Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

The State of Texas is scheduled to execute two individuals in April:

  • On April 11, 2019, Mark Robertson, 50, is scheduled to be executed for the 1989 murder of Edna Brau in Dallas County.  In his 1991 trial, he also received two life sentences for the murder of Sean Hill, Brau’s grandson, and Jeffrey Saunders, a convenience store clerk.  His appellate attorneys have argued that the jury never heard mitigating evidence about his past because of his trial attorneys’ failure to properly investigate.  Additionally, they claim that a Texas prison warden gave false testimony about Robertson’s potential security classification in prison if he received life without parole.
  • On April 24, 2019, John William King, 44, is scheduled to be executed for his role in the racially-motivated dragging death of James Byrd, Jr. in 1998.  King, along with two other men, Shawn Berry and Lawrence Russell Brewer, were convicted of chaining Byrd by his ankles to the bumper of a pickup truck and fatally dragging him three miles on the outskirts of Jasper in East Texas. Berry is currently serving a life sentence; Brewer was executed in 2011.  In 2009, Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in response to Byrd’s murder.

Update on Patrick Murphy
On March 28, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed Patrick Murphy’s execution based on his complaint of religious discrimination.  The stay came more than two hours after the execution was set to take place.  The Texas Department of Criminal Justice had denied Murphy’s request to have a Buddhist priest instead of a Christian chaplain in the execution chamber.  In concurring in the grant of application for a stay, Justice Kavanaugh wrote that such governmental discrimination against religion violates the Constitution.

Texas is responsible for two of the three executions nationwide thus far in 2019.  Two executions have been stayed.  A total of five executions currently are scheduled to take place in Texas through September.

Attend a vigil in your community on the day of executions. Information and updates on cases are available on our website and through Facebook and Twitter.

 

Read more at https://tcadp.org/

Texas Impact Weekly Witness Program

In response to growing demand from clergy and members around the state, Texas Impact launched Weekly Witness during the 2015 Legislative Session as a way of keeping our membership informed about important issues in the Texas Legislature and how they could get involved.

This 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.

Every Monday at noon (unless otherwise announced) Texas Impact staff and faith or policy leaders will have a conversation at the First United Methodist Church Murchison Chapel. This conversation will also be made available by Facebook Live, webinar and podcast. Search for Texas Impact Weekly Witness in iTunes or your favorite podcast app.

During Session, we will have an “issue of the week” followed by a legislative briefing and Action Alert from Texas Impact staff. Participants will be encouraged to walk to the Capitol afterwards, or make a telephone call to their legislators Monday afternoon.

We hope you’ll join us for Weekly Witness Mondays, especially during Session live or in person. For those not in Austin, consider bringing a group from your congregation, friend network or judicatory. Let us know you are coming, and we can plan on spending some extra time with you that afternoon.

Contact Outreach Director Scott Atnip for more information at scott@texasimpact.org.

More Information here.

Texas Impact – “Courts & Ports”

The Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy/Texas Impact invites you to participate in Courts & Ports: Faithful Witness on the Texas-Mexico Border.

This 2-day immersion experience engages people of faith to witness first-hand the legal and law enforcement processes related to immigration, detention, and deportation occurring in South Texas.

REGISTER FOR COURTS & PORTS

To find out about registering a group for a Courts & Ports trip, email erica@texasimpact.org

To schedule an informational presentation about Courts & Ports, email  scott@texasimpact.org 

Watch video testimonials at facebook.com/texasimpact

From the Third Coast Activist

NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST CHARLES BLOW

Date: April 8, 2019

Time: 3:00 pm  to  5:00 pm

New York Times columnist Charles Blow will discuss current events, the state of journalism, and his own career in the annual Hearst lecture. He is the author of the memoir Fire Shut Up in My Bones.

More information online.

Location: University of Texas, Belo Center for New Media (BMC 2.106), 300 W. Dean Keeton, Austin

 

OCTAVIO SOLIS READS FROM “RETABLOS: STORIES FROM A LIFE LIVED ALONG THE BORDER”

Date: April 9, 2019

Time: 7:00 pm  to  8:00 pm

Octavio Solis, one of the most prominent Latino playwrights in the United States, will read from Retablos: Stories from a Life Lived Along the Border, a memoir about growing up brown at the U.S./Mexico border.

Location: Malvern Books, 613 West 29th St., Austin

 

EARTH DAY AUSTIN

Date: April 13, 2019

Time: 12:00 pm  to  6:00 pm

Huston-Tillotson University will host Earth Day Austin for 2019, with a variety of educational and exploratory activities.

For more information, go to the Earth Day Austin website or the Facebook event page.

