They Stuck Us In The Back Of The Hall, But We Still Made A Joyful Noise!


Dozens of MFSA supporters from the Southwest Texas Conference traveled to Corpus Christi last week to witness at the SWTX Annual Conference meetings.  MFSA again partnered with the Reconciling Ministries team, forming a “compound” with safe space for conversations and information.   There was a book fair, where your donated books were offered in exchange for contributions.  There were exhibits on our MFSA chapter, Equal Exchange chocolate sales, and give-away pens, pins, candy, and bumper stickers.  We also provided space for information provided by the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP).

Many of our MFSA chapter members and supporters were delegates, and we had at least 20 other volunteers who contributed their time and travel expenses to be a part of this powerful witness.  Thanks to all who helped with this effort!

See many more pictures on our Facebook Page, Southwest-TX-Chapter-MFSA…



Supporters gather to give the “thumbs up” with Rev. Lorenza Andrade-Smith in the exhibit hall.

DSC04942Exhibit Area Information and Displays


Friends at the Compound

3rd Annual Luncheon Is A Success!


Rev. Lorenza Andrade Smith provided a powerful witness, speaking to about 175 persons gathered for our annual luncheon, co-sponsored by the Conference Board of Social Action.  Rev. Smith provides a passionate voice on homelessness, poverty, and immigration issues. 

In response to the theme of homelessness and poverty, MFSA was able to donate $500 from luncheon proceeds to the Corpus Christi Metro Ministries, which is “helping create a community that is free from hunger and homelessness” through their programs.   In addition, luncheon attendees donated $200 in Walgreens gift cards to Rev. Smith, which she uses to purchase items for her homeless companions.  If you would like to know more about Rev. Smith’s ministry, join her on Facebook:

MFSA Justice Awards

Four awards were given at this year’s luncheon.  Each award recipient receives a plaque and a certificate, and a $50 donation is made to the National MFSA Office in the name of the honoree(s).DSC04878The Genesis Award recognizes individuals who have recently begun her or his journey creating a more just community, or who have created a new way to do so, and who have quickly made an outstanding contribution.

This year’s award recognizes a couple who have recently started a restorative justice program in the Eagle Pass region, for teenagers who have gotten caught up in the drug trade that flourishes on the Texas-Mexico border.   This year’s award is given to Reverend Becky Baxter Ballou and Mr. Bruce Ballou for their work in helping establish the Border Hope Residential Center, which serves Maverick County, one of the poorest in the nation.

The Congregational Award recognizes a congregation which has made a substantial contribution to creating a more just community.  This year, MFSA recognizes two congregations for becoming affiliated with the Reconciling Ministries Network – which only a handful has done in the Southwest Texas Annual Conference.  A Reconciling Community is one which makes space at the table for all God’s children by explicitly welcoming lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and striving to transform the church into a full expression of Christ’s inclusive love.

DSC04888In 2011, Grace UMC, in the Austin District, began its journey down the pathway of righteousness. Through Bible study, congregational conversation, and other forms of dialog and communication, Grace discerned they were being led to publicly show their support for those who have long been marginalized, by becoming affiliated with the Reconciling Ministries Network.  The award was presented to Rev. Linda Kessie representing the Grace UMC congregation.


Travis Park UMC, in the San Antonio District, began its journey in the year 2000 to become a Reconciling Community.   After setbacks and further discernment, their congregational emphasis shifted from just welcoming all persons, to being advocates for justice and policy change, the Church Council overwhelming approved becoming a Reconciling Community in 2008.  This award was presented to Rev. Monte Marshall, representing the Travis Park congregation.

DSC04910The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to someone who has demonstrated a lifetime of service to the world through the church.  This year’s honoree is Ms Dalila Cruz of Austin Saint John’s UMC.  Dalila grew up in the Rio Grande Conference.  She has worked for the UMC General Commission on Religion and Race, the General Council on Ministries, MARCHA (Metodistas Asociados Representando la Causa Hispano Americana – the Hispanic Caucus of the UMC), and the National Women’s Division of the UMC.  Dalila also served for two quadrennia for the National Council of Churches USA and also for the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns for a number of years.  After retiring from the Women’s Division in 1996 she returned to San Antonio and became very active with her local home church of La Trinidad, working with the local Metro Alliance.  Dalila served most recently in Office of the General Secretary of the 2012 General Conference.

