Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin (cost: $7.00 per car).  If you are interested in participating in the Pride Parade or carpooling from St. John’s, email Rowland Curry at  See a map of the event at

Sing A New Song a Tremendous Success!

Sing A New Song, the collaborative convocation sponsored by MFSA and RMN was an amazing event!  Almost 700 people came together in Huron, Ohio in late August to sing, pray, participate in learning events, and enjoy this spirit-filled convergence.  Our chapter was well represented by Anne Mund, Rowland & Janice Curry, Joy Butler, Robbie Ausley, and David Mauzy.  The worship services and bible studies were outstanding.  We will be providing a briefing on this event at the October 13 MFSA meeting.  In the meantime, go to to view the exceptional messages by Rev Amy DeLong, Bishop Joseph Sprague, and others.

Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT)

The Red Bench: Interfaith Conversations that Matter
All at First United Methodist Family Life Center
13th & Trinity

The first of the Red Bench conversations will take place on   Wednesday, September 7, at 6:00pm.  The focus of this conversation will be on the ways that 9/11 changed our individual lives.  The Tuesday, September 27, conversation will conclude the dialogue about the topic.

Upcoming 2011-2012 Red Bench conversations on October 25, December 6, January 24, February 28, March 27, April 24, May 22, and June 26.

10th Anniversary Memorial Service
Remembering 9/11 – An Interfaith Memorial Service

Sunday, September 11, 4:00-5:15pm (Plan on arriving by 3:30pm as seating is limited.)
First Baptist Church – 901 Trinity St.   Free parking in the First Baptist Parking Garage and on surrounding streets.

In recognition of the continued work that needs to be done to foster improved relationships between our region’s diverse religious communities, Interfaith Action of Central Texas in collaboration with The City of Austin, Muslims for Peace and Unity, The Institute for Interfaith Dialogue, Congregation Beth Israel, First Baptist Church, and other iACT member congregations will be holding a city-wide Memorial Service commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Saint John’s UMC Austin to Hold Special 9/11 Service

Saint John’s invites the congregation and community to gather for a special service commemorating the 10th anniversary of the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. It will be held on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 7 in the evening in the sanctuary.  The hour-long service will include choral and instrumental music, readings, the lighting of candles, and a compelling visual montage, as well as congregational singing and time for silence and reflection. The evening is meant to be not only a memorial, but also a call to make a difference in the world by moving from sadness to newly inspired ways of living. Please invite friends, neighbors, coworkers and family to share in this occasion of remembrance and hope.

Step into Africa at Bethany UMC

Welcome to Step into Africa
September 11 – 18, 2011
10:00 AM – 8:00 PM Daily
*Extended Hours until 8:30 PM on Monday & Thursday
Fellowship Hall

Step into Africa (a.k.a. The World Vision Experience: AIDS) is a museum-quality interactive exhibit that invites visitors to “step into Africa” by hearing, seeing and walking through an African village to personally experience the lives of children affected by poverty and AIDS. The stirring audio tour and captivating photography will transport you into the life of an African child, providing a new perspective on the greatest challenges of our time, while offering inspiring opportunities to make a difference.

It is also the gateway for a bold initiative for the transformation of lives through a long term relationship between the Austin community and the community of Matete, Kenya.  We will partner with World Vision to help the people of Matete find their own path from a life of impoverishment to a life of self-sufficiency. Step into Africa provides the opportunity to begin personal relationships with the children of Matete, providing them hope and healing in the midst of their struggles.

The exhibit will be open from Sunday, September 11 through Sunday, September 18, from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM daily, in the Bethany Fellowship Hall. Other enriching special events are also planned for the week.

Get your free tickets today or sign up to serve in the exhibit.

A Journey of Hope, with Princess Zulu
Monday, September 12, 2011
6:30 PM – 7:30 PM, Bethany Sanctuary

Princess Zulu is a Zambian native orphaned by AIDS as a child and now a world-renowned voice of hope. She speaks passionately about Christian responsibility to care for the vulnerable and how one person can transform the lives of children haunted by poverty and the pandemic of AIDS. Her powerful message and extraordinary journey has been featured in national media, carried to well-known congregations such as Willow Creek Community Church, and shared with President George W. Bush and other global leaders.