Location: Huston-Tillotson University, 900 Chicon St., Austin, 78702

 

ALI ABUNIMAH ON THE CURRENT STATE OF THE PALESTINE MOVEMENT

Date: April 16, 2019

Time: 6:30 pm  to  8:30 pm

Ali Abunimah, founder of the website electronicintifada.net and the author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse, will speak about the current state of the Palestine movement.

The event is sponsored by the Palestine Solidarity Committee at the University of Texas. More information on the Facebook event page.
Location: Student Activities Center (SAC) Ballroom North, University of Texas

 

“BEYOND THE FRONTLINES: TALES OF RESISTANCE AND RESILIENCE FROM PALESTINE” SCREENING AND DISCUSSION

Date: April 28, 2019

Time: 1:00 pm  to  3:00 pm

Beyond the Frontlines: Tales of Resistance and Resilience from Palestine” follows the work of Dr. Samah Jabr, a psychiatrist and psychotherapist who is head of the Palestine Ministry of Health’s Mental Health Unit. A discussion with Dr. Jabr and the filmmaker, Alexandra Dols, will follow the film.

The event is sponsored by the St. Andrew’s Social Justice Committee, Jewish Voice for Peace Austin, CAIR Austin, and the Interfaith Committee for Palestinian Rights.

Location: St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, 14311 Wells Port Dr.

 

“DARK MONEY” DOCUMENTARY SCREENING

Date: May 2, 2019

Time: 6:30 pm  to  9:00 pm

Dark Money” examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy, the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials. The screening will be followed by a discussion.

The event 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

San Antonio MFSA!

Travis Park UMC San Antonio has an active Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) unit that meets monthly on the second Sunday of each month at noon.  MFSA mobilizes clergy and laity within The United Methodist Church to take action on issues of peace, poverty and people’s rights within the church, the nation and the world.

MFSA lives out our belief that to be faithful witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to be involved in the transformation of the social order.

Moreover, MFSA affirms the vital importance of theological reflection as the Church weighs great issues of faithfulness to Jesus Christ and the Gospel in United Methodist worship, governance and witness. We offer to following paragraphs as a point of departure for reflection and discussion.

For information on this committee, email John Patterson.

https://travispark.org/mfsa

MFSA Depends On Your Help For Its Programs and Activities

Please Include Us in Your Giving Plans! – New mailing address

Join with us as we connect progressive United Methodists in putting faith into action!

Membership in MFSA is not predicated on ability to pay.  We do not have “dues”.  However, our local unit and the National Office need funding each year for programs and activities.  Membership gifts and special giving are always appreciated. MFSA is classified as a 501(c)(3) organization by the IRS.   Membership gifts to MFSA are tax deductible as provided by law.

There are several easy ways to join or support MFSA.

  • You can log onto the national MFSA website, http://www.mfsaweb.org and follow the instructions there (you can safely use a credit card). Please indicate that you are part of the Rio Texas MFSA.
  • Or, you can mail a check made out to “Rio Texas – MFSA” to

Rio Texas MFSA

PO Box 66055

Austin, TX  78766-6055

The suggested minimum donation is $60, but any amount is welcome.  Thanks for your support!

Historically, we have had eight monthly meetings per year, generally on the second Thursday of the month (this may change in the future).  We communicate using monthly electronic newsletters & updates to our website and Facebook page.

March 14 Meeting to Reflect on GC2019, Future of the UMC

As you should all know by now, the Special Session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church was held in St. Louis February 23-26.  Many Rio Texas MFSA supporters attended, as delegates and observers, and witnessed as part of the Love Your Neighbor Coalition (LYNC).  LYNC offered worship, counseling, and support during the pain-filled meeting.  The result of conference was devastating to those who support equal rights for our LGBTQI+ members.  The delegates voted to continue – and worsen – the UMC’s ban on same-gender weddings and options for clergy.  The “Traditional” Plan passed by 53%, but several portions of the plan have been challenged as violative of the UMC Constitution.  The Judicial Council is expected rule on the challenges in late April.

So what do we do now?  Many churches have made it known that they will leave the UMC; others have indicated they will stay and resist the discriminatory policies.  Many Rio Texas churches are not even aware of the raging debate.

Join us on Thursday, March 14, as a panel of Rio Texas MFSA supporters, observers and delegates offer their perspectives about GC2019 and the future of the UMC.  We have invited Jay Brim, Sid Hall, Joy Butler, Shelley Walters and others to share their experiences.  We will share what various churches inside and outside of Rio Texas are discussing.

The meeting will be at Saint John’s United Methodist Church, at 2140 Allandale Road, in Austin.

Snacks and mingling begin at 6:30 pm, followed by the program at 7 pm.

Contact rcurry@austin.rr.com for more information