Grace Interrupted

mary ann kaiserMary Ann Kaiser is a recent graduate of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She has a passion for working in the intersections of church and society. Her love for religious approaches to questions of ethics, particularly in the realms of race, gender, and sexuality, led her to internships at WATER (Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual) in Silver Spring, MD and Texas Freedom Network in Austin, TX. She has also worked for the Wesley Foundation and as a hospital chaplain. She currently serves as Youth Director and Justice Associate at University UMC in Austin.

Mary Ann was a certified candidate for ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church.  Her home district committee voted to certify her earlier this year.  Her ordination journey was halted abruptly on June 6 when The Southwest Texas Conference Board of Ordained Ministry recommended to the clergy of the conference to revoke her certification because Mary Ann identifies as a lesbian.  The vote narrowly passed, temporarily pausing Mary Ann’s process.  Proper procedures in the UMC’s own rule book, The Book of Discipline, were ignored by the conference.  Furthermore, simply identifying as a lesbian is not grounds to remove someone from the ordination process.  Rules were broken.  Harm was done.  What’s more, the Board of Ordained Ministry has not met Mary Ann.

Rev. John Elford, the pastor where Mary Ann serves as Youth Director and Justice Associate at University UMC in Austin, spoke on behalf of Mary Ann on the floor of Annual Conference, asking Bishop Dorff for a ruling of law as to whether a Board of Ordained Ministry can decline to consider the candidacy of a certified candidate for ordained ministry who has been appropriately recommended by a District Committee on Ordained Ministry.

MFSA proudly stands with Mary Ann in her struggle with the inequality and unfairness of the UMC.  To read more on this important story – and to learn what you can do to help – go to:

MFSA Chapter Planning Retreat

The SWTX MFSA Chapter’s Executive Committee will meet in July to plan our programs and focus for the upcoming year.  If you have ideas for program focus or for individual meeting topics, or if you are interested in serving as an at-large member of the Executive Committee, please contact Deana Henry at

Girl Rising To Be Shown On CNN

CNN will be airing the film Girl Rising this Sunday, June 16 at 8 p.m. CT.  World Vision is a film partner, and the CNN version will feature the story of a World Vision-sponsored girl: Azmera from Ethiopia.   Azmera is one of several girls from around the world featured in Girl Rising, a film highlighting the obstacles girls face in the pursuit of education.  Named one of the “hottest cause documentaries in years” by the New York Times, Girl Rising is directed by Academy Award nominee, Richard E. Robbins, and includes the voice talents of Hollywood stars Liam Neeson, Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Selena Gomez, Salma Hayek, Alicia Keyes, and Kerry Washington.

More information about the film available at:

iACT Red Bench – June 18

June 18 – “Education – What is Education For?”

Does education have a moral purpose or is it merely about training for a career? What do we expect from our educational systems?


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.

Video From Texas Coalition To Abolish The Death Penalty

Racial bias has no place in the administration of justice – tell that to Harris County, Texas. Duane Buck, sentenced to death in Harris County in 1997, may soon be at risk of execution despite the fact that his death sentence is the clear product of racial discrimination.

A powerful new video – narrated by former Texas Governor Mark White and featuring interviews with Texas civil rights leaders, legislators, the surviving victim in Mr. Buck’s case, one of the trial prosecutors, and Mr. Buck’s family members – exposes the outrageous discrimination in Mr. Buck’s case.

Watch “A Broken Promise in Texas: Race, the Death Penalty and the Duane Buck Case” today and share it with your social media networks.

The video’s release comes at a critical juncture as Mr. Buck awaits a ruling from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on his petition for a new, fair sentencing hearing.

As the video shows, at Mr. Buck’s 1997 capital sentencing hearing in Harris County, the trial prosecutor elicited testimony from a psychologist that Mr. Buck posed a future danger because he is black. The prosecutor relied on this testimony in arguing in favor of a death sentence. The jury then found Mr. Buck would be a future danger and sentenced him to death.