Music by the Wesley Intergenerational Choir. Princess’ book sales and signing available after the talk.

An Evening of Inspiration, with Sara Hickman
Thursday, September 15, 2011
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM, Bethany Sanctuary

With a warm heart and insightful words, Sara Hickman shares her uplifting gift of music in this evening of inspiration. She sings about life in a way that fills your heart and soul, punctuated by her storytelling and hypnotizing wit. Though an amazing song writer and guitar player who has received many awards, including Texas State Musician of the Year, Sara is more than an entertainer. Embracing the interconnectedness of life, she gives generously of her time and talents to make a difference in the lives of many living in the margins of society.

Sara’s CD sales and signing available after the concert.

Walking in Our Neighbor’s Shoes
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Any time during 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Bethany Campus

The community of Matete, Kenya, like so many in Africa, is largely undeveloped – without access to clean water, adequate healthcare, electricity, and other resources we often take for granted. Get acquainted with daily life in rural East Africa through these enjoyable, and sometimes surprising hands-on cultural activities for all ages. Get your “passport” stamped as you move freely through the experiences, which are offered continuously during the event.

Fundraising Dinner for Justice For Our Neighbors

Saturday, September 17 – 7:00pm – 10:00pm

PlantEscape Gardens – 3507 South 1st St.

Benefiting Justice for our Neighbors (JFON), a UMCOR nonprofit organization that seeks to serve holistically, welcoming our immigrant friends and helping them to open doorways to the fullness of life.   JFON provides free legal aid to immigrants across South Texas and promotes greater cross cultural awareness. Carole Lahti, the regional coordinator, will give a short presentation about the powerful impact JFON has on the lives of the people they serve.  A creative dinner with fresh ingredients will be shared with other Austinites passionate about social justice.   All will learn more about the current laws on immigration and the services provided by Justice For Our Neighbors.

Suggested donation of $30/person can be made by cash or check payable directly to Justice For Our Neighbors the evening of the dinner.Contact Kristen Hillert for more information:; 214-384-1416

Witness to Innocence in Austin

Tuesday, October 18  

Witness to Innocence
First UMC Family Life Center (northwest corner of 13th & Lavaca)- 7PM

The United Methodist Church and Witness to Innocence ( are co-sponsoring death penalty events across the country in the next several months to engage communities in the debate about the death penalty in America. One of those events will take place right here in Austin on October18, at the First UMC Family Life Center.  The featured speakers will be 3 or 4 death row exonerees, who will tell their stories and talk about their experiences in the criminal justice system in our country. Witness to Innocence is the only organization founded by and for exonerated death row survivors.  Members of Witness to Innocence bring a powerful voice to the discussion about abolition like no one else can.  This program represents an exciting new partnership between United Methodists and Witness to Innocence that can help the church transform and save lives.  The speakers, all professionally trained storytellers, will share their journeys from death row to freedom and their take on the current state of the American criminal justice system.  MFSA, First UMC, University UMC, and several Austin churches are cosponsoring the event.  Anne Mund and Kathy Barrett are organizing the event.  Light snacks will be served. The event is free and open to the public.  

Rev. Amy DeLong Trial Results

 Rev. Amy DeLong was convicted in June of performing a 2009 same-sex wedding in Menominee, Wisconsin in violation of United Methodist Church rules.  A jury suspended the Rev. Amy DeLong from ministerial duties for 20 days, beginning July 1, noting the time is to be used for “spiritual discernment.”   The jury also ordered DeLong to draft a document outlining issues that harm United Methodist Church’s clergy covenant with help of church leaders by January 1, 2012. That document is to be presented to the annual conference of the Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Church in summer 2012.  If DeLong does not meet that deadline, she will be suspended for one year, beginning in June 2012.

The Rev. Scott Campbell, counsel for DeLong, asked the jury to think about the broader implications of their decision and invoked movements in secular culture to embrace same-sex relationships, including the repeal of the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and a recent United Nations resolution affirming gay rights.  Change is coming in the church and in the world,” Campbell said. “Signs are all around us in the church and in the world.”  Campbell said church leaders have resisted that change and used church law as “a club to coerce our clergy into violating their own consciences.”  “This is not violation of covenant, but rather a vindication of conscience,” Campbell continued. “These are not the seeds of schism but the sowing of our salvation. We are not engaged in the abrogation of accountability, but in the creation of community. God is bringing forth something new in our midst.” (From

Rev. Campbell was honored at Sing a New Song for his outstanding efforts in Rev. DeLong’s defense.

