South Central Jurisdictional General Conference Delegate Gathering

South Central Jurisdictional General Conference Delegate Gathering

By Teresa Keese, Laura Merrill, and Abel Vega

Sixteen members of the Rio Texas General and Jurisdictional Conference Delegation attended the South Central Jurisdictional General Conference Delegate Gathering held at St. Luke’s UMC in Oklahoma City on October 4-5. The gathering, hosted by the SCJ Mission Council, was held to inform the delegates of the three structure options to be presented at the 2019 Special Session of General Conference. The pension implications of each plan were also presented. Delegates from across the jurisdiction joined in a time of listening, learning, worship, prayer, sharing, and developing a sense of community and understanding across different backgrounds and beliefs. The event planners purposefully assigned seating to create a mixed group from different delegations and beliefs at each table, which allowed for a new depth of conversation surrounding the UMC and our mission and purpose. We discussed how that depth applies to the decisions to be made at the General Conference Special Session next February in St. Louis.

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Rio Texas Leaders Travel to South Africa for Global Young People's Convocation

Seven young adult Rio Texas leaders traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa to meet with other leaders from around the denomination at the Global Young People’s Convocation. Participants prayed, listened, celebrated, and discussed different topics during a legislative forum. There were other opportunities for growth and learning during the five-day convocation.

Young adult Rio Texas leaders learned from other’s different cultural backgrounds and languages.

“The most challenging part for me was getting in the mindset that we come from different backgrounds where not everything is the same,” said Marlee Claes from Kyle UMC. “We don’t all have the same opportunities and access to things.”

The leaders were placed in groups to hear different voices on a wide spectrum of issues affecting the UMC.

“It's one thing to understand in theory how our policy allows for the writing and passing of new legislation; it's another thing to see that in action,” said Cuero UMC Pastor Rev. Kallie Green. “It was interesting to consider and see how the process of writing legislation and getting it passed works. Understanding the process better has opened up my imagination to new ways to be more involved.” 

Legislation passed during these hearings will be presented to the 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis.

The convocation not only strengthened the bond between Rio Texas and the global church, it allowed for community building within the Young Adult and Youth Ministry Councils.

“I love many parts of GYPC growing together with our local leaders and seeing them in action on the global stage is truly amazing,” said St. Mark UMC, Austin Pastor Rev. JD Herrera. “We are a strong, global church that is full of God and alive in the Spirit. We have many amazing young leaders answering a call to follow Christ and lead the church.”

UMNS: Young people from 40 countries gather at convocation

Marlee Claes, Youth Delegate, Hill Country District, Kyle UMC
Rev. Kallie Green, Young Adult Delegate, Crossroads District, Cuero UMC
Zephyr Straus, Young Adult Delegate, Capital District, Westlake UMC
Rev. JD Herrera, Adult Delegate, Capital District, St. Mark UMC
Tori Perales, Young Adult Delegate, El Valle District, Christ UMC
Rev. Abigail Parker Herrera, SCJ Staff
Rev. Dr. Tanya Campen, Director of Intergenerational Discipleship

Mission Opportunities at Martinez Disaster Response Warehouse


Mission team opportunities are available now at the Martinez Disaster Response Warehouse in Kerrville near Mount Wesley. 

Help is needed to verify flood buckets so they can be ready for distribution when the next flood hits the Rio Texas Conference.  

More than 1000 flood buckets are stored in the warehouse but they need to be verified before they can be distributed to flood survivors. UMCOR requires all kits to be checked for verification so that they contain the exact items designated by UMOCR. 

The opportunity is available to a wide variety of teams ranging from Junior High Youth to senior adults. UMW teams have found the opportunity rewarding. Team size can vary but a maximum of approximately 15 is recommended. 

Teams that include youth must comply with the Conference Trusted con Confianza Safety Policy.  Teams should plan to spend no more than three to four hours in the warehouse on any one visit. 

Inquiries should be sent to Jack Clarke, warehouse manager for the Rio Texas Disaster Response.

Leadership Institute 2018 Registration is available now for Church Leaders

Leadership Institute is quickly approaching. We hope you and your church are getting ready to come and learn as a team! Bishop Schnase will be one of the keynote speakers, so it would be wonderful to have a large group from the Rio Texas Conference.

The registration process has changed from last year, so please read everything below:

  • COR is requiring that if a Conference is getting a reduced rate, each church registering will need to turn in to the conference office a written paragraph or so about the expectations for leadership development in the local church.

