Faith Leaders Endorsed Manchin-Toomey Proposal

Legislation would expand background checks on gun purchases


Almost 6.6 million guns are sold each year in the United States by unlicensed background checks..

April 19, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Prominent national faith leaders and their congregations across the country urged the U.S. Senate to pass the Manchin-Toomey proposal to expand gun background checks to gun shows, Internet and commercial sales. The faith leaders message: With more than 3,300 gun deaths since the Dec. 20 Newtown, Conn., tragedy, Congress must not waste any more precious time.

Nonetheless, the U.S. Senate while voting 55-45 in favor of the Manchin-Toomey legislation failed to pass it because of its supermajority rule requiring 60% of votes to pass the measure.


HabitatEvery two years, congregations from the Methodist ministry throughout Austin join together with Austin Habitat to make the dream of homeownership a reality for some of our communities’ most deserving families. By raising $65,000, Methodist congregations provide the materials needed to build a home. By providing volunteer labor, they provide the sweat, love and examples of the values needed to change the world.  Come build with us!  If your congregation would like to get involved, please contact Allie Kandell at 512-472-8788 x 104 or

2013 Methodist Build sponsored by:

First United Methodist Church, Austin
Westlake United Methodist Church
Oak Hill United Methodist Church
Manchaca United Methodist Church
First United Methodist Church, Pflugerville
Tarrytown United Methodist Church
Northwest Hills United Methodist Church
Riverbend Church
Lake Travis United Methodist Church
Rolling Hills Community Church

BIG Thank You to Gerard Ve De Werken for serving as this year’s site lead.


The Unification Implementation Team (UIT) has unanimously claimed the name Río Texas for the bold new conference, a unification between the Southwest Texas and Rio Grande Conference. The team is also recommending that the Río Texas Conference be organized into six districts, to take effect in June 2014. On Sunday, May 19, 3:00pm at Saint John’s UMC, 2140 Allandale Rd., there will be an in-depth discussion of the unification proposal before Annual Conference in June. 

Because of the importance of the unification discussion, there will be no action taken on district business (nominations, budgets for either District Administration or the District Board of Missions).  Plans are to hold a District Conference and Mission Board meeting in the fall of 2013 for regular action items and reports.

Letter from MFSA – Praying for Boston

Praying for Boston, Standing for Peace

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 3:54 pm

WASHINGTON, DC – April 16, 2013 – In the wake of the bombing at yesterday’s Boston Marathon, the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) offers its thoughts and prayers to the families of those killed and those injured, first responders and caretakers, participants of the marathon, and the people of Boston.

“Violence in any form is anathema to the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” says Chett Pritchett, MFSA’s Interim Executive Director.  “Our contemporary culture of violence is no longer limited to our televisions and movie screens. It has taken hold of the public square – our schools, our workplaces, and our celebrated community rituals. The Church must not only be a soothing balm when such violence occurs, but take a pro-active stand against the culture of violence leading to so great a harm.”

Sean Delmore, a member of the New England Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action, states, “In a time in which fear might take hold, it is important to remember that Boston is a city of immigrants and sojourners. Instead of fearing those who might fit a certain profile, I urge us to remember Jesus’ command to love your neighbor.”

“Bostonians are resilient people,” asserts Pritchett. “We commend the work of congregations and social service agencies in reaching out to those with questions and needs in this time of uncertainty. We thank Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar of the Boston Episcopal Area and Reverend LaTrelle Easterling, District Superintendent of the Boston Metro District, for providing leadership to The United Methodist Church in the Boston region at such a time as this.”

Since 1907, the Methodist Federation for Social Action has worked to mobilize, lead, and sustain a progressive movement, energizing people to be agents of God’s justice, peace, and reconciliation. As an independent, faith-based organization, MFSA leads both Church and society on issues of peace, poverty, people’s rights, progressive issues, and justice within


National MFSA recent newsletter:

Click Here


Reconciling Ministries recent newsletter:


General Board of Church & Society – Faith in Action

Mark Your Calendars – RMN Convocation Aug 30 – Sept 2


This is more than just another conference.  Join hundreds of others getting involved in the movement for LGBTQ inclusion in the United Methodist Church through worship, conversation, and action.

