Letter to Southwest Texas Conference Delegates to Annual Conference

Southwest Texas MFSA has sent a letter to 2014 delegates to the Southwest Texas Annual Conference. We will be electing delegates to 2016 General Conference this June. We have invited delegates to come by our vendor booth for conversation and to attend our Peace and Justice Luncheon. We wanted delegates to know that there are voices in our conference other than Methodist Renewal Movement and the United Methodist Men.

Read the letter here:  Clergy Delegate Letter

Next Chapter Meeting May 8

MFSA May Chapter Meeting

Thursday, May 8

The Unification to Form the Rio Texas Conference:
What Will the Tapestry Woven by the Unification Look Like?

Join MFSA on Thursday, May 8, at Saint John’s UMC to hear Rev. Edward Garcia, pastor of Emmanuel UMC, share the story of the Unification of the Southwest Texas Conference and the Rio Grande Conference to form the Rio Texas Conference of the UMC.  Rev. Garcia has been active in the Unification decision-making progress.

Riotx-districts-2014In June 2013, both conferences approved the Unification Implementation Team’s recommendations for the transition to the new conference. In February 2014, the conferences voted to name the new conference “Rio Texas”.

Some questions we will want to ask Rev. Garcia include:

  • Why are the two conferences uniting?
  • What is the mission and vision of the Rio Texas Conference?
  • Will programming remain the same?
  • Where does the Unification stand today?

Please join us on Thursday, May 8, at Saint John’s UMC, 2140 Allandale Rd. for snacks at 6:30pm and the program at 7:00pm.

MFSA Participates in Give OUT Day – Please Help

give out daySince 1907, MFSA has been a leader in both the UMC and broader society for progressive issues like peace, integration, women’s reproductive health, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality.

In the upcoming weeks, we have a great opportunity.  Thanks to the work of Bolder Giving and the Razoo Foundation, MFSA will be participating in Give OUT Day – a day of concentrated giving for organizations working in the field of LGBT advocacy.  MFSA has worked tirelessly for the rights of LGBT people in The United Methodist Church.  MFSA continues to do so by housing (and currently funding) the position of Coalition Coordinator for the Love Your Neighbor Coalition – 10 caucus groups within The United Methodist Church seeking a change in the denomination’s policies and practices around human difference.  Likewise, MFSA is currently working with an interfaith network of agencies to encourage elected representatives to co-sponsor the Employment Non-Discrimination Act when it comes to Congress later this year.

Please consider a donation to MFSA on Give OUT Day to help us continue our advocacy work. Give OUT Day is great for two reasons:

  • There are incentive prizes for organizations with the highest dollar amount raised and for the most individual donation units. This means YOUR GIFT OF ANY AMOUNT can help us reach an incentive level!
  • You don’t have to wait until May 15 to commit. If you go right now to http://giveout.razoo.com/story/Methodist-Federation-For-Social-Action and make your pledge – then on May 15 your donation will be processed! It’s really that easy

Thank you for considering a gift to MFSA for our work of justice and advocacy. And thank you for all you do to make the world a better place.

Reception For Austin District Superintendent

Annual Conference Briefing
& Farewell Reception

purdySteve & Vickie Purdy

Sunday, May 18, 2014
3:00 PM

Manchaca UMC
1011 FM 1626
Manchaca, Tx

We will be collecting cards and notes of goodbyes and good wishes for Steve and Vickie, as well as things Austintacious” to send along with them on the journey out west. We hope you will join us as we bid them farewell.

Judicial Council Rulings (4/27/14)

Regarding the candidacy of Mary Ann Barclay:[Decision No. 1553] The Bishop’s decision is affirmed. When a district committee on ordained ministry recommends a candidate for election to provisional membership, the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry shall include a personal interview with the candidate as part of its full examination of the candidate in order to determine his/her fitness for election to provisional membership. Because this disciplinary point was ignored by the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, the candidate remains a certified candidate for ordained ministry.

Mary Ann’s interview with the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry is Scheduled for May 13.  The SWTX Reconciling Ministries Team has established an Online Prayer Vigil for Mary Ann.  Learn more and registerhere.

Same-sex spouse benefits decision

[Decision No. 1554] The General Council on Finance and Administration has the authority to determine whether or not the use of general agency funds violates the prohibition against using church funds “to promote the acceptance of homosexuality.” (¶ 806.9) By its action on October 21, 2013, in fulfillment of its mandate found in ¶ 807.12, the General Council on Finance and Administration determined that the use of general agency funds to subsidize the premium costs for employees and their same-gendered spouses enrolled in the General Agencies Welfare Benefits Program does not violate ¶ 806.9 of the 2012 Discipline.

