November e-News / Methodist Federation for Social Action Southwest Texas Chapter

Mobilizing people within the United Methodist Church to act
on issues of justice, peace, and reconciliation in the church, nation, and world.

Chapter Meeting – Thursday, November 10

Join us as Kerry Stevens takes us on an incredible journey from Austin to Matete, Kenya, and witness the transformation of lives along the way. Kerry is a member of Bethany United Methodist Church, which is leading a community initiative in partnership with World Vision to help the impoverished community of Matete find its own pathway to a life of self-sufficiency. As its local leader, Kerry will share in captivating photos, videos, and slides how the tools of social justice were used to bring Africa to Austin, changing hearts and minds to effectively fight the root causes of poverty. Discover how you can make a difference in this uplifting and informative story of hope.

The meeting will be in Saint John’s UMC Fellowship Hall.  We will gather at 6:30pm for snacks and mingling.  The program begins at 7:00.  We hope to see you there!

Two Big Social Justice Events Held in October!

In addition to our chapter meeting in October, our chapter supported and participated in two major social justice events…

The Witness to Innocence: Stories from Death Row event at First UMC on October 18 was attended by approximately 150 people. The four exonerees who spoke shared their stories, which pointed out the many injustices that led to their wrongful convictions.  MFSA joined with other Methodists from First, St. John’s, St. Luke’s, Trinity, University, Wesley & the Austin District, as well as persons of the Buddhist, Catholic, Friends, and Jewish communities to make this event possible.  A love offering for Witness to Innocence (WTI) was taken and about $600 was collected.  An additional $155.85 has been seen to WTI from sponsor donations.

Their stories can be seen at and photos at:

The Texas Premier of Incompatible with Christian Teaching was held at First UMC on October 30 and was attended by 125 Methodists from 10 area churches.  Filmmaker Anne P. Brown, was there to answer questions about the film, which traced the history of the “incompatible” language in the Methodist Discipline:

In 1972, the United Methodist Church (UMC) adopted the phrase, “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”

In 1984, the UMC declared that “no self avowed practicing homosexual could be ordained.”

In 1996, the UMC adopted into church law that no pastor could officiate over a same-gender union and such a ceremony could not occur in a local Methodist church.

Thanks to Liza Chigos, a St. John’s UMC member, for bringing this event to Austin, to the First UMC and Saint John’s Reconciling Ministries Teams for coordinating the details of the event, and to Ann Teich, Adama Brown, and Joy Butler for their leadership.

New MFSA Plan Unveiled

United Methodists React to 15 People Overseeing the Agencies
of a 12 Million Member Church 

Methodist Caucus Proposes Reorganization Alternative

One of the largest mainline denominations in the United States is warming up for a major power struggle at its United Methodist General Conference in the Spring of 2012.

Leaders from the Methodist Federation for Social Action responded to the official “Call to Action” plan because of its radical restructuring of the church. The Call to Action proposal would distill nine of the thirteen church-wide agencies into one, replacing more than 500 volunteer board members with a single board comprised of fifteen people to oversee the agencies of a twelve-million member denomination on five continents.

In response to this extreme proposal, the Methodist Federation for Social Action is holding a telephone press conference to launch an alternative restructure approach. MFSA’s plan reduces the number of agencies from thirteen to nine and establishes four program ‘Centers’ each with a thirty-three member board.

“Officials responsible for proposing a fifteen member oversight body simply failed to come up with a reasonable proposal,” said Rev. Steve Clunn, MFSA Coalition Coordinator.   The MFSA plan with four ministry ‘Centers,’ each with its own independent board of 33 people, would have a manageable amount of ministry and fiduciary responsibility. The MFSA plan is a far better and more reasonable approach to reducing the size of our current structure.”

For more information about the MFSA plan “A New United Methodist Administrative Order” plus how it compares to the current structure and the “Call to Action” proposal, please visit the website:

What is the Common Witness Coalition?

The Common Witness Coalition is comprised of the Methodist Federation for Social Action, the Reconciling Ministries Network, and Affirmation.  This Coalition has been officially working together since 1996, then known as “AMAR.”  Renamed the Common Witness Coalition while working together at the 2004 General Conference, this coalition has continued to grow over the past several years.   The Coalition is part of a long-term strategic plan to equip, encourage and empower Reconciling volunteers across annual conferences as they build relationships across ideological and theological divides.  The themes for each General Conference have been known as Called to Witness, All Means All, Believe Out Loud, Believe Out Loud Together, and now Love Your Neighbor.   The programs are predicated on the understanding that people don’t change their minds until they know people’s stories.  By reaching out and building relationships we will create change one person at a time!

