Chapter Meeting in March Features PLUM Cares!


Plum Care Logo finalPLUM Cares is a collection of non-profits and community projects centered at Parker Lane United Methodist Church

The March meeting of the Rio Texas Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action will feature John and Lee Ann Musler, members of University UMC-Austin, who will share their story about becoming involved with PLUM Cares, the justice ministries of Parker Lane United Methodist Church in Southeast Austin.  What started as a small outreach to area residents has mushroomed into vital ministries, including a ministry to immigrants. See the description of the participating non-profits and their work at:

The MFSA meeting will take place on Thursday evening, March 12th at Saint John’s UMC, 2140 Allandale Rd.  Refreshments begin at 6:30 and the program starts at 7:00.  Come and hear about the wonderful ministries at PLUM Cares!

You are also invited to attend the Lenten Dinner prior to the MFSA meeting in the Great Hall at Saint John’s, 5:30-7:00pm. At the dinner on Thursday, March 12, Rev. Ralph Underwood and Rev. Paul Escamilla will speak on the Parable of the Pharisee and Publican, Luke 18:9-14. Read more about the dinner and make a reservation at

Gather at the River! August 6-9, 2015


Thursday, August 6 – Sunday, August 9, 2015
pre-day forum begins at 9AM on Thursday
Event begins at 7PM Thursday

Gather at the River is a national conference that will meet at Travis Park United Methodist Church, an historic, open and justice-seeking community of faith in downtown San Antonio, steps away from the renowned River Walk entertainment and cultural district. Housing and additional meeting space will be at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel next door.

Methodist Federation for Social Action and Reconciling Ministries Network members and friends in the Rio Texas Conference are preparing to provide extravagant hospitality for Gather at the River participants. Gather at the River will also include the participation of kindred groups in the Love Your Neighbor Coalition. Gather at the River is a multi-generational gathering. Program activities for children (ages 3-rising 6th grade) and youth (middle and high school) will be led by professionally-trained staff.

Register Now at!  Early Registration Discount ends April 1.

The lineup of worship leaders, preachers, speakers, and entertainment is AWESOME!

Worship Leaders:  Marcia McFee & Mark A. Miller

Preachers:  Rev. Peter Storey, Rev. Theon Johnson, Nikilas Mawanda, Rev. Sarah Thompson Tweedy

Speakers: Bishop Minerva Carcaño, Rev. Grace Imathiu, Bishop Melvin Talbert, Rev. Frank Schaefer

Entertainers:  Jennifer Knapp, IlluMen, Campanas de América

Youth & Children’s Programs:  Shelley Walters, Carol Kohrs

Hosts:  Chett Pritchett (MFSA), Matt Berryman (RMN)

If you have been to convocation or one of the joint MFSA/RMN events such as Sing a New Song in 2011, you know what a treasure it is to have this conference in our backyard!

Place the dates, August 6 to 9, 2015 on your calendar now!


Rio Texas MFSA and Reconciling Team Offer Scholarships to Gather 2015The Rio Texas MFSA Chapter and Reconciling Ministries Team will offer financial assistance for deserving Rio Texas youth, young adults and adults who would like to go to the Gather at the River Conference in San Antonio, but cannot attend due to financial circumstances. The amount that we can give depends on the amount we raise for this purpose.

If you or your congregation would like to contribute to this effort, please send a check to the treasurer, Janice Curry, 1509 Mearns Meadow Blvd., Austin, TX 78758. Make the check to Rio Texas MFSA and write Gather 2015 scholarships on the memo line.

If you are interested in applying for one of these scholarships, please contact Janice Curry at or Joy Butler, by May 15.


50th Anniversary of the March on Selma – March 7, 2015

50th Anniversary of the March on Selma – March 7, 2015
In 1965, the eyes of the nation watched as thousands of ordinary people took to the streets of Selma to march for voting rights.

On March 7, Reverend Hosea Williams and John Lewis stepped from the pulpit of Brown Chapel Church and led a group of 600 toward Montgomery. After just six blocks, when they crossed the now infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River, Sheriff Jimmy Clark’s deputies and state troopers dispatched by Gov. Wallace attacked the group with nightsticks and tear gas, injuring dozens. The violence stopped the marchers’ first attempt, but they would not be silenced or stopped for good.

