Gather At The River Workshops Announced!

Workshops are intended to provide hands-on training opportunities to learn and hone skills for vital congregational ministries, advocacy for LGBTQ equality, engaging persons in the intersections of justice issues, and/or preparing a progressive witness for the 2016 General Conference.
Workshops will happen on Friday afternoon, August 7, and will be 75 minutes in length.


A1: Creating Rituals for Life Passages of Individuals and Communities – Marcia McFee

A2: Twenty-First Century Worship Leading and Soul Justice Singing – Mark Miller

A3: Breaking Down Barriers: Practicing Inclusion
Sharon McCart

A4: REFUEL: A Filling Station for the Overworked
Ruth Airhart

A5: Inclusion from Inception: Church Planting for Today
Brittany Isaac

A6: The Reconciling Process – Using the “Building An Inclusive Church Toolkit” – Helen Ryde

A7: “Where Do I Belong?” Creating Vital Communities of Accountability & Responsibility Across Difference
Vernice Thorn, Robyn Morrison, cathy knight

A8: Making God’s Vision Ours – Rev. Max Blaylock


B1: Southern Initiative in RMN Organizing – Laura Young & Helen Ryde

B2: Hate, Hope and Religion in Africa & USA – Dennis Apopka, Bishop Joseph Tolton, Ann Craig, M.Div.

B3: Troubling the Waters–Disruption 101: Basics of (Non)violent Direct Action – Rev. Amy E. DeLong & Rev. Dr. Julie Todd, Love Prevails

B4: Troubling the Waters- Disruption 201: Strategies and Techniques of (Non)violent Direct Action – Rev. Amy E. DeLong & Rev. Dr. Julie Todd, Love Prevails

B5: Preparing for General Conference – Rev. Steve Clunn and Kevin Nelson

B6: Building Bridges with Evangelicals and Moderates – Dave Nuckols & Giselle Lawn

B7: Who Ya Gonna Call? Navigating the Complaint/Legal Process in the UMC – Rev. Scott Campbell, Rev. Paul Fleck & Kevin Nelson


C1: Cultural Competency – Rev. Amy Stapleton

C2: Reproductive Justice: What’s Faith Got To Do With It?
Rev. Kathryn Johnson

C3: Palestinian & Israeli Voices: Impact of the Israeli Occupation on their Lives – Hashem Abushama & Dalit Baum, Ph.D.

C4: United Methodists and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement – David Wildman & Lisa Bender

C5: The Widow, the Orphan, the Stranger: Legal Ministry from a Spiritual Perspective – Piper Madison, Austin JFON

C6: Ending Mass Incarceration – Get Your Church/Campus Involved – T.C. Morrow

C7: Not Just a One Night Stand: Expanding Ministry with the Poor and Marginalized – Dr. John Flowers & Rev. Karen Vannoy

C8: Todos Somos Esperanza/We Are All Hope: Nepantla Strategies for Overcoming Injustice – Graciela Sánchez & Rachel Jennings


D1: The Gay Family Next Door – Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy

D2: Queer Voices of Color – Rev. Theon Johnson III ( moderator) and panelists Bridget Cabrera, Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey., Jorge Lockward, Dr. Mark Miller, Dr. Randall Miller & Alex Shanks

D3: Transgender Basics – Paula Buls, C. Kristian Clauser & Colin Jon david Stewart

D4: Deepening Ministry with Gender Diverse Persons – Giselle Lawn & Alex Shanks

D5: Family Acceptance Project: Revolutionizing How We Support LGBT People in Families & Faith Communities – Caitlin Ryan, PhD, ACSW

D6: LGBTQI Asylum and Global Congregations – Seeking Global AFFIRMATION – Ann Craig, M.Div.

D7: Communities of Color Journey Toward Full Inclusion – Jorge Lockward & Rev. Vicki Flippin

Rio Texas MFSA and Reconciling Team Offer Scholarships



The 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, there are two ways to donate. You may send a check to the MFSA 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.

Or, you may donate online at

If you are interested in applying for one of these scholarships, please download the application at and apply by May 30.

Texas Impact

Clergy Mondays at the State Capitol

In response to growing demand from clergy around the state, Texas Impact has launching Clergy Mondays at the Capitol in Austin for clergy and other religious professionals. This new initiative is designed to give clergy and other religious professionals opportunities for ongoing interaction with legislators and their staffs through the rest of the current legislative session and beyond.

Each Monday from now until the end of the legislative session (May 31, 2015), Texas Impact will host interested faith leaders for a short briefing on one key issue or bill. Participants will receive a list of legislative offices to visit, instructions for successful visits, and talking points on the week’s priority issue. Participants may be asked to attend committee hearings or engage with legislators outside the House and Senate chambers.

The program will start at 11am in Room E2.018 in the Capitol Extension, and end at 2pm in the Capitol Chapel. Each week will start and end with prayer or meditation by a participant. Participants are encouraged to eat together in the Capitol Grille if necessary. They are free to come to the Capitol early and stay as long as they want to.

For more information, please contact Bee Moorhead at Texas Impact to help with logistics or coordinate a meeting to connect with other faith community representatives at the Capitol.


Action Alert: Good Health and Bad Medicine

Medicaid expansion is currently stalled, but legislators are considering a number of bills that would keep Texans healthy. Call your legislator and urge support!

On the down side, legislators are considering a host of bills that would encourage inappropriate government involvement in religion. Proponents say the legislation is needed to protect religious freedom…but these bills would create religious winners and losers. Tell lawmakers “religious freedom” means everyone.

Find legislator phone numbers, bill information and more at

Texas Water Management 101: You and the State Water Plan

A Forum on Water Management and Conservation

Saturday, May 9, 2015   ●    9am – 5pm

Abiding Love Lutheran Church – 7210 Brush Country Road  Austin, TX 78749  ●   Free and Open to the Public  Lunch Provided  ●   RSVP Today!

