October Chapter Meeting Note

Our MFSA chapter’s theme chosen for the month of October is the Death Penalty.  In lieu of our normal October chapter meeting, we urge members and friends to attend the Friday, October 12 event featuring Sister Helen Prejean at St. Edwards University, or any or all of the good programs described below that examine and educate about issues surrounding the Death Penalty http://tcadp.org/sr-helen-prejean-conversation/.

Outstanding Turnout for Pride Parade!

The Southwest Texas Conference Chapter of MFSA and the Reconciling Ministries Team collaborated to sponsor a group of 244 United Methodists in the 2012 Austin Pride Parade on Saturday, September 22.  Members of seven UMC churches – First, Grace, Saint John’s, Trinity, and University in Austin; Journey in Round Rock; and Travis Park in San Antonio – wore shirts in the colors of the rainbow to show our support .  The parade attendees gave us a very warm welcome.  Thanks to Joy Butler for organizing the group!  See more photos on our website – http://www.flickr.com/photos/swtexasmfsa.

TCADP – Month of Faith in Action on the Death Penalty: Faithful Conversation with Sr. Helen Prejean on the Death Penalty

SISTER HELEN PREJEAN — Friday, October 12

On Friday, October 12, St. Edwards University, the UMC General Board of Church and Society, the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and others will host Faithful Considerations: A Discussion With Sister Helen Prejean and Austin Faith Leaders.  Sister Helen will be joined by Rev. John Elford of University UMC and Pastor Nestor Menjivar.

 The conversation will include the challenges of moving Texas away from a culture of vengeance toward a culture of accountability that does not rely on the death penalty; how faith leaders and people of faith can take a more proactive role in educating their congregations about this issue, and the challenges of addressing the death penalty from the pulpit.  As Sr. Helen states, “I realize that I cannot stand by silently as my government executes its citizens. If I do not speak out and resist, I am an accomplice.”

The event will be held at the Ragsdale Center at St. Edward’s University from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.  The event is free, but you will need to register.  Seating is limited.

Sister Helen Prejean is the author of Dead Man Walking, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and later made into a powerful movie (with Susan Sarandon playing Sister Helen).  She’ll be coming to Austin to share her story.

Social Justice Fifth Sunday Presentation – First UMC

Dr. Linda White, Murder Victim Family Member

First UMC

Family Life Center – Corner of 13th and Lavaca, Austin

Sunday, September 30, 10:00-10:45a.m.

Dr. Linda White is a former board member of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation and former Vice-President of the TCADP Board.  After her daughter, Cathy, was murdered, she raised her granddaughter, Ami.  She recently retired from teaching psychology and criminal justice classes at Sam Houston State University.  In 2001, Linda and Ami arranged to meet with Cathy’s killer.  They learned answers to their questions about Cathy’s final moments and became activists in supporting non-violent solutions to crime.  Linda speaks nationwide about her struggles, her healing and her work for a system of restorative justice.

Death Penalty Documentary and Discussion – Saint John’s UMC

Saint John’s Risk-Taking Mission and Service Committee will host a discussion about the death penalty in Texas at 7 p.m. Thursday, October 4 at Saint John’s UMC.  There will be a viewing of the documentary At the Death House Door: No Man Should Die Alone, which tells the story of Rev. Carroll Pickett, former death house chaplain at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, TX.  Following the film, Kristin Houle, Executive Director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, will lead a Q&A.  Please join us for this compelling inside look at Texas’ death penalty system.  This event is free and open to the public.

Anthony Graves to speak at Wesley UMC

Sunday, November 18, 10:00am Worship

Wesley UMC

1164 San Bernard Street
Austin, Texas 78702-2030

On October 27, 2010, Anthony Graves walked out of the Burleson County Jail after spending 18 years in prison – including 12 years on death row – for a crime he did not commit.  Prosecutors dropped all charges against Anthony and declared him innocent after conducting their own investigation of the case.  He is the 12th person in Texas to be wrongfully convicted and removed from death row and one of 140 death row exonorees nationwide.  Since his release, Anthony has spoken about his experience with the Texas death penalty system to audiences throughout the United States and around the world.  He served for a year as the Director of Community Outreach for the Texas Defender Service and now is working with attorney David Dow on individual capital cases and juvenile issues.  He is looking forward to starting school in the fall, 2012.