Marriage Equality decision

[Decision No. 1552] The Bishop’s decision of law is modified.  An annual conference may express an aspiration or a prophetic appeal for a change in Church Law.  But an annual conference may not negate, ignore, or violate the provisions of the Discipline.  In its first “Resolved” section, the “Marriage Equality Resolution” by the Desert Southwest Annual Conference expresses an aspiration.  In its second “Resolved” section, the action ignores Church law and encourages a violation of Church law.  In its third “Resolved” section, the Resolution declares that the annual conference and its local churches will offer some limited forms of support for those who violate Church Law.  The decision of law by the Bishop neglects to recognize the factors where the Resolution may ignore Church Law, negate Church Law, or affirm a violation of Church Law.

The Bishop’s decision of law is modified to acknowledge these deficiencies.  The first “Resolved” portion of the “Marriage Equality Resolution” is within Church Law.  The second “Resolved” section is null and void and of no effect.  The third “Resolved” section is within Church Law to the extent that its definition of supporting someone “spiritually, emotionally and prayerfully” is understood not to ignore, negate, or violate Church Law.

For full text of these decisions, click here.

Rev. Schaefer Speaks At First UMC – Austin

frankschaefer2On Sunday, April 27, many MFSA and RMN supporters celebrated A Service of Witness to the All-Inclusive Grace of God at First UMC, Austin, the first anniversary of the decision made by to affiliate as a congregation with the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN).  Beginning with the Life in the City musical ensemble, plus a 70-voice choir, we prayed, sang, and shared Communion.

The featured preacher was the Reverend Frank Schaefer, who was put on trial and found guilty by the UMC in 2013 for performing a same-gender marriage of his own son.   His sermon, “A Time for Action: Stepping Out on the Waters of Faith” was both inspiring and challenging.

Rev. Corsaro Responds To The Boy Scouts

monica-CorsaroLast month, the Boy Scouts of America revoked the troop charter of a Seattle-area United Methodist Church because the church would not boot the scoutmaster Geoffrey McGrath, a married, gay Eagle Scout.   Mr. McGrath is first gay adult to be removed from the Boy Scouts of America since the organization’s vote in May of 2013 to end its ban on gay youth.

MFSA’s friend Rev. Dr. Monica Corsaro (left), the pastor of Ranier Beach UMC, explains why in this article in Time Magazine.

Washington state’s legislature sent this letter addressed to Rev. Corsaro in support of their retention of Mr. McGrath as Scoutmaster.

Christian Unity Gathering May 18-20

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Council of Churches (NCC) will host a Christian Unity Gathering (CUG), Sunday through Tuesday, May 18-20, at the Hilton Washington Dulles Airport here.

Primary focus will be on the scourge of mass incarceration.

The gathering is to convene people of faith to explore the widening revelation of God’s love and challenge us to deepen our commitment to work with people marginalized and disenfranchised from opportunities God desires everyone to enjoy.

At this gathering the primary focus will be on the scourge of mass incarceration and what the ecumenical community is already doing and can do together to combat a justice system that warehouses and disposes disproportionate numbers of people of color.

Featured speakers

Featured speakers include the following:

  • Dr. Iva Carruthers, general secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference;
  • Dr. Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund;
  • Dr. Harold Dean Trulear, national director of Healing Communities; and
  • Jim Wallis, president/editor-in-chief of Sojourners.

The Rev. A. Roy Medley, general secretary, American Baptist Churches – USA, will lead a Bible study.  In addition, new NCC General Secretary/President Jim Winkler will offer his vision for the organization during a service of celebration. For more information, visit the CUG webpage for the full roster of presenters, schedule and registration.

Berryman to Preach at University UMC Austin May 18

Matt Berryman, Executive Director of the Reconciling Ministries Network, will preach at University UMC – Austin on May 18.

matt_berrymanPrior to joining the staff of RMN, Matt spent three years in law school at the Florida Coastal School during which time he worked for churches, law firms, and LexisNexis as a legal editor.  From 2002-2009, Matt served United Methodist congregations in the Jacksonville area of the Florida Conference.  In addition to serving churches in the United Kingdom, he has led training events and workshops for The United Methodist Church, The Fund for Theological Education, Emory University, and the Fellowship of United Methodists for Music and Worship Arts.  He received a B.A. from the University of South Carolina and a M.Div. from Emory University.