The event came to be known as “BLOODY SUNDAY”. Two weeks later, under the protection of Alabama National Guardsmen and Army troops, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. set off again from Selma and marched 54 miles along U.S. Hwy. 80 to Montgomery.

At 1:25 pm on March 25, 1965, the crowd then gathered without incident in front of the Alabama state capitol and by that time was 25,000 strong.

Not long after, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.

The March continues. Civil Rights of 50 years ago and today provide moving examples of what ordinary people can do.

An opportunity to participate in a re-creation of the March on Selma

The Round Rock Black History Organization commemorates the 50th anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, with an afternoon of activities. Guests or congregations are invited to participate in an afternoon of activities commemorating this historic event, which took place in 1965.

The Mays Street bridge will be closed for the duration of the march. The march will begin at noon and proceed onto Main Street and into Sharon Prete Plaza. After arriving at Prete Plaza, the program portion of the afternoon will include the reading of a mayoral proclamation in recognition of the event and voter registration.

Members of the community can also share their personal memories of Bloody Sunday. A keynote speech on the marches is offered by Dr. Calvin Kelly from St. Edward’s University. The worship portion of the program features Sweet Home the Pinnacle of Praise’s Voices of Worship choir. Following the choir’s performance, Pastor Keith Ferguson from City View Bible Church provides words of encouragement and reflection. The program closes with a performance by the Round Rock Ballet Folklorico.

For more information contact Bobby Sams, 512-671-3345 or

At Selma, Alabama on March 7, 2015

President Barack Obama and Former President George W. Bush will join in the reenactment of the March on Selma on March 7 for the 50th anniversary of the voting rights marches.

Bush and his wife, Laura, will join a large, bipartisan congressional delegation for part of a three-day civil rights pilgrimage to Alabama, according to Robert Traynham, a spokesman for the Faith and Politics Institute in Washington, which is organizing the event.

The Faith and Politics Institute, a bipartisan, interfaith nonprofit focused on racial and political reconciliation in Congress, has organized the pilgrimage every year since 1998.

“MARCH TO FREEDOM” CIVIL RIGHTS EXHIBIT – February 27 – April 15, 2015

Lyndon B. Johnson Library (LBJ);  2313 RED RIVER ST, Austin, Texas 78705

In honor of Black History Month, a new exhibit by UT Austin’s Briscoe Center and the LBJ Presidential Library celebrates the 50th anniversaries of the civil rights marches in Selma, Alabama, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

“March to Freedom” features rare photographs of the “Bloody Sunday” Selma-to-Montgomery march (March 7, 1965), documents, quotes, and images that celebrate subsequent marches, and photos from the LBJ Library’s 2014 Civil Rights Summit.

Through the words of Congressman John Lewis, former head of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and through the camera of James “Spider” Martin, “March to Freedom” follows a determined and undaunted group of marchers, both black and white, as they try on three different occasions to take their cause to Montgomery and the steps of the Alabama Statehouse.

Their peaceful demonstrations attracted media coverage, particularly when they were met with violent opposition, which helped garner the support necessary for the passage of voting rights legislation. The Selma-to-Montgomery marches for voting rights represent the political and emotional peak of the modern civil rights movement, which opened the door for the signing of the Voting Rights Act on August 6, 1965.

Texas AFT (American Federation of Teachers) – March 9 & 16

Texas AFT invites all educators and support staff to join us in Austin on the first Monday of spring break, March 9, for the 2015 Texas AFT Lobby Day. It is our turn to educate the legislature about our priorities, and tell them to do what’s right.

See the Texas AFT Legislative Agenda at:

Cover Texas Now Advocacy Day – March 12

 Texans deserve health insurance. 

More than 6 million Texans are uninsured, the highest rate in the U.S. But what did Texas’ elected officials do when they had a chance to cover uninsured Texans? They refused and turned their backs on more than 2 million hard-working Texans and left $100 billion of our tax dollars going to other states. In the 2 million, state politicians abandoned veterans and their spouses, workers in retail, construction, child care, hospitality, healthcare and food service. NOW is the time to rally together and fight for the health coverage millions of Texans deserve!