The Love Your Neighbor campaign for General Conference 2012 was kicked off at Sing A New Song with our For Love of God & Neighbor Common Witness Coalition Statement. It is a threshold document that gives our coalition a starting place of core principles and commitments to guide our work together.

We invite you to read the statement and sign on!

Your Support Is Needed

                                If not me/us…who?

                                                  If not here…where

                                                                     If not now…when?    

MFSA National continues to work hard to make a difference in the United Methodist Church by writing legislation for General Conference, collaborating with Reconciling Ministries Network & Affirmation, talking with General Conference Delegates, advocating for the marginalized, and being a strong presence for social justice at the General Conference in Tampa in April 2012.

As you discern how you can make a difference in the United Methodist Church, we are asking you to consider contributing to the MFSA National efforts to challenge our denomination to respond to God’s call for a just world.

With your donation made to the National MFSA, the Southwest Texas Chapter will receive 20%.  We use the funds locally to provide educational programs, environmental events, co-sponsorship of death penalty and reconciling events, and the Annual Conference Luncheon.  Your contributions are tax deductible

To make a donation and/or become a member of 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. 

Thanks for your support for our social justice efforts in the Methodist Church & beyond!

Hope Food Pantry Needs Your Help!

Hope Food Pantry underfed…..makes sense.  The City of Austin folks have diverted resources to the wildfire areas, and an unintended consequence of that is that the Capital Area Food Bank is bankrupt.  This is causing the food pantry housed at Trinity and supported by many of you to have to buy food in the same way as the rest of us.  As you plan for your fall food drives, please consider Hope Food Pantry and their list of needed staples:  canned fruit and vegetables, tomato sauce, pasta/spaghetti, canned tuna, rice, dry/canned beans, applesauce, toilet paper, other non-perishables, $$$.  To arrange drop-off, call 512/420-0710 or email

Interfaith Thanksgiving Service

Alternative Christmas Market at Saint John’s UMC

Start a new Christmas tradition this year at the 2nd annual Alternative Christmas Market at Saint John’s UMC on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3-4.  The Alternative Christmas Market provides a meaningful option to the same old gift-buying routine.  Shoppers can honor their loved ones by giving to those who have a greater need locally and globally.  More than 20 vendors representing several nonprofit organizations will be on hand to offer you a chance to purchase gifts that will make a difference.

Over two days, alternative shoppers will visit with agencies that represent needs both locally and throughout the world.  Agencies represented include Bead for Life, Colores del Pueblo, Diecke Clinic, Heifer International, Hope Food Pantry, Interfaith Hospitality Network, Mission of Hope, Montopolis Friendship Community Center, 10,000 Villages and World Vision.

Hours are 9 a.m-4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3 and noon-4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4.  Admission is free.

Save the Date – RMN Workshop in January

Saturday January 14, 2011

9am to 2pm

Trinity UMC, 4001 Speedway, Austin, TX

Join us to examine the ways in which the United Methodist Church’s policies exclude our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers & sisters in Christ.  Find out how we can make a difference helping our church become more inclusive.  Learn how MFSA and RMN will be ramping up their efforts leading up to the 2012 General Conference in Tampa.  Enjoy a yummy brunch and enjoy networking with like-minded folks.  Contact Ann Teich or Joy Butler for more info.


Barbara Wendland is a long-time MFSA supporter from Temple, Texas, who publishes a monthly newsletter entitled Connections.  Barbara describes herself as “a lay United Methodist and neither a church employee nor a clergyman’s wife. Connections is a one-person ministry that I do on my own initiative, speaking only for myself.”  Many of her stories and observations ring very true with those of us involved in social action.  Connections is her effort to stimulate fresh thought and new insight about topics she feels Christians need to consider and churches need to address

We had the opportunity to see Barbara this weekend at University UMC – Austin, and it was great to hear her stories.  To receive her monthly newsletter, contact her at, or go to her website,

Thanks to Barbara for her continuing witness!

Mark Your Calendars – April 15, 2012 – Reconciling Service

The First UMC Reconciling Team is excited to announce that Rev. Amy Delong will be the speaker at the First UMC-Austin Reconciling Service on April 15, 2012 and hope that many of you will be able to join us.  Please spread the word to your congregations.

Starting time for service will be announced at a later date.  It is typically around 6:00PM.