MFSA Plans Witness at SWTX Annual Conference

The SWTX Chapter of MFSA will be active at Annual Conference in June in Corpus Christi.

We will again serve as a gathering point for progressive-minded Methodists in the exhibit hall, providing information and selling chocolate and books.  We will again team up with the conference Reconciling Team to provide a safe place for conversations as well as recharging spiritual and cell phone batteries.

To makIMG_9889be this happen, we need volunteers to work at our information and book fair tables, we need people to attend the Peace and Justice Luncheon, we need people to attend the Reconciliation Service.

Most of all, we need volunteers willing to talk to Annual Conference delegates about our passions for social action, justice, peace, and inclusion in the UMC and the world. Contact Rowland Curry at rcurry@austin.rr.com for more information.


MFSA Annual Conference Luncheon

Life After Death Row – With Anthony Graves

Peace and Justice Luncheon

Henry Garrett Prefunction Area

Corpus Christi, SWTX UMC Annual Conference
June 13 at Noon

antony_gravesAnthony Graves is known by most as death row exoneree 138.  But he is known by those close to him as a loving son, brother, father and friend taken away from them at a young age.  Anthony lost eighteen and a half years of his life when he was wrongly convicted of a brutal crime and incarcerated in Texas prisons, sixteen of those years in solitary confinement, twelve on death row, with two execution dates.  Ultimately, perseverance, faith and the tireless work of The Innocence Network and others on Anthony’s team, put enough pressure on the system from the outside, and from the inside, where Anthony remained strong.  Anthony was proven innocent.

Today Anthony Graves is an advocate for those he left behind. He speaks worldwide about his case and others like it. In the Fall of 2013, Anthony established a scholarship at the University of Texas Law School in the name of his champion Professor Nicole Casarez.  http://anthonybelieves.com/about-anthony/

Join us for this on-site luncheon.  In addition, we’ll honor the recipients of the MFSA “Building a Just Community” Awards and the SWTX Conference Peace With Justice Awards

Link to the luncheon flyer:   https://swtmfsa.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/mfsa_peace-and-justice-luncheon-2014.pdf

Pre-Conference Report: 2014 PreConf 42514


 Luncheon Registration Information


Cost:     $12.00 in advance (by June 8) – Check or cash

$15.00 at the door (limited number available)

Or, pay by credit card* – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/peace-and-justice-luncheon-life-after-death-row-tickets-10873526009

We Need Your Books Again This Year!

DSC01581For 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 (rcurry@austin.rr.com) and we will arrange to pick them up.

Reconciling Service Of Healing And Hope at Annual Conference

RMN logoFriday, June 13, 2014 at 7am

First UMC, Corpus Christi, TX in the chapel

Join the SWTX Reconciling Team for the first-ever Reconciling Service
at our Annual Conference in Corpus Christi, TX

Communion will be served.

Rev. Stuart Goes to Washington

jenStuartAs reported earlier, Rev. Jen Stuart made the difficult decision to transfer from the Southwest Texas Annual Conference to the Pacific Northwest Conference as a result of our conference’s continuing support of the UMC’s discriminatory policies toward our GLBT brothers and sisters.

Bishop Grant Hagiya of the Pacific Northwest Conference has announced that Rev. Stuart will be serving the Ellensburg (Washington) UMC, effective July 1.  We wish Jen all the best in this move!

News from TCADP

Download – Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty 2014 Spring Quarterly NewsletterIn this issue:

Cover Story TCADP’s Strategic Plan prioritizes 5 areas of importance for furthering our goals of first decreasing and then ending the use of the death penalty.  We invite your support and involvement in these initiatives.

Voices of Texas:On page 4, our colleagues at Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation share with us the best ways to respond to those we know touched by violence.

Death Penalty Developments:  TCADP works to stay apprised of new death sentences, stays of executions and emerging trends in Texas’ response to capital punishment, found on page 5.

Can Social Media Increase Anti-Death Penalty Engagement?  Find the answer on page 6 and learn several specific ways to increase your impact and further our efforts.

Special Events:  Check the TCADP calendar for events of interest happening in your community.

Thank You, Members, Donors, and Partners for Justice:  Thank you to everyone who supported TCADP during Amplify Austin in March!  TCADP repeated its win of an extra $1000 for most donors during 1:00-2:00pm of the campaign.  We couldn’t be as effective as we are in the fight to end the death penalty without those of you who support TCADP as annual and sustaining members, Partners for Justice and generous donors. Celebrate your fellow TCADP members by seeing who gave this quarter.