The goal of the day will be to bring a public, statewide voice to the Capitol regarding the need to close the Coverage Gap for low-income workers, caretakers, college students and Texans living with disabilities.

Meet at the state Capitol at 10:00 am on March 12 and finish at 3:30 pm. Register here if you plan on attending, or would like to get involved.

Freedom Advocacy Day – Monday, April 13

First UMC Family Life Center – 1300 Lavaca St

11:00am – 4:00pm

Equality Texas invites you to participate in YOUR government and to come to Austin on Monday, April 13, to meet face-to-face with those who represent YOU and talk to them about how the freedoms we value as Texans are affected by discrimination in based on bias against sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

Advanced registration is required in order to prepare constituent-matched materials and make strategic lobbying team assignments. Equality Texas will provide lunch.

If your organization would like to partner with Equality Texas for Freedom Advocacy Day please contact

Find more information at:

IEN Symposium Series

Austin Interfaith Environmental Network  Presents
“Food, Faith & Climate”
Thursday, March 12

 Our Spring, 2015 Symposium Series Begins March 12th. Join us for this first of four monthly symposiums as we focus on the connections between our food, our faith, and our climate. Kicking us off will be Dr. Molly Jensen, Assistant Professor of Religion at Southwestern University; and Edwin Marty, City of Austin’s new Food Policy Manager.

Dr. Jensen will guide us in making the connections between food, faith and climate as it relates to Lent, a season of prayerful observation preceding Easter. She will include a discussion of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Native American indigenous traditions in addition to Christianity.

Mr. Edwin Marty will emphasize the food and climate change connection based on his work at the Office of Sustainability.

Feel free to come at 6:30pm (before the symposium begins at 7pm) for a tour of the Third Day Community Garden on the grounds of The Sanctuary – located at 2614 Exposition Blvd., Austin, TX 78703.

IEN’s mission is: “Inspiring and assisting Austin’s religious communities to lead the effort to care for the earth and to transform ways of life that cause climate change.”

For much more about IEN, including beautiful video of our recent Clergy Climate Preach-In 2015, visit

Immigration – A Christian Conversation


Join the Healing Justice Ministry of Parker Lane UMC &

Austin Region Justice for Our Neighbors (ARJFON)

Immigration: A Christian Conversation

Sunday, March 22 at 4pm

Parker Lane UMC,

2105 Parker Lane, Austin, TX 78741

What is the issue with immigration anyway?

·       An estimated 11-12 million immigrants seeking legal status currently live in the US.

·       Stepped-up enforcement with immediate deportation and automatic bans on legal return has added hardship to families, especially when parents are separated from their minor children.

·       Since the 1990s, the complexity of applications, the length of backlogs and wait times, and fees for applications have all increased.

Join the conversation about the work of JFON to address these justice issues and find out what we all can do as people of faith.


Help for unaccompanied migrant children

Faith in Action, GBCS

February 10, 2015

Austin Region Justice for Our Neighbors Receives Grant from UMCOR


AUSTIN, Texas — In June 2014, the number of unaccompanied children (UAC) apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border reached its highest level to date: 10,622 in one month. After spending weeks in a government-approved shelter, most would be released to live with family members in the United States. While striving to adjust to their new lives, new schools and new friends, these children also had to cope with their grueling and interminable deportation proceedings.

Approximately 350 of these unaccompanied children were sent to live with relatives here. Many of them were fleeing horrific gang violence or family abuse. If deported back to Honduras, El Salvador, or Guatemala, they would face torture, brutality, even death. These children needed help. They needed advocates. Most of all, they needed good lawyers.

Without legal representation, unaccompanied children have little hope for a happy ending to their story. Those fortunate enough to have attorneys are nearly five times more likely to be allowed to stay legally in the United States than those without.

Enter Austin Justice For Our Neighbors (ARJFON), which announced its intention to focus on UAC cases in July. It was a logical and natural step for them, explains Julie Flanders, ARJFON’s legal director, as so many of their cases “involve women and children who have suffered abuses, making them eligible for special protections.”

flandersjulieJulie herself has a strong background in representing unaccompanied children, and she has spent a significant amount of time at the border, developing relationships with the Office of Refugee Resettlement, with other immigrant aid groups, and with all the major players in the UAC crisis. “I knew exactly what needed to be done,” Flanders says. “We just didn’t have enough attorneys to do it.”

