March Chapter Meeting – Thursday, March 14

A Conversation About Gun Laws And Gun Violence

Brady campaignWhat are the gun laws in Texas?  Where may you take and not take a loaded handgun?  How is the Texas Legislature working to loosen Texas gun laws in 2013?

Will guns soon be allowed on all college and university campuses (classrooms, libraries, labs, public spaces) in Texas by law?

What has been the effect of the Newtown CT school massacre on the Texas Legislature, as well as state houses in other Western states?

Our guest speaker will be Nina Butts, with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.  Nina has lived in Austin since 1977, and founded Texans Against Gun Violence with Bruce Elfant and Debby Tucker in 1993.  She grew up in Dallas, and was an eyewitness to President Kennedy’s motorcade after he was shot on Nov 22 1963.  She was a Contributing Writer for Texas Observer 1981- 1985, and ran for Congress in the Tenth Congressional District of TX in 1986.  Nina was a full time registered lobbyist for Texans Against Gun Violence in 2 sessions of the Texas Legislature (1999 and 2001) and helped initiate the gun law linked to domestic violence that was signed by Rick Perry in 2001.  In addition to continuing activism, Nina teaches English at Austin Community College.

Come at 6:30 p.m. for snacks and mingling; the program begins at 7p.m. Invite your friends and neighbors – all are welcome.

Texas My Medicaid Matters – March and Rally

Thanks to Bee Morehead of Texas Impact for presenting our Valentine’s Day program.  There are many Texas issues that concern people of faith.  Bee encouraged us to stay informed and contact our Legislators to express our concerns. Here is one of the issues that is of interest:

Medicaid Expansion

Texas ranks first among states in its share of uninsured residents, at 23.8 percent in 2011 – more than 6 million people- compared with a national average of 15.7 percent.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Texas could cover adults aged 18-64 whose incomes are below 138% of the federal poverty level ($15,415 for a single adult and $31,809 for a family of four.  The federal government would pay 100 percent for the first three years and 90% of the cost of coverage in future years.  Read the Smart, Affordable and Fair publication by Texas Impact and Methodist Healthcare Ministries at

Governor Perry has stated that Texas will reject the Medicaid expansion provision of federal health reform.  If you are passionate about this, here is something that you can do.

Texas My Medicaid Matters – March and Rally

Tuesday, March 5 – 10:00 am – South Side of Congress Bridge

10:00 a.m. – People begin gathering for march & rally on the south side of the Congress bridge.

10:45 a.m. – March begins.

11:30 a.m. – Rally on the south steps of the state Capitol

March 5, 2013, Texans will gather at the Capitol to support Medicaid and call on state leaders to make real investments in the health and wellbeing of all Texans. We need your help to send a message to the legislature and state leadership that Medicaid is essential to the health and well being of millions of Texans.

SWTX MFSA Receives Appreciation Award from TCADP


On Saturday, February 23, the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP) presented our MFSA Chapter with an Appreciation Award for our support of their efforts to abolish the death penalty in Texas.  A highlight of the annual conference held at St. Edward’s University was the presentation by Anthony Graves, death row exoneree, who spent 18 years on death row before he was freed.

Thanks to Rev. Gil Caldwell for a Challenging Conversation!

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Reverend Gil Caldwell

On Saturday, February 9, about 85 people gathered at Saint John’s UMC in Austin to hear Rev. Gil Caldwell share his journey toward justice – “Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere” (MLK): Racism, Sexism, and Heterosexism.  Rev. Caldwell is a retired United Methodist Minister and a 1951 graduate of Austin’s Anderson High School.  He is a long-time activist in the Civil Rights Movement, including the Selma to Montgomery March, the March on Washington, D.C., and the March in Boston against school segregation. Rev. Caldwell wrote the following about our conversation together.

“We gathered to celebrate and energize our continuing efforts to push, pull and pray in ways that The United Methodist Church would rid itself of its language and legislation that declares; “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching”. We have never been as clear about slavery, racial segregation and prohibitions against the ordination of women being “incompatible with Christian teaching”.  But, we have chosen Lesbians and Gays as being needful of this language and legislation.  And, The UMC continues to debate what its response should be to transgender persons and same sex couples.  I used as my theme the question posed by James Baldwin; “Who wants to be integrated into a burning house?”  I spoke to them about my involvement in Truth in Progress and the Church Within A Church Movement, suggesting that support of TIP would be helpful and involvement in CWAC would complement their efforts to transform the UMC.”

Upcoming Social Justice Films

girl risingGirl Rising

PG-13 – 1hr 41 min

When:  Monday, March 11 at 7:30pm

Where: Arbor 8 @ Great Hills

9829 Great Hills Trail, Austin

Cost:    $10

Girl Rising spotlights the strength of the human spirit and the power of education to change a girl – and the world.  Many millions of girls face barriers to education that boys do not.  We can help break those barriers by bringing global attention to the enormous benefits of educating girls.  Backed by Intel, CNN Films and many well-known actors/activists, this film documents the lives of nine girls around the world, two of whom live in communities where World Vision works.  Spread the word…educating a girl is an important component in breaking the cycle of poverty and changing the world!   For more info on the film, visit



place at the tableA Place at the Table is a documentary that investigates incidents of hunger experienced by millions of Americans, and proposed solutions to the problem.  From the Chicago Tribune, “America’s twin ills, the swollen ranks of hungry people and the national obesity epidemic are explained, in blunt and poignant terms, in “A Place at the Table,” a new documentary about food politics and the forces that let hunger make a comeback. – See more at:,0,4292997.story#sthash.EgdMnqKY.dpuf.”