In other words, how will you use the conference to further develop leadership in the local church?

  • All Clergy and 2 lay people from each church may register via the discounted rate. The Rio Texas Conference will pay for the registration fee.
    NOTE: More are allowed to register, but not under the reduced rate. The individual or church will need to cover the cost for the additional people.

Instructions for registering:

  1. From the website,, select Registration from the top menu.
  2. Advise the group to scroll down the page and read through the Registration Tips prior to registering so they’ll have all the information ready to enter.  If a registrant completes only part of the registration before completing the payment section, their registration won’t be complete and they won’t be registered.
  3. After reading through the Tips, they can select the Register Now button.
  4. After entering their Name and email address, they’ll need to select ShareChurch Registrar Group from the dropdown menu for Registration Type.
  5. On the next screen in the ShareChurch Registrar Group, they need to select Rio Texas Leadership Group from the dropdown menu. For payment type, select “pay by check”

Please note: The group registration is for the main Leadership Institute workshops only. If you want to attend the pre-institute workshops, you must pay for these courses separately.

Besides paying for all clergy and two lay people from each church, clergy may turn in travel/hotel reimbursements for up to $150. All original receipts will be needed. Karen Horan will have the forms at the Leadership Institute for you to fill out. You can hand them in or mail them in at a later date.

Since MHM covers the clergy portion, a follow-up survey must be completed before reimbursements will be mailed.

Of course, you may bring more than three church members, but they would go through the “regular” registration process.

If you have any questions, please contact Karen Horan at or Eve Albert at or 210-408-4551 in the conference office.

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The Sacred Enneagram Workshop Coming to San Antonio

The Sacred Enneagram Workshop Coming to San Antonio

Join us from 9:00 am -4:30 pm on Saturday, September 15 at Coker United Methodist Church.

Are you wondering why so many people are talking about the Enneagram? What is that strangely-shaped star? Or maybe you have never heard of the Enneagram at all, but you seek to grow in your faith and well-being. While not an exclusively Christian tool, many Christians have used the Enneagram wisely and well to draw closer to God. Wherever you're starting from, you're invited to an introduction to this profound way of looking at who we are and our paths to spiritual growth.

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Joint Statement from Texas Bishops on Separated Families

Joint Statement from Texas Bishops on Separated Families

The bishops of the five Annual Conferences in Texas today issued a joint statement commending President Trump for signing an executive order ending his administration’s policy of separating families on the border. Furthermore, the bishops urged readers to contact their congressional representative and senators to continue expressing concerns for the separated children and calling for legislation to keep families together.

View or Download Joint Statement from Texas Bishops on Separated Families

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United Methodists Pass Resolution to End Immigrant Family Separation at Annual Gathering

 Dionisio Salazar presented the resolution to 1500 members of the UMC at the American Bank Center.

Dionisio Salazar presented the resolution to 1500 members of the UMC at the American Bank Center.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018
PDF Version

United Methodists Pass Resolution to End Immigrant Family Separation at Annual Gathering

CORPUS CHRISTI (Tuesday,  June 12, 2018) – The Rio Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church passed a resolution on June 9 to formally request the US Department of Justice to cease the separation of immigrant children from their families. Robert Schnase, Bishop of the Rio Texas Annual Conference, presided over the motion during the Annual Conference to address the humanitarian crisis affecting children held in detention centers located across South Texas. 

Rio Texas Transforming Communities Vision Team Chair Dionisio Salazar (of Parker Lane UMC; Austin) presented the “Resolution to End Family Separation” before the conference: 

“Whereas the United States government recently implemented a coercive ‘zero tolerance policy’ resulting in the traumatic separation of children from immigrant parents and the subsequent incarceration of children in secretive detention centers; 

Whereas several of the detention facilities are operated within the geographical boundaries of the Rio Texas Conference; 

Whereas this practice constitutes a violation of international law, child abuse, harassment and discrimination; 

Therefore, be it resolved that the Río Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church, in the name and Spirit of Jesus Christ, shall respectfully request the US Department of Justice immediately discontinue separating children from their families due to the ‘zero tolerance policy.” 

1500 lay delegates and clergy voted overwhelmingly to support the resolution to end family separation. 

The Rio Texas Annual Conference meets every June at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas to conduct the business of the United Methodist Church for the Rio Texas region that spreads from north of San Angelo to the Rio Grande Valley in the south. This is the fourth gathering since the former Southwest Texas Conference and Rio Grande Conference merged to become the Rio Texas Annual Conference in 2015.



