Next Chapter Meeting – Thursday, November 8

November Chapter Meeting on Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON)

The November 8 MFSA meeting will focus on the Justice for Our Neighbor (JFON) ministry. The speaker will be Rev. Liliana Padilla, pastor at the Emanuel UMC in San Antonio where the new JFON clinic opened on October 20. Rev. Padilla was an ordained UMC minister in Mexico before immigrating to Texas. As a former JFON client, she is familiar with the difficult journey through immigration policy and laws.  Prior to opening the JFON clinic in San Antonio, she was involved in the JFON clinic in Dallas. Her husband, Miguel, is the leader of the JFON site team at Emanuel UMC.

The Austin District will select a UMC site in Austin in January 2013.  The request for proposal (RFP) deadline is December 4.  Information from the Austin District RFP:

To expand our capacity to be in ministry with our community, the Austin District seeks a host site for a permanent JFON Immigration law clinic within the Austin District limits.  The JFON Clinic will provide free immigration legal aid to qualified individuals to assist them to attain full resident status with the USA.  JFON will also provide education to the public and advocacy services on behalf of people with immigration problems.

Please join us on Thursday, November 8, at Saint John’s UMC, 2140 Allandale Rd., for this interesting program.   Snacks and visiting begin at 6:30pm; the program begins at 7:00.

Notes from MFSA National Meetings

On October 18 – 20, MFSA’s Program Council and Board of Directors met in Detroit, Michigan for their Fall meeting.  Anne Mund and Rowland Curry attended the Program Council meeting, at which extensive plans are being made for MFSA’s programs.  Rowland was elected to be the “Co-Convenor” (aka Co-Chair) of the Program Council for the next two years.  Watch for more information on this.

The Board of Directors was surprised by the resignation of MFSA’s Executive Director, Jill Warren.  She has served MFSA since mid-2011, and guided our organization through the General Conference earlier this year in Tampa.  The Board has named Chett Pritchett to be the interim Executive Director; the full press release is included below.

Despite this news, we are heartened by the strength and energy displayed by MFSA’s Program Council and Board during this meeting.


The Fall meeting of the Methodist Federation for Social Action’s (MFSA) Program Council and Board of Directors was graciously hosted by the Detroit (MI) Chapter, October 18-20. The meeting celebrated our work at General Conference 2012 and the faithful work of our Chapters across the connection. This spirit, energy, and excitement continued as we engaged in developing the on-going work of Peace, Poverty People’s Rights, Progressive Issues, and Justice in the United Methodist Church.


As we dreamed and envisioned the work ahead, it became evident that changes would need to take place for this ministry to be fully possible. In the midst of this crucial discussion, our Executive Director Jill A. Warren, offered the Board an option to consider her willingness to resign if this would allow more flexibility for the ministry to move forward. She shared, “The primary reason for this offer is to give MFSA’s Board options to consider in helping to create a sustainable staffing structure that will benefit MFSA and further its mission.”  After much prayerful deliberation and difficult discernment, the Board voted to accept her offer.  Jill has been a tireless advocate for MFSA’s issues and has helped lead the organization to a new level of visibility.  We are grateful for her service and generous spirit.


In light of this decision, the Board also announces that Chett Pritchett, MFSA’s current Development and Communications Associate, has been named as the Interim Executive Director to serve in the Washington, DC, office, beginning November 1, 2012.  Chett has served on MFSA’s staff since 2011 and built relationships throughout the connection, specifically through the use of social media and his knowledge of The United Methodist Church.  His creativity, theological depth, and passion for social justice are evident in all of his work. He is currently the Lay Leader at Dumbarton United Methodist Church and has previous experience in leadership with MoSAIC (Methodist Students for an All Inclusive Church).  Chett is an alumnus of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC where he earned a Master of Theological Studies degree.


While these decisions were not made lightly, we feel this is the best path forward to build on MFSA’s strengths for continued success in the future and sustaining the renewed grassroots enthusiasm generated by a successful presence at General Conference.  We ask for your prayers and continued support of the organization and staff as we journey into the future.




