Rio Texas MFSA Has Strong Presence at Inagural Rio Texas Annual Conference

Your Rio Texas MFSA Chapter volunteers were very active during the inaugural Rio Texas Annual Conference in Corpus Christi.  We again worked with the Rio Texas Reconciling Ministries Team to establish a hub of conversation and information.  There was a book fair, where your donated books were offered in exchange for contributions. There were exhibits and information on our MFSA chapter and our partner organizations, Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and the Austin Regional JFON (Justice for our Neighbors).  And, we gave away pens, bookmarks, pins, candy, and bumper stickers!

Many of our MFSA chapter members and supporters were delegates, and we had at least 20 other volunteers who contributed their time and travel expenses to be a part of this powerful witness.  Thanks to all who helped with this effort!


Our space in the vendor hall provided information about MFSA and other social justice organizations. The book fair offered conference attendees an opportunity to browse for their favorite authors and subjects, or to find something new and interesting to read.

Peace and Justice Luncheon – Wellsprings of Justice – Bishop Minerva Carcaño Keynote Speaker

About 270 people attended the luncheon entitled “Wellsprings of Justice,” featuring Bishop Minerva Carcaño.  In 2004, Bishop Carcaño became the first Hispanic woman to be elected to the episcopacy of The United Methodist Church. She serves as the official spokesperson for the United Methodist Council of Bishops on the issue of immigration. Bishop Carcaño is a fierce advocate for human rights and social justice.  A native of Edinburg, TX, she spent her early years aspiring to make a difference in the lives of persons who faced poverty and discrimination.

She shared with us poignant stories of children who have come across our borders, the dangerous conditions under which they were forced to leave their homes, and their arduous journeys to travel to the United States. But, instead of finding safe harbor, tens of thousands of children have gotten caught in a political limbo while our nation debates their fates.

All children have basic human rights, no matter what they look like or where they come from. Bishop Carcaño encouraged us to get involved with efforts to help these immigrants. Of special interest to her is the work of Justice for Our Neighbor (JFON).  JFON is a ministry of hospitality that welcomes immigrants by providing low cost legal services and engaging in advocacy for immigrants’ rights.

MFSA donated $500 to Austin Region JFON in honor of Bishop Carcaño, and in addition, over $800 in donations for JFON were collected at the luncheon, for a total donation of over $1,300.  To learn more about Austin Region JFON or to donate, go to



Bishop Carcaño Speaks to a full house about immigration, a topic that is dear to her heart.

MFSA Justice Awards

Two awards were given at this year’s luncheon.  Each award recipient receives a plaque and a certificate, and a $100 donation is made to the National MFSA Office in the name of the honoree(s).

The Building a Just Community Achievement Award for Justice recognizes congregations that have made a substantial contribution to creating a more just community.  This year, MFSA recognized one congregation for becoming affiliated with the Reconciling Ministries Network.  A Reconciling Community is one which makes space at the table for all God’s children by explicitly welcoming lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and striving to transform the church into a full expression of Christ’s inclusive love. This year’s recipient of the Building a Just Community Congregational award is Saint John’s UMC – Austin.

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Members of Saint John’s UMC Austin were presented with the Building a Just Community Achievement Award for Justice in recognition of their commitment to full inclusion in the UMC and the world, and for their actions this year to affiliate with the Reconciling Ministries Network. Twenty-six members of the Saint John’s congregation were in attendance. Rev. Paul Escamilla accepted the award for Saint John’s.

The Genesis Award recognizes groups or individuals who have recently begun a journey creating a more just community, and who have made an outstanding contribution.



Rev. Richard Bates presented MFSA’s 2015 Genesis Award to Reece Paz, representing the PLUM Cares programs of Parker Lane UMC Austin. PLUM Cares is a collection of non-profits and community projects centered at Parker Lane UMC in Austin. View the list of projects at:

Open Letter to United Methodist Bishops in Texas – From Laity

If you are a Texas United Methodist lay person, please consider signing the Open Letter to Texas Bishops, which was written by a team of 5 United Methodist laity representing all 5 conferences in the state of Texas (Texas, Rio Texas, North Texas, Central Texas, and Northwest Texas). It was written by laity – for laity – and is intended to share concerns regarding the exclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons in The United Methodist Church.

The timing of the letter reflects the anticipation of marriage equality reaching Texas as a result of the Supreme Court ruling expected in late June. While the court could issue a partial ruling requiring only that states recognize all marriage licenses from other states, legal experts say a sweeping ruling in favor of marriage equality is more likely. View the letter and the 919 names of Texas United Methodists that have already signed the letter at: