MFSA Progressive Voice Fall 2013 Available

The Fall 2013 MFSA Progessive Voice is Available here.  Progressive Voice Nov.2013

Chapter Meeting Thursday November 14 Break the Chains: Ending Human Trafficking

human-trafficking-stop-itThe November 14 MFSA meeting will be Break the Chains: Ending Human Trafficking at UNIVERSITY UMC in Austin, 2409 Guadalupe, in collaboration with several organizations that focus on this issue.  Did you know that:

  • Trafficking in humans is SLAVERY.
  • As many as 20,000 persons are believed to be trafficked each year within the US borders. (Department of Justice)
  • Trafficking victims are men, women and children from all over the world.
  • Human trafficking is the 2nd most prevalent organized crime activity in the world just after drugs and tied with illegal arms trafficking.
  • Human trafficking is a $9.8 billion dollar industry in the U.S.

Join us as we explore the devastating statics about human trafficking and consider what we can do to help end it. A panel of leaders from local organizations with suggestions for ways individuals and organizations can help end this horrific practice includes the following:

  1. 1.    Central Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking Representatives:

Other members of the coalition can be found at

  1. 2.    Restore a Voice –  Larry Megason, Executive Director
  2. 3.    Against Cruel Trafficking – Lizzie Jesperson, President of UT student group
  3. 4.    International Justice Mission – Trevor Russo, President of UT student group  (invited )

Please join us for snacks and visiting at 6:30pm with the meeting to follow at 7:00pm. Parking: on Guadalupe just north of UUMC, LIMITED, please carpool, if possible. Hope to see you there!

14th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty

march to end death penalty

This Saturday, November 2, 2013, is the 14th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty in Austin at the Texas Capitol at 2 PM on Saturday. Meet on the South Steps of the Capitol. We will march through the streets of downtown Austin with a stop in front of the Texas Governor’s mansion and return to the Texas Capitol.

The march will be led by several exonerated death row survivors from Witness to Innocence who each spent many years on death row waiting to be executed for crimes they did not commit. They made it out of the system alive, but there are many innocent people still on death row and other innocents who did not make it out alive.

If you would like to help us with the expenses of hosting several death row exonerees, please donate.  You can also send a check to: 

Texas Moratorium Network
3616 Far West Blvd, Suite 117, Box 251
Austin, Texas 78731

 Speakers at the march will also include family members of people currently on death row, family members of murder victims who oppose the death penalty, community leaders, faith leaders, activists and others. We represent a growing number of people across Texas and the nation who oppose the death penalty. To learn more about the event, visit  or Texas Moratorium Network.

Daylight Saving Time: Set Your Clocks Back

fall backRemember to set your clocks back an hour before you go to bed on Saturday night, November 2.

Roe At Risk Documentary

roe at risk


Screening of the new documentary
Roe at Risk: Fighting for Reproductive Justice

Monday, November 4, 2013


A reception will precede the screening and panel discussion

The University of Texas at Austin
LBJ School of Public Affairs
2300 Red River St.
Sid Richardson Hall, SRH 3.122
(Free parking in LBJ Presidential Library lot)

RSVP here


Featured Speakers:  Nan Aron, President, Alliance for Justice; Heather Busby, Executive Director, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas; Jan Soifer, National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), Texas State Public Affairs representative; Brittany Yelverton, Community Outreach Specialist, Planned ParenthoodCosponsored by Feminist Policy Alliance, Gender & Sexuality Center, Voices for Reproductive Justice, and Women’s Resource Agency

Remember to Vote November 5

November 5, 2013 City of Austin Bond Election

Affordable Housing Proposition

vote1The issuance of $65,000,000 affordable housing bonds and notes for constructing, renovating, improving, and equipping affordable housing for low income persons and families; acquiring land and interests in land and property necessary to do so; and funding affordable housing programs as may be permitted by law; and the levy of a tax sufficient to pay for the bonds and notes.