Vicki Woods, MFSA Board Co-President, 774-696-9519

Tara L. Thronson, MFSA Board Co-President, 512-422-8907


Judicial Council Upholds Security of Appointment

This past week the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church met in Elk Grove, IL, and declared the decisions of General Conference  surrounding guaranteed appointments and clergy appointments to “transitional leave” as unconstitutional, “null, void and of no effect.”  The Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) celebrates these actions as crucial to a deeper understanding of clergy covenant and effectiveness.

In relation to the security of appointment, the Judicial Council cited contradictions in the Discipline between paragraphs and violations of the third and forth restrictive rules of the Constitution of The United Methodist Church.  In relation to the changes made in language around transitional leave, giving a Bishop the ability to appoint a clergy person in good standing to transitional leave and in effect leave them without appointment, the Judicial Council stated, “Fair process procedures, trials and appeals are integral parts of the privilege of our clergy of right to trial by a committee and of appeal and is an absolute right which cannot be eradicated by legislation.”

“The Judicial Council’s ruling not only affirms our Wesleyan heritage of itinerancy, but also highlights the importance of theological, age, gender, and racial diversity within The United Methodist Church,” states Chett Pritchett, Interim Executive Director of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. “The work of the Church is best done through diffused power-sharing among both laity and ordained clergy, Cabinets and Boards of Ordained Ministry. This ruling is a strong reminder that such leadership is crucial to The United Methodist Church remaining a relevant reflection of God’s world.”

At The United Methodist Church’s General Conference this past spring, MFSA had hoped the Church might engage in conversation about ways to strengthen the clergy covenant and empower Bishops to better utilize their Boards of Ordained Ministry in cases of clergy effectiveness, rather than developing an adversarial approach leading to a culture of fear and distrust.   The Judicial Council ruling opens a door to broader discussion about faithful calling, training, and support of clergy in a two-way covenant system.

You can read the full text of the Judicial Council’s decision here.

Our Response to Hurricane Sandy

Please consider helping our neighbors through UMCOR and the American Red Cross.

UMCOR – United Methodist Committee On Relief

United Methodists come together to help neighbors face massive Hurricane #Sandy. #umc #umcor #dreamumc


You can help people affected by disasters like hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, fires and tornadoes, at home or around the world, by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief.

Vote – Tuesday, November 6 !

Early voting continues through Friday, November 2. Remember that on Election Day, Tuesday, November 6, Travis County residents can vote at any polling place.  The ballot is long with many city and county items, in addition to Federal, State, and School Board candidate choices. Review the League of Women Voters Guide before going to the polls.

Trinity UMC – 20 Years as Reconciling Congregation




20th Anniversary Gay-La

Friday, November 9, 2012

6:30 PM to 8:45 PM

First UMC Family Life Center

1300 Lavaca St. – Austin

Friday, November 9th

  • Tickets: $50/adult; $25/ages 10 – 22

Community Education Events


Date: November 2, 2012

Time: 7:00 pm  to  9:00 pm

A panel will discuss the Texas death penalty, with a focus on wrongful convictions and executions. Panelists include Jim Harrington of the Texas Civil Rights Project; Sandra Reed, the mother of Texas death row prisoner Rodney Reed; and Darby Tillis, former Illinois death row prisoner

The event is part of Texas Abolition Weekend, the 12th Annual Convention of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, which will include a march on Saturday at 2 pm starting at the south steps of the Texas Capitol.

There is more information online, or contact

Location: 5604 Manor, 5604 Manor Road, Austin, 78723



Time: 7:00 pm  to  9:00 pm

Carlos Spector, a leading immigration attorney specializing in Mexican political asylum cases, will discuss the causes of violence in Mexico as well as the U.S. government’s rationale for denying Mexican asylum claims. Spector will be joined by 32-year old Juan Fraire Escobedo, son of Marisela Escobedo, a human-rights activist who was murdered in Mexico while advocating for judicial reform. Escobedo, who has applied for political asylum in the United States, will discuss his family’s continuing fight for justice and what can be done to end the political repression and violence in his country.