PBS Will Present “Half the Sky” on October 1 & 2

Coming as a special presentation of Independent Lens October 1 and 2

A landmark transmedia project featuring a four-hour PBS primetime national and international broadcast event, a Facebook-hosted social action game, mobile games, two websites, educational video modules with companion text, a social media campaign supporting over 30 partner NGOs, and an impact assessment plan all inspired by Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, the widely acclaimed book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. http://www.halftheskymovement.org/

Half the Sky filmed in 10 countries, following Kristof, WuDunn, and celebrity activists America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde on a journey to tell the stories of inspiring, courageous individuals.  Across the globe oppression is being confronted, and real meaningful solutions are being fashioned through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls.  The linked problems of sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality — which needlessly claim one woman every 90 seconds — present to us the single most vital opportunity of our time: the opportunity to make a change. All over the world women are seizing this opportunity. Watch the trailer at http://www.halftheskymovement.org/videos.

NAMI Walk Coming Up October 6

Mental illness impacts the lives of one in four adults and one in 10 children in the U.S.  Yes, 60 million people.  The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for all these people.  The local affiliate, NAMI Austin, works all year long to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and provide essential education, advocacy and support group programs for people living with mental illness and their loved ones.  To support this event, go to namiwalks.org and choose whether to register to walk or donate.

Important Voter Registration Information

Tuesday, October 9, is the last day for Texans to register to vote in the November 6 Presidential Election.  With the recent confusion about voter registration, you may want to check to make sure you are registered at the Texas Secretary of State website:

https://team1.sos.state.tx.us/voterws/viw/faces/SearchSelectionVoter.jsp , or at the Travis County Tax Office website: http://www.traviscountytax.org/showVoterSearch.do.

The voter registration application https://webservices.sos.state.tx.us/vrapp/index.asp can be used for first time voters, to change your address if you have voted in Texas before, or to get a replacement voter card.  Did you know that in Texas:

  • You can register your spouse, your child, or a parent (driver’s license number or last 4 numbers of Social Security # required).
  • Early voting begins on October 22 through Friday, November 2.
  • Voters are not required to present photo ID – Texas law struck down by court.

If you live in Travis County:

  • There are 19 ballot issues in addition to voting for the US President.
  • You  can vote at any poll on Election Day.

i-Act – Interfaith Action of Central Texas

The Red Bench: Interfaith Conversations that Matter is a dialogue program 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.

The Red Bench meets at the “Family Life Center” of First United Methodist Church at 1300 Lavaca Street in downtown Austin. A light meal is served from 6:30-7:00 PM and the conversation runs from 7:00-8:30 PM.

In October we will meet on Tuesday, October 30 at 6:30 PM. Our topic will be “Civility & Polarization.”
RSVP for this conversation at Meetup.com.

We will close out our fall programs on Tuesday, November 27 at 6:30 PM with a conversation about “Authenticity.” RSVP for this conversation at Meetup.com. 


Before you vote…Attend iACT’s Health and Housing Forum

by Tom Spencer, CEO of iACT  

We are so blessed to live in Austin, Texas! Our economy continues to outperform the rest of the nation and we live in a beautiful community brimming with genuinely creative and hospitable souls. However, many of our neighbors are feeling less welcomed than before… housing prices are pushing working families out of our city and decent healthcare is beyond the reach of thousands more.

This November, Austin voters will be asked to approve two ballot propositions that can help address these pressing moral concerns: An Affordable Housing Bond Package and an initiative that would create a new University of Texas Teaching Hospital.

In order to help keep our faith community partners informed about these issues, iACT in partnership with The Seton Healthcare Network, will be holding a Health and Housing Forum for clergy and all interested Austin citizens during the lunch hour on Monday, October the 8th, 2012 from noon – 1:30 PM. We are inviting you to come, enjoy a wholesome meal, and learn about the difference that communities of faith can make in addressing these crucial concerns. The Health and Housing Forum will be held at the Dell Children’s Medical Center Auditorium, 4900 Mueller Blvd., Austin, Texas 78723.

Please mark your calendars now for this important community forum! You may RSVP by sending an e-mail to iact@interfaithtexas.org or by calling Jason Erick Taylor at (512) 386-9145 x 303

Night Under One Sky

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum.


“We may be of different tribes, but we all live under one sky.”

A Night Under One Sky is a sacred evening of dining and dialogue in celebration of the relationships we have and those we hope to build. A Night Under One Sky has become a truly beloved tradition in our community. It celebrates the notion that there is common ground we can all walk in search of peace and harmony in this world. The setting is magical. The food is delightful. The music is inspiring. The conversation is uplifting.

