Rethink Criminal Justice

A Study and Discussion Series on Mass Incarceration and Race

Study Focus: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Parker Lane United Methodist Church
September 8 and 15, 2013, 7:00 p.m.
Moderator: Bill CarterParker Lane UMC will host a series of discussions on mass incarceration in the U.S., using Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow as primary reference.

The initial sessions September 8 and 15 will cover the book in overview, examine its core message and claims, and use the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church and scripture to discern the justice issues raised by the book.

Study participants interested in digging deeper will then spend four weeks doing homework on the issue individually and sharing findings by email. The study sessions will re-convene around October 20 and 27 (dates to be determined by participants after the second session) to complete the book study together.

For more information, contact Bill Carter at

Love Unites!

Connect. Share. Celebrate!

Pride-Interfaith-Partnership-2013-Karen-McCrocklinJoin us Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. for the Austin Pride Interfaith Celebration, Love Unites, at  Unity Church of the Hills (9905 Anderson Mill Rd., Austin, Texas).

The guest speaker for this year’s event is Karen McCrocklin. An LGBTQ activist for more than 25 years, Karen is a speaker, radio host and author of the forthcoming book Out From the Inside. Her talk will explore “Supreme Faith,” lessons about community, faith and love as witnessed from inside the Supreme Court chambers on the day of the Proposition 8 and Defense of Marriage Act rulings.

The event is free, and all LGBTQ people and allies are welcome! A sign language interpreter will be available.

First Saturday – Building Bridges

When: Saturday, September 7, 2013; 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m.Where: St. James Episcopal Church Founder’s Hall

1941 Webberville Rd.; Austin, Texas 78721; 512/926-6339

“Race & Racism Are Complicated”

At our last First Saturday meeting, we watched the “I Have a Dream” speech.  We met in two groups to discuss our experiences during the Civil Rights Movement.  From one of the groups, we have started an affinity group to explore White Privilege.  Come join us for a thought provoking conversation on September 7.

Free and Open to the Public/Light Refreshments

Co-Hosts: St. James Episcopal Church/Travis County Sheriff’s Office Building Bridges: Brick by Brick.  Contact Jan Dawes for more information.

Love Your Neighbor 2016

love bannerLogoA Coalition of United Methodists in Texas working to welcome EVERYONE to God’s table.  “We are a coalition of groups and members of the Central Texas and Southwest Texas (soon to be Rio Texas) United Methodist Church conferences, working for the full participation of all people in the life our churches, including lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and queer people.  We believe that as God’s children we are called to live into the promise and potential of our divine and beautiful diversity!”  Find a list of Austin LBGT-friendly UMC congregations and small groups at:

Restorative Justice Summit In Austin

National Vision Summit: Looking Toward the Future of Re-entry
September 10-13, in Austin, Texas

Vision-Summit-The Travis County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) is honored to host the inaugural Vision Summit: Looking Toward the Future of Re-entry in Austin, TX, September 10-13. According to Sheriff Greg Hamilton, “Considerable, positive reform is occurring all around the country and our agency is excited to support the efforts of re‐entry advocates. We believe through enhanced communication, coordination and collaboration across vested parties that we can make our communities safer by reducing recidivism, improving re‐entry outcomes and assisting those who return from jail and/or prison.”

The mission of the Vision Summit is to awaken and ignite communities to attain a unified vision and thriving re‐entry process that enables the incarcerated to amend their place in the world, by showcasing effective programs, listening to each other and networking to make future possibilities a reality today. Register at

The Vision Summit host hotel is: Holiday Inn, Austin Midtown, 6000 Middle Fiskville Rd. Austin, TX 78752.


tcadpFrom our friends at the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty ( summer newsletter was mailed to TCADP members in July and is now available online.

In June, the State of Texas carried out its 500th execution since 1982.  Who were these 500 men and women and what do their executions say about our criminal justice system?  Do the numbers match current attitudes in the U.S. and even in Texas? Read more about this Texas milestone.

Last month, the Innocence Project and the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers announced an unprecedented agreement with the FBI and the Department of Justice to review more than 2,000 criminal cases in which the FBI conducted microscopic hair analysis of crime scene evidence. According to the Innocence Project, “the review will focus on specific cases in which FBI Laboratory reports and testimony included statements that were scientifically invalid.” Under the agreement, capital cases, particularly those with an execution date, will be given the highest priority.  Cases where the defendant has been executed will also be part of the review. According to the Washington Post, the review has already identified 27 death penalty convictions “in which FBI forensic experts may have mistakenly linked defendants to crimes with exaggerated scientific testimony.”

A new report from the ACLU, “A Death Before Dying: Solitary Confinement on Death Row,” chronicles conditions on death rows throughout the United States. According to the report, 93% of states lock away their death-row prisoners alone in their cells for 22-24 hours per day. TCADP Advisory Board Member Anthony Graves has written a blog and recorded a video to raise awareness of the report and the conditions he experienced while wrongfully incarcerated and held in solitary confinement on death row in Texas.

September 11: Austin Membership Luncheon

Join us on Wednesday, September 11 from 12:00 to 1:00 PM at The Egg and I Restaurant, Northcross Mall, as we launch our bi-monthly lunch series in Austin. Our guest speaker will be Dr. Marilyn Armour, an Associate Professor at The University of Texas at Austin and the Director of The Institute for Restorative Justice and Restorative Dialogue.  Dr. Armour will discuss her recent publication “The Ultimate Penal Sanction and ‘Closure’ for Survivors of Homicide Victims,” in which she compares the impact of the ultimate penal sanction on victim survivors in a death penalty state (Texas) and a non-death penalty state (Minnesota).

Idea Camp – Human Care

idea campFriday, September 20, 2013 at 9:00 AM –

Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 5:00 PM

First United Methodist Church of Austin

1201 Lavaca Street

Austin, TX 78701

The world is full of great ideas. What is lacking are methods for taking those ideas from dreams to reality. Based on the popular Ted Talks concept, Idea Camp is a process using traditional presentation plus the power of the internet and social media, to bring together the best thinkers, experts or everyday people who have great ideas but don’t have the infrastructure to share them, and provide a means of conversation, inspiration, and action. Idea Camp has selected First UMC to partner in their September Idea Camp on the topic of Human Care.  Topics will include caring for the children of the world, caring for women in cultures where they are powerless, human trafficking, and how we care for the caregivers of the world to keep them from experiencing burnout.  The Idea Camp is broadcast online during the event and videos remain online afterward to continue the dialogue and idea sharing. To see what has been done in the past, visit Camp is open to anyone who is interested in these issues.  Presenters include some First UMC members and staff as well as speakers from around the world. Anyone who is involved in managing an organization that deals with issues of human care will be inspired and renewed by attending.  Idea Camp brings a fresh perspective on how to work toward the healing of the world.  We will facilitate honest and field-centered conversations with leading thinkers and practitioners about the work of human care as well as an introspective look into the soul and health of the one providing care to others.  We will also unpack how differences of gender, race, mental health, and age influence our approach to human care. Our desire is to support those who seek to live life as God’s loving expressions of grace and hope to our world through tangible acts of care for all of humanity.

Please help Austin know about this event by sharing it with others via your own social media and old fashioned face-to-face conversation.