MFSA September Meeting Thursday, September 8, 7pm

Texas Gun Sense

During the upcoming year, the Rio Texas Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) will focus our programming and action on Creating a Culture of Nonviolence.   On Thursday, September 8, join us at Saint John’s UMC Austin, 2140 Allandale Rd, to learn about the work being done by Texas Gun Sense to reduce gun violence.   Our speaker will be Andrea Brauer, Executive Director at Texas Gun Sense, providing information about the organization.

txgunsenselogoFrom the website

“The shootings of innocent people are becoming far too common, and we are dismayed by the lack of response from our government.

Texas Gun Sense works to reduce gun violence by promoting effective gun laws through research and public awareness.

We use “gun sense” because we recognize citizens’ right to own guns, but also believe our laws could be strengthened to include more sensible policies that would protect the general public from avoidable accidents and injuries from guns.”

Join us at 6:30p for snacks. The program begins at 7p. All are welcome.

Concert Across America


If you cannot attend our meeting, consider attending the Concert Across America to remember the victims of gun violence at Threadgills, 301 Riverside Dr. on Sunday, September 25 – 3-8p. With special musical performances from: Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Butch Hancock, Guy Forsyth & the Riveters, and others.

Gun violence takes a devastating toll on Texans daily. The number of gun deaths in Texas has been rising annually, and it is time we speak up to say that it is unacceptable. Show your support for ending gun violence by attending the Austin event and donating to Texas Gun Sense.  For more information on how you can sponsor or partner for the event please contact Megan Russell at or 512-465-2162.

Commemorative Marches for Farm Worker Rights

Join the 50th Anniversary Commemorative March for Farm Worker Rights, September 11th in Austin

On Sunday, September 11, 2016, march to honor the justice struggles of farm workers 50 years ago—and to commit to the justice struggles that remain unfinished today.


12 p.m.:  Program on the Quad at St Edward’s University

1 p.m.:  Start of 4-mile march to the Capitol

4 p.m.:  Arrive at Capitol for a rally



In July and August of 1966, hundreds of people—including whole families—marched 400 miles from Rio Grande City to Austin to call attention to the plight of farm workers in Texas. On Labor Day, more than 10,000 supporters, including Cesar Chavez, walked with marchers the last four miles from St. Edward’s University to the South Steps of the Capitol. Texas religious leaders were among key supporters of the march, “La Marcha”—and of the movement for better pay and working conditions for farm workers.

The Rio Grande Melon Strike started in June, 1966, when workers who were paid between $.40-$.85 per hour called for a minimum hourly wage of $1.25. Rebecca Flores, former director of the United Farm Workers in Texas, notes: “It has been 50 years since the farmworker march and strike called attention to harsh working conditions and microscopic pay in Texas, but the issues of the minimum wage, poor working conditions, and substandard housing for migrant farmers are just as relevant in Texas in 2016. Remembering what the farmworkers did in 1966 is much more than a lesson in history.”

A United Methodist deacon at the time, Bishop Joel Martinez participated in La Marcha and has been instrumental in supporting this year’s commemorative march. “If we forget the previous generation’s struggles,” he warns, “we’re not going to do the justice work in the present generation. We have a lot of unfinished business in the state of Texas in terms of justice work around the issues of fairness in the workplace, educational opportunity, healthcare, and immigration policy. All of that is unfinished business for this generation and the generation yet to come.”

Interfaith Environmental Network

IENWednesday, September 7, 2016, 7:00-8:30pm

Congregation Beth Israel

3901 Shoal Creek Blvd.

Austin, TX 78756

Light refreshments will be served.

Featuring guest speakers:

Jennifer Smith, Executive Director, Congregation Beth Israel

Charlene Heydinger, President, The Texas PACE Authority

Your congregation can finance energy efficiency improvements through the PACE Program! Learn how at IEN’s September Symposium!

A new, state-sponsored financing option enables nonprofits—including houses of worship—to obtain affordable, long-term loans covering up to 100 percent of the cost for energy efficiency, water saving, and onsite generation technologies. The PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy)  program is now available in the cities of Dallas and Houston, Travis County, Williamson County, and two counties in the Rio Grande Valley: Cameron and Willacy.
One congregation in Austin became the first in Texas to benefit from PACE financing. Come hear their story and learn how PACE might work for your congregation!

This event is co-sponsored by:  The Texas PACE Authority & Interfaith Environmental Network

Initiative – “Repairers of the Breach”

Repairers of the Breach

On September 12, people of faith and moral courage will gather at state capitols in 25 states to deliver the “Higher Ground Moral Declaration”, which calls on governors, senators, state legislators, and candidates for office to move away from extremist politics and policies that benefit the few and move toward policies and laws that are just and fair and guarantee a better life for the majority of the people.