This year, A Night Under One Sky will feature a special guest: Rev. Dr. Wes Magruder, senior associate pastor at First Rowlett United Methodist Church in Rowlett, Texas. Rev. Magruder recently attracted international attention when decided to join his friend, Imam Yaseen Shaikh of Plano, in observing the Ramadan fast. He wrote about the experience on his personal blog, offering insights into the practice of fasting and how his interaction with his Muslim friends deepened his Christian faith. For more information contact Simone Talma Flowers at (512) 386-9145 x302 or send an e-mail to stalma@interfaithtexas.org

Interfaith Environmental Network

Invites You to Attend our Monthly Symposium
7:00 pm Tuesday, October 2, 2012
at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
in the Hazel McCord Community Center
100 East 27th Street, in Central Austin

This month’s symposium

Finding our Place in Nature: 
an Interfaith Perspective
Part II

Please join the Interfaith Environmental Network for our second interfaith panel discussion on the relationship between humans and nature, and spiritual practices that can help us find this relationship.

Featured Panelists:

Kosho McCall, Head Priest, Austin Zen Center

Imam Islam Mossaad, North Austin Muslim Community Center

Rev. Tom Van de Stadt, Pastor, Congregational Church of Austin

Dr. Allan Boesak to Speak at Southwestern University

On October 4, Dr. Allan Boesak, South African Liberation Theologian and Activist, will present “Seeking Justice in a Civilized World” at Southwestern University.  Dr. Boesak is a hero of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle as the founder of the United Democratic Front.  A theologian in the Reformed tradition, he is a powerful, eloquent, and dynamic speaker.

“Quietly Bringing Justice”, 11:00 am, Lois Perkins Chapel

“The Glory That Is Not Steeped In Blood: War And Peace In A Globalized World”
4:00 pm, Mood-Bridwell Atrium

Women’s Retreat, October 5 & 6

Within Our Reach-Reflections on Women, Faith, and Health

Monya Stubbs, Associate Professor of New Testament at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary will be leading our retreat this Fall on Friday evening, October 5 and Saturday, October 6.  Something new – UUMC and Trinity UMC are jointly planning the retreat which will be held at Trinity UMC, 4001 Speedway.

If you would like to register for the retreat or need more information, please contact Rev. Susan Sprague at 478-9387.  COST – $35.  Scholarships available. Click here to view the flier and registration form.

Faith and Reason Workshop in San Antonio

OCTOBER 12 – 13, 2012



Amy-Jill Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences.  She holds the B.A. from Smith College, the M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University, and honorary doctorates from Christian Theological Seminary, Drury University, the University of Richmond, the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, and the University of South Carolina-Upstate.

This seminar is in partnership with THE WORK SHOP, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Temple Bethel, Trinity University, Oblate School of Theology, Church of Reconciliation, The SoL Center at University Presbyterian Church, all of San Antonio, Texas, and Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, TX.

COST:  $35.00    

To register, visit www.faithandreason.org or CLICK HERE.

The D. L. Dykes, Jr. Foundation

“Courageous Conversations” on Race

Saturday, October 7 – The TX Health & Human Services Center for Elimination of Disproportionality & Disparities hosts: First Saturday’s Courageous Conversations on Race

“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.  Town Hall meeting from 1:30 – 4:00pm.


Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement

Millions of U.S. public school students in grades K-12 are suspended or expelled in an academic school year, particularly students in middle and high school. Research demonstrates that when students are removed from the classroom as a disciplinary measure, the odds increase dramatically that they will repeat a grade, drop out, or become involved in the juvenile justice system. These negative consequences disproportionately affect children of color as well as students with special needs. Policymakers and practitioners have a growing need to identify strategies for effectively managing students’ behavior and aligning schools’ policies in order to support student engagement and learning, and reduce poor academic outcomes and juvenile justice contact. Although some states and local governments have taken promising steps to address these issues, decision makers and front-line practitioners lack a comprehensive, multisystem approach to making school discipline more effective.

Visit http://justicecenter.csg.org/resources/juveniles to see the report that was referenced at the September Courageous Conversations meeting.


Every Friday – 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.

Contact Jan Dawes jdawes@grandecom.net or Janice Curry jlcurry@austin.rr.com for more information.