Notes from the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty:

Thanks to everyone who has sent letters to, faxed, or called the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry to request a reprieve for Anthony Bartee.  Bartee has received a reprieve so that DNA testing can be conducted on two strands of hair found in the hands of the victim, David Cook.  According to the Associated Press and reported in the Houston Chronicle, State District Judge Mary Roman withdrew the execution warrant earlier this week.  Bartee had been scheduled for execution on February 28, 2012.

According to Rico Valdez, an assistant Bexar County district attorney who handles capital case appeals, “What we’re doing now is looking into which labs are capable of doing the testing in the shortest amount of time.”

Read the full article in the Houston Chronicle.

Read background information about the case.

George Rivas is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas on Wednesday, February 29, 2012. Please consider attending a vigil in your area to express your opposition to the death penalty and to reflect on all those impacted by this punishment and violence in our society.

IEN Solar Energy Symposium

The Interfaith Environmental Network of Austin

Invites You to Attend

“Solar Energy:
Pragmatics + Opportunities for Austin, Now”

This month’s symposium features an open discussion and Q&A with

Karl Rábago (VP Distributed Energy Services, Austin Energy)

Bob Murray (Consultant, former GM Seattle City Light)

Mike Sloan (Founder and President, Virtus Energy)

Stan Pipkin (Managing Director, Lighthouse Solar)

This spectacular panel of solar electricity experts will address exciting opportunities for cooperative purchasing of solar panel equipment for homes and houses of worship, good news in today’s solar industry, practical steps for participating in cost reduction programs, and much more.

Join us! These are exciting times for incorporating solar energy into your world. Come learn from some of the nation’s finest about what you and your congregation can do to save money and become more effective environmental stewards.

When: Tuesday March 6, 7pm to 8:30pm

Where: St. David’s Episcopal Church

301 E 8th St. (downtown Austin)

Free parking on site.



The Austin District has raised over $700,000 for Imagine No Malaria. That money represents thousands upon thousands of lives saved. As we continue to reach out to our neighbors across the world we are also looking to reach out to our neighbors in our own back yard. And we are going to make it happen with a good Austin-style event.

– during SXSW
– on Tuesday, March 13
– from 5pm to midnight
– in the parking lot of Faith UMC at 2701 S Lamar


-great local live music for all tastes

– food trailer favorite East Side King (famously associated with Top Chef contestant Paul Qui)
– stories from those intimately connected to this cause
– ways to connect to new and old friends of the cause from across the city
– resources to mobilize you and your community to be a part of providing life where malaria once was.

Follow us on the District web page and on Facebook for more information.

“Occupy Southby” Events

Occupy Austin is planning a full week of events during the South by Southwest festival that comes to Austin every Spring.  Highlights will include:

March 11th – 16th Teach Ins and Performances.  Venue TBD.  Monday the 12th will be themed around spirituality and faith traditions.  There will be Christians, Buddhists and Native American Traditions represented.

March 16th – The Occupy Party of SXSW.  Venue and Artist TBA!  Just wait – you won’t want to miss this one….

March 17th – 12 noon, State Capitol – Occupy Austin is partnering with Million Musicians March for Peace for a program and parade.  The following musicians have been confirmed:  Guy Forsyth, Carolyn Wonderland, Shelley King, Michael Fracasso, Leeann Atherton, Andy Corwin, Bill Oliver….

Look for updates at

You want to be a part of this Occupation.  We want you to be a part, too!

April Meeting Focuses on General Conference Issues

At our monthly chapter meeting on April 12, Jay Brim, the SWTX Conference Lay Leader and the leader of laity delegates to General Conference, will be present to discuss the foremost issues to be addressed by GC2012 in Tampa.  Hundreds of petitions and resolutions have been presented, along with significant proposals to restructure the administrative agencies of the United Methodist Church.

Jay is a member of Westlake UMC and has long been a friend of MFSA.  He has been a member of the UMC General Council for Finance and Administration (1996-2004), a delegate to General Conference and a delegate to the South Central Jurisdictional Conference.  He is a member of the UMC Connectional Table, an official entity formed to serve as both the visioning body of the church and the steward of resources to carry out the vision of the denomination worldwide.

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.  We have rented a house near downtown Tampa; you are invited to join us at the low price of $25 per person per night!  If you are interested in attending or volunteering, go to the websites below or contact

For more information, go to, or

MFSA Legislative Priorities General Conference 2012

  1. Manifest God’s hospitality to all persons
  2. Follow the example of Christ’s non-violent love
  3. Promote racial and interfaith justice and reconciliation
  4. Demand justice for those who are most vulnerable
  5. Work for a fully participatory church where all voices are heard
  6. Support Peace in the Middle East
  7. Support for sexuality education and the moral agency of women in reproductive health matters
  8. Protect human rights and civil liberties
  9. Protect planet earth
  10. Affirm the openness of our Wesleyan tradition

Read more and sign the Love of God and Neighbor Statement, A Common Witness to General Conference 2012: