2012 – 2013 MFSA Local Program Focus

With General Conference behind us and the November Election and the 83rd Texas Legislature ahead of us, this year’s focus for the SWTX Chapter of MFSA will include State and Federal issues.  Upcoming meeting topics include the following:

  • Voter ID Laws – What is the possible impact in Texas and other states on the November election?
  • Death Penalty – What is our response?  Seminar with Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, in October.
  • Environmental Stewardship – What is “fracking” and what is its possible environmental impact?
  • Immigration – How do churches respond?
  • Racism – How can we become involved in local actions to improve racial relations?
  • Gun Control – How do we start a conversation about guns and violence?

Some of our action items will include volunteering for voter registration, BOPA recycling event, Pride Parade, MLK March, and legislative actions.  Join us as we explore the possibilities of change as we work together for social justice!

Next Chapter Meeting – Thursday, September 13

September MFSA Meeting Will Focus on
“Possible Impacts of Revised Texas Voter ID Laws”

Saint John’s UMC, 2140 Allandale Rd, Austin, TX 78756

September 13, 7:00pm

Forty-seven years ago (August 6, 1965), President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the historic Voting Rights Act (VRA) into law to prevent voter discrimination.  But as we have seen, the law is not just history; it remains vital TODAY to ensuring that every American can cast a ballot and have it counted (League of Women Voters, August 2012).

The 1965 Voting Rights Act aimed to end literacy tests and other requirements that prevented people, many of them African American, from voting.  Opponents of the new voter ID laws argue that requiring photo identification presents a significant barrier to casting a ballot.  Supporters say it is no different from current laws that require people to register to vote. The fate of Texas’ new voter ID law is now up to a three-judge federal panel in Washington, D.C.

Texas is among eight states to require official photo identification in an effort to stop what officials say is voter fraud.  Opponents of the laws say they disenfranchise poor, minority and disabled voters.  The law, SB 14, requires voters to show one of a very narrow list of government-issued documents (not including Social Security, Medicaid, or student ID cards) to vote.  Gun licenses, however, are acceptable I.D. to vote.

The Justice Department in March rejected the Texas law, passed in 2011, using the state’s own statistics to show about 600,000 registered voters lack a state-issued driver’s license or identification card.  SB 14 amended an earlier voter identification law.

Join us as Rev. Richard Bates leads a discussion with Texas State Representative Eddie Rodriguez (invited) about the possible impact the new voter ID laws may have in Texas and other states in the upcoming Presidential election.

We will gather in the Fellowship Hall at Saint John’s UMC, 2140 Allandale Rd, Austin at 6:30pm for snacks & mingling.  The program begins at 7:00.  We hope to see you there!

MFSA Encourages You to Help with Voter Registration

In preparation for the November 6 Presidential election, MFSA will be participating in registering voters during the month of September.  The last day to register for the Presidential election is October 9.  To register voters, you must first be certified by the county.  For Travis County, one-hour voter registrar training workshops are held the first Tuesday of each month at 5501 Airport at 10:30, 12:30, and 6:30.  http://www.traviscountytax.org/goVotersVDR.do

Volunteers from MFSA will be registering voters on Saturdays – September 15, 22, 29, and October 6.  If you are interested in helping with this effort, please contact Jan Dawes jdawes@grandecom.net.

Building Bridges – Brick by Brick

Efforts to Improve Racial Relations in Austin

The “Building Bridges: Brick by Brick” project, led by Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton and Mike Manor, began as a collaboration between law enforcement agencies and community groups with a focus on improving communication, and developing and expanding relationships with the diverse communities of Austin. It has now grown into a community-wide initiative that involves representatives from school districts, health and human services, faith communities and others. Travis County Sheriff’s Office Building Bridges: Brick by Brick is a community agenda initiative that formed from a 2005 grant awarded to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office from the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC). A group of more than 60 Travis County community members met in February 2006 during a one day summit and made the recommendation to “optimize building bridges”  with the neighborhoods, law enforcement and faith based groups to create meaningful and sustainable conversations. Thus the Building Bridges: Brick by Brick community agenda became reality. You are invited to attend a public forum on Friday, August 17.

 Building Bridges: Brick by Brick

Hosts – Forgiveness Friday Forum

Panel Discussion With Christian Churches Collaborating For Change – 4Cs
A Criminal Justice Coalition of Churches

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mt. Zion Baptist Church

2951 East 14th Street; Austin, Texas

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

TOPIC:“The 4Cs- Bridging The Church, Re-Entry and Forgiveness

Other opportunities to be involved:

“Courageous Conversation” the first Saturday of each month fosters dialogue among people throughout the community to develop better understanding and to dispel stereotypes.  St. James Episcopal Church Founder’s Hall, 1941 Webberville Rd., 9 -11:30.

At weekly Friday forums, activists from churches, law enforcement, NAACP, AISD, ACC, and other organizations, report on progress of ongoing projects. 9 -10am at the NAACP office at 1704 E 12th St.

From Jan Dawes:  “Most of the efforts are concentrated in East Austin, and the people I’ve talked to are eager to have wider participation.  As always, if you have questions, comments, or would like to carpool, please let me know.”  jdawes@grandecom.net.

Austin’s Pride Parade 2012 – September 22

Celebrate Inclusivity

Join other SWTX Conference Methodists and MFSA in the 2012 Austin Pride Parade on Sept 22 at 8pm!

Walkers will walk in support of full inclusion of LGBT persons in the United Methodist Church and in society.  Limited seating in convertibles will be available for anyone who would like to ride in the parade.

This year, entries will line up at the Capitol and proudly march down Congress Avenue and through the 4th Street Warehouse District. Limited free parking available at First UMC lot, and also at the surface lot next to the Texas Oil and Gas Association building, next to the FUMC Family Life Center, 13th and Lavaca.  Carpooling is encouraged.

Austin Pride Parade site here:  http://www.austinpride.org/#!events

We will be wearing t-shirts with the ‘Love Your Neighbor’ logo on front, each participant church in a different color of the pride rainbow:  Trinity (red), University (orange), First (green), Saint John’s (blue).  Order shirts from Joy Butler – joylbutler@gmail.com.

T-shirts are $10 per participant.  Register by Sept 1.  Or, you can wear a shirt that is one of the colors of the rainbow.  If your church is not participating, you are still welcome to march with us!

Contact phaedra.chandler@gmail.com or revbates1@gmail.com for more information.

Caravan for Peace Rally & Dinner


Public Rally
Texas State Capitol, south steps
Saturday, August 25, Austin, TX
12:00 – 3:00 pm

Community Dinner
St. James’ Episcopal Church
1941 Webberville Road, Austin
6:00 – 8:30 pm

The Caravan will be at the Capitol on August 25 from 12-3.  Check Facebook for more information:  https://www.facebook.com/CaravanForPeaceATX

Purpose of the Caravan

The War on Drugs has contributed to over 60,000 deaths, 10,000 disappearances, and 160,000 internally displaced people in Mexico.  Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity is providing an opportunity for the victims of the War on Drugs and their loved ones to share their stories in hopes that all who hear will gain a new perspective on how US drug policy affects lives abroad.

The Caravan will travel to 22 US cities and will be in Austin, Texas on August 25 where the Caravanos will be rallying at the Texas Capitol Building.  We hope that you will join them so their cry will be heard loud and clear: “NO MORE BLOOD! NO MAS SANGRE!”  http://www.caravanforpeace.org/caravan/

Bastrop County Long Term Recovery Team presents A Night Of Hope

Bastrop County  – One Year Later 

Join us for A Night Of Hope on Tuesday, Sept. 4th, the one-year anniversary of the Bastrop County Complex Wildfire, where we take a look at the past year and how far we’ve come in recovery with keynote speaker Judy Maggio, anchor at KEYE, and special performances by Hannibal Lokumbe and Chubby Knuckle Choir.   The presentation will be at 6:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa.

Individual tickets are $75, plus tables of 10 are available at various sponsorship levels.  Donations raised will continue the works to help people recover.


For tickets or sponsorships, you can send your check made out to the BCLTRT to PO Box 1975, Bastrop, TX 78602. For more information, call Jennifer Long at 512-461-9418.