Showing now at the Violet Crown Theater in Austin.

Amplify Austin!

This is Austin’s first community-wide giving festival.  We challenge our community to raise $1 million in 24 hours.  330 Central Texas nonprofits are ready to receive our gifts!  On Amplify Austin Day, we are giving back to the city we love.  [Note:  Even though MFSA is not a part of Amplify Austin this year, there are many worthy causes to support here.]

Visit this website during Amplify Austin Day, which starts at 7pm, March 4 and ends 7pm, March 5.

At that time, this website will be transformed into a giving site; you’ll be able to search by the name of the nonprofits you love or the causes you’re passionate about.

You will have a greater impact by giving through this website on Amplify Austin Day because our sponsors are matching your donations, and prizes of $1,000 will be given hourly to the nonprofits that garner the most dollars or donors.

In the meantime, check us out on Facebook and Twitter and stay tuned for more exciting news about Amplify Austin.

Interfaith Environmental Network of Austin

The Interfaith Environmental Network of Austin

Invites You to Attend our Monthly Symposium

7:00 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2013
at St. David’s Episcopal Church

301 East 8th Street, in downtown Austin

This month’s presentation:

How to Start & Sustain a Green Team
in Your House of Worship

Ever wonder how others in Austin’s faith community are caring for creation? Looking for ideas on how to get a green team going in your house of worship (or elsewhere), raise funds, and keep the good work going—all while having fun and building community?

Join us Tuesday, March 5th, to hear from green team leaders from across Austin’s diverse religious landscape. We’ll have 3 to 5 representatives who, just like you, are working to make their congregations more environmentally sustainable. They’ll share stories of “greening” their houses of worship and working within their communities—the successes, challenges, and lessons learned. Following their presentations our panelists will take audience questions. Yaira A. Robinson of Texas Interfaith Power & Light will facilitate.  Come hear Austin’s leading green congregations tell their stories!

MFSA Recycling Event at Crestview UMC

MFSA Will Sponsor 4th BOPA Recycling Event April 20

???????????????????????????????Saturday, April 20,– 8 am to 10:30 am

We need Volunteers!  We need your items for recycling!

Start cleaning the garage and find those batteries, oil, paint, and antifreeze and bring them to the MFSA BOPA event on Saturday, April 20, at Crestview UMC, 1300 Morrow Street, Austin, from 8:00 – 10:30 am.

At the BOPA event last March, we collected 225 gallons of paint, 30 gallons of oil/antifreeze, and 80 lbs of batteries.

If you can volunteer or you have questions, please contact Anne Mund at

Make Plans to Join MFSA in Corpus Christi at the Southwest Texas Annual Conference, June 6-8

Group ArleneThe Southwest Texas MFSA and Reconciling Ministries Team will partner again in the vendor area of the annual conference to provide information, a book fair, Shower of Stoles, and provide a safe place for our progressive friends to gather.  Join us as we meet, mingle, learn, and provide witness to social justice at this event.  If you can’t join us in Corpus Christi, we ask for your prayers, your books (below) and your financial support to help make this happen.
LorenzaMFSA and The Conference Board of Church and Society will again cosponsor our Peace and Justice Luncheon (tentatively Friday June 7) featuring Rev. Lorenza Andrade-Smith, a UMC pastor who is living on the streets in solidarity with the poor.  Her mission is to minister with the poor and marginalized, advocating for systemic changes.  You can follow her ministry journey on Facebook at

We are very excited that Rev. Andrade-Smith will join us at Annual Conference!
More details will follow in the next two months.

We Need Your Books!

DSC02322For several years, SWT-MFSA has sponsored a Book Fair at Annual Conference.  Members and friends box up their gently used religious and spiritual books, and we haul them to Corpus Christi.  It becomes like a treasure hunt at our tables!  People contribute to us according to what they think the books are worth to them.  It has been quite successful for the past 4 or 5 years, but to make it happen, we need your books!  Contact Rowland Curry ( and we will arrange to pick them up.

News from the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

The State of Texas has not scheduled any executions this month, but six executions currently are scheduled to take place in April, including Kimberly McCarthy, whose execution date was moved from January 29 to April 3. Please stay tuned to TCADP for more information and any action requests regarding these cases.
Texas Legislator Calls for Abolition of the Death Penalty!

On Friday, February 22, 2013, State Representative Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) filed House Bill 1703, which calls for repeal of the Texas death penalty. The bill will be referred to the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, where we aim to secure a full hearing.

dome2_1024What’s next?