National 4-H Youth Conference Center
Chevy Chase, Maryland
(just outside of Washington, DC)

Meet & Hear Words of Inspiration by:

Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey
Rev. Vicki Flippin
Marcus Briggs-Cloud
Joseph Tolton
Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto
Bishop Melvin Talbert
Bishop Mary Ann Swenson
Rev. Dr. Cheryl Anderson

And more!

More details and registration at:

Make Plans To Join Us!

Buy your tickets to the Annual Conference Luncheon here!

April Chapter Meeting – Thursday, April 11

Issues Related To Hydraulic Fracturing, or “Fracking”frackingworks_1

“No one should have to trade their health or quality of life for cheap energy, and that’s why EDF is fighting for tough rules and strict oversight.”

Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) mission is to protect the natural systems on which all life depends. In some parts of the U.S., irresponsible natural gas operations threaten those systems.  Today, around 45,000 shale gas wells operate in the U.S. – triple the number in 2005.  Some have damaged water and air quality, imposing unacceptable impacts on public health and the environment.

The Southwest Texas chapter of the MFSA will meet Thursday, April 11 in the Fellowship Hall at Saint John’s UMC.  Virginia Palacios, research analyst with EDF’s U.S. Energy and Climate program, will explain the mechanics of hydraulic fracturing, discuss the public health and environmental impacts of shale gas development, and share EDF’s approach on how to minimize the impacts associated with natural gas development.  Ms. Palacios joined Environmental Defense Fund in July 2012 to work on the Natural Gas Campaign. Her work involves investigating technological and regulatory solutions for reducing methane and hazardous air pollutant emissions from the oil and gas supply chain. Additionally, Virginia has compiled and analyzed data on water issues related to hydraulic fracturing in Texas, including chemical disclosure, water availability, and parameters for baseline water quality testing.

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

MFSA Recycling Event at Crestview UMC

BOPARecycleEventMFSA Will Sponsor Its 4th BOPA* Recycling Event April 20
(*Batteries, Oil, Paint, Antifreeze)

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

Texas Interfaith Power & Light – Programs For Earth Month

earth-day-5RsAs part of Earth Month 2013, Texas Interfaith Power & Light is promoting Jewish and Christian perspectives on the Sabbath.

Enjoy 4 special events from 2 great speakers, on the relationship between honoring the Sabbath and caring for creation.

April 2nd – Honoring The Sabbath, Caring For Creation – From a Jewish Perspective.
On Tuesday evening, April 2nd, Rabbi Steven Folberg will share Jewish teachings about how practicing the Sabbath connects to caring for the environment.  This program is a presentation of Interfaith Environmental Network of Austin and Texas Interfaith Power & Light. All are welcome!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 7:00 – 8:30pm
Highland Park Baptist Church
5206 Balcones Dr.
Austin, TX 78731

April 18th, April 21st – The Sabbath from a Christian perspective.
During the week of Earth Day, Dr. Matthew Sleeth, editor of The Green Bible, author of two remarkable books: 24/6: A Prescription for a Happier, Healthier Life and Love God, Save the Planet, and Exec. Director of Blessed Earth, travels to Austin to promote the importance of a simple message: “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” Dr. Sleeth is a renown Christian environmental thinker. There will be three opportunities to hear from the Dr. Sleeth:

April 18 – Thursday Lunch. 
Register here to attend the lunch & learn forum, “24/6: A Prescription for a Happier, Healthier Life.” Registration is FREE with an optional $5 lunch. This program is presented by TXIPL and co-sponsored by Education Beyond the Walls at Austin Seminary and Blessed Earth. All are welcome.

