Chapter Meeting – Thursday, February 9

Love Your Neighbor:  Moving Forward to General Conference 

You are invited to join the Southwest Texas MFSA chapter as we further our knowledge of efforts to impact our denomination at General Conference 2012.  The SWTX Conference Reconciling Ministries’ Local Church Action Team will present the program.  Love Your Neighbor is this year’s theme of the Common Witness Coalition ( Robbie Ausley, member of First UMC and long-time social justice advocate, will describe the actions planned by the SWTX team prior to General Conference.  Laura Holland, Northwest Hills UMC member, will talk about her experience as a Love Your Neighbor workshop attendee.  They will share ways that we can help affect change in the UMC.

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!

Approximately 95 people attended the January 14 Love Your Neighbor workshop at Trinity UMC.

Audrey Krumbach and Joey Lopez from RMN conducted the workshop.

Recent Happenings

Yes, we have been very busy!

On January 16, over a dozen of our chapter members joined Austin’s MLK March, from the UT campus to the state Capitol.  Inspiring speeches and good music filled the air.

On January 27-28, our chapter hosted the spring meeting of the MFSA national Board of Directors at Saint John’s UMC.  At least 30 volunteers helped with overnight hosting, transportation, and food for our 17 Directors and Staff from other states.  The meetings were very productive, focusing on our role at General Conference, as well as other topics.  Thanks again to all who helped!

You are invited

“A History of Discrimination Within the United Methodist Church”

a talk by Rev. Richard Bates and Adama Brown, sponsored by the Saint John’s Reconciling Ministries Team

Sunday, February 12, at 10am in the Fellowship Hall, Saint John’s UMC, Austin

Rev. Richard Bates is from South Texas and was Associate Pastor at First Church, Del Rio, Windcrest in San Antonio, and First in Seguin.  He took a five year sabbatical to study at the Institute For Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco (founded by United Methodist clergy), and returned to Austin to set up a private practice in counseling for sexual issues.  Rev. Bates is now affiliated with University UMC and is Chair of their Church and Society Council, and is active in RMN and MFSA.  He and his partner, Joe Santoyo, recently celebrated 32 years together.

Adama Brown is from East Austin and earned bachelor’s and PhD degrees in sociology from UT-Austin and Iowa State University, respectively. Adama has served as a lay  leader, deacon and co-leader of a ministry geared toward raising awareness of inclusion and diversity issues at a progressive Austin church.  Now a member at First UMC, Adama currently serves as a Sunday School facilitator for the Open Door Women’s class and is involved in efforts to reach out to FUMC’s downtown neighbors. Adama is also active in UMW and RMN.  This year she and her partner, Pret Ajewole, will celebrate 10 years together.

RMN Team Postcard Campaign

From Ann Teich, Southwest Texas Conference RMN Team ( a follow up to the Love Your Neighbor Workshop on January 14, we invite you to participate in a postcard writing campaign to General Conference delegates from the Southwest Texas Conference.  We ask that you hand write short messages on postcards to 4 different General Conference delegates, either asking them to work towards full inclusion or thanking them for their support of full inclusion of GLBT people in the United Methodist Church.

If you wish to participate in this campaign, the RMN Team will supply you with a postcard template on which you can print your own postcards on card stock, or if you prefer, we can send you some postcards.  We will also provide 2 sample messages that you can use, or you can write your own message, and we will provide you with the names and addresses of 4 General Conference delegates.

Once completed, we would appreciate your placing a stamp on the postcards and mailing them and also letting me know when you have done so.

If you would like to do this, please e-mail me by February 5, 2012.  Once you have responded, I will e-mail you the postcard template or the postcards with the names and addresses of four delegates.

  • If you have a preference as to which delegates (see list below) you’d like to send the cards to, please let me know in your response e-mail.
  • Please let me know if you prefer the template or the postcards.

Thank you again for your work to make the United Methodist Church a fully inclusive church!

P.S.  If you have already volunteered to visit with a GC delegate, you can still participate in this campaign.


Clergy Delegates:Rev. Laura Merrill

Rev. Eradio Valverde

Rev. Claus Rohlfs

Rev. Virgilio Vazquez-Garza

Rev. Terrence Hayes

Rev. Russell Miller

Rev. Austin Frederick

Rev. Thomas Deviney


Lay Delegates:Jay Brim

Teresa Keese

Ralph Thompson

Byrd Bonner

Sarah Cloninger Howell

Terry Schoenert

William Ault

Mark Nerio


2012 TCADP Annual Conference in San Antonio

Texas Coalition Against the Death Penalty – Annual Conference

Seizing the Momentum … Creating the Climate for Change

February 18, 2012

University of Incarnate Word Sky Room
847 E Hildebrand, San Antonio

General Membership Meeting
Networking with TCADP  Members and Allies
Exhibitors and Door Prizes
Panel Discussion: Impact of Texas’ Changing Demographics on the Death Penalty

More information at:

UUMC Reconciling Service February 19

On Sunday, February 19, in the regular 11:00 am service, University United Methodist Church will celebrate the 1-year anniversary of our vote to join the Reconciling Ministries Network.  Special readings and reflections will help mark the occasion, as we rededicate ourselves to removing discriminatory language from the Book of Discipline and working for the full inclusion of all people in the United Methodist Church.