By Rev. Dr. William Barber II, Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Rev. Dr. Traci Blackmon, Sr. Simone Campbell

We declare that the deepest public concerns of our nation and faith traditions are how our society treats the poor, those on the margins, the least of these, women, children, workers, immigrants and the sick; equality and representation under the law; and the desire for peace, love and harmony within and among nations.

Together, we lift up and defend the most sacred moral principles of our faith and constitutional values, which are: the economic liberation of all people; ensuring every child receives access to quality education; healthcare access for all; criminal justice reform; and ensuring historically marginalized communities have equal protection under the law.moralrevivalwebfbbanner-1024x535

Why is this important?

Our moral traditions have a firm foundation upon which to stand against the divide-and-conquer strategies of extremists. We believe in a moral agenda that stands against systemic racism, classism, poverty, xenophobia, and any attempt to promote hate towards any members of the human family. We claim a higher ground in partisan debate by returning public discourse to our deepest moral and constitutional values. Please add your name to call on our 2016 presidential candidates, senate candidates, and governors to advance a moral agenda.


September 12 at 11:00am-12:00pm in each time zone at the State Capitol.

The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values September 14 – 6:30-8:30pm – St. John’s UMC, Houston

“The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values” is a national tour to redefine morality in American politics and challenge leaders of faith and moral courage to be more vocally opposed to harmful policies that disproportionately impact the poor, people who are ill, children, immigrants, communities of color, and religious minorities. The first part of the national revival tour has over 19 stops from April 2016 to January 2017 including New York, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Missouri, Washington DC, Tennessee, Indiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, Kentucky, and Virginia.

The Revival is co-led by the Rev. Dr. James A Forbes Jr. and the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, architect of the historic Moral Monday Movement in North Carolina. They will be joined in some states by other national social justice leaders, including the Rev. Dr. Traci Blackmon, acting executive minister of the United Church of Christ’s Justice and Witness Ministries, and Sister Simone Campbell, leader of the “Nuns on the Bus” and executive director of the Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK in Washington, DC. Sponsoring and supporting organizations include:

In each state, we will lead revival services and hear testimony from people who have been impacted and hurt by regressive policies. Prior to the revivals, the leadership team will train hundreds of faith and moral leaders in each state to strengthen local and state activism from the bottom up. Lastly, local faith leaders, citizens, and persons impacted and hurt by regressive policies are invited to participate in direct actions in their state capitals during three Mondays in September, and sign on to the Higher Ground Moral Declaration” calling on our political system to rise above hatred, fear, and left and right politics, in order to reach our highest values of love and justice.

Just Mercy – Book Studies

Just Mercy – Book Studies
justmercyA book study of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson will be offered this fall with multiple meeting options in Austin. This book is a powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice.

“Just Mercy” was named by TIME magazine as one of the “10 Best Books of Nonfiction” for 2014, a Notable Book of 2014 by the New York Times, and it won the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, among many other awards. It is on this year’s reading list for United Methodist Women. Just Mercy is available on Amazon for participants to purchase. If you want a preview, check out Bryan Stevenson’s TED Talk here.


One Book, Multiple Meeting Options

Sundays, September 11, 18, 25
6:00-7:00 p.m.
First United Methodist Church
Led by Pastor Cathy Stone
Sign up by emailing

Tuesdays, September 6, 13, 20
7:00-8:00 p.m.
Parker Lane UMC, 2105 Parker Ln
Led by Pastor Sharon Stewart

Wednesdays, September 7, 14, 21, 
10:00-11:00 a .m.
Crestview UMC, 1300 Morrow St
Led by Pastor Linda Elford and Mari Wylie
Sign up by emailing

7:00-8:00 p.m.
Genuine Joe’s, 2001 W Anderson Ln
Led by Pastor Linda Elford and Mari Wylie
Sign up by emailing

Tuesday, September 27
7:00 p.m.
Free, public lecture by Bryan Stevenson at the LBJ Auditorium
For more details, visit

Mondays, October 3, 17, 24
7:00-8:00 p.m.
Tarrytown UMC, 2601 Exposition Blvd
Led by Pastor Cathy Stone and Rachel Wright
Sign up by emailing .


Texas Freedom Network Rally

On September 13, it’s time to rally at the State Board of Education — please join Texas Freedom Network to demand the rejection of the offensive and inaccurate Mexican-American Heritage textbook.

What:  A rally calling on the Texas State Board of Education to #RejectTheText.
When: Tuesday, September 13, 9:30 a.m.
Where: William B. Travis Building, 1701 N. Congress, Austin, Texas 78701.
Other info: Registration is not required; just show up and be ready to shout!

The textbook, titled Mexican American Heritage, was written to support a new elective course for high schools. It’s described as being offensive because of several passages. One links Mexican Americans to illegal immigration stating; they have “caused a number of economic and security problems in the United States,” problems such as; poverty, drugs, crime and non-assimilation.”

UT professor Emilio Zamora would like TEA to have a do-over. Zamora says, “I think we should try it again, I think they should either make a call that gives more time to historians or commission a group of top Texas historians to produce a fair rendition of Mexican American history in the US.”