Important dates

  • November 1, 2013  Last Day of Early Voting in Person
  • November 5, 2013 Election Day

October Chapter Meeting Summary – Keep Austin Affordable

KeepAustinAffordable_logo-01As we heard from Elliott McFadden, Campaign Manager of Keep Austin Affordable, and City Council Person, Kathie Tovo, at our October MFSA meeting, the need for these affordable housing funds in Austin is great. Keep Austin Affordable is a coalition of over 70 business, faith and community leaders supporting the $65 million affordable housing bond package on the November 5, 2013 ballot. Partnering with private and non-profit organizations like Habitat for HumanityHands on Housing, Foundation Communities, and Meals on Wheels and More, the program has built thousands of attractive houses and apartments all over the city.  It’s also renovated and repaired existing houses to help seniors stay in their homes.

The Austin American Statesman says “When myths are separated from reality, there is both a moral case and business case to be made for approving publicly-financed bonds for affordable housing… The bonds are a solid investment that will yield far more in dividends than what they cost in taxes.”

The Austin Chronicle endorsed the affordable housing bonds saying “These are worthy investments providing long-term affordability at a diverse set of incomes. The nonprofit LifeWorks, for example, acquired property and is building new housing for young people transitioning out of foster care, and Green Doors purchased duplexes, fourplexes, and apartment units to rehab for low-income residents (housing stock that might otherwise have been replaced by high-end apartments or condos). Austin’s explosive growth demands more creative action on affordability – on all fronts.

Sample Ballot:


New Voter Photo ID Requirements are in effect. You will be required to show one of the following forms of photo identification at the polling location before you will be permitted to cast a vote.

–       Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)

–       Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS

–       Texas personal identification card issued by DPS

–       Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS

–       United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph

–       United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph

–       United States passport

With the exception of the U.S. citizenship certificate, the identification must be current or have expired no more than 60 days before being presented for voter qualification at the polling place.

Your photo Identification card does not have to have your current address. The new photo ID requirement makes no determination on voter address matching criteria; therefore, there is no address matching requirement.

If you vote by mail you do not need a photo Identification. The new requirement does not change the process for voting by mail. However, only specific reasons entitle a registered voter to vote early by mail (no longer called absentee voting). You may request a ballot by mail if you:

–       will be away from your county on Election Day and during early voting;

–       are sick or disabled;

–       are 65 years of age or older on Election Day; or

–       are confined in jail.

You can get a formal application for a ballot by mail from:

The Secretary of State’s office

The Early Voting Clerk in your county; or

Download an application for a ballot by mail here.

Important Links:

For more details please go to the Texas Secretary of State voting site

League of Women Voters Guide for the 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election

Find your polling place:

Travis County Elections information:

Progress Texas Voters Guide:



From Texas Impact

Vote for Water Funding for Texas

More than 1,000 people move to Texas every day. By 2060, our population is expected to nearly double. During that same time, our water supplies are expected to decrease 10 percent. Texas will need an additional 8.8 million acre-feet of water to meet that projected demand.

On November 5th, Texans can vote for Proposition 6, an amendment that creates a constitutionally dedicated fund for the sole purpose of fully implementing the State Water Plan–the regionally driven planning process that allows local entities and leaders to identify which conservation and supply strategies work best for their region.

If Proposition 6 passes, the funding will be in place to help provide up to $30 billion in financial assistance to local communities over the next fifty years that can develop 9 million acre-feet of water to meet our growing state’s needs.

For more on water needs in Texas and in-depth information on Proposition 6, visit H2O for Texas.. Watch Dr. Andy Sansom, director of the Meadows Institute for Water and the Environment, discuss Texas’ water challenges in this video.

See a full list of the proposed constitutional amendments on the November 5 ballot in Texas.

Judical Council Ruling 1244

Note from Mary Ann Barclay, October 27, 2013: 

Mary ann 2The Judicial Council has just ruled that Bishop Jim Dorff’s decision in July regarding my ordination case is officially reversed. He originally stated that the appeal to him as Bishop about my removal from the process was “moot and hypothetical.”  The Judicial Council declared such a ruling to be insufficient.  The Bishop will now have 60 days to make a ruling on the original question which was whether or not I, as a certified candidate, could be removed from the ordination process by the Board of Ordained Ministry without an interview by them.

I am grateful that the Judicial Council recognized the need for a direct conclusion from our local Bishop about the breaking of polity at our Annual Conference.  I also hope this helps to keep the much needed conversation flowing across our conference as we await his decision.

To read more about the decision, visit:


Some quotes from the RMN Blog by Mary Ann, October 29, 2013

Our church is at a crossroad that cannot be avoided. Every individual, lay and clergy, conservative, liberal and those who hate those terms, have to make a decision. What should the relationship of The United Methodist Church be to queer people? If we want peace as a church, we have to create some holy conflict by answering this question. This is where our faith is tested.

Are we people who skirt around the opportunity to be a witness of our faith because there will be real consequences? Or are we followers of Christ, who willing enter into shadows to bring light, regardless of the consequences? I hope that as all the people of The UMC continue to find themselves at this crossroads, they will seize the opportunity to live out this faith we claim so boldly. If we are truly seekers of peace we will not avoid this conflict but we will march right into it with discerning hearts, integrity and a commitment to love above all else. I pray my bishop will no longer avoid this conversation, will enter into it with conviction and will stand for justice in our polity that we may all be one step closer to peace.

Bishop Talbert performs Alabama wedding for two men

By Kathy L. Gilbert*

talbert weddingCENTER POINT, Ala. (UMNS)—At 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 26, the doors shut out the disagreements about church law as United Methodists Joe Openshaw & Bobby Prince vowed to love each other for the rest of their lives in a wedding ceremony performed by retired Bishop Melvin G. Talbert.

Before the wedding. television cameras from several news stations rolled outside Covenant Community United Church of Christ. The two men and Bishop Talbert faced questions about why, and what it would mean for them to disregard their denomination’s stance that the practice of homosexuality is not compatible with Christian teaching and that ordained clergy are forbidden to perform a same-sex marriage.

For Openshaw and Prince, the answer to why was simple. They love each other, they said.

For Talbert, the answer to why and what lies ahead is more complicated.
“On May 4, 2012 (during the 2012 United Methodist General Conference), I declared that the church’s official position is wrong and evil …it no longer calls for our obedience.”

The United Methodist Book of Discipline, the denomination’s law book, since 1972 has proclaimed the practice of homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching.” The book prohibits United Methodist churches from hosting and clergy from performing “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions.” For more from the UMC Connections:


Bishops urge Bishop Talbert not to officiate at same-sex union

The executive committee of the United Methodist Council of Bishops issued a statement on Oct. 23, in response to retired Bishop Melvin G. Talbert’s plans to officiate at the marriage ceremony of Bobby Prince and Joe Openshaw  on Oct. 26 in Birmingham, Ala.

The bishops of the church are bound together in a covenant and all ordained elders are committed to uphold the Book of Discipline. “Conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions; or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies” are chargeable offenses in the United Methodist Church. (¶2702.1.b) The Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops has urged Bishop Melvin Talbert not to perform the same-gender marriage in Birmingham, Alabama. Furthermore, the Resident Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett has requested him not to come to the Birmingham Area for this purpose.

The bishops of the church are bound together in a covenant and all ordained elders are committed to uphold the Book of Discipline. “Conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions; or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies” are chargeable offenses in the United Methodist Church. (¶2702.1.b) The Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops has urged Bishop Melvin Talbert not to perform the same-gender marriage in Birmingham, Alabama. Furthermore, the Resident Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett has requested him not to come to the Birmingham Area for this purpose.


Bishop Swenson writes dissent on Council Birmingham statement

“The time has come for acts of faith and courage. I support Bishop Talbert in his willingness to officiate a service of Christian marriage for Bobby Prince and Joe Openshaw, two faithful men whose story I personally have heard and whose deep love for each other I have witnessed. Until we can revise the discriminatory language of The Book of Discipline, I encourage my colleague bishops to follow the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, to ignore these unjust laws of our Discipline, and to permit United Methodist clergy who find it in their consciences and in their duties to fulfill the pastoral needs of those in their flock to celebrate ceremonies of Christian marriage for same-gender couples to do so. We all have the power to do the right thing.