Austin Social Justice Upcoming Events

Tuesday, September 6 – 7pm

Highland Park Baptist Church – 5206 Balcones Drive

The Interfaith Environmental Network of Austin – Monthly Symposium

Friday, September 10 – 1pm

Howson Library, 2500 Exposition, Austin, 78703

Dick Lavine speaking on “Are Texans Overtaxed?”

Dick Lavine, a senior fiscal analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, focuses on Texas tax and revenue issues. Before coming to the center, he was a Senior Researcher at the House Research Organization of the Texas House of Representatives.

The talk is sponsored by the Coffee Party in Austin.

Tuesday, September 13 -7pm

Monkey Wrench Books, 110 E. North Loop, Austin, 78751

Education, Inc: A Conversation with the Texas Observer’s Abby Rapoport

Texas Observer political reporter Abby Rapoport will explain how the education reform movement has come to dominate policy, as more and more education dollars find their way into corporations. There are contracts for testing, tutoring, textbooks, and even teacher certification. With rise of virtual schools, private companies now can actually run an entire school, using public money to fund an almost entirely private enterprise. As private companies and ideological advocates push for the same goals, we now face what looks like an education-industrial complex. Rapoport blogs at on the Texas Observer web site.

Friday, September 23

Michelle Alexander, Associate Professor of Law at The Ohio State University, and author of The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness, will be speaking in Austin. She is sponsored by University UMC & Methodist Women, NAACP, Wesley United Methodist, Center for African American Studies/non-violence project at UT, and other groups. There are two events, both on Friday, September 23.

2:00 pm at University UMC – A coffee with Professor Alexander and local clergy and others. She will speak briefly, and there may be a panel discussion.

7:00 pm at Wesley United Methodist – Professor Alexander will talk about her book and relevant topics about incarceration. This book argues that the sudden and dramatic mass incarceration of African American men has created a racial under caste that subjects them to legalized discrimination, scorn and social exclusion.

Saturday, October 1 – 8:30am – 4:00pm

Be the Change National Day of Service

Texas State Capitol (South Steps Kickoff); Various Project Sites

On Saturday, October 1st, the people of Austin will once again join together to serve their community as part of the Be the Change National Day of Service. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quotation, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” Be the Change takes place every year on or near Gandhi’s October 2nd birthday. Started at the University of Michigan eleven years ago, Be the Change has grown into a volunteer and leadership development program that attracts thousands of volunteers across the country. In 2010, nearly 3,500 volunteers participated in fifteen cities and on over sixty college campuses nationwide.

Be the Change is coordinated nationally by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national non-profit organization dedicated to building a more just and inclusive society. Taking place for the third year in Austin, the Be the Change Day of Service is organized by a diverse coalition of community groups and individuals throughout Central Texas.

Friday October 21 and Saturday October 22

Dr. Joerg Rieger, Wendland-Cook Endowed Professor of Constructive Theology at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, and recent speaker at our chapter’s luncheon in Corpus Christi, will be speaking at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Wells Branch.

Sunday, October 30, 1:00pm

First UMC Family Life Center, (northwest corner of 13th & Lavaca)

On October 30th at 1pm, First United Methodist Church in downtown Austin will host the Texas Premiere of a documentary titled Incompatible with Christian Teaching.  It will be screened by the film maker, Anne P. Brown and there will be an opportunity to ask Anne questions after the screening.  Snacks will be provided.  After seeing this film in Washington, DC, Liza Chigos, a St. John’s UMC member, helped bring this film to Texas in order to share it with the Methodist community here. Liza says, “This film explores the efforts of Methodists to remove exclusionary language from the Book of Discipline and to allow full inclusion of Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/ Transgender people into the clergy and into the life of the church.”

Contributions Are Needed For Continuing MFSA Work!

Thanks for your generosity during the past year, and 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, 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!

 What does the Lord require of you?