For more information, contact Alejandra Spector,

Location: 5604 Manor, Austin, 78723 –


Craft/Alternative Christmas Events

Bethany Holiday Crafts Marketsponsored by Bethany UMC Nursery Ministry
Saturday, November 3, 2012 -9:00 AM – 5:00 PM


Crestview Annual Bazaar, Saturday, November 3, 9:00 am – 2:00 pm


Saint John’s UMC Alternative Christmas Market – Saturday, December 1, 11:00am – 4:00pm  and Sunday, December 2, Noon – 3:00.


University UMC Alternative Gift Market – Sunday, December 2

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.

Sister Helen Prejean Speaks to Full House in Austin

Sister Helen Prejean, the internationally known speaker and author of Dead Man Walking,  addressed a crowd of 300 at St. Edward’s University on Friday evening, October 12, as part of “Faithful Considerations: A Discussion with Sister Helen Prejean and Austin Faith Leaders”.  Sister Helen was fresh from a trip crisscrossing California, speaking in churches to encourage voting for Proposition 34 to repeal the death penalty on the November ballot. “Faithful Considerations” was the third such discussion hosted by TCADP.

The Austin event featured a conversation between Sister Helen Prejean, Dr. John Elford, senior pastor of University United Methodist Church, and Pastor Nestor Menjivar, pastor of Principe de Paz Baptist Church.  Dr. Elford was asked to be a part of the conversation due to his leadership and experience in tackling difficult issues while senior pastor at University UMC: “My fervent hope is that dialogue among Christians and practitioners of other religions will help us recover our voice as a people committed to peace and non-violence.” Pastor Menjivar has a long history of being involved in social justice issues and serving on the Board of the General Baptist Convention and Christian Life Commission. “I believe pastors and other religious leaders need to fully understand their God-given obligation and responsibility to teach God’s great mercy, which he calls us to show to others, especially those considered the least deserving,” he told TCADP.

Both Dr. Elford and Pastor Menjivar shared that clergy can have a tendency to avoid difficult issues as they shepherd their diverse congregations, but they have also learned that people seem to hunger for that direction and real application of their faith to the world around them.

The discussion was sponsored by Catholic Mobilizing Network, Congregational Church of Austin, Diocese of Austin Office of Prolife Activities and Chaste Living, General Board of Church and Society United Methodist Church, Methodist Federation of Social Action—Southwest Texas Chapter, Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation, St. Edward’s University, Liz and Duff Stewart, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and the Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy. Tremendous thanks are also owed to Liza Manjarez, Mo McMorrow, Herb and Angela Diener, and Rev. Richard Bates. Links to video and pictures can be found at  Read tweets from the event #SrHelen.

Interfaith Thanksgiving Service & Celebration

November 18th, 2012
4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

University United Methodist Church
2409 Guadalupe, Austin, TX 78705

Ample free Sunday parking is available in three designated lots, as well as in metered spaces on the street. Parking details.

Reception following for those in attendance. Please bring your favorite dish ready to serve.
Free, family-friendly, all are welcome!

Faith and the Juvenile Justice System

Tour Austin’s Garder Betts Juvenile Justice Center with Us on November 26.

What happens when kids break the law?

In Texas, thousands of young people aged 10 thru 16 are processed through the juvenile justice system every year. In 2011, the Texas Legislature made significant changes to the system designed to keep more youthful offenders in their local communities.

The new law means local faith leaders have new opportunities to support and guide youthful offenders and their families–and it starts with understanding the system.

Join Interfaith Center staff on a tour of Austin’s Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center on November 26th. Learn what happens to youth when they are picked up by the police…what conditions they are held in…who is available to help them navigate the often-intimidating criminal justice system…and where faith communities fit in.