Thursday, April 18, 2013, 11:45am – 1:15pm
Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
100 E. 27th Street
Austin, Texas 78705

April 21 Sunday Sermons. Dr. Sleeth will preach both services at University United Methodist Church on faith and the environment. All are welcome to attend, 8:30 and 11:00 am respectively.

Sunday, April 21, 2013, 8:30am and 11:00am
University United Methodist Church
Austin, TX 78705
2409 Guadalupe St.

Austin District Free Store Set To Open

THE TIME IS NOW!!!!  We are getting SOOOOO close.  We are set for our soft opening on April 6, but we need your help.

To make this a reality and a success, we need your donations.  Our wish list includes toiletries, clothing, household items, and more.  You can view the full wish list here.  PLEASE HELP US MAKE THIS A SUCCESS BY DONATING YOUR ITEMS. We can’t make this a success unless all of you help.

As we gear up, we’ll also have a number of volunteer opportunities. We’ll be using SignUpGenius to help coordinate some of our volunteers.  It will be continuously updated so keep checking in for more opportunities.

FreeStore Austin  –  1717 E. 12 Street  –  Austin, TX 78702


Rachel Wright                                    Matt Cardona

Acting Executive Director                  FreeStore Specialist                   

512-444-1983                                      512-444-1983

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, special RMN exhibits, 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.
Annual Conference information reservations:

If you cannot attend, you can support MFSA by donating to help defray the costs of the luncheon and education efforts at Annual Conference at


We Need Your Books!

Annual Conference Book FairFor 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.

Friday, June 7, 2013 – Noon


American Bank Convention Center
Garrett Pre-Conference Room
Corpus Christi, Texas

A Peace & Justice Luncheon Sponsored by

Southwest Texas Conference Board of Church & Society

Methodist Federation for Social Action, SWTX Chapter


           Rev. Lorenza Andrade-Smith

Rev. Andrade-Smith is 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:

Join your friends for this on-site luncheon.  In addition, we’ll honor the recipients of the MFSA “Building a Just Community” Awards.

Luncheon Registration Information

Cost:   $12.00 in advance (by June 1) – Check or cash

$15.00 at the door (limited number available)

Or, pay by credit card* –

For the full luncheon invitation, go to our website link.

News from the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

tcadpSix executions currently are scheduled to take place in April, including Kimberly McCarthy, whose execution date has now been delayed. The current dates are listed below.  Stay tuned to TCADP for more information and any action requests regarding these cases.

April 3**:  Kimberly McCarthy **
April 9:  Rickey Lewis
April 10: Rigoberto Avila, Jr.
April 16: Ronnie Threadgill
April 24: Elroy Chester
April 25: Richard Cobb

**On March 29, 2013, Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins asked State District Judge Larry Mitchell to modify the execution date of Kimberly McCarthy.  McCarthy had been scheduled to be executed on April 3, 2013 for the 1997 murder of Dorothy Booth in Dallas County.  According to the Dallas Morning News, Watkins asked “for the delay to await whether the Texas legislature passes six bills that could impact the application of the death penalty in Texas,” including legislation aimed at addressing claims that racial bias might have been a factor in the decision to seek or impose a sentence of death.

Maryland Legislature Passes Repeal of the Death Penalty!

On March 15, Maryland’s House of Delegates voted 82-56 to end the death penalty. The bill will go on to Governor Martin O’Malley, who has already promised to sign it and make it law.

Maryland WILL become the sixth state in six years to end the death penalty.

Ending the death penalty is a triumph in itself. But justice is more than just the absence of injustice.

If we stay focused now, we can fill the space that the broken death penalty used to occupy with something that can actually work to make communities safer and healthier.

More than 100 Prominent Leaders Call for New Sentencing Hearing for Duane Buck

On March 20, over 100 prominent individuals from Texas and throughout the country, including civil rights leaders, elected officials, former prosecutors and judges, past and present ABA presidents, and clergy representing seven faith denominations, released a statement urging the Harris County District Attorney to provide a new, fair sentencing hearing for Texas death row inmate Duane Buck.