For more information about the rally, contact Val Benavidez, Outreach & Field Director at


Voting Rights & Information

LWVLeague of Women Voters of Austin

Fall Kick-off Meeting

in Collaboration with the

UT Student Chapter of the American Constitution Society

Sunday, September 18, 2016

1:30 – 4:00

National Perspective on Voting Rights

& Texas Voting Rights


LBJ School/Library

Bass Lecture Hall, UT Campus

Hosted by LBJ School of Public Affairs Student Organizations: Feminist Policy Alliance, Public Affairs Alliance for Communities of Color, Graduate Public Affairs Council


Nationally Recognized Speakers:

National Perspective on Voting Rights

Nancy Abudu, Director of Legal Operations, ACLU of Florida

Voting Rights in Texas

Chad Dunn, Chief litigator for plaintiffs in the Teas Voter ID case

Cassandra Champion – Texas Civil Rights Project litigator on Texas Motor Vote Act voter registration enforcement


4:00 Volunteer Deputy Registrar Training for interested attendees.



The Red Bench – Privilege

redbench_logo-300x79Join us on Tuesday, September 20 at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church for a courageous conversation on the topic of Privilege.

Please RSVP in advance!


September 20, – 6:30 pm – 8:30pm

International Day of Peace


Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The U.N. General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

The Day’s theme for 2016 is “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace.”

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals were unanimously adopted by the 193 Member States of the United Nations at an historic summit of the world’s leaders in New York in September 2015. The new ambitious 2030 agenda calls on countries to begin efforts to achieve these goals over the next 15 years. It aims to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.

Austin events:!2016-events/esuwc

Shane Claiborne at UUMC – September 29

shaneclaiborneUniversity UMC Austin is proud to host Shane Claiborne for a lecture and book signing on Thursday, September 29 beginning at 7 pm. Shane is an activist, organizer, speaker and author of several books, including a brand new one on capital punishment, “Executing Grace – How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It’s Killing Us.”

You can find out more about Shane right here.

UMC Church and Society News

Church and Society applauds the Justice Department for their move away from private prisons

church-societyThe U.S. Department of Justice has announced that it is ending its use of private prisons. Thirteen privately run facilities in the Bureau of Prisons will be affected. Along with recurring incidents, recent studies commissioned by the Justice Department have shown that private prisons are less effective, less secure, and less capable of carrying out the stated aims of correctional facilities.

We join with the Department, criminal justice advocates, and people of good will in rejoicing at this step forward. The United Methodist Church has an historical faith commitment to fair and just prison policies, as seen in our Social Principles, our Book of Resolutions, and our statements on socially responsible investment ethics (Resolution 4071, 2012 Book of Resolutions; Paragraph 717, forthcoming 2016 Book of Discipline).

Our commitment to a system of restoration rather than retribution draws on biblical authority that emphasizes transformation, healing, and right relationship with God, self, and community. As the Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Hebrews, “Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured” (Hebrews 13:3).

We call upon the Department of Homeland Security and state and local governments to enact similar standards regarding the use of private prisons. May this move – away from the privatization of prisons – be one step in a journey toward a more compassionate and just criminal justice system.

The General Board of Church and Society is one of four international program boards of The United Methodist Church. The board is called to seek the implementation of the Social Principles and other policy statements of the General Conference on Christian social concerns.

News From TCADP

 tcadpAugust 19 -The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has issued an order staying the execution of Jeff Wood and remanding his case to the trial court for consideration on his claims related to false testimony presented during the sentencing phase of his original trial.  Wood was scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas on August 24, 2016 even though he did not kill anyone.

August 26 -The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has stayed the execution of Rolando Ruiz, who was scheduled to be executed on August 31st. His appeal questioned the deficiency of his trial counsel and his initial habeas counsel. The appeal also questioned the constitutionality of executing him after more than 20 years after his conviction.

Letter from Texas Impact on Health Justice Sabbath

Letter from Texas Impact to our United Methodist Friends:

“Texas Impact would like to invite your congregation to participate in the Above Politics Health Justice Sabbath. The goal of the Health Justice Sabbath is for congregations across Texas to do something health justice related the weekend of November 18-20. It could be as simple as praying for health, preaching a sermon, having a Sunday School class conversation, running a newsletter article or doing something hands on that is health or health advocacy related. Texas Impact will be providing resources as the event nears.

More information on the event, a list of current resources and a page to register your congregation maybe be found online at The email announcing the Health Justice Sabbath from our Executive Director Bee Moorhead is below, and you may always call or email me for more information.

We would love for there to be a movement of congregations throughout Texas addressing health as a component of our faith so any help you can give in spreading the word would be appreciated.

I hope you are well and let me know if you have any questions or need more information about the Health Justice Sabbath!

Scott Atnip

Texas Impact

Congregational Outreach Director

(512) 472-3903 (Office)

(281) 728-4593 (Cell)