Next Red Bench – February 28

The genesis of “The Red Bench: Interfaith Conversations that Matter” program came from Dr. Betty Sue Flowers. When writing about the hunger for meaningful conversation, she recommended that organizations place red benches in public spaces. Her idea was simple–by sitting on one of these red benches you were signaling to others that you were open to a conversation about something that really matters to you. The red bench became both a symbol to underscore the importance of conversation and an actual place where these conversations could occur.

Interfaith Action of Central Texas launched The Red Bench program in 2009 and it has grown into a real community of sharing. The program focuses on issues that are addressed by all of the great faith traditions, including forgiveness, compassion gratitude, shame, ethics, security, equality, courage, and duty.  Each monthly conversation is centered on moderated small group discussions that are genuinely respectful and safe. No one has to be an expert–individual participants are invited to share from their personal experiences and listen with their hearts. Past participants have included Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and many others. The Red Bench program is free.

The next Red Bench conversation is Tuesday, February 28th, in the Great Hall of the First UMC Family Life Center on the topic “Resentment.” A light vegetarian meal is served beginning at 6:00 p.m., the conversation begins at 6:30 p.m., and concludes by 8:00 p.m.

To register, please go to If you have questions, please contact FUMC member Sandy Wilder at or 773-8078.


BOPA Recycling Event in March

Saturday, March 3, – BOPA Recycling Event – 8 am to 10:30 am

MFSA will sponsor our 3rd BOPA (Batteries, Oil, Paint, Antifreeze) Recycling Event at Trinity UMC, at E 40th and Speedway.

When our chapter conducted its last BOPA recycling event, we collected over 967 gallons of paint, 93 gallons of oil, 11 car batteries, 160 pounds of smaller batteries, 12 gallons of antifreeze, 47 spray paint cans, and lots of other material that was taken to the City’s recycling station. If you would like to volunteer for this event, please contact Anne Mund at

CROP Walk – March 3-4

It’s not too late to get involved with the 7th largest CROP Hunger Walk in the country and the largest interfaith event in Austin! You can start a team with your spiritual community, your co-workers, or a group of your friends. With online fundraising it’s easy to get sponsors so that you can support local and global hunger agencies.

Walk materials can be picked up at the Church World Service office (call first – 512-451-2062, 6633 Highway 290 East, Suite 108, Austin, TX 78723), or at the Capital Area Food Bank (M-F, 9am-4pm, 8201 S. Congress Avenue, Austin, TX 78745).

The Austin CROP Hunger Walk will be at Walter E Long Park (6614 Blue Bluff Rd., Austin, TX 78724) on Saturday, March 3rd (registration at 9:30am) and Sunday, March 4th (registration at 1:45pm). You can walk on either day you choose. For more detailed event information, please click here.  About $85,000 was raised in 2011 to alleviate hunger in our community and around the world.

If you have any questions or need some support to make your CROP Hunger Walk experience successful, you can contact Trevor Maloney (415-774-6644,

SWTX UMC Conference Event – ReThink Green – March 3

     Saturday March 3, 2012 9am to 4pm @ Gruene UMC

Part of being good stewards is taking care of God’s creation, the earth. This fun, informative event will not only inspire, but will give participants real, practical things they can do at their local church and in their daily life. The event starts with a morning worship and plenary session for everyone, followed by six breakout sessions. Have kids, bring them! Child care will be provided for the young ones, and a special program for elementary age kids will be offered that ties into the main event.

Keynote Speaker:  John Hill, Director for Economic and Environmental Justice for the

UMC General Board of Church and Society

Cost: $15 if registered by February 16, 2012
$20 after that and at the door.  Childcare will be provided.

For more information, go to



Date/Time: March 8, 2012, 7:00pm

Simpson United Methodist Church

1701 East 12th Street

Austin, Texas 78702


Simpson United Methodist Church of Austin invites you to this nationally celebrated service on March 8, 2012.  The focus of this year’s festivities is developing partnerships between the Faith and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) Communities. The service will include messages of encouragement: rising above HIV; inclusiveness; and the love of Jesus Christ.  Pastor Charles Stephens will bring a word of encouragement following the keynote address from Conscious, a dynamic HIV-positive woman who has risen above extraordinarily difficult circumstances and now shares her journey through acting, presentations, and her book, “Getting Unstuck”.  In addition to the March 8th celebration service, several other events will take place during the week including a Pastor’s HIV Testing Day (a public event in which local pastors lead by example), prayer vigils, and other exciting events currently being coordinated.

