Rio Texas to Send Delegates to South Africa for Global Young People's Convention

The Rio Texas Conference will send several delegates and members of the Young Adult Ministry Council and the Youth Ministry Council to the Global Young People’s Convention in Johannesburg, South Africa on July 18-22.

The Rio Texas individuals going to the GYPC include three delegates:

  • Marlee Claes (Youth, Kyle UMC)
  • Zephyr Straus (Young Adult, Westlake UMC, Austin)
  • Tori Perales (Young Adult, Christ UMC)
ZEPHYR STRAUS

ZEPHYR STRAUS

“I want to make church relevant for people in my age bracket who have questions and doubts and encouraging them to ask the questions instead of discouraging exploration of self and other topics of religion and spirituality,” said Strauss. “As a 20-year-old who has gone through periods of having questions and even doubts about my faith and feeling like church was not a safe place to express those things, I would like to help equip the church to nurture youth who are in the same place as I was.”

In addition to these youth delegates, other members of the conference traveling to Johannesburg are:

  • Melissa Phillips (Youth member of Rio Texas Youth Ministry Council)
  • Rev. Kallie Green (Clergy and member of the Young Adult Ministry Council)
  • Rev. Dr. Tanya Campen (Director, IG Discipleship)
  • Rev. Abby Herrera (Young People's staff at Discipleship Ministries)
  • Rev. JD Herrera (Adult member of the Rio Texas Youth Ministry Council)
Marlee claes

Marlee claes

The purpose of the GYPC is to celebrate the mission and vitality of young people in the United Methodist Church, raise the joys and concerns of young people from the global community, develop young people as leaders for effective ministry in local churches and communities of faith, highlight emerging trends in youth and young adult ministry, provide a common forum that embraces the global reality of the church.

Rio Texas Conference represented in Wespath’s Young Leaders Advisory Board

CHICAGO–Robert Perales, from the Rio Texas conference, will be working in 2018 to help shape the way Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath) serves The United Methodist Church by participating in Wespath’s inaugural Young Leaders Advisory Board (Y-LAB).

Wespath is the general agency of the UMC responsible for administering benefits and investing retirement plan assets.

Wespath created Y-LAB in 2017 to engage and better serve young adults dedicated to the Church. Members are partnering with Wespath to identify gaps in connecting with young clergy and lay employees, generate ideas that help improve Wespath’s products and services, and help shape how Wespath shares information.

In November, the group traveled to Pensacola, Florida to attend Wespath’s revitup! For a Lifetime in Ministry, an event for young clergy, where they provided insights about how Wespath can enhance its educational outreach. The group also met at Wespath’s headquarters in Glenview, Ill in September, where they interacted with Wespath employees and senior leadership, including General Secretary, Barbara Boigegrain.

Their hard work will continue into 2018!

“The discussion among the Y-LAB members has been lively and energetic, and their feedback has already proven valuable,” said Ms. Boigegrain. “We appreciate their willingness to help us better serve the Church, and look forward to hearing more from this engaging group of young UMC leaders!”

The 15 Y-LAB members are all aged 35 or younger, and represent both laity and clergy across the U.S. Y-LAB members were selected by Directors of Connectional Ministries in their UMC jurisdictions who viewed these individuals as young leaders within the Connection.

Wespath has created a similar Conference Advisory Board consisting of Conference Benefits Officers and Treasurers across the UMC in order to better engage with, and connect to, the annual conferences and participants it serves.

Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 9.47.19 AM.jpg
Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 9.47.29 AM.jpg

Special Guests Announced for Annual Conference 2018

Special Guests Announced for Annual Conference 2018

The 2018 Rio Texas Annual Conference will be held June 6-9 at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. This year's theme is "From Come & See to Go & Do: Rethinking the Five Practices." It has been ten years since the release of Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Robert Schnase, Bishop of the Rio Texas Conference. Much has changed in those ten years.

Read More

Austin New Church Celebrates First Sunday Worship in New Location

Austin New Church Celebrates First Sunday Worship in New Location

Austin New Church (ANC), a congregation in the process of becoming part of the Rio Texas Conference, celebrated their first Sunday worship service in their new location this week. ANC is now gathering on the former Faith UMC campus in South Austin. 