Bonhoeffer: A Voice for Reason, Love and Justice

 Dietrich BonhoefferJoin us for this time of study, song, and dramatic presentation about the life and witness of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

This event is sponsored by University UMC Austin, First UMC Austin, and SWT-MFSA

Friday & Saturday, April 26 – 27, 2013

University UMC, 2409 Guadalupe, Austin

Featuring:  Dr. David Jensen, Professor in the Clarence N. and Betty B. Frierson Distinguished Chair of Reformed Theology at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Rev. Susan Schnelle, Associate Pastor, Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Austin

Al Staggs, Minister, Author, Performing Artist, One-person dramatization – “A View From the Underside: The Legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer”. 

Cost $30, includes Saturday lunch

Contact:  Susan Sprague, UUMC,

Crestview UMC Clean Water Project

water crestview2013 Lenten Mission Project:

During Lent, Crestview UMC has had a church-wide mission to help raise funds by partnering with Water to Thrive. As a congregation, we hope to raise $5,000 — enough to fund the construction of one new water well to supply the needs of 250-500 people over the 20-year life of the well.

You can donate online at and click Get Involved / Browse Campaigns /Crestview UMC / Donate Now.

Opportunities From Third Coast Activist


Date: April 12, 2013

Time: 7:00 pm  to  12:09 pm

The Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights will screen the film “5 Broken Cameras,” followed by a brief panel presentation and discussion.  The Academy Award nominee for best documentary is a deeply personal, first-hand account of nonviolence in Bil’in, a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements. Shot almost entirely by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, the film is structured around the violent destruction of a succession of Burnat’s video cameras, as olive trees are bulldozed, protests intensify, and lives are lost.  ICPR is a grassroots movement dedicated to promoting peace with justice for Palestinians. For more information, contact

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


Date: April 16, 2013

Time: 7:00 pm  to  9:00 pm

The editor of the new book Beyond Walls and Cages: Prisons, Borders and Global Crisis will lead a discussion of the book along with two contributors, Bob Libal and Lauren Martin. Beyond Walls and Cages challenges the idea that borders and prisons create safety, security, and order. Instead, walls and cages fortify wealth and power inequalities, racism, gender and sexual oppression. Beyond Walls and Cages offers scholarly and activist perspectives on these issues.

More information online.

Location: MonkeyWrench Books, 110 E. North Loop, Austin, 78751



Date: April 20, 2013

Time: 9:00 am  to  3:00 pm

Staff from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission will lead a workshop on race and institutionalized racism. Why are African Americans and Hispanics over-represented in Texas prisons, juvenile facilities, and foster care systems? In this informal, interactive discussion, led by Joyce James and staff from the Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities (CEDD), participants will analyze the problems and examine potential solutions.  Participants should plan to stay for the entire session; lunch will be provided. The event is limited to the first 50 people. To register, contact Doug Bell,, or (512) 331-5201.  The program is sponsored by St. James Episcopal Church, St. David’s Episcopal Church, and the University of Texas Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

Location: St. David’s Episcopal Church located at 301 E. 8th St., Austin


Date: April 29, 2013

Time: 7:00 pm  to  8:00 pm

UT professor Robert Jensen will discuss and read from his new book, Arguing for Our Lives: A User’s Guide to Constructive Dialog, published by City Lights.  With the quality of political engagement at an all-time low—and threats to social justice and ecological sustainability at an all-time high—it has never been more important for citizens to be able to argue constructively. In this lively primer on critical thinking that draws on more than two decades of classroom experience and community organizing, Jensen offers practical advice on challenging the conventional wisdom and confronting the crises of our time.  Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas and a founding board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center. He is also the author of All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice and co-producer of the documentary film “Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other Still Dancing.”

Location: BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, 78703