1. Please call or email Rep. Farrar to thank her for her leadership on this issue and for filing HB 1703. Email her at or call her Capitol office at 512-463-0620.

2. Please join us at the State Capitol on Tuesday, March 19th for the TCADP Lobby Day! Training and instructions for the day will take place from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM. We will work with you in advance to arrange visits with your legislators.

Sign up for the TCADP Lobby Day now!

Can’t join us in Austin? You can participate in Lobby Day from home!  Suggested actions, information on contacting your lawmakers, and an issue brief for HB 1703 are available here.

Abolition Efforts Move Forward in Maryland

Meanwhile, our colleagues in Maryland are on the cusp of Senate vote on repealing the death penalty; their bill cleared an extremely difficult hurdle on February 21, when the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee vote 6-5 in favor of abolishing the death penalty (this particular committee has blocked previous efforts).  The bill now heads to the Senate Floor, where it is being debated! There are now 26 senators who are either co-sponsoring the repeal bill or who have said in interviews that they plan to support it (in the Maryland Senate, 24 votes are required to pass a bill).  It has 68 co-sponsors in the House of Delegates!


First UMC Hosts Loud Harp

SXSW – First UMC hosts Loud Harp – March 14

loud harpFirst UMC Austin, 1201 Lavaca, would like to invite you to attend a free show during SXSW on Thursday, March 14th at 7pm.

The SXSW selected band “A Boy and His Kite” (featured on the critically acclaimed Twilight soundtrack, Breaking Dawn) has a sacred music project called “Loud Harp”.

If you haven’t heard of Loud Harp, begin now! You can download their album here for free.  Tim Coons will be joining up with Loud Harp for the occasion. Coons is an “Enter the Worship Circle” artist with a raw, indie sound.  Listen to his work here!  This is a free show, but we will be taking donations, so bring your hearts and checkbooks to support these guys.

Check in at the Facebook event page here.

Congratulations to First UMC Austin

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Congratulations to First UMC in Austin for their recent affiliation with Reconciling Ministries Network.  There are now five UMCs in Austin and one UMC in Round Rock affiliated with RMN.  This conversation about loving all our neighbors continues throughout our denomination.

Help Raise The Roof At Montopolis Center

MontopolisThe Montopolis Friendship Community Center is a tax-exempt, non-profit corporation formed in 1957 as a United Methodist Women’s response to help meet some of the needs in the Montopolis community in southeast Austin.  FCC provides the following opportunities in the Montopolis area: Mother’s Day Out for children 2-4 years old; Clothing sales room open on the first and third Saturdays; Senior activities; and Rental space available for community events.  The Montopolis FCC desperately needs a new roof – the existing roof at Colorado Hall has been patched and re-patched.  The new roof, to be repaired by professionals, will cost $4,000.  Groups and individuals are being asked to contribute toward this need that is not covered as a part of MFCC’s annual budget.  You can help by buying one square foot of shingles for $3.33, or 3 sq ft for $10.00!

The goal is to raise the $4,000 by 3/30/2013.

Please make checks payable to Montopolis FCC and mail to:

MFCC Treasurer, Eva Jordan, P.O.Box 4691, Austin, TX  78765

Kisongo Trek

Kisongo tTrek

Take a journey with

Kisongo Trek

March 13-17

Bethany United Methodist Church, East Parking Lot

10010 Anderson Mill Rd., Austin TX 78750

Free, family-friendly & open to all

Wednesday, March 13:  5 – 8 pm

Thursday – Saturday, March 14-16:  12 – 7 pm

Sunday, March 17:  9 am – 5 pm

No reservations needed

A powerful story of change through the eyes of a child.

Interactive exhibit brings to life the sights & sounds of Africa.

Step outside yourself and into a world you may never have known; a world where poverty becomes a part of the past and where children can dream about tomorrow.

Experience a powerful story of change through the eyes of 10-year-old, Babayetu. In the new World Vision Experience, Kisongo Trek, you can “travel” to Babayetu’s home and hear the real-life story of how his village has moved from poverty to hope with help from World Vision and their partners in ministry.

Following a “bus ride” down the roads of Tanzania, you’ll be immersed in the community of Kisongo, where you’ll meet a woman who spent her childhood walking miles on danger­ous roads to get water for her family; hear from a mother who feared malaria would steal her children’s lives; see a classroom where children finally have the chance to learn; and discover how bees are equipping a father to provide for his family.

This free, 20 minute, mobile semi-truck experience gives you and your family a firsthand feel for global poverty—no plane ticket required. Plus, you’ll learn about the proven solutions World Vision employs to help families build a better future and you’ll discover how you can make a difference in the transformation of a community like Kisongo, in Matete, Kenya.

Make the choice to step outside yourself.

Parenting Your Parents

An Event with Jim Comer

jim-comer-hdln3On Tuesday, March 12 at 6:30pm at First UMC Austin Family Life Center, author and professional speaker Jim Comer will speak about the journey of caring for aging parents – When Roles Reverse: A Guide to Parenting Your Parents. Register with Laurie at  or 512-478-5684.  More information at