Chapter Meeting – Thursday, April 12

MFSA Chapter Briefing on 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.  On Thursday, 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 & 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.

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!

Call to Action/ Interim Operations Team Report

If you want to know more about the Call to Action proposal that will likely be the biggest issue at General Conference 2012, this is for you.

Interim Operations Team Report Approved & Amended by The Connectional Table, September, 2011

Two Big Disputes Ahead at General Conference

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!: The Road to Church Restructuring

Navigating Church Restructuring –  By Rev. Steve Clunn, Coalition Coordinator  

When it comes to church restructuring, I can’t tell you how many times I have asked myself over the last year, “which will win out in my beloved United Methodist Church, faith or fear?”  We are so afraid of our churches declining and dying out, that we are willing to adopt the idea that we must do something, anything.  Thankfully, faith that is bigger than our fears, is liberating, rejuvenating and can lead us to places we couldn’t have dreamed possible otherwise.  So my friends and fellow lovers of this United Methodist Church, as we approach General Conference, I ask, will our faith or our fears guide us?

Read more on the MFSA website.

Love Your Neighbor / Common Witness Coalition

Love Your Neighbor Tabernacle 

A tabernacle is a dwelling, a temporary shelter, and in our faith story the tabernacle is not only a tent sanctuary used by the Israelites during the Exodus, but also how the Gospel of John describes Jesus as among us.

It is fitting as we mark forty years of the “incompatibility” wilderness, that the Love Your Neighbor coalition’s center of activities will be a tabernacle located across the street from the Tampa Convention Center where the General Conference of The United Methodist Church is being held.  In this 100′x 40′ air-conditioned dwelling, we will host delegates, organize volunteers, eat, pray, strategize, plan, and launch action.

Speakers include both young adults and retired bishops, central conference leaders as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender leaders. Leaders will bring their experience on ordination equality, marriage equality, immigration, nonviolent action, church restructuring, gender equality worldwide, and more. Translators will be working in French, Portuguese, Shona, Zulu, Tagalog, Cebuano, Bicol, and Ilocano to expand our welcome. A partial list of presenters includes: Albert Otshudi Long, Julie Todd, Lorenza Andrade Smith, Bishops Ott and Rader, Rifat Kassis, David Weekley, Garlinda Burton, and Brad Laurvick.

SWTX Volunteers for General Conference 2012

Did you know that Rowland Curry, Vice President of SWTX MFSA, is the Hospitality Volunteer Coordinator for the Common Witness Coalition at General Conference 2012?  In addition to organizing volunteers for a multitude of tasks at GC, he has worked with MFSA staff to plan meals and logistics at GC.  Also participating as GC volunteers from Austin will be Anne Mund, Deana Henry, Janice Curry, Richard Bates, Joe Santoyo, Joy Butler, David Mauzy, Anita Privett, Robbie & Tom Ausley, and Sid & Rachei Hall.  Thanks to all of these wonderful volunteers!  Please support them with your prayers for a justice-filled conference.

We Can All Participate in General Conference 2012

Love Your Neighbor: Send Your Prayers to General Conference 

The Love Your Neighbor Tabernacle needs your prayers…literally.  As we (continue to) transform our church and world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love we’ll physically transform the fence around the Tabernacle into a prayer wall. Just as the Good Samaritan bound the wounds of the person who fell among robbers, our prayers and witness offer healing and hope to our world over run with physical and spiritual violence.

MFSA will be collecting prayer strips to take to GC.  At our April meeting, we will have strips of fabric for you to write a prayer for our church and for our world.  David Mauzy will take all of the prayers from Austin District churches to GC and place them on the prayer wall for us.

If you can’t get to the meeting and would like to make a fabric prayer strip, here are the instructions:

  • Select a fabric or use scraps you have from other projects
  • Written prayers show up best on bright colored fabric (patterned or plain)
  • Cut a strip of fabric no larger than 2 inches wide x 30 inches long
    • Write your prayer on one side of the fabric
    • Permanent markers work best but bleed through fabric so remember to protect your writing surface

First UMC will have the strips available at the Reconciling Service at April 15 and Saint John’s will have the strips available April 8 and April 15 in the Gallery.  Let’s send lots of prayers from Austin to the delegates!