Scripture tells us that if we belong to Christ, we are heirs to the promises of God. Christ has set us free. Let us not continue to imprison our LGBTQ family and friends with shackles of unjust laws that counter the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Grace and peace, Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, Ecumenical Officer, Council of Bishops

MFSA Board of Directors Responds to Bishops’ Statement
Regarding Bishop Melvin Talbert: ‘This Causes Spiritual Carnage’

ATLANTA – October 25, 2013 – The Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) applauds Bishop Melvin Talbert in providing pastoral care in blessing the loving relationship of Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince, two children of God, and acknowledging the love of Christ present in their marriage. We are deeply disappointed by the statement from the executive committee of the Council of Bishops which refuses to acknowledge God’s presence, beautifully expressed in the joyous experience of two people finding love and inviting their faith community into that celebration.

In their statement, our Episcopal leaders reference their charge to “promote the temporal and spiritual interests of the entire Church,” but send the message that certain people are incompatible with Christian teaching and reduces the celebration of their love to a chargeable offense which injures our LGBT fellow members. This causes spiritual carnage. Such actions damage relationships with God and turn God’s children away from the Church. Further, the discrimination inherent in The UMC’s policies relating to LGBT persons is then used to provide cover for hate. The expression of this hate leads to broken relationships with family and with God, to broken lives, and too often even to broken bodies. In clinging to our current policies, The UMC turns the Book of Discipline into a weapon of harm and is complicit in this violence.

For full statement, go to

MFSA Board of Directors, Program Council Meet in Atlanta

MFSA’s Program Council and Board of Directors met October 24-26 at St. Mark United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. The Program Council connects grassroots leaders of MFSA in order to resource Chapters and topic-based programs. Each Chapter may have a representative present, grassroots reports were shared, and affirmation of the work of the MFSA Office was provided. Our chapter is represented on the Program Council by Anne Mund.  Specific attention was given to how Chapters, Office, and Board of Directors can work in strengthening their work together.

At the Board of Director’s meeting, budgetary directives were set, staff was commended for their work throughout the executive leadership transition process, and the work of the Program Council was affirmed. The Board spent time reviewing MFSA’s Vision, Mission, and Values statements as a way to begin considering a new strategic plan. New Board members were selected (or affirmed if their position is connected to the Program Council). New members beginning in 2014 will be: Kuusela Hilo (Western Jurisdiction Representative); Joey Lopez (North Central Jurisdiction Representative); Laddie Perez-Galang (Program Council Co-Convener); Rev. Michelle Shrader (At-Large Member); and Darlene DiDomineck, Home Missioner (At-Large).  Rowland Curry from our chapter serves on the Board and is the Co-Convenor of the Program Council.  In addition, Julie Fuschak of the Central Texas chapter is the Jurisdictional Representative and attended both meetings.

Also during the Board meeting, two statements were issued surrounding the actions of the Council of Bishops Executive Committee in regards to Bishop Mel Talbert’s officiating at the blessing of marriage of Bobby Pince and Joe Openshaw in Birmingham, Alabama.

Among other items, the Board approved the formation of a new MFSA chapter in the Texas Conference (Houston).

The Interfaith Environmental Network of Austin

IEN Invites You to Attend our Monthly Symposium

Energy Conservation & Production with Austin Energy
part 1: “Worship Facilities”

Learn how Austin Energy can help your congregation SAVE MONEY and become a better creation steward!
This is a rare opportunity. Join Austin Energy’s Neil Leach, Key Accounts Manager and Conservation Specialist, in a presentation/Q&A on: electricity bill & rate changes, energy efficiency incentives, green project financing, and carbon-free energy production for houses of worship in the Austin area.


austin energy

Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013

7:00 pm,
at Faith Presbyterian Church

1314 East Oltorf Street


iACT – Interfaith Action of Central Texas

redbench_logo-300x79The Red Bench – December 3
People’s Choice – What would you like to discuss?