Featured speakers include: Texas Water Development Board Commissioner Kathleen Jackson; Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon; Texas Parks and Wildlife Conservation Education Manager Johnnie Smith; and more!


Closing the Texas Coverage Gap 

New report from our friends at the Center for Public Policy Priorities

Wondering what ever happened to the Medicaid expansion? It’s not too late for Texas to do the right thing! This new report by CPPP’s Anne Dunkelberg will get you up to speed on developments in Texas and other states, how rural hospital closures factor into the equation, and what’s possible…even in just 30 days.

Events From Third Coast Activist

Screening of “Terms and Conditions May Apply”
Date: Thursday, May 7, 2015
Time: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
This documentary exposes what corporations and governments learn about people through internet and cell phone usage, and what can be done about it, if anything.
The screening is part of the “Controversy & Conversation” series, a collaboration between the Austin Public Library and the Humanities Institute’s Difficult Dialogues Program at the University of Texas. More information online.

Location: Austin Public Library, Terrazas Branch, 1105 East Cesar Chavez St., Austin, 78702
– See more at:

Texas Social Justice Series: Education
Date: May 7, 2015
Time: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
The third of a four-part series on the fight for social justice in Texas will focus on education. Panelists will discuss legal cases leading up to the Brown v. Board of Education decision and Texas’ role in shaping Supreme Court decisions of the era, along with analysis of the state of educational opportunity today. The panel will include University of Texas professors Eric Tang (African and African Diaspora Studies), Norma Cantu (Education and Law), and Leonard Moore (History).
This program is presented in partnership with the Social Justice Institute at the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Civil Rights Project. More information online.
Location: Bob Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Avenue, Austin, TX, 78701 (Congress and MLK)
– See more at:

Jane’s Walk: East Austin History Tour

Date: Saturday, May 9, 2015
Time: 10:00 am to 1:00 pm
Because of gentrification and increased transit access, East Central Austin, a vibrant area at the heart of Austin’s African American community, is in transition. This tour celebrating that history is part of Jane’s Walk USA, a series of free neighborhood walking tours aimed at bridging social and geographic gaps and creating a space for cities to discover themselves.

Tour guides will be Bertram Allen (W.H. Passon Historical Society), Tara Dudley (UT School of Architecture), Stephanie Jarvis (former director of the French Legation Museum), and Harrison Eppright (African American Cultural Heritage Center). The tour lasts about three hours. Organizers plan to stop for lunch at the end of the tour for those who want to eat together. More information online.

Location: meet at the French Legation Museum, 802 San Marcos St., Austin, 78702
– See more at:

Screening of “At the Death House Door”

Date: July 2, 2015
Time: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
This documentary investigates Texas’ 1989 execution of Carlos DeLuna, after prosecutors ignored evidence about another man who bragged to friends about committing the crimes of which DeLuna was convicted.
The screening is part of the “Controversy & Conversation” series, a collaboration between the Austin Public Library and the Humanities Institute’s Difficult Dialogues Program at the University of Texas. More information online.
Location: Austin Public Library, Terrazas Branch, 1105 East Cesar Chavez St., Austin, 78702
– See more at:

First UMC – Austin Celebrates 175 Years


Bishop Mike McKee will preach on Sunday, May 17th, during the celebration of the 175th anniversary of First UMC-Austin.  Bishop McKee, a native of Ft. Worth, Texas, attended the University of Texas, Austin, from which he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1973. As a young adult, he worshipped at First Church and volunteered in youth ministry.

He answered a call to ordained ministry and graduated from seminary at Perkins School of Theology, SMU, in 1978. His years of service as a pastor were spent in his home conference, Central Texas, where he served a variety of churches, including fifteen years as senior pastor of a fast growing congregation, First UMC, Hurst, from which he was elected bishop. Following his election, Bishop McKee was assigned to the Dallas area to serve as bishop of the North Texas Conference.

Events From Equality Texas


The 2nd Annual Contemporary Relationships Conference

Creating Healthy Dating, Relationship, and Family Experiences

Within the LGBTQ Community

Saturday, May 16  •  Austin, Texas  •  Optional Pre-Conference Institutes on Friday, May 15

Don’t miss your chance to get valuable information on LGBTQ dating, relationships, and family – presented by 32 thought leaders from across the country. The conference is open to LGBTQ singles, those in a relationship, and the allies and mental health professionals that affirm them (6-9 CE credits available). The Equality Texas Foundation is the conference host. The Early Bird registration rate ends April 7th.  Find out more at:


Building a State of Equality in Texas

The Spirit of Texas Brunch brings together influential LGBT and ally Texans, speakers, and award honorees for an enjoyable champagne brunch to celebrate diversity! The Brunch is Equality Texas’ annual statewide celebration and an opportunity for you to make an important impact on improving the lives of Texas’ diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) population.

Please join us as we say “thank you” to Texas leaders who have worked to advance equality for Texans in their workplaces, families, and communities! All funds raised at the event support Equality Texas’ work toward a state where all Texans are treated equally, with dignity and respect.

The 9th Annual Spirit of Texas Brunch
Sunday, May 17, 2015
VIP Reception: 10:30 am
Brunch Program: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Historic Pearl Stable
307 Pearl Parkway
San Antonio, TX  78215
Early-bird ticket sales end in TWO 1/2 WEEKS!

While there 20 bills before the 84th Texas Legislature that would subject LGBT Texans to discrimination, the regular session has seen more pro-LGBT bills, filed by more authors, than ever before seen in the history of the body. These 35 bills represent a huge step forward for equality in Texas.  Take a look at these bills at:

Hope Food Pantry Event