The National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS is the coming together of all people of faith to unite with purpose, compassion and hope. Through the power of God’s love we will educate every American about HIV prevention facts; encourage and support HIV testing; advocate for the availability of compassionate care and treatment for all those living with the disease in every community in America; and love unconditionally all persons living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Short Biography of Conscious: From difficult childhood to homeless to HIV – Conscious has mastered the art of “Getting Unstuck”, the title of her nationally acclaimed book of spoken word expression.  As a lesbian artist, actor, writer, and former bodyguard to celebrities, she has served as the Music Manager for the Queen Latifah Show and hosted Oxygen Media’s talk show She-Commerce.  Conscious now travels the country delivering a poignant message about HIV, AIDS, and recovery. A Native of Harlem, New York, Conscious currently resides in Los Angeles, California and Miami, Florida.

Sponsors: The Black Faith-based Health Initiative, based in Austin, Texas has teamed up with AIDS Services of Austin, Simpson United Methodist Church, the City of Austin Care Program, Wright House Wellness Center, Hill Country Ride for AIDS, and The Care Communities, and several other important community partners to assemble a coalition of diverse organizations with one goal in mind: to open up the lines of communication, fellowship, and blessing between people of faith, local AIDS Service Organizations (ASO’s), people in the LGBT community, and people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).

New Reconciling Communities in TN, TX and NC!

  • United Methodist Student Association of Vanderbilt Divinity School, Nashville Tennessee
  • Journey Sunday School Class of Saint John’s United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas
  • UMW Unit of Saint John’s United Methodist Church, Austin, Texas
  • Amity United Methodist Church of Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Upcoming Chapter Meetings – Mark Your Calendars

March 8 – In lieu of our normal chapter meeting, we encourage everyone to attend the service of celebration of The National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS at Simpson UMC Austin, as previously described.

April 12 – The program will be brought to us by Jay Brim, the SWTX Conference Lay Leader and the leader of laity delegates to General Conference, on the foremost issues to be addressed by GC2012 in Tampa.

General Conference 2012 – Tampa, FL

The General Conference of the United Methodist Church meets every four years (quadrennium). Legislative changes are recorded in The Book of Discipline which is revised after each General Conference.  Non-legislative resolutions are recorded in the Book of Resolutions, which is published after each General Conference, and expire after eight years unless passed again by a subsequent session of General Conference.  The last General Conference was held in Fort Worth, Texas, in 2008.  The next General Conference will be April 25 – May 4, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.

The UM General Conference essentially sets all policies and direction of the denomination.  There currently exist certain aspects of the denomination’s policies that are opposed by progressive groups such as MFSA.  The General Conference in Tampa will be the place where such policies are changed or retained.  For information on GC, the legislative process, and proposed changes to the Book of Discipline and the Book of Resolutions, follow this link.

MFSA is offering three petitions to General Conference 2012 as an alternative vision to the “Call to Action” proposals. It is our hope that together we might find once again what it means to be a connectional people of God’s grace and love at work in the world.  Click here to view the 3 models of UMC structure before us: Current Structure, the Call to Action proposal, and A New United Methodist Administrative Order.

Once again the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA), the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) and Affirmation will be coordinating housing and volunteer activities. Many plans are still being worked out.  Volunteer opportunities abound for progressive United Methodists who are committed to justice and are willing/able to attend General Conference in Florida.

Some SWTX members are planning to attend all or portions of General Conference.  If you are interested in attending or volunteering, go to the websites below or contact

For more information, go to, or

SWTX Annual Conference Luncheon – Corpus Christi

Planning is under way for our Second Annual Peace and Justice Luncheon at the Southwest Texas Annual Conference in Corpus Christi, TX June 7 – 10.  The inaugural luncheon in 2011 attracted about 150 persons to hear Dr. Joerg Rieger of Perkins School of Theology.  The luncheon was a cooperative effort by our MFSA chapter, the Conference Board of Church and Society, and the conference’s Reconciling Ministries Team.

Our 2012 luncheon will be on Friday, June 8 at the Convention Center in Corpus Christi.  Our principal speaker will be Jim Winkler, General Secretary of the UMC General Board of Church and Society.

Our SWTX Chapter is also planning to once again sponsor an exhibit that will include MFSA information, an expanded display of the Shower of Stoles, and our traditional book fair.

We Need Your Books!

For the past few years, our MFSA chapter has been collecting gently used religious and spiritual books from our members and friends, and offering them for sale/donation at our Annual Conference booth.  We will do that again this year if we can collect enough books, so clean out your closets or shelves and bring them to chapter meetings.  Contact Rowland Curry ( if you need for us to pick them up.  Deadline is June 3.