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.