While this was ANC's first Sunday service on the new campus, they previously celebrated Christmas Eve a day early at Faith UMC on December 23. The church began renovation on the sanctuary in early January to be ready for this Sunday's worship.

The freshly updated sanctuary welcomed a large crowd. "The seats are full," said Rev. Laura Merrill, Assistant to the Bishop of Rio Texas. "Youth even claimed the balcony–some things never change!" 

Read More

2018 Rio Texas Scholarship Awards Program is Now Accepting Applications

students-at-graduation-ceremony_rKlx5ZZRSs.jpg

The Higher Education Team & GBHEM are now accepting applications for three Scholarship Awards. Awards are given to United Methodist students, who have been a member of a church in the Río Texas Conference, high school seniors through college seniors who are seeking their first undergraduate degree. 

For more information and details, please read the guidelines for nominating students for either the Craven-Wilson or the Albert & Nancy Wilson Merit Awards.  Visit Rio Texas Scholarship Opportunities Page and click on the Scholarship Nomination Application.  The deadline to submit applications and all related documents is April 1.  

The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) is also offering a merit award. To apply for the GBHEM Merit Award , please click here

Application available online only. The Fall 2018 GBHEM application is now open and the deadline for completion is March 7, 2018.  

Bishops, Agency Respond to #MeToo Movement

Bishops, Agency Respond to #MeToo Movement

By Heather Hahn
Jan. 23, 2018 | United Methodist News Service

As allegations of sexual misconduct rock the U.S. from the sets of Hollywood to the halls of Washington, United Methodist leaders acknowledge that the church also has seen such abuses of power.

In a joint statement released Jan. 23, the Council of Bishops and the Commission on the Status and Role of Women “strongly encourage and support the reporting of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment allegations within the church.”

Read More

Commission on a Way Forward Prepares Updated Report to Bishops

By Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga, Director of Communications - Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church

Robert Schnase, Bishop of the Rio Texas Conference looks on with other members during the recent meeting of the Commission on a Way Forward.

Robert Schnase, Bishop of the Rio Texas Conference looks on with other members during the recent meeting of the Commission on a Way Forward.

DALLAS - The Commission on a Way Forward is nearing the completion of its task of making recommendations of possible ways forward for The United Methodist Church regarding the inclusion of LGBTQ persons in this global denomination.

The 32-member Commission concluded its three-day meeting in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday after reworking sketches of possible models of the future of the denomination that will be part of the final report to the Council of Bishops in May.

Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball addressing the commission.

Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball addressing the commission.

Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball, one of the moderators of the Commission, noted that the members who have had six meetings since January last year, are confident that the Commission will succeed in its work.

“The common work of God’s spirit moves in each one of our lives.  The spiritual gifts that are gifted to each of us by God are given to be used for the common good of all people.  It is this Spirit that both unifies us and inspires us to use the diversity of spiritual gifts to be visionaries and to consider the whole realm of what is possible; to dream dreams, big dreams, to the glory of God.”

She said the Commission, in the unity of God’s Spirit, continues to take a fresh look at the church and what is possible.

“We seek a way forward for The United Methodist Church that strengthens and expands Christ’s mission in ways that value and enable the Church to reach more people in different contexts around the world and to minister with faithfulness, humility, creativity, and generosity,” said Bishop Steiner Ball.

Council of Bishops President Bishop Bruce Ough and Area Resident Bishop Michael McKee both addressed the members on Thursday, the first day of the meeting.

“Time is running short and we need to focus. Simple is better than complex. Reasonable detail is better than ambiguity. Fewer disciplinary changes is better than more. Honor the parameters and values of the Mission, Vision and Scope document -  unity, contextualization and enhanced mission,” said Bishop Ough.

Bishop Ough also asked the Commission to provide the Council with a draft theological statement that both informs the structural models and creates a compelling narrative for the models.

The commission meeting began each day with a devotion.

The commission meeting began each day with a devotion.