Enter the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), which offered a $100,000 grant to National Justice For Our Neighbors. In partnership with a JFON site, the grant would address the need for legal representation for unaccompanied children. But, first, NJFON and ARJFON had to write the proposal.

Thanks to UMCOR, Austin JFON now has a new attorney, Rebecca Rosenberg, to focus entirely on its UAC program. ARJFON also has a new community liaison/legal assistant, Piper Madison. Due to the partnership with UMCOR and NJFON, Austin JFON is now in the position to become a leading voice in UAC legal representation, not just for the JFON network, but for the immigrant legal aid community.

Read the complete story here:

Austin JFON will be presenting the program at the May 14 MFSA meeting at Saint John’s UMC.

Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT) Events

rb-webpost-02-2yhwtm1qsgjmjz6hh42breRed Bench: Legacy

Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 6:30pm-8:30pm

Topic: Legacy

Location: Congregation Agudas Achim

(7300 Hart Lane, Austin, TX)

hope-2015-banner02Hope Awards

iACT’s Hope Awards

“Forgiveness through Faith”

Tuesday, May 5, 2015
6:00 – 9:00 PM
Four Seasons Hotel Austin
98 San Jacinto Boulevard

The Hope Awards provides support for iACT’s outstanding community service programs. Hands on Housing repairs the homes of impoverished seniors and people with disabilities. iACT for Refugees provides basic educational assistance to newly arrived refugees from around the world. The Red Bench dialogue program encourages meaningful conversations that matter.

We will honor Michael Morton, who was wrongfully convicted in 1987 in a Williamson County court for the brutal murder of his wife. His faith gave him the strength to endure hardship and the mercy to forgive.

Locked away in Texas prisons for a quarter century, he had years to ponder questions of justice and innocence, truth and fate. Though he was virtually invisible to society, a team of dedicated attorneys spent years fighting for the right to test DNA evidence found at the murder scene.

He was exonerated by DNA evidence which supported his claim of innocence and pointed to the crime being committed by another individual. Morton was released from prison on October 4, 2011, and the prosecutor was convicted of contempt of court for withholding evidence after the judge had ordered its release to the defense.

Become A Sponsor or Purchase Tickets

Save the Date – MFSA Recycling Event

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MFSA Will Sponsor 6th Annual
(Batteries, Oil, Paint, Antifreeze) Recycling Event

Saturday, April 18 – 8 am to 10:30 am
Memorial UMC, 6100 Berkman Dr.

Start cleaning the garage and find those batteries, oil, paint, and antifreeze and bring them to the MFSA BOPA event on Saturday, April 18, at Memorial UMC, 6100 Berkman Dr, Austin, TX from 8:00 – 10:30 am. View a Map.

If you would like to help with this event or have questions, please contact Anne Mund,

Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

23 February 2015

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Stays Execution of Rodney Reed


Today, February 23, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the execution of Rodney Reed, which was scheduled to take place on March 5th.  The court issued the stay to consider new evidence that may establish Reed’s innocence in the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites.

Here’s a statement from Reed’s lawyer, Bryce Benjet, a staff attorney with the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law:

We’re extremely relieved that the court has stayed Mr. Reed’s execution so there will be proper consideration of the powerful new evidence of his innocence. We are also optimistic that this will give us the opportunity to finally conduct DNA testing that could prove who actually committed the crime.

The new evidence includes affidavits that confirm Reed’s romantic relationship with Stites and statements from three forensic examiners who reviewed the case and believe Stites was likely killed hours earlier than previously thought, challenging the timeline of her death as presented at Reed’s trial.

Six judges on the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed to the stay, which is “pending further order of this court.”

Read more about today’s ruling from the Texas Tribune and the Austin American-Statesman.

A copy of the court’s order is available at

Allies Against Slavery – Summit Scheduled

allies@2xAllies Against Slavery


The Slave-Free City Summit

Fri, Apr 17, 2015 8:00am – Sat, Apr 18, 2015 9:00pm

For the City Center

500 E St Johns Ave.  Austin, TX, 78752

A two-day gathering of leaders, survivors, practitioners and community members who want to deepen the conversation about working together to create lasting solutions to slavery. Register here!