Three years later, then-Texas Attorney General (now U.S. Senator) John Cornyn identified seven cases in which Texas improperly relied on testimony linking race to future dangerousness, including Mr. Buck’s. The Attorney General promised not to oppose new sentencing hearings for these seven defendants. Texas upheld this promise in all of the cases – except for Mr. Buck’s.

It is high time for Texas to keep its promise and ensure that Mr. Buck receives the fair, colorblind sentencing that all defendants deserve.


Mark Your Calendars

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This year’s Austin Pride Parade will be held on Saturday, September 7, 2013: 8pm

Mark Your Calendars – RMN Convocation Aug 30 – Sept 2

ChurchquakeThis 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!



National MFSA recent newsletter:


Reconciling Ministries recent newsletter:


General Board of Church & Society – Faith in Action

Make Plans to Join MFSA in Corpus Christi at the Southwest Texas Annual Conference Luncheon, June 7

There is still time to make your reservation for the Peace and Justice Luncheon on Friday, June 7 in Corpus Christi.  The luncheon, sponsored by SWTX – MFSA and the SWTX Board of Church and Society, will feature Rev. Lorenza Andrade Smith, a UMC pastor who is living her ministry on the streets in solidarity with the poor and marginalized.  Registration information follows. Early registration closes on June 1. There will be a limited number of tickets available at $15 on site.  To pay by check, see the registration form at our website link. To pay online, use this link:

Don’t have time to get this in the mail before June 1?  Just reply to this email that you would like to attend the luncheon.  Be sure to tell us if you have any special dietary needs.  Come by the MFSA vendor booth and pay at Annual Conference.


LorenzaFriday, June 7, 2013 – Noon

American Bank Convention Center
Garrett Pre-Function Area
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.

Come Hear Rev. Lorenza Andrade Smith’s Story

Rev. Lorenza Andrade Smith stands just 4 feet 11 inches tall, but she carries a high profile and lifts the hearts of many, through her highly unusual ministry of living on the streets. Ms. Smith, 43, lobbied for and finally obtained from Bishop Jim Dorff an appointment to street ministry. In the summer of 2011, she opened up the parsonage where she’d been living, invited her congregation, family and friends to help themselves to her possessions, sold her car, and began living on the San Antonio streets, with no salary.  (Source: United Methodist Reporter, 5/16/13)

Prior to her current ministry, Rev. Smith has led several lives:  a US Air Force Cadet, a housewife and mother, and a pastor of a Westlawn UMC congregation in San Antonio.  She has been a long-time advocate for social justice, beginning in her small Brownsville church.  Even before her street ministry, Rev. Smith was arrested in a Dream Act sit-in. She also spent a night in jail after being ticketed for sleeping on a park bench. She is a passionate voice on homelessness and immigration issues.  If you can’t attend Annual Conference and would like to know about Rev. Smith’s ministry, join her on Facebook:

We are so pleased that Rev. Lorenza Andrade Smith will share some of her journey with us at the Peace and Justice Luncheon!

Donation to be Made to Corpus Christi Metro Ministries

MFSA will dedicate a portion of each Peace and Justice Luncheon ticket to Corpus Christi Metro Ministries.  The mission of Corpus Christi Metro Ministries is “to help create a community that is free from hunger and homelessness.”  They have five distinct programs:  Rainbow House for Women and Children; the Walter Rustic House for Men; Loaves and Fishes Cafeteria; The Gabbard Memorial Health Clinic; and, Vineyard Social Services & Employment Assistance.  Eight Corpus Christi area United Methodist Churches are member congregations that support the work of the organization.  Patty Clark, CEO of CCMM will attend the luncheon and will accept the donation.  .

MFSA and Reconciling Ministries Team to Share Vendor Booth at Conference

Group Arlene

Again this year, we will have an amazing group of volunteers to host the vendor booth shared by MFSA and Reconciling Ministries Team. 

MFSA will offer books for purchase by donation, as well as information about social justice issues that are important to the organization.  And, we have Equal Exchange Chocolate bars for sale benefitting fair trade farmers and UMCOR.

The Reconciling Ministries Team will offer rainbow stoles, resources concerning inclusion and the UMC, as well as an interactive display.  Come by and look around.  We will be happy to see you!