Each day of the three-day meeting began with devotions that were led by the moderators, Bishop Steiner Ball, Bishop Ken Carter and Bishop David Yemba, using the 1 Corinthians 12 scripture on the importance of being one body of Christ despite the differences.

In reviewing the feedback from the Council of Bishops, the Commission worked on incorporating the UMC theological foundation in proposed models for the future of the UMC.

“We understand that a way forward must go deeper than structural change and legislative revision.  A way forward for the church draws upon the deep consensus of all that we believe and teach, especially about the grace of God which leads to mission and holiness, “said Bishop Carter as he reflected on the theological work.

“At the same time, we approach this theological work with a ‘convicted humility’—we are grounded in important convictions, and yet we ‘see through a glass darkly,’ in Paul’s words, and so we hold these convictions with humility before God and each other,” he added.

The Commission members also discussed the importance of maintaining the missional focus of the UMC in any future structural changes.

“As the commission continues its efforts to dream anew, it also continues to work to paint a picture of the dream for people in ways they can catch glimpses of and have hope for a wholly and holy way forward that enables the UMC to better reach new people, and more people with the good news of Jesus Christ in all parts and contexts of the world.” Bishop Steiner Ball noted.

With Central Conferences being integral parts of any way forward, the Commission spent time working on how those conferences outside of the United States would be incorporated in any possible structural models in this global denomination.

Commission members praying together during their latest meeting.

Commission members praying together during their latest meeting.

“We are a global church and every decision we make should be seen in that context,” noted Bishop Yemba as he shared a report on Central Conferences. “As the United Methodist Church continues the struggle on how to find a way forward on the burning issue of human sexuality, we need to continue using our collective wisdom as Connection in order to create space and flexibility that allow central conferences to stay and work together to fulfill our missional mandate.”

Bishop Yemba further noted that: “Many United Methodists outside of the United States would like to see the context be taken into consideration seriously. Whatever models the Council of Bishops will come up with and recommend to General Conference as a way forward, it is expected that such a recommendation will provide space to focus on what unites us and not what separates us as well as what we can say together as basic principles on human sexuality in the light of the Gospel.”

The Commission plans to share its reworked models of possible ways forward with the Council of Bishops next month at a meeting that has been called to specifically hear more from the Commission.

I Am Thankful for My Church Today

I Am Thankful for My Church Today

I am thankful for my church today. The United Methodist Church is not a perfect church, but it is my church. I am thankful for it today, and I celebrate it.

I celebrate with you that every church in the Coastal Bend district that suffered major damage fulfilled their connectional giving (apportionments). Connectional giving supports ministries throughout the conference and connection. I am not lifting this up to celebrate the paying of apportionments but rather to celebrate faithfulness and resilience even in the midst of Hurricane Harvey.

Read More

Church Volunteers, Staff Trained Under New Trusted Con Confianza Safety Policy

The new Rio Texas Conference Safety Certification Ministry, TRUSTed Confianza is off to an incredible start. In 2017 (August-December), 877 persons submitted an application with Safe Gatherings and 640 persons completed a TRUSTed Confianza online or in person training. 

Districts and Churches have gathered for in-person trainings and participated in online training together.  First UMC, Kerrville had 134 persons participate in their in-person training. First UMC, New Braunfels welcomed 74 to their in-person training. El Buen Pastor UMC. Edinburg recently gathered 42 of their staff and volunteers to attend an online training together.

Read More

Rio Texas To Receive New Church

Rio Texas To Receive New Church

The Rio Texas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church is pleased to announce they are in the process of receiving a new church into the conference. 

Leaders of the Rio Texas Conference and Austin New Church (ANC), a former Free Methodist Church, began in Spring 2017 to explore whether The United Methodist Church might be the right home for ANC. As conversations developed between ANC’s clergy and leaders in the Rio Texas Conference, there was a mutual sense of resonance and excitement about a possible partnership.

