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.

Young Adult Scholarships to General Conference

Austin Methodists Will be Providing Two Young Adult Scholarships to General Conference

Thanks to Joy Butler’s leadership and enthusiasm, SWTX MFSA and RMN members from Saint John’s, First,  and University UMC will be providing two young adult scholarships for General Conference.  The two recipients are:

  • AJ Bush is a recent graduate of Colorado State University with a BA in Music, who is doing a year of service in San Antonio before entering seminary in the fall.  She is passionate about a wide-variety of “issues” including LGBT inclusion, poverty and environmental care. She worked in the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference in various positions before coming to Texas.  Her musical talents will be an asset to MOSAIC for helping teach the song and dance to volunteers who wish to participate in the Flash mob at GC.
  • Johnny Gall is a senior who will be graduating from NYU this year.  He is an active MOSAIC leader, and one of the most important overall young adult organizers for General conference.  Johnny will be helping with volunteer coordination and general leadership for young adults.

It looks like we may have the possibility of a third Young Adult scholarship.  If you would like to help make this possible, please contact Janice Curry at for more information.


Service of Affirmation

First UMC Sanctuary

1201 Lavaca, Austin

Sunday, April 15th @ 7:00 p.m.

Featuring Rev. Amy DeLong

Clergywoman at Center of Church Trial on Sexuality 

Love on Trial Website:

Co-author of Loyal Opposition: Struggling With the Church on Homosexuality

SWTX Annual Conference Luncheon – Friday, June 8

Growth Through Justice

All are invited to attend the Second Annual Peace and Justice Luncheon at the Southwest Texas Annual Conference in Corpus Christi, TX on Friday, June 8.  The luncheon is a cooperative effort by our MFSA chapter, the Conference Board of Church and Society, and the conference’s Reconciling Ministries Team. The theme for this year’s luncheon is “Growth Through Justice”.

We are honored to have Jim Winkler, General Secretary of the UMC General Board of Church and Society, as our speaker at the 2012 Luncheon.  Mr. Winkler has served as general secretary of the General Board of Church & Society (GBCS), the international public policy and social justice agency of The United Methodist Church since November, 2000.  As the chief executive of the board, Jim leads a staff of 22 who seek the implementation of the Church’s Social Principles through education, witness, and advocacy.  The board carries out a wide-ranging ministry of peace and justice throughout the world with offices in Washington, DC and New York City.

Mr. Winkler is a member of the Justice and Advocacy Commission of the National Council of Churches of the United States of America, a member of the steering committee of the Campaign for Health Care Now, a board member of several organizations including the Faith and Politics Institute, Churches for the Middle East Peace, and Africa Action.

Jim Winkler is the son, brother, nephew and great grandson of United Methodist preachers and United Methodist Women. He studied history at the University of Illinois and George Mason University. After graduation from college, Jim served as a short-term missionary with the Pacific Conference of Churches in Suva, Fiji. At the Board of Church and Society he held the position of Seminar Designer, Director of Annual Conference Relations and Assistant General Secretary of Resourcing Congregational Life before his nomination as General Secretary.

For more details of the luncheon and the registration form,

Please contact Janice Curry

Or, download the form at

Book Fair Supports Social Action

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.  Or contact Rowland Curry ( if you need for us to pick them up.  The deadline is June 3.

Economic Justice in the Age of Inequality

A conference and workshop featuring Gary Dorrien and Joerg Rieger

April 27 & 28, 2012

Friday, April 27, 7:00 p.m.

University United Methodist Church

2409 Guadalupe St., Austin TX 78705

Free parking available

Childcare available. Email

Social critic and theologian Gary Dorrien kicks off this weekend gathering on economic justice and faith.  He will speak on “Breaking the Oligarchy.”  Dorrien is an Episcopal priest, and professor at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary.  He is also a frequent contributor to PBS programs such as Bill Moyers’ Journal and the author of fourteen books including Social Ethics in the Making: Interpreting an American Tradition; and The Making of American Liberal Theology.

Saturday, April 28, 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Third Coast Activist Resource Center

5604 Manor Road, Austin TX 78723

Lunch: $10

What are the most effective ways to build a more equitable world?  Today’s sessions will outline the contributions theology can make to our understanding of social justice.  Several speakers will describe organizing efforts in the community that are putting principles into action.

The featured speaker this morning is Southern Methodist University professor Joerg Rieger, speaking on “Empire and Economics: The Difference Christianity Makes.”  He is author of No Rising Tide: Theology, Economics, and the Future. We will also hear from representatives from the Workers Defense Project and Cooperation Texas.  Lunch at noon will feature a conversation on faith and justice between Gary Dorrien and Joerg Rieger, our main speakers for the weekend.


University United Methodist Church (

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (

Third Coast Activist Center (

GBGM Missionary in Austin April 16 – June 12

Becky Harrell, a SWTX Annual Conference Missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries assigned to the Latin American Biblical University in San Jose, Costa Rica, will be in the Austin District from April 16 – June 12.  Dates are available for visits to congregations interested in knowing about work in Costa Rica.  Congregations may contact Becky at or Sandy Wilder, Conference Secretary of Global Ministries at for more information.