Add your voice to a conversation that matters!

The Red Bench is a dialogue program centered on moderated small group discussions that are genuinely respectful and safe. No one is expected to be an expert on the topics, but all 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

Interfaith Thanksgiving Service & Celebration


Sunday, November 24, 2013
3:00 to 4:30 p.m.

St. Louis Catholic Church
7601 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78757
Reception follows for those in attendance.

Please bring your favorite dish ready to serve.
Free, family-friendly, all are welcome!
Free Parking at the church.

Mobile Loaves & Fishes will be present to accept donations on their trucks and a list of items that they can use this winter:



News From TCADP

TCADP Lunch Discussion in Austin: November 13

tcadpThe Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is launching a bi-monthly luncheon series in Austin, and we want to see you there!  Please join other TCADP members and supporters in Austin, on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 from 11:45 to 1:00 PM for lunch at The Clay Pit Restaurant, 1601 Guadalupe St., Austin, TX 78701! The restaurant has a great lunch buffet to make service easy for us.

The guest speaker will be Dr. Kate Allen.  She has been a clinical social worker, professor of social work, psychotherapist, and trainer since 1973.  Dr. Allen is professor emerita from California State University, Sacramento.  Licensed in Texas and California, she has testified in and worked on dozens of cases in six states, including capital murder trials, 1st degree murder trials, and “failure-to-protect” civil cases.

Dr. Allen is known as an Attachment Specialist, providing consultation, testimony, and training in that area. She will talk with us about her experiences as an expert witness in death penalty cases. This is a great opportunity to meet other TCADP supporters and learn about our priority initiatives for the coming year.  We’ll also want to hear your ideas for future activities in Austin.


Two New Reports Shed Light on Flawed Administration,
Arbitrary Application of Texas Death Penalty

In September, the American Bar Association’s Texas Capital Punishment Assessment Team released the results of its more than two-year study of the fairness and accuracy of the death penalty system in Texas. The report finds that from top to bottom, the Lone Star State is significantly out of step with practices in other states that allow the death penalty. Learn more at

On the heels of the publication of the ABA Assessment, the Death Penalty Information Center released a compelling new report that illustrates the geographic isolation of the death penalty both in terms of executions and death sentences: The 2% Death Penalty: How a Minority of Counties Produce Most Death Cases at Enormous Costs to All.  Read the full report at


Cameron Todd Willingham was wrongly executed in 2004. 9 experts say he was innocent. Tell Texas it’s time to investigate! .Learn more!

Duane Buck– Have you heard of Duane Buck? His death sentence hinged on testimony from a psychologist who testified that because he is Black, he was more likely to be dangerous.  Sign the petition urging the Harris County District Attorney’s Office to agree to a new, fair sentencing hearing. Sign and Share today!


Bishop Spong to Lecture in Austin

Bailey Lecture Series

2013 Lecturer & Series Title: Bishop John Shelby Spong

November 22, 23 and 24.

All Saints Episcopal Church, Austin

Guest Lecturer, Bishop John Shelby Spong will present a lively discussion. 

spongFriday, Nov. 22nd: 7:00 p.m. First session followed by Wine & Cheese Reception

Saturday, Nov. 23rd: 8:30 a.m. Arrival (Coffee and Pastries)
Two sessions (Morning Session, Lunch Break, and Afternoon Session)

Sunday, Nov. 24th: Adult Ed Forum 10:30 a.m.


Admission is FREE and open to the public.  No reservations or tickets are required.  Guest lecturers are brought in each year through an endowment set up to honor the Rt. Rev. F. Scott Bailey. 

The lectures take place on the campus of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 209 West 27th Street, Austin, Texas. One block east of Guadalupe St., on the north edge of the University of Texas campus, between Whitis & University.

The Bailey Lecture Series is approved for CEUs (Continuing Education Unit for Clergy) by the Diocese of Texas.

Parking will be available at the Church, or several parking garages and parking lots in the area. Lunch is not provided on Saturday, but a map of restaurants within walking or driving distance is available to attendees.