Read More

Several Rio Texas Clergy Release Statement on Human Rights Violations

Several Rio Texas Clergy Release Statement on Human Rights Violations

In October, Rosa Maria Hernandez, a child of undocumented immigrants, was taken into custody by the US Border Patrol as she was transported through a checkpoint on her way to a Corpus Christi hospital for emergency surgery. Rosa, who has cerebral palsy, was then transported to a shelter in San Antonio where she was held for ten days. In the days following her detention, many groups and organizations protested these actions by the US government.

Read More

Bishops consider 3 models for church future

Bishops consider 3 models for church future

By Heather Hahn
Nov. 9, 2017 | LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS)

United Methodist bishops are exploring three possible models for how the church should handle LGBTQ inclusion.

The models come to the bishops from the Commission on a Way Forward, which has the task of trying to find a way for the church to stay together despite deep divides over homosexuality.

The bishops have been meeting in closed session Nov. 6-9 to discern whether the commission is heading in the right direction. The bishop-appointed commission has three more meetings planned early next year, and the bishops do not plan to develop any final recommendations until May 2018.

Read More

Rio Texas Responds to Violence

Rio Texas Responds to Violence

As worship services wrapped up Sunday morning, November 5, churchgoers across the conference began to hear the terrible news out of Sutherland Springs. The tiny town about 40 miles east of San Antonio was rocked this morning when a gunman opened fire inside First Baptist Church, killing at least 26 and injuring 20 more.

In response, Rio Texas Churches have reached out in support of the church and community. Churches have also sought support in ways to be in ministry with those who grieve and to ensure the safety of congregations. These resources are being provided to help local churches respond.

Read More

Las Misiones Pastors Explore Cultures at Encuentro in Monterrey

A small group of Las Misiones District preachers traveled to Monterrey to take part in a national gathering of Methodist pastors to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the protestant reformation. Seven annual conferences were represented at Encuetro: Nacional de Pastores held at the Iglesia Metodista la Trinidad.

La Trinidad UMC, San Antonio Pastor John Feagins; Westlawn UMC, San Antonio Pastor Lilliana Padilla; Emanuel UMC, San Antonio Pastor Jose Mercado; La Trinidad UMC, Laredo Pastor Cesar Duran; and Coker UMC, San Antonio Pastor David Blanco attended the gathering.

They heard several lectures from premier scholar Justo Gonzalez. He preached about Martin Luther’s hammer and nailing of the Ninety-five Thesus and its connection to the hammer and nails that went through Jesus’ wrist.

They also compared the differences between American and Mexican United Methodist cultures. “We saw another side of the picture between both cultures in the U.S. and Mexico,” said Emanuel UMC’s Pastor Jose Mercado. “It helped me understand the more about the culture as a Puerto Rican pastor.”

“It reminded us of the power of the connectional system and the connectional church we are a part of,” said Coker UMC’s Pastor David Blanco. “Overall, it was an amazing, fantastic experience.”

Rio Texas Responds to Sunday Violence

Rio Texas Responds to Sunday Violence

As worship services wrapped up Sunday morning, churchgoers across the conference began to hear the terrible news out of Sutherland Springs. The tiny town about 40 miles east of San Antonio was rocked this morning when a gunman opened fire inside First Baptist Church, killing at least 26 and injuring 20 more.
 
Robert Schnase, Bishop of the Rio Texas Annual Conference called Aguilar upon hearing the news to offer the support of the Conference. Schnase said, "This was an outrageous, senseless, and tragic act. We pray God's blessings on families, friends, and the entire community. We pray for those who will face rebuilding their lives after such deep loss. We pray for those who were injured, that God's healing grace may be upon them."

Read More

Rio Texas Leaders Gather at Leadership Institute

leadership institute.jpg

128 people from the Rio Texas Conference gathered at the 2017 Leadership Institute at The Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas.  Clergy and lay people alike gathered to learn more about how to revitalize their community and lead in their current context. Robert Schnase, Bishop of the Rio Texas Annual Conference and Rio Texas’ own Ruben Saenz, Jr., Bishop of the Great Plains Annual Conference were at the opening session to welcome and encourage the group. 

Attendees took home new knowledge and information to put into action to make their congregations more fruitful in the future. Mark your calendars for next year's Leadership Institute September 26-28, 2018.