The Slave-Free City Summit is powered by Allies Against Slavery and is a unique gathering that focuses on the issue of human trafficking and slavery in the United States.  Allies believes that a Slave-Free City is made possible when stakeholders from eight key sectors across public, private, and volunteer domains of that city come together to contribute unique insight, skills, and resources to create opportunities and solutions at those very intersections. That cross-sector coordination is the focus of the Summit: creating solutions and opportunities at the intersections of society.  The Summit addresses the topics such as the disruption of unjust systems, race, history, art, faith, immigration, transitional justice, tech, enterprise, and other issues that intersect with the problem of human trafficking in the United States.

Hope Food Pantry Event

Save the Date for Hope’s Annual Fundraiser

An Evening of Hope
Feed your neighbors, Feed your soul

Sunday, May 17th, 2015, 5:30p.m.

Tarrytown United Methodist Church

2601 Exposition Boulevard – Austin

MFSA Annual Conference Luncheon Registration Open


Friday, June 12, 2015 – NoonAmerican Bank Convention Center

Corpus Christi, Texas

5th Annual Peace and Justice Luncheon

Sponsored by

Methodist Federation for Social Action, Rio Texas Chapter &

The Rio Texas Conference Transforming Communities Vision Team


Bishop Minerva Carcaño

We are very pleased to have as our speaker Bishop Minerva Carcaño, who is currently serving as Bishop to the Los Angeles Area, the California-Pacific Conference. Bishop Carcaño became the first Hispanic woman to be elected to the episcopacy of The United Methodist Church in 2004. She is a fierce advocate for human rights and social justice.

A native of Edinburg, TX, Bishop Carcaño spent her early years aspiring to make a difference in the lives of persons who faced poverty and discrimination. Not forgetting her roots and early hopes, her ministry has always involved work with the poor, with farm workers, immigrants, and refugees, even as she encourages congregations to work ecumenically and to be active in community organizing. Of her tireless work, she has said, “The road of ministry has not always been easy, but it has always been an incredible blessing, and it has always been home.”

Join us for this on-site luncheon. In addition, we will honor the recipients of the MFSA “Building a Just Community” Awards. The luncheon flyer is available:


Luncheon Registration Information

Cost:      $12.00 in advance (by June 6) – Check or cash      Need Spanish Translation?

$15.00 at the door (limited number available)

Or, pay by credit card*

*Credit Card fee of $1.65 will be added to the cost ($13.65 total)

Texas Impact News

Texas impact

Senate Medicaid proposal would burden disadvantaged Texans and property taxpayers

Submitted by Sean Hennigan on Mon, 03/02/2015 – 12:42pm

AUSTIN—In response to Lt. Governor Patrick and Sen. Schwertner’s letter asking federal officials for flexibility to increase burdens on current Texas Medicaid recipients, Texas Impact issued the following statement:

“Texas faith communities have a deep, historic commitment to our state’s healthcare system. Many of our hospitals retain their denominational names to this day.

We are dismayed that the Senate leadership would propose to ratchet down its already minimal support for the least of our brothers and sisters, thereby exacerbating the already onerous unfunded mandates the Legislature places on local jurisdictions.

Texans today pay twice for our uninsured. We send income tax dollars to Washington D.C.—dollars that the federal government intends to send back to cover uninsured Texans, but which state leaders have steadfastly refused.

Because lawmakers refuse to accept the repatriation of our income taxes, Texans must pay for charity care at local hospitals through property taxes. In fact, a 2013 report by former Deputy Comptroller Billy Hamilton estimated that hospital district taxpayers absorb more than $2 billion in local health care costs. Senate leaders have indicated that property tax relief is a priority—but the fastest way to reduce local property taxes would be to draw down available federal funds to provide health insurance for low-income Texans.

Instead, Senate leaders seem to be headed in the opposite direction. If legislators are successful in tightening restrictions for existing Medicaid recipients—who are almost exclusively children, the aged, and those with disabilities—they will only increase demands on local systems while making life harder for millions of our most challenged neighbors.”

See this month’s Better Neighbors Faith Based Advocacy in Action report and other important information, visit