Details of the tour:

  • Meet at 9am on Nov. 26th at Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center, 2515 South Congress Ave. in Austin.
  • The tour will last about 2 hours and include visits to the residential, probation, and detention areas.
  • After the tour, Gardner-Betts staff will meet with us for a Q & A session.
  • An informal debrief over brunch/lunch will be held following the visit.

Space is limited! We will accept reservations for this trip on a first-come basis through November 20thIf you know someone that you think would like to attend, please forward this email along.

Please email to RSVP or if you have questions or need more information.

Center for Public Policy Priorities Report

Choices and Challenges: How Texas County Uninsured Rates
Will Drop Under Health Care Reform

Choices and Challenges Report >>
Press Release >>
Texas is projected to see the largest percentage gain in insurance coverage of any state under health care reform. With nearly one in four of the 25 million Texans lacking coverage today, any significant gain in coverage will reduce local charity care and uncompensated care costs and tax burdens. A recent model developed by Michael E. Cline, Ph.D., and Steve H. Murdock, Ph.D. of Rice University provides county-level projections to help local officials and residents plan for how increased coverage under the Affordable Care Act could affect their communities.

Coats for Kids – Important 2012 Information

  • Distribution Day: Saturday, December 8th from 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM
  • Distribution Site: Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road
  • Community Coat Drive: Monday, November 12th through Wednesday, December 5th.  Please drop your coats off at any local Jack Brown Cleaners.  To find a location near you, click here.
  • School & Business Coat Drive Competition: Monday, November 12th through Friday, November 30th.  Please drop your coats off at any local Jack Brown Cleaners.  To find a location near you, click here.

Arm Chair Activism


Some of our readers have asked us to include petition requests that they are passionate about.  If you have similar petitions to share, please send the link to

From United Methodist Kairos Response:  Stand with 15 Courageous Christian Leaders. 

Earlier this month, fifteen leaders of Christian denominations (including Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, President of the UMC Council of Bishops,  and organizations sent a historic letter to the United States Congress and it is having an impact far beyond Washington DC.  In the letter, they have questioned the use of US military aid for “widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinians.”

They have called for “an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel” of US laws that govern the use of foreign assistance and arms exports; they also call for the withholding of military aid if Israel is found to be violating these laws.

But enormous pressure has been put on these fifteen leaders to rescind their letter. Take a look at the New York Times report, letters of denunciation and powerful responses in opinion columns nationwide.

That’s why United Methodist Kairos Response helped to write and launch this Letter of Support with several partners, including US Campaign to End the Occupation, Friends of Sabeel North America, and Kairos USA. Also working with us are allies like Jewish Voice for Peace and American Muslims for Peace  – they are gathering signatures with similar supportive messages.  Together we hope to send these leaders an outpouring of support for their efforts.

Please take one minute now to sign the Letter of Support and Thanks.
s show these fifteen leaders there are thousands of people from all backgrounds who agree with them!

BUT MOST IMPORTANT, PLEASE WRITE TO YOUR BISHOP.  The United Methodist bishops have their annual meeting on NOVEMBER 4th.  Your bishop needs to hear from you NOW.  The SWTX Conference Bishop, Jim Dorff,, can be contacted at And if you are able, please write to the current president of the Council of Bishops, Bishop Rosemarie Wenner at


From Augustine Rodriguez: Texas Legislature Implement the Affordable Health Care Act.

We are demanding that Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Legislature begin full implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act, which was signed into law in 2010 and recently upheld by the Supreme Court.

We are demanding that the insurance exchanges be created and put into service to help the millions of Texans who are uninsured and under-insured. The United States Constitution dictates that states are not above federal law. This is now the law of the land.

That’s why I created a petition on to the Texas State House, the Texas State Senate, and Governor Perry, which says:

The Supreme Court recently upheld the Affordable Care Act, and we are demanding that our Governor and Texas Legislature begin a full implementation of the law. The insurance exchanges need to be up and running by January 1, 2013.

Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.