2012 General Conference Delegates from SWTX Conference

Lay Delegates:

Jay Brim – Westlake UMC, Austin

Teresa Keese – First UMC, Brady

Ralph Thompson – Grape Creek UMC, San Angelo

Byrd Bonner – Travis Park UMC, San Antonio

Clergy Delegates:

Rev. Laura Merrill – McAllen DS

Rev. Eradio Valverde – Corpus Christi DS

Rev. Carl Rohlfs – San Antonio DS

Rev. Virgilio Vazquez-Garza – Assistant to Episcopal Office

 2012 Jurisdictional Delegates from SWTX Conference

The quadrennial meeting of clergy and lay delegates from the annual conferences within the boundaries of one of five U.S. jurisdictions: North Central, Northeastern, South Central, Southeastern and Western. Jurisdictional Conferences convene every four years. The business includes the election and assignment of bishops.

Lay Delegates:

Sarah Cloninger Howell – St. John’s UMC, Austin

Terry Schoenert – Oak Meadow UMC. San Antonio

William Ault – Coker UMC, San Antonio

Mark Nerio – University UMC, San Antonio

Clergy Delegates:

Terrence Hayes – Victoria DS

Russell Thomas Miller – First UMC, Boerne

Austin Frederick – Vice President – Pastoral
Services Methodist Healthcare System

Thomas Deviney – Bethany UMC, Austin

2012 General Conference Facts

  • In 2012, 988 delegates were elected to participate in General Conference.
  • Half of the delegates to GC must be clergy, half must be lay.
  • General & Jurisdictional Conferences happen once a quadrennium (every 4 years).
  • 40% of delegates will be from outside the US in 2012.
  • There are 13 legislative committees that consider about 1,600 pieces of legislation.
  • Legislation is submitted by individuals, annual conferences, organizations, and churchwide agencies.
  • All proposed legislation can be seen in the Advance Daily Christian Advocate on the website.
  • In 1744, John Wesley held the first ‘Preacher’s Conference’.  Holy conferencing has a history longer than the Methodist Church.

Want to Learn More? Go Online!


Prayer Vigils for General Conference 2012

The Southwest Texas Reconciling Ministries Team is organizing Pray for General Conference 2012 to take place during this quadrennial legislative event of The United Methodist Church that takes place in Tampa, FL, April 24 – May 4.  First, Grace, Saint John’s, and Trinity UMCs are joining other United Methodists around the world to pray for delegates to General Conference, including those from our own conference, for discernment and God’s guidance in their deliberations and actions. Anyone wishing to participate but unable to attend in person is encouraged to individually participate in supportive prayer at any time during General Conference.  For more information, contact

Tuesday, April 24 :  Noon-2pm in Chapel at Saint John’s UMC  Join us for a contemplative moment in the chapel, with individual prayer and an indoor labyrinth walk.  Host will be Saint John’s Reconciling Ministries Chair and SWTX Reconciling Ministries Team member, Joy Butler.

Thursday, April 26:  6:30-7:30pm at Grace UMC in the Garden.

Thursday, April 27:  12:00 noon in the Trinity Chapel, with Rev. Dr Sid Hall, III, who has served as the senior minister of Trinity United Methodist Church in Hyde Park since June 1988.

Monday, April 30:  5:30-8:30pm at First UMC downtown in Garrison Chapel (Family Life Center at 1300 Lavaca, not sanctuary building):

Tuesday, May 1:  12:00 noon in the Trinity UMC Chapel, with Phaedra Chandler, Trinity member and Southwest Texas Reconciling Ministries Team member.

Thursday, May 3:  Noon-2pm in Chapel at Saint John’s UMC  Join us for a contemplative moment in the chapel, with individual prayer and an indoor labyrinth walk.