The Rio Texas Annual Conference aims to reach out to people of South and Central Texas. Some of our churches are located in some of the fastest-growing areas of the country.  Others are located in areas where people are struggling with issues of poverty, lack of affordable housing, and a loss of hope. We are committed to providing vital missions, vital congregations, and strong leaders to connect our churches to the people. Our churches are in large cities and small towns from Austin to McAllen, from San Angelo to Victoria in vibrant cities, historic small towns and struggling communities.  Our Bishop is Robert C. Schnase. He was assigned to Rio Texas in 2016 after 12 years in the Missouri Annual Conference. For more information about the conference or our bishop, please visit and follow us on Twitter @RioTxAC. 

Churches Large and Small Work to Protect our Children

Churches Large and Small Work to Protect our Children

Churches large and small continue to protect our children by working to ensure their leaders are Trusted con Confianza (trusted with confidence).

Following Annual Conference 2017 and the adoption of the new Rio Texas Child, Youth, and Vulnerable Adult safety policy, the Rio Texas Conference Safety Task Force launched Trusted con Confianza – inviting churches and organizations across the connection to participate in this certification ministry.

Churches large and small have said “yes” to safe ministry– working on policies and inviting leaders to go through the certification process.

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El Valle District Ministry Center – We’re Writing Our Story!

El Valle District Ministry Center – We’re Writing Our Story!

El Valle District Ministry Center is a vision of the district which involved repurposing a closed church and building ministry partners. The building was redesigned to support its new purposes. We envision partnering with other groups to educate and promote healthy eating and healthy choices. We aim to help lower childhood obesity rates in the Rio Grande Valley. 

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Bishop Announces New District Superintendent and Assistant

Bishop Announces New District Superintendent and Assistant

Robert Schnase, Bishop of the Rio Texas Annual Conference, announced the appointment of Rev. Andy Smith as the new District Superintendent of the Hill Country District. Smith will replace retiring District Superintendent John Wright. Smith is currently the superintendent of the West District and will continue to serve the West in addition to Hill Country.

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Rio Texas Commissions New Trusted con Confianza Facilitators

 27 new Trusted con Confianza facilitator trainers. 

27 new Trusted con Confianza facilitator trainers. 

Members of the Rio Texas Safety Task Force Team welcomed 27 leaders from across the conference to the very first Trusted con Confianza facilitator training retreat March 23-24. These leaders represent each of our districts. Many were recommended by their District Superintendents and all filled out an application, received a recommendation from their senior pastor, and signed a covenant committing to the work of equipping and supporting churches in the work of keeping all of God’s children safe.

The group met at Laurel Heights United Methodist Church for a 24-hour training retreat that prepared them to lead Trusted con Confianza facilitated sessions across our conference.

Rev. Joy Melton, United Methodist Deacon, lawyer, and author of the Safe Sanctuary resources led the training as the keynote speaker. In her remarks, she reminded the group of the importance of doing the work of keeping children, youth, and vulnerable adults safe.

Rev. Melton praised the Rio Texas Conference on their work to create a strong, solid, and faithful policy and certification process. She noted that she was excited to share that the Rio Texas Conference is now a Safe Sanctuary conference. Rev. Melton encouraged the new facilitators in their work as they go out to equip and support churches in keeping all of God’s children safe.

These facilitators will be leading Trusted con Confianza certification facilitated sessions across the conference. For a complete description of the certification process please visit this page

Need to attend a training? Check out information about upcoming trainings at:

Trusted con Confianza facilitators:

  • Carrie Anders
  • Lori Balensiefen
  • Bonnie Bevers
  • Laurel Bradford
  • Tanya Campen
  • Kim Carroll
  • Rita Cavazos
  • Meredith Copeland
  • Kelly Duke
  • Pam Elliott
  • Megan Getman
  • Jodi Gutierrez
  • Anne Hardegree
  • Chéri Heldstab
  • Patrick Jackson
  • Cheryl Kendall
  • J’Nevelyn Lloyd
  • Donna Magee
  • Valerie Mendoza
  • Mark Mitchell
  • Bridget Preece
  • Lisa Rush
  • Barry Sharp
  • Michael Smith
  • John Paul Spurlock
  • Erika Stiner
  • Vanessa